Playbook: Trial By Fire

By Fraser Lockerbie

Tim Tebow, Gambling's Golden Rule and this week's football picks

We’re sticking to straight lines this week after barely breaking the .500 mark with last week’s picks. One of the hard and fast rules of this business is to win at least two out the three bets you make and if you don’t with any sort of regularity it’s time to consider settling back into the relative slog of everyday life.

Selling plastic patio furniture to middle-aged commuters doesn’t seem so bad when you consider the alternative of being down ten-grand in an unfamiliar part of town. People who routinely take the trial by fire approach to gambling usually get burned and nine times out of ten end up on the outskirts of Denver babbling uncontrollably about a Jets team that was brutally flogged on National television by a 6 point underdog and a greased-up, God-fearing little weasel like Tim Tebow.

This week’s lines:

Cincinnati (+7) over Baltimore

The 2011 Ravens are honing a rep for being tough on tough teams and soft on weak ones; they’ve handled the Jets, the Texans and Steelers twice but dropped games to the Jags, the Titans and the Seahawks. The Bengals fall in with the former group and even without AJ Green should be able to keep it within a touchdown against a touch-and-go Joe Flacco.

Oakland (PK) over Minnesota

Welcome back to the world Carson Palmer. Guy threw a yard shy of 300 and connected on 14 of 20, twice for TDs to Denarius Moore. There was a pick in there but the Raiders showed signs of life outside of Darren McFadden.

New York (-6) over Philadelphia

Consider this: RB Ray Rice has more completions than Vince Young this year and just as many attempts.

New England (-15) over Kansas City

Tyler Palko’s Professional History:

2007: Undrafted free agent signed by the Saints. Thrice released and signed to the practice squad.

2008: Absent from Professional Football

2009: Signed by the Cardinals, waived on final day of preseason. Signed with the California Redwoods, waived on the final day of preseason. Signed with the Montreal Allouettes to the practice roster, released to sign with Pittsburgh as a 4th string QB, released after one week.

2010: Signed by the Chiefs, released and resigned to the practice squad.

2011: Upgraded to the Chiefs 53-man roster. Has played in the final minutes of blowouts accumulating 47 totals yards. Will start Sunday against Tom Brady…

Buffalo (+1.5) over Miami

Miami has won two in a row against the Chiefs and the Red Skins; Buffalo has lost two in a row against the Cowboys and the Jets. For those keeping score at home that’s a bad team beating up on two bad teams and average team getting beat by two average teams. Let’s take a shot in the dark here and say the average team beats the bad team.

Jacksonville (-1) over Cleveland

The dirty little secret in Jacksonville? Their defense is good. And will be borderline great against the rag-tag Colt McCoy crew from Cleveland.

Green Bay (-14) over Tampa Bay

…-15, -16, -17, -18.

Carolina (+7) over Detroit

Detroit’s primary asset for defending the pass is their rush which Scrambling Cam can beat to find Steve Smith open down field. With no secondary solution, a banged-up QB and a few missing running backs, Detroit will have to get pretty creative to cover 7.

St. Louis (-1.5) over Seattle

Throw logic out the window on this one and every other Seahawks game for the rest of the season. They kept it close against the Falcons, ran the score against the Giants and shocked everyone in the stands in Baltimore. But they’ve also been ripped by mid-pack teams like the Dallas and Cincinnati and threw in a 3-6 piddler against the Browns for good measure. But back-to-back quality starts from Marshawn Lynch take out the element of surprise and I’ve got a serious weakness for betting the Rams.

Chicago (-3.5) over San Diego

This game is the equivalent of math problem involving two trains travelling full-bore in opposite directions. The Bears are streaking with four in a row and the Chargers are in free fall, dropping four in the opposite direction. Expect the free fall to continue.

Quick Slants: Atlanta (-6) over Tennessee, Dallas (-7.5) over Washington, Arizona (+9.5) over San Francisco

Last Week: 8-7

Overall: 19-10


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