The season is off to a solid start, or at least that’s what my sportsbook account is telling me. While my counterparts struggle with minus money, I’ve been able to choose key games correctly and load up on them for a positive number. This week should be no exception for I’ve already seen some questionable lines and will be attending one of these games in person. Here are our standings to date.
Our guest this week is DRealEmcee who, like me, has been hunkered down as Hurricane Ian ripped through the landmass formerly known as the Sunshine State. The way Kevin and our guests have been picking games this year, they could use a thunderstorm of Ian’s magnitude to shake things up.
Here’s hoping for a speedy and healthy recovery for all those ravaged by the storm. And now, for our weekly medicine…
$50 on Jacksonville Jaguars at Philadelphia Eagles (- 6 ½)
Everyone has become enamored with the Jacksonville Jaguars, and for good reason. Jacksonville is finally playing the kind of football we’ve come to expect from their young talent. They have a coach with a Super Bowl victory on his resume and are coming off a trip to Los Angeles where they dismantled the Chargers. Of course, the Chargers starting quarterback went full Duncan Sheik Barely Breathing with cracked ribs, but the Jaguars won that game, nonetheless. This week will be an altogether different litmus test. Intrigue is added with Doug Pederson returning to Philadelphia, where he won his coveted Super Bowl. Lincoln Financial even boasts a statue bearing his likeness outside its unfriendly confines. Pederson’s young Jags are nice, but I’m not sure they’re nice enough yet to beat the 2022 Eagles, the only undefeated team left in the league. Jalen Hurts is playing like a man possessed (he had 300 passing yards in the first half of last Sunday’s game). Philly also boasts the league’s third best scoring differential and has won two of their first three on the road. They’ve beaten a feisty Lions team, embarrassed the Vikings and held Washington to only eight points. While Jacksonville’s progress report is showing all A’s, this weekend will be a measuring stick I’m not sure they’re ready for, and Philadelphia fans are famous for knowing just where to cram that measuring stick. Eagles cover the six-and-a-half.
$40 on Buffalo Bills at Baltimore Ravens (+4 ½)
I’m starting to feel like the NFL team that wins the Super Bowl every year is not necessarily the best team at the end of the season but rather, the luckiest. The Buffalo Bills, who looked unbeatable in the first two weeks of the season, lost four defensive starters, and were brought back down to earth by the Miami Dolphins. Their reward after that loss? They get to travel to Baltimore to play against the most uncoverable cat in the game. This opening line was one of the few that surprised me. The Bills are laying four-and-a-half, which feels like too many for a team that just got run through the ringer in South Florida. The line has since moved to three which means most of us like the Ravens to cover. Vegas likes the Bills in a bounce back game, but I’m not too sure they’re not on the verge of losing two in a row, leading those so fond of them a week ago, present company included, to question whether they’re healthy and up to the challenge. I’ll take the Ravens plus the points.
$30 on Tennessee Titans (+3 ½) at Indianapolis Colts
So let me get this straight. The Colts looked like the worst team in football for two weeks (which they were), then win one game against the Chiefs (which they should have lost) and now Vegas wants to make them favorites? I’m not buying it. The Titans looked just fine on Sunday. Sure, they’re not the greatest team in the NFL, or within that miserable division someone will win by default, but they’re better than the Colts. Indy only won last week because KC has a fumble-prone, rookie punt returner and no field kicker. Furthermore, Patrick Mahomes spent the half the game arguing with his offensive coordinator. In other words, Indy should have never been in that game to begin with. The Titans will be just fine. A continued, healthy dose of Derrick Henry is all they’ll need. Meanwhile, Matt Ryan turns one week closer to fifty. The Titans shouldn’t be underdogs in this one, but they are, so I’ll happily take the field goal.
$20 on Denver Broncos at Las Vegas Raiders (- 2 ½)
The Las Vegas Raiders are 0-3. No one would have ever thought that after they landed one of the biggest off-season acquisitions in Davonte Adams. He and his new quarterback Derek Carr have connected but not yet to the tune of Rodgers-Adams. These things take time. Speaking of not connecting, Denver’s new quarterback has yet to make an offensive splash with his new team either. The Broncos have scored only 43 points in three games which is the fewest in the NFL this year. Miraculously, they’re 2-1. They won’t be after this weekend. Raiders get off the schneid as Derek Carr begins to force feed Adams the football. That’s what they got him, right? Raiders at home to cover the two-and-a-half.
$10 on Kansas City Chiefs at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+1)
I initially wanted to take the Detroit Lions minus the four-and-a-half points against the Seattle Seahawks. I had this whole diatribe written about how, after suffering another heartbreaking loss to the Minnesota Vikings, this Sunday would be the day they officially change their culture. And I still believe that. That was until I heard their three best offensive players, WR Amon-Ra St. Brown, RB D’Andre Swift and TE TJ Hockenson, are listed as questionable. So I switched my pick when I landed tickets to this Sunday night’s Chiefs-Bucs game, which is always a mandatory reason to wager on a sporting event. The Buccaneers, while still banged up offensively, return Tom Brady’s favorite target, Mike Evans, after a week’s suspension for leveling Marcus Lattimore. Both Tampa Bay and Kansas City are coming off losses which means one of these playoff contenders will lose two in a row. That last time the Chiefs came to Tampa, it was Super Bowl LV where Tampa Bay handed the Chiefs a convincing 31-9 loss. They’ll hand them another loss with yours truly cheering them on in the stands. The Bucs have been coping with a makeshift offensive line, and a combination of banged up wide receivers or newly signed ones who still don’t know the playbook. Either way, Tom Brady covers up a lot of mistakes. I don’t like the GOAT to lose two in a row. He won’t. Bucs cover.
THE WIFE HATES SPORTS WEEK FOUR
It was a wild week for both the SportsChump and I. Fortunately, we are both ok following Hurricane Ian, with me in the Carolinas and the Chump on the west coast of Florida. Sadly, while we are fine, many people are not. The Weather Channel outlines a number of ways that you can help those impacted by Hurricane Ian. And now, onto this week’s picks. I’m due for a big week.
50: Washington Commanders at Dallas Cowboys (-3)
Commanders: Pick which side is playing worse for the Commanders. The offensive line is battling injuries and getting beaten down on the field. That includes nine sacks allowed to the Eagles last week. Defensively, Washington ranks 21st in rushing yards/game and 28th in passing yards/game allowed.
Cowboys: Dallas has been fine with Cooper Rush under center. Now, they are set to get Michael Gallup back, which is a boost to the pass game. Add in an aggressive defense that leads the league in sacks, and now faces a struggling Washington offensive line.
The Game: Rivalry? Check! Fancy first showing of black uniforms for the Commanders? Check! Depleted Washington offensive line facing defense that leads the NFL in sacks? Also check! The way Jack Del Rio’s defense has been playing, I’m absolutely shocked that this line is three points. If this game ends in a blowout, Del Rio may receive his walking papers. Cowboys cover at home.
40: Michigan Wolverines (-10.5) at Iowa Hawkeyes
Wolverines: The Michigan defense currently ranks 5th against the pass and 35th in rushing defense. They are also 11th in rushing offense, with 17 TD’s on the ground (tied for the most in CFB).
Hawkeyes: Iowa has just 68 points in four games and that’s facing the following opponents: SD State, Iowa State, Nevada, and Rutgers.
The Game: Playing at Iowa is a challenge. The crowd always shows up. Per Phil Steele, Iowa is actually 5-3 straight up against the Wolverines dating back to 2009. They are, however, just 3-5 ATS. This is also a very different Michigan team. We are looking at a relentless defense facing an Iowa offense that ranks 124th in passing offense and 103rd in rushing offense. Home crowd or not, the Hawkeyes don’t have the firepower to hang with the Wolverines. Michigan covers on the road.
30: Arizona Cardinals (+1) at Carolina Panthers
Cardinals: Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury continue to be under fire as the season progresses. Each will need a strong performance this week, or the hot seat will only get hotter.
Panthers: Speaking of hot seats, hello Matt Rhule! You can’t tell me he’s not right there with Kingsbury.
The Game: Christian McCaffrey and injury reports go together like peanut butter and jelly these days. Dealing with a quad injury, CmC is currently questionable. Even if he plays and isn’t 100%, that’s a big hit to the Carolina offense. Statistically, both teams are middle of the pack in a number of categories. One exception is Carolina ranking 31st in passing yards per game. Arizona has had a brutal schedule to this point and despite the injuries, I think the Arizona offense will piece enough together to get a key road win. Cardinals win on the road.
20: Oklahoma Sooners (-6) at TCU Horned Frogs
Sooners: Add one loss to the resume of Brett Venables, albeit facing the Kryptonite of the Sooners, the Kansas State Wildcats. Following that, OU heads on the road with a now favorable line.
Horned Frogs: In his first year at TCU, Sonny Dykes kicked off his new gig with 18 returning starters. The experience is there and this team can really score, with 139 points in three games. That, however, is facing Colorado, SMU, and Tarleton State (I don’t even know where that school is located).
The Game: Per Phil Steele, the home team is just 3-7 ATS since being in the Big 12 together. Also per Steele, Oklahoma is 10-1 against TCU. The Horned Frogs should hang around, especially considering their experience and home field advantage. But in the end, the Sooners have the more efficient passing offense (34th in passing yards, 12 TD, 0 INT). OU pulls away in the fourth. Oklahoma covers on the road.
10: Northwestern Wildcats at Penn State Nittany Lions (-25)
Wildcats: Since a tight win in Ireland over Nebraska, the Wildcats have lost three straight to the following opponents: Duke, Southern Illinois, and Miami (Ohio). Wow.
Nittany Lions: Penn State is not the type of team to look ahead to stronger opponents. After struggling a bit last week to Central Michigan, the Nittany Lions will need to be more sound in all facets of the game. I expect a heavy dose of both Nicholas Singleton and Kaytron Allen, the freshmen RB duo.
The Game: Okay, I’ll bite on another large spread involving the Nittany Lions. It didn’t work out so well last week. Per Phil Steele, Penn State is 7-2 straight up and 6-3 ATS versus the Wildcats dating back to 2005. Considering the schedule and results, Northwestern has nothing to lose. Although, this will be the first time that Beaver Stadium allows beer sales. Translation: Rowdier crowd and more talent. Penn State covers at home.
CELEBRITY GUEST WEEK FOUR: DREALEMMCEE (Last season’s record: 3-1-1, +$110)
UCLA +3- Chip Kelly won’t die (Yes, this pick was in by the deadline)
Baylor -2- that’s a well-coached team
ARZ Cardinals +2, Cards have a much better QB. Period.
Raiders -2.5 and Over 45.5- old fashioned AFC West shootout. Raiders get off the schneid