The Not-So-Silence of the Rams

By Reid Kerr
PSDC Offensive Cordinator

We had reached week fourteen in the NFL, and no coach had been fired so far. It was such an anomaly, I almost wrote about it in this space last Sunday. As bad as it’s been in places like Buffalo and Jacksonville, no one had pulled the trigger yet and it looked like everyone would be safe until Black Monday.

I should have known better.

The Rams fired Jeff Fisher Monday, one day after he tied Dan Reeves for the all-time lead in losses for head coaches.

You might think that would be either a sign of mercy, or of utmost frustration. You’d be right either way.

Since the Rams lost Sunday to the Falcons, then had to turn around and get Gilmered by the Seahawks three days later, you’d also would think seventy-two hours notice wouldn’t be the best time to dump your head coach, but that’s part of the magic of Jeff Fisher.

The NFL waited more than twenty years to bring a franchise back to Los Angeles, but Thursday’s pummeling was another night where most of LA didn’t bother to watch. Let’s face it, there’s other things to do in Los Angeles. There’s movies, shows, restaurants, the beach, and complaining about the Lakers to do, they don’t need the Rams. And for that matter, they don’t need a barely-adequate Chargers team, either, unless they’re going to combine both teams and make one good one. In the land of casual plastic surgery, LA would at least respect that.

I’m a little bit depressed about it, to be honest. I had about six Jeff Fisher jokes I was saving for the rest of the season. Learn from my mistakes, kids. Never save your best material.

So the Rams are the first team to drop their head coach, I’ll put the over/under at three additional coaches fired by the time Black Monday is done. And while discussing other people’s employment seems to be a morbid thing, that’s life in the NFL. It’s also life in television, as I remember from trips to Walmart when I couldn’t get through the checkout line without someone asking me about my TV news colleagues and if they had been fired. I’m certainly not going to feel bad about it at this point in my life.

On to the picks. Last week I went 3-3, and also 3-3 against the Las Vegas spread. I always enjoy being as accurate as a coin. For the season I’m now 57-32-1 straight up, and 36-50-3 against the spread.

Here’s the picks for week fifteen.  Remember, these are for the purposes of discussion only. As always, no wagering. And since last week, I was right at coin-flip level, I’m also going to flip a coin and see if I can beat that.

Detroit (+4) at NY Giants: Odell Beckham Jr. is making a living dropping easy passes and then turning around to make amazing plays. If he was a rapper, he’d have to pay Terrell Owens for sampling his career.
Pick: Lions to win it outright.
The coin says: Go with the Lions.

Jacksonville (+5.5) at Houston: The AFC South championship is basically a door prize, all you have to do to win is be present. And not be Jacksonville.
Pick: Texans to win and cover, which means I think they’ll win by six or more.
The coin says: Take the Jaguars. My coin may have been drinking, it seems.

Tampa Bay (+7) at Dallas: The number one reason to let Tony Romo go this offseason was the talk this week about whether or not Dak Prescott should be benched. Keeping Romo is like getting married, but letting your long-time girlfriend keep living in the guest room. Bad ideas abound.
Pick: Cowboys to win, Buccaneers to cover, which means I think Tampa Bay will lose by less than seven points.
The coin says: Cowboys.

Pittsburgh (-3.5) at Cincinnati: The two trademarks of this rivalry are cheap shots by Vontaze Burfict and an injury to Le’Veon Bell. And at this point, Steelers fans are rooting against those, but Bengals fans are still hoping for both,
Pick: Steelers to win and cover.
The coin says: Bengals.

Green Bay (-6) at Chicago: My rule is, if Matt Barkley can make people forget about you, then you weren’t very memorable to begin with. And this rule applies to pro football, college football, and life in general.
Pick: Packers to win and cover.
The coin says: Packers. My coin likes Aaron Rodgers as both a quarterback and a commercial spokesman.

Cleveland (+10) at Buffalo: Marcell Dareus guaranteed a win for the Bills over the winless Browns this week. That’s not exactly Jimmy Johnson putting it in “three-inch headlines” the Cowboys would beat the 49ers, is it? That’s more like promising to not trip on a speedbump on the way into Target.
Pick: Bills to win, Browns to cover the spread.
The coin says: Browns.

I’ll also take Western Kentucky over Memphis in the Boca Raton Bowl, Tulsa over Central Michigan in the Miami Beach Bowl, and none of those teams to want to go home after spending a week in Florida in December. Good luck, everybody.

- Reid Kerr talks a lot, as his wife always reminds him. Reid’s second book, “I Hate It Here: A Love Story,” is out now on Amazon.com. You can always tweet questions, comments, and angry messages to him at @reidaboutit.

An NFL Thanksgiving in Las Vegas

By Reid Kerr
PSDC Offensive Coordinator

As the Lions kick the game-winning field goal, the woman next to me erupts in joy. She pumps her fists and screams, and runs about the floor of the MGM Grand Casino, high-fiving anyone who’ll raise a palm to her.

She’s not even a Lions fan.

It’s Thanksgiving Day, and I am an embedded reporter in a Las Vegas sportsbook. On today, the biggest family holiday of the year, the fifty-plus huge-screen televisions here in this Vegas casino are showing NFL games to a packed house of people who have either come here to flee their families, or brought them along so everyone can lose money together.

At nine a.m. on a Thanksgiving morning, they were already there, armed with astonishing amounts of information. They had magazines, newspapers, and gambling forms so full of complicated numbers they seemed to be the chemical formula for a linebacker, and they sat down to compile it all before making their wagers. They were all looking for the one thing to put them over the top and honestly, that strategy works about 48% of the time, which is exactly the correct ratio for everything.

15241243_660919507422401_4532970873563991461_nThe Lions won and covered the point spread, which made the woman from Charlotte, North Carolina, exuberant. I talk to her husband for a few minutes while she takes her victory lap, and find out he’s a huge fan but she’s never even watched an NFL game seriously before. They’ve left their kids with their family back home and came out to Vegas for a mini-vacation, and they’ve put money down on all three NFL games that day. They’ll be there a while, spending about eleven hours cheering together.

It’s a fun moment, but only half the people here are celebrating. A guy on crutches who seems homeless and is missing most of one of his legs drops his head and rubs his brow. Earlier he told me he had the Vikings, and when I asked him how much he bet, he said “two large.” I couldn’t imagine him having two of anything extra to lose.

But that’s the way it goes, there’s no winners without losers, even on Thanksgiving Day. There are a lot of homeless people here in Vegas who are wearing shirts and caps from various gambling events and poker tours. It seems like everyone’s got a system until you wind up sleeping under a bridge.

For the Dallas-Washington game, the sportsbook filled up quickly. The Cowboys are still America’s Team, which means people will line up to root for and against them. I see a guy in a Romo jersey sitting down front, cheering at every play. Later I see a guy with a Dak Prescott jersey, so I tell him if he wants, he can go take the other guy’s seat.

Cowboys fans are everywhere. There’s a couple wearing Claiborne and Witten jerseys, who came to town to get remarried for their Thanksgiving trip. Sitting in front of me, a couple from Scotland are Facetiming their friends back home to tell them how awesome Dak Prescott is. It’s very funny to me for some reason, although I can’t exactly explain why.

A guy from Indianapolis in a vintage Franco Harris Steelers jersey tells me he made plans to come here after a buddy broke up with his girlfriend, so they could have a boys’ weekend. Since the trip was booked the relationship rekindled, and now it’s a bachelor party weekend. I get the feeling he doesn’t think it’s a good idea, but no one’s turning down a trip to Vegas on moral principles. As a Steelers fan he hates the Cowboys, but he still bet them to win.

At the back of the room cheering on Washington is Chris from Los Angeles, wearing a Redskins hat, garish red and gold shoes, and an authentic Sean Taylor jersey. He looks like the Redskins threw up on him, but he’s a hardcore fan who grew up watching the team with his dad. He couldn’t make it to the family gathering, so drove four hours to Vegas to support his team as a family tradition. And hopefully win some money, of course.

As the Cowboys-Redskins game rages on, I notice the cheering feels different, maybe even more pure. These cheers aren’t from the hearts of fans, they’re from the wallets of gamblers. And they know it’s a shallow thing to do, but they don’t care.

During the Steelers-Colts game that night, I meet two guys in their mid-sixties from New Jersey who come here for Thanksgiving every year. And judging from the slips in front of them, they bet a lot. I get the feeling this is a regular occurrence in their lives. I ask why they didn’t just go to Atlantic City, and they laugh at me.

And I am scared to ask for any more details.

After a long Thanksgiving Day spent watching football in the midst of the heavily invested, a couple of things stand out to me. Las Vegas is a different plane of existence where the rules of reality just don’t exist, and it means something different to everyone. I’ve met people here who came here for the holiday because there’s nowhere else they’d rather be for the holiday, and some who just showed up to be around other people on a lonely day of the year for them.

Also? Before ten in the morning, listening to Phil Simms is even more intolerable than usual.

For tonight’s game, the Cowboys are favored by four, and I’ll take that easily over the Vikings. Sometimes you just have to let Sam Bradford be Sam Bradford. I’ll be back Sunday with the rest of the picks. Good luck, everybody.

- Reid Kerr talks a lot, as his wife always reminds him. Reid’s second book, “I Hate It Here: A Love Story,” is out now on Amazon.com. You can always tweet questions, comments, and angry messages to him at @reidaboutit.

(This article originally appeared in the print edition of the Tyler Morning Telegraph.)

Reid’s NFL Picks: The Dumbest Thing I’ve Ever Heard

By Reid Kerr
PSDC Offensive Coordinator

As an observer of humanity, I’m always looking for things I haven’t seen before, the amazing and ridiculous, and the moments so bizarre they stay with me for a good long time. And so this week, I was pleasantly surprised to have a new top entry on my list of “The Dumbest Thing I’ve Ever Heard.”

And yes, even in the week of the most intriguing election since Napoleon Dynamite, I heard something so silly and insane it stood out. It was one of those talking head sports-shouting shows that I can watch for about twelve seconds before I have to flip to something more interesting, such as a “King of Queens” rerun or my cat taking a nap. Anyway, one of these alleged sports experts said the following.

“The Dallas Cowboys have GOT to trade Tony Romo.”

I understand on these shows, hot opinions are all that matters. They don’t have to make sense, indeed, it’s often better for the ratings if they don’t, so they say dumb things just to get a reaction from the audience.

“The NFL should suspend Richard Sherman, but make him play kicker while he’s out.”
“The Raiders should leave Oakland and just play in a series of Winn-Dixie parking lots all over California!”
“LeBron James is nothing more than a modern-day Kurt Rambis!”

You know, just angry gibberish, which people seem to eat up for some reason. But the Romo trade demand makes less than zero sense. It was so foolish, I wandered around for the rest of the day searching for truth and honesty in society, and coming up snake-eyes on that one.

It’s a given now that the Cowboys are Dak Prescott’s team. He could easily be the MVP of the league in the “non-suspended for four games” category. And Tony Romo will more than likely be cut loose in the offseason, and not truly appreciated until many years later. But that doesn’t mean things have to change immediately.

This is professional football. It’s not “The Replacements,” where when the starting quarterback comes back, you fire the backup for no apparent reason.

If you have a proven backup quarterback and you’re in a playoff chase, you don’t get rid of him. You don’t dump a major asset for a minor draft pick unless you’re Bill Belichick, and you’re devilishly insane.

Yes, once upon a time Drew Bledsoe lost his starting job to Tom Brady and was traded away, but not until Bledsoe had to come off the bench and help win the AFC Championship Game. If you’re okay with the thought of Dak getting injured this season and Mark Sanchez being a playoff starter, you go right ahead and keep losing money on Draft Kings, my friend.

On to the picks. Last week I went 5-1, and 3-3 against the Vegas spread, including one game I lost because of a meaningless touchdown in the final minute. And I know it was meaningless, because it was scored by the Rams. But the spread was 3.5 points, and a 13-3 lead suddenly became 13-10, and my win went away. It’s my own fault, I know I should always buy that half-point hook, but I never remember to do that because apparently I enjoy despair.

On the season, I’m now 35-20-1 straight up, 21-32-3 against the spread. Here’s the week ten picks. Remember, these are for the purposes of discussion only. As always, no wagering.

Houston (+1) at Jacksonville: I’ll admit certain teams in the NFL I can’t figure out, but the Texans are as consistent as sunrise. They win the games they should win, they lose the games they should lose, and they’re always in line for a crushing playoff defeat.
Pick: Texans to win and cover the spread, which means they’ll win by at least a point. If this one’s a tie, I lose.

San Francisco (+13.5) at Arizona: Chip Kelly is adamant that he’s not going to leave the 49ers to return to college football. Which begs the obvious question, “Why not?”
Pick: Cardinals to win and cover.

Dallas (+3) at Pittsburgh: Last week, Ben Roethlisberger had the worst comeback since Corey Feldman played the Today Show.
Pick: Cowboys to win it outright.

Los Angeles (+2) at NY Jets: If the NFL wonders why their ratings are down, “Exhibit A” should be this game between teams from the two biggest markets in the country, possibly quarterbacked by Case Keenum and Bryce Petty. That’s not a prime time matchup, it’s an Independence Bowl.
Pick: Jets to win and cover.

Kansas City (+3) at Carolina: Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce learned this week that throwing a towel at an official will get you flagged, ejected, fined, and hated by everyone who wasted a high draft pick on you in their fantasy football league.
Pick: Chiefs to win outright.

Seattle (+8) at New England: Richard Sherman couldn’t be more in full-on pro-wrestling bad guy mode if he did his postgame interviews wearing a feathered robe and shouting “Whoo!”
Pick: Patriots to win and cover.

I’ll also take the Patriots to win the AFC, the Seahakws to win the NFC, and the Browns to go 1-15 somehow. Good luck everybody.

- Reid Kerr talks a lot, as his wife always reminds him. Reid’s second book, “I Hate It Here: A Love Story,” is out now on Amazon.com. You can always tweet questions, comments, and angry messages to him at @reidaboutit.

 

Reid’s Week Fourteen NFL Picks: Fearless Predictions

By Reid Kerr
PSDC Offensive Coordinator

As we enter the homestretch of the NFL season, this is the time when teams either buckle down or knuckle under. We’re seeing teams like Pittsburgh and Kansas City making big pushes despite their early struggles, and Minnesota and Green Bay reversing that trend.

In honor of the big twists and turns in the NFL so far this season, this week I present my fearless predictions, guaranteed to be at least as accurate as Ron Jaworski.

- By the 2018 season, Colin Kaepernick will either be a Pro Bowl quarterback or out of the NFL.

- Johnny Manziel will still be a Cleveland Brown by the time the Super Bowl gets here, and Mike Pettine will not.

- Peyton Manning will be a starter in the league next year, but somewhere in the Central Time Zone.

- Jim Tomsula will stay the head coach of the 49ers next year, and that will not be a very good decision.

- San Diego and Oakland will move to Los Angeles, and the NFL will trade an old rivalry for a presence in an apathetic market. And the Rams will get the shaft.

- Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston will both be starters in the NFL for many years to come, while Robert Griffin III will not.

- Washington will keep Kurt Cousins, and regret it.

- Atlanta will fire a lot of people in the offseason.

- That “Concussion” movie will be very good, however, the NFL will never acknowledge it and 99% of you will never see it.

- I will make the postseason in my fantasy league and painfully lose in the first round for the fourth straight year, thus earning me the “Bengals Lifetime Playoff Lack of Achievement Award.”

- Andrew Luck will take his starting job back and no one will ever mention it again.

- Seattle will make the playoffs and go 1-1.

- When Tony Romo throws his first interception next year, most of you will have forgotten how much the Cowboys need him.

- Arizona will win the NFC.

- The Patriots will make the Super Bowl, unless they have to play the Chiefs or Steelers on the way.

On to the picks. Week Thirteen was solid for me, I went 4-2, and only overestimated the Vikings and the Rams this time. I had the Cowboys winning that game against Washington for one simple reason: It made no sense. In the NFC Nickelback Division, logic and reality are just vague suggestions, so bet accordingly.

I’m now 48-35-2 on the year. Time for my playoff push. Here’s my picks for week fourteen. Remember, these are for the purposes of discussion only. As always, no wagering.

Pittsburgh (+3) at Cincinnati – I have more confidence in the playoff futures of Pittsburgh as a possible wild card than I do Cincinnati as a number-one seed.
Pick: Steelers

San Francisco (+1.5) at Cleveland: Johnny Football gets more comebacks than Jason Voorhees.
Pick: Browns

Buffalo (NL) at Philadelphia: The running back he dumped wants to clobber him. The back he signed went over his head to complain to the owner. Chip Kelly is to running backs what Charlie Sheen is to girlfriends.
Pick: Eagles

Atlanta (+9) at Carolina: Stop saying the Panthers are overrated. And yes, if you could reach those grapes, they’d probably be sour.
Pick: Falcons

New Orleans (+4.5) at Tampa Bay – I hope Sports Illustrated does a special edition commemorating Brandon Browner’s 100th pass interference penalty this week.
Pick: Bucs

Dallas (+7) at Green Bay: You’d say a loss here would end the Cowboys playoff hopes, but the entire division is basically the cast of “Grown-Ups 2” here. Anything good coming out of them would be a shock.
Pick: Cowboys

I’ll also take Western Kentucky over South Florida in the I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Bowl, Akron over Utah State in the Facebook-Friend-Request-From-A-Total-Stranger Bowl, and Temple over Toledo in the Kardashian Bowl.

- Reid Kerr talks a lot, as his wife always reminds him. Reid’s novel “The Great Texas Trailer Park Escape” is available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com. You can always tweet questions, comments, and angry messages to him at @reidaboutit.

2013 NFL – Week 12 – Betting Picks Against Spread

By Bobby Roberts
AmericasWhiteBoy.com

Peyton Manning Tom Brady 2013

In a week with little value in any points spread, I managed to go 11-4 week with my picks against the spread last week. I have a 84-54-8 record against the spread this year.

I like a lot of road teams this week in many of the marquee games. The schedule is boom or bust. You have horrible games like Jacksonville at Houston or great games like Denver at New England. I’m sorry if you’re stuck with one of the bad games this Sunday (I suggest you buy NFL Sunday Ticket).

There are four teams on bye this week. That will finally end soon and we will have sixteen games every week. This week, I suggest keeping an eye on injury reports and weather conditions from this point forward.

We pick every NFL game against the spread and throw out a few upsets in Week 12 of the NFL season. [Read more…]

2013 NFL – Week 11 – Betting Picks Against Spread

By Bobby Roberts
AmericasWhiteBoy.com

Alex-Smith-Peyton-Manning-2013
I started out strong last week, but the late games got me. I had a couple bad beats, but I had a much better week than Ed Reed. I still have a strong 73-49-8 record against the spread this year.

I like a lot of favorites this week, but not in the marquee games. I suggest sleeping in on Sunday, since the early slate of games is atrocious. There are some nice bets, but watching those games will be a struggle.

There are only two teams on bye this week. Finally, the weeks of having a half dozen teams on bye are over. I suggest keeping an eye on injury reports and weather conditions from this point forward.

We pick every NFL game against the spread and throw out a few upsets in Week 11 of the NFL season. [Read more…]

Living Against The Spread: The Big Crash

By Reid Kerr
PSDC Gambling Noob 

Previously: Fail to the Redskins…or…always buy the points, Chester

Things were dying down a bit on my gambling account, as we got close to the end of the football regular season. There were no college bowl games I felt strongly about, and I had backed off from gambling on cards. I wanted to finish strong.

Somehow I did just that, and yet still wound up worse off than ever before.  [Read more…]

Living Against The Spread: Fail to the Redskins, or Always Buy The Points, Chester

By Reid Kerr
PSDC Gambling Noob 

Previously: Betting Against The Least Clutch Player Of All

After three weeks, I felt like I was still doing pretty well. However, my account wasn’t reflecting that, so I did some number crunching. [Read more…]

Living Against The Spread: Letdowns, Murders & the Least Clutch Player Of All

By Reid Kerr
PSDC Gambling Noob 

Previously: How To Turn $170 Into $35 In Just Three Short Days

I started the week slightly down, in both money and emotion. I had squandered my lead, so to speak. I was up big last week, and lost it all so badly, I almost blew my initial investment. [Read more…]

Living Against The Spread: From Up To Down In Three Short Days

By Reid Kerr
PSDC Gambling Noob 

After an awful Thanksgiving, I decided to lay off of the cards. Luck had turned on me, and I was down to about sixty bucks from my initial hundred dollar investment. Worse still, I was up more than twice that at one point. [Read more…]

Living Against The Spread: Thanksgiving Leftover/Under

By Reid Kerr
PSDC Gambling Noob

(Part two in an ongoing series, click here for part one)

By Wednesday, I was up to about $250 in my account from my original $100. I had hit a hot streak on blackjack and three-card-poker, and felt like I was having a pretty good week.

Ha-HA! If it’s true that it always looks darkest before the dawn, the opposite is also true. It always looks okay just before you get smacked in the head with a sock full of nickels. [Read more…]