Suicide Pools - Nothing to do With Terrell Owens
by Drew Mangione - 09/28/2006
They're called elimination pools, but I prefer the not-so-politically-correct name: suicide pool. Sure, it looks good on the surface-$5 a slot, winner take all. The aim is simple: pick one straight-up winner each week. You can't use the same team twice. And if your selections get beat, well, you're out a pack of cigarettes.
The pot odds in these things can be tremendous. Like, 40-to-1 good. However, for me, the pain of losing is greater than a weekly bet and, excuse the hyperbole, when I say it feels like I've died when my pick fails and there's no going back. It's final.
I bought two slots in my local pool, the same one I've been in for five years. So each week I need two rock solid locks to prove I know more about football than anyone else. I have a simple two-pronged strategy. First, look at the biggest spreads. Then, figure out who the worst teams and best teams are and bet with or against them. Last year, that meant I was eliminated twice in Week 1 after picking the hapless 49ers to lose and the then-vogue Super Bowl pick, Minnesota, to win.
After Week 3 this year, both of my slots are alive and it looks like I might have the money for that heart transplant after all. Did I say heart transplant? I meant rack of lamb, case of beer and a lava lamp. A good friend of mine bought a pig with his winnings one year. Seriously. He bought it. We cooked it. We ate it. It was madness.
But enough foreplay, it's time to look at this week's most lopsided games, i.e. the ones with the biggest spreads, courtesy of Pinnacle Sportsbook. Six games have spreads of a touchdown or more and all I've got to do is pick two teams to win straight up. Easy, right?
Green Bay Packers at Eagles (-11), Monday night: The aging Gunslinger against the reincarnation of John Elway. Think about the Elway-McNabb comparison: super strong arm, great mobility with a reluctance to rely on it, and an ability to win with a substandard running attack. No fourth quarter comebacks will be needed in this one. I like McNabb and the Eagles to hold on SU.
That was easy, but the rest are a little tougher.
Dallas Cowboys (-9.5) at Tennessee Titans, 1 p.m. Sunday: Terry Glenn almost cut his wang off, scarring his hand instead, and Terrell Owens may be suicidal, but Tennessee is awful. Still it's hard to pick a team in a swirl of controversy. If there's nothing better, this is a maybe.
Indianapolis Colts (-9) at New York Jets, 1 p.m. Sunday: The Jets offense has looked better than any point in the last decade with the return of Karate Kid Chad Pennington and his 103.4 rating. The Jets defense has looked solid, making plays (+5 TO ratio, 2nd in the AFC) in a bend but don't break (387 yards allowed per game, 15th in the AFC) style. However, the Colts are the Colts. Indy averages 30 points per game and while I think the Jets would cover, this has 28-23 Indy written all over it.
New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers (-7.5), 1 p.m. Sunday: Apparently the oddsmakers don't see Carolina getting, as Tony Kornheiser said during halftime, "swept away in a tide of emotion." The Panthers (1-2) barely won last week against a Tampa Bay team led by Chris Simms' ruptured spleen, so once again I like the underdog too much to touch this game.
Arizona Cardinals at Atlanta Falcons (-7), 1 p.m., Sunday: My girlfriend, who is being scouted by an unnamed NFL GM to be a gum chewing advisor for head coaches, followed Tony by saying he should have just said "It's as though the Falcons are in a Hurricane and don't have the time to grab their possessions." Despite their poor showing, the Falcons may get Edgerton Hartwell and John Abraham back. Kurt Warner, in all his glory and fighting his O-line over his fumble, can expect to be on his back. It looks good for a forced fumble or two and a defensive touchdown.
San Francisco 49ers at the Kansas City Chiefs (-7), 1 p.m., Sunday: Seriously? Two words: Damon Huard. Sure his numbers looked good, but there's a reason guys are career back ups. The 49ers have looked decent and we're talking about the Chiefs with Herm "My QBs are cursed" Edwards calling draws on third-and-long. It's not a surprise if you do it every time. I might just take the 49ers.
So it looks like Philly and Hotlanta are going to be my life support. I squeaked through last week with a 6,052-yard field goal by Matt Stover and in spite of Daunte "Nuke LaLoosh" Culpepper's inability to hit the mitts.
Slot one: Patriots, Ravens, Dolphins, Eagles
Slot two: Cardinals, Bengals, Ravens, Atlanta