This Weekend's Best Bets: Father-Son Oakland Raider Weed Smoking Scalpers Edition
At this point, when it comes to my weekly picks, I've been abandoned by all my family and friends and I'm basically rubbing two sticks together in the middle of the woods.
I have no answers, and if last week was the week you finally decided to go opposite of my picks because it was "the right thing to do" (inarguable, mathematically), then my only counter is "What the hell took you so long?"
excuse reason I can come up with is that I've been traveling the first five weekends of the NFL season and maybe I was a little distracted. Lamest reason ever, but I'm grasping for straws at this point.
Well, good news, kids! This weekend, I'm staying at home! So maybe, just maybe, I pull off a miracle and go 4-2 on my picks.
In the meantime, before I unveil this week's dance card of prognostication sadness, I have to share some loose ends from last weekend's trip to the Bay Area for the Texans-49ers game:
1. First, just a general observation on the Texans' 2013 schedule. If you're a fan who likes to road trip with the team (and by all indications, that is a group that is growing like crazy), I don't know that the schedule for a particular season could lay out much better than this one. It's due in large part to this being a season where not only do the Texans cross over with both the AFC West and the NFC West (next time it happens, 2025), but they happen to catch roadies to the best cities in each of those divisions. San Diego and San Francisco are two of the top five cities to visit in the entire country, for any reason. Add in football, and it's a lock. I think approximately 92.3 percent of the reason I love those cities so much is that the weather is so nice that you don't feel any self-loathing in drinking all day long, because you're able to do it outside. Being outdoors increases the acceptableness of an activity tenfold. This is a fact. So...DRINK!
2. For a handful of reasons (flight schedules, San Francisco hotels being like five billion dollars a night), we flew into and home-based out of Oakland. Not a big deal as mass transit and an underratedly easy highway system (especially for California) make the Bay Area very navigable, and getting across the Bay ten miles to San Fran was a piece of cake. One observation on Oakland -- as gorgeous and upbeat as San Francisco is, Oakland is every bit as heinous and depressing as people tell you. The one thing that amazed me about Oakland is that you couldn't go 50 yards without seeing a building or a sign or a parked car without graffiti sprayed all over it. The entire city is painted up with curse words and gang signs of every imaginable size and font. Basically, Oakland is the Aaron Hernandez of American cities. (San Fran had its share of ink as well, but it was more Birdman Andersen than Aaron Hernandez -- more colorful, more upbeat, more lovable.)
3. Following up my Oakland observation with an Oakland story:
So the Texans are trailing the 49ers 31-3 early in the third quarter, and quite frankly, it didn't even feel that close. Normally, it'd be pretty depressing to travel so far to see your team get destroyed so swiftly, but San Fran is a great city and "bucket list" and what not. Also, because of a quirk in the NFL's schedule last weekend, because of the Oakland A's and playoff baseball sharing the Coliseum with the Raiders, the Raiders-Chargers game had to be moved to an 8:30 p.m. local time kickoff in Oakland, which meant that if you were really ambitious (and you were in the Bay Area), you could potentially catch two live NFL games in one evening, since the Niners and Texans kicked off at 5:30 p.m. local time.
Since the opportunity to do that might not ever happen again in league history (two games on the same day, maybe, but the same night?), and since the Texans were getting destroyed, me and my girlfriend Amy had to give it a shot. So we hopped on the BART train, which happened to dump us off back in Oakland right across the street from the Coliseum.
The game was in the middle of the first quarter when we arrived on the premises, and obviously we didn't have tickets. Appropriately enough, after inquiring with several winos and semi-retired gang members about tickets, we settled upon a shrewdly negotiated deal with an Earl Boykins lookalike who was sharing a joint with his father (100 percent true story, and some quality parenting) -- two tickets on the fifty yard line for $23 apiece. I even got them to throw in a stipulation allowing me and Amy to follow them all the way into the stadium so I could breathe in their secondhand smoke. So two tickets on the fifty for an NFL game and a contact high for $46. Suck on that, Daryl Morey!
4. Whatever hyperbole you hear about a Raiders game being the most frightening place on earth, it's an understatement. Especially at night. The stadium is in a hideous part of town, every single person there is dressed in black and/or painted up, and the cops/security people are essentially glorified spectators, relegated to laughing at all the chicanery and crime going on in the stadium because it's so overwhelming. We saw a security guard smile and high-five a guy who toked up a joint. And this happened in the lower sections, like the expensive seats.
In short, it was awesome. 5. Outside of football, boozing and destroying bread bowls full of clam chowder, the best activity we took part in last weekend was a cruise around Alcatraz on Monday morning. We were all set up to go on a tour of the island, but the government shutdown has rendered the historic former prison (and location for the Sean Connery hit The Rock) unvisitable. Thankfully, the good folks at Alcatraz Cruises are staying resourceful through the collateral damage of Obamacare and are still offering a Bay cruise that, in addition to going underneath the Golden Gate Bridge, circumnavigates Alcatraz Island twice and gets close enough to get some excellent pictures. I'm talking within like 100 yards of the island. The recorded narration of the tour (complete with some excellent Alcatraz stories) and the beer and wine bar on the boat ($4 beer, $3 glasses of wine!) make the experience a home run. Definitely 90 minutes well spent, and I highly recommend it if you're going to the area. (Info can be found at alcatrazcruises.com. Incredibly helpful and accessible folks there.)
Now onto the picks...
Baylor -17 1/2 over KANSAS STATE Baylor is the closest thing to an automatic that we've seen so far this season. They will score, and we will bet on them to score until they stop scoring. In the first four games this season, Art Briles's crew has scored 69, 70, 70 and 73 points. They have a chance to become the first major college team to score 70 points or more in four consecutive games since Yale did it in 1886 (against juggernauts Williams, Wesleyan, Crescent A.C. and Pennsylvania). To provide some perspective on how long it's been, this Baylor team is 21 years removed from Gino Toretta winning the Heisman; that Yale team was 21 years removed from the end of the Civil War.
Texas A&M -6 over OLE MISS We are now five weeks into the season for the Ole Miss Rebels and, despite many of us media folk trying to will them into relevancy on the heels of their surprising 2013 recruiting class, it appears that the Rebs reside somewhere in between "same ol' Rebels" and "dangerous SEC sleeper." Johnny Manziel will do Johnny Manziel things in Oxford on Saturday night and the Aggies win this one much more easily than last season's squeaker. The best show in Oxford may actually be off the field, if this render vows comes to fruition:
— Nathan Fitch (@UNCLENATEFITCH) October 11, 2013
In case you didn't know, this would be Johnny Manziel's "handler" Uncle Nate hitting up Marshall Henderson for some nightlife. Um...awesome?
Alabama/KENTUCKY UNDER 52 1/2 The script is written on every Alabama game against terrible teams -- get a three- or four-touchdown lead and then choke them out, grind the clock and go home. Other than the circus in College Station against A&M, the Crimson Tide games have gone 35-10, 31-6, 25-0 and 45-3. Kentucky stinks. I'm sensing something like 38-6.
Jaguars/BRONCOS OVER 53 While it would be fun to try and bet the spread on this game (Broncos are -26, the biggest favorite since the Steelers over the expansion Bucs in 1976), the safer bet is the over at 53, which the Broncos will come close to hitting by themselves. And since my record is so abysmal this season, I need to take "safe" over "fun." By the way, how bad is this Jags team? Well, first, many of the books in Vegas aren't taking Super Bowl action on them anymore, a sign that there is no number out there they could post that would get bettors to wager a single dollar. Second, bovada.lv has posted odds on the remaining Jags games, and it's predictably ugly. They are underdogs in every game, six home games (average spread +8) and four road games (average spread +13).
Steelers +2 over JETS Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, after an 0-4 start, banned his players from playing pool and pingpong in the locker room this week. I just know that when my parents grounded me from video games when I was a kid, I corrected whatever behavior it was that caused the grounding with much quickness.
TEXANS -8 over Rams The rule says if a team loses by 28 or more, you bet on them the following week. The Texans, of course, lost by 31. They're 0-5 against the spread this season. Something's gotta give, right?
Last week: 2-4 Season record: 11-25
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 Yahoo! Sports Radio from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and nationally on the Yahoo! Sports Radio network Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon CST. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.