The list of surprising stories this football season is as long as Tiger Woods’ “to-do” list.
There’s Michael Vick resurrecting his career in Philadelphia. You’ve got the Chiefs—losers of at least 12 games in each of the last three years—as the NFL’s lone remaining unbeaten team after four weeks, while the Rams (6-42 from 2007-09) have the same record (2-2) as the Colts and Chargers. And college football enters the second week of October with a Top 25 poll that includes five teams from the Mountain West and Western Athletic conferences—Boise State (4th), TCU (5th), Utah (10th), Nevada (21st) and Air Force (25th)—but no USC, Texas or Penn State.
Shocking, all of it.
But the biggest surprise of all? You’re looking at him. Yep, I did it last week, producing a winning record and turning a profit. Sure, it took five weeks to pull off, and a 6-4 showing for $201 isn’t exactly going to put the kids through college, especially with my bankroll now at $3,852. But come on, I’m not a miracle worker.
Besides, you think Warren Buffett made his fortune overnight? Or Oprah? Or JaMarcus Russell? (OK, bad example on that last one.) The point is it takes a lot of time, hard work and dedication to be successful at anything.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to find that lucky quarter I used last week.
On to this week’s picks …
$440 (to win $400) on COLTS (-8½) over Chiefs: Three things you should never do if you want a long NFL career: 1) steal food off Rex Ryan’s plate; 2) steal anything from Pacman Jones; and 3) face a pissed-off Peyton Manning. Unfortunately for the Chiefs, they can’t avoid No. 3. Manning and the Colts are fuming after a bitter 31-28 last-second defeat at Jacksonville, and now Kansas City has to pay the price. Remember the last time Indy lost? That was in Week 1 at Houston, and all Manning did the following week was return home, throw three TD passes and humiliate little brother Eli and the Giants in a 38-14 whipping.
The Chiefs are a bigger fraud than Holly Madison’s chest, with two wins against teams (49ers and Browns) that are a combined 1-7, and a third fluke victory over San Diego (the Chargers outgained K.C. by 192 yards). Manning (1,365 passing yards, 11 TDs, 1 INT) will pick apart the young Kansas City defense and make sure that the last of the NFL’s unbeatens falls … and falls hard.
$110 (to win $100) on ILLINOIS (+8) over Penn State: Rule of thumb: If you’re so old that family members are afraid to let you operate the microwave, you shouldn’t be in charge of a major college football program (yeah, I’m talking to you, Joe Paterno!). Rule of thumb No. 2: If a team is averaging 13 points per game the last four weeks—and two of those games were at home against Kent State and Temple—it should not be favored by more than a touchdown against anyone. Illinois, which fought hard versus No. 2 Ohio State last week, has covered three of the last four in this series and will keep this one close.
$110 (to win $100) on WEST VIRGINIA (-27) over UNLV: Could this situation be any worse for the Rebels? Coming off another blowout loss (at home) to archrival Nevada (read: letdown), UNLV now goes back on the road (for the third time in five weeks) to face an opponent that’s had an extra week to prepare and is coming off its first loss of the season (one that knocked the Mountaineers out of the Top 25). The Rebels lost their first two road contests by a combined margin of 68-17, and they’re 16-33-2 against the spread in their last 51 road games. UNLV first-year coach Bobby Hauck knew this was going to be a rough season, and this could be the Rebels’ ugliest loss of the year.
BEST OF THE REST: Saints (-7) at Cardinals ($44); Titans (+6½) at Cowboys ($44); Redskins (+2½) vs. Packers ($33); Michigan State (+4½) at Michigan ($33); San Diego State (-5) at BYU ($33).
Matt Jacob is a former local sports writer who has been in the sports handicapping business for more than four years. For his weekly column, Vegas Seven has granted Matt a “$7,000” bankroll. If he blows it all, we’ll fire him and replace him with a monkey.