It’s Thanksgiving week, which is the time of the year when Americans stuff their faces and pretend to get along with their dysfunctional family members while watching football. Many of my fondest childhood memories of Turkey Day celebrations were centered around watching football games with my father and uncles while they binge-drank on beer and whiskey. Of course, I’ll never forget Thanksgiving dinner when I was ten years old and consumed double my weight in turkey. I nearly overdosed on tryptophan during my first “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” experience when the walls started melting and the cranberry sauce looked like a bowl of goat’s blood.
As always, Thanksgiving is the time of the year to count all of your blessings and be thankful for good health and your family. It’s been a brutal year for poker players, especially after Black Friday decimated the domestic online poker industry. The United States of America continued to wage war against online poker players, yet they have ignored the sports betting industry. Without sports betting, I don’t know how I’d be able to afford to live in San Francisco. Freelance writers don’t make much money these days, so I have to create cheddar out of thin air.
Sports betting is a “hard way to make an easy living,” but in these troubled economic times, you have to discover creative ways to generate a secondary form of income. If you can shop around for the right numbers and maintain discipline, then you’ll improve your edge over the long term. That’s what separates the sharp bettors from the broke-dick punters.
After last week’s outcome, I’m questioning my own ability to handicap games. Let’s do a quick review of my Week 11 picks….
The Big Bet came through after the Chicago Bears beat down on the San Diego Chargers. The Lock of the Week slipped out of our grasp because Atlanta, who seemed in control the entire game, feel asleep on defense in the 4th quarter and their porous “prevent defense” allowed Tennessee to score a late touchdown to kill any hopes of covering. Alas, we pushed. Luckily, the Big Bet helped make up for the ugly losses on my lean plays (Jets and Buffalo). The Bills couldn’t beat the Fish, which puts them in the lead for the worst team in the league not named the Colts. I felt bad about giving atrocious advice after the Jets shit the bed on Thursday Night Football, so I posted an added play in the comments — Cincinnati +7 . I was running so bad, I couldn’t catch a break with Cincy. I’m convinced they would’ve covered if the officials did not overturn Jermaine Gresham‘s touchdown. The Bengals were forced to kick a field goal and lost 31-24. I pushed my bet after the zebras made another inconsistent call on a touchdown. Needless to say, I was on tilt all night. Oh, and I almost forgot about the Chinatown Chicken‘s bunk pick for Upset of the Week. The tic-tac-toe playing chicken loved Carolina +7. For the first half the game, the chicken’s prediction seemed too good to be true until Carolina blew a 24-7 lead late in the second quarter. Detroit, led by Kevin Smith‘s 3 TDs, outscored Carolina 35-8 in the second half.
So let’s get down to business with picks for Week 12 in the NFL…
Big Bet (1-0): Pittsburgh -10.5
The Pittsburgh Steelers had a rare-late season bye week. One of the premier defenses in the league is rested and they’re licking their chops over the offensively-challenged KC Chiefs squad — which has only scored 16 points in their last three games combined. On Monday Night, KC got smoked by a banged-up New England Patriots crew. Even though KC claimed Kyle Orton off waivers, the Chiefs’ offensive liabilities are too strong to overcome. You might want to jump on this number before it ticks upward to 12 or higher.
Wicked Chops College Fund Lock of the Week (0-0-1): Atlanta -9
I wanted to give the Atlanta Falcons a second chance after pushing last week’s Lock of the Week. After all, I’m gambling with Chop’s college fund for his kid, so I want to make sure our weekly bets outperform the hectic stock market. His money is in safe hands because I charge less juice than the shylocks at JP Morgan. Anyway, Minnesota lost their big gun when RB Adrian Peterson left last week’s game with an ankle injury. Without the AP Express, Atlanta should coast to an easy victory if their defense finished the game strong and doesn’t allow any garbage-time scores.
Leans (0-2-1): Cincinnati -7 and Chicago +4.5
I’m still high on the Cincinnati Bengals even though their QB, Andy Dalton, is a ginger. Against Baltimore last Sunday, Dalton posted season high with 373 yards passing without WR A.J. Green (who is still listed as questionable in Week 12 with a bum knee). Meanwhile, the Cleveland Browns lost 5 out of their last 7 games and scored a mere 74 points in that stretch for a pathetic average of 10 points a game. Although the Browns’ QB Colt McCoy hurt his shoulder last week, he’s expected to play. Usually division games are close affairs, but Cincy should win by double digits. In the first game of the season, the two teams met in Cleveland and Cincy prevailed 27-17.
After tossing an interception, a frustrated Jay Cutler fractured his thumb when he tried to tackle San Diego’s Antonie Cason. Although Cutler played the rest of the game, he’s out indefinitely until he recovers from thumb surgery. Cutler is lucky his other digits are still functioning so during his rehab he’ll have ample time for his other favorite hobbies — Twitter and playing ass-grab with Kristin Cavallari. Even without Cutler, the Bears have two top weapons — RB Michael Forte and kick returner Devin Hester. Heck, who needs Cutler or his back-up Caleb Hanie? Da Bears should just direct snap the ball to either Hester and/or Forte. Even though Oakland’s QB Carson Palmer hasn’t thrown a pick in two games, the Bears menacing defense is still in tact and will be blitzing at every opportunity. If the Monsters of Midway shut down Palmer’s passing game and contain the running game (looks like Michael Bush is starting at RB because Darren McFadden is still questionable), they’ll have a chance to win the game outright. Alas, in defensive quagmire, it comes down to the team with the stronger field goal kicker. No one is better at spiking drinks with GHB and nailing 50+ yard chip shots like Sebastian Janikowski. If the Bears win the battle of field position, Janikowski won’t get a shot at making/breaking the game.
Chinatown Chicken Upset of the Week: Jacksonville +3.5
I can’t believe I’m about to bet on an inept Jacksonville Jaguars team after consulting with the chicken. Matt Schuab, the Houston Texans stud QB, went down with a foot injury last week. Houston’s playoff hopes rest on the left arm of back-up Matt Leinart — a former Heisman trophy winner — who has been a laughable bust in the NFL since getting drafted by Arizona in 2006. Leinart backed-up Schuab last season but did not take a single snap. In fact, he hasn’t started back-to-back games since in 2007 when he was benched in favor of an ancient Kurt Warner. With Schaub out, Leinart has a rare shot at redemption. However, Jacksonville has a solid pass defense and I don’t have faith in Leinart even with Andre Johnson, one of the league’s top WRs, returning after missing six weeks with a pulled hamstring. Sure, all Leinart has to do is hand the ball off to RB Arian Foster, but if the Jags can contain Foster, then they have a legitimate shot at squeaking out an upset. I usually favor home dogs, but in this instance I’m heeding the Chinatown chicken’s advice and fading Matt Leinart.
Step into the Teaser: Jets -3 and New Orleans -1
I’m not a fan of teasers, but some of my friends are teaser addicts and can’t stay away from them. Exotic bets like teasers and parlays make bookies rich. However, if you can find the right situation and stay disciplined, an occasional teaser is as easy as printing money. In this instance, my brother and his boys from the Bronx are loving a 6-point teaser with the NY Jets and New Orleans Saints. After getting Tebow’dTM last week in Denver, the Jets are playing an atrocious Buffalo Bills team that couldn’t even muster up a TD against Miami. Sure, the Jets have plenty of their own problems (a sporadic Mark Sanchez and their lackluster offensive scheme), but this is a do-or-die situation for Gang Green, who are still eying a potential wild card berth. The Jets will win, but can they cover double digits? I’m dubious especially with Sanchez’s poor performance (2 TDs and 4 INTs in last three games). I need to tease it down to -3 for some breathing room. Last week, the Philadelphia Eagles surprised the NY Giants at home. But history was on Philly’s side because the Giants always collapse in the second half of the season. The Giants jinx continued when they allowed QB Vince Young (filling in for Michael Vick) to outfox them late in the 4th quarter. Now, the Giants have to fly down to New Orleans and play the Saints in the Superdome. The Saints are coming off a bye week, which means Drew Brees and his mole diligently studied their film tapes on the G-Men. I was leaning towards New Orleans, but I don’t like giving up a TD to Eli Manning, who some days looks like the Forrest Gump of the NFL and luckboxes his way to a victory. Teasing the spread down to -1 gives New Orleans a comfortable cushion.
That’s it. Good luck this weekend.