Damn their eyes! A pox on them! May they die without issue! I’m talking about the Denver stinkin’ Broncos. How in God’s name can you collapse like that? Idiots! They are officially the front runner for the team I will irrationally hate next year. Can you imagine the week I would have had if they had just protected a 14 point lead with 5 minutes left? How much is that to ask? Jesus Freakin’ Horatio P. Tap-dancin’ Christ!
You see, I was in Vegas last weekend.
The big problem I have had on my past Vegas expeditions was not following my picks and getting all cutesy once I got there; this time I stuck to the program more or less. One bet I did not make was the Panthers spread pick because by the time I got here it was moved from -110 to -120. Lucky move. The other off-plan bet I made was on the Monday night game, picking the Fins +16 simply because it was Monday night and I wanted in on the action. Another gem. How sweet is that? If the stupid Broncos had not hacked up a furball of epic proportions it would have been beyond glorious. Instead it was merely awesome.
In the course of this weekend I realized something about gambling. The winning is never as satisfying and the losing is depressing. If you cast your mind back to my Vegas episode last year, you will recall that I got the beatdown of a lifetime. Everything I touched turned to dirt. I’m sure whatever words I used to express my dire state of mind at the end of that trip did not do justice to how low I felt. This time out I cruised to victories from the Packers beating the Lions first thing on Thursday to the Monday night pitchers duel, but I wasn’t turning back-flips or rushing out to the Spearmint Rhino to make it rain for the ladies (apologies to Pacman). The feeling was more of a sense of blessed relief than outright joy. It seems I am not star crossed after all.
Gambling is all about losing. Common thinking is that degenerate gamblers get addicted to the risk and the rush of the scarce victories. But that’s only part of it — it’s also the emotional impact of losing. It reminds me of the movie The Deer Hunter, where Christopher Walken couldn’t stop playing Russian roulette because, once having played it, no feeling could compare to the intensity. He needed to keep feeling that bit of madness to be alive. I am convinced that real gambling addicts feel that in a smaller way. Losing wagers must release some kind of anti-endorphin that has a similar effect. It is a horrible, but exceedingly powerful, feeling. And to answer your question, No I am not a gambling addict.
But even the non-degenerates like me need the losing. On my first ever trip to Vegas, I won. In all the subsequent trips – probably seven or eight — I either broke even or lost until, finally, last weekend I won again. Like they say, the big shiny casinos weren’t built by everybody winning. But, as I stood in front of the Bellagio fountains having my own personal Ocean’s Eleven moment, I thought back on my experiences in Vegas and I realized that the satisfaction from winning is heightened by having lost. The Yang serves to sweeten the Yin (or maybe it’s the other way around). Whatever the case, it seems that in Vegas, even winning is about losing.
Then I cursed the Broncos again and went home.
None of this loser talk applies to us here at Thoughtful Fool Orbiting Headquarters, though. We just win, baby!
Spread picks were 3-2 bringing us to 19-9-2 for the year, or for a layout of $3300 we have been handed back $4210 for a net gain of $910. (By the way, I miscalculated the gain last week — forgot to add in the returned wagers for the ties.)
The money line resumed its winning ways returning $295.71 for a seasonal profit of $1018.45. Smokin’ aces!
My oh my, didn’t the Pats look ever so mortal? That may be the last time you will ever see a 24.5 point spread. Can you imagine being the guy who wagered on the Eagles money line of $1650: so close to scoring a small fortune. I just think the Giants, lame as they seemed against the Vikes, are already gearing up for Week 17.
I continue to refuse to write about the Pats (I’m doing well at it, aren’t I?), but I can write about the Eagles. What is it about Donovan McNabb? He gets injured and his subs show him up. A.J. Feeley looked excellent, although the key word is “looked.” Anyone with a passing familiarity with Feeley knows he is strictly second tier — a backup QB at best. Philly has not discovered a formula for success. A salient point made by someone over at Football Outsiders is that if McNabb had had the identical game as Feeley, he would have been a goat for throwing two disastrous interceptions.
On Monday night Ricky Williams got stepped on harder than a $5 bag of weed. Injured and out for the season, he’s probably hoping to qualify for a medical marijuana card. His entire career has been like an Adam Sandler film gone seriously wrong. Meanwhile the Fins are still winless, and Cam Cameron is probably wishing he could go back to monitoring Hugh Lockwood’s heartbeat. (That was a totally self-indulgent, deeply obscure ’70s TV reference. If anybody gets it without resorting to a fairly in-depth web search, I will be stunned.) As for the Steelers, they are officially ‘dog bait — ripe to get upset in any game where they are favored. Just a scary team to have to have money on. Or against.
In one of the most gratifying (for me) stories I have read in ages, Fox’s Jay Glazer reports that rainman-turned-snitch Pacman Jones had an “altercation” with teammate Albert “Riverdance” Haynesworth at a Nashville nightclub. Maybe they were fighting over who’s the more accomplished dirtbag. The official story is Haynesworth ended up with a cut on his lip which came from falling over a chair when Pacman pushed him. But, over at Pro Football Talk, Florio says he has a source that claims Pacman sucker-punched Haynesworth and that the club has a video of it (the comment is about 3/4 of the way down the page, stamped 11/25 at 12:54 pm — dude needs to provide permalinks). If there is any justice in the world that video will surface. Could there be anything more perfect that Rainman clocking Riverdance? Scuttlebutt is that Pacman, a known police informant, was upset about Haynesworth showing insufficient loyalty and not having his back. I’m on Haynesworth’s side, here. Given the length of Pacman’s rap sheet, having his back would be a career in itself.
Why would you let Devin Hester beat you? Make little squib kicks to the upfield blockers and even if shortens the field for the Bears, force Rex Grossman do something. Think, Shanahan! That way when you completely fall apart in the last five minutes and let Grossman have a good drive the game won’t be so close that you lose it. Unbe-freakin-lievable! How do you Broncos live with yourselves? What do your mothers think of you?
Spread Picks (spreadsheet)
We should talk about the two big games even though the lines are set about right.
This is officially the week of Super Bowl 41.683, or perhaps we should call it the Sports Bar Bowl thanks to the NFL network/Cable provider snit. The Cowboys are giving 7, which seems about right. The standout mismatch is Dallas’ world class pass offense versus Green Bay’s average pass defense, at least according to DVOA. Couple that with the Cowboys hosting the game and the spread is in line with reality. No bet.
The other big game is Indy and the Jags. Although a Jacksonville win would even up the won-loss record, Indy would still be every so precariously in the driver’s seat for the second playoff seed because of the divisional record tie-breaker. The Jags really, really need this victory, then win out the rest of the season and hope someone upsets the Colts going forward. As it stands, Indy looks to win out for the rest of the season whereas the Jags have to visit Pittsburgh. Both these teams are banged up something fierce. For Indy, Dwight Freeney’s replacement, Simeon Rice, has been sacked for lack thereof. The Jags recently lost a couple of tight ends. Indy is at home and giving 7, and again, that seems about right. No bet.
Besides those there are a whole bunch of opportunities this week. How fun.
In a game I am anxious to see but won’t because it’s not on here, the Fins are facing what’s likely their best chance to avoid historic ignominy. At home against the Jets, the game is a pick ’em — equivalent to a money line game with both teams at -110. How must the Jets feel about being even-steven with a 0-11 team in the eyes of gamblers? The Fins are desperate and DVOA says they are better. Pick: Miami even-up.
The other pick ’em is the Browns visiting the Cardinals. I continue to believe the Browns are better than people realize. DVOA says they are significantly better than the Cards, even accounting the home field effect. Although, any week now will be the last time the Browns are underrated. Pick: Cleveland even-up.
Detroit is only getting 3.5 points at Minnesota. How much you wanna bet the Lions end up in last place in the NFC North? How much? The Lions swoon should not be a surprise to anyone who follows DVOA. Pick: Minnesota -3.5
Tampa Bay is getting a field goal in New Orleans, presumably because of Jeff Garcia’s sore back. But even a 60% Jeff Garcia could demolish the Saints backfield. Pick: Tampa Bay +3
The New York Giants are giving 2 to the Bears in Chicago. There is simply no way the Giants defensive line lets Grossman off the hook. And maybe they will have the brilliant idea not to punt to Hester in the middle of the field. Punt down the sideline, or squib it. Hell, if the third down play falls apart, intentionally throw a long interception — Eli should be good at that. Pick: New York Giants -2
The moribund Panthers are giving 2.5 to the utterly hopeless 49ers in Carolina. The 49ers are the worst team in football, whereas the Panthers are just garden variety bad. If they were equal, Carolina should be giving a field goal. But the Panthers are better and giving only 2.5. Pick: Carolina -2.5
That last question is what to do about the Redskins. How will the murder of Sean Taylor affect them? Football players are a generally people of great faith and emotion. There is no possible on field response for them expect to play the games of their lives. Or at least try to. They are giving 5.5 to the visiting Bills. We’ll bet they make the game a statement. Pick: Washington -5.5
Money Line Picks (spreadsheet)
A whopping eight games this week. Interestingly, the biggest potential payoff is on the Pack to beat the ‘Boys. The formula agrees with my spread picks on the even up games, which is good, but the Giants don’t make the cut based on the Bears home field advantage. Oh well, the word of the money line formula is law. It has proven much smarter than me over the years.
Note the line on the Pats/Ravens game was not set as I write this, but I doubt I would take it. Even with the enormous payoffs if the Pats lose, the formula has not let me take their opponents once. Like I said: smart.
Miami pick ’em
Cleveland pick ’em
Tampa Bay +3
New York Giants -2
Money Line Picks
Green Bay $240
Tampa Bay $160
Sorry for the somewhat short shrift on this column but I am severely jet-lagged and exhausted and these Thursday games are kicking my arse. Let me leave you with one final thought:
Lousy, miserable, good-for-nothin’ Denver Broncos!Powered by Sidelines