Last week was rough. If you placed a wager over the football weekend, you know exactly what I’m talking about. With the Jets beating the Bengals and the Patriots beating the Chargers, I am officially out of my last two survivor pools, which means I’ll have a lot more time to focus on these posts and my new online Hard Rock sports gambling app.
Not that I want to beat a dead horse but here’s further proof that last week was abysmal. In the eight weeks that we’ve hosted this contest, the three of us (Kevin, our celebrity guests and I) have combined for positive money in six of those eight weeks. Our worst week was Week One. Our second worst week was last week. The three of us combined for only our second loss of the season and a 7-9 record against the spread.
Picking like that is a quick way to the poor house. This week, we’re bound to rebound or so we keep telling ourselves. With the home stretch almost in sight, we’re due to see some separation this weekend… or are we?
This week, we invite our South Florida correspondent, Kid Sheraton, into the mix. With his Dolphins, Hurricanes and Marlins all out of contention once again, he’s at least happy to see his Heat competitive. Unfortunately for him, this is a football and not an NBA pick ‘em, although I hear he’s not too great at picking basketball lately either.
But before we get to his picks…
Let me have $50 on Iowa Hawkeyes at Northwestern Wildcats (+12)
I’ve been making a lot of (fake) money betting against Clemson this year. For some reason, oddsmakers keep listing Clemson as double-digit favorites. Apparently, gamblers are falling for it, thinking that Clemson of late is Clemson of old. Newsflash: they’re not. I found another double-digit line in college football this weekend for a team that, like Clemson, can’t score. Ladies and gentlemen, I humbly present your Iowa Hawkeyes. Remember about a month ago when the Hawkeyes were ranked number two in the nation. They had just beaten Penn State and all was right in America’s heartland. The next week, they go out and shit the bed against Purdue. Here’s a fun fact. Iowa has only scored two touchdowns in its last two games. So again, I ask you, why is Iowa laying twelve points on the road in a night game at Northwestern. I don’t care that Northwestern is 3-5. I don’t care that Iowa has lost consecutive games and is primed to bounce back. This is a trend, not an anomaly. Iowa can’t score the football so I don’t trust them to beat anyone by twelve points, never mind score twelve themselves. I’ll take Northwestern plus the points.
I’ll take $40 on Las Vegas Raiders (-2 ½) at New York Giants
The Raiders have had themselves a tough season. First, authorities rummage through some old e-mails to find their ousted head coach doing his best David Duke impression. Then their star rookie gets involved in a deadly DUI incident. The organization immediately cut ties with both. Needless to say, the Raiders’ public relations department has been working overtime. After the Gruden firing, team leader and starting quarterback Derek Carr rallied the troops to beat the Broncos in Denver. He’s going to have to do so again, this time in New York. The Raiders are still a game up in the competitive AFC West and they’d like to keep it that way. On the other hand, the Giants are who we thought they were. Don’t let the fact that they only lost to the Chiefs by three points fool you. This is a bad football team. Most might find it dangerous to bet the Raiders right now considering all that’s going on in this locker room but they found a way to rally after the Gruden drama. They’ll do so again on Sunday. Raiders cover the two-and-a-half.
Howzabout $30 on Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals (-2 ½)
Last week, we were talking about the Bengals as if they were the best team in the AFC. That’s because they were. What a difference a week makes. One bad loss to the Jets and the Bengals are suddenly afterthoughts. It’s hard to win, and more importantly protect your quarterback, with a spotty offensive line and that’s exactly what’s going on in Cincinnati. Fortunately Burrow still has his triple headed monster to throw to. He just has to get the ball out quickly. This week, they host Cleveland who apparently Vegas thinks is better than the Bengals, hence the tiny spread. The Brownies need this win more than the Bungles but that doesn’t mean much with all the drama coming out of Browns camp. Odell Beckham took a personal day after his dad complained openly about his lack of targets. While I do like Beckham to show up and prove he’s a highlight reel against Burrow’s Bengals, assuming he’s not traded by then, the noise is enough to tinker with Baker Mayfield’s psyche which, like his throwing shoulder, is not 100%. I don’t have the same faith in Mayfield that I do in Carr when it comes to handling locker room drama. You shouldn’t either. So why is this spread so small? I’m not quite sure. Cleveland has yet to prove they can beat the better teams in the league. That won’t start this week against a Bengals team that’s pissed they just lost to the Jets. Bengals rebound and cover the 2 ½.
I’ll take $20 on Kansas State Wildcats at Kansas Jayhawks (+24 ½)
Kansas vs. Kansas State. I don’t know anything about these two teams. I’ve never been to Kansas. I don’t plan on ever doing so. I looked up the rivalry to see if it’s been competitive lately. It hasn’t. Kansas State has won the last twelve games in this series. Looking for a reason to take the 24 ½ points, I checked to see if these games were any more lopsided in Lawrence than they were in Manhattan. They weren’t. Lately, this rivalry has been entirely one-sided. With that being said, this Kansas State team isn’t exactly burning up the Big 12 and they do have look ahead games against West Virginia, Baylor and Texas to finish their season. It’s hard to imagine they’d take their little brother lightly but they might. Meanwhile, Kansas has just played two top-20 teams so they’re accustomed to playing against some talent. Winless in conference, Kansas just might drum up enough gumption at home to keep this one closer than the 24 ½ points. At least that’s what I’m hoping for.
And finally, Wake Forest Demon Deacons at North Carolina Tar Heels (-2 ½)
Here’s how funny betting college football can be. Wake Forest is ranked ninth and undefeated. They are a good football team putting up no less than 35 points in every game they’ve played. Yet they are underdogs in Chapel Hill this weekend, traveling to play a rather disappointing 4-4 North Carolina team. This was supposed to be the year Sam Howell emerged as a leading candidate for first quarterback taken in the NFL draft. That hasn’t happened. So why would an underachieving North Carolina team be favored against a team that looks considerably better on paper? Because Vegas wants you to bet Wake Forest. I’m not falling for it. In real life, this is probably a game I’d stay away from. The over/under is a whopping 76 which is the highest on Saturday’s slate. Don’t be surprised if it goes over. We’re going to see a back-and-forth battle all afternoon long so if you play fantasy college football, load up on these rosters. This has all the makings of a last-team-to-have-the-ball-wins kind of games. Look for Howell to enter his name back into the mix as he tosses the ball around the yard. I’ll take the home team Tar Heels and lay the two-and-a-half as they hand Wake Forest their first loss of the season.
THE WIFE HATES SPORTS WEEK NINE PICKS
$50 NFL: Buffalo Bills (-14.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars
To state it like a five year-old, the Bills are good and the Jags are bad. Fine, I’ll dive deeper than that. The Bills are 6th in total offense (402.9 ypg) and 1st in total defense (269.0 ypg). Buffalo has allowed eight sacks in seven games, the fewest in the NFL. Jacksonville has 11 sacks on the year (only Atlanta has fewer). Expect Josh Allen to have plenty of time in the pocket. On Jacksonville’s side, James Robinson is questionable, potentially leaving the Jags without its most consistent offensive weapon. This game has blowout written all over it. Bills cover on the road.
$40 College: Ohio State Buckeyes (-14.5) at Nebraska Cornhuskers
Vegas has had renewed faith in Nebraska in recent weeks. Let’s not forget OSU was favored by nearly 20 points over Penn State last week. It should be noted that Nebraska hung with other top teams, losing to Michigan by 3, Michigan State by 3, and Oklahoma by 7 points. Yes, the Huskers have been competitive. Still, Ohio State has a ferocious offense. The Buckeyes have arguably the best WR group in the country, a talented freshman RB, and a QB that is flirting with a possible Heisman win. Penn State put forth a strong defensive effort and the Buckeyes still scored 33 points. I simply don’t think Nebraska can hang with the Bucks. Not for four quarters, at least. Give me Ohio State to cover on the road.
$30 NFL: Los Angeles Chargers (-2) at Philadelphia Eagles
Suddenly, the Eagles blow out the Lions and gain some respect. Still, look at Philly’s three wins: blowout W’s over the Falcons and Lions, plus a three-point victory over the Panthers. Let’s not forget just how talented this Chargers team is. L.A. hasn’t played as well in recent weeks, but this team features a lot of weapons on both sides of the ball. Specifically, I’m looking at pass defense, where the Chargers rank 5th in the league (203.0 ypg). The Eagles are actually 8th in the league (220.6 ypg), but I like Justin Herbert to return to the form we saw Weeks 3-5 (11 TD, 0 INT). I have no idea how the Chargers handle trips to the East coast. In fact, I don’t care. This line is too juicy for me. I like this Chargers team. L.A. covers.
$20 College: Michigan State Spartans (-3) at Purdue Boilermakers
The Spartans live and die by the performance of RB Kenneth Walker III. He is a monster and deserves Heisman attention. Michigan State has also managed to fly under the radar. So many analysts had them outside their playoff top four. The committee, however, did not. With that in mind, let’s see how the Spartans respond to that additional pressure. This team is well coached, so one would expect them not to melt under the possibility of making the playoff. On the flip side, Purdue is an up and down team that is hard to predict. That may make this a scary selection, but overall, it’s hard to ignore an undefeated Michigan State team that continues to find a way. Give me Sparty to cover on the road.
$10 College: Penn State Nittany Lions (-10) at Maryland Terrapins
Sean Clifford proved to be healthy last week, giving Ohio State all they could handle. Losers of three straight, the Nittany Lions are desperate for a win. After not landing on the playoff Top 25, Penn State might have a chip on their shoulder. Also, PSU is seeking to avenge a shocking loss to Maryland last year. Despite last year’s loss, Penn State has dominated this series, winning 14 of 15 games at College Park. In 2019, Penn State beat Maryland 59-0 in College Park. In 2017, PSU won 66-3. The local PSU MD alums create an atmosphere of a home game. Finally, Maryland will need to build off last week’s 38-35 win over Indiana. Because, the previous three games for Maryland were all ugly losses, in which the Terps were outscored 151-47. Even Iowa’s offense scored 51 points on them. Yikes. Penn State covers.
CELEBRITY GUEST WEEK NINE PICKS: KID SHERATON
$50: Houston Texans at Miami Dolphins -6.5
$40: Denver Broncos at Dallas Cowboys -10
$30: Las Vegas Raiders -3 at New York Giants
$20: Buffalo Bills at Jacksonville Jaguars +14.5
$10: Wake Forest +2.5 at North Carolina