We are at it again, as always, with a little help from our friends. Happy football season, everyone!
Kevin Paul, the Oz behind the curtain at The Wife Hates Sports, has once again challenged me to our weekly five game pick ‘em contest and once again, it will be curtains for him.
You probably remember this contest from years past. You should, as many of you participated against us. Without gloating, I’m happy to say I won last year’s contest. As a result, if you peruse Kevin’s website, you’ll undoubtedly find him singing my praises as I narrowly edged out our third-party participants. Meanwhile Kevin had difficulty finding winners from Weeks One through Eighteen. We’ll consider last year an anomaly as he beat us all soundly the year prior.
Here’s what’s most impressive of all. There are a total of 90 games that we choose each year: 18 weeks times five games per week. Last year, our guests selected 70% of their games right against the spread! Any seasoned gambler will tell you that is an astonishing figure. Very nicely done, people. Remember, the objective of this exercise is to see how well we’re gambling and whether we even should.
Let’s see how we fare this year. If our guests combine for another 70% clip, it’s time for a trip to Vegas. New prizes are also in order this year. Anyone who goes five for five, correctly guessing all five games of their choosing against the spread, will win a customized Hogg tumbler courtesy of XVIII Designs.
So, let’s get to it, shall we?
Our participant in Week One is Croshere, who has traditionally gotten this thing off to a cold start for the visitors, going 2-3 in 2021 and 2-3 once again in 2022 for a grand total of -$120. I suppose it’s a good thing he’s liquid.
And if you’re wondering where you’ll be picking this year, it’s the same order as the last two years. Here is everyone’s record and how much hypothetical money you’ve won or lost based on the confidence of your picks. Out of respect, I’ve listed the heavy hitters in bold font.
Week 1: Croshere (4-6) -$120
Week 2: J-Dub (3-7) -$90
Week 3: Dr. Milhouse (6-4) -$20
Week 4: DRealEmcee (7-2-1) +$180
Week 5: Lisa Horne (5-5) +$20
Week 6: BCole (4-6) -$100
Week 7: Darrell Harden (8-2) +$240
Week 8: Coach (6-4) +$40
Week 9: Kid Sheraton (4-6) -$60
Week 10: Bobby Kady (6-3-1) +$100
Week 11: TJ (5-5) +$20
Week 12: Heavy D (7-3) +$200
Week 13: Brother Bill (4-6) -$20
Week 14: Rising Storms (8-2) +$120
Week 15: Dave Bradley (3-2) +$10 – Did not participate in 2021 pool
Week 16: The Barber (9-1) +$260
Week 17: Swoops (8-2) +$160
Week 18: The Wife (2-3) -$110 – Did not participate in 2021 pool
Combined two-year record:
SportsChump: (97-78-5) +$680 (55.4% ATS)
The Wife Hate Sports: (90-87-3) $+400 (50.8% ATS)
As for my Week One picks, let’s go with…
$50 on Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears (-1)
The Green Bay reign of terror in the NFC North is over, or so we’d think. Aaron Rodgers is now a New York Jet, and the Jordan Love era has officially begun. Jordan would love (get it?) nothing more than to start his regime with a win but he’s going to have to get it in on the road in Chicago. Meanwhile, the Bears have already started their new regime with a quarterback they’re certain of, or so they’d think. Last year, Justin Fields proved he’s a force to be reckoned with, leaving considerably less question marks than the quarterback he’s playing against on Sunday. I have this sneaky suspicion NFC North teams have been waiting to stake their claim on a division that has been won by Green Bay three of the last four years. Minnesota won it last year. Chicago hasn’t won it since 2018, before Justin Fields even put on a Buckeye uniform. Chicago might not win that division this year, but they’ll get off to a solid start by beginning the season 1-0 against their division rival. Chicago minus the lone point.
$40 on James Madison Dukes at Virginia Cavaliers (+7)
The Virginia Cavaliers took a trip to Knoxville last week and were treated rudely by the Tennessee Volunteers, as one would expect. Tennessee is an SEC team with championship aspirations and Virginia is well, Virginia. Virginia returns home this week to take on James Madison, who disposed of Bucknell handily last week, 38-3. But everybody does that to Bucknell. Last year, the Bison lost games to Central Michigan 41-0, Holy Cross 57-0, and Fordham 59-17. In other words, if you’re not beating Bucknell badly, you probably want to regroup. That’s why I think this line is so skewed in favor of James Madison. I don’t think the Dukes are that good and I don’t think the Cavaliers are this bad. Besides, once Virginia finds out that they’re playing a team named the Dukes, they’ll be more than fired up to win. I’ll take Virginia at home plus the seven.
$30 on UCLA Bruins at San Diego Aztecs (+14.5)
I’m not quite sure what’s going on out west, but the once proud Pac-12 appears to be a thing of the past. It’s too bad they’re disbanding because their teams this year are pretty good. In a few years, we’ll fondly reminisce about Pac-12 football the way we do Big East basketball. (Just kidding, Big East basketball was pound-for-pound WAY better.) I watched a little bit of the UCLA-Coastal Carolina game last weekend, and I wasn’t that impressed. The Bruins pulled away late with their freshman quarterback Dante Moore throwing two touchdowns but this week, he’ll face his first true collegiate test, a night game against San Diego State who has started the season 2-0. San Diego State is getting over two touchdowns in this one, a 7:30 kick off where fans should be eager to throw some dirt on a team leaving its conference. I’m not convinced this UCLA team can go on the road and beat a difficult opponent by two touchdowns, so I’ll take the Aztecs and the points.
$20 on Notre Dame Fighting Irish (-6.5) at North Carolina State Wolfpack
Notre Dame looks frightening, which means Irish pubs everywhere are awash with fans talking about how good they are. And rightfully so. In two games, they’ve put up a whopping 98 points, albeit against Navy (in Dublin) and Tennessee State. Not exactly barnburners, although Navy is not generally a team that gets manhandled like they were against Notre Dame. NC State’s lone game this year is a win at UConn, a game one would think they should have won by more. This will be the Pack’s first home game, but they’ll be going against the hottest team in college football not coached by Deion Sanders. They’re getting a touchdown against the Irish but from what I’ve seen, that’s a swift possession for Notre Dame. The Irish play Ohio State in three weeks but I don’t think they’ll be caught looking ahead. There’s too much talent wearing golden helmets. Give me Notre Dame on the road to cover.
$10 on Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Minnesota Vikings (-6)
I have a bad feeling about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season. They appear to be a team in transition and a few missteps away from an entirely new look in 2024. Best case scenario: this team somehow finds itself in the playoff mix in a relatively weak NFC. Worst case scenario: Coach Bowles gets run out of town after waffling between his two quarterbacks. He loses control of the team and Mike Evans demands to be shipped elsewhere. This outcome appears much more likely and many Buccaneers fans will tell you they wouldn’t be upset with Bowles’ dismissal. Oh, how far they’ve fallen in three years. Meanwhile, the Minnesota Vikings have Super Bowl aspirations. Yes, I said it. Keep in mind this is a team that won its division last year (see above) and finished the season 13-4. They lost Dalvin Cook but they must be pleased with Alexander Mattison if they’ll willing to let Cook go elsewhere. Minnesota also boasts the best wide receiver in the league and a quarterback who still has something to prove. Meanwhile, the Bucs have too many question marks. I’ll take the Vikings at home minus the six.
Croshere’s Picks For The Week
Bonus points if you can tell me what movie line Croshere paraphrases while signing off his picks.
KP’s Picks for the Week
$50: Nebraska Cornhuskers at Colorado Buffaloes (-3)
This isn’t buying into the “Prime Hype”. That was beyond overblown after one week of the season. Still, Deion has a way of motivating players. Nebraska – new coaching staff or not – has a way of being mediocre these days. While the Huskers fill their stadium more during Volleyball matches, the Buffs are now selling high-priced tickets to see what Coach Prime is going to do next. There are some exciting players in Colorado and while I think the hype is overblown, I do think Colorado’s talent is enough to cover at home against Nebraska. So because Prime is every other football article this week, I might as well place them at the top of the list. Buffaloes cover at home.
$40: Tennessee Titans (+3) at New Orleans Saints
The Saints have home field to open the season, but they will be without Alvin Kamara, due to suspension. Derek Carr makes his debut as starting QB and apparently Michael Thomas is healthy for a change. On the other side, we have the Titans – oh, those pesky, yet often inconsistent Titans. Tennessee features two offensive veterans that each have the ability to take over games. Derrick Henry and DeAndre Hopkins should be quite the combination, if each can stay healthy. That’s what I’m banking on, at least to start the 2023-24 season. Titans cover on the road.
$30: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Minnesota Vikings (-5.5)
Who trusts Baker Mayfield? Does the SportsChump? He’s a Bucs guy. I realize Tampa Bay has unproven, yet explosive talent at the RB position. Chris Godwin and Mike Evans are present in the pass game. Defensive weapons are readily available, but Baker Mayfield instead of Tom Brady? Let’s shift to the Vikings, who open the season at home. Dalvin Cook has moved to New York, but Alexander Mattison steps in, widely considered to be one of the best backup RB’s in the game for the last few seasons. Not to be overshadowed by Minnesota’s passing weapons, headlined by Justin Jefferson. Enough defensive firepower and an amped up home crowd, and give me those purple-clad fans, SKOL chant and all. Vikings cover at home.
$20: Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks (-5)
New season means uncertainty and focusing on big-time home crowds. What’s bigger than Seattle’s 12th man? Geno Smith proved himself last season, hovering below the radar in what was a high-quality season. Kenneth Walker III, DK Metcalf, and a slew of others anchor a Seattle offense. On the side of the Rams, while there’s a balance of talent on both sides of the ball, there are some gaping holes – most notably Cooper Kupp, who will miss this game due to injury. I’m sure the drama created by Stafford’s wife (locker room chatter) won’t help. Although, that could be grasping at straws, but that’s also likely to be what the L.A. offense will be doing this weekend, too. Seahawks cover at home.
$10: San Francisco 49ers (-2) at Pittsburgh Steelers
In a fun matchup of NFL franchise powerhouses, the line is likely this close because of Pittsburgh’s home field advantage. Kenny Pickett enters his second season looking to take the next step towards stardom. Pittsburgh had a strong preseason, but Pickett’s 2022 rookie campaign was far from exciting (63% completion percentage, 7 TD, 9 INT). Kick off the new season with one of the more talented defenses and an NFC contender that loves to run the ball and bully in the trenches. If Christian McCaffrey is able to start off strong, this game could get out of hand by the second half. 49ers cover on the road.