And there were none.
There are a ton of really good football teams this year. The Bucs, Rams, Cowboys, Bills, Ravens, Titans, Bengals and Packers all look like shoo-ins for the post-season. Prior to this Thursday night, only the Arizona Cardinals remained unbeaten, a perfect 7-0, until their loss to the Packers. Their records now, all slightly blemished.
Like those teams, I’m also slightly blemished. And by that, I mean my picks this season. 20-15 against the spread is nothing to sneeze at. I’m plus money. But I still trail the scorching hot Kevin Paul who is, get this, 23-11-1 picking college and pro games against the spread! I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t been keeping the score myself.
I don’t know what sort of Texas Instruments calculator he’s using to run his numbers but its batteries are fully charged and its “See the Future” button is on point. Our guests could use a little bit of his calculator love. After seven weeks, they are still minus money but that’s all about to change, or so hopes our good old golf coach.
We have invited your favorite coach and mine to make picks against the boys this weekend. Let’s see how he fares. This is the first time he’s ever wagered fake money so we’ll see if that rattles him.
I’ll take $50 on Philadelphia Eagles at Detroit Lions (+3 ½)
My “bookie” won’t allow me to bet on the Lions anymore, for good reason. I’m not even a Detroit fan but I’ve watched them play this season and I believe in this team, as silly as that sounds. Earlier this week, Jim Rome called these Lions “the best 0-7 team ever.” He’s probably right. They hung with the Rams, they almost beat the Ravens and their new head coach is so emotionally involved that he cries at every post-game press conference. This week, they host the lowly Eagles, who are a train wreck in their own right. Even though they have two wins on the season, which is two more than Detroit, this Eagles team is considerably more trainwrecky than Detroit. Even though I said this last week (and the week before, and the week before that), I think this is the week the Lions finally get it done. Since Dr. Milhouse will no longer let me place a wager on the Lay-Downs, I’ll do it here for fake money instead. I’m getting three-and-a-half on a home team eager to get its first win plus the Eagles have no business being favored by what’s essentially a touchdown. Give me Detroit plus the three-and-a-half.
How about $40 on Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills (-13 ½)
This has all the makings of a bloodbath. Coming off a bye, the Bills are still the best team in the AFC. Their conference rival, the Miami Dolphins, appear to be the lead team in the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes, all but telling their current quarterback, the Tua they tanked for, that they’d rather have a guy under investigation of rape than him leading their team. Once considered a solid coach, Brian Flores appears to have one foot out the door, along with Tua. This team has regressed significantly from the promise they showed last year. The Dolphins are bottom five in the league in offensive yards per game and the Bills are best in the league in yards allowed. The Bills are a top ten team in yards per game and the Dolphins rank dead last in yards allowed. Add that up and you have a point spread that should be significantly higher than thirteen-and-a-half points. Josh Allen goes nuts on Sunday reminding the Dolphins that Buffalo has their quarterback of the future and Miami better figure out who theirs is if they want to keep up with the Bills for the next decade. Buffalo covers.
Allow me to wager $30 on Cincinnati Bengals (-10 ½) at New York Jets
Speaking of hot offensively, the Cincinnati Bengals are the hottest team in the league. League officials are already etching Ja’Marr Chase’s name on the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. Speaking of offensive rookies, the Jets’ Zach Wilson has been sidelined up to a month with a bum knee. So, what does New York do? They sign Joe Flacco. How very Jets of them. Someone should probably tell them it’s no longer 2012. Re-trading for Flacco is surprising because a) nobody even knew he was still in the league and b) he played for the Jets in 2020 and went 0-4 in five starts. In his defense, every Jets quarterback since the dawn of mankind has started 0-4. It’s a rite of passage. The Jets are bad (like really bad) and nobody, especially not the Jets, can stop Joe Burrow and his slew of wide receivers. The Bengals just beat Joe Flacco’s old team, the Baltimore Ravens. They’ll beat his new team this week and cover the ten while doing so.
And then $20 on Florida State (+10 ½) at Clemson Tigers
I keep coming back to this “Why is Clemson laying double digits” question. The clearly rebuilding Clemson Tigers have beaten one opponent so far this season by ten points. That was an early season tune-up against South Carolina State, who probably got paid a million dollars to receive that beatdown. Since then, Clemson has scored 14, 21, 13, 17 and 17 respectively in their following five games. What is it about those scores that says they’re going to a) put up a lot of points and b) put up ten more points than their opponent? After starting off a very un-Seminole-like 0-4, FSU has won their last three and is next in the long line of ACC teams looking to exact revenge for the beatdowns Clemson’s given them in recent years. Again, I’m not sure why Vegas keeps laying these spreads with Clemson which is why I’m taking the Noles and the ten-and-a-half.
And finally, $10 on Florida Gators (+14) vs. Georgia Bulldogs (neutral site)
Fuck it. I looked long and hard for a fifth game to choose this weekend, one I felt confident about, one where I felt that extra ten spot might give me a bump in the standings… but I couldn’t find one. So, I’m going with my boys. To say this has been a disappointing season for the Florida Gators would be considerably less than an understatement. Somewhere along the line, Dan Mullen went from being the coach we boys at old Florida wanted so badly to a coach that forgot to teach his team how to tackle. I’m not joking when I say that this might be the worst tackling Gator defense I’ve ever seen and I’ve been watching this team since the late 80s. If Coach Mullen is going to salvage any sort of respectability to his season, his Gators are going to have to show up. They can ill afford to be blown out, even if it is by the number one team in the nation. Expect Anthony Richardson to see a lot of playing time. UGA hasn’t seen a quarterback like him and he might just be the key to Florida shocking the world. And even if he’s not, I’ll take comfort in the fact that I bet on my boys plus the 14. Go Gators!
THE WIFE HATES SPORTS WEEK EIGHT PICKS
$50 NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at New York Jets (-10.5)
I finally, seriously, absolutely, positively believe that the Bengals are for real now. So, now that I have them as my highest confidence pick of the week, they’re going to tank right? Time will tell. Remember the “case of the dropsies” that Ja’Marr Chase had during the preseason? Yeah, me neither. The Burrow-Chase combo is proving to be lethal. The additional weapons on offense have been strong, as well. The Cincinnati defense cracks the top ten in defense (339.9 ypg allowed). Enter Mike White, who gets the start for the Jets. Oh and top receiver Corey Davis is hurt for New York, too. The more I write, the more I doubt that the Bengals will tank this one. Cincy covers on the road.
$40 NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Seattle Seahawks (-3)
Urban and the Jags come off a bye and travel to Seattle to face the 12th man crowd that hasn’t made its usual impact this year. Not as much to cheer about, considering the win total and injuries. In regards to this game, let’s consider a few things. Seattle may be 2-5, but three of those losses are by three points against talented opponents (Titans, Saints, Steelers). At least, more talented than the Jags. Meanwhile, Jacksonville is tied for the fewest sacks in the league. Geno Smith might actually be comfortable and have extra time to throw to Metcalf and Lockett. Jacksonville is also 30th in total defense and 31st against the pass. Seahawks cover at home.
$30 NFL: Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills (-13.5)
I went back and forth between division rivalries (this game or Titans-Colts). In the end, this game wins out for a few reasons. The Bills are playing at home and coming off a bye. Buffalo is first in the NFL against the pass and first in total defense (270.2 ypg allowed). Miami, on the other hand, is 30th against the pass. Tua has had a few strong games of late, but this remains a mismatch statistically, especially considering a 35-0 win by the Bills in Miami back in September. Finally, Buffalo owns this series of late, winning six straight and eight of nine. Two of the last three games in Buffalo have been blowouts. My gut says Josh Allen and the Bills win big again. Bills cover at home.
$20 College: Kentucky Wildcats (-1) at Mississippi State Bulldogs
Many look at the line and say it’s just a show of disrespect for Kentucky. To a degree, the argument is there considering the Wildcats are ranked 12th in the nation. Still, Kentucky has not won in Starksville since 2008. Mike Leach could certainly pull off another win and keep that streak alive. Still, old school Leach followers would expect 600 yard passing games and no defense. This MSU team actually ranks 11th in the nation in rushing defense. Despite these facts, Kentucky has proven itself all year, knocking off the Gators by 7 points and LSU by 21. Those were home games. This is a road game in a hostile environment, but I trust Kentucky to get the job done. Wildcats cover.
$10 College: Penn State Nittany Lions at Ohio State Buckeyes (-18.5)
I feel dirty doing this, considering Penn State is my alma mater. But if you know me, you’ll know that I don’t pick with my heart. Maybe that’s why I set it as my $10 pick for the week. Either that or maybe it’s the fact that I know this PSU team has the talent to compete. Overall, these two teams are headed in opposite directions. Ohio State is clicking on all cylinders while the Nittany Lions are floundering. James Franklin is calling Ohio State “The Big House” and that his team is preparing for “Illinois”. That was last week, Coach. Franklin might be distracted by coaching rumors (or he might not be). Sean Clifford can’t be 100%, despite the staff saying that he is. He could barely run last week.
Finally, look at what Bret Bielema did on the ground against a strong Penn State defense. He created a script Ohio State can follow. If somehow Penn State can shutdown TreVeyon Henderson, they’ll still need to face C.J. Stroud and arguably the most talented WR group in the country. On the flip side, Penn State has failed to adjust in-game. The Lions have failed to establish a consistent run game all season. In the end, a one-dimensional team with a hobbled QB on the road is unlikely to get the job done against the nation’s most potent offense. Ohio State covers at home (I just threw up in my mouth a little).
CELEBRITY GUEST WEEK EIGHT PICKS: COACH
The Gators always play the Dawgs tough and even though that GA Defense is spectacular this year I believe Richardson is going to give them problems so I will take the 50 with them.
Penn St vs Ohio St is always a classic and even though Ohio State can score on anyone I just dont see them winning by 20 or more at home. Penn St 40
ND is who we think they are but the Defense shows up and shuts down Howell and crew. ND 30
Standard is always tough at home and Washington can definitely hold their own. I see a tightly contested and defensive game with Stanford winning it in the 4th. Stanford 20
BYU is always tough at home but this Virginia team can score but can’t really stop anyone so BYU pulls away in the 2nd half and wins fairly easily. BYU 10