Play on Falcons will keep bankroll soaring

Wondering who had the most profitable October? It took some digging, but I uncovered that list, and it goes like this:

1) Media outlets that accepted political advertising. (If I had a dime for every time Harry Reid or Sharron Angle popped up on my TV during a football game last month, well, I could afford to run for Senate!)

2) Charlie Sheen’s drug dealer/liquor supplier. (Seriously, can we waive the five-year waiting period and put this guy in the Partier’s Hall of Fame right now?)

3) Me!

OK, maybe that last one is a bit of an exaggeration—I have to believe the Favre family jeweler out-earned me—but I did go 27-18 in October for a net of exactly $1,700. And last week I turned in my best performance yet, going 6-3 and clearing $820, pushing my bankroll up to $5,351. (Take that, monkey!)

Yeah, I know, Jimmy the Greek isn’t exactly shaking in his grave; after all, I’m still in a hole since the nice folks here gave me this platform. But at least I can finally see daylight without a telescope!

On to this week’s picks …

$660 (to win $600) on FALCONS (-8½) over Buccaneers: Tampa Bay is 5-2 overall (3-0 on the road) and tied with Atlanta for first place in the NFC South. Pretty impressive for a team that was expected to win maybe five games all season. So why do I believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and Randy Moss’ ability to become the ultimate team player more than I do the Buccaneers? Because four of their victories have been by a total of 10 points against the Browns, Bengals, Rams and Cardinals; the other was a rout of the Panthers.

The two losses? To the Steelers and Saints by a combined score of 69-19. Needless to say, the Falcons are a lot closer to Pittsburgh and New Orleans than they are to the five cupcakes on which the Bucs have feasted. Atlanta also has won 17 of its last 20 home games, going 14-6 against the spread (ATS).

$220 (to win $200) on BILLS (+3) over Bears: Last week, the NFL treated England to Broncos vs. 49ers. This week, they’re shipping Bears-Bills to Canada. I understand Commissioner Roger Goodell’s desire to “globalize” his sport, but he might want to consider exporting, you know, quality teams every now and then. (Don’t worry, Mexico, the Cowboys and Vikings have already played each other!) As for this matchup, the winless Bills can’t stop the run (they allow a league-high 189 rushing yards per game) or rush the passer (11 sacks), but the Bears can’t run the football (89 yards per game) or protect the quarterback (league-high 31 sacks allowed).

The difference here: Buffalo is coming off consecutive overtime road losses to two first-place teams (Baltimore, Kansas City); Chicago is off consecutive home losses to the Redskins and Seahawks. Also, three of the Bears’ four wins have been by 13 total points. The Bills finally get in the win column … and all of Canada yawns.

$110 (to win $100) on UNLV (+18) at BYU: No truth to the rumor that, after his team’s 48-6 home loss to TCU last week, UNLV coach Bobby Hauck called Sheen and said, “Dude, wanna get a drink … or 15?” Eight games into the Hauck era, the Rebels have one victory (over New Mexico, the worst team in major college football) and seven double-digit losses by an average of 29 points per game. So of course I’m backing UNLV this week. Why? Because BYU is just 3-5 (three wins by five, three and six points); is averaging just 16 points per game (which is less than the Rebels!); and has scored more than 18 points just three times all year, with the high-water mark coming in a 25-20 home win over Wyoming two weeks ago (Wyoming, at best, is a field goal better than UNLV).

The Rebels are 4-1 ATS in their last five trips to Provo, and BYU is 4-9 ATS in its last 13 home games. And I’m 2-0 when playing UNLV this season!

BEST OF THE REST: Seahawks (+5½) vs. Giants ($55); Florida (-14) at Vanderbilt ($44); Illinois (+3) at Michigan ($44); Saints-Panthers UNDER 42½ ($33).

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Krystle Bernal spent three years studying fashion design, and she’s got $80,000 in loans to prove it. But you’d never know it by what she does. She’s a part-time bank teller. “I wanted to be a fashion buyer,” she said. “They told me I could earn $65,000 a year.” After finishing a three-year program at Westwood College, a for-profit university in Denver, Bernal was rejected for job after job by hiring managers who told her she wasn’t qualified.