Last week, you may recall that I lamented in this space about my 1-6 debacle to start October. What you didn’t read was this line: Hey, as bad as that was, it could’ve been worse—I could’ve gone 0-7. You didn’t read that line because I deleted it, for fear of jinxing myself. Turns out that bit of self-editing is the only smart decision I’ve made over the past fortnight, because last week it indeed got worse: I went 0-for-7.
So how does one go from the Aaron Rodgers of handicapping (18-10 in September) to the Geno Smith of handicapping (1-13 since) over the course of two weeks? I’d like to chalk it up to a lot of bad luck and bad beats. I’d also like to be Santa Claus. Sure, I’ve been on the wrong side of a couple of results that could’ve gone either way, but the reality is I’ve been getting my clock cleaned. We’re talking big home and road favorites losing outright (see last week’s Best Bet on Fresno State over UNLV); small home underdogs (Bills over Patriots; UCLA over Oregon) getting crushed; small road favorites (Auburn over Mississippi State; Bengals over Patriots) getting crushed; and over/under plays (Bears-Falcons OVER) missing by two touchdowns.
Now, I will say that I’ve always subscribed to the idiom that it’s OK to make mistakes—even 13 in two weeks—so long as you learn from them. Well, here’s what I’ve learned: First, on multiple occasions I committed the cardinal sports-betting sin of overreacting to the previous game’s outcome (the most egregious case being fading the Patriots as a home underdog against Cincinnati when New England was coming off an embarrassing Monday night loss). Second, I’ve jumped on certain bandwagons too late (going against UNLV) and jumped off other bandwagons too early (bailing on the Chargers two weeks ago, and Mississippi State and the Cowboys last week). Third, and most inexcusably, I’ve slipped into a bad habit of playing too many high-profile games (read: ones with the sharpest lines) rather than searching for hidden gems.
Alas, understanding the problem is one thing. Solving it is something else. With that, let’s see if I can apply some of the lessons (I believe) I’ve learned and snap out of this funk. (Hey, this time I can say with certainty that it can’t get any worse!)
Colts -3 vs. Bengals: Because Andrew Luck has led Indy to four straight wins by an average margin of 34.5-18.8, and because the Bengals have given up 80 points the last two weeks to an aging Tom Brady and a gimpy Cam Newton.
Seahawks -6.5 at Rams: Because I don’t trust a rookie free-agent quarterback (the Rams’ Austin Davis) against an angry Seahawks defense, and because St. Louis (one sack all year) won’t contain Russell Wilson.
Panthers-Packers OVER 49: Because Carolina has topped the total in four straight games (giving up 37, 38, 24 and 37 points), and because the Packers are 5-1 “over” this season (scoring 27, 42 and 38 in their last three).
Virginia +2.5 vs. Duke: Because Virginia had a bye last week, because Duke is in a letdown spot (coming off a road win at Georgia Tech) and because the Cavaliers are on a 7-0-1 ATS roll dating to last season.
Air Force -9.5 vs. New Mexico: Because while both teams can run the ball, only one can stop the run (Air Force gives up 112.3 rushing yards per game; New Mexico allows 284.7 rushing ypg).
Ohio State -19.5 vs. Rutgers: Because Ohio State has won its last three games by the combined score of 168-52, and because Rutgers is allowing 31 points per game on the road.
Kansas +14.5 at Texas Tech: Because Kansas has covered two in a row since kicking coach Charlie Weis to the curb, and because no team mired in a four-game losing skid that hasn’t won a game by more than seven points all season should be this big of a favorite.
Last Week: 0-7 (0-3 NFL; 0-4 college; 0-1 Best Bet).
Season Record: 19-23 (9-13 NFL; 10-10 college; 2-4 Best Bets).
Matt Jacob appears at 10 a.m. Fridays on Pregame.com’s First Preview on ESPN Radio 1100-AM and 98.9-FM.