Cam Newton has kicked off his NFL career with consecutive 400-yard passing games, and he ranks ahead of Philip Rivers, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers—and right behind the robot known as Tom Brady—in passing yardage.
The NFL’s rushing leader (Fred Jackson) and a guy tied for the league lead in TD passes (Ryan Fitzpatrick) play for the Buffalo Bills, who are off to a 2-0 start, as are the Redskins and Lions. In fact, going back to last season, the Lions—the Lions!—have won six straight games.
But just when you think the NFL has become less predictable than a heart attack, along comes one team that stops you from banging your head against the wall. Thank the gambling gods for the 2011 Kansas City Chiefs!
Prior to the start of the season, there wasn’t a team in the NFL that I liked less than Kansas City. The two biggest reasons: They continue to insist that Matt Cassel is a franchise quarterback (uh, there’s a reason Cassel couldn’t beat out Matt Leinart at USC), and they got stuck with a brutal first-place schedule after winning the AFC West last year.
Well, the Chiefs are 0-2 after losses to the Bills (home) and Lions (road) by a combined score of 89-10, while Cassel sports a 50.4 passer rating (which is about the equivalent of a 0.85 grade-point average).
Wait, it gets better (or worse, if you’re a Chiefs fan): Going back to last year’s regular-season finale, Kansas City is in the midst of an eight-game losing skid (including preseason), getting pummeled 240-69 in the process. Adding injury to insult, three Chiefs starters (including stud running back Jamaal Charles) are done for the season.
So of course, given how strongly I felt about the Chiefs entering this season and with the way the first two games have played out, I’ve cashed in big wagering against K.C. Yeah, right. Sure, I had a $100 winner on Buffalo over the Chiefs in Week 1, but that was more than offset by a big loser on the Rams. Last week, I didn’t pull the trigger on Detroit because I couldn’t justify laying 8½ points with the Lions. Turns out I could’ve laid 38 points … and still covered by a touchdown!
The only silver lining is, per NFL rules, Kansas City must play 14 more games, which gives me 14 more opportunities to make up my lost fortune. And considering that the Chiefs’ remaining schedule includes the Chargers (twice), Patriots, Steelers, Bears, Jets and Packers, well, let’s just say I’m keeping my eyes open for a prop on K.C. going 0-16.
In the meantime, join me as I not only hop aboard the Chiefs’ sinking ship, but also take over the wheel. On to this week’s picks …
$660 (to win $600) on Chargers -14½ vs. Chiefs (game); $330 (to win $300) on Chargers -8 (my estimate) vs. Chiefs (first half): I’m a pessimistic Chargers fan. I hate Norv Turner slightly less than I do broccoli. I’m always hesitant to lay points with my team, especially more than two touchdowns a week after they lost by two touchdowns (35-21 at New England). Despite all this, I’m using San Diego as my biggest play of the season. Yes, the Chiefs are that bad.
As for this point spread, sure it’s inflated. But, to repeat, Buffalo and Detroit outscored Kansas City by 79 points! Moreover, 13 of the first 32 NFL games have been decided by at least two touchdowns, including Pittsburgh’s 24-0 win over Seattle last week as a 14½-point favorite. The Steelers were my big play in Week 2, and I never broke a sweat. That better be the case this week, too, or old Norv is gonna be walking funny on Monday.
$110 (to win $100) on Oregon State -4 vs. UCLA: Oregon State is 0-2, losing 29-28 to Sacramento State at home and 35-0 at Wisconsin. The Beavers have dropped six of eight to UCLA, covering the number just once. Yet they are favored by more than a field goal here. Tells you what the oddsmakers think of the Bruins. In other news, UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel was overheard this week asking his agent, “Hey, can you check if ESPN has any more openings for unqualified college football analysts? I’d like to sit next to Lou Holtz.”
BEST OF THE REST (NFL): Raiders +3½ vs. Jets ($110); Bills +9 vs. Patriots ($55); Bills-Patriots Over 53 ($44); Cardinals -3 at Seahawks ($44); Broncos +7 at Titans ($44); Lions -3½ at Vikings ($33).
BEST OF THE REST (COLLEGE): Michigan State -23½ vs. Central Michigan ($55); South Carolina -16 vs. Vanderbilt ($44); Notre Dame -6½ at Pitt ($44); Oklahoma State +4 at Texas A&M ($44); Wyoming +23½ vs. Nebraska ($33).
LAST WEEK’S RESULTS: 7-6, +$425; Bankroll: $6,448.