NFL 2021 Week 1 Picks

My pick: listed first. Home team: CAPS.

Cowboys +8.5 vs. BUCS 2× bet ✅ ✅
Cowboys over BUCS +360 moneyline 2× bet ❌ ❌ – This game brings it all together. I can feel it. Dak Prescott is back, with a slew of great receivers. Ezekiel Elliott is ready to roll. Mike McCarthy is ready to prove he’s not a fucking idiot. It’s Dallas’s year to get all the lucky breaks – the same year Father Time is going to catch up to Tom Brady. America’s Team is back. I can win money betting pro football. I’m ready to believe all of this.

Steelers +6.5 vs. BILLS ✅ – I like Mike Tomlin and Ben Roethlisberger as big underdogs in week 1.

Seahawks -3 vs. COLTS ✅ ✅ – 2× pick of the day. Russell Wilson vs. Carson “Anti-Vax Dipshit” Wentz? Gimme gimme.

CHIEFS -5.5 vs. Browns ❌ – This was a tough one, because I really do think the Browns are for real. I expect a great season from them. They’re young and they can run the hell out of the ball. But it’s the Chiefs, at home, healthy, with a lot to prove after they laid a big goose egg in the Super Bowl last year. I think the Chiefs want to show they’re still the fearsome Chiefs.

PATS -3.5 vs. Dolphins ❌ – I feel almost exactly about this game as I do about the Browns-Chiefs game. I think Miami is on the upswing. But holy hell does Belichick have a lot of motivation after he let Brady go and Brady went on to collect a 7th Super Bowl ring. And the Pats are at home.

RAMS -9 vs. Bears – I think the Rams - Goff + Stafford are going to be a huge upgrade. Very scary team. I think the Bears are a total mystery. They’re either going to lose this game by 21 or win a squeaker by 3. So I’ll take the Rams and give up the points. To me the differences are (a) the game being in LA, and (b) Dalton playing QB for the Bears. I saw Dalton last year. He’s decent. Decent isn’t going to get the Bears to the end zone enough.

Monday Night:

RAIDERS +4 vs. Ravens – I’m a Gruden believer. The Raiders were all over the place last season: beating very good teams and losing to bad teams. I think Gruden will even that out on the winning side.

Super Bowl 55 Picks

Big bet: KC moneyline (-155)

Here’s my basic storyline for the game. KC is a “feel” team. They can start slow but once they get feel for what the defense is doing, the have plays that will pick them apart, no matter what the defense is doing. Take away the long ball, they run. Take away the run, they throw long. I feel like there’s a high chance Tampa takes an early lead and KC still wins in a blowout.

Alternate point spreads:

KC -7 (+185)
KC -13.5 (+390)
KC wins by 13-18 (+700)

Props:

My MVP thinking is this: if KC wins it’ll be because Mahomes has a big game. But he won the MVP last year. I think MVP voters have an anti-QB bias because they could always just give the MVP to the winning QB. So, I think there’s good value in betting on Kelce or Hill for MVP — you’re still betting on Mahomes having a huge game.

Also, in 54 Super Bowls, no tight end has ever won the MVP. If it’s ever going to happen, I think Travis Kelce is the guy. (Sort of surprised Gronk never won it back in the Patriots’s dynasty years.)

Travis Kelce MVP (+1300)
Tyreek Hill MVP (+1000)
Travis Kelce 3+ TDs (+1000)

Tom Brady rushing yards OVER 0.5 — This one feels like a lock. Sacks do not count against QB rushing yards, but kneel downs do. I feel like Brady has got to scramble for at least one first down or score a TD on a QB sneak. I feel like the only way this does not hit is if TB wins and he takes a couple end-of-game kneel downs. But I’m all-in on KC winning the game so why not?

Patrick Mahomes rushing yards OVER 23.5 — I think the whole game is going to come down to the Tampa pass rush. And I feel like the more they press on the pass rush, the more likely it is that Mahomes squirts out of the pocket for scrambles. I could see Majomes covering this in the first half alone.

The Doink Special: Any FG or PAT to hit uprights or crossbar (+350) — How can you resist betting on this? Makes every kick an event.

NFL 2020 Playoff Picks, Conference Championships

My pick: listed first. Home team: CAPS. All picks are 2× picks in the conference championship round. Postgame comments in italics.

PACKERS -3 vs. Bucs – To hell with Tom Brady. I think Rodgers has him beat. ❌❌

CHIEFS -3 vs. Bills – This line is an absolute gift. I can’t believe the Chiefs aren’t favored by more. ✅✅

Props:

PACKERS -6 vs. Bucs (+150)
PACKERS -10 vs. Bucs (+295)
PACKERS to win by 13-18 (+700)

CHIEFS -6 vs. Bills (+160) ✅✅
CHIEFS -10 vs. Bills (+285) ✅✅✅
CHIEFS to win by 13-18 (+750) ✅✅✅✅✅✅✅

2020 regular season final record: 43-52-1
2020 playoffs to date: 4-12-1 This week: 14-5

NFL 2020 Playoff Picks, Round 2

My pick: listed first. Home team: CAPS. In the playoffs, you have to bet every game, that’s the law. Postgame comments in italics.

Got absolutely murdered last Sunday picking over-unders. Staying the hell away from them this week (but I sort of like the Under in the Ravens-Bills game.)

Saturday:

Rams +6.5 vs. PACKERS
Rams +245 moneyline vs. PACKERS — This one leaves a bad taste in my mouth. There’s something about the way the Rams just utterly shit the bed against the Patriots in the Super Bowl two years ago that has left a permanent bad taste in my mouth about Jared Goff. They only scored 3 points! But the thing to remember is that their defense actually played a remarkable game — they only lost 13-3. I feel like the Rams have that big game killer defense back this year. I still feel bad betting on Goff, but I’ll take the points and assume the Rams defense will at least keep it close. And I’ll throw in one extra bet on the Rams to straight up win the game — I feel like the Rams have a better chance in this game than the odds say. ❌ ❌

Ravens +2.5 vs. BILLS
Ravens ++118 moneyline vs. BILLS — This one feels like one of those irresistible force (Bills offense) vs. immovable object (Ravens defense) games. Low-scoring game, high-scoring game, who knows? I’ll take the points and bet on the Ravens defense and a clutch 4th quarter from Lamar Jackson. ❌ ❌

Sunday:

Browns +10 vs. CHIEFS — This is the one game of the weekend I might have stayed away from if not the regulation requiring a wager on every playoff game. But then the more I thought about it, the more obvious it was to take the points and bet the Browns. They looked amazing last week sticking it to the Steelers in Pittsburgh. And with 10 points, they can be getting killed and still cover the spread with a cheap late touchdown. How do you bet against a feel-good story? I feel like this line is inflated by at least 3 points based on a general sense that the Chiefs just have to kill the Cleveland Browns, right?

SAINTS -3 vs. Bucs — Brees-Brady, one last time. Feels like a matchup in a game of Madden, not real life. I think the Saints defense is a real problem for the Bucs’s vertical passing game. Also: fuck Tom Brady. 2× bet. ❌ ❌

This week: 1-6
2020 regular season final record: 43-52-1
2020 playoffs to date: 4-12-1

NFL 2020 Playoff Picks, Round 1

My pick: listed first. Home team: CAPS. In the playoffs, you have to bet every game, that’s the law. Postgame comments in italics.

Saturday:

Colts +6.5 vs. BILLS – I split one bet on the Colts here, half with the point spread and half on the moneyline (+275). Someone’s going to win an upset this weekend, and my pick is the Colts. No disrespect to the Bills, whom I consider a legit contender, I just think the Colts can keep it close and maybe win it in a last-team-with-the-ball scenario. ✋ Hell of a fun game to watch, but those missed field goals will kill you.

SEAHAWKS -3 vs. Rams
SEAHAWKS-Rams OVER 42.5 – I get it that both teams have some offensive problems at the moment, but come on, 43 points? I feel like that’s a good bet. I like the Seahawks as a team to go deep in the playoffs. Even when they’re off they almost always keep it close. ✅ ❌

Bucs -9 vs. NO-NAMES – There’s always at least one blowout in the first round, and this is my pick for it. I hate betting on Tom Brady, but the Bucs can score, always play better in the second half, and Washington is a damn joke. It’s not the No-Names’ fault that they even got into the playoffs through the Eagles’ ignominious tanking last week, but they’ve got the stink of a losing record on them despite that. ❌ That sonofabitch Brady. I’ll never bet on him again.

Sunday:

Ravens -3.5 vs. TITANS
Ravens-TITANS OVER 53.5 – I’m a big believer in momentum and the Ravens have momentum. They had the highest net points – total points scored minus total points allowed – of any team in the NFL. I’m taking the over just to root for a shootout. ✅ ❌

SAINTS -10.5 vs. Bears
SAINTS-Bears OVER 48.5 – 10.5 is an embarrassing amount of points for an NFL playoff game but the Chicago Bears are an embarrassing team to be in the NFL playoffs. Let’s see how close the Saints can get to covering the Over on their own. ✅ ❌

STEELERS -5.5 vs. Browns
STEELERS-Browns UNDER 47.5 – The Browns are so riddled with COVID that their coach is out for the game and they weren’t even able to practice. Maybe it’ll turn out that good teams don’t need to practice for an NFL playoff game against a tough road opponent like the Steelers. I’ll bet against that. ❌ ❌ Man, I really butchered every one of those O/U bets, but it sure was fun watching the Cleveland Browns demolish the Steelers. What a game.

2020 regular season final record: 43-52-1 This week: 3-6-1

NFL 2020 Week 17 Picks

My pick: listed first. Home team: CAPS.

Cowboys over GIANTS -140 moneyline – Dallas has the rest of the NFL right where they want them. 2× lock of the week. ❌ ❌

Dolphins -3.5 vs. BILLS The Bills just don’t have much to play for; Miami does. Go with the team that needs the win, I say. ❌

Saints -5.5 vs. Panthers The Panthers have had a nice season, and look set to be a playoff contender next year. But the Saints are playing for that sweet sweet #1 seed and first-round bye. ✅

Season to date (weeks 1–16): 42-49-1
This week: 1-3

2020 regular season final record: 43-52-1

NFL 2020 Week 16 Picks

My pick: listed first. Home team: CAPS.

Christmas Holiday Spectacular:

SAINTS -6.5 vs. Vikings – A win’s a win and a loss is a loss, but I thought the Saints lost to the Chiefs about as well as a team could lose game. Brees needed time to get back in the flow, but he did get into the flow, and the Saints defense really shined. Win by a TD against the Vikes in a big nationally-televised holiday showcase? I say hell yes. ✅

Sunday games:

Browns -6.5 vs. JETS — The Jets won their game to avoid the 0-16 schneid. Now, clearly, they go in the tank and play for the top draft pick. ❌

Panthers -1 vs. WASHINGTON — Dallas needs this, so why not bet it? ✅

SEAHAWKS -1 vs. Rams — Even without fans in the stadium, the Seahawks are 6-1 at home this year. Just a tough place to play. ✅

DALLAS +3 vs. Eagles — Fire up the printing press with all those Andy Dalton jerseys, baby. 2× pick of the week. ✅ ✅

Season to date (weeks 1–15): 37-48-1
This week: 5-1

NFL 2020 Week 15 Picks

My pick: listed first. Home team: CAPS.

Seahawks -6 vs. WASHINGTON – I wish I could dunk on the Football Team, but I can’t. I think they genuinely are the best team in the (admittedly embarrassing) NFC East, and I wouldn’t want to play them in the first round if I were a top-ranked team. The Alex Smith story is one of the highlights of the entire NFL season. But Seattle is genuinely good and has something to fight for. ❌

DOLPHINS +1 vs. Patriots – How delicious this would be. ✅

COWBOYS +4 vs. Frisco – I got off the Cowboys train but, over though their season clearly is, they’ve seemingly stopped the bleeding. The defense, in particular, no longer seems to be a joke. So: screw the Niners. ✅

CARDINALS -6.5 vs. Eagles – The Eagles looked good last week with Hurts at the helm. A lot better – something, mentally, is clearly wrong with Carson Wentz. But let’s see Hurts do it two weeks in a row. ✅

Chiefs-SAINTS OVER 53.5 – What a great game this should be. Betting the over just so I can root for a shootout. No idea if it makes any sense. ✅

Season to date (weeks 1–14): 33-47-1
This week: 4-1

NFL 2020 Week 14 Picks

My pick: listed first. Home team: CAPS.

RAIDERS +2.5 vs. Colts — I keep betting the Raiders and they keep letting me down. ❌

Saints -7.5 vs. EAGLES — With Jalen Hurts at the helm, I feel like the Eagles are either going to win, and the kid becomes a phenom, or they get blown out. I’ll bet on the blowout. ❌

Season to date (weeks 1–13): 33-45-1
This week: 0-2

NFL 2020 Week 13 Picks

My pick: listed first. Home team: CAPS.

Raiders -7.5 vs. JETS — I don’t know what the hell happened to the Raiders last week, but when you’re wrong, you play the Jets to get right. ❌

Saints -2.5 vs. FALCONS — What is going on with this line? I think the Saints will win by a TD, easy. 2x pick of the week. ✅ ✅

CHIEFS -13.5 vs. Broncos — Lotta points, but the Chiefs are rolling. ❌

Season to date (weeks 1–12): 31-43-1 (ouch)
This week: 2-2

NFL 2020 Week 12 Picks

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

Here’s what you do on Thanksgiving: you bet against the Detroit Lions, and you bet on America’s Team, the Dallas Cowboys. You could put your kids through college with this investment strategy.

Thanksgiving:

Texans -3 vs. LIONS – Look, if they beat the Pats, they can beat the Lions. It’s just math. ✅ That was a fire-the-coach bad game by Lions.

COWBOYS -3 vs. No-Names – Hear me out. I have a theory. Don’t let Andy Dalton’s fluke concussion distract you. He’s a good enough QB to make the Dallas Cowboys the best team in the NFC East. They might only lose one more game. They can roll into the playoffs 7-9 or hell maybe even 8-8. And then they’ll get beaten in the first round by some embarrassing score that looks like a JV basketball game, like 43-10 or something. 2× lock squandering of cash of the week. ❌ ❌ That was a fire-the-coach bad game by Cowboys.

Sunday:

Raiders -3.5 vs. FALCONS — I feel like the Raiders are uniquely poised to take advantage of the COVID outbreak homestretch of the season because so many of them already had it. Also, they looked really good last week against the Chiefs. ❌ Jiminy, what happened to the Raiders this week?

Saints -16.5 vs. BRONCOS — I’m not saying this is a smart bet, I’m just saying how can you not place a bet on a game whose storyline is this crazy. And no matter how big the line, I say you might as well bet against the team with zero quarterbacks on their eligible roster. The Under might be a good bet in this game too. ✅ I can’t believe I didn’t bet more against a team that didn’t have a quarterback.

Chiefs -3.5 vs. BUCS — Old Tom Brady really one-upped himself last week, with a game-ending INT that was thrown about 15 yards over his apparently-intended receiver. I say the jig is up, and the Chiefs will run up the score. Really surprised this line isn’t closer to 6 points. 2x pick of the day. ❌ ❌ Brady throws two bad INTs, the Chiefs jump out to a huge first-half lead, and somehow they don’t cover.

Monday:

Seahawks -6.5 vs. EAGLES – Two hell with betting on football if the Seahawks can’t beat the goddamn Eagles by a touchdown. ❌ This was my first genuinely bad beat of the year. Jiminy Christ, that last second touchdown + 2-point conversion.

Season to date (weeks 1–11): 29-37-1
This week: 2-6

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. ✅

Rams +180 moneyline vs. BUCS — Another last-minute bet, but how could I not take an opportunity to pile on against Tom Brady as his season falls apart? ✅ ✅

Season to date (weeks 1–9): 24-34-1
This week: 5-3

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. ❌

This week: 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