We learned a lot this weekend. For example, we learned that Justin Jefferson is superhuman. We learned that previous coaching experience is not a prerequisite, nor is it all that important, when it comes to winning NFL games. And we learned that the Buffalo Bills might be more vulnerable than we once thought.
Speaking of superhuman, if you haven’t pleasured yourself repeatedly to that fourth-and-sixteen Justin Jefferson catch, I don’t know what you’re waiting for. I know he had ten catches for 190-something yards last week, earning him NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors, but let’s be honest… he may have won the award based on that one catch alone.
Our contest moves along into Week 11 with me still holding a comfortable lead but giving up ground to my archnemesis and our weekly combatants. Time to hunker down and get back on track. Here are our latest standings.
Happy wagering, everyone!
$50 on Washington Commanders at Houston Texans (+3 ½)
When I watch this game, I feel like I’ll be watching two of the exact same teams playing each other. Both teams are led by veteran head coaches. Both teams start two quarterbacks that are biding their time until they’re replaced by a big-name attraction yet they’re playing well enough not to make the need for a replacement quarterback so pressing. Both teams have solid ground games, pesky defenses and are not ones you want to overlook on your schedule. Neither of these teams score very much but they don’t allow you to score either. That’s why I think this will be a highly contested battle. I know Washington is coming off an impressive win in Philadelphia, but they have no business being favored over anybody by what is essentially a touchdown. This weekend, on the road, they’re laying three-and-a-half. Both teams are plodding and want to control as much clock as possible. In fact, to keep the ball out of Jalen Hurts’ hands, Washington controlled the ball for a whopping forty minutes on Monday, which means they know how to run an offense. Houston can do the same behind rookie running back Dameon Pierce. This looks to be a relatively even tug-of-war so I’m taking the home team Texans and the three-and-a-half.
$40 on Georgia Bulldogs at Kentucky Wildcats (+22 ½)
Georgia is the best college football team in the nation. We know this. If we’re lucky, we’ll end up with them playing the winner of the Michigan-Ohio State game for our national championship. That should be a zesty one. Until then, Georgia will be going through the motions, which is why I like Kentucky to cover this Saturday. As you’d expect, the spread is high at 22 ½ points. The Bulldogs have already locked up their spot in the SEC Championship game. All they want to do is get to that game healthy, and preferably, undefeated. I’m not calling for an upset here. It’s extremely unlikely Kentucky has the manpower to pull that off. We’re still hearing a lot of chatter about Will Levis being one of the top quarterbacks drafted but after soiling the sheets last week against a Vanderbilt defense that’s nowhere near as stacked as Georgia’s, he hardly seems NFL ready. Kentucky went from having a once promising season to proving they’re nowhere near ready for prime time. This weekend, however, is their Super Bowl, a true litmus test to see where they stand. I fully expect to see the best Kentucky has to offer against a team that just wants to win and get the hell out of Lexington. Kentucky has way more to prove this weekend. They’ll give it their all. It won’t be enough to win but it should be enough to cover the twenty-two-and-a-half points they’re getting. Accordingly, I’ll take the Wildcats plus the points.
$30 on Las Vegas Raiders at Denver Broncos (-3)
Here we have two teams moving in very opposite directions. It didn’t take long for Denver Broncos fans to cry full buyers’ remorse after signing Russell Wilson. Wilson has struggled to find receivers and at times has looked like he’s forgotten how to play the game entirely. His Broncos have lost three of their last four games, however, those losses were all to playoff teams. Their offense may have struggled but their defense has been lockdown, only allowing one opponent to score over 20 points in a game this season. That opponent… was the Las Vegas Raiders. That might be the last good game the Raiders have played. They have dropped three straight and have yet to win a game on the road. Their quarterback is crying out of frustration at his post-game press conferences and while I’d normally say teams rally around that sort of emotion, it appears this Raiders team is far closer to being blown up than it is to turning things around. They’ve already dangled Josh Jacobs as trade bait earlier this season, their head coach Josh McDaniels is all but dead man walking, and Davante Adams must be wondering not only why he ever took this gig but who will be throwing him the football next season. Denver can’t score but Las Vegas’ defense is one of the worst in the league which should help jump start a struggling Mr. Wilson. Again, here we have two teams headed in different directions. Denver will try to make a playoff push, Las Vegas will be lucky if they don’t implode any further. Give me Denver at home to cover the three.
$20 on Tennessee Volunteers (-21 ½) at South Carolina Gamecocks
The Committee really wants to put Tennessee in its Final Four. The Vols are undoubtedly the most dynamic one-loss team in the country and the pollsters have ranked them accordingly. Fourth ranked TCU’s victory over Texas last week keeps them one spot ahead of fifth-ranked Tennessee, who will probably (although not definitely) move up in the rankings when either Ohio State or Michigan loses their annual grudge match. Because of that potentially dicey situation, Tennessee still has voters to continue to impress. They did so last week, as I predicted, covering the lofty, twenty-point spread at home to Missouri. This week, they travel to Columbia and are laying another three touchdowns, this time with a hook, which will probably scare off a few gamblers. It shouldn’t. South Carolina just lost to an awful Florida team. While South Carolina might want to use this game as one last ditch effort to save their horrible season, Tennessee has enough talent to make this a mismatch. They understand a close game could keep them out of where they want to be. I have faith the Vols can keep South Carolina at bay enough to keep their top five ranking and cover the twenty-one-and-a-half on the road.
$10 on Iowa Hawkeyes-Minnesota Golden Gophers (under 32 ½)
I’m just betting this one for shits and giggles. The over/under in this Saturday’s Iowa-Minnesota game is 32 ½. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a number that low. That tells me a few things. They must be expecting abysmal weather in Minnesota this weekend. I know Iowa can’t score and doesn’t allow opponents to score… but 32?!? We’ll see if the weather reaches that number… or lower. The mere fact that Vegas posted this number at 32 tells me this game will go under the number. You just have to have the balls to bet it. This game has 17-13 written all over it, which is good enough for the under and good enough for me to wager my $10 on.
THE WIFE HATES SPORTS WEEK ELEVEN
$50: Washington Commanders (-3) at Houston Texans
Here’s hoping for no short rest, road game letdowns. The Commanders were a team possessed on Monday Night Football, taking down the Eagles and leaving the NFL with no more undefeated teams this season. Many focus on a few questionable calls and instead not think about Washington’s strong run game, better OL play, and domination when it comes to time of possession. Running well on the Eagles, now Washington faces a Texans defense that ranks last in the NFL against the run (181.8 ypg allowed). Time for a heavy dose of Robinson and Gibson. Commanders cover on the road.
$40: Detroit Lions at New York Giants (-3)
The Giants do not blow anyone out. That much is true, but this team knows how to win under HC Brian Daboll. So, what is the smart way to take down the Lions? Run the ball and keep their weapons off the field. Detroit ranks 31st in the NFL against the run (160.9 ypg allowed). Only the aforementioned Texans give up more yards on the ground. Enter Saquon Barkley, arguably the most explosive running back in the league. This feels like a run-heavy, grind it out type of game. In front of a rowdy home crowd, New York finds a way to get it done. Giants cover at home.
$30: Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans Saints (-2.5)
Neither team has been all that consistent. The Rams are the bigger disappointment, especially on offense. With Cooper Kupp landing on IR, how low can this offense go? While I wait for Odell Beckham to land in L.A. (I have no sources – just a hunch), the Rams have to look to the rest of the offense to step up. That starts with Allen Robinson. Perhaps we will see more of Kyren Williams in the run game. Meanwhile, the Saints rank 13th in total defense and get this depleted Rams group in front of its home crowd. New Orleans isn’t exactly lighting up the scoreboard, but I think they find a way. In a low scoring game, the Saints cover at home.
$20: Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at Auburn Tigers (-4.5)
This has “trap game” written all over it. Then again, wouldn’t a trap game be when a top ranked team is facing a lesser opponent with talent? Auburn is a mess this season, but this is still an SEC team in front of an SEC crowd. I mean, they all brag about that being a major advantage, right? The Hilltoppers (7-4) can score and feature the 4th ranked passing offense in College Football (336.1 ypg). WKU has scored 30 or more points in seven games this season. However, most are against lesser opponents. The Tigers, meanwhile, rank 35th in pass defense (202.8 ypg allowed). The defensive unit has allowed 10 passing TD’s in ten games (although, with just 3 INT). The game comes down to that matchup and I’m giving the benefit of the doubt to the SEC and its talent pool. Tigers cover at home.
$10: Ohio State Buckeyes (-27) at Maryland Terrapins
I am being a bit conservative considering the four-touchdown ask to cover. Still, while the Terrapins are a good team with solid players, they have fallen short frequently this season. Since hanging with Michigan back on September 24, Maryland has lost to Purdue, Wisconsin, and Penn State. Last week at Penn State, Maryland had just 134 total yards and 11 first downs for the entire game. The Terps averaged 2.2 yards per play and were frequently owned in the trenches. Enter the Buckeyes, a team that has scored 40 or more points eight times this season. Ohio State simply needs to play its game and not look forward to next week’s clash with rival Michigan. Bank on that happening. Buckeyes cover on the road.
CELEBRITY GUEST WEEK ELEVEN: TJ FROM FANTASY KNUCKLEHEADS (Last season’s record: 2-3, -$10)
Titans +3 (Yes, this pick was turned in to me on time)
Cowboys -1 (line changed since this morning, feeling better about this one)