This Week in Betting, A to Z
T.O. Whenham of Doc's Sports Predictions
A - Australian Open. They've started hitting the fuzzy green balls down under. It would seem like Roger Federer is a lock, and he likely is, but he lost in a tune-up last week to Andy Roddick, so there is at least a little bit of hope for everyone else this week.
B - Bush, Reggie. If you saw his touchdown, or his 25-yard run, or the hit that he took at the beginning of the game, then you know without doubt how incredibly huge the mistake was that Houston made in choosing not to pick him in the draft. The guy does things that no one else can even dream of.
C - Chris Webber. Maybe I'm just biased by the fact that I'm a Michigan fan, but I think that Webber will make a solid impact with whatever team he lands with after being bought out by Philadelphia this week. Assuming it's a serious contender, I think he's good for a solid couple of points against the spread.
D - Dolphins. Does it seems strange that Miami gave Dom Capers the biggest contract of any assistant in the league before they even hired a head coach? Talk about undermining the new guy's authority. This season isn't even over yet and already I have good reason to want to bet against the Fins next year.
E - Everest, Al. That's the name of San Francisco's new special teams coach. I have no point. I just find his last name very entertaining.
F - Fujikawa, Tadd. A week after his 16th birthday, Fujikawa not only makes the cut in the PGA's Sony Open, but he finishes tied for 20th. Not only is he half my age, but at 5'1" he barely comes up to my nipples. Why do I feel insignificant all of a sudden?
G - Greg Oden. What an intriguing player. He's doing fairly well, though his lack of major production against Wisconsin was a bit of a concern. At some point a guy might start to wonder if he's worth all the hype. Until you consider that he's still playing wearing a cast on his injured shooting hand. I can't wait to see the fireworks if he's healthy and confident by the time the tournament starts.
H - Huh? Darius Walker, Notre Dame's running back, is going pro?!? What in the world makes him think he is ready? His coach certainly doesn't think so. There are a few mystery junior declarations - C.J. Gaddis of Clemson, Georgia's Danny Ware - but Walker is probably the most nonsensical.
I - Interceptions. The four winning quarterbacks this weekend threw six interceptions and just four touchdowns. The art of quarterbacking just took a painful step backwards. Maybe quarterbacks don't win games after all. Or maybe four guys just had pretty poor weekends.
J - Japanese goalie. Yutaka Fukufuji became the first Japanese player in the NHL when he came into goal in relief for the Los Angeles Kings this week. He lost, but that's not his fault - a brick wall in the net couldn't help the Kings win the way they are playing right now.
K - Key number. Not convinced that three is the key number in the NFL? Three of four games this weekend ended up with a gap of three between the winner and the loser.
L - Leading rusher. The running game is supposed to be especially important in the playoffs, but the leading rusher in both games on Sunday lost. The Patriots couldn't get anything going on the ground. Thomas Jones scored twice for the Bears, but his average per carry was decidedly, well, average.
M - Marty Schottenheimer. The guy leads his team to 14-2, yet they lay an egg in the playoffs, and he's probably out of a job. That's got to be a bitter pill. Can you really call yourself a good coach if you've won more than 200 regular season games, but you are the Tampa Bay Devil Rays of the NFL playoffs? 5-13 is just not good enough.
N - North-South All-Star Classic. I caught some of this new bowl game on Saturday. It proved one thing to me - all-star games are as unwatchable with college players as they are in the pros. Have you made plans for your Pro Bowl party yet?
O - Oregon Ducks. You could call beating UCLA a fluke, but after Oregon beat Arizona this weekend it may actually be time to view them as a serious Pac-10 contender.
P - Possible? The rumors are flying that Dale Earnhardt Jr. could actually leave Dale Earnhardt Inc. to drive for a different team next year because he doesn't get along with his stepmother, the owner of the team. As bizarre as that seems, it'll be interesting to see what impact it has on his performance this season.
Q - Quit whining. This could apply to lots of people, but I'm directing it to Jermaine O'Neal today. He's threatening to ask for a trade because the Pacers aren't improving, yet the team is solidly above .500, they are the best in the league ATS, they are excellent at home and they only have four road games in their next 18. Just shut up and play.
R - Ridiculous. $250 million for five years? I understand that David Beckham is a big deal and all, but he now makes twice what A-Rod makes, and A-Rod isn't worth it. I still can't see how this is going to make anyone take the MLS seriously. It's still a second-rate league. You don't see anyone getting excited about the NBDL or NFL Europe, do you?
S - Sloppy. Considering that this weekend was supposed to feature the eight best teams in the NFL, there sure was a lot of sloppy, mistake-filled play. Indy-Baltimore was a disaster, Hasselbeck and Grossman were far from flawless, and the late game on Sunday wasn't pristine either.
T - Take the points. Those are the only three words you needed to know to make a big NFL profit this weekend. Four games, four underdogs covered. At least this round of the playoffs was consistent with the regular season. That kind of consistency is good. Unless you bet on the favorite, that is.
U - Underrated. I'd heard people say it before, and I hadn't really bought into it, but after seeing him play the last two weeks I am officially on the bandwagon - Michael Westbrook is perhaps the most underrated player in the league. What does it say that he played his best ball of the season after McNabb was injured?
V - Virginia Tech. Wins against Duke and North Carolina - that's a pretty good week for the Hokies. Those two wins, and one against NC-Greensboro, move the team to just 7-7 ATS, but the confidence boost from this week could improve that mark. Or it could make them public darlings and make it worse.
W - Whisenhunt, Ken. Pittsburgh's offensive coordinator is the new head coach of the Arizona Cardinals. What's the over/under on the amount of time it takes for him to realize that it's a hopeless cause? I give it until about week five of next season.
X - Xavier. It was an up and down week for the beloved mascots of this column. They beat up on Fordham, but then they lost to Saint Louis (what's a Billiken?) by 11 when they were four-point favorites. Those are the kinds of games they need to win if they want to contend in the Atlantic 10.
Y - Yikes! The Bucks are in trouble. They had covered seven in a row, but they have only covered twice in their last seven since then. Now Michael Redd is out until the end of February and Charlie Villanueva is out for longer than expected. Andrew Bogut is a long way from being ready to carry the team. Somehow I doubt newly acquired mighty mite Earl Boykins is the answer, but they sure need him to be.
Z - Zero. Thanks to Philip Rivers, quarterbacks making their first playoff start still have zero wins in their last seven tries. The sample is too small for it to be a serious trend, but it's an intriguing stat nonetheless.