Confessions of a Sports Nut
The NFL never ceases to amaze me.
When it comes to evaluating games and looking at who does what well and reflecting on last Sunday’s performance, there’s only one conclusion to draw from all of that pondering: You have no idea what’s going to happen THIS weekend.
In fact, any serious football gambler would offer as his very first rule of thumb: “Don’t ever take into consideration what happened last Sunday as a means of deciding how you’re going to bet this Sunday.”
Sure, if someone loses their franchise quarterback, that might change things, but for the most part the golden rule is this: “What happened to this team last Sunday has almost no bearing at all on what’s going to happen today.”
No other sport quite resembles the NFL for the mysterious way the league plays out on a week-to-week basis.
Baseball sure doesn’t.
The good teams usually beat the bad ones two out of three or three out of four, and often times are a “good bet” to win all of their games against inferior opponents. The NBA is the safest thing going. When Cleveland travels to Miami, Charlotte, Philadelphia and Orlando this coming season, they’re winning those games. Yeah, on an odd night or two the Cavs might get beat, but if they play those four teams ten times on the road in 2014-2015, they’re going 8-2 at least.
There’s no football team in the league you’d bet your hard earned money to go 8-2 over any 10-game stretch of the season.
At my daily sports blog Drew’s Morning Dish I run a weekly contest called “Five Pick Five” in which I challenge five of my readers to pick the winners of five NFL games that I pre-select for them. We’re just talking winners here, not point spreads, totals, etc. Just pick five winners, outright.
The season is 7 weeks old. Guess how many times this year — out of 35 attempts — someone has gone 5-for-5? Twice. And they came on the same Sunday. Just trying to pick five winners is nearly impossible. Imagine how the coaching staff feels. I wonder what the answer is in the Harbaugh household on a Wednesday night during the season when John’s young daughter says, “So, Daddy, are we going to beat the Falcons this Sunday?”
I’m sure John says two things. 1) “You bet we are!”; and 2) under his breath so only his conscience can barely hear it — “I have no idea, really…it’s impossible to tell from week-to-week.”
Look at the Carolina Panthers as a prime example. Four weeks ago they strolled into Baltimore and got their lunch handed to them by the Ravens in one of the most lopsided games I’ve seen in a few years. The Panthers were horrendous. They couldn’t make a tackle on defense, let Flacco and Steve Smith have their way with them and couldn’t mount an offensive drive worth a hoot in the second half of the game. The following weekend they beat a decent Bears team in Carolina.
Last weekend, they go to Cincinnati, quietly becoming one of the toughest places to earn a road win in the league, and tie the Bengals. Yes, Cincy’s kicker missed a 3-foot putt in overtime, but a tie’s a tie. This past Sunday, the Panthers headed to Lambeau Field and got torched by Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.
More craziness from this past weekend: How about St. Louis winning at home over Seattle? Detroit gets clobbered for 54 minutes by the Saints, then they score two touchdowns at the end of the game to win by a point.
Cleveland nearly beat the Ravens in week #3, ran roughshod over the Steelers last Sunday and had a miracle comeback at Tennessee two weeks ago. Then they lost at winless Jacksonville this past Sunday. They didn’t just lose, they were embarrassed by the pitiful Jaguars.
How on earth are you supposed to figure out who is going to win on any given Sunday?
I can say without hesitation that NOTHING surprises me in the NFL anymore. ZERO. I wouldn’t blink any differently this Sunday if the Ravens won 27-6 or lost 27-6 in Cincinnati. Neither score would shock me, even though I personally believe the Ravens are going to win by ten points on Sunday. But, I’ve been around long enough to know the Bengals could win by three touchdowns.
I just can’t resolve for the life of me how these teams change from week-to-week. How can Jacksonville beat Cleveland? Seattle beats Denver, then three weeks later loses back-to-back games to Dallas and St. Louis. The Jets are awful and they came within a whisker of winning at New England last Thursday evening.
Week in and week out, the games are just nearly impossible to figure out. I can’t imagine what it must be like to actually wager on the outcome of the NFL. I think you’d have just as much of a chance of getting rich by playing Keno 100 times a day with $2.00 on a 3-spot that pays you $50.00 if you hit.
I don’t have $200 to experiment with, but I think you could pick any given day, play 11-21-55 for 100 games at $2.00 per, and you’d win more money than if you took that $200 and bet four football games.
And remember, I haven’t really talked about the point spread yet and how the guys setting the lines know more about the teams than the teams know about themselves.
I’m just talking “picking winners” on a weekly basis.
You can’t make a living at it, I promise you that.
I mean, after all, the coaches in the NFL are far smarter and savvier about football than you and I and they can’t make their respective teams perform at their highest level week in and week out.
If they can’t figure out their own team, how are we supposed to?