Roller-coaster ride bottoms out with worst week of the year


Photo by Getty Images | If the past is any indicator, bettors might be hanging their heads once again if they choose Alabama this week.

Michael Vick and his “Dream Team” Eagles? They’re 3-5 and tied for last in the NFC East.

Philip Rivers (a chic pick of many to win the 2011 NFL MVP) and his Chargers (a chic pick of many to reach the Super Bowl)? Rivers has a league-high 14 interceptions, and San Diego, after three straight losses, is sitting at .500 at the season’s midpoint.

The Indianapolis Colts, they of nine consecutive double-digit-win seasons coming into this year? Nine games played, nine losses … by an average of more than 17 points per game.

Oklahoma and Alabama, the two top-ranked teams in college football’s preseason polls? Both out of the national-championship picture after two embarrassing home losses (Oklahoma fell 41-38 to Texas Tech, which subsequently lost its ensuing two games by a combined score of 93-27; Alabama lost 9-6 in overtime to No. 1 LSU in a dud of game that should’ve been sponsored by Ambien).

Why the negative tone to this week’s column? Because I’m coming off my ugliest showing of the year—I whiffed badly on all three featured plays, finished 4-8 and dropped $984—so I’m desperate to share this spotlight of embarrassment. (This is otherwise known as Chapter 1 of the Kardashian Business Model … except they’re worth about $145 million more than I am, but I digress.)

Going back two months, I’ve been as consistently inconsistent as a woman’s mood, producing four positive weeks and four negative weeks. The upshot? I’m still $566 in the black over this eight-week stretch. The downside? Overall, my bankroll is now $410 in the red.

What’s it all mean? Well, according to my accountant, if I can “step it up” and repeat last week’s performance 10 more times, I’ll have amassed enough debt to qualify for purchasing the L.A. Dodgers. So I’ve got that going for me, which is nice. (The icy glare from the wife when she catches wind of that “woman’s mood” crack? Not so nice.)

On to this week’s picks …

$440 (to win $400) on Mississippi State +17 vs. Alabama: Here are Alabama’s results following its initial loss of the season in the Nick Saban era: a 21-14 neutral-site loss to Florida State as a 2½-point underdog in 2007; a 31-17 loss to Utah as a 9½-point favorite in the Sugar Bowl in January 2009; a 23-10 win over Mississippi as a 20-point home favorite in October 2010.

A small sample size, sure, but it’s certainly reasonable to question Slick Nick’s ability to rally the troops. For the record, Alabama is 3-9 against the spread (ATS) in its last 12 games after a loss, and the only one as devastating as last week’s defeat to LSU was the 2008 SEC championship game loss to Florida, which was followed by the Sugar Bowl no-show against Utah.

$220 (to win $200) on Kansas State +4½ vs. Texas A&M: Since its season opener, Texas A&M (5-4 overall) has covered the number exactly once in eight games, going 1-6 ATS as a favorite and 0-3 ATS as a road favorite. Conversely, since its season opener, Kansas State (7-2 overall) has covered the number in seven of its last eight games, going 5-1 ATS as an underdog and 3-0 ATS as a road underdog. Oh, and A&M just lost its leading rusher, a dude averaging more than 6 yards per carry, to a season-ending knee injury. And the last time A&M visited Manhattan, Kan., it got drilled 62-14 as a 5-point favorite.

So of course the Aggies, who have given up 38 points or more in four of their last six games, and 106 points in their last two meetings with K-State, are a significant road chalk in this game. Go figure.

$220 (to win $200) on 49ers -3½ vs. Giants: Rule No. 1 in the NFL this year: Don’t bet against a Harbaugh. Coaching brothers John and Jim are 12-3-1 ATS, with John’s 49ers a league-best 7-0-1 versus the number (to go with a stunning 7-1 overall mark).

San Francisco is catching the Giants in a great spot (New York is traveling to the West Coast after a thrilling, last-minute 24-20 upset in New England, with a divisional battle against Philadelphia on deck). Plus, New York has faced just two top-10 scoring defenses, posting season-low point totals of 14 (Washington) and 20 (Miami). This is key because San Francisco yields an NFL-best 14.8 points per game, including just 10.8 ppg the last four games.

BEST OF THE REST (NFL): Texans -3 at Bucs ($77); Jets -1½ vs. Patriots ($55); Bengals +3 vs. Steelers ($55); Dolphins -3½ vs. Redskins ($44); Bills +5½ at Cowboys ($44).

BEST OF THE REST (COLLEGE): Boise State -15 vs. TCU ($66); Nevada -14½ vs. Hawaii ($55); Washington +12½ at USC ($44); Nebraska -3½ at Penn State ($44).

LAST WEEK’S RESULTS: 4-8 (-$984); Bankroll: $6,590.

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