College and Pro Football: This Weekend's Best Bets

0-6 last week. Not much else needs to be said.

It was a trip down memory lane, as last weekend I reprised memories of 2013, a season in which I was historically awful at picking winners of football games against the spread. Now I'm totally freaked out, to where I look at the board and see literal no games I like, mainly because I think whatever I think is wrong.

And yet, I'm not smart enough o go opposite my gut. Hopefully, all of you are. Let's get to the picks, but first a shout out to Texans fan Natalie for the best football related Halloween costume....

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First College Football Playoff Ranking Is Out, What Does It Mean?

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Since their inception, however many decades ago, college football rankings have been inherently flawed. They've been constrained by everything from the "watch habits" of their constituency to their early season release leading to uninformed narratives.

We always thought to ourselves "Man, wouldn't it be nice to have a college football poll that started at least halfway through the season, and had a constituency that was mandated to watch at least some of the games?"

Not coincidentally, we've also been clamoring for a college football playoff for decades as well.

Well, guess what? NOW WE HAVE BOTH!

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Zapruder Analysis Of Portly Chevy Exec Butchering World Series MVP Presentation (VIDEO)

...y'know, technology and stuff
If you're wondering where baseball ranks on the compelling, blog-worthy content scale for me (as a writer) right now, here is all you need to know:

As I type this, we are less than an hour removed from the first Game 7 road win in a World Series since 1979 (the "We Are Family" Pittsburgh Pirates!). The 2014 World Series' Game 7 came down to the final out, with the suddenly dynastic San Francisco Giants (three titles in five years) beating the small market Kansas City Royals 3-2, with the Royals leaving the tying run on third base to end the game.

Series MVP Madison Bumgarner closed out the win with five innings of relief to run his series record to 3-0 with a microscopic ERA of 0.43. (All the other Giants starters had a combined ERA of 9.92.) It was truly an historic individual performance, and a dramatic ending to a World Series.

And still, I was cobbling together a post about the first College Football Playoff rankings instead, because baseball just doesn't do it for me these days (and gets less traffic than football year round in Houston).

Thankfully, though, there is a prize for the World Series MVP. It's a Chevy truck, and fortunately someone has to present the truck to Bumgarner. And lucky for all of us, Chevy chose Rikk Wilde to handle the honors.

Who? Rikk Wilde, that's who....

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Gambling! NBA Season Win Total Best Bets

The 2013-2014 wagering year was a strange one for me personally.

By the way, for your information, the "wagering year" is defined as the last week of August (early season college football bets, season win total and futures bets in college and NFL) through late June (NBA Finals, the occasional Tiger Woods wager back in the day). July and August are the "wagering offseason" (baseball, soccer and the occasional awards show -- yeah, you heard me! Don't judge!).

So back to 2013-2014. In football wagering last season, I was a mess, barely cracking the 40 percent mark in my NFL and college football Best Bets I posted here, to the point where I created a a quasi-Mendoza Line benchmark for negativity called the Pendergast Line. Yeah, it was BAD.

However, go look at my NBA season win total picks for last season. Go ahead, look at them! No, I implore you, LOOK AT THEM!

I was a goddamn BEAST!!

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Texans 30, Titans 16: 4 Winners, 4 Losers

Photo by Groovehouse
Last week, on the post game show for the Texans' 30-23 Monday night loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, as we were trying to assess just exactly where the Texans rank among NFL teams, my colleague Mike Meltser had a general observation that I thought was accurate:

In the NFL, there are about five or six teams that are definitively bad football teams, and about the same amount that are unequivocally good football teams. The remaining 20 or so teams are all in the middle and are separated by a handful of "turning point" type plays throughout the season.

Very true, and for what it's worth, I'd put Oakland, Jacksonville, the Jets, Washington, and Tennessee in that first category (with about 3 or 4 teams knocking on the door), and I'd put Denver, New England, and Dallas in the latter category (with like 7 or 8 teams shuffling in and out of a league-wide top five all season long).

On Sunday, if nothing else, we got confirmation that the Texans reside firmly in the meaty part of the curve, one of the most predictable of the middle couple dozen teams. Why are they predictable? Well, it's pretty simple...

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College and Pro Football: This Weekend's Best Bets

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Parker Anderson
Before we get to the Best Bets for the week, I'll use this space (and perhaps a lengthier column in the future) to salute the recently laid off employees at the soon-to-be-sold-and-renamed-and-lobotomized Comcast Sports Net Houston.

As you all are probably aware, painfully so if you're a non-Comcast subscriber, the fledgling Astros- and Rockets-owned network was never able to get distribution traction in Houston but, after a lengthy bankruptcy proceeding, is on the verge of being sold to AT&T/DirecTV fans rebranded as Root Sports Houston.

If you had a chance to watch the CSN product, then you know what I'm about to say -- the product itself was amazingly well done, as the slew of Emmy nominations for the network indicate. The crew there, on air and behind the scenes, are some of the best, most creative people I've worked with since getting into radio. I was fortunate to be a panelist several times on Sports Talk Live, and the place always had an air of fun and teamwork.

The issues that led to the network's demise were certainly not content-based; they were the product of a muddled distribution strategy and ownership partners with drastically divergent agendas. Again, the "why" of all this is another column for another time.

I just wanted to use a few paragraphs here to wish the best to all of those folks leaving CSN (and, many of them, likely leaving Houston), and thank them for making me better at what I do.

I think this seven minutes of video, a farewell between Bill Doleman and Calvin Murphy, perfectly sums up the culture of a network and a crew that deserved so much better than what they got...

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Judge in Adrian Peterson Case Will Not Be Recused

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Mike Morbeck
If you're somebody who wants the child abuse trial of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson to begin as quickly as possible (a subset of people that happens to include one Mr. Adrian Peterson), then you received the news you wanted to hear on Wednesday in the decision whether or not to recuse the judge initially assigned to the case.

In a Conroe courtroom yesterday, it was announced that the district attorney's request to have Montgomery County state District Judge Kelly Case removed from overseeing the Peterson trial would be denied.

Any trial (or in this case, the process leading up to the trial) is a series of wins and losses, so who won and who lost this round? More important (to most casual followers of the case), what does this mean to Adrian Peterson?

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Brian Cushing to Miss Titans Game, Possibly More With Sore Knee

Photo by Groovehouse
From the rubble of the 2013 season, the rebuild of the Houston Texans was going to begin with the construction of a fearsome front seven on defense.

You already had a built-in starting point with the best defensive player in football in J.J. Watt. From there, you unleash a nuclear pass rush by using the first overall pick in the draft on "generational talent" Jadeveon Clowney to play outside linebacker. And then, with the return of inside linebacker Brian Cushing from his knee injury, the middle of the field would have its own (potential) Pro Bowler to handle things.

It was all gonna be so awesome. Or so the story goes. But these knees. These goddamn knees.

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Complementary Football: How the Texans Bury Themselves Each Week

Photo by Marco Torres
Bill O'Brien loves him some "complementary football," Obie-speak for the optimal combination of offensive, defensive and special teams proficiency to bring the hometown team a victory each Sunday (and God willing, the occasional Thursday or Monday, the last two games notwithstanding).

For these 2014 Houston Texans, complementary football is almost a necessity. Against 90 percent of the league, this team has to have each facet of the machine running smoothly in order to emerge with a victory. For good teams with great quarterbacks, complementary football is a luxury, because the superhero under center can mask a lot of flaws.

The Houston Texans right now are neither a good football team nor employing a great quarterback (or even an average quarterback, for that matter), therefore.....COMPLEMENTARY FOOTBALL, YO!!

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Steelers 30, Texans 23: 4 Winners, 4 Losers

At least Bill O'Brien is finally giving you the fire you've been waiting for, Texans fan.
Ask NFL players what they enjoy about playing prime-time, nationally televised football games, and one of the first things they'll all inevitably bring up is the fact that they know all their peers are watching.

There's added motivation in showing off your wares to the other 30 idle teams around the league, and I would imagine that as an NFL player, when you have two prime-time games in a ten-day span, you would like to look back and say to yourself, "Man, we showed the nation what we're all about."

If you're a Houston Texan, you hope you can look back at the final gun last night in Pittsburgh and say, "That was Houston Texans football."

Well, for better or worse, after an exasperating opening act last Thursday night against the Colts and on the heels of a 30-23 loss to the Steelers last night in Pittsburgh in which the Texans gave up 24 points in the final three minutes of the first half (TWENTY FOUR!), we can all look back and say it together:

That was Houston Texans football. Unfortunately.

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