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Cook’s 2021-22 NFL Gambling Picks: Week 17

Cook’s picks slipped a bit last week. He’s still within Hail Mary distance of a .500 season, but last I checked he wasn’t an Aaron Rodgers guy. Check out the odds, make some money or just comment on Cook’s choices!



Hi, hello & welcome to Week 17 of the National Football League. The sport is in mourning this week, as one of its biggest names passed away this week at the age of 85. Some are old enough to remember John Madden as a coach. People of my age remember him as a broadcaster. Kids these days know him as the name of the NFL’s annual video game. Madden was equally respected by each of these generations for his contributions in each of these fields.

There’s not much I can add to what’s already been said about Madden. I will say this: I don’t like to speak on behalf of the recently deceased, but I feel comfortable in saying this about John Madden…he would prefer that we all keep our focus on the football, since it’s what he loved more than pretty much anything else. So let’s do that in his honor. Your lines are subject to change & provided by Vegas Insider

Sunday, January 2

Las Vegas at Indianapolis (-7)

The franchise that Madden helped make famous gets an early start on Sunday, as the Raiders will be playing at 10 AM Pacific time. This means that most of their fans don’t even need to get out of bed before the game starts. Maybe roll out around halftime or so, depending on how the game’s going. Central peeps like to brag that their time zone is the most convenient for football, but this sounds even better to me.

We kinda have to pick the Raiders this week, right? The biggest shame here is that Philip Rivers wasn’t available to fill in for Carson Wentz.

NY Giants at Chicago (-6)

The Bears actually did somehow win a game last week in Seattle. I would get some perverse enjoyment of Matt Nagy winning enough games to keep his gig another season, so let’s root for that! As everybody has surely noticed by now, the Giants are offensively-challenged, so the Bears really won’t have to do much to cover.

Tampa Bay (-13.5) at NY Jets

It was nice to see the Jets get a win last week. They won’t this week. I’m liking the Buccaneers by any number they want to put out there.

Atlanta at Buffalo (-14.5)

As I write this, the Bills are one of two teams with nobody on the covid list. Since it’s not Sunday yet, there’s still plenty of time to change that. Meanwhile, the Falcons have a good chunk of the team on the list. Again, since it’s not Sunday yet, there’s still plenty of time to change that. The Bills have the better team and should shut Atlanta down either way.

Philadelphia (-3.5) at Washington

The Washington Football Team ended the season of one of my fantasy teams. Went into Sunday night with a 50 point lead. My opponent had Dak Prescott & the Dallas defense. My season was over by halftime. The Eagles need to avenge me. I have nothing to add here because these teams don’t interest me in the slightest.

Kansas City (-5) at Cincinnati

We’ve written before about how this Bengals’ season has been a bit of a rollercoaster. There have been some tremendous highs & some unspeakable lows. Right now, the Bengals are back at a high point after an impressive win over the Ravens helped vault them to the top of the AFC North and in charge of their own destiny. If they win this week, they will be Kings of the North.

The Chiefs still have a lot to play for even if they’ve already clinched their division title. They’ve got homefield advantage on their minds, and a bye in the first round. Oh, and they’ve won eight straight games and are the hottest team in the NFL. Yet I see a whole lot of media types falling in love with the young Bengals and proclaiming this to be their time. The Bengals’ time is coming. Ton of good young talent on that team. However, this is still Kansas City’s time. Patrick Mahomes ain’t ready to be put out to pasture just yet. The Chiefs are going to show these media folks ranking the Bengals’ players ahead of theirs just what the heck is going on here in the National Football League.

Jacksonville at New England (-16.5)

The obvious joke here: bringing in players off the street can only help the Jaguars’ chances. Patriots gonna roll no matter who’s playing.

Miami at Tennessee (-3.5)

The Dolphins have the second-longest winning streak in the AFC going, and they head into Tennessee to face a Titans team that has had issues at home against good teams. They beat the 49ers by three last week. The Titans also have some inexplicable wins & losses, they’re tough to figure out. I’m going to take the Dolphins and the points here, especially if that wrong Titans team shows up.

LA Rams (-3.5) at Baltimore

I guess ol’ Wink learned not to sell his competition short after Joe Burrow put up 525 yards on his defense, huh? As the old saying goes: “don’t write a check with your mouth that your covid-ridden players can’t cash”. That is how the old saying goes, right? Pretty sure. Anywho, Lamar Jackson is still looking iffy for the Ravens and that’s bad news against a Rams team that’s won four straight and is looking to clinch that division title and at least one postseason home game.

Denver at LA Chargers (-6.5)

Theoretically the Broncos are still in the hunt, but they’re in 13th place in the AFC right this second and need a ton of help. The Chargers are sitting right on the bubble and reeling after a loss to the Texans and a covid outbreak. The covid still seems to be an issue, but with lesser names on the team. I expect the Broncos to keep things close in a game I won’t be watching a second of.

Houston at San Francisco (-12.5)

Somehow, the Texans managed to defeat a covid-depleted Chargers squad last week. Can lightning strike another California playoff contending team? Depends on Trey Lance, it seems. 49ers fans tell me Trey Lance is the third coming (Montana, Young, his name is three, I think this makes sense but I’m spending way too much time explaining it), so I’ll take their word for it.

Arizona at Dallas (-6)

Will the good juju continue? Cardinals fans sure hope it does, as their team is heading downhill at the wrong time with a three game losing streak. Meanwhile, the Cowboys have gone on a four game winning streak since their Thanksgiving loss had everybody wondering about their future. Looks like they’re doing all right. Since the NFL has been about parity ever since I can remember, the Cardinals should be able to keep this game close. Also, we’re still waiting for the wheels to fall off of that Cowboys bandwagon since it happens every year.

Carolina at New Orleans (-6.5)

So last week’s Saints pick was one of those picks that happened before I knew most of the team would be out due to covid. It was a little risky anyway, but the minute I heard that Ian Book would be the starting QB and pretty much everybody else would be backups too, I chalked that one up as an L. These things happen in 2021-22. Crazy thing: that Saints team probably still could have beat the Panthers. This Saints team should have more of their good players available this week, so I’ll roll with them.

Detroit at Seattle (-7)

Jared Goff was out last week due to being on the covid list. He might miss this week due to a knee injury. Who knew covid caused knee injuries? Crazy times we live in, folks. I’m probably going to be horribly wrong here, but I’m gonna take the Lions making this game closer than expected. They won’t make it interesting enough for people to want to watch it, but it’ll be kinda sorta intriguing if you’re into that sort of thing.

Minnesota at Green Bay (-7)

Greg brought up an interesting topic that I didn’t personally see or hear much discussion of, but we tend to run in different circles. (He actually has friends.) I did find the post-interview hug kind of strange, but less for the covid/germ reasons than wondering if it was professional for an interviewer to hug an interviewee. Does Erin Andrews hug everybody she interviews? Maybe she became this generation’s answer to Richard Dawson, I haven’t really paid attention to these things. It does seem kind of odd.

People want to complain so much about the media these days, and one of the valid complaints one can have is that certain media folks are way too biased either in favor of or against people they cover. I’m of the school of thought that if you’re employed by the NFL or another sports league and not by the team, you’re supposed to be unbiased & treat everybody equally. Not so much if you’re a pundit, but if you’re a play by play/color guy or an interviewer on a game, you need to display some objectivity.

Maybe this is one of my old man hang-ups, as we now have faux “news” channels that don’t even try to hide their biases. So people probably aren’t as bothered by these things as I am. Also, based off how Al Michaels & Cris Collinsworth were talking about Rodgers the last time they covered a Packers game, they’d like to do a lot more than give him a “bro hug”. They’ll be on the call here, and it’ll be unlistenable.

I usually go with the Vikings in these instances, but Kirk Cousins hit the covid list on Friday and their backup QB situation is even less desirable than most. Gotta go Packers now.

Monday, January 3

Cleveland (-3) at Pittsburgh

Listen, we all know what’s happening here, right? Every great player has that huge performance one last time in front of his home crowd. As much as I personally dislike Ben Roethlisberger, I realize that most football fans value him as a great player and he’ll have a bust in Canton in a few years or so. Potential last home game against a team he’s owned his entire career? Come on, we know where this is going.

Big Ben is 25-2-1 against the Browns in his career. He’s got a higher passer rating against them than any of his other AFC North rivals. Oh, and while we’re out here looking at splits, he’s 5-0 in January regular season games & 17-6 on Monday night. All this tells me that the Steelers are the team to pick this week, especially if Vegas is going to be silly and pick the Browns.

(I kinda hope Vegas is right.)

Week 16 Results: 6-10

Overall Results: 110-126-4

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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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