This is a dangerous time to allow sports writers anything but a few liberties with their words. What with the petulant children of the NBA still stamping their feet and arguing over a few spilt dollars and some decimal points. The ungodly greed that has governed this sport for years is costing us games again and as a collective, we, sports writers tend to grow weird when forced to watch nothing but hockey for 183 consecutive days without reprieve.
We are a crude people by nature, described by our own kind as a "rude and brainless sub-culture of fascist drunks," tamed only by a constant score and the casual appearance of violence. Our attention spans are short and when unsatisfied and left to our own devices we grow agitated and tend to point fingers at the powers that be, like the dumb jackals clawing away at the bargaining table of the NBA.
After wrangling 57 per cent of the gross revenue out of the last collective bargaining agreement, stubborn players are unwilling to sacrifice any more than five-and-half percentage points to get this deal done. Owners want a straight 50/50 split and the two-and-half point difference totals about $500 million over the next six years. That is the equivalent of what the players would lose in salary throwing even a third of this season to the wind so settling now at a straight split would cover whatever losses they’ve already incurred letting this boondoggle drag on. Hostage taking is a serious business when your leverage, the good will of the fans always looking to demonize a corporate owner, grows thinner with each passing basketball-less day. At some point, probably when we have to decide between watching the criminal blood-letting of the Arena Football League or another meaningless game of early season hockey, it will wear completely.
Until then we at least have the NFL which is what we intended to talk about today before getting sidetracked by the awful dumbness of professional basketball. Yes, this is the PlayBook, a weekly judge, jury and executioner of sport and a place of high drama for those of us with a well-documented weakness for Fun.
Fun indeed. Let’s not worry about the dull bore of a lost basketball season and instead turn our attention to the fun playing out on our television screens every Sunday sometimes for 10 or 14 hours at a time. The gambling season is upon us and the fat is already in the fire; we might as well get right down to it and start picking this weeks’ lines. Let’s make some bad decisions:
Atlanta (-7) over Colts
Covering lines has not been the Colts specialty and they got lit up by a borderline Titans team last week. Without Peyton they are at 0-8 and you have to figure why not 0-9?
Cleveland (+11) over Houston
The Real McCoy is suspect at best, but Houston has been relying on Arian Foster and the run since the get go; if Cleveland has yet to figure this out, they have bigger problems Colt McCoy.
Miami (+4) over Kansas City
The Chiefs blew out the Raiders two weeks ago and managed to not lose against a struggling Philip Rivers. But are they any good? No. Neither are the Dolphins, but this is the trap game of the week; take Miami and the points.
Arizona (-2.5) over St. Louis
This changes if Bradford is back in the rotation, but the Rams don’t have much going for them otherwise.
Cincinnati (+3) over Tennessee
The Titans are a better team than most think but bulldozing over the Colts does not make you a three point favorite against the Red Rifle and a 5-2 Bengals team.
Green Bay (-5.5) over San Diego
The Chargers are floundering behind an uncharacteristically bad Philip Rivers and the Packers have covered most of their double digit lines handily; five and half should not be a problem.
San Francisco (-3.5) over Washington
The Niners have been on a tear and the Red Skins are hiring replacement players out of the stands. This line could be 4 points higher and we’d still buy in
Denver (+8) over Oakland
This line is completely ridiculous; it should be something like 1 or a push. Oakland looked thoroughly confused their last time out and the Tebow experiment in Denver has yielded mixed results. When in doubt, take the points.
New Orleans (-8) over Tampa Bay
This might be another take the points type scenario; coming off a 62-7 win over the Colts the Saints looked awful against a then winless Rams team last week. But we’ll say that was a fluke and the Drew Brees air attack is back on point this week.
New York Giants (+8.5) over New England
New England might as well march out the practice sleds for all the defense they put up and the Giants can air it out. This will be a shootout.
Philadelphia (-7.5) over Chicago
The Eagles are starting to play like the team we figured they’d be and so are the Bears; the difference is that one team is much better than the other.
Quick Slants: New York (+2) over Buffalo, Pittsburgh (-3) over Baltimore and Seattle (+11.5) over Dallas