Two regional teams observe a bye and one corporate group celebrates a kickoff as the NFL barrels into its halfway point.
While the Eagles and Giants are not scheduled, the William Hill organization showcases its new operation at Tropicana Atlantic City, which opened a temporary sportsbook Oct. 25. The company that sets lines and operates sports books throughout the world is in charge of the sports-betting facilities at Ocean Resort, as well.
Michael Grodsky, William Hill's vice president of marketing and public relations, shared his insights on Wednesday's Beat the Degenerates Special Edition show, which I hosted with Scott Cronick, director of entertainment publications for The Press of Atlantic City.
Listen to our next show 5 to 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 8, on Newstalk 1400-AM WOND, 92.5-FM, WONDRadio.com and the Tune In app.
Grodsky likes the mix of players who savor the sports book experience and those opting to wager via the mobile app. The live book assembles people who studied the games, have opinions on them and want the screaming, shouting passionate environment in its raw-energy form. The app satisfies those who want fingertip control of their action. Bing, bing, bing forms a tease, money line and parlay, in seconds. No teller. No lines. No patience required, a banner of the social media age.
The combination fits two market segments. Grodsky says some initial bugs on the app have been worked out and thus, watch out, if you are degenerates like Cronick and our buddy Brian Cahill.
Cronick put $100 in his account for Week 1. At last count, he made roughly 80 bets for a profit of 30 cents (but it is tax free). Cahill talks about betting soccer and the likely tie-game scenario. I swear he had action on Indonesian volleyball last Sunday night. All kidding aside, however, both players wager very small amounts and exemplify the convenience of the app.
Our thanks to Marc Scittina of Egg Harbor Township, who pointed out that when the 8-0 Rams play the Saints this week, 8-0 teams have gone 19-2 in their next game. Yeah, he knows what he's doing.
In Grodsky’s honor, we shift the betting lines to William Hill. Over-unders are in parentheses. Lines change constantly. He took the Rams plus 1.5 against New Orleans, where he has roots.
This week's games
Washington -1.5 Atlanta (47.5)
Chicago -9.5 at Buffalo (37.5)
Minnesota -5 Detroit (49.5)
Kansas City -8.5 Cleveland (51)
Miami -3 New York Jets (45)
Baltimore -3 Pittsburgh (47.5)
Carolina -6.5 Tampa Bay (54.5)
Denver -1 Houston (46.5)
Seattle -1.5 Los Angeles Chargers (47.5)
New Orleans -1.5 Los Angeles Rams (60)
New England -6 Green Bay (57)
Dallas -6.5 Tennessee (41)
The rushing yardage numbers don't lie. Todd Gurley of the unbeaten Rams has the most at 800. Ezekiel Elliott of the Cowboys is second with 619, James Connor of Pittsburgh has 599, Kareem Hunt of the Kansas City Chiefs has galloped for 592, and Adrian Peterson of the Redskins has 587. From that group, only Elliot represents a marginally losing team, the 3-4 Cowboys.
In the passing department, Patrick Mahomes at 2,526 leads the way for the 7-1 Chiefs. But in third place is Eli Manning, 2,377, for the woeful, 1-7 New York Giants. Matt Ryan, he of the 2,335 yards and the 3-4 Atlanta Falcons, is also in the Top 5. What does it show? The value of garbage time. Teams considerably behind have to pass, but good rushing numbers indicate a team controlling the ball.
So who's doing what? Here is a first-half report card on some of the more notable teams, which reflect expectation, momentum and team chemistry.
First Half Grades
Los Angles Rams - 8-0 start remarkable, yet they looked beatable last week.
Kansas City Chiefs - A solid 7-1 with Mahomes and Hunt looking unstoppable, so far.
New Orleans Saints - 6-1. Haven't lost since Week One and found ways to win the last two weeks, both on the road
Los Angeles Chargers - A strong 5-2, maybe an A minus.
New England Patriots - 6-2. Ho-Hum. Another run of five straight from a vaunted franchise.
Washington Redskins - Peterson and Alex Smith give them more ball control and a 5-2 mark.
Houston Texans - The wheels were coming off. They were 0-3. Now they are 5-3.
Carolina Panthers - They are 5-2. Cam Newton still a viable wild card. This team is always tough.
Pittsburgh Steelers - Righted themselves to an extent, now 4-2-1 without LeVeon Bell.
Chicago Bears - 4-3, first place in the NFC Central and the mark includes heartbreaking losses to the Dolphins and Patriots.
Cincinnati Bengals - 5-3 after shaky win at home against Tampa Bay, but five wins is five wins
Green Bay Packers - Heartbreaker to Rams last week. 3-3-1 does not tell the story. Should have two more wins.
Eagles - Going the opposite of expectations every week. 4-4. Not a sterling Super Bowl defense.
Seattle Seahawks - 4-3 after 0-2. A strange team, but with a winning mark.
Baltimore Ravens - 4-4 after being 4-2. Didn't show up in Carolina last week.
Jacksonville - 3-5 despite a Week 2 win against New England. This team was almost in the Super Bowl last year. This is a free fall right now.
F Grades ... More like F Troop.
The Arizona Cardinals - Have two wins this season. That's TWICE the number of Oakland, the New York Giants and the San Francisco 49ers, entering this week. Niners hurt by Garoppolo injury, Giants never recovered from gut-wrenching loss to Carolina a few weeks back, and Oakland can't stop a high-school team.
See how the upcoming line reflects expectations for the Atlanta Falcons. They are 3-4 but five games have been at home.
Tampa Bay has been playing right near its cover number for nearly a month. They were one play away from covering against Atlanta, but lost on a 56-yard field goal. Then had a 23-9 fourth-quarter lead against Cleveland and won by 3. A push. And then they came from 27-6 down to cover the 4-point spread to Cincinnati and lose by 3. By the way, the Bucs are an NFL best 6-for-6 on fourth-down conversions this year.
Press of Atlantic City Eagles writer Dave Weinberg picked against his team and they burned him by beating Jacksonville. Cronick triumphed with the Redskins over the Giants, I got beaten by Minnesota offense making three key mistakes worth a 20-point swing in a loss to the Vikings. The listeners picked Houston over Miami and won big to go 6-1.
No pizza for you
Last month, it was decided I'd get the Manco & Manco gift certificate awarded on the show whenever the listeners next missed their pick. Well, they are red hot and the that pizza's getting cold for me. Nice going on all the sharp analysis people have shared with us. Keep it coming, you make the show fun.
Cronick pick: Green Bay +6
Bontempo pick: Washington –1.5
Weinberg pick: Kansas City -9