Welcome back, folks. Sorry about my absence last week. I got myself a bad case of gout. For a certain segment of the gambling public, you might know this as the “Bobby Hill Disease.” If you’ve never had it, just imagine a thousand hot swords being jabbed through your wrist, relentlessly. I get gout whenever I stare at red meat at this point in my life. The problem is, red meat is delicious and I’ll be damned if I’m not going to gamble every once in a while for a burger. The last time I checked, this is still America!
Also, I’ve gotten really into Holiday Baking Championship on Food Network and it has pretty much consumed my life. That’s on me.
Cleveland Browns (+1.5) at New England Patriots
Last season, the Browns hit their absolute stride after Odell Beckham went down with a torn ACL. Of course, last season their entire offense was predicated around the running games of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Hunt is now injured, and thanks to a Covid outbreak, D’Ernest Johnson is the only healthy running back on the roster.
The Patriots, meanwhile, are just going to ugly their way back into the playoffs. I don’t mean ugly in an “oh great, the Patriots again” kind of way. I mean it in the sense that they are truly ugly to watch. Their quarterback, the love child of Matt Cassell and Brian Hoyer, can’t run or throw the ball more than eight yards. Mac Jones is basically Kyle Orton, but with less….everything.
This isn’t a design flaw, either. It’s a feature. Bill Belichick doesn’t care if you are entertained by watching his running backs run trap plays for 60 minutes. In a way, it’s endearing. I’m sorry. I misspoke. I meant to say that it’s infuriating. I truly hate everything about the Patriots. I really hope that they fall into some sort of parallel universe in which their brand of football is entertaining, and Belichick’s son’s dopey mullet is considered socially acceptable.
Seriously, there hasn’t been hair that aggressively bad being seen by millions since the “Chattahoochee” music video.
I’m taking the Browns at +106 to win, just to spite New England’s football sensibilities.
Dallas Cowboys (-9) at Atlanta Falcons
Did you know that if the season ended today, the Falcons would get the last playoff spot in the NFC? There is also a scenario in which the Cowboys could clinch the NFC East the week after Thanksgiving. You know. With a month left in the season. I’m starting to think that the NFC might not be great. I’m also not sure that the AFC is any good. Maybe everyone is just meant to finish 9-8 or 8-9. Except for the Lions. They will suck forever.
I’m super tempted to throw out everything we saw last week. It was a weird week. If the Bills played the Jaguars ten more times, they would win all ten. The Rams wouldn’t get railroaded. And the Cowboys come out on top more times than not. There are definite issues with the Cowboys, and their run defense in particular currently. The Falcons can be dangerous out of the backfield with Cordarelle Patterson, but their base run attack is garbage. Shout out to everyone who thought drafting Mike Davis was a good idea this year!
I’m betting the Cowboys bounce back, and I’m going to tease it down along with the team I’m picking in the next game.
New Orleans Saints (+3) at Tennessee Titans
The Titans. The Titans are the other team I’m teasing. As someone holding an active bet on them to hit the over of 10.5 wins this season, it’s been a nice development to see the offense wake up and the defense show signs of life.
On the other hand, I didn’t want to watch Trevor Semien even when he was at Northwestern, and my wife was at school there at the time, and we usually didn’t have anything better to do. Needless to say, I’m not totally psyched at the concept of watching him get freight trained by a Tennessee team that looks like it is hitting its stride.
I like Tennessee, and I will probably not only tease them down, but I’m probably going to do a reverse hedge bet and move their line to -6 to get better odds.
Carolina Panthers (+10) at Arizona Cardinals
PJ WALKER! COLT MCCOY! XFL! HOW’S HE STILL IN THE NFL?!?
I’m not sure if McCoy will play, but for fun, let’s look back at the 2010 NFL draft and marvel in the fact that he is still in the league. The first pick in the draft is noted “guy who isn’t allowed to be called a bust because he made 130 million as a pro in spite of his biggest accomplishment was being named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week once in 2007”, Sam Bradford.
Rolando McClain was a top 10 pick by the Raiders, in case anyone was wondering if they have always been terrible on drafting(more on that later). The top ten was actually very good, as eight of the first ten players drafted made at least one Pro Bowl, with several Hall of Famers mixed in, with Russell Okung and Trent Williams going high in the draft.
This might go down as one of the best tight end drafts of all time, with both Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham coming out of this draft. Other useful TE pieces that came out of the draft include Ed Dickson, Dennis Pitta, and …ahem… Aaron Hernandez.
Wide Receivers were also notable in this draft with Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas having long and productive careers as first-round picks in the draft. It wasn’t just at the top end of the draft for receivers, though. Golden Tate was taken late in the second round. Emmanuel Sanders was a late third-round pick. Eric Decker had a long career. Riley Cooper was good until he outed himself as a racist. Antonio Brown went in the sixth round and is still having a productive, albeit psychotic career.
What this draft is horribly lacking, though, is quarterback. If you were looking for a franchise quarterback in 2010, you were probably screwed. Bradford went first overall. Second QB off the board? You guessed it, notable former Jaguars tight end Tim Tebow. After that? OH, man. Colt McCoy is of course still around. Mike Kafka or John Skelton doing anything for you? What about Jonathon Crompton or Rusty Smith?
Oh, a football game is happening? I’m taking the Cardinals now because I think the line rises if Kyler Murray plays.
Kansas City Chiefs (-2.5) at Oakland/Los Angeles/Temecula/Las Vegas Raiders
The most fascinating thing about the Jon Gruden tenure with the Raiders isn’t his ignominious exit and it isn’t noted haircut enthusiast and Raiders owner Mark Davis’ full heel turn among NFL owners in the fallout. It is how spectacularly bad his drafts keep getting, even in spite of him being gone. 2020 first-round pick Damon Arnette was cut when Keeping It Real Went Wrong. This is two weeks after Henry Ruggs was cut after deciding to get behind the wheel and driving drunk at NASCAR speeds was a smart idea.
The NFL really needs to put a rule into place that forces every team that gets the first pick in the draft to have their draft run by Gruden. He doesn’t even have to be there. He can telecom in from the Daytona Beach Hooters. Do you want teams to be motivated not to tank? Let the specter of the worst drafter in modern NFL history ruining your franchise for the foreseeable future guide all team’s decision-making.
Anyway, I’m still of the belief that the Chiefs get this all figured out. If you had told anyone before the season that they would be laying less than a field goal in a game that Patrick Mahomes was playing, you wouldn’t believe it. In fact, I still don’t believe it. I’m taking the Chiefs, and I’m laying them out in parlays and teases.