By: Paul McGuire
I had a rough weekend in Las Vegas.
My goal was to win enough money to buy my loved ones nice Christmas gifts, but the gambling gods saw things differently. After getting slaughtered at the poker tables and having my ass handed to me at the sports book, it looks like I’ll be shopping for second-hand presents at pawn shops.
I hung out at the Aria sports book all weekend with my brother and thirty or so friends. How ugly was it? Our only big winner was on a Lingerie Football game. Seriously. Sunday was atrocious. My picks for Week 13 were horrible. Atlanta screwed the pooch and made the Texans back-up QB T.J. Yates look like Johnny Unitas. That Big Bet shat the bed. It pained me to tear up my losing $1,000 ticket on the Pats when they failed to cover three TDs against the winless Colts. I almost hid out in the bathroom and wept, but instead did what any hardcore gambler would do – I popped a few painkillers, drowned my sorrows with beer, and doubled down on Sunday Night Football to get unstuck. Man, I’ve been on Dan Orlovsky tilt all week. If I ever see that guy in public, I’ll punch three holes into his head and take him bowling.
On a positive note, I finally won a Lean bet last week, which prevented me from getting completely shut out. The Chinatown Chicken almost called the NY Giants upsetting the undefeated Packers (but hey, at least the G-Men covered). I trimmed my daily losses with another winning teaser on Baltimore and Pittsburgh, but should’ve made them my Big Bet and Lock of the Week because they covered outright. C’est la vie.
Time to save face and make some money. Christmas is two weeks away. Let’s get down to Week 14′s selections…
Big Bet (1-2): New Orleans -3.5
Ride the hot team. The New Orleans Saints covered four games in a row and five out of their last six. The Saints’ high-octane offense gives QB Drew Brees plenty of weapons, but it’s their running game that will be the key this Sunday. Tennessee’s lackluster run defense allowed over 100 yards in three straight games. If Brees doesn’t beat Tennessee in the air, they will pound it on the ground with their one-two punch combination of RB’s Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas. New Orleans’ only weakness is their own run defense, but if they take an early lead and can force Matt Hasselbeck to throw the ball instead of relying on RB Chris Johnson, they’ll coast to victory. I’m surprised the line is not higher, but the Saints are playing on the road.
Wicked Chops College Fund Lock of the Week (1-1-1): San Francisco -3.5
I don’t want my friends to send their kids to community college, so I’m hell-bent on making sure I dispatch sounder advice this weekend. After all, I’m gambling with their kids’ college fund and a mind is a terrible thing to waste on an idiotic sports bet. Okay, I flushed that ugly turd of a bet (Pats -20.5 last week) down the toilet and I’m ready to start from scratch. Let’s stick to basics and cherry pick the best value on the board: San Francisco. The Niners are 10-1-1 ATS this year. Their stellar defense pitched a shutout last week (albeit against the hapless St. Louis Rams) and since Week 3, they have given up 16 or more points only four times (losing only one of those games to Baltimore on Turkey Day). The only three things Arizona has going for them — they’re home dogs, they have QB Kevin Kolb back at the helm, and the Niners’ Patrick Willis is sidelined with a hamstring injury. I doubt any of those are big enough headaches for the Niners. Even without Willis, they’ll keep Kolb and RB Beanie Wells in check.
Leans (1-4-1): Denver/Chicago UNDER 36
I’m jumping on the Tim Tebow bandwagon after he promptly Tebow’d the Vikings last week to improve his record to 6-1 as a starter. It’s taken me a while to become a convert. Who didn’t think Denver was going to pull out a win last week with the score tied and under two minutes to go? Regardless if you love or hate Tebow, all of his games are close, which makes every single one he plays super exciting. Tebow is a network exec’s wet dream.
The Chicago Bears are struggling with injured starters. Jay Cutler went down a couple of weeks ago, and they lost RB Matt Forte last week to a knee injury. Forte is the Bears’ workhorse and had been a force this season. With a bum knee, it’ll be hard for him to carry Da Bears this week when he’s riding the bench. Cutler’s backup Caleb Hanie struggled last week and even though Denver’s defense is soft, it’s not going to be easy for the Bears to score more than a touchdown or two – unless Devin Hester works his magic returning kicks. It’s going to be a close game in a battle of field goal kickers, and we’ll likely see a 9-6 halftime score. The first team to score over 14 points in this game is going to win.
Chinatown Chicken Upset of the Week (1-2): Washington +8.5
San Francisco’s tic-tac-toe playing Chinatown Chicken came through in the clutch last week with the NY Giants covering against Green Bay. I guess he heard that I was going to grind him up and make chicken soup if he provided me with another bunk pick. The chicken loves home dogs. Although New England has a winning record, they haven’t exactly been blowing out their opponents. The Skins D is tougher than you think and has yet to give up more than 300 yards passing this season.
On the other side of the ball, the Skins RB Roy Helu is my secret weapon this week in my fantasy football pool. He’s primed to have a big week after he thrived against the Jets frontline last weekend. How banged up is the porous Pats secondary? It includes a couple of wideouts converted to defense. Legendary N.Y. Knicks announcer, Walt “Clyde” Frazier, would describe it as a “swiss cheese defense.” RJ Bell from the “This Week in Sports Betting” podcast revealed an interesting stat that home dogs getting 8 or more points have covered 20 out of 24 games over the last two season. I wonder if the Chinatown Chicken knew that before he clucked out his upset pick?
Step into the Teaser (2-0): Green Bay and NY Jets
I’m proud that my teaser picks have been the most profitable suggestions to date. Let’s hope the trend continues. Just so you know, I’m also leaning toward teasing San Diego (versus Buffalo) and the NY Giants (at Dallas), but the main teaser will be Green Bay and the NY Jets. Green Bay is overvalued at this point of the season and they’re still due for a loss, which makes them a dangerous team if you’re forced to lay a lot of points. The NY Giants almost spoiled their perfect season last Sunday, but it’s going to take a near-miracle from the Pope and a deus ex machina from the ghost of Al Davis to propel the Oakland Raiders to an upset victory over the cheeseheads in Lambeau Field. With that said, a loss is looming for GB but it’s hard to see them losing at home. It’ll be wise to tease ‘em down to under a TD. Meanwhile, the NY Jets are on a roll and have an outside shot at a playoff berth as long as they continue to win games against inferior teams. This week, they take on the anemic KC Chiefs. Rex Ryan‘s Gang Green wins on paper, but double digits are way too many points to lay. Trimming it to under a TD makes me feel a whole lot better just in case Mark Sanchez suffers from temporary color-blindness and throws one too many interceptions.
That’s it for now. Best of luck this weekend. Time to make some cheddar.