Making the ‘Best’ of a Bad Situation



Granted, three of the Chiefs’ first five games are on the road, but all—Jaguars, Eagles, Titans—are winnable, as are the two home games (Cowboys and Giants) sandwiched in between. Throw in the Raiders (twice), Chargers (twice), Browns, Bills and Colts, and Kansas City going “over” 7 wins might be my best bet of the summer.

You know who penned those brilliant words three months ago? Me. I’m revisiting that prediction not so much to pat myself on the back in the wake of the Chiefs’ 7-0 start—much like K.C. coach Andy Reid, I can’t reach that far anyway—but rather to remind you that I can, indeed, hit a best bet. Check that: I did it to remind myself.

For those just tuning in, my top-play recommendations this season have been about as accurate as a Minnesota Vikings quarterback. OK, less accurate. We’re talking seven swings, seven misses, and many of them haven’t been close. Hell, my best bets the last two weeks—Florida -3 at Missouri and Oklahoma -14 at Texas—lost outright … by 19 and 16 points, respectively!

Sacrificing a live rooster, breathing through my eyelids, donning women’s undergarments—I’ve tried everything in the Bull Durham book to end this slump (don’t visualize that last one; you’ll burn your retinas).

Thankfully, I’m quite certain the vast majority of you wisely caught on weeks ago and have been padding your bankroll by going opposite these best bets. Which is why I’m equally as certain that you’re dying to know this week’s top selection. Happy to oblige: I’m grabbing the field goal with the Raiders at home against Pittsburgh.

My logic: Both teams are dead-even statistically, but Oakland has played the tougher schedule; the Raiders are 2-0 straight-up and against the spread at home (in games not started by ex-quarterback Matt Flynn), posting 10-point wins over both Jacksonville and San Diego; Oakland had a bye last week, while the Steelers are coming off two physical battles against the Jets and rival Ravens, with a game on deck at New England; Pittsburgh is 4-11 ATS in its last 15 on the road; and finally, the Raiders have won three of the last four meetings against the Steelers, including 34-31 last year as a 3½-point home underdog. In fact, Oakland is 4-1 ATS in this rivalry since 2004 (all as a ’dog), and Pittsburgh hasn’t won in the Black Hole since 1995.

Convinced? Yeah, me neither …

Lucky Seven: Raiders +3 vs. Steelers (Best Bet); Falcons +2½ at Cardinals; Packers -9½ at Vikings; Redskins-Broncos Over 58½; San Jose State -6 vs. Wyoming; Alabama -28½ vs. Tennessee; North Carolina State +30 at Florida State. Last Week: 4-3 (0-1 Best Bet). Season: 22-30 (12-14 college; 10-16 NFL; 0-7 Best Bets).

Says RJ Bell (@RJinVegas) from Disagree with the Packers. Hate the Vikings (especially with Josh Freeman new to the offense), and I’m high on the Packers. But remember: Losing bettors bet teams; winning bettors bet numbers. This is simply too many points to lay on the road in the NFL. And home teams getting more than eight points are on a 23-3 ATS run.

Matt Jacob appears Wednesdays on’s First Preview, which airs 10-11 a.m. weekdays on ESPN Radio 1100-AM.