NFL 2020 Week 11 Picks

My pick: listed first. Home team: CAPS.
Post-game comments in italics.

Time for a late-season comeback. I think I got it now.

SAINTS -3.5 vs. Falcons — Count me on team Taysom Hill. I want to see what the guy can do — and I think the Saints are best off with a run-first attack anyway. Plus even if the Falcons are ahead they’re the biggest chokers in league history. Easy money. ✅

Patriots -2.5 vs. TEXANS — Son of a bitch I think Belichick has righted the ship. I mean we knew Cam Newton could play. Last week’s Pats win over the Ravens turned me from “Pats are cooked” to “Pats are back”. 2× pick of the week. ❌ ❌

Cowboys +7 vs. VIKINGS — Dallas has a one-game winning streak against the spread. Gotta go with the momentum.

Packers +1.5 vs. COLTS — Tacked this bet on late to give me something to care about while I watch this one.

RAIDERS +7 vs. Chiefs — Another last-minute bet just to have something to care about. I do like the Raiders’ chances to keep it within one score though.

Season to date (weeks 1–9): 24-34-1

NFL 2020 Week 10 Picks

My pick: listed first. Home team: CAPS.
Post-game comments in italics.

PANTHERS +6 vs. Bucs – I’m just looking for a game at 1p to bet on. What a weird schedule today, with all the good games at 4:00p. Plus, I feel like maybe last week was a sign that the wheels are falling off the Brady bus. ❌

DOLPHINS -2.5 vs. Chargers – I think the Dolphins are actually good, I think Tagovailoa is the real deal, and so I think this line is a steal. ✅

Niners-SAINTS OVER 49.5 – The Niners are struggling but they are scoring points. ❌

Ravens -6.5 vs. PATS – The Pats stink, let’s face it. This line should be over 7 points, easy. 2× pick of the week. ❌

Season to date (weeks 1–9): 23-31-1
This week: 1-3

NFL 2020 Week 9 Picks

My pick: listed first. Home team: CAPS.
Post-game comments in italics.

I cleaned up wagering on this week’s election. Pretty, pretty, good. Good enough that my NFL picks in the second half of the season could do as well as my picks in the first half of the season and I’ll still be in the black, easily. Politics Gruber is happy, and gambling junkie Gruber is happy.

So to hell with griping about how poorly my picks have gone to date. Everything is coming up Milhouse this week.

Seahawks -3 vs. BILLS – The Bills are damn good, so this should be a hell of a game. But I like the Seahawks’ chances to flat out win it. Feels like a toss-up and I’ll always go with the better QB. ❌

Ravens +1 vs. COLTS – Do we really think the Colts are that good? I don’t. Plus, the Ravens have activated Dez Bryant, one of my favorite receivers of all time. I gotta go with them for that reason alone. ✅ Easy money, this one.

Cowboys +14 vs. STEELERS – What the hell, why not? ✅ Cowboys cover!

Saints +3.5 vs. BUCS – I like the Saints in this game a lot. And what a matchup to land on Sunday Night Football: Brees vs. Brady. ✅

Season to date (weeks 1–8): 20-30-1
This week: 3-1

NFL 2020 Week 8 Picks

My pick: listed first. Home team: CAPS.
Post-game comments in italics.

Brutal 0-5 week for yours truly 7 days ago. I need help, obviously, so the first two picks below – the Bills and Packers – come from my dad, Bob Gruber, outstanding handicapper and all-around wise man. The rest of the picks are mine. My dad also has the Ravens -4.5 over the Steelers but I have my doubts about that one.

PACKERS -5.5 over Vikings – I don’t know what’s going on with the Vikings this year, but they’re bad. And the Packers were back in top form last week after their week 5 dud against the Bucs. ❌ Thanks, Dad.

BILLS -4 over Pats – I’m going to stop waiting for the Pats to turn it around and open my eyes to the fact that the Pats are (a) not very good, (b) hurt, and © Cam Newton is just way out of sorts. ❌ Thanks again.

Rams -3.5 over DOLPHINS – I think Tua Tagovailoa has a bright future ahead of him and Dolphins are smart to give him the ball. I also think it’s smart money to bet on the better team (Rams) against a rookie QB in his first start. ❌

SEAHAWKS -1.5 over Niners – Looks like I keep losing money betting against San Fran but winning money when I bet on Seattle, so something’s got to give in this game. I think the general stinkyness of the Patriots this year makes the Niners blowout last week look better than it was. I look for the Seahawks to build a big lead in this game and keep it. 2× pick of the week. ✅ ✅ Finally.

Cowboys +10.5 over EAGLES – Look, if this season were a boxing match, the Dallas Cowboys would be out on a TKO. The fight would be stopped. Go home, get well, come back next season and try again. This is a team that was embarrassing itself before they lost two quarterbacks to injuries. It’s bad. The entire NFC East is a legit straight-up embarrassment to the NFL. Every year there’s a weak division with a “winner” who gets a playoff spot they don’t deserve, but at this point the idea of any one of these NFC East teams hosting a playoff game seems like a farce. But that’s what it is. And the Eagles probably are that team? The Eagles would never miss a chance to kick Dallas when they’re down, but that goes double with the division lead on the line. But what am I going to do? The Cowboys are 0-7 against the spread. They may well lose the rest of their games this year but surely they’re not going to go 0-16 against the spread. They’re going to cover eventually and goddamnit I’m going to be there for it. ❌ Almost covered at the end!

Season to date (weeks 1–7): 18-26-1
This week: 2-4

McConnell Played Trump

The Republican-majority Senate tonight confirmed Amy Coney Barrett as a Supreme Court justice. This, after the same Republican-majority Senate claimed, four years ago – in the very previous presidential election, something recent enough to still feel like part of current events, not history – that when a seat on the Court opens up in an election year, the seat should be filled by the winner of the election. That’s what they said. What they meant, and what Barrett’s nomination and confirmation this year show, is that what Republicans believe is that whichever party holds power can and should do whatever it wants within the Constitution. Democrats have taken note.

Why block Merrick Garland’s nomination in 2016? The why there was obvious: it gave Republicans a chance to fill the seat themselves and maintain a majority. And it worked. But why fill this seat now, rushed before the election? Why not wait? Even if Biden wins and were to fill Ginsburg’s seat, Republicans would still have held a 5-4 majority. The only explanation that makes sense is that Mitch McConnell thinks Trump is going to lose and he doesn’t much care about that.

In terms of the actual election next week, ramming this nomination through now clearly hurts Trump, not helps him. Four years ago that Supreme Court vacancy helped Trump tremendously – some number of conservative-leaning voters who would prefer a conservative Supreme Court but didn’t like Trump personally voted for him anyway on the basis of that open seat on the Court. Yes yes, some voters love Trump. But nowhere near enough for him to have won in 2016 or to win in 2020. He needs voters who dislike him, to some degree, to vote for him anyway (which is true for all politicians) and an open Supreme Court seat was just such a reason in 2016.

And it could have been again, this year, after Ruth Bader Ginsburg died. All it would have taken is for Trump himself to say the winner of the election should make the pick. He’s been desperate for months to change the subject of the election to something other than his bungling of the COVID-19 epidemic and everything else that made him historically unpopular before the pandemic. An open Supreme Court seat to be filled by the winner would have been just what he was looking for. It also would have made him appear magnanimous – something deeply appealing to swing voters.

It’s almost comical how badly Trump misplayed this opening at Mitch McConnell’s behest. It serves McConnell’s interests to fill the seat while they can, before Trump seems likely to lose the election. It doesn’t serve Trump’s interests at all. There are voters who love Trump all the more for filling this seat now before the election, but they’re the sort of voters who were going to vote for Trump no matter what. But there are almost certainly an electorally significant number of conservative-leaning voters who care about the makeup of the Supreme Court who might have held their noses and voted (again) for Trump even though they dislike him – maybe really dislike him – just on this issue alone, who will now feel free to vote for Joe Biden because conservatives on the Court now hold a 6-3 majority. If a conservative Supreme Court majority is your top issue as a voter, you’ve already got it. You’re free to move on to your next issues, like, say, having someone you respect in the White House. Or someone who believes in science.

Dave Winer wrote the following a month ago, and I haven’t seen anything that puts McConnell’s place in this better:

McConnell is 78, an old man, and he’s got maybe one more term in him, maybe not even that. He’s playing a game for the sake of the game, the same way a compulsive crossword puzzler has to finish the Sunday NYT puzzle.

He set out to do one thing in his life, turn the court Republican.

Look at it this way. The Republicans had two ways to play this vacancy: ram a nominee through before the election just because they can, or use the vacancy as an issue to help win the election.

McConnell was guaranteed of his life’s goal if they rammed it through pre-election. If they’d waited, that turned into a maybe. It served McConnell’s interests to take the sure thing now, even if it hurt Trump personally and Republicans in general in the upcoming election.

Trump had nothing to gain by ramming it through now. He surely thinks that Republican voters will “thank him” for it, because he thinks everything is all about him. The open seat in 2016 made the presidential election about two things: the White House and a Supreme Court seat. Barrett having filled the open seat tonight means next week’s election is only about the White House, and a referendum only about Trump. Trump, who is infamously transactional, got transacted by McConnell and he doesn’t even know it.

There’s also the angle that Trump somehow thinks having Barrett on the Court might hand him a contested election win. It strikes me that the odds that Trump needs every last swing voter who cares about a conservative SCOTUS as a top issue are high; the odds of a 2000-like situation where the Electoral College comes down to one state and that one state’s vote is so preposterously close it gets thrown to the courts is low. Trump beat Clinton in 2016 by just 70,000 total votes across Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, and that wasn’t disputed. And even if something like 2000 happens again and Amy Coney Barrett winds up casting the decisive vote in a 5-4 decision that hands the election to Trump, that would only happen if the election were so close that Trump almost certainly would have won outright, without throwing it to the courts, if he had held the open Court seat as an election issue. Trump doesn’t understand how any of this actually works, that it’s not like pro wrestling where he can just say it’s a contested result and let the SCOTUS decide in dramatic fashion. There are very limited circumstances where the Court can step into an election.

If you’re a swing voter whose top priorities are (1) a conservative SCOTUS and (2) the personality of the candidates, Trump just lost your vote if you think he’s an ass. Mitch McConnell, on the other hand, already won and has cashed in his chips.*

* If the Republicans lose the Senate – as appears likely – I bet McConnell retires. He’s already accomplished his life’s work, why play out the clock as minority leader in the Senate?

NFL 2020 Week 7 Picks

My pick: listed first. Home team: CAPS.
Post-game comments in italics.

Not a lot of picks this week. Most seasons, narratives seem more clear by mid-season. This year there feels like more of an “anything could happen” vibe. Take that Saints-Panthers game. My first thought was to take the Saints -7. Then my second thought was, maybe the Panthers will flat-out win that game, maybe I should take them on the moneyline. So I skipped it. Here are the picks I feel good about:

Bills -9.5 vs. JETS – The Jets are in such utter, total, embarrassing, you-just-don’t-see-this-sort-of-thing-in-the-NFL freefall that I can’t believe they’re even setting a number on this game. I found it at 9.5 points, most books have it at 10. Feels like easy money. ❌ Easy come, easy go.

Cowboys +1 vs. FOOTBALL TEAM – Even Dallas fans have to joke about the dreadful, comically bad defensive season Dallas is having, and there’s nothing funny about Dak Prescott’s awful injury. But Zeke Elliott fumbling twice last week – that’s not him. That’s just rotten luck. There’s no way Dallas is as bad as Washington, and there’s no way Dallas falls to 0-7 against the spread on the season. 2× pick of the week. ❌❌ I don’t feel so good.

Right?

RAIDERS +4 vs. Bucs – I love this game at +4 instead of, say, +3. Feels like one that could easily come down to a last second field goal. And Brady is due for a pick 6. ❌ I think I ate something bad.

PATS -3 vs. Niners – It really is fascinating to see the Brady-without-Belichick vs. Belichick-without-Brady thing start out so lopsidely in Brady’s favor. But do we really expect the Pats to fall to 2-4? Against a not-so-great San Fran team? It’s a lot easier for a team with offensive problems to turn it around than a team with defensive troubles. Wait, did I just bet on Dallas? Checks notes … Uh-oh. ❌ Get me a bucket, quick.


Season to date (weeks 1–6): 18-21-1
This week: 0-5

NFL 2020 Week 6 Picks

My pick: listed first. Home team: CAPS.
Post-game comments in italics.

Another week with a slew of early window games Sunday that I wouldn’t get near betting with someone else’s money. Bears +2 at Panthers? That sounds like a hell of a fun game to watch but I feel like one of these teams is going with by 3 and it feels like a coin toss which it’ll be. Browns +3 at Steelers. OK I was close, really close, to taking the Steelers in this game. That’s probably the smart move. But man these Browns can run the ball, and they’re 4-1. “The 4-1 Cleveland Browns” – let that roll off your tongue. Ravens -10 at Eagles? Too many points to touch.

PATS -7 vs. Broncos – What is going on with this line? Does anyone really think the 2-2 Patriots are a 2-2 quality team? That they’re going to let this game stay within one possession? This game has blowout written all over it. ❌ I’d say we’re in red alert time for the Patriots. You score 12 against Denver to fall to 2-3 and it’s looking less like a slow start and more like a bad team.

DOLPHINS -8.5 vs. Jets – It feels crazy betting on the Dolphins -8.5 points. Against 30 other teams in the NFL, you’d have to be nuts. But this is the Jets, who are 0-5 and somehow getting worse. This is one of those “don’t overthink it” bets. Just bet on the Jets losing big and that’s it. ✅ Easy money.

Football Team vs. GIANTS OVER 42.5 – There are two teams in the NFC that have played 5 games and still haven’t scored 100 points this season. They’re both playing in this game, which is why the O/U line looks like it’s from the pre-Super Bowl era. I say they can both score 21 and someone will kick a game-winning field goal or shit out a safety or something. I mean come on. ❌ Man. So the Football Team was down 20-13 and scored a late touchdown to make it 20-19. If they kick a field goal the Over covers for sure, other than the highly unlikely outcome of a tie, or the even less likely (don’t know if it’s ever happened?) outcome of a game-winning safety. But the Team elected to go for 2, which doomed the Over. But, it’s the right move to make. You go for 2 and try to win the game while you control the ball. But of course they blew it and lost.

Packers -1.5 vs. BUCS – This is like giving the Packers 5.5 points after you factor in the pick 6 from Tom Brady. ❌ Pack when from up 10-0 to down 38-10. Oof. At this point the Belichick-without-Brady vs. Brady-without-Belichick contest is looking like a rout, and an embarrassing one for Belichick at that, given that the Pats’ whole problem is that they can’t score points.

Sunday Night:

Rams -2.5 vs. NINERS – What’s going on with this line? Are people not seeing that the Rams look really good again this year? And San Fran not so much? ❌

Monday Night:

Chiefs -5 vs. BILLS – The Bills are 4-1, yes, but net -3 points on the season. I’m just not seeing them as “keep it within a touchdown against the Chiefs” good, and after last week’s shellacking at the hands of the Raiders, the Chiefs are going to come into this game hot. ✅

COWBOYS +1 vs. Cardinals – What a gut punch last week’s gruesome, devastating broken bone injury to Dak Prescott was. I like goofing around with these bets and watching the games, but that was a real “Why do we even let men play this game?” moment. Just awful. And no one but a fool can argue Dallas isn’t a much worse team without Prescott, who has been absolutely electric this season when Dallas falls behind, which, uh, has been every damn game, because they have the worst defense in the league. But. It really has been clear that even when down, Dallas has not been running the ball enough. They really could and probably should be the best running team in the league. And Andy Dalton is almost certainly the best red-headed quarterback in the history of the league. Again, there’s no way Dallas is a better team with Dalton at QB, but, I think Dallas could straighten out this embarrassment of a defense with Dalton at QB and start, you know, getting the lead at some point in some of these games. ❌ First place in the NFC East.

Season to date (week 1–5): 16-16-1
Season to date not including Dallas games: 16-11-1

This week: 2-5

NFL 2020 Week 5 Picks

My pick: listed first. Home team: CAPS.
Postgame comments in italics.

There a ton of games this week with lines over 7 points. I just don’t feel comfortable touching most of them. Also, I neglected to check the schedule early enough in the week to bet the Bears over the Bucs. That’s a shame but watching Brady lose track of what down it was with the game on the line was sweeter than winning a little money.

Raiders +10.5 vs. CHIEFS – I do like a big line when I feel good putting money on the underdog, and I like the idea that the Raiders have a good shot at keeping this game competitive. ✅

Panthers +2.5 vs. FALCONS – Why are the 2-2 Panthers underdogs to the 0-4 choke artist Falcons? I think this line is biased by preconceptions about both teams. ✅

BROWNS -1 vs. Colts – Call me a sucker but I think the Browns are for real with that running game. It’s a winning formula. ✅

COWBOYS -7.5 vs. Giants – When you’re in a hole the only sensible thing to do is keep digging. ❌

Season to date (weeks 1–4): 13-15-1
This week: 3-1

NFL 2020 Week 4 Picks

My pick: listed first. Home team: CAPS.
Postgame comments in italics.

I was going to load up big-time on the Chiefs-Pats game, which, thanks to coranavirus hitting both teams, might not even be played — and with Cam Newton out after a positive test, will be a lot less fun if it does get played.

Seahawks -5.5 vs. DOLPHINS — The Seahawks just have that look. ✅ Like taking candy from a baby. Should’ve doubled up on this pick.

Saints -3 vs. LIONS — I don’t get this line at all. Sure, the Saints are 1-2, but they’re a good 1-2. Maybe I wind up pissing away a fortune saying this all year long but I think the Saints are ready for a breakout game. ✅ Bad start, but the Saints offense is just too good to start the season 1-3.

Chargers +7 vs. BUCS — I’ve got nothing here other than being happy to take a full touchdown to root against Tom Brady. ✋ I really thought I had this one after Brady’s now-usual pick 6.

COWBOYS -4 vs. Browns — I’m going to assume Chris Christie will not be in the Jones family box for this one. ❌ Good start, but the Cowboys defense is just too bad not to start the season 1-3.

BEARS +3 vs. Colts — Nick Foles at QB and the Bears undefeated through 3 games, getting points? At home? Count me in. ❌ I would bet the Bears again here. Just played a bad game.

Season to date (weeks 1-3): 11-13
This week: 2-2-1

NFL 2020 Week 3 Picks

Took it on the chin last week with a bum 3-6 record. We’ll get the bastards this week. Let’s bet the hot teams.

My pick: listed first. Home team: CAPS.
Postgame comments in italics.

Sunday 1:00p:

Raiders +7 vs. PATRIOTS – I think the Patriots are going to be terrifyingly good once the new Cam Newton-led offense settles in. That offense hasn’t settled in yet. Meanwhile the Raiders are the hottest team in the league. I’ll take a touchdown here for sure, and I’ve got this as my 2× pick of the week. ❌ ❌

Rams +1.5 vs. BILLS – I think the Rams are the better team. That’s all there is to this pick. ❌

4:00p:

Cowboys +5 vs. SEAHAWKS – This one makes me queasy, I’ll be honest. But I figure all Dallas has to do though is keep it within 9 points, score a touchdown with a minute to go, recover the onside kick on a fluke play that only works if the other team doesn’t know the onside kick rules, and kick a field goal as time expires. That’s a winning formula. ❌

Sunday Night Football:

Packers-SAINTS OVER 51.5 – Feels like a near lock that this one will be a high scoring game. ✅

Monday Night Football:

Chiefs +155 moneyline vs. RAVENS – Shitty week so far, to say the least, but I feel good about the Chiefs in this one. 2× bet to win 3×. ✅ ✅ ✅

Season to date (weeks 1-2): 7-9
This week: 4-4

NFL 2020 Week 2 Picks

My pick: listed first. Home team: CAPS.
Postgame comments in italics.

1:00p:

COWBOYS -3.5 vs. Falcons — Dallas really screwed themselves last week with typical Jason Garrett play calling, which was strange to see, given that Garrett is now with the Giants and Mike McCarthy took over at Dallas. But it’s hard to get to the Super Bowl starting the season 0-2, so I figure Dallas has to win this one. Maybe when they face 3rd and 4 this week, they’ll run plays designed to pick up more than 3 yards. ❌ I’ll take the loss here. Gotta love this headline: “Quinn: Falcons Players ‘Definitely’ Know Onside Kick Rules”.

Lions +6 vs. PACKERS — Talk about teams screwing themselves out of a win: Matthew Stafford tossed a would-be-game-winning TD pass right into wide-open rookie running back D’Andre Swift’s hands and he dropped it. Watch enough football and you learn that it’s harder to catch the ball when you’re wide open — it gives you time to think. 6 is a lot of points, I love rooting against the Packers, and I lost a ton of money last year betting against the Lions, so I’ll go with them here. ❌ I don’t care who they’re playing next or what the line is I’m betting against the Lions.

Panthers +8 vs. BUCS — 2× bet of the week. I feel like this line is fat on Tom Brady nostalgia. The Brady I’ve been watching looks like a has-been who can’t move and throws a pick-6 or two each game. Matt Rhule’s Panthers squad lost to the Raiders last week, but looked good — or least looked fun — doing it in a 34-30 shootout. 8 points! ❌ This one hurts, because the Bucs tacked on an extra touchdown on a fluke play while running out the clock. So it goes.

NINERS -7 vs. Jets — San Fran has a lot to prove after last week’s turd of a game, and the Jets are a turd of a team. Look for a blowout. ✅ Should have been another 2× pick in hindsight. This blowout seemed inevitable.

4:30p:

Chiefs -8.5 vs. CHARGERS and Chiefs-Chargers OVER 47 — When Mahomes is healthy I feel like the Chiefs are always a threat to put up a basketball score on offense. ❌❌

Sunday Night Football:

SEAHAWKS -4 vs. Patriots — This could be a preview of the Super Bowl, and what a rematch of a Super Bowl that would be. I still have nightmares about the end that game. And just like that game, my money is on the Hawks this week. I am convinced that the Patriots are a better team with Cam Newton than today’s Tom Brady, perhaps terrifyingly so, but I think Newton still isn’t comfortable. They should’ve scored more than 21 last week against Miami. ✅ What an ending. There were like 10,000 tweets saying the same thing after the game ended, but the exciting high-tension end to this game is why we love football.

Monday Night Football:

Saints -5.5 vs RAIDERS and Saints-Raiders OVER 48.5 — The Raiders’ home opener in Las Vegas would be a hell of a scene … if there were going to be fans. I continue to be bullish on late-model Drew Brees and this New Orleans offense. I feel better about the OVER on this one than the Saints covering. ❌✅ The bad news: I lost on the Saints. The good news: I think the Raiders are for real, and it’s always good for the NFL when the Raiders are good.

Last week: 4-3
This week: 3-6

NFL 2020 Week 1 Picks

Holy hell, the NFL season is starting already. What is going on? Where am I?

I gotta study up for the weekend, but for tonight’s Thursday Night Football opener I’ve got one big bet:

CHIEFS -9.5 vs. Texans — Fans or not, the Chiefs will be fired up and ready to run up the score. ✅

My pick is listed first, home team in CAPS, but what the hell does home field mean when you’re playing in an empty stadium? More about who’s wearing which color jerseys, really. Sunday early game picks:

PATS -7 vs. Dolphins – Look, I hate New England. I resent them. I don’t like their fans. I don’t even like their goddamn uniforms – shitty logo, weird font for the numbers. But look, Belichick is The Man. Love him, hate him, you know it, I know it. The man is a goddamn monomaniacal genius who cares only about winning football games and knows how to do it. I thought Cam Newton was an absolute lock for the QB job at the Pats the moment they kissed Tom Brady goodbye. You think the Pats have been good with late era Brady? Think about how good they’re going to be with a good quarterback who can move. Not just like move a little, which Brady can’t do, but move well, like a truly modern quarterback. It’s a superpower the Pats have never had under Belichick. I’m scared about how good this team is going to be. And against the fucking Dolphins? The team that’s given New England fits for years for no good reason and gives Belichick all the more reason to run up the score early? Forget about it. ✅

PANTHERS +3 vs. Raiders – I am very excited to see the name “Las Vegas Raiders” in action, and I am very bullish on the Jon Gruden system. I think these Raiders are a top tier team in the AFC. But I gotta go with my heart on this one – new Panthers coach Matt Rhule’s kid played on the little league team I coached a decade ago here in Philly when Rhule was turning Temple into a winner. (Rhule: nice guy, smart coach.) ❌

Seahawks +1 vs. FALCONS – Sorry, I don’t get it. Why are the Falcons favored here? When in doubt bet the better QB and that’s Russell Wilson for damn sure. ✅

Eagles -5.5 vs. FOOTBALL TEAM – I hate to say it but the Eagles look scary to me this season. Plus Carson Wentz hasn’t had a chance to get hurt yet. And how the hell is an organization with so little respect for itself that it doesn’t even have a team name going to get fired up to play NFL football? Forget about it. I think Washington is looking at 1-15. ❌

Marquee nationally-televised late games:

SAINTS -3.5 vs. Bucs – Man I wish this line were 3 not 3.5 but I half feel like the Saints could run away with this. Brady has a ton to prove and it’s kind of admirable to see him try this, but I think there’s half a chance this is his “Michael Jordan on the Wizards” stint. You remember Joe Namath playing for the Rams in 1977? Me neither, and not just because I was 4 years old. Joe Namath doesn’t remember playing for the Rams. Anyway, even if Brady makes this work and the Bucs are good, they have a lot of new parts and aren’t fully assembled at this point, whereas the Saints are locked and loaded and picking up where they left off. ✅

Cowboys -2 vs. RAMS – This is Dallas’s year, I’ve just got that feeling. ❌

Results: 4-3

Super Bowl 54 Picks

Big bet: Chiefs -1 vs. Niners – I’m just betting the way I’m rooting. ✅ ✅

Small bet: First Half Under 26 – I swore up and down all week that I was going to stay away from the Over/Under, but in the end I couldn’t resist putting a little dough on the first half under. ✅

Prop bets:

  • TD passes by Mahomes: Over 2.5 (-140) ❌
  • Total players to attempt a pass: Over 2.5 (-110) – I bet this one every year, banking on at least one team running a trick play. ❌

Last week: 2-3
Season to date: 60-70-2

Final record: 63-72-2

NFL 2019 Playoff Picks, Conference Championships

My pick to win: listed first. All caps: home team.

CHIEFS -7.5 vs. Titans – I usually place my bets at the end of the week. This one I placed back on Monday. I should have waited – the line has dropped to KC -7. I’m going to be pissed if I lose by that half point. But fair’s fair – I placed the bet early because I expected the line to go up, not down.

Derrick Henry has had the best three-game streak of any running back in NFL history. He’s been simply amazing, and the Titans have ridden him to victories at New England and Baltimore – both Super Bowl contenders. Can he do it four games in a row? It’d be something to see. But holy hell the Chiefs were down 24-0 and wound up winning in a route. They are on fire. And while the Ravens only scored 12 points last week, Lamar Jackson racked up over 400 yards passing and 100 yards rushing. They had nine drives that crossed the 50 yard line. I’m not saying the Titans got lucky, per se, but if they were playing the Ravens again this week I think they’d be 7.5-point underdogs again. I’d love that extra half point I’d have gotten by waiting until today to bet, but I feel there’s a way better than 50 percent chance the Chiefs win this easily, especially if they get up early. 2× wager. ✅✅

Packers +8 vs. NINERS – I’ve gotten killed all season long betting against the 49ers. A quick scan of my season picks says I’m 3-8 betting against them. Why stop now? (This is a game where it paid to wait to bet – this line opened at SF -7.) 2× wager. ❌❌

6.5-point teaser: CHIEFS -1 and Packers +16: One more 2× wager to cover my ass – betting that the Chiefs will at least win and the Packers won’t get blown out. ❌

Last week: 3-2
Season to date: 58-67-2

NFL 2019 Playoff Picks, Round 2

My pick to win: listed first. All caps: home team.

Vikings +7 vs. NINERS – I was all set to break down and bet on the Niners. I think the Saints botched last week’s game against the Vikes. Just bad play calling, trying to get tricky when they just needed to do the obvious things. In my head I had the Vikes as a paper tiger, about to get destroyed by the Niners. But then I looked at the numbers. Over the last 6 games of the regular season and last week’s playoff game, the Vikings are winning by an average of 4.3 points per game. The Niners over that same stretch: 4.8. I’ll take the Vikings and the points. ❌

Titans +9.5 vs. RAVENS – 9.5 points is too many for a team that just beat the Patriots in Foxborough. They beat the Patriots in Foxborough. Tannehill proved himself to be solid under pressure. Sure, I think the Ravens will win. Sure, I think they might win big. But I think there’s way more than a 50 percent chance that the Titans at least keep it within a score. ✅

CHIEFS -9.5 vs. Texans – Same line as the Titans-Ravens game, but this time I think it’s too low. Over the last 6 weeks of the regular season (and last week’s wildcard game for Houston), the Chiefs are winning by 16.3 points per game and the Texans are losing by 2.4. I think this should be a 13 or 14-point line. Also, the Chiefs defense has been monstrous down the stretch, giving up only 12 points per game down the stretch. I just don’t see the Texans scoring much at all, and can’t see the Chiefs scoring less than 24. 2× pick of the week. ✅✅

Seahawks +185 moneyline vs. PACKERS – The Seahawks are getting 4 points but I don’t think they’ll need them. I think they’ll straight up win. The knock against the Seahawks is that most of their wins this season have been close games. They’re not a dominant team, no argument. But I don’t think they won those games by luck. I think they’re a gritty team that knows how to finish a close game. I also think that this “We’ve got an old guy playing quarterback” thing is starting to catch up to teams. Brady? Out. Brees? Out. Rodgers isn’t that old, but he’s closer to a Brees-type QB than he is to a Russell Wilson. The mobile young QBs can do things the old slow guys can’t, and I think defenses are starting to take advantage of that. And don’t give me any shit about playing at Lambeau. If the Seahawks can win at Philly they can win anywhere. ❌

Last week: 2-3
Season to date: 55-65-2

NFL 2019 Playoff Picks, Round 1

Bills +2.5 vs. TEXANS – This one feels like a tossup to me. The Bills were only +55 on point differential this season – but the Texans were -7. I’ll go with the better defense, which I think belongs to the Bills. ❌

Titans +4.5 vs. PATRIOTS – Of course the Pats are likely to win this game. But I think there’s a greater-than-50-50 chance that either the Titans win outright or that the Pats win in a 3-4-point squeaker and the Titans cover. ✅

I’ve left a lot of money on the table over the years not betting the Under in Bill Belichick-coached playoff games. It’s arguable which team has the best defense in the playoffs, but it wasn’t even close which defense gave up the fewest points this season: the Pats. Was that because their schedule was weak? Maybe. But I’m not betting the Under (43.5 points), because I don’t want to root against the Titans scoring a ton of points.

SAINTS -7.5 vs. Vikings – That’s a lot of points but the Saints are both a better team and seem to have a lot more momentum heading in the playoffs. (The Vikes finished losing 3 of their last 5.) ❌

Vikings-SAINTS OVER 49.5 points – I feel like the Over/Under should be around 54-55 points in this game, but that Vegas has an aversion to breaking that 50-point barrier. Two high-scoring teams playing in a dome. ❌

Seahawks -1.5 vs. EAGLES – The Eagles are so banged up it isn’t funny, and yet they keep winning games they have to win. They’ve effectively been in win-or-the-season-is-over mode since the Dallas game two weeks ago. Commendable! But the Saints have a much better record (but a measly +7 point differential for the season – worrisome), a quarterback with a lot of playoff experience, and they’re just plain healthier. ✅

Last week: 2-3
Season to date: 53-62-2

NFL 2019 Week 17 Picks

My pick to win: listed first. All caps: home team.

Saints -13.5 vs. PANTHERS – The Saints’ path to a first-round bye is wide open: if they win and 49ers lose to the Seahawks (possible!); if they win and Packers lose to Lions (unlikely); or if the Seahawks beat the 49ers and the Packers beat the lions. Long story short, I look for them to run up the score against the lowly Panthers. ✅

COWBOYS -12.5 vs Redskins – One can hope. ✅

GIANTS +4 vs. Eagles – One can hope. ❌

Steelers +1.5 vs. RAVENS – The Steelers must win this game to get in the playoffs (along with a Titans loss, or one other very complicated scenario). The Ravens have nothing to play for other than a home crowd. They’ve already locked-in home field advantage in the AFC playoffs. That the betting line is so low tells you that Vegas thinks the Ravens second team is better than the Steelers first team. I’ll take the team that needs to win. ❌

SEAHAWKS +3.5 vs. San Fran – What a Sunday night game for week 17. Everything else will be decided by the time this game starts, loser gets the division title, loser gets stuck going into the playoffs as a wildcard. And if Frisco wins they get home field advantage throughout playoffs and a first-round bye. Either they get a bye and then play all games at home, or they start next week and play all games on the road. I’ll take the Seahawks just because I like the cut of their jib. ❌

Last week: 5-7-1
Season to date: 51-59-2

NFL 2019 Week 16 Picks

My pick to win: listed first. All caps: home team.

Once we get halfway through the season or so, I start paying a lot of attention to teams’ point differential – their total points scored minus total points allowed. By the end of the season, I think point differential compared to win-loss record is the best measure of a team. You can spot some teams that should be doing better (bad luck), some teams that should be doing worse (good luck), but most teams wind up right where they should be.

Saturday games:

BUCCANEERS +3 vs. Texans – The Bucs are a rather extraordinary team. With 416 points scored so far, they trail only San Fran (419 points) in the entire NFC. And the only team in the AFC with more than 400 points scored so far are the Ravens (a whopping 472). They’re the third-highest-scoring team in the entire NFL! Did you know that? So why are they 7-7? Because their defense has given up 398 points – tied for worst in the NFC with the lowly Cardinals. Only the laughable Dolphins are worse (435). So they have the second-worst defense in the NFL. 7-7 is right where they should be. The Texans on the other hand, are net +11 points on the season – pretty good offense, pretty bad defense. But somehow they’re 9-5. I know the Bucs are out of the playoffs and that’s often an excuse teams use to start making vacation plans off-season, but I sort of feel like the Bucs are one of those out-of-the-playoffs teams with something to prove. I’ll take the points. 🖐

BILLS +6.5 vs. Patriots and Patriots-BILLS UNDER 37.5 – Look, betting against the Pats in week 16 with the AFC East title and a first-round playoff bye at stake is, historically speaking, stupid. Really dumb. The Pats own the AFC East and they practically own annual rights to one of those first-round byes that are so important to mounting a Super Bowl run. But Tom Brady has run out of gas, folks. In the last 5 weeks, among quarterbacks who’ve attempted 100 or more passes, Brady ranks 29th of 29 in every significant stat. He’s not just bad, he’s the been the worst quarterback in the league for over a month of important games. So I like the Bills with 6.5 points and I absolutely love the UNDER in this game (it’s a 2× bet for me). I can see the Pats winning by 3-4 points and the Bills covering. And it’s really hard for me to see either of these teams getting past 21 points unless the Pats defense and special teams score a few times on their own. ❌ ❌❌ (Oof.)

(Worth pointing out that the Pats have an extraordinary +191 point differential – lately that’s all been thanks to their defense, which has only given up 181 total points. No other team in the NFL has given up fewer than 200. But the second-fewest points given up? The Bills, at 222. Again, I love this UNDER.)

Rams (+285 moneyline) vs. FRISCO and Rams +7 vs. FRISCO – Both teams put up turds last week, with the Rams getting shellacked in Dallas and the Niners getting embarrassed by the Falcons (who look awful one week and like the contenders of a few years ago the next). The Rams still have a path to the playoffs, but it is bleak: they need to win out (Niners this week, Cardinals next week) and they need the Vikings to lose out (Packers this week, Bears next). But it’s not that bleak if they win this game against the Niners. The Packers are 5.5-point underdogs in the Monday night game against the Vikings, but they’re still the Packers, and they are absolutely not going to overlook this game with so much at stake. It’s that Bears-Vikings regular season finale in Minneapolis that looks bad for the Rams. But I see no reason for the Rams to give up, so I’ve got two separate bets on this game: a moneyline bet for the Rams to win outright and a +7 point-spread bet that the Rams will at least keep it within one score. ❌ ✅

Sunday games:

Saints -2 vs. TITANS – I think the Saints are the best team in the NFC. If I had to make a Super Bowl matchup bet today I’d go with Saints-Ravens (which sounds amazing). I don’t get this line at all. The Titans are still in the hunt for a playoff spot, yes, but the Saints are in the hunt for a first-round bye and possible home field advantage. I look for the Saints to blow this game out. 2× pick. ✅✅

Ravens -10 vs. BROWNS and Ravens-BROWNS OVER 49.5 – The Ravens are on fire and the Browns are so bad players are begging other teams to get them out of there. Plus there’s the revenge factor: somehow the Browns put a beatdown on the Ravens earlier this season. I’m taking the OVER figuring the Ravens will get around 40 on their own and the Browns will pick up some garbage time scores in the 4th quarter after the stadium is empty. ✅❌

Cowboys -2 vs. EAGLES – Both teams are 7-7 but Dallas is +90 on point differential (6.4 per game) and the Eagles are +6 (0.4 per game). Prescott might have a bum shoulder but against the Rams last week Dallas had two 100-yard rushers. Run, run, run. And who do the Eagles have to throw to other than Ertz? Just make someone other than Ertz beat them. Also, if Dallas jumps ahead early, look for the Philly crowd to get ugly. Carson Wentz is far from universally loved in this town. 2× pick. ❌❌

Chiefs -6.5 vs BEARS – This feels like a 34-20 sort of game. I expected this to be a 9-point spread. KC feels like they are really on a roll on both sides of the ball. ✅

Last week: 6-3
Season to date: 46-52-1

NFL 2019 Week 15 Picks

My pick to win: listed first. All caps: home team.

Thursday night expected blowout:

Jets @ RAVENS OVER 44.5 – The Ravens are averaging 33 points per game – they might get close to covering the over on their own. Then throw in some garbage time points for the Jets. ✅

Sunday picks:

Buccaneers -3.5 vs. LIONS – Jameis Winston is playing some exciting football: tossing tons of TDs and tons of INTs. But the thing is, the Bucs can score. I think the Lions are in complete this-season-has-long-been-over-and-our-future-looks-bleak-too let’s-just-give-up free fall. ✅

WASHINGTON +4 vs. Eagles – Wishful thinking on my part perhaps (which means almost certainly), looking to give Dallas some breathing room in race to win the Toilet Bowl, a.k.a. this year’s NFC East “title”. But hey, Washington won two in a row and last week gave the Packers a close game. I don’t think it’s ridiculous to think they could win, and I think they’ve got a great shot at covering. ❌

Bears +4 vs. PACKERS – The Packers are the worst team sitting on a first-round in week 15 in my memory. Christ they barely beat Washington last week. And this is the Super Bowl for the Bears. ❌

Seahawks -6.5 vs. PANTHERS – The Seahawks got dunked on by the Rams last week so I look for a strong comeback. Maybe they didn’t need last week’s game but they need this week’s game to have any chance of winning their division against the 49ers. I think they almost have to win by more than one score. ❌

COWBOYS +1.5 vs. Rams – Now that Jerry Jones has finally fired Jason Garrett, I look for the Cowboys to come out fired up. Wait, what? Oh. Well, they’re at home at least. And they really need to win this goddamn game. If we’re betting on quarterbacks I’ll take Prescott over Goff, and if we’re betting on running backs, I’ll take Elliot over Gurley any day of the week. Let’s not talk about coaches. 2× pick of the week because I’m an idiot. ✅✅

Three-way +5 teaser for big favorites (pays +190): Pats -6.5 vs. BENGALS + CHIEFS -6.5 vs. Broncos + SAINTS -5 vs. Colts – +5 is just enough points to give the Pats and Chiefs a win with a 7-point lead. The Pats are not going to lose this game. No mercy. The Saints are coming off a brutal loss in which they scored 46 points and a last-minute go-ahead touchdown and still lost – they’re going to be angry and they’re still at home. I pity the Colts. The Chiefs game is the one I’m worried about in this mix. The Broncos are starting to play well, and the Chiefs defense is middling at best. Feels like a situation where the Broncos might keep it close. ✅✅

Last week: 3-5 (I made up for it, personally, with a +6 teaser that included the Ravens and Saints covering and both those games going over – with the extra 6 points, all 4 bets covered – but that doesn’t count toward these official stats.)

Season to date: 40-49-1 (Not looking good for a winning season.)

NFL 2019 Week 14 Picks

My pick to win: listed first. All caps: home team.

Thursday night shitshow pick that I didn’t post until now:

Cowboys -3 vs. BEARS – I don’t even want to talk about this. ❌

Sunday picks:

Ravens -6 vs. BILLS and Ravens-BILLS OVER 44 – I look for the Ravens to run up the score early and let Buffalo score some garbage points in the second half to push the total above 44. I know Buffalo’s defense is actually very good but the Ravens are averaging over 30 points a game and that includes a high-scoring win over the Pats. ✅❌

SAINTS -1.5 vs. Niners and Niners-SAINTS OVER 45 – I’ve been a Niners doubter all year and they’ve killed me, and I’ve gotten burned at least once on my “don’t bet against the Saints playing at home” mantra, but I still say don’t bet against the Saints playing at home. I also really like the OVER in this game. I see it as a 28-24 or 31-28 type of game. ❌✅

Chiefs +3 vs. PATRIOTS – Lot of rumblings this week that Tom Brady – 42 and very much looking his age all season long – is on his way out. That doesn’t sound like a team headed to another Super Bowl. The Pats’ easy schedule and truly impressive defense has masked that they’re just not great. Even when they played the NFC East, in games that looked like they’d be tough at the start of the season, they got Dallas and Philly teams that have been in a season-long race to see which team can shit its bed the brownest and yet still somehow “win” the division. The Chiefs looked shaky for a few weeks – when Mahomes was hobbled with injuries. Mahomes is not hobbled with injuries now. It sounds stupid to say my money is on Andy Reid against Bill Belichick. But really, my money is on Patrick Mahomes against Tom Brady. This could be the game that marks the changing of the guard. ✅

RAIDERS +2.5 vs. Titans – If you can be 6-6 in a good way, the Raiders are. This is a team that plays with enthusiasm, believes they can win, and has a budding star in running back Josh Jacobs. And we’re in the homestretch for the last few games at the Oakland Coliseum. I say take the points. ❌

Seahawks +1 vs. RAMS – I think Vegas still favors the Rams based on last year’s high-scoring went-to-the-Super-Bowl team. And I think the Seahawks are viewed, rightfully, with a bit of skepticism for the number of very close games they’ve won (10-2 record but only +36 point differential – a nice even +3 per game). But I’ll stick with betting on quarterbacks, and I’ll take Russell Wilson over Jared Goff. My theory: the Seahawks aren’t winning close games because they’ve been lucky, but because Wilson is good at winning close games. Having a knack for winning close games is the defining skill that separates good quarterbacks from great ones. ❌

Last week: 6-6
Season to date: 37-44-1

NFL 2019 Week 13 Picks

My pick: listed first. All caps: home team.

Thanksgiving day:

Bears -6 over LIONS — The Lions shitting the bed is a Thanksgiving tradition. And I feel like the Bears are sneakily working their way into being a tough team to beat. ❌

COWBOYS over Bills -270 moneyline — I truly believe that if Dallas loses this game, Jerry Jones will fire Jason Garrett tonight. I’m not sure which outcome to root for. “Blame the coach” is every NFL fan’s knee-jerk response to a disappointing season, but I can’t recall a coach fucking up a big game the way Garrett fucked up last week’s game at New England. And he fucked it up in such a Jason Garrett-y way. I’ve been watching TV sports for over 40 years and I can’t recall an announcer excoriating a coach mid-game the way Aikman did regarding Garrett last week. Aikman more or less pantsed him on national TV — and Aikman is Garrett’s former teammate. ❌❌❌

Saints over FALCONS -290 moneyline — I can’t see the Saints dropping another turd against this Falcons team. Maybe they took them lightly three weeks ago — won’t happen again. ✅

Sunday picks:

6-point TEASER: PANTHERS -4.5 over Washington + RAVENS +0 over Niners – Washington is awful and the Panthers still have something to play for, but I like sticking this in a teaser to get the spread well under a touchdown. ❌

RAVENS over Niners -235 moneyline – Probably the two hottest teams in the league but I’ll take the Ravens at home. ✅

Packers -6.5 over GIANTS – This should be a rout. ✅

Rams -2.5 over CARDINALS – The Rams are in a bit of a pickle here. Super Bowl sweethearts a year ago but now they’re in distant third-place in their own division and are two games behind even a wildcard spot. They’ve got nothing to lose, so I’m not sure why this line is under a field goal. ✅

Raiders at CHIEFS, Total Passing TDs for Patricks Mahomes: OVER 2.5 – This feels like money in the bank, Mahomes carving up the Raiders secondary. ❌

TEXANS +3.5 over Pats – The Pats are coming off back-to-back wins against Philly and Dallas but I don’t think their offense looked good in either game. The Texans are much better on offense than defense, so I think they match up well. I’ll take the points and the home field advantage. ✅

SEAHAWKS -2.5 over Vikings – Great Monday night matchup and should be a close game, but I’ll take the home team and Russell Wilson. ✅

Last week: 4-4
Season to date: 37-44-1

NFL 2019 Week 12 Picks

First team listed: my pick. Team in CAPS: home team.

Seahawks -2 vs. EAGLES – I don’t how it’ll factor into the game but as I type this, 20 minutes before kickoff, it is miserable here in Philly. Cold and wet and windy as hell. i figure the better quarterback will win and that means Russell Wilson and the Seahawks. ✅

Raiders -3 vs. JETS – I got Raiders fever. Gruden has this team rolling. ❌

FALCONS -3.5 vs. Bucs – Two strong games in a row makes me think it’s no fluke, the Falcons have snapped out of their years-long funk. ❌

Cowboys +5.5 vs. PATS – There are a lot of ways Dallas can lose this game – badly. I mean it’s the Patriots at home. But the most obvious way: Garrett getting out-couched by Belichick. This feels like pissing into the wind but I put a 2x bet on Dallas taking the points. I definitely, definitely did not place an additional bet on the Dallas moneyline at +210. ✅✅❌

Packers +3.5 vs. SAN FRAN – That extra half-point feels huge in this game. ❌

Ravens -3 vs. RAMS – Here’s another game where the difference between 3 and 3.5 points feels huge. I feel like the Ravens might win big – they’re the hottest team in the league by far, but the Rams are fighting for their playoff lives. ✅

Last week: 5-2
Season to date: 33-40-1

NFL 2019 Week 11 Picks

Dallas -7.5 vs. Lions – Screw it, why not? ✅✅

Saints -5 vs. BUCS – I figure last week was an aberration for the Saints. ✅

PANTHERS -3.5 vs. Falcons — I figure last week was an aberration for the Falcons. ❌

Jets +1.5 vs. WASHINGTON — The Jets do well in these games against their fellow sad-sack teams. ✅

RAVENS -4.5 vs. Texans — I feel like the Ravens are the hottest team in the league right now. ✅

EAGLES +4.5 vs. Pats — Looking forward to this one. Feel like it’s going to be close, so I’ll take the points. ❌

Last week: 2-5 Season to date: 28-38-1

NFL 2019 Week 10 Picks

SAINTS -13.5 vs. Falcons – The Falcons and Dan Quinn have never recovered from blowing that Super Bowl against the Patriots three years ago. I don’t know how he still has the job. And the Saints are at home? Blowout. ❌

Chiefs -5 vs. TITANS – Mahomes is back. Chiefs defense seems acceptable again. ❌

JETS +2.5 vs. Giants – What a strange thing for two teams to share a stadium. Is there really a home field advantage? Neither team has a hope for the playoffs. This game is all either team has – this is their Super Bowl. So I’ll take the points. Can’t think of anything worse for a Giants fan than to lose to a 1-7 Jets team. ✅

Panthers +5 vs. PACKERS – I’ll take the points and McCaffrey and good old Norv Turner calling plays. ❌

COWBOYS -3 vs. Vikings – What a matchup. The Vikings are one game behind the Packers in the NFC North (but the Packers play early today) and Dallas is just a half-game ahead of the bye-week Eagles. My 2× pick of the week. ❌❌

Seahawks +6 vs. FRISCO – Another great matchup. I’ll take the points. ✅

Last week: 3-5
Season to date: 26-33-1

NFL 2019 Week 9 Picks

Washington +10.5 vs. BILLS – I’m sure Washington will figure out a way to lose this game, but I’ll take them with the points. ❌

Bears +5 vs. EAGLES – I think the wheels might be falling off the Eagles’ bus. This is my 2× wager pick of the week. ❌❌

DOLPHINS +3.5 vs. Jets – I’ve got Dolphins fever. ✅

RAIDERS -2.5 vs. LIONS – I’ve really got Raiders fever. I’ve think Gruden has this team on track to be a contender. ✅

Packers -4 vs. CHARGERS – Packers are winning by close to 7 points a game; the Chargers’ point differential is exactly 0 – 157 scored, 157 given up. And I don’t see them having any real home field advantage, so I don’t get why this line is only 4. ❌

Packers-CHARGERS OVER 47.5

RAVENS +3 vs. Patriots – This bet is purely what I’m rooting for. What I think will happen is that the Pats will win 24-13 or something like that. What I hope is that the Ravens beat them with a field goal as time expires. ✅

Last week: 3-3
Season to date: 23-28-1