Saturday, February 16, 2019

Roto Pope Podcast: Smorgasbord Du Jour: McBae No More, Lakers Tricking and More!

Sean Burch (@seanb44) and Aaron Sauceda (@RotoPope) discuss the finale of the NFL season, NBA trade deadline and a "taste" of baseball in the latest episode of the Roto Pope Podcast:
  • Baseball season is approaching, what do we have in the works?
  • Do Rams' Super Bowl woes make Sean McVay a fraud? (Of course it doesn't, but he was out-coached and missed key adjustments)
  • Mike Francesa isn't completely on bath salts regarding Tom Brady and Joe Montana?
  • Did the Lakers completely botch the trade deadline? 
  • Who won the NBA trade deadline? Are the Bucks the favorites in the East?
  • Our top 10 "Curb Your Enthusiasm" episodes countdown! We discuss #6 in this episode

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Roto Pope Podcast: Closing the Book on 2018, Looking Ahead in 2019

Sean Burch (@seanb44) and Aaron Sauceda (@RotoPope) discuss the NFL season for the latest episode of the Roto Pope Podcast:

  • Recent holiday musings and New Years Eve assessment 
  • Shoe purchase debates 
  • Aaron's 2018 fantasy football recap, including a championship 
  • 2018 fantasy football MVPs and LVPs 
  • Projected top 5 picks for 2019 
  • Aaron's 3-pronged approach for 2019 
  • NFL Playoffs - Sean's wild card weekend gambling picks 
  • Revisiting Super Bowl picks Super Bowl gambling values (Pour one out for the 'Hawks) 
  • Top 10 Curb Your Enthusiasm countdown! Our #7 episodes

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Roto Pope Podcast: Have Mercy on Clayton Kershaw and Those Facing Todd Gurley

Sean Burch (@seanb44) and Aaron Sauceda (@RotoPope) briefly touch on baseball and then dive deeper into the halfway point of the NFL season for the latest episode of the Roto Pope Podcast:

• BS Segment: Don't get Sean started on college basketball

• Clayton Kershaw's divisive playoff resume:

• Don't get overly cute with playoff schedules

• Amari Cooper one last gasp, not this year though

• Hold Corey Davis

• Mitch Trubisky isn't sexy, but rushing QBs are

• Don't go HAM on Jets, but don't forget about Trenton Cannon (or Elijah McGuire)

• Load up on Josh Gordon wherever you can

• Other rapid fire takes on Zach Ertz, Tyreek Hill, Jarvis Landry, Tarik Cohen, Stefon Diggs and Keenan Allen

• Todd Gurley isn't fair

• Eli is trash but Sean is still buying Odell Beckham everywhere

• Top 10 Curb Your Enthusiasm countdown! Our #8 episodes

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

GUEST POST: Clayton Kershaw Chokes ... Again

A familiar October sight (via @LOLKNBR on Twitter) 

There probably isn’t a God. At least, not the one with a fluffy beard that holds odd grudges and wipes out entire tribes in The Bible. There really isn’t much evidence for it.

 But let me present you with Exhibit A in my case against God’s existence: Clayton Kershaw.

The longtime Dodgers ace had another ugly playoff performance in Game 1 of the World Series last night. Four innings pitched, 5 earned runs. It was the latest postseason faceplant in a career unfortunately full of them for Kersh.

Never mind that Kershaw’s defense did him no favors in the first inning. (David Freese looked like he was failing a field sobriety test as he tried to track down Mookie Betts’ foul ball.) Or that the bullpen later allowed two runs to score on his dime. Or that the offense let several opportunities slip by. Or that Alex Wood essentially sealed the Dodgers’ fate, allowing a late 3-run blast. The Dodgers needed Kershaw to come through. They needed him to pitch like the best pitcher of his generation. And he didn’t. Again.

The latest implosion marked the sixth time in 23 postseason starts he’s been charged with 5 earned runs or more. That’s one out of every four games he gets absolutely rocked. And that’s not even counting several other flops — like the 4 runs he allowed in three innings a few weeks ago against the Brewers in Game 1 of the NLCS.

For comparison purposes, he’s had 18 games total out of 316 career starts with 5 earned runs or more in the regular season. In short, he’s four-times more likely to self-combust in the playoffs.

Of course, some of this is understandable. He’s playing against better competition, for one. And a few of his early career meltdowns can be chocked up to Don Mattingly leaving him in the game too damn long. Many Dodgers fans love to point to the bullpen routinely giving up inherited runs on Kershaw’s behalf — pumping his postseason ERA even higher. His 3.58 postseason FIP suggests he hasn’t been as bad as his 4.28 ERA would lead you to believe. And how can he be a choker? He’s thrown plenty of playoff gems, including two this year alone.

I get it. But this is who he is in the playoffs — an enigma. Years of mounting injuries certainly aren’t helping. And crying “small sample” offers no refuge. He's pitched 145 postseason innings at this point — the ninth most in MLB history. By postseason standards — where everything is a small sample — this is anything but a small sample. He walks more guys, allows more hits, and allows twice as many home runs in the playoffs as he does in the regular season.

Even factoring in bad luck, he isn't the same generational talent once the playoffs start. Blowing a four run lead and a three run lead in Game 5 of last year's World Series should've crystallized that once and for all. Any Dodgers fan telling you they feel confident about Kershaw heading into a big game is either lying or delusional.

Which brings me all the way back to my initial claim. Sports are pretty dumb. Jerry Seinfeld famously joked we’re just cheering for laundry. But Kersh is one of those guys that transcends the laundry. You enjoy cheering for him. He seems like a nice dude, even though we really don’t know these guys at all, obviously. His family is adorable. He’s good at ping-pong. He’s got that cool Texas drawl. He’s on the God Squad. He’s dedicated to his craft.

Seriously, how can this guy be the face of postseason failure? I say it with tongue firmly in cheek — because why would god care about sports? — but it seems cruel for a loving deity to routinely punish someone like Kershaw.

Every time a Fox camera catches him sighing in disgust in the dugout — an annual sign Halloween is right around the corner for Dodgers fans — my heart hurts, like I'm watching a family member fail on the biggest stage. If this sounds a little too emotional — approaching Bill Simmons on Roger Clemens territory — well, it probably is. But quotes like this don't help:

"Maybe one of these days I won't fail, we won't fail, and we'll win one of these things," Kershaw told USA Today, after the Dodgers lost Game 7 to the Astros last year. "It's hard. You go through this much effort to win that many games against this many good teams and it's, I mean, I hope to get to this point again."

Well, he's at this point again, but after his first night in Boston, it doesn't look like it's going to go any better.

So God, how about this: instead of striking me down with a bolt of lightening to prove a point, help Kersh get to the mountain top. Just once in his career. And I’ll take that as a sign I need to head back to church. Sadly, I'm doubting that'll ever be the case, though.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

GUEST POST: NFL Week 5 Picks: Crashing and Burning

Ohhh the humanity. After three weeks of gambling bliss -- reaching 31-16-1 against the spread on the season, after a sparking 12-4 showing during Week 3 --  it all came crashing back to reality. It had to, really. I couldn't possibly go through life with a permanent Cheat Carroll-chewing-gum-and-shamelessly-strutting-like-a-smug-prick look on my face. (Yes, I just wanted to share that gif for the 10,000th time.)

And yet, that's how it felt until last week's ungodly 3-10-2 performance ATS. But that's what I get for thinking Ryan Tannehill was poised to go into Foxboro and potentially strike a death blow to the Patriots dynasty -- and run to 4-0 in the process. Or trusting the Chargers and their cardboard cutout of a coach to cover a double digit spread. Or not realizing Mitch Trubisky was on the verge of greatness and set to throw 6 touchdowns against the high school-level Tampa Bay defense.

Look, I'm not going to sit here and dissect it with ya. It was ugly. I've spent the last few days researching, soul-searching, and training, a la Rocky running on the beach with Apollo to get his groove back in Rocky III.

That's the good stuff. I'm feeling reborn. Let's see if we can return to the halcyon gambling days this week.

The Picks: 

Indianapolis Colts (+10) at New England Patriots

Not off to a great start

Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns (+3) 

Jacksonville Jaguars (+3) at KC Chiefs

Tennessee Titans at Buffalo Bills (+6)

New York Giants (+6.5) at Carolina Panthers

Denver Broncos at NY Jets (+1)

Atlanta Falcons at Pittsburgh Steelers (-3.5)

Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions (-1.5) 

Miami Dolphins (+6) at Cincinnati Bengals

Oakland Raiders (+5.5) at LA Chargers

Arizona Cardinals (+3.5) at SF 49ers

Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles (-3.5) 

LA Rams (-7.5) at Seattle Seahawks

Dallas Cowboys (+3.5) at Houston Texans

Washington Redskins at New Orleans Saints (-6) 

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Roto Pope Podcast, Quarter-Season Takeaways: Hide Your Rams

Aaron Sauceda (@RotoPope) is joined by special guest Nick Firestone (@Nick_Firestone) as they deep dive into the NFL season:
  • Early season takeaways: Passing production is at an all-time high and good luck if you don't own any Rams
  • Drop Chris Hogan for Keke Coutee and Taywan Taylor
  • TE is a death trap, but Ricky Seals-Jones, CJ Uzomah and Cameron Brate could be frisky (and stash OJ Howard if you can)
  • Buying the Titans: Marcus Mariota is back, buy low window on Corey Davis is slammed shut
  • Jared Goff is a stud, hide your Rams
  • Early-season reflections -- biggest tilts: Not getting enough exposure to explosive offenses, namely Rams and Falcons
  • Alvin Kamara is not human, but Mark Ingram remains a strong hold
  • Rookie RBs: Sell league-winner Sony Michel and Royce Freeman? Buy Kerryon Johnson and Ronald Jones?
  • Buy boring WRs Devin Funchess, Jarvis Landry and Quincy Enunwa; Buy or hold Tyler Boyd
  • Fade Antonio Brown at your own risk

Sunday, September 23, 2018

GUEST POST: NFL Week 3 Picks: Dog Day Afternoon...Again

Hold on. After another strong week -- 10-6 against the spread, after 9-6-1 to open the season -- don't mind me if I'm still walking around town in full Cheat Carroll mode. Let's just get it over with. Here's the gif:

Alright, now that that's out of the way, let's move onto Week 3, shall we?

Sorry to say, but I'm running short on sleep and even shorter on analysis at the time I'm posting this. (I guess that's what happens when you have a few Rainiers in your system.) But it's going to be another dog day afternoon. And some of these obviously don't feel great. The Titans -- with the Roto Pope listed as their third string quarterback -- covering the 10 point spread in Jacksonville? The freaking Bills not getting absolutely smoked in Minnesota? Yea, I'm rolling with it.

The dogs have treated us well in the first two weeks -- not counting the Roto Pope's inexplicable moneyline bet on the dreadful Arizona Cardinals in LA, of course -- so I'm sticking with them once again.

And the Roto Pope has once against blessed us with his picks from on high. He's feeling the under on the New England/Detroit, New Orleans/Atlanta and San Francisco/Kansas City matchups. He also likes the moneyline and spread on the Chargers (+265) in LA, the Titans (+370) at Jags and Bills (+850) at Minnesota.

Let's see if we can keep the good times rolling this week, shall we? And be sure to check back for the next Roto Pope podcast dropping later this week to recap the success -- or destruction -- from Week 3.

Sean B's Picks:

NY Jets (+3) at Cleveland Browns

Indianapolis Colts (+7) at Philadelphia Eagles

Cincinnati Bengals at Carolina Panthers (-3) 

Tennessee Titans (+10) at Jacksonville Jaguars

New Orleans Saints (+3) at Atlanta Falcons

*Down to +1.5 for New Orleans at several spots. But we grabbed it earlier in the week. Saints need it.*

Denver Broncos (+5.5) at Baltimore Ravens

New York Giants (+6) at Houston Texans

Oakland Raiders at Miami Dolphins (-3) 

Green Bay Packers (-3) at Washington Redskins

Buffalo Bills (+16.5) at Minnesota Vikings

San Francisco 49ers (+6) at Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Chargers at Los Angeles Rams (-7) 

Chicago Bears at Arizona Cardinals (+6) 

Dallas Cowboys at Seattle Seahawks (-1.5) 

New England Patriots at Detroit Lions (+7) 

Pittsburgh Steelers (pick 'em) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Roto Pope Podcast, Episode 14: Special Guest X, NFL W1 Betting Triumphs, W2 "Locks"

Sean Burch (@seanb44) and Aaron Sauceda (@RotoPope) are joined by special guest and friend of the pod, Zach/Boppas, as they engage in various topics for the latest episode of the Roto Pope Podcast, including:
  • Introducing friend of the RP pod and gambling extraordinaire, Zach "Boppas" / "HaralaBoppas" Davis
  • Week 1 Betting Triumphs: Sean and Boppas Go Nuclear
  • Looking Ahead to Week 2: Who are the "Locks"
  • Aaron's Process Tilting, Points to Cardinals as Auto-Bet (@ Rams)
  • "Curb Your Enthusiasm" Countdown! Our top 10 episode countdown, with this episode being #9

Thursday, September 13, 2018

GUEST POST: NFL Week 2 Picks: That Cheat Carroll Feeling

Winning. It feels good, even if it's only for a fleeting moment. And when it comes to gambling, it's always fleeting, at least for yours truly.

That's why when things actually break right, like last week's 9-6-1 performance against the spread, it feels good to bask in the sunshine of success for one hot minute. It also gives me a good reason to break out the classic gif of Pete "Cheat" Carroll strutting in the rain -- always a crowd favorite -- because that's what it felt like after the Rams took care of business on Monday night, wrapping up a strong opening week.

God, that never gets old.

Anyway, betting $205 brought back $337 in profit -- a juicy 160 percent return for Week 1. After looking at the last five opening NFL weekends, we told you here last week -- and on the Roto Pope podcast, of course -- to back up the truck on the dogs. Between a slate of teasers pushing the Texans, Giants, and 9ers into double-digit territory, and the Jets and Browns (a tie!) covering, that strategy worked out well for the most part. Here's a 32 ounce Miller High Life lifted in honor of Sam Darnold.

The Roto Pope didn't do too shabby, either. He blessed us with some tidbits from Week 1, with the Bucs +410 and +10 and the Jets +230 driving him into the black. Of course, that helped offset his Bills and Raiders bets, but that's the beauty of betting on the heavy dogs.

But alas, we must move onto Week 2. And last week's data-driven approach has been replaced, due to time constraints, with a more..."feel" based approach for Week 2. If it sounds like I'm not thrilled with my process, that's because I'm not. Still, I can't gloat about a hot start if I'm not willing to keep tabs on the rest of the season.

Contrast my half-assed analysis with the Pope's approach, though. His Berkeley-trained brain scans the lines each week, converts them into probabilities and compares them against the average of some data-centric models like FiveThirtyEight to make his picks. (Sounds smart.) His goal is to maximize ROI, so any bets with an implied ROI of 20 percent or more are thrown onto his "short list," before he adds a sprinkle of subjective analysis and ultimately makes his calls.

Here's what he's feeling this week as hit "auto" bets:

-- The Cardinals +645 at the Rams
-- The Cowboys -140 moneyline and -3 spread hosting the Giants
-- The Seahawks +150 moneyline and +3.5 spread in Chicago

And, if you're inclined to follow me back into the depths of gambling hell, my picks are below. Yes, I'm still riding the dogs hard in Week 2.

The Picks: 

Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals (+1) 

Indianapolis Colts (+6) at Washington Redskins

Carolina Panthers (+6) at Atlanta Falcons

Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers (+6) 

Los Angeles Chargers (-7.5) at Buffalo Bills
Feels like I'll regret this one, but hard to picture Bills keeping up with Bolts' weapons

Houston Texans (-2) at Tennessee Titans

Kansas City Chiefs (+4.5) at Pittsburgh Steelers
From what I've read, the KC defense is supposed to be hot garbage. But Big Ben looked like hot garbage last week. I know he morphs into the best QB ever at home, but I still want the points here

Miami Dolphins at New York Jets (-3) 
Darnold fever

Philadelphia Eagles (-3.5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Cleveland Browns (+9) at New Orleans Saints
We sure the Saints are that good, man? I'm riding these fat Browns lines until I remember how bad of a coach Hue Jackson is. Although this should've been plenty of a reminder last week

Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams (-13) 

Detroit Lions (+6) at San Francisco 49ers
Players are already bitching about Matt Patricia's tiring practices and stupid rules. He's also potentially a total scumbag. And the Lions looked like shit on Monday. And they're playing on short rest. Whatever, I'm still taking the points

New England Patriots at Jacksonville Jaguars (+1) 
Jacksonville could be without Lenny Fournette, but offense isn't really their thing, anyway. The Pats, meanwhile, are down to signing guys off the street to fill in around Tom Brady. I'll take the Jags winning 5-3 here.

Oakland Raiders (+6) at Denver Broncos

New York Giants (+3) at Dallas Cowboys

Seattle Seahawks (+3.5) at Chicago Bears

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Roto Pope Podcast, Episode 13: Go HAM On 'Dogs In Week One

Sean Burch (@seanb44) and Aaron Sauceda (@RotoPope) engage in various topics for the latest episode of the Roto Pope Podcast, including:
  • Life in Boise: Mexican and Italian cuisines
  • The roller coaster that is Tesla and Elon Musk
  • Sean's betting research guest piece on Bet dogs in week one
  • Favorite bets ("locks" -- disclaimer: not really locks) of the week
  • Super Bowl favorites
  • Nobody cares about your fantasy football team: "Shady" league observations, luck favoring the bold (?) and historical championship "credit" debate
  • "Curb Your Enthusiasm" Countdown! Our top 10 episode countdown, with this episode being #10

Thursday, September 6, 2018

[EXCLUSIVE Guest Post] NFL Week 1, Betting the Dogs: The Giants, Sam Darnold, and the Potentially Less-Terrible Cleveland Browns

Image result for tom brady avocado ice cream

NFL Week 1, Betting the Dogs: The Giants, Sam Darnold, and the Potentially Less-Terrible Cleveland Browns

Sean Burch

Are you a moderate gambling addict too? It’s an exciting time, with the NFL regular season kicking off on Thursday night. But before looking at the teams we should blow our money on this weekend, let’s take a quick trip back to Week 1, 2017 for some guidance.   

The Browns, fresh off a dreadful 1-15 season, are heavy 8.5-point home underdogs to the hated Pittsburgh Steelers. Leading 21-10 midway through the fourth quarter, it looks to be another comfortable win for Ben Roethlisberger in a career full of them against Cleveland. Browns fans, picturing another torturous season at hand, were likely debating “would we be better off with a cardboard cutout of Bill Belichick as head coach compared to Hue Jackson?” It’s a valid question. But that’s put on hold, as rookie quarterback DeShon Kizer gets the ball back and drives the Browns downfield. With 3:36 left to play, he connects with Corey Coleman on a slant for a touchdown. Cleveland successfully converts its two-point attempt right after. The Steelers’ lead is shaved to 21-18, and they’ll need to move the chains a few times or risk handing the ball back for a potential late game implosion. The Dawg Pound is suddenly barking. 

You remember how this turned out right? The Browns forced the Steelers to punt, Kizer scrambled towards the end zone as time expired, and Jackson, eyes welling up, was lifted onto his players’ shoulders and carried out of the stadium, signaling a changing of the guard in the AFC North. Eh, not exactly. The Steelers got the ball back, and after first downs from Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell, held on for an ugly road victory. But this game was a sign the Browns had finally turned the corner, right? (Ron Howard Narrator Voice: It wasn’t.) In fact, the Browns somehow sucked even more, going winless in 2017. Jackson, in a sadder version of Apollonia purifying herself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka in “Purple Rain,” later took a dip in Lake Erie to wash away the pain. 

What this game reinforced, though, was the old betting axiom: bet on the home underdogs – especially early in the season. In the last five years, home dogs are 16-11 against the spread during Week 1. And it’s not just the home teams, either. Road dogs are 43-33-2 since 2013. Combined, that’s a 57 percent winning percentage. Maybe that doesn’t sound too sexy, but if you hit on 57 percent of your bets in Vegas, you’d own a quarter of The Strip soon enough.

That makes the Browns, hosting the Steelers once again as four point dogs to start the season, an intriguing play – even after last season’s shit show. Factor in new additions like Tyrod Taylor and Jarvis Landry – and Bell potentially missing the game for Pittsburgh – and I’m a bit startled how excited I am to bet on Cleveland.

Of course, if betting the dogs is a wise move early in the season, then betting on the favorites wouldn’t be. And betting on heavy favorites – teams favored by six points or more – is dumber than Jordan Peterson trying to explain his thoughts on God. Big-time favorites cover less than 30 percent of the time, going 4-10-1 ATS in the last five years. That’s uh, not good.

Does that mean I’ll be taking the Jets (+6.5), led by Sam Darnold, the youngest quarterback to start a season since the AFL-NFL merger, in Detroit? Hell yes it does. Same goes for the 49ers (+6.5) in Minnesota, even after losing their starting running back to a torn ACL. Niners quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo should be supported, not slandered, for grabbing dinner with Kiara Mia, as far as I’m concerned. And the Texans (+6.5) against a shorthanded Patriots squad, is also a go for me, even if Tom Brady will be running on avocado ice cream at 60.   

This isn’t as radical as it sounds. The NFL routinely has major turnover. On average, five new teams make the playoffs each season over the last five years. Did anyone expect the flaccid Rams to become the high-scoring machine they were last season? Just because a team was good last season doesn’t mean they’ll be good this season – and that creates a gambling opportunity early in the year.

But don’t get too fancy here. Betting on the dogs to win outright gives a juicier payout, but it also happens much less frequently – about 35 percent of the time, to be exact. They’re dogs for a reason, after all. So unless you’re feeling lucky, avoid the moneyline bets, and stick to the spread. The spread is your friend.

Say it with me: I will bet on the dogs this weekend. It doesn’t matter that Eli Manning looks like a pig roasting over an open flame, waiting to be devoured by the Jacksonville defense. It doesn’t matter that Pete Carroll picked up three guys from the Canadian Football League to round out the Seahawks defense. It doesn’t freaking matter that the Bills couldn’t even slap together a minute of highlights for their starting quarterback. Dogs. Just bet the dogs. This is my new religion – at least until I’m cursing myself out for betting on the Browns on Sunday.

The Picks:

Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles (-2)  

The one outlier to betting the dogs in Week 1: when two playoff teams match up, the favorite wins 63 percent of the time (7-4 ATS since 2013). Gimme the champs and Big Dick Nick Foles.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns (+4)

San Francisco 49ers (+6.5) at Minnesota Vikings

Cincinnati Bengals (+3) at Indianapolis Colts

Buffalo Bills (+7) at Baltimore Ravens

Jacksonville Jaguars at NY Giants (+3)

2017 was the season from hell for the Giants. Odell Beckham Jr. is back, Saquon Barkley is there, too, and Ben McAdoo and his terrible haircut have been replaced.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+9.5) at New Orleans Saints

Houston Texans (+6.5) at New England Patriots

Tennessee Titans (-1.5) at Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins just seem terrible, based on five minutes worth of internet research. Breaking my own rule here.

KC Chiefs (+3.5) at No One In Los Angeles Cares About The Chargers (Editor’s Note: HEY!!!)

Seattle Seahawks (+3) at Denver Broncos

Dallas Cowboys (+3) at Carolina Panthers

Washington Redskins (Pick ‘em) at Arizona Cardinals

Chicago Bears (+7.5) at Green Bay Packers

NY Jets (+6.5) at Detroit Lions

Los Angeles Rams (-4.5) at Oakland Raiders

Breaking my rule, again, because the Raiders just threw away Khalil Mack and I’m a complete shill for Sean “Baby Belichick” McVay. (Editor’s Note: This may be among the best opportunities to play Week 1 based on this article’s research, as the public may be overly fading the Raiders based on the Mack news—their defense projected to be well below-average in either case. I’ll take the home dogs, opening the season in the raucous black hole. Gimme Raiders +4.5.)


This is an exclusive guest post written by Roto Pope podcast co-host, Sean Burch. Follow him on Twitter, @SeanB44.