We’re back home.
We got off to a blazing 5-0 start in Week 1 of this Hypothetical SuperContest, but after a few down weeks and a Week 4 that I wish to never speak of again, our record against the spread was looking woeful. Last week we were able to grind out some winning favorites thanks to coin flips and confusion. Now we are back in striking distance a .500 record, and we are going to depend on the dogs to do it.
Why all the dogs you ask?
Last week I got a dog. Her name is Rosalita, but she goes by Rosie for short. She likes to eat, sleep, and sometimes poop in the house (but we’re working on that). She is now the most important thing in my life and I couldn’t be happier about it. After taking all favorites in the SuperContest last week, I figured it would only be fair to show some love for my dogs this week. I know that Rosie approves. She hates spiders and favorites, although I’m guessing on the latter.
Let’s check out the Week 7 slate and find a few underdogs to put our hypothetical money on. Home team get’s the asterisk.
Look at those dogs! They’re beautiful! But we won’t be blindly taking dogs without rhyme or reason. We’re combining logic and beauty and knowledge and faith and probably some dog shit to get to our fab five selections this week. I’m going to go through game by game because I feel like it’s been a while.
Jaguars* (+5.5) over Browns
In Week 1 of the NFL season, my friend Ray and I watched the early Sunday games at our local Buffalo Wild Wings establishment. BWW is a magical place, with televisions showing literally every game taking place scattered around their bar and dining area. While the Eagles were our primary focus that afternoon, the other big screen at the bar was occupied by the Browns-Steelers matchup. As our BWW continued with wings, beers, and merriment, Ray and I kept an eye on the Browns game as they began mounting a fairly sizable second half comeback. We were captivated and crazed as the Eagles were busy erasing a 17-0 deficit against the Jags, but just inside our peripheral vision the Browns were tearing the Steelers a new one. “Don’t sleep on the Browns,” we began to tell ourselves. And since then, the mantra has stuck.
Ray and I are wide awake on the Cleveland Browns.
With that said, this week the Browns are 5.5 point road favorites. I love the Browns this year, and the Jags seem to find a way to blow covering the spread week after week, but the fact that Cleveland is giving this many points on the road is astounding to me. It’s almost incomprehensible. I’m not sure if they have been 5.5 point road favorites since the Derek Anderson era, and even then it might not have happened.
I don’t think the Jaguars are a good football team, and I do think the Browns are a good, maybe even better-than-good football team. But as a man that has been paying a lot of attention to NFL spreads over the past four years, the idea of “Browns (-5.5) on the road” does not compute. It’s like a 404 error in my brain. The file does not exist.
Go Jags go.
Giants (+6.5) over Cowboys*
I was so excited when I saw this line, and you should be too. This is Vegas taking us for suckers (which, in fairness, is a pretty solid play, as we usually are suckers). But we caught them this time! Vegas is basically asking us to let last week’s play heavily influence our gambling decisions. Did you watch the Cowboys have their way with the Seahawks? Did you see the Giants get blanked by the Eagles in primetime? That’s the only reason this line is this high. Had this line been set before last week, I doubt it would’ve been more than 4, as the Cowboys hadn’t proven themselves against a contender and the Giants hadn’t sucked in a while.
Despite their goose egg last week, the Giants are plenty capable of scoring points and I don’t think the Cowboys are about to become known as “the vaunted Cowboys defense.” The key to covering +6.5 is scoring points. If the Giants put up 27 points, that means the Cowboys need 34 to cover. That might seem like juvenile thinking to the layman, but sometimes it’s just that easy. I think the Giants could score 27 points in this game, and I don’t think the Cowboys could score 34.
Plus, if I’m being honest with myself, my “screw Tony Romo” feelings are stronger than my “I can’t believe Eli has two rings” feelings. I don’t know why. I am a spiteful man.
Raiders* (+3.5) over Cardinals
The Cardinals are no joke this season. They opened with a strong win against the Chargers on Monday Night Football, and have looked consistently competent en route to a 4-1 record as they travel to Oakland this weekend. But they are last in the league in terms of opponents passing yards. Who will be passing against them this week? The new legend, the great silver hope, Derek Carr.
Did you watch Derek Carr throw footballs last week? He threw for 282 yards and four touchdowns. He had a higher QBR than Aaron Rodgers and Andrew Luck. It was beautiful. Also, the Raiders are home dogs. In Vegas, home dogs are a beloved friend to the educated gambler. Home dogs are rare and usually look like a bad bet – home field advantage is worth a three point swing on the line in Vegas with regard to professional football, so if a team is at home and still underdogged, it’s a sign that you have a bad home team playing against a good road team. That’s true here too. But home dogs have historically covered at a better rate than your everyday team.
Plus this week I took a dog home, so I’m taking all the home dogs I can. (Sorry Rams. Maybe next time I get a new dog you won’t be playing the Seahawks at home).
Panthers (+7) over Packers*
This line just looks way too high. I guessed this line would be 3.5 or 4, but apparently Vegas hates a team with a tie, and now the Panthers are getting spotted a full touch The Packers have the worst run defense in the league and I’m hoping that leads to Cam Newton making magic with his feet. Of all the games being played on Sunday, the Panthers are the biggest underdogs, which sounds crazy if you think about it. The Panthers aren’t awful. They’re pretty okay! But they are being given a half point more than the crappy Rams and their third string quarterback as they face off against last year’s Super Bowl Champions who are hungry coming off a loss.
That’s crazy. That seems incorrect.
Let’s ride the Riverboat with Ron one more time.
Texans (+3.5) over Steelers*
Every year, Monday Night Football develops an ad campaign meant to stress the importance of Monday Night. Last year, they released ads that stated simply, “There’s Only One Monday Night.” This bothered me, as it seemed empirically untrue: there are multiple Monday nights. Do you want to hang out on Monday night? You can’t make it? No worries, there is another Monday night next week! The flawed logic of those commercials bothered me for the entirety of the 2013 season.
This year, however, ESPN Creative produced this gem: “No Other Night Is Monday Night”
While tapping into the same literal simplicity they had attempted to espouse last year, the 2014 iteration makes better logical sense. No other night is Monday night. Tuesday night is not Monday night. Next Thursday Night is not Monday night. Only Monday night is Monday night.
They made one of these commercials for this week’s game involving JJ Watt. I tried to find it on the Internet but I’m 99% certain it’s not to be found. The search did put me in contact with ESPN PR which is exciting, as that is a relationship I would like to begin understanding and using better.
But my personal love for ESPN ad campaigns aside, we’re betting the Texans not simply to have action on Monday, but because everything I read about JJ Watt only gets more awesome. Check out this quote from a recent article highlighting this hero’s many achievements. This what JJ Watt said when asked why he doesn’t spend his fame and money on girls and booze and other things considered “fun” by the objective universe.
“I score touchdowns on Sunday, that’s pretty darn fun,” Watt said in an interview with The Associated Press. “There’s not much more that’s going to top that. I’m not going to find a touchdown in a club. I’m not going to find a sack in a bar. So I just stay in my house and enjoy myself.”
That article was entitled MEGAWATT, in all caps, because if you are attempting to capture the spirit of JJ Watt in a one-word title, you’re damned right it’s going to be capitalized.
That is a professional football player, admitting that nothing is more fun than scoring touchdowns. Why would he go drinking? It’s not as much fun as scoring touchdowns, and if anything, the drinking might mess up his body which has been finely molded and maintained for the purpose of scoring touchdowns. Even better, this is coming from a defensive player, playing a defensive position not usually associated with a wealth of touchdowns. But JJ Watt finds a way. JJ Watt can do whatever he wants. And what JJ Watt wants is to score touchdowns.
I’m super excited for Monday Night.
Until then, Happy Sundays.
Last Week: 3-2