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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, July 4, 2015 at 10:40 AM



Last year at this very time - the 4th of July - we reminded y'all of one of baseball's great all-time axioms that teams that were in first place on this great American holiday are usually sitting there at the end of the season ... so how did that work last year?

Well, in the American League, the division leaders on Independence Day 2014 - the Baltimore Orioles, Detroit Tigers and Oakland A's - all made it to the playoffs but the A's blew their AL West lead to the Los Angeles Angels and then promptly lost in the Wild Card Game.

And none of the above wound up in the World Series, of course, as the Kansas City Royals (they 45-40 on July 4th last year) made it to the Fall Classic with one of the great October runs in history.

Meanwhile, in the National League your Fourth of July division leaders last year included the Atlanta Braves, the Milwaukee Brewers and the Los Angeles Dodgers and as we all know only the Dodgers hung on to win the NL West while the Washington Nationals and the St. Louis Cardinals both swiped their respective divisions in the NL Esat and NL Central.

And none of the above wound up in the World Series as the San Francisco Giants (they were 48-39 on July 4th last year) raced to the Fall Classic and won it all in a dramatic seven-game set against the aforementioned Royals.

So, guess you could say that "baseball axiom" may be a bit time-worn but wasn't that something that none of the six division leaders on July 4th and none of the division winners at year's end made it to the World Series?

In other words, just get in (to the post-season) and get hot.

Got it?

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers are banging outs lots of winners in Major-League Baseball these days and all you need to do is check in either right here online or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 any time after 1 p.m. Eastern time for the weeknight action, after 11 a.m. ET for weekday games and after 10 a.m. ET for Saturday/Sunday/Holiday Winners. Plus, the Football Season isn't that far off as NFL Preseason action swings into gear in early August - can't wait!


It is summertime and that means the annual Jim Sez report on all 32 NFL teams with our quick-hitter looks continuing today with the Houston Texans, the New England Patriots, the Oakland Raiders and the Philadelphia Eagles ... and check out our quickie pointspread ditties too:

HOUSTON (9-7) - So, was there any truth to those QB Peyton Manning-to-the-Texans rumors we all heard a couple of weeks ago? According to Manning's play-it-cool agent Tom Condon, "Neither the Texans, the Broncos, or Peyton Manning ever talked to me about a trade anywhere." But if Houston did seem intrigued, could you blame 'em considering the current list of Texans' quarterbacks includes the likes of Brian Hoyer (the presumed starter), Ryan Mallett (expected to get dealt somewhere by the end of summer, according to sources) and former University of Pittsburgh slinger Tom Savage.
Pointspread Notes - The Texans have recorded three solid spread seasons the past four years as Houston went 9-5-2 ATS (against the spread) last year, they went 10-7-1 ATS in 2012 and finished 12-5-1 back in 2011 (the AFC South squad registered a shoddy 4-12 spread log in 2013).

NEW ENGLAND (15-4) - Gee, guess Tom Brady and his legal team had lots to say to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell a couple of weeks back in New York City as Brady's appeal of "DeflateGate" took in excess of 10 hours - and now you wonder how long it's gonna take backup QB Jimmy Garoppolo to master the Patriots' playbook when/if he has to step into the breech and lead the Super Bowl champs for what we believe will be anywhere between two and four games at the start of this 2015 season. In case you missed it, the Pats also inked veteran journeyman QB Matt Flynn whose failure as a free agent in Seattle led to this meteoric career start fir Seahawks' QB Russell Wilson.
Pointspread Notes - In their last 25 home games (including playoffs), the Patriots are an electric 17-8 versus the vig while dating back to the midway point of 2012. However, the Pats are just 7-13 spreadwise away since late in the '12 campaign and that does include the pointspread "W" in last year's 28-24 Super Bowl victory against 1-point fav Seattle.

OAKLAND (3-13) - For all this talk about how QB Derek Carr (3,270 yards passing with 21 TDs) shined last year as a raw rookie, the fact remains the 2014 Raiders finished dead-last in the league in total offense, dead last in rushing (77.5 yards per game) and just 26th in passing (204.7 ypg) and so no great surprise that Alabama WR Amari Cooper was the team's top overall draft pick this past spring (and fourth overall choice) but safe to say RB Latavius Murray - who averaged a meaty 5.2 yards per carry in a reserve role last season for the silver-and-black - must be a spark now that he's been inserted into the starting role and we'll watch this preseason whether Murray can find some gaping holes behind heralded C Rodney Hudson who just signed a five-year, $44.5 million contract this past offseason.
Pointspread Notes - Here's a spread stat that might just floor you: The Raiders are a collective 70-88-1 versus the vig the past 10 years and only once in these past 10 years has Oakland sported a winning spread mark (see 10-6 in 2011). Last year the Raiders covered back-to-back games only once (at San Diego/home to Kansas City) all year long.

PHILADELPHIA (10-6) - It's easy to see how some of the team's personnel changes outside the QB/RB positions can get lost in the shuffle, so let's remind you that the Eagles did other things besides trade away RB LeSean "Shady" McCoy and QB Nick Foles while acquiring LB Kiko Alonso (from Buffalo) and QB Sam Bradford (from St. Louis) in a pair of high-profile moves and let's not forget the signing of QB Tim Tebow: The Eagles also will be keeping close eyes later this month in summer camp on recently-signed G John Moffitt (from Denver) and LB Brad Jones (from Green Bay) - maybe not earth-shaking upgrades but consider this oft-lax defense could use a boost after finishing 28th in the NFL in overall defense in 2014 (and 31st in passing defense).
Pointspread Notes - Despite the fact the Eagles covered five of their first six home games last year, this NFC East crew is a dire 11-21-1 ATS overall as hosts dating back to the start of the 2011 campaign.

NOTE: Lots more Baseball and Football coverage all next week right here at Jim Sez, so don't miss out!

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