This week, we’re trying to recover from poor prognostications last week. I have some more prop bets, a Six-Pack Selection, and I’m giving the dopey Manning brother some reluctant kudos.
“In most betting shops you will see three windows marked “Bet Here”, but only one window with the legend “Pay Out.” ~ Jeffrey Bernard (1932-1997; English journalist, magazine columnist, and chronic alcoholic)
And so it goes almost exactly this week. We’ve reached the virtual halfway point of the NFL season and stumbled through that door in beaten-up, drunken fashion, hungover from a polarizing presidential race, a ludicrous Monday night by the NFL referees, and a lackluster 1-3-1 record with my picks. What I now know for certain is that we as a country have been lied to, cheated by, and stolen from by the New York Jets organization too many times and the torture needs to end. I am not even a Jet fan, and I have felt this burden at least three times this season. As if that wasn’t enough, the Carolina Panthers played to an abysmal 13-10 win that results in a push for the bet. I don’t consider that a win.
Totals going into my fourth week of writing this column, 5-3-1 in Football, and 4-2 in every other sport. As it stands, I’m still doing pretty well and I am going to have a good rebound this week. I think the rule of thumb should be to stay over .500, so that in theory more money is made than is lost…in theory. But, we are going to gamble hard this week and make four picks on the gridiron, one on the ice, and one, from uncharted waters, in the octagon.
A Pitt of Despair (Steelers -2.5 vs Cowboys)
This line is screaming at me like guttural cries of a Gamorrean Guard in the pit of the Rancor. Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys come into this game on a serious heater. After losing a rather close one to the Giants in Week 1, they tore through the schedule and won their next seven, vaulting them to the top of the NFC and the NFL, frankly.¹ The Cowboys record also reflects their record against the spread. So I am baffled as to why they come into Pittsburgh as a 2.5-point (still 3.0 in some books) underdog. They have everything going in their favor, and yet, they are expected to lose the game. This is a Pittsburgh team that seems to be under performing in most aspects of the game, however, they are also in the Top-12 in defense of the run, which we should all know by now is Dallas’s biggest strength. Pittsburgh is holding opposing backs to just under 100-yards, and despite having one of the best rookie seasons in NFL running back history, Zeke Elliot has been held to under 100-yards rushing in the last two games. Big Ben, behind whom the Steelers have won the last seven at home, had a week to play after his injury, so look for him to be back to form this week. Dak the Gunner, meet the Steel foot of the AT-AT.² Pittsburgh covers the -2.5 at home.
¹(Hot Take: They’re better than the Patriots at this point. I don’t care what power rankings or numbers say. They have a more complete team. And that’s tough for me to admit.)
²Somehow this was the perfect game to work in two different Star Wars references. I absolutely live for that sort of thing.
Bears, Buccs, Battlestar Galactica (Buccaneers PK vs Bears)
Little known fact: This is not only a reference to Jim Halpert’s imitation of Dwight Schrute on the Office, but in the science fiction space opera Battlestar Galactica one of the main franchises to play the fictional sport of Pyramid, was called the Buccaneers. I am a sucker for patterns like this, but I am in no way using that as a justification for why I am going with the Buccs from Tampa this Sunday. ..or am I? The Buccs started out as only a 1-point favorite at home, where they post a 0-4 record this season, and Chicago has won 5 of the last 6. But this doesn’t deter me because I believe Chicago is really that bad. They have won as many games on the road as Tampa has won at home, and they have been losing to worse teams. Tampa has lost 3 of the last 5 to teams who are currently, or have been in the top 5 in power rankings, while the Bears have lost to the likes of the Colts and Jaguars. I think this is the week Tampa brings one home.
Lightning Crashes, Dolphins Cry (Chargers -4 vs Dolphins)
Many of you reading this may not be an ultra-fan of 90s alternative and Grunge like I am, but did you know that the last time the Miami Dolphins had a quality win against the Chargers in San Diego, it was in the year 2000, and the song Dolphin’s Cry by the band Live was popular? The previous time was in 1995, when the band’s song Lightning Crashes also happened to be popular. I’m getting at another pattern here. The Dolphin’s don’t win much in San Diego, and I believe the Chargers to be a sneaky good team this year. A lot of quality wins and tough losses. The Chargers have a good home record (3-1) and have not given up more than 100 rushing yards to any team, save the Atlanta Falcons, and that was to two different backs. No one RB has gashed this San Diego defense, and that’s all Miami has to rely on. Oh, and not to mention Melvin Gordon, who is giving Zeke Elliot a run for his money, against a Dolphins’ rush defense giving up an average of 136 yards per game to opposing backs. The Dolphins go into Qualcomm and come out fishsticks.
Birds of a Feather Score TDs Together (ATL/PHL over 50.0)
In my first column, I declared that I would never bet for or against my own teams. I invest enough emotion into each contest, I can’t have my hard-earned riding shotgun with my serotonin levels. That’s how people develop gambling problems (har har har). That said, I can justify betting over/unders with my team involved because all they need to do is “do the thing, win the points!” I like the over under in this game because the Eagles are at least good for 20-25 each week, and Atlanta scores, too. I hear they have this really nice up-and-comer on the outside named Julio. Plus both of these teams have shoddy secondaries. I have dwindling faith in the Eagles wideouts, so you need Atlanta to come up with the difference.
A Trial Away from the Isle (Lightning -170 vs Islanders)
A good friend of mine is famous for this catchphrase, “Hey man, the Isles might stink.” On numerous occasions has he said this to me after being cautiously optimistic about their season before it began. The team is 0-3 on the road, 0-3 as a dog, under .500 for the season, and facing a Lightning team who absolutely roasted them to the tune of 6 goals once already. The Bolts are Top 5 on the Powerplay and 7th on the Kill. The Islanders are at the bottom 5 in each of those categories. With the continuing problems at goaltender for New York, this one is in the bottle for the Lightning.
MMA Finally Comes to the Big Apple
I will admit, my Mixed Martial Arts knowledge is scarce. I’ve only started getting into the sport within the past few months after listening to the Jason Ellis Show on SiriusXM, and having him turn me on to the sport and introducing me to the guys that talk about it, like Joe Rogan on his podcast, and Brendan Schaub and Bryan Callen on the Fighter and the Kid podcast. I have always been cursorily interested in the sport, but never committed myself to sitting down and learning it from a true fan’s perspective. Something I still need to go out and do. This Saturday at UFC 205 is going to be my entree into it. I’ve seen a few fights before (McGregor vs Diaz, most notably), listened to the experts and the fighters talk about their craft, but I have not gotten the chance to watch a fight since I’ve started paying attention more. Reading up on it, a few people are expressing value in betting Eddie Alvarez (+140) vs McGregor on Saturday. The idea is that he is the best wrestler and hardest puncher that Conor has ever faced, but he is also easy to get a hold of and hurt. I am leaning towards Eddie mostly because of the hometown angle. He grew up in a North Philly neighborhood and by all accounts still lives in the area. That aside, he has a great chance of making it go the distance with McGregor and making it tough for him to close it out.
The Props We All Deserve
I think it might be a good time to start thinking about the MVP of the NFL. Somehow Tom Brady is an overwhelming favorite at +160 (Imagine that), but I think you should consider Ezekiel Elliot at +900. He’s also -250 to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year, and it looks more and more like he and Dak are going to get the Cowboys to an NFC Championship game.
We went up to +390 on getting me that “dinterview” with Katie Nolan. Sadface.
-125 the Cleveland Browns don’t win a game all season. It’s been done before..
2017 will be the year we finally lose one of the Rolling Stones. And no, Mick Taylor and Bill Wyman don’t count. I am 85% serious about this. I just have a feeling. Even money it’s Keith.
My favorite thing to do as of late has been to share beers with my fellow human, occasionally my dog, and get to know a little bit more about how people see the world. That’s not what this section is about (as of yet), but the idea is that I will continue to toast my favorite frothy beverage to the positive things in sports.
One Beer for James Harden. Last night, Harden tallied his 10th career triple-double and helped push the Rockets over the Spurs in a close one in San Antonio. It always seems to me that James Harden’s name gets lost when talking about the currently great players in the NBA. I’ve always liked James Harden and I would love to drink a beer with that guy.
Two Beers for Mike Babcock. Channeling the great Herb Brooks, Babcock on Wednesday morning had his Leafs up and skating hard with the lights out, the morning after being handed a 7-0 beating by the Kings. Admittedly, the darkness was accidental, as it was caused by a power failure, but Babcock kept them skating under the conditions. I appreciate Babcock’s no-nonsense approach to practice the day after an embarrassing loss, but I don’t think there’s any correcting this sinking ship that is the Maple Leafs.
Three Beers for the New York Knicks. Wednesday Night, the Knicks took the time to honor a dedicated Army Sergeant. The now retired, 36-year veteran Sergeant First Class Luciano Yulfo, was injured on duty in July of 2014 and has since been on an 18-month wait for a service dog. The Knicks surprised him with a retriever named Murphy, and Larry Johnson was even on hand to present him with a personalized jersey. A salute of gratitude to Sergeant Yulfo and good on the Knicks for doing that.
An honorable mention, along the same lines, happened in a contest Sunday night between the Ducks and Flames.
This Week’s Hangover will stay, against every angry nerve in my body, as much as it can in the realm of sports, because that’s what I am here for, all things being equal. Despite that, a story about Colin Kaepernick’s thought’s on the election caught my eye, and I am giving him my Hangover of the Week. this guy doesn’t know what he wants to be. Champion of social justice? Mediocre quarterback? The buffoon everyone says he is? When asked about the results of the election, Kaepernick, who did not vote Tuesday, said he “really didn’t pay too close of attention” to them. Buddy, I am all for you exercising your right to make the statement you have been making prior to each game, but you can’t do that, then decide it’s not worth it to you to pay attention or vote in the direction of the change you’re trying to effect. I realize that is your right to chose that tact, but I don’t think you’re fully grasping the concept of “fighting for change.” You’ve exposed your self as shallow and just in it for the attention.
A Tail Between My Legs
This week, and under extreme duress, I must forgo the Thursday’s Temptation section to make good on a friendly wager I made with Brendan prior to this Sunday’s Eagles-Giants game. Brendan being a Giants fan and myself being an Eagles fan, the bet required the loser to write a paragraph of high praise about the quarterback of the winner’s team. I am a man of my word, but I do this reluctantly.
Let’s start off with the game. Eli Manning showed his veteran stripes against the Eagles. In all seriousness, he was better than just serviceable like everyone says he’s been his whole career. He absolutely torched the Eagles Secondary throwing for 4 touchdowns and 257 yards. Manning was able to expertly out-gun (as he seems to all of the time) an Eagles front seven that was only able to sack him once, leading his team to a much needed victory. The biggest gripe I have sometimes is the recognition that no one seems to want to give Eli Manning. He brought his team to the Super Bowl twice and both times beat the evil empire New England Patriots. This arguably puts him in the discussion for one of the Top 10 Quarterbacks of all time in the Super Bowl-era. It’s a crime that this guy doesn’t get the praise he deserves. The Philadelphia Eagles franchise would be lucky to have a quarterback half has good as him. And finally, a son Archie can be proud of.
Thanks for checking the section out again this week!
I’m on Twitter so you can tell me what a fool I am.