Week Six was a difficult one for picking ball games against the spread. If you ended up breaking even, which we did here at the Chump, give yourself a hearty pat on the back. Monster upsets included the Jets beating the Packers, the Steelers beating the Buccaneers and the Falcons beating the 49ers, none of which I had, unfortunately, and all of which probably paid nicely.
There’s not too much on the Week Seven slate either that makes me want to unload my bankroll, but this is the task we’ve chosen. Somehow, I’m still 18-11-1 and plus money on the season so let’s see how much longer we can ride out this hot streak.
$50 on Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans (-2)
What we have here, and we’ll see this again later, is a battle between undervalued and overvalued football teams. The Tennessee Titans, who are coming off a bye week, are hosting divisional rival Indianapolis. Both these teams are 3-2 and sit tied atop the most underwhelming division in football: the AFC South. Las Vegas doesn’t like the Titans very much, even though they cover, and for some reason they love the Colts, who are just atrocious. For two teams that are over .500, they are both dreadfully minus in point differential but if you take away the 34-point drubbing the Titans took to Buffalo in Week Two, they’d be in the black. Their only other loss came to the New York Giants who, as we now know, are a pretty good football team. The Colts, on the other hand, aren’t good and have already lost to the Titans in their own building three weeks ago. The Titans don’t blow you out. They beat you into submission with a solid dose of Derrick Henry who is tied for 4th in rushing touchdowns and 7th in rushing yards per game. This is a game I’ll only watch because I have money on it but I’m more convinced than Vegas that the Titans are a field goal better than the Colts so that’s where I’m putting my $50 this week. Titans cover.
$40 on New York Giants (+3) at Jacksonville Jaguars
This is the second match-up this week of what I call overvalued vs undervalued teams. The Jaguars are a nice young story, but they are 2-4 and for some bizarre reason three-point favorites against the 5-1 New York Giants. Am I missing something here? The Giants were six-point underdogs last week and beat the Ravens. It’s as if the odds makers are non-believers in the G-Men and who can blame them. Everyone, including their fan base, is surprised when they chalk up another win. I also think we put too much credence in Jacksonville beating the Chargers. They haven’t won a game since, which includes losses to both Houston and Indianapolis. The Giants (5-1 ATS) should be favorites going into this game and it shouldn’t surprise anybody if they win outright. The Jaguars (2-4 ATS) are third in the league in rushing yards allowed. They’ll be going against the league’s second league rusher in Saquon Barkley so something will have to give. The Giants are top ten defense against the pass and they’re going against one of the most promising young quarterbacks in the game so something will have to give there as well. The Jags are going to make Danny Dimes beat them while the Giants make the Jags prove it on the ground. This has all the makings of a physical football game but I think the Giants are the better team so I’m taking G-Men and the three points.
$30 on New York Giants-Jacksonville Jaguars under 42 ½
Remember when I wrote way back when about how the Giants are going to make the Jags beat them on the ground and how the Jags are going to make Danny Dimes prove it through the air? Of course, you do. I just said it last paragraph. Breaking down the Giants-Jags game led me to believe we’re going to see a low scoring affair. The over/under is 42 ½ so Vegas also likes a battle of attrition. Both these teams are top ten in rushing attempts per game. The way these two teams operate, I don’t see a shoot-out. I’ll take this game to go under the number.
New York Jets (+3) at Denver Broncos Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-11) at Carolina Panthers
I had this whole shpiel written about Russell Wilson was becoming effective at moving the ball backwards and how the Jets were now buying into the Robert Saleh’s system and how Colin Cowherd suggested the Broncos should consider trading Wilson to save face. I was about to place my wager on the Jets winning in Denver. That’s when I read that their young wide receiver Elijah Moore had demanded a trade because he wasn’t getting enough touches. Hours later, I saw that the Panthers traded Christian McCaffrey. That means the Panthers, who are horrible, who have a new head coach, a quarterback that’s barely played a game, and no CMC, will be hosting an angered Tom Brady. Against a depleted Panthers roster, I’m taking the Bucs and laying the points, but just so that the Jets and Broncos don’t feel left out…
$10 on New York Jets-Denver Broncos under 38 ½
In keeping with my “teams can’t score so let’s go low” theme, I’m doubling down, which is more than I can say for some of these offenses. I’m not quite sure Russell Wilson is aware he’s supposed to move forward with the football. Denver’s defense is the only thing keeping them in ball games. The Jets offense is still finding itself. The Broncos offense is in the lost and found. I’m taking this game under as well. The number is already low at 38 ½ but I get the sense this season that, in certain games with certain offenses, Vegas is wishing it could go lower. This is one of those instances. Seriously, the NFL Red Zone, which caps off its day by showing only touchdowns might skip over this game entirely. Give me this snooze fest under the number of 38 1/2.
THE WIFE HATES SPORTS WEEK SEVEN
50: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-11) at Carolina Panthers
Perhaps I’m a glutton for punishment by taking the Bucs as my top confidence pick for the second straight week. That’s considering last week’s shocking dud against a Steelers team that was completely floundering. With that said, let’s take a look at the other side, where the Panthers are undergoing a full-on fire sale. With Robbie Anderson and Christian McCaffrey shipped out in recent days, that’s two big-time weapons leaving gaping holes in an offense that was already struggling. I simply see no way that PJ Walker, Chuba Hubbard, and D’Onta Foreman can hang with Tom Brady and Co., especially when facing an aggressive Tampa Bay defense that can make big plays in bunches. Bucs cover on the road.
40: Kansas City Chiefs (-2) at San Francisco 49ers
The line was trimmed to two points this morning, likely following San Francisco’s trade for Christian McCaffrey. While that’s a big-time acquisition, I’m not sure it will make that much of an impact on this game. Yes, the Niners are first in the league in total defense (allowing 255.8 ypg), but let’s also look at the opponents faced this season. Some of San Francisco’s previous opponents include the Bears, Panthers, Broncos, and Falcons. This is Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. The creativity and in sync relationship of Mahomes-to-Kelce is going to cause headaches here. Pepper in players like MVS and JuJu, who seem to be getting more on the same page with this offense. Chiefs cover on the road.
30: Chicago Bears at New England Patriots (-8)
The Bears are a mess. Last week’s loss to the Commanders was uglier than ugly. Justin Fields is inconsistent and has yet to show that he can make strong decisions on a regular basis. Add in the Bill Belichick element. Belichick frequently picks out an opponent’s top weapon and shuts it down. We know the Bears try to focus on the run game. That will be with David Montgomery and Justin Herbert. Expect the Patriots to shut that run game down and force Fields to win this game. By the way, Chicago is last in the NFL in passing offense (122.8 ypg). Considering what we have seen from Fields and the pass offense to this point, a close game seems highly unlikely. Pats cover at home.
20: Green Bay Packers (-4.5) at Washington Commanders
Talk about two teams that can’t seem to get anything going offensively. It’s shocking that the Packers have been so inconsistent on offense. Although, it’s equally as shocking that Green Bay has failed to add a WR to help this group excel. Considering past history, maybe it’s not shocking. But if anything cures an offense’s ills, it’s the defense of the Commanders. My only reason to think Washington could surprise here, is Taylor Heinicke coming back as QB. He sparked this team and has the ability to create with his legs. Terry McLaurin could also see a resurgence, as he excelled with Heinicke under center last season. Then again, Green Bay ranks first in pass defense (164.0 ypg allowed). Toss in the Aaron Rodgers factor on the other side, and I’ll take the Packers to cover on the road.
10: Minnesota Golden Gophers (+5) at Penn State Nittany Lions
I originally had Penn State penciled in here. While The Whiteout game is always impressive to watch, it’s not a monstrous advantage in the win column. The Nittany Lions were exposed last week, allowing 418 yards on the ground to Michigan. They were owned in the trenches. Sean Clifford had no time to throw and all his receivers were blanketed most of the game. The talented freshmen backs couldn’t get anything going. Minnesota ranks 5th nationally in pass defense, allowing just 159.2 ypg. On top of that, the Gophers have 6 INT and have allowed just 4 passing TD’s in six games. We don’t know how healthy Clifford is and if freshman QB Drew Allar will get a shot to run the PSU offense. If you go with Franklin’s past history, he’ll play a hampered and injured Clifford over anyone else, even if ineffective. In what could be a defensive battle, give me the Golden Gophers and the points in a one-possession game that will be decided late.
CELEBRITY GUEST WEEK SEVEN: DARRELL HARDEN (Last season’s record: 3-2, $90)
With that said, let’s get into my …
Oh, sorry. I went to Alabama. We’ve had a bit of a problem with false starts and other such infractions.
When Kevin asked me to write this week, the Third Saturday in October hadn’t occurred yet. While I have found the strength of character to be happy for my one friend who is a Tennessee fan, it has otherwise been a week of pondering the travails of football and watching a whole bunch of people complain about Tennessee football’s tweet soliciting donations for “new goal posts,” as though a) they didn’t already have a new set and b) any other college football program wouldn’t seek to do some fundraising right after beating their rival (sorry, Vandy) for the first time since their team was in elementary school (or younger). Nevertheless, there are games to predict and lots of Kevin’s money – er, points — to wager on them, so I must carry on. With that, let’s get into my picks for this week, which are full of risk but a heck of a lot of fun to write about.
50 points: UNLV (+27) at Notre Dame
I’m taking the underdog here with my biggest pick. I think this margin is huge, and Notre Dame hasn’t beaten anyone by more than 13 all year. Offensive and defensive points per game say these teams are similar enough that I think it might be a great game to watch, but I think UNLV can keep it within 27 points.
40 points: Mississippi State at Alabama (-21)
Alabama is much better at home than they are away from the friendly confines of Bryant-Denny Stadium. Once again, Mississippi State gets the privilege of playing Alabama after a loss. This is a large spread, but I think that angry Alabama covers that spread and the edge rushers take out all their frustrations on poor Will Rogers. Bryce Young looked like he’s largely recovered from the shoulder injury in his valiant effort against Tennessee. I’ll also take the under … on penalties as compared to last week.
30 points: Duke (+9) at Miami
I have no real reason for including this game. These teams are both around .500, and … I’m picking this game exclusively because I don’t trust Miami to cover the spread against a decent team. I think they’ve got some talent, but … Mario Cristobal has some work to do. I think Duke covers, and may win this game straight up.
20 points: Syracuse (+13.5) at Clemson
It’s been nice to see Syracuse go on a run of quality. This will be, by far, their toughest test of the season, though. As for Clemson … are they the dominant Clemson of the last few years? I don’t think Syracuse is going to win this game, but I also think they’re better than that point spread indicates, and that they’ll make a close game of it.
10 points: Texas at Oklahoma State (+6)
According to istexasbackyet.com, Texas is only halfway back. That’s a reasonable assessment, I think. Texas has played one actual road game this year, and they lost it. They’ve played well at times, and not so great at others. Oklahoma State, coming off their first loss of the season, gets to come back home to the house that oil money built. I like them to rebound here.