Sports gambling column: Week Eight

Surprise, surprise. Remember how I said I was going to mull over those five bets that I laid out last week and choose one to bet one? Well, I didn’t bet on any of them. Instead, I decided to take the Rams to win the Super Bowl at +280 odds, and the Patriots to win the Super Bowl at +550. Now, ask yourself: What’s more typical of me, the fact that I essentially lied to my readers about taking one of those bets or that I gambled twice like the degenerate gambler I am instead of once? We may never know.

Taking these two bets seemed like a good idea (this is why gambling is dangerous), but even more than usual. With the Rams and Patriots both looking like legitimate Super Bowl contenders through the first half of the NFL regular season, I can confidently say this is the smartest bet I’ve ever made, and not just for that reason. I bet $5 on each team, and if either wins the Super Bowl, I still make my money back and then some. This would be considered a hedge (when someone bets on all possible outcomes to reduce risk and sometimes guarantee profit), except the Rams and Patriots are not the only two teams who can win the Super Bowl, therefore I did not bet on all possible outcomes. Usually, my friends disapprove of my bets and gambling in general. But when I told them about this one, one of them said it was basically free money. With that in mind, here’s the case for and against both teams to win the Super Bowl.

The case for the Rams:

They’re 8-0 and some people think they can go 16-0. Todd Gurley is the best running back in the NFL, and he’s going to break the regular season touchdown record for a non-quarterback. Head coach Sean McVay is undebatably a top three coach in the NFL and his creative playcalling is the Rams’ biggest advantage and the perfect anti-handicap for quarterback Jared Goff. Their defense is loaded, with the best pass-rusher in the NFL in Aaron Donald and fellow star defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh at his side. They can play left-handed, meaning that they can run just as well as they can pass, should one of those options be taken away (*cough BILL BELICHICK cough*) in a playoff game. They seem to be this year’s team of destiny, and a lot of people thought last year that they were a year away from winning it all. It’s that year now.

The case against the Rams:

Every week, teams get more tape on their offense. Their secondary has been terrible lately. They had high expectations in the playoffs last year and got dominated in round one. They still don’t have nearly as much playoff experience as the other top contenders in the league. I would be worried about them in a cold-weather game should they somehow not get a top three seed in the NFC. Pretty recently, we’ve seen teams with a great offense and a semi-talented defense start 8-0 and lose in the playoffs to great defenses (2012 Falcons, 2015 Patriots), and there are at least two great defenses in the NFC this year in the Vikings and Eagles. Picking them seemed a little too easy.

The case for the Patriots:

They’re the freaking Patriots. If this isn’t a sufficient enough explanation for you, you haven’t been paying attention to the NFL for the last 18 years.

Fine, I’ll oblige. They get every single call in the playoffs. They historically get to play easy opponents in playoff games. If there’s anyone you can count on to perform well in a big game, it’s quarterback Tom Brady. They still have a great chance to get the first seed in the AFC because of their terrible division. Head coach Bill Belichick in the playoffs is scarier than any player. They might decide to cheat again if winning a playoff game seems too difficult. A cold-weather playoff game in New England is basically a death sentence for every potential AFC playoff team, except the Steelers (who the Patriots always beat in the playoffs) and Ravens (who are 4-4 and have Joe Flacco as their quarterback). The regular-season Chiefs are very different than the playoff version, as I explained in-depth last week. With any luck (and there will be a lot of that), they’ll at least get to the Super Bowl.

The case against the Patriots:

Brady isn’t getting any younger. They have the slowest linebackers in the league, who players like Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt can take advantage. Receiver Josh Gordon seems like he gets winded after every play. Belichick got outcoached in the Super Bowl last year because he wasn’t aggressive enough, which is something teams have to be to keep up in today’s high-scoring NFL. Tight end Rob Gronkowski looks like he’s nearing the end of his career and is injury-prone. It is usually a foregone conclusion that they’ll play great in the playoffs, but this is the beginning of the end of their dynasty.

Well, that exercise simultaneously scared and excited me, as gambling often does. Anyway, here’s some gambling advice for you and yours: Take the Titans to cover the 6.5-point spread this week against the Cowboys, and you might want to think about taking them to win outright at +240 odds, too. I don’t trust Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett in any situation, let alone a primetime game. The only reason why the Cowboys are favored by 6.5 is that the oddsmakers in Las Vegas are biased towards “America’s Team.” By the way, what have the Cowboys done in the last twenty years to uphold that nickname? They haven’t been to an NFC Championship Game since 1996. They’ve probably employed more players with criminal records (Dez Bryant, Greg Hardy, Randy Gregory, Adam Jones, etc.) than any other team in the league. A team with those two traits doesn’t deserve to be “America’s Team.” Can we just give that nickname to the Rams?

I hope you enjoyed me making fun of the Cowboys as much as I do. See you next week.


Money spent to date: $80

Winnings to date: $0