It's Week 7, and we're back to reclaim some dignity after what was truly a terrible showing last week. We start with Thursday Night's game, the new best example of why gambling is the absolute best and worst, forever and always.
Seahawks (+7) at 49ers -- Watching the end of this game, normal humans would have no reason to even care. A normal person could've turned it off as soon as the Niners scored at the end of the third quarter, since it was pretty obvious the Seahawks weren't going to score a touchdown last night. But that's the beauty of gambling on sports.
Instead of a game that crushed our souls and wasted four hours of our life, degenerate gamblers across America got an instant classic. First with the Seahawks last-second clipping-penalty-turned-safety, then with Jim Harbaugh's amazing decision to turn down the points, kneel, and keep the Niners from covering the spread.
Now, if you're reading this article, you've heard about this sequence by now, but it bears mentioning that this is exactly the sort of thing that makes gambling so addictive, and by extension, keeps us hooked on the NFL. You don't even have to gamble that much.
Even joining a picks pool can get you hooked--it turns the worst, most useless parts of football into good or bad memories that'll last ten times longer than any highlights. Nobody will remember how the 49ers scored their go-ahead touchdown Thursday, but we'll all remember how they (almost) stole a cover, and then how Harbaugh inexplicably screwed Niners bettors the world over*. Some version of this story saves a bad game every week.
Look around the league right now: How many of these games would actually be worth watching if you didn't have fantasy or gambling interests? Maybe 20 percent? When 80 percent of the league is equal, that means everyone's equally mediocre and more or less unwatchable.
The only thing that makes the parity era bearable is gambling. Look no further than the 13-6 ROLLERCOASTER OF EMOTION everyone's talking about on Friday.
*(It was twice as obnoxious because Jim Harbaugh LIVES for situations like last night, where he can do something unexpected to show the world just how carefully he thinks about every single coaching decision. He's always looking for that edge. If anyone you see today praises Harbaugh for his savvy strategy there--like Mike Florio, maybe--there is only one appropriate response.)
Titans at Bills (-3) -- Bills! Titans! The race to 6-10!
Cardinals (+6.5) at Vikings -- A battle between two overachievers, one of whom will undoubtedly fade away during the second half of the year, while the other is likely to make the playoffs and somehow end up in the NFC Title game. Because that's just how the NFL works these days. We're taking the Cardinals because it's been a while since Patrick Peterson's done something insane, so it feels like we're due.
Browns (+2) at Colts -- BELIEVELAND, now with 100 percent less Holmgren! We were pretty mean to the Browns last week, but taking Holmgren out of the mix could really change everything. Now they won't hire a horrible coach this offseason, they won't make stupid draft picks, and hey, maybe the future's brighter than we ever thought. For now let's all worship Trent Richardson:
Ravens (+6.5) at Texans -- Check out our Game of the Millennium preview, where Ray Rice is the most boring best running back alive, Arian Foster is a fortune cookie, and Wade Phillips is Frank White.
Packers (-6) at Rams -- You know how Aaron Rodgers is no. 1 on everybody's quarterback rankings pretty much by default? Well games like Sunday night are a good reminder why. 24/37, 338 yards, 6 TDs. If RG3 made this play there would be 10,000 columns about how he beats you with his legs AND his arm and he's the future of everything. But when Aaron Rodgers does it, we're just like, "Well shit, that's why he's Aaron Rodgers."
Cowboys (-2.5) at Panthers -- At some point I'm gonna write a 10,000 word screed running down all the reasons the Cowboys have driven me insane over the past 10 years, but for now, I'm just glad I was on a plane during the Ravens game last week. That might've been the last straw for me this season.
Redskins (+6.5) at Giants -- Osi Umenyora has been getting pretty sarcastic with all the Bob Griffin praise this week, whereas Jason Pierre-Paul isn't playing it quite so diplomatic (via New York Daily News):
"Don’t bring it to my side. Go the other way. Trust me, we chase quarterbacks all time. We turn and run to the ball, no matter what. He may get past us and zoom right past us, but trust me we’re right behind him. ... You’d be surprised. Very surprised."
And listen: You might be #TeamRGIII, someone else might be #TeamJPP, but let's all agree to be #TeamBirthControl for the rest of this season and beyond. As for the game, in general, we're taking the Redskins because the Giants looked amazing last week so they're due for an inexplicable letdown, and also because RGIIII is just f**ing awesome.
Saints (-2) at Bucs -- Yep, we're just gonna keep picking the Saints all year and hope it works out. Unrelated: If you want to see the most incredible hip hop video of the past 5 years--"Birthday Song" with Kanye and 2Chainz. It's like a Too Short video on mescaline.
Jets (+10.5) at Patriots -- Did you know the Jets are in first place? HOW ARE THE JETS IN FIRST PLACE? There's your definitive proof that parity has gone too far: A team this dysfunctional has no business being in first place. And yet, here's to betting they somehow keep it close on Sunday.
Jaguars at Raiders (-4) -- Such a great example of why an 18-game schedule is a horrible idea. We don't need MORE Jaguars-Raiders games in the world. Even gambling can't save this one--if you're living and dying with the fourth quarter of a Jaguars game on a Sunday night, that's not fun or exciting, that's just a wakeup call.
Steelers (-1.5) at Bengals -- When is Roethislberger NOT playing through a sprained ankle on national TV?
Lions at Bears (-6.5) -- When the Steelers play in prime time you know you're going to be sitting through hours and hours of announcers praising his GRITTY GUTSINESS while he plays through some random injury and completes 45 percent of his passes. With the Bears and Jay Cutler, you've got the inevitable shots of him bitching on the sidelines and moping around like a 10 year-old--I swear, sometimes you can see Jay Cutler start pouting during a play. Then you've got at least three or four horribly irresponsible throws, and a handful of legitimately incredible throws and (usually) a win to make the whole night even more hilarious.
The Jay Cutler Experience is SO MUCH BETTER than the Big Ben Experience.
LAST WEEK'S HORRIBLE RECORD: 4-10