Hi, hello & welcome to Week 15 of the National Football League! I’m Steve Cook, and I’ve got some good news & some bad news. Let’s start with the good.
Good News: We had ourselves another ten-win performance in Week 14! I’m pretty sure these are the first two ten-win weeks we’ve had this season, so things have certainly been heading in the right direction. A bunch of people let me know they had good gambling weeks too…not sure how much I had to do with them, alls I know is that none of it ended up in my PayPal account. Oh well.
Bad News: The NFL (and sports in general) is in the midst of their biggest COVID problem of 2021. The NHL & NBA have had to postpone games this week due to teams not having enough players free of the protocols. So far, the NFL hasn’t discussed the idea of postponing games, and at this point in the season it would be really difficult for them to do such a thing. However, we currently have seven teams operating remotely and more positive tests coming in by the hour.
Which presents an important question that I don’t have the answer to: How does one pick against the spread when we don’t know who’s going to be available to play or coach?
Vegas doesn’t know either. Many of the Vegas Insider lines completely changed between Tuesday & Wednesday night, and they’ll likely take a few more twists & turns before then. All I can do here is give you what I know as of press time. After that, you can always follow me on Twitter @stevecook84 to see what I’m thinking & if changes need to be made in order to make you some money. Since I’m not making any money off this, it’s no big thing if I end up getting 0 wins in the column. It is a thing for you bettors out there, so I’ll try & update you with any changes I make based off of current events.
Thursday, December 16
Kansas City (-3) at LA Chargers
How big is the Chiefs-Chargers game on Thursday night?
If the winner runs the table — each will be favored every game the rest of the way — and the Patriots/Titans lose one game each, they're the No. 1 seed in the AFC.
— Matt Verderame (@MattVerderame) December 13, 2021
Possibly the game of the week here, as both teams are starting to look like the teams we thought they were heading into the season. Neither team had much of a problem with their Week 14 opponent, but their previous meeting in Week 3 was a humdinger. The Chargers won that one, and I think they stand a good chance of winning this one too.
Saturday, December 18
Las Vegas (-1.5) at Cleveland
Browns about to line up like this against the Raiders pic.twitter.com/rvsUzNJmGD
— John (@JohnHillbery) December 14, 2021
Since the Browns’ QB & head coach got positive tests, along with a decent portion of the team & coaching staff, Cleveland went from being six point favorites to home dogs. There allegedly hasn’t been talk about moving this game, but I got the exclusive from the NFL office:
Meanwhile, the Raiders somehow managed to avoid having anybody on the list. It’s only Thursday though. There’s an old saying about home dogs howling, but I have to go with the Raiders based off the amount of unavailable Clevelanders. We’re gonna keep an eye on this situation though, and if the QB & head coach end up making it through we might change our mind.
New England at Indianapolis (-2)
— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) December 14, 2021
Patriots vs. Colts has been one of the top NFL rivalries of the twenty-first century, largely due to the presence of Tom Brady & Peyton Manning on the respective teams. I mean…Mac Jones vs. Carson Wentz probably won’t be the next version of Tom vs. Peyton, but it is nice to see these teams in a big time matchup late in the season. The Patriots have been winning a lot lately, and I think that trend continues.
Sunday, December 19
Washington at Philadelphia (-7)
Mark Sanchez will be the game analyst with Kevin Kugler doing play-by-play for Washington @ Eagles on Sunday.
Sanchez always had really good insight. pic.twitter.com/KN7eb4ig1N
— Barstool Philly (@BarstoolPhilly) December 14, 2021
As if the Football Team didn’t have enough issues to deal with, now they got one of them there covid outbreaks. It’s a situation, yet they would still be in the playoffs if the season ended prior to Week 15. They’re still not getting any respect from Vegas, who thinks the Eagles will blow them out of the water based off of…well, I’m not really sure what. I’ll roll with the Eagles anyway, assuming that Vegas knows something here that I don’t.
Carolina at Buffalo (-10.5)
Is Cam Newton a sleeper agent Belichick will activate to destroy the Bills as a panther and increase separation in the division? I’m just asking the question caller pic.twitter.com/RAD2y000Ls
— TheFib AKA Mr. Editor (@thefib0624) December 13, 2021
The Bills finally get some lesser competition back in their lives, and it couldn’t come a moment too soon. Playing all these good teams hasn’t really worked out for them. Surely the Panthers coming to town will help the cause.
NY Jets at Miami (-10)
The Dolphins are 1 GB of a Wild Card. I hate that you gave me hope pic.twitter.com/nVGUWnXHjl
— Jay Shatara WWMT (@JShataraTV) December 13, 2021
Dolphins are right in the thick of it. I said this would happen. They could use a running back though, since all of them appear to be on the covid list. Does this mean that the Jets can make it close? Nah.
Dallas (-10.5) at NY Giants
Washington being as beat up as they are is going to continue to have ramifications well beyond just this game.
A Dallas win (over the Giants) and a Washington loss (in Philadelphia) next week gives the Cowboys the NFC East title.
— RJ Ochoa (@rjochoa) December 12, 2021
Am I going to pick against another New York team that’s a heavy underdog? You betcha! There’s a lot of talk about Dak Prescott going through a slump, but the Cowboys are still putting up points. I don’t see the Giants putting up too many this week.
Green Bay (-5.5) at Baltimore
In a battle of first-place teams, much of the talk this week with the Ravens and Packers will center on a toe and an ankle … https://t.co/N1xM1viGJG
— Jamison Hensley (@jamisonhensley) December 13, 2021
Lamar Jackson should be good to go for this game, as the ankle sprain isn’t as high as feared. Will that make much of a difference in the result here? Maybe not, but I find it hard to pick against the Ravens when they’re getting points at home. Even against Aaron By Gawd Rodgers.
Tennessee (-1.5) at Pittsburgh
Mike Tomlin says he's kicking himself for not paying more attention to Titans FS Kevin Byard when he came out of MTSU.
"I know better. A guy with double-digit interception numbers in college. Usually the ball isn't hitting them in the face." #Steelers
— Alex Kozora (@Alex_Kozora) December 14, 2021
I thought for sure the Steelers were going to come all the way back and beat the Vikings on Thursday night. It didn’t happen, but they sure came close. People are going to count Pittsburgh out, and they are wrong. As much as I would prefer the Titans to win here, it sure feels like one of those Steelers weeks. The extra days off should help.
Houston at Jacksonville (-3.5)
#Jaguars HC Urban Meyer was asked about Andre Cisco playing more (again). He said “Cisco is playing a little bit more, I believe, I don’t have his numbers in front of me”
Cisco played 0 defensive snaps yesterday.
— Demetrius Harvey (@Demetrius82) December 13, 2021
If you’re betting on this game you need to call one of those gambling hotlines that get plugged at the end of radio commercials. My goodness. The only reason to watch clips of this game was to see if Urban Meyer kicks somebody. Now that he’s apparently been fired 15 weeks later than expected, I got nothing. I do expect the Jaguars to perform well this week now that the dark cloud has been lifted. It wouldn’t be enough against most teams, but we’re talking about the Houston Texans here.
Arizona (-13) at Detroit
Jared Goff is 7-1 against the cardinals… Lions play them next week. pic.twitter.com/bjHALVfzyE
— Daltino🎄🎅 (@MajinDaltino) December 14, 2021
The Cardinals are going to be PISSED OFF this week and will certainly take it out on the Lions. Keep an eye on them next week though, since they spent Monday night with a bunch of covid-carrying folks.
Atlanta at San Francisco (-9)
49ers’ playoff chances would be around 35% with a loss and around 90% with a win. A game against the #32 DVOA Falcons stands in the way.
SF honestly might not be deserving of a playoff spot if they can’t take care of this business on Sunday given what’s on the line https://t.co/VES2HYDoAC
— David Lombardi (@LombardiHimself) December 14, 2021
I’m still not sure how the Falcons are in the playoff hunt. I can see why the 49ers are, and see them handling the Falcons by two touchdowns or so.
Cincinnati at Denver (-2.5)
Still can’t believe that after the game Joe Burrow had, with him leading the Bengals back into the game and storming the ball down the field in overtime, that they took the ball out of his hands on the SF 26 1st and 10.
— Blake Jewell (@BlakeJewellNFL) December 14, 2021
Most of y’all probably didn’t see it because of Bills/Buccaneers, but the 49ers/Bengals game was a classic example of a Cincinnati Bengals game if there ever was one.
-Get off to a terrible start
-Assist the opponent by making dumb mistakes
-Give up tons of yardage to the opponent’s tight end
-Make a comeback
-Come up short by making bad play calls
The more the Bengals change, the more they stay the same. This means they go out west & lose to the Broncos. Probably by a field goal or so.
Seattle at LA Rams (-4.5)
Seahawks scheduled to play at the Rams on Sunday.
Stay tuned. https://t.co/a61Kc3Cj0R
— Gregg Bell (@gbellseattle) December 14, 2021
The Rams were favored by seven on Tuesday night, before their Covid news trickled in. Obviously Vegas still doesn’t have much faith in the Seahawks. We also saw the Rams handle the Cardinals on Monday night, so there’s that to account for. I see this one being closer than expected, with Russell Wilson leading the Seahawks down the field at the end of the game down four points with no timeouts.
New Orleans at Tampa Bay (-11)
"T-shirt and hat games are big," Bruce Arians says of Bucs having a chance to clinch NFC South title Sunday with a win at home against Saints.
— Greg Auman (@gregauman) December 13, 2021
The Tom Brady Buccaneers are 1-3 against the New Orleans Saints. Fortunately for them, the one win came during last year’s playoffs. Even so, it’s become fairly obvious that even if the Buccaneers look like the superior team on paper, the Saints give them problems. I think the Bucs win, but the Saints will make this Sunday night game more interesting than people might think.
Monday, December 20
Minnesota (-3.5) at Chicago
— Daniel Gaona (@DanielGaona13) December 14, 2021
You know what though? As much as we’re not looking forward to another Chicago prime time game, you know the Bears are gonna make this thing close. Mostly because the Vikings are not big on blowing teams out, or winning too many games in general.
I just hope Matt Nagy gets to have fun for more than a half this week. You gotta feel bad for the guy at this point.
Week 14 Results: 10-3-1
Overall Results: 96-108-4
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.
FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK YYYEEEEEAAAHHHHH ORSDKDGLDRKKHOJSOGSGDHMKXHKHDLSDH
— Steve Cook (@stevecook84) January 16, 2022
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.
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.)
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.
- 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.
- 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.
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
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) February 9, 2022
Blank Park Zoo tiger Misha picks the LA Rams over the Bengals. Both team logos were scented with the same perfume so as not to influence the decision. Blank Park Zoo’s animals have been correct in picking the winner 8 of the last 11 Big Games. PHOTOS:https://t.co/DdxBxNPEgU pic.twitter.com/mwKa0iCBCR
— Meg McLaughlin (@MegMcLaughlinDA) February 10, 2022
— Lance McAlister (@LanceMcAlister) February 8, 2022
The Rams (12-5) and Bengals (10-7) combined to go 22-12 (.647) during the regular season, the worst combined win pct in a Super Bowl matchup, ever.
It’s the 7th matchup featuring teams with a combined win pct below .700. pic.twitter.com/oWzr3S1Vsh
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 9, 2022
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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