Monday Night Observations

It’s often wise to bet the under in a game expected to be so high scoring, but not this time. Seventy-seven points and three catches for 29 yards combined for Brandin Cooks and Julio Jones, this was a strange contest, dominated by the Falcons running game and the Saints lack of defense. It makes you wonder what Ben McAdoo was thinking in Week 2 as the Giants offense managed only 16 points against it.

Week 3 Observations

Every NFL Sunday in Europe is a full day before the games even start. I went to a farm within the Berlin city limits with Heather and Sasha to see some pigs, cows, lambs and chickens, pick some apples and harvest some potatoes to take home and cook. Here’s a snapshot of the scene – think we were looking at the sheep:

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It was unseasonably hot, and after checking out the animals, knocking some underripe (but not bad) apples off a tree with a large stick and a half-assed attempt to dig up some potatoes (we mostly put some people had left behind in our bag for a pathetically small haul), we sat down at their biergarten for some food and drinks. There was an outdoor seating area and beyond that an open area with a guy singing kids songs in terrible English and a make-shift merry-go-round on which Sasha wanted to ride. Heather went over and seated her on a plastic horse. I was left at the table to order and checked my Twitter feed while I waited.

Run-N-Shoot: Week 3 Recap of DK Cash Games, Week 4 Preview

Most of America missed it, after an hour-plus weather delay in Tampa, but the end of the Bucs game was the worst end-game coaching we will see in 2016.  Here was the situation:  down 37-32 with 49 seconds left and two timeouts, the Bucs completed a 12 yard dumpoff to Charles Sims.  He was tackled in bounds at the Rams 15, making it a first down with about 37 seconds left.

The strategy there is obvious (particularly since Tampa had an hour to prepare for it).  Call timeout and you have the ball at the Rams 15 with 35 or so seconds left, 1st and 10, and a timeout still in your pocket.

Yet what does Tampa do? 

RotoWire & FanDuel Fantasy Football Championship – Week 3

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Welcome to Week 3 of the NFL season.
And for me I hope the rest of the season is much better than the first two weeks where I have literally stunk up the joint.
But let me not dwell on my pathetic daily football play.

For many of the northern portion of the United States, this might be the first Sunday with a chill in the air, well relatively considering the hot summer that if finally starting to cool off. And this is the first official weekend of the fall season as we pass the Autumnal Equinox on Thursday.

And this is Week 3 of the RotoWire & FanDuel Fantasy Football Championship. If you are unfamiliar with the competition, here are the basics:

  • 10-week competition hosted on FanDuel
  • $10 entry (max five entries each week)
  • Compete against other users and three FanDuel experts (Jeff Erickson, Derek VanRiper, Kevin Payne
  • Finish above the experts, win an entry in the Week 11 Freeroll with over $5,000 in prizes and RotoWire subscriptions up for grabs
  • Each qualifying week acts as a double-up with the top 250 doubling up their cash
  • This is not a continuous competition, so you can enter every week, and you don’t have to have participated in Week 1 to enter this week’s competition
  • There is no limit on the amount of entries you can win for the championship round, so start racking them up this week if you haven’t already
  • You can sign up for this week’s competition here

Thursday Night Observations

I picked the Patriots as one-point underdogs at home despite having misgivings with third-stringer Jacoby Brissett starting against a tough Houston defense. On the one hand, the Texans should crush them on paper. On the other, they were traveling on a short week against a Bill-Belichick-coached team. Personnel vs. coaching and set-up. It’s often a tough call. So you can imagine I was surprised to wake up this morning and see the final score. But maybe I shouldn’t have been.

2016 World Cup of Hockey: Tournament Update

I hope that you’ve enjoyed watching the World Cup of Hockey as much as I have. Those of you that had been pulling for Team USA must be feeling like Homer Simpson in this tweet. In the second edition of this World Cup blog series, I offer my thoughts on the tournament ahead of the Thursday games (Finland vs. Russia; USA vs. Czech Republic).

Group A

Canada

  • Carey Price has rounded into form. After shaking off the rust in a pre-tournament game against Team USA, he’s rattled off three straight wins, two of which counted toward a semifinal berth in the tournament. In Tuesday’s win over the Americans, the Canadians went from allowing 17 shots in the first period to six in the second frame and only two in the third.
  • Oh, hey there, Matt Duchene. When the self-proclaimed die-hard fisherman isn’t catching delicious bass, he can be found tearing it up offensively on the ice. I know this is Canada and the World Cup, but it looks funny seeing the Avs star on the fourth line. Duchene has two goals and an assist in the tournament while skating alongside veteran Joe Thornton and former teammate Ryan O’Reilly, who wasn’t originally on the World Cup roster but added once Tyler Seguin backed out with an injury to his heel.

Europe

  • Team Europe advanced to the semifinal round despite being outmuscled by Canada on Wednesday, losing 4-1. It was a nice test against the tournament favorites, but Europe needs to be much more disciplined. Drawing six penalties, as they did Wednesday, is a recipe for disaster against a team like Canada, which is stacked offensively on every line.
  • Peter Draisaitl, who played for German in the inaugural World Cup (1996), must be one proud papa. His boy Leon already has two goals in the tournament, including a game winner, on four shots. Draisaitl saw his ice time climb from 7:15 against Team USA all the way to 13 minutes in an “away game” against the Czech Republic.
  • Marian Hossa is the second-leading NHL scorer among players involved in the tournament. He misfired on his first five shot attempts but put one on the board Wednesday against Canada. It doesn’t seem like Hossa’s bothered by the foot injury that he sustained in the preliminary round.

Czech Republic

  • Two goals in two games (Jakub Voracek, Martin Hanzal) won’t cut the mustard. They won’t be winning any medals but this tweet from Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times regarding the goal song is pure gold.

USA

  • USA has been the biggest disappointment in the World Cup thus far, dropping matches to Team Europe and Canada, respectively. Coach John Tortorella was ridiculed for his decision to bench the physical Dustin Byfuglien in the tournament opener and then sat Brandon Dubinsky, a solid faceoff man and pest to Sidney Crosby, in a forgettable match against the border foes — I’m thinking it’s no coincidence that Torts rested Dubinsky given the Columbus connection.
  • Jonathan Quick saved 44 of 51 shots between the two losses, equating to a 0.863 save mark. He was much better than the numbers indicate, but you have 2016 NHL All-Star Ben Bishop at your disposal. I’m sure neither he nor Cory Schneider came to Toronto expecting to ride the pine for the entire competition. Yeah, maybe one or both of them draw in against Team Czech Republic on Thursday, but it’s too little and too late. USA is toast.

Group B

Sweden

  • King Lundqvist pitched a 36-save shutout against Finland on Tuesday and then blocked 45 shots against the 23-and-under North American team a day later. It’s ridiculous how well conditioned these goalies are as they go on back-to-back days and lay it all out for their respective countries.
  • Nathan MacKinnon of Team North America juked the socks off of Henrik Lundqvist in overtime Wednesday, but the Swedes still earned a point and won Group B for a spot in the semifinals.
  • Sweden’s star-studded defense hasn’t done a whole lot offensively outside of Erik Karlsson and his three helpers. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Mattias Ekholm, and Niklas Hjalmarsson are all looking for their first point in the tournament, and Victor Hedman (Vigo from Ghostbusters 2), along with Anton Stralman, are the lone goal scorers from Sweden’s blue line.

Russia

  • Red Wings fans must be stoic watching Pavel Datsyuk shine for Team Russia. His Selkey-smooth defensive style has been on full display, plus he has two helpers in as many games, but the Magic Man reportedly will miss at least one game with an undisclosed injury.
  • Speaking of defense, to the surprise of no one, Russia’s blue line is laughable, though all the goal scoring is keeping the plus-minus ratings respectable for the rearguards. Nikita Zaitsev is the only one to have produced a point between the six d-men. The young Bud excited fans at his home rink with an assist that counted toward a win against Team North America.

Team North America

  • In this context “NA” doesn’t mean not applicable. Rather, it stands for North America, the speedy 23-and-under squad with plenty of heart, determination and skill. Here in the states, it’s the team that everyone is rooting for with Team USA getting shown up. But their fate in the tourney depends on the outcome of Thursday’s matchup between Russia and Finland. If Russia loses in any fashion, there will be more hockey for Team NA.
  • Auston Matthews is already testing the acoustics at the Air Canada Centre, where he’ll suit up as a rookie for the Maple Leafs this season. Skating on the top line with Connor McDreamy (read: McDavid) and Winnipeg’s Mark Scheifele, Matthews has two goals and an assist through three games.

Finland

  • Finland lost its first two games of the tournament, dropping matches to Team North America and rival Sweden, respectively. Valterri Filppula was the only one to find twine for Finland before learning they’d not be able to advance to the semifinal round.
  • Look, Patrik Laine (whose name doesn’t rhyme with Kane) is going to be fun to watch for years to come, but Winnipeg’s second overall pick from this year’s draft has failed to replicate his glory from the 2016 IIHF World Championship, for which he was named MVP. Though he does have a country-high seven shots on goal, he’ll be seeking his first point when Finland battles the Russians on Thursday afternoon.

 

Run-N-Shoot: Week 2 Recap, Week 3 Preview of Cash Games on DraftKings

Playing cash games in DFS is a lot like playing blackjack.  I can accept losing here and there if I’m making the right plays. After all, everyone loses sometimes after doubling down on 11 against a 6. The difference with blackjack, of course, is there’s a “book,” so when I lose, I can feel better by telling myself I made the “right” play. In DFS cash games, there is no book … so how do I know when I made the right play and the result was just unlucky (like losing a double down against a 6), or if I lost because I stayed on 15 against a king? Practice. Experience. Being willing to study my thought processes, and the results, and learn.

I lost in Week 2 in cash games on DraftKings, so maybe that’s why I’m talking about the process. But in all honesty, just like blackjack, I’m comfortable, for the most part, with the plays I made.

What do you think? Am I rationalizing? Here’s how I constructed my cash lineup on DraftKings in Week 2, after which I’ll take an early look at Week 3.