I’m hoping for some birthday luck this week with the picks. Today (Friday) is my 30th birthday, meaning two things. First, as you’re reading this, I’m almost certainly still sleeping. It’s kind of my own personal tradition that on my birthday, I refuse to do anything at all unless I absolutely have to. I skipped school on my birthday every year right through college, and when I was working I skipped work every year unless something was happening that couldn’t be postponed. (I’ll save you all the easy joke… no, it has not been my birthday for the past 28 months.)
Second, I’m now officially too old to keep screwing around with life anymore. Time to get down to business, and get some picks right. I’m sick and tired of all this under .500 BS. Time to sack up and start getting it done. I’m 49-60-7 on the season, but I’m feeling a perfect 14-0 week coming on…
Disclaimer: Gambling on sports is illegal unless you are in Las Vegas, Delaware or Atlantic City. Also, if I’m horribly incorrect with these picks – as I have occasionally been in the past – I’m sorry in advance. If you can’t afford to lose, don’t play. John Anthony – “The Million Dollar Man with the Billion Dollar Plan” – is not a real person. All lines from Bodog or **SBRForum** are accurate as of the time this was typed – 9pm Thursday. Home teams in CAPS. That about covers it.)
Bye Weeks: Panthers / Lions / Jaguars / Vikings
Falcons (-7.5) over COLTS: I’m done with the Colts this year. Although, I suppose after an 0-8 start to the season, I might be the last person in America who wasn’t done with them yet. Atlanta has officially reached the point in their schedule where they can suddenly get hot and go on a run to the top of the NFC South – Of their final nine games, they’ll likely be favored in six or seven. I’ll admit, the whole “coming off the bye week in 2011 = loss” phenomenon kind of worries me here, especially with a road game. But I’m willing to overlook that because, ya know, Indy sucks.
SAINTS (-8.5) over Bucs: I have no idea how to pick evenly-matched games involving the Saints anymore, so from now on I’m flipping a coin for them – heads for the home team. This week, it came up heads. So, there you have it – in depth research on how to pick football games against the spread; “Just flip a coin.”
** Browns (+11.5) over TEXANS **: Seems like there are only a couple teams in the NFL that should be giving up double-digit points, and a Houston team missing its best defensive player and best wide receiver is not one of them.
BILLS (-1.5) over Jets: Bills don’t lose at home. Simple strategy. Plus, if ever there was a trap game for the Jets with New England coming to town next week, this is it.
** CHIEFS (-3.5) over Dolphins **: Don’t look now, but the Chiefs are suddenly making a push for the division. Philip Rivers’ Teflon palms didn’t hurt their cause either. Meanwhile, the Dolphins already have the look of a team just showing up to collect a paycheck and then go blow it on South Beach – I don’t think they’ll keep any road game within seven points the rest of the season.
49ers (-4) over REDSKINS: You won’t often see me taking the West Coast team coming East for the 1pm game, but the Skins are in freefall right now, while the Niners have almost clinched their division already.
Seahawks (+11) over COWBOYS: Dallas should not be favored by this much over anyone that has a win on the season. And especially not over a team that has already proven that they can actually put up points, on the road, against suspect defenses.
RAIDERS (-9) over Broncos: You mean I get to bet against Tim Tebow, on the road, in one of the most hostile environments in the NFL, and I don’t even have to give up ten points? Where do I sign up?
Bengals (+3) over TITANS: Is it just me, or does Chris Johnson remind anyone else of Barry Sanders? Amazingly talented, dominated the league on terrible teams, wasted the best years of his career, fought like hell to get paid, then decided he just wasn’t that interested in football anymore? I know that’s not entirely accurate to Barry’s career arc (I’m sure Watsonian will blast me here – it’s OK Nathan, I know Barry fought to get traded to a winning team instead of just quitting), but it’s at least similar, isn’t it?
** CARDINALS (-3) over RAMS **: Holy hell… if ever a game was going to set records for the Bad Quarterback League, it’s going to be this one. We are likely looking at AJ Feeley starting opposite of John Skelton. At what point do Brandon Lloyd and Larry Fitzgerald start taking hostages? I’m guessing sometime in the third quarter.
** Giants (+10) over PATRIOTS **: Don’t worry. New England should win this game outright. Tom Brady just doesn’t lose in Gillette anymore. But at the very least, this should be a relatively close game. I’m interested to see if the Patriots change up a lot on defense from last week’s debacle in Pittsburgh, or if they stay the course and hope the offense can exploit a Giants team that is far worse than the Steelers. Random fantasy side note: See the below photo for my current starting lineup in the TVF fantasy league. I wasn’t kidding when I Tweeted about my new fantasy football strategy of “Whoever is playing against the Patriots”. Last week across my four leagues I picked up Heath Miller, Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, and made trades for Big Ben (Thanks again, Nathan!) and Mendenhall. And went 4-0.
**CHARGERS (+5.5) over Packers **: Alright… two weeks ago, in this “Regrets” post, I wrote that the Packers would not get to 8-0 with the state of their defense. So, even though the Chargers are a mess right now, I’m sticking with my original instinct, and hoping the 2011 post-bye week curse continues to do its thing. Upset of the week: Chargers 23, Packers 20. Roughly 47 combined turnovers.
STEELERS (-3.5) over Ravens: Steelers looking like a juggernaut right now, especially at home where they’ve outscored opponents by 57 points in four games. If they get the win in this game, they’ve got a great shot to run the table and finish the regular season on a twelve-game winning streak. Meanwhile, Baltimore is playing Jekyl and Hyde football right now. I have no idea which team is showing up this week, and that’s not a formula for betting success.
Bears (+8) over EAGLES: Doesn’t this game seem like the perfect time for the Iggles to lull everyone into a false sense of security? Two good wins against division opponents sandwiching a bye week, and suddenly people forget the four consecutive horrible, horrible losses that had people writing Philly off as complete flukefrauds.
RECAP: Falcons / SAINTS / **Browns** / BILLS / **CHIEFS** / 49ers / Seahawks / RAIDERS / Bengals / **CARDINALS** / **Giants** / **CHARGERS** / STEELERS / Bears
Best Multi-Team Bet: I love the Bills, 49ers and Falcons all teased down by six points, which means they’ll all probably lose. Also, a crazy five-team moneyline parlay on Atlanta/Buffalo/Kansas City/Dallas/New England looks like it could pay off, though you’ll probably have trouble getting money lines on at least two of those.
Bonus Bet of the Week: Let’s face it – the best game of the week is happening in college. LSU/Alabama is going to be a slugfest, even if I’m unbelievably tired of hearing “Game of the Century!!!!!1!!1!!” hyperbole. It’s gonna be great, and it’s gonna be fun to watch. Right now, Alabama is hovering between -4 and -5.5, which seems like it’s going to be tough to bet. This just feels like it’s a three-to-six point win, either way. Personally, I’d recommend staying away from it entirely, but if you really want to hammer it, I’m thinking that Alabama takes the game outright, but not by much. I’m going to put it at Bama 27, LSU 23. So if you can tease LSU up to +10 or so, and the Over (currently at O/U 41, so a tease takes it down to 35), I’d feel pretty good about that.