Week 12 picks: Be careful what you wish for

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Jim Vallet and Robert Perea, The Fernley Reporter

When I was growing up, we had a tradition in our house that the 2 youngest children in attendance would get to pull the two branches of the turkey’s wishbone after dinner. My parents told us that whomever got the biggest hunk of the wishbone would get a wish granted. 

To me, an egocentric child, this tradition seemed unfair because I was the oldest of four and, once I lost the pulling honor, I could never get it back. Similarly, the children’s wishes from long ago seem self-serving and trivial today. My brother wished to make the travel hockey team…he did. My other brother wished for a new bike…he got it. My sister wished for Beatles tickets…she received them.

Fast forward, ahhh, many years. I must have pulled the big hunk of the turkey wishbone many years ago because I married a woman who is everything a man could ever wish for. Among her many talents is cooking, and she regularly makes me, and whomever else wants to come, great food. 

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Last week, she made some great shrimp scampi and, instead of being grateful, I complained that I liked round noodles instead of the flat noodles she served the scampi over. What??!! How stupid is that, comlaining about the shape of the noodles in a great meal? I wish that was the only stupid complaint I have made over the years, a list that includes complaints over when my wife cleans our house by using the vacuum cleaner, not folding my shirts properly after she did my laundry, causing me to get “flushed” when she uses a space heater because I like my house temperature so dang cold, and not specially ordering beef sticks hot enough. I feel bad but I could be a diplomat because representatives of the U.S. and North Vietnam complained about the shape of the negotiating table for over a year, delaying the start of any peace talks and resulting in many deaths that should have been prevented.

So now, in my newly discovered state of being thankful for what I have instead of being mad for what I lack, I also want to admonish those who wish for things that might make things worse. In my case, I need to think of what the alternative is to my complaints over my wife. No scampi, a dirty house, dirty laundry, a sick wife and no beef sticks. Better or worse? And, although I could apply the old “Be Careful What You Wish For” adage to many current situations in politics, economics, foreign affairs, and personal decisions (such as marriage)  nowhere is it more true than in sports.

Last year, NFL fans in Houston, Detroit, New York, and Atlanta all were clamoring  for new coaches. They all got them, and look what has happened. Better or worse? Fans in Jacksonville were begging for a new quarterback. They got one, and this year nfl.com is reporting that the Jags need yet another new quarterback. 49ers’ fans and Bears’ fans this year both wanted to replace their beginning of the year quarterbacks. They both got their way, and now both teams are back to their beginning of the year quarterbacks because coaches believed the changes were for the worse. Two years ago, the Carolina Panthers and their fans believed Cam Newton was the reason the Panthers were not winning. Two years and three quarterbacks later, Newton is back under center in Carolina. Zach Wilson was happy to be drafted by the Jets, until he had to play behind their really offensive offensive line. The San Diego Chargers didn’t like their deal in San Diego, and now play in a Los Angeles stadium half filled with fans from the other team. Some were offended by the mascot name, “Redskins”, and so it was dumped and replaced with the inoffensive, but unoriginal mascot name of, “Football Team”. Really?  A couple of obviously bad calls caused the NFL to allow video review of penalties that were, or should have been called… dumped after one year. These are just a few of the changes “experts” wanted and then got in the NFL alone. As the saying goes, “How’s it workin’ for ya?”

Now, University of Michigan football fans want a new coach. Some Raiders’ fans believe Derek Carr needs to be driven out. Bill Maher wants the Lions banned from Thanksgiving Day Football. Miami fans believe Tua Tagovailoa can’t play anymore, and should be replaced by Deshaun Watson. “Urban Meyer’s gotta go”, says Jacksonville. Aaron Rodgers wants to play and be a part time general manager. The Denver Broncos want to replace Teddy Bridgewater with, “a franchise quarterback”. Lions’ fans want to bench Jared Goff in favor of Tim Boyle(??). Even though the Steelers don’t have much in the way of offensive talent, it HAS to be the fault of offensive coordinator Matt Canada, so fire him! Matt Ryan’s too old, dump him! And on, and on…

I believe there are consequences for actions. If you replace one quarterback, coach, rule, or role with another, there are only three possible results. The change will either cause things to be better, worse, or stay the same, and all three of these results seem to me to happen with equal frequencies. Your change may result in better results, but it’s about twice as likely things will either be worse or be the same. So, be careful what you wish for.

As for my consequence for complaining about the shape of noodles, I think I deserve bologna sandwiches for a week.

Here are my picks this week against the point spread. Lines are from vegasinsider.com on Tuesday, Nov. 23.

Dallas Cowboys (-8) vs Las Vegas Raiders; I think an under bet (51) would be good, too.

New Orleans Saints (+5 ½) vs Buffalo Bills; The Bills have been getting physically beaten.

Carolina Panthers (-2) at MIami Dolphins

Cincinnati Bengals (-4 ½) vs Pittsburgh Steelers; If Pittsburgh gets T.J. Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick back on defense, I would not want to give more than 3.

San Francisco 49ers (-3) vs Minnesota Vikings; A combination of no belief in Kirk Cousins and a total belief that the 49ers are just smashing down everyone right now.

Washington Football Team (-1) vs Seattle Seahawks; No more jokes about Russell Wilson. He’s a great quarterback who isn’t playing well right now because he’s still hurt.

New England Patriots (-6 ½) vs Tennessee Titans; This one goes against everything I’ve ever learned about pro football betting. The line opened at New England -2. Tennessee was #2 in the NFL just a week ago, according to nfl.com. What happened? The Titans have character. But, the Patriots are, to quote Cam Newton, “…back”.

Last week 3-4

Season 32-30

Robert’s picks

Robert’s picks

Iowa (+1) at Nebraska: Iowa benched quarterback Spencer Petras last week, apparently because he wasn’t fully recovered from a shoulder injury, but thanks to a kickoff return for a touchdown and a pick six, they still rallied from a 10-0 deficit to beat Illinois 33-23, even though replacement QB Alex Padilla only completed 6 of 17 passes for 83 yards. Padilla had played better than that in his first two tries, but Petras practiced this week. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz isn’t saying which QB will play this week, but we know Nebraska will be without their QB, Adrian Martinez, and his backups are both freshmen. Even if this game is a battle of backups, Iowa is just better everywhere else on the field.

Navy (-13) at Temple: Temple has lost six games in a row, getting outscored 261-45. If a team in that situation can suddenly rise up and compete in its last game of the season, against a foe that requires a special level of preparation because of the triple option offense, then I will be surprised.

Rutgers (+1 ½) over Maryland: Greg Schiano vs Mike Locklsey. That means steady, dependable and disciplined against impetuous, erratic and undisciplined. The winner is bowl eligible. The better, more reliable team is the home underdog. Sign me up.

Oklahoma (+4) over Oklahoma St.: I have to do this just on principle. Certainly, Oklahoma St. has the better defense, but Oklahoma has dominated this series through the years. The winner goes to the conference championship game, and even though they’ve struggled the past couple of weeks, if this game is close late, I trust Oklahoma and its coaching staff to outwit Mike Gundy.

Nevada (-4) at Colorado St.: I completely expected Nevada to struggle against Air Force last week, because like Temple above, you can’t prepare for the triple option without 100 percent focus through the week. And even though they wound up losing in triple overtime on Senior night, and if Carson Strong and the seniors are the leaders they are touted to be, I expect much better focus here. A focused effort puts them past the Rams fairly easily.

Vikings (+3) at 49ers: The 49ers are back home, where the only team they’ve beaten in the last two years is the Rams. The Vikings just keep playing games down to the wire, and the 49ers have only covered three of their last 13 times as favorites. They’ve overcome injuries on the offensive line the last couple of week, but this is the game where that is most likely to be a glaring issue.

Last week

College 3-1

NFL 0-2

Season

College 24-18

NFL 11-11

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