Every week some god-forsaken kicker ends up costing bettors hundreds of thousands of dollars. It's a given and an accepted hazard in betting football. But each year there's one week where those damn little grass ferries take over the NFL, for good or ill, and impact the upwards of millions of dollars.
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Last year it was Week 12, highlighted by Jay Feely's meltdown in Seattle and Neil Rackers' disaster against Jacksonville. This year it was Lucky Week 13, as those fragile frolickers once again were all that stood between payday and pain. Janikowski. Bironas. Grammatica. Brown. These specific grass sprites waged war against the spreads this week, and I finished on the wretched end of three out of four of those games.
First, a perfectly played teaser was blown to bits when some guy named Rob Bironas reared back and let loose a 60-yard game winner. That was about as likely as me stepping up to the first tee at Pebble Beach and unleashing a 400-yard drive. Next was Sebastian Janikowski who, like some Eastern European hooker, clearly needs to be drunk to perform. Three missed field goals later - two clanging off the uprights - and I'm lamenting the Raiders with all of my soul. Brown was the third, but I have no beef with him because the Broncos didn't deserve to win that game and his right foot has earned me more money than it's lost.
Bironas and Janikowski should pray that our paths never cross. They cost me a 20-unit swing on my selections last week. I finished the weekend comfortably in the black but could have had a truly monster day. Basically, those grinches cost more than one poor soul a Merry Christmas. It just goes to show, once again, that no matter how hard you work and how sharp your plays are you're still at the whim of the Gambling Gods and 140-pound she-men whose greatest weapon is their twinkle toes.
That's enough loathing. Here are the rest of my nonsensical ravings on Week 13.
- I'm not riding the Jake-Delhomme-Needs-To-Get-Benched bus, but I will say this: the guy may be the least composed quarterback in the league. He wasn't like this two or three years ago, but now after just about every missed throw he's looking at the sidelines and at the officials like some whiny 12-year old. Pull yourself together man.
- Don't look for Vince Young to appear in any commercials with the Manning family any time soon.
- Last week was the first week in the last four where the 'over' actually hit more than the 'under'. Teams were 9-6-1 against the total and it ended a 12-30-6 slide.
- In 2003-04 the New York Giants started a respectable 4-4 before a 0-8 nosedive. In 2004-05 they busted out to a 5-2 mark before dropping eight of their last nine. In 2005-06 they strode out to 7-3 before sputtering on a 4-3 march to close the year. So how could anyone be surprised that this season's team started 6-2 before dropping four straight? And what's more, why does everyone seem convinced that they would snap out of it when history shows that they won't?
- I violated my own Cardinal Rule of Betting: never, ever, under any circumstance, bet on Aaron Brooks. How the Raiders lost despite the other team managing NEGATIVE PASSING YARDS I'll never know. But you know what's funny? According to Elias, this isn't the first time it happened. The last time was in 1981 when Houston beat Cincinnati.
- Did anyone else notice that the play where Charlie Frye broke his hand there was no flag for roughing the passer? I'm not saying there should've been. I'm just saying that hopefully the officials noticed that despite their best efforts to turn QB into a flag-football position people are still getting hurt. It's football. It's violent. It happens. So put the flags away.
- This weekend's game against New Orleans is critical for the Cowboys because the Saints own a 7-1 conference record. Dallas is just 5-3 against the NFC, so if the teams end up with the same record a head-to-head victory will give the Boys the edge.
Just so you know, the first tiebreaker is head-to-head meetings. If it's a tie within the division, tiebreaker No. 2 is the divisional record. The third tiebreaker (second if it's for the wild card) is conference record.
- Despite his eight-inch height advantage, Plexico Burress has a lot of trouble with Aaron Glenn. In their last four match-ups Burress has averaged just four catches for sixty yards.
- That's six straight wins for the Chargers - everyone's new Super Bowl Champion. However, they are just 3-4 ATS and have given up 19 points or more in seven of their past eight games.
- Jake Plummer averaged 19.6 points per game and 1.5 turnovers. Against Seattle, Jay Cutler led the Broncos to 20 points and the team managed five turnovers. How is that better? And let's not forget that Denver was cruising at 10-0 before Cutler's ill-fated INT was returned for a touchdown. That changed the entire game.
Oh, and the loss to Seattle ended Denver's nine-game winning streak against Super Bowl participants from the previous season.
- The combined score of the two Indianapolis-Tennessee games was 34-33 Titans. That equals the lowest combined scores of any divisional Colts series since 2000.
- The Packers defense is surrendering an average of 36 points per game over the past three weeks. That, not Favre, is why they can't cover a spread.
- The Titans and the Bills have played the two hardest schedules in football so far this year. They are also a combined 13-5 ATS in the last nine weeks.
- Josh McCown has more catches this year (two) than former No. 10 overall pick Mike Williams (one). "It's a little weird," said McCown. "Mike and I play different positions." Thanks genius.
- I thought it was questionable to lay nearly a touchdown on the road with a Chiefs team that hasn't played that well away from Arrowhead this year. However, there's no way I thought they'd lose to a team that had won exactly one home game in the month of December since 1999.
- Every time a coach throws the red challenge flag I keep waiting for an official to pick it up and say to him, "Why bother?" The refs just refuse to admit to being wrong. Ever.
And has anyone else noticed that head linesman Ed Camp, the guy who did the Houston-Oakland game, can barely speak English? I've seen him do a few games this year (including the Chicago-Arizona MNF game) and that guy is always struggling. I'd be willing to wager that he's a high school drop out. I'm serious. Maybe even a middle school dropout. Regardless, the guy is the Michael Irvin of head linesmen.
- I guarantee that Eric Karabell is no higher than fifth in any one of his 12 fantasy leagues. Actually, I take that back. He's probably dominating some cheesy $50 league that he runs. Not because he's the fantasy genius he pretends to be, but because he knows enough to set up a kangaroo league and invite in only people who had Priest Holmes and Marshall Faulk 1-2 on their draft boards. And their wives.
Speaking of fantasy leagues, I missed the playoff because my starter last week was Rex Grossman (-5.6 points). My other possibility was David Carr (-2.4 points). It's a highly competitive 14-team league. Anyway, I would have won and made the playoffs if I hadn't started any quarterback at all. Have you ever heard of such a thing?
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- You know that commercial NFL apparel where the Bears fan and the Vikings fan keep trying to outdo one another? Well, if I were that Bears fan the "rivalry" would have ended with one sentence, "Is that an actual Troy Williamson jersey?"
- The record of NFL quarterbacks making their first NFL start since the beginning of 2000 is 7-24. That includes a 0-4 mark this year.
- I have a question for Lovie Smith: if the team's record with a certain starting quarterback is so crucial, in fact, if it's the determining factor that far supercedes actual performance, then why did he bench Kyle Orton last year when the Bears were 10-4 with him under center?
Questions or comments for Robert? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out his Insider Page here.