“Whoever wrote this paper doesn’t know the first thing about Kurt Vonnegut.”
Every time I think of one of the 20th century’s most brilliant authors, I don’t think about Slaughterhouse-Five, Cat’s Cradle or Breakfast of Champions. I think of the scene, and his cameo, in Rodney Dangerfield’s 80s classic “Back to School” where Dangerfield’s character, of Triple Lindy fame, pays Vonnegut to write his English paper, only to have his professor read it, accuse Dangerfield of plagiarism, and suggest the person who wrote the paper didn’t know anything about Kurt Vonnegut. The joke was brilliant on so many levels.
To further honor Vonnegut, perhaps not as much as “Back to School” but close, I’m going to choose five teams to cover slaughterhouse type spreads while watching these teams engage upon a Thanksgiving feast of their own. While normally laying a ton of points in a league and a season defined by parity, there are a few games on this weekend’s slate that stand out as they pit some of the NFL’s top teams against its worst. We are about to see teams headed for top seeds in the post-season distance themselves from those headed for top seeds in the draft.
Here’s to a happy and healthy Thanksgiving holiday to all of you and yours. Now for our standings, and our picks.
$50 on Green Bay Packers at Philadelphia Eagles (- 6 ½)
It wasn’t all that long ago that Philly was shocked in prime time at home by the Washington Commanders. In one of the most surprising outcomes of the season, Ron Rivera took his Washington team into Philly and handed the Eagles their first loss of the season, on Monday night, for all of America to see. That won’t happen again. This Sunday night, the Eagles host the Green Bay Packers and while the Packers have been playing better lately, with Aaron Rodgers finally finding a receiver that can catch the ball in Christian Watson, they’re in for it this week. We recently found out that not only has Rodgers been playing over half the season with a salty attitude and an even worse haircut, he has also had a broken thumb. I’m not sure how close the Packers are to shelving Rodgers for the season but they’d be wise to. They’re 4-7 and all but eliminated from any post-season livelihood. They’d be stupid to risk any further injury to their third best quarterback ever. Plus, they want to ensure back-up Jordan Love is capable of eventually taking over the reins when Rodgers retires, a fact of which they’re still uncertain. But this game is more about Philadelphia. The race for the NFC’s top seed remains theirs for the taking and they don’t want to lose grip of it, the cushion becoming one game more comfortable with the Vikings getting dismantled by Dallas. This line is only six-and-a-half but potentially without Rodgers, it should be considerably higher. Look for the Eagles to do what they do, manage clock, sustain drives, and frustrate Rodgers or whoever is playing quarterback for the Packers into some bad decisions. Eagles won’t blow another big home game in prime time. They cover the six-and-a-half. Slaughterhouse One!
$40 on Houston Texans at Miami Dolphins (-13 ½)
As we progress into Week 12, we find more and more teams have experienced their bye weeks. The Dolphins are coming off theirs and I’ll be honest. I missed watching them play. They are without a doubt one of the most exciting offenses in the NFL. Did you know that Tua Tagovailoa has thrown for 18 touchdowns this season and only three interceptions. He leads the league in quarterback rating, yes, over Patrick Mahomes. Furthermore, he is impossible to get off the field on third downs. He is completing a whopping 72% of his passes for seven touchdowns and zero picks, giving him a 142.7 passer rating in those situations, which is the third highest third down passer rating IN NFL HISTORY! And miraculously, people are still questioning whether he can lead this offense. Remember, this Dolphins team beat the Buffalo Bills before it was fashionable to do so. Meanwhile, the Houston Texans are 1-8-1. They’ve benched Davis Mills for a quarterback you’ve never heard of (Kyle Allen) and have the second worst point differential (-71) in the league. The Dolphins’ defense isn’t all that good but they won’t need to be. Look for them to shore things up as the season winds down while the Dolphins offense continues to set records and likely not play much in the fourth quarter of this football game. Dolphins cover for Slaughterhouse Two.
$30 on New Orleans Saints at San Francisco 49ers (-9 ½)
Did you see poor Colt McCoy running for his life last Monday night against an amped up San Francisco defense? The Niners D compiled three sacks, nine tackles for a loss and nine quarterback hits. The post-game ice bath for McCoy couldn’t come soon enough as we watched the rejuvenated Niners suddenly become the NFC’s hottest ticket. This Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints might send Andy Dalton into early retirement. Dalton already can’t hit his wide receivers without pressure never mind all the looks San Fran will throw at him. For some reason (we all know why), Jameis Winston rides the pine while the Red Rocket struggles to use Alvin Kamara effectively. The San Francisco backfield one-two punch of Christian McCaffrey and Elijah Mitchell have become the most dangerous in the game. McCaffrey not having to shoulder the burden of an entire offense should ensure he’s healthy (by his standards) as December and January approach. Meanwhile, Jimmy G does what Jimmy G does, manage football games on the way to wins. Saints are outmatched in this one. Niners continue to iron out their wrinkles against one of the more disappointing teams in the league and continue their torrid streak in search of favorable playoff seeding. Niners cover for Slaughterhouse Three.
$20 on South Carolina Gamecocks at Clemson Tigers (-14 ½)
I was dead wrong about the South Carolina Gamecocks the last two weeks. Not only did they knock off Florida, which is not difficult to do, they hung 63 points on Tennessee in a blowout nobody saw coming. Seriously, they punted only once and had no field goal attempts. All they did was score touchdowns. This week they take that hotness into Clemson and while it might seem silly to bet against a team that has scored over 100 points in their last two games, I’m going to do just that. It is not entirely outside the realm of possibility that Clemson somehow finds its way into the mix here. They’re ranked 8th in the nation and are considerably better defensively than either Florida or Tennessee. This point spread is surprisingly high at 14 ½ considering the last two games South Carolina has played, which tells me it would be even higher if they weren’t on that scorcher. I haven’t been all that high on Clemson this season, which is ironic considering they’re 10-1 and the best team in the ACC but here they are once again doing what they do. They’ll do it at home against South Carolina, licking the cocks and covering the number for Slaughterhouse Four.
$10 on Auburn Tigers at Alabama Crimson Tide (-22)
Alabama is 9-2 and still reeling from what is considered by their standards a disappointing season. They will be sitting at home next week and watching LSU represent the SEC West and take on Georgia for the SEC crown. This is a relatively rare place for them to be. Don’t believe me? The Tide has represented the West in seven of the last eleven SEC title games. As Saban ages, rumors of his departure get louder and louder but I’m inclined to think the old man still has plenty left in the tank. Meanwhile, the season for Auburn was considerably more tumultuous and even more disappointing. A team that’s normally in contention went an unheard of 2-5 in conference and are about to go 2-6. Auburn has fired their head coach and at no point in the season have been considered in any way relevant. Nick Saban is still pissed off about not being invited to the party where he’s usually the emcee and Bryce Young has all but seen his chances at becoming only the second player ever to win two Heisman Trophies disappear into the Alabama night. The last time Auburn traveled to Tuscaloosa, they got beat by thirty. Expect that to happen again. I love the Cadillac Anderson story but it won’t be enough. Alabama covers the twenty-two-and-half for Slaughterhouse Five.
THE WIFE HATES SPORTS WEEK TWELVE
$50: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3.5) at Cleveland Browns 50
Here we are, circling back to Tom Brady and the Bucs as a top choice. The Browns succeed when the run game pushes them forward. I still trust this defense, despite the fact that Tampa Bay has slipped back to 15th against the run. It’s getting closer to the time of the year where Brady rises to the top. I’m not saying that will for sure be the case this year, but I trust Tampa Bay in this situation. Bucs cover on the road.
$40: Houston Texans at Miami Dolphins (-13.5)
The Dolphins had a week to prepare and get home field following a bye week. Their opponent is the Texans, who have flipped to Kyle Allen as starting QB. We know the Texans are now looking forward to the draft order and taking one of the future QB’s in the first round. The Dolphins have Tua’s efficiency and a strong offensive WR duo in Waddle and Hill. The Texans are brutal against the run, but either way, balance from Miami can carry this team to an easy win coming off the bye. Dolphins cover at home.
$30: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (+35) at Georgia Bulldogs
It feels crazy to take this game considering all the other options in the list. Still, I believe in momentum, and Georgia Tech knocked off a ranked North Carolina team last week. Georgia has dominated in this series as of late, but covering a five TD spread in a rivalry game is a tall order. Also, Georgia Tech ranks 56th in pass defense (218.7 ypg), while allowing just 15 TD through the air, with 11 INT. Those numbers are solid, especially when feeling confident with a line such as this. Give me the Yellow Jackets and the points on the road.
$20: Michigan State Spartans (+19) at Penn State Nittany Lions
The Nittany Lions are on a strong run following its 55-10 win at Rutgers. Dive deeper into that game, where Penn State had two defensive TD’s and a Special Teams touchdown. That’s 21 points. I know… I did the math. That doesn’t happen every game. The PSU offense floundered at times, especially without top WR Parker Washington, who is out for the year. Michigan State isn’t great against the run, so this could get out of hand if the duo of Singleton and Allen take over. I’m going to bank on that not happening. Michigan State can earn a bowl game with a win and while I don’t think Sparty wins, I do think they’ll keep this game competitive. Give me the Spartans and the points.
$10: Purdue Boilermakers at Indiana Hoosiers (+10.5)
Three of the last four games in this rivalry have been decided by a touchdown or less. The home team is 6-3 straight up and 5-4 ATS in recent years. The Hoosiers are coming off a momentum-building overtime win over Michigan State. When facing Purdue, it comes back to pass defense. Indiana isn’t great in this department, ranking 115th against the pass, while also allowing 28 TD’s through the air (with just 7 INT). Despite that, it’s a rivalry game and I trust this one to be closer than games. Give me the Hoosiers and the points at home.
CELEBRITY GUEST WEEK TWELVE: HEAVY D (Last season’s record: 4-1, +$130)
Vikings -2.5 (5) I mean they can’t play worse. Coming off of a beat down to Dallas I would think they would be all systems go. They have been pretty good all year. They get it done.
Florida +9.5 (4) This is a homer pick, but I think UF wins outright. FSU has no wins over anybody with more than 5 wins. Gators rebound.
Titans +1.5 (3) Home dog gets the bone.
Texas A&M +10 (2) I am just not sold on LSU. They probably win, but I think theAggies will keep it close at home. Evan Stewart has a big day at WR for A&M.
Vanderbilt +14 (1) QB Hendon Hooker is out with ACL tear for the Vols. Tennessee’s great season is over (lol). Joe Milton is a serviceable backup, but I think Tennessee packs in. Vandy needs a win to go bowling. Anchor Down.