I hope all of you had a fantastic Christmas holiday and that Santa Clause brought you everything you wanted.
Mine was filled with tiramisu, sambuca and lots of broken glass. (All huge staples of any good holiday season, I know!) In case you're wondering, the "broken glass" is not a metaphor for anything. There was actual broken glass at the Christmas festivities at my girlfriend Amy's parents' house.
It started when Amy splattered one of the ceramic wise men on the floor with a stray ball of crumpled-up wrapping paper that she was trying to shoot into a garbage bag, à la James Harden. Unfortunately, she shot it more like Rusty Hardin...
Mary's like "Um, we were expecting THREE of you...and where is the damn frankincense??" ... pic.twitter.com/rnXYX25TGK
— Sean Pendergast (@SeanCablinasian) December 25, 2014
And then there was a bottle of red wine that Amy's dad massacred...
— Sean Pendergast (@SeanCablinasian) December 25, 2014
My point is that between buying gifts and replacing small ceramic wise men, we got some financial catching up to do. How do we do it? Why, gambling, of course! So let's do this...
USC -7 over Nebraska (Holiday Bowl) A little mix of college and pro ball this week starts on Saturday night with a clash of two name programs. USC is trying to finish the season on a high note heading into a 2015 in which they'll look to retake their place among the elite programs. Having just fired Bo Pelini, Nebraska is rocking an interim head coach named Barney Cotton, which sounds like a name my son would make up on the Xbox (assuming there was a video game for hog farming). The Trojans pounded unranked teams this season, beating six of them by an average of 27 points per contest in those six wins. Nebraska is unranked, and not very good, and will get pounded.
Texas/Arkansas UNDER 44 (Texas Bowl) This is the battle of the "6-6 teams that everyone will see as 'frisky' next season if they win this game." As stakes go, this is basically like a WWE #1 contender's match for the old Hardcore title. Seriously, as glitzy as the names are, this has a chance to be, as my friend WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross likes to say, "bowling shoe ugly." Lots of running, lots of punting, lots of rolling clock. The first one to 20 should win this thing.
TEXANS -9.5 over Jaguars Even though this has major "counting our chickens before they hatch" and "crash landing letdown off a big upset last week" potential, I'll ride with the Texans' defense on this one. The past two weeks they've held Andrew Luck and Joe Flacco (two very good and fairly decent QBs, respectively) to a completion rate of 38 for 84 (45 percent). I'm assuming life will be awful Blake Bortles on Sunday, which is fine because a) the Texans must win to stay in the playoff hunt and b) Bortles has spent the better part of the past few years banging Lindsey Duke, so he can get to the back of the line for a little while and let J.J. Watt squash him like a grape for an afternoon.
Mini Season 2014! pic.twitter.com/UloGo8zbXQ
— Lindsey Duke (@liindseyduke) August 1, 2014
PACKERS -7.5 over Lions The last time the Detroit Lions beat the Packers in Green Bay was on December 15, 1991. Think about that for a second. That's crazy, especially when you consider that they play each other every season! I mean, the Internet basically became a "thing" around 1994-ish, so the last time the Lions beat the Packers in Green Bay, you had to get your porn in either magazine or VHS form. I mean, that may as well be ancient Rome! (By the way, I just realized that there's a decent chance in about ten years that I'll be typing this same paragraph about the Texans and the Colts, only instead of the Internet, it'll be a streak that predates Twitter. Depressing.)
Titans +7 over COLTS Speaking of the Colts, they're firmly embedded in the four spot in the AFC, so there is literally zero reason to trot out Andrew Luck in a division game, especially one where Jurrell Casey is going to be trying to make a point to the people who pick the Pro Bowl roster. Also, it would just be so Titan to blow a short putt for a top two pick and a potential franchise quarterback. (The Titans are one of two 2-win teams in the league. There are no 1-win or winless teams.)
SEAHAWKS -12.5 over Rams If you remember back to Week 7 of this season, it was the first matchup between these two teams where people began to pronounce the possibility that the Seahawks dynasty might be dead before it even gets into second gear. On that Sunday, the Rams beat the Seahawks 28-26, using some trick plays on special teams -- a 90-yard return fake thingy and a fake punt -- to send the Seahawks to a 3-3 record at that time. Since then, the Seahawks have gone 8-1, and the last six of those wins have all been by double digits. In a second half of the season that feels like it's been gradually building toward all roads going through Seattle, Sunday is the regular-season coronation.
Last week: 3-3 Season total: 50-51-1
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