Rookies. You gotta start at some point. Learning on the job is part of the game. We’ve all been through it – in all walks of life. Of course, it’s a completely different beast when you are talking about pro sports. The higher draft picks often learn on the job (as in, not always on the bench). It’s often ugly before it’s pretty. Rookies occasionally get hazed by the veteran players. Who could forget the Tim Tebow “haircut” received during his rookie season? (insert link) Still, it’s the opposing coaches that haze the rookies the most. The really good ones learn how to exploit their weaknesses. Bill Belichick, for example. If you follow the NFL or have even read my pick ‘em columns in the past, you’ll know that Belichick has a fairly squeaky clean record when it comes to wreaking havoc on rookie quarterbacks. So, how does the rookie storyline lead into my Week 7 Best Bets, you might ask?
There’s no special sauce in this case, really. It just made sense after I checked the schedules. The theme molded into going after rookies (or in the case of the college game, freshmen). We’ll see how that pans out, and if I’ll be getting hazed myself (by the SportsChump, of course).
As a reminder, Chris Humpherys (the SportsChump) – a good friend of mine through years and years of blogging – has a pick ‘em contest rolling with me for the football season. We pick our top five games by confidence (against the spread). Top selections can be from either the NFL or College Football slate. We invite a special guest each week to participate with us.
Darrell and Jess Return
This week, my good friend Darrell Harden is our special guest. His wife joins in, as well. We met during this journey and the friendship built on the foundation that his WIFE HATES SPORTS. She also happens to enjoy craft beer and possesses a sneaky sense of humor.
Hey, two outta three would look great in a baseball box score.
Sticking to football, here are our Week 7 Best Bets for the week (all ATS), which includes both Week 7 NFL Best Bets and College Football Best Bets. The list is ranked in order of confidence, from 50 down to 10 (in fictional dollars, as the SportsChump prefers).
Here’s who we got for this week. Good luck Darrell, Jess, and… ok, fine… the SportsChump, too.
Week 7 Best Bets: The Wife Hates SportsChump – Rookies Edition
DraftKings Sportsbook: Week 7 NFL Lines | Week 8 College Football Lines
KP’s Picks: The Wife Hates Sports
$50 NFL: Washington Football Team at Green Bay Packers (-7.5)
Picking the Packers to cover and picking against Washington – this is starting to become a trend. As the phrase goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. As the WFT defensive front continues to make minimal impacts on games, I can only think of Aaron Rodgers taking advantage of that fact. He’s no ROOKIE. Forcing offsides and free plays, plus his presence in the pocket alone. Then there’s the Washington pass defense, which is dead last in the NFL, allowing 309.5 ypg. Davante Adams, Rodgers, and the rest of the Green Bay offense has to be salivating. Throw in a raucous crowd at Lambeau Field, and well… you get the idea. Packers cover.
$40 NFL: Chicago Bears at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-12)
Tom Brady faces another ROOKIE QB. Sure, Brady and Mac Jones duked it out a few weeks back, but that was a very “Belichicky” situation. Justin Fields is still figuring things out. Allen Robinson has made minimal impacts offensively. The Bears are down in depth at the RB position. More so, Chicago has allowed 22 sacks on the year, the most in the NFL. An aggressive Tampa defense is likely to take advantage of that fact. While the Bears are tied for the league lead in sacks, the Bucs have allowed just nine sacks in six games. Also, let’s not forget the home crowd. Tampa Bay has scored a whopping 124 points in three home games this season. Fields can’t compete with that. Set off the cannons. Bucs cover.
$30 College: Ohio State Buckeyes (-21) at Indiana Hoosiers
I went back and forth on this game, but in the end, can’t ignore the fact that Ohio State appears to be clicking on all cylinders. I know the opponents have been weak, but consider the last three games for the Buckeyes: 1) 59-7 win over Akron, 2) 52-13 win over Rutgers, and 3) 66-17 win over Maryland. OSU is first in the nation in total offense (562.7 ypg). Meanwhile, Indiana QB Michael Penix remains out, leaving a combination of backup Jack Tuttle and perhaps Donaven McCulley (a true FRESHMAN) to lead the Indiana offense. In 2019 (OSU’s last visit to Bloomington), the Buckeyes won 51-10. In fact, Ohio State has won its last 12 games in Bloomington (and 26 straight overall in the series). C.J. Stroud (18 TD, 3 INT) is only going to get better. Ohio State covers.
$20 NFL: New York Jets at New England Patriots (-6.5)
So, about that Bill Belichick vs. ROOKIE quarterbacks thing. It doesn’t always work. I went with it a few weeks ago and Davis Mills made me look silly. Now, the Pats face Zach Wilson and the Jets for the second time (New England won 25-6 on September 19). The Jets are coming off a bye, so who knows. I honestly considered Derrick Henry and the Titans, facing a Chiefs defense that has been beaten down by the run. Tennessee is up in the air regarding A.J. Brown and Julio Jones playing, so I’m not going there. I’m back to the Belichick versus the rookie QB storyline. Also, I think Mac Jones continues to improve as the season progresses. He nearly pulled out a miracle win against Dallas last week. Oh, and that winless record for the Pats at home? That insanity is due to stop. Patriots cover.
$10 College: Oklahoma State Cowboys (+7) at Iowa State Cyclones
We won’t mention FRESHMEN around Mike Gundy. I mean he’s a man… that’s now… 54. Anyway, here is a rare occurrence. We have the 8th ranked undefeated Cowboys (6-0) traveling to Iowa State as a seven-point underdog. I had to double check the line to make sure it was right. Don’t get me wrong, the Cyclones are a strong team, but a group with two losses to ranked teams (Iowa and Baylor). Overall, both teams rank in the top 20 in the nation in total defense. Iowa State is 3rd in the nation, allowing 250.3 ypg, while Oklahoma State is 18th, allowing 307.2 ypg. The O/U is set to 47 points and my gut says this is going to be a close, lower scoring, hard fought game. Give me the Cowboys and the points.
ON THE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN (other games I considered):
- Kansas City Chiefs at Tennessee Titans (+5) – Derrick Henry… enough said
- BYU (-4.5) at Washington State – Wazzou has too much off-the-field baggage
- Illinois (+23) at Penn State – Don’t expect to see Sean Clifford starting for PSU
- Atlanta Falcons (-2.5) at Miami Dolphins – ATL off bye, Fins lost to Jags last week (in London)
- Houston Texans at Arizona Cardinals (-17.5) – There’s a huge talent gap in this game
- Oregon (+1) at UCLA – Tossup and I think the Ducks have more talent
- Clemson (+3) at Pittsburgh – A Penn State alum never trusts Pitt (I kid, kinda)
Darrell Harden’s Week 7 Picks
$50 College: LSU at Ole Miss (-9)
LSU has had a week, managing to beat Florida and celebrating by … [checks notes] … firing Ed Orgeron, presumably before they won enough games (or enough players got hurt) that they had to keep him for another season. (I’m not even going to delve into off-the-field issues.) Ole Miss is averaging nearly 56 points a game at home, and they’re welcoming LSU to town to celebrate Eli Manning Day. Ole Miss will be fired up for this, and I think they’re easily 9 points better than LSU. I also think it might be the most entertaining game to watch this weekend; you can almost count on Lane Kiffin going for it on fourth down at least twice. At least there shouldn’t be any golf balls flying in Kiffin’s direction this week.
$40 College: Tennessee at Alabama (-25)
I graduated from Alabama, so I am supposed to pick Alabama to win this game, right? Maybe, but that’s not what’s happening here. First of all, Alabama is at home, where they have played exceptionally well this season (you’re welcome to bring up road games, provided that you limit the conversation to Starkville, with no more than a passing mention of Gainesville, please and thank you). Alabama is playing angry football on defense right now, led by Will Anderson, Jr. Tennessee’s offense should get a chance to get reacquainted with former Vols linebacker Henry To’oTo’o. Tennessee would certainly love to knock off Alabama in Tuscaloosa, but I just don’t see that happening. The spread is a massive spread, but I’m giving the points and picking Alabama to run all over the Vols, and I’m putting a whole bunch of not-my-money on this game.
$30 College: Clemson at Pittsburgh (-3)
Clemson’s defense is, once again, very good. Clemson’s offense, though … is not. They’re currently 114th in the nation, scoring a robust 20.5 points per game. Teams scoring more points per game than Clemson include perennial powers UTEP, Texas State, and Eastern Michigan. Pitt is scoring 48.3 points per game, and they’re scoring those points against all comers. While Clemson is second in the nation in scoring defense at 12.5 points per game, Pitt is allowing a more-than-respectable 20 points per game. For perspective, Alabama – a team generally regarded as having a solid defense – is giving up 20.14 points per game. Pitt can play, and they have an opportunity at home to make a statement. Pitt wins this, and I think they win it by more than a touchdown.
$20 College: USC (+6.5) at Notre Dame
Notre Dame has, with one notable exception, found ways to win games. Good teams do that, right? USC, on the other hand, has had a very up-and-down season, both before and after dismissing Clay Helton. The Trojans are a dismal 1-3 at home, but they’re 2-0 on the road. I think Notre Dame will win this game, but I like a close game here, and I think USC will cover.
$10 College: Wisconsin at Purdue (+3)
Both of these teams feature good defenses against not-spectacular offenses. Well, Wisconsin’s offense is downright awful. Purdue is playing at home in a game between two fairly similar teams, so I am giving the edge to Purdue to cover and to win outright. If we’re fortunate, Demetress Bell will put on another absolute show for us.
Jess Harden’s Picks (Another WIFE that HATES Sports)
I’ll take $50 on New York Jets at New England Patriots (-6 ½)
Last week’s game of the week had to be the Patriots versus the Cowboys. With 27 points scored in the fourth quarter alone, the game went from under to over in the blink of an eye. Just when you thought Dallas had won the game, Mac Jones connected a last minute, 75-yard pass to Kendrick Bourne, all but giving New England the victory. Not so fast, my friends. Dallas drove downfield to have Greg “The Leg” Zeuerlein nail a 49-yard field goal to send the game into overtime, which Dallas eventually won.
The score went from 17-14 to 35-29 in a matter of minutes, with the two teams combining for four touchdowns and two field goals in the fourth quarter and overtime. Dallas is one of the hottest teams in football and these young New England Patriots team managed to keep up with them possession for possession. That bodes well for Bill Belichick’s Patriots 2.0 who have yet to win a home game. This week, they should end that streak as they welcome in the struggling New York Jets. They’ve already beaten the Jets once handily in Week Two. I’m not quite sure why this line is only six-and-a-half points but I’ll take the Pats, who will be looking to bounce back from a tough loss and looking to tell the rest of the AFC East that their season is far from over. Pats cover.
How about $40 on Kansas City Chiefs at Tennessee Titans (+5 ½)
Correct me if I’m wrong but the Chiefs are still bad, right? I mean, I know this team has all the talent in the world but can they stop anyone from scoring? Here’s all you need to know going into Sunday’s matchup between these two teams. The Kansas City Chiefs average a league worst 5.2 yards allowed per carry and travel to Nashville to play Derrick Henry who leads the league in rushing. You do the math. I’m not sure why a team that’s in last place in its division is such a substantial favorite on the road playing a team that’s in first place in its division. Tennessee just beat the Bills. Even though they’re coming off a short week, by taming the Bills they proved they can play with, and beat, anyone, including the defending AFC Champions. The Tennessee Titans want to be this year’s AFC Champions. They’ll prove that this weekend by covering the five-and-a-half at home.
Lemme have $30 on Philadelphia Eagles at Las Vegas Raiders (-2 ½)
The Raiders finally got rid of the cancer in their locker room. Who figured it would be their head coach? I wonder if they sent him a nice, parting e-mail on the way out. A lot of gamblers lost their tail last week betting the Raiders wouldn’t be able to shake off the drama and beat Denver on the road. They did. All it took was getting rid of that $100 million headache.
The Las Vegas Raiders are still potentially a playoff team and significantly better than the Philadelphia Eagles, who are by all accounts atrocious. For some reason, the Raiders are only laying two-and-a-half points at home, which means that for some reason, Vegas thinks the Eagles are as good as the Raiders, which they’re not. They’re significantly better. Under first time head coach but long-time special teams coach Rich Basaccia, the Raiders will keep the rah-rah going, raising eyebrows among NFL teams who should be wondering why it took this guy so long to land a head coaching gig. Raiders cover the two-and-a-half in Sin City.
I’ll take $20 on Houston Texans at Arizona Cardinals (-17 ½)
I looked this up earlier this week. The largest point spread in NFL history came in 2013 when the Peyton Manning-led Denver Broncos played the then (and not surprisingly still) lowly Jacksonville Jaguars. That spread was 26 points. Note: Broncos did not cover. When I first looked at this week’s schedule and saw that the best team in the league, the Arizona Cardinals, were playing the worst team in the league, the Houston Texans,
I thought Vegas might toy with setting a new record, or at least make the line over three touchdowns. It’s not. It’s only 17-and-a-half points. I don’t know if you’ve been paying attention to the Cardinals this season but that’s a quarter worth of scoring for them. Meanwhile the Texans remain in limbo with this whole Deshaun Watson drama. I can’t say I recall a story so newsworthy with nary an update. Either way, the Cardinals should treat this game as a scrimmage. Expect ‘Zona to pull their MVP quarterback in the fourth quarter when this game is out of reach, which means the Cardinals cover the 17-and-a-half.
And finally, $10 on LSU (+9) at Ole Miss
Let’s commence with the Ed Orgeron farewell tour. It officially started at my alma mater’s expense as the Bayou Bengals dismantled Florida leaving a ton of angry Gator fans questioning their head coach. Shortly after that game, Louisiana State announced that they had mutually agreed to part ways with their head coach at the end of the season. While Orgeron brought his school a national championship only two years ago, he’s also been known to go on local radio broadcasts and suggest he knows of places in the bayou where people can bury bodies. Regardless of him telling us to dump a body in the marsh, Orgeron still commands the love and respect of his players. This is the beginning of a brutal stretch where LSU will play Ole Miss, Alabama, Arkansas and Texas A&M. Don’t be surprised if a once-underachieving LSU team turns some head over those four games as they usher their beloved Orgeron out the door. I’ll take LSU plus the nine points.
Season Standings (The Wife Hates Sports | SportsChump | Celebrity Guests)
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Hey Darrell…. I meant to ask… did you and the wife have a friendly wager on these picks? Coffee or something like that – like the last time? How did that pan out?
Jess is going to wipe the floor with us, isn’t she?