This week, we introduce the first of this contest’s heavy hitters, hosts obviously excluded. His presence comes just in time as Kevin (10-5 ATS) and I (9-5-1 ATS) are running away with this thing.
Like yours truly, DRealEmcee is another humble Tampa resident sitting idly by before the local Seminole Hard Rock allows us to legally take them for a hearty lump sum. You see, all DRE has done in two years of participating in this contest is go 7-2-1 against the spread and rank fourth overall in monies earned.
We look to him to keep up his rep and once again drop some helpful knowledge about this weekend’s slate.
But before he does, let’s have…
$50 on Minnesota Vikings (-3) at Carolina Panthers
I don’t quite understand what’s going on in Minnesota. The Vikings are an inconceivable 0-3 with the NFL’s most dynamic wide receiver not named Tyreek Hill. I’m hearing rumblings about this team parting ways with Captain Kirk Cousins, the bulk of the blame of their winless season placed firmly upon his shoulders. Such is the cross the starting quarterback must bear. Take the credit when the team wins and the ass-chewing when they lose. From what I’ve seen, the blame can hardly be placed on Cousins. He’s leading the NFL in both passing yards and touchdowns and is doing so with an offensive line that is shortening his lifespan more than a bad cigarette habit. If you ask me, I’d say this team’s problems reside in the fact that their defense is giving up nearly four touchdowns a game, which is good for 26th in the NFL. They sorely miss Dalvin Cook between the tackles. Alexander Mattison’s inability to fill his shoes left the team desperate enough to pick up Cam Akers. This weekend, the Vikes travel to Charlotte to take on the similarly winless Carolina Panthers, who are equally as bad defensively. Offensively, Minnesota ranks third in yards per game. If their defense even remotely resembles an NFL team, the Vikes should break their streak of futility and finally put a number in the win column. Minnesota is too good to be this bad. They will prove it this weekend in Carolina by getting their first win and covering the three.
$40 on Atlanta Falcons at Jacksonville Jaguars (-3)
I’m currently not on speaking terms with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Not only am I relying on Trevor Lawrence to live up to the statistical promise I drafted him in fantasy, but their loss to the Texans also cost me my last eliminator entry. The Jags entered this season as front-runners to win the AFC North. A favorable Week One start left them facing kings of the AFC, the Chiefs, a game they should have won but lost. They followed that up with an embarrassing home loss to their divisional rival Houston Texans. I promised myself I’d start betting trends instead of waiting for teams to snap out of it, but I can’t see them losing a second straight game to an inferior opponent. The Jaguars are having some serious problems but, like the Vikings, are too good to be this bad. Calvin Ridley will be going against his former team, so I like him to have a big game. Hint: Look for an anytime TD scorer prop for Rids. The Jags are only laying three against the Atlanta Falcons who are young and talented but not to the level of what the Jags should be. The Jags should be blowing teams out. This weekend they’ll look to rid themselves of their red zone efficiency woes and put some points up on the board. Jags cover the three.
$30 on Atlanta Falcons at Jacksonville Jaguars Over 43
Speaking of Jags-Falcons, this over/under is way too low. First, the Jags defense is lackluster. They’re allowing 25 points a game and are about to (attempt to) defend a young Bijan Robinson who is averaging 5.5 yards a carry and looking for his first NFL touchdown. Similarly, the Falcons are not good at defending the run which means Jacksonville should use a healthy dose of Travis Etienne to facilitate their passing attack. Either way, I see a game where both teams will want to push the pace meaning both teams should see the end zone. This over/under is low considering the Jags have sputtered offensively and the Falcons only put up six against a healthy Detroit defense. Against worse defenses, The Falcons have been able to score, and Jacksonville is one of those worse defenses. Throw in the fact that this game is in London where the NFL is still trying to sell its product and give me this game to go over the total of 43 in more of a shootout than Vegas expects.
$20 on Seattle Seahawks (+1) at New York Giants
Why are the Giants favored on Monday night? Doesn’t Vegas know the Giants are trying to keep up with the Mets, Yankees, Jets, Nets and Rangers and make this era the worst in New York Sports history? (I’ll leave the Isles and Knicks out of this conversation because, unlike their counterparts, they reach the post-season). Neither of these teams are worth a hoot defensively but I trust Seattle’s offense infinitely more than I do New York’s. Saquon is still not 100% and the Seahawks are on a two-game winning streak. In each of those wins, they scored 37 points. Considering the Giants allow the third most points in the NFL, you might want to start every Seahawk you have in fantasy and like me, you might want to take the Seahawks and the point.
$10 on Miami Dolphins (+3 ½) at Buffalo Bills
Remember earlier how I hinted that there are two ways to gamble. You can ride the hot team, or you can bet on the team that you think should turn things around but hasn’t yet. Last year, before everyone on their team got injured, the Miami Dolphins went into Buffalo and beat the Bills. This was back when everyone thought the Bills would win the Super Bowl and that Josh Allen would win MVP. That was a long time ago. A lot has changed since then. The Dolphins look way better, and the Bills look way worse. The Dolphins scored 70 points last week. That is not a misprint. Sure, they took advantage of Sean Payton doing a worse NFL coaching job than his predecessor Nathanial Hackett, but the Dolphins can pretty much score on anybody, at any time. They’re averaging, get this, 550 yards per game on offense. Even Tecmo Bowl is shaking its head like whoa. The Bills will want revenge for last year’s home loss but I’m not so sure they want to get into a track meet with Tua and Tyreek. The hottest team in football is getting three-and-a-half points against a team it wants to remind who’s their daddy so I have no choice here but to take the Fish and ride the hot streak until it’s over.
DRealEmmcee’s Picks For The Week (career 7-2-1, +$180)
After last year’s impressive week. Chris has graciously invited me back to help you degenerates win some money or lose it in very painful fashion. Let’s enjoy wins, sweating out wins, and bad beats, together.
I also encourage teasing these numbers, I usually go 13 points, but do what works for you.
Buffalo -3 vs Miami
-Miami isn’t in a letdown spot, but Buffalo will be ready and historically have handled Miami at home.
Tennessee +2.5/3 vs Cincinnati
-Bengals have not been impressive so far. Titans under Vrabel have been always good, especially as dogs. Especially at home.
Penn State/ Northwestern OVER 46.5
-Penn State averages over 30 PPG, NW had a big comeback last week where their offense showed their first signs of life this season. Should be enough to get 47 points, might have to sweat it out tho.
Syracuse/Clemson OVER 53.5
-Underrated shootout possible here in the dome. With many close games in this matchup In the recent past, the Cuse may finally get over the hump. Especially after an uninspiring first half last week v Army. Clemson, after last weeks late loss to FSU, they either get smoked or play wide open with nothing to lose. We shall see.
Purdue -1 vs Illinois
I think Purdue caught some bad breaks this year but their offense has played very well with a new coaching staff. I’ve been very unimpressed with Illinois, who had to hold on to beat FAU at home. They play ugly, slow and methodical. Now they go on the road in conference. Purdue gets a big lead early and hides.
KP’s Picks for the Week
$50: Kansas City Chiefs (-9) at New York Jets
The Jets managed to take down the Bills during its opening week at home. That was after the shocking Aaron Rodgers injury and Zach Wilson under center. This game will be more of a spectacle in New York. Wilson remains in place, but Taylor Swift is set to join the crowd. It’s odd to think someone off the field will create a different energy, but that may actually be the case. Statistically, the Jets are last in the NFL in passing yards (and last in total offense). Wilson continues to struggle, leaving a talented defense the burden of holding off talented teams like the Chiefs. So, while Wilson remains the starter, here’s my message to the Jets: “we are never ever ever getting back together”. Chiefs cover on the road.
$40: Washington Commanders at Philadelphia Eagles (-9)
For anyone watching the Commanders and saying that Sam Howell is terrible and needs to be benched, well… you need to pay closer attention. Instead, look at Washington’s offensive line. The Commanders are dead last in the NFL allowing 6.3 sacks per game. That’s two full sacks into last place, by the way. I’m actually 100% ok with how Howell has played considering the time he’s had in the pocket. I could tell Sam Howell to “shake it off, shake it off”, but at this rate, that mindset will only fly so far. Oh, and by the way, since 2022, the Eagles have more sacks than any other team (with 76). The more I write, the more I wonder why this isn’t my top pick of the week. Eagles cover at home.
$30: Michigan State Spartans at Iowa Hawkeyes (-12.5)
This is a pivotal week for the Hawkeyes. Maybe my brain is taking them to remind the SportsChump that he had Iowa last week, facing Penn State and the Whiteout. That was an absolute beatdown, exposing an Iowa offense that was sloppy and unable to move the ball. Now, Iowa returns home and faces a floundering Spartans team buried in ongoing Mel Tucker drama. The Spartans have been outscored 72-16 over its last two games (facing Washington and Maryland). Despite last week’s blowout, the Hawkeyes remain ranked in the top 25 in passing defense. Also, Iowa’s defense is one of three teams in the nation to have yet to allow a rushing TD. “Running scared, I was there – I remember it all too well”. That’ll be Sparty as Iowa covers at home.
$20: Notre Dame Fighting Irish (-5.5) at Duke Blue Devils
“I got tired of waiting. Wonderin’ if you were ever comin’ around. My faith in you was fading.” Swift’s lyric from ‘Love Story’ describes Duke Football these days – maybe Notre Dame, as well considering the Irish have only lost two or fewer games in five seasons dating back to 1995. Duke is for real. The win over Clemson was not a fluke – although, I do question just how good the Tigers really are. The Irish had the Buckeyes on the ropes, then decided to send 10 players out on the final play of the game. Duke is 10th in rush defense and 4th in pass defense, so the Irish will have their hands full. In the end, the Irish have yet to throw an interception through five games, and I think efficiency on offense and winning the turnover battle will lead to a slide edge. In the game of the week, Notre Dame covers on the road.
$10: New England Patriots at Dallas Cowboys (-6.5)
“It must be exhausting always rooting for the anti-hero”
This is where my head went when considering the Cowboys and the Patriots. With New England, it’s Belichick and his dynasty. I remember the “Deflategate” and “Spygate” days when living in Boston. Patriots fans would just get snarkier, adding lines like “if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying”. It’s not much prettier in Dallas, but I digress. As for the game, I’m instantly drawn to the line. Checking the stats, both teams are actually pretty close in all major categories. The Cowboys seem to do this every year – blow out teams and launch the hype train, only to collapse against a team like the Cardinals. Coming back home and facing Belichick and the Pats, this feels like it’ll result in a blowout that we won’t expect (with Micah Parsons completely taking over). So, with no strong reasoning added – just a mini-story and a Taylor Swift lyric – I’m taking Dallas. Cowboys cover at home.