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We are proud of our efforts here at TwoMinuteWarning, but we also recognize the hard work put in by many other bright minds who cover the NFL. We're well connected throughout the industry, and have a number of notable friends who will grace our guest handicapper page from time to time.
COWBOYS AT REDSKINS (MINUS 2.0)
Well folks, we have a traditional "I don't like you, and you don't like me" battle under the Monday Night lights, as the Redskins and the Cowboys "get it on" at FedEx Field. Bill Parcells vs. Joe Gibbs - nuff said! Perhaps never before have two of the league's greatest coaches meeting years after making their mark as football leaders .. Vince Lombardi and Bear Bryant will be watching this one! The reason to watch is of course, this is a "classic rivalry," but it will be also interesting to watch to see if these two 1-1 teams are playoff contenders, or also rans! The Cowboys have not made Coach Parcells particularly "proud" in their two games this season, and Gibbs has seen opening day brilliance, rust quickly in week #2! If Dallas is to win ... they will need to slow down the Redskins' defense. The Skins' defensive co-ordinator, Gregg Williams will mix several blitz packages, sending outside linebackers, LaVar Arrington and Marcus Washington most of the time. He also has a penchant for dropping tackles into coverage, and blitzing his cornerbacks .. often both at the same time. I look for Vinnie Testaverde to reply to the blitz packages with quick slants and outs, as well as throwing screen passes to his backs. Washington looked very "tentative" last week when The New York Giants made those kind of adjustments in the 2nd half. The Redskins will need to "protect the ball" - they turned it over no fewer than seven times last week, and unfortunately, they will be forced to use backup QB Patrick Ramsey as a starter this week. These are two evenly matched teams, who will be looking for a "ball-control game." Washington looked like "Cinderella" for their first five quarters of this season, but then the "clock struck midnight" and Ramsey could not produce that needed "silver slipper!" I'll TAKE THE COWBOYS to win outright! Back to NASCAR Coach ... its a lot easier to play ... go fast .. turn left!
PENN STATE AT WISCONSIN (MINUS 3.0)
Before we start the 2004 season folks, some handicapping comments in general. I use a customized version of the "old" SportsMaster for Football product that I helped to develop several years ago ... as you probably are well aware ... this product was discontinued when our parent company, Equibase made the decision to focus only on horse racing. The software works best when it is "fed" data, and really "cranks-in" after about the first month of the college season ... therefore - please be careful during the opening weeks of the season, until I can "feed" my database its necessary "food!" My reports will feature what I consider to be the best wagering game in both college and professional football each week (I do not handicap pre-season NFL games) and in the college ranks will always involve a team in the "Top 25!"
I have the unique opportunity to read a lot of "fodder" here in the Central Pennsylvania area where I now call home about the vast improvement of the Penn State Nittany Lions this year. Sure, they are 2-1, but before we take out a second mortgage on your double wide trailer to make a big wager on a possible Lion's upset, please remember that their two wins have come against Akron, and Central Florida whom needless to say, posed less than a competitive challenge to the "boys in blue!" (I used to write ... "Men in Blue" - but things have changed for the worse at State College in the past four years). Their loss came to a very mediocre Boston College eleven - on the road. The Lions' QB, Zack Mills has thrown for an impressive 591 yards in three games, but once again .. most of those yards came against Akron and C.F.U. and I also note that he has been picked off 6 times already this season, while throwing just 4 TD passes. Wisconsin eeked out a 9-7 win over Arizona last week, holding The Wildcats to under 200 yards of total offense! This might come down to the coaching staffs folks .. and despite living in Pennsylvania .. I feel STRONGLY that The Badgers' Barry Alvarez is a more creative coach than the aging, and rapidly fading, Joe Paterno! I'll TAKE WISCONSIN by a TD - or more!
Rick Needham has been described on several web sites "the internet's oldest handicapper," which perhaps needs some "explanation." The term "oldest" is in fact not one of chronological age, but a term which describes the length of time that his selections have been appearing in an electronic fashion. Back in 1980, when the internet as we know it currently, was just a figment of one's imagination, Needham had begun the Science and Mathematics Forum on the CompuServe Network, which eventually evolved into both the current internet and AOL. A portion of his Forum included a group of mathematicians who discussed the "odds" of both sports and horse racing handicapping in a rudimentary "chat room," which later drew Needham to the California-based AXCIS INFORMATION SYSTEMS, and the development of both the TrackMaster and SportsMaster handicapping software products. Needham was TrackMaster's first public handicapper, and his selections on their web site began to draw the attention of a new customer base that was slowly becoming comfortable using computerized software for handicapping. The SportsMaster software was discontinued several years ago following the purchase of AXCIS by Equibase which decided that the company should focus only on horse racing, however Needham is still using a customized version of that powerful software package to handicap professional and college football and basketball.
Rick's full analysis for the NFL and NCAA along with daily horse racing coverage can be found at his own The Better Bettor web site as well as thru Turf'n'Sport.