Newton will make the difference for battle-tested Auburn

I was asked on New Year’s Eve if I planned to make any resolutions for 2011. Answer? Not a chance. I disappoint enough people over the course of 12 months; why would I want to disappoint myself, too?

But that doesn’t mean I’m against suggesting resolutions for others. So without further ado, some unsolicited suggestions for the following:

To Deanna Favre: Lock your husband in a dungeon and don’t let him out for a full calendar year. (It might be wise to take away his cell phone, too.)

To New York Jets coach Rex Ryan: Put down the video camera … and don’t ever pick it up again.

To ESPN execs: More Erin Andrews and Michelle Beadle (video, not necessarily audio), less Chris Berman, Jesse Palmer, Mark May and Lou Holtz (and by less I mean get them the hell off my TV).

To Floyd Mayweather Jr.: Throw punches in the ring instead of outside of it … and preferably against Manny Pacquiao.

To LeBron James: One word: humility. Look it up.

To Oscar Goodman: Stop trying to lure a major sports franchise here; start trying to get a state-of-the-art baseball stadium built for our minor-league team.

And finally, to Tiger Woods: For the love of God (and your golf game), go get laid.

With two plays from the year-end issue still pending at press time, I went 4-4-1 for a loss of $181, dropping my bankroll to $5,646. Now on to this week’s picks …

$440 (to win $400) on AUBURN (-2½) vs. Oregon: Want to know why college coaches will do whatever it takes to land a prized recruit? Just look at Auburn coach Gene Chizik’s last 24 months. He was vilified when he landed the Auburn job in December 2008 after losing 24 of 29 games in two seasons at Iowa State. But then quarterback Cam Newton “fell” into Chizik’s lap in February, and now Auburn is playing for a national championship.

The reason Auburn will win it all for the first time since 1957 is, of course, Newton, a 6-foot-6-inch, 250-pound freak of nature who combined for nearly 4,000 passing and rushing yards along with 48 total touchdowns and just six interceptions. And he did it despite a payola scandal hanging over his head and despite playing in the grueling SEC, which placed 10 of 12 teams in bowl games this season (Auburn beat eight of those squads, including South Carolina twice). By comparison, Oregon is out of the Pac-10, which saw just four teams finish the regular season with a winning record, only one of which (Stanford) played in a bowl game after Dec. 30.

Two more reasons I’m backing the Tigers: 1) The SEC has won the last four BCS titles (all in double-digit fashion); and 2) Auburn officials refused to scratch me a six-figure check not to jinx their team.

$220 (to win $200) on SAINTS (-10) at Seahawks: Do you remember the last time an NFL team finished 7-9 and made the playoffs? Of course you don’t, because it’s never happened! At least not until Seattle earned the dubious distinction by beating the Rams in the final game of the regular season to claim the NFC West. Even worse, because they won their crappy division, the Seahawks get to host this contest, which is the biggest football-related travesty since Keanu Reeves was cast as the star quarterback in The Replacements.

How ridiculous is it that the Seahawks are still playing? They won just three of their final 10 games, and those wins came against St. Louis, Carolina and Arizona, which had a combined 14-34 record. Yes, the Saints’ last three road wins were by a total of 10 points. And, yes, QB Drew Brees (22 interceptions, including at least one in 12 straight games) has suddenly gone color-blind. But those facts are overshadowed by these: Each of the Seahawks’ nine losses was by more than two touchdowns, including a 34-19 defeat at New Orleans in Week 11. Also, Seattle went 0-9 against the spread in its nine defeats.

BEST OF THE REST: Oregon-Auburn UNDER 74 ($100); Ravens (-2½) at Chiefs ($55); Packers (+2½) at Eagles ($44); Jets-Colts OVER 44½ ($33); Pittsburgh (-3½) vs. Kentucky; Nevada (-7½) vs. Boston College.

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