I was asked on a Miami radio station on Thursday if I thought that the Dolphins had any chance of beating the Texans on Sunday. While firmly of the belief that the Texans will throttle the Dolphins by more than two touchdowns, I had to leave the door slightly ajar for a Dolphins upset, and I did so in the most self-loathing fashion possible with stomach-turning clichés like "anything can happen" and "everybody is 0-0 right now." (Real solid insight, I know.)
But as incredibly robotic as that answer was, that latter part is true -- we are all 0-0 right now. Not just the players, not just the coaches, but also the gamblers. We are 0-0! Hope springs eternal, boys! WE CAN DO THIS!
So join me now as I try and top last year's amazing 70-53-1 run. Come along for the ride....
Louisiana Tech -4 over HOUSTON Before Hurricane Isaac rocked New Orleans so hard that they had to postpone a game in Shreveport, it was thought that Louisiana Tech was a chic pick to knock off Texas A&M, an A&M team that is now basically a pick 'em with Florida at home. So if they were a chic pick to knock off a decent SEC team on a neutral field, shouldn't Louisiana Tech be a much bigger favorite than -4 to knock off Houston on a field that will basically feel neutral after last week's Coogs loss to Texas State siphons off the non-diehard U of H fans?
And by the way, what's a team's record against the spread in the game after their offensive coordinator resigns one week into the season? Oh, and isn't this the same Louisiana Tech team that came within a furious Case Keenum-led comeback of beating the Coogs last season? I like Tony Levine, but this feels like the next chapter in a painful book about the maturation of quarterback David Piland.
Georgia -2.5 over MISSOURI Decent matchup of quarterbacks with Aaron Murray and James Franklin, I'm just not ready to pick either of the SEC rookies to win games against the upper tier of the SEC. Not in their first game. So I'm taking Georgia, and then watching this video...
...because if I watch that video and still want to back Mark Richt, then it's gotta be a best bet!
CARDINALS +2 1/2 over Seahawks First, let me preface with this -- I am a huge fan of Russell Wilson, partially because he is the odds-on favorite to win the "quarterback who proves the draft experts don't know shit" award, and partially because he looks like C. Thomas Howell in Soul Man (underrated guilty pleasure atrocity of the late '80s).
But I can't back a rookie quarterback on the road as a favorite in his first start. I just can't. On top of that, Cards starter John Skelton was 6-2 last season in place of Kevin Kolb, who is now so overpriced as a backup that they should put a life-sized Kevin Kolb-shaped gold bullion on the sidelines in place of the real Kolb as a reminder of how ridiculous some of these quarterback signings are...as if Matt Flynn (and his $10 million guaranteed) standing on the Seattle sideline backing up Wilson isn't also a stark enough reminder. Eagles -9 over BROWNS "Dream Team," take TWO! Aaaaannd...ACTION! That's kind of how watching the Eagles feels in 2012. Despite a season that went off the rails early in 2011 and finished with an underwhelming 8-8 record, the Eagles are the fourth-shortest shot on the board to win it all this season at +900, behind only the Patriots (+400), Packers (+450), and -- GULP! -- the Texans (+700)!
Meanwhile, the Browns are starting a rookie quarterback (the 67-year-old Brandon Weeden) who played in such a prolific, up-tempo offense in college that he had rarely been touched by an opposing defender until about a month ago. The Browns are 1-11-1 against the spread in season openers since Browns 2.0 was started up in 1999. Also, former Browns owner and public enemy number one in Cleveland, Art Modell, died early Thursday morning, which means he can now continue raining hell down upon Cleveland's citizens from the afterlife. Which also means....
RAVENS - 6 1/2 over Bengals ....we can go with the "bet heavy on the team who just had their octogenarian owner die the week before the game" theory. It worked last season with the Raiders and Al Davis. In fact, the theory worked so strongly, it was able to overcome a raucous Texans home crowd and the involvement of Hugh Jackson. So for the Ravens to win and cover against the Bengals should comparatively be a piece of cake.
Dolphins/TEXANS UNDER 42 1/2 In my Texans 2012 preview for last week's print edition of the Houston Press, I had this to say about the Texans season opener:
There's an episode of The Office in Season 4 when Michael Scott, in order to prove his survival skills to his fellow employees, decides to head into the wilderness with no supplies and wearing only his business suit. On several levels, Michael was ill-equipped to deal with the dearth of accommodations that such a voluntary plight entailed, and by about four hours in, he had his suit pants wrapped around his head like a bandanna and was eating poisonous mushrooms. I bring this up because Dolphin rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill will be making his first start on the road, against the No. 2 defense in the league, with Davone Bess as his No. 1 wide receiver. Ryan Tannehill is heading for a "Michael Scott in the woods" moment folks, and not even Dwight Shrute can save Tannehill for what Wade Phillips is going to have for him.
I firmly believe this is exactly what will happen -- Ryan Tannehill leaving Reliant tattered, bruised and possibly in a sling or on crutches. I am somewhat certain the Texans will cover the 12-point spread, but I'm supremely certain there will be very few points scored on Sunday. I stand by my prediction in the preview: Texans 27, Dolphins 10.
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2012 Record: 0-0 (Undefeated, baby!) 2011 Season record: 70-53-1
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.