Lineups. Traffic. Snowstorms. Shopping rage. Maybe the holiday season is turning everybody a little mental.
Take Bobby Petrino. Arkansas did – about 13 seconds after he officially flew the coup from the Atlanta Falcons with three games to go in his first (and probably last) stab at a head coaching gig in the pros.
Now the Falcons are in a big flap about the real meaning of family - one of the staples that Petrino preached to his players. This just days after Mike Vick, the former face of the franchise, learned he’ll be spending the better part of two years in the clink.
There’s a ton of Christmas jeer to go around this year.
We have the Cheater Bowl on Sunday in New England which has Bill Belichick’s evil Patriots pegged as 23 ½-point favorites over the Jets and Eric Mangini, his understudy and chief whistle-blower of Spygate. Now that’s going to be an interesting post-game handshake.
Shawne Merriman, San Diego’s Pro Bowl sack master and former steroid suspendee, claims Jeff Fisher put a Soprano-like hit on him in last week’s game. Terrell Owens and Keyshawn Johnson are squabbling again in the battle of the world’s biggest ego.
And the Miami Dolphins still haven’t won a game.
Maybe the holiday day blues are getting you down too, which would explain the flood of hate mail that came in following a 0-3 showing from my last litter of underdog picks.
Thing is, only four dogs covered the number in 15 games last weekend to begin with and favorites have won nearly 70 percent of this season’s games, covering in about 53 percent of those.
Lines are generally much sharper this time of year after oddsmakers have had a chance to get a read on teams through the first few weeks. That means there are a lot more variables to factor into your handicapping. Any team that gets an underdog tag now definitely deserves it.
Plus you have to worry about each team’s motivation as it relates to the playoff picture, coaching changes or job security, as well as any kind of weather issues that can doom your early-week bets this time of year.
Such is the life of an underdog bettor. Tread carefully.
Buffalo at Cleveland – Bills +5 ½
You knew this was coming. Surprise, the Bills are pulling a Rodney Dangerfield.
"It's no different than any other week," linebacker Angelo Crowell told reporters. "We've been trying to make a statement around here every week. No one respects us, so we're just back to work.”
That’s the beauty of this Bills club. They could easily be 9-4 if a couple bounces had gone their way and are 8-4-1 against the spread as it is.
The defense has been solid all year and Trent Edwards gives the offense a real spark. I like the Browns a lot, but I’ll take the points with Buffalo. I’ll give them some respect.
Jacksonville at Pittsburgh – Jaguars +3 ½
What would the Jaguars be with a consistent passing attack? A legitimate contender, that’s what.
Reggie Williams is doing his part. The former first-pick started slow and didn’t make much of an impact outside of the red zone until Week 9 when he went off for 128 receiving yards and a touchdown.
Since then he’s become a much more consistent target for David Garrard, going over the middle and moving the chains to get into scoring position instead of waiting for a 12-yard fade route in the back of the end zone.
Washington at New York Giants – Redskins +4 ½
Sometimes tragedies have a way of pulling a team together.
The Redskins lost a heartbreaking 17-16 decision to the Bills just days following Sean Taylor’s death, but rebounded to smoke the Bears 24-16 less than a week later. They pulled out the win even though they lost their starting quarterback, Jason Campbell, to a knee injury in the process.
The 36-year-old backup Todd Collins was efficient in relief and you can expect much of the same this week in a huge game for Washington. He’s not flashy, but he’s a bright guy who’s learned a lot since his last start way back in 1997. He won’t make a mistake that loses the game – he can leave that up to the sloppy Giants.
Last week’s record: 0-3
Season record to date: 20-21-1