Picking football games (against the spread), volume v

All right.

So I gave in during Monday Night Football. The Colts were beating the Titans 12-9 at halftime, so I went to check what the odds were for the rest of the game. Tennessee was something like -140 on the money line (meaning you would have to bet $140 to win $100), and that just wasn’t good enough.

By some miracle, almost like an angel coming down and saying, “Here, Eric, is a gift,” Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota threw a pick-6 on their first play of the half, making the score 19-9 in favor of the Colts. That gave me a better price to bet on Tennessee on the money line.

Knowing that Tennessee is the better team — or that Indianapolis is just godawful — I put $100 on the Titans at +165 (which pays a shade better than a blackjack) to win the game.

The Titans won by two touchdowns.

Anyway, I can no longer say that I haven’t bet on football this year. So no need to give the disclaimer this week before making my picks. Home teams will be in CAPS:

1. RAIDERS (+3) over Chiefs (even money)

The Chiefs (5-1) have the best record in the AFC, and the Raiders (2-4) have lost 4 games in a row. So shouldn’t the line be higher than Kansas City -3? I think it should.

Oakland is playing for their season on Thursday Night, and they will do so as a home underdog against their biggest rival. Even if Derek Carr’s back isn’t 100%, and there’s a good chance it won’t be, this is still a recipe for a Raiders cover, if not a win.

Over the last three weeks I have taken the Chiefs -7 over Washington, Chiefs -1.5 over the Texans, and the Steelers (+4.5) over the Chiefs — all winning selections.

Kansas City is my team, and I feel like I have a decent idea of what the deal is where they are concerned. Still very good, still perhaps the best team in the league this year, but the fact that the line is only at three points makes me believe that Oakland is the clever pick in this matchup.

The bet: $100 on the Raiders (+3) to win $100.

2. Panthers (-3) over BEARS (-135)

I don’t think I’m prepared to live in a world where the Bears are winning games with a rookie quarterback, especially against a team that just last week I said might be the best in the NFC.

There seems to be some recency bias in this line, since Carolina just came off a loss (to a good Eagles club) and Chicago just came off a win (against a bad Ravens team). I would jump all over this line at Panthers -3, because I feel like it could increase by the end of the week.

The bet: $135 on the Panthers (-3) to win $100.

3. Falcons (+3) over PATRIOTS (+105)

The fact is neither of these teams has looked very good through the first 6 games. The Falcons already have two egregious home losses, and the Patriots are trying to avoid a third home loss on Sunday night.

Nothing will erase what happened in last year’s Super Bowl, but my instincts tell me that Atlanta has payback on their mind. If they are to be NFC contenders this year, this will be the game they draw the line in the sand.

Uninterestingly I do like the Patriots to win, but I think it will be by a field goal or less — meaning the Falcons cover the spread, or at least give me a push.

The bet: $100 on the Falcons (+3) to win $105.

4. Washington (+4.5) over EAGLES (-110)

Philadelphia has been getting a ton of love, and they are 5-1 so I guess they deserve it. Their only blemish on the season remains a 7-point loss in Kansas City, who happen to be the only other 5-1 team in the NFL.

Washington, though, is pretty fucking good. And since the Cowboys are having a rough go of it this season, the NFC East looks like a two-team competition between Washington and Philly. Strictly off what is at stake I imagine this will be a close contest throughout, and I don’t see the winner getting it done by more than 4 points.

The bet: $110 on Washington (+4.5) to win $100.

5. Broncos (+1.5) over CHARGERS (-110)

Denver is 3-2 and coming off a really bad loss against the Giants. If they won that game I very much think they would be favored in this tilt with Los Angeles by 2.5-to-3 points. Conversely, the Chargers are 2-3 and coming off back-to-back wins. Recency bias, man. It’s killing these spreads. But luckily for you, you can use that to make some money.

The Broncos realize their starting quarterback probably isn’t an NFL-caliber starting quarterback. As such, they are going to run the shit out of the ball all game to neutralize LA’s pass rushers, and win outright in a low-scoring, hardly-watchable football game.

The bet: $110 on the Broncos (+1.5) to win $100.

6. STEELERS (-5.5) over Bengals (-110)

7. RAMS (-3.5) over Cardinals (-105)

8. GIANTS (+6) over Seahawks (-120)

9. Cowboys (-6) over 49ERS (-110)

10. Jets (+3) over DOLPHINS (even money)

Update: For shits and giggles I put in a $50 bet on a 4-team parlay. The games I picked — in other words the teams I need to win — were Panthers -3, Rams -3.5, Cowboys -6 and Broncos +1.5. The parlay pays about 13:1, but to win the bet I must win all four games.


Picking football games (against the spread) in review, volume iv

I recently wrote about 10 bets I would have made if I was (still) betting on football. This post is to take account of those picks.

1. Panthers (-3) over Eagles

Actual score: Eagles 28, Panthers 23

Outcome: Loss

2. Eagles/Panthers over 46.5

Actual score: 28-23 (51 total points)

Outcome: Win

3. Saints (-4) over Lions

Actual score: Saints 52, Lions 38

Outcome: Win

4. Lions/Saints over 51

Actual score: 52-38 (90 total points)

Outcome: Win

5. Steelers (+4.5) over Chiefs

Actual score: Steelers 19, Chiefs 13

Outcome: Win

6. Steelers/Chiefs over 46

Actual score: 19-13 (32 total points)

Outcome: Loss

7. Rams (+2.5) over Jaguars

Actual score: Rams 27, Jaguars 17

Outcome: Win 

8. Dolphins (+11) over Falcons

Actual score: Dolphins 20, Falcons 17

Outcome: Win

9. Jets (+10) over Patriots

Actual score: Patriots 24, Jets 17

Outcome: Win

10. Texans (-10) over Browns

Actual score: Texans 33, Browns 17

Outcome: Win

Volume iv record: 8-2

Overall record against the spread: 26-14 (65%) 

As far as picking games is concerned, 8-2 is a breakout week. I went 6-1 picking games against the spread (with the lone loss coming in Thursday’s matchup) and 2-1 in over/under bets. That is fantastic.

I took three road underdogs to cover the spread (Steelers, Dolphins, Rams) and they all won outright. Didn’t even need the points. That’s pretty strong.

In the whacky outcomes department, the Falcons lost at home for the second time against a team they were favored to beat my more than a touchdown. I’m not a professional at this, but I would say Atlanta is not a team to be trusted moving forward. That should be a given.

The Chiefs are still probably the best team in the NFL, but their home loss did not come as a surprise. I wrote about how the Vegas line for this game was fishy, and it turns out it was the easiest money to be made in Week 6.

The Packers are sort of fucked now that Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone. It’s really sad, actually, because Rodgers is the best quarterback in the NFL and Green Bay is going to be nothing without him. Despite my great week picking winners, that has to be the biggest loss.

Other than that, hitting on 65 percent of picks through four weeks is exceptional for me. I’m still not betting, but if you happen to read these and feel like making some extra bucks, you could do a lot worse than rolling with the bets I’ve laid out for you.

Picking football games (against the spread), volume iv

This might sound shocking, but I have not placed a bet on football during the 2017-’18 season.

While that’s a pretty swell thing, I do miss the act of betting on football games. I miss betting on two totally irrelevant teams, then watching the game as if it were the goddam Super Bowl or something.

So as I continue to be a good boy and stay away from the action, it doesn’t stop me from writing about a handful of games that would have been my picks if I was betting. As always, gambling should be for entertainment purposes only. All home teams will be in CAPS:

1. PANTHERS (-3) over Eagles, over 46.5 points

The Panthers are 4-1. The Eagles are 4-1. So this is one of those rare Thursday Night Football games that is worth a damn. (Now that I’ve said that the final score will probably be 13-12, or something uninspiring like that.)

I could be wrong about Carolina — because this NFL season is weird and fucked up — but I think they might be the best team in the NFC. They took a loss to the Saints a couple weeks ago, then promptly beat the Patriots and Lions on the road.

Philly has a good football team and they won’t be an easy out on Thursday. But their secondary is all banged up and the Carolina receivers are large and physical, and I’m betting on Cam Newton to bring this one home and maybe, possibly, make me look smart.

The bets: $115 on the Panthers (-3) to win $100; $105 on the over (46.5 total points) to win $100.

2. SAINTS (-4) over Lions, over 51 points

I really like to cheer for the Lions to win, presumably because I am a product of the 1990’s and Detroit is always going to feel like an underdog. Also, Matthew Stafford is a badass and Drew Brees is kind of a dick for not supporting the anthem protestors — but that’s besides the point.

The problem this week is that New Orleans is at home and coming off a Bye Week. Detroit has really had some slugfests through five weeks, and I’m guessing this will be one of those super high scoring games. I’d love to pull the trigger on Detroit +4 points, but my brain keeps telling me not to bet against Brees on his own turf.

The bets: $115 on the Saints (-4) to win $100; $110 on the over (51 total points) to win $100.

3. Steelers (+4.5) over CHIEFS, over 46 points

This is the fishy line of the week. I’ve seen it as high as Chiefs -4.5 points and as low as -3; either way, it doesn’t seem like nearly enough. Consider: the Steelers just lost by 21 points at home to the Jaguars, and have already lost at home to the Bears. The Chiefs, meanwhile, are the only undefeated team in the NFL and find new ways to win impressively each week. How is this line not at least KC -6?

Basically, all signs point to a close game this Sunday. I don’t know why Vegas thinks this, but that’s why it’s Vegas. They know more than I do. Kansas City has built a nice little season for itself up to this juncture, so they should be favored more heavily. Since they aren’t, and since Pittsburgh is the more deserperate team, I would roll with the points and see what happens.

The bets: $115 on the Steelers (+4.5) to win $100; $110 on the over (46 total points) to win $100.

4. Rams (+2.5) over JAGUARS (EVEN)

5. Miami (+11) over FALCONS (-110)

6. JETS (+10) over Patriots (-115)

7. TEXANS (-10) over Browns (-105)

That’s 10 bets, and we’ll see how it goes. As a general trend I expect we’ll start seeing more points across the league. Offenses have been together for 4 and 5 games apiece now, and as a result they should be on the same page more often. (I have no evidence for why I believe this to be true, but it does make logical sense.)

I’m currently attending a DUI program to satisfy the court’s sentence, which was reduced from DUI to wet-reckless.

Anyway, today was my day to talk about who I am and what I do, and what led me to this particular program. I basically just spoke for 20 minutes straight, not including a couple outbursts when I made light of cocaine and painkillers.

Public speaking has never been my bag, but I do know how to fake it. Some of the people who share their stories cry their fucking eyes out. I’m not really that guy, so I go about things a different way. Today, after saying I’m 27 and work as a craps dealer, born and raised in San Bernardino, I opened with:

“I never really tried any cool shit until I was 19,” just so everyone understood this story would be of the lighthearted variety.

It was mostly stuff I’ve referenced on this blog. There was a decent amount of Virginia Tech talk, the relationships I had with my family and best friend, the casino, and what led to the DUI the night of Trey’s wedding.

When I was finished, the counselor thanked me for my honesty. One of the older guys told me that I should take the program more seriously, since it seemed to him like I was just looking to “get it over with.”

At the end, the counselor asked me a question. The question went like this: “When you are by yourself, when you close your eyes, who do you see yourself as?”

I kind of stood there, like a dumbass, in front of everyone, because I didn’t have an acceptable answer for him. The question, I thought, seemed heavy.

I still don’t really know the answer, because in my head it’s so general. Of course when I close my eyes I see success; I see wealth; I see a wife and a couple kids and happiness. The problem is, I don’t think that’s the question that is being asked.

The frustration people have had, and have, with me, is that I come off as a waste of potential. When I was in detention in 8th grade — for showing up late to class too many times — my English teacher gave me a picture one of her old students made for her. It was just a piece of yellow paper, and at the bottom it said “Good Enough Isn’t”.

That’s kind of my life, or at least my mentality for life. I’ve never really needed to work on anything, like actually work, since most things came easy to me. I have always worked just hard enough to be acceptable.

My half-ass effort is typically sufficient. But people, in general, expect more from me — my family, my friends, women I have run around with.

But my behavior has never truly changed. I’ve grown up and all that stuff; I make money and I get along with most people. That is enough for me in the day-to-day. But the jury remains out on what I see when I close my eyes. Just a picture of a person I have yet to become.

Picking football games (against the spread) in review, volume iii

I recently wrote about 10 bets I would have made if I was (still) betting on football. This post is to take account of those picks.

1. Patriots (-6) over Bucs

Actual score: Patriots 19, Bucs 14

Outcome: Loss

2. Patriots/Bucs under 55.5

Actual score: 19-14 (33 total points)

Outcome: Win

3. Bengals (-3) over Bills

Actual score: Bengals 20, Bills 16

Outcome: Win

4. Bengals/Bills over 39.5

Actual score: 20-16 (36 total points)

Outcome: Loss

5. Packers (+1.5) over Cowboys

Actual score: Packers 35, Cowboys 31

Outcome: Win

6. Packers/Cowboys over 52.5

Actual score: 35-31 (66 total points)

Outcome: Win

7. Seahawks (+1) over Rams

Actual score: Seahawks 16, Rams 10

Outcome: Win

8. Seahawks/Rams under 47.5

Actual score: 16-10 (26 total points)

Outcome: Win

9. Chiefs (-1.5) over Texans

Actual score: Chiefs 42, Texans 34

Outcome: Win

10. Chiefs/Texans under 45.5

Actual score: 42-34 (76 total points)

Outcome: Loss

Volume iii record: 7-3

Overall record against the spread: 18-12 (60%)

I switched things up a bit this week, picking only NFL games. The good news is, with the exception of two points in the New England game, I picked all the winners correctly. Kansas City (-1.5) covered; Cincinnati (-3) covered by a point; Green Bay (+1.5) and Seattle (+1) didn’t need the points.

From that standpoint it was a predictable week. I lost two over/under bets, including the Chiefs game that went WAY over. So, really, if we are getting super technical then I went 4-1 against the spread and 3-2 in the point totals. That’s not bad at all.

This wasn’t an easy week to pick football games. My elimination pool selection was the Steelers — who were the biggest favorite this week at -8.5 at home against the Jaguars — and they got annihilated 30-9 by Jacksonville. So I can kiss that money goodbye.

I’m still stuck in this weird place where I don’t know who is good and who isn’t. The Chiefs are 5-0, so that’s nice. Besides them the AFC is a wasteland of average-looking teams who look great one week and awful the next.

The NFC is kind of a trip as well. The Packers are going to be there at the end, even though I’m not quite sure where “there” is. Are they going to finish 11-5 or 9-7?

The Panthers have come on strong the last two weeks, beating both the Patriots (who were 2-1 at the time) and Lions (who were 3-1 entering today) on the road. Next week they play the 4-1 Eagles, whose only loss came on the road versus the undefeated Chiefs. The Vegas line for that game hasn’t been released but I’m inclined to roll with Carolina if they are in the neighborhood of -3.5.

Aside from that, a 7-3 record in a random NFL week is something I’m happy with. In three weeks (or volumes, I guess) I have yet to finish with a sub-.500 mark.

Picking football games (against the spread), volume iii

This might sound shocking, but I have not placed a bet on football during the 2017-’18 season.

While that’s a pretty swell thing, I do miss the act of betting on football games. I miss betting on two totally irrelevant teams, then watching the game as if it were the goddam Super Bowl or something.

So as I continue to be a good boy and stay away from the action, it doesn’t stop me from writing about a handful of games that would have been my picks if I was betting. As always, gambling should be for entertainment purposes only. All home teams will be in CAPS:

1. Patriots (-6) over BUCS, under 55.5 points (-115)

[This selection was written on Wednesday evening, before New England won by a score of 19-14.]

New England’s defense fucking sucks. Already they have allowed 42 points to the Chiefs, 33 to the Texans, and 36 to the Panthers. And those were all home games.

Weird shit tends to happen on Thursday Night Football, and it wouldn’t totally shock me to see the Bucs put up 40 in this one. What I’m banking on, though, is that Tom Brady puts his team up by two touchdowns early on and forces Jameis Winston to throw 45 times.

The bets: $115 on the Patriots (-6) to win $100; $115 on the under (55.5 points) to win $100.

2. BENGALS (-3) over Bills, over 39.5 points (-110)

The Bills are 3-1, and the Bills just won on the road against the Falcons — who could easily be the best team in a meh NFC field. So why bet against Buffalo to win on the road against an inferior Bengals team?

My reasoning is simple: the Vegas line opened at Bengals -3, and it hasn’t moved all week. That seems a bit sketchy to me, especially since a lot of the public action has been on the Bills. They remain a pricy -125, while the Bengals are beautifully better than even money at +105. Las Vegas is fucking begging you to put money on the Bengals, so I am going to be that sucker and take the dare.

The bets: $100 on the Bengals (-3) to win $105; $110 on the over (39.5 points) to win $100.

3. Packers (+1.5) over COWBOYS, over 52.5 points (-110)

Here’s the thing: I’m not a Packers fan, but I generally root for them to win. I’m also not a Cowboys hater, but I generally root for them to lose. Neither of these items mean anything.

Go talk to your nearest Packers or Cowboys fan. Seriously, they are everywhere; go talk to one of them. I can’t find any who actually feel good about the direction their team is headed, even though they are both realistic playoff squads.

Neither of these defenses will be able to stop the other, so this is going to be a shootout. And assuming it’s a one possession game into the 4th quarter, I will roll with the more seasoned QB. And that guy is on the Packers.

The bets: $105 on the Packers (+1.5) to win $100; $110 on the over (52.5 points) to win $100.

4. Seahawks (+1) over RAMS, under 47.5 points (-115)

The Rams are becoming the darling of the NFL again. They have a fresh young coach, a big offense, and are home favorites against one of the preseason favorites in the NFC.

I like the Seahawks because reality needs to set at some point. The Seahawks haven’t been terribly impressive, but I think they have enough on defense to win this game by a field goal.

The bets: $110 on the Seahawks (+1) to win $100; $115 on the under (47.5 points) to win $100.

5. Chiefs (-1.5) over TEXANS; under 45.5 points (-115)

Houston has been surprisingly awesome this year, making this Sunday Night Football game the best matchup on paper of the weekend.

Kansas City has been the best team in the NFL through the first quarter of the season. They’ve also beat three good teams already. Beating the Texans on the road in prime time won’t be a cakewalk, but I’m betting that the best team in the NFL can handle the flavor of the month by a touchdown.

Now that the Patriots look reasonably beatable, the AFC is wide open. Whichever team wins this game is going to get a shitload of love from the national media, probably enough to make them a trendy Super Bowl pick.

The bets: $110 on the Chiefs (+1.5) to win $100; $110 on the under (45.5 points) to win $100.

Being anti-Trump is great, but it can get tired. One way or another life has become a giant persuasive essay, and you are either for the guy or against him.

My thing is, where there is criticism there must be solutions. What is a persuasive essay without arguing against yourself to some degree, at least insofar as letting the audience know you have some degree of awareness.

In short: don’t only tell me what you are against, tell me what you are for. I make clear where I stand, which is firmly against Trump and firmly in support of more worker-friendly policies. If you are against Trump and not for anything, really, then it doesn’t really say much.

Because Trump has set the bar so low, the Democrats have been attempting to rehabilitate all kinds of figures. They are trying to turn Hillary Clinton into some sort of hero, trying to make George W. Bush seem like an all right guy, and making Barack Obama seem like some sort of champion for liberalism.

In reality, Clinton is still more unpopular than Trump. Bush did a great deal of harm to the world. Obama didn’t do very much to better the lives of working class people. These are all corporation-friendly Republicans.

Trump is somehow worse than them all, but it doesn’t make the others any more acceptable. It doesn’t take much to be better than the current president.

Picking football games (against the spread) in review, volume ii

I recently wrote about 10 bets I would have made if I was (still) betting on football. This post is to take account of those picks.

1. Miami (-6.5) over Duke

Actual score: Miami 31, Duke 6

Outcome: Win

2. Virginia Tech (+7.5) over Clemson

Acrual score: Clemson 31, Virginia Tech 17

Outcome: Loss

3. Raiders (+3) over Broncos

Actual score: Broncos 16, Raiders 10

Outcome: Loss

4. Chiefs (-7) over Washington

Actual score: Chiefs 29, Washington 20

Outcome: Win

5. Colts/Seahawks over 41.5 points

Actual score: Seahawks 46, Colts 18 (64 total points)

Outcome: Win

6. 49ers/Cardinals under 44.5 points

Actual score: Cardinals 18, 49ers 15 (33 total points)

Outcome: Win

7. Jaguars (-3.5) over Jets

Actual score: Jets 23, Jaguars 20

Outcome: Loss

8. Jaguars/Jets over 38 points

Actual score: 23-20 (43 total points)

Outcome: Win

9. Vikings (-2) over Lions

Actual score: Lions 14, Vikings 7

Outcome: Loss

10. Lions/Vikings over 42.5 points

Actual score: 14-7 (21 total points)

Outcome: Loss

Overall record against the spread through two weeks: 11-9 (55%)

My MacBook took a shit on me, so this will be brief. After splitting the college picks, I went on ahead and split the NFL slate as well.

I was at a wedding during the Virginia Tech game, and it looks like I didn’t miss anything. My heart was really invested in a program win for the Hokies, but in the end my mind was right — which explains why I gave an avalanche of caveats when I made this pick. Clemson is the better football team, and it ain’t too close.

It’s now been four weeks and I still have no clue what is going on in the NFL. Even the Jets won a football game this weekend. And if it weren’t for a miraculous defensive touchdown as time expired, the Chiefs wouldn’t have covered the spread and I would have finished this week 4-6.

Picking against the spread is a fool’s game, but it’s not like the money line would have been any nicer to me. The vaunted Patriots lost at home to the Panthers, and the fucking Bills won on the road against the Falcons. WHAT IS THIS MADNESS.

Hopefully I can avoid dropping $1,500 on another computer, and hopefully I’ll be back with another set of picks for next weekend.

Picking football games (against the spread), volume ii

This might sound shocking, but I have not placed a bet on football during the 2017-’18 season.

While that’s a pretty swell thing, I do miss the act of betting on football games. I miss betting on two totally irrelevant teams, then watching the game as if it were the goddam Super Bowl or something.

So as I continue to be a good boy and stay away from the action, it doesn’t stop me from writing about a handful of games that would have been my picks if I was betting. As always, gambling should be for entertainment purposes only. All home teams will be in CAPS:

  1. Miami (-6.5) over DUKE

One way or another, I am going to keep picking against Duke until I am proven right and the universe is restored to some order. Just as last week I couldn’t fathom the Blue Devils being favored to defeat an ACC rival on the road, this week I don’t understand how any Miami team could be favored by less than a touchdown against them. The line opened at -7, so the public must like Duke to keep the game close. I happen to like the Hurricanes by at least two touchdowns.

The bet: $115 on Miami (-6.5) to win $100.

2. VIRGINIA TECH (+7.5) over Clemson

There are too many reasons to count why I think Clemson, the second-ranked team in college football, will manhandle the Hokies on Saturday night. Virginia Tech has a redshirt freshmen quarterback, Clemson’s defense is head and shoulders better than anything VT has seen this year, and the difference in talent is substantial.

Still, everything comes back to the game being at Lane Stadium, under the lights, and in front of a national audience. I don’t only think the Hokies will cover the spread, I like them to win outright.

The bet: $110 on Virginia Tech (+7.5) to win $100.

3. Raiders (+3) over BRONCOS

I know it’s only Week 4 of the NFL season, but this matchup of 2-1 squads is pivotal. The loser falls to 2-2 (obviously), which has real potential of putting them two games behind the Chiefs a quarter of the way through the season. Vegas sees this game as a virtual coin flip, giving three points to the road team. I happen to like the Raiders offense — against a good Broncos defense — more than I like the Broncos offense against an average Oakland defense. Does that make any sense? Take the points.

The bet: $105 on Oakland (+3) to win $100.

4. CHIEFS (-7) over Washington

Kansas City has a tough schedule this year, at least on paper. Their next 7 games are against teams who finished .500 or better last year, and the Redskins (who are solid) are probably on the low-end of that list. Basically what I’m saying: the Chiefs need to bank as many wins early in the season as possible, because their schedule is entirely unforgiving. I’m rolling with Kansas City at home on a Monday night, spread be damned.

Bonus bets:

  • Colts/SEAHAWKS over 41.5 points (-110)
  • 49ers/CARDINALS under 44.5 points (-110)
  • Jaguars (-3.5) over JETS, over 38 points (-115)
  • VIKINGS (-2) over Lions, over 42.5 points (-110)

That’s 10 total bets. I will track the progress with another blog later this week.