It is with great trepidation and humility that I write this. I’m embarrassed. I feel like a loser and a fraud. I got burned so badly by the NFL this week that I am questioning my understanding of professional football. Until this week I was confident and cocky. I thought I knew what I was talking about. I thought I was golden. I thought I could see the future. I, like the once-proud New England Patriots, was full of hubris.
Ever since I was 13 years old I could pick winners. My track record on predicting the outcome of Super Bowls is well above the 500 mark. Ever since the San Fransico 49ers routed the Denver Broncos 55-10 on January 28, 1990, the day after my birthday, I have consistently been right. My record since then is an impressive 15-4. That’s .789. Almost 80%. 4 out of 5. Well above the established 2 out of 3 that is acceptable for professional gamblers. That’s a better win percentage than most Super Bowl Champions. That’s a better record than George Seifert, the winningest coach in NFL history. It is enough qualification for me to write these articles with impunity. It is enough for me to make a living off of.
But yesterday’s games turned my world upside down. I don’t feel like a winner. My Super Bowl pick looks shaky. I lost money. I lost face. I feel like a fool. I feel like an amateur.
Is it my fault? Some of it is. I picked with my heart instead of my head for a few games last week, but those, ironically, are the ones that paid off. Who on earth would have picked St. Louis over Washington? Or Houston over Miami? Do the Arizona Cardinals have a realistic chance of winning the Super Bowl this coming February? I bet on the Chicago Bears over the Atlanta Falcons not because I like them more (even though I do), but because I thought they played more consistent football. But that tried and true consistency is exactly how they lost the game. They were up with 11 seconds on the clock. All they had to do was prevent two big plays in a row, a challenge that should have been easily met by their staunch defense that was ranked 12th in all the league. Instead they failed preventing a return on a squib kick, then let Matt Ryan, a rookie QB with two first names, throw a 26 yard pass with 6 seconds on the clock to put them in easy field-goal range. What the fuck? The Bears had everything going for them. They knew it would be a pass play. They knew they would throw to the sidelines. All they had to do is cover the receivers which they routinely do even when they don’t know exactly what play the offense in going to run. It bewilders me. It is shameful and that shame is transferred to me for believing in them.
If I were not a hopeless gambler I would consider this season one of the best I have ever witnessed in all my years of following the NFL. There have been upsets, come-from-behind victories, and action packed games across the board. What look to be the most easily predicable routs and lickings turn out to be relentless three hour contests that leave you on the edge of your seat while other games that should be exciting turn out to be a routine stomping by teams that should be terrible. This may be the most exciting season of football I’ve witnessed in my whole life, but I can’t enjoy it.
I can’t enjoy it because the Miami Dolphins destroed the New England Patriots, embarrassed the San Diego Chargers, then went to Houston to lose to the winless and pathetic Texans in a bumbling effort that would make the Keystone Cops shake their heads. I can’t enjoy it because the broken and battered Indianapolis Colts scored 31 points against the the number one defense in the league. None of it makes any sense.
Then there’s the Cowboys v Cardinals game. What’s going on? Is Kurt Warner some sort of sleeping dragon? Is he a cask of fine wine that gets better with age? Sure he looked great when he took the Rams to the Super Bowl 9 years ago, but 4 years later when he was getting benched by the Giants and bouncing around the league like Vinny Testaverde and Dave Krieg he looked like another washed-up has-been veteran that rebuilding teams utilise to balance out the mistakes their rookies make. But in 2008 at the ripe old age of 37 (that’s 65 in football years) he looks like Joe Montana, Brett Favre, and Michael Jordan combined. Even in their last loss to the New York Jets he still put up 472 yards and threw 2 touchdowns. It’s ridiculous.
Meanwhile the Cowboys not only lost, but are fucked. Tony Romo’s out for a month with a broken finger and they are reduced to yet another sick dinosaur that will lumber through the rest of this season leaving a zig-zaggy trail of random carnage. They’re spoilers now. Their hopes of seizing the number one slot in the toughest division in the league are akin to a 12 year old girl wishing she was a fairy princess. Without their starting quarterback they don’t have a prayer of keeping up with the still undefeated Giants who are going into a game with the lowly Browns looking strong and healthy.
Week 7 picks
There are plenty of games in week 7 that would seem obvious to me. But my confidence, both in myself and in every team in the league, is shaken. I did so bad with my picks this last week (I went 4-9, Browns v Giants still pending) that I’m trying something completely different this week. Since there seems to be no rhyme or reason why teams win or lose in the NFL this year I am leaving my picks completely up to chance. I have in my hand a 1977 quarter. It is as old as I am and is still made of metal unlike the current flimsy quarters of this foul decade that have pictures of peach trees and sunsets on their backs. No sir, this quarter has the classic American Bald Eagle looking proudly to the left. It is reminiscent of an America that wasn’t tainted by corruption and spinelessness. An America that was dignified and respected across the globe as a beacon of freedom and justice before those words were rendered meaningless by the wretched treasonists that have co-opted our government and siphoned off all our wealth and prosperity to their own greedy and shortsighted companies leaving us broke, undignified, and despised the world over. This quarter represents everything I was taught to believe in. Its decisions will be blind and swift. I will let this quarter decide the outcome of week 7’s contests. I will believe it with all my heart and bet heavily on its unbiased predictions. Heads will represent the away team, and Tails the home team. The simple law of averages decrees that it cannot do worse than I did this last week.
San Diego @ Buffalo
Even though the Chargers lost to the Dolphins and they’re playing in Buffalo I think the Chargers are the more solid team. Their loss to the Dolphins was a fluke. They proved it yesterday when they mercilessly beat the Patriots into submission by 20 points. Buffalo looks good, but they’re new to winning. I think their early season streak was a streak of luck and easy games. But luck seems to be everything in 2008 and it’s with them today. Tails. Bills by 2
New Orleans @ Carolina
I began this season scoffing at the New Orleans Saints and hailing the Carolina Panthers as a powerhouse. After each team’s respective performance last week, however, it would seem the coin has been flipped. And it has! But not for the Saints. Panthers by 3
Minnesota @ Chicago
The Vikings’ season is finally starting to gain momentum. They’ve won their last two games if only by narrow margins. The same can’t be said for the Bears. They’re coming off a shameful loss to the Falcons and their world is falling apart. Both teams are 3-3. The winner of this game could very likely be the division leader and a contender for champ. Who will it be? Tails. Bears by 3
Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati
Pittsburgh is 4-1. Cincinnati is winless. Under normal circumstances I would give Pittsburgh a favorable lead. But Kansas City beat Denver, Miami beat New England, St. Louis beat Washington, Arizona beat Dallas, and Cincinnati won the coin toss. Bengals by 1
Tennessee @ Kansas City
Another rout. I am certain this one will be a complete blowout. Even I, low as I am in all my despair and shame, can’t honestly pick the Chiefs to best the Titans. Even the coin knows it. Titans by 12
Baltimore @ Miami
Christ, how long can this go on? Which Miami will we see this week? The ones that smeared dogshit in the faces of the team that went undefeated last year, or the one that laid down and died for the Houston Texans last week? Which Baltimore will show up? The powerhouse that intimidates everybody with the best defense in the league, or the losers that got trounced by the Colts? This is anybody’s game and the verdict is… Heads. Ravens by 5
San Francisco @ New York Giants
I had some faith that the 49ers would be a good team this year. It turns out they’re just alright. But fuck, the undefeated Super Bowl Champion Giants are down by 10 to Cleveland in the 2nd quarter. My quarter says San Francisco. I don’t believe it for a second, but I’m a man of my word. 49ers by 1
Dallas @ St. Louis
Another bloodbath in St. Louie… or is it? They beat the Redskins yesterday and Tony Romo’s out. The coin comes up Tails. Rams by 1
Detroit @ Houston
What a waste of time. Both of these teams are so bad they should be kicked out of the league. This game is a sad joke at the expense of the fans. Lions by 3
Indianapolis @ Green Bay
This is it folks. The game of the week. Both teams seem to have gotten their confidence back. Both teams are threatening. Both teams have the potential to be champions. I would normally put my money on the Colts here, but the Pack is at home and even the coin loves Green Bay. Packers by 3
New York Jets @ Oakland
Didn’t we already watch this game like 3 weeks ago? We didn’t, but it feels like we did. I remember the Jets winning. The coin agrees. Jets by 8
Cleveland @ Washington
Every game is stupid. Every team is stupid. Cleveland is stupid because their city is stupid. Washington is stupid because they blew it yesterday like big stupids. I’m stupid because I’m betting on coin flips and that’s just plain stupid. Heads. Browns by 2
Seattle @ Tampa Bay
Ever since this season started I’ve held out for Seattle seeing some sort of potential in them, but without a quarterback and only one win against the Rams it hardly seems like they have a chance at all against mighty Tampa in Tampa. Tails. Buccaneers by 9
Denver @ New England
Finally a Monday Night Game that looks like a contest. Well, it would have anyway if the Patriots weren’t playing like old ladies. I think Denver’s going to solidly beat them but the coin disagrees with me on this one. After all, there is a very patriotic looking eagle on it’s back. Patriots by 1
And that, as they say, is that. I feel kind of guilty about my picks this week. I feel like I’m making a hollow mockery of the science of Sports Gambling, but fuck it. Football made a mockery of me yesterday and the Giants are losing to the Browns at halftime. Of course.
Now’s your chance, people. I’ve openly stated that my picks are based on raw chance. Are any of you man enough to fleece me while I’m vulnerable? You’d be crazy not to bet with me this week. I am giving my money away.