Last Week: 2-3
Season: 31-22-2 (.585)
Being on the Wrong Side of a “Bad Beat”
For those of you not familiar with it, there is a term in handicapping called a “bad beat.” It happens when the team on which you bet loses by the point spread on a fluke play late in the game. In most cases it involves a fumble recovery run in for a touchdown or a pick-six. In the case of Chuck’s Choices, it happened last Monday night as the Cleveland Browns were poised to kick the game-winning field goal, and the Baltimore Ravens not only blocked the kick, but ran it in for the winning score with no time remaining.
These things happen to even the best prognosticators. And even though they hurt at the time, they provide a lifetime of stories to tell your buddies when it inevitably happens to them. If there is any consolation in last week’s debacle, it is that even if the Browns had made the field goal, it would have only been a push, as they were favored by three. This thought did little to quell the trucker language that came from my staff at our regular Tuesday morning meeting of the minds. For the record, I never had any idea that an 8-year old knew those kind of words. Kennedy’s mom must have let those slip. Steve the Desert Tortoise was no angel either, and I’m sure I would have blushed had I known “turtle language.”
Eventually I got them focused enough to get to work on this week’s picks. As always, we promise to do better this week.
Chuck’s Choices for Week 13
(Home team in ALL CAPS. Chuck’s Choice is first team named. Point spreads courtesy of Westgate Las Vegas via SportsMemo.)
BEARS (-7) over 49ers Being a Bears fan, it was tough to include them in the “Fabulous Five” picks this week. (Hello heart? This is the head…) When it finally came down to it, I decided there was enough over-riding evidence to go ahead and tab this Chicago team. It is simply a matter of which team is playing better football right now. The Bears are 3-3 in their last six games, but they have lost those three games by a total of eight points, to the Lions, Vikings and Broncos. The 49ers have won only three games this year, and all of those came at home. On the road they have five losses by an average of 21 points. Only once have they kept the final spread closer than 16 points (a 30-27 loss to the Giants). Coach John Fox has Chicago playing smart and tough. It helps that TE Martellus Bennett and WR Alshon Jeffrey will both be healthy on Sunday for the Bears, while the Niners will be without RB Carlos Hyde and TE Garrett Celek, and WR Torrey Smith is on the injury report with a back issue. Bears 29, 49ers 9
TITANS (-2.5) over Jaguars This is silly. I have no tangible reason to like the Titans in this game. After all, the Jags are still in the race for “supremacy” in the AFC South, only two games back. The Titans have won two games this year, and both of those have come on the road. In their last 20 games at home, the Titans have covered only three times. Maybe it’s time Tennessee takes a page from the Aaron Rodgers handbook and simply r-e-l-a-x. There is no playoff this year, but there is still the development of rookie QB Marcus Mariota. The Titans defense is good against the run, and middle-of-the-pack against wide receivers. There is reason for optimism in Nashville, and the Titans will give the home folks something to look forward to in 2016. Titans 35, Jaguars 21
VIKINGS (+2) over Seahawks Seattle has won two games in a row, and they are now good enough to be favored on the road against a division leader? Those two “wins” were over the 49ers and the Steelers. Before last week’s game against Pittsburgh, all of the talk was about how the bad the Steelers were when they played out of their time zone. There has been nothing said this week about the Seahawks record when they play outside of their time zone. Here it is: Seattle has played four games this year on the road, out of the Pacific time zone. They lost three of them (at St. Louis, Green Bay and Cincinnati) and barely got out of Dallas with a 13-12 win over the Matt Cassel-led Cowboys. The betting public still thinks Seattle is the same team who went to the Super Bowl the last two years. Until they wise up, it is a good idea to fade them on the road. Vikings 28, Seahawks 17
RAMS (+5) over Cardinals This is simple. Rams Coach Jeff Fisher wants, more than anything, to beat the teams in his division–the NFC West. Just take a look at their record this season. The Rams have four wins, and three of them are over the Seahawks, Cardinals and 49ers. Now they come into a divisional game against the Cardinals with four straight losses, forcing the odds-makers to install them as underdogs for this Sunday’s game. Arizona is sitting on a three-game lead in the division and Coach Bruce Arians is a big-picture guy. He won’t risk playing anyone who is not 100 per cent healthy this week, with the Vikings coming to town next week. The Rams are inspired. The Cardinals are not. Rams 23, Cardinals 14
REDSKINS (-4) over Cowboys The Redskins are world-beaters at home, and I will stick with them until they break that trend. They have won five of six at home, and came within a play of tying the game against Miami in the first game of the season in a 17-10 loss. It is scary to imagine the mindset of the Cowboys this week. When Tony Romo went down earlier in the year, the mantra was to hang on until he got back. Even though they lost every game without him, the NFC East is so inept that the ‘Boys were still in the hunt upon Romo’s return. Now he is gone again. There is no hope in Jerryville. The only question is how the ‘Skins will react to being favored, and to being first in the division. We will discover much about their character this Sunday. Redskins 27, Cowboys 20
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