I hope you’ve been paying attention to these weekly posts because my picks so far have been nothing if not cinematic. In Weeks One and Two, I was like Keanu Reeves at the beginning of the Matrix. I hadn’t yet taken the red pill, realizing I was nothing more than a human battery. In Week Three, I became the little Energizer bunny that could, the Neo who started seeing sportsbook numbers in a whole new light. Now let’s just see I Kean-du it again. (Sorry, been watching a bit too much Ted Lasso lately)
In addition to my slew of successful real-life wagers, I picked four of five games correctly against the spread, earning $130 of a possible $150. Not to be outdone, Kevin continued his hot streak and is still up handsomely on the season.
Our celebrity guests, however, are the Baltic and Mediterranean to our Boardwalk and Park Place. Like Tom Brady calling up Richard Sherman to shore up his secondary, Kevin and I pulled out all the stops this week and dialed up an old friend, a college football expert in her own mind.
Back when we discovered blogging in the mid-2000’s, Kevin and I voluntarily wrote for Fox Sports Online. That’s where we encountered Lisa Horne. 6500 Twitter followers later, Lisa has become quite a big deal. Despite being able to find her all over the internet (the clean sites mostly), her biggest claim to fame was losing a wager with Desmond Howard and having to wear his Michigan jersey on her Twitter profile in full Heisman pose. Trust me, for a USC fan, that’s a bitter Twitter pill to swallow.
Of course, she gets paid by the word and Kevin and I could barely afford her, even with all the fake money we’re throwing around. Trust me when I tell you she can’t do any worse the three unwise men who came before her. Her picks for the week can be found down below, but first…
I’m not sure how many of you perform this exercise at home but if you gamble regularly on the NFL, you might want to come up with your own lines prior to looking at Vegas’. If you get good enough, you should come pretty close to matching their line-up, perhaps only missing by a point or two here or there.
It’s when you and Vegas veer substantially that you should take note. For example, when I first heard that Cincinnati would be hosting Jacksonville, I immediately figured that line would be around 10 ½. Well, it’s not and that leads us to my first wager of the week.
Let me have $50 on Jacksonville Jaguars at Cincinnati Bengals (-7)
The Jaguars are so bad… how bad are they? The Jaguars are so bad that last week, the Arizona Cardinals spotted them a touchdown by having a 68-yard field goal attempt run back 109 yards to their end zone and the Cardinals still covered the number. I’ve gone on record as saying I don’t think the Jaguars will win a game this season. That’s probably a bit of an exaggeration but I don’t see too many W’s on their horizon. They might not be the worst team in the league but they nestle uncomfortably among the bottom five, along with the Jets, Colts, Giants and Lions who have yet to win a game. That won’t happen this week either. Meanwhile, the Bengals just left Pittsburgh with a W. While they’re not the only ones to do so these days, the Steelers are a hell of a lot better than Jacksonville. Ja’Marr Chase is starting to turn heads and is one of three wide receivers a healthy Joe Burrow loves to throw to, alongside Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins. They also have a solid ground attack with Joe Mixon who is second in the NFL in rushing. In other words, this is the young team the Bengals finally envisioned. Let us not forget Joe Burrow once transferred out of Urban Meyer’s program in Ohio State. While that may mean Meyer knows Burrow’s tendencies, it’s been a long time since he threw for him at practice. In a matchup between two national championship winning quarterbacks, the Bengals want to show the world they’re for real in prime time. Meyer might throw some looks to confuse Cincy but I’m not sure Jacksonville has the talent to keep up all game. I like the Bengals to cover the seven.
Give me $40 on Carolina Panthers at Dallas Cowboys (-4)
When you’re sitting at the blackjack table, you ride the hot hand. When the dealer keeps giving you face cards and himself sixes, you bet your stack until the table gets cold. That’s what I’m doing this week with the Dallas Cowboys. America’s team did whatever they pleased last Monday night against Philadelphia, leaving Eagles fans to question Jalen Hurts more than they already do. The Cowboys made it clear they are the team to beat in the NFC East. This Sunday, they host the McCaffrey-less Carolina Panthers. The Panthers are 3-0 but two of those wins have come against the Texans and Jets. The Cowboys are 2-1 with their only loss coming to last year’s Super Bowl champions. This will be Sam Darnold’s first week as a Panther quarterback without his star running back which means he’ll have problems moving the ball. Meanwhile, the Cowboys rarely punt. I’ll take the Cowboys to cover the four and give Carolina their first loss.
I’ll take $30 on Tennessee Titans (-7) at New York Jets
There are some really good football games this weekend and then there are some snooze-fests. When betting on games, you may find it riveting to watch your team struggle to cover the spread. I say give me the easy cover and save me the elevated blood pressure. This week, the Tennessee Titans travel to MetLife to play the Jets. If you’ve paid attention to this website’s potentially profitable prognostications, you’ll remember I’ve bet the Titans every week, finally getting them right in Week Three. I plan to carry that trend into Week Four. Did you know that the New York Jets have only scored 20 points this season? They’ve played three games. By my math, that means they’re scoring less than a touchdown a game. The Titans aren’t exactly the 2000 Ravens but they did just stymie a struggling Colts offense and should do the same against rookie Zach Wilson who has thrown for an inauspicious two touchdowns and seven picks. I’m also not sure how the Jets plan to stop the league’s leading rusher, Derrick Henry, whose ponytail might be more talented and most certainly more intimidating than anything this Jets’ roster has to offer. Again, logic tells me I have a playoff team going against a team that might not win a game and I’m only laying a touchdown. I’ll gladly take Tennessee to cover.
Goin’ fishin’ for $20 on Indianapolis Colts at Miami Dolphins (-1 ½)
Lost in all the pomp and circumstance of Tom Brady’s return to New England is another quarterback going up against his former team. This week, the Miami Dolphins face the Indianapolis Colts, two teams that are off to starts they hadn’t anticipated. Thanks to the once again injured Tua Tagovailoa, back-up Jacoby Brissett will start for the Dolphins. As you know, Brissett just left the Colts last season. Don’t get me wrong. The Dolphins are an absolute train wreck and 0-3 Colts are more talented than their record indicates. I think. But Carson Wentz is still hobbling around on two bum ankles. Either way, I’m only laying a point-and-a-half in a revenge game so I’ll take it. I even picked up Brissett off the waiver wire in one of my fantasy leagues with the hopes that he’ll go nuts against his former team statistically. Miami covers the one-and-a-half.
I’ll take $10 on Oregon Ducks (-7 ½) at Stanford Cardinal
In honor of our celebrity guest this week, I’m taking a Pac-10 team only because she took an SEC team. I don’t know much about Pac-10 football but I do know this. Oregon has a seat in this year’s final four sitting and waiting for it. It’s easy to suggest that all the Ducks need to do is run the table but it would help their cause if they did so in style. This week, they travel to Stanford who just lost at home to UCLA. Oregon knows what’s on the line. Winning the conference outright should get them in but there’s no reason for them to give voters any doubt just in case something weird happens. It’s games like these where they’ll say “Remember when Oregon beat Stanford in their own house like they did Ohio State in Columbus?” That will go a long way in proving the Ducks are far and away the best team in the conference. Oregon wants to prove they’re in the conversation with the best teams in the country, that their top three ranking is legit. They’ll prove it this weekend against the Cardinal. The Ducks cover the seven-and-a-half.
THE WIFE HATES SPORTS WEEK FOUR PICKS
Fresh off a wild weekend at the Ryder Cup (check out my takeaways from the event – Part I and Part II), it’s time for me to put my football hat back on. I found this week’s slate to be a bit more challenging. Perhaps my brain is still stuck in the Central time zone. We’ll soon see. Here are my top picks for the week… and here’s hoping I hold my lead against the ‘Chump.
$50 – College: Indiana Hoosiers at Penn State Nittany Lions (-12.5)
As the phrase goes, “Revenge is a dish best served cold”. Penn State hosts the Hoosiers under the lights in what will be a “Stripe Out”. Let’s not forget last year’s start to the season, when the Nittany Lions had an OT win taken away after a Michael Penix Jr. two-point clincher was not overturned. The fans remember that and they will be loud. The players remember it, too. James Franklin teaches a 1-0 mentality, but you can’t tell me this hasn’t been circled on the calendar. The Indiana pass defense has just one pick through four games and ranks 73rd nationally. Sean Clifford is having an underrated season and will feast (and feast some more). Penn State covers at home.
$40 NFL: Kansas City Chiefs (-7) at Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles are playing on short rest following a blowout loss to the Cowboys. Now, Philly gets Patrick Mahomes and an angry Chiefs team that is frustrated by its slow start. The Eagles have surprised in home game situations like this in the past. Still, this new Philly coaching staff ran its backs just three times last week. THREE. They’ll need to do that more to keep Mahomes off the field. That is, unless KC gets off to a hot start and the Eagles are forced to throw. Mahomes, Kelce, Hill, and the rest of this offense will prove to be too much. “Great googly moogly”, K.C. covers on the road.
$30 College: Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at Michigan State Spartans (-10.5)
Sparty is enjoying a 4-0 start (17th in the AP). Add in a primetime matchup against the Hilltoppers and the stadium should be rocking. Now, Western Kentucky will come knocking with its 2nd ranked passing offense (426.0 ypg). Those numbers may be inflated thanks to a blowout win over TN-Martin and two shootouts against both Army and Indiana. The IU game was at home, but adds proof that the Hilltoppers can stick with Big Ten foes. Still, as outlined by Phil Steele, the Hilltoppers are “0-8 all-time vs the Big 10” (now 0-9 after last week). Also via Steele, when the season started, WKU was “2-8 ATS vs. non-conference foes under Helton”. Michigan State covers at home.
$20 NFL: Tennessee Titans (-7) at New York Jets
The Jets sit 29th in passing offense with just 2 TD’s through three games (and 7 INT). New York’s run defense is middle-of-the-pack so far, but now will face Derrick Henry. Teams have been able to score on Tennessee, but that’s with more potent rosters. The talent gap is very clear here and I don’t see the Jets hanging around, despite the home field advantage and the real possibility that both AJ Brown and Julio Jones could miss the game. That risk drops my confidence slightly, but New York allowing 15 sacks through three games raises it right back up. Titans cover on the road.
$10 College: Boston College Eagles (+14.5) at Clemson Tigers
Clemson is a shell of itself this season. Take out a 49-3 drubbing of SC State and the Tigers have just 38 points in its other three games combined. Clemson returned just five starters on offense this season, so perhaps it’s just a matter of time. Boston College, meanwhile, returned 17 starters and is undefeated. Sure, the strength of schedule isn’t there for BC – not yet, at least. Considering the opponents, BC still ranks 25th in rush defense and 42nd in pass defense. Also, per Phil Steele, “entering ’21, BC is 16-5-1 ATS as an away underdog”. Considering these facts, give me the Eagles and the points.
CELEBRITY GUEST’S WEEK FOUR PICKS: LISA HORNE
50: BYU- 7.5 v Utah State
40: Army -7.5 v Ball State
30: Ole Miss +14.5 v Alabama
20: Fresno State -10 at Hawai’i
10: ECU +4 v Tulane