I don’t want to be one of those people who feigns a sort of woeful regret every time they say “I told you so” by insisting that they are certainly not the type of person who says “I told you so,” except in that instance, of course. Those people are charlatans. Ne’er-do-wells. Cads. Bounders. And they love to tell you that they told you so. They live for it. Me, I’m just a guy that told you so.
So it goes I guess. 1-3 is certainly a fall back to earth, but at least we didn’t get blanked. We were actually on the verge of .500 but the Patriots couldn’t even lose against the spread correctly, and Jason Garrett kicking a 29-yard field goal down seven with 6:09 to play was catastrophically stupid for any number of reasons, not the least of which was costing us a unit. There again, it was bound to happen sooner or later. Back on the horse, let’s get it.
First, however, a quick apology for the delay this week. I’m sure Goat will give me the business once I send this in, but I left you all hanging for the Thursday games. For you international readers, last Thursday was November 28, a national holiday because on that very date in 1982, some dude said “Life is a Beach” out loud. Almost instantaneously, everyone went fucking bananas, saying it all the time, slapping it on t-shirts and bumper stickers, and over-saturating the culture to such a degree that not one person has uttered the phrase since 1986. So I hope you had a great “Life is a Beach” day on Thursday. As I type this, it is Saturday, and wouldn’t you know it, not 48 hours later and they’re already running commercials for “Don’t Worry Be Happy” day. Crass commercialism knows no bounds.
I don’t know, maybe my calendar is wrong. However, I know for a fact that today is college football’s rivalry day, because Ohio State and Michigan had the big noon kickoff spot, and Alabama is currently in a dogfight with Auburn. My sister-in-law is wearing a Crimson Tide 2017 National Champions shirt and white-knuckling her beer having just gone down by two. Funny thing: she’s from Alabama but did not actually go to Alabama, yet she roots for them anyway because she went to Spring Hill College, a Jesuit Catholic Liberal Arts college in Mobile. I am generally distrustful of people who root for a college that they did not attend, because I’ve heard too many drunken midlife adolescents tell me that my alma mater sucks, full well knowing that they would need to lie on their resume for the privilege of mowing the campus lawn. In her case, however, I make an exception because Spring Hill does not have a football team. Besides, nitpicking would only serve to dampen what was otherwise a wonderful Life Is a Beach dinner.
The college football marathon has taught me a bit about marketing, however. For instance, they run those AllState “mayhem” commercials even more often during college games. You’d scarcely think that was possible, right? Maybe because they got Tina Fey to pitch for them, they might as well cast the net as wide as possible. The people I know who care deeply for the work of Tina Fey would rather watch Mean Girls for the 400th time than suffer through one second of college football, but what do I know? I’m still trying to figure out why Aaron Rodgers hasn’t fired his lousy sports agent. The guy owns one suit and doesn’t know what an app is, so why would he keep him around? Of all people, Aaron Rodgers obviously doesn’t have an issue with cutting people out of his life. Perhaps he could bring his State Farm agent to Packers Family Night.
Also, I know how hacky it is to make fun of car commercials, but that spot where the couple get a pair of GMC trucks and the woman insists on getting the pickup is so nauseating. If your driveway is big enough to park cars perpendicularly, then there is no way in hell you do the sort of work that requires a pickup truck. There’s barely a chance you work at all. I hope the dude’s sidepiece goes full Alex Forrest and crashes her 97 Civic through their obnoxiously expansive bay window HEY LOOK FOOTBALL!
SAN FRANCISCO +5.5 v. BALTIMORE
This will be the first of two occasions in the column when I warn against fading 10-1 teams, but this is the far more egregious example. We all saw Lamar Jackson slaughter the Rams and then proceed to dance all over the grave. It was fun to watch. The Monday night slot made him something of a debutante for the casual audience. His case for MVP recognition is much more convincing. But the Ravens are not a 5.5 favorite against a 10-1 team. Not yet anyway.
A team fresh off of a 39-point victory and boasting a 9-2 record is going to drag the pockets of the casuals, but there is a lot of context here. Four of those wins came against the Dolphins, Cards, and two divisionals with the Bengals. One loss was a tight game against the Chiefs, but the other was a more definitive 15-point thumping at home against Cleveland. It also bears mentioning that Goff and the Rams have had a rocky season and came into Baltimore at 6-4, so it’s not like they washed the 2018 Rams.
San Francisco will have their healthiest lineup in weeks, with George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, and Emmanuel Sanders all off of the report. Robbie Gould is also back having missed all of November. They’ve got the best-ranked defense in the NFL running point against Baltimore’s undrafted rookie backup center following the injury to Matt Skura last week. The weather might make it ugly, but the 49ers are not a proper 5.5 dog to anybody. Let’s take the points and enjoy a competitive 1:00 game between contenders for a change.
NY JETS -3 v. CINCINNATI
Sam Darnold is going to do it again, isn’t he? Last year he was arguably the best overall QB in the game in December, having waited until the Jets were out of the playoff picture before hitting his stride. He seems married to slow starts intermittently interrupted by games where he looks like an all-star, as was the case against the Cowboys in October. Maybe he figures if he knocks them far enough down the draft board he won’t need to worry about Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, or – assuming his hip heals better than Bo Jackson’s – Tua Tagovailoa and the like.
Unfortunately for us, the Jets easily handled Oakland last week, so I was surprised to see that the line at one point favored the Bengals, though that came from a preseason line posted to Covers for some reason. I guess that shows why you shouldn’t try and gain an edge by betting these games in June.
You can’t even argue that this is Cincinnati’s last best hope, as they get their two AFC North pairings with the Browns and a penultimate trip to Miami. The Jets almost never dwarf another team statistically, but they’re even better than the Bengals on paper. Lay the field goal and let’s let this guy avoid his wife for another week.
GREEN BAY -6 v. NY GIANTS
I suppose I should feel bad, since the Giants were the only team to come through for us last week, but they’re still the two-win team they were the week before, and have been since week four come to think of it. Besides, I already sent them a cake that said “CONGRATS ON LOSING BY LESS THAN SIX” so I’m sure we’re cool.
Seriously though, those guys are standing on a train track. This line is a rather obvious over-correction for the Packers’ poor performance last week, and is part of the reason that the Pack are 5-1 ATS in their last six coming off of a big loss. I will often say stuff like “we’ve seen this movie before” (because I am very clever and original) but this scenario literally just happened. Like, in November of 2019. The Packers took an embarrassing loss from the Chargers on November 3, then turned around and handily beat Carolina one week later, covering in the process. Little reason to doubt the same outcome will occur here, given that the Panthers are twice the team the Giants are right now.
The Packers and Vikings are tied for the NFC North lead, and Minnesota will likely fall to the Seahawks. This makes for a must-win game against a soft opponent coming off of an embarrassing loss. It sounds obvious enough that I looked for traps, but there are none to be found. Double up here.
NEW ENGLAND -3 v. HOUSTON
As if we needed one more reason, the fucking Staties are now using one of those creepy robot dogs. They say it’s only for bomb-type situations but… well, when have the cops ever lied, right? I can’t even stand watching those things. I hate those robotics videos they always embed in tech blogs, too. They’re always building a robot but it’s just the face, talking and squinting and nodding, shit like that. Look here, Poindexter, the market has spoken and the face is like the ninth most important part. Now put up or shut up: can you make a real-looking butt or not?
Sorry, I’m still not over that Sunday night game I guess. Going purely by the numbers on this one, and Houston should be getting more than a chip shot. J.J. Watt’s absence is making an enormous difference, as they’ve given up 505 yards on the ground in the three weeks he has been out. Stephon Gilmore, Patrick Chung, and the McCourtys are an elite pass defense, and can force Deshaun Watson to rely solely on his legs, short yardage, and Carlos Hyde.
Watson and the Texans have been streaky all year and this game should maintain the status quo. Home field scares me a bit, since three of their four losses came on the road, but I keep going back to the formula. Three points isn’t enough against this 10-1 opponent.
Well, as you may have deduced by now, my sister-in-law is not a happy camper. Another Life is a Beach day ruined. Hopefully things will go better on Sunday though. We’re still comfortably ahead, but I promise we won’t get lazy. No sense in starting now. Let’s get paid instead.