It was the first Christmas Eve of the new millennium. George Bush and Al Gore were fighting over the state of Florida, Tiger Woods was really good at golf and Britney Spears was smoking hot in red leather.
It was also the last time the Detroit Lions were favored by more than a touchdown. The club was led by Charlie Batch and had a chance to make the playoffs for a consecutive season if it took care of business against the Chicago Bears at home in Week 17.
Oddsmakers liked the Lions’ chances. They had the home side as 9-point chalk
in a game Detroit would go on to lose outright 23-20
The Lions finished 9-7 but didn’t make the postseason and they haven’t had a winning season since. I don’t have to remind anyone of the icebergs the team smashed into while Matt Millen was driving the boat. And, really, it’s beyond Millen. The franchise didn't make one good football decision for most of the last decade.
It was just three years ago the Lions completed the reverse perfect season (0-16) and followed that up with a 14-loss campaign the subsequent year.
But things are different now. Football fans in Motor City have taken the paper bags off their heads so they can get a better look at a squad many bettors
see as not just a sleeper team, but a legit Super Bowl contender.
We wrote several articles over the summer talking about the tidal wave of Detroit action
in the futures market. Sportsbooks were forced to lower the Super Bowl odds on the club from 75-to-1 down to 30-to-1. Did I mention they lost 10 of 16 games last season?
Look, I get it. Detroit is good, or at least much better than what it has been since Microsoft 2000
But as much as I love the now-roaring Lions, I can’t back them this weekend. The books put out a Week 2 line to combat the swell of public and sharp action on Detroit. Nine points is a lot, even for an elite team (something I don’t think Detroit is yet) to cover at home against a division winner.Kansas City Chiefs at Detroit Lions (-9)
I see KC’s blowout loss to the Bills kind of like the series finale of Entourage
. We shouldn’t be surprised by either suckfests. Both were already on a downward spiral.
The Chiefs offense just doesn’t function as well with head coach Todd Haley calling the shots instead of Charlie Weis. We saw that in the playoff loss to the Ravens. Actually, now that I think about it, opponents are outscoring Kansas City 102-24 over the team’s last three non-preseason games.
I’m not helping my case for backing the Chiefs here, am I?
OK, OK. It’s on principle only that I'm taking the Chiefs. I don’t think Detroit’s good enough to be giving near double digits at home.Pick:
Chiefs +9Chicago Bears at New Orleans Saints (-7)
My first instinct is to call bullshit when someone phones in sick for work. I’ve known too many lazy asses to trust a coworker when he or she reports feeling under the weather.
I can count on one hand how many days I’ve called in sick over the last eight years. I’m sure my bosses would have preferred that I stay at home instead report to the office and infect other staff members.
But if my mom died unexpectedly like Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher’s did, I think I’d have to take an extended leave. The type of bravely Chicago’s defensive captain is demonstrating should motivate the hell out of his teammates.
I underestimated the Bears last week and I won’t do it again here.Pick:
Chicago +7 Philadelphia Eagles at Atlanta Falcons (+2.5)
It’s only the second weekend of the season but you could argue that this game is bigger than Christina Hendricks' bust size
. Michael Vick wants a win against his former team almost as much as he wants his creditors to forgive his debt. Almost.
Meanwhile, the Dirty Birds are looking to redeem themselves after last week’s atrocity at Soldier Field. Atlanta might be the one team in the league with enough talent in its passing game to test Philly’s secondary.Pick:
Falcons +2.5Follow Ashton Grewal on Twitter at @AshtonGrewal
--Last week: 2-1 ATS
Season: 2-1 ATSCheck out the rest of Ashton Grewal's NFL picks, and others from our staff, at Covers.com NFL staff picks.