Rookie performances rescue season standings

Enough Politics! Let’s talk football. Last week’s picks got off to a rough start when the Kansas City Chiefs failed to put effort into their match-up against the San Diego Chargers. Disgusted with his team’s performance, Kansas City’s Coach Romeo Crennel removed himself from the role of Defensive Coordinator after the game. Unfortunately, for Chiefs fans, Crennel did not remove himself from the Head Coach position. The column rebounded over the weekend and posted a very tidy 9-5 record for the week. That mark actually puts us over .500 ATS for the first time in 2012. As much as I deserve praise at this moment I would appreciate it if you kept your applause to a minimum. There’s still work to be done. Heading into the tenth week of the season our record sits at a respectable 65-63-4 but obviously there’s room for improvement.


Last weekend gave us a few memorable performances. I’ve been trumpeting the “Muscle Hamster” Doug Martin’s cause in this column for weeks now and the rookie continues to reward my faith. Martin has been upgraded to “Beast Hamster” after rushing for an astonishing 251 yards to go along with four touchdowns against the Oakland Raiders last Sunday. Martin had scoring runs of 70, 67, and 45 yards in the second half alone. For the Fantasy Football geeks out there, Martin’s scoring outburst resulted in the fourth highest fantasy point total ever using ESPN’s standard scoring. The fact that Doug Martin is on my own fantasy team has nothing to do with my excitement about the Hamster’s performance. Martin wasn’t the only rookie to break records last weekend. Indianapolis Colts quarterback, Andrew Luck, broke the single game passing record for a rookie when he threw for 433 yards in a winning effort against the Miami Dolphins. Luck is on pace to throw for just under 5,000 yards this season, which would shatter the old rookie passing record by over 800 yards.

Football traditionalists may long for days gone by when rookie’s earned the respect of their teammates by bringing donuts to team meetings and lugging shoulder pads off the practice field. Quarterbacks in particular would spend years carrying a clipboard, learning from an experienced veteran signal caller, before getting an opportunity to prove themselves in live action. That era of NFL football has gone the way of the dinosaur. Modern NFL rookies arrive ready to produce from day one. This season alone has given rise to four rookie quarterbacks that look more than comfortable facing complex NFL defenses. Luck, Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson, and Ryan Tannehill are quickly outperforming some of their more experienced counterparts. Rookie running backs Trent Richardson, Alfred Morris, and the Beast Hamster can carry an offense. What in the name of Vince Lombardi is going on around here! It’s utter madness and the success of these young players has thrown a serious curveball to those of us that dabble in point spreads. It wasn’t so long ago that siding with a rookie quarterback was considered a great way to give money away. That’s no longer the case. These kids can play and their success has made picking ATS winners even more challenging.

When looking ahead to next week’s slate of games you quickly notice that the first match-up of the week features Andrew Luck and the Colts travelling to Jacksonville to face the Jaguars. What’s a gambler to do? Forge forward making fearless predictions of course!

Jacksonville Jaguars +3

Half of the Colts roster has shaved their heads in honor of their Head Coach Chuck Pagano who is battling Leukemia. This Colts team is 5-3 after three consecutive victories and is showing signs of being a team of destiny. The Colts are playing for more than football and that’s tough to beat. Having Andrew Luck helps also. Colts win 31-20

NEW YORK GIANTS @ Cincinnati Bengals +4

Both the Giants and Bengals are coming of defeats from last weekend. Giants QB Eli Manning is looking to break out of a mini slump and the Bengals happen to be the cure all for what ails a quarterback. Cincinnati has to have this game to remain in the thick of the playoff race. Giants win 27-16

TENNESSEE TITANS @ Miami Dolphins -6

I’m going with the wounded animal theory siding with the Titans. Tennessee was absolutely embarrassed last Sunday by the Chicago Bears losing 51-20. Teams either give up or battle back after a beating like that and I don’t think Tennessee is going to quit on the season. I expect an inspired effort. Miami is still going to win though. Sorry Titans fans, your team just isn’t very good. Dolphins win 23-20

Detroit Lions @

As poor as Vikings QB Christian Ponder has played of late I find myself not trusting the Detroit Lions. The Lions are the type of team that plays well when nobody believes in them. Well, Detroit has won three games in a row and the media is singing their praises. Smells like a trap. Vikings win 24-17

Buffalo Bills @ NEW

The New England Patriots are coming off a bye week which allowed some of their key offensive weapons to get healthy. The Buffalo Bills season is falling apart. They can’t stop opponents from scoring lots of points. That’s a weakness the Brady Bunch is capable of exploiting. Patriots win 38-17

ATLANTA FALCONS @ New Orleans Saints +3

I haven’t bought into the Falcons success all season. Each week I pick against them and each week I’ve lost. Well no more! The Saints are a nice story. Drew Brees has the team battling back from some difficult circumstances heading into this pivotal match-up, but the Falcons are allergic to losing. Falcons 31-24

San Diego Chargers @ TAMPA BAY BUCS -3

You know how much I love the Beast Hamster and Bucs QB Josh Freeman has been on fire the last month. San Diego put the “fire Norv” protests to bed last week by defeating the helpless Kanas City Chiefs. Finding success in Tampa Bay will prove to be much more challenging. Buccaneers win 27-21

DENVER BRONCOS @ Carolina Panthers +4

The 2-6 Carolina Panthers appear to turning their season around after a brutal start to the year but they’re catching Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos at the wrong time. Peyton Manning has simply been amazing this season. I wasn’t sure how his surgically repaired neck would hold up to the rigors of the NFL, but Manning looks as good as ever. If the season ended today Manning would be the MVP. Broncos win 30-17

OAKLAND RAIDERS @ Baltimore Ravens -8

Oakland is every bit as bad as we think they are but the Baltimore Ravens have a knack for letting inferior opponents hang around. The Raiders certainly qualify as an inferior opponent. I still don’t fully trust the Ravens defense without Lardarius Webb and Ray Lewis. Ravens win 21-17

Seattle Seahawks -6

My beloved Seahawks defense has really struggled to stop the run in recent weeks after getting off to a dominant start to the season. Fortunately the Jets offense, led by Mark Sanchez on the field and cheered by Tim Tebow off it, is terrible. However, my anti-jinx policy requires that I side with the Jets. Jets win 20-19

DALLAS COWBOYS @ Philadelphia Eagles -1

This week’s version of the Toilet Bowl happens to be a very intriguing match-up of bad teams. Which team is a bigger debacle? Flip a coin. When in doubt side with the home team, that’s always been my policy but I’m going to break from form. I just think the Eagles are lost right now. Cowboys win 27-23

St. Louis Rams @ SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS -11

Both NFC West teams are coming off a bye week. The time off should help the 49ers get healthy and work out the kinks on offense. The Rams could take a month off and I’m not sure it would matter right now. This could get real ugly really quick. 49ers win 28-10

Chicago Bears -1

Could this be a preview of this year’s Super Bowl? Both the Bears and Texans have looked dominant for much of the season. Points will be hard to find against these defenses. The difference in the game will be Jay Cutler’s penchant for throwing passes to the opposing team. Texans QB Matt Schaub will do a better job of taking care of the ball. Texans win 21-17

Kansas City Chiefs @ PITTSBURGH STEELERS -12

It’s not worth my time to write about Kansas City. Their performance last week was embarrassing. Steelers, Steelers, Steelers, that’s all you need to know. Steelers win 38-7


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