NFL & College Football Best Bets -- How Ebenezer Scrooge Saved Me

I went to the Alley Theater last night and saw A Christmas Carol. Fantastic production and actually my first time ever seeing it in any venue, let alone the Alley. For the completely un-Christmased of you out there, Carol is a tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, a grumpy curmudgeon of a man who spends his entire life invoking frivolous taxes on residents of his town, growling at people, and just being an overall asshole.

In short, Scrooge is like a combination of Bob Huggins, Bo Pellini and the Democrats.

However, after being guided on a dream journey by ghosts of Christmas past, present and future on Christmas Eve and glimpsing at what a miserable medley of douchebaggery his life has been (maybe the worst night of sleep ever not involving a Taco Bell "fourth meal," by the way), Scrooge has an epiphany on Christmas Day and immediately starts inviting people over to party and happily forgiving them of their debts.

There's a big part of me that wishes Wells Fargo has this same dream when my VISA bill comes due later this month, but I digress...

Fast forward to real life, to last night. My show ends at 7:00 p.m. in our Galleria-area studios, and the play starts at 7:30 p.m. downtown. Basically, there's no time to do anything other than haul ass out of 1560 The Game, get downtown, park, and go see the play. We literally walked in the door of the theater fifteen seconds before we would have had to wait until after the play started to be seated.

Why am I telling you this? Well, because if I had more than 12 seconds of spare time between the time my show ended at 7:00 and the time that the ghosts of Christmas future kicked off A Christmas Carol, I would have definitely taken the Colts -3 last night in Tennessee. That felt like a lock. Peyton Manning had his back to the wall and the Titans have, for all intents and purposes, quit on Jeff Fisher and his fantastic mustache.

You pound the Colts there, no questions asked. Well, the tight schedule didn't afford me the time to even think about that.

In the end, I saw absolutely zero minutes of the Colts-Titans game, but I did make a run through Twitter at about 10:45 p.m. and apparently the Titans scored a meaningless touchdown with no time left in the game to throw one of the all-time back door cover daggers into the hearts of Colts bettors everywhere.

Final Score, Colts 30, Titans 28. Titans cover. This was literally the biggest topic on Twitter late last night (at least it was on my Twitter feed, which admittedly includes probably a hundred people who bet on games).

So my point with all of this -- count me in as one of the people who now loves Ebenezer Scrooge! If I don't go to that play last night, I'm starting the weekend in a hole and trying to dig out. As it is, I get to watch thousands of people cry out in terror as Bo Scaife and Kerry Collins collectively murder them. So win-win!!

Merry Christmas!!

So in honor of my new best friend Ebenezer Scrooge, here are my NFL picks for this weekend, in honor of football ghosts of Christmas past, present and future....

(By the way, do we know anyone else named Ebenezer? That's one of those names that will always be tied to a single surname. Kind of like Oprah. Or LaceDarius.)

Picks from the ghosts of Christmas past...

Giants -3 over VIKINGS JAGUARS -4 over Raiders

In A Christmas Carol, if there were one part of his life Scrooge could change it would have been...well, his entire past. Yeah, so pretty much his whole life, that's what he would change. Apparently, he was shunned as a child by his classmates and other children and this planted the seeds of discontent that later manifested itself by Scrooge deciding to shake down every resident in his town for taxes and eschewing the one piece of ass that was going to sleep with a guy named "Ebenezer." Bad decisions all the way around.

So for the "Past" portion of the best bets, we're going to fade all things nostalgic. Anything whose glory days precede iTunes or the Food Network, we are betting against you this weekend. Yes, that means you, Brett Favre. Yes, that means you, All Davis. (Actual fundamental handicapping principle alert -- Raiders travel east for the second time in four weeks for a 1:00 EST kickoff. You know what that means! NEGATIVE BODY CLOCK!! The last time the Raiders made this trip was three weeks ago and they lost to the Steelers by four touchdowns. So...yeah...)

Picks from the ghosts of Christmas present...

STEELERS -8.5 over Bengals Falcons -7.5 over PANTHERS

In the "present" part of A Christmas Carol, Scrooge basically got to go all voyeur on the actual in-home events of Christmas Day at his various relatives and co-workers, kind of like the locker room scene in Porky's minus the showers and the naked chicks. (So actually, not at all like the locker room scene in Porky's. Um anyway...) Scrooge ends up quasi-participating in a bunch of stupid games at his nephew's house like charades and "Yes/No" (Where is Wii bowling when you need it?) and decides it's the greatest night of his life.

Therefore, in honor of Christmas present, I am picking my two favorite teams to play in Dallas for all the marbles in February -- the Steelers and the Falcons. I think you can name the score for the Steelers against the Bengals this weekend; that one has "bloodbath" written all over it. As for the Falcons and the Panthers -- well, in their twelve games this season, the Panthers have scored more than 20 points one time and given up less than 20 one time. And we're now in the part of the season where they give up on their lame duck head coach. Oh, and a Clausen is prominently involved.

Picks from the ghosts of Christmas future...

Rams +9 over SAINTS Bucs -2 over REDSKINS

Finally, Ebenezer Scrooge glimpses what the future looks like for him if he continues on the grim path to nowhere that his life has become -- a dark, morbid montage of blood, hell, death and ghouls with all kinds of cutlery plunged into their bloody torsos. Basically, his life became the same as a Rams or a Bucs fan in 2009. He was faced with a decision -- change or be miserable. So Scrooge did the only logical thing...he drafted a franchise quarterback (or...he decided to adopt a much rosier outlook on life, I'm starting to lose track and mix metaphors now. Sorry.).

After years of tormenting the souls of their fans with the football equivalent of bloody ghouls, the Rams and the Bucs are both in the hunt for a playoff spot thanks to their future star quarterbacks, Sam Bradford and Josh Freeman. More importantly, the Rams and Bucs are a combined 17-7 against the spread!

Yes, you heard me. I just said their record against the spread was more important than their actual records. And if you don't believe me, go look at your Christmas shopping list, add up what it's going to cost, and think again.


Last Week: 4-2 Season Record: 47-30-1

Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 3-7 p.m. weekdays on the "Sean & John Show" and follow him on Twitter at

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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast