This week's tale of gambling riches comes from Branford, Ontario, where locally their version of the lottery is actually an NFL parlay card of sorts, where if a player picks 15 games 100 percent correctly, they will win a sizable six-figure payout.
In Week 3 of the NFL season, a man named Gino DiFelice cashed a ticket for $725,274 when the final play of the Packers-Seahawks ended with the replacement referees confirming a controversial touchdown by Seahawks receiver Golden Tate on the game's final play.
Even better than the most-discussed ref botch in recent history deciding the outcome of a near million dollar Canadian NFL lottery was the fact that DiFelice's 12-year-old daughter is the one who made all of the picks on the winning ticket. If you remember, Week 3 was the crazy week where nine underdogs won their games outright.
Frankly, much like the receptionist winning the March Madness office pool, Week 3 was such an insane bettor bloodbath, it could only have been won by a 12-year-old girl. That's gambling.
So with that in mind, here are my best bets for this weekend. (DISCLAIMER: No 12-year-old girls were consulted in making these picks.)
KANSAS STATE -24 1/2 over Kansas Well, the Jayhawks apparently had quite the practice this week. In addition to presumably working on little things like blocking and tackling, Kansas head coach Charlie Weis added in some practice time for the team to work on their celebrating. Yes, the Kansas Jayhawks were practicing their celebrations, which is a little like me figuring out the words I'm going to use to let Minka Kelly down easy someday.
And much like their blocking and tackling, apparently the Jayhawks' celebrating left a lot to be desired, according to their coach. Things pick up at about the 1:05 mark of the video below, Weis goes on this long rant:
"I can tell you guys aren't used to winning. (Pause) Hey. Hey, fellas. Okay. Winning a football game is not supposed to be an uncommon occurrence. I know that's a novel concept around here. Okay. When you win a football game, there's supposed to be a celebration that looks like a celebration. And that was a pile of crap.
I believe in practicing everything, including winning. That's what this is all about. This isn't about you guys jacking around over here. This is about, third game of the season, you're sitting here 2-0. You're playing TCU, you haven't won a conference game in about eight years. (bells) ... and you hit a field goal to win the game. Act that way!"
Here's the video:
Man, I wish these portly Kansas coaches would make up their mind. Are kids allowed to celebrate, or are they not allowed to celebrate? I mean, compared to former Jayhawk coach Mark Mangino below, Weis is really sending mixed signals:
Well, at any rate, I don't think this version of the Jayhawks will need to worry about their "last second winning field goal" celebration this weekend in Manhattan against Bill Snyder's Wildcats. They probably will need to worry about blocking and tackling. Worry greatly. Rice -7 1/2 at MEMPHIS This game is this week's Graebel Movers "Big Line Move" of the week! (It's actually not sponsored by Graebel Movers, this is just me gratuitously trolling for a moving company to sponsor the "Big Line Move" of the week. If you're a mover, and you want to put your name in this space, let me know!)
Anyway, last week's "Big Line Move" of the week was Texas' going from a five-point underdog at Oklahoma State to a three-point favorite within about five minutes after the line went up. This week, somehow the oddsmakers thought that making Memphis a four-point favorite under any circumstance was a good idea, the same Memphis team that is 5-35 over their last forty games and lost to Tennessee-Martin in their opener at home this season.
Well, it didn't take long for sharp bettors (or anyone with half a brain) to fire heavily on Rice and the line was quickly moved eleven and a half points to Rice -7 1/2. The Owls should have quarterback Taylor McHargue back from the shoulder injury that forced him to miss the Bayou Bucket game against Houston, and effort won't be an issue here for the Owls. The smart kids always bring effort.
OHIO STATE -3 over Nebraska There's a rule in betting college football (according to my friend Wooly B at fatsideofthebacon.com) that you should bet against any of the teams ranked between 21st and 25th in the AP poll if they're on the road, the thinking being that there's not that drastic a difference between teams 21 thru 25 and the next 15 or 20 college teams after them, so the spread for those schools 21 thru 25 are slightly inflated because they have a number next to their name. It may sound crazy, but the rule hits at a ridiculously good clip (like over seventy percent winners).
This week, there are four of this type of game. FOUR! They are as follows:
#21 Nebraska +3 at #12 Ohio State #23 Washington +24 1/2 at #2 Oregon #24 Northwestern +3 at Penn State #25 UCLA -3 at California
I'll probably play all four of these and, worst case, split out at 2-2, but the Buckeyes over the Huskers is the one I'm most comfortable with. Nebraska struggled to beat a mediocre Wisconsin team at home last weekend, and other than that, has beaten nobody. Columbus at night will be rocking.
PANTHERS -3 over Seahawks When Cam Newton was coming into the league, one thing I mentioned multiple times as a concern was the fact that we don't really know how Cam Newton would handle losing, having seen him go several years without losing a game as a starter (undefeated at Blinn JC, undefeated at Auburn). His rookie year he seemed to handle things fine, but expectations weren't very high for the team. Six-and-10 was a major improvement for Carolina over 2010's 2-14 disaster.
This season, it's different. The Panthers are a trendy dark horse pick in the NFC, or at least they were, but they're out of the gate at 1-3, Cam is making mistakes at the worst possible times (his fumble late in the Atlanta game stopped a drive that would have closed out the game), and even worse, he is sulking after games like a despondent third grader. To wit, this tweet from ESPN's Ed Werder after Sunday's loss to the Falcons:
Cam Newton held up team buses for long time while sitting in locker room alone and setting record most lotion applied post shower.Nfl
— Ed Werder (@Edwerderespn) October 1, 2012
Now, how does all this play into Sunday's game with Seattle? Well, I frankly think Carolina is way undervalued in this game. Forget Cam's fumble, if the Carolina defense makes a play on a bomb to Roddy White in the final minute, we are talking about Carolina being 2-2 and knocking off the undefeated Falcons, who by the way are the clear choice as "best team in the NFC" right now. One play. That's the difference.
Seattle is the worst team in the league at throwing the ball, and moreover, they may have the biggest delta of any team in the league between their home persona and their road persona. They are truly Superman at home, and Clark Kent on the road, and this weekend, the quarterback with the Superman celebration gets his mojo back.
Chargers/SAINTS OVER 54 This is one of the strangest-looking games on a Vegas betting board that you will ever see. The 0-4 Saints are four-point favorites over the 3-1 Chargers, making the Saints easily the most highly regarded winless athletic entity since Ric Flair stopped winning matches in about 1999. Like the early 2000's Ric Flair, the Saints while winless are still one of the most entertaining, talented, "train wrecky" fun things to watch anywhere on television. Also, like Flair, they're better than their 0-4 record, hence the minus-four spread. I don't know that they will beat the Chargers, but I know it will be the NFL equivalent of a five-star WWE match -- lots of offense, lots of high spots, lots of cheating, and a decent chance that Norv Turner accidentally hits one of his own guys with a chair.
Texans -8 over JETS This is the first of several prime time opportunities the Texans will have to show the nation what they're all about, and this one will be on the biggest stage of them all -- New York, Monday night, across the field from Tim Tebow. (That "Tebow" part was tongue in cheek, kind of.)
In Monday night games so far this season, we've seen several storylines involving different players or teams facing adversity and trying to right the ship. Each time, the adverse situation wound up far more exacerbated than it did resolved:
WEEK 2 STORYLINE: Is Peyton Manning's arm strength all the way back? RESULT: Manning threw three floating interceptions in the first quarter that buried the Broncos in a hole they never dug out of versus the Falcons.
WEEK 3 STORYLINE: How much longer can the NFL let these replacement referees ruin the game we love? RESULT: Um....
WEEK 4 STORYLINE: Tony Romo and the Cowboys can't score points, despite one of the most talented group of skill guys in the league. RESULT: Romo said "Hey Peyton, I'll see your three Monday night INT's and raise you two more!" Yes, FIVE picks. BONUS WEEK 4 RESULT: The ongoing storyline that has Jay Cutler being a douchebag got amped up a notch in a Bears victory! Bonus!
WEEK 5 STORYLINE: Rex Ryan is losing control of his team, his quarterback sucks, and he thinks the use of the word "ass" in a press conference is some sort of edgy, can't-stands-no-more line in the sand:
RESULT: Texans 31, Jets 6
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Last week: 4-1-1 Seasn record: 13-10-1
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.