My Vegas condo agreement requires me to publicly tout gambling picks for the week. I can’t GUARANTEE A FIVE STAR LOCK OF THE MILLENNIUM, YOU ARE A COMMUNIST TRANSVESTITE IF YOU DON’T BET ON THIS but I can identify the games that seem to me to have an essence of Lockness about them, which smells like a mix of algae, brackish water and lizard breath.
Also, I am totally welcoming of all communists. Transgendered, transvestite or other.
And then there was one.
With only a single college game this week, we are consolidating the Lockness into a single post.
One sad, lonely post sitting on the dock of the bay staring forlornly as the sun begins to slide under the horizon. A cooler sits on the dock, a can of Busch Light sweating a ring of water on to the wooden plank. A fishing pole in the post’s hands, line extended out into the dark, green waters but there are no fish biting. A breeze blows a chill through the post’s flannel shirt and he shivers.
He knows his time is almost done. And now his one true companion – the yin to his yang, peanut butter to his jelly, the white spy to his black spy – is gone.
There are a few weeks left and the bowl season and then playoffs but the clock is ticking. Soon the sun will set, the beer can will be emptied and the Lockness will be gone for good.
Lockness #1 – Army vs Navy Under (56.5 points)
Some might argue it is un-American to gamble on the Army vs Navy game. It is wrong to wager on the outcome of a contest between two teams made up of the finest men our country can produce; teams of incredibly intelligent, hardworking men willing to make sacrifices few of us would. Many of these men could have gone to fancy schools and earned high paying careers but instead they are going through four of the hardest years a teenager could imagine with the only reward at the other end of the tunnel being a life of constant danger and unimaginable horrors. It cheapens what these men do by attempting to profit from their efforts.
In reality, gambling on this game is not an affront to their sacrifice but a celebration of it. In my lifetime our capitalist society has fought cold and hot wars against communists and religious fanatics that see our decadent way of life as an outrage to their equally corrupt ideologies. What better way to raise a middle finger to those that disparage the ‘western way of life’ to both celebrate our military heroes while at the same time making a little money on them. That is as American as anything in this country not named Brett Favre.
I am taking the Under here because (1) these teams haven’t hit the Over in their last six meetings and this line is higher than all but one of those lines that they didn’t hit and (2) I may make money off our Armed Services but I am not going to pick one over the other. I believe in all Armed Services equally not scoring a lot of points.
As Gerald Ford said: “A strong defense is the surest way to peace.”
I am sure ‘and winning bets’ is implied.
Lockness #2 – New England (-3.5) vs Houston
As disappointing as it is to have almost no college football this weekend, it is even worse that the NFL games aren’t really appealing. Either very large spreads or close spreads where it feels like a coin flip is the difference between the two. I like Indy at home -5 versus Tennessee, but have had some bad experiences in similar situations betting against the Titans (see: at Buffalo and at Jacksonville).
Instead I will go with the most public bet of them all – the Patriots. I tend to think the Pats are overrated by Vegas (7-5 against the spread), but not this week. I think they come out to make a statement. The Pats seem to get a little lazy and sloppy against inferior teams but at home, on national TV against the AFC team with the best record I think they come out and make a statement. Houston is still getting used to this ‘hunted’ tag and I don’t think they are quite ready for it. They got crushed by the Packers at home on a Sunday night earlier this year, a team structurally similar to the Pats in the reliance on a strong passing game and a defense with holes. The Pats meanwhile play their best against the best teams – look at what they did to the Broncos, a dominating win that looks much more impressive today than it did at the time.
If there is one bet I wish I could make on this game it is the Over on the number of times Jon Gruden uses the phrase ‘this guy’ during the broadcast. Between Tom Brady, Arian Foster, Aaron Hernandez, Wes Welker, Andre Johnson and J.J. Watt, the ‘this guy’ over/under line would need to be higher than a line for a re-match of the 70-63 West Virginia/Baylor game. That Over would be more than a Lockness, it would be Super Double Lock of the Century.
Bets on Army, Navy and the Patriots. My patriotism is so strong it is like Brett Favre, George Washington and Stephen Colbert’s pet Eagle all rolled into one.
Lockness #3 – Three Team Tease of the Week: Green Bay (-1) vs Detroit, Jacksonville (+8.5) vs New York Jets, Tampa Bay (-1.5) vs Philadelphia
Sure, you could say these bets represent three games in which the teased spread moved across key seven and three point lines. That is the analytical rationale for these bets. But deep down, there is another even more logical rationale for these bets.
I am betting against dumpster fires.
The Eagles, Jets and Lions are all such messes that Lindsay Lohan looks at them and says ‘well, thank god I am in better shape than they are.’ Quarterback controversies involving who is less likely to throw that back-breaking 4th interception. Coaches just a few weeks from the unemployment line. Honestly the biggest risk here is one of these teams just forfeiting the game completely and voiding the bet. But I will take that risk.
Lockness #4 – Hail Mary of the Week: Oakland Moneyline (+500) vs Denver
We’ve all been there. Bets have been going against us all day. Down to one last bet, it just isn’t worth trying to win less than double our money because when you are trapped at the bottom of a well, 3 feet off the ground is still deep in the well. We need the big score to get back. We could look for a parlay and hope 5 or 6 things all break our way or we can find one highly improbable thing that might, maybe, possibly, could happen and go all-in on it. This is the ‘Break Glass in Case of Emergency’ bet in the sports book.
Maybe it is the gun shy Bronco fan in me awaiting the inevitable Bronco no-show, but in a week where the few big underdogs are big underdogs for a reason (see graphic above), the best rationale for hitting a big pay day is the Raiders. A short week. Home game. Big underdog. Broncos having clinched the division last week. An offense that is its own worst enemy with turnovers and penalties.
Maybe the crazy Black Hole inspires the team to actually play disciplined football for once. Maybe the team wants to come out and show something against a rival on national TV to honor their coach, grieving over the loss this week of his father. The Raiders have played decent at points this season (beating Pittsburgh, nearly winning in Atlanta), so they aren’t completely worthless (see: Philadelphia). If there is ever a week where they might show up and beat a significantly better opponent, it is this week.