Frank the Tank’s Super Bowl XLIII Parlay

71465420MS005_Arizona_Cardi

As much as I’d love to pick the Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII solely because they feature the long snapper/placekicker combo from my college days (which goes to show you how little performance in college really matters in terms of predicting success at the pro level –  my undergraduate time in Champaign coincided with the worst four year stretch in Illini football history, including a one win season that was followed up by a winless season, yet the special teams tandem from that team are playing together for a chance at the world championship), I simply have to believe that Mike Tomlin is going to do what the Eagles should have done two weeks ago and make sure that Larry Fitgerald is covered by at least two men at all times without exception.  If Philly had used its second half zone defense for the entire length of the NFC Championship (instead of allowing three first half touchdowns by Fitzgerald), we would be looking at an all-Pennsylvania Super Bowl.  The bottom line is that Pittsburgh has proven from the the beginning of the season until now that it is one of the best defenses ever to play in the Super Bowl, particularly considering how much scoring is up this season.  I have faith that they will find a way to shut down Fitzgerald and, ergo, the Arizona offense in general.  At the same time, I have noticed that most of Vegas has dropped the line on the game from the Steelers being a 7-point favorite to only 6.5, which must mean that way too much money is flowing in Arizona’s direction right now.  I’ll take my chances betting against the rest of America here (and in favor of the house).  Since a single pick does not make a parlay, here’s a whole slew of sports predictions for Super Bowl Sunday (home teams in CAPS, if applicable, and all prop bets are actually offered in Vegas):

  • Pittsburgh Steelers (-6.5) over Arizona Cardinals
  • Under 46.5 combined points for the Super Bowl
  • ILLINOIS FIGHTING ILLINI (-11.5) over Iowa Hawkeyes
  • LeBron James rebounds and assists (+5.5) over Arizona Cardinals points (-5.5)
  • Anquan Boldin receiving yards (+14.5) over Michigan State Spartans points (-14.5)
  • Highest scoring quarter by Steelers and Cardinals (+1.5) over Paul Pierce points (-1.5)
  • Under 38.5 for the jersey number of player to score the first touchdown

If I were anywhere near the Strip this weekend, I would be hammering those Super Bowl/basketball combo prop bets.  The long-promised Bulls midseason rant is forthcoming (it’s just going to end up being an extremely long piece).  In the meantime, enjoy the Super Bowl!

Frank the Tank’s NFL Football Parlay Record
Conference Championship Games: 1-1
Playoffs Overall: 6-3
Bears Games for the Season: 3-10-1
Overall Season: 27-25-3

(Image from Daylife)

Roundball Thoughts and Frank the Tank’s NFL Conference Championship Game Picks

mike-tisdale-illinois-fighting-illini

It has been a pretty good week for basketball in the world of Frank the Tank.  The Illini beat Michigan for program win number 1,600 and face the next test on their brutal start to the Big Ten season by heading to East Lansing to play Michigan State (which has improved over the past month to shape up into the conference’s one true national title contender).  Frankly, it’s a bit much to believe that Illinois will come out of there with a win, but I actually have a pretty good feeling about the game overall (particularly with how they played Purdue on the road in the Big Ten opener).  Meanwhile, the Bulls continue to confound me by beating probably the best team in the NBA in the Cavs (and without question the best player in the league in LeBron James – the man has been maniacal on the floor this year).  I’m in the process of putting together a complete analysis of the Bulls roster (hint: I like one guy a lot and the rest can pretty much suck it), so you’ll be seeing that come through over the next week.  (At least Vinny Del Negro has figured out one correct move in his player rotation, although me and 99.9% of other Bulls fans could have told him this back in training camp in October.)  In the meantime, here are some quick picks for NFL’s conference championship games (home teams in CAPS):

  • NFC Championship Game: Philadelphia Eagles (-4) over PHOENIX CARDINALS – I’ve done pretty well with the underdogs so far this postseason, but it has got to end at some point.  While I’m not enthralled at all about the prospect of taking a road favorite of over a field goal, it’s tough for me to fathom Philly handing over a multitude of turnovers and allowing Larry Fitzgerald run amok in the same manner as the Buzzsaw’s last two opponents.  The question is really whether the Eagles will provide its fans with a soul-crushing bombing this weekend or in the Super Bowl.  I’m thinking that it’s going to be the latter.
  • AFC Championship Game: PITTSBURGH STEELERS (-6) over Baltimore Ravens – I have a problem with the Steelers having to lay 6 points against an all-world defense, but if the general rule of gambling is that you shouldn’t bet on an underdog that you don’t believe you can win, then I’m for Pittsburgh all the way.  If the crowd noise at Heinz Field is as loud as it appeared to be last week (even my wife mentioned how great the Steelers fans were, although I wonder if this might partially due to the sound technicians at CBS Sports since the crowd noise on their SEC telecasts seem to have the same prominence), then I have a hard time believing the Ravens will be able to do much considering that they were still in prime position to lose last week even with every single possible thing going their way.  For as great as the Ravens defense might be, I still think that the Steelers can run the ball and can open up the passing game a bit with Santonio Holmes and Hines Ward.  On the other hand, the Steelers have almost as good of a defense at the Ravens and get to face a rookie quarterback in Joe Flacco in a hostile environment.  I like the Steelers to cover here.

Frank the Tank’s NFL Football Parlay Record
Last Week: 3-1
Playoffs Overall: 5-2
Bears Games for the Season: 3-10-1
Overall Season: 26-24-3

(Image from Chicago Tribune)

Frank the Tank’s NFL Divisional Playoff Picks

Here are some quick picks for NFL’s Divisional Playoff Weekend (home teams in CAPS):

  • Baltimore Ravens (+3) over TENNESSEE TITANS
  • CAROLINA PANTHERS (-9.5) over Arizona Cardinals
  • Philadelphia Eagles (+4) over NEW YORK GIANTS
  • PITTSBURGH STEELERS (-3.5) over San Diego Chargers

Frank the Tank’s NFL Football Parlay Record
Last Week: 2-2

Bears Games for the Season: 3-101
Overall Season: 23-23-3

Frank the Tank’s NFL Wild Card Weekend Picks

I’ll have my thoughts on Illini hoops, the Big Ten bowls, and the Blackhawks Winter Classic in a few days.  For now, here are some quick picks for NFL’s Wild Card Weekend (home teams in CAPS):

  • PHOENIX CARDINALS (+1.5) over Atlanta Falcons – Everyone seems to love Hot-lanta here, but the combo of a rookie quarterback with a team that is mediocre at best on the road is scaring me off.
  • Indianapolis Colts (-1) over SAN DIEGO CHARGERS – Much like the Falcons, lots of people have been talking themselves into a “scalding hot” Chargers team.  Of course, Indy has won 10 games in row, yet they strangely aren’t being referred to as the “hot” team in this scenario.  I’ll take Peyton Manning’s history of crushing other teams in the wild card round, especially with essentially a pick ’em line from Vegas.
  • MIAMI DOLPHINS (+3) over Baltimore Ravens – I don’t feel very good about this one – this is purely based on the fact that Miami has been pretty good to me in terms of covering this season and that they’re at home.
  • MINNESOTA VIKINGS (+3) over Philadelphia Eagles – I was on the record on loving the Eagles last week, but the Vikings have the loudest stadium in the league (albeit one that shockingly still hasn’t sold out this playoff game – bad economy or not, my respect for Vkings fans has plummeted over the past days) plus the best player in football with Adrian Peterson.  As a result, I’m taking the points here.

Frank the Tank’s NFL Football Parlay Record
Last Week: 2-1

Bears Games for the Season: 3-101
Overall Season: 21-21-3

Random Observations on the World of Sports and Frank the Tank’s Football Parlay – New Year’s 2009 Edition

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A few random observations before we get to an expanded edition of this week’s football picks:

  1. The Bears Are Horrible… and the NFC is Even Worse – There was no logical reason for the Bears to have beaten the Packers this past Monday night.  They played as if though they were ready to pack it in for the season as opposed to fighting to keep alive in the playoff race.  Only the Bears have the ability to make me feel like I just drank some paint even while winning football games.  The only saving grace is that the NFC is so horrific (trading the Big 12 South straight up for the NFC West would have made for a much more competitive year) that this mediocre team could still actually host a playoff game if the right things fall into place.
  2. The Illini Basketball Team Actually Has Some Life… and So Does the Rest of the Big Ten – Hope is a dangerous drug.  As I’ve stated in some prior posts, I was more than willing to scrap this current Illinois basketball season as a complete rebuilding project with an aim toward giving Alex Legion ample playing time.  After absolutely crushing Missouri in the Braggin’ Rights Game on Tuesday night, though, the Illini seem to be looking to get back to the NCAA Tournament a year ahead of schedule.  One of these years, Illinois will beat Mizzou in football and then Mizzou will beat Illinois in basketball, upon which I will cardon myself in the basement with a plethora of perishable goods to prepare for the impending destruction of the world.
  3. Bulls Are the Ultimate .500 Team – Has there been a team in recent memory that have hung around the .500 mark with such consistency as this year’s Bulls?  I’m pretty sure they’ve attempted to get to .500 every single time that I’ve watched one of their games this season.  They’re like a baksetball version of an Escher painting.
  4. For the Love of God, Stop Fellating the Celtics – On the complete opposite side of mediocrity, I know that the ESPN criticism in the blogosophere can often be over the top at times, but how many fucking years in a row do they need to put up a fucking daily game-by-game comparison of a hot NBA team’s record versus the 1996 Bulls (and said hot NBA team flames out by the middle of January at the very latest)?  Well, the tizzy around the Celtics’ recent 19-game winning streak has been almost as ridiculous as the inclusion of the 2005 USC Trojans in the infamous “greatest college football team ever” bracket prior to that season’s national championship game (who subsequently lost to Texas).  When an NBA team only has 5 losses at the All-Star Break, then we can start talking about whether a team might beat the Bulls’ single-season record.  If it’s only a month-and-a-half into the season, though, just simmer down and shut the fuck up.  I cannot tell you how much I hate these premature crownings of teams.  Let me move on before I throw my laptop across the room…

On that happy holiday note, let’s get to a super-sized edition of the football picks (home teams in CAPS where applicable):

NFL FOOTBALL PARLAY

  • PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (-1) over Dallas Cowboys – In relatively quiet fashion, the Iggles have been as consistent as anyone in the NFC since Donovan McNabb learned about ties in the NFL.
  • Miami Dolphins (+3) over NEW YORK JETS – I’ll admit that all I want to see if Chad Pennington to come in and stuff the team that turned on him so that they could whore themselves for Brett Favre.
  • Chicago Bears (+3) over HOUSTON TEXANS – The bookmakers know that the Bears are horrible, which is how a listless Texans team could be favorites over a club that is still fighting for a legit shot at the playoffs.  Yet, I still think that the Bears will pull this out for a restless Chicago fan base.  Let’s hope that the Giants play their starters long enough (if at all) to do some damage to the Vikings at the same time.

Frank the Tank’s NFL Football Parlay Record
Last Week: 1-2

Bears Games for the Season: 3-91
Overall Season: 19-20-3

NEW YEAR’S DAY NON-BCS BOWL PARLAY

  • Outback Bowl:  South Carolina Gamecocks (+3.5) over Iowa Hawkeyes – Can I really trust an Iowa team that lost to the Illini to actually cover against a Steve Spurrier-led team in Tampa? NFW.
  • Gator Bowl:  Nebraska Cornhuskers (+3) over Clemson Tigers – The only team that I trust less than Iowa is Clemson.
  • Capital One Bowl:  Michigan State Spartans (+7.5) over Georgia Bulldogs – I truly don’t understand this Georgia team, which was bandied around as one of a handful of national championship contenders at the beginning of the year.  On paper, UGA should be crushing State, but the Big Ten has a pretty good track record against supposedly superior SEC teams in Orlando.  I’ll take the points for Sparty here.

BCS BOWL PICKS

  • Rose Bowl:  Penn State Nittany Lions (+9) over USC Trojans – Chicago has alternately seen temperatures close to zero degrees, traffic debiliating snowfall once the temperature rises into the teens, and then zero-visibility fog as the temperature creeps above freezing over the past THREE days.  This type of setting has made the dark hole of no Pasadena trip to look forward to for the Illini (and me) even more depressing.  I always have an extremely hard time watching a major sports event the year after my favorite team has played in it (i.e. 2006 NCAA Final Four, 2006 World Series, last year’s Super Bowl) and this Rose Bowl will be no exception, particularly with the Illini failing to make any type of bowl at all.  The only thing that warms my heart here is that the Big Ten has its best shot to knock off those USC bastards yet.  Unlike Ohio State earlier this year, the Illini last season, and Michigan two years ago, JoePa’s current squad is anything but a stereotypical plodding Big Ten team – Penn State has as much speed as anyone in the country.  The spread is way too large here with the Nitanny Lions at full strength.
  • Orange Bowl:  Virginia Tech (+2.5) over Cincinnati Bearcats – I’d stay the hell away from this game in the sportsbook in real life.  In theory, Cincy should be much more motivated to be here, particularly since Virginia Tech was just in the Orange Bowl last season.  I’ll go with the established power here, though, only because the Hokies still have an abundance of talent to the point that I’m fairly surprised that they are more than a 1-point underdog.
  • Sugar Bowl:  Alabama Crimson Tide (-10) over Utah Utes – As much as I’d love to see Utah draw blood against the team that was #1 for most of the season, ‘Bama is way beyond the draws that the ’04 Utes and ’06 Boise State respectively received with Pitt and Oklahoma in their Fiesta Bowl non-BCS conference upsets.
  • Fiesta Bowl:  Ohio State Buckeyes (+8.5) over Texas Longhorns – Much like the Rose Bowl spread, there are way too many points to pass up taking here.  Plus, am I the only one in America that didn’t find a single thing wrong with how the Big 12 determined its tie-breaker at the division level?  Oklahoma, Texas, and Texas Tech were all tied for first place in the Big 12 South division with 1 win and 1 loss in head-to-head competition against each other.  It seems to me that having the BCS standings is the next logical tie-breaker (with “logical” being an extremely convulated term in the world of college football) since any conference would want to elevate a team that would have the best chance of getting to the national championship game.  While Texas beat Oklahoma head-to-head, the Longhorns didn’t have any more claim to get a spot in the Big 12 Championship Game than Texas Tech, who beat Texas head-to-head.  I have no clue why there was such a national uproar over a tie-breaking procedure that seemed to actually make a lot of sense considering how the national championship match-up is determined today.  Anyway, the point is that Texas seems to be acting like the ’06 Michigan Wolverines that complained mightily that they didn’t get a re-match with their fiercest rival in Ohio State in the national championship game and then got crushed by a very talented USC team in the Rose Bowl.  I have a strong feeling that Texas is going to put up a massive dud here, too, since Ohio State is anything but a pushover when Beanie Wells is on the field.
  • BCS National Championship Game:  Florida Gators (-3) over Oklahoma Sooners – No one should forget that Florida is going to be playing a virtual home game in Miami in the same manner that LSU had the home field advantage in last year’s national championship game in New Orleans.  At the same time, for all of the national bashing of Ohio State for its high profile stumbles over the past two seasons, they have made it to BCS bowls 6 out of the last 7 seasons (including this year) with 3 victories that includes a national championship (the only two losses coming in the last 2 national championship games).  There isn’t another program other than USC that would trade places with the Buckeyes with that type of record.  Meanwhile, in the last four BCS bowls for Oklahoma, the Sooners were crushed by West Virginia (who was reeling after having just lost its head coach to Michigan) by 20 points in last year’s Fiesta Bowl, was on the wrong end of the classic upset by Boise State in the 2006 Fiesta Bowl, got blown out by USC by 36 points in the 2004 Orange Bowl for the national championship (one of the most horrific performances that I’ve ever seen considering the stakes), and was beaten by LSU in the 2003 Sugar Bowl for the national championship.  Jim Tressel looks like Mozart to Bob Stoops’ Salieri when it comes to BCS bowl performances.

Frank the Tank’s College Football Parlay Record
Last Week: 1-2

Illini Games for the Season: 5-6
Overall Season: 19-22-1

Enjoy the games and Happy New Year!

(Image from Washington Post)

Quick Bears, White Sox, and Illini Thoughts and Frank the Tank’s Football Parlay – 9/26/2008

I’m short on time this week, so I’ll direct you to (1) a rant from Da’ Bears Blog that accurately reflects my feelings about the Bears – Bucs game that I suffered in person at Soldier Field this past weekend, (2) Minneapolis Red Sox talking me off the ledge slightly with the Royals’ recent history of playing the spoiler in the AL Central (the White Sox definitely know how to player spoiler for themselves, though) and (3) a back-and-forth between Black Shoe Diaries (the preeminent Penn State blog) and Illinois Loyalty regarding this weekend’s matchup.  On the eve of a State of Illinois versus Commonwealth of Pennsylanvia football weekend with Illinois – Penn State and Bears – Eagles (along with the White Sox grasping for its last lifeline and the Cubs finishing up a week where they , here are this week’s parlay picks for both college football and the NFL without explanation (home teams in CAPS):

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PARLAY
(1) Colorado State Rams (+26.5) over CALIFORNIA BEARS
(2) Purdue Boilermakers (+1) over NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH
(3) Illinois Fighting Illini (+14.5) over PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS (The Illini have woken up form their slumber and are showing up for this game, right? Right???)

Frank the Tank’s College Football Parlay Record
Last Week: 1-1-1

Illini Games for the Season: 0-2
Overall Season: 6-5-1

NFL FOOTBALL PARLAY
(1) DALLAS COWBOYS (-11) over Washington Redskins
(2) Green Bay Packers (+1) over TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
(3) Philadelphia Eagles (-3) over CHICAGO BEARS (If the Bears could allow Brian Griese to completely shred the secondary, I’m not sure if it even matters whether Brian Westbrook is suiting up for the Eagles.)

Frank the Tank’s NFL Football Parlay Record
Last Week: 1-2

Bears Games for the Season: 0-21
Overall Season: 4-4-1

That’s the Bears Offense That I Remember and Frank the Tank’s NFL Football Parlay – 9/19/2008

Should anyone be surprised that the Bears would revert right back its old offensive ways against the Panthers?  The only thing that was shocking was that our neckbearded hero Kyle Orton got juiced up and actually overthrew about 10 open receivers as opposed to undercutting them.  It’s also tough for either team to gain any momentum when there was a total of two plays during the entire game where there wasn’t a false start or offsides penalty called.  What a shame that a couple of great special teams plays along with a relatively decent effort by the defense was wasted again (which has been the general story for the past three seasons).  I’m resigned to the fact that this is going to be the case for yet another year, so I’ll just pin my hopes on the fact that if a team is able to play on one side of the ball exceedingly well in today’s NFL, it can at least get into position to make the playoffs (a la 2005).  On to this week’s parlay picks (home teams in CAPS):

(1) Pittsburgh Steelers (+3.5) over PHILADELPHIA EAGLES – I’m not a fan of this week’s lines with every single home team being a favorite with the exception of Dallas at Green Bay (and I have grave reservations about picking against the Packers at Lambeau Field).  The Steelers looked like the prohibitive favorites for the AFC title after week one but were brought back down to Earth with a grindy performance at Cleveland last week.  I’m also not sure what to make of the Monday Night shootout between the Eagles and Cowboys, which was an awful exposure of the once-mighty Philly D.  The Eagles are tough at the Linc, yet I still think that the Steelers are the better team, so it’s worth it to take the points here.

(2) BALTIMORE RAVENS (-2.5) over Cleveland Browns – This year’s Browns are well down the road of being the worst team to ever be featured on the maximum number of national TV appearances during a season, which is a distinction currently held by the 2002 Bears.  This isn’t a good year to own Derek Anderson and Kellen Winslow Jr. on your fantasy team.

/throws laptop across the room

And finally…

(3) CHICAGO BEARS (-3) over Tampa Bay Buccaneers – As a non-Cubs Chicago sports fan, I’m naturally a pessimist, but even I can recognize that the Bears defense ought to be able to hold down a team whose top two wide receivers are Ike Turner Hilliard and Joey Galloway, who happen to be the only two current NFL players that were alive when the Cubs last won the World Series.  Hence, I’m giving the points in this game.

I’ll be at Solider Field on Sunday, so I’m going to be looking for the Bears to do a little better than how the Illini performed when I was in Champaign last weekend.  Go Bears and Go White Sox!

Frank the Tank’s NFL Football Parlay Record
Last Week: 1-1-1

Bears Games for the Season: 0-11
Overall Season: 3-2-1

(Image from Chicago Tribune)