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Cook’s 2021-22 NFL Gambling Picks: Week 18

Basically needing a perfect week to break even, Cook throws out one last Hail Mary for the regular season! Does he pull off a helmet catch moment or fall short like a Jeff Fisher season?



Hi, hello & welcome to Week 18 of the National Football League! It’s the Season Finale, as we close out the regular season and get ready for the playoffs. As usual, the last week of the regular season is full of obstacles for gambling types. Some teams are resting their starters for the playoffs. Other teams have one eye on the game and another on the golf course. Then there’s the usual covid stuff going on. We’re here to guide you through the mess.

It’s been a mixed season for your humble correspondent. It’s been a great one to be a Bengals fan, as the team took the AFC North and will be hosting somebody next week. The Bengals are one of the few teams that can actually say “NOBODY BELIEVED IN US” and actually be telling the truth. Great story, now they need to win a darn playoff game. Fantasy-wise, I won one league out of four. Had better years, but have had a lot worse too.

Can’t say I’ve had a worse year making picks against the spread though. Heading into this week, there’s still a slight chance I can make it to .500 or better for the season. I just need to go 15-1 or better. SO YOU’RE SAYING THERE’S A CHANCE?

Eh, not much of one, but did we give up after the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? NO! Let’s go out there and make it happen.

Saturday, January 8

Kansas City (-10) at Denver

One of these teams can score a lot of points. One of these teams can’t. A Chiefs win puts them within reach of the one seed if disaster befalls the Titans, and they’ll take care of it with ease.

Dallas (-7) at Philadelphia

The Eagles have a ton of people on the covid list at the moment, and realistically don’t have a lot to play for here anyway. They’re currently seventh and can move up to sixth if certain things break their way. As far as both conferences go, I am of the opinion that the difference between the second & third seed won’t be that much. The Cowboys could move up to the 2 seed, which would be interesting if the Eagles stayed at 7. I see the Cowboys winning here by about eight or nine points.

Sunday, January 9

Green Bay (-4) at Detroit

The Packers have clinched the 1 seed, but Aaron Rodgers has made it clear that he wants to play on Sunday. Since there’s not an ounce of drama in this game other than where the Lions end up in draft order, I’m going to take a minute to weigh in on this whole Aaron Rodgers MVP debate. Hub Arkush, Chicago based football writer, has an MVP vote and he said on a radio appearance that he’s not going to give it to Aaron Rodgers because he’s “the biggest jerk in the league”. This led to a ton of outrage from other media types, Rodgers calling Arkush a bum, and Arkush penning a lame apology taking back everything he’d ever said.

Here’s the thing, which was something I was thinking about myself before this particular debacle took place. Everybody’s telling me that Rodgers or Jonathan Taylor have to be the only candidates for MVP, with Rodgers the clear favorite. After the last couple of weeks I see some people throwing Joe Burrow’s name out there, which is pretty cool. The question I have to people who are telling me that Aaron Rodgers is the MVP, the greatest quarterback of all time and the best thing since sliced bread:

Who leads the NFL in passing yards and touchdowns?

Why, that would be forty-four year old Tom Brady. There was a time when somebody that old still playing in games would be a “nice story”, not leading the league in various statistics. Isn’t he the obvious choice for MVP considering his team has a division title and nothing to worry about this weekend in spite of all the distractions surrounding them? Sure seems like it to me. I don’t care what Rodgers did or didn’t do off the field, none of it makes him a better quarterback than Tom Brady in my eyes.

Chicago at Minnesota (-3.5)

This could be the last game for Matt Nagy & Mike Zimmer as head coaches of their respective teams, both of which had high expectations that weren’t met this season. I’m a Zimmer fan from his days in Cincinnati, but he’s had eight seasons in Minnesota and things aren’t trending in the right direction. I get it if the Vikings want to move on. Nagy’s had four seasons in Chicago and it’s been all downhill from his first season. As hyperactive as the Bears fan base can be, I can’t fault them too much for wanting a change.

That being said, I think it’d be hilarious if the Bears won here and Nagy ended up keeping his job. Come on, you gotta give a coach who wins three straight games with three different quarterbacks some credit, right?

Indianapolis (-15.5) at Jacksonville

The Colts have struggled against some bad Jaguars teams, but they’ve never played a Jaguars team this bad. I realize that the whole “haven’t won in Jacksonville since 2014” thing is a little daunting, but the streak has to end at some point. It would have last year if the Colts immediately knew what they had with Jonathan Taylor. I think they win…but somehow, the Jaguars keep it within two touchdowns. Do you believe in miracles?

Tennessee (-10) at Houston

The Texans have been looking better lately, but the Titans have too much to play for here. A victory gives them the 1 seed and a week off before joining the playoff fun. You don’t wanna mess that up, especially since it’ll give Derrick Henry an extra week to work back into his groove.

Washington (-7) at NY Giants

Joe Judge has become quite a divisive figure during his two seasons as head coach of the Giants. Fans & observers see him as a man in over his head. Players support him and seem to think things are headed in the right direction, regardless of what the scoreboard might show. In fairness, most Bengals fans weren’t too sure about Zac Taylor after his first two seasons, and now he’s one of the betting favorites for Coach of the Year. Thing is, Taylor got Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase and some key acquisitions to aid his effort. Judge has Daniel Jones, who we’ve at least established isn’t Joe Burrow. The jury’s still out, but Judge will probably need more than 4-6 wins to keep going beyond 2022.

I don’t see him getting a win this week. The Giants have looked pretty awful lately, and the Football Team has at least looked competent enough to beat teams that aren’t the Cowboys or Eagles.

Pittsburgh at Baltimore (-5.5)

There is still a way for both of these teams to make the playoffs. The Steelers need to beat Baltimore, the Colts to lose to the Jags, and a Chargers/Raiders game that isn’t a tie. Not the most likely path in the road, but not impossible. The Ravens need to beat Pittsburgh, the Raiders to beat the Chargers, the Jags to beat the Colts and the Patriots to either defeat or tie Miami. Again, not impossible. So you see why they’re trying to get Lamar Jackson out there this week, as he greatly increases their chances of winning.

Could go either way, I’ll take the Steelers because it’s going to be a close one. It usually is with these two teams.

Cincinnati at Cleveland (-6)

I haven’t seen a line on a game swing like this one has. After it was announced that Baker Mayfield would be sitting out, the Bengals were 3.5 point favorites. After Joe Mixon & some other Bengals went on the covid list, and it was announced Joe Burrow wouldn’t be playing so he could rest his knee, Vegas jumped all over the Browns. One thing we do know for sure: a lot of second-stringers are going to take this game as an opportunity. They can make some big plays & get some good film out there for coaches & scouts to notice during the off-season. Matt Flynn got a heck of a lot of guaranteed money from the Seattle Seahawks out of a game similar to this one.

The Bengals are AFC North Champions. They aren’t going to beat the Browns this season. Funny how things work, isn’t it?

New England (-6.5) at Miami

I tried to give the Dolphins a little credit last week and they laid an egg against the Titans. Never again, at least not this season. Take the Patriots to handle their business while hoping the Jets can do something.

NY Jets at Buffalo (-16)

The Jets have looked better the last few weeks, but this is a bad matchup for them. The Bills will be looking to clinch the AFC East in impressive fashion, and that’s exactly what they’ll do.

Carolina at Tampa Bay (-8)

Some drama & distractions going on in Tampa, but they won’t make enough of a difference to give Carolina any kind of a chance. The Panthers are just too much of a mess. The Buccaneers will roll into the playoffs & get ready for next week.

I’ve been told I need to mention Antonio Brown here because everybody else is. I’d like to wait & see what develops before making too many rash judgments in public. Not the most popular of stances, I know, but I gotta ride the fence here. Too much that I don’t know.

New Orleans (-4.5) at Atlanta

Saints/Falcons is a pretty big rivalry, and there’s a lot on the line for New Orleans here. They need to beat the Falcons, and they need the Rams to beat the 49ers. There’s a lot on the line for Atlanta as well, as they’d love to spoil the Saints’ plans of playoff glory. I see this being a close game, so take the Falcons.

Seattle at Arizona (-6.5)

A win here and a Rams loss would give the Cardinals the NFC West title and a home game next week. Seems like plenty of motivation to me. The Seahawks will be motivated to go home and figuring out what they’re doing next season.

San Francisco at LA Rams (-4.5)

The Rams have lost five straight to the 49ers, which is good news for San Francisco considering that they need to win here to get a playoff berth. Another game that I can see going either way, and both teams have a ton on the line. Go with the 49ers and them points.

LA Chargers (-3) at Las Vegas

As funny as it would be for the Chargers & Raiders to play to a tie on purpose, I can guarantee you that it won’t happen. There isn’t enough trust between these two long-time division rivals to make it happen. Probably some hard feelings from Raiders management over the whole Los Angeles move they were going to make together that fell through. Likely some jealousy from Chargers management over being the number three team in So Cal all those years. Nah, if this thing ends up a tie it definitely won’t be on purpose.

I’d like to see the Raiders win it because it’d be a better story. We wrote them off after the Jon Gruden debacle & all the other things that have happened, but they just kept playing through it, getting big wins at important times. They need one more. They could also get in with that Colts loss we keep talking about & a Steelers loss to the Ravens. Not likely, but not impossible. The Chargers are probably the better team, but have a knack for coming up short at moments like this. Vegas has come up big in similar moments. Take the Raiders and the points.

Week 17 Results: 9-7

Overall Results: 119-133-4

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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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