Yesterday, a judge in New Jersey granted the NCAA and major sports leagues a temporary restraining order to stop legal sports betting from happening in the state until arguments are heard from both sides in court. This is, objectively speaking, complete garbage.
The sports leagues are arguing that sports betting being legal in New Jersey would do irreparable harm to their reputations, because they think fans would assume games were rigged if people were allowed to bet on them legally in New Jersey.
Nevermind that sports betting is already legal in other states in this great nation. Nevermind that sports betting is already legal in London, where the NFL is thirsty as hell to move a team. Nevermind that Rob Gronkowski is allowed to openly shill for fantasy football betting sites like Fanduel. And definitely nevermind that money is going to exchange hands illegally whether or not New Jersey gets legalized sports betting.
One would think that sports leagues fighting with states to restrict the rights of human beings to do what they want with their money would be big news, but sports news organizations such as ESPN have been relatively quiet about the situation. One would think that this kind of sports business issue would be the reason Darren Rovell gets paid any money ever, but he's too busy reciting the Notre Dame code of conduct or something.
Granted, we all know that the ESPNs of the world won't criticize the NFL and other leagues for trying to stop people from being free to do with they want with their money, because the media needs these sports leagues to remain profitable. We saw the same issue rear its ugly head during the Ray Rice saga just a month or so ago. I guess you could say that there is a lack of ethics in journalism here.
[winks into the camera]
You'll notice how easy it was to point that out without forcing anyone out of their homes or threatening to rape people or whatever. Let's all try to avoid forcing people out of their homes and threatening to rape people going forward, okay? Great.
Now let's pick some football games.
Falcons +3.5 over Lions (9:30 a.m. in London)
The Lions have the best defense in the league in DVOA, while Atlanta is a dumpster fire defensively. However, we saw this same situation last week when the Lions took on the 32nd ranked Saints defense and needed a huge Drew Brees mistake just to win outright in Detroit.
Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush will both miss this game for the Lions, further crippling a struggling offense. The Lions will struggle here, win or lose.
And, while we're on this game, it must be noted that if you complain about the start time of this contest, you are a weenie and should just stay in bed like a weenie.
Vikings +2.5 over BUCCANEERS
This game is going to be really bad, because both of these offenses are bad. Minnesota is 32nd in the league in DVOA offensively, but ranked fourth in DVOA running the football. Their passing offense is that bad. But Tampa Bay's defense is also bad, and is 31st in the league in yards against per pass attempt!
I can't wait to get up and grab a Four Loko every time this game pops up on RedZone.
Bears +6 over PATRIOTS
Yeah, the Bears locker room is a weekend edition of the Steve Wilkos show or something, but they should absolutely cover the spread here, given how evenly matched these teams are by both DVOA and per play statistics.
Also, we may need to chill out about the Patriots still being good. Their dominant win over Cincinnati doesn't look very good now that the Bengals followed that game up with a tie against Carolina at home and a brutal loss at Indianapolis. Then the Patriots let the Jets (!) hold the ball for 41 minutes against them, and lucked out with a blocked kick at the end of that game. The Bears will hang around here.
Rams +7 over CHIEFS
Austin Davis is averaging more yards per pass attempt than Alex Smith by nearly two thirds of a yard per attempt. Also, the Chiefs struggle as home favorites, which will continue here thanks in part to a Rams defense that can hold its own against the run (12th in DVOA against the run).
Seahawks -5 over PANTHERS
The Seahawks are not what they were last year, or so it seems through seven weeks. But this Panthers defense is a unique, special kind of bad. This is a game where the Seahawks buy themselves some time before an implosion later in the season.
JETS -3 over Bills
Rex Ryan's squad is sixth in both yards against per rush and in DVOA against the run, which is to say that they're pretty darn stout against the run. Oh, and Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller are both out for this game due to injury, which is to say that Kyle Orton will have to make plenty of throws to keep the Bills in this game. I can't in all good conscience back a Kyle Orton dependent offense like that.
Dolphins -6 over JAGUARS
How about, instead of sending a NFL team to London, we just let England take Florida. They can even do the whole Bugs Bunny sawing it off and it floating away thing if they want. Jesus, this game is going to be sad.
Texans -3 over TITANS
J.J. Watt is going to harm Zach Mettenberger. And Clowney might play!
BENGALS +2 over Ravens
When this game opened, the Bengals were favored by a field goal. The line has moved five points since then, which is a monstrous movement for any NFL game.
This is an absolute must win for the Bengals, who have been struggling lately. I'm taking them here because the value in doing so is undeniable, but who knows what you'll get with them from week to week.
Eagles +1.5 over CARDINALS
Arizona is 28th in the league in yards against per pass attempt, which presents a well rested Eagles team a chance to do what they do best and throw the ball with impunity. They'll get a much needed win here.
Colts -3 over STEELERS
Indianapolis is one of the five best teams in the NFL at this point. Meanwhile, the Steelers have been shaky despite playing Tampa Bay, Jacksonville, Cleveland, and Houston in their last four games. The Colts will keep rolling here.
BROWNS -6.5 over Raiders
Oakland has scored more than 14 points just one time so far this season. Is that bad?
SAINTS -2.5 over Packers
Aaron Rodgers is playing great football right now, but the Saints don't fail to cover at the dome. They're 18-1-1 in their last 20 games there. That place is going to be bumping on Sunday Night, and the Saints will inject their fans with lots of false hope only to lose to the Panthers on Thursday night by 40.
COWBOYS -9.5 over Racists
Dan Snyder can ride a bicycle without a seat.
By the way, Betspin has been a thing for a whole year now. Not that I'm drowning in readers over here, but thanks to all ya'll who do check things out around these parts. This has been fun. Here's to another year.
Last Week: 7-8
This Week: 1-0
2014 NFL ATS: 58-48-1 (54.7%)