Six and ten! Six and ten!!! After a winning record last year, despite a weak playoff showing, I kick off the 2022 campaign by handing in a mediocre six and ten performance. That might be good enough to finish second in the AFC South or NFC East, but we are here to make some noise and six and ten won’t cut it. I promise to be better going forward. (Side note: I did hit a special bet at +250 to mitigate some of our losses). Given last week’s mediocrity, this week’s tiers are named in honor of some other mediocre things in our life ranked from least to most mediocre. (Warning: Contents will be hot!)
Tier 1: Game of Thrones (Season Record: 2-1)
Ravens -3.5 over Dolphins
Bills -9.5 over Titans
Giants -1.5 over Panthers
Before I catch all the hands, let me throw out the disclaimer that I have not read the George R.R. Martin series, nor was I able to finish the television series. The case against Game of Thrones being mediocre is a simple one: excellent writing early in the series, an intricately built fantasy world, tons of critical acclaim, and eight seasons and a spin-off series in an age where there is no shortage of content to hold your attention. Here’s the rebuttal. A truly great show doesn’t need the “early in the series” qualifier. Tolkien built a better world decades ago. The series hallmarks, death and boobies, covered up a litany of stale character arcs and overly complex plot lines. Lastly, and most importantly, the ending of the series was so widely panned that the series’ rewatchability has been Ned Starked.
The Ravens made me feel wonderfully about my Jets’ worst record (9/1 odds) preseason bet on Sunday and they return home to play a Dolphins team also garnering lots of praise after an opening week win. Baltimore still has work to do in the running game, largely due to lingering injuries from 2021, but they are a contender and Lamar Jackson is going to return to his MVP level of play. Buffalo looked like the best team in football on opening night. The defense is nasty, and Josh Allen is an unstoppable force. They will beat a Titans team that’s on the decline by double digits. However, if you are a little skittish about that big spread, can I interest you in a same-game parlay? Bills -2.5, Gabe Davis touchdown and total points under 51.5 can currently be parlayed at +468 on FanDuel. Former Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll is off to a hot start in the Big Apple, and I’d be shocked if they don’t keep it rolling against a toothless Panthers team. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt ran wild on the Carolina defense, and Saquon Barkley should do the same.
Tier 2: Starbucks Coffee (Season Record: 1-2)
Chiefs -4.5 over Chargers
Lions -1.5 over Commanders
Steelers +2.5 over Patriots
Here’s the thing. Starbucks coffee isn’t bad. I drink it fairly frequently. I’ll stan for the chocolate cream cold brew. But, when it comes to just plain, black coffee? You can do better. Here’s a list of one establishment from every city I’ve ever lived that has better coffee than Starbucks: Chappy’s Deli (Montgomery, Al), Walker’s Coffee Shop and Pub (Athens, Ga), Cups Espresso Café (Clinton, Ms), Lucy’s Coffee and Tea (Birmingham, Al (sadly closed)), Bird & Bean Coffee House (Dothan, Al), Southern Girl Coffee (Oxford, Al), Riverbend Roastery (Richmond, Va). That’s just one coffee house from seven cities with better coffee than Starbucks. For pure black coffee, Dunkin’ is better than Starbucks. If it wasn’t for all the sugar, whip, glitz, and glam, we would all recognize that Starbucks is popular because it’s a) ubiquitous and b) dessert masquerading as coffee.
Thursday night football is going to be an absolute banger this week. If you aren’t going to watch any other football this weekend, do yourself a favor and watch tonight’s game. Mahomes and Herbert will be slinging the rock all over Arrowhead. Speaking of Arrowhead, it’s the main reason I think Kansas City covers this line. Arrowhead confers the greatest homefield advantage in the NFL and on a short week, in a primetime slot, this effect will be amplified. The Lions stormed back to steal a backdoor cover from the Eagles on Sunday. It may be foolish to buy them based on that. They did give up nearly 450 yards of offense last week, but I don’t think the Commanders have nearly the same firepower as Philadelphia. Pittsburgh gutted out an overtime win against the Bengals last week and they get to stay at home for the Patriots this week. Mac Jones is injured, New England’s offense is a mess, and they have a defensive coordinator calling plays. Tell me again why New England’s favored?
Tier 3: Adulthood (Season Record: 0-4)
Bucs -2.5 over Saints
Vikings +1.5 over Eagles
Packers -9.5 over Bears
Broncos -9.5 over Texans
Adulthood doesn’t suck. It has plenty of perks. For example, I’m staying up until midnight writing this even though I have to work tomorrow. Why? Because I’m an adult and I can. Sometimes I eat Oreos for dinner. Why? Because I’m an adult and I can. However, there are so many wonderful things to be said for being Peter Pan. For one, bills do absolutely suck. Getting older makes those free decisions (like eating Oreos for dinner) have tangible consequences. You also never just magically get four months out of the year free of all responsibilities or obligations. For my Yelp review, I would give adulthood a solid 5.3/10. Definitely not a ringing endorsement.
Last week this tier was titled “Swing States” because the tier was likely to make or break the weekend. I went bust going 0-4 in the middle tier of games. Here’s for the redemption arc. The Saints had to overcome a 16-point deficit late to beat the lowly Falcons and the Bucs defense looked dominant on Sunday night. New Orleans has had Tom Brady’s number since he arrived in Tampa Bay, but I like TB12 in this one, especially with a rejuvenated Julio Jones to mitigate the Chris Godwin loss. D’Andre Swift torched Philly’s run defense last week and I expect Dalvin Cook to do the same this week. The Vikings announced their arrival to the NFC North contention party last week, and will continue to be loud and proud on Monday night. Green Bay looked bad last week, but Aaron Rodgers owns the Bears. Also, the game is at Lambeau, so it won’t be like the football version of goofy golf. If you can’t stomach the -9.5, how about a little parlay for you? Packers -0.5, Ravens +3.5, Giants +7.5 for just better than even odds. What about that doesn’t hit? Denver was one of the biggest disappointments of Week 1, but I think they bounce back against a Houston team that is scrappy but lacks the ability to play with playoff-caliber NFL teams. Most of the Broncos’ issues last week were self-imposed and correctable things.
Tier 4: Miller Lite (Season Record: 1-2)
Seahawks +8.5 over 49ers
Bengals -7.5 over Cowboys
Cardinals +5.5 over Raiders
Miller Lite isn’t a bottomfeeder beer like Icehouse or Natty or Keystone, but it isn’t good either. Can you drink a Miller Lite at a tailgate and not be mistaken for a broke college student? Sure. It’s significantly worse than the other beers in its class though (Bud Light, Coors Light, Michelob Ultra), and it’s a prime illustration that more isn’t always more. If this is the result of triple the hops, then maybe just keep the regular amount next time.
I’m not buying Seattle as a legitimate threat yet, nor am I selling all my 49ers stock (picked them to win the NFC West), but with a line this high I feel no qualms about making San Fran prove it to me. The Cincinnati-Dallas line might be high, but the Dallas situation is concerning, and Joe Burrow won’t go Five-Sixths Delhomme again. Arizona looked awful last week, but I’m not convinced Las Vegas looked that much better. The Cardinals inexplicable blitzed Pat Mahomes on more than half of their defensive snaps, which is a horrible strategy. It’s not the worst strategy to employ against Derek Carr though. As long as they can find someone to keep Davante Adams from killing them, I see no reason why this game shouldn’t be close.
Tier 5: Applebee’s (Season Record: 2-1)
Browns -6.5 over Jets
Jaguars +4.5 over Colts
Falcons +10.5 over Rams
Of the five examples of mediocrity, Applebee’s is the one I feel most comfortable declaring objectively bad. There’s no real reason to eat at an Applebee’s unless you have a coupon. Plus, a man made a song basically illustrating that he was a blue-collar country boy, which made him as fancy as Applebee’s. Applebee’s turned around and inexplicably launched a marketing campaign off this song. On the spectrum from stupidity to genius, this is at one pole or the other with no in-between.
Do I feel confident relying on Jacoby Brissett to beat an NFL team by a touchdown? Not exactly. However, I do feel confident in Nick Chubb gashing the Jets defense, and I’m not sure the Jets qualify as an NFL team. Maybe Jacksonville is just going to be the team I can’t quit for inexplicable reasons this year, but I don’t like this Colts team and I feel good laying 4.5 points on Trevor Lawrence in his home stadium. The Falcons over the Rams is just a classic, “I dare you to bet the Rams coming off a blowout home loss” move by Vegas. Atlanta showed some bite for 3.2 quarters against New Orleans before the wheels fell off. This has “backdoor cover” written on it in all caps.
Season Record: 6-10
Special Bet Record: 1-2
Cover Photo Courtesy of Mike Stobe/Getty Images