Saturday, October 24, 2020

Nurse the Hate: The Warning of the Hot Oven or NFL Week 7

 


When something has just always been, it’s hard to imagine anything different.  Change freaks people out.  Despite the planet providing every confirmation that these climate change sirens have been warning, people sill freak out about the idea of “green energy”.  The idea of not driving around in your 17 ton Chevy Canyonero SUV is too much to bear, even if the payoff is the state of California not continually on fire.  “I know that the Gulf Coast just got wiped out by four consecutive hurricanes, but The Constitution says I have a right to burn tires if I want!”  (It doesn’t). There is a sense of comfort in continuity.  Halloween trick or treaters.  Burning leaves while Thanksgiving dinner slowly roasts.  Unpacking holiday decorations and trying to beat the first brutal winter storm.  The Jets losing.


As the years pass, we have all learned that the Jets losing are something to count on.  It comforts us, allowing us to understand that some things are constants, like the sun, the moon, and the sea.  Just like a young child, I felt the need to touch the hot oven to see if I would be burned, and bet on the Jets.  The pain I felt in losing was reassuring, like learning a father’s life lesson was true and therefore maybe there was a structure to the chaos of the world.  Yet, I find myself here once again, ready to pull the trigger on the awful 0-6 NY Jets, as if I had forgotten why my fingertips are scarred by the burns of that hot oven.


Let’s get a terrifying stat out of the way.  There have been 450+ teams with losing streaks of 3+ games in NFL history.  The 2020 Jets are the only team in history to have won the turnover battle in all of their games and still lose.  That is an eye popping stat that suggests that the worst Jet results are yet to come, and at 0-6 they have already enjoyed their run of good luck.  The Jets are a terrible team.  They have no offensive weapons, bad quarterbacking options, no defense to speak of, and key injuries amongst their best players.  Their coach sucks.  The organization is filled with infighting.  They seem to have no plan.  But… hear me out…


Teams that have gone 0-6 cover 65% of the time in game 7.  Winless teams coming off being shut out cover 56% of the time.  The Jets are bringing back Sam Darnold, who sort of sucks, and benching Joe Flacco, who really sucks.  They are playing a Bills team, that has just gone through a buzzsaw of games that were covid threatened and re-scheduled.  Don’t get me wrong.  The Bills are a vastly superior team that are hungry for a win.  However, all we need is the Jets to keep it within two touchdowns in a divisional game.  That can’t be that hard, can it?  Place your hands on the oven.  This is one of those uncomfortable bets that one must make to win over the season.  Jets +12


I am concerned that Joe Burrow might die in his Bengals uniform.  The Bengals spent some money on free agents last season, but apparently spent that money poorly.  Perhaps they purchased magic beans.  Whatever they bought is not keeping Joe Burrow from taking horrifying hits.  Now the Bengals have to face a Browns team that was just embarrassed in a high profile game.  I don’t like the Bengals chances here.  


The Browns just confirmed what many of us suspected, that they were not an elite team and stuck in the Chargers/Lions/Panthers/Texans middle class.  They just didn’t expect to get smoked like they did in Pittsburgh.   I would have to think the focus in that building is going to be to “get right” against the hapless Bengals.  The Same Old Browns would roll over this week.  I don’t think the Browns are great, but I also don’t think they are the Same Old Browns.  This line is a little light.  Cleveland -3.


All of a sudden the undefeated Titans are The Team of the Moment.  National Media cannot stop talking about how great Tannehill and Henry are, completely unstoppable.  Meanwhile the Steelers are doing what they do, quietly winning games.  I have seen four Steeler games, and this looks like a Top 4 team to me.  I see a Titans team that is getting too much credit for beating Buffalo in a bad spot, an underperforming Vikings, and sneaking out a win versus a Romeo Crennel coaching crippled Texans.  


The Titans are undeniably a good team.  They win by being more physical, and make key plays late.  The media coverage loves to equate Mike Vrabel with the team profile.  A key points to remember is Vrabel is standing on the sideline in a sweater vest, not playing.  I don’t see the Titans being physically dominant over a Steeler team that literally kicked the shit out of the Browns last week in what was less of a performance than just a matter of corporate identity.   Give me Pittsburgh +1.5 in a game that this experienced organization sees as a statement game.    


Season record 9-8 

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Nurse the Hate: The Second Time I Saw Bowie or NFL Week 6

 


There are some real downsides of aging.  I especially enjoy when I wake up in the morning feeling absolutely crushed by a massive hangover only to remember “Wait, I didn’t drink last night.”.  My right heel has some sort of plantar situation that flares up without any warning leaving me hobbling around like a peg legged sailor for an hour until it loosens up.  I woke up last night with my elbow screaming out in pain like I was Sandy Koufax after throwing 11 innings in 1966.  As I scan back to the potential cause of the injury, such mundane events as “carrying some groceries” cannot be dismissed as potential causes.  Yet, this is a worthwhile trade just for the wisdom of age.

 

I often know what is going to happen before it happens.  This is not because I am a gypsy fortune teller like Little Steven Van Zandt, though I will admit he might not be a fortune teller either.  He might just have taste in clothes like a Romanian immigrant woman in 1912.  No, I know something is going to happen because I have seen it before.  I remember hearing a big buzz about the band Of Montreal, so I stuck around the Beachland to catch their set.  The young audience was jacked up to see them, their enthusiasm sending an electricity through the room.  Once the band started playing, I took me moments to realize “Oh, this is a take on David Bowie.  I get it.”.  I was sort of bummed I didn’t have the same glow on my face like “the kids”.  The “been there, done that” mindset is tiring but still beneficial.  Sure, it makes it harder to regain the excitement when you see something “new”, like when you were 14 and heard George Thorogood and the Destroyers on SNL before understanding they were a blues cover band.  “Wait…  He didn’t write that Bad To The Bone riff?”  Everything came after something else, except Devo of course, which has just always been.

 

It is this memory of what has come before that leaves me confident that the Pittsburgh Steelers will beat the Browns on Sunday.  Since the Browns “returned” in 1999, they have won in Pittsburgh once.  Once.    Tim Couch was the QB and the #1 song in the country was “Working For The Weekend” by Loverboy.  (That Loverboy part isn’t true, but I was just thinking about the time I loaned the guitar player a quarter to get a soda out of a radio station vending machine where I worked, so it was the first song that came to mind when I thought about “crappy old radio songs that still make you feel good in a guilty way”.)  The bottom line is the Browns don’t win in Pittsburgh.  This is because the Steelers always shove the Browns around, hurt a bunch of their players, and then go eat Primanti Brothers sandwiches afterwards.  Here’s all you need to know…  Baker Mayfield does not play well under pressure.  Hell, who does?  The Steelers average 5 QB sacks a game.  Baker Mayfield hurt his ribs last week, and only practiced yesterday.  If you had hurt ribs, would you want a 275 pound man hitting you as hard as he could?  How many turnovers is he going to make?  Pittsburgh -3.

 

I have seen the horrifying Dak Prescott injury over and over, perhaps more often than the Zapruder film of JFK’s assassination.  Over and to the right.  Over and to the right.  The market will completely overreact to Dak’s season ending injury and assume Dallas will never win again.  Look, Andy Dalton isn’t great, but he IS a legitimate NFL starter.  Out of all the backups in the league, he is the one guy I would take.  Yeah, maybe Jameis Winston, but we want to win real games not fantasy football.  I am on board with The Red Rifle to provide enough for the Cowboys to win games they are supposed to win, like this one at home against a wildly overrated Arizona Cardinals.  This line has already moved 4 points towards Arizona.  When they zig, we zag.  Dallas +1.5

 

I don’t think there has ever been a team fielding as many key injuries as the San Francisco 49ers.   Any player you can think of on that team is either out, or playing with an injury so bad that if you had it, you would call off work for a month.  They have three crappy QB options, no D line, no O-line and a banged up secondary.  The Dolphins just beat those guys 43-17, but when you get down to it the Dolphins didn’t really beat the 49ers, they beat some strangers wearing 49er outfits.   With the salary cap, it’s impossible to have the depth necessary to field a good team with those injuries.  Meanwhile the Rams are quietly winning games.  They just destroyed Washington 30-10 and made Alex Smith look like he’s never even seen a football before.  I will be stunned if the Rams don’t win this game.  Rams -3  

 

Season Record:  8-6


Saturday, October 10, 2020

Nurse the Hate: When the Going Gets Weird, the Weird Turn Pro or NFL Week 5


 

Things are weird right now.  There was a couple walking down my street in straw cowboy hats carrying a huge Trump flag as if they were going to a parade.  I think it might be the guy that has decorated a four wheeler in Trump banners and flags and parked it in his driveway.  Though I appreciate the fact that he has advertised that he’s a fascist/racist for the community to understand, it’s still hard to wrap your head around the idea that anyone is that enthusiastic about a 74 year old man that wears orange pancake makeup and can't string a sentence together.  I guess if Mussolini had a TV show, that guy would have been down with him too.  Goatee pickup truck guys like him wanted to kill the Michigan governor because she wanted them to wear a cloth mask on their mouth/nose when they went into stores.  They already play Army dress up.  Couldn't they have just worked that in to their little outfits?  It's a wild world out there.  These are uncertain times indeed.  It's hard to tell what is going on.


As if NFL Football isn’t already a wilderness of misinformation and inconclusive statistics, now savvy gamblers need to focus in on the potential covid exposure to the Chiefs starting QB.  It was bad enough trying to figure out what “questionable” means regarding a key receiver, but how am I supposed to know if Patrick Mahomes went to get some wings with Kayleigh McEnany and now has body aches?   If Mahomes can’t go, that means KC has to trot out Chad Henne, a quarterback that hasn’t won a game since he beat Illinois in his senior year at Michigan.  How would you like to be laying 13.5 and have Henne on your side?  That’s not good.  I’d rather be one of those poor Secret Service drivers that got stuck motoring covid leaking Trump around so he could wave at the hillbillies outside his hospital room.   I had to get my action down on TH afternoon, and just on the chance that Mahomes got covid by his exposure to covid positive Patriots safety Stephon Gilmore, I’m on the Vegas Raiders +13.5.  It's just too many points in a divisional game, even though betting against KC is scary.


Now that the Eagles got a win, the national media stopped focusing in on how bad they are.  That’s great because it’s not like they suddenly got good by beating an injury decimated 49ers last week.  Now they play Pittsburgh’s elite defense without starting receivers Alshon Jeffrey and DeSean Jackson.  I have no idea how they are going to score enough points to beat the 3-0 Steelers.  The Eagles lost to Washington and tied the Bengals.  Let that soak in.  You think they can beat Pittsburgh?  No way.  Wentz is going to cough the ball up three plus times.  Pittsburgh -7.


The Browns v Colts game this week is about betting on if Phillip Rivers turns the ball over and if the Cleveland offensive line can roll over Indy like they have everyone else.  Rivers turning the ball over is a given.  He has aged out of being an elite QB three years ago, which everyone in the league knew except the Colts apparently.  If you need someone to throw a backbreaking late interception, he’s your guy.  My fear is if the Browns fall behind by two scores and it is up to Mayfield to get them back into the game.  Mayfield is not good.  He is never going to be good.  With luck, he might become “serviceable”, like a very expensive version of Case Keenum but with more endorsement deals.  The line opened at Cleveland -2 and money poured onto the Colts to move it to Cleveland +1.5 at home.  When they zig, we zag.  I’m going against The Public and hoping like hell it’s not up to Mayfield in the fourth quarter.  Cleveland +1.5


The Texans fired Bill O’Brien.  That is understandable as he was a terrible GM.  The problem was he was a decent coach, and now they will roll with Romeo Crennell as interim coach.  Being a Browns fan, I know what happens when Romeo becomes coach.  He stands on the sidelines looking very confused while his team gets a bunch of penalties and runs predictable plays.  I don’t think the Texan players were high fiving each other when they heard Romeo was taking over.  It’s like when you work at a place and the guy that was running the show quits and suddenly the jovial assistant manager is in charge.  Sure, everyone likes the jolly fat guy but no one wants him making big decisions.  Romeo would be an awesome guy to go visit and sit in his oversized reclining sofa to watch the game.  He is a terrible guy to hand the headphones and clipboard to and say “go win us a game”.  Yeah, Jacksonville sucks but the Texans are four weeks in and thinking “what the fuck happened? Our season is over.”.  I’m on Jacksonville +5.5


Season Record:  5-5

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Nurse the Hate: The More You Know, The Less You Know or NFL Week 4



 I have diligently returned to my wine studies.  I recently joined a tasting group, accurately dubbed "NE Ohio's Meanest Tasting Group", consisting of a couple of Master Somm candidates, a serious collector/educator with an amazing amount of experience, and my faithful female companion who at times has an annoyingly more perceptive palate than I do.  Once a week at dusk, we pour blind samples of wines that are allegedly representative of their regions/grapes and identify the wines.  What at first glance is a simple parlor trick is actually just paying attention and using deductive reasoning.  What does the wine smell like?  Is the acid high or low?  What are the tannins like?  Flavor profile?  Anyone can do it.  It just takes dedication and concentration.  In an afternoon I could teach you how to tell the difference between a pinot noir from France and California.  The trick is to be able to tell the difference between an Alsatian Pinot Gris and a Pinot Grigio from Friuli, or my personal albatross, a Spanish Albarino.  The more you learn, the more you realize you don't know anything.  

This week a new person was invited to sit in.  It's an intimidating group to offer an opinion to on an unidentified wine that you have just been handed 45 seconds ago.  You've got a guy complaining about an obscure Burgundian producer's barrel aging protocols changing who gets cut off by a guy that makes a joke about a chemical compound in malolactic fermentation to a woman mocking someone for bringing a Nebbiolo the previous week that lacked typicality for the region.  On top of that he just saw the other woman off-handedly identify a South African pinotage, and then back to the other "inexperienced" woman go against all the other test candidates to correctly note the previous wine was not a good quality Pouilly Fuisse but rather a cool climate California chardonnay, in this case Monteray County CA.  The guy had rolled into the tasting feeling good, especially since he had brought in an unbelievably obscure Italian wine for everyone to try.  It was so obscure that one of the tasting group said "I will literally eat my hat if any of you can identify this blind."  Unfortunately for him, I had this grape about ten months earlier and happened to recall it.  "You going to eat that hat with melted cheese?  Because I think that's a grignolino."  It's a cold blooded group.  I made him at least chew the hat.

That's the way life is sometimes.  One day you are The Man at your patio party being the Roy Hobbs of wine getting ohhs and ahhs impressing the neighbors with knowing the difference between Chianti Classico and Brunello, and then you are in the deep water with a guy that can tell you what part of a village a Sancerre came from just by smelling the glass for 6 seconds.  It doesn't mean you suddenly suck.  It's just life.  There's always someone better than you.  Every waiter in Nashville was the best open mic player in his/her shitty town before they got to the deep water of Music City.  It's a big jump from The Town Fryer to headlining The Hi Watt.  Hell, Joe Burrow was effortlessly the best college football player EVER last year at LSU.  He was The Man.  Then he became a Bengal...

I beg you to take a moment to look at this clip.  This is Joe Burrow's "welcome to the NFL moment".  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUVCIlaLOTY   This is the moment when Joe realized with crystal clarity that he had taken a step up and things would be different.  If you ever wondered what it would look like if you were put in a uniform and thrown out on the field, it would look something like this.  The good news is that this happened during an Eagles v Bengals game, so only 17 people saw it.  The rest of the world still believes Joe Burrow is the fresh faced light 'em up Heisman Trophy hero that is making a monster impact.  No.  He is a young kid getting the absolute shit beat out of him on last season's worst NFL team.  The Bengals are still the Bengals.  They didn't lose last year because of Andy Dalton.  They lost because they have no defense and no offensive line.  That same awful team is giving points to Jacksonville, an admittedly bad team that fortunately for us still has the incorrect narrative of a team that is "tanking".  When I look at Jacksonville, I see a team that fights hard every week.  When I see Cincinnati, I see a horribly coached team that is offering up their #1 pick as a human sacrifice.  Last week I went against a basic gambling precept.  Always bet AGAINST Cincinnati.  Not again.  Jacksonville +3.

I think the Buffalo Bills are a top 5 team in the league.  They absolutely destroyed the Jets and Miami, and solidly beat a very good Rams team (before almost giving the game away).  I am going to take Buffalo in this spot this week against the Raiders.  I love betting against a team that just had a high profile Monday Night win, in this case the grand opening of their new stadium in Las Vegas.  They had to be high, high, high after beating the Saints.  Gentlemen, let me introduce you to the Buffalo Bills.  The Raiders have their top two receivers out, two offensive lineman out, and two best offensive options banged up.  I think Buffalo is going to kill these guys.  The Fan Duel crowd doesn't get how good the Bills are yet.  This line is too low. Buffalo -3    

One of my basic concepts in NFL Gambling is to go the opposite way of The Public.  If The Public knew what they were doing, the Bellagio would not have built a fucking lake in the desert in front of their hotel.  There are hotels with moving pirate ships, a pyramid with a light that you can see from space, and lush rain forests teeming with colorful birds.  Does that give you any reason why you would follow the pack mentality?  Yet, it's tough to pull the trigger.  I don't think I'm man enough to bet on the Eagles +7 this week.  There's no way I can touch the Giants +13 or Washington +14.  I know I should.  Why  not get really wild and do a three team teaser with Giants +22/Washington+23/Eagles +16?  You can't lose!  All I know is to tie that Holy Trinity of Grief into one wager is creating your own personal Black Hole of Guaranteed Misfortune.  Just walk away.  Nothing good can happen when you monkey around with those teams.  It's like playing with a ouija board at an Indian Burial ground while chanting from an old book you found at a creepy rummage sale.  Something bad will happen.  Get out of there.  I'm thinking of something more certain, like Kansas City scoring.  The Pats v Chiefs game features the #6 and #7 offenses in the NFL.  I am going to take the Kansas City OVER 53 and watch Mahomes score 21 points late to pull the game out of his ass for the over.  

Season record:  4-4