Millman’s NFL RedZone Diaries: Why Do I Keep Betting the Giants?

Millman’s NFL RedZone Diaries: Why Do I Keep Betting the Giants? article feature image

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Eli Manning

  • Another week, another Giants bet. Are you surprised? You shouldn't be. And at this point, I shouldn't be surprised they keep losing.
  • It wasn't my only hubristic bet of the Week 8 NFL slate.

They call it the 80/20 rule. Years ago the fellas at Sports Insights, one of the companies in our Action Network portfolio, turned me on to it.

The premise was simple: When home dogs are getting 20% or less of the money, they cover at a rate that makes you money.

Back when they first told me about it, in the late aughts, I thought it was genius. I’d talk about it in columns and on the radio or on television as if it was a golden rule.

It didn’t always work — but it worked often enough on teams for which so little was expected that it made anyone preaching 80/20 look like a mentalist (and made them richer).

But the 80/20 rule also speaks to something specific about betting and bettors: The need to go against the grain, to be an iconoclast, to know something no one else does and to act on it with confidence.

Some call it courage. Others call it hubris.

Today was my day to find out which side of the line I lived on.

My Week 8 NFL Bets

1:30 p.m. ET: Adrian Peterson just caught a short pass from Alex Smith at the Giants’ 5-yard line and easily broke a tackle to score.

It’s funny to me that I chose the Giants. And by funny I mean, I can’t believe my hubris allowed me to choose the Giants because the Redskins were getting 80% of the action. That’s an asshole move. Which makes me, well…

1:35 p.m.: I get an alert that the Seahawks tied the game at 7-7.

1:42 p.m.: I get an alert that the Seahawks took the lead at 14-7.

I have three thoughts: 1. Why is RedZone showing me nearly every play of the Bucs-Bengals and nothing of the Lions-Seahawks? 2. Why is the public smarter than me? 3. Should I turn off the alerts on The Action Network app if they make me sad?

Note to our product team: Please only send me alerts that make me happy.

1:43 p.m.: Maybe RedZone knows how to make me happy. It’s not showing me bad things from the Seahawks-Lions, but it is showing me good things from the Broncos-Chiefs, like the Chiefs getting a defensive holding on a Broncos third-and-9, when Denver is driving past midfield and is ahead 7-3.

1:53 p.m.: The Action Network alerted me that the Chiefs have taken the lead. RedZone waited several minutes, because it’s important I see every play of the Bengals TD drive.

So do I respect The Action Network for providing me up-to-the-minute info? Or thank RedZone for appreciating my feelings?

1:56 p.m.: Scratch that. RedZone just showed me an Eli pick in the red zone. I thought we had something, Scott Hanson.

2:09 p.m.: RedZone giveth (Redskins miss a field goal) and taketh (Russell Wilson hits Ed Dickson for a 12-yard TD, Seahawks up 21-7).

2:15 p.m.: … and taketh (hey, waddaya know? Patrick Mahomes threw a touchdown pass, Chiefs 16-7).

2:23 p.m.: Seriously, RedZone, I have seen nearly every play of Bengals-Bucs, which I’m watching right now. But The Action Network just alerted me that the Broncos have cut the Chiefs’ lead to 16-14.

2:57 p.m.: For the fourth time today I watch Eli Manning get sacked, this time at his own 1-yard line. The time before that was at midfield on a short third down.

And yet … the bottomline ticker tells me that Eli is 15-of-18 for 171 yards. I’m shocked to see this. So I look up Eli’s stats for the season.

Heading into this game his completion percentage (69%), was the highest it had ever been for a season. His yards per attempt (7.7) was second-highest, his yards per game (294) was second-highest, his passer rating (94) was the best in his career, so far.

This is what makes the Giants so infuriating for bettors (or at least Millmans, who can’t resist betting on the Giants; as they have done so five times this year, and lost every time).

3:07 p.m.: … I interrupt this rant to let you know that Kareem Hunt just took a shovel pass on fourth-and-1, hurdled a Broncos defender and dragged two more into the end zone.

I think it was very kind of RedZone to finally show me something from that game. Even if it hurts.

Kareem Hunt hurdling a defender
Image: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt.

3:10 p.m.: … and I interrupt the rant again to say that Eli just threw another pick. It’s his second of the game and sixth of the year, with just seven touchdowns.

Maybe that’s why no one is swayed by his seemingly career-best stats. Except me. And my hubris.

3:16 p.m.: Or maybe the only way the Giants will win is by stripping Peterson inside the red zone and having Olivier Vernon return it to the Redskins 40. Go Eli!

3:18 p.m.: Broncos score, fantastic. An extra point cuts it to nine and I’m in the green.

3:19 p.m.: WTF, Broncos!!!! Just kick the extra point! It’s too early to go for 2 (and miss)!

3:22 p.m.: Or maybe the problem is Eli throws a perfect pass to Evan Engram on fourth-and-9 and it goes right through Engram’s hands.

So many reasons not to bet on the Giants … and I tend to ignore them all every single week, as if I know better. I believe they call that hubris.

3:41 p.m.: Or maybe it’s because the Giants have a chance to get back in it with 6:53 left and down by 10 and … they rough the Redskins punter on fourth down?!?!

3:57 p.m.: Or maybe it’s because they can’t stop 33-year-old Adrian Peterson from running 64 yards for a game-clinching touchdown when one stop would give the Giants the ball back and a chance to tie the game. F*&^ing hubris!

At least the Lions were never in it. And at least the Giants scored one more touchdown with 17 seconds left (and Eli finished the day 30-of-47 for 316 yards, one TD and two picks). And the Broncos snuck through the backdoor with a field goal in the final two minutes. And, most important, RedZone showed me the Bucs’ final drive and two-point conversion to come back from 18 points down and tie the Bengals! FitzMagic!

Adrian Peterson running away from defenders
Image: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Redskins running back Adrian Peterson breaks free.

5:19 p.m.: Hubris is going on national television and saying to SportsCenter anchor Jay Harris, “How many people are going on national TV this morning and picking the Giants and the Cardinals? Well this guy is.” Even though “this guy’s” second-favorite bet this week was the Packers, at just about any price.

But at some point on Friday afternoon I saw the line move from Packers +9 to Packers +8.5 and, for some reason, I outsmarted myself. I started thinking about the reasons I liked the Packers at the bigger number, which was essentially the value of Aaron Rodgers as a near double-digit dog. The line was moving in the opposite direction, the money was coming in on Green Bay.

For no other reason other than I decided I was smarter than the wisdom of the crowd, I chose to talk about the Giants. 80/20. Maybe that means 20% dumber than 80% of the people.

The Packers lead 10-0 with 10 minutes left in the first half.

5:28 p.m.: And the genius Cardinals pick is going to be a gosh darn sweat. So far Josh Rosen has been called for intentional grounding in the end zone (safety) and thrown a pick deep in his own territory. Niners in the red zone, down, 3-2.

5:31 p.m.: Scratch that, Niners up 5-3.

Seriously, I talked about the Giants and Cardinals on national television instead of the Broncos and Packers, whom I bet on MONDAY!!!!!!

6:30 p.m.: Packers 13, Rams 8; Niners 12, Cardinals 3; Hubris infinity, Millman 0

6:35 p.m.: Rams 16, Packers 13. I will not tempt the gods of hubris with a joke here.

6:49 p.m.: Rams 23, Packers 13. Hubris, I do not fear you.

6:51 p.m.: 49ers 15, Cardinals 10. Hubris, I am coming after you!

6:56 p.m.: Rams 23, Packers 20. I forgot, am I rooting for my bet to win or rooting for the Packers to lose, so I feel a little better about not picking them on television? That feels like a hubris riddle.

7:04 p.m.: I don’t even know who I am or what I want anymore. Jared Goff just completed a 32-yard pass to Robert Woods into Packers territory. I’m not happy, but I am also somewhat OK with it.

Apparently I care more about pride than money. Although my open bets do appreciate David Johnson of the Cardinals running 13 yards on a third-and-2.

7:06 p.m.: Rams take the lead 26-20 in the fourth quarter. Simultaneously, Cardinals tight end Jermaine Gresham catches a Rosen pass and runs down the 49ers sideline. Go, go, go, go! I’m a winner. Except I’m an idiot who bet on a bad team. And bad things happen to bad teams. And Gresham fumbled while twisting and tumbling down the sideline. A phantom hit. No one touched him. Niners recover.

7:13 p.m.: Packers take the lead! Packers take the lead 27-26 with a 40-yard pass to Marquez Valdes-Scantling. I’ve decided I want to win more than I want to not feel bad.

7:16 p.m.: Last gasp for the Cardinals and my ego. 2:23 left in the game. First-and-10 from their own 26. Incomplete. Incomplete. FIRST DOWN.

7:21 p.m.: RedZone you are letting me down. I enjoyed watching the Redskins dagger touchdown highlight, but would have liked the 20-yard pass from Rosen to Larry Fitzgerald live even more.

7:24 p.m.: Goff scrambles on third down and nearly gets his head chopped off by Clay Matthews.

I’m happy for several reasons: 1. At this point in the game, I’m reasonably comfortable that I am going to win my bet. Forget the hubris or fate tempting that comes with writing this sentence. It’s happening. 2. Matthews looked like he enjoyed taking a quarterback down without a flag.

7:26 p.m.: The Cardinals have miraculously driven down the field, first-and-10 with less than a minute from the Niners’ 8.

7:27 p.m.: Touchdown Cardinals!!!!!!!!! Rosen to Christian Kirk. Plus the two-point conversion. Cards 18, Niners 15, with 34 seconds left.

I am not full of hubris after all! I am just a genius. I knew it all along.

Christian Kirk celebrating with his Cardinals teammates
Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Christian Kirk and Cardinals teammates.

7:37 p.m.: Wait, what? After a Rams field goal gives LA a 29-27 lead, the Packers fumbled with two minutes left on a kickoff at their own 21.

No Aaron Rodgers comeback? The Rams could score a touchdown and force me to push?

But, it also means I will have made the right call by picking Arizona instead of Green Bay. Hmmm. Can I be right and still win money? That feels greedy.

7:44 p.m.: Gurley breaks free! He’s going to score, but, but, but … he slides down before the end zone to seal the game and run out the clock.

He’s a genius. Not as smart as me for betting on the Cardinals and Packers. But he definitely has a high football IQ.

9:11 p.m.: The first bet I made this past week, early on Monday morning, was the Vikings as 1.5-point favorites over the New Orleans Saints.

Everything about the line seemed screwy to me, as though oddsmakers were daring aware bettors to take the Vikings.

The Saints had won five in a row coming into the game, they had just beat the Ravens on the road and were starting to look like the NFC powerhouse that got me to buy an 18-1 Super Bowl ticket before the season started.

But this line was giving the Saints too much credit. The Vikes had won three in a row, but hadn’t been given the same credit for improvement as the Saints.

I loved the Vikings. As the week went on, it felt like I was the only one. All the money came in on New Orleans, moving the line from Vikes -1.5 to Saints -2.5 at the close. That’s a four-point swing, and I bet at the high end of the wrong side.

This is what I thought when Vikes kicker Dan Bailey hooked an extra point, putting the Vikings up 13-10: That miss is going to hurt.

Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Saints quarterback Drew Brees.

9:35 p.m.: But not as much as the greatest-receiver-since-the-ball-was-inflated Adam Thielen fumbling on the Saints 14-yard-line with less than a minute left in the first half. And then watching the Saints return it to the Vikes’ 33. And then watching Laquon Treadwell get called for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, moving the ball to the 18. And then watching the Saints score a touchdown two plays later.

To recap: Vikes up 13-10 and inside the Saints’ red zone with less than a minute left in the half. Saints up 17-13 at the half.

Betting will sap your hubris, aka make you feel like an asshole.

10:18 p.m.: See previous line, muttered after P.J. Williams returns a Kirk Cousins pass for a touchdown. Saints 27, Vikings 13.

10:54 p.m.: Gambler’s math: 10 point lead + 4:26 left + needing the losing team to win by two points = lost cause.

I’m overly confident of that.