Week #15 picks: “Real fiction”

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Jim Vallet and Robert Perea, The Fernley Reporter

Jim’s picks

Author’s note: None of the following is true, but it falls into a genre of writing oxymoronically known as  “Real Fiction”.

I never knew that I had so much power. 

Anonymous sources have reported that the Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears posted my story last week that claimed these two NFL teams were not playing with 100% effort on their bulletin boards to motivate their players, and the move apparently worked.

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Although I am happy to get my work noticed, I am worried about the possibility of violence against me, “The Fernley Reporter” and my boss Robert Perea.

“Just wait until I get my hands on the Ballet, ot Violet, or whatever that writer guy’s name was”, growled 6’ 3”, 260 pound Khalil Mack. “Saying that I went into hibernation before a game, I’ll make his ugly face pay for that.”

Cowboys’ 6’ 4” 315 pound tackle Brandon Knight gave me even more reason to pause. “I bought a ticket to Fernley, and I’m going as soon as this season’s over. I’ve got to meet this guy who says I’m not a real Cowboy.” My anonymous source tells me that Knight was cracking his knuckles as he said this.

Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Bengals and Houston Texans are also reported to be angry at me, but for a different reason.

“When I saw that Vallet, the Prince of Picks, was picking us to win last Sunday, I went out and tied one on Saturday night ‘cuz I figured we had it in the bag”, said 6’ 5”  J.J. Watt. “I’m gonna stuff about 5 Subway sandwiches down his big, fat mouth.”

6’ 1”, 220 pound running back Joe Mixon blames “The Fernley Reporter” for the Bengals’ loss. “I have practice beating up women and people smaller than me, and I’m gonna do a number on Vallet’s face. But, who is this Perea guy letting Vallet write this stuff in his paper so that we think we’ll have an easy game? After I’m done with Vallet and any other belligerent women I find in Fernley, I’m gonna have a visit with Mr. Perea.”

It’s tough to tell truth to power, especially when the power is in the pecs.

OK, back to reality

One of my two (out of six) correct predictions for last week was that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would defeat the MInnesota Vikings, “…by a lot…” 

Although the Bucs did win by 12,  I don’t feel vindicated by my pick because the player that contributed the most to the Bucs 12 point win was MInnesota kicker Dan Bailey. Bailey missed three makeable field goals and one extra point, leaving 10 potential MInnesota points off the board. No Tampa Bay player contributed as much to the Minnesota defeat.

Normally, kickers who have that kind of day for Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer have about as bright a future as an Iranian nuclear physicist, but although Zimmer was not happy with Bailey’s performance, he did not put all the blame for his team’s defeat on his kicker’s toe. “It wasn’t just Dan Bailey…” Zimmer magnanimously declared after the Vikings fell to 6-7. Still, if I were Dan Bailey I would not buy a house in the Twin Cities area.

I think it’s more than a little funny how coaches don’t care very much about their kicker’s feelings and insecurities, but bend over backwards to make their quarterbacks feel comfortable. No, that’s wrong. Coaches constantly make excuses for their quarterback’s poor play under the guise of.”…not wanting to put too much pressure…” on them.

The Tua Tagovailoa/Drew Lock/Mitch Trubisky/Kirk Cousins/Sam Darnold/Daniel Jones/Carson Wentz situations, among many, many others have got me thinking. Why do NFL quarterbacks get babied so much, and kickers get cut for missing one kick?

I think it’s because we all know that place kicking should NEVER decide the outcome of any football game, at any level. But it does. Week after week after week after week we watch two teams full of huge world-class athletes smash the heck out of each other for 59 minutes and 55 seconds, only to have the deciding play be made (or not) by some little guy who looks funny when he runs kicking the ball through goal posts.

WHAT DOES PLACE KICKING HAVE TO DO WITH FOOTBALL? Nothing!! That’s like, instead of having extra innings, we decide baseball games with a spelling bee. Instead of a judge hearing court cases, we flip a coin. Instead of having elections, we have the candidates run a marathon. Instead of having someone who knows football write this column, we have Vallet. IT MAKES NO SENSE!!

When I was a teacher, every principal I ever had told us not to get on our soapboxes and preach our causes, because no one else cares. But, when I write, I get to rave about whatever fool cause I want! What a country!

Well, what a country where I still get to make picks after my horrendous record last week. As one person asked me, “How do you make your terrible picks? Do you put money on these poor prognostications?”

The answer to that is, I put money on games that are on tv, so take my advice accordingly. This week’s picks, if on tv or not, are as follows. Lines are from vegasinsider.com. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-6) at Atlanta Falcons Beware on this one, because, unlike Minnesota, Atlanta has a good kicker. But, Tampa Bay beats up so-so teams. 

Indianapolis Colts (-7) vs. Houston Texans. The Colts look good, and can’t afford a trip-up now

Washington F.T. (+5 ½) vs. Seattle Seahawks Tough for west coast teams to come east and play early. Tougher yet to go against the Washington defense

Los Angeles Rams (-17) (!!??) vs New York Jets How can the Jets score against this defense? Good defenses are what cover huge point spreads

Kansas City Chiefs (-3) at New Orleans Saints Taysom Hill did a good job, but he’s not Drew Brees, even at 40. If he stumbles, bring in Jameis Winston, which could go either way.

Last week

College 0-0

NFL 2-4

Season

College 0-0

NFL 38-37

Robert’s picks

The title of the intro to this weeks column couldn’t be more appropriate, but I don’t have to create fictional conversations. My picks this season have been real fiction. An 0-3 performance last week in college football has continued what has been a mystifying failure for me this season, and I now stand a combined 16 games under .500. That has been fueled by a particularly dismal performance in the college game, which has been my bread and butter as a bettor since the 1990s

Here’s this week’s sure to be feeble effort. (Lines as of Wednesday at William Hill)

Rutgers (+6 ½) vs. Nebraska: Nebraska has been favored twice this season, and lost by 18 as a 16.5 point favorite against Illinois and by seven last week as a nine point favorite over Minnesota. Rutgers has covered five of the seven times they’ve been an underdog this season. Their results and their statistical profile are both more impressive than Nebraska.

Air Force (-2 ½) at Army: When Air Force followed its 40-7 win over Navy with a 16-7 loss to San Jose St., I had no idea of what to make of Air Force, so I didn’t even try, especially after they had three games in November canceled. But in hindsight, there’s nothing wrong with that loss to San Jose St., and the Falcons’ defense ha been terrific in its last two games, against New Mexico and Utah St. I’m guessing Army won’t have any kind of letdown from beating Navy last week with the Commander-in-Chief’s trophy on the line, but Air Force has the more diverse offense, and I’ll count on them to make an extra play or two and grab the win.

Notre Dame (+10 ½) vs. Clemson:  I do expect Clemson to get revenge for its 47-40 loss in overtime at Notre Dame, but I don’t expect it to come easily. For one thing, while it’s true that Trevor Lawrence missed that game for Clemson, quarterback play was not one of the reasons Clemson lost. D.J. Uiagalelei passed for 439 yards playing in place of Lawrence, and as good as Lawrence is, I don’t think his absence had anything to do with the outcome. Instead, it was Clemson’s inability to contain Ian Book, particularly his scrambling. Book is no Lawrence, and probably not even Uiagalelei, but he is the winningest quarterback Notre Dame has ever had, and considering the history of that program, that’s saying a lot. I think the Irish go down in this one, but in a battle, not a blowout.

New England (+2) at Miami: In a season full of disappointments, not much has been more disappointing than the Chiefs allowing the Dolphins to drive down in less than a minute and kick a field goal to blow the cover last week. The Dolphins trailed 30-10 in that game before coming back to within six twice. The Patriots probably blew their playoff chances with the loss to the Rams last Thursday, but the Patriots have competed well after every loss this season.

Seattle (-5 ½) at Washington: The entire NFC East has had trouble stringing wins together, and as impressive as the Washington defense has been, especially Monday against the 49ers, its worth remembering that Nick Mullens gifted the Football Team 14 of its 23 points in that game. Russell Wilson is no Nick Mullens, and the already limited Washington offense is especially compromised if Antonio Gibson and Alex Smith are out, or limited.

Last week

College 0-3

NFL 1-1

Season

College 15-28-1

NFL 16-19-1

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