30 January 2008

Punishing Horse Owner's For Drug Positives Is Idiotic

Detailed Regulatory Initiatives by ORC There are a lot of positive steps but suspending a horse who tests positive to punish the owner is completely ridiculous.

"The purpose of these rules is to encourage owners to conduct proper due diligence in selecting their trainers.”

What a crock. Why doesn't the ORC just come out and say "beware of this list of trainers?" "Don't do business with trainers who have tested positive before because you should know better." How many trainers who get a positive are nailed for the first time? Probably most of those nailed are first time violators, so how does due diligence help?

My thoughts from the Pace Advantage Forum:

I can see a horse getting suspended for 45 days, even though the illegal drug will most likely be out of the system prior to that (not EPO though), and that this might make the public more confident, but to blame and penalize the owner for the trainer or the vet is ridiculous, it is like blaming the parent if his or her kid winds up getting bad medical or dental care by a doctor or dentist.

How many people are at the track on a given day that are related to or friends of owners? How many go just because their friend or relative has a horse out? Aren't these people potential owners or at least gamblers down the road?

Making a rule that deters ownership of horses is imbecilic in today's climate.

I'm all for getting rid of all or most of the drugs, and fining and suspending trainers or vets who violate the sport much heavier than they fined and suspended now. But unless the owner is proven to have knowledge of shady druggings, he or she should be left alone.

How about a new rule that allows the public to have knowledge of all vet work? This of course would include potential owners as well.

Hall of fame trainer Jack Van Berg blames drugs for ruining racing.

He says drugs ranging from legal medications like steroids and clenbuterol to prohibited substances like erythropoietin (EPO) are a blight on the game, punishing the owners who pay the bills, the bettors who play the races, and most of all, the horses themselves.

"Just open your eyes and look around. You know how many trainers would still be winning races if they couldn't use medication? Some of them would starve to death. The veterinary bills are as big as the day money (training bills) for a lot of them. You watch and check how much these veterinarians are making on the backstretch now. They're becoming wealthy.

Harness racing has already driven many owners out, because as Jack Ross states in the article (about thoroughbreds): "You got no shot if you don't juice them up."

********Today's Cool Site********
Brisnet provides free past performances for every 3 year old who even has a rat's chance of winning the Kentucky Derby. Check it out.

Calder allowed up to 2000 slots

Youbet gets exclusive agreement from four Illinois tracks. Revenue sharing will be split 1/3rd for Youbet, the horsemen, and the track proprietors.

Century Casino in Edmonton gets a big boost in attendance thanks to 24 hour poker room.

Emma_Jayne Wilson to winter race in Hong Kong Maybe a stint in Hong Kong will cause her to come back with more class.

Good article on professional gambler Alan Woods, who died last weekend after a bout with cancer at 62.

Maryland reverses ban on steroid use in horse racing.

27 January 2008

Parimutuel Wagering Under Siege

An excellent article by Beverly Smith from the Globe and Mail can be found here: Parimutuel Wagering Under Siege.
Hugh Mitchell, the chairman of the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association, makes many realistic observations. Betting on harness racing is on a drastic decline in Canada, while thoroughbred betting growth is stagnant.

Mitchell says the decreases in parimutuel wagering have occurred for many reasons: competitive issues (from offshore online betting accounts), internal issues within the industry and the nature of the wagering product.

"It's an intellectual product," Mitchell said. "It's not a game of chance, not a quick-play product. There are no life-changing wins like there are in slots and lotteries. …"

I think Mitchell hit the nail on the head by calling horse race betting "an intellectual product." Yes, picking horses even moderately successfully (losing money but beating the track takeout) requires lots of insight and handicapping prowess. But it isn't like the old days, when there was one track and no slots. Back when "sucker money" could be found in the pools. Now it is intellectual versus intellectual, who compete at high track takeouts. There are also a lot more than 9 races a day to play. And add the huge amount of money being played by rebate bettors, many who have very sophisticated computer programs who cut into the potential profit of players, and you get a recipe that makes it impossible for anyone to even come close to beating the game if they play without rebates.
Handicappers are usually smart enough to look for alternatives. And who can blame them. There is Betfair, where you pay 4% of your winnings to the house on a bet by bet basis (you pay no juice when you lose). This is way more realistic when one takes into account the churn factor in betting.
And that type of low takeout mentality is already prevalent in Hold Em Poker, a game like horse racing that requires thought to be successful. It is no wonder that money that should be in racing pools have been lost to Betfair and online poker.
Horse race betting should be growing. It is available on the internet and by phone to the masses. In the old days you had to literally be at the track to bet. But things have changed....well, except for the mentality of racetrack execs when it comes to outrageous track takeouts.
Personally, I only will bet on horses if I get a generous rebate. I'm tired of burning money with no chance of victory. I'm not sure WEG even has a clue how much money they losing out on. And all they seem to do is whine and bitch about Betfair, online poker, and offshore betting houses. They are sure their problems would be solved if such betting was made illegal. I have news for WEG, I'd rather read a book than place a bet into a pool that has a takeout of over 25% on triactors for example.

"It's the evolution of a fairly mature product, which has been around for decades. Every product has its life cycle."
These trends should concern everybody in the industry, albeit not enough to quit, Mitchell said. "But enough concern to retrench and re-evaluate ourselves and begin to try to make ourselves a better industry."

Technology has made horse racing available to the masses like it has never been before. Collectively, racing execs should hang their heads in shame. The racing industry needs to wake up and realize who their clientele is and what makes us tick.
I think there is light at the end of the tunnel. Hugh Mitchell is preaching change. Maybe the racing execs will drop their dinosaur attitudes and get with the times.

I started a thread at Pace Advantage, take a look at it.

Also, Pull The Pocket comments on the article at his blog.

24 January 2008

ORC Announces Health, Safety, and Regulatory Measures

ORC announces changes in Health, Safety and Regulatory Measures

The measures include:

• The establishment of a "Horse Health Passport."

• A new regulation whereby only ORC licensed vets will be authorized to administer medications to racehorses.

• A new regulation on the use of shock wave – or pulse wave – therapy on a racehorse.

• A new regulation requiring the use of safety reins for all racehorses.

• A new regulation requiring the use of safety vests by standardbred participants.

• Owner responsibility -Automatic suspension of a horse for 90 days for testing positive for any non-therapeutic drug.

• A new regulation regarding trainer responsibility.

• Revised guidelines for penalties for equine drug, TCO2, and non-therapeutic drug offences.

• Guidelines regarding trainer transfers.

• New licensing measures, confirming the terms of receiving an ORC license.

• A series of new regulatory control measures, which govern who may conduct 'search and seizure' activities and carry out 'Out-of-Competition' activities.

• To codify into the Rules of Racing the Policy Directives issued as part of the ORC 'Out-of-Competition' Program.

ORC approves changes to HIP program
I haven't been able to find the exact details as of yet.

To try to combat retailer fraud, OLG has introduced new "winning chimes" for tickets that win over $10,000

White out on lottery pool list leads to an investigation. Barry factory workers who won a $24.5 million jackpot have to wait for outcome before they receive their checks.
A couple of factory workers admit they didn't put in the 5 bucks on the week the ticket came in. And you think you have bad luck.

Tragedy as four Lane's End yearlings get hit by a car and die

Montreal Gazette discontinues weekly racing column after 18 years.

In-Play betting available at Betfair becoming very popular. You can bet during the race. New technology is coming about to help track horses in real time.

Quarter horse racing Ontario incentive program announced. I think if you want to bet Ajax, you have to go to Ajax Downs.

19 January 2008

Headlines for January 19th

Wagering down, purses up in 2007. With all that technology going for them, the racing industry should hang their head in shame. Racing execs have failed to attract new bettors, and that is because they are stuck in the stone ages when it comes to track takeouts. Slots are the only thing that is saving the industry, and it might just be a quick fix.

Baymount to maintain Belleville track in 2008 for training. Racing is expected to resume in 2009 at a brand new Racino.

HPBA and Woodbine extend contract three years.
The HBPA of Ontario represents more than 2,500 owners and trainers in the province. It also holds the contract at Fort Erie Race Track & Slots.

'Woodbine’s 2008 meet of 167 days runs from April 5-Dec. 7. Fort Erie is scheduled to race 80 days from May 3-Oct. 28.

Woodbine and the horsemen’s group, like others in North America, are attempting to generate more revenue from pari-mutuel handle. Woodbine and the HBPA of Ontario split 20% of revenue from province-authorized slot machines.

In 2007, Woodbine raced 169 days and offered $85.6 million in purses, an average of $506,482 per day, according to The Jockey Club Information Services. In 2006, for 162 days of Thoroughbred racing, the Toronto-area track paid $75.2 million in purses, an average of $464,327 per program.

Fort Erie last year raced 84 days. Total purses were $8.7 million and the daily average $104,419. In 2006, the border track raced 101 days with total purses of $12 million (a daily average of $119,601).'

0 for 123, harness mare JR Phoenix is due for a victory.

Former Magna Exec, Frank Orr, wins judgment against Magna

NTRA organizing Horseplayers' Coalition
The first thing they need to do in America is cut the withholding tax. The second thing is to force a much lower track takeout.


I like Green Bay to crunch the Giants and New England should blow out San Diego.

16 January 2008

Woodbine 2010: Thoroughbred Racing

Pull The Pocket asked me to do a post on improving Woodbine from a thoroughbred perspective. Pull The Pocket did a post from more of a harness racing angle.

1. Lower takeouts or higher rebates. Make that, much lower takeouts or much higher rebates. The reason why Woodbine and other racetracks see stagnant handles year to year is because savvy bettors have discovered Betfair and rebate houses. Savvy bettors also realize they have next to no chance (actually no chance) winning in the long run when betting into pools that have been gouged by management with dinosaur mentality, who fail to recognize that high takeouts need to be a thing of the past.
Sucker money, which gave good handicappers a shot at winning in the past, is now being blown in slot machines. What we have now is good handicappers going against great handicappers. A huge percentage of every pool comes from "whales" who are getting very large rebates (they usually have arranged deals from another hub) and they are usually very sophisticated "investors" as well.

Without winners, it is very hard to attract newbies to the track. I'm not going to take any new people to the track anymore. I used to, when there was a chance to win.

Now with multi-track betting, gamblers go broke earlier in the day, the churning happens a lot quicker than it used to when one could only bet on one track. Horse racing is now more comparable to blackjack or slots when it comes to amount of action one can have in an hour. If blackjack upped their house advantage even by half a percent the tables would be empty. And slots usually stick to an advantage of 7-9%. Yet horse racing is pretty much at 20%. Ridiculous.

Technological advancements are being wasted right now because of high takeouts. Who cares if someone can make a bet from a washroom stall in a ritzy restaurant? What is going to motivate that person to bet on a WEG product?

2. Drugs. The powers that be should reduce the amount of allowable drugs to 4 or 5 compounds. If a horse has to take something else, he or she should be on the shelf for at least three months from the time of the ingestion of the banned drug.

This of course needs to be monitored, and ideally all vets would have to be responsible to report all vet work performed to a race track database.
If a trainer or another non monitored vet does work or administers drugs (banned or unbanned), a heavy heavy fine and suspension should be levied.

3. Purses should be raised for the lower end claiming races around 20% and reduced from the higher end allowance races. This gives partnerships a chance to make money as owners, plus it helps put a real value on horses. Inevitably it will lead to more owners (especially new owners) and more claiming. The reality is that the times that a 50,000 claiming mare runs, for example, isn't much faster than what a 20,000 claimer runs on many days.

4. 20 cent Pick 6's or 7's. Make it affordable to give someone a realistic chance of winning it.

5. North American betting exchanges exactly similar to Betfair which give players more alternatives. The should be regulated by a common racing hub where each track that participates in it have their own home market customers, where they keep the bulk of the commissions earned on them, and a smaller percentage of commissions bet on their product from non home market customers.

6. Ontario bred claiming races. This will inevitably help the breeding industry here, by boosting the prices/worth of all Ontario bred horses.

12 January 2008

Headlines For January 12th and NFL Playoff Picks

I started a thread at the Pace Advantage Forum regarding the cost of owning horses. Very interesting responses over there. Check it out. Some of the other posters have given rates for some of the American tracks.
For those who aren't members of the forum at Pace Advantage, most of the posters are very knowledgeable when it comes to horse racing, from handicapping to the industry in general.

Leading Fort Erie based trainers (most of these trainers are probably $55 a day or less):
Name Starts 1st 2nd 3rd Earnings
Mark Fournier 147 46 29 21 $375,886
Nicholas Gonzalez 129 34 22 19 $355,559
Lyle Morden 57 17 10 4 $127,440
Layne S. Giliforte 62 17 9 2 $129,416
Michaela Neubauer 96 16 20 8 $176,372
Debra E. Rombis 121 16 17 13 $167,128
Stacey Cooper 47 15 8 7 $124,800
John Attfield 70 15 5 11 $127,563
Daryl G. Ezra 102 14 17 23 $174,316
John Simms 79 14 11 13 $190,025
Donald C. MacRae 67 14 11 7 $121,708
Lynn M. Simon 63 13 8 12 $132,949
Michael Newell 92 12 17 15 $131,670
John R. Wilson 85 12 11 4 $125,590
Daniel Wills 75 11 10 17 $125,347
Paul Nielsen 52 11 6 2 $100,321
Michael R. Osborne 113 10 10 19 $136,472
Austin Hinds 107 9 15 15 $118,285

Too young. Canadian horse racing giant Tammy Samuel-Balaz dies at 47 from cancer.

I still can't find a criminal law in Canada that states that betting on Betfair or even setting up an account with a US ADW is illegal. But with few exceptions US ADW's will not accept Canadian customers, and that is thanks to collusive business practices courtesy of the Woodbine Entertainment Group, who has an unwritten motto "our customers are suckers, and should be treated accordingly."

US Feds bust Costa Rican internet bookmaking ring

Over 35,000 horses shipped to Canada for slaughter in 2007, over 44,000 sent to Mexico. How many were thoroughbreds?

Florida trainer Don Rice, 72, dies of injuries suffered in farm accident. Rice won 8 training titles at Tampa Bay Downs.

NFL Playoffs

I went 2-2 last week.

Today I like Seattle getting 7 and a half against Green Bay. My thought is that Green Bay has been overrated all year, and Seattle shouldn't lose by more than a touchdown here.

I like New England laying 13 and a half points. Jacksonville is one dimensional on offense, and if New England shuts off the run by focusing on it, the Jags are going to have a tough time scoring. And who knows how good New England really is, they've been on cruise control most of the year.

Tomorrow, I like San Diego getting 9 and a half against Indy. I'm a little perplexed as to why the spread has increased since the opening. Indy just doesn't impress me, and San Diego has quite a few offensive weapons, even with or without Gates.

I like the Cowboys by 7 and a half against the Giants, but again I'm surprised at the line being so small. Dallas should kick New York's butt.

9 January 2008

Time For Owners Of Thoroughbreds In Ontario To Think About Who Their 2008 Trainer Will Be

The dust has cleared as thoroughbred horse owners in Ontario have just received their last bills for 2007. How did you do? Have you figured out that no matter how your horse or horses did, the lower the expenses, the more you would have made? Well that last question was pretty easy. Did you like your trainer's decisions overall in 2007? The trainer makes lots and lots of decisions, probably too many decisions. Did you help him or her out? Did your trainer pay you for your opinion? Of course not. The big question is, do you think you would have done better with someone else training for you? Are you aware of what the competition charges? I'm about to let you know.


I'm going to make some assumptions here. Your horse trains for 8 months in the year and races 12 times, for 4 months is your horse is resting at a farm. Also, your horse is Woodbine caliber and runs 11 times at Woodbine and once at Fort Erie.

Training a race horse at Fort Erie could be a lot cheaper for an owner than training the horse at Woodbine. I'm going to go through the pluses and minuses.

Cost of training:

At Woodbine, trainers charge between $60 - $110 per day. 60 bucks and 110 are very rare. The bulk of trainers charge $70-75 a day.

At Fort Erie, trainers charge between $40 - $60 per day. The bulk of trainers charge $50 a day. At Fort Erie, some trainers will offer "the deal." The typical deal is where the owner buys the horse, and the trainer is responsible for all or most of the bills in return for half the purses, and half the equity in the horse once the owner gets his or her purchase price back. For a trainer, this deal is a killer for them unless the horse makes at least $30,000 for the year. Trainers who take deals on cheap horses are usually desperate, and you have to wonder about their foresight. The only way a deal makes sense for a trainer today is if the horse is competitive at a claiming price of $16,000 or greater.

The actual cost to a hands off trainer who does nothing in the way of grooming or walking a horse can be broken down like this:

Groom $23 Hot Walker $8 Food and Bedding $15 Exercise Boy (4-5 times a week@$15 per day) $10 Total Cost=$56 per day

For Erie
Groom $18 Hot Walker $5 Food and Bedding $14 Exercise Boy (4-5 times a week@$12 per day) $8 Total Cost=$45 per day

Remember, these are estimates. Trainers also bring capital investments to the table, some bring a lot more than others. That being said, they could save money by using a hot walker machine, for example, but it cost the trainer to buy the machine. Some have "magical" blankets too. The trainer can also save on feed by buying it off the track in bulk, but they could also add supplements which may or may not appear on your bill as well as over the counter meds.
Trainers also incur Workers Comp charges.

I have always contended that the 10% is what the trainer is entitled to. If he or she wants to make money in the morning, then they should rub a horse or two.

Shoeing Charges

8 months of training and 12 races will mean about 8 pairs of shoes. At Fort Erie, the usual cost is $100 a change. At Woodbine it is around $120-$125.

Shipping Charges

If stabled at Woodbine, shipping once to Fort Erie from Woodbine would cost $200 for the year.
If stabled at Fort Erie, shipping eleven times to Woodbine from Fort Erie would cost $2200 for the year.
Shipping to and from your layoff farm total around $200 a year no matter if you have a Woodbine or Fort Erie trainer.

Layoff Period

Most farms charge between $15-$25 per day. So lets say the typical owner pays around $600 X 4 months per year.

Stake Monies
Many trainers will charge an additional 1% for at least a win on a training bill so that at least the groom will get a stake. Typically, many trainers pay $50-$150 for a second as well to the groom (the owner is usually charged). So a typical owner of a Woodbine horse with a 12 starts a year (lets say 2 wins and a second), will pay an additional $700 in stakes.
Stake money differs dramatically from barn to barn.

Vet Bills
Expect to pay around $200-$300 per start per horse on average regardless of the track.

Miscellaneous Bills
Some trainers will add on tack charges or over the counter meds onto your bill. Most don't charge for this.

Some trainers will say that Fort Erie is a much more calming track, especially for a high strung horse. Lots of grass to graze on, and no airplanes coming and going every 2 minutes. But if you are at Woodbine, you have the option to train on the Poly, sort of a home field advantage.

Lets add it all up:

Training (@$70 per day): $70 X 240 = $16800
Shoes : $125 X 8 = $ 1000
Layoff Charges : $20 X 125 = $ 2500
Shipping = $ 400
Stake Money = $ 700
Vet Bills = $ 3000

Total = $24400
This means your horse needs to make around $30500 a year just to break even. And at $75 a day, the owner needs to make $32,000 a year to break even.

Fort Erie:
Training (@50 per day): $50 X 240 = $12000
Shoes : $100 X 8 = $ 800
Layoff Charges : $20 X 125 = $ 2500
Shipping = $ 2400
Stake Money = $ 700
Vet Bills = $ 3000

Total = $21400
This means your horse needs to make $26750 a year to break even.

If you own a horse that only runs at Fort Erie, the horse may have a few more layoff days because the season is a little shorter, and of course, less shipping charges, so the total that needs to be earned to break even may be $3,000-$4,000 lower than the amount of $26,700.

Many Fort Erie trainers are just as talented as Woodbine trainers, but they may just like the small track/small town feel. Either way, the owner needs to have a trainer they can trust, and one who doesn't intimidate them. If the owner wants to have a big say, they should have it. It is their horse, and they are the one who is most at risk.
Remember, you are the owner, you are doing the trainer a favour by choosing to do business with him or her. Don't forget it.

4 January 2008

Thoughts On WEG Clerk's Betting Fiasco; NFL Wildcard Picks

Unfair practices by WEG come to the surface. The idea that mutuel clerks are liable when they make an irreversible mistake is questionable to begin with, but not allowing them to keep their mistake is just idiotic. For example, if a clerk were to take 20 bucks out of his till to lend to his friend for a race (I realize they aren't supposed to do this), and then his till is audited, he would be short 20 bucks and told to pay it. If the friend comes back in a race to pay the clerk back, does the 20 bucks belong to the track as well? Of course that wouldn't be the case.
The problem with the story below is that the mutuel clerk told others what happened. If the policy to pay for ones mistake is airtight, the clerk should have waited until after the race to tell management what happened. That way if the mistake becomes a winning one, the clerk just runs ticket through their machine, and takes the winnings, and tell no one. The fact that the patron who refused to pay for the mistake in the first place (which of course, was right on the patrons part) had the audacity to come back after the race and ask for the ticket definitely would complicate my solution. The clerk should simply have said to the patron, when the irreversible mistake was made, that "I made the mistake, I have to eat the ticket."
I'm sure that happens when the mistake is made for much smaller amounts many times, maybe even many times a day.
The fact that this had a huge outcome is the reason it made news:

Racetrack workers fight unfair practices

TORONTO, Jan. 2 /CNW/ - The Canadian Auto Workers Local 2007 has launched
a campaign to stop what the union calls "unreasonable rules and practices" for
racetrack workers held responsible for the payment of incorrect betting
The most recent example of this occurred on December 1, when a betting
clerk at the Greenwood Teletheatre in Toronto mistakenly issued an incorrect
ticket to a patron. The patron had asked to place a $500 bet on a number 5
horse to win, but the final ticket read number 6.
The race started before the betting clerk was able to cancel the ticket
and correct the error. The patron refused to accept the incorrect ticket and
refused to pay the $500 that was owed. As is common practice with Woodbine
Entertainment Group it then becomes the betting clerk's responsibility to pay
the outstanding $500 fee.
As it turned out, the incorrect ticket became a winning ticket paying out
$7,825. Rather than allow the betting clerk to collect the winnings an
employer representative confiscated the winning ticket and subsequently
reimbursed the $500 fee. Woodbine refuses to turn over the full proceeds of
the ticket, which was in the teller's possession.
Based on past practice at the racetrack, the union believes that had the
ticket lost, the betting clerk would not have been reimbursed the $500.
Hemi Mitic, Assistant to the CAW National President, considers this a
blatantly unfair practice for betting clerks.
"Our members are being told to foot the bill for incorrect tickets,
regardless if they are responsible for the error or not, and then told that
they can't share in the rewards," Mitic said. "This is a double-standard that
our union simply won't stand for."

CAW Local 2007 represents over 500 workers at Woodbine and Mohawk
racetracks, as well as more than two dozen off-track Teletheatre operations in
the GTA.

Nobody lives forever. Hall of Fame sports writer Milt Dunnell dies at age 102.
From Wikipedia:
Milt Dunnell (December 24, 1905 – January 3, 2008) was a Canadian sportswriter, known chiefly for his work at the Toronto Star.

Born in St. Mary's, Ontario, Dunnell entered journalism with the Stratford Beacon Herald in the 1920s, later becoming the sports editor. He joined the Star as a sportswriter in 1942, becoming sports editor in 1949. He wrote on almost all sports during his career, which lasted more than fifty years, although his productivity declined somewhat in later years. In the 1990s, he was still writing three columns per week until the age of 94.

Amongst other events, Dunnell covered the Olympic Games from 1952 through 1968, Stanley and Grey Cup events, and the Kentucky Derby. He also wrote extensively on baseball for the Toronto Star, even well before the city received a Major League team in 1977.


In 1988 Dunnell received the Jack Graney Award for his contribution to baseball in Canada.

Dunnell was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame and the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 1991.

The city of Toronto named a baseball diamond after Dunnell on June 10, 2006 at Bond Park in a ceremony attended by Dunnell.

Internet Gambling Ban in the US is an infringement of American's rights ISP monitoring tied in with the government happens a lot in middle eastern countries, it is shameful that it happens in the US (Land of the Free) as well.

Orchard Park woman wins big at Fort Erie slots.

Erie County removes itself from two lawsuits looking to get rid of the Buffalo casino

Senecas to begin expansion construction this month on temporary casino. Total slot machines to go to 244 from 135. This doesn't bode well for Fort Erie Race Track. The big $300 million casino is expected to open by June 2010. Again, Indian casinos are only good for the Indians. Buffalo doesn't get it. In Ontario most of the winnings is pretty much treated as tax dollars, when Indians run the show, only a fraction of monies lost by the masses gets such treatment.


I did it. I finished one game over 500 for the season. I celebrated the amazing feat right at midnite on Monday night:)

I don't feel good about this weekend's games at all. There are fishy point spreads, and the matchups are hard to handicap. But here goes:

First off, Seattle only opens as a 4 point favorite, and they are now 3 and a half points, which means that Vegas have been getting lots of Washington action. I just can't see how Seattle won't romp here. They seem that they've been coasting a bit this year, and sometimes take it easy, at least that is my perception. I think they will step up here and beat Washington handily. What am I missing here. Washington is a hard team to watch much of the time.

Jacksonville is 2 and a half in Pittsburgh, but the game started out a pickem. All the top football handicappers are going with the Jaguars. Ding ding ding. I actually really like Pittsburgh here. Big Ben will live up to his nickname. I expect the Jags to make a few costly mistakes.

Tampa Bay just seems to get it done regardless of who their quarterback or running back is. They might go far this year. The Giants historically gets a lot of action.
Give the 2 and a half points in this one. Look for Eli to have a very frustrating game.

San Diego is 10 points. They should beat Tennessee, but they seem to come up with unexplainable terrible games as well. Especially earlier in the season. They seemed to have an easy season. I think the Titans will cover here, but I'd be surprised if they could pull it off.