This week, I pick all underdogs in the NFL, pick college basketball from a forgotten conference, toast a few beers to some tough guys, and satisfy the people with another redhead. And we’re moving it all to Saturdays!
“I would have bet every last dollar that I had against the fact that they’d be 8-1. It numbs my enjoyment” ~ Harry Mayes, sports radio personality, 97.5 the Fanatic in Philly.
Once again, I went down in a blaze this week. Miami upset one of my picks yet again, and the Pittsburgh Steelers were no match, it seemed, for Jerry’s Jugheads. According to Vegas, the national split on that Cowboys-Steelers match-up was 50/50. If you’re paying attention, that means 50% of the betting public on that game has a blue star tattooed somewhere on their posterior. While that is more likely than not, the truth is, I fell on the wrong side of that bet. The Cowboy’s are for real this time, I am just disappointed that it justifies Skip Bayless’s credibility for another year.
I missed pretty much everywhere else, so I’m not even sure what justifies my job either. I went 1-3 in Football and 1-1 on my UFC and Hockey picks. This skid is worse than something expelled from Yoel Romero, but I believe I can turn my fortunes around before the New York Islanders start looking like a hockey team again. (Oh! There’s a prop bet: Capuano gets fired before the halfway mark of the season, odds: 4:1)
If you listened to the first episode from our new podcast season, you heard my “I Hate New York Hockey Parlay.” I paired the Penguins -150 over the Islanders and the Blue Jackets +105 over the white-hot New York Rangers. Fortune favored me on the ice and both picks hit harder than something off of Matt Calvert’s head. I’ve got more on that Blue Jackets game later.
Going into this week, I am posting a 13-9-1 record in all bets. Not at all where I thought I would be, but as you may be gathering, there isn’t much I can claim to know. This week, I have a handful of pro football picks and two selections in college athletics.
First, The Pros
The Ranch Will Not Be Raided (Houston +6 vs the Raiders)
It’s kind of shocking, but the Raiders are winning games and winning well. As Matt pointed out in his column last week, Oakland is a team not excelling in any category, however they are posting a 7-2 record and averaging 400 yards per game. . Oakland is also 5-1 against AFC opponents. So why am I picking Houston? Law of averages, maybe, and I am waiting for the next team of Jack Del Rio’s to implode. Teams under Del Rio also don’t fair all that well after Bye Weeks, and Oakland is 9-14 ATS in games after the Bye. Personally, I think there is something to that trend. I can’t say Oakland is going to lose, but this one is going to be a grind and I think the points are too much for Oakland to overcome.
A Cardinal Sin (Arizona +2 vs the Vikings)
Minnesota is a team on a huge downswing here. After starting the season 5-0, they’ve dropped their last 4 in convincing fashion, telling us that it was a bit of an aberration that they remained the only undefeated team through week 5. Since the Bye, the Vikings have given up 121 yds/g to opposing rushers, but I won’t quite ignore the fact that the last two games combined, Cardinals rushers have barely gained more than 100. However, the Cardinals may have Larry Fitzgerald back and the team is trending in a better direction, coming off the Bye.
India-NAH-polis (Titans +2.5 vs the Colts)
This one is so close, but I am leaning with the hot hand here. Tennessee is playing better football and Mariota is slinging. He’s not far behind Brees and Ryan for top TDs thrown and he’s got a few rushing tally’s on his ledger. He’s already broken pace with his learning curve from last year, and the kid plays smart football. Granted, it sounds like I am ignoring the Andrew Luck in this equation, but notwithstanding the Bearded Boy Wonder, the Colts are playing mediocre football. I think it’s going to be a scenario where they have road split wins this year.
Pay Your Bills (Buffalo +2.5 vs the Bengals)
I don’t even think you need the points with this win. I am picking the Bills outright. Cincinnati is not a good team and I believe you’re looking at the Last Waltz of Marvin and the Queen. The top defense in sacks this year has a good chance of taking away a lot of Andy Dalton’s ability to make plays behind an offensive line that has not been playing that well. LeSean McCoy should also have a pretty good game against the Bengals front seven. Second-ranked rushing team in the league vs. the 25th ranked rush defense on yards per attempt. A guy like McCoy can break open a few big ones and has had a bye week to heal his oft-injured hamstring.
A Dame-sel in Distress (Virginia Tech +2 vs Notre Dame)
Easy to say, but I think Notre Dame might miss out on a bowl game this year. So far, Notre Dame has not won two games in a row all season. A feat not accomplished by the Fighting Irish since 1960, when my grandfather, a Notre Dame lifer, was about my age. Virginia Tech has a bit of a limited run game that Notre Dame should be able to stop, as well as manufacturing their own through DeShone Kizer with nose guard Jarron Jones, but what is planned and what takes place aren’t exactly similar when it comes to how Notre Dame is playing football. The Fighting Irish has brutally underwhelmed me ever since they chunked that 50-47 OT game to Texas way back when. I am betting against the Irish because we Irish tend to bet against our own kind in most aspects of life.
Broncs -3.5 over the Bulls of South Florida
If you wanted an obscure college basketball pick, you came to the right place. My guess is there are not many people betting Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference basketball. If you are, I am starting a support group, Wednesday nights in the basement of Killarney’s Publick House in Hamilton, NJ.¹ So far, the Rider Broncs have tallied two good wins, their latest behind the double-double of senior Kahlil Thomas. USF themselves are coming of a good start and do have the hometown advantage, however, Rider has been good in the late goings of each game and I look for them to continue winning ways to roll into their conference play
¹I’m not sure this particular pub has a basement, but if it did, I would not be starting a support group for problem gamblers. I would start a fight club instead. In ways, that could be the best support group tired humanity needs.
Belly Up to the Bar
Time to wet your whistle with a six-pack and check out these toast-deserving stories in sports.
One Beer for Raptors guard, Demar DeRozan. Demar elbows up with good company this week, joining Michael Jordan as players with the most 30-pt games through the first 12 in any season. Jordan did it in ‘86, DeRozan is doing it now, and each top the list with 10. Crack one open for an historic start.
Two Beers for New Jersey native, Mike Trout. This week, the Millville Meteor achieved his second MVP award in just five and a half years in the majors. Trout hit .315 this year and his tWAR has made the top-10 all time in any 5-year span in the majors. Definitely deserving of the AL MVP award, I think when it’s all said and done, Mike Trout may be the best player in the game…ever. Don’t believe me? Keep watching. I’m cracking open a couple for the hometown hero.
Three Beers for Columbus Blue Jackets Left Winger Matt Calvert. Honestly, this guy should get the whole six-pack for what he did, but he does at the very least receive top honors this week. As I linked to earlier, about mid-way through the second period, Matt Calvert took a hard slap shot off the dome from Nick Holden at the point. But in less than 20 seconds, after spilling a cup of blood on the ice, Calvert is up and skating off under his own power. But, that’s never satisfaction enough for these tough guy hockey players, and after receiving 36 stitches in the locker room and passing concussion protocol, Matt Calvert came back in the third, and on a short-handed 2 on 1, notches the effective game-winner against the Rangers. Buy that kid a few Labatts, eh?
No Hangover this week, but if you’re looking for one, or just need to have some high-octane suds, try and get your hands on the Elysian Dragonstooth Stout. A hearty-bowl of porridge this 8.1% abv. Oatmeal Stout is. Rich and complex, this award-winning stout has always been a favorite of mine. Find a fireplace and settle in, admire the winter weather, and tell your grandkids where you were when President Trump was election and how America eventually slayed that beast. A beer for any warm-hearted occasion, but I’ve been saving the particular bottle I am currently drinking for a few seasons now and it still holds up.²
²If the Philadelphia Eagles end up losing embarrassingly to the Seahawks tomorrow, you can blame me and this pseudo-advertisement for a Seattle-based brewery.
I have to admit, I feel a little disrespected based on the opinions I have received regarding the quality of the redhead I selected a few weeks back. I am here to tell you that you’re all wrong, and this is not a matter of topping myself each week with a better-looking one each time. They are all beautiful and will continue to be, regardless. People thought I set the bar too high in the first week, but there is no bar. Yet, if there was a bar to reach, this selection is going to break the world record in Olympic High Jump.
Meet Abby Pollock. A Mechanical Engineer and YouTube fitness motivator, this woman can probably outrun you, kick your ass, render you unable to speak, and climb a wall faster than Spider-man. The Toronto native spends most of her time working to help people better their lives and find balance day to day through fitness, eating well, and staying positive.
Thanks for checking out the post this week. It’ll be back around next Saturday morning. In the meantime, check me out on Twitter or at any poker room in the north-east region.