Week 4 NFL picks: I’m a Bitter Man
Jim Vallet and Robert Perea, The Fernley Reporter
Week #3 of NFL Football left me a broken and bitter man.
First and foremost, the Lions did it again. My team was ahead by one, the opponents had a fourth and 19 inside their own 20 with no timeouts, and there were only 19 seconds left on the clock.
Victory!! But, to steal a line from Lee Corso, “Not so fast, my friend!”
Somehow, there was an open Raven 30 yards down the field right next to the sideline. How could that happen? No matter, after the Ravens completed the pass and the receiver got out of bounds, they were still just barely across midfield. A field goal? No way, it was even a long Hail Mary. But look, here comes Justin Tucker to try a new NFL record 66 yard field goal. Are they kidding? No worry, just don’t go offside and this one’s ours. We don’t even have to worry about icing the kicker.
Well, the Lions didn’t go offside. In fact, Tucker even had time to skip as he approached the ball and kicked it straight, and… Wow! It hit the crossbar, bounced up, and, somehow hit the crossbar again before bouncing over it. It’s good! For the second time, the Lions have lost on a last play, new NFL record distance field goal (no other NFL team has even lost once that way). A new chapter to join the book of new ways for the Lions to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, joining fake punts that only the punter knew about, choosing to go against gale force winds in overtime, coach’s ignorance of the rules, “Steady” Eddie in the real “wide right” missed field goal, and drafting a flag football team to play in the NFL among many other miscues (how can you lose a playoff game 5-0?).
The real problem? I was following the game on my computer, and when I saw the Ravens converted the fourth and 19 on the second to last play, I knew it was coming again. Defeat. Jokes meant to hide the tears. Yet another coach’s optimism squashed when confronted with the cruel reality of Lions’ football fortunes. And inevitably, again “rebuilding” so that former Lions could move on to Super Bowl glory somewhere else. Ford Field again half empty for meaningless December games that will never make any highlights. Here we go again.
But it didn’t stop there. My fantasy team slipped to 0-3 as I strategically moved the one player who would have helped me win (Kareem Hunt) to the bench. I was worried that my Rams defense would give up more than 30 points to the Bucs, so I craftily replaced them with the Washington Football Team defense that gave up more than 40.
Why do I even like fantasy? How can anyone see any value to a competition where Jalen Hurts gets more points than Dak Prescott? Fantasy Football is stupid and my fantasy team stinks.
Finally, I predicted last week in this column that the Rams would defeat the Bucs. They did. But, somehow, I stupidly BET THE WRONG TEAM, which I did not discover until I got home and was proudly showing off my great bet that was, oh no, on the wrong team! I’m surprised I even was able to drive home in my senile state, only blowing through one stop sign.
Hence my bitterness. Luckily, I have my health, have a wonderful family, plenty of money, a nice, quiet home, and a loving wife to give me comfort. My wits, well, they come and go.
Witless or not, here are this week’s picks against the point spreads. Lines are from William Hill Sportsbook as of Tuesday, Sept. 28.
Washington Football Team (-1) at Atlanta Falcons. Will the FT ever play a good game on defense? If they ever will, this is the week.
Cleveland Browns (-1 ½) at Minnesota Vikings The Browns are good.
New Orleans Saints (-8) vs. New York Giants I wish I could bet that the Giants would not get to double digit points.
Los Angeles Rams (-6) vs. Arizona Cardinals The Cardinals are good, the Rams are better.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-7) at New England Patriots Can the Patriots run on the Bucs? No. Can the Pats pass against the Bucs? No. Can Tampa score against the Pats? Yes.
Los Angeles Chargers (-3 ½) vs Las Vegas Raiders I really like what the Raiders are doing, but it seems like Derek Carr is pulling rabbits out of hats. The Chargers, meanwhile, are good.
Iowa (-3) at Maryland: I have to admit to being impressed by what Mike Locksley has been able to do at Maryland, considering his disastrous first tenure as a head coach at New Mexico Still, I have to see one of his teams beat a true contender before I’ll buy in completely. I was hoping to get this line closer to pick ‘em, but William Hill still has it at -3 at this writing, and I see this as where the Terps take their first loss of the season.
Louisiana Tech (+19 ½) at North Carolina St.: The Wolfpack is celebrating one of its biggest wins ever over Clemson last week, but Skip Holtz has been tremendous as an underdog his whole career, and has done well in that role in Ruston. That, combined with the natural letdown spot for NC State, laves enough room in this pointspread for the Bulldogs to stay within earshot.
Texas (-4) at TCU: TCU appears to be a program in decline, as its defensive numbers have trended the wrong way the past three or four years, and home field hasn’t been much of an advantage. Texas, meanwhile, looks to be a different kind of squad under Steve Sarkisian than it was under Tom Herman and Charlie Strong. Cal went into TCU and outplayed the Horned Frogs, but somehow managed to lose. I expect the Longhorn to control this game and reverse the recent series history.
LSU (-3) over Auburn: I’ll go back to the well with LSU, which is starting to look good offensively with Max Johnson at quarterback, and with an offense designed by some of Joe Brady’s underlings. Auburn quarterback Bo Nix has been poor against good defenses, and last week he was replaced by T.J. Finley, who, coincidentally, was the quarterback for LSU last season when Auburn won 48-11.
Cowboys (-4 ½) vs. Panthers: During the postgame show on the NFL Network last Thursday, analyst Steve Smith talked about how Carolina wouldn’t be able to defend Dallas and its three big-play wide receivers with its revamped secondary, after losing cornerback Jaycee Horn in that game against the Texans. Smith argued that the Panthers’ #3 cornerback now becomes #2, and the #4 now becomes #3. Considering Smith is the Panthers’ preseason home analyst, I’m guessing he has a pretty good read on the depth chart, and if the Cowboys do get some explosive plays against Carolina, I don’t think the Panthers can keep up without Christian McCaffrey.
Seahawks (+3) at 49ers: Maybe the Seahawks do fall to 1-3 and in an early hole in the division, considering that whoever wins the Cardinals/Rams game will be 4-0. More likely, the Seahawks let Russ cook, and with the injuries in the secondary, the 49ers can’t do much to stop them. With their injuries at running back, that puts too much of a load on Jimmy Garoppolo, and while I’m not one who thinks the 49ers should start playing Trey Lance, Garoppolo is good for two or three ‘what the hell is he doing’ mistakes a game, and that’s not going to be good enough to beat the Seahawks.