Sweet Mother of Pete did you read that Deadspin takedown of Vox by way of SB Nation? Allegations of profiting off of an army of exploited workers? I dunno, my ignorance is bliss but that seems downright rude to me. I am officially against it! Now, as hard as this may be to believe, the guy who just used dunno in a sentence never graduated from J-school. As such, I lack the capacity to understand the nuances of the issues discussed in that article. However, the good news is that if you are a dedicated Ruthless reader you need not worry about me! Goat says that with the way I write, I will find myself at the Department of Social Services before too long. I honestly had no idea that they even published a football gambling column. Frankly that seems antithetical to the spirit of the enterprise but c’est la vie. Syndication, Baby!
People often complain that the NFL preseason is boring, but from a certain perspective this particular preseason has been anything but. Unfortunately it has been interesting in a way that the job of a triage nurse is interesting. Thus Far, Julian Edelman, Odell Beckham, Spencer Ware, George Fant and Malachi Dupree have all left games due to injury, three of them on a cart. Granted, riding in the back of one of those carts does look like fun, and everybody loves Morphine, but I suppose it is a case-by-case analysis. Back in 2011, when the current CBA was being negotiated, management proposed an 18-game season with two fewer preseason games. However, the Players Association was diametrically opposed to playing two more real games, which when added to the playoff schedule would essentially put competitive football on television for half of the calendar year. At present, a new CBA needs to be in place by 2021, or else the NFLPA will in all likelihood have to eat their threats of a work stoppage and accept more full-contact games, because God forbid any American labor force gain any ground in todays political climate. And I know when I read stuff like this I think these guys should be playing even more games! Hell, I have it on good authority that Rickey Dixon doesn’t even stand for the national anthem.
Relax. I am way too fat and / or intoxicated to stand on a soapbox for any length of time. So lets talk games. Last Friday, the Vikings and Seahawks kicked off at 10:00 p.m. The broadcast on the NFL Network was the local Seattle feed, with announcers Curt Menefee and, as stated in the intro, former Seahawks quarterback Brock Huard. This is true in the technical sense given that Huard started in four whole games for the Seahawks, going 0-4 with three touchdowns and two interceptions in the year 2000. All snark aside, good for him. Born in Seattle, he chose the University of Washington over UCLA just to get booed and benched for, of all people, Marques Tuiasosopo, so the State of Washington sort of owes him.
Anyway, with the late start time on the east coast the ads skewed to 18 to 49-year-old male losers, understandable on a Friday night, but this was far more pronounced than usual. At first I got those ads for match dot com, with the weird old science grandpa guy. You’ve seen them, the ones where you half expect him to tell the guy to ,Take her to the nickelodeon and buy her a malted and she’s your gal or my name is Jack Robinson. 23 skidoo! But the next thing you know I start seeing spots for LiveLinks, which seems more appropriate for Hugh Freeze recruits than it does for lonely single people. As the night went on, they started running outright phone sex ads for We are 18. I was pretty drunk, but I’m pretty sure that by the time the two minute warning rolled around, they were just randomly interspersing clips from the Robyn Byrd show.
So I promised that we would discuss individual player props this week. If you have been following our Ruthless NFL coverage over this or any other year, one point has hopefully become abundantly clear, that being that you should not waste money on picks that don’t give you a decent ROI. Player props are an exception of sorts; they generally involve a very small stake, a wing, and a prayer. Outside of any obvious personal connection, e.g. you know Tom Savage, you are related to Tom Savage, or you are Tom Savage (in which case I think you owe us some money, ass) most folks bet player props because they are either fiercely loyal to a specific team, or they play a great deal of fantasy football. Believe it or not, despite watching an unhealthy amount of football to such a degree that I once shouted THAT’S HOW WE ROLL! while watching a close friends son play in a nines-and-tens Pop Warner game, I have never played a single day of fantasy football. And as far as favorite teams go, all I can say is enjoy it while you can, I suppose. Once you wander into our weird little web, those concepts seem quaint, especially when you’re grinning, four figures up on a Monday morning, listening to Nolan from payroll bleat about his Mickey-Mouse keeper league or accounts-receivable Kristi and her Giants. Whatever, Sunshine.
However, for the sake of argument, if you are a Packers fan, I could think of worse things than betting on Aaron Rodgers to throw the most TD passes in the regular season. Hes not at the top of the board – that would be Mr. Far-Infrared Bioceramic Recovery Pajamas, natch – but he is competitively priced at +425. Some people remember that Green Bay sputtered out of the gate, going 4-6 before running the table with six straight wins, but most people forget that they basically did it all without a running game. Eddie Lacy, who I often bump into at the chocolate wonderfall at the Golden Corral, was injured after the fifth game of the season, so they just tossed a receiver in at RB and carried on. With said WR Ty Montgomery in the backfield, Rodgers threw to Randall Cobb, Davante Adams, Richard Rodgers and of course Jordy Nelson. He took that team all the way to the NFC title game, purely on the strength of his arm and the line well-paid to protect it. All of those guys are coming back, along with fifth Beatle Geronimo Allison. Given that Montgomery is still listed as the first tailback on the depth chart in front of BYU rookie Jamaal Williams, and Eddie Lacy is plying is trade in Seattle (your move, edible creatures of the Pacific Ocean) I see the logic in betting that Rodgers will turn into Durga every time he smells the red zone.
If that is too obvious for you, I am also intrigued by the fact that Jameis Winston will begin his third year as a pro throwing to DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard. I was not aware that the statute of limitations on football players calling themselves O.J. had run, but given that O’Terrius Jabari is heptasyllabic, what other choice did the man have? Anyway, Winston is +1600 for most regular season passing yards, which seems like a potential value play, especially if you are inclined to root for him anyway. Perhaps you are from Tampa, or you just favor crummy people as a rule, or you think all groceries should be free. In addition to Jackson and Howard, he gets to work with Harvard TE Cameron Brate, at least when Brate isn’t hanging out at some dumb basement bar where he and Ryan Fitzpatrick wear borrowed crested blazers and drink brandy out of comically-sized snifters while pressuring awkward youths into programming their dumb idea for a dating site. The fourth and fifth pieces are Chris Godwin and Adam Humphries. Granted, we are getting into B-movie actor name territory here, but keep in mind that the Bucs ranked 28th in rushing offense last year. Coupled with the fact that they went 9-7 in a bunch of shootouts with almost no defense to speak of, Winston could make it interesting with the new weapons around him.
So long as we are discussing long shots, Brandon Marshall pays 100 to 1 if he gains the most receiving yards in the 2017 regular season. I must admit, I have a soft spot for Marshall inasmuch as he came forward with his diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder and even wore neon green cleats as a gesture of defiance, vowing to donate the amount of any fine to charity during Mental Illness Awareness Week. That is all well and good, but I also like him as a long shot here because I just watched Odell Beckham Jr. collapse in a heap in a tunnel only to be diagnosed with an ankle sprain the following day. Granted, he has since been on twitter encouraging women to sign up for his Football 101 Womens Clinic sponsored by Covergirl which apparently begins with a cocktail hour, and I am admittedly at a loss as to how to interpret that. Though I can tell you that the accompanying video shows Rob Gronkowski hosting a similar event at Gillette Stadium, whereas Beckhams clinic is at St. Johns University, and I once did lascivious things on that football field, so watch your step! *breathes on fingernails, rubs them on chest* Regardless, if Beckhams injury is as serious as it looked, Marshall becomes the default best target on a team that went 11-5 last year and is built to win now, while Eli is still competent. Even if Peyton gets a car every Christmas while he settles for another computer.
Finally, for those of you who like the inherent evil of Jameis Winston, but just need a little more S&M cosplay in your fandom, consider the Raiders. More specifically, consider Marshawn Lynch as a league-leading rusher at +2500. The bread and butter around here is film criticism, so I assume a lot of you are angry that he pulled the plug on what was shaping up to be the greatest movie ever made. However, if you can forgive that, consider that the Raiders won 12 last year and that Lynch used to look unstoppable in his Seattle days. Consider also that those days weren’t really all that long ago. Lynch’s amazing productivity, as demonstrated by his 2144 career yards, make him seem older than his 31 years. Now, there are a lot of media personalities, and for some reason ex-Broncos Terrell Davis and Shaun O’Hara, who seem quick to point out that Lynch does not need to be the Raiders primary back this year, one year removed from retiring. I have not, however, seen anyone even consider the possibility that a 31-year-old five time Pro Bowl player with something to prove and a year off to heal just might insist that he be the up-swinging Raiders primary back. Stranger things have happened, and they sure as hell didn’t pay 25/1 when they did.
I am here to entertain you, not to pimp my twitter, but we went 6-2 last week, and wound up $509 ahead, making it $743 so far in the preseason. Just to make clear that I would be the worst tout in the history of ever, please be advised that 6-2 is a rarity, and that no one has those weeks every week. That said, I hope you won and I hope you enjoyed the spoils.
One last point. I know this space is for discussing pro football, but word on the street is that some other sporting event is also scheduled for this weekend. I did not call it competitive or significant, because it is neither of those things. It is a circus designed to part fools from their money and it will work like a charm. But I ain’t no sucker and neither are you. To that end, to borrow a line from the great Jonny Lieberman, here’s my mouth and here’s my money.
Good luck to me!