Week 8 picks: TV troubles
Jim Vallet and Robert Perea, The Fernley Reporter
I have said many times that I bet on the games I’m going to watch on TV. Very rarely do I purposely risk my money on a game I’m not going to watch because to me, the fun of it is watching and cheering for my team of the week. Maybe my team (the Lions) have been losers, but I can be a winner by switching my allegiance from week to week, enjoying a short term thrill of victory.
This all seems simple, but it’s not. My Sunday entertainment (what game will be offered to me) is at the mercy of NFL TV contracts, where I happen to live, what time a game begins, and the accuracy of my DirectTV guide.
Let me explain. I spent four hours – the entire length of Game 1 of the World Series – reading how the networks decide which game we will see at 10 and 1:30 on Sundays. I then tried to explain it to my wife, and I watched her eyes glaze over as my explanation droned on and on. So I’m not going to do that to you. I will say that which game we see depends on many things, the most important being what conference the visiting team is in, which network has the doubleheader that week, and where you live. Then there are primary and secondary NFL team markets, and if, say, Reno is in San Francisco’s secondary market seems to be information that is as closely guarded as most of our country’s nuclear secrets.
So, I learned very little. But, I do know that in this area, we see the San Francisco 49ers every single week. Some years, like two years ago when the 49ers went to the Super Bowl, that makes for exciting TV. But other years, like this year, it stinks for most of us.
Take this week. The 10 o’clock game, the only game that is on during that time, will be the San Francisco 49ers at the Chicago Bears, a thrilling match up that features two teams with a combined 5-7 record and two offenses that are about as fun to watch as watching paint dry. Really, I’m surprised this game is not one of the ones being played in London. We could get the Titans and the Colts or the Steelers and the Browns, but NO, Reno is “treated” to the 49ers, no matter what. Because it’s the only choice, I will bet that game, but it won’t be a good bet, no matter which team I choose.
It was worse when I lived In Detroit. I can’t tell you how many 13-10 Lion barnburners I was treated to watch while elsewhere real, exciting NFL games were being played and I was missing. When the Lions ineptly played in the half full 80,000 seat Silverdome, we got no game at all and were forced to spend quality time with our families.
But TV snafus are not always the fault of the NFL. If you are old enough to remember the famous “Heidi” game in 1968, you know what a big deal watching football is in the United States (I don’t remember ever seeing my dad so mad). On top of that, even my DirectTV guide changes its mind as the week goes on as to which game will be shown, frustrating if you bet like I do. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I expect to see one stadium on gameday, only to see another venue where, of course, I have no betting interest.
In conclusion, there are many obstacles to an enjoyable Sunday watching NFL football that must be overcome long before Sunday. And my wife says watching football is mindless….
My feedback has been that some of my picks are mindless, and I will admit things have gone downhill a bit since Week 1. Well, just like trying to figure out what games I can watch, I will plod forward. Here are this week’s picks against the spread. Lines are from William Hill Sportsbook on Tuesday, Oct 26.
Arizona Cardinals (-6) vs Green Bay Packers: This one seems too easy, and you know how that often works out. The number is sure to be even higher with the news Davonte Adams didn’t even make the trip to Arizona.
Atlanta Falcons (-3) vs Carolina Panthers: Carolina looks lost right now on offense.
Pittsburgh Steelers (+3 ½) at Cleveland Browns: Like last week, this game will be close, so take the 3 ½.
San Diego Chargers (-5 ½) vs New England Patriots: A bye week following an embarrassing loss will be bad news for New England.
New York Giants (+10) at Kansas City Chiefs: Too many points for a bad defense to give against a team with no quit
Detroit Lions (+3) vs Philadelphia Eagles First time writing this column I pick the Lions!! I don’t think Jalen left, Jalen right, Jalen up the middle will work any better this week than it has other weeks. The Lions play hard.
Last week 3-4
Iowa (+3 ½) at Wisconsin: I don’t discount Iowa at all for their loss at Purdue, in an obvious flat spot the week after their big win over Penn St. But they’ve had a bye since then, and although I expect this game to be a dogfight, I think Iowa is as good on defense as Wisconsin, and has the edge on offense.
Louisville (+ 6 ½) at NC State: A couple of NC State wins, including the one over Clemson, don’t look quite so impressive given results since then, and Louisville might actually be the best team the Wolfpack has met so far. Louisville lost 37-34 to Wake Forest and 34-33 to Virginia, and NC State doesn’t have the firepower of either of those opponents. Louisville quarterback Malik Cunningham is a playmaker both running and throwing, and he has a deep core of runners and a couple of explosive receivers to help him out.
BYU (-2 ½) over Virginia: Virginia quarterback Brennan Armstrong won me a bet last week, and he’s perfectly capable of wrecking this one, averaging 402.5 yards passing per game. But the Cavaliers are traveling to play a nonconference game in high altitude in the middle of conference play. Even at 6-2, Virginia’s defense has almost given back as much as Brennan has taken, and this is a scheduling spot that likely has them at less than their best.
Stanford (-2 ½) over Washington: Stanford has run hot and cold, but this is a pick against Washington, which continues to have the worst offense in the PAC-12, and their average of 23.1 points per game is propped up by scoring 52 on an Arkansas St. team that has given up the most points in the NCAA. Coming off a bye following two straight losses, I expect a David Shaw team to be focused and efficient. Just playing mistake free football should be enough to get them a win.
Falcons (-3) over Panthers: I got a win by a half point last week against these Falcons, but I consider myself very fortunate. But I got it because, as I expected, Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa got hot, and he led a comeback that would have won the game had the Falcons not marched right back for the winning field goal. Even against a mediocre Falcons’ defense I don’t see Sam Darnold doing the same.
Football Team (+3 ½) at Broncos: Like the Panthers, the Broncos started 3-0 because they played a weak schedule, but they aren’t very good. I’d take points against them with anyone in the league right now except probably the Jets and the Texans.