Here’s how bad things are going for your resident football prognosticator:
After last week’s 3-7 showing, I got an e-mail of thanks from President Obama, who was giddy about the fact there is someone in this country whose approval ratings are lower than his.
That was followed by a text from Lindsay Lohan with her drug dealer’s contact info, “in case you need to numb the pain.”
Hell, even UNLV football coach Bobby Hauck called to say, “Come on, dude. It’s not that hard to win a game!”
But being a glass-is-half-full kind of guy, let me point out the positive: If you had gone against every one of my picks over the first month of the football season, you’d have a 23-15 record and be up more than $1,600! Yep, that’s what you call reaching for a silver lining. But, in reality, my 3-7 performance cost me another $534 and dropped my bankroll to $3,651.
On to this week’s picks, which come with a guarantee: If I lose again, I’m turning next week’s column over to guest pickers—and I’ll call in everyone from the mayor to my 9-year-old daughter.
$330 (to win $300) on JAGUARS (+8½) vs. Colts: Let’s see, Jacksonville is coming off consecutive losses by the combined score of 66-16, with the only touchdown occurring on the final play of a 38-13 setback at San Diego. Indianapolis is coming off back-to-back wins by the combined score of 65-27. Colts QB Peyton Manning has thrown for 1,013 yards with nine TDs and no picks. Jags QB David Garrard has passed for 448 yards with four TDs and five INTs. So, of course, I’m taking Jacksonville!
Seriously, very little has gone according to logic so far this NFL season—just check the standings (and my wallet). So I wouldn’t be at all shocked to see Jacksonville give the Colts fits here. As it is, this has been a very competitive divisional rivalry, with five straight meetings decided by a touchdown or less (the Colts swept last year’s series by a combined six points). Also, after playing in excessive heat at altitude in Denver, Indy hits the road again to play in muggy Jacksonville.
$220 (to win $200) on GEORGIA TECH (-10) at Wake Forest: How do you justify laying double digits on the road with a team that’s a) coming off an embarrassing 17-point loss as an 8-point home favorite, and b) fielding a starting quarterback who is completing 32.6 percent of his passes for 79 yards per game? You focus on the opponent’s flaws, of course! Well, Wake Forest has allowed 48, 68 and 31 points in its last three games, losing the latter two to Stanford and Florida State by a combined margin of 99-24. Georgia Tech (averaging 320.5 rushing yards per game) should run all over Wake Forest (allowing 175.8 rushing yards per game), and the Yellow Jackets have been outstanding the last three years when coming off a loss, going 9-1 straight-up and 8-1-1 against the spread.
$110 (to win $100) on UNLV (+20½) vs. Nevada: When the Golden Nugget released odds for nearly 200 of this year’s marquee college football games, Nevada was installed as a 7-point favorite against the Rebels. Now the Wolf Pack are laying nearly three touchdowns? Granted, Nevada is better than most thought prior to the season and UNLV is worse, but that’s still an insane line move. Consider that in the last eight battles for the Fremont Cannon, the spread has ranged from 1½ to 6½ (and UNLV was favored in five of those contests). And keep in mind the Rebels are 10-4 ATS in their last 14 as a home underdog, including covering this exact number against Wisconsin in the opener (and Wisconsin is better than Nevada). Finally, there’s no doubt in my mind that Hauck has been preparing for this one since his first day on the job. It’s UNLV’s most important game on the schedule.
BEST OF THE REST (ALL $33 TO WIN $30): Georgia (-4) at Colorado; Alabama (-9) vs. Florida; Washington State (+27) at UCLA; Bills (+5½) vs. Jets; Rams (+1) vs. Seahawks; Panthers-Saints OVER 45; Ravens-Steelers UNDER 34½.