So get a load of this. Nine days ago as I write this, a close friend of mine had an op ed published by the New York Times. And it’s not even your standard Ross Douthat Bret Stephens garbage, it’s actually really compelling. So how am I to rectify this with our friendship? I sure as hell don’t need this kind of pressure.
Granted, it’s about growing up as a Tuesday’s Child. As you may well have read already, my good friend Jake lost the mother he never got a chance to know on September 11, 2001, and wrote about his life’s experiences in that shadow. And sure, I suppose in my formative years I went to dozens of Mets games with some drunkard who now writes a pro football gambling column at the world-renowned Los Reviews Sin Ruth website and he used to hook me up with beers in high school doesn’t really fit with the wrenching, soul-bearing tone of a young man exquisitely articulating a life framed by an unfathomable loss. As petty as it is, I still felt just a tinge of invisibility when he described his family’s trips to Ground Zero prior to the erection of One World Trade, full well knowing that a recounting of us going to Yankee Stadium for a soccer game and mocking the sanctimony of that overwrought brutalist rockpile is tonally incongruous.
OK fine, it’s not jealousy, it’s pride. And I can take some quiet comfort in the fact that he raises hell in the student section at The Big House, seeing as how I dragged him to Rutgers v. Ohio State games so he could experience the joy of big time college football culture. He could have gone to any college in the world, but Harvard can suck it. Who’d they ever beat anyway?
L to R: World-Famous New York Times Columnist; 4-3 NFL Gambling Columnist Drinking Beer Out Of A McDonalds Cup At 11 a.m.
Yes, it’s a real shirt. Fuck you, it was hilarious.
So anyway, 2 and 2 last week. Honestly, if you dragged your feet you might have actually wound up 3-1, as the Chicago line was all over the place, and I mean all over the place, as it dipped to -1.5 four different times on Sunday alone. But so it goes; the column said what it said and we don’t make excuses around here, so I welcome you to place the blame directly where it belongs: MEEeeitch Trubisky, actually. Yeah, he technically walked away with a win but he ranks 28th in the league in terms of offensive yardage and his QBR is a ludicrous 22.1. I haven’t seen marginal talent thanklessly backed up by woefully ignored professionals since Ashlee Simpson.
As for the Chargers? That one is all on me. I still think Mr. Peppermint Roll will win nine games and contend for the AFC West, and that the Chargers are a better team than the Lions, but the scoreboard don’t lie. In terms of lines, hey, it’s still early, and all of the research in the world only goes so far when everything is still too obfuscated. I can pick apart every available resource to figure out how this 12-4 team had an embarrassing -39.5% third-and-long DVOA, but information overload is very real and you can lose the plot after a while, which may have happened here. It’s like when some music snob type tells you that Semi-Charmed Kinda Life is about crystal meth, and you’re like “Oh, that’s interesting” so you put it on and within 30 seconds it becomes apparent that whatever he was trying to say is enmeshed amidst so much hubba-bubba-bibble-bap nonsense that you just give up. Sometimes less information is more. And sometimes the Chargers score ten fucking points and lose to the Lions. Nothing is alright, alright.
Yes, I recognize the irony. One more paragraph and then I’ll say the line.
But first, a clarification for the sake of inclusivity. Look, I know a lot of crystal meth users read our site. I don’t necessarily think they all skip directly to the football gambling section, but whatever. Point being: if, due to your struggles or issues or past, you get more out of that song than some dude bragging about how much fun it is to fuck on crank, then God bless. Hell, when I was in high school, some scientologist told people to get crazy with the Cheez Wiz and a bunch of goofs instantly declared him a genius so fuck if I know. HEY LOOK FOOTBALL!
NEW YORK GIANTS +6.5 v. TAMPA BAY
There is a palpable energy in the city, my friends. Back pages of the tabloids, sports radio jerkoffs, Guidos who are always hanging out talking to the deli owner regardless of what time you go to that deli but somehow never buying anything, everyone is talking about it. This watershed event seems difficult for some people to even fathom, and has even contributed to a seismic rift between a franchise and the sentient stereotype that embodies all of the worst characteristics of its fanbase. CONTENT WARNING: please take a seat before proceeding to the next paragraph and, if necessary, make use of a lap-and-shoulder belt and/or a Xenith Shadow helmet; by the way, I know where you can probably snag a few on the cheap!
An 0-2 team is replacing their 38-year-old quarterback who racked up a 3.6% TD percentage while leading them to 5-11 last year with their first round draft pick! Mind blown, right? All kidding aside, there are people here who apparently thought that Eli would just hang around and be adequate forever, perhaps convinced that chasing his best receiver out of town would be the magic dust needed to kick-start a resurgence. And of course the Manning surname plays a big part in this as well. I haven’t seen marginal talent backed up by the far more popular accomplishments of an older sibling since Ashlee Simpson.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not screening bootleg Daniel Jonesamania! t-shirts to sell in the Meadowlands parking lot just yet. However, it is worth noting that he went three for four in limited action last week and looked like an improvement, as bolstered by a higher QB rating whilst acknowledging the small sample size.
In my experience there is always a bit of a bounce in these situations, at least for a game or two until the rest of the league has enough film to find holes in Jones’ game. The Tampa defense ranks 15th in passing and Jones has one of the best backs in the league to bail him out when necessary. The Buccaneers needed late game heroics and a handful of swervy calls to beat Carolina last Thursday, and that was against a QB who appeared to have literally lost the ability to throw a football. I don’t need him to sell bootleg t-shirts, I just need him to keep it touchdown-close against a bad team.
CAROLINA v. ARIZONA -2.5
Hey speaking of Cam Newton! Again, he looked so bad last Thursday that it looked like he is playing hurt, something he’s done before. People can admire the put the team on his back mentality all they want, but he only pulled 208 yards out of 16 completions last week, and the second-half misses missed bad. One of his lowballs may have hyperextended McCaffrey’s knee, and on the last drive I think he repeatedly tried to go over-the-shoulder to Sir Purr! Unacceptable.
Meanwhile, Arizona seems to kinda sorta be figuring things out. We talked about the Detroit tie last week, and we correctly predicted that they would hang in with Baltimore. A loss is a loss, but they were in that game until the end and they held a surging Lamar Jackson to 23 points; that’s not a great stat in the abstract, but counts for something when the guy had thrown for 378 yards and racked up 59 the week before. Larry Fitzgerald opened the season with back-to-back 100-yard games for the first time in his career and Christian Kirk is good enough to spread the coverage between them. Cam is an all-time great but something is up and we’ll probably hear the real story and welcome Kyle Allen to the league before Halloween. For now, lay the Cards and hurry – this line has already flipped since Tuesday.
L.A. RAMS -3 v. CLEVELAND
I don’t know how widely this spread or when it was published, but I was reading something else at Victory Journal last week and stumbled upon this story about Georgia Frontiere, who owned the Rams before Stan Kronke, who owns billions of dollars worth of sports franchises yet buys his rugs from Morrie Kessler. The Victory Journal piece was especially engaging for me because I remember reading an SI or Sport Magazine piece in the 80s or early 90s that buried Frontiere, much like those recounted in the article, though they did go in hard on Donald Sterling long before his pathetic weak-willed existence was revealed to the world via badly recorded audio cassette.
Look, this just isn’t that hard. The Rams are the defending NFC champions and the Browns looked perfectly capable in defeating the hapless Jets with a third-string QB eight days after getting lumped by the Titans 43-13. I’m assuming that this line reflects injuries to Malcolm Brown and Aaron Donald, but both of those guys did practice this week. Jared Goff, Cooper Kupp and Todd Gurley are still alive last I checked.
Cleveland’s revival is real. They will be fun to watch when they play in the snow thanks to Nick Chubb, Odell Beckham Jr., and Jarvis Landry, but those guys have combined for all of 18 points of offense on average, and a Sean McVey offense can beat 18 in its sleep. Trap games are never this obvious. Follow the herd and give the three.
So I am toying with a charity idea tentatively code-named Tanking Our Talents In South Beach. You might be able to guess the theme. If you recall, last year we gave money to VCA Animal Hospitals after the California Camp Fires. This year I am willing to open it up to the readership. If you work for, or have a connection to, a specific charity and you think it would make for a worthy cause, get at me before 11:59 p.m. EST on Wednesday September 25. My email and Twitter handle are here, in the last paragraph. I just ask that it be relatively apolitical and that I won’t have to jump through a bunch of hoops to do it, meaning I can just give them what I hope to be a four-figure amount of money online with a personal debit card without approval, logo placement, etc. First person to email or DM me with the right worthy cause wins, so to speak. I will explain the concept in next week’s column. Until then.