This Weekends Best Bets: "Cleveland Punter Gets Face Stomped" Edition
Finally, a safe haven from TMZ videos of domestic violence incidents and replays of Roger Goodell's sweaty face, lying his ass off to America.
If you're someone who is more the traditionalist, you can say what you want about Thursday Night Football -- the short week dilutes the quality of the product, NFL football is meant to be played on Sundays (and Mondays), Thursday belongs to college -- but if ever there were a week where we needed on the field stuff to wash the horrific taste of the off the field trials out of our mouths, it's this week.
Naturally, of course, one of the two teams in tonight's game is the now former employer of the wife beater in question, one Raymell (yes, RAYMELL) Mourice (sic) Rice. So we can't totally escape Rice talk.
But since the game is on CBS and the NFL Network (historic first ever simulcast!), we at least won't be subject to Chris Berman's less than insightful analysis of the league's handling of RAYMELL Rice:
Silver lining: Berman's clunky multitasking wound up becoming a very funny meme on Twitter of people quoting famous speeches and randomly cutting them off about 15-20 words in with "....AND THE PUNT IS BLOCKED!!" Very funny....
@richarddeitsch 'We choose to go to the Moon, We choose to go to the Moon, not because its easy but because THE PUNT IS BLOCKED
— Brad Hope (@Brad_Hope) September 9, 2014
Ok, let's move on to some picks.
Last week was a return to earth for the Pendergast subsidiary of Bridgewater LLC (If you don't know what Bridgewater LLC is then you need to listen to Sports Radio 610 more often, son!), as we went 2-4, burdened by two tough NFL beats -- the Jets beating the Raiders by only five points (spread was 5.5) and the Eagles coming back from down 17-0 to the Jags to not only win the game but cover the 11 point spread on a late garbage back door touchdown.
So it's back to .500. I'll be honest, I feel a little like Cleveland punter Spencer Lanning trying to tackle Antonio Brown:
The reaction to that, by the way, which included the usual dosage of Jim Ross audio dubs and photoshops, was enough for Lanning to turn off his Twitter app on his phone. By the way, has there ever been a more "punter" name than "Spencer Lanning"?
Anyway, let's get to the picks....
Arkansas +2 over TEXAS TECH What do the Texans and Arkansas Razorbacks have in common? Well, both hadn't won a football game since the weekend of September 14-15 last season, and both got off the schneid this past weekend. For the first time since his wife decided to tweet "karma" at a bunch of Wisconsin fans because of a completely unjust loss by the Badgers to Arizona State last season, Bret Bielema coached his new team, the Razorbacks, to a win. Granted, it was against FCS punching bag Nicholls State, but when you haven't won in almost a year, they all count. Texas Tech is a little overrated this season. I think the oddsmakers are still a little swept up in a) the school extending head coach Kliff Kingsbury and making him one of the highest paid coaches in college football through 2020, and b) Kliff's sublime abs. I don't see the Tech love here.
UCLA -7 over Texas (in Dallas) You're just not very good at football, Texas. Not good at all.
OKLAHOMA -20.5 over Tennessee This is a sneaky important game for the Oklahoma Sooners. If somehow they let Tennessee rise up and get the upset, then Oklahoma's season is over in terms of the national title. With a loss to a middling SEC team like the Vols, best case then, the Sooners will be behind every one loss SEC team at the end of the year, even if they run the table. If they even let Tennessee hang around in this game, it may get held against them come selection time if they're jockeying for the last playoff spot with an SEC team. I but, sort of, that Stoops wants to send a message to the SEC, although sending a message to the SEC by beating up on Tennessee is like sending a message to the United States by invading Delaware. (Honestly, what are the good folks of Delaware going to do???) Besides, didn't Oklahoma whack Alabama in a bowl game last season? Sooners send the proper message.
Saints -6 over BROWNS Everybody loves to debate whether or not quarterbacks in the NFL are "elite" (so much so that the word has devolved from annoying to downright cringeworthy), but whenever that argument bubbles up, inevitably four quarterbacks rise above the muck -- Peyton, Brady, Rodgers, Brees. Well, three of those four lost outright in Week 1, which means...PRIMO BOUNCE BACK POTENTIAL!!! The Saints, as a team, are 20-3 ATS following a road loss. THAT, I like. However, they are following up the road loss last week with another road game, outdoors and on grass. THAT, I don't like.
However, the punter for the team they play had this...
....done to him last weekend. THAT, I like. Those two YouTubes outweigh any actual gambling analysis. WHO DAT!
PACKERS -8 over Jets The other "elite" (yes, go ahead, CRINGE) Mt. Rushmore (CRINGE again!) quarterback I love this weekend is Aaron Rodgers bouncing back huge against the Jets. Brian Bulaga's injury concerns me a little bit, but I just don't think Geno Smith is ready to go into Green Bay against a Packers team that's 0-1 and stand in and trade punches with Rodgers.
Texans/RAIDERS UNDER 40 The Jadeveon Clowney knee injury was kind of a bummer this week. I mean, really, football gods? 14 straight losses last season, and we can't even fully enjoy the first win in almost a year? The good news is that the slate of quarterbacks coming up looks like this rookie Derek Carr, completely shot Eli Manning, still flummoxed E.J. Manuel, and back crimped Tony Romo. Very, very manageable. (Of course, to be fair, in all of those cities, they're looking at the Texans saying "potential turnover machine Ryan Fitzpatrick", so we should temper our glee.)
As for the game on Sunday (the only late Sunday start of the season for the Texans, by the way), this feels like one of those late afternoon, dirt infield, ugly, low scoring battles. Fitzpatrick finally turns the ball over once or twice, but Carr faces a pass rush the likes of which he hasn't seen since the youth game he played at Reliant against the city's sports mascots! I am not comfortable taking the Texans as a road favorite yet, but I am comfortable with their defense. Under is my play.
Last week: 2-4 Season total: 6-6
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