Well, we did it, Sunshine State sports gamblers.
Now that gambling is finally legal for Florida residents (Hallelujah!), you might want to start paying closer attention to these weekly posts.
Eighteen weeks in the NFL season means eighteen fulfilling weeks to gamble, either incorrectly or not.
But can you go five-for-five?
Only once in 2021, and twice in 2022, did a participant guess all five games correctly in this contest against the spread. Kevin did it in Week 16 of 2021. Last year, Darrel Harden pulled off a perfect 5-0 in Week 7, followed up by the Barber’s clean sweep in Week 16.
Picking five games correctly against the spread in any given week is difficult (in 2 ½ seasons, I haven’t done it yet) which is why I put my own money up this season and offered a customized Hogg tumbler courtesy of XVIII Designs to anyone who can.
Last week, Swoops broke on through to the other side. In last week’s post, I told ALL OF YOU that Swoops can pick NFL games. Through two full seasons and ten weeks, he is your leader in the clubhouse at a combined 13-2 against the spread!
In other words, when I tell you someone can pick football games, I hope you’re paying attention. Swoops will be sipping Rumple Minze out of his tumbler soon and sends a hearty cheer to the rest of us as he amasses his minty winnings.
This week, we send another willing victim into our trial by fire, TJ from Fantasy Knuckleheads, who is 5-5 in this contest but still positive money. Good luck, sir.
As for the man who is still leading this contest but has cooled off a touch, let’s get to this week’s picks of redemption…
$50 on Ole Miss Rebels (+19 ½) at Georgia Bulldogs
I feel like I’m cheating here but I can’t let these opening lines slide. The Ole Miss-Georgia line opened at 19 ½. That’s not a lot of faith in Lane Kiffin. Of course, Tennessee fans lost faith in Kiffin long ago, but I digress. Georgia still rolls along, their quest for a three-peat intact. Pollsters dropped them to number two in the rankings but that changes not the fact that the school hasn’t lost in 26 consecutive games, two away from an SEC record. I’m not sure Ole Miss can pull off the upset here. Nor is anyone else although gamblers did bet this line down to 11. At 11, I won’t take it but at 19 ½, I’m all over it. Ole Miss scores too much, they’re putting up around 40 points a game. Their only loss this season came to Alabama. The over/under here is 59, which is relatively high for what should be a rough and tumble, physical SEC match-up. Since Las Vegas expects a shootout, in a contest where both teams can put up 40, I have no choice but to take Ole Miss and the 19 ½.
$40 on Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens (- 5 ½)
Did I miss something here? On TV the other day, I saw some pundits ask which was the most dangerous team in the AFC North? Pittsburgh was excluded from the conversation, for good reason, but for some reason, they included Cleveland. I scratched my head. Yes, I’d forgotten that Cleveland had somehow managed to beat San Francisco but we’re finding out lately that San Fran is vulnerable. Otherwise, I’m not as impressed with the Browns’ resume as everyone else. Sure, they beat up on a hapless Arizona Cardinals team last weekend, but that team didn’t have a starting quarterback. Their other recent wins came against Tennessee and Indy. Meanwhile, the Ravens are set to cruise control at a very high speed. They’ve already beaten the Brownies once in Cleveland in Week Four and are favored ever so slightly to do it again. They’ve won their last four games by 81 points and one of those wins was a dismantling of Detroit. I’m normally leery of laying points in divisional games but I find Baltimore’s body of work considerably more impressive than I do Cleveland’s who I think still have some unanswerable questions lingering in that locker room. I’m laying less than a touchdown with the team who has the best player on the field so give me Lamar all day to continue the Ravens’ torrid streak. Baltimore minus the 5 ½.
$30 on New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys (-10)
Daniel Jones is done for the season, leaving the New York Giants in a fine predicament. Last year, the Giants locked up Jones, giving him a long-term deal and essentially making him their quarterback of the future. The four-year $160 million deal ranks somewhere in the top three all-time worst contracts a New York team has ever given an athlete, rubbing elbows with the Allan Houston, and still active Bobby Bonilla, deals. The problem remains, when Jones returns healthy, they still don’t know whether he’s their guy, or for that matter whether Coach Brian Daboll is their guy either. Daboll went from coach of the year last year to a 2-7 record. The Giants are bad. This week, they travel to Dallas, who just got handled by Philadelphia, the class of that division if not the conference. Dallas can’t seem to get over the hump with a heavily criticized quarterback of their own. This week, they’ll look to take it out on the lowly Giants. This line opened at ten points and quickly moved to 17. That’s not suggesting that Daniel Jones’ designation moved this line seven points. Vegas got this one wrong with him or without. According to the shit rolls downhill theory, since the Eagles punked the Cowboys, so in turn will the Cowboys punk the G-Men. Dallas needs to work out some kinks and ensure themselves a spot in the post-season. They’ll use this game as the Giants to do just that. If I’m a Giants fan, which I’m not, I’m finding something else to watch but I’m betting on the Cowboys to cover the ten before I turn it off.
$20 on Arizona Wildcats at Colorado Buffaloes (+11 ½)
Remember not long ago when all anyone could talk about was Coach Prime? The guy was on TV more than Taylor Swift. But America doesn’t like losers, so we lost touch with Coach Prime after his Buffaloes lost five of six games. They were outmatched against Oregon in late September but since then have been in every single game. Aside from the 12-point loss at UCLA, every other game has been decided by a touchdown or less and that includes games against ranked USC and Oregon State. Thanks to their cooling off, the Buff are a relatively hefty 11 ½ point underdog at home this week to visiting Arizona. I’ve lost a fair amount of money betting on Colorado money line to bounce back when they haven’t. Taking the points is still the safe play against Arizona who’s played ranked teams tight in their last five, winning their last three. They might be looking to exhale after that rough patch, but a brisk Boulder afternoon will be no time or place to take things easy. I like Colorado to keep this one close. In real life, I’ll be betting the Buff money but for the purpose of this contest, I’ll take Colorado and the 11 ½.
$10 on Duke Blue Devils (+14 ½) at North Carolina Tar Heels
I’m not quite sure what happened to Duke. Maybe their students suddenly realized it was basketball season. The Dukies went from winning three of their first four handily, including a win over Clemson, to dropping four of their next five. Those three losses came against ranked Notre Dame, Louisville and Florida State. This weekend, they’ll play the last ranked team on their schedule, North Carolina, in a fight for the third best team in the ACC. They’re also getting 14 ½ points. This is a night game in Chapel Hill but UNC hasn’t exactly been blowing out conference opponents lately. Throw in the fact this rivalry is among the best in college sports and you have a quality Duke football team that will keep things close. Throw in that hook with the two touchdowns and I love it even more. It’ll be a rowdy night in NC but the Dukies keep this close. Duke plus 14 ½.
TJ from Fantasy Knuckleheads’ Picks for the Week (5-5, +$20)
As requested by Chump, here are my top 5 picks in order of confidence:
(Lines taken from Caliente sports app in my country)
1) Titans +1 over Bucs: I think Will Levis is the real deal and the Titans are fun to watch for the first time since the Steve McNair days. Damn, I’m old.
2) Texans +7 over Bengals: Also the real deal: CJ Stroud. I think the Bengals still win but it will be way closer than a 7 pt line.
3) Cowboys -16.5 over Giants: They just beat them by 40 on the road, Cowboys have won 11 straight at home, and this should be over by half time. I’m just afraid of a garbage time TD against our back-ups but I think they can handle it and still cover.
4) Jaguars +3 over 49ers: The 49ers are on a free fall and the Jaguars have figured it out.
5) Steelers -3 over Packers: The Steelers are the new Titans in the way that they’re boring to watch but effective.
KP’s Picks: The Wife Hates Sports
$50: Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens (-6.5)
There is a strong possibility that the Browns will be without both their starting tackles this weekend. This could spell disaster for many reasons. For one, the Ravens lead the league in sacks (35). That’s one glaring advantage for Baltimore. Cleveland’s run game likely will take a hit, as well. Otherwise, there are statistical similarities with these two teams. Both run the ball very well (Ravens 1st, Browns 3rd). They are the top two defensive teams against the pass. But the Ravens in the month of October have outscored its opponents 75-9 at home (Lions and Seahawks). Baltimore is on a hot streak and knocked out the Browns 28-3 back on October 1st. Expect a similar scenario on Sunday. Ravens cover at home.
$40: Michigan Wolverines (-4) at Penn State Nittany Lions
There are scenarios and storylines aplenty in this rivalry game. The biggest story is the Big Ten announcing Jim Harbaugh’s suspension for the rest of the regular season. Although, this is only a sideline ban during games. This, for me, is only going to fuel an already talented Michigan team. The Wolverines are not battle tested this year, but it’s a veteran group that has proven it can win big games in previous seasons. Everyone knows James Franklin’s record against top ten teams. The focus will be what Drew Allar can do against Michigan’s top ranked pass defense. Allar was spectacular last week, but that was facing Maryland’s mediocre pass defense. In the end, until this Penn State staff proves otherwise, I’m betting on the higher ranked opponents. I hope my alma mater proves me wrong. Wolverines cover on the road.
$30: Alabama Crimson Tide (-11) at Kentucky Wildcats
Don’t look now, but the Crimson Tide are on a roll (pun surprisingly not intended). Many seemed to leave ‘Bama for dead after its loss to Texas back on September 9. Six wins later and back-to-back two-touchdown victories over ranked teams, and the Tide are very much in the picture. Past history against Kentucky is not surprisingly lopsided, and it’s important to note that these Wildcats have had much more success. The key will be tied to Alabama QB Jalen Milroe, who ran for 155 yards and passed for 219 versus LSU last week. Tennessee shut down his mobility and the Vols rank 14th against the run (Kentucky is 22nd – so that’s an area to watch). In the end, making Milroe one-dimensional didn’t save Tennessee and it won’t save Kentucky either. Alabama covers on the road.
$20: Michigan Wolverines at Penn State Nittany Lions (UNDER 44.5)
Wait, this game again? Absolutely. It’s a big one and there’s more to talk about. First, the Noon kickoff. Some say it’s an advantage. I’m not so sure and this is coming from a guy that has been to Beaver Stadium more times than I can count. The student section often doesn’t fill the place by the Noon game’s opening kick. It always seems louder for the 330 or 8pm games. More importantly with this pick, it’s these two defenses – among the best in the country. Michigan ranks 1st against the pass (141.3 ypg) and has 12 INT’s with just 4 TD allowed. Penn State ranks 13th against the pass and also has more INT’s than TD’s allowed. Against the run, Penn State ranks 2nd and Michigan 9th. This is going to be a battle in the trenches with a hefty focus on time management. Give me the under.
$10: Green Bay Packers at Pittsburgh Steelers (-3)
If you haven’t noticed, scoring is down in the NFL this season. Green Bay is 20th in the NFL, averaging 20.0 points per game. Pittsburgh is 29th, averaging just 16.6 points per game. This could very well be a snooze fest, so keep your alarm clock handy if you want to watch it from start to finish. The biggest (and likely most impactful) news is on Green Bay’s defense, where reports are stating that both Jaire Alexander and Quay Walker are doubtful to play. With the Packers likely down their top LB and DB, that could be the offensive spark that the Steelers need. Add in that passionate Pittsburgh crowd, Pittsburgh’s aggressive defensive front, and a struggling Jordan Love, and here we are. Steelers cover at home.