Ah, Week 1 in the NFL. Finally, a full slate of meaningful games. After seven months of anticipation, that Thursday night kickoff game just doesn't slake the thirst of a true football bettor like myself. Especially since I took the points against that annoyingly great Seahawks D!
But Kickoff Sunday featured a full array of games to make my head spin with delirious wagering glee. I had two games split on the big screen, another playing on my phone and the Red Zone channel screaming at me from my tablet. Usually, after the long off-season wait I dive in to my bets with wild abandon and get my ass kicked right out of the gate, but this year I actually got off to a pretty good start.
My 10-point underdog Jags had a 17-point lead over the Eagles who got booed off the field at halftime by their hometown fans. The Steelers were trouncing the ever-hapless Browns 27-3. And after an early short-field touchdown, the Jets defense was manhandling the Raiders the way I school my two toddlers in basement football.
Then the afternoon took a turn.
The Jacksonville Jaguars, who had ominously missed a few opportunities in the first half to really take a commanding lead, decided to dress up a mediocre high school squad in their uniforms and sent them out to finish the game. The Nick Foles-led Eagles scored 34 unanswered mother-effing points to not only win the game, but also cover that 10-point spread. Note to self - bad teams find ways to lose. Always.
Speaking of bad teams, I assumed the Browns would follow in the Jags footsteps and at least even me out by falling to Pittsburgh. Instead, Brian Hoyer shook off a horrible start and the hot fetid breath of Johnny Football standing behind him in the wings and made like Bernie Kosar, leading the Browns to a rousing 2nd half comeback. It wasn't enough for a Cleveland victory, (see note above about how bad teams find ways to lose), but it was enough to cover the 6 points I was giving with the Steelers.
Even though I was pacing my living room trying to walk off those two stingers, I at least felt comfortable with the absolutely dominant performance of the Jets defense, since Gang Green was my big play of the day. When they made that field goal towards the end of the third, it at least guaranteed me a push. It didn't look like Oakland was any threat to score for the rest of the day after a beautiful bouquet of endless three and outs since their early touchdown. Then New York's Chris Ivory broke off a honey of a run for a 71-yard TD and I was now covering the spread and making up for all of the other darkness in my special day. As I made my way back from the fridge with my celebratory beer I saw them miss the two-point conversion. Some quick math made me realize that a garbage touchdown by the Raiders would actually give them the cover, but that couldn't happen after their pitiful string of possessions, could it?
Oakland didn't do much to scare me until late in the game when I started feeling optimistic about avoiding any shenanigans. Then the day's only rookie QB starter, Derek Carr, hit a few receivers and they started moving the ball down the field. In a play that excited no one except for Raiders backers, James Jones made the prettiest catch of the day with an over-the-shoulder grab while most of his body was out of bounds with a Jet defender on top of him but still managed to drag both feet unbelievably in bounds for the score.
One on-side kick recovery later the Jets were happy with a win, James Jones' parents were calling everyone they knew to talk about the catch and I was staring blankly at the screen like Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange.
And that's only week 1.