Jim Vallet and Robert Perea, The Fernley Reporter
One of the hazards of growing old is that friends die. Since there is only one alternative that I can think of to watching old friends pass, I will continue to exercise as well as watching my diet and alcohol intake. But whether our time here is predetermined or if we have some control, I really don’t know. I just know that my circle of old friends is getting smaller.
Ron was a Michigan friend who was a couple of years older than I. He was a heavy smoker and drinker. I never saw him even consider eating anything but fried and fast food. The most exercise my old friend ever got was from walking from his golf cart to his ball, which he would park in a sand trap or water hazard to walk two less feet. Ron was always the first to come and the last to leave any party, but he only left his seat to go to the restroom. Ron was married to the same woman for forty years, but the only times I saw her was when I was at Ron’s house.
As a golfer and card player, my old buddy was indefatigable. On the golf course, he played a huge banana slice which meant he could easily be beaten on certain golf courses, and he never could understand why he almost always lost golf bets. At the Euchre table, Ron always played the same way and predictability is not a likely path to success in Euchre.
When it came to football betting, Ron always bet the over. When I challenged him on the prospects for success of betting only overs, Ron retorted that to bet on the under was cheering for a boring game filled with mistakes and penalties. Everyone teased our friend for the folly of betting a Bears-Lions game, which inevitably ended 13-10, over again and again. But, Ron never changed the way he played cards, golf, or bet on football games.
Four years ago, Ron went to the doctor because what he thought was the flu would not go away. After the usual battery of tests and being treated like a piece of meat, the doctor told his patient that he had terminal cancer. If you can believe it, Ron asked the doctor what the over/under was for his time left. The doctor told him nine months.
Four years later and many pounds lighter, remission ended and the cancer was back. This time, it didn’t take long and Ron was called home.
But there are advantages to knowing when death is going to come calling. In my friend’s case, he had time to organize all his affairs and even to write his own obituary. He titled it, “I Finally Hit the Over”.
Another bad week last week, this time because of underdogs covering and, in some cases, even winning outright. If you are, ahhhh…dumb enough to listen to me at this point, I will say that at this part of the season, you need to pay attention to the schedule as much as to the x’s and o’s. I really don’t see, no matter what the NFL says, how going to Europe does not adversely affect a team that has to play the very next week. Everyone knows the road teams on Monday and Thursday nights are at a disadvantage, and, as San Francisco proved last week, it’s tough to stay “up” week after week. And, traveling cross country is tough on anybody, even these world class athletes. Not to mention the long list of injuries…
Here are my picks against the spread. Lines are from sportsline.com on Wednesday, Oct. 18.
New Orleans Saints (-1) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: Unconscionable to make a team that just played two straight weeks in Europe play on Thursday night (??!!) On top of that, the Saints were upset last week and Jacksonville has a hurt QB.
Washington Commanders (-2 ½) at NY Giants: This year, even when the Giants should win, they find a way not to.
Buffalo Bills (-8 ½) at New England Patriots: The Pats are historically bad on offense.
LA Rams (-3) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: I haven’t seen a game the Steelers played this year where they deserved to win.
Green Bay Packers (-1) at Denver Broncos: The Broncos will struggle to move the ball against the Packers’ defense, and Aaron Jones is probably going to be back.
Philadelphia Eagles (-2 ½) vs. Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins are fast on offense and slow on defense. Although I think the Dolphins will score a lot against the Eagles, I think the Eagles will stop the Dolphins one more time than the Dolphins stop the Eagles.
San Francisco 49ers (-7) at Minnesota Vikings: This one may be trickier than it looks. The 49ers have been hurt by injuries far more than most any other NFL the last couple years. Is this the start of another slide? Still, the 49ers have plenty more to beat the Vikings by more than a touchdown.
Last week: 2-4
Wake Forest (pk) over Pittsburgh: Everything lined up perfectly for Pittsburgh with Louisville coming off that win over Notre Dame, but even then it was a pick six when Louisville was about to score, and three failed fourth down attempts by Louisville that spelled the difference. Now it’s Pittsburgh coming off an upset win, catching Wake Forest looking to bounce back from their own bad outing last week.
Tennessee (+8 ½) over Alabama: My favorite part of Tennessee’s upset over Alabama last year came after the game. While the fans were storming the field, the stadium PA system was playing a song by the band Alabama. First class troll job there. Alabama probably gets revenge, but with an offense that gets nothing easy, I think this game is a battle.
Mississippi St. (+6 1/2) over Arkansas: These are two teams in desperate need of a win, but while Arkansas is coming off a tough loss to Alabama, the Bulldogs are off a bye. Zach Arnett inherited a tough situation being promoted to head coach when Mike Leach died, but his specialty is defense and I’ll count on him to use his bye week to find a way to keep this one close.
Utah (+7) over USC: I’ll concede up front that Utah’s offense isn’t very good, but they did put up 34 points against Cal. A friend of my said yeah, but that’s against Cal. The thing is, defensively, USC is Cal.
Bills (-8 ½) over Patriots: The only time I’ll lay a number like this in the NFL is when the favorite has reason to be motivated for a dominant performance. The Bills are being doubted all across the mediaverse this week, and that’s when I like to step in with good teams.
Colts (+3) over Browns: I held off on this one as long as I could waiting to see if Deshaun Watson is playing. As of Thursday night, he is still listed as questionable, but he did have a limited practice Thursday. Basically my premise here is if Watson is out, I’ll take three points at home with almost anybody against P.J. Walker. But even if Watson plays, I’m not sure this comes easily for the Browns coming off that win over the 49ers last week. When it comes to the NFL, especially to the teams in the middle of the pack, the pendulum always swings the other direction.
Steelers (+3) over Rams: Mike Tomlin teams off a bye have been a strong play for years, and now they get the Rams missing their top running back, Kyren Williams. This game has the feel to me of one that will come down to a late field goal.