It’s the pre-bowl game dead period for college football, and the Falcons are playing out the string. The lull provides a chance to focus on the biggest story in local sports: Weekend Prediction’s record against the spread.
I’ve picked the winning side in 57 percent of 190 games. That’s a very good record against the spread under any circumstances. It’s particularly impressive because, bowing to local interest, I’ve picked a lot of games that I would pass on if I were risking cash instead of just my ego.
As I said from the start, my picks are for entertainment purposes only. You should never, ever use them for gambling. You’d have a very nice profit if you went against my advice and put money on my picks, but if you did, you absolutely should not contact me to ask where to send my cut.
Congratulations to David Parrish of Woodstock, the season winner of the AJC College Pick ’em contest. Parrish picked the winning side in 134 of 192 games. Unfortunately, Parrish finished tied for second in the national contest, just one game behind the winner. He misses out on the grand prize valued at $2,500, and all he gets is this lousy shout-out from the guy who finished 10 games behind him.
Falcons (plus-5) at Packers
Personally, I believe my overall picks record should absolve me from my sin of believing the Falcons were good. At least I had the good sense to pick the Ravens to beat the Falcons on Sunday, so none of that stink rubbed off on me.
After losing to the Cardinals at home Sunday, the Packers fired coach Mike McCarthy. Interim coach Joe Philbin will call offensive plays, something he hasn’t done in 20 years. That the Packers still are favored by two scores tells you something about the Falcons, who lose again but cover the spread.
College games of interest
South Dakota State (minus-7 1/2) at Kennesaw State
This week Owls coach Brian Bohannon vented about the lack of fan support for his team. Bohannon said he’s advocating for the kids, not himself, and I believe him. He’s doing just fine with his $260,000 salary and recent contract extension at a program with declining attendance. I’ll take SDSU and give the points.
Navy (plus-7) vs. Army, Philadelphia
Army’s Jeff Monken and Navy’s Ken Niumatalolo are both ex-assistants for Paul Johnson, so this is an option-football jamboree. President Trump is scheduled to attend this game. The over/under on when he loses interest and wanders off aimlessly is 12 minutes. I’m backing Army and giving the points.
Panthers (minus-1 1/2) at Browns
The Browns lost at Houston last weekend, but they still have as many victories as the Falcons. Those Browns fans who thought I insulted their team after it beat down the Falcons may end up being right about the Browns finally being on the upswing. Worse, it could mean Bountygate villain Gregg Williams sticks around as coach. I’ll take Carolina and give the points.
Saints (minus-9 1/2) at Buccaneers
To boost sagging attendance, the Bucs gave two free tickets to select season-ticket holders for their game against the Panthers last weekend. Per the Charlotte Observer the stadium’s upper deck was “sparsely populated and the lower bowl wasn’t a heck of a lot better.” This suggests there is little local interest in the Bucs, but maybe their season-ticket holders just don’t have many friends because no one wants to associate with Bucs fans. I’ll take Tampa Bay and the points.
Rams (minus-3) at Bears
Asked about Chicago’s defense, Rams coach (and Marist School grad) Sean McVay gave a scouting report on 11 Bears players. McVay’s ability to name the personnel on the defense he’s studying in detail for his job made some media types swoon. Now McVay knows what it feels like to be a college head coach. I like the Bears with the points.
Ravens (plus-6 1/2) at Chiefs
A month ago, there was speculation that Ravens coach John “The Nice One” Harbaugh could be forced out. But Baltimore has won three games in a row with rookie Lamar Jackson starting at quarterback. When Joe Flacco comes back from injury Harbaugh probably should stick with Jackson, who was so good at Louisville he maintained the myth that Bobby Petrino still is a good coach. I’m taking KC and giving the points.
Patriots (minus-7 1/2) at Dolphins
Miami Herald writer Armando Salguero accurately describes Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill as “good enough to want to keep. But not good enough to keep indefinitely.” Sadly, that’s enough to make Tannehill the best Dolphins QB since Dan Marino retired. Looking forward to the Dolphins taking a $26 million cap hit to keep Tannehill around next year to be good every other series. Pats cover.
Eagles (plus-3 1/2) at Cowboys
The Cowboys beat the Saints for their fourth victory in a row. Eagles linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill isn’t impressed, telling reporters: “Look at Dallas’ history. They always choke.” He makes a good point. It would be even better if the Eagles weren’t 6-6 with a loss to Dallas after winning the last Super Bowl. I’ll take Dallas and give the points.
Vikings (plus-3) at Seahawks
Russell Wilson’s pristine image took a hit during Seattle’s victory over the 49ers. San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan accused Wilson of tossing Fred Wagner’s shoe so the linebacker had to retrieve it, leading to a 49ers penalty. Wilson hasn’t responded to Shanahan’s allegations, but golly gee whiz that just doesn’t seem like something he would do. I like the Vikings with the points.
Giants (minus-3 1/2) at Washington
Quarterbacks Alex Smith and Colt McCoy were lost to injuries, so Washington turned to Mark Sanchez of “butt fumble” infamy. Sanchez fumbled during a loss to the Eagles on Monday night, but it was neither caused by a butt nor returned for a TD, so things are looking up. Giants cover.
Jets (plus 3 1/2) at Bills
The Bills embarrassed the Jets by 31 points at home a month ago while starting fourth-string QB Matt Barkley. Now the Jets are looking for revenge, which I guess is the kind of motivation you manufacture when you are 0-4 in the NFL’s worst division. Bills cover.
Colts (plus-4 1/2) at Texans
The Texans have won nine in a row since starting 0-3, forcing me to consider the possibility that they may in fact be good. They did just beat the Browns, after all. The Colts ended a five-game winning streak with a shutout loss at Jacksonville, but I’m taking them with the points against Houston.
Against the spread: 6-7 (108-82-5 season)
AJC pick ’em (straight up): 10-5 (134-73 season)