Thank God It's Friday: Oh Football, Football, Wherefore Art Thou, Football?
by Ricky Dimon - 2/8/2013
We’re all undefeated now…. Yes, even the Kansas City Chiefs.
Still, we’re mired in the dog days of sports right now — what with the end of football season, a month to go until March Madness, two months to go until the Masters, almost two months to go until baseball, and the middle of an interminable NBA regular season.
The commoners have it bad this week, to be sure, but who has it even worse? (all odds provided by Sportsbook.ag).
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Jim Harbaugh. It’s always tough when you lose a Super Bowl, but it has to be even tougher when you lose it against your older brother. Tougher still when said loss comes down to the final minute and ends with your team within five yards of the go-ahead touchdown. Alas, such is the fate that Jim suffered on Sunday while John, Joe Flacco, Ray Lewis, and the rest of the Ravens went back to Baltimore in triumph with a 34-31 victory. On the bright side, Jim had a great day on the golf course on Thursday — and not simply because he traversed the vaunted fairways of Pebble Beach. He and partner Jason Day shot 9 under par to put themselves in a tie for third place in the Pro-Am competition. The 49ers, meanwhile, are the second favorites at +700 to win next year’s Super Bowl.
Bill Self. Self delivered a press conference for the ages on Wednesday night. Truly hilarious stuff. The problem, of course, is that it came at the end of an absolutely disastrous showing by his basketball team. Instead of bouncing back from its first Big 12 loss (at home, no less) to Oklahoma State last Saturday, Kansas responded by going down in flames to…wait for it…TCU! The Horned Frogs were previously winless in conference play at 0-8, but they limited the Jayhawks to a putrid 13 points in the first half and cruised to a 62-55 victory. Kansas has dropped to +1000 to win the National Championship.
Two-loss teams. Kansas is not alone in seeing its “2” in the loss column change to a “3.” Not in the least. This is one of those college basketball seasons, of which we have seen plenty, in which nobody wants the No. 1 ranking. Previously 18-2 Florida (ranked second) fell at Arkansas on Tuesday, 80-69, then previously 20-2 Indiana (ranked No. 1) saw Illinois go on a game-ending 13-2 run on Thursday to stun the Hoosiers, 74-72. Third-ranked Michigan almost suffered a third loss, but it stands to make a return trip to the top ranking spot after edging Ohio State on Tuesday, 76-74 in overtime, in another Big Ten thriller. Florida and Michigan are currently +350 favorites to win it all, followed by Indiana at +500.
USMNT. Don’t stick a fork in the USA men’s soccer team just yet, but it certainly got off to an inauspicious start in CONCACAF’s World Cup qualifying. In its first game of the stage on Wednesday, Team USA paid a visit to Honduras and squandered all of a one-goal lead (a veritable guarantee of nothing worse than a tie in this sport) before losing, 2-1. Granted, there was nothing Tim Howard or anyone else could do about a sick-nasty bicycle kick by some Honduran guy, but the second allowed goal was a team effort in futility for the Americans. The United States is +8000 to win next summer’s World Cup in Brazil, while the host Brazilians are +350 favorites.
Manchester City. The Premier League title looks like it’s going back to Manchester United, which extended the gap to nine points over Man City last weekend. After United got past Fulham, 1-0, City played at home to a 2-2 draw against Liverpool — which is down at seventh position in the Premiership. There are 13 games remaining for City to make another miraculous charge, just as it did last year. Nine points in 13 games, however, is manageable in hockey. In soccer, especially when United is a huge favorite almost every time it takes the pitch, it’s a different story. United is -1000 to capture the title; City is next at +650.
Dwight Howard. Howard’s shoulder is hurt and so are his feelings. The Lakers are painful to watch on the court, but they are a pure source of entertainment away from the arenas. Howard is in another war of words with Kobe Bryant, who is all but calling the big man soft. Speaking of soft, L.A. traveled to Boston on Thursday and trailed by as many as 32 points before losing 116-95. Kobe is +5000 to win NBA MVP.
Pau Gasol. The Lakers were hoping that Gasol would miss only one game after sustaining a foot injury against Brooklyn on Tuesday. When a player hears a “pop,” however, he is never out for just one game. Fears (or, if you’re Mike D’Antoni, “hopes”) were confirmed when an MRI showed that Gasol suffered a partially torn plantar fascia. To the chagrin of almost everyone other than the tempo-loving D’Antoni, Gasol will be on the sidelines for at least six weeks. The Lakers are +3000 to win the NBA Championship.
Washington Capitals. Alex Ovechkin must be doing something right, because he’s engaged to smoking hot tennis player Maria Kirilenko. But this season has been an unmitigated disaster for Ovechkin and the Caps. They have a ridiculously poor five points in 11 contests and dropped their third game in the last five days by getting clobbered at Pittsburgh on Thursday, 5-2. Ovechkin has seven points and an awful plus-minus of -5. The Capitals are +2200 to win the Eastern Conference.
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