It has come to the attention of my bank account over the past two weeks that I am much, much better at picking NBA games than NFL.
Actually, I've known this for a few years, but until recently I could never understand why.
I'm better at picking NBA games because simply, they are much clearer to bet on than NFL games. It is easy to discriminate the good teams from the bad, the slightly-above-mediocre-but-really-scary-at-home from the slightly-below-mediocre-and-free-money-on-the-road.
I feel like I know something about the NBA. Having a clue of what to expect night in and night out—not necessarily who will win each game, but having a clue—makes it much easier to handicap than the crapshoot the NFL has become.
Everyone seems to be celebrating the "Parity is Alive!" aspect of the NFL at the moment, although many cheering this in football are the same people who regard parity as the devil incarnate in Major League Baseball.
Those same people tell me the NBA is boring because there aren't many huge surprises.
Do we see the contradiction here, people?
(Uh oh. I think he's finally starting to arrive at his point. Watch out!)
Why is it that everything associated with football tends to be skewed in a positive light while the same things associated with other sports are viewed as negative?
(Sweeping generalization alert!)
This is a question I have been unable to discern an answer to. I love football, basketball and baseball, and yet for some reason, it seems as if battle lines have been drawn. Fans have to choose one or the other at this time of year when every major sport, at least until very recently, is in season.
For example, a few big NFL fans who are also Yankees fans expressed delight when each saw the ratings for the World Series. That baseball scored much lower than a mid-season NFL Sunday was a source of pride for these few.
I think it's fair to say that if their beloved Yankees were involved in the World Series, their attitudes would have been slightly altered.
In any case, I just don't understand why the NFL and many of its fans have become so defensive about the game. Think about it; how many players, fans and members of the media have resorted to saying, "If you want to watch a pansy sport, watch soccer or baseball!" when the subject of vicious hits has been broached?
Someone cue "Why Can't We Be Friends?" by War!
(You're writing an Internet column, you idiot. Pick some games already.)
Good point. I'm not saying the NFL is the big bully or anything. Actually, let's take that back. Everything about the NFL radiates the word bully.
Take two: the great thing about the sports world in October and November is that we don't have to choose between sports! They're all here and waiting to be loved. Go enjoy them all. There's no need to fight about which is better. That should be saved for July when we all realize how boring baseball is.
Oops. Scratch that last sentence too.
Best of luck out there this week. Home teams in CAPS, picks in bold.
CAROLINA (+7.5) over New Orleans.
This game could follow one of two paths, and it depends entirely on the Saints.
The first option is that the Saints figured out their issues in the 2nd half against Pittsburgh and are now primed to make a big run.
The second option is that this is still an inconsistent team, bound to take a step back after taking a major leap forward last week. I'm going with the latter, but if the Saints blow out the Panthers on Sunday, it's time to start riding New Orleans week to week, much like last year.
San Diego (-2.5) over HOUSTON.
The exact same logic I used for the Saints game applies to the Chargers. Except in this instance, I'm picking San Diego to roll a depleted and floundering Houston team whose fans are ready to boo their team to the heavens if they fall apart again this week.
New York Jets (-4) over DETROIT.
I love this Lions team. I've been touting them since before Week 1 (which, when I think about it, doesn't sound too good, given their 2-5 record). But this is the worst possible week for Detroit to be playing the Jets.
A 9-0 loss at home following a bye week? Ouch. Expect the Jets to come out of the gates on fire. Sorry, Lions.
Miami (+5) over BALTIMORE.
The Dolphins are like a 22 year old kid just out of college. He's struggling to find a job and living at home. When he's in the confines of his parents' house, he's absolutely miserable and has a hard time doing anything productive.
When he says screw it, I'm just getting out of here for a few days, he's blissfully happy on the road and finds great success where he least expects it.
Long story short, the Dolphins win this game outright.
MINNESOTA (-8.5) over Arizona.
Just because I cannot in my right mind pick the Cardinals on the road, no matter the spread.
Also, I don't have a dog, but I'm sure Randy Moss's would have been quite pleased to receive the grub from the Vikings facility last week. Don't overestimate your puppy's taste, Randy.
ATLANTA (-8.5) over Tampa Bay.
Unlike most people, I don't really like this Falcons team at all. They are, however, coming off a bye, at home, and going against a team that is much worse on the road, even given the Bucs' dramatic win at Arizona last week.
CLEVELAND (+5.5) over New England.
I really hope this game is as exciting as I expect it to be. The Manginious is back again to take on Bill Belichick, and much like the Lions, the Browns are halfway decent this year.
The Patriots are bound to lose a close game sometime soon, and it might be this week.
BUFFALO (+3) over Chicago.
My goodness, how I detest watching the Chicago Bears.
My goodness, I feel badly for the Bills that they couldn't squeak out a win last week over the idiot Todd Haley and the KC Chiefs. More on him later.
OAKLAND (-2.5) over Kansas City.
And by later I mean now. A couple weeks ago, Jason Whitlock said that Todd Haley was making irrationally bold moves as head coach of the Chiefs because he felt threatened by his two coordinators, Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel, whom he hired to turn around the franchise.
Haley, Whitlock felt, was tired of getting none of the credit for the turnaround, so in order to make his presence known, he did things like onside kick the opening kickoff against the Colts and go for it on 4th down in stupid locations on the field.
I thought Whitlock was full of crap until I watched the Chiefs play the Bills last week. All I can say is wow. Haley is going to pull something outrageous in a few weeks (maybe even this Sunday) that costs his team a game, because he feels he needs to be valued more.
SEATTLE (+7) over New York Giants.
Still haven't picked a Giants game correctly all year. Some would tell me to continue to pick against the Giants in that case, because then they will continue to win.
I probably could do it for that reason, but I remember too vividly the last two Giants trips to Qwest Field. Disaster is not a strong enough word to describe how badly the Giants were beaten in each instance. We'll see if 2010 is any different.
PHILADELPHIA (-2.5) over Indianapolis.
Andy Reid is 11-0 coming off a bye. I rest my case.
GREEN BAY (-8) over Dallas.
This line is actually smaller than I expected. If David Garrard could throw 4 touchdowns against the Cowboys defense, I'm very excited to see what Mr. Rodgers has in store on Sunday Night Football.
Pittsburgh (-5) over CINCINNATI.
I really, really dislike the Bengals this year. That's about the only reason. Otherwise, a smart person would probably pick the home team in a division game on Monday night.
Last Week: 6-7
Season to Date: 50-48-5