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Cook’s 2021 NFL Gambling Picks: Week 9

A little disappointing but not a complete train wreck last week gives Cook hope to drag himself toward .500 by the end of the season! Check out the Gambling Odds, and maybe if his picks keep going sideways, just pick opposite of him and profit!



Hi, hello & welcome to Week Nine of the National Football League! I had other business to attend to for most of the Week 8 slate, as I was down in Atlanta working Games 3-5 of the World Series. Which was probably for the best, as everything that could go wrong for my fantasy teams did go wrong. Went 3-1 for the week, but lost Derrick Henry & got nothing out of Kyler Murray. These things don’t bode well for the future, but there’s still time to make adjustments. The picks…well, let’s talk about baseball for a minute instead of talking about last week’s picks.

There’s a lesson to be learned from the Braves winning the World Series. I’m not sure how many of these teams are interested in learning it, certainly not my Reds if their GM’s comments about a trade they made on Wednesday are any indication.

Here’s the thing about the 2021 Atlanta Braves: They actively stunk for most of the season. Didn’t get above the .500 mark until early August. Their best player tore his ACL in July. Their ace didn’t pitch once this season. The Braves had every excuse in the world to pack it in and wait until next year, when their best players would be healthy and they could get off to a more optimal start. Instead, management tried to turn things around. Made a bunch of trades at the deadline to fill their outfield with more talent. Fortunately for Atlanta, the rest of the NL East wasn’t too great to begin with, and the other teams that could contend for the title fell off at the end of the season. That got the Braves into the postseason, and they got hot at the right time.

The lesson? Maybe if you actually apply yourselves and try to win something, you might actually win something! Too many of these baseball teams are perfectly happy to stay in a perpetual rebuild, selling their fans on hope for a day that never comes. Reds management talked about how they were rebuilding throughout the late 2010s, then it was time to contend in 2020! We got two seasons of the Reds kinda sorta trying to win things and failing miserably, and now we’re heading back into the Reds not trying to win things. Because that’s what most of these baseball teams do now. Once the Astros & Cubs found some success by tanking for draft picks in the early 2010s, nearly every franchise in baseball decided that was the key to success. Thing is: it doesn’t work as well when half the league is trying to do the same thing.

Baseball has a lot of problems. The Braves weren’t a problem this season, at least not on the field. They were an example of what a baseball team can do if they don’t give up on a season. A novel concept, at least in 2021.

OK, now we can get to football.

Thursday, November 4

NY Jets at Indianapolis (-10.5)

So Mike White had himself a pretty big week against the Bengals. Can he do it again four days later? Somehow I doubt it. Colts take a boring Thursday night game.

Sunday, November 7

Houston at Miami (-6.5)

The most interesting thing about either of these teams concerns a quarterback that won’t be playing. The Dolphins wanted Deshaun Watson, and they wanted to know that they could use him. The Texans wanted more than Miami was willing to give. Nothing happened, other than Tua Tagovailoa learning his future isn’t exactly set in stone. To be fair, he probably already had an idea. Neither of these teams have won since Week 1, and you kind of want to pick a tie. We’ll go with the Texans keeping it close, I guess. One of those games where if you’re betting on it you have a problem.

Denver at Dallas (-9.5)

OK, so Dak didn’t play last week. Turned out the Cowboys didn’t need him against the Vikings. He should be good to go against the Broncos, whose offense hasn’t looked too great against less imposing defenses than Dallas’s unit. The Cowboys will keep the Broncos point total low here.

Minnesota at Baltimore (-6)

I’ve been trying to build the Vikings up for awhile now, but they’re that team that gets close and loses every single week. That’s why I’m liking them at -6 here, they’ll surely lose to Baltimore by less than that.

New England (-3.5) at Carolina

The Patriots should have a fairly easy time shutting Carolina’s offense down. Also, Bill Simmons told me that Mac Jones is going to lead them to the Super Bowl this season. Got those 2001 vibes going, you see.

Buffalo (-14.5) at Jacksonville

Bills? Bills. No reason to delve much into this one.

Cleveland at Cincinnati (-2.5)

I’d like to say it was surprising to hear that the Bengals lost to the Jets, but nobody that’s followed the Bengals for longer than five minutes was surprised by that. Losing to teams like the Jets after scoring big wins and attaining the attention of the national media is what the Bengals have always done. It’s very on-brand for them. Now they get to deal with their in-state rivals before a bye week. Seems like the Browns have had some issues lately, right? Not sure what’s going on with the OBJ thing, but it’s not like his being gone would affect them too much. I see the Browns winning this to send the Bengals stumbling, bumbling & fumbling into the bye week.

Las Vegas (-3) at NY Giants

Talk about teams dealing with distractions, I don’t think there could be a much bigger distraction than what now-former Raiders WR Henry Ruggs went and did on his bye week. I don’t expect to see that name pop up on an NFL roster again unless somebody else named their kid Henry Ruggs. Just a sad situation all around that created nothing good for anybody. Tough to transition right from that to a football pick, but that’s what the people want me to do.

It already seemed like the Raiders had pulled closer together after Jon Gruden’s dismissal, and I could see them getting even closer now. Derek Carr has been a strong vocal leader in the last couple of days. Travelling across the country is tough, but maybe the travel helps in this situation. The Giants have been looking better of late, but have a virus situation they’re dealing with. I think this will be a super close game and the Giants could get within three even if they don’t end up winning.

Atlanta at New Orleans (-6)

Two teams that don’t like each other here. Vegas seems to think that Jameis Winston’s status doesn’t affect too much with the Saints, and they’re probably right. Taysom Hill has had success against the Falcons in the past, and likely will again. I still think the Falcons keep it close in a game that they’ll be motivated in.

LA Chargers (-1.5) at Philadelphia

The Eagles looked pretty good last week against the Lions, but that was the Lions. Justin Herbert’s gone through a bit of a sophomore slump lately, but should rebound here. I like the Chargers to win by a comfortable margin.

Green Bay at Kansas City (-7)

Back when the NFL released their 2021 schedule, everybody had this one circled as one of the biggest games of the year. Aaron Rodgers vs. Patrick Mahomes? Seemed like Christmas coming early. Now that we’re a few days away, people aren’t as excited. Turns out the Chiefs offense isn’t what it used to be, and their defense is completely useless. The Packers were humming along and living up to expectations, but now Aaron Rodgers has the coronavirus and it turns out his “immunization” was in the form of some home remedies. Guess he & Dr. Oz got close during their time as Jeopardy guest hosts.

Green Bay got a big road win last week that people didn’t expect. Granted, they still had Aaron Rodgers at that point. The good news for Jordan Love? He gets to make his debut against one of the worst defenses in the NFL. I don’t think he’ll embarrass himself, and I also think the Packers keep this one close.

Arizona (-2.5) at San Francisco

Are the 49ers finally becoming the team people told me they were before the season? Maybe, they looked pretty good against those Bears with Jimmy G doing his thing. Kyler Murray didn’t do much to impress on Thursday night against the Packers and got a little banged up. I’m liking the 49ers to pull an upset and make things interesting in the NFC West.

Tennessee at LA Rams (-7.5)

Derrick Henry being out of the mix is very bad news for my fantasy football teams. Mostly because I was traveling on Monday and was unable to add his potential replacements to my squads. The Tennessee Titans will need to work to replace his output too, but at least there’s options there. A.J. Brown looked like the stud WR we thought he was against Indianapolis. Julio Jones returned to practice this week and would be a solid addition if healthy. Plus, they brought in Adrian Peterson.

The Rams won the trade deadline, making their defense even more imposing with the addition of Von Miller. Tough not to favor them this week against a banged-up Titans team, the question is if we like them by 7.5. Screw it, let’s go all in with the Rams. I respect teams that go for the gusto.

Monday, November 8

Chicago at Pittsburgh (-6.5)

On one hand, it’s a bit surprising that Peyton & Eli Manning aren’t working this game. Chicago is the third biggest market in the US while the Steelers are one of those teams that have fans across the nation thanks to their prior success. On the other hand, the idea of analyzing Matt Nagy’s offense could be very uncomfortable for the Mannings, given Peyton’s affinity for Nagy. In case you haven’t noticed, the Bears offense isn’t good.

I don’t see either team putting a ton of points on the board, but the Steelers can win by a touchdown or more.

Last Week’s Results: 6-9
Overall Results: 53-66-3

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Cook: Super Bowl LVI Final Thoughts

The Super Bowl worked for Cook’s betting picks, but not his fandom. He unfurls some feelings and thoughts about the Super Bowl, and the season that was.



As a fan of the team that lost Super Bowl LVI, I should probably feel disappointed. Distressed. Discouraged. Disgruntled. Disenchanted. Despondent. Disconcerted. Dissatisfied. Depressed. Dejected. Despondent. Down. Downcast. Downhearted. Lots of D words, basically.

Don’t get me wrong. A sports fan’s favorite team losing any type of game comes with a bit of a sting. You want your team to win. Even those mid-September baseball games where your team has already been mathematically eliminated come with a little sting upon defeat. So yeah, I won’t deny that the Bengals coming up a little short at the end of the game stung a bit. It wasn’t the optimal result.

With that being said…I’m not disappointed or distressed or discouraged or disgruntled or disenchanted or any of those other D words I mentioned earlier. There were plenty of Bengals seasons that left me in that state of mind. Most of the pre-Marvin Lewis seasons. A lot of those Marvin Lewis seasons did, even the ones where they made the playoffs.

The 2021 version of the Cincinnati Bengals gave me nothing to be ashamed of. There were certainly some ups & downs in the regular season, but we all know that the postseason is what matters in football & every other sport. The postseason was the downfall of the Marvin Lewis Era of the Bengals. They could make it there. They just couldn’t win a game. Against anybody. I’m pretty sure I could have found 22 people on the street and beat the Marvin Lewis Bengals in a postseason game.

These Bengals made us forget about the past. Three decades of not winning in the playoffs came to an end. They were favored against the Raiders, but not really favored because they were the Bengals. It was a big hump for fans to get over. I was more gobsmacked after that win than what followed.

I could barely even text people afterward. It was unreal. Once that happened, things got more real. There was this Tennessee Titans team that was the #1 seed but was doubted because of their quarterback and injuries that happened but still got the #1 seed. (Those fans are still very bitter towards Bengal folks, btw.) The Titans even sacked Joe Burrow 9 times and still managed to lose because their offense couldn’t take advantage. But their coach won an award so everything’s ok.

The Chiefs, now there’s a beast I still can’t believe the Bengals managed to beat twice somehow. They’re cutthroat sumbitches just like Dustin James, and have the best quarterback of modern times in Patrick Mahomes. We know they’ll be one of the top teams in the AFC for years to come. Beating them in Week 17 in Cincinnati was one thing. Beating them in the AFC Championship Game in Arrowhead Stadium? Another thing entirely. Crazy stuff, unimaginable before it happened.

The Super Bowl didn’t end well, obviously. There were still moments that Bengals fans wouldn’t have believed before they happened. Joe Mixon throwing a touchdown pass, for one. The experts expected the Rams to blow the Bengals out of the water, and that isn’t quite what happened.

So what did happen?

The Rams’ stars rose to the top, as cream always does eventually. The Bengals could keep Cooper Kupp & Aaron Donald down for so long. You can’t keep the cream down forever. The Bengals’ offensive line could hold the Rams back for 2.5 quarters. They hit a wall eventually. The Rams ran out of weapons other than Cooper Kupp. Odell Beckham had a good game early, got hurt. Kupp was their last option after that, and the Bengals could shut him down for a minute, but not forever. When it was the end of the game and time for stars to step up to the plate, Cooper Kupp got the ball. You have to tip your hat to him.

The Bengals didn’t capitalize off of certain opportunities. As much as we love Evan McPherson, an extra touchdown instead of a field goal would have helped. That early 4th down call that led to a Rams touchdown didn’t help. Why was Samaje Perine in & having the ball directed towards him during the last two Bengals offensive plays of the game instead of Joe Mixon?

Maybe we’ll understand someday. Maybe we won’t. At the end of the day, the result is the same. The loss hurts, but seasons have come to an end in much bitter fashion. The future is still bright. The Cincinnati Bengals may not have shed all of their stereotypes, but few can deny that this isn’t a different team than previous versions. Joe Burrow is still with us, and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. Ja’Marr Chase is pretty good, along with Tee Higgins. The main thing the Bengals need? Offensive line, which this upcoming draft seems to have a deep pool of.

No, I’m not any of those D words. I’m optimistic about the future of the Cincinnati Bengals. The main thing that worries me? Given how fleeting existence on this mortal coil seems to be these days, I just hope to be around to see that moment where the Bengals finally shut the mouths of those critics. If only for a moment. Critics will always critic, as I well know being one myself.

Who Dey.

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Cook’s 2021-22 NFL Gambling Picks: Super Bowl LVI

Get some of your Gambling Pick insights for the Super Bowl! Cook’s heart may be with the Bengals, but where is his money?



Hi, hello & welcome to Super Bowl LVI speculation! I’m Steve Cook, and I’m in a bit of an unfamiliar position here. In years past when I’ve done Super Bowl predictions & projections, I haven’t had any skin in the game. My Cincinnati Bengals are typically done for the season long before early February hits. Usually, I’m watching the Super Bowl as an impartial observer that doesn’t really care which team wins. This year, I have some interest.

Before we make the official Super Bowl LVI Against The Spread pick, we’ll look at some of the prop bets. Nothing in the world has more prop bets than the Super Bowl. Most of them are pretty ridiculous. I mean, we’re really betting on whether singers are going to show some cleavage? (Take “Yes” on that one, LA’s going to have some record heat on Sunday.)

Odds via BetOnlineVegas Insider!

Super Bowl MVP:

  • Matthew Stafford: +115
  • Joe Burrow: +225
  • Cooper Kupp: +600
  • Ja’Marr Chase: +1600
  • Aaron Donald: +1600
  • Joe Mixon: +2500
  • Odell Beckham Jr.: +2500
  • Cam Akers: +3000
  • Tee Higgins: +5000
  • Von Miller: +5000
  • Sony Michel: 6600
  • All others: +10000 or above

We all know that quarterbacks are the most likely Super Bowl MVPs, so Stafford & Burrow are the most likely to win it. As far as a less likely option goes? If Jalen Ramsey (+10000) shuts down Ja’Marr Chase and gets an INT in the process? He’d be my pick, and the best pick to get some money on. Von Miller might be a good pick at (+5000) since the voters know who he is.

Will the Super Bowl field goal record of 54 yards be broken?

  • No: -320
  • Yes: +210

Evan McPherson has made four field goals in each of the Bengals’ playoff games. This includes three over fifty yards. His longest field goal during the regular season was 58 yards. It’s definitely within the realm of possibility for him to get it done, so throw some money on Yes.

Largest Lead

  • Over 14.5 (+100)
  • Under 14.5 (-130)

You might think this will be a close game, and it could end up being one. But we’ve seen both the Bengals & Rams come back from double digit deficits during the playoffs. We’ve also seen the Bengals & the Rams have double digit leads, only for their opponents to manage to tie the game. So it wouldn’t surprise me at all if one of these teams got out to a big lead, only to see their opponent come back. Take the over.

Overtime Odds

  • Yes (+950)
  • No (-2000)

We’ve only had two overtime games in these playoffs, both involving the Kansas City Chiefs. One of them also involved the Bengals, so Yes might be worth throwing a few bucks on just in case it happens.

Over/Under: 48.5

I’m liking the under here. We’re talking about two teams without a ton of Super Bowl experience. Will the moment get too big for some of these players? Maybe playing at home helps the Rams like it helped the Bucs last year, but it’s still the Super Bowl.

Sunday, February 13

LA Rams (-4) vs. Cincinnati

The best argument for the Bengals just might be their inexperience. They’re the youngest team on average in Super Bowl history. They don’t know what they don’t know, which can be an advantage in big situations. Of course, Joe Burrow has plenty of experience leading teams in big situations, as we saw him lead LSU to a National Championship just before the pandemic started. His coolness has been a large part of the Bengals’ success so far, no matter what happens he doesn’t seem to get rattled. Of course, if there’s a time where something like that could happen, it might be one’s first Super Bowl.

The Rams defense worries me, as a Bengals fan. They have a couple of top-notch pass rushers in Aaron Donald & Von Miller. Tough to find faults in their games, and everybody else can capitalize off of being unnoticed. Joe Burrow might not mind being blitzed, but we all know that the main Bengals weakness is their offensive line.

Then the Rams have Jalen Ramsey working the cornerback position. He’ll have a lot of receivers to keep track of, but I feel like Ramsey Island is something for the Bengals offense to worry about, like Revis Island back in the day. If Ramsey can shut down Ja’Marr Chase, then Tee Higgins or Tyler Boyd need to take advantage. Maybe they can, but here’s the difference: I don’t doubt that Cooper Kupp or Odell Beckham can take advantage off of whoever’s covered. The Bengals just don’t have that secondary depth.

If the Rams can get the same pressure on Joe Burrow that the Titans did, there’s no reason they shouldn’t win this game by at least a touchdown.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy Super Bowl LVI!

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