Tough to say who’s enjoyed a better October to this point: Amanda Knox, Oakland Raiders fans or yours truly. Sure, Knox gained her freedom (literally) when her murder conviction was overturned, and Raiders fans gained their freedom (figuratively) when owner Al Davis, who over the last several years did more harm than good to his franchise, finally passed on.
But were either of those events more shocking than me freeing my bankroll from debt in just a single fortnight?
To recap, I took a couple of standing eight-counts in the first month of football season, with my funds dipping below $6,300. But a 17-9, two-week run that cleared $1,222 has pushed my bankroll to within a few bucks of its high-water mark—and pushed the monkey back into his cage.
The best part about my resurgence? The most underrated (and immeasurable) element of sports betting—luck!—has been on my side. Just look at last week, when my three biggest plays—Bills +3 over Eagles; Packers -5½ over Falcons; Chargers -4 over Broncos—unfolded thusly:
• Buffalo got out-yarded 489-331, but prevailed 31-24 courtesy of a half-dozen Philly brain farts, both physical (five turnovers) and mental (an Eagles’ defensive lineman jumped offside to give Buffalo a game-sealing first down).
• Green Bay, playing a prime-time road game against a talented and desperate opponent, spotted Atlanta a 14-0 lead, only to score the game’s final 25 points and win going away. (How impressive was the Packers’ comeback? Atlanta had won 23 consecutive games when leading at halftime.)
• San Diego, cruising 26-10 in the fourth quarter, nearly got “Tebow-ed” in Denver, escaping 29-24, but only after Broncos backup QB Tim Tebow, on the game’s final play, scrambled around for about 20 minutes, then heaved a ball into the end zone that barely fell incomplete.
To illustrate once again the Olsen twin-thin line between winning and losing in the NFL, consider this: Had those three winners been losers, I would’ve gone from plus-$898 last week to minus-$992.
Heck, not only have I lucked out on the games I’ve given out, but I’m also catching breaks on the ones I haven’t. Last week, I was this close to recommending UNLV over UNR (rest assured, Hank Williams Jr. will receive a dinner invitation from the Obamas before I’ll bet on this year’s Rebels).
Anyway, with a rabbit’s foot securely in my front pocket and a horseshoe in the back, let’s move on to (hopefully) a third straight winning week …
$550 (to win $500) on Utah State (-3½) at Fresno State: Why is a team that’s 2-3 favored against an opponent it has defeated once in eight meetings since 1991? Because Utah State is eight points and about 160 seconds away from being 5-0. The Aggies blew a 10-point lead at defending champion Auburn with a little more than two minutes to play (42-38 loss); gave up the tying touchdown and 2-point conversion with 42 seconds left versus Colorado State (35-34 overtime loss); and surrendered the winning TD on a tipped pass as time expired at BYU (27-24 loss).
Utah State is averaging more than 42 points and 480 yards per game, ranks sixth in the country in rushing (310 yards per game; 6.4 yards per carry) and has cashed in five of its last six games. The Bulldogs have given up 95 points in their last two games (both at home), are getting bulldozed for 171.5 rushing ypg (4.8 per carry) and are in a 5-11-1 point-spread funk.
This line makes less sense than Sam Malone playing a crime-scene investigator. Utah State rolls, 41-30.
$330 (to win $300) on Bills +3½ at Giants: This should surprise you about as much as Lawrence Taylor’s next arrest, as I’ve been riding Buffalo since before the season started. To capsulate this selection: The Bills are 4-1, coming off an upset win over the Eagles and have forced an NFL-best 16 turnovers (scoring a defensive TD in three straight games). The Giants are 3-2, coming off a double-digit home loss to the Seahawks as a 10-point favorite and have failed to cover in 10 of their last 14 home games overall (including six straight as a home chalk of 3 points or less).
Rodney Dangerfield got more respect than do the Bills, who will win, 28-24.
BEST OF THE REST (NFL): Buccaneers +4½ vs. Saints ($110); Cowboys +7 at Patriots ($66); Lions -6 vs. 49ers ($66); Panthers-Falcons OVER 51 ($44); Redskins +1 vs. Eagles ($44).
BEST OF THE REST (COLLEGE): Oklahoma State -7½ at Texas ($77); Michigan State -2½ vs. Michigan ($55); Indiana +39½ at Wisconsin ($44); Maryland +7½ vs. Clemson ($44); Oregon -16 vs. Arizona State ($44).
LAST WEEK’S RESULTS: 8-4 (+$898); Bankroll: $7,516.
Matt Jacob is a former local sports writer who has been in the sports handicapping business for more than five years. For his weekly column, Matt received a “$7,000” bankroll when Vegas Seven debuted in February 2010. When he blows it all, we’ll fire him and replace him with a monkey.