Curses! That’s what I’m saying after last week’s picks. That is also what I’m saying when it comes to the Cincinnati Bengals. I did this to them. At least, it feels that way. Mike White was simply a guy with a name that sounded like he should be selling insurance or perhaps handing a couple a key to their dream home. Not some guy throwing for over 400 yards in his first NFL start. Clearly not a no-name guy carving up the division leading Bengals (a top ten rated defense at the time). So, as I try to make sense of what seemed to be a shoe-in pick from Week 8, I simply just need to move on to my Week 9 Best Bets. Of course, before I do, there needs to be some more chatter surrounding curses and the Bengals.
First, here’s a mini-flashback in case you missed last week’s picks. Regarding the above reference, my top pick in Week 8 was the Bengals to cover against the Jets. Specifically, I said “now that I have them as my highest confidence pick of the week, they’re going to tank right?” I finished my game analysis with the following: “The more I write, the more I doubt that the Bengals will botch this one.”
Let’s switch gears – well, sorta.
Odd Fascination with Curses
What is our fascination with curses? Why can’t we just simply believe in parity?
When it comes to professional sports, there is enough talent on the field to win any game. A good game plan, a lucky bounce, or a few injuries can make all the difference. Instead, we believe in curses. Why do we insist that these absurdities are real and not just insane trends?
Here are a few examples of popular curses in sports:
- Madden Curse – Get on the cover, an injury is sure to follow (see video below)
- Curse of the Bambino – Trading Babe Ruth to a rival; it was a thing for so many years
- Peyton & Eli Curse – This is a new one: guests on the new MNF format lose their next game
- Week 8 Best Bets KP vs the Bengals – OK, fine, that’s not a real thing
The Moral to this Cursed Story
There’s a moral to the story – I think. Let’s just focus on being our best. Even when the cards are completely stacked against us, there’s always a chance to emerge victorious in whatever you do. When you get your shot, BE MIKE WHITE. If you don’t get your chance right away, some day you will. Keep your head down and continue to scratch and claw your way to success.
The Wife Hates SportsChump Contest
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 picks that I nearly made.
Here are our Week 9 Best Bets for the week (all ATS), which includes both Week 9 NFL Best Bets and College Football Best Bets. The list is ranked in order of confidence, from $50 down to $10 (in fictional dollars).
Week 9 Best Bets: The Wife Hates SportsChump – Cursed Edition (Maybe)
DraftKings Sportsbook: Week 9 NFL Lines | Week 10 College Football Lines
KP’s Picks: The Wife Hates Sports
$50 NFL: Buffalo Bills (-14.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars
To state it like a five year-old, the Bills are good and the Jags are bad. Fine, I’ll dive deeper than that. The Bills are 6th in total offense (402.9 ypg) and 1st in total defense (269.0 ypg). Buffalo has allowed eight sacks in seven games, the fewest in the NFL. Jacksonville has 11 sacks on the year (only Atlanta has fewer). Expect Josh Allen to have plenty of time in the pocket. Like eat an entire meal in the pocket kinda time. On Jacksonville’s side, James Robinson is questionable, potentially leaving the Jags without its most consistent weapon. This game has blowout written all over it (not the Bengals from Week 8). This is not a CURSE. I repeat, this is not a curse. That’s on Urban. Bills cover.
$40 College: Ohio State Buckeyes (-14.5) at Nebraska Cornhuskers
Vegas has had renewed faith in Nebraska in recent weeks. Let’s not forget OSU was favored by nearly 20 points over Penn State last week. I was “a man of my word” and spun the reverse psychology to keep Penn State in the game. No CURSE. It worked. Sorta. Anyway, it should be noted that Nebraska hung with other top teams, losing to Michigan by 3, Michigan State by 3, and Oklahoma by seven. Yes, the Huskers have been competitive. Still, Ohio State has a ferocious offense. The Buckeyes have arguably the best WR group in the country, a talented freshman RB, and a QB that is flirting with the Heisman. Penn State put forth a strong defensive effort and the Buckeyes still scored 33 points. I simply don’t think Nebraska can hang. Not for four quarters, at least. Ohio State covers on the road.
$30 NFL: Los Angeles Chargers (-2) at Philadelphia Eagles
Suddenly, the Eagles torch the Lions and gain some respect. Look at Philly’s three wins though: blowout W’s over the Falcons and Lions, plus a three-point victory over the Panthers. Let’s not forget just how talented this Chargers team is. L.A. hasn’t played as well in recent weeks, but this team features a lot of weapons on both sides of the ball. Specifically, I’m looking at pass defense, where the Chargers rank 5th in the league (203.0 ypg). The Eagles are actually 8th in the league (220.6 ypg), but I like Justin Herbert to return to the form we saw Weeks 3-5 (11 TD, 0 INT). I have no idea how the Chargers handle trips to the East coast. In fact, I don’t care – even if they are CURSED. This line is too juicy for me. I like this Chargers team. L.A. covers.
$20 College: Michigan State Spartans (-3) at Purdue Boilermakers
The Spartans live and die by the performance of RB Kenneth Walker III. He is a monster and deserves Heisman attention. Michigan State has also managed to fly under the radar. So many analysts had them outside their playoff top four. The committee, however, did not. With that in mind, let’s see how the Spartans respond to that additional pressure. This team is well coached, so one would expect them not to melt under the possibility of making the playoff. No first playoff ranking CURSE. On the flip side, Purdue is an up and down, hard to predict team. That may make this a scary selection, but overall, it’s hard to ignore an undefeated Michigan State team that continues to find a way. Sparty covers.
$10 College: Penn State Nittany Lions (-10) at Maryland Terrapins
Sean Clifford proved to be healthy last week, giving Ohio State all they could handle. Losers of three straight, the Nittany Lions are desperate for a win. After not landing on the playoff Top 25, Penn State might have a chip on their shoulder. Also, PSU is seeking to avenge a shocking loss to Maryland last year. Despite last year’s loss, Penn State has dominated this series, winning 14 of 15 games at College Park. In 2019, Penn State beat Maryland 59-0 in College Park. In 2017, PSU won 66-3. The local PSU MD alums create an atmosphere of a home game. Finally, Maryland will need to build off last week’s 38-35 win over Indiana. Because, Maryland’s previous three games were all ugly losses (worth CURSING at), in which the Terps were outscored 151-47. Even Iowa scored 51 on them. Yikes! Penn State covers.
ON THE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN (no curses here):
- Auburn Tigers (+4.5) at Texas A&M Aggies – A grudge match featuring strong backs
- Tennessee Titans (+7.5) at Los Angeles Rams – No Derrick Henry, but Titans still talented
- Wake Forest Demon Deacons (+2.5) at North Carolina Tar Heels – Rev has UNC, so…duh.
- Oregon Ducks (-7) at Washington Huskies – Ducks motivated now that playoff is in reach
- New England Patriots (-3.5) at Carolina Panthers – Will CmC and Darnold play or not?
- Arizona Cardinals (-1) at San Francisco 49ers – If Kyler Murray (ankle) is active, take ‘Zona
Now, onto some picks that are sure to be cursed…
Let me have $50 on Iowa Hawkeyes at Northwestern Wildcats (+12)
I’ve been making a lot of (fake) money betting against Clemson this year. For some reason, oddsmakers keep listing Clemson as double-digit favorites. Apparently, gamblers are falling for it, thinking that Clemson of late is Clemson of old. Newsflash: they’re not. I found another double-digit line in college football this weekend for a team that, like Clemson, can’t score. Ladies and gentlemen, I humbly present your Iowa Hawkeyes. Remember about a month ago when the Hawkeyes were ranked number two in the nation. They had just beaten Penn State and all was right in America’s heartland. The next week, they go out and crap the bed against Purdue. Here’s a fun fact. Iowa has only scored two touchdowns in its last two games.
So again, I ask you, why is Iowa laying twelve points on the road in a night game at Northwestern. I don’t care that Northwestern is 3-5. I don’t care that Iowa has lost consecutive games and is primed to bounce back. This is a trend, not an anomaly. Iowa can’t score the football so I don’t trust them to beat anyone by twelve points, never mind score twelve themselves. I’ll take Northwestern plus the points.
I’ll take $40 on Las Vegas Raiders (-2 ½) at New York Giants
The Raiders have had themselves a tough season. First, authorities rummage through some old e-mails to find their ousted head coach doing his best David Duke impression. Then their star rookie gets involved in a deadly DUI incident. The organization immediately cut ties with both. Needless to say, the Raiders’ public relations department has been working overtime. After the Gruden firing, team leader and starting quarterback Derek Carr rallied the troops to beat the Broncos in Denver. He’s going to have to do so again, this time in New York.
The Raiders are still a game up in the competitive AFC West and they’d like to keep it that way. On the other hand, the Giants are who we thought they were. Don’t let the fact that they only lost to the Chiefs by three points fool you. This is a bad football team. Most might find it dangerous to bet the Raiders right now considering all that’s going on in this locker room but they found a way to rally after the Gruden drama. They’ll do so again on Sunday. Raiders cover the two-and-a-half.
Howzabout $30 on Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals (-2 ½)
Last week, we were talking about the Bengals as if they were the best team in the AFC. That’s because they were. What a difference a week makes. One bad loss to the Jets and the Bengals are suddenly afterthoughts. It’s hard to win, and more importantly protect your quarterback, with a spotty offensive line and that’s exactly what’s going on in Cincinnati. Fortunately Burrow still has his triple headed monster to throw to. He just has to get the ball out quickly. This week, they host Cleveland who apparently Vegas thinks is better than the Bengals, hence the tiny spread. The Brownies need this win more than the Bungles but that doesn’t mean much with all the drama coming out of Browns camp.
Odell Beckham took a personal day after his dad complained openly about his lack of targets. While I do like Beckham to show up and prove he’s a highlight reel against Burrow’s Bengals, assuming he’s not traded by then, the noise is enough to tinker with Baker Mayfield’s psyche which, like his throwing shoulder, is not 100%. I don’t have the same faith I do in Mayfield that I do in Carr when it comes to handling locker room drama. You shouldn’t either. So why is this spread so small? I’m not quite sure. Cleveland has yet to prove they can beat the better teams in the league. That won’t start this week against a Bengals team that’s pissed they just lost to the Jets. Bengals rebound and cover the 2 ½.
I’ll take $20 on Kansas State Wildcats at Kansas Jayhawks (+24 ½)
Kansas vs. Kansas State. I don’t know anything about these two teams. I’ve never been to Kansas. I don’t plan on ever doing so. I looked up the rivalry to see if it’s been competitive lately. It hasn’t. Kansas State has won the last twelve games in this series. Looking for a reason to take the 24 ½ points, I checked to see if these games were any more lopsided in Lawrence than they were in Manhattan. They weren’t. Lately, this rivalry has been entirely one-sided.
With that being said, this Kansas State team isn’t exactly burning up the Big 12 and they do have look ahead games against West Virginia, Baylor and Texas to finish their season. It’s hard to imagine they’d take their little brother lightly but they might. Meanwhile, Kansas has just played two top-20 teams so they’re accustomed to playing against some talent. Winless in conference, Kansas just might drum up enough gumption at home to keep this one closer than the 24 ½ points. At least that’s what I’m hoping for.
And finally, Wake Forest Demon Deacons at North Carolina Tar Heels (-2 ½)
Here’s how funny betting college football can be. Wake Forest is ranked ninth and undefeated. They are a good football team putting up no less than 35 points in every game they’ve played. Yet they are underdogs in Chapel Hill this weekend, traveling to play a rather disappointing 4-4 North Carolina team. This was supposed to be the year Sam Howell emerged as a leading candidate for first quarterback taken in the NFL draft. That hasn’t happened. So why would an underachieving North Carolina team be favored against a team that looks considerably better on paper? Because Vegas wants you to bet Wake Forest.
I’m not falling for it. In real life, this is probably a game I’d stay away from. The over/under is a whopping 76 which is the highest on Saturday’s slate. Don’t be surprised if it goes over. We’re going to see a back-and-forth battle all afternoon long so if you play fantasy college football, load up on these rosters. This has all the makings of a last-team-to-have-the-ball-wins kind of games. Look for Howell to enter his name back into the mix as he tosses the ball around the yard. I’ll take the home team Tar Heels and lay the two-and-a-half as they hand Wake Forest their first loss of the season.
Season Standings (The Wife Hates Sports | SportsChump | Celebrity Guests)
Forget curses and add your Week 9 Best Bets picks in the comments section below. As always, thank you for visiting and supporting The Wife Hates Sports!
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