Jim Vallet and Robert Perea, The Fernley Reporter
With all due respect to Sir Mix A Lot, when it comes to betting I don’t like big buts and I cannot lie.
There are several games on this week’s NFL schedule that gave me a very good first impression, but then I looked closer.
The Buccaneers, Super Bowl Champions, at home against the Cowboys, who stunk last year. No way. The Steelers, getting 6 ½ against anybody, anywhere. I like it. The Vikings, only giving 3 to the Bengals. Great. The 49ers against Detroit. Easy win. The Chiefs at home with lots of time to prepare. Where do I sign up? The Patriots giving less than a field goal at home against the Dolphins. Sure money. The Saints 4 point underdogs at home. Count me in. The Ravens against the Raiders. They’ll run it down the home team’s throats.
Everything I said so far was true…Last year. That’s the first but. The Cowboys last year had a terrible defense and a hurt quarterback. The Cowboys now have their quarterback back and a new defensive coordinator. But, is Dak truly healthy and how much difference can a coach make? The Steelers have always been a great bet, but, which Steelers will we see this year, the first half season Steelers, or the second half season Steelers? Are the Vikings headed up or down, and can Joe Burrow come back from his season ending injury? With the return from injury of so many key players, the 49ers should be able to manhandle the LIons, But, the Lions are at home with a new coach and (??) new attitude. Will we see a return to genius for Bill Belichick with (??) improved quarterback play, or are they yesterday’s news? The Saints getting 4 points at home against anybody would be a great bet, but sadly for New Orleans, the game will be played in not exactly Saint crazy Jacksonville instead of New Orleans. And all you need to know about the state of the Ravens’ running game is that they have worked out Davonta Freeman and Le’veon Bell. Add to that it’s the Raiders first home game in Las Vegas with fans in the stands. Not as easy as I first thought.
Now to the biggest but of them all. No one has any idea what any team will do this year because coaches showed us nothing in the practices, I mean preseason games. Is Christian McCaffrey healthy? Can the Chiefs replace their entire offensive line? How will Matthew Stafford and Jadeveon Clowney fit in with the Rams and Browns, respectively? Can Jameis Winston throw the ball to the same colored jersey as his? Will Von Miller come back the same players he was two years ago? Is Michael Thomas going to play well, or even, at all? Will Carson Wentz be an effective QB for the Colts? Can Joe Burrow come back from his injury? Will Saquon Barkley ever be the same player, and if so, when?
None of the above questions, and many more, have been answered. The fact is anybody who says anything is making any more than an educated (in some cases) guess.
In light of all the buts and the scarcity of any real valuable information, my advice would be to not bet at all this week. Study what happens and make more informed picks next week.
Yeah, right. Of course we’re gonna bet, it’s what makes Sunday afternoons in the fall fun. But, I would seriously suggest not making any wagers more than you can afford to lose, because all of us have no more than a 50-50 shot right now. It’s like when you go to play slots, figure everything bet is lost and have fun with your two beers for 100 bucks.
All that being said, here are my picks. All picks are against the spread and lines are from William Hill Sportsbook as of Sept. 4, 2021. I will not give logic behind any of my picks because of all the Buts.
Steelers (+6 ½) at Bills
Washington Football Team (+1 ½) vs. Chargers
Eagles (+3 ½) at Falcons
Bengals (+3) vs. Vikings
49ers (-7 ½) at Lions
Browns (+6) at Chiefs
Patriots (-2 ½) vs. Dolphins
Rams (-7 ½) vs Bears
Raiders (+4 ½) vs. Ravens
The good news last week was that I felt pretty strongly about all five games I picked. The bad news going forward is I lost all five of them, and that, coupled with the worst season I’ve ever had as a college football bettor last year, has me feeling pretty apprehensive going forward. I’m still using the tried and true formulas I’ve used successfully in the past, but they haven’t been working out. But I’m a process oriented bettor, not a results oriented one, although I will admit bad results are frustrating. Three of my losses last week could have been wins with a little bit of luck, or in one case, a wrong call by the replay officials, but when games come down to that slim of a margin, it indicates the process was bad.
Here’s hoping this week starts a run of better processes, and results.
Buffalo (+14) at Nebraska: Buffalo went 6-1 last fall, which was good enough to get its coach the job at Kansas, leaving the Bulls with a first year head coach and only 10 returning starters. But one of them is junior quarterback Kyle Vantrease, who is probably going to get at the least an NFL look when he’s done in college. Another is running back Kevin Marks, who averaged 6.6 yards per carry, while the defense returns its two best players. The Nebraska program has stagnated and I think they’ll have their hands full just trying to win this one, much less do it by more than two touchdowns.
Iowa (+4 ½) over Iowa St.: I have a huge amount of respect for the job Matt Campbell has done at Iowa St., mostly because he’s done it despite mediocre recruiting rankings. But sooner or later at the top of the food chain, you have to have more talented players to sustain success. I believe Iowa is the more talented team, and the Hawkeyes hit their stride about midway through last year’s shortened season. Then they dismantled what I still think is going to be a pretty good Indiana team. Now they’re an underdog in one of the games they want to win the most. I expect them to.
Texas (-7) at Arkansas: I’m not about to believe the annual hype that Texas is back just because the Longhorns beat Louisiana by 20 last week, and I’m no fan of Steve Sarkisian. Stiffer tests await, but Texas did one thing last week it didn’t do the past few years, namely get the ball repeatedly to its best player. Another big game by Bijan Robinson should be enough to get past Arkansas, which is still trying to dig out the mire of the failed Guy Morriss regime.
Patriots (-3) at Dolphins: Maybe it’s stupid to bet on a rookie QB in his first NFL start, but I’m a believer in Mac Jones, and I think he will show why Bill Belichick was willing to hand him the reins as a rookie and send Cam newton packing. The Patriots, especially with many of last year’s missing players back, are stronger on both sides of the line of scrimmage, and they will play a style that will let Jones manage the game. If he doesn’t make mistakes to lose it, the Patriots win.