Most people would consider the Dallas Cowboys versus New England Patriots Sunday Night Football game a classic. It was thrilling in a “bar game” kind of way. Bar games are games in which, if you are sitting at a bar, you start relationships with people you don’t know over the mutual interest of the game. It can happen in any number of games. The Super Bowl, Game 7 of the 2016 World Series, or the World Cup when there are two teams you can pronounce on the field.
On Sunday night, I had the absolute pleasure of experiencing a “bar game” on Sunday night. One of the reasons that I was so into the game? I had the Cowboys -5.5 against a Patriots team that seemed destined for an upset. What ended up happening was gambling magic. The game went to overtime thanks to a couple of thrilling Mac Jones pass plays, one for an interception, and the other for a 75-yard touchdown. In overtime, first, the Patriots had the ball. They blew it and, the Cowboys won and covered, anyway. CeeDee Lamb was the game’s hero, but the entire Cowboys team deserves credit for this gambling catch.
I decided to make a run at a round-robin with five teams I felt good about last week. Going into Sunday night, my only loss was the Chargers, who I felt so good about that I took the money line on. That game went to hell so ferociously that it wasn’t even worth stressing. I knew my five-team part of the round-robin was dead and the four-team was as well (the four team parlay on a round robin is a sucker bet), so I was dependent on the Cowboys covering to make it work.
Weird gambling makes strange bedfellows. The guy to my right at the bar was a Patriots fan. Even though I needed the Cowboys to roll, I pretty genuinely hate every team that exists in the NFC East. He was a natural friend. Most people I knew at the bar were operating with the belief that the Cowboys had gotten too much helium and that Bill Belichick was going to obviously win the battle of coaches against noted Ponzi scheme victim Mike McCarthy.
As the game went on, even people that weren’t interested in the game started to watch. A “bar game” is a bar game because it infects everyone in the bar. People who don’t know or care about football get pulled into it. It’s a great experience. The Lamb touchdown was catharsis. People cheered. They drank celebratory beers. God, I love football..
Carolina Panthers (-3) at New York Giants
Sam Darnold’s helium deflated. So far, the Panthers had Christian McCaffery for roughly two football games in the past two seasons. Robby Anderson forgot he exists. Are there are a ton of personnel reasons to think that the Panthers are on the downward spiral? Of course.
That being said, everything I said about the Panthers is worse for the New Jersey Giants. Saquon Barkley will not play. Their big-ticket free agent signing, Kenny Golladay, will not play. Rookie star Kadarius Toney will not play. The wide receivers for the Giants are a veritable “oh, they are still in the league?” melange of people you tried to have on your fantasy team in 2018. Dante Pettis is there. So is John Ross. Apparently, ArDarius Stewart wasn’t available.
This is a big week for road favorites, and I’m going to start by taking the Panthers to cover the -3 spread this week. Additionally, to get some added value, I’m going to parlay the Panthers covering with Chuba Hubbard going over on his rushing yards for the week, as the Giants have given up the fourth-most rushing yards on the season.
Kansas City Chiefs (-4.5) at Tennessee Titans
There is a very real chance that Derrick Henry runs for over 200 yards on Sunday. The Chiefs are well established as having an absolutely horrible defense that couldn’t stop some of the better junior college teams across the country. Their starting safety Daniel Sorenson is the worst safety in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus, and he has been benched. The issue with benching the worst safety in the NFL is that the person behind him on the depth chart is ostensibly worse than him.
The Titans’ defense has given up the ninth-most passing yards on the season and isn’t producing turnovers at better than a slightly below league average rate. To beat Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, you have to force Patrick Mahomes to throw interceptions. The Titans are a middle-of-the-road team in nearly all categories related to getting to the quarterback. They are at or below league average in blitz percentage, sacks, quarterback hits, and quarterback knockdowns. The Titans are top-ten in the NFL at one key stat. Unfortunately, that key stat? They are in the top-ten in missed tackles in 2021.
If you don’t feel comfortable betting the line in either direction (I’m taking the Chiefs -4.5), then there are three safe bets: Derrick Henry over rushing yards parlayed with Derrick Henry anytime touchdown parlayed with Patrick Mahomes going over 2.5 touchdown passes.
Chicago Bears (+12.5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
My heart says upset, but my brain, along with everyone else’s brain, says that the Bucs are going to roll. That being said, I do believe that the Bears will keep the game just close enough to beat the spread, but I’m going to do one better. I’m going to shave a couple of points from the line! You are getting the Bears at -110 if you take the Bears at +12.5, but it goes all the way up to +120 to take the Bears +10.5.
Or if you are feeling like burning money and picking the upset, go ahead and take the Bears +500. Hell, Nick Foles beat them last year. You never know.[Narrator voice.] He did know.
Indianapolis Colts (+4.5) at San Francisco 49ers
I like to rag on the Colts quite a bit, and usually, it is with good reason. But over the last two weeks, the Colts took the Ravens past the bell and blew up the Texans. Their offense seems to be functional enough to stay in the AFC South race.
While the 49ers have one of the best defenses in the NFL, and an offense that can seemingly run on anyone, they are losers of three-straight and are depending on Jimmy Garoppolo coming back at full strength to try to right the ship. Neither the Colts nor the 49ers are likely to get blown out, or facilitate a blow out. They have scored 117 points on the season, and have given up 119. That means that on the season, they are losing games by 0.4 points on average. The Colts have scored 139 points on the season. They have given up 141…okay so these teams are basically the same.
When in doubt, or when the teams are on par with each other to this level, take the points. I haven’t been big on taking the Colts this season, but this feels like the spot for it.
New Orleans Saints (-5.5) at Seattle Seahawks
Oh man, it’s so much fun to get a chance to bet against Geno Smith, again. I missed this. Go Saints!