Ah, football is back and it gives me the munchies. In this economy, or lack thereof, the only safe investment is to gamble recklessly on pro football point spreads. Time to revive the NFL Picks column and give out a few best bets against the spread for Week 1.
Over the last two years of picking games for a football website, I went 128-100. Nothing great, but good enough. This year I bring the column to Bums Logic in hopes of helping some of you degenerate gamblers and office pool players some tips on winning a few bucks this year. You’re welcome. Donations accepted.
Wait, this just in, someone else just made the “this just in, the Packers just scored another touchdown” joke. Now onto the Week 1 NFL Picks:
Pittsburgh Steelers +2 at Baltimore Ravens
This bruising rivalry is the most intense in the league right now. (With apologies to Jets/Pats or Brady/Manning fanatics, anyone who watched these Pittsburgh/Baltimore games knows this is the truth.) The Ravens will be fired up, as will their home crowd, but the Steelers are in their heads. There’s plenty of Super Bowl or Bust pressure mixed Must Beat Pittsburgh urgency, and I think the Steelers will be loose but focused on what Mike Tomlin likes to call a “business trip.” If you don’t trust my gut feel, a couple trends also point in the direction of Western PA: Pittsburgh is 5-1-1 against the spread in the last seven meetings with the Ravens, and the underdog is 6-2-1 ATS over the last nine games in this heated series. This line opened at 3 and was bet down to 2 and even 1.5 in some places. Best Bet: Steelers +2.
Washington Redskins +3 vs. New York Giants
Too bad for NFL fans (and commercial sponsors) that Peyton Manning is probably out for the season, so the only Manning we’ll see suit up this year will be Eli, aka The White Jason Campbell. The Giants injury problems are well known, and it’s not going out on a limb to say they will likely have a sub-par season. So why are they favored on the road against a division rival? Well, of course the Washington football franchise has pretty much sucked shit since Bush’s dad left office. They were a trainwreck last year, and they come into this season with Rex Grossman as their starting QB. All this stuff plays into public perception; so from a gambling standpoint, the Giants are a bit overrated here, cuz they are recent champions from a huge market and no one trusts or wants to bet on the Burgundy, Gold & Rex. And beyond all this, I can see Washington coming out and beating the Giants and being one of the “surprise teams” for about a week or so until they lose 5 in a row and end up 7-9. But they’ll win this first game (of course take those 3 points in case they blow a heartbreaker). Best Bet: Washington +3.
Bet $100 on the OVER in every game.
OK, stay with me here. Everyone usually bets the Under in the first week because the conventional wisdom says that “defenses are ahead of offenses” and “offenses will be sloppy cuz they’re not in a rhythm yet. Well, the “Everyone” who follows the conventional wisdom is the same “Everyone” who ultimately loses at gambling while the bookies always win. Vegas might have these totals skewed a little low, since people favor the Under in the early weeks. But on top of that value, consider this: if the offenses are sloppy, they’ll punt or fumble or throw pick-6’s. Also, I’m writing this column while watching the Saints and Packers hang 45 points on the first half. Sure, Aaron Rogers and Drew Brees won’t be playing in the other games this weekend. But guys are so fast, there are playmakers all over the field and the rules favor the offense. Even a game like the Steelers/Ravens, where every guy in your office thinks he’s the only one making the “joke” about “this game will be 6-3!” The Over is actually 7-3-1 in that series. Perception. It’s a low total, so I like Baltimore and Pittsburgh to go Over 36. I also like the Eagles and Rams to go over 44. Sam Bradford and Stephen Jackson at home against whoever the Eagles linebackers are. Mike Vick and all those weapons from Philly on the turf in St. Louis. They only need 24-21 or 28-17 to go Over. And I think Matthew Stafford and Josh Freeman shouldn’t have much trouble getting the Lions and Bucs Over 41.