Thursday, September 6, 2007

Football is Fun; Gambling on Football is Better

A few things before getting started:

1. Check out the "Football = Neat" page during the season. It's our way of separating TwinKilling's football coverage versus things like fish-smacking videos. For the first and probably only time, there is new stuff over there right now. Check it out and you'll understand.

2. Also, my Bengals preview will come out Sunday night/Monday morning. I'll mention some Bengals-related things in this column but most of it will be general NFL (and some college) stuff. Enjoy...

The NFL starts tonight, which is awesome, but for me it's bittersweet. You see, 2007 marks the second straight season in which I have no choice but to refrain from wagering on America's favorite sport. And it's killing me more than ever.

Here's why:

The Saints and the Colts will be the highest scoring teams in the league this season (by a lot), and being that they're playing each other, I would do anything to bet my unborn child that the score goes way over the total, even though I have no idea what the listed over/under is (my guess would be 53.5--answer to be revealed later). Seriously, in my heydey (1998-2005) I would bet the over in this match eight times out of eight, even if it were set at 75. I can't help it, I have a gambling problem, and a weakness for betting overs--hence the bittersweet emotions on NFL's opening night.

Now, that doesn't mean I don't have three fantasy teams, a fanatical interest in the Bengals and Buckeyes and, ok, nine (and counting) futures bets to keep me company...BUT, there is nothing like calling in a handful of bets on a Saturday/Sunday morning. Nothing. See you in Gamblers Anonymous.

Actually, you know what--before I get to my predictions for the season, take a look at my three fantasy teams and my nine (and counting) futures bets for 2007:

Fantasy teams

The first team is an 11-man keeper league (with 21-man roster) where the fantasy playoffs are the actual NFL playoffs. So you not only need good players, you need to position yourself with players from good NFL teams. It's a pretty intense league with offseason trading and whatnot. (Note: this is the best team I've ever assembled):

QB: Palmer, Leinart, Rivers
RB: Tomlinson, McAllister, Maroney, Ken Irons, Antonio Pittman, Priest Holmes
WR/TE: Chad, TJ, Colston, Gates, Craig Davis, Devin Hester, Tab Perry, Alex Smith, Drew Carter (note: TE scoring is weighted, so Gates is usually a top three WR in this league)
K: Nate Kaeding
D/S: Chargers, 49ers

The second team is strictly a re-draft league, and we start 3 WRs and a TE:

QB: Peyton Manning, Jon Kitna
RB: Jones-Drew, Peterson, Tatum Bell
WR: TJ, Santonio Holmes, Kevin Curtis, Dev. Henderson, Brandon Jones, Craig Davis
TE: Vernon Davis, Owen Daniels
K: Nate Kaeding, Olindo Mare
D/S: Vikings

The third team was a 1-man keeper league last year and next year it will be a 4-man keeper format. The other gimmick this league has is more than a little awesome: Whatever players we keep we will lose that draft pick the following season. For instance, Maroney was my sole keeper headed into this season and I drafted him in the 8th last season--so this year I didn't have a pick in the 8th round, and as long as I have Maroney on my team it will be that way. Pretty awesome, no? Also, there are only ten guys in the league, where as the other two leagues have twelve.

Note: I had the snake pick so I always took the guy with the higher upside in the even numbered rounds. I'm smart. Anyway...

QB: Leinart (7th), Roethlisberger (9th)
RB: Jones-Drew (1st), Peterson (2nd), Cadillac (5th), DeAngelo Williams (6th), Maroney (8th), Michael Turner (10th)
WR: Javon Walker (3rd), Roy Williams (4th), Greg Jennings, (11th), Ronald Curry (12th), Vernon Davis (14th)
K: Kaeding
D/S: Cowboys

Was that fun? I'll post my nine (and counting) futures bets Friday.

And more from the "Brad Spieser has a gambling problem" department: I just checked the total of the Saints-Colts tilt tonight and it's currently sitting at 52.5...God, I need to be a Vegas handicapper. In related news, I also need to chew some gum and call my sponsor.

Listen up, gambling gamblers of America...I'm giving "5-star lock of the week" status to tonight's over. Please take my advice and call your bookie immediately; you won't be let down. There is no way that either of these teams score less than 30 points apiece. Let's see: bottom 10 defenses + top 2 offenses + dome + Peyton Manning is about to unleash the third greatest season ever = final score of Saints 41, Colts 38. Lock it. And thank me later.

By the way, this reminds that--starting now--Cam and I will post our daily locks of the week in this space and keep our records throughout the season. Sometimes it will be college, sometimes NFL, but always just one game. This week my lock is the over of tonight's Saints-Colts game, but Cam hasn't submitted one yet. I'll keep you posted.

UPDATE: Cam just told me his lock is also the Saints-Colts over. He also said that he thinks it's stupid to limit this to just one lock. What this means, exactly, I don't know, but Cam will undoubtedly offer gambling advice to anyone who will listen. Consider yourself warned.

UPDATE #2: Cam just gave me his college pick: Washington (+3) vs. Boise State. And now I'm jealous. My college pick is West Virginia (-24) at Marshall.

2007 NFL Predictions

Playoff Teams

AFC division winners: Pats (11-5), Steelers (10-6), Colts (10-6), Chargers (13-3)
AFC wild card teams: Bengals (10-6), Broncos (10-6)

AFC busts: Ravens (7-9), Jets (6-10), Jags (6-10)
AFC sleeper: Houston (8-8)

NFC division winners: Cowboys (11-5), Bears (10-6), Saints (12-4), Cards (9-7)
NFC wild card teams: Eagles (10-6), Seahawks (9-7)

NFC busts: Carolina (5-11), Giants (6-10)
NFC sleepers: Washington (9-7), Tampa (8-8)

Other predictions (in random order of importance)...

1. Reggie Bush will win the MVP

2. Roethlisberger and Santonio Holmes become fantasy stars.

3. Cadillac Williams returns to form and posts a semi-monster season. Top 10 RB this season and double his highest ever reception total. Because...

4. Jeff Garcia will keep this team respectable. He failed in Cleveland and Detroit because it wasn't a West Coast offense--this year it is. Gruden and Garcia = perfect match.

5. T.O. will be the No. 1 fantasy WR.

6. I will eat food today.

7. Calvin Johnson and Vernon Davis will each catch 10 TDs this season.

8. That food will taste good.

9. Matt Schaub will prove to be worth the money.

10. The Jason Campbell-Santana Moss hook-up will make fantasy owners hornier than they ever expected.

11. Devin Hester will be better on offense than most expect.

12. Brett Favre will play his best football in five years.

13. Anquan Boldin will throw 3 TDs.

14. Adrian Peterson will have multiple 200-yard games.

15. Tony Romo will emphatically prove last season wasn't a fluke.

16. Tavaris Jackson won't be good. Ever.

17. Chris Simms will hurt his spleen.

18. Damon Huard is the name of a person.

19. Joey Harrington will still be terrible. (Note: I realize that prediction isn't wild but experts are talking him up too much as a potential sleeper. Not me.)

20. I have to go clean gutters. I don't see myself living much longer. The end.

I'll reveal my college predictions and my futures bets Friday.

Enjoy the gambling, peoples!