By Paul “Dr. Pauly” McGuire
Like the cowboy said in The Big Lebowski, “Sometimes you eat the bar, and sometimes, well, he eats you.”
That pretty much sums up last weekend in the NFL. But that’s the beauty of football, because there’s a new batch of games to sink my teeth into starting as early as Thursday night. For the last third of the season, gamblers have three nights a week to test their handicapping skills. But, you must resist the temptation to bet every day — especially when the game is a dog with fleas. The biggest leak in your bankroll is betting on games you don’t like, unable to quell the urge to gamble.
As my record has proven, it’s not wise to bet on an entire slate of games. I really should concentrate on one or two games a weekend (or more if circumstances present itself) instead of throwing my money around so I can have a small taste. My inner action junkie often takes control and bets random games to keep things interesting. I’m the personification of Ralph Waldo Emerson‘s famous line: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”
I shall practice what I preach and instill more discipline in my selections. Patience is not only a virtue, it’s also the key to padding your bankroll. Betting on a game to kill a few hours of boredom is a losing strategy over the long term.
Okay, enough new age spiritual crap. Let’s take a look at Week 12 picks…
It was an ugly week because the Big Bet shit the bed. I’m surprised Pittsburgh only scored 13 points. They dominated KC and held them to only three FGs, yet the score failed enough to cover. The Wicked Chops Lock of the Week came through and Atlanta is no longer in my dog house after pushing in Week 11. It’s good to know we’re making positive contributions to the Lil Chops college fund. The Leans have been atrocious this year and I should re-brand them as “The Fades.” The Chicago Bears missed a push by a mere half a point and Cincinnati struggled against the Browns needing an OT to win. The Chinatown Chicken’s tip for Upset of the Week let me down. Jacksonville couldn’t beat Houston‘s back-up QB Matt Leinart and lost 20-13. The only other positive news from last weekend was that we won our first teaser of the season. The Jets, buoyed by a rare 4-TD performance from Mark Sanchez, needed a come-from-behind win in order to beat the hapless Buffalo Bills. And New Orleans? They smoked the NY Giants on Monday Night Football.
So now it’s Week 13. December is upon us, so it’s time to earn a little extra cash for Christmas presents…
Big Bet (1-1): Atlanta -2.5
I keep checking the line in this game because Atlanta should be a bigger favorite. The Falcons are one of the hottest teams in the NFC and won five out of their last six games (with their only loss in that stretch against New Orleans). Falcons’ QB Matt Ryan threw 9 TDs (with only 2 INTs) in the last four weeks, but he’ll be tested against a tough Houston Texans defense which only gives up 175 yds passing per game. Houston’s biggest liability is their QB. They are down to a third stringer after back-up, Matt Leinart, broke his collarbone last week. The Texans’ hopes rest in the fateful hands of rookie T.J. Yates. With a rash of injuries to starting QBs this season, Yates becomes the latest rookie to get thrown into the fire. He held his own last week, but this will be his first start. Atlanta boasts one of the best rushing D’s in the league, so if they contain Arian Foster, they should shutdown the Texans offense and win by more than a field goal.
Wicked Chops College Fund Lock of the Week (1-0-1): New England -20
The bookies set the over/under for the New England/Indianapolis game at 48. They are predicting a 38-10 or a 35-13 blowout. Tom Brady has so many weapons on offense that he could easily spread the ball around and let everyone score a TD… Welker, Gronk, Branch, Hernandez, and even that Ochocinco clown. I doubt that winless Indy can even muster up a TD and a couple of field goals. We all know the Pats have no qualms about running up the score. They’ll win. Big.
Leans (0-4-1): New Orleans -9
You better grab New Orleans before the spread drifts over double digits. The New Orleans Saints scored 185 points in their last five games (4-1 in that stretch) led by Drew Brees‘ vicious passing assault. Only two teams this season held the Saints to under 21 points and both emerged victorious. The Saints are tough to beat when they score beaucoup points and they’re invincible in the Superdome with a 5-0 record. Meanwhile, the slumping Detroit Lions lost four of their last six games. Their defense gave up 99 points in the last three games and they’ll have to play this week without DL Ndamukong Suh, who is suspended for two games for his thug-like behavior against Green Bay on Turkey Day. Detroit’s QB Matt Stafford hasn’t helped his team either with 9 INTs in the last three games. New Orleans should win by at least two TDs.
Chinatown Chicken Upset of the Week (0-2): NY Giants +7
Once a week, I take a walk through San Francisco’s Chinatown and meet with the infamous chicken that plays tic-tac-toe. The locals revere the chicken as a sage, but I’m dubious after he gave me two disastrous picks. I suspect the chicken might be smoking opium, but I’m going to give him one more chance–otherwise we’re gonna have chicken soup for dinner next week. The chicken likes the NY Giants against the undefeated Green Bay Packers. The Giants spoiled a perfect season for the New England Patriots a few years ago, and they’d love to spoil GB’s undefeated season. Green Bay is due for a loss, right? I doubt they’ll lose to the G-Men (even though the game is in New Jersey), but maybe Eli Manning can Forrest Gump his way into a shootout and keep the score close enough so they can cover.
Step into the Teaser (1-0): Pittsburgh and Baltimore
This week’s teaser parlay is courtesy of my college buddy, Chicago Bob. We used to book games in our fraternity house many moons ago. He comes from the philosophy of “betting home dogs for profit.” This week, he mentioned a crazy five-team teaser consisting of all home dogs: Jacksonville, Arizona, NY Giants, Washington, and Seattle. We eventually both agreed on teasing Baltimore and Pittsburgh. Both teams are eying the playoffs and are better than their opponents, Cincinnati and Cleveland. Alas, division games are always tough. I was leaning toward Baltimore and laying almost a TD, but I got skittish because they have to battle Cleveland in the Dawg Pound. I also lost a bit of confidence in Pittsburgh. They didn’t blow out KC on Sunday Night Football, and Cincy is definitely stronger than KC. So let’s tease both Pittsburgh and Baltimore from -6.5 down to under a single point, which will give us plenty of breathing room.
That’s it. Best of luck with Week 13.