So how bad was the controversial ending of Monday night's Seahawks-Packers game for the NFL?
Well, consider that the story got coverage on every major national news show Tuesday morning, was the subject of a David Letterman Top 10 list, and prompted President Obama to comment publicly on the topic as well. If those three things are happening with an NFL-related topic in Week Three, assume that the subject matter is bad for the league, although Obama spends as much time opining on sports as he does foreign policy, so maybe that part of the litmus test isn't all that applicable.
Also, consider the NFL's reaction to said publicity -- once thought to be at least another few weeks away from resolution, the deal with the referees' union was done within 48 hours of the Seattle debacle, and a makeshift crew of real officials were on planes to Baltimore Thursday morning to officiate the Browns-Ravens game on Thursday night.
In short, Monday was the NFL equivalent of a natural disaster, and the league reacted with the appropriate level of urgency. So if there's one good thing we can say about Roger Goodell, he is better than FEMA.
Now on to your weekend wagers....
Ohio State +3 over MICHIGAN STATE For a guy who is two years removed from having a heart attack, Michigan State's head coach Mark Dantonio sure isn't handling his team's lack of offense too well (averaging ten points per game against schools that aren't directional in-state schools):
Both of these teams have been hot garbage against the spread this season, both at 1-3 ATS and coming off of lackluster wins last week (Ohio State 29-15 over UAB as a 35 point favorite, Sparty 23-7 over Eastern Michigan as a 31 point favorite.). Something has to give! Who will rise up and cover the number this week?
Texas -1 1/2 over OKLAHOMA STATE This line actually opened at Oklahoma State -5 1/2, and immediately went to Texas -2. It's hard to put into words how badly the sports books misfired on this line early on in the process. However, I will try -- imagine the audience reaction on The Price is Right when one of the contestants has a Showcase Showdown prize pack with, like, a sectional, a camper, and a lifetime supply of Turtle Wax, and they bid a ridiculously high amount like $200,000.
That's what the gambling world did when the line opened at -5 1/2 for OSU. In their only game against a real team this season, the Cowboys lost 59-38 to an Arizona team that was shut out by Oregon 49-0 over the weekend. I think the Longhorns make a statement about who the Big 12 belongs to this season. (Of course, the Longhorns are roughly 0-84 in "statement games" since losing the national title game to Alabama two years ago.)
San Jose State -2 1/2 over NAVY This is another game that started out on one side of "the zero" Sunday night and quickly flipped to the other side -- Navy opened at -2 1/2 and the line quickly went all the way to San Jose State by a field goal. San Jose State lost to Stanford by a field goal in the opener, and given how well the Cardinal have performed since then (USC upset, anyone?), I think in retrospect that season opener wound up teaching us much more about the Spartans than the Cardinal.
Titans +12 1/2 over TEXANS My buddy Wooly B at fatsideofthebacon.com has a number of different "rules" that he uses as a fairly stringent collective guideline to handicap games. I can't remember all of them (He continues to add to the "rules" each year, to the point where if "the rules" comprised an actual book it would look like a thicker version of the makeshift sex book that Kevin unearthed under the library shelves in American Pie.)
But one rule I know that's easy to remember -- the Quadruple D's! No, it has nothing to do with Vince Wilfork's cup size, it means "Double Digit Division Dogs!" As in, if there's a division game with a double-digit spread, take the underdog. So I hate to do it, don't take it personal, Texans. It's just business. Here's hoping you win by eleven, Kubes. Saints/PACKERS OVER 53 Another Wooly rule that I can remember -- highest total on the board, if it's over 50, take the over. A Seannie corollary to the Wooly rule -- if it involves two of the five best quarterbacks in the game in absolute desperation situations, you DEFINITELY take the over. Hard to believe that after this game, either both these teams will be 1-3, or the Saints will be 0-4.
Giants +2 over EAGLES This was actually the first line to jump out at me in the NFL this week. On the one side, we have the defending Super Bowl champions, who after a lackluster debut in the season opener against the Dallas Cowboys and a dreadful first half in Week Two against the Bucs, have played nearly flawless football, outscoring the Bucs 28-10 in the second half of their game and trouncing the Panthers in Carolina 36-7, in a game that was so lopsided, Cam Newton was benched in the fourth quarter. (This was the infamous "If I was a Panther fan, I'd be ashamed" game for Cam.)
On the other side, we have an Eagles team that, like the Giants, is 2-1 on the season. However, they are coming off a disastrous loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Phoenix last weekend, and there are rumblings that quarterback Mike Vick could get benched for rookie Nick Foles with another bad start or two. That is, if Vick doesn't sustain a punctured torso from a full-on collision first. Also, did I mention that the Eagles are near the bottom of the league with a minus-six turnover ratio? (The Giants are tied for third best at plus four!)
So why are the Eagles favored by two then? What, you expect me to have a good answer for that? I have no earthly idea why! This is an ideal "last game of the week" -- it's either gonna be a classic "atone for all sins" monster wager, or you could go down in a massive blaze of degenerate glory.
There is no in-between. I love the Giants this weekend. I love Eli. That frightens me.
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Last week: 1-5 Seasn record: 9-9
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. weekdays, and watch the simulcast on Comcast 129 from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.