Thursday, September 26, 2013

Underdog of the Week: NFL 2013-2014 Season Week 4 (sport, gambling, NFLUnderdog13)

In this series, I will pick an underdog every week that I think will not only cover the spread, but also have a good chance at winning outright.

In general I've found that people love fading streaks. They like to think that a team on a long losing streak is "due" for a win or vice versa. That is usually a quick way to go broke.

Underdog of the Week:
PIT @ MIN (in UK)
MIN +2.5
MIN +120 ML

Over the past 5 seasons, 5 winless teams have been favored with an overall record of 1-4. This week features two such teams in the Steelers and Buccaneers. The Buccaneers are a mess and have just benched Freeman, so I'm going to stay away. I like this matchup for the Vikings as they have been able to put up points and have playmakers such as Peterson and Jennings. Their main problem has been on defense, and I don't think Pittsburgh, which has had problems scoring so far this season, will be able to take advantage of that. The Vikings have a clear advantage in the running game, and that might come into play if the weather in London is poor. The line has been in flux as Vikings QB Ponder is listed as questionable, but I don't think that Matt Cassel is too big of a downgrade if Ponder can't go.

Interesting Stat of the Week:
Over the past 6 years, the Dallas Cowboys have been 1-4 as a favorite in week 4.

ATS 3-0
ML 2-1 +210

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Underdog of the Week: NFL 2013-2014 Season Week 3 (sport, gambling, NFLUnderdog13)

In this series, I will pick an underdog every week that I think will not only cover the spread, but also have a good chance at winning outright.

Almost managed to start the season 2-0 in my outright underdog picks, but Tampa Bay managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in the final minute for the second week in a row. Regardless of the actual win-loss record, I'm pretty satisfied with the performance of my two picks so far.

Even though the NFL season only consists of 16 regular season games, it is a long grind. So it's not that surprising to me to sometimes see unlikely teams string together wins to start the season. Examples include last year's 4-0 Cardinals, the 3-0 Bills from the year before, and the 3-0 Chiefs three seasons ago.

Underdog of the Week:
KC +3
KC +150 ML

Looking at some of the teams that are 2-0 so far this season, only the Chiefs are currently an underdog this week, while both HOU and MIA are only 1 point favorites. I think this is a very good situation for the Chiefs. With the shortened preparation time, Andy Reid's knowledge of some of the Eagles' players may come into play, even if they're playing in Chip Kelly's offense. Furthermore, this is a pretty good matchup for the Chiefs. Jamaal Charles' running and Alex Smith in a West Coast offense could slow the game down, while on the defensive side Kansas City boasts 4 pro bowlers from last year and held MJD to 15 rushes for 45 yards in their week 1 game.

Interesting Stat of the Week:
Over the past 3 years, at least one 2-0 underdog has won outright in week 3 each year.

ATS 2-0
ML 1-1 +60

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Underdog of the Week: NFL 2013-2014 Season Week 2 (sport, gambling, NFLUnderdog13)

In this series, I will pick an underdog every week that I think will not only cover the spread, but also have a good chance at winning outright.

Last week's win was a good start, but it's a long season. For week 2, my first instinct was to look at teams that may have looked so good or so bad that they caused an overreaction among the betting public. When I then looked back at past data, what I found was that home dogs tended to perform pretty well in week 2. This makes sense in the context of the original thesis. Some teams look so good in week 1 at home (or bad on the road) that bettors misjudge the team as well as forget about the home-away disparity that occurs in the NFL.

There are actually only four home dogs this week in the Bills, Bucs, Cardinals, and Giants. I actually like all four, although I can only choose one.

Bills: They almost pulled off a huge upset of the Patriots in week 1, and face a road team that couldn't win their week 1 game at home. However, it's unclear just how good the Patriots are, and the Bills have always played them tough.

Bucs: They lost to the Jets on a stupid penalty on the penultimate play of the game, but otherwise pretty much had that game won. Winning a road game is always difficult in the NFL, even if it was against the lowly Jets. The Saints, on the other hand, won at home (where Brees has been significantly better during his Saints tenure), but needed a final goal line stand against a Falcons team that's also been much better at home historically.

Cardinals: They also almost won on the road before a 2-TD comeback in the 4th quarter by the Rams. The Lions may also be slightly overrated because of their dominant fantasy numbers against Minnesota in week 1. I just don't like how Arizona blew its lead in the 4th quarter, and the Stafford-Megatron-Bush-etc. crew is pretty good at last minute comebacks if needed.

Giants: Despite 6 turnovers and a -5 turnover margin, they were still right in the game at the end there. You would certainly expect regression to a more normal turnover number, just as you would expect regression to a more normal TD performance from Peyton Manning. There has already been an overreaction to Peyton's 7 TDs and Giant's 6TOs, as the line opened at NYG+2.5 before being bet by the public to NYG+6. Sharps then came in on the other side and the line has settled at NYG+4. In the end, it's just too difficult to pick a team on less than normal rest against a team with more than normal rest, even if it's early in the season.

Underdog of the Week:
TB +3.5
TB +145 ML

I decided to go with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It's very difficult putting out picks before Thursday's game, and more so in this case because tonight's Patriots-Jets game might reveal more about both the Bills and the Bucs. Furthermore, with the Saints being a team that the public loves to bet on, the line could easily get better by kickoff on Sunday. In fact, this is one of the reasons that I'm going with the Bucs. Consensus picks has New Orleans at 78%, which is a very high number. I also like that while Doug Martin was held to only 65 yds from 24 rushes, the Saints gave up over 6 yds per carry against the Falcons.

Interesting Stat of the Week:
Over the past 3 years, at least two home underdogs have won outright in week 2 each year.

ATS 1-0
ML +160

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Bassanova Ramen: A Worthy Newcomer to the NYC Ramen Scene (food)

With well over a dozen different regional variations and styles and over 20,000 ramen shops in Japan, Bassanova Ramen in Tokyo managed to stand out with a green curry ramen that was the result of a collaboration with a Thai chef. That green curry ramen is now available in NYC at its namesake ramen shop that opened in Chinatown about a month ago.


Like most comfort foods, people's tastes regarding ramen are very subjective and personal. So before discussing the food at the newly opened Bassanova Ramen in Chinatown, let's go over my own personal ramen preferences:
I do not like Ippudo. I absolutely hate the style of noodles they use, and while I find the tonkotsu broth to be very good, I don't find it particularly special. My favorite ramen in NYC is the chicken paitan ramen at Totto Ramen. I find the concentrated chicken-based broth to be amazing, especially when it gets all gritty at the bottom of the bowl. I order it with the wavy noodles that they usually serve with their miso ramen. Also, although I haven't been back in a long time, I like the shio ramen lunch special at Tsushima in midtown east, where a whole scallop adds great umami to the excellent shio broth and springy noodles.

There are only three core items on the Bassnova NYC menu, along with two special broth-less noodle dishes. My friends and I tried all three of the core ramen bowls.

Their basic pork broth served with thin straight ramen noodles, a slice of pork chashu, and accompaniments.

Also served with thin straight noodles, a slice of pork chashu, but slightly different accompaniments. The added seafood flavoring did increase the umami profile and added to the depth of the ramen. My friend LY strongly preferred the broth in this to the broth at Ippudo. I am a huge fan of menma so that was nice, and I liked how while the broth was rich, it didn't leave a slick of grease on my lips.

The signature green curry soup came with a slice of pork chashu, one headless cooked shrimp (not tiny, but not big), zucchini, okra, fried garlic, herbs and greens. But most importantly it came with thick, wavy, springy noodles which I love. The broth was flavorful and complex without being overpowering, and had the right balance of savory and sweet. In this bowl, however, there was definitely a layer of oil on top of the curry, which worked really well with the much thicker noodles. Delicious and comforting.

Kaedama, or extra noodles, was a sizeable mound for $2. However, both my friend and I felt that the two tondaku ramens did not have enough broth to support the extra noodles. The green curry ramen, with its bigger bowl, managed just fine. Extra pork chashu also came at $2 a slice, but was bigger than the ones I've had at other ramen shops. It was tasty, but even more importantly for me, it was actually meaty as opposed to ones that I've had at other places that I found to be too fatty.

The decor is interesting. Bowls, spoons, and chopsticks are all huge while the staff all wear shirts with horizontal stripes. The white/gray coloring scheme seemed out of place in the middle of busy Chinatown, as were the prices, which would be fine for most everywhere else in NYC.

Overall, the green curry ramen was the standout for me, and its uniqueness and deliciousness make it worth a trip to Chinatown. Although it won't replace the chicken paitan ramen at Totto as my favorite, the lack of a long wait is nice.

76 Mott St
(between Canal St & Bayard St)
Manhattan, NY 10013

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Underdog of the Week: NFL 2013-2014 Season Week 1 (sport, gambling, NFLUnderdog13)

The new football season is upon us, and I've decided to switch it up a little this season. Every week, I will pick an underdog that I think not only has a good chance to cover the spread, but that I think has a decent chance to win outright. Underdogs often provide good value from a betting standpoint, so I hope readers will appreciate the shift to just picking underdogs.

Now that there's a Thursday night game every week on the NFL schedule, I'll try my best to get my pick out before then. Underdog picks that have a chance to upset outright are also important because there are a lot of survivor pools out there.

Underdog of the Week:
PHI +3.5
PHI +160 ML

The line for this game was 4.5 as recently as mid-August. I looked back at week 1 upsets over the past few years and found that teams that had unexpectedly outperformed record-wise during the previous season, but were still inconsistent on a game-to-game basis, were quite vulnerable. Furthermore, over the past 5 seasons, at least one new coach won outright in an upset. While RG3 and Morris put up some amazing numbers last season, let's not forget that the Eagles were responsible for a high powered offense themselves not that long ago, and Vick, McCoy, Maclin, and Jackson are still there.

Interesting Stat of the Week:
Over the past 3 years, teams that have been favored by exactly 1 point in week 1 have lost 8 out of 10 times.