Remember that Liam Neeson line from the movie Taken, where he tells the men who kidnapped his daughter that he has “a very particular set of skills?”
I also have a very particular set of skills: not being able to pick football games correctly against the spread. If I had to rely on my winning football picks to save my daughter from some Eastern European sex trafficking ring, she’d be as good as gone all the while sending me postcards from overseas telling me what a good time she was having.
My picks were so atrocious last week, I have blind squirrels poking fun at me. But all we can do amidst a season of futility is get right back on the horse. Giddy up!
Meanwhile, my counterpart in this adventure is the Liam Neeson who not only pummels those mean old, sex trafficking guys but also the Liam who simultaneously trains Bruce Wayne in martial arts while Schindlering a trainload of Jews safely out Nazi Germany. He’s been that good.
In the last three weeks, the brain behind the Wife Hates Sports has compiled a smoldering 12-3 record against the spread. I’m thinking of having him start his own YouTube channel. Had I been placing bets on his picks instead of mine, I’d be able to afford the entire Liam Neeson collection on DVD. Alas, I did not, so the Liam movie marathon will have to wait.
Our celebrity guest this week has gambled on more baseball games this season that you’ve bet your entire lifetime. Can he transfer that wisdom onto the pigskin against one of the hottest prognosticators in America? Considering four weeks have gone by and no celebrity has yet to earn positive money, our first prize packs await. DRealEmmcee will do his best to crash that party.
Give me $50 on Denver Broncos at Pittsburgh Steelers (-1)
I’m not going to say this is the Steelers’ last chance to save their season but it’s in the neighborhood, that’s for sure. Playing in the same division as Cleveland, Baltimore and Cincinnati, the Steelers are looking long and hard and finishing last in the AFC North. They’re already two games behind every other team. This week, they host the 3-1 Denver Broncos who bring in a recently concussed Teddy Bridgewater. The irony here is that Ben Roethlisberger is playing like he’s the one who’s concussed. Half the pundits in America are suggesting Big Ben should have called it quits but head coach Mike Tomlin continues to have faith in his starting quarterback, despite the constant criticisms of the offensive line that’s failed to protect him. They can ill afford to drop to 1-4 which is what would happen if they lose this week. Remember, this is a team that went into Buffalo in Week One and beat the Bills. I just can’t see them going out like that. They just need to find their Ju-Ju, Smith Schuster. I’m taking the Steelers at home to cover the single point.
I’ll take $40 on Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs (-2)
I honestly feel the Buffalo Bills aren’t getting the respect they deserve. Not to be overshadowed by their quarterback, their defense leads the league in yards allowed per game and turnover differential. That combination will win you a lot of ball games. We’ve also talked about how porous the Chiefs are defensively, which means Buffalo should be able to waltz into Arrowhead and put up some points. But I have this feeling the Chiefs want to remind Buffalo who’s boss in the conference. While Buffalo would like to wrestle the AFC championship away from Kansas City’s grasp, and still may, I have this suspicion the Chiefs will remind them it’s still theirs to lose. It will be a loud Sunday night in KC where Chiefs fans will be going bonkers and I’m only laying two points. The Bills may be the better team pound for pound but it’s close. The road to the Super Bowl still goes through Arrowhead, at least on Sunday night. Giving the nod to the hometown mystique, barbecue beats buffalo. I have to take the Chiefs to cover.
Let’s bet on some college where I’ll take $30 on Wisconsin Badgers at Illinois Illini (+10)
I’m not sure why I’m taking a stab at Big Ten Football but I’m going to throw two games from that conference onto my slate. This weekend, the 1-3 Wisconsin Badgers (that doesn’t even sound right) travel to Champaign to take on the Illini. Neither of these teams are very good. In fact, they have a combined one conference win between them. The over/under in this game is 42 which means you’re better off finding anything else on television to watch, or perhaps just turning it off altogether, for watching your wall is bound to be more entertaining. I, however, will be watching (yawn) because it’s one of my top five. It’s not that these two teams are overwhelming defensively. It’s just that neither can score. So why on earth would I take Wisconsin, a team that scores under three touchdowns a game, and expect them to cover a ten-point spread. I wouldn’t. I’ll take Illinois plus the ten.
On to the game of the week and $20 on Penn State Nittany Lions at Iowa Hawkeyes (-1 ½)
Let’s turn things on their heads and talk about a Big Ten game that really matters. In the words of our former president, this Penn State-Iowa game is “huuuge” and unlike the other games between ranked teams so far this season, this contest promises to live up to the hype. It is by far the biggest game of the week with the winner not assured a seat at the big table but the loser is sure the hell out. Iowa can afford a loss more as they’re in the weaker half of the Big Ten but trust me when I tell you they don’t want to. For once, they’re in the driver’s seat. This rivalry has seen some tight outcomes in recent years. Three of the last four games have been decided by less than a touchdown. In fact, Penn State had won six straight until the Hawkeyes finally got the best of them last year. These teams are so evenly matched that the home crowd should make the difference in this game. The longer Penn State keeps Iowa hanging around, the louder the crowd will get. The slightest hiccup could sway the outcome. These teams are ranked second and third in the nation in points allowed per game so scoring will be at a premium. Here’s one last, otherwise meaningless tip. My chiropractor is an Iowa grad. When I asked him how he felt about the game, he was not in the slightest bit confident. “That’s the thing about being an Iowa fan. You just never know,” he said. Had he been overconfident, I’d be inclined to take Penn State in the upset. But his timidness told me Iowa’s got this. That plus Kevin is a Penn State alum so if Iowa covers this spread, not only will it piss him off, but it’ll piss him off even more that I picked against his alma mater. Sorry, buddy, but Iowa covers the two at home.
And finally, $10 on New Mexico Lobos at San Diego State Aztecs (-19)
I know absolutely nothing about this game but why should that stop me from picking it considering I’m 9-11 ATS the season. Here’s what I do know. New Mexico versus San Diego State sounds like a better college basketball matchup than it does football. I also know that San Diego State is ranked in the top 25 probably for the first time since Marshall Faulk went to school there. I’m joking, Aztec fans. This team went undefeated in conference back in 2015. This year they almost blew a lead to Utah but still pulled out the win. The following week, they came back against Towson leaving no doubt. This Saturday, they host their first conference game and will want to make a good impression. There’s no way they’re losing this game. The question is by how much they’ll win. Vegas says 19. I told myself I’d be bold one week and choose nothing but double-digit favorites. This is my start. The Aztecs boast one of the best rushing offenses in the nation while the Lobos are one of the worst teams in the Mountain West. They allowed Air Force to run up and down the field on them last week warming them up for the beatdown they’ll be taking on Saturday. On a whim, I’ll take San Diego State minus the nineteen.
THE WIFE HATES SPORTS WEEK FIVE PICKS
$50 – NFL: Tennessee Titans (-4) at Jacksonville Jaguars
By now, we all know that Urban Meyer is a more quality meme and dirty joke producer than an actual NFL coach. It appears that he has lost a lot of his players (and the locker room). That grinding distraction is one thing. On the flip side, yes, the Titans were the only team that burned me last week. However, I made that pick early in the week knowing that there was a chance that neither Julio Jones or AJ Brown would play. Neither did. Now, Brown is set to return this week, as well as Bud Dupree on defense. Jacksonville’s only hope is to establish the run with James Robinson (facing a Titans defense that ranks 8th against the run). Also, they’ll need to stop Derrick Henry. After this beatdown, I wonder which bar Urban will head to next. Get your cell phones ready. Titans cover.
$40 NFL: New England Patriots (-8.5) at Houston Texans
I bumped this game up my list as the week progressed. Why? First, there’s Mac Jones, who completed nearly 78% of his passes last week, going toe-to-toe with Tom Brady and a solid Bucs defense. Second, there’s Davis Mills, who tossed four picks in a 40-0 loss to the Bills. Mills also sports a 17.9 QBR on the season and now faces Bill Belichick, a guy that tends to give rookie quarterbacks nightmares. So, while New England is off to a sluggish 1-3 start, the one win was a 25-6 victory at the Jets. The Patriots have been inconsistent, but still place beatdowns on lesser teams. That is the Texans. Pats cover.
$30 College: Alabama Crimson Tide (-18) at Texas A&M Aggies
A&M had lofty expectations this season. Injuries have certainly been a part of the problem. The Aggies have lost two straight, falling to Mississippi State at home last week and Arkansas on the road two weeks prior. Now, they face the #1 team in the country. Sure, the home crowd will be loud and the players will be amped up. Only, since joining the SEC, A&M is 1-8 against Alabama (that includes 4-5 ATS). A&M has had success ATS when at home, but that’s not with a team that is reeling and hit hard by injuries, including its QB Haynes King. Texas A&M will try to establish the run with star Isaiah Spiller. Overall, Nick Saban was quoted as calling this a “trap game”, but these are just things coaches say. ‘Bama wins big.
$20 NFL: Green Bay Packers (-3) at Cincinnati Bengals
Both starting running backs (Aaron Jones and Joe Mixon) are currently questionable with ankle injuries. Green Bay has more depth at the position with AJ Dillon. Overall, everyone keeps asking if the Bengals are for real. The short answer for me is that this team has improved. Still, look at the schedule: Cincinnati has narrow wins over the Vikings and Jaguars. They beat a struggling Steelers team on the road by two TD’s. There’s a loss to the Bears, a team with plenty of issues, a coach on the seat, and now a rookie QB. So, I don’t think we know who the Bengals are yet. But we do know who Aaron Rodgers is. In Jeopardy! voice, “Who is a future Hall of Fame QB for the Green Bay Packers?” Cincy gets its strongest opponent to date. Three points? Yeah, give me the Packers to cover on the road.
$10 College: Michigan Wolverines (-3.5) at Nebraska Cornhuskers
Here is an interesting game. For the last few years, these teams have underachieved. In 2021, Michigan seems to be legit following a beatdown of the Badgers last week. Meanwhile, despite a horrific showing to open the season (a 30-22 loss at Illinois), the Huskers have been playing better and have home field. For Nebraska, the improvements are noticeable, including a three-point loss to #11 Michigan State and a seven-point loss at #6 Oklahoma. They are knocking on the door. But this week, I look to a strong Michigan defense that currently ranks 33rd in the nation against the run. I see a strong defensive front being a major factor, pushing the Wolverines to another key win. Michigan covers.
CELEBRITY GUEST’S WEEK FIVE PICKS: DREALEMMCEE
Tennessee (-4) vs. Jacksonville
Derrick Henry up the gut, Derrick Henry off right tackle, Derrick Henry off left tackle, Screen to Derrick Henry… See where I’m going here??
Urb will make it thru this game and likely thru their London game week 6, but if his controversy continues and/or they get capped here and/or the next week, Urb will get a copy of the home game. (Titans- 31-13)
Tampa Bay (-10) vs. Miami; (Tease down to 7 or below if you must);
Bucs under Brady win at home against teams they are clearly better than, then usually by at least a TD. So if you choose to tease it down, I won’t fault you. “Beef Brisket” Jacoby Brissett and that Dolphins offense doesn’t scare me much and even if the Miami defense (a sister version of the NE defense) were to give Brady more trouble, I think it’s more likely to be a three yards and a cloud of dust kind of game. Regardless, Bucs win, and likely roll. (Bucs 28-13)
New Orleans (-1.5) vs. Washington;
Saints will be ready to play against The Beer Bottle-Taylor Heineke and The Football Team. Until Jameis proves otherwise, Saints away from the Superdome looks like a better play. Heineke has found a way to pull off two weird ass comebacks this year or Washington would be looking easily at 0-4. Ron Rivera and his defense has issues and Kumara will exploit. (26-17- Saints).
Green Bay (-3) vs Cincinnati; (Tease GB to +3.5/4, if necessary)
Cincy has been a pleasant surprise, but Rodgers et al. has righted the ship for now and looks like the class of their division, again. But I wouldn’t be surprised if Cincy keeps it close, due to Cincy’s passing game. (27-23- Packers).
New York Giants (+7) vs. Dallas; (Tease NYG up to +14 if needed) OR Over 52
Giants have a bit of confidence after beating the Saints in NOLA last week, Saquon looks more like 2019 Saquon. I also still have the vibe that Dallas is a bit of a fraud just off the eye test. Giants D is solid and can control Zeke and Pollard. If Dak throws for less than 200 yards like he did for most of last week and the Giants can control the running game, I def can see the Giants covering or an outright win… but then that means I’m believing Danny Dimes doesn’t self-implode? fuckkkk. (Dallas 31- Giants 27)