Ever accept a job offer, only to discover within the first 48 hours of employment that you’ve been sold a bill of goods? Ever get sucked in by a movie trailer, then plunk down a small fortune for a ticket and popcorn, only to come away more disappointed than Johnny Manziel backers? Ever go on a Saturday-night bender and pick up the hottest girl at the bar, only to wake up Sunday morning with a splitting headache and 1,000 regrets?
Lemme guess the answers: “Yep … For sure … Oh, God, more times than I care to remember.”
My point is things aren’t always what they appear to be in life—and this is certainly true of the gridiron, too. So as we approach the midpoint of the 2014 season, it’s time to put down the pom-poms and acknowledge (in our best Dennis Green gravelly voice) that certain football teams just aren’t who we thought they were. More importantly, we need to think twice—make that three times—before betting on said teams (particularly as favorites):
Seahawks: It’s not just that the defending Super Bowl champs are 3-3 (and could very easily be 2-4, if not for a fortunate overtime win over the Broncos). It’s that their overhyped defense has been exposed: Seattle is allowing 23.5 points per game—a figure that’s 9.1 ppg higher than last year. To their credit, the Seahawks are 3-3 against the spread, but they haven’t been dominant since a 36-16 Week 1 victory over Green Bay. Yet Pete Carroll’s club is a 4½-point favorite at Carolina this week.
Saints: After blowing a 13-point fourth-quarter lead at Detroit last week, New Orleans dropped to 2-4. True, all four losses have come on the road (where the Saints routinely stink), but three of those games were in domes (where the Saints usually excel). Even the two home victories were shaky: New Orleans beat Minnesota 20-9, but only had a four-point lead in the fourth quarter, and it trailed the lowly Buccaneers 31-20 in the fourth before rallying for a 37-31 overtime win. This week, the Saints are favored at home over the Packers, who have only won their last four games by the combined score of 145-68.
Bears: A chic pick of many (yours truly included) to go over its projected win total, challenge the Packers for NFC North supremacy and be a Super Bowl dark horse, Chicago instead is 3-4 (0-3 at home) and showing more fight in the locker room than on the field. Yes, I’m a fool for believing in Jay Cutler … but no bigger a fool than Bears executives, who signed Cutler to a $126 million contract extension this past offseason—with $54 million guaranteed!
UCLA: OK, so the Bruins are 5-2 straight-up, but they’re only averaging 5.8 ppg more than their opponents—which explains their 1-6 ATS record (1-5 ATS as a favorite). So of course UCLA is a near two-touchdown road favorite this week (at Colorado).
Florida State: How can I claim that a 7-0 defending national champion is a disappointment? Easy: The Seminoles have cashed just once in those seven victories. And let’s be real: Florida State would be 4-3 if not for Houdini acts against Oklahoma State (37-31), Clemson (23-17 in OT) and Notre Dame (31-27).
Oklahoma: The Sooners started October ranked No. 4. Results this month: 37-33 loss at TCU as a 3½-point favorite; 31-26 nail-biting win over Texas as a 16½-point favorite; 31-30 loss to Kansas State as a 7½-point home favorite. Total yards Oklahoma has allowed in its last four games: 1,849.
Texas A&M: Ranked No. 21 in the preseason, the Aggies went on the road and ripped South Carolina 52-28, the first of five consecutive wins that saw A&M climb all the way to No. 6. Since then, the Aggies have dropped three in a row to Mississippi State, Mississippi and Alabama, getting outscored 142-51. Perhaps A&M coach Kevin Sumlin should give his old QB Johnny Football a ring—I hear he’s not doing much.
Last Week: 4-3 (2-1 NFL; 2-2 college; 1-0 Best Bet).
Season Record: 23-26 (11-14 NFL; 12-12 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 100.9-FM.