Appraising Peyton Manning and this year’s Preakness

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This is supposed to be a time of year when the sports books get rested, you know, after March Madness and before football season. But if you walked into any race and sports book over this past weekend, you’d have noticed they looked every bit as busy as a football weekend.

The first Saturday in May always brings out the best in the books because there’s the Kentucky Derby running and usually a major fight in town. In addition to those major events, there was also the high drama of the NBA and NHL playoffs and the steady flow of 15 baseball games a day.

So instead of taking a deep breath on Sunday to regroup from the Madness of Saturday, the crew over at the LVH Super Book took it up a notch and added football to the platform by unveiling their NFL Games of the Year.

They posted a total of 80 games – the best matchups from each of the 17 weeks of the upcoming season – in addition to the entire Week 1 schedule made available two weeks ago when the complete NFL slate was announced.

The feature game among the 80 is the Sept. 21 Super Bowl rematch with the Broncos visiting the Seahawks with Seattle a 3½-point favorite. I’m still nauseous from the 43-8 blowout in February, when we saw the supposed best offense the NFL ever saw get totally manhandled on a neutral field by the league’s best defense.

The line is basically saying the Broncos and Seahawks are equal in the LVH power ratings with home field being worth +3½ for Seattle who have one of the best home field edges – might be the best overall – in the NFL.

However, with the game being played in the regular season, Peyton Manning should be at his very best. Sorry, I couldn’t resist, but there is some validity to the statement.

The other big matchups being offered include both Seahawks-49ers meetings, the two teams most expect to be representing the NFC in the Super Bowl. The 49ers are -2½ at San Francisco on Thanksgiving night, and in the rematch Dec. 14 in Seattle, the Seahawks are -3½.

The limits are $2,000 and no one is rushing to the windows to bet them yet, but it’s a topic everyone sure loves talking about now, which shows just how powerful the NFL is. Here we are in May, just before the NFL Draft, with everything else going on in the race and sports world, and we’re talking about Thanksgiving Day spreads.

Preakness: California Chrome had just won the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday. My first thought, while waiting forever for the NBC coverage to show the payouts, was what he will be in the Preakness and odds to win the Triple Crown.

Within 20 minutes of the win, William Hill sports books answered those questions by posting California Chrome even money to win the Preakness, with the field at -120. Chrome would be 2-to-1 to win the Triple Crown with the field at -240 to stop him.

Every race book in town will be rooting for California Chrome to win the Preakness because it sets up a big Belmont Stakes, where handle on the event will exceed normal patterns by over 50 percent if there is a horse running for the Triple Crown.

No horse has done it since Affirmed in 1978, so it’s kind of a big deal when the first two legs are accomplished and why people flock to the books for the third leg – to be part of history. With the way California Chrome ran away from the field down the stretch, there’s plenty to be excited about what lies ahead.

Amazing A’s duo: When the A’s starting rotation lost Bartolo Colon to free-agency plus A.J. Griffin and Jarrod Parker to injury, Oakland’s chances of repeating in the AL West looked bleak. Yet here they are in May sitting in first-place like nothing’s wrong.

Through Sunday’s action, the A’s were 19-12 with a two-game lead over Texas, and 12 of those wins are directly attributed to Griffin and Parker’s replacements. Jesse Chavez (2-0, 1.89 ERA) and Scott Kazmir (4-0, 2.11) have been two of the best pitchers in baseball thus far, especially for bettors.

Chavez and Kazmir are each +6.0 units on the season with the A’s having won all 12 of their starts, which has them tied with each other as the most money earned by any starting pitcher in baseball.

NBA is fantastic: New commissioner Adam Silver couldn’t have asked for a better product to be placed into his hands, and that was no more apparent than what we witnessed in the first round of the playoffs.

Usually, we see a sweep or two with the bad lower-tiered teams having no shot against the upper echelon, but not this season. Six of the eight first-round series went to seven games, including both No. 1 seeds. Out west, all four series went to a seventh game.

There is parity in the NBA like never seen before, and that’s a good thing. While part of me hopes to see the Clippers and Heat in the Finals, an infusion of new blood against the two-time champs, another part wants to see a Cinderella story like Washington advance far. We just don’t see surprise teams in the NBA like we do in baseball, or even football, and this year all the top teams look more vulnerable than ever.

In the second round, I have Washington (+170) taking out the Pacers in 6 and the Heat (-500) eliminating the Nets in 6 (note: the Nets won all four meetings this season against Miami). Out west, I have the Spurs (-320) downing the Blazers in 6 and the Clippers (+155) outlasting the Thunder in what should be the most entertaining series of the second round.

Applause for MGM book: Recognition was due for their efforts on Saturday getting everyone’s bets in amid a hectic scene with the Kentucky Derby and having the Mayweather fight on property. No book in town had the type of chaos surrounding it and yet MGM passed with flying colors.

It’s a huge feather in the cap of director Lamar Mitchell for having his crew so prepared. In addition to the great service everyone received, including me with my losing Derby wagers, the book was absolutely immaculate. It was a total class act in the image Louis B. Mayer originally intended for the MGM brand, even though Mayer had no idea that brand would extend to the hospitality industry.

Micah Roberts is a former Las Vegas race and sports book director, one of The Linemakers on SportingNews.com , and longtime motorsports columnist and sports analyst at GamingToday. Follow Micah on Twitter @MicahRoberts7 Contact Micah at [email protected].

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