This Weekend's Best Bets: God Bless the NFL, Week 2
It's all about perspective.
Know when to hold 'em and all that.
You can look at my performance last week in this space one of two ways (and depending on whether or not you decided to follow my picks, I bet I can determine exactly which way you choose to view it):
"Sean, you went 2-4 on your picks, including losing all three of your bets against rookies or first-time NFL starters. God, you are terrible!"
"Hey, Sean, you went 2-4. That's a nice one-game improvement over your 1-5 performance in Week 1! WE CAN BUILD ON THIS!"
Ever the optimist (and having not really wagered all that much in Week 2 because it's still early in the season and I was shellshocked by how horrendous I was in Week 1), I choose the latter.
Let's BUILD ON THIS, people!!
Here are my selections for this weekend:
Ole Miss +3 over TEXAS
It's been quite a week up on the Forty Acres. After giving up about half a jillion yards on the ground to BYU last weekend (Mormons!), Mack Brown pulled the plug on the Manny Diaz Era, firing his defensive coordinator and replacing him with his old defensive coordinator, Greg Robinson. This is like when the Headshrinkers hired a decrepit, end-of-the-line Captain Lou Albano to help them get over the top in WWE in 1994. The good news for the Longhorns is that the Headshrinkers actually went on to win the WWE titles! The bad news is that this is real life, not scripted sports drama (although the Big 12 in 2013 is certainly the equivalent of the Quebecers in 1994).
On most job applications, you'd have to put your last three places of employment, and if Robinson were to have filled out an application for this gig, his last three jobs would look like this:
1. 2005-2008, Syracuse head coach, 10-37 record
2. 2009-2010, Michigan defensive coordinator, 82nd and 110th ranked defenses in two seasons
3. 2013, Analyst on the Longhorn Network
(By the way, I'm pretty sure with a work history like this, you'd have to find three relatives to put down as a reference.)
So while the Longhorn Network is still struggling to serve the function of an actual television network, it is serving the dual purpose of providing a temp pool for Mack Brown to dip into when he grows tired of his assistant coaches.
Also, Case McCoy might figure prominently in this game, which means I would take Ole Miss even if they were laying three points.
Boston College +14 over USC
So after seeing his team lose to Washington State 10-7, USC head coach Lane Kiffin was asked about a rumor of a "players only" meeting that took place early this week. He denied knowing anything about that.
Meanwhile, when USC wide receiver Marquis Lee was asked about the "players only" meeting and if Kiffin knew about it, he had this to say:
"Kiffin don't know," Lee told the Daily News. "Players [only]. Players. Kiffin don't know nothing about it. No coaches [were allowed]. We did have that meeting. ... Now [Kiffin] knows."
Yeah, this should end pretty well. I wouldn't cry for Lane Kiffin, though. He will have failed as the Raiders head coach and gotten the Tennessee job, and bailed on Tennessee after one year for the USC job. He's been horrible at USC so history tells us he will be coaching the Cowboys in 2014, for sure.
Kansas/RICE OVER 59 1/2
I'm very tempted to take Rice - 6 1/2 against the number here as well, after all, the Owls beat Kansas in Lawrence last season, and that was early in the season when Rice was playing like garbage. However, I feel more strongly about the total on this game for a few reasons:
1. Neither team is very good defensively. (It's early this season, but last season Rice was 82nd and Kansas 116th.)
2. Kansas has switched to a hurry up offense this season, which means plays, plays, and more plays.
3. Both teams are at least competent at quarterback (Taylor McHargue for Rice, Jake Heaps for Kansas).
4. Rice's 31 points against A&M translate to roughly 163 points against Kansas.
5. I managed to make it through an entire analysis of a Kansas game with no wise cracks about Charlie Weis and pie eating contests. That has to count for something.
Jaguars +6 over RAIDERS
The Raiders shouldn't be favored by six points over a flag football team of elementary school custodians. Or the Jaguars. Well, maybe the Jaguars. Nah, I'll take the Jaguars, but mainly because Chad Henne should start this week.
EAGLES -7 1/2 over Chargers
I think there are times when the final score of a game doesn't necessarily give you an accurate takeaway on the true difference between the two teams. There is more context in the ebb and flow of a game than the final score. On paper, the Chargers lost to the Texans on a last second field goal 31-28. However, anyone who watched all sixty minutes of that game knows that once the Texans started to focus defensively, the Chargers limitations on offense (namely, a pedestrian running game and no real threats on the outside) were exposed. The last 26 minutes looked like the Chargers we expect to see all season, so I'm more inclined, with the limited sample that we have, to believe that's who they are. Now they go across the country to play an early East coast game against a team brimming with confidence who plays with some pace offensively in the first home game of the Chip Kelly Era. Bad times for San Diego.
Lions/CARDINALS OVER 48 1/2
Both teams played in games in Week 1 that went over 50 points scored. The Lions look to have added another dimension to their offense with Reggie Bush finally cast in his proper role as a 15 carry/6 catch do-everything guy. The Cardinals now have a real offensive mind as their head coach (Bruce Arians) and a quarterback that at least you could pick out of a police lineup (Carson Palmer). This feels like one of those "forgotten, late Sunday games that winds up being a very entertaining shootout." We hope so.
Last week: 2-4
Season total: 3-9
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 Yahoo! Sports Radio from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and nationally on the Yahoo! Sports Radio network Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon CST. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.