So I like to gamble.
I like gambling enough to split that thought into three separate lines in order to properly illustrate it to you, the reader.
With that established, my recent move to study for a semester in London has brought about a few inhibiting factors to my gambling abilities this year:
- In London, I am a broke person. Granted, this has not stopped me from gambling before, but it is important to know.
- In London, friends to gamble with are more difficult to find, and bookies are real and scary, not fun-loving and encouraging like the ones in Vegas.
- In London, no one wants to watch football (they much prefer football).
- In London, the 1 pm NFL games start at 6 pm. In order to watch football the way I watch football, I will be up until 5 am for the next seventeen Sundays.
- In London, it is impossible to find NFL RedZone. I really miss Scott Hanson.
Because of this, I have devised a plan to appease my gambling tendencies for the year: I am going to (hypothetically) join the Las Vegas Hilton SuperContest.
The concept is simple enough. Contestants make their five best picks against the spread each week of the NFL season. The top 30 winning percentages at the end of the season get paid.
In reality, it costs $1,500 to join the LVH. Someday I hope to have enough money to join this contest for real, get taken to the cleaners and not have to do unspeakable things in order pay off a debt to some shady fellow known simply as “John Q. Loanshark.”
I have owed money to “John Q. Loanshark” before. It is not a good thing.
So instead, this year I am putting my fifteen hundred hypothetical dollars where my actual mouth is and playing along from the sidelines. Each week we will examine the lines as published by the LVH SuperContest. We will look for value, seek out trends and attempt to pick our way into the hypothetical Top 30 by Week 17.
Here is this week’s ticket, leaving out the shellacking that Peyton Manning handed to the Ravens last night. Home teams get an asterisk.
A brief explanation of betting “against the spread” for any gambling rookies out there (Hi Mom!): The “spread” is a tool that God invented so that his little degenerates could still have fun betting on games that are awful. Let’s use this week’s Patriots-Bills matchup as a case study. Clearly, the Patriots are a much better football team; they will have Tom Brady under center, while Buffalo will be starting a rookie this Sunday. If I were to bet on the winner of this game, I would obviously take the Pats. Unfortunately, no one would take my bet, because people are not that stupid, especially when gambling.
For this reason, the Bills are listed as “+9.5” in the above table. In order to entice gamblers to take action on both sides, bookies give the Bills 9.5 points. Thus, if you bet the Bills in this scenario, your bet is a winner if they win outright (unlikely), but also as long as they only lose by 9 points or less (slightly more plausible). Conversely, in order to cash in a bet on the Patriots, they need to win by 10.
Get it? Got it? Good.
GAMBLING IS BACK AND EVERYTHING IS RIGHT WITH THE WORLD.
Chiefs (-4) over Jaguars*
I am an Eagles fan. Last year, it was time for Andy Reid to leave Philadelphia, but it was more our fault than his. As much as I like to mock his weight and poor decision-making skills and belief that timeouts are equally valuable in the last two minutes of the 1st Quarter and 4th Quarter, he won us a lot of games. And he is going to win a bunch more in Kansas City. Alex Smith is an actual NFL quarterback the likes of which Arrowhead hasn’t seen since *checks wikipedia* … *oh JESUS CHRIST*
Trent Green? Rich Gannon?
Alex Smith will be fine. He can run the West Coast offense that Andy loves to run, and he is going to have so much fun tossing long balls to Dwayne Bowe in play-action. Plus, all of the fantasy-related articles I have read this year seem to be in love with Jamaal Charles.
And did I mention they are playing Blaine Gabbert and the Jacksonville-soon-to-be-London Jaguars?
Texans (-4) over Chargers*
This preseason I did not get a very good sense of who was good. But I feel like I have a phenomenal sense of who is awful. The Jets are awful. The Jaguars are awful. The Raiders are embarrassing. And the Chargers are pathetic.
I cannot tell you how much money Philip Rivers has won me by turning the ball over at opportune times. I only know that it is less than the amount of money Philip Rivers has lost me by turning the ball over at inopportune times.
I’m leaving it up to JJ Watt and Arian Foster to even my ledger.
(Related: JJ WATT! FOOTBALL IS BACK! I MISSED YOU SO MUCH.)
Seahawks (-3.5) over Panthers*
I pray at the alter of Russell “HUSTLE BUSTLE” Wilson. Last year, while writing a gambling column for my personal blog, Russell Wilson singlehandedly restored my faith in humanity, God, and gambling. The Seahawks are young and hungry. They meditate and do yoga together. And as scary as Cam Newton is, he is but one man. And one man is nothing to a God.
Titans (+7) over Steelers*
I think there is a 62% Chris Johnson is Chris Johnson again. Not CJ2K, but the still terrifying and efficient Chris Johnson. When Chris Johnson is Chris Johnson he varies between “player that gives you extra confidence when getting seven points” to “player you never want to bet against under any circumstances.”
Additionally, I may be in London, but I hate Big Ben.
Browns* (-1) over Dolphins
There are a few home field advantages that I like to believe in: Cleveland, Arrowhead, Oakland, Detroit on Thanksgiving. And for some reason I trust Brandon Weedon. I make my picks with 65% gut, 15% brains, and 20% women telling me who to bet on.
And there we have it. My first five picks of the hypothetical LVH SuperContest. I have a good feeling about what is to come. Hope to see you all here again next week so I can explain why you should trust me even though my picks went 1-4 in Week 1.
Until then, Happy Sundays.