For the true gambling aficionado, the art of wagering is all about journeys – journeys to the bar to watch every game you’ve bet on simultaneously, journeys to the automated teller machine to pay off your bookie and journeys to the emergency room to remove shards of broken glass from your knuckles after the Lions blow a 21 -3 lead against San Diego. No less an authority than celebrated American essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson once opined that life itself was not a destination, but a journey. Of course, he also once said that “the earth laughs in flowers” which gives you at least some idea of how fabulous American opium must have been in the early eighteen hundreds. Masshole transcendentalist poets aside, I am myself reminded of the importance of enjoying the journey as we enter Week 2 of the NFL gambling season in all of its morally bankrupt splendor. Today begins our second opportunity to risk hard earned money on the athletic exploits of men whose brains may or may not have already been turned to hamburger helper by the inherent violence of football. On this most glorious and holy of days, I then ask you dear friends to drink deeply of the journey upon which we find ourselves. To enjoy the rise and fall of outrageous fortune before the final whistle calls out to end the carnage, as one day it will too call out for each and every one of us. Enjoy the passion and the agony, the sheer visceral thrill of gambling actual money on mortal combat governed by an arcane, almost byzantine set of rules designed to offer only the thinnest veneer of civilized sportsmanship. Enjoy it while you can my fellow degenerates, for one day, perhaps all too soon, society at large may realize that it is both insane and cruel to arm fat men with a hard polymer helmet and force them to crash into each other seventy or more times a game for our amusement and wagering pleasure. Until then, this… is… Sparta! Drink deeply my friends and take the over on concussion related injury settlements in the very near future.
On that happy note, please allow me to present my Week 2 NFL picks. Home teams are in caps, winners are listed first and Washington’s team name has now been changed to the Racial Slurs because Dan Snyder can definitely go fuck himself with a hot poker. As always, our noxious lawyer has threatened to chew my face off if I don’t remind you that these picks are for entertainment purposes only and that gambling can be a serious addiction problem for people who aren’t obscenely rich professional boxers with a long history of beating women, in which case it simply becomes a marketing vehicle. Goodbye Floyd, I’m certain that if nothing else, TMZ will dearly miss you. Let’s move on to the picks:
CHIEFS (-3) over Broncos:
There are two vitally important factors to consider when wagering on this week’s Thursday Night Football offering. The first and arguably most important factor is that Peyton Manning’s contract with Satan to remain an elite quarterback despite breaking into the NFL during the Nixon presidency is now, clearly over. Anyone who saw last week’s deceptive victory against Baltimore knows that Manning is done with fries on the side and frankly, I will be fucking shocked if he makes it to week 12 without going on IR to facilitate his long term replacement in Denver. Manning has lost so much zip on the ball that even his short and intermediate passes float slowly across the screen like a fucking 8-bit minion in Super Mario Brothers. His arm strength has deteriorated to the point that I genuinely question his ability to toss back a goddamn beer, let alone a football. To suggest that Manning can no longer take the top off an NFL defense would be an understatement akin to saying your 10 years dead grandmother isn’t much of a looker these days. While I wouldn’t describe Kansas City’s defense as elite, they certainly are more than good enough to pounce on an aging, wounded animal that Denver probably should have put out of its misery in the most humane way possible this summer – likely a shotgun shell to the cranium, administered behind the team equipment shed before the impressionable rookies got too attached to him. The other important factor in this game is Chiefs pop-gun armed quarterback Alex Smith and how the emergence of mutant wookie Travis Kelce at tight end makes it possible for the Chiefs to win games with a guy who hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass to a wide receiver since the early Jurassic era. If Kelce can continue to plow through defenses like Donald Trump plows through questions he doesn’t understand, it really doesn’t matter if Alex Smith thinks a flag route is something you do at a gay pride parade. Chiefs win big and the clock starts ticking on Manning’s time in Denver.
Texans (+3.5) over PANTHERS:
Picking this game is a source of great emotional turmoil for me. On one hand, I want to take Houston because it is inherently clear to anyone who’s seen a Texans game the past two seasons that this is a very, very good team being held back by extremely fucking terrible play at the QB position. On the other hand – picking the Texans means betting that anything involving Ryan Mallet can end in something other than carnage and tragedy. It’s a tough call folks, but in the end I decided that Mallet’s sparkling personality and rumored inability to lead anything more complicated than a conga-line, was probably less of a drawback than Cam Netwon having to throw to future real estate agents and circus carneys. Your mileage may vary and if you choose not to bet on a man so shitty at football he couldn’t beat out Brian fucking Hoyer during the preseason – no jury in the land would convict you.
SAINTS (-10) over Buccaneers:
Last Sunday, the NFL-watching world learned what every college football fan who reads TMZ already knew – Jameis Winston makes absolutely, mind-numbingly, earth-fucking-shatteringly bad decisions on a shockingly regular basis. Then of course, there’s how bad he is with the football; which is basically almost as terrible as he is without the football but with less shoplifting. A puzzle cloaked in an enigma and wrapped up in a gigantic fucking mistake; the question of exactly why the Bucs took Winston over Marcus Mariota will continue to haunt this franchise for at least the next decade. I am of course a little hesitant to lay 10 points on a New Orleans squad that’s literally Drew Brees and some guys he found in the Superdome parking lot, but Winston and the Bucs are just that fucking bad. New Orleans in a laugher at home that’s essentially over several minutes before halftime.
49ers (+6) over STEELERS:
What do you get when you combine a Pittsburgh defense that is apparently unaware that the tight end is an eligible receiver on passing downs, with a San Francisco offense led by a Quarterback utterly dependant on his security blanket – all world TE Vernon Davis? The single most confusing NFL betting line of Week 2! Naturally, there are reasons to think the Steelers will win the game – they’re at home, San Francisco is coming off the Monday night game and as a QB, Colin Kaepernick isn’t worthy enough to carry Tom Brady’s garment bags to and from the airport. On the flip side however, the Steelers defense has been literally fucking atrocious for more than a year now and they are about to get a mega dose of 235 lb mauler Carlos Hyde. Hyde runs through defenders like a cave troll smashes through belligerent midgets in a Peter Jackson movie, and he’ll put a has-been Pittsburgh defense living off past glories to the test early and often. Fans with a dark side should also watch for a potential fatality on live national television this game as oft-injured, aging tailback DeAngelo Williams faces off against Navarro Bowman and a shockingly dominant San Francisco defense that might literally, rip his face off. The Steelers should win the game, but the 49ers will keep it close by controlling the ball with Davis playing Doctor Jekyll to Hyde’s, well, Hyde. Dear Chris Berman, how’s my ass taste?
VIKINGS (-3) over Lions:
There are some, even in the national media, who are advising fans to take a calm and rational approach to the Detroit Lions stupefying second half collapse in San Diego last Sunday. Folks, let me assure you right now that those people are either complete fucking morons or Russian spies paid by the Kremlin to sow lies and confusion amongst the American people. Sound the alarms, man the lifeboats – the good ship Detroit Lions is going down faster than a “29” year old model in the bathroom of a singles bar ten minutes before closing time. If there is any activity, in all of man’s infinite possibilities, more infuriating than watching antediluvian corner Rashean Mathis give up first down after first down because he’s slower than molasses and has to give receivers a twenty yard cushion to avoid getting torched, I have no idea whatsoever what it would be. The offensive line couldn’t block a doorway, fat Matty Stafford is still throwing interceptions that completely boggle the mind in his seventh year with the squad and the team’s offensive coordinator seems to forget that Calvin Johnson exists for entire games at a time. I am completely certain that a small child playing Madden would have called a better game than Joe Lombardi did last Sunday – just by calling a pass on every down and immediately whipping the ball to Calvin Johnson regardless of coverage! To be completely fair, the Minnesota Vikings also sucked donkey cock in Week 1, but at this point I genuinely doubt Detroit’s ability to beat the goddamn Colorado School of Mines without help from crooked officiating.
Patriots (-1) over BILLS:
If the 49ers/Steelers line is the most confusing line of week 2, then this match-up definitely features the funniest one. Between the two of them, I honestly find myself questioning if odds makers in Vegas even watch Thursday night football. Hell, maybe they don’t? Thursday night games are to quality football what Aqua Velva is to a raging alcoholic – it’ll tide over your cravings in a moment of desperation but the act of consuming it might make you brain dead and will make you question every single choice you’ve ever made in your life. If I were a scary as fuck mobster making book out of a casino that looked like an upscale ride at Disneyland, I wouldn’t watch fucking Thursday night football either. The heartwarming Tyrod Taylor origin story will continue on this season, but not this week as Tom Brady and the real as penitentiary steel Patriots come to town with a “fuck you” chip on their shoulder the size of Roger Goodell’s chubby white ass. Rex Ryan and the Bills talk a lot of shit about hating the Pats and that makes sense, because New England has whipped Buffalo’s ass 21 of the last 23 times the teams have played. Don’t expect much to change on Sunday.
BEARS (+2) over Cardinals: Week 2 also brings fans an interesting matchup between arguably the worst fake good team in the NFL and what might be the league’s best fake bad team. Okay, that’s a bald-faced lie – there is absolutely nothing interesting about this matchup whatsoever unless you’re wagering on which will give out first, Carson Palmer’s surgically reconstructed knee or Jake Cutler’s surgically reconstructed “try not to be an asshole on national television” gene. For the record, my money is definitely on Cutler turning back into a petulant douchebag whining bitch by mid-October. The Bears defense is pure nightmare fuel for Chicago fans, but in a battle of terminally boring ball control offenses – I’ll take a rejuvenated man-beast like Matt Forte over a guy coming off an actual fucking gunshot wound who hasn’t put together a good season in four mutherfucking years. This would be a different game in Arizona and the Cardinals would probably roll if they started rookie David Johnson at halfback instead of a burned out retread like Chris Johnson. Sadly the game is in Chicago and Bruce Arians hates Twitter, selfie sticks and millennials, so the Bears should win a tight one.
Titans (-1) over BROWNS:
Folks, we’ve all heard the warnings – don’t jump to conclusions after the first week, don’t judge a team’s performance by the boxscore and don’t read too much into data produced by an extremely small sample size. Now let me ask you a question – if the NFL somehow allowed the Browns to start both McNown and Manziel at quarterback simultaneously in a 12 man offense, do you think they’d have a snowball’s chance in hell of outplaying Marcus Mariota this Sunday? Right. The NFL season may be a grueling marathon, but Mariota is clearly the motherfucking truth and he’s facing off against a team that just lost by 21 goddamn points to the objectively terrible New York fucking Jets. Sometimes betting on football is as easy as rolling with the QB who isn’t covered in the stench of failure.
Chargers (+3.5) over BENGALS:
Ladies and gentlemen; despite all logic, reason and the natural order of professional football, one of these two teams will finish Sunday afternoon at 2-0. There is no way to avoid this now and barring a tie, absolutely nothing that can be done to prevent this heinous hate crime against the sanctity of the game we all so deeply cherish. The only question that remains is would you rather put your money on an emotionless, robotic ginger with absolutely no athletic talent whatsoever, or a deranged fundie hayseed with eight children who once endorsed Rick Santorum for President of the United States? Hey, I didn’t say this would be easy folks and this might be Stockholm syndrome talking after he carved up the Lions defense like a Sunday ham last week – but I’ll take the bible-thumping shotgun wizard if it’s all the same to you.
Rams (-3.5) over RACIAL SLURS:
Welcome to the portion of the column that promises to be easiest to write each and every week this NFL season. Here, I gleefully pick against pinhead racist dipshit Dan Snyder and his mutherfucking dumpster fire of a franchise every single week, regardless of opponent. But enough about bloviating, bigoted billionaires; let’s talk about how this game relates to my favorite NFL team, the hapless Detroit Lions. Did you know that Lions 2014 number 10 overall draft pick Eric Ebron is starting to look like another massive bust, in a long line of massive busts, for a franchise that thinks it’s smarter than everyone else despite all overwhelming evidence to the contrary? Did you know that Rams superstar devourer of worlds and 2014 Defensive Rookie of the Year, DT Aaron Donald was also drafted in 2014? His draft position, dare you ask? 13th overall and two picks behind Ebron. Please excuse me while I crawl into a dark alley and fry my cerebral cortex out by huffing paint thinner.
Falcons (+2.5) over GIANTS:
Speaking of mind numbing, boneheaded mistakes perpetrated by people who think they’re way smarter than they actually are – the New York Giants return home to face off against the surprisingly decent Atlanta Falcons this Sunday afternoon. No word yet on whether or not coach Tom Coughlin and QB Eli Manning will actually allow the Giants offense to score this week, but you can sure as shit bet that won’t be a problem for Atlanta’s superhuman pass catcher and suspected X-man, Julio Jones. The Giants defense looked impressive at times against a Dallas squad determined to shoot itself in the foot as often as possible, but that isn’t going to cut it against a relentless serial killer like Jones. New York’s pass rush sucks monkey nuts, Tom Coughlin might actually be going senile while we all watch in real time on live television, and Matt Ryan easily clears the “better than Eli fucking Manning, son” barrier at the all important quarterback position. Atlanta should win going away and send the entire city of New York into fits of pigskin panic.
Ravens (-6.5) over RAIDERS:
If you’re being honest with yourself, you probably know that the Baltimore Ravens are going to win this game in an absolute laugher despite being without All Pro Scumbacker Terrell Suggs and being saddled with Joe mutherfucking Flacco at Quarterback. Thanks to countless opinion pieces by aging meatheads who get paid obscene amounts of money to talk about things like leadership, intangibles and that one time Joe Flacco miraculously turned into a reasonable facsimile of Tom Brady long enough to win a Superbowl – you also know that Flacco is not currently an elite quarterback, but he could become one again at any moment and thus it extremely important that you watch every single movement Joe Flacco makes so you can be the first to declare that he is in fact, elite again. As a random aside, would anyone outside the city limits of Oakland California actually care if we swapped the Raiders out of the NFC West for Ohio State until such a time as Mark Davis agrees to stop cutting his hair with a weed whacker and a large cereal bowl? I didn’t think so.
Dolphins (-6) over JAGUARS:
Since the Jaguars are in fact, objectively fucking terrible as a football team and the Dolphins did in fact beat a team just like them when they eked out a terminally boring win against the Washington Racial Slurs last week – I feel no obligation whatsoever to discuss my pick in this dreadfuckingawfuly shitty match-up. I would instead like to devote this portion of the column to reminding Blake Bortles that it is an extremely fucking poor idea to insult your own fan base when they’re paying hundreds of greenbacks to watch you overthrow receivers by as much as twenty feet. Thus far your career has added up to exactly jack and shit Blake, which is pretty bad news for you because they just carried jack out of the stadium on a stretcher after you laid him out across the middle on third down – again. The fact that you were right and that most of your fans are mouthbreathing mental midgets whose greatest accomplishment in life will be figuring out how to sneak a tall boy into the stadium today, is largely meaningless tiger. Welcome to the NFL Mr. Bortles; try not to get too comfy because with game film like yours, I have a funny feeling you won’t be here for too much longer.
EAGLES (-5) over Cowboys:
At this point folks, I am honestly incapable of telling you whether Chip Kelly is a maverick pigskin genius who’s well on his way to revolutionizing modern football or a stark raving bus loonie who somehow lucked into a job controlling nearly every aspect of a billion dollar sports entertainment franchise. What I can tell you is that there’s probably no in between option available here; either Kelly is wholly an egotistical, isolated weirdo who has completely ruined a promising young Eagles team or he’s just a guy struggling to get inferior minds to grasp the proper way to execute his assault on dinosaur football. The Eagles and Cowboys will both tell you that this is just one game in a long NFL season. Those mutherfuckers are lying – this matchup is the first open referendum on the madness of King Chip and if the Eagles can’t beat a bumbling Cowboys squad playing without its best player in WR Dez Bryant, than the goddamn pitchforks and knifes will be out for Chip Kelly in Philly before the Flyers break training camp to start fucking hockey season.
Seahawks (+3.5) over PACKERS:
So let’s review shall we? Seattle’s star strong safety and the human blunt force trauma wound who puts the “boom” in the Legion of Boom is holding out over less money than team owner Paul Allen spends on hookers and blow in a single quarter. Their star halfback’s mother is taking open shots at the offensive coordinator’s competence as a play caller in the national media. Finally, savior and starting quarterback Russell Wilson believes he talks directly to God and that magic water can help you prevent concussions. In other words, the Seattle Seahawks are not-so secretly every bit as dysfunctional as you’d expect a team run by a noted college football terrorist to be, and there’s a non-zero percent chance they could implode spectacularly at any given moment. Fortunately for those of us who hate the Green Bay Packers with every fiber of our being, I don’t think that moment is actually going to happen this week. The Packers are literally starting a street free agent WR the Giants didn’t even want on the roster against (most of) the best goddamn secondary in the NFL. Even without Chancellor, the Seahawks should have no problem containing the Packer’s receivers if they move professional shit-talking, career assassin Richard Sherman inside on Randall Cobb. The game should be close, and Aaron Rogers is capable of willing his team to a win here; but I think the Seahawks are fully aware that the mother of all shitstorms will descend on Seattle if they open the season 0-2 under the present circumstances and they’ll get the job done this Sunday night to keep the angry mobs at bay for the time being.
Jets (+7) over COLTS:
Never in the deepest, darkest depths of my tortured subconscious, did I imagine a scenario in which I’d be eagerly awaiting a week 2 Jets/Colts match-up so I could establish which team was a real playoff contender and whether or not to bet against Andrew Luck in earnest. With that having been said, the putrid week one performance by the Colts and the Jets surprising dismantling of a pretty good Cleveland defense leaves us in this precarious position. Between literally unconscionable play calling, a general failure to execute much of anything on the offensive line and swirling rumors that coach Chuck Pagano might be on his way out of town as soon as the season is over, the Colts are facing an actual moment of serious crisis – in week two, against the mutherfucking New York Jets. I think Indianapolis will eventually win the game, but there’s just no way I can lay seven points against a shockingly competent Jets team after the Colts shit the bed worse than Spud in Trainspotting last week either.
And there you have it folks, my step by step guide to gambling on Week 2 NFL action for degenerate disciples of the everlasting wager. Remember the journey my friends – it’ll give you something to pass the time while you’re waiting for the doctors to stitch your hand back up and trying to explain why its Matt Stafford’s fault you put your fist through a 32 inch television screen.
Last Week: 8-7-1
- Nina Illingworth