Sunday, December 9, 2018

Nurse the Hate: The CT Scan and NFL Picks

The CT scan hummed and whirred.  I felt remarkably detached from the entire enterprise.  My eyes were closed.  My hands folded across my chest.  I felt like I could doze off until I noticed how relaxed I was, which made me lift out of the beginning stages of sleep.  The mysterious cylindrical machine was looking into my neck to see if a troublesome gland was “a mass” as per the work order.  I have slowly entered an age where small ailments might be the whispers of serious disease and death.  Pete Shelley of The Buzzcocks died yesterday.  My record collection and concert memories have begun to die, not from spectacular beautiful tragedies but from common maladies.  The Buzzcocks are no longer angular young men, so do not enjoy the privilege of being forever young and beautiful like Jim Morrison.  The machine hummed and I dropped “Waiting For The Pulsebeat” into my mind.

The doctor had been taken aback when she noted the seriousness of a positive test result and I responded with “Well, at least everything will just be over.  That’s not all bad.”  We stared at each other for a full beat.  She asked if I often felt that way.  “Sure.  If most men my age are honest with you, they’ll say the same thing.  How much longer can this go on?”  She scribbled something down in My Chart.  Black humor didn’t seem to fit comfortably in this circumstance.  I would now either be "monitored" or perhaps injected full of passifying drugs.  That didn't go well.  She left me in the room alone while seeing if she could schedule me immediately in the CT scan.  “They can fit you in now.  Can you do it now?”  Sure.  Why not?   I went downstairs and waited for the young woman in scrubs to take me to The Show.

The machine hummed.  It was peaceful with the repetition of the machine like the sound of a man made creek gurgling along.  When the CT scan was over the table slowly lowered so I could hop off.  The woman stared at me as it descended a grand total of 4 inches as if I couldn’t have negotiated the height.  She asked if I had any questions.  “Yeah.  Do you think the Broncos are going to cover this weekend?”  What?  “The Broncos…  Do you think they cover five and a half?”.  Umm…  I don’t know.  “OK.  See ya.”  And then I walked out to my car still wondering why I didn’t seem to care about the test results one way or the other.  I was focused instead on this Broncos versus 49er game. 

Here’s a few things I can tell you.  The San Francisco 49ers are 2-10 but have somehow outgained their opponents by 174 yards.  They have been killed on turnovers.  Now, I’m not suggesting this is a great football team, but I am suggesting that turnover differential is the absolute key to winning in the NFL.  The 49ers are -20.  The Broncos have won their last 3 and went +8 in turnovers.  They went +4 against Pittsburgh while being outgained by almost 300 yards and won.  The thought is that turnovers eventually equal out, especially with a couple QBs handling the ball of roughly similar skill sets like this game.  Therefore The Public believes the 49ers are worse than they really are as a team, while also simultaneously thinking the Broncos are much better.  With that dual misperception, there is value in the line.  Well, at least that is what I have convinced myself.  San Francisco +4

What I enjoy about NFL gambling is not betting on football.  I like to bet against Public Perception.  The advertising business will teach you, if you want to learn, that most people are insanely stupid.  There are people right now signing on for two year deals on mobile phone service because an inflatable with waving arms caught their attention while driving down the street.  These same people are going to wildly overreact to the Colts being shut out last week.  The thought is that whatever just happened is a complete indication of what will happen in the future.  The Colts have had six games in a row where they have looked like a borderline playoff team Last week they got shut out by the Jags.  The Public believes that the one game against the Jags is much more representative of the Colts than the previous six.  Meanwhile, the Texans have entered a period of being a popular discussed "sleeper pick" for the Super Bowl.  This is crazy talk.  However, it continues the narrative of the Texans, despite winning all of their "coin flip" type games, may never lose again.  I know this.  Teams that were shutout the previous week cover 58% of the time the next week.  I am fading The Public and taking the Colts +4.

The Oakland Raiders are terrible.  I suffered through watching their second half last week as they did all the typical Raider things of giving up big plays, shooting themselves in the foot with personal foul penalties, and fail to take advantage of opportunities.  They are not very good.  For some reason though, they always play the Steelers tough, especially at home.  The Public will think The Steelers will "need" this game and will want "revenge" after giving one away at home last week to San Diego.  I see this as them flying across the country on a short week to play a team they don't match up with very well.  The Steelers have not been running the ball the last three weeks.  They are well below 100 yards rushing in the past three games, and now Connor is out with an ankle.  That means Ridley is in, and a big downgrade.  Big Ben is going to throw the ball a ton, which means Big Ben will toss some picks.  Why grown men call him Big Ben, I don't know.  Roethlesberger is just brutal to say I suppose.  Anyway, in the Tomlin Era the Steelers are 7-18 ATS when favored by 6.5 points or more.  They also have only won a startling 64% of those games straight up.  I don't feel great about it, but I am taking the Raiders +10.5.

 I left the hospital and got in my car.  I put the Buzzcocks "Love Bites" on.  The chainsaw guitars and nasal vocals of Pete Shelley still sounded perfect.  I stopped at a Starbucks to get jacked up on espresso.  A guy in front of me bought my coffee without warning.  I asked him if he was doing that as some sort of festive holiday spirit thing.  The undertone of that also being that I wasn't going to be blowing him in his car for the coffee.  Let's be clear.  I'll take the gesture but I wasn't going to backflip on sexual preferance for a $1.85.  He told me that his company instructs them to do random acts of kindness like that, a corporate mandated community service which is of course tracked via spending records on an American Express.  You have to love forced acts of good, but I regret I wasn't standing next to the guy at a Porsche dealership. That would have more firmly said something about that company's commitment to givingI thanked him and went on my way.  My phone buzzed with a message.  My test results had already posted to my electronic chart.  I didn't have cancer.  That's nice.  I started the car and listened to "Fiction Romance" as I commuted downtown. 

Season Record:  11-9      



At December 10, 2018 at 6:18:00 PM EST , Blogger Mike Scott said...

Very happy to hear you are OK but still worried about you because when it comes to picking football games you are currently using 80% of your brain like Travolta in Phenomenon. And we know how that ended.

At December 11, 2018 at 4:19:00 PM EST , Blogger Greg Miller said...

Ride it until I keel over man


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