Remember: It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
That cliché always makes me cringe, not so much because, as a writer, I’m predisposed to loathe clichés, but because running, of any distance, is for psychotics. (Ain’t that right, Henry Ford?) And yet after the first month of the football season, that’s about all I’ve got to cling to: It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
You can see the grisly numbers below. What you won’t see, though, is that I actually broke out of the gate like Secretariat, going 5-0. Unfortunately, before the first turn, Secretariat morphed into Mr. Ed (Google it, kids); not only have I since gone 7-19, but I’ve lost every “Best Bet”—in every conceivable way.
Why has my season spiraled down the toilet faster than Lane Kiffin’s career? Because I keep ignoring the obvious. To wit: The NFL’s five remaining undefeated teams (Patriots, Broncos, Chiefs, Saints, Seahawks) and the top five teams in this week’s college football poll (Alabama, Oregon, Clemson, Ohio State, Stanford) are a combined 29-11-1 against the spread. Had you wagered $110 on each of those 10 teams’ games, you’d be within a sawbuck of clearing $1,700.
Well, you don’t have to hit me over the head with a shovel (more than five times). This week, I’m joining the party—or, more likely, throwing a wet blanket over it—by laying a touchdown with the Broncos at Dallas. Now, in the old days—you know, last week—I would’ve been on the Cowboys, employing several tried-and-true betting principles: Denver is due for a letdown; Dallas is home after a bad road loss; never back big road favorites; this point spread is wildly inflated, etc.
Sound logic—except we’re talking about a team that cannot be stopped. With Peyton Manning (16 TDs, 0 INTs) at the controls, the Broncos have scored 179 points (or 52 more than any other team), including 107 in the second half. Dallas has scored 104 points all season. True, none of Denver’s victims own a winning record right now. But neither does this week’s opponent. In fact, the Cowboys beat the Giants (0-4) and Rams (1-3), while losing to the Chiefs and Chargers, Denver’s little brothers in the AFC West.
Speaking of little brothers, Eli Manning threw for 450 yards and four touchdowns in Dallas in Week 1. He’s thrown two TDs in three games since then. Peyton, wipe that drool off your face …
Lucky Seven: Broncos -7 at Cowboys (Best Bet); Lions +7 at Packers; Chiefs -2½ at Titans; TCU +10½ at Oklahoma; Stanford -7 vs. Washington; Michigan -19½ vs. Minnesota; Oklahoma State -14 vs. Kansas State. Last Week: 2-5 (0-1 Best Bet). Season: 12-19 (8-7 college; 4-12 NFL; 0-4 Best Bets).
Says Pregame.com’s Steve Fezzik (@FezzikSports): Disagree with the Chiefs pick. Teams typically step up the first game after a QB injury, and Tennessee has played a slightly tougher schedule. Also, the season stats for both teams are close. Kansas City was 2-14 last year—have to be careful not to overreact to their 4-0 start. Back the Titans.
Matt Jacob appears Wednesdays on Pregame.com’s First Preview, which airs 10-11 a.m. weekdays on ESPN Radio 1100-AM.