The Bengals rolled, Slappy McHappyfeet played check-down Charlie, and, somewhere in the Great Vacant in the Sky, Omar Little shook his head. Indeed.
It was a rough week in the Murphy household, but that's why they call it gambling. The only thing you can do is stock up on ramen, cancel Showtime, and pray that a decade of declining newspaper ad revenues is but a brief outlier in this great Laffer curve we call life.
And you can play it safe, which means avoiding the Falcons plus-3 in Washington despite your hatred of the Redskins defense and your raging man-crush on Matt Ryan and the Atlanta offense. Instead, I'm relying on a common sense and mathematics, a strategy I last employed at some point in seventh grade. That means taking the Eagles at plus-3.5, which is where I have them in my weekly pool, where I'm a mediocre 17-15 on the season.
That also means trusting the Seahawks' fast and physical back seven to contain Cam Newton, who continues to make the long fall back to earth that we projected at the start of the season. I'll take that Panthers defense giving me plus-3.5 any Sunday of any week.
The Titans at plus-5.5 against a Vikings team that is probably overvalued after back-to-back wins against the 49ers and Lions. The Vikings are the better football team, but they are also the football team that squeaked out a 26-23 win over the Jaguars at home in the season opener. The transitive property of Gabbert suggests that Matt Hasselbeck is more than capable of covering, and perhaps even winning, especially with Chris Johnson on a fast track in Minnesota.
I'm never a fan of double-digit lines in the NFL, especially when an approximation of a middle linebacker such as Chase Blackburn will have to play a role in stopping a power running game led by Trent Richardson. That, along with the potential of 24-7 blowout becoming a garbage-time 24-14 half-point cover is enough to persuade me to take Cleveland, although it will be well down on my list.
Also in that category is the Texans at minus-7.5 on the road against the Jets. Houston is San Francisco with a better quarterback, better receivers, and more diverse running game, and the Jets still have a couple of quarterbacks whose end-of-season rating might break league average if added together. Forget about the Tebow era, it's time to start talking about the Greg McElroy era.
Betting Big Red
Sitting down at the start of the season and realizing that the Eagles were going to finish 12-4 frustrated me, not because I think that they have a flawed roster with a flawed offensive philosophy, but because I really do love the city of Philadelphia, and I won't have enough tears when I watch it burn to the ground when they lose to the Cowboys in the first round of the playoffs. Nevertheless, I realized that they were going to finish 12-4 when I had them at 3-1 going into a road game against the Steelers, and that they were going to win outright because of the dreadfulness of Ben Roethlisberger's offensive line and running game. Friendly tip: If you are an Eagles fan who always wanted to see the Terrible Towel used as a handkerchief, watch the game at the Fox and Hound in Center City.
Contact David Murphy at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @HighCheese. For Phillies coverage and opinion, read his blog at philly.com/HighCheese