It's back to life, back to reality for our humble gambler-in-chief. A 12-2 week was followed by a sub-.500 one, which means one thing: bet big on Sunday.
Let's not rehash this awful week in NFL history; it's been done and overdone, in bigger and better detail than I could muster here. This column is for gambling advice, and I have one glaring piece: BET THE OVER.
Due to a series of potentially sport-altering kneejerk reactions, scoring could reach record levels this weekend. Defensive players will be skittish, and the refs will rouse pollen allergies with all the yellow peppered on the field. Touchdowns will be the order of the day.
(Seriously, though - $50,000 for Dunta Robinson's completely legal hit? The NFL should have apologized for penalizing him in the first place. Want to fine somebody for that play? Look at Kevin Kolb, whose stupid pass left Deshauna Jackson open to be demolished. Ok, I'm done.)
Cincinnati @ Atlanta (-3). Last week was rough, but it's still easy to see 12 wins for this Falcons team when you consider the schedule. Two against Carolina, two against a now-exposed Tampa Bay, road games against Seatttle and St. Louis, and the only remaining top tiers are at home (Baltimore, Green Bay, New Orleans). Cut out the sky-is-falling crap; good teams have bad days. The only thing I ask is we not have 'em two weeks in a row. PICK: Atlanta
Philadelphia @ Tennessee (-3). Atlanta's ultimate revenge against Michael Vick may have taken place last week. By making Kevin Kolb look like a Montana/Marino love child, ol' #7 may be relegated to the bench for the rest of 2010. Oh, what a dastardly plan the Falcons had all along! Take THAT, Vick! Vengeance is ours! PICK: Philadelphia
Pittsburgh (-3) @ Miami. Last Saturday around 3:45 p.m., I was so thrilled to have gone against common sense and picked Cleveland to cover a 13 1/2-point spread against Pittsburgh. Logic was pushing me the other way, but I had an itchy feeling (later proved correct, and non-contagious) Colt McCoy would have a better-than-expected game. So with the fourth quarter winding down, Pittsburgh held the ball and a 21-10 lead at the two-minute warning. I'm puffing my chest out, with a Cleveland-eating grin on my face - and Roethlisberger throws a garbage TD with 1:25 remaining, beating the spread, my shot at a .500 week, and my overall happiness. I swear, that was the WORST THING Roethlisberger has done all year. PICK: Pittsburgh
Jacksonville @ Kansas City (-9). I wish we could bet on things like, "Will 2010 ever see the Chiefs favored by nine points over anybody?" Actually, you'd have gotten better odds on "Will Josh ever PICK the Chiefs as nine point favorites?" because that's what I'ma fixin' to do. You see, read these words: "Jacksonville starting quarterback Todd Bouman." No, seriously, he's a real person. PICK: Kansas City
Washington @ Chicago (-3). Perhaps the most amazing stat in a season of impressive ones: in the last two games, Jay Cutler has been sacked an average of 2.5 times. Per quarter. I will never find myself in a position of feeling sorry for Cutler, but that kid ain't gonna know his name by Christmas. Silver lining: the potentially face-mangling hits can only make him better looking. PICK: Washington
Cleveland @ New Orleans (-13). Alright, Cleveland - let's try this again. PICK: Cleveland
Buffalo @ Baltimore (-13). Matt Drudge is reporting Disney may kick Keith Richards off the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie because of his new autobiography. In the book, out next week, the Rolling Stones guitarist admits to - gasp! - drug use, and writes what drug-related strategies kept him alive so long. First, that sounds like an epic read. Second, if this story is true, are we to understand Disney had no idea of Richards's legendary consumption when casting the last Pirates sequel? Political correctness and kneejerk reactions are certainly nothing new, but this story, combined with the NFL's overzealous referendum on defensive hits, combined with Zach Galifianakis throwing a hissy fit to get Mel Gibson thrown off The Hangover 2, makes me a bit irritated. Why is everybody acting like such a damned politician? (Sorry, this was supposed to be about Buffalo/Baltimore. It's just this game reminded me of drugs. You know, Baltimore and "The Wire." Buffalo and what it must take to be a Buffalo fan.) PICK: Baltimore
San Francisco (-3) @ Carolina. That's right - the Panthers are underdogs at home to a 1-5 team. And worse, everybody sees that line and just nods. Is 0-16 an honest possibility for Carolina? They'll see most of the beatable teams on the road (St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Seattle), while New Orleans, Baltimore and Atlanta will travel to Charlotte. And let's not even discuss their 12/23 trip to Pittsburgh. Body bags may be required for the trip home. PICK: San Francisco
St. Louis @ Tampa Bay (-3). I can't figure out if this spread means Vegas thinks Tampa Bay is really bad, or St. Louis is sneaky good. Can it be both? PICK: St. Louis
Arizona @ Seattle (-6 1/2). I'll be in Phoenix for the holidays, and am hoping to be able to land (somewhat) cheap tickets for the Cowboys @ Cardinals contest on Christmas (alliteration rules). My only hope, though, is that Arizona absolutely tanks the season - so this phantom 3-2 record is a bummer. C'mon Max Hall, start sucking, and start sucking now! PICK: Arizona (crud)
New England @ San Diego (-2 1/2). The Chargers are a notoriously slow starter, but something with this team just ain't right. If I were Norv Turner, I'd slap some headphones on whenever management was within 50 yards. "Hey Norv, we need to see you in the office." "YEAH, I AGREE. OK, GOTTA RUN. SEE YOU TOMORROW." PICK: New England
Oakland @ Denver (-8 1/2). Little Miss Tebow decided to show up for last week's game, multiplying his year-to-date production almost 12 times over! Of course, considering his workload through five weeks consisted of two yards - total - it wasn't exactly a Herculean task. Still, Timmy rumbled for 23 yards and a touchdown, which is exactly what all teams are looking for out of their first round draft picks after six games. One touchdown, 25 yards. Great decision, Denver. PICK: Denver
Minnesota @ Green Bay (-2 1/2). The ratings will be huge, no doubt, but this one doesn't have the sheen of last year's "Favre visits Lambeau" carnival. The primary storylines of both teams are all negative - Favre's supposed indiscretions, Green Bay's injuries, both teams have ridden high expectations to .500 records or below - so there will certainly be some disappointment hovering in the air. PICK: Minnesota
NY Giants @ Dallas (-3). Keith Brooking likes to position himself as a leader of the Cowboys defense, but I have a sneaky feeling half the players don't know his name. Seriously, he somehow lands in front of a throng of reporters every week, each one apparently dying to ask about his monstrous 3.8 downfield tackles per game. Is he the only articulate Cowboys defenders, or are the journalists just that lazy? PICK: Dallas
Last week: 5-7-2