The City Of Houston Stinks

The Chiefs won Sunday’s game vs the Texans 51 to 31. After being down 24-0 to start the game, the Texans absolutely shit the bed and gave away the victory. The Texans are the 1st team to be up by 20 in a playoff game but end up losing the game by 20. There is no way anything else could embarrass the city of Houston quite like this [it AJ Hinch just entered the chat].

Before we get into the embarrassment that is the Houston Astros let’s focus on the embarrassment that is the Houston Texans. Today’s viz is a representation of just how much the Texans blew it yesterday. The blue squares are points scored by the Texans & the red squares are points scored by the Chiefs. The Texans had a 24-0 lead but ended up relinquishing the lead before the half – a lead they would never gain back.

As you can see from the viz, the Texans absolutely stink. The Texans scored the 1st 24 points, then gave up a prompt 41 unanswered points – basically ending the game. The Texans were such an embarrassment, that it would have to take something truly unbelievable to outshine this stinker.

Well, remember when I mentioned this is one of the most embarrassing moments in Houston sports history? Well luckily for the Texans, the Astros stepped up when the Texans needed it most – burying the fact that the Texans absolutely STINK to page 2 of the local sports page.

The MLB announced their hefty punishment against the Astros today – after a long and detailed investigation – which resulted in their GM & manager losing their jobs. Not only is this cheating scandal a permanent stain on the MLB, but on the Astros, the city of Houston, & everyone that calls that city home. This begs the question – as a Houston fan which is more embarrassing – the Chiefs comeback win on Sunday or the Astros tainted 2017 World Series win?

To be fair the worst thing about being a Houston fan is most likely the sound of constant construction, the smell of urine in the downtown air, the troves of cheap food trucks lining the streets, or simply the fact that you have to live in Houston instead of, well anywhere else…

Now that I’m thinking about it, sports may be the least of the Houstonians worries.

Houston STINKS

NFL Playoff Preview: Titans @ Ravens

This weekends AFC playoff matchup between the Baltimore Ravens & Tennessee Titans features two of the most dynamic rushing attacks in the NFL.

Derrick Henry led all NFL players in rushing yards last year with 1,540 yards, but the most impressive rushing stat from this season comes from Lamar Jackson. Obviously he was the number one rushing QB in the league, but shockingly he ended the year 6th overall in rushing yards. Think about that – the starting QB for a playoff team ended the season with more rushing yards than the following players: Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook, Aaron Jones, & his own back field teammate Mark Ingram.

Lamar Jackson is the 6th best running back in the NFL but from the starting QB position.

With those stats in mind, I wanted to see how much better the Ravens were than the rest of the NFL at rushing the football.

The viz below utilizes yards per attempt for the y-axis & yards per game for the x-axis. The size of the circle represents rushing TDs. The purple circle is the Ravens, the blue circle is the Titans, & the dark grey circle is the NFL avg.

As you can see from the chart – the Ravens fly in a world of their own. They literally are an outlier on this chart and skew the rest of the data. The Ravens average an astonishing 62 more yards per game than the 2nd place team & a 1/2 yard per attempt more than the 2nd place team.

Obviously the Ravens are the stand out in this viz, but the Titans are pretty lethal on the ground as well. Behind the cabuse of Derrick Henry – the Titans average 139 yards per game & 5 yards per attempt. It will be a battle of similar strengths when these two teams face off this Saturday.

Now let’s get to the important part – winning you money.

As it stands today the Ravens are favored by 9.5 points and the over under is currently at 47.

I do not have a visual to back this bet but I will be betting Baltimore Under 29.5 total points.

This bet is based on a few factors. First, Lamar Jackson is a young QB starting in the playoffs. Historically, young QBs do not put up large amount of points in the playoffs. I believe Lamar will lead them to victory, just not as high scoring as anticipated. Second, the Titans are a good defensive team. They held the Patriots to only 20 points in the Wild Card Round & in fact have only allowed > 29.5 points once this season (11/3 CAR). The last reason for this bet is both teams rush the ball a lot. This means that there will be a large amount of rushing attempts, meaning less chances for the clock to stop. Less opportunities for the clock to stop means the game should have a good pace which will lead to less opportunities for the Ravens to have the ball.

I’m willing to bet Mike Vrabel will do his best Denzel impersonation & get the Titans D to step up this week. Similar to how Gary Berteer, (pre car wreck) the doctor from scrubs, Ryan Gosling, Sunshine, & Avon Barksdale stepped up for the superhero cheerleader back in the day.

We Are The Titans – The Mighty Mighty Titans

Official Bet: Baltimore Ravens Under 29.5 Points

NFL Playoff Preview: Vikings @ 49ers

As it stands today Kirk Cousins is a better QB than Drew Brees – you like that? He has certainly had an up and down season but when it mattered the most – he and the Vikings D stepped up in a big way in New Orleans.

The Vikings now have a new task this week, go into San Francisco and beat the Jimmy G lead 49ers. The winner of this game will almost certainly be the favorite to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.

Does Kirk & the Vikings have what it takes to win another playoff game on the road against a tough opponent? Hell if I know – but what I can do is give you some gambling advice so we can maybe make a little money while we watch this great battle in San Fran.

For this game I will not be focusing on the full game spread but rather the 1st half spread. The line is currently MIN @ SF (-3.5) for the 1st half.

Let’s dive into the numbers to see if we can find an edge. First up is the Minnesota Vikings.

In the viz below, I took a look at every game the Vikings played this year and charted the results of the 1st half. If they covered +3.5 then a purple check & if they did not – a gold x.

As you can see – the Vikings have been within 3.5 points in 13 of 17 games including the Wild Card Round vs the Saints. More importantly, recently they are red hot. Covering +3.5 1st Half in 5 of last 6 games & 11 of last 13 games.

This is good information but this is only 1 side of the coin. Let’s take a look at the 49ers stats and see if there is anything we can use to find an edge. Let’s find that edge – always be edging.

Well what do you know, it is the direct inverse of the Vikings. In 10 of 16 games this season & more importantly 6 of the last 8 games- the 49ers were not leading at the half by more than 3.5 points.

This tells me that since the public loves the 49ers so much – Vegas has inflated this line because they know no matter what the line they will get the public to bet the 49ers. Similar to the Cowboys, Steelers, & Packers – the public has such an affinity for these team that Vegas can jack with the lines and still see a huge amount of bets.

For these reasons I am riding with my guy Kirk and the Vikings & betting MIN +3.5 (-110) 1st half. So prep your finest foil, power up your grill, & dig in because this should be a good one.

Official Pick: MIN +3.5 (-110) 1st Half

NBA Gambling Preview: TOR @ CHA

Toronto Raptors @ Charlotte Hornets

The Toronto Raptors are taking on the Charlotte Hornets tonight in Charlotte. The Raptors are playing in their second game of a back to back with last nights game being played in Toronto. That means they have to travel from Toronto to Charlotte late night – wake up in a foreign hotel & get ready for a game tonight.

If we take a look at a similar situation to this – December 23 – Toronto @ Indiana. This was a 2nd game of a back to back with the 1st game at home & the 2nd on the road. Toronto only scored 19 points in the 1st quarter of this game.

A few more trends regarding TOR 1st Quarter unders. In 7 of the last 9 games they have scored less than 26 points.

In their 2nd game of back to backs they have scored: 20, 19, 30, 23, & 24 points in the 1st quarter. That makes for an average of 23.2 in their 2nd game of back to backs.

For the season Toronto averages 24.5 points on the road and 23.7 in their last 3.

The Raptors are facing the Hornets – who are currently ranked last in pace. This means the game should be a slowed down mess which means less opportunities especially in the 1st quarter when the players aren’t properly warm. Also, Charlotte is averaging 25.3 points against in the 1st quarter in their last 3 games.

The last point I will make is Toronto is battling injuries with Siakam, Gasol, & VanVleet appearing to be out tonight. Add this to the mix & I feel very comfortable with this bet. Expect the Raptors to come out flatter than a flapjack.

Official Pick: Toronto Raptors Under 26.5 Points (-110)

The Real Life Benefits Of Doing Yoga

Yoga is hot in the streets these days – becoming one of the most practiced forms of fitness across not only the USA but the world. A lot of misconceptions, stereotypes, & fallacies have been written and discussed regarding yoga. This ‘yogi culture’ seems to intimidate and turn away new participants – which is ironic because this is exactly the opposite of what the ‘yogi culture’ should be doing. Yoga is not the ‘fix all’ that some portray it as – but there is no doubt that a regular yoga practice has extraordinary benefits. This will be our focus today.

Today’s viz is a minimalist hand drawing of my favorite yoga sequence – Sun Salutation B. Each position in the sequence is represented in this drawing (left to right).

I would highly recommend starting with this sequence for anyone who is interested in getting into yoga but may not know where to start. Not only does this sequence do a great job of building the foundation for the essential poses, but also is a great introduction into syncing your breath with your movements.

Yoga has so many benefits – tangible and intangible. The crazy thing is – depending on who you are those benefits could be completely different than your mat neighbors & that is okay.

Below are the 5 biggest benefits to my life that has come from yoga.

Better Sleep

Long gone are the days of tossing and turning for hours at a time at night. Now that I have a regular yoga schedule – I am able to fall asleep much quicker & stay asleep much longer. In my opinion – the increased blood to your brain through breathing combined with the general fatigue from working out – helps with your sleeping pattern. Try yoga 5 days a week for 2 months & then try and tell me I’m lying.

Less Stress

Stress is one of the biggest things I deal with day to day. Between stress from your job, to stressing about the future, to stressing about stressing – there is a lot of stressors in our life. Yoga not only helps you destress in the moment – it also equips you to destress yourself in the future. Yoga is all about staying in the moment and conquering the difficulties around you & the foundation of that is your calm breath and internal thoughts. This is the number one thing I fall back to in any stressful situation – whether that be at work or in the 4th quarter of the Sunday night bailout with a payout looming over you the next morning. Try it – it works.

Hot Bod

Everyone wants a hot bod – whether you want to admit it or not. Yoga helps you get there and gives that hot single line down your stomach. If you are looking to lean out and add some abs for swim suit season – try yoga. It will work.

Injury Prevention

As we age – injury prevention becomes much more important than when we were in our younger age. I don’t need to tell you that stretching in a yoga class will help prevent injury but one point I will make is preventing back injury. This is the key to yoga. We are constantly strengthening our core and lower back to ensure we protect the most fragile part of our body – the lower back. Once a back injury kicks in – it’s tough to live a normal life. So for the sake of your hamstrings and back – try yoga.

Increased Patience

Now to me this is the number one benefit to my increased yoga practice. I needed help in this area and yoga has undoubtedly helped me. Yoga has helped me surrender that constant need to be in control. You can only control your actions & no one elses. Once that syncs in – it is much easier to be patient. The increased blood flow and breathing exercises certainly don’t hurt – but to me it’s more of a mind shift that yoga provides that will truly increase your patience. Give it a shot – it’s going to work.

So take it from me – a once close minded young arrogant male – yoga is good for you. Give it a shot – you won’t regret it.

If you are looking to get started in yoga or want to follow along with my practice – check out the link to my YouTube page. The link below is myself, Charlie the dog, & Ellie Belly Jelly Bean practicing our Sun Salutation B. Enjoy!

The New Puppet Master: Mike McCarthy

Jerry Jones has made his decision – he has hired Mike McCarthy to be the next head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. McCarthy brings: experience, a Super Bowl Ring, the ability to coach a mobile QB & most importantly a lot of uncertainties.

The public narrative is that Jerry is moving on from one puppet head coach (Garrett) to a fatter but just as much of a puppet head coach (McCarthy). To be honest – I think McCarthy gets a bad rap but let’s take a look at the numbers to see what the truth is.

The viz below is a scatter plot utilizing regular season wins as the y-axis & regular season win % as the x-axis. The size of the circle is Super Bowl wins. I also included 5 different zones that give a description of the coaches within that zone. All coaches in this graphic are currently active NFL head coaches except for Jason Garrett. I wanted to include him so we can directly compare McCarthy and Garrett.

There are a few things that stick out to me about this graphic, so let’s get those out of the way before we jump further into the McCarthy / Garrett comparison.

  • Belichick is miles and miles above every other head coach
  • John Gruden stinks
  • There are a lot of bad coaches in the NFL
  • All Andy Reid is missing is one Super Bowl to put him in the true elite class of coaches
  • Jason Garrett is the most average head coach in the NFL
  • Mike McCarthy should be mentioned in the same breath as Pete Carroll, John Harbuagh, Sean Payton, & Mike Tomlin. Mike McCarthy is a good coach.

Now on to the McCarthy / Garrett comparison – let’s focus on the last 2 bullet points.

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw Garrett land exactly on that average regular season win line & so close to the average regular season win %. I always had an inclination that Garrett was the most average head coach in the NFL – but I never imagined the numbers would prove this point to be so valid. Garrett has been so good at being mediocre that it may have helped him keep his job so long. If he was better early – then maybe higher expectations would have been put on him – leading him to failure. If he was worse – a spotlight would be on him – and he would have been fired sooner.

On the other end of the argument is Mike McCarthy. I’m not sure if it was because he was in Green Bay, or because he allegedly ‘couldn’t coach Aaron Rodgers’, or because he looks so goofy & dumb on the sideline – but none the less he does not get the respect he deserves. He is currently 6th among active head coaches in regular season wins & 5th in regular season win %. Most importantly he is also 1 of only 8 active head coaches that have won a Super Bowl. He is a Super Bowl winning coach and should be treated as one.

I am officially a Mike McCarthy STAN. There’s plenty of room on the bandwagon now but when the Cowboys and McCarthy are steady winning Super Bowls – remember what your thoughts were on January 6th.

Image result for eminem stan gif

Tom Brady Is A Cyborg

Tom Brady has been so great for so long that even with him standing on the 1 yard line & less than a minute to go – I still expected he would do the unimaginable and drive 99 yards for the win. I know its nuts & I admit it sounds delusional but Tom Brady really is that great & has proven time and time again that you cannot count him out.

We all know how this game eventually ends. Brady throws a pick 6 & the Titans move on to the second round while the Patriots head back to Foxboro for an unusually long off season.

After this weekend the narrative will shift because as soon as their is any weakness detectable from Brady & the Pats – the media jumps on it like sharks to live bait. We all know the beats – Stephen A Smith yelling about how Slava Medvedenko is a better fit for the Patriots offense or Skip Bayless placing his Brady jersey next to his Zeke jersey just below his awkwardly placed microwave. Either way – I do not want to jump on the negative bandwagon.

Instead – this will be a piece where I praise Brady because what he has accomplished as a starting QB in the NFL is actually unreal. Like legitmately hard to wrap your brain around how successful he truly has been.

The viz below is a scatter plot of all QBs that have started at least 5 playoff games. I wanted to see what QBs have had the most success. I utilized playoff wins as the y-axis, playoff win % as the x-axis, & super bowl wins as the circle size.

As you can see (in case you don’t I made Brady’s circle bright red) – Brady is head and shoulders above the other QBs. Tom Brady is not only the greatest QB of all time – it honestly isn’t even close.

Brady has an unbelievable 30 playoff wins. That is 14 more than the second QB (Joe Montana). Matter of fact – if you combine the 2nd (Montana) & 3rd (Elway) winningest QBs – Brady is still TIED with them. Let me restate that: if you combined Montana’s & Elway’s CAREER PLAYOFF WINS (30) – Brady alone is still tied with that win total. He has a higher career playoff win percentage than Joe Montana, John Elway, Ben Roethlisberger, Roger Staubach, Brett Favre, & Peyton Manning.

Tom Brady is undoubtedly the greatest QB of all time – we truly will not realize his greatness until he is gone. To that note – I do not think Brady will retire. This is how I see it playing out:

Brady announces he is coming back next year. McDaniels accepts a new job but classic McDaniels – he resigns immediately & stays as OC of the Pats. Gronk is partying it up in Cabo – hears the news and comes out of retirement. The ghost of Aaron Hernandez has been rehabilitated and is ready to rock. Belichick puts on his nicest cut-off hoody while Bob Kraft starches his multi color shirt. They are meeting at the nicest Cleveland strip mall massage parlor to convince Odell Beckham to make a move to New England. Finally since Sean McVay was created from the rib of Belichick – he owes him a favor. They trade Aaron Donald & Cooper Kupp for a 4th round pick, the camera used in spygate, & 5 extra ball pumps with needles.

The Patriots now have the most explosive offense in the NFL. Starting at QB the GOAT. The trio of WRs is the best since the Greatest Show On Turf (Beckham, Eddelman, & Cupp). The two headed monster is back at TE – Gronk is fully healthy and the ghost of Hernandez literally cannot be touched.The defense returns the best starting unit in all of football but adds Aaron Donald & his dueling knife set. The Pats break all the records, go 16-0, & win the Super Bowl.

Brady announces that he is actually a cyborg and he will never retire. Fast forward to the year 2045 & Brady is still slinging the rock. He may have added more plastic surgery on his face than a British reality star & his hair plugs have a pulse of their own – but god damn it he is still winning football games.

I guarantee this will happen – just watch.

For an interactive version of the viz above check out my Tableau Public website: https://public.tableau.com/profile/stephen.cox#!/vizhome/PlayoffQuarterbackSuccess/PlayoffQBs

NFL Playoff Preview: Vikings @ Saints

I am going to make this short and sweet – I am picking the New Orleans Saints 1st Half Over 14.5 Points.

Take a look at the viz below. Since week 11 the Saints offense has been humming – averaging 20.8 points in the first half.

In 6 of the last 7 games – the Saints have scored > 14 .5 points. They are peaking at just the right time.

I’m riding with Drew Brees and the Saints – Geaux Saints!

NFL Playoff Preview: Titans @ Patriots

When the Patriots square off against the Titans this Saturday in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs – they will find themselves in a scenario that is familiar yet foreign at the same time.

The Patriots have been on a remarkable run beginning in 2003. They have made the playoffs in 16 out of 17 seasons and more recently 11 straight seasons. This is the familiar part – now let’s get to the foreign part.

In that time, the Patriots have only played in 3 Wild Card Rounds. Let me restate that so everyone can marvel at how ridiculous this is: The Patriots have made the playoffs in 16 out of 17 season but have only had to play in the Wild Card Round 3 times. That’s 13 out of 16 times (81%) that the Patriots finished top 2 in their conference. That is nuts.

Okay that’s the end of the history lesson so time to jump into what matters – the game this Saturday. The Tennessee Titans have had a great season behind head coach & Bill Belichick disciple – Mike Vrabel. Finishing 9-7 & earning a Wild Card birth. Vrabel is no stranger to the playoffs – winning 3 Super Bowls with the Patriots. This season he has made his mark on the defensive side of the ball with his defense finishing the year ranked 12th in points per game (20.7).

As you can see from the viz below- the Titans rarely give up > 24 points in a game. In fact it has only happened 3 times this season.

Based on this I decided to take a closer look at the Patriots offense. The Patriots rank 7th in the league with an average of 26.2 points per game – but when you take a closer look it is obvious that this number is slightly skewed.

For the first 8 games of the season – the Patriots averaged 31.25 points. Compared to the last 8 games where the Patriots averaged 21.25 points. That is key because it shows that the Patriots offense has slowed down in the second half of the season & is not the high scoring team it presents itself to be.

A quick glance at the weather report shows that rain is expected. Combine these factors and I will be betting on the NE Patriots Under 24.5 points.

Official Pick: NE Patriots Under 24.5 (-130)

NFL Playoff Preview: Bills @ Texans

This week marks my favorite yearly tradition – no it isn’t the mark of a new year, or the disassembling of the Christmas decor, or the beginning of the NFL playoffs – but rather the tradition of the Houston Texans playing in the Saturday afternoon wildcard playoff slot. This year will mark the 4th time in 5 years the Texans will play in this exact time slot – what an honor.

Tune in this Saturday afternoon as the Houston Texans will be facing Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills at home. The Texans are hoping Deshaun Watson can play a stellar game to offset their poor defense (28th ranked) & the Bills are hoping Josh Allen can manage the game enough so their excellent defense (3rd ranked) can take over.

Okay, now that the pleasantries are out of the way – the real question lingers. How the heck are we betting this game & will we make money? Well obviously the answer is yes we will be making money – continue reading to find out the actual bet.

For this game – I will be focusing on the 1st half line. As of now – the 1st half line is BUF @ HOU (-1).

I took a look at each game BUF played on the road & HOU played at home in this season. I wanted to see how each team fared when playing in games that are similar to this weekends game. The results below are all based on a 1 point 1st half spread.

As you can see – the Bills have excelled in the 1st half this season while the Texans have struggled. For this reason – I will be taking BUF (+1) 1st half. It would not surprise me in the least if HOU ends up winning this game but for the 1st half -expect BUF to come out swinging and cover the spread.

Official Pick: BUF Bills +1 (+100) 1st Half