All good things must come to an end.
Sadly, the NFL regular season is no different. There are very few things I enjoy more than a full slate of games on an NFL Sunday. If I were asked to pick my 30 favorite calendar days of any given year, I guarantee that all 17 of those Sundays would be included on the list, with Christmas, Thanksgiving, Selection Sunday, and a few random nights where I got lucky with cards or women thrown in to fill out the rest.
I will miss the joy that comes with an NFL Sunday. The chaos of following eight games at once while eating wings and drinking beers. The elation brought on by witnessing feats of athletic greatness from the comfort of a couch. Seeing heroes like JJ Watt, Derek Carr, and RUSSELL HUSTLE BUSTLE WILSON in pursuit of eternal footballing glory. This is what I live for. This is what I love.
But there is no reason to mourn! We still have the playoffs to enjoy and gamble through, and with the postseason comes higher stakes and (hopefully) a higher caliber of football brought unto us in high definition. And even after the final whistle of the Super Bowl has been blown, there is comfort in the knowledge that the 2015 season will undoubtedly come, and with it a new series of nail-biters, underdogs, and miracles for us to celebrate.
For now though, there is still work to be done. After sixteen weeks of Hypothetical SuperContesting, I find myself with a record of 38-42 against the spread. After last year’s profitable debut, this season has been a bit of a disappointment, as well as a reminder that it is not yet the time for me to put forth $1,500 of real American dollars towards joining the actual SuperContest. It is impossible for me to (hypothetically) make the money. It is impossible for me to (hypothetically) win the prize for best picks over the last three weeks of the season. It is impossible for me to hit 53% of my picks, which is necessary in order to have a profitable year of gambling.
But after weeks and weeks of being below .500 picking football games, there is the slimmest of chances that I could break through that barrier in one final charge.
One week. Five picks. I must go 5-0 or else a losing season it will be.
As you might remember, way back in Week 1 of this hypothetical column, I accomplished this miraculous feat. My picks ran the table and I was on top of the world. Now, I must spark within me the fire that helped guide my mind to that previously discovered perfection. I must enchant the Gods of gambling, the phantoms of fate, and the muses of money. This is my one shot. Will I capture it? Or just let it slip?
Here is the Week 17 slate. Home team gets the asterisk.
Beautiful isn’t she? More than anything I’ll miss about football season, it will be the release of these lines every Wednesday. This slate holds within it so much hope, so much potential of what could be, of the riches that someday will be all of ours. I’ll miss Cousin Sal and Bill Simmons discussing the lines on the BS Report, and Chad Millman and Bob Scucci breaking down the Vegas angles on Behind the Bets. But this is no time to get sentimental. There are bets to be made.
Chargers (+3) over Chiefs*
One advantage that the SuperContest gambler has in Week 17 is that there tend to be a couple of “soft lines” to take advantage of. While sportsbooks in Vegas have the ability to continue changing the spread of any matchup right until kickoff, depending on player injury, suspensions, or any number of things that could affect the outcome of a game, the SuperContest spreads are locked in on Wednesday and cannot be changed. A perfect example came this week, as it was just recently announced that Alex Smith would not be able to start for the Chiefs on Sunday due to an injured spleen. Before the news, the Chiefs were three point favorites against the Chargers in both Vegas books and the SuperContest. Now that the noble Chase Daniel will be under center foe KC, the Vegas line has swung four points to make San Diego a slight favorite. In the SuperContest however, we are still getting points. Go Philip Rivers go.
So there’s one pick based on math n’ shit. From here on out, the picks come from the heart. Be advised.
Browns (+13.5) over Ravens*
“Don’t sleep on the Browns!” This has been the battle cry of Ray and I since their Week 1 almost victory against the Steelers. Watching the Browns out of the corner of my eye has been one of my secret joys of the 2014 season. I dug Brian Hoyer doing his best Trent Dilfer impression and coming up just short. I loved Money Manziel sitting on the sideline and pretending to be engaged as a backup quarterback should be. I loved the joy that their fans expressed when their team showed signs of relevance.
And now, all of those loves are combined with my love of points (THIRTEEN AND A HALF?!?) and my love of anonymous backup quarterbacks.
Enter Connor Shaw. An undrafted rookie who spent the last 16 weeks of the year on the Browns practice squad, he signed a contract and will get to start on Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens. Connor Shaw is unverified on Twitter, which is adorable. He also has a sense of humor.
He’s the 22nd quarterback to start for the Browns since their reinstallation into the NFL. The kid’s now gonna go out there and try and win himself a football game. I’m just hoping he can lose by less than two touchdowns. Super exciting.
Texans* (-9.5) over Jaguars
Raiders (+14) over Broncos*
When the final week of the regular season came around last year, I was actually still alive in the SuperContest. My picks were dope that year, and if I had gone 5-0 and gotten a little help from those bettors that were ahead of me, it was possible that I would finish close to the money. In that article, I spoke of the importance of “dancing with the date that brought you.”
JJ Watt and Derek Carr, you have been joys to me this season.
JJ, you’re the MVP of my heart and hopefully the 2014 NFL season. This week, you have one final opportunity to further prove to the world that you are the hero that I know you to be. Sack Blake Bortles a bunch. Score a touchdown. Force and recover a fumble. Snocaps perhaps?
Derek, I believe in you. That’s the beginning, middle, and end of our story so far. In the city of Oakland, where very little hope is to be had in terms of football, you are a light that shines with glory. I’m super excited to see what you become and I super excited that I get to watch you play now. You throw the best college football that professional football has seen in years. If one of your receivers shakes his defender on a deep route, I know you’ll toss that ball right into his wide open and waiting arms.
To both of you, thank you for bringing me so many good times throughout the season. You have aided my love of football in ways words can’t fully express. Now go be great.
Seahawks* (-11.5) over Rams
You never really get over you’re first love.
And there you have it. The quest for 5-0 and breaking the .500 barrier, and I am entrusting the likes of Connor Shaw, Philip Rivers, and whoever the Texans decide to throw onto the field to throw footballs.
I feel great. I feel filled with the majesty that only gambling on regular season football can inspire within my loins.
Thank you for following along this year. I’ll be writing about gambling on the playoffs in some capacity, but after this week the Hypothetical SuperContest will be over.
Until next year, Happy Sundays.
Last Week: 4-1