Pro Picks contest is more than winning and losing |

Pro Picks contest is more than winning and losing

Dave Price

Every week, a couple of thousand or more entries for the Nevada Appeal’s Pro Picks Contest are turned in at the Carson Station and Piñon Plaza. These are football fans who enter the contest for various reasons, not the least being $1,000 in prize money put up for being the top three finishers at the two local casinos.

For Peter and Dennis Urtheil entering the Pro Picks contest goes beyond the money. This is something a father and son looking forward to doing together all week long between September and January.

Peter, 88, who has lived in Carson City since 1987, is a retired carpenter and contractor who spends most of his time at home these days – slowed from the effects of a stroke and bout with Guillen Bare syndrome four years ago.

“Basically, he’s been doing pretty good,” said Dennis, 65, also a former carpenter. “The stroke effected him as far as words, but he can walk and he watches his shows on the television. If it isn’t the news, it’s the games.”

Peter enjoys watching college football on Saturdays, and of course, the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals now have the World Series. But, in particular, he closely follows NFL games every Sunday and on Monday night in order to keep up with the Pro Picks.

“Sports is something we’ve grown up with,” Dennis said. “He played baseball and basketball when he was growing up. I played baseball when I was growing up in Santa Monica, and him being interested, that’s where I got it from.”

In this case, entering the contest is a team effort.

“He’s limited in his activities, but what really amazes me is how he’s able to keep track of what’s going on with the games,” Dennis said. “He marks his choices, then I finish filling out the forms and go turn them in.

“We talk about it during the week, too. We talk about numbers – he’s always been good with numbers – we talk about injuries and we talk about locations where the games are being played. For example, anybody that plays in Green Bay in the cold weather, you have to take that into account.”

They also have a mathematical system for analyzing each game which simply takes into account the points-for and points-against numbers of the teams opposing each other. One case in point would be Monday night’s game between the Denver Broncos and Cincinnati Bengals. Coming in, Denver (5-1) had scored 137 points and allowed 77 in six games; Cincinnati (1-4) had scored 83 points and allowed 129 in five games.

“The point difference between Denver and Cincinnati was 99 points. That was the biggest spread of the week,” Dennis said.

In other words, the Broncos were a lock. The score? Cincinnati 23, Denver 10.

“We got fooled this week, but I’m sure we weren’t the only ones,” Dennis said, laughing. “Just when you think you have it all figured out, then boom, something happens.”

That’s the National Football League. Anything can happen.

Consider the Seattle Seahawks missing an opportunity to take over first-place in the NFC West with their 25-17 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

“It wouldn’t surprise me to see Arizona take off,” Dennis said. “A lot of people underestimate them, but their defense is very good.”

Team Urtheil was on target two weeks ago and nearly breaking into the money with a single miss on one form. They came up three points shy on the tie-breaker prediction score of earning the $250 first-place prize money at the Carson Station and finished one point away from earning $100 for third-place. Furthermore, they turned in two other forms that had two misses each.

Oh, the pain of those narrow defeats. But, like always, the sun rises again to begin a new day. And for Peter Urtheil, there was another Pro Picks contest to look forward to.

“I believe it (the contest) helps him, I really do; we all need things in our lives that keep our interest going,” Dennis said. “He went through a low spot for a while with the stroke and Guillen Bare. It’s tough when you plan your life out, then something happens to knock you down and you have to change your plans. When that happens, you can either choose to let the negative things drag you down, or you can accept this and keep going.”

Contact Dave Price at or call 881-1220.