When the powers-that-be offered me this gig shortly before Vegas Seven launched in February 2010, I readily accepted—with one objection: I didn’t care for the negative connotation that came with the column title “Going for Broke.” Why not “Going for Gold”? Or “Beating the Odds”? Or “I Promise I’ll At Least Win More Than The Raiders”?
Of course, I immediately proved the boss a genius when I lost 16 percent of my “$7,000 bankroll” on the very first selection, foolishly dropping $1,100 on Peyton Manning and the Colts against the Saints in the Super Bowl. It’s pretty much been an uphill climb ever since (I was up a whopping $33 on our two-year anniversary; some nine months hence, I’m more than $3,000 in the hole). Well, as Tom Cruise once said (long before he lost his freakin’ mind): “Sometimes you just gotta say, ‘What the fuck, make your move.’” And that’s exactly what I’m doing this week, as I take the skirt off and literally go for broke.
Why now, you ask? Why not? I’m coming off my first profitable weekend in a month, so I’ve got some (rare) momentum. More importantly, there’s one game on the board that’s a stone-cold, lead-pipe lock. Before we get to that lock, here are three games I considered (also known as the plays you absolutely must bet, as they’re certain to hit since I passed on them) …
Oklahoma -10½ vs. Notre Dame: I believe in the Easter Bunny, UFOs and ethical politicians more than I do the 2012 Fighting Irish. Yes, they’re 7-0. But look at the competition: Navy (4-3), Purdue (3-4), Michigan State (4-4), Michigan (5-2), Miami (4-4), Stanford (5-2) and BYU (4-4). Oklahoma recently completed a three-game stretch against Kansas State, Texas Tech and Texas. Combined record of those three squads: 18-3 (the Sooners delivered two of those losses). So why not roll the dice with Oklahoma (which has won three straight by the combined score of 156-48)? Two words: Bob Stoops.
Oregon -46 vs. Colorado: Going back to last season, the Ducks (7-0) have won 10 in a row, scoring at least 42 points in each contest. Colorado is 1-6, allowing 69, 42, 51 and 50 points in its last four losses. Which is to say Oregon, which waxed Colorado 45-2 last year, can name the score. The problem? The Ducks keep letting off the gas after building big leads (they scored 43 points in the first 11 minutes last week at Arizona State and zero in the last 49). Plus, Oregon has a huge game on deck at USC.
Saints-Broncos OVER 55: Manning and the Broncos are averaging 28 points per game. Drew Brees and the Saints are putting up 29 ppg. The Saints’ defense is allowing 30 ppg, while Denver’s D has yielded 28 ppg to the Chargers, Patriots, Texans and Falcons. I love this “over.” What I don’t love: not knowing the game-time weather conditions in Denver. Which brings me to …
$3,300 on Eagles -2½ vs. Falcons: Philadelphia has lost three of its last four, most recently blowing a 10-point fourth-quarter lead, at home, to the crappy Lions (a debacle that cost the defensive coordinator his job). Its three victories were by a total of four points. Michael Vick (13 turnovers) is treating the football like it’s laced with anthrax. Oh, and the Falcons (6-0) are the NFL’s last remaining unbeaten team. How and why are the Eagles favored here? I haven’t a clue. All I know is I’ve been at this long enough to understand that if an NFL point spread makes no sense—and Atlanta as an underdog here makes no sense—you run the other way. Fast.
Here’s what else I know: The Falcons could very easily have the same 3-3 record as Philadelphia, barely squeaking by Carolina (30-28), Washington (24-17) and Oakland (23-20) in their last three games. The Falcons are 2-8 against the Eagles in this century, including 0-5 in Philly (average margin of defeat: 18 ppg). And the Eagles are 13-0 under Andy Reid following a bye, winning by an average of nearly 12 ppg (and Vick himself is 11-4 after a week off).
So there you have it: My bankroll rests in the hands of the Eagles. (Yes, that noise you just heard was the monkey giggling like a schoolgirl.)