The Beatles once wrote “the love you take is equal to the love you make.” Chris Farley confirmed that notion one fateful night when he interviewed Paul McCartney in a Saturday Night Live skit for the ages.
If it’s good enough for Sir Paul, it’s good enough for me. I’m feeling in a taking mood, with a little giving mixed in for good measure, so let’s have at it.
There are some huge matchups this weekend where we have a few too many teams laying a few too many points leaving yours truly to lean towards the safe side. In college football, I’m not sure we’ve reached separation Saturday quite yet while our inclinations in the NFL might also be swayed a little too comfortably towards the favorites.
Whichever way the nacho fountain crumbles, it stands to be another exciting, if not revealing, week of football. Here are your current standings, and our weekly picks…
$50 on Los Angeles Chargers (-3) at Atlanta Falcons
The Chargers lost their last game to the Seahawks. There’s no disrespect in that. Anyone who takes the new-look Seahawks lightly this season has taken an L. Don’t look now but those same, Russell-Wilson-less Seahawks are in first place in the NFC West. I’m pretty sure no one had that on their pre-season bingo card. But back to the Chargers. They’ve been stewing about that loss for two weeks and travel to Atlanta to exact a little revenge. The last time the Chargers were blown out like that (see: Jacksonville), they went on a three-game win streak. On paper, the Chargers are infinitely better than the Falcons who, ironically lead the NFC South. That won’t last, however. This is the type of game that the Chargers must win if they want any shot at being considered Super Bowl contenders, which they’re perfectly capable of when healthy. They just need to prove it on the field, especially against the teams they should be beating. The Falcons luck may be running out shortly as they still lack their one-man wrecking crew Cordarelle Patterson. I don’t think the Falcons, as feisty as they are, have enough firepower to hang with a determined Chargers team that should come out of their bye firing on all cylinders. I feel comfortable laying the three points and taking the Chargers to cover.
$40 on Minnesota Vikings (-3 ½) at Washington Commanders
I was wrong last week about Minnesota. This team is pretty good. They have their foot on the necks of the rest of the collective NFC North and don’t appear to be letting up any time soon. I thought they wouldn’t cover against Arizona, and they did. On the opposite sidelines, I like what Ron Rivera has done with a Washington Commanders team that I once thought was the worst team in the league. But they’re not. This team has somehow mustered up four wins. Believe it or not, Washington has won three straight games. That’s misleading, however, as those wins all came against teams with losing records: Chicago, Green Bay, and Indianapolis. Unlike those teams, Minnesota does not have a losing record. They are a rather impressive 6-1 and although they’re not blowing teams out, they’re doing what it takes to win. Add to that a little resentment with Kirk Cousins going against the team who didn’t consider him their quarterback of the future and I’m sure Captain Kirk will have a little extra in store for Dan Snyder this weekend. The Vikings are only laying three-and-a-half in a game they should win handily over a banged-up Commanders team. Add to that too much noise about Dan Snyder once again selling the team and I see too many distractions in Washington. Vikes cover.
$30 on Clemson Tigers at Notre Dame Fighting Irish (+3 ½)
Am I the only one around here waiting for Clemson to stumble? They remain undefeated and even by their already lofty standards are having a successful season. They’re 8-0 with wins over three ranked teams. Notre Dame on the other hand, is having a disappointing season, by their standards. Once considered a contender to mix things up in the polls, they lost their first two games to Ohio State and Marshall. They have, however, won five of their last six, the only loss a squeaker to Stanford. They’re coming off a big road win at Syracuse and appear to be playing the kind of football we thought they were capable of. At this point, they’d like nothing more than to ruin Clemson’s perfect season. They’ll get their chance. They invite the Tigers into South Bend this Saturday night. I have a feeling this game, the toughest left on Clemson’s schedule, might be the one that trips up their undefeated season. The Domers are getting three-and-a-half in a game that Vegas thinks will be tight (over/under 44). I’ll likely bet the upset outright but since this is all about the take (see: Farley/McCartney), I’ll take Notre Dame plus the three-and-a-half.
$20 on Alabama Crimson Tide at LSU Tigers (+13 ½)
All eyes will be on Georgia-Tennessee this weekend as they should be. It’s the most important game of the slate. But there’s another SEC game that people might want to pay attention to. That’s Nick Saban returning to the stadium where he once coached: Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Saban brought LSU a national championship in a former lifetime (2003). He aspires for his eighth this season, which would add to his already impressive collection, but a few things stand in his way, and their uniforms have stripes. Bama has already lost to Tennessee. One more loss, especially this weekend, and they can kiss any shot at an SEC title goodbye. Three teams remain tied for first atop the SEC West standings (Bama, LSU, and Ole Miss) meaning the winner of this game has the inside track to Atlanta. Ole Miss plays Bama next week. Ole Miss’ only loss of the season was to, you guessed it, LSU. I’m not sure the Tigers have what it takes to upset Alabama but fourteen points, at night, in Death Valley, is a lot to lay. And the closer this game is late, the closer to Crimson Nick Saban’s complexion turns. Bryce Young’s Heisman repeat chances aren’t extinguished yet and he’d do a lot to get his name back in the mix with a big win on Saturday night… but two touchdowns, in front of that crowd? Just seems a bit much. That’s why I’m taking LSU plus the thirteen-and-a-half.
$10 on Philadelphia Eagles at Houston Texas (+14)
Everyone loves Philly. And rightfully so. The Philadelphia Eagles remain the NFL’s only unbeaten team. That’s partially because they’re pretty darn good, partially because they don’t play in the AFC and perhaps, most importantly, because they’ve only played two teams with winning records. This Thursday night, they travel to Houston which, ironically, are the two cities playing in the World Series. The Texans are not a great football team. They have one win on the season. However, they play tough. If you exclude their road loss to the Raiders two weeks ago, they’ve been in every game they’ve played. This is a one-win team whose point differential on the season is only -38. I still believe in this defense, despite what Philly might choose to throw at it. Side note: Houston is only allowing five fewer points a game than the Philadelphia Eagles. The World Series looms large in the background with Game Five being played in Philadelphia that very same night. There’s just too much weirdness going on between these two cities for this Thursday’s football game to be the blow out oddsmakers expect. I’m not sure the Houston Texans can pull off an upset, but I have this sneaking suspicion the Eagles will get Houston’s best, and that best is good enough to keep things close. In a game that Vegas likes low scoring (over/under 45), I’ll take the Texans plus the two touchdowns.
THE WIFE HATES SPORTS WEEK NINE
$50: Philadelphia Eagles (-13.5) at Houston Texans
Brandin Cooks is out for the Texans, taking away a key way that Houston tries to stretch the field on offense. Now let’s add in Philadelphia’s multi-dimensional rushing offense that ranks 6th in the NFL (149.6 ypg). That talented running group headlined by Jalen Hurts and Miles Sanders is taking on a Texans defense that was just torched by Derrick Henry and ranks last in the NFL against the run (164.7 ypg). No road game or fancy new red helmets are going to slow down the undefeated Eagles this week. Not the short rest. Not anything. Eagles cover on the road.
$40: Buffalo Bills (-12) at New York Jets
Let’s stick with the heavy NFL favorites, shall we? I have catching up to do in this pool. For the Bills, we know the talent that Josh Allen brings to the table. This is more so on the Buffalo defense, which ranks 1st in total defense, 1st against the rush, and 9th against the pass. Yes, the Jets are solid defensively, too – but let’s check New York’s pulse on offense. James Robinson is still trying to fit into this offense that lost Breece Hall a few weeks ago. That leaves the pressure on Zach Wilson, who has had his name smeared across the media all week. Is he the guy? His performances against lesser defenses (3 TD, 5 INT, 41.7 QBR in five games) have been far from stellar. Bills cover on the road.
$30: Penn State Nittany Lions (-14) at Indiana Hoosiers
Death, taxes, and missing on Penn State ATS this season – that’s the drill. Still, this PSU team showed signs last week against the Buckeyes. That’s prior to the typical James Franklin collapse in the 4th quarter. There was creativity on offense. The defense shut down a talented Ohio State team through 3 1/2 quarters. Sean Clifford had four turnovers and the Nits led with approximately 9 minutes to go. Now he faces an IU pass defense that ranks 102nd against the pass, allowing 19 TD through the air (with just 5 INT). The run defense isn’t much better, which means the freshmen duo of Singleton and Allen should feast. Penn State covers on the road.
$20: Tennessee Volunteers (+8) at Georgia Bulldogs
Let’s stick with “the crazy” and pick the game of the week in all of football. Seriously, the Vols – the #1 Tennessee Volunteers – are eight-point ‘dogs on the road at Georgia this week? Talk about disrespect. Let’s check some team stats. The rushing offenses are similar (Georgia – 22nd, Tennessee – 24th). When it comes to passing offense, both rank in the top ten (Tennessee – 2nd, Georgia – 8th). When it comes to run defense, both teams also rank in the top ten (Georgia – 4th, Tennessee – 9th). The difference statistically is on pass defense, where the Bulldogs rank 13th in yards allowed and Tennessee sits 127th. However, the Vols have 9 INT and just 10 TD allowed in 8 games. Overall, this game comes down to Heisman favorite Hendon Hooker (21 TD, 1 INT) and win or lose, he keeps this game close. Give me Tennessee and the points on the road.
$10: Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots (-5.5)
I spun over to the Colts-Patriots game for two reasons: 1) Jonathan Taylor’s ankle injury and 2) New England’s home field advantage. There were a number of games I considered making the list this week, and it really comes down to Bill Belichick versus the experience of the Colts on offense. Assuming Taylor is hampered or doesn’t go, it’s Sam Ehlinger, Deon Jackson, and an inexperienced offense facing Belichick at home. To top it off, the Colts also have two offensive linemen questionable as we close in on the weekend. Give me the Pats to cover at home.
CELEBRITY GUEST WEEK NINE: KID SHERATON (Last season’s record: 2-1, -$10)
$50: Miami Dolphins -5
$40: Jets +12.5
$30: Vikings – 3.5
$20: Tennessee Vols +8
$10: Seahawks +2
“Bet what you want to win”