I’m in a tough spot. Despite literally working for Goat, the whole quick goat thinking concept is beyond me, so I am at a loss. Generally, the first paragraph is either a celebration or rumination regarding the games of the previous week. This is usually the paragraph for therapeutic cheer-leading or the tempering of expectations, situation depending. However, as most of you know we went 3-2 last weekend, and wound up dead even at 3-3 in terms of units. And that might just be a good thing? Hear me out: after the week 7 and 8 games concluded, we were up plenty. In fact, the unit differential for those two weeks was 11-1! That is awesome, of course, but it’s also a hell of a lot of pressure. I’m just some rando guy, after all!
Every junior high math teacher you ever had told you that odds on an isolated event reset every time the event happens, usually giving the example of a coin being flipped X times in a row and landing on heads each time as being just as likely as a mishmash of heads and tails. That said, football isn’t random chance and that coin thing always sounded suspect to me anyway, though in terms of odds, it happens to be true. So even though advanced stats and the absence of emotion are our stock and trade around here, I still find myself thinking superstitiously on occasion, as though we somehow deserved a .500 week after collecting all of that money in late October.
I know that is nonsense, but so be it. If, like me, you ever have those weird gambler thoughts float between your ears – being “due” for example, or convincing yourself that a team that only needs three will still keep passing in the red zone because they somehow want to cover – then take last week as our humble pie. Gotta spread the good fortune around, right? Now shake it off so we can be, as I say in my day job, “cautiously optimistic” about the week 10 slate.
I do have to mention one other unfortunate thing though. The Jets, the cursed Jets, the Jets that ruin Ms. Duquesne’s life 16 weeks out of the year, those Jets ended the charity contest. We will no longer be Tanking Our Talents In South Beach, as Sam Darnold somehow went 27 of 39 for 260 yards and an 85.4 QBR and still lost to the Dolphins. He spread the ball around, handed off to Le’Veon Bell for another 66 yards, and pulled 321 total yards out of a hobbled offense. Yet Gregg Williams still let Ryan Fitzpatrick hang 26 points on his defense despite a second quarter safety. It was almost impressive in a perverse way.
So our contest is no more. However, we have had a great few weeks and I don’t want the Save the Hampton House people thinking we were using their cause as a gimmick, so I had my assistant donate $347, representing the profits from the five money line bets that paid up until last week’s win. Longtime readers will know why I am reluctant to take another hostage picture with the cover of the New York Post so just dig around Twitter if you need to see the proof for yourself.
Up next, the new contest: send us some money you probably cannot afford to part with and you can win breakfast with me, J.J. Duquesne! The sharp-eyed among you may notice that we are going to run a lot of similar contests, and there may not be proof of anyone winning, but there is at least a remote possibility that you will get to meet my idiot son, his scummy wife, and some other astroturf-enabling idiot before they force me to take a picture with you in another room. Totally normal stuff.
What a world. At least it appears that the walls are starting to crumble at long last. HEY LOOK FOOTBALL!
CHARGERS v. OAKLAND +1.5
I’m not even really sure how to ask this, and I sure as hell didn’t ever think I’d have to, but do I owe Jon Gruden an apology? The Raiders are 4-4, one game back of a wildcard slot, and holding their own in meaningful games against the Colts, Bears, and Lions. I had some fun with he and Khalil Mack’s “best friends” shtick but was never outright dismissive of Derek Carr’s on-field performances. Good thing, too, as he’s averaged 26.8 over their last five and gone 3-2, with those losses coming against the upper-tier Packers and Texans.
The biggest thing Oakland has going for them is the cupcake schedule they face going forward. Two against the Chargers, along with the Bengals, Jets, Jags and Broncos. After we all laughed at the Mack and Amari Cooper trades, there is a real possibility that Oakland makes the postseason while the others do not.
As for this game, I’m tossing last week’s beat-down of the Packers as an anomaly. Green Bay only put 11 points on the board, so Rivers just had to game manage a win out of 26 points. He didn’t throw any TDs and he didn’t outplay his game two weeks prior against the Titans, where he tied last week’s QBR. The Chargers are still 4-5, still without a receiving corps, and facing down a divisional rival with momentum. Wait until kickoff to see if the points go up a bit more, but take the Raiders.
BUFFALO +3 v. CLEVELAND
It seems unfair to insist that the shine is off of Baker Mayfield, since he’s been given absolutely no protection. Cleveland ranks 19th in the league in total offense, but 13th in rushing and receiving, respectively, showing just how much work Nick Chubb puts in for the team. However, he can’t win games by himself, as evidenced by the fact that the Browns haven’t won since week 4. Bud Light is gonna have to lock up those stupid collars again if this continues.
The Bills are a bad defense for Mayfield to try and beat right now. They are third against the pass, meaning Chubb will have to carry the team past a more cohesive unit that have dealt loses to better backs, specifically Le’Veon Bell, Derrick Henry, and Saquon Barkley.
I’m aware of trends and injury reports but even factoring all of that in I can’t justify giving a 6-2 team three points against a team with an inverse record. Cold weather? Insurance commercials? Maybe I’m about to learn but I doubt it. Two units or more.
ARIZONA +4.5 v. TAMPA BAY
Yes, I’m crazy enough to take another swipe at the Buccaneers even though they’ve made us sweat a couple of times this season. Based partly on Winston’s Favre-esque tendency to try and hurl his way out of trouble, they either show up or get destroyed when they make their way onto the pages of this world-renowned website. They’ve become the Two-Face of the NFL, meaning the Dick Tracy villain, not a teen girl who calls her friends fat when they aren’t around. Hey I wonder if he knows about the coin flip odds thing? He’d probably find it interesting.
Notably, Larry Fitzgerald did not practice this week, which is something of a concern. However, the HOF-bound soul of the Cardinals has only caught 11 passes for 58 yards in the last three weeks, a period that overlaps with their three-game win streak in October and last week’s heart-breaker in San Francisco.
Kyler Murray is starting to show real talent, Jameis can never be trusted, and at least some members of the public are with me since this one opened at 5.5 on Tuesday. Jump on it before it drops any more.
Well we went a bit quick-and-dirty this week so I could get that Raiders game in there, so let’s hope it pays off. Something tells me that very few of you are crying in your beer for lack of my ever so timely Tina Turner humor anyway. Let’s hope that between last week’s downshift and the ghost of Fred Hampton the football gods put the wind at our backs once more.