Okay, before we get to going 5-1 again on my picks this week (See what I did there? TOTAL HUMBLEBRAG...two weeks in a row at 5-1, baby!), a quick note on the sagging NFL ratings, which I will manage to tie into a gambling angle. Watch and learn, kids!
In case you hadn't seen, here is the latest on the decline in television ratings of the NFL this season...
Update on year to year NFL viewership through Week 7— Michael Mulvihill (@mulvihill79) October 25, 2016
As you can see, the Sunday afternoon games are down just slightly. The real problem lies in the nationally televised primetime games, and the problem with those games (and to a larger extent, the league this season) is that the NFL lacks a bit in star power right now. To wit, below are the odds on the MVP award for this season:
Tom Brady — 3/2
Ezekiel Elliott — 6/1
David Johnson — 10/1
Andrew Luck — 12/1
Matt Ryan — 12/1
Aaron Rodgers — 16/1
Dak Prescott — 18/1
Russell Wilson — 20/1
Philip Rivers — 25/1
Julio — 28/1
Yes, the runaway leader for MVP of the NFL, Tom Brady, missed the first four games of the season, meaning he will play a maximum of 12 games this season. And it's not even close as to who the oddsmakers think SHOULD win the MVP, as of right now. Andrew Luck, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson... those guys are all hanging around in the top ten, but all have flaws on their résumés.
Brady's leading the MVP charge is interesting, but the fact that how uninteresting the league is as a whole is the REASON he's leading is rather ironic. Okay, now let's win some more money...10-2 over the last two weeks!
UCF +9 over HOUSTON
If you're looking for a discernible turning point in the University of Houston's 2016 football season, I'd trace its plummet from the top six teams in America to the unranked back to the pick six by Navy to go up 14 in the third quarter of that game. Since then, the Coogs have been closed out by the Midshipmen, nearly lost at home to Tulsa and were blown out by 22 to SMU. Their coach is heavily rumored to be all but gone, and this is a team that looks visibly distracted by the off-field drama. Amazing, considering their head coach is so adept at keeping it together with all of the rumors swirling (tongue planted firmly in cheek)....
Honestly, Herman is a really good head coach, but he's as bad at handling coaching rumors as he is great at coaching an offense. Herman is a guy who will go after the individual reporters who report these rumors, which is an ungodly waste of time and energy, and an indicator of a guy who likes to flex his muscles for the sake of flexing them. If Herman were president of the United States, he would be chasing criminals in the street himself instead of delegating to law enforcement. "I'm done being the media police..." Bro, you never should have been the media police to begin with. Coach your damn team, man.
So yeah...I'll gladly take nine points with Scott Frost and UCF.
UTAH +10 over Washington
My man Johnny Harris — Texans sideline reporter and college football expert extraordinaire — said on my show yesterday that Utah's getting ten points at home is a virtual lock. Good enough for me. Do you guys really need me to fake analyze this one? Johnny Harris says it's so...I'll take the points!
Auburn -4.5 over OLE MISS
After going through the first month of the season as the most talented team in the country with multiple losses, Ole Miss tacked on two more losses in a row to Arkansas and LSU — a game in which they gave up nearly 300 yards rushing to Leonard Fournette. Now here comes Auburn, with head coach Gus Malzahn setting a new land speed record for going from "nearly fired" to "dark horse Coach of the Year candidate." We've seen these Malzahn teams when they get into a groove. They become money machines.
Patriots -6.5 over BILLS
Speaking of money machines, the Patriots are 3-0 ATS since the MVP favorite returned from Deflate-Gate exile. We shall ride along. Oh, also, the one SU loss the Patriots have this season? A Week 4 shutout loss to these very same Buffalo Bills, so now TB12 gets to right that wrong as well. Love this play.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Packers/FALCONS OVER 52.5
Falcons games have gone over the total in every game this season other than the Denver game, oftentimes in shootouts that go over with ease. This is a game that will be played indoors, with two of the top six MVP candidates in the league pulling the trigger at quarterback for each team. This one will be over the total by the end of the third quarter,
COWBOYS -4.5 over Eagles
This is the first in what should be years of tremendous NFC East battles between quarterbacks Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott. After losing their season opener SU and ATS, the Cowboys have rattled off five straight wins, again SU and ATS. This is a team that's built to win and cover, with the leading rushing offense in the league, the third-best offense overall, and a bend-but-don't-break defense that is No. 7 in points allowed per game. The Cowboys are coming off of a bye week, too. Cowboys by double digits.
Last Week: 5-1
Season Record: 29-19
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.