Game Time: Football -- This Season's First Round of Best Bets
Okay, it's the first officially great football weekend of the season (loaded college slate plus first weekend of NFL).
Last weekend's college slate was sort of like a "soft" opening for a new restaurant, working out the kinks in anticipation of the real schedule. Granted, with a bunch of nail-biter games, it was the most kick-ass "soft" opening of all-time -- like the kitchen staff nailing every order, the female wait staff scantily clad, and the mixed drinks all having double the alcohol -- but still, we live for college football on Saturday and the NFL on Sunday.
To that end, one more time (WITH FEELING!) -- you can go back and check out my nearly 4,000 word opus on the Houston Texans' 2010 season and my slew of prop bets to give you a little added rooting juice right here on HoustonPress.com.
For those that are new to the drill, each Friday I have six best bets that I'll give to you. If last season's history is any indicator, all you have to do is go the opposite of my picks and you'll be able to put that new wing on your house by January! You're welcome!
Rice Owls Mens Basketball vs. St. Thomas University Men's Basketball
TicketsWed., Dec. 21, 7:00pm
Advocare V100 Texas Bowl
TicketsWed., Dec. 28, 8:00pm
Rice Owls Mens Basketball vs. Middle Tennessee State Univ Blue Raiders Mens Basketball
TicketsThu., Jan. 5, 7:00pm
PRCA XTreme Bulls
TicketsFri., Jan. 6, 7:30pm
With that, let's go....
Georgia Tech -13.5 over KANSAS
I don't have many handicapping rules, but one of them is when a Paul Johnson-coached team goes into the stadium of a team that failed to score a touchdown against a school with the word "Dakota" in its name, you take the Paul Johnson-coached team. That rule is undefeated. (No need to look it up, just trust me.) The Turner Gill Era's rocky start continues, and the Kansas student body starts marking off days until Midnight Madness on the calendar, like a prisoner counting down his sentence.
Oregon -11 over TENNESSEE
Both teams administered first week beatdowns of a couple of slappies, neither of which proved anything. So this much we know -- Heisman candidate LaMichael James returns to the lineup for the Ducks fresh off a one-game suspension and Oregon has ridiculous SEC-level speed all over the field. We learn a lot more about both teams this week, which I don't think will be very pleasant (nor unexpected) for Vols Fan.
(One side bar note on Tennessee -- how predictable was the rumor that the NCAA has been sniffing around the Vols' men's basketball program regarding an overabundance of illegal phone calls to recruits? I mean, if you had a pool on "next coach to get caught being a little too prolific on the phone," Bruce Pearl is the easy choice. You know why? Because he doesn't SHUT THE FUCK UP! EVER! When he's not on the sidelines acting like a ten-year-old who was just told that he wasn't getting dessert, he's listening to himself talk on ESPN or CBS or any other media outlet he can find. There must be a point each day when he runs out of people who are (a) awake and (b) around him, and then what do you do? You dial up recruits, of course. That's my guess on how it went down.
Underrated subplot in the Tennessee investigation is that the new associate athletics director in charge of communications in Knoxville is Jimmy Stanton. He came to Tennessee after a couple years at Kentucky working public relations, and before that he was the main media contact for the Astros. I didn't really know Jimmy that well, but I do know that when he worked for the Astros he always looked stressed out, like someone told him that there was a certified letter from the IRS waiting for him in the lobby. And that was working for the Astros in a season where an average of about three media members per night would go to games! I can only imagine what three years of handling the spin on Billy Gillispie, John Calipari, and now Bruce Pearl have done to him.)
Texas Tech -24 over NEW MEXICO
New Mexico was on the business end of the aforementioned Oregon beatdown (72-0, if you need the final score). I love it when Vegas applies a home-field factor to a game where the visiting team will probably have more fans in the stands than the home team. It's like getting 10 bonus points on a test in a class where you have a 98 average. On top of that, we had a benefits meeting today up at 1560 and the guy from Blue Cross Blue Shield looked EXACTLY like Tommy Tuberville. Check it out, it's karma. A classic "name the score" game.
JAGUARS -2.5 over Broncos
The Broncos are one of the six worst teams in football. They were at the end of last season as well, and that was with Elvis Dumervil still in the lineup and Brandon Marshall still part of the team. Now, you have a bad team without their most disruptive forces on offense and defense from the previous season going on the road and laying less than a field goal to a Jags team that may be a little desperate? I'll go with the Jags, despite the fact that it's a lock that 90 percent of the 12,000 Jag fans in attendance will be wearing Tebow gear.
RAMS +3.5 over Cardinals
Each Thursday on our show, we have one of the doctors from the Richmond Bone and Joint Clinic come on for a few minutes to discuss significant injuries. This week, Dr. Vishal Shah (one of our favorites) came on and we asked about Larry Fitzgerald's knee injury -- after about 90 seconds discussing the healing process of the medial collateral ligament, the need for rest, and what the injury would have meant if it occurred in the middle of the season, we (Dr. Shah included) all arrived at the conclusion that Fitzgerald could have the most magical superhero knees in the world -- his biggest injury is Derek Anderson's lack of skill. I firmly believe this iteration of the Cardinals is not good enough to be laying points on the road. This will be the last time it happens in 2010. I suggest you take advantage.
REDSKINS +3.5 over Cowboys
The Cowboys signed Miles Austin to a $54 million extension ($18 million guaranteed) after exactly twelve productive games in his Cowboy career, which made many of us in the talk radio business scratch our heads and sent Kim Kardashian scrambling to see if she deleted Austin's number from her iPhone. I would say that the Austin extension is crazy except this is the same team that gave up multiple high picks for Roy Williams (the guy whom Austin supplanted as the Cowboys top target, if indeed Williams ever even held that distinction). Add Dez Bryant to the mix and this is a team that has about $100 million and multiple high picks invested in its receiving corps. It's like having a moderately nice home in a middle class neighborhood and spending a half a million dollars to turn your garage into a killer home theater. You'll use it, but is it really a good use of resources?
My feelings on the Redskins are well documented -- new/good coach, new/good quarterback, enough flaws with their division foes to make me think "hmmmmm"...I like the Redskins this year. I think they win this game outright, and I think they beat the Texans in Week 2 as well.
LAST WEEK'S RECORD: 0-0
SEASON RECORD: 0-0
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 3-7 p.m. weekdays on the "Sean & John Show" and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Houston, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.