Week 16 marks the first full week of the 2013 NFL season during which I have been present in the USA. I have taken full advantage of all of the resources not afforded me in London; SportsCenter, NFL Live, and finally having access to Twitter on my phone again have all greatly influenced my consumption of football and gambling related media.
I am worried that everything I have worked for is about to fall apart.
For 15 weeks of football I made hypothetical picks against the spread from across the Atlantic resulting in a record of 41-32-2. This comes out to 42 “points” in the real Las Vegas Hilton SuperContest. I am a half point ahead of Joe House and Cousin Sal of Grantland. I am a full 15.5 points ahead of Bill Simmons. And craziest of all…
I am only 2.5 points out of the money.
Will the return to my natural state of football overconsumption in America lead to my downfall? Was my disconnect from the national hype-train that is NFL coverage actually an advantage in making fair minded picks? Is it possible that someone can be successful at betting games simply by making picks drunk or having a cute girl pick random numbers or completely ignoring football in favor of swimming in the Mediterranean Sea?
This Sunday will be the first of the season during which I will see everything that is happening on the gridiron in high-definition. I’m looking forward to it; I have missed my dear football. But in case this week spells disaster for my picks, I want to take this moment to thank you for being here with me through the good times.
When I got off the plane at Newark International Airport this past Sunday, I had an overwhelming sense of accomplishment – “I did it,” I thought to myself. London was a dream before I made it a reality, and I freaking did it.
I feel the same way about this column. I have attempted to write regular gambling columns since my junior year of high school. There are still Facebook Notes and blogspot posts that I hope have been lost in the great abyss of the Internet. Previously, all of these attempts would fail due to disenchantment with myself and poor picks and a loss of creative spark.
But The Hypothetical SuperContest has made it. We made it through London and Paris and Barcelona, through Evil Peyton Manning and Jay Cutler face, through sober days and drunken nights.
Thank you to the whole Tuesdays With Horry crew for the ongoing support.
Thank you to anyone who reads this column: friends, family and strangers on the Internet.
And of course, thank you to RUSSELL HUSTLE BUSTLE WILSON.
I needed to get that out, but there are still picks to be made. I am back home and only 2.5 points out of the money in the Real SuperContest. Let’s finish strong with no regrets. Let’s make some picks. Home team gets the asterisk.
What a great table: three games right at a touchdown, six games holding at a field goal or less, and a few double-digit lines thrown in for good measure.
Realistically, I will have to go near-perfect these final two weeks in order to finish in the money of the real LVH SuperContest. If I had put $1,500 in real dollars into this mess, I would be panicky. But I did not, choosing instead to pay $1,500 hypothetical dollars for a hypothetical entry into this hypothetical SuperContest all the way back in Week 1.
With no real money on the line, I have courage and faith in these final two weeks. I ain’t scared. Game on.
Steelers (+7) over Packers*
The LVH SuperContest some times sends contestants gifts due to their need to publish lines by midday on Wednesdays. This Wednesday, everyone was sure that Aaron Rodgers would be starting for the Packers now that they control their own destiny on the road to the postseason. It was later revealed, after this line was put out, that Rodgers would not play on Sunday as he is still not medically cleared after breaking his collarbone. The switch from Rodgers to Matt Flynn drove the line in Las Vegas all the way down to Packers (-2).
This means that, in taking the Steelers (+7), we are getting five points of extra value in comparison to what Vegas believes the spread should actually be. This is all about playing percentages and finding value. This week, Aaron Rodgers and his collarbone made it easy. Hooray for math!
Bengals* (-7) over Vikings
The Vikings rolled over my Eagles last Sunday. It looked gross. It made me feel icky inside. Also, a fun stat has been going around the Internet that if NFL games were 58:43 minutes long the Vikings would be 9-5.
Whatever. That is a cherry-picking stat, akin to Joe Buck telling me about Robbie Cano’s batting average on Sunday afternoon games. Stats are great because you can manipulate them to see what you want.
The Bengals take this because I still believe the Vikings are awful. Cinci has one of the best defenses in the league and they are fighting for a first round bye. This should be easy, meaning it probably won’t be.
Again, whatever. Go Bengals.
Cowboys (-3) over Redskins*
I thought this line would be at least seven points before I googled it. I see this as another gift from Las Vegas.
Further, this game works as an emotional hedge for me as an Eagles fan. If the Cowboys win by more than 3, I win my SuperContest pick and am one step closer to the Hypothetical money. If they lose, then my Eagles have the chance to clinch the NFC Easy against the Bears on Sunday Night Football.
With that said, Tony Romo, if you figure out a way to win this game by less than three points, I’mma be real pissed.
Dolphins (-2.5) over Bills*
Even after all the bullying and drama that took over Miami a few weeks ago, the Dolphins can make the playoffs this season. The only things standing in their way are the Bills on Sunday and the Jets in Week 17. Come on. Get this done. IT’S THE BILLS.
I guess all that SportsCenter I have been watching hasn’t totally changed my perspective on football. In fact…
Seahawks* (-10.5) over Cardinals
My love of RUSSELL HUSTLE BUSTLE WILSON has been made clear throughout the course of this column. I adopted this love from Bill Simmons, who was singing the praises of the BUSTLE since before the 2012 season, calling him the top QB in the league before he played a single regular season snap. I bring this up not only to properly pay tribute to the man who introduced me to my greatest mancrush since Ryan Gosling, but also to transition into showing you this excerpt from Simmons’ most recent column:
“Speaking of Wilson, did you know he became the fourth QB to throw for 50-plus touchdowns in his first two seasons (along with Peyton Manning, Carson Palmer and Dan Marino)? Did you know Wilson is the first QB to win 23 games in his first two seasons? Did you know Wilson is three more home wins from breaking Danny White’s record of 16 consecutive home wins to start a career? Did you know Wilson’s .767 winning percentage trails only Tom Brady (.772) as the highest of all active quarterbacks with at least 15 starts? Did you know Jacksonville drafted a punter (at pick no. 70) right before Seattle took Russell Wilson (with pick no. 75)? This entire paragraph is amazing.”
Again, I love RUSSELL. He makes me love football more than I already did. He and his Seahawk compatriots have served me well, going 10-4 against the spread thus far this season. Even if this line is a bit too high, he has done too much for me to turn my back now.
Let’s keep a good thing going RUSSELL. All the way to the Super Bowl.
Last Week: 3-2