Today, I was busy basking in the fact that football is back and that I'm on pace to go 256-0 on my regular season picks after last night's Seahawks win over Green Bay. That basking ended when I saw today's Bill Simmons picks column.
Last year, I made a weekly thing of pointing out particularly painful excerpts of Simmons' weekly picks column. That is, when he decided to write them and not hide his picks in another column because they were well below .500 last year. This year, I shall do the same, starting with today's Week One column. Away we go.
Why abandon a tried-and-true manifesto? I learned the hard way that football changes too much from year to year to survive too many enduring rules. For instance, the gambling gods conspired in 2013 to ruin everyone who fancied himself a handicapping expert.
The gambling gods. Not poor decision making or objectively wrong choices or following some dumb, arbitrary set of rules instead of making sincere evaluations, but the gambling gods. We're off to a great start in 2014.
"In 2013, NFL favorites covered the spread at a 52.2 percent clip, the highest rate since 2005 and the third highest in the last 25 years … since 1990, NFL favorites covered an average of just 48.7 percent of games."
That's bad. That's very, very, very bad. Every "smart" gambler is trained to grab the points and go against the public as much as we possibly can. That's how we butter our bread.
I think every smart gambler knows not to pigeon hole every football game and gambler into a set of rules since each game is different. Agree to disagree, Simmons.
So let's make that one of our 2014 rules: "When in doubt, always, always, ALWAYS take the points."
Some other rules that I plan on abiding by in 2014 …
More rules! Why watch and understand this sport when you can use hypothetical platitudes to make it sound like you do, especially when betting $10 on each of Simmons' 2013 picks would have required a federal bailout!
Rule: Diligently avoid taking shaky QBs on the road, bad coaches against good coaches, and, especially, bad coaches coaching shaky QBs against good coaches on the road.
BREAKING: Good QBs better than bad QBs, good coaches better than bad coaches.
Rule: Don't go against Seattle, Denver, New Orleans, Green Bay or New England at home with a spread under 8½.
Green Bay and Denver both failed to win home playoff games against the spread in which the spread was less than 8.5 last winter.
Rule: Always take a beat when you're just blindly checking off games to ask yourself, "Wait, are we sure … ?"
Think about your picks before you make them, or you may not do your best. I guess that rule is hard to deny. Simmons should have thought of this last season.
Rule: Make a plan for double-digit spreads and stick with it.
Rule: When in doubt, always grab an underdog at home.
Rule: Make a list of teams you irrationally like and dislike before the season starts, then stick to your guns those first five weeks.
Again, DO NOT take individual games on a case by case basis. All smart bettors should generalize when they see a number. These rules are how you go 20 games below .500 throughout a season, people.
Saints (-3) over FALCONS
Love grabbing the Saints in any dome, love going against the overvalued Falcons this early.
YOU JUST SAID TO GRAB UNDERDOGS AT HOME AFTER WRITING A LENGTHY SCREED ABOUT HOW THIS IS THE YEAR OF THE UNDERDOG. Jesus Christ, I already regret doing this.
TEXANS (-3) over Washington, D.C.
Between the never-ending name controversy, the whole "Wait, Jay Gruden is the HEAD coach?" thing and the whole everyone-knows-Cousins-is-better-than-Griffin not-quite-a-controversy-that's-about-to-become-a-controversy, I'm forced to lay points with Ryan Fitzpatrick. It didn't feel great until my buddy House (die-hard D.C. fan) sent me this Gruden email:
I mean, the combination of Watt and Clowney taking on a dude who isn't physically capable of sliding was good enough for me, but if you need your buddy House, die-hard D.C. fan, to reassure you, that's fine too.
Raiders (+6) over JETS
Browns (+7) over STEELERS
Had the Jets and Steelers penciled in until I did the "Wait, are we sure … ?" routine on them.
"Wait, are we sure the Jets can win despite playing Rex Ryan himself at corner this week because one of their starters just decided to up and leave and everyone else is hurt?" That's a great job of checking your work right there. The mark of a true editor in chief!
Titans (+3.5) over CHIEFS
You could have talked me into the Titans as this year's Improbable Wild Card Just Because Of Their Cream Puff Schedule if you bought me two more drinks.
Two more drinks or a call to his buddy House are required for Bill Simmons to make any decision. Bill Simmons has become Peter King.
Pats (-4.5) over DOLPHINS
I always loved the parallels between the Spurs and Pats.
When were those parallels drawn, 2005? Those parallels are through, because the Spurs have won a championship in the last decade. The Spurs have also never lost a championship to Eli Manning, who drinks Elmer's Glue out of a Gatorade bottle on the sideline every game. There is no comparing those two franchises, whether you're from Boston or not.
BUCS (-3) over Panthers
My dream Week 1 matchup: my favorite still-undervalued team playing at home against 2014's no. 1 regression candidate. Actually, this game is like a hot blackjack table. Just shut up. Don't celebrate, don't brag, don't count your chips, don't taunt the pit boss, don't say anything.
Why would the Panthers regress, Bill? Please name a reason. Just one. Don't count your chips at a hot blackjack table. But do count your chips when fading Bill Simmons.
BRONCOS (-8) over Colts
"Manning in a night game" plus "Denver giving less than eight at home" plus "Indy isn't that good to begin with" definitely outweighs "Is there anything worse than rooting against Andrew The Giant as he's driving for a spread-busting, garbage-time TD?" But I don't feel great about it. Just throw Denver into a tease and thank me later.
Denver is not, in fact, giving less than eight. They are giving exactly eight. Whoops.
Chargers (+3) over CARDS
Wait a second … there's a second Week 1 game pitting an Undervalued 2014 Team That I Love against Another Obvious Regression Candidate? And I'm GETTING points?
I don't disagree with the pick, but this whole OBVIOUS REGRESSION tag is silly. Here are the teams other than San Diego, Denver, and the four against Seattle/San Francisco that the Cardinals have:
- Kansas City
- St. Louis (twice)
Arizona can easily win ten games again this season, because their schedule is kinda shitty besides those six tough games. But that's none of my business. Do you, Simmons. I need a drink.