Week #9 picks: Looking for motivation

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Robert Perea and Jim Vallet, The Fernley Reporter

Robert’s picks

My season has been so bad, that going 3-3 last week almost felt like a success. It’s been such a tough season, that I took to the internet this week looking for some motivational quotes about life and success that can correlate to football, while trying to boost my spirits.

Here are a few samples of what I found.

“Tough times don’t last. Tough people do.” – Robert H Schuller. Maybe the most famous motivational quote ever, because it’s true. What matters is to keep riding the storm out, don’t get too caught up in results, and stick with the process. OK, I feel a little better.

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“Success is what comes after you stop making excuses.” – Luis Galarza. This one is right in the wheelhouse, because after every game I bet, win or lose, I take a deep dive into the outcome, trying to decide if I was right or wrong based on what happened in the game. Often times, the score of a football game is the worst indicator of what actually happened, so I’m always looking for the why. The trick is for the why to be a reason, not an excuse.

“Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.” – Norman Vincent Peale. No list of inspirational quotes would be complete without Norman Vincent Peale, but this one really hits home. My confidence level in my picks has really taken a hit, but one thing all of my reviews this season have shown me is that, even when I’ve been dead wrong about games, my process has been the same as it always has been. It’s been my decision making that has been off, and confidence is a major factor in decision making,

“There are lies, damned lies and statistics.” – Mark Twain. Time after time, I find games where the statistics and the score not only don’t match, but sometimes they’re so opposite, that it’s hard to figure out what exactly happened in a game. I’ve found over the years that statistics usually provide more predictive power going forward than the scores, but seeing this from Twain, who I consider the preeminent philosopher America has produced since Ben Franklin, reminds me not to get tunnel vision on statistics.

The picks (Lines as of Wednesday at William Hill):

Boise St. (+3) vs BYU. BYU has been an absolute wrecking ball so far this season, but Boise St. is by far the toughest team they have faced so far. Boise was specifically allowed by the Mountain West to play this game, and is playing one fewer conference games than the other Mountain West teams, except San Diego St., which is also playing BYU. They wouldn’t have pushed to play this game if they weren’t pointing at it, and to the benefit of Boise St. backers, BYU’s impressive early season, against a mostly weak schedule, has BYU favored in a game where they may not be the better team.

Arkansas (+2) vs. Tennessee. The biggest question I had about Tennessee this season was how much progress quarterback Jarret Guarantano had made from last season. I got a fortunate cover from the Volunteers in their first game, but Guarantano has thrown just six touchdown passes in five games this season. Arkansas, meanwhile, is dramatically improved under new coach Sam Pittman, particularly on defense. I think Arkansas is actually the better team, and getting a couple of points at home, too.

Minnesota (-7) at Illinois. This might be the Covid Game of the Week. Because of the Big Ten’s protocols that require players who test positive to sit out 21 days, Minnesota could be getting back some of the players who didn’t play against Michigan. Even if they don’t, Illinois will definitely be without all the guys who had to miss last week’s loss to Purdue, including both of its top two quarterbacks. Then in that game, a third quarterback was injured, leaving the Illini down to a fourth stringer. Minnesota has a lot of weapons, is desperate for a win after two losses, and since one of those losses was a blown lead against Maryland last week, I think P.J. Fleck will make it an emphasis not to let up if the Gophers get a lead this week. Row the boat.

My third game this week was actually going to be Cal (-1 ½) vs. Washington, but news came down Wednesday that Cal had 15 players quarantined due to Covid. Not knowing which players they are, I’ll wait until later in the week and see if I can find out whether most of the key players are going to be active. If they are, then Cal is definitely a preferred side.

Seattle (-3) at Buffalo. Both of these teams are off of huge wins last week and are in scheduling situations that would normally leave them in flat spots this week. Buffalo beat the Patriots for the first time in several years, while Seattle is actually off two consecutive division wins, including a big revenge win over the 49ers last week, with another division game against the Rams on deck. But I’m not going to try to guess which team will have the motivational edge. Instead, I’m going to fall back on one of my basic maxims – never bet on a team that can’t score, against a team that can. Even in a flat spot, the Seahawks are a big play waiting to happen, while Buffalo has had to grind for every point, while the defense has actually allowed 30 points per game against teams other than the Jets and Patriots.

Minnesota (-4) vs. Detroit. At the time I’m writing this, it’s not certain who will play quarterback for Detroit, with Matthew Stafford being placed on the COVID-19 reserve list because of close contact to a positive case. By NFL rule, he has to test negative for five consecutive days, so he could well be in action, but the Vikings are an undervalued commodity, and just flat better than the Lions, even if Stafford plays.

Indianapolis (+2 ½) vs. Baltimore. When I first started betting football in the late 80s and early 90s, I consistently made money for several years betting against the teams that had played Notre Dame the previous week. The reasoning was simple, and obvious – because Notre Dame was dominant at that time, it was usually the biggest game on teams’ schedules, so the next week was almost inevitably a flat spot for those teams. So far this year, teams are 0-6 after playing the Steelers.

Last week

College 1-2

NFL 2-1

Season

College 9-16-1

NFL 11-12

Jim’s picks

If only, if only, if only!

NFL stands for one’s career lasting “not for long” if you don’t win now. Chances in this elite league come around less often than Hailey’s Comet, and second chances occur every time the Lions win a championship. 

I am writing this on Election Day and in the present state of blaming everything on something or somebody else, I present rule changes that would greatly benefit NFL losers and turn them into winners. Please note that NONE of the quotes are real, these are just my helpful suggestions for what the people I am trying to help should say, in my world.

Los Angeles Chargers- Make the games 30 minutes long. Clearly, the games are too long for the Chargers, and that’s unfair. In the first half this year, LA is outscoring their opponents 101-72 and allowing a league-low 137.9 yards. However, in the unfair 3rd and 4th quarters, the Chargers are allowing a third worst 226.1 yards while being outscored 113-78. No wonder the LA Chargers own a 2-5 record and have blown an incredible 4 straight games having leads of 16 or more points in the second half!!

“We need to shorten the games, that’s for sure”, says Head Coach Anthony Lynn. “ I don’t know why we need to play four quarters, who decided that, anyway? It seems to me that 30 minutes of football is more than enough, and that way, we could play twice as many games.”

New York Giants- Forget the actual score, keep score against the spread! Although the Giants have a dismal real record of 1-7, against the spread the Giants are studs at 5-3! Since you’re reading this column, that’s what you care about anyway, right? Giants’ games do seem to follow a predictable pattern: Giants come out playing hard; Giants take early lead; Giants make you believe they can win; Daniel Jones turns ball over (usually multiple times); other team comes back; other team barely wins.

“It’s not fair to our fans that we continue to keep the real score”, says Giant Head Coach Joe Judge. “Las Vegas bookies are smart, how else did they build all them nice casinos? Not by losing, I’ll tell ya that.”

The Giants also may want to strongly advocate that opposing defenses coat their hands with cement, since Giant quarterback Daniel Jones throws the ball to the defense so much, and fumbles it to them quite a bit, too.

“Cement hands against us on defense would make Daniel Jones better than Tom Brady,” asserts Judge.

Detroit Lions- Let the Lions use “Auto Draft” for them. Since the problem is not a dumb front office here, but rather, a system of drafting players that are, you know, not very good. We can easily solve that problem by letting the Lions “Auto Draft”.

In the fantasy football leagues I have been in, if a manager can’t participate in the draft, the computer auto drafts the next-best available player. My son-in-law did that this year and is 6-2 right now in his fantasy league. (Should I mention I drafted on my own and am currently 4-4? Maybe I’ll have my wife have a baby on draft night next year). 

“The people of Detroit deserve better than the terrible draft picks our overpriced and under-performing talent evaluators have made over the years,” says Lions’ Principal Owner and Chairperson Sheila Ford Hamp. “To even things up with teams that have made lots of good picks, like the Patriots and Packers, we should get the help of a computer so we don’t draft seven wide receivers in one draft every year.”

New York Jets- Make Trevor Lawrence ineligible to play college football next year.  The Jets stink. Unless the Jets REALLY mess up and actually win a couple of worthless games this year, they will have the number one pick in next year’s draft and SHOULD draft Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence. The problem is, Lawrence is only a junior this year, and there have been rumors that TL could pull an Eli Manning and refuse to play for the Jets by playing his senior year at Clemson. Wouldn’t that be typical luck for a team that once had its quarterback knocked over by an offensive lineman’s butt? The NCAA should step in, and in the interests of NFL parity, declare Lawrence ineligible to play college football his senior year.

“This (declaring Lawrence ineligible) would certainly not be in Tervor’s and the League’s best interests since the Jets would certainly miss with this can’t miss talent,” states another AFC East team coach that needs a quarterback and plays with under-inflated footballs.

Dallas Cowboys- Have Jerry Jones make player personnel moves for all NFL teams. Since Jones began making personnel moves for the Cowboys, the ‘Boys have fallen from perennial Super Bowl contenders to what you saw on tv Sunday night. Since the NFL is so big on parity, having Jones making bad moves for everybody would certainly make everybody equal.

“Since Jones insists on messing up the Cowboys and won’t listen to anybody tell him anything he doesn’t already agree with, the only way for the Cowboys to be good again is to bring the rest of the league down to their level,” says an underpaid writer for The Fernley Reporter. “We have to let Jones mess up the entire NFL.”

Finally, Chicago Bears-Follow our Founding Fathers and keep score by quarters, rather than by the game. The Bears have been absolutely terrible in every third quarter (and overtime) this year and butt kickers in the other three quarters. So, instead of the 5-3 record the Bears have, if we use the Quarter Electoral College the Bears’ record would be a much improved 28-5, good for first place instead of second. 

“Of course we should let every single quarter have its say,” says Bears’ Head Coach Matt Nagy. “Why should the entire game score dominate the voice of all of our quarters?”

Nagy even proposed taking this further to help his team. “I think we should count points scored at practice in the week following our game on Sunday, on plays that we tried to run on that Sunday. We should let all plays participate in deciding game outcomes.”

I don’t know how the Founding Fathers would feel about this week’s picks, but here they are. Picks are against the spread on espn.com/nfldailylines on Wednesday, November 4.

San Francisco 49ers (+6) vs. Green Bay Packers (Thursday night) The road team does not fare well on Thursday night games, but worse yet, the Packers struggle to stop the run.

Chicago Bears (+5.5) at Tennessee Titans Too many points.

Baltimore Ravens (-2.5) at Indianapolis Colts. The Colts are good on defense, but Interception! Rivers will struggle.

Las Vegas Raiders (+1.5) at Los Angeles Chargers The Raiders are good, the Chargers find ways to lose.

Pittsburgh Steelers (-14) at Dallas Cowboys. That sidearmer is not playing QB this week for the Cowboys, so now the ‘Boys are on their 4th string quarterback. Will it matter? The Cowboys, to my amateur eyes, appear to be taking a pass on playing hard. No quarterback, a team minus a lot on their offensive line against a team that doesn’t allow much running against them, scores a lot, and is undefeated. This one seems easy, maybe too easy.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-5.5) vs. New Orleans Saints. I think their performance Monday night shows the Bucs were looking past the Giants, and will be ready for this one. Can you imagine Ndamukong Suh and Antonio Brown in the same locker room? 

Last week

College 0-0

NFL 4-2

Season

College 0-0

NFL 22-19

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