By Charles Jay
Well, it looks like we have whittled our way down to five contestants in the Last Man Standing competition at America’s Bookie, and so the stakes are getting high, so to speak.
Having been able to preserve some good teams for the stretch run, by taking riskier picks earlier, has paid off to the point where there is at least some flexibility. The problem is that some of these good teams are in tough games.
There’s a lot of contemplation here, because you want to be able to strategize over the course of two or three weeks, not just the immediate week. I could have used the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday night, but chose to pass on them. The Philadelphia Eagles are in too tough a game against Seattle to risk an LMS selection. And as far as I’m concerned, the same goes for the New England Patriots, who are a road favorite against San Diego, but could easily fall to a Charger team that has won three games in a row.
A couple of teams looked almost equally attractive to me this week. One of them is the Detroit Lions, who possess one of the better defenses in the NFL and are a 10-point favorite at America’s Bookie against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Ford Field. It looks like the Megatron woke up a little bit on Thanksgiving day, and Reggie Bush, who has been out with an ankle injury, should come back to action, which means that Detroit’s offense will be better. And let’s face it; Tampa Bay could be a mess after blowing an opportunity to beat Cincinnati in the waning moments last week. The Bucs find ways to lose, and their coach, Lovie Smith, even pointed that out. That’s the case with any team that is 2-10. But there’s something about Detroit that makes me hold back. Maybe I’m just not a believer in this team yet.
Also, Tampa Bay has been a pretty tough team on the road since suffering that humiliating 56-14 loss in Atlanta in the season’s third week. They have scored wins at Pittsburgh and Washington, and were very much in the running at New Orleans, Cleveland and Chicago. So I could not trust that they will fall flat on their face.
What it looks like I will do this weekend is continue my policy of going against the Oakland Raiders. I was nervous about my St. Louis Rams selection last week, but that game was over in the first quarter. I am fully aware of the fact that teams who get embarrassed one week often come back with a huge effort the next, and the aforementioned Buccaneers are pretty good example of that, as they came back to beat the Steelers the week after losing to the Falcons. But Oakland is playing another team that should be sufficiently angry, and on top of that, it’s their area rivals, the San Francisco 49ers.
America’s Bookie patrons saw that San Francisco was held to 164 yards on offense against Seattle on Thanksgiving night, and afterward their CEO, Jed York, apologized for the horrible performance. Then offensive coordinator Greg Roman took some abuse from, of all people, the daughter of the team’s general manager, on a Twitter feed. Jim Harbaugh already had the battle lines drawn with York regarding his future with the club. Somehow I see all of this is a positive, as it should make the Niners a little grumpier, and there is no way they’re going to overlook this opponent.
Can you imagine the shame if they were to lose straight-up to the Oakland Raiders, who were just shut out by 52 points and have a 1-11 record? Yes, I know that the Niners have been almost non-existent on offense as of late, but they don’t even have to defend the whole field against Derek Carr, who is averaging a paltry 5.4 yards per passing attempt. And the 49ers will not get caught by surprise by the presence of running back Latavius Murray, as the Kansas City Chiefs were a couple of weeks ago. Sure, the Raiders won that game at home, but they have also lost by double-digit margins at the Coliseum three times. San Francisco is an 8.5-point favorite in the NFL betting odds at America’s Bookie, and I will take my chances.
Let’s keep standing.
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