There once was a ball-coach from Philly
Who felt strongly that winning was silly
So he started with Hurts
But knew Sudfeld was worse
So he used him to fuck New York City
That, right there, is the reason they pay me the big bucks. Why am I spouting off limericks? Well, for one, because this is my show and I can do whatever I want. Also, I try my best to get creative around here, and my 3rd grade poetry skills hadn’t been put to good use in a while. Figured I’d give it a shot, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think it was funny (In the spirit of honesty, I also haven’t gotten over the David Tyree catch 13 years later, and I mask that pain by mocking the Giant’s whenever I can).
In a week where there were so many storylines, I don’t think any was quite as captivating as the Eagles-Giants game. It even managed to overshadow the country dancing on Dabo Swinney’s grave (something I personally enjoyed quite a bit). I’ll start off by saying that this mess was ENTIRELY the NFL’s fault. The Eagles had absolutely no reason to win that game, or to even try, so putting it on primetime TV was destined to be a nightmare. Beyond that, though, it’s hard to really take a side. The Giants went 6-10 and were gifted a win hours prior on one of the worst officiating decisions I have ever seen, so they aren’t exactly a sympathetic figure. On the other hand, there is a difference between normal tanking and what the Eagles did. It's not like they just rested a bunch of starters and veterans to give other guys a shot. Jalen Hurts is a rookie QB who could certainly use the reps and experience, so pulling him for Sudfeld was purely a move to ensure they didn’t accidentally win. Do I blame Pederson? No. the difference between the 6th and 9th pick is huge, and I really doubt he would have made that switch without somebody above him approving it. But it looked really bad live, and I can understand why it threw the interweb into a flaming ball of anger and jokes. In the end, the NFL just needs better management. Too bad they’ll still be pushing out Goodell’s lifeless corpse in 2070 because he is the perfect puppet for the 32 owners.
Now, on to the rest of my weekly nuggets:
⛏️ Apparently last week was the wakeup call all of the top Premier League teams needed. Maybe it was everyone watching Liverpool drop easy points to West Brom and Newcastle, but all the “big” clubs seemed to realize that winning should be a priority. Well, except for Chelsea (more on that later).
⛏️ I don’t know that Everton’s loss to West Ham is all that bad. The Hammers are a mid-table side, and Everton are only slightly better. These are the matches, especially in the holiday period, that you can lose if you don’t bring 100% focus. But it’s looking more and more like the Toffees just don’t quite have enough in the tank to produce a miracle season.
⛏️ I wonder what it feels like to be a United fan, and to have the League gift you wins. United led the League in penalties received two seasons ago AND last season, and are in second in that category this year. That’s pretty damn convenient.
⛏️Yes, I’m also bitter about that because I bet on Villa. It was actually a solid choice that deserved better (unlike my Newcastle pick).
⛏️ Leeds turned out to be exactly what Tottenham needed. Spurs had no choice but to attack because Leeds simply don’t bother to keep any defensive formation. A 3-0 win (which also kept me under my 3.5 Total bet) was as good as it gets.
⛏️ Sheffield lost (and didn’t score) again. It’s a wonder that they even show up any more.
⛏️ Saturday was the first time I’ve actually been impressed with Arsenal this year. Sure, it was West Brom, but that’s the same team that tied Liverpool less than a week prior. I’m hoping this upward trajectory doesn’t continue. I miss AFTV.
⛏️ I thought I had a chance at the smash and grab with Newcastle when it went into half 0-0, but Leicester never let up and deserved to win. Maybe long-shot +440 picks aren’t the best idea.
⛏️ Well, I woke up the sleeping beast. I’ve been parroting how poor City look on a weekly basis, so they decided to shut me up by absolutely dominating Chelsea. The two sides didn’t even look like they belonged on the same field if we’re being honest. Lampard is about one bad result from the axe now, and it’s probably deserved.
⛏️ Liverpool..... what’s up guys? Is this a cry for help? 2 points from 3 games, and their best opponent during that stretch was Southampton (no offense Southampton). That’s not going to win you a lot of titles. It is fun for me though, so keep it up.
⛏️ Alright, on to college football. Friday was close to a nightmare for me (as far as gambling), and that started with Georgia-Cincy. The over never got close after Georgia repeatedly pissed away chances at points, which sucked. It was one of those bets that needed one or two plays to go differently, but the ball bounced wrong for me all game.
⛏️ As for the game itself, what a shitty outcome. Georgia didn’t deserve to win, and Kirby Smart punting with 3 minutes in the 4th Quarter was sickening. But Cincinnati’s play calling gave them every opportunity, and the Dawgs finally took advantage. The passing call on 3rd down was idiotic, but the Bearcats lost this game because they played to wind down the clock for most of the second half. It was a textbook example of why you need to go for the jugular.
⛏️ Let's just take a second to laugh at Auburn football. They got STOMPED. Specifically, they got stomped by “football powerhouse” Northwestern. Yikes.
⛏️ Joe Kelly embodies Notre Dame Football perfectly. He spoke after the game about how Notre Dame was “out there competing.” What planet are you on, buddy? You just lost the ACC Championship and CFP Playoff by a combined 41 points, and you bristle at the narrative that Notre Dame Football is not competitive in big games anymore? Sounds like... well, it sounds like every Notre Dame Football fan. So I guess that makes sense.
⛏️ Thank you to Alabama for hitting that first half spread for me. You saved me from a very painful start to the year. We’ll just ignore the part where I said it wasn’t my favorite bet.
⛏️ Man, was I wrong about that Clemson-OSU matchup. More specifically, I was dead wrong about Justin Fields. I said something about how OSU would lose if they let fields sling the ball and try to out-gun Trevor Lawrence... yeah, not a good look for the Prospector on that one.
⛏️ To be fair though, I also didn’t realize that Clemson would employ the bold strategy of “let Buckeye receivers run right by you and hope Fields doesn’t throw deep.” I’m no defensive genius (or any type of genius), but that doesn’t seem like a smart approach
⛏️ There isn’t a lot of new content I can provide on Dabo, but man did he make himself look especially dumb. And he’s already a pretty dumb looking guy to begin with...
⛏️ Oregon got pummeled, proving once again that the Pac 12 is a joke. Thanks for doing your part, gentlemen.
⛏️ We saw the gambling equivalent of a double rainbow on Saturday. Here, it was the rare “double backdoor cover,” brought to life by an A&M touchdown to hit the over and the spread. As somebody who had given up on that Total (29 points in the 4th felt like a bit of a stretch), I owe both of these teams a big thank you. I imagine there are a few gamblers out there who don’t feel the same, though.
⛏️ On to the NFL. My Pats won, because of course they did. One parting “fuck you” from Cam Newton to lower our draft stock. Thanks for everything, bud. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
⛏️ I mentioned something about the Ravens beating up on bad teams last week I think? Yeah, another easy win for yours truly there.
⛏️ I don’t know that anyone could have predicted things would go so badly for Miami. Even the Bills didn’t, since they started Josh Allen at WR to make sure he didn’t take a loss. Not only did Miami get blown out by 30 and miss the playoffs, it also prompted a lot of rumblings about trading Tua. The NFL can be a tough, heartless place.
⛏️ I can’t believe I didn’t bet the over in the Vikings-Lions game. That was free money.
⛏️ Good for you, Cleveland. It only took a 2-pt conversion stop that prevented blowing a 15-point lead against a team playing backups, but you made it.
⛏️ Nailed my Giants bet. It almost feels dirty, given how bad that call was to end the game. Almost. Never apologize for winning, no matter how it happens.
⛏️ Watching Tom Brady is not fun for a Patriots fan right now. Letting go of him was probably the right call, since this team wasn’t winning the Super Bowl and they needed to rip off the Band-Aid at some point. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t rooting against him because it hurts to see him win somewhere else.
⛏️ The afternoon slot was filled with teams that needed to win but were adamant that they didn’t want to. Nobody embodied that better than the Bears, who got smacked by the Packers, only to make the playoffs anyway with help elsewhere. Pretty much sums up this organization right now. Good thing we added that 7th Seed, huh?
⛏️ The Colts tried their best to do the same, and got into a dog fight with Jacksonville. Lucky for them, the Jags are so bad that Indy had no choice but to win.
- The Raiders and Broncos played a game. I’m not sure why.
⛏️ Justin Herbert is very good at football. He is going to be a blast to watch for the next decade, and 2 games a year between him and Mahomes is a gift for every football fan.
⛏️ I don’t know what to say about the Rams-Cardinals Game. As someone who bet on the Cardinals, I’m pretty pissed at Kyler Murray. Either you can’t play or you suck it up in a game like that. Even if he turns into a pure pocket passer, you’re better off with him than you are with Streveler. Shout out to Wolford though, he did enough to get the Rams over the finish line. That’s a win for the common man.
⛏️ I feel like a child trying to understand calculus every time I watch the Titans. I have absolutely no idea what the hell is going on, and there is no way to figure out if they are any good. It feels like they’re either going to beat the Ravens by 30, or lose by the same number. Derrick Henry, on the other hand.... That guy is pretty good.
⛏️ I already covered the Eagles-WFT game, but I’ll spend a second on the side that actually won. Chase Young is a stud, but this team is not fun to watch. Hopefully they don’t make it very far.
⛏️ The yearly culling of coaches occurred on Monday. The big shocker was, of course, Adam Gase getting fired (see, I’ve got jokes). On a serious note, what a tough break for Anthony Lynn. This feels a lot like the Warriors firing Mark Jackson and bringing in Steve Kerr to win rings. Somebody is about to walk in succeed off all the groundwork he just laid down.
⛏️ The big hiring/firing in College was Texas sacking Tom Herman for Steve Sarkisian. I’m not going to stick up for Herman, but that feels like a terrible choice for a replacement. I guess there’s no stain that Nick Saban’s approval can’t clean off.
And onto the Picks!
Yes, I know these games aren’t until the middle of next week. But I always start with soccer and I’m a creature of habit. Quit your complaining. I like Everton to win this game, and the value is solid at +200. More specifically, I really don’t like Wolves right now. It’s gone bit under the radar, but they’ve been very poor this year (and have gotten even worse ever since Raul Jimenez’s injury). They sit in 13th place with only 22 points and a -6 GD. While they are capable of inspired performances, like their win over Chelsea, this side is playing extremely conservative football against better teams and are just hoping to neutralize their opponents for as long as possible. It worked to good effect for most of the game against United, but their back line isn’t strong enough to stone-wall opponents consistently. Conceding 3 to offensive-powerhouse Brighton last weekend is an obvious example of that. Everton are coming off a rough loss to West Ham, but they are still having a solid season overall. Consecutive wins over Chelsea, Leicester, and Arsenal don’t happen unless you have enough talent to compete for the Top 4, and I think they are a much better team than Wolves right now. After the wakeup call they just got, I don’t expect them to coast through this match either. Wolves score about a goal a game, and that number is obviously lower against better clubs. They are fairly likely to put up 0 against the Toffees, and I think Everton should take all 3 in this one. At +200, the value is great too.
💰 Pick: Everton ML (+200)
Well, Tottenham playing offensive soccer was fun while it lasted (one whole game, to be exact), but it ends here. Spurs and Villa are second and third, respectively, in goals conceded in the Premier League this season. Both give up almost exactly a goal per game, which lands us, if my math is correct, around 2 goals. Sure, each averages closer to 2 goals scored per game, but much of that excess comes from beating up on inferior opponents (or Spurs putting 6 past United). When it comes to games against top-half sides, Spurs and Villa are content to sit back and slow down the game, and we’re looking at a very high chance of a stale mate until the last 20 minutes. Even if one team does score early, I still expect Spurs and Villa to retreat and wait for the other to make the next big mistake. So at +130 for under 2.5, you are getting some pretty decent value. You want another fun bet to make. I like “No” on both teams to score (+154). This sets up perfectly to be a game where one team breaks through, if at all, and sucks the life out of the other. I don’t see both teams putting the ball in the back of the net. Two picks for the price of one, you’re welcome.
💰 Picks: Under 2.5 (+130) AND “No” on Both Teams to Score (+154)
I don’t usually give out picks that you could find from any of the 5,000 “experts” on twitter, but this is a results based business and money is money. Chelsea need to win this game. Lampard needs it to keep his job, and the players need to it to stay in touching distance of the rest of the big clubs. As of now, they are as close to Newcastle as they are to top of the table. That’s not a good look. Fulham, meanwhile, have been in full lockdown after a pretty bad Covid breakout within the club, and their last match was played all the way back on Boxing Day. Couple the resulting personnel issues with the fact that they are 18th in the League, and I just don’t see them having the juice to go out and win this game. They were on a solid stretch of draws prior to their break (including Liverpool and Southampton), but having a deadly disease shut down your facility and stop practice probably isn’t a good thing for them. Could they come out firing with fresh legs and overperform? Sure. But that kind of scenario seems more likely if they were playing a comparable team, not one with much more talent. So, at just -195, I’ll take Chelsea for a comfortable win. Bet a little more to make the payout worth it.
💰 Pick: Chelsea ML (-195)
After my College Football performance last week, I was a little nervous about getting back on the horse. But you can’t bet scared, and I’m ready to take a solid crack at this. I like the Buckeyes. I’m actually going to work my way backwards on this pick, which may seem a little weird, but just bear with me. The Total is an absolute nightmare. My brain tells me that expecting 75+ points in a National Championship game is crazy, because I expect teams to play a bit more cautious and nervous in moments like this. But the numbers just don’t reflect that. 4 of the 6 winners of the CFP have scored over 40 points in the National Championship, and OSU and Alabama average a combined 91 PPG on the season. That said, I wouldn’t touch the over either. These teams also average a combined 40.5 PPG against on the year, and this game could just as easily stay under with a couple of mistakes or some conservative play calling. Basically, the Total is well set and I don’t like either side. So that leaves me with the line. And no matter how good Alabama has looked this season, I can’t give up 7.5 points in a game like this. Alabama is undoubtedly the best team in the country, and their body of work looks a lot better than OSU’s. But OSU has also won every game fairly comfortably, including their beat down of Clemson last week, and I’m not going to fault them for not embarrassing every Big 10 opponent by 30. You have two great programs who bring in top-5 recruiting classes annually, and both are capable of winning this game. Recent history also tells me a lot here, and shows why OSU might be a better bet. In Alabama’s last 3 title games, they have entered as favorites of at least 3.5 points. They have lost outright twice, and failed to cover the third. I think some of that has to do with the “aura” of Alabama, which has an impact on how heavily they are favored in big games. The presence of Nick Saban and a history of winning tends to skew lines a bit more than it should. Alabama is certainly capable of dominating this game with their offensive talent, but the more likely scenario is a close and hard-fought battle between two teams. Give me the points.
💰 Pick: OSU +7.5
None of you know this, but I used to pick every fucking NFL game on a weekly basis before Dimers snatched me up. I shifted to a “quality over quantity” approach when I started writing here, but I want to get back to my roots this weekend. It’s the playoffs for fucks sake, you have to bet on all the games. We start of with a solid matchup between the Bills and Colts that a lot of people expect to be a high-scoring affair. I do not. The key for me in this game is Philip Rivers. More specifically, the fact that the Phillip Rivers has shown this year that he is running out of juice. Sure, the Colts ended 11-5, but they had the easiest schedule in the entire NFL. That will do wonders for your bottom line. So why am I not taking the Bills to clobber them? Well, I think it’s become fairly obvious to everyone, including the folks in Indy, that Rivers is over the hill, which will force the Colts to run the football as much as possible. I expect them to do everything they can to slow down the game and keep the ball out of Josh Allen’s hands. That would make a hell of a lot of sense, too, since Allen and the Bills have been on fire lately. If the the Colts get into a slugfest, they are going to lose. But if they can keep their defense on the sideline and get some productions out of Jonathan Taylor, then they have a better chance of winning. Alternatively, I think there is also a possibility that the Bills simply blow the Colts off the field. If that happens, the Colts just aren’t equipped to make a hard push at a significant comeback, which would require them to pass the ball consistently and effectively. In the event that the Bills do take a solid lead, I expect this game to bleed out slowly. Either way, this just skews toward the lower end for points, and I’ll be betting the under.
💰 Pick: Under 51.5
This game is stuck in the wasteland between “Jared Goff isn’t playing or will be playing hurt” and “how much does that really matter?” Sure, the Rams would be better off with their starting QB, but their chances rely pretty heavily on their defense anyway. Also, much to the delight of John Wolford, the Seahawks are 15th in scoring defense and 22nd in YPG against on the year, which should give him a fighting chance. Unfortunately for the Rams, the Seahawks are getting hot at the right time and Russell Wilson tends to play better in big games. Add in Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf, and there are going to be some big issues for LA. Rams fans will point to the fact that their defense leads the League in YPG against passing, but in both games this season between the Seahawks and Rams Russell Wilson has outshot that team average. The bigger key will actually be whether the Rams can turn Wilson over. They split the season series against Seattle, picking Wilson off twice in the win but zero times in the loss. But Wilson hasn’t throw 2+ interceptions in a game since that loss two months ago, and his decision making appears to have improved. Overall, I’m more confident putting my money on Wilson to play well in January than to shrink from the moment. I'll give up the points in this one. Pick: Seahawks -3.5
💰 Pick: Seahawks -3.5
Congrats to the Bucs on winning the lottery for worst Wild-Card opponent. Add in the fact that WFT actually isn’t all that sure who will be playing QB the whole game, per reports, and things just look better and better for Tommy Boy. Excuse me while I go puke a little bit... It feels too obvious, but give me Tampa. WFT put up a decent run with Alex Smith to rattle off 4 wins this season, including a solid victory in Pittsburgh, but everything they had built fell apart when Smith got hurt. You could see on Sunday that he didn’t look right, and this team doesn’t have a prayer of keeping up with the Bucs unless they get above average QB play. On the other side of the ball, Tampa has found a solid rhythm. Mike Evans’ injury is concerning, but Tampa does not lack alternatives in the passing game. Chris Godwin will pick up slack, while Gronk and AB also provide two more viable options. Chase Young is obviously a huge concern, but nobody is better than Tom Brady at avoiding sacks with quick passes and adjusting blocking schemes in real-time. Tampa is fourth in the League in that category, averaging just 1.4 sacks given up per game. I hate laying down 7.5 points in a playoff game, but I just cant see WFT keeping this close, especially with their QB issues.
💰 Pick: Bucs -7.5
Picking here was a true test. As you may have gathered by now, working through bets and spouting off my thoughts isn’t much of an issue for me, but this game is a total wild card (get it?). Let's start with the Titans; they’re a mess. They sit at 24th in the league in points against per game while also having the 6th easiest strength of schedule. That is embarrassing. And this pick would feel easy, if it weren’t for Lamar Jackson. Lamar has been tearing it up recently, but he notoriously shrinks in big games. There is just no way that can’t concern you as a gambler, and you have to fear that there is just something off in terms of mentality. Fortunately, I think this matchup negates the issue. If the Ravens were facing even a halfway decent defense, I would be more worried than normal about Lamar Jackson and his ability to perform. But against the Titans, all he needs to do is step on the field and he can put up 30 points. As long as you don’t have Cam Newton throwing the football, points will go on the board. Another crucial factor is that the Ravens defense is in the Top 5 in PPG against and in the top 10 in Rushing YPG against. To keep the Titans in check, you need to slow down Derrick Henry, and 4 of the Titans 5 losses have come against teams who are in the top half of the League in rushing YPG against. So while Jackson’s big game ability could be a snag, I still think the Ravens handle this game based on their skillset on the defensive end. Please don’t make me regret this, Lamar.
💰 Pick: Ravens -3
I can’t believe I have to do this, but bet on the Bears. Aside from last week’s implosion, the Bears have looked decent over the last month. Granted, they played some shaky opposition, but the offense has looked somewhat better. In particular, Mitch Trubisky has played provided better QB play (the baseline wasn’t very high, but still) and is the offense is getting more production out of Darnell Mooney. Anyone who watched the Bears early in the season could tell that the passing game was one-dimensional, and it was a huge problem. Taking some of the heat off Allen Robinson makes them a bigger threat through the air, which will be a necessity this week. The Saints have one of the best run-defenses in the League, and Trubisky is going to have to perform if they want to stay in this game. Do I think the Bears have a chance at winning? Probably not. But they have a chance to stick around for a while or to pull off a nice back door cover at this line. Overall, I just haven’t been impressed enough with the Saints this season to give them this many points. The Bears haven’t been a defensive powerhouse this year, but they provide solid enough cover to hold a Saints offense that can be over reliant on Alvin Kamara. Kamara will be back just in time for this game after a positive Covid test, but the lack of field preparation is a concern for him going into this. He will still be good, but he will be 10 days without real or practice reps. In the end, this number is just too high for me. Look no further than the matchup between these two teams earlier this year, where Brees barely beat a Foles-led Bears team. The Saints just aren’t good enough to lay down this many points.
💰 Pick: Bears +9.5
I waited as long as I could on this one, but there just isn’t much I can do any more. The Browns’ Covid situation shouldn’t be surprising. It’s Cleveland; of course this would happen. But, somehow, I‘m still surprised. To be honest, it probably doesn’t effect them all that much anyway. This team has been a rollercoaster of injuries and other issues all season, so losing their head coach and Pro Bowl offensive lineman is just another week in the life of the Browns. As for the bet, I also don’t care all that much because I love the over. The Browns defense has looked a bit better as of late, but they’ve given up over 30 points 7 times this season. The Steelers beat them like a drum to the tune of 38 points in their only meeting where Big Ben played, and I don’t see the Browns have a lot of success stopping this receiving corps. On the other side of the ball, I think the Browns can put up some points. Chubb and Hunt will provide solid yards which will open up the passing game. Baker struggled a bit with personnel losses caused by injuries or Covid, but with a full compliment of WRs and TEs at his disposal this week, he should be able to put up some points. I see this game comfortably covering the 50-point mark, with the only limitation being the Steelers blowing the Browns out and then slowing down the game. So long as that doesn’t happen, which I don’t expect in this game, I like these teams to pass the total comfortably.
💰 Pick: Over 47.5
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