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Headline Play

Two In, One Out
By Dennis Ranahan

If you didn’t see something that should have been obvious for all the right reasons that dictated a National Football League result how much credit can you afford yourself for talking about it after the game?

It’s not about credit. It is about knowledge.

When the St. Louis Rams blow away the Houston Texans by a 38-13 margin while listed as a 9 point underdog and plus 300 on the moneyline, it should have been the Top Pick of the Week. Instead it was eliminated from the final selections delivered on a game day last fall.

All the teams in the NFL have the ability to win and when certain factors align results consistently occur in pro football. The Houston Texans were favored by more than a touchdown even while saddled with a three game losing streak straight-up and an 0 for 5 point spread record when they hosted St. Louis last October.

The Rams came into that contest off a home win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, their second victory of the season and first point spread conquest. When two teams are slumping a clear advantage goes to the underdog, particularly when getting more than a touchdown on the spread. The logic behind this pattern is that the stress of a long losing streak can be lessened with the hope provided by playing a team you clearly can beat.

Conversely, a team that is losing and is now a huge underdog to another losing team double-downs on the motivational juices to avoid getting crushed. The combination of a losing team confident as illustrated by the point spread against a squad looking at the abyss of another loss while given little chance to succeed even against a bad team drives the underdog to success.

What could have blinded me from this sweet, sweet spot for St. Louis last October 13?

Something I saw as even better.

The Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t win a preseason game last year, and opened the regular season with four straight losses including two games they were favored to win on the point spread. They were coming off their bye week, they had played their fourth week game in London against the Minnesota Vikings.

Still, despite eight straight 2013 losses the Steelers were posted on Sunday night as a 2-point favorite for their Sunday game against the New York Jets in New Jersey. The books saw the advantageous spot for Pittsburgh following eight straight losses and two weeks to prepare. What that first line didn’t, and couldn’t, take into account was the Monday Night Football result. In that game, played in Atlanta, the New York Jets were in an enviable motivational spot by much the same criterion that pointed to the Rams over Houston.

New York capitalized on this sweet spot in Georgia and beat the Falcons straight-up.

The public read the J-E-T-S primetime victory as a sign they were a team capable of winning as a favorite … and so the line that was set to give the Jets 2 points against the Steelers suddenly shifted to New York favored by 2½ points. The Jets success in Atlanta was generated by a great motivational spot, and now off that win they head back home in a bad motivational spot against a team in a great one. Add to that Pittsburgh is now getting points based on a result gained with factors now working against New York.

Yes, I now see why I was blinded to the St. Louis play last October while Pittsburgh was standing out like a search light at the opening of a Broadway play..

Up to that point in the 2013 season Pittsburgh was the best pick of the year. I knew it before the game was played and released it to Qoxhi clients as the Top Pick of the Week. The game was totally boring to the home crowd unless they had money on Pittsburgh. The game was played between the thirty-yard lines with the Jets never cracking the endzone and denting the scoreboard only twice with field goals during a 19-6 Steelers triumph.

Even though the books had reacted to the public backing with the dramatic 4½ point line shift after the Jets Monday night win in Atlanta, by game day smart money had jumped on the Steelers edge and driven them to a 1 point favorite; a small risk in a contest decided by double-digits.

Four times last season Qoxhi released Top Picks with premium status, that is the four highest money rated games of the season. All four Premium Top Picks won. Every NFL weekend Qoxhi delivers one Top Pick with rationale as solid as that which dictated the Rams over the Texans, Jets over Falcons and Steelers over Jets.

You should be interested in the ones Qoxhi offers before the games begin.