Saturday, 3 January 2009

My biggest problem and a preview of Saturday's Wildcard Playoffs

Why I blog.

When I initially started reading blogs on trading, one thing I noticed was that several people would blog in an attempt to maintain discipline, amongst other things.

Part of the reason I started this blog was to try to increase my boldness. Let me explain.

If you read my previous post, you will note that I comment on a comment from Amorphous concerning tonight’s Indianapolis v San Diego NFL match where he indicates that he might have a bet on Indianapolis.

Let’s review my response.

I start by saying that I hope Indianapolis win. The first thing to note here is that when you have an emotional interest in a game, that this can effect the objective approach to looking at the game, I quite often place bets against teams that I want to win.

I then go on to review the game objectively and note that I believe Indianapolis are a massive price. That is my gut belief. Is it right. Is it wrong. I don’t know. If we all thought the same, there would be no Betfair but that is what I think.

I then throw in a word of caution about the Colts being slow starters which is fine. This is true. It doesn’t mean that they always start slow but if I ignored this, I would be missing a key component of the upcoming game.

I also try to justify the current price which is also fine. If you cannot justify a current price then it would usually indicate that you are missing something. Very often is a Market “wrong”. You may disagree with it, but the market has formed itself based on something and if you are going to oppose this, you had better know why you are opposing it.

However, it is the next comment which angers me, in which I end up predicting a San Diego win.

Why? Because I don’t want them to? It is not because I think they will. After all, I have objectively analysed the game and found that I believe Indianapolis should win. Of course, there are legitimate reasons for believing San Diego will win. They are in very good form, are at home, match up well against Indy etc… etc… but this isn’t what I think so why did I mention it. But I equally know that it isn’t because of any emotional investment as I equally think Miami are ridiculously long in their match against Baltimore, although I have no interest at all in the end result there.

Now, without wanting to scare any prospective readers away, I will delve into some amateur psychology here!

I am a perfectionist. Now, there is nothing wrong with that. We all wish to be the best that we can be. The problem is that perfection is near enough impossible and when you strive for perfection, you can end up achieving nothing. Perfection is simply not being wrong, and it can lead you to attempt only to not be wrong, but that doesn’t make you right, because you can end up being nothing.

If you take this back to the above comment, then you can see that if Indy won, I was right, they were too long. If San Diego won, I was right as well. However, in reality, you can see that I simply never made a decision. Therefore, actually, I was wrong.

Now you can see the problems I have had on Betfair over the past year, and why I feel that my winnings so far are in fact a far greater accomplishment than what they appear to be just on paper, and why I hope this blog will make me bolder!

After all, I have shot myself in the foot on several occasions this year. In one particular Rugby League match, St Helens v Warrington, Saints raced into a ten point early lead, when I said that Saints would not win and so placed £2 on a 20 to 1 shot. Now, Warrington did come back to lead with less than ten minutes to go. However, by this time, my ultra conservative nature had actually been trading out from as early as 10 to 1! For £2! I worry about losing large amounts of money which is understandable, but this example indicates that maybe money isn’t the main issue!

Now, what makes this story even more hilarious was with Saints approaching 15 to 1, I said that Saints would go onto win, but did not place any money on this. Saints did win and what could have been a £600 win was a £10 one.

Whether I got lucky or understand Rugby League is irrelevant. The fact is that whilst I was able to make a “wacky prediction” knowing that if it didn’t come off, no one would remember I was unable to stick to my belief, and ended up with a net scoreboard loss of £590 or so!

And believe me, that was not the only time a “wacky prediction” came true, although as you are only prone to remembering the most successful of these, I am hoping that this blog will keep a true record of such predictions, and that we shall see whether these come true more often than not, or whether my memory is unduly affected by time!

Such an approach carried on in the NFL, where to avoid losing, I would trade out at ridiculous odds and ended up costing myself a lot of opportunities!

The good thing is that this issue can be fixed, and is being fixed! When I started using Betfair, I did remark that I hoped that it would lead to a greater degree of risk taking in general as I can be too cautious and I am confident that the blog will assist this further by enabling to get my stronger thoughts down on paper for others to see.

Now I don’t intend to go into such detail on every post, but I thought that this might be a good indicator of why I will blog and also a good point for myself to remind myself to stick to my convictions.

For those of you have who survived the ordeal of reading that load of crap, well done on getting this far! Hopefully such monologues will be rare and now on I will state my opinions of tonight’s games and if I’m wrong, so what. This is what I think.

Arizona Cardinals v Atlanta Falcons.

A word of warning here. I am a Cardinals fan. I first got into the NFL in 1998, when the Cards’ appeared to be on regularly and were an exciting team, with a young impressive Quarterback in Jake Plummer and also were regular comeback kids so they became my team. What I didn’t know however, was that they had only ever had one playoff home game, and it would be a further ten years until their next post-season appearance!

The NFL is an interesting sport where any side is truly beating of any other, and therefore predictions are usually meaningless until you see how the teams start. That said, I believe the Cards should be favourites tonight and would price them at around 1.9. Let me explain why.

As I see it there are two main areas in the game which Arizona have to control to win, and they are areas that I believe can be controlled.

On offense, Arizona have one of the most dynamic passing attacks in the NFL. Led by former Superbowl and league MVP Kurt Warner, one of the toughest players in the NFL today Anquan Boldin and one of the greatest catchers of the football in the NFL today, Larry Fitzgerald, the Cards can be close to unstoppable at home.

Making this match up even more promising is that Atlanta are coached by Mike Smith. Now, I believe that Smith is the coach of the year without a moment’s hesitation, but I would choose to play against the Falcons’ D over any others left.

My mind goes back to New England Jacksonville last year in the Playoffs where the Jaguars sat back in Zone, allowing Tom Brady to slowly go down the field, and I believe the Cardinals can do the same this year, as I expect the Falcons’ D to mirror the Jaguars’ D from last year. The Falcons are typically vanilla, and Kurt Warner should be able to take advantage to find Q or Fitz or Steve Breaston or Jerheme Urban to great effect.

However, the one potential problem comes in the name of John Abraham. Whilst the rest of the Falcons D Line are merely above average at generating pressure, Abraham is the one who can create something from nothing and I am sure that he will be licking his lips at the prospect of going up one on one against Levi Brown who frankly, is little better than poor against speed rushers. The Cardinals must double Abraham all day, and ensure that they give Kurt time to find the right man. If they can do this, they will march down the field to good effect against Atlanta’s vanilla defence which is not aided by Safeties Lawyer Milloy and Erik Coleman who are little more than average in coverage, which will not do against Arizona.

On defence, the Cards need to have Adrian Wilson in the box at all times for Atlanta’s offense goes through Michael Turner and Jerious Norwood. Like I do for Mike Smith, I have the utmost respect for what Matt Ryan has accomplished this season and believe that he is destined for great things. However, if the running game can be stopped, and the Falcons forced to rely on Matt Ryan, I believe the Cardinals have the advantage.

However, stopping the run will not be easy for a team who have struggled at times this year and the Cardinals will need a big performance from NT Gabe Watson. This time last year, Gabe looked on his way to being the next Casey Hampton or Jamal Williams. A tremendously gifted defender, whose attitude had been his main stumbling block in College, Watson had dedicated himself to the Cards and the NFL when it was showing. Sadly, Watson sustained major damage to his knee in the off season and has spent most of the year recovering from it and has lost his starting spot to the average at best Bryan Robinson. However, the Cardinals must rely on Gabe to stop the run upfront.

With Adrian Wilson also in the box, the Cards should look to use him on the blitz as he can be devastatingly effective when blitzing. The Cards also have one of the most creative DCs in Clancy Pendergast and whilst Pendergast blows hot and cold, this could be his time to shine.

Of course, Matt Ryan will occasionally beat you due to his talent, although with rookie sensation Dominique Rodgers Cromartie likely to play a key role, the Cardinals should be confident in their back three of Cromartie, Rod Hood and Antrel Rolle and thrust the game on the right arm of Ryan and hope that the Cardinals can exert enough pressure on the right arm to gain victory.

San Diego Chargers v Indianapolis Colts.

Much less of a preview here. I really need to cut down on the length of these posts!

The Colts and the Chargers have faced each other three times in the last two seasons. San Diego did the double last year and Indy won their only meeting this year.

Through the air the Chargers’ D has been poor this season, with the only bright spot being rookie Antoine Cason. They have regularly been abused by Tight Ends so Dallas Clark, who has had a phenomenal end to the year, could be heavily involved and at Cornerback, Antonio Cromartie’s aim of 15 Ints appears to have been replaced by an aim of allowing 15 TDs, although Cromartie is playing hurt and his natural athleticism always make him a danger to pick off a pass.

The Colts’ running game has been horrible this year, and don’t look for it to get much better against San Diego’s impressive front three. The Colts are also hurting on the O-line, with Jamey Richard and Mike Pollak likely out which could create some problems and allow San Diego to pressure Manning extensively. Despite this, you have to feel that the smarts of Manning, who has been in the form of his life lately, should give the Colts a big edge here.

The battle between the Chargers’ offense and the Colts’ D is more intriguing and less clear cut. The Colts have done a phenomenal job this year considering injuries and the lack of cap space that the D has. Their NT for most of the year has been 260 lb Eric Foster, a UDFA who was an under-sized pass rusher in College and came up with the critical stop against Pittsburgh. The loss of Gary Brackett will hurt and allow the Chargers to exploit the Colts in the middle of the field.

As for the Chargers, there is surely no question that L.T. and Antonio Gates will be active, although their effectiveness can be. That said, the key for the Chargers in the second half of the season has been Philip Rivers who is really improving under the coaching of Norv Turner. That said, the Colts have only allowed 6 passing TDs all year, so Rivers could find it hard. On paper, it would look like the Chargers must have the advantage, but the Colts have been playing superbly and therefore this is too close to call.

The final element of the game is Special Teams where the Colts have a usual clutch kicker in Adam Vinatieri, whilst Nate Kaeding has not been so clutch in recent years, although he did perform last year with a broken plant leg. As for returns, the Chargers have a huge advantage here with the Colts’ coverage units usually amongst the league’s worst and Darren Sproles being a huge threat to go the distance at any time.

On review, I still think the Colts are too short and should win but with two QBs who are on top of their game, this one could be a shoot-out which goes down to the distance.

(Update – I wrote this this afternoon at 3.30 when the Colts priced spiked to 1.98. I placed a bet at 1.98 certain it would go down, only for it not to be matched. The current price at the time of writing is 1.89, and the Cardinals have also flip flopped from 2.2 to 1.9. I never saw that one coming. I was certain they would remain outsiders and if anything increase!)


Not a lot happening today. I have unscientifically charted the Barcelona (Still in progress.) and Hearts games, mainly to track liquidity, and was happy with what I saw. However, I did not get involved in either game.

The only game I did get involved in was Liverpool v Preston. Games between opponents in different divisions are likely to see goals so I therefore keep my trading to Pre-Match and early match at reduced rates. I did trade £65 on 0-0 and had a massive profit of £12.50 on 0-0 although my plans to trade out at Half Time for a meagre return (Although it would have bettered last night’s!) fell foul to an Albert Riera goal.

Next Update.

Tomorrow. Hopefully with a lot less to say, based upon tonight’s NFL matches!

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