Sports gambling column: Week Six

One week. One. That’s the amount of time until my Bovada account is unlocked so I can once again gamble on things that I have zero control of. Isn’t gambling fun?! Well, it wasn’t for me on Sunday, as both of the teams that I bet on this season lost in the same week for the first time this year. 

The Bengals (who never seem to have an easy game) had their defense ravaged by injuries vs. the Steelers in Pittsburgh. The game was close the whole way until the Steelers drove down the field and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger delivered a touchdown pass to wide receiver Antonio Brown with 10 seconds remaining in the game. It was a smart play by the Steelers, but what was missed by most people upon first viewing of the play was that Steelers wide receiver Justin Hunter blocked a cornerback during the play, which is illegal and should have resulted in an offensive pass interference penalty for the Steelers. If this was called, the Steelers would have probably just ran out the clock anyway and kicked a game-winning field goal. But kicker Chris Boswell has been shaky this year, and a miss could have resulted in overtime. In overtime, the Bengals could have won or tied. Even if Boswell made the field goal, it was still possible that the Bengals could have had time for one more offensive play and scored on a hail mary. I know it’s a longshot, but we’ve seen this before in the NFL. If Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers can do something incredible, can we really rule out Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton doing the same? (That was a joke, and for my sake, I hope at least four out of the seven people reading this got it). Anyway, the Bengals are no longer in the driver’s seat in the AFC North, with their loss and the Ravens dominating the Titans on Sunday. The Bengals’ chances of winning the AFC North are deteriorating.

On Sunday Night Football, the Chiefs were handed their first loss of the season by the Patriots, in what should end up as one of the most entertaining games of the year. It seemed like they were doomed in the first half, as the Patriots jumped out to a 24-9 lead. But the Chiefs battled back in the second half with some great plays from quarterback Patrick Mahomes and wide receiver Tyreek Hill. The Patriots got the ball back with 3:03 remaining, with the game tied at 40. Before long, tight end Rob Gronkowski caught a 39-yard pass from quarterback Tom Brady and was tackled with 51 seconds left in the game. I know this is a lot to ask, but the Chiefs defenders who tackled Gronkowski should have had the presence of mind to let Gronkowski score a touchdown, which would have given the Chiefs the ball back with at least 40 seconds left, which is enough time for Mahomes and the most explosive offense in the NFL to score a touchdown to send the game to overtime. In overtime, the Chiefs could have won or tied. That scenario asks for a whole lot of things to go right, and we’ll never know if Gronkowski would have even ran for the touchdown given the chance. But that’s what gambling is all about. This is a gambling column, and I’m a degenerate gambler who cares way too much about little things like this.

But on Monday, the little things saved me. It’s time for a personal fantasy football anecdote that absolutely no one will care about. Entering the Monday night 49ers-Packers game, my fantasy football team found itself down 21 points to a team owned by one of my friends (this is the same league I talked about in an earlier column). I had two 49ers players in my lineup, tight end George Kittle and kicker Robbie Gould. The game with the Packers was actually very close, and I decided to tune in when I was down by one point, needing either another Kittle catch or another Gould field goal/extra point to avoid my second loss of the season. When the 49ers got the ball back with 4:06 remaining in the game, none of those things had happened yet, and I was starting to feel very nervous. The 49ers called some questionable plays (none of them having anything to do with Kittle) and went three-and-out on that drive, punting the ball back to the Packers with 3:08 remaining. The 49ers led by 7 at this point, and I assumed Aaron Rodgers would make some amazing throws (which he did) and tie the game with a touchdown, and make sure to not leave any time on the clock for the 49ers to win the game (which he didn’t). The 49ers got the ball back with 1:55 remaining, and immediately threw a 7-yard pass to George Kittle, which he caught. I jumped out of my chair at this moment, not because I tied, but because I won by the smallest of margins. Before that catch, Kittle had three catches for a total of 23 yards. Since this fantasy football league has a PPR (Points Per Reception) scoring format, Kittle’s reception added one point to my total, which tied my fantasy football game at 131. But since Kittle’s catch was for seven yards, I gained an additional point because Kittle now had 30 receiving yards total on the game, and every ten yards is a point in our fantasy football league. So, seven yards was exactly what I needed to win, and if Kittle had been tackled even one yard short of seven, I would have tied. Once Kittle made the catch and I had the lead, the only thing that could have caused me to lose was a turnover by Kittle or a missed kick by Gould. Luckily for me, 49ers quarterback C.J. Beathard threw an interception on that same drive, and Rodges made some more amazing throws to set up the game-winning field goal for the Packers, which kicker Mason Crosby nailed with no time left on the clock. Now, I’m 5-1 in our league, one step closer to winning some of the prize money and one step further away from suffering the unspeakable consequences of being one of the bottom two teams in the league at the end of the season.

By the time I write my next column, I’ll have my Bovada account back and I’ll be ready to make some bets and give some more advice. Like when I said in my last column to take the Cardinals to lose by less than 10.5 points vs. the Vikings, and they lost by only 10. So maybe I am actually worth listening to. See you next week.


Money spent to date: $70

Winnings to date: $0