It's been almost exactly a week since the horrific news of Deshaun Watson's torn ACL came down, and I still don't want to believe it's happened. Each morning over the past week, I've woken up hoping that everything from Ian Rapoport's tweet announcing Watson's injury to Tom Savage's soul crushing debacle of a performance on Sunday replacing Watson has just been a bad dream.
Then, on Tuesday came the clarity, the bolt of lightning that told me this Watson injury (and this impromptu Savage Era) was really happening. From Bovada, the odds for the NFL MVP award:
11/1/17 Current Odds (11/7/17)
Carson Wentz 21/10 1/1
Tom Bra 2/1 21/10
Alex Smith 9/2 8/1
Drew Brees 20/1 14/1
Russell Wilson 9/1 14/1
Le’Veon Bell 33/1 28/1
Dak Prescott 33/1 28/1
Jared Goff Off the Board 33/1
Matthew Stafford Off the Board 33/1
Kareem Hunt 33/1 100/1
Deshaun Watson 10/1 Off the Board
Deshaun Watson, the rookie phenom who, a week ago, was rising up the MVP charts with a bullet, now "Off the Board" for the MVP award. Then depression set in, and I realized there was only one solution — to gamble my ass off this weekend, and try to forget about Deshaun Watson.
To that end, here are six picks for this weekend that I love.....
SOUTH CAROLINA -7 over Florida
I love a lot about how this game lines up. First, let's start with the obvious — Florida fired Will Muschamp a couple years ago, so there's any time you get a chance to back a "bitter ex" of a head coach, it must be examined, at the very least. Second, Florida is a hot steaming mess, as they've already fired Muschamp's successor, Jim McElwain, less than three seasons into his tenure there, and the ineffectual Randy Shannon is the interim head coach. (How are things going thus far in the Interim Shannon Era? The Gators lost to Mizzou by 29 last week, that's how.) South Carolina is coming off a 24-10 loss to number one Georgia, a game in which they hung around for a while with the best team in the country. Getting the home team here at a one score spread is a nice gift.
Indiana -9 over ILLINOIS
If I'm not mistaken this is the third time that I've backed the Hoosiers in this space over the last month or so. I took them to cover against Michigan (winner) and to cover against Wisconsin last week (oops). Both of these teams are 0-6 in Big ten play, but that's where the similarities end. Not all 0-6 teams are created equally in the world of gambling. Indiana may not have covered against Ohio State or Wisconsin, but they played large chunks of both games where they appeared to belong. Illinois is truly one of the worst team Power Five teams in the entire nation, and home field will mean nothing here. Hoosiers get off the Big Ten ziggy in a big way.
Southern Miss -10.5 at RICE
Time appears to be winding down on the David Bailiff Era at Rice, which bums me out because Bailiff is one of the truly nice guys in all of collegiate sports. However, there is nowhere to hide when your team is 1-8 and on a seven game losing streak. The Golden Eagles are coming off two straight losses, including a loss to Tennessee in Knoxville last weekend, so they will be hungry for a rout, and the Owls have allowed four of their last five opponents to score their season high. I hate to take advantage of a good man when he is down (sorry, Coach Bailiff), but I got tuition bills to pay.
JAGUARS -3.5 over Chargers
I knew this day would come, but as a Texans fan, I hate to say it — it's time to start believing in the Jacksonville Jaguars. At 5-3, they sit tied atop the AFC South with the Tennessee Titans, and they have, by far, the best point differential in the AFC. Blake Bortles and company have won their five games by an average margin of nearly 25 points. The defense is giving up the fewest points in the NFL, by far, at just 117 total points allowed. (Just typing all of this, I am getting nauseous thinking about the Texans traveling to Jacksonville in December.) The bottom line is this number feels awfully slim for a favorite that seems to finding their groove. Hell, Blake Bortles has even been serviceable this season!
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NINERS +2.5 over Giants
So you're saying there is a 1-7 team who is a road favorite? Really? And that team appears to have quit on their head coach? Ya don't say! The 1-7 Giants face the winless 0-9 Niners in Santa Clara on Sunday. There is a dynamic in the NFL that says to keep betting winless teams against the spread because there is huge motivation to get that first win. So in this game, by betting the Niners, you are getting a motivated home team that is getting 2.5 points. You just have to swallow hard, and put your hand over the win column in the standings. The Niners are the right side here.
Patriots -8.5 over BRONCOS
As long as the Broncos trot Brock Osweiler out there as their starting quarterback, I will trot up to the betting window and happily lay however many points are necessary to bet against him. The irony in this game is that it was an overtime win over the Patriots in 2015 as the Broncos' starting quarterback that essentially convinced the Texans it was worth taking a $37 million guaranteed gamble on Osweiler. Circle of life, I suppose.
LAST WEEK: 3-3
SEASON RECORD: 34-24-2 (58.6 percent)
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