For a while there last week, I felt like Manny Pacquiao against Antonio Margarito, sticking jab after jab and wearing down my opponent with vicious body shots.
San Diego State plus the points against TCU? Easy winner. Ditto Texans-Jaguars over the total, South Carolina, Minnesota, Oklahoma State and the Bengals plus the points against the Colts.
Yeah, I missed with my second-biggest play on Mississippi State against Alabama, but by 1 p.m. that Sunday, I was sitting at 6-1. Then in the span of about 20 minutes, I went from feeling like Pacquiao’s fists to looking like Margarito’s face.
With 14 seconds left, the Bills gave up a 20-yard touchdown pass to Detroit, which missed the ensuing two-point conversion try, so Buffalo won 14-12 but didn’t cover as a 3-point favorite. Then in Cleveland, the Browns allowed a 37-yard touchdown pass with 16 seconds left in overtime and lost to the Jets 26-20 as a 3-point underdog.
So two touchdowns scored with a combined 30 seconds remaining on the clock took me from 8-1 and plus $490 to 6-3 and minus $443, dropping my bankroll to $4,306. (So kids, how do you feel about homemade gifts this Christmas? And doing homework by candlelight?)
Seriously, at least Margarito got paid for his beating! On to this week’s picks (and yes, monkey, I see you doing backflips in your cage—not funny).
$330 (to win $300) on LIONS (+7) at Cowboys: Nice of the Cowboys to grace us with their presence this season. After six consecutive losses—the last two by a combined score of 80-24—Dallas decided to actually give an honest effort, rolling to an improbable 33-20 rout of the previously red-hot Giants as a 12½-point underdog. So now we’re supposed to believe that all is right in Jerry’s World? Sorry, I’m not buying it. Dallas has yet to win (let alone cover) consecutive games this season, and it is 0-4 straight up (SU) and against the spread (ATS) at home. Indeed, the Lions haven’t won on the road since your home was worth three times what it is now (25 straight road losses dating to October 2007), but they’ve cashed in eight of nine games this season. In fact, five of Detroit’s seven defeats have been by a total of 15 points.
$220 (to win $200) on EAGLES (-3) vs. Giants: Mickey Rourke and Betty White called to say they can’t believe the degree to which Michael Vick has resurrected his career. In the span of 18 months, Vick has gone from federal prison to NFL MVP favorite, and his performance in the Eagles’ 59-28 win in Washington (413 passing and rushing yards, six touchdowns) was something special. Now the Giants’ defense gets the privilege of trying to slow Vick—the same defense that just got carved up by the dinosaur known as Jon Kitna (327 yards, three TDs in the Cowboys’ 33-20 win). I’ve got one word for that defense: Godspeed! Because in games Vick has started this year, the Eagles have scored 35, 28, 26 and 59 points. And last year, with Vick on the sideline, Philadelphia beat New York twice while tallying 45 and 40 points.
$110 (to win $100) on STANFORD (-7) at California: Three surefire ways to end up in the poorhouse: invest in a professional sports franchise in Las Vegas, let your wife out of the house on Black Friday and support road favorites in rivalry games. So, of course, I’m laying the touchdown with visiting Stanford in “The Big Game.” And the main reason is Cal, which nearly upset No. 1 Oregon last week, hasn’t put together back-to-back solid efforts in more than two months. Results of the Golden Bears’ last six games: 35-7 win, 48-14 loss, 50-17 win, 35-7 loss, 20-13 win over Washington State (one of the 10 worst teams in the nation), 15-13 loss to Oregon (one of the four best). Meanwhile, Stanford is 9-1 with all but two victories by double digits, and this is double-revenge situation for the Cardinal, who have lost the last two meetings to Cal.
BEST OF THE REST: Chargers (-9½) vs. Broncos ($55); Iowa (+3) over Ohio State ($44); Northern Illinois (-14½) at Ball State ($33); Colts-Patriots OVER 50½ ($33); Rams (+3) vs. Falcons ($33); Hawaii (-30) vs. San Jose State ($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.