When you pick 14 games and win eight of them, including two of your biggest plays, you’re supposed to walk away with some cash.
When you put your biggest chunk of cash on the San Diego Chargers, as a two-touchdown-plus favorite, in September … you’re supposed to get fired.
So blinded was I by the ineptness of the Kansas City Chiefs (outscored 89-10 in their first two games) that I loaded up on the Chargers at -14½ points last week (the $660 “wager” was my biggest of the season).
The theory: If the Bills and Lions can outscore Kansas City by 79 combined points, the Chargers—a chic pick of many to reach the Super Bowl—can at least win by 15.
The reality: San Diego held the Chiefs without a first down for the entire first half, racked up 375 total yards, held Kansas City to 252 yards, had an 8½-minute edge in time of possession … and barely won 20-17 (never leading by more than 10 points).
I backed the Chargers despite being fully aware of the following facts: a) Norv Turner is their coach; b) They were 5-11 against the spread in September since 2007, Turner’s first year; c) They struggled to beat the pathetic Vikings in the season opener at home, prevailing 24-17 despite holding Donovan McNabb to 39 passing yards; d) They were coming off a mistake-filled, emotionally deflating 14-point loss in New England; and e) Norv Turner is their coach.
Without question, last week’s play on San Diego goes down as the worst bet I’ve made since 1984, when I lost my eighth-grade lunch money taking Mondale +85 electoral votes over Reagan. Most disturbingly, it means that we’re now four weeks into the football betting season, and I’ve turned a profit exactly once.
My only saving grace is the monkey is still learning how to type.
On to this week’s picks …
$440 (to win $400) on Texans -4 vs. Steelers: Here’s the Steelers’ season to date: humiliating 35-7 loss at Baltimore; 24-0 home win over Tarvaris Jackson and the Seahawks (one of my few big winners this year); lucky-as-hell 23-20 win at Indianapolis (as an 11-point road favorite). And in that latter contest, Pittsburgh’s offensive line, which hasn’t been able to run block all season, was decimated by injuries, while the once-suffocating defense let Curtis Painter march down the field for a game-tying touchdown late in the fourth quarter. My point: It doesn’t take X-ray vision to see that Ashton Kutcher has a better chance of winning a Best Actor Emmy than Pittsburgh does of returning to the Super Bowl.
As for the Texans, if not for a meltdown in New Orleans last week (23 points allowed in the fourth quarter), they’d be 3-0 heading into this one. As it is, Houston’s offense is averaging 30 points and more than 400 yards per game, and the defense gave up only 27 points in the first 11 quarters of the season. Meanwhile, in two road games, Pittsburgh has 23 offensive points versus 10 turnovers.
Put it this way: Prior to the season, the Hilton made the Steelers a 3-point favorite in this game. Now they’re a 4-point ’dog. Hmm …
$220 (to win $200) on Patriots-Raiders OVER 53½ points: Final scores of the Patriots’ first three games: 38-24 (at Miami), 35-21 (vs. San Diego), 34-31 (at Buffalo). Final scores of the Raiders’ first three games: 23-20 (at Denver), 38-35 (at Buffalo), 34-24 (vs. Jets). Yep, all six of those contests flew over the total. In fact, the “over” has hit in 58.3 percent of NFL games so far, which is directly attributed to the league’s ridiculous overprotection of quarterbacks (I hear the next step is to suit them up in bubble wrap).
Anyway, the Patriots have now scored more than 30 points in 11 straight regular-season games, and the “over” has cashed in 19 of New England’s last 22 regular-season and playoff contests since the final week of the 2009 season (9-2 “over” on the road). Additionally, Oakland has topped the total in 13 of its last 19 games, including seven of eight at home.
BEST OF THE REST (NFL): Saints -7 at Jaguars ($66); Jets-Ravens OVER 40 ($55); Packers -13 vs. Broncos ($44); Titans-Browns UNDER 37½ ($33).
BEST OF THE REST (COLLEGE): Iowa State +9½ vs. Texas ($55); Boise State -27½ vs. Nevada ($44); Georgia Tech -11½ at North Carolina State ($44); Arizona +13½ at USC ($44); Alabama -4 at Florida ($44); Michigan State +3 at Ohio State ($33); Nebraska-Wisconsin OVER 56 ($33); Air Force +3 at Navy ($33).
LAST WEEK’S RESULTS: 8-6 (-$154); Bankroll $6,294.