“I’m a man of my word”. It’s one of the dark and popular phrases made by Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight. That’s what I am this week – a man of my word. How, you might ask? Well, because in my frustration, I was texting with the SportsChump a bit about our Week 8 Best Bets. After watching Penn State’s horrific, can’t look away, when will the horror end, nine overtime loss to the “we rarely fight” Fighting Ilini, I had some lingering agitation when it comes to Penn State football. You see, Penn State is my alma mater and this not-so-new coaching regime has generated an insane rollercoaster of emotions when it comes to positive results and gut-wrenching, I ate funky Chipotle-like memories.
After that game, I then watched Ohio State dismantle another Big Ten opponent, throttling Indiana 54-7 on the road. I dropped the SportsChump another message simply stating that I would be picking Ohio State to cover versus Penn State – no matter what the line. When I told him I did, he simply wrote back and said that I was “a man of my word”. So, here we are, with some perfect Halloween references tied to The Dark Knight. All with that simple quote leading up to my Week 8 Best Bets.
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.
As always, I narrowed my list down, then attempted to find a few games from each slate (NFL and CFB) to land in my top five. I follow that with some additional picks that I nearly made.
Oh, and for each game, I’ll stick with the theme and pepper in some fitting quotes from The Dark Knight. Call it a semi-Halloween special if you will.
Here are our Week 8 Best Bets for the week (all ATS), which includes both Week 8 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).
Week 8 Best Bets: The Wife Hates SportsChump – Dark Knight Edition
DraftKings Sportsbook: Week 8 NFL Lines | Week 9 College Football Lines
KP’s Picks: The Wife Hates Sports
$50 NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at New York Jets (-10.5)
I absolutely positively believe that the Bengals are for real now. So, now that I have them as my highest confidence pick of the week, they’re going to tank right? Time will tell. Remember the “case of the dropsies” that Ja’Marr Chase had during the preseason? Yeah, me neither. The Burrow-Chase combo is proving to be lethal. The additional weapons on offense have been strong, as well. The Cincinnati defense cracks the top ten in yards allowed (339.9 ypg). Enter QB Mike White, who gets the start for the Jets. Oh and top receiver Corey Davis is hurt for New York, too. The more I write, the more I doubt that the Bengals will botch this one. Cincy covers on the road.
Dark Knight Quote: “You wanna know how I got these scars?” – Joker
Reason: Watching the Jets for this many years, that’s how.
$40 NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Seattle Seahawks (-3)
Urban and the Jags come off a bye and travel to Seattle to face the 12th man crowd that hasn’t made its usual impact this year. Not as much to cheer about, considering the win total and injuries. In regards to this game, let’s consider a few things. Seattle may be 2-5, but three of those losses are by three points against talented opponents (Titans, Saints, Steelers). At least, more talented than the Jags. Meanwhile, Jacksonville is tied for the fewest sacks in the league. Geno Smith might actually be comfortable and have extra time to throw to Metcalf and Lockett. Jacksonville is also 30th in total defense and 31st against the pass. Seahawks cover at home.
Dark Knight Quote: “You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” – Harvey Dent
Reason: Urban Meyer, guys! Everyone will continue to push him to USC. He’s a villain for so many.
$30 NFL: Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills (-13.5)
I went back and forth between division rivalries (this game or Titans-Colts). In the end, this game wins out for a few reasons. The Bills are playing at home and coming off a bye. Buffalo is first in the NFL against the pass and first in total defense (270.2 ypg allowed). Miami, on the other hand, is 30th against the pass. Tua has had a few strong games of late, but this remains a mismatch statistically, especially considering a 35-0 win by the Bills (in Miami) back in September. Finally, Buffalo owns this series of late, winning six straight and eight of nine. Two of the last three games in Buffalo have been blowouts. My gut says Josh Allen and the Bills win big again. Bills cover at home.
Dark Knight Quote: “They need you right now, but when they don’t, they’ll cast you out, like a leper! You see, their morals, their code, it’s a bad joke. Dropped at the first sign of trouble. They’re only as good as the world allows them to be. I’ll show you. When the chips are down, these… these civilized people, they’ll eat each other.” – Joker
Reason: A bit dramatic, sure – but this is how the Tua situation feels right now. We have to smack away the Deshaun Watson to Miami rumors every single week. Tua has actually played pretty well over the last few games. Cut the guy a break. He’s the reason this pick scares me a little.
$20 College: Kentucky Wildcats (-1) at Mississippi State Bulldogs
Many look at the line and say it’s just a show of disrespect for Kentucky. To a degree, the argument is there considering the Wildcats are ranked 12th in the nation. Still, Kentucky has not won in Starksville since 2008. Mike Leach could certainly pull off another win and keep that streak alive. Still, old school Leach followers would expect 600 yard passing games and no defense. This MSU team actually ranks 11th in the nation in rushing defense. Despite these facts, Kentucky has proven itself all year, recently knocking off the Gators by 7 points and LSU by 21. Those were home games. This is a road game in a hostile environment, but I trust Kentucky to get the job done. Wildcats cover.
Dark Knight Quote: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stranger.” – Joker
Reason: Mike Leach is the greatest version of “strange” that College Football can buy. Legend.
$10 College: Penn State Nittany Lions at Ohio State Buckeyes (-18.5)
I feel dirty doing this, considering Penn State is my alma mater. But if you know me, you’ll know that I don’t pick with my heart. Maybe that’s why I set it as my $10 pick for the week. Either that or maybe it’s the fact that I know this PSU team has the talent to compete. Overall, these two teams are headed in opposite directions. Ohio State is clicking on all cylinders while the Nittany Lions are floundering. James Franklin is calling Ohio State “The Big House” and that his team is preparing for “Illinois”. That was last week, Coach. Franklin might be distracted by coaching rumors (or he might not be). Sean Clifford can’t be 100%, despite the staff saying that he is. He could barely run last week.
Finally, look at what Bret Bielema did on the ground against a strong Penn State defense. He created a script Ohio State can follow. If somehow Penn State can shutdown TreVeyon Henderson, they’ll still need to face C.J. Stroud and arguably the most talented WR group in the country. On the flip side, Penn State has failed to adjust in-game. The Lions have failed to establish a consistent run game all season. In the end, a one-dimensional team with a hobbled QB on the road is unlikely to get the job done against the nation’s most potent offense. Ohio State covers at home (I just threw up in my mouth a little).
Dark Knight Quote: “Tell your boy its gonna be all right Gordon. Lie.. like I lied.” – Harvey Dent / Two Face
Reason: Right now, it doesn’t feel like it’s going to be all right for Penn State. Two straight losses and now Ohio State on the road. The top recruiting class in the nation in 2022, but potential uncertainty with the head coach staying. It likely will eventually be alright, but it doesn’t feel that way.
ON THE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN (other games I considered):
- Tennessee Titans (+1.5) at Indianapolis Colts – Titans have won 3 of 4 in this series
- Purdue (+7.5) at Nebraska – Recently ranked Boilers should keep it close
- Duke at Wake Forest (-16.5) – Wake has a realistic shot at the playoff (no, really)
- New England Patriots (+5) at Los Angeles Chargers – Jones and Pats continue to improve
- UCLA (+6.5) at Utah – Bruins gave the Ducks all they could handle last week
- Dallas Cowboys (-2.5) at Minnesota Vikings – A shootout leans in favor of Dallas
- Washington State (+16.5) at Arizona State – Tempted, but too much uncertainty in the conference
- Miami (FL) at Pitt (-9) – the Panthers took it to Clemson last week
- Kansas (+30) at Oklahoma State – We saw some fight in Kansas last week (at OU)
In the end, we’ll see if these picks are worth keeping or if not…
I’ll take $50 on Philadelphia Eagles at Detroit Lions (+3 ½)
My “bookie” won’t allow me to bet on the Lions anymore, for good reason. I’m not even a Detroit fan but I’ve watched them play this season and I believe in this team, as silly as that sounds. Earlier this week, Jim Rome called these Lions “the best 0-7 team ever.” He’s probably right. They hung with the Rams, they almost beat the Ravens and their new head coach is so emotionally involved that he cries at every post-game press conference. This week, they host the lowly Eagles, who are a train wreck in their own right. Even though they have two wins on the season, which is two more than Detroit, this Eagles team is considerably more trainwrecky than Detroit.
Even though I said this last week (and the week before, and the week before that), I think this is the week the Lions finally get it done. Since Dr. Milhouse will no longer let me place a wager on the Lay-Downs, I’ll do it here for fake money instead. I’m getting three-and-a-half on a home team eager to get its first win plus the Eagles have no business being favored by what’s essentially a touchdown. Give me Detroit plus the three-and-a-half.
How about $40 on Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills (-13 ½)
This has all the makings of a bloodbath. Coming off a bye, the Bills are still the best team in the AFC. Their conference rival, the Miami Dolphins, appear to be the lead team in the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes, all but telling their current quarterback, the Tua they tanked for, that they’d rather have a guy under investigation of rape than him leading their team. Once considered a solid coach, Brian Flores appears to have one foot out the door, along with Tua. This team has regressed significantly from the promise they showed last year.
The Dolphins are bottom five in the league in offensive yards per game and the Bills are best in the league in yards allowed. The Bills are a top ten team in yards per game and the Dolphins rank dead last in yards allowed. Add that up and you have a point spread that should be significantly higher than thirteen-and-a-half points. Josh Allen goes nuts on Sunday reminding the Dolphins that Buffalo has their quarterback of the future and Miami better figure out who theirs is if they want to keep up with the Bills for the next decade. Buffalo covers.
Allow me to wager $30 on Cincinnati Bengals (-10 ½) at New York Jets
Speaking of hot offensively, the Cincinnati Bengals are the hottest team in the league. League officials are already etching Ja’Marr Chase’s name on the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. Speaking of offensive rookies, the Jets’ Zach Wilson has been sidelined up to a month with a bum knee. So, what does New York do? They sign Joe Flacco. How very Jets of them.
Someone should probably tell them it’s no longer 2012. Re-trading for Flacco is surprising because a) nobody even knew he was still in the league and b) he played for the Jets in 2020 and went 0-4 in five starts. In his defense, every Jets quarterback since the dawn of mankind has started 0-4. It’s a rite of passage. The Jets are bad (like really bad) and nobody, especially not the Jets, can stop Joe Burrow and his slew of wide receivers. The Bengals just beat Joe Flacco’s old team, the Baltimore Ravens. They’ll beat his new team this week and cover the ten while doing so.
And then $20 on Florida State (+10 ½) at Clemson Tigers
I keep coming back to this “Why is Clemson laying double digits” question. The clearly rebuilding Clemson Tigers have beaten one opponent so far this season by ten points. That was an early season tune-up against South Carolina State, who probably got paid a million dollars to receive that beatdown. Since then, Clemson has scored 14, 21, 13, 17 and 17 respectively in their following five games. What is it about those scores that says they’re going to a) put up a lot of points and b) put up ten more points than their opponent? After starting off a very un-Seminole-like 0-4, FSU has won their last three and is next in the long line of ACC teams looking to exact revenge for the beatdowns Clemson’s given them in recent years. Again, I’m not sure why Vegas keeps laying these spreads with Clemson which is why I’m taking the Noles and the ten-and-a-half.
And finally, $10 on Florida Gators (+14) vs. Georgia Bulldogs (neutral site)
I looked long and hard for a fifth game to choose this weekend, one I felt confident about, one where I felt that extra ten spot might give me a bump in the standings… but I couldn’t find one. So, I’m going with my boys. To say this has been a disappointing season for the Florida Gators would be considerably less than an understatement. Somewhere along the line, Dan Mullen went from being the coach we boys at old Florida wanted so badly to a coach that forgot to teach his team how to tackle.
I’m not joking when I say that this might be the worst tackling Gator defense I’ve ever seen and I’ve been watching this team since the late 80s. If Coach Mullen is going to salvage any sort of respectability to his season, his Gators are going to have to show up. They can ill afford to be blown out, even if it is by the number one team in the nation. Expect Anthony Richardson to see a lot of playing time. UGA hasn’t seen a quarterback like him and he might just be the key to Florida shocking the world. And even if he’s not, I’ll take comfort in the fact that I bet on my boys plus the 14. Go Gators!
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Image Credit: The Dark Knight
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