The Handicapping Degenerates are back for 2018...Katz, Rabbitt, RC, Savage, Skol are back for year three of profiteering. It's been an overall profitable two years combined with 2017 having some fantastic individual results, and we're back for more in 2018.
We make all the picks and do a 'Blazing Five' each week, and keep track of our records...and informally chat about games during the week like this (the first of the year):
*All casual email chat, forgive any typos, etc.
2017 Weeks 1-16 records (Against the Spread)
The Computer: 123-109-8, Blazing Five: 54-26 (67.5%)
Skolman: 126-106-8, B5: 39-39-2
Savage: 127-105-8, B5: 46-32-2
Rabbitt: 120-112-8, B5: 39-34-2
RC: 117-115-8, B5: 50-39-1
Katz: 110-122-8, B5: 40-35-5
Colin Cowherd: B5… 42-31-2
Handicapping Chat: Wk1 CIN at IND (-3.0)
RC: I chose this game to discuss first for 2018 because I wanted to see if I'm crazy...
I think this is the bet of the week. My Computer projected line is Bengals -12.4 (one of two Week 1 games The Computer sees as off by 10+ points on the line)...yet, the Colts are a three-point favorite. I have no idea why Indy is a favorite considering the shakiness Andrew Luck has displayed. Vegas/the public hates the Bengals as it is and worships Luck, but I think they're in big trouble backing Luck with him still struggling and a Bengals team with a killer pass rush and Will Jackson ready to roll in the secondary -- the O-Line v. D-Line battle favors Cincy both ways. Cincy has a better everything except Kicker than the Colts, right? Better/equal O-Line. Better RB, WR, TE. Better defense in every unity. This Luck isn't that much better than Andy Dalton, if not much worse.
I think this is free money. Someone talk me out of it...!!!
Katz: I love Week 1 wagering. I've decided I'm going to trust myself this year because, looking back on it, my Week 1 winning % is like 70% and then I'm terrible the rest of the season. There are a few games I am super confident in. I would say the Bengals are right up there with the Cardinals as my favorite bets of the week. I recently fired on Colts under 6.5 wins at +160 - worth it at that price. I don't understand this line. The Colts are a terrible team propped up by a maybe healthy Andrew Luck - we don't know. And the last time Luck was truly healthy, the Colts still weren't good. My only question is when to start placing Week 1 wagers because this will surely be one of them.
Savage: I'm not as bullish on Cincy. I still think they're a below average team, so I'm not jumping at the opportunity to take them in a road game. I'm also hesitant to draw any conclusions on Luck (good or bad) before I see him in a real game. I watched him against Baltimore and I agree he looked tentative and not particularly impressive, but the guy is coming off a year absence and getting used to a new offensive system. From what I remember, Peyton Manning looked pretty shaky in the 2012 preseason too. And Luck has always been one of those guys who looks unimpressive for quarters at a time and then all the sudden gets hot and rips off three straight scoring drives. Will any of you be shocked if Cincy goes up 17-3 at half, tries to run the ball the entire 2nd half, and then we see Luck come storming back in the 4th quarter? And speaking of Cincy trying to run the ball, that is something they struggled with all last year and its continued this preseason. That side of the O-line v. D-line battle seems like more of a wash to me.
RC: One of the things I like with Cincy now...the aerial attack. Eifert back (at last for this game he should stay healthy) + John Ross being a homerun hitter + Tyler Boyd emerging. Cincy can pass block OK, run blocking hasn't been good.
I just compare Cincy to Indy, who goes with shaky Luck (today, in Week 4 maybe he has his footing), a bad O-Line, Jordan Wilkins possibly starting? Ryan Grant and Chester Rodgers as starters? The defense may be one of the worst in the league? Week 1 Indy has the arguable worst RB group (if Mack out), one of the worst WR groups, a bad O-Line and one of the worst defenses...all propped up by Luck who is showing all kinds of reasons to worry, for now. You could be 'meh' on Cincy, but this Indy team laying 3?
Rabbitt: I'm on board with this game. This might be the bet of the week for me. Not because of anything great I see with Cincy though, this is all about Indy being really bad. Who scares you on this Indy squad? Sorry, I haven't see "that luck" in 4 years. The Andrew Luck everyone was afraid of is long gone. This is a bad team, with a good but probably not great QB going against an interesting roster that may eventually turn into something. I'm not sure how you can be confident in any Indy action here?
Savage: I guess I'm curious what you guys think the difference to the spread is between "week 1 2018 Andrew Luck" and Jacoby Brissett. If you think Luck will be rusty for a few games to start the season, that's fair... its a definite possibility. But if he's fully healthy, I think you need to take the Colts seriously as a 7-8 win team - the type of team that would be favored at home against a team like the Bengals. We're only two years removed from Luck going 8-7 with a similarly terrible roster. The Colts have never had a losing season with him at QB. So for Katz's under 6.5 to cash I think you're going to need to count on Luck missing time again (a strong possibility) or being significantly worse than before. Like I said, I'm not ready to downgrade Luck from his 2016 self until I see him play a full game.
RC: My buy in on this game is the Andrew luck factor Week 1 looking 'rusty' or 'not right' is because in the preseason, which should be his easiest work, he looked on and off terrible...like a shell of himself 40-70% of the time. Plus, he's taking crazy full speed sacks, plus they have no running game, plus their defense is terrible. I can't find a reason to like the Colts in this game except 'new coach' and 'home opener' and 'Luck was good 2+ years and 2 surgeries ago'.
SKOL: I guess I see both sides of this one...but I’m more with Savage here. I believe the Colts led more games at half time last year than anyone except the Pats and Eagles (I wish I could cite my source...I think I heard that from Warren Sharp)..conservative play calling helped them blow many of those games. Are we sure the Colts defense is the same or worse than last year? I think the line move to -3 is adjusting to these teams being even with home field. For me this feels like a office pool confidence coin toss vs a best bet. I buy the argument of more talent on the side of the underachieving Bengals but the Colts hey a home opener and I believe the mere presence of Luck will be a boost for all of the Colts players. I may wind up picking the Bengals when we select every game but when it comes to blazing five this would be one of the first games I would throw away. (If I didn’t have my Blazing Five set for a month already)
RC: The best thing the Colts had on defense last year was Rashaan Melvin at CB...and they let him walk. Pierre Desire and Kenny Moore at CB Week 1. Two rookies start at DE and OLB, both overrated and neither all that ready for week 1.
Katz: That's a good point about a less than 100% Luck vs Jacoby Brissett, but I don't really think it's so much about the QB - the rest of the team is horrible. The offensive line has pieces, but even if it turns things around, it certainly won't be in Week 1. The team has no one on offense outside of TY Hilton and the secondary is a joke. The Bengals have an underrated defense and better skill position players in AJ and Mixon.