Turn On The Jets Week 15 Best Bets/Rants of the Week

Chris Celletti with his Best Bets and weekly rants for week 15 of the NFL Season

Week 14 Record: 1-2

Season Record: 14-26-2

When I sit down every week and scour the NFL betting lines and look to pick three games for this column, it’s sort of like when someone hands Mike D’Antoni a clipboard during the defense portion of practice.

Okay, I know what I’m doing here, right. Wait no, I DON’T. What is a ‘hedge’ again? Don’t freak out, just pretend you know what you’re doing, say it with confidence and they’ll believe you.

-I can’t tell you how beautiful it was to watch last night’s Knicks-Lakers game from a Knicks fan standpoint. And especially from someone who since Day 1 did not want D’Antoni anywhere near the Knicks and had to endure three-plus seasons of his “system”, it was almost cleansing to be on the other side of a classic D’Antoni game. Get used to it, L.A. You’re going to have first quarters where you give up 40-plus points. You’re going to have games where you fall behind by 20-plus only to claw back in but ultimately fall short. You’re going to have games where you can’t get a stop when you need it – or all freakin’ night for that matter. Last night, all of those came together and that’s what you get. Yes, when the picture-perfect only man on earth who D’Antoni can win with, Steve Nash, returns the Lakers will be better. They’re going to make the playoffs. But a 39-year-old Steve Nash, who couldn’t guard a water bottle in his prime, isn’t going to fix all the Lakers’ real problems.

-I turned 26 this week, and 26 is very odd age. I’m now on the downside of my 20’s, which is fairly depressing. I have distinct memories of when I was 16 years old and some of those don’t seem that far away. So now I’m equidistant to age 36 than I am to 16. Weird. And one thing I can’t stand is when someone my age complains about getting older, and then someone who’s like 30, or 38 or 47 goes “Oh come on! You’re 26! Please.” So just because I’m younger than you means I can’t complain about my age? Untrue. I have no problem telling someone who just turned 19 that it’s a crappy age to be. 18 is fun because you can do stupid things like buy lotto tickets, and get into “18 to party, 21 to drink” places (who goes to those?!). 19 and 20 are agonizing. 26 isn’t great. Although if I were a Jets’ starting linebacker, I’d be the young buck of the group.

-If you want to watch the Best Sporting Event of 2012, HBO is re-showing Juan Manuel Marquez’s dramatic knockout win over Manny Pacquiao tomorrow night. I advise you to watch, or if you have a social life and are going to be out, at least DVR it. It will be worth the 40 minutes or so it will take up on your DVR and the time it takes to watch it. In my opinion it’s the best sporting event of the year. Two high-level technicians, two of the absolute best in the world at what they do in their fourth fight against each other – the first three featuring 36 action-packed rounds in which about 33 of them were a total toss up – and it couldn’t have unfolded in a more jaw-dropping fashion. Off the top of my head I can’t think of anything that was better from a sports perspective this year. Of course this depends on who you root for and what sports you fancy. I would expect a Giants fan to say the Super Bowl was better, some NASCAR freak probably thought the Pennzoil 400 or whatever was scintillating. In my mind, the NHL’s Winter Classic was pretty memorable, similar to the Pacquiao-Marquez fight in the event ending dramatically and living up the hype and build-up. And yes, I love boxing so my view is skewed (but that’s what debating sports is really all about, no?), and for my money it didn’t get any better than those six rounds in 2012.

And now let’s lose some money:

Jets +1.5 at Titans – Oh yeah I did!

Patriots -5 vs. 49ers – I’m a big Colin Kaepernick fan, mostly because when he torched the Jets in the Wildcat back in Week 4, I thought to myself “Oh, this is what the Jets could have with Tim Tebow, if only Tebow was actually fast like this dude.” And then I watched as Kaepernick took over for Alex Smith, saw him throw and run an offense, and the guy’s pretty legitimate. But I don’t think the Niners have the downfield threats that you need to really hurt the Patriots’ defense. I think the Pats hold San Francisco down a bit and continue their torrid offensive play.

Colts +9.5 at Texans – I think the Texans win this game but it’s a close one throughout. Houston’s defense has been exposed a bit recently. If Chad Henne can chuck it for 400 yards on you, you may not be as dominant as everyone thinks. J.J. Watt wrecking this game scares me a bit, but I think Andy Luck and the Colts keep it close enough to cover.

(And yes, I know it’s “Andrew Luck”, but sometimes I like to pretend that athletes use the different version of their given name sometimes. Oh how different things would be if B.J. Roethlisberger were starting for the Steelers this week.)

Bonus Non-Football Bet of The Week (Season Record: 5-8-1)

Tough loss for Manchester City last week against Manchester United. Of course City fans responded gracefully to United’s late winner by pelting coins at Man U’s players, opening a nice gash over Rio Ferdinand’s eye. Not unreasonable at all for a mid-season loss. And Bart Scott wants to cry about a few fans dropping F-bombs. How soft.

Man City looks to rebound at Newcastle and I’ll hop on the 1-goal spread at +120 and roll with a 3-1 City win.

Turn On The Jets NFL Week 14 Best Bets

Chris Celletti with his Best Bets for week 14 of the NFL season and a brief rant on the Knicks and the NHL Lockout

Week 13 Record: 0-3

Season Record: 13-24-2

Well, at least I’m not in last place in The Race For The Steak (sorry, Joe). At this point my picks are becoming valuable, because you can win some money if you do the exact opposite of what I say. I’m sort of like the new Evan Silva. This sucks.

Before we get to my picks, a few things swirling around my mind other than football, because the Jets are garbage and I suck at picking football games:

-What the hell happened last night? I’m referring to that basketball game played in Miami, where the sans-Carmelo Anthony New York Knicks destroyed the Heat in their building. The Heat have only lost three games by 20-plus points since LeBron Decisioned his way to Florida, and the 2012-13 Knicks are responsible for two of those. Do the Knicks have the Heat’s number? Or are these two wins just a weird anomaly? It’s probably somewhere in the middle. If the Knicks and Heat began a 7-game series tonight, the Heat would still be favored and rightly so. Regardless, the Knicks do match up well with the Heat and that’s not a mistake.

You have to hand it to Glen Grunwald and the Knicks’ brass for building a team with facing Miami in the playoffs in mind. The Knicks are strong in the defensive paint with Tyson Chandler and Rasheed Wallace and whenever-he-gets-healthy Marcus Camby, have good perimeter defenders in Ronnie Brewer, Jason Kidd and Iman Shumpert, and have perimeter shooting with J.R. Smith, Steve Novak, Raymond Felton, ‘Melo, Kidd, etc. What last night proved, if nothing else, is that the Knicks are a true title contender, a Top-5 or so team in the league. And they’re that way because they had a great offseason. They made tough and shrewd decisions, the most scrutinized being letting Jeremy Lin go and replacing him with Felton. Do you think the Knicks win last night with Lin at point guard? Do you remember when LeBron and Co. slapped the breaks on Linsanity in Miami last season? Also, the signing of Kidd looks more each day like the smartest roster move they’ve made in years.

There’s a team or two in New York, a certain football team comes to mind, that could learn a little bit from the Knicks.

-It’s hysterical to me that you can read a report about the NHL Lockout negotiations, the quotes from both sides, the predictions from the media, and if you swapped out the names and locations you could be reading about the Fiscal Cliff. Maybe the parties involved should do just that, swap places altogether and give it a shot. Chris Matthews interviewing Gary Bettman would be epic. “You know, Gary, you guys are like a bunch of bullies, shoving the the younger, littler guys into lockers and stealing their lunch money. This is the United States of America, Gary.  This isn’t Oak Hills Elementary School!”

-The Grammy Nominations came out this week. The Grammys are the most bi-polar awards ever. Some years all the nominees and winners are pop artists, and sometimes the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences straight up trolls pop music (also, the “National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences” is the most asinine, outdated name for the organization that gives out music awards in the 21st century. There is more science to Mark Sanchez trying to parallel park a car than there is to Katy Perry recording a song). Once every five years, the Grammys give out major awards to people you’ve never heard of or artists 40 years past their prime to serve as a reminder that their awards are meaningless. In 2008, Herbie Hancock won the Album of the Year award. 47 people on Earth have ever listened to that album. This year the five nominees are all popular artists, so expect the 2014 award for Album of the Year to go to k.d. Lang.

It will be a grave injustice if “Call Me Maybe” doesn’t win Song of the Year.

Pick time:

Bengals -3 vs. Cowboys – The Bengals like the throw the ball around and the Cowboys aren’t very good at stopping it. Could be similar to the Bengals’ blowout win over the Giants a few weeks ago.

Saints +5 at Giants – You don’t need to watch any Giants football the rest of the year because I’m going to spell out for you everything that’s going to happen to them from here on out. They’ll lose their next two (vs. Saints, at Falcons) to fall to 7-7 and it will be panic time. They’ll go into Baltimore in Week 16 and beat the Ravens on a late touchdown by Eli, then blow out the Eagles at home in the regular season finale to finish 9-7 and with a division title. They’ll host Seattle in the Wild Card round and win 24-14, setting up a date in Atlanta in the Divisional Round. The Giants will win that game 31-10, then visit the Packers in the NFC Title game and win 27-21 in overtime on a 53-yard touchdown to Victor Cruz after Aaron Rodgers fumbles a snap. Of course they’ll play the Patriots in the Super Bowl and win because they own New England. Woody Johnson will respond by firing Rex Ryan and Mike Tannenbaum and hiring Brett Favre as Coach/GM. Rinse and repeat.

Packers -6.5 vs. Lions – Anyone who has Aaron Rodgers in fantasy will win this week.

Bonus Non-Football Bet of the Week (Season Record: 5-7-1) – Boxing again! Should be a fascinating fourth fight between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez on Saturday. Quick primer: they fought to a draw in 2004 and Pacquiao eked out highly-controversial decision wins in 2008 and 2011. A fourth fight is definitely a bit of overkill, but all three have been absolute wars and this one should be no different. Marquez is maybe the world’s best counterpuncher and because of that he gives Manny fits. But the reason to be excited for this one of that Pacquiao is going to be in total knockout mode, trying to quell any doubts about the first three fights. I think Marquez will be a bit too amped for a knockout himself and may leave himself open. If Pacquiao still has any power left, which is certainly a question at this point in his career, he can score a KO or stoppage in this one. Pacquiao by KO or TKO is +200. Take it.

Turn On The Jets NFL Week 13 Best Bets

Chris Celletti with his weekly NFL Best Bets, including an argument for the New York Jets to fire Rex Ryan

Week 12 Record: 1-1-1

Season Record: 13-21-2

Let’s go back, briefly, to my pick from last week’s Falcons/Buccaneers game. I’ll just copy and paste it verbatim because it’s glorious:

“Falcons -1 at Buccaneers: I think the Falcons win this game, and to me, if they win it they’re going to cover a one point spread.

/Watches in dismay as the Falcons win by 1″

Just in case you guys forgot, the Falcons won 24-23. YAY.

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen me respond to Chris Gross’ excellent, well-thought out and researched piece defending Rex Ryan by naming him the Captain of Team Pro Rex, while countering and calling myself the Captain of Team Anti Rex. I’ll use this space to state my case as to why I’m just not a big Ryan fan, even though I’m like most Jets fans and fell in love with the guy in 2009.

Chris used mainly numbers to justify that Ryan is coaching a collection of players that simply aren’t good enough, or at least very much below the average of their opponents at basically every position on the field. There’s no arguing that, and I would never ever argue that Rex isn’t getting the full potential out of this lot of crappy players that the Jets have assembled in 2012. No team is going to win a lot of games giving major reps to guys like Edmond “Clyde” Gates, Chaz Schilens, Austin Howard, Matt Slauson, and, in 2012 at least, Bart Scott, Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas. The Jets do not have playoff talent, so I don’t expect Rex to lead this team to the playoffs.

Do I expect better than four wins at this point in the season? Maybe. But I certainly expect the team to be more competitive on a week-by-week basis and not get blown out five times, thrice at home. That, I believe, is largely on the coach. It’s my opinion that teams in the NFL, a league designed so that every team can win every week, don’t get blown out consistently if they have a truly great coach on the sideline. Regardless of the talent on the roster.

Now, Mike Tannenbaum deserves every ounce of blame he gets for the Jets’ being the way they are this year. He doesn’t deserve to be the GM of this team anymore. But you cannot simply blame Tannenbaum and nobody else, and that includes Rex Ryan. It’s not like Rex went on vacation all offseason and parachuted into Florham Park in mid July and was like “Woah, Tanny, what the hell is this? This is who I have to work with?” It’s impossible that Rex has NO say whatsoever in the personnel on his team. I understand that there are salary cap implications and the like, but you can’t tell me that Rex Ryan couldn’t go to Tannenbaum right after last season and say “Mike, I can’t go into next year with these four linebackers. And we need a better right tackle. And a fullback. And a…” and you get the point. And if he doesn’t have any say, at all? If it’s literally that he just shows up and coaches the guys he’s given, well that tells you all you need to know about the Jets organization.

What this also brings up is a question I often ponder, and that’s whether coaches make players or players make coaches in the NFL. I think there are strong arguments either way. Bill Belichick did not have great success as a head coach before going to New England and having Mo Lewis deliver Tom Brady into his lap. There’s no doubt that Brady, or any great quarterback, can hide the shortcomings of a head coach. But I personally think there are more examples of “system” players, guys that can thrive in the right situation, if used correctly and maximized by the coaching staff.

My favorite example in this case is Victor Cruz. I respect the hell out of Cruz, and I’m in no way trying to say that the guy lacks talent or anything. You don’t put up record-setting seasons like he did last year if you’re not any good. But football is the ultimate system sport. Tom Coughlin is an offensive coach, a wide receivers coach by trade, and I have a tiny feeling that he knows exactly what hes doing in terms of utilizing Victor Cruz. I look at someone like Jeremy Kerley or Randall Cobb, and I’m honestly not so sure that there’d be that big of a drop off if the Giants replaced Cruz with one of those guys. Maybe they wouldn’t put up numbers that were as gaudy, but it’s not like Cruz makes the Giants an 11-win team where they’d be a seven or eight win team with Kerley or Cobb. That’s because Tom Coughlin is a great coach – and it definitely doesn’t hurt having a top quarterback like Eli Manning either.

I’m sure there are instances in which Ryan has gotten more out of certain players than other coaches would. Maybe Muhammad Wilkerson wouldn’t be half the player he is with the Jets than if he were on half the other teams in the NFL. I don’t think Rex is an incompetent football coach, and this brings me to my next point that I’ve always feared with Rex, and that he’s a great defensive coordinator but an average-at-best head coach. There are a lot of signs that this is the case, from poor clock and game management, to the fact that he admitted that this season, his FOURTH AS A HEAD COACH, that he’s going to more offensive meetings and getting more involved on that side of the ball than ever before. I’ve never played football on any level, so maybe I’m naive and this is just how head coaches work, but if that’s the case then that’s asinine. You’ve always gotten the sense with Rex that his defense was all important, and the offense was just the other side of the ball. Which brings me to my last point, one that I think is the most relevant in today’s league.

I think that the type of football Ryan wants to play is archaic. That’s my opinion. The league has changed over the past 10 or 15 years, and you need to change with it in order to be successful. The worst thing that ever happened to Rex Ryan was being on the Ravens’ staff in 2000 when they won the Super Bowl with an all-time defense, a good running game and an otherwise pretty bad offense, with a middling quarterback and receivers. He’s trying to recreate that with the Jets, but it’s 2012 and that doesn’t work anymore. Look at the teams that have made and won the Super Bowl over the past few seasons. New England constantly wins 13 games and goes deep into the playoffs despite having one of the league’s worst defenses nearly every year. The Giants’ defense has patches every season where you think “they cannot win with this”, yet they do. The Colts, for years, had Peyton Manning and a bad defense, yet they won a Super Bowl and went to another. The Saints, the Packers…these are the types of teams that win in the NFL these days.

What all of those teams have in common is great quarterbacking, and that’s not something the Jets have. But it goes beyond that, and it’s about the culture of those teams and how they’re built. It’s not about punching someone in the mouth and giving up 10 points. It’s not about running the ball to control the clock and keep the other team’s QB on the sidelines. All those successful teams we just mentioned didn’t have shut down defenses, they had defenses that could make big plays at big times. They had the ability, and most importantly the desire and were designed to, put up a lot of points and hit big plays. Watching the Jets over the past three-plus seasons, I don’t get the vibe it’s just that the Jets can’t play offense this way, it’s that they don’t want to. Too risky. Too much potential for turnovers. Well if your defense is so great, how about picking up the offense when it inevitably turns the ball over? I’m sorry, you don’t hand-pick Tony Sparano to run your offense if you want to succeed in the NFL in 2012.

This is not even to get into the idea of Ryan’s boasts, the ridiculousness that constantly surrounds this team, etc. I honestly don’t even believe in that stuff too much. That’s the type of thing that is all well and good when you’re winning, and is a disaster when you’re losing. I have no problem with that.

And I honestly hate that I feel this way because I did love Rex Ryan when he took over in 2009. It felt like he changed the culture of the Jets, but I think the past two seasons are a clear indication that he really didn’t. He merely turned the Jets from a team that nobody bothered paying any attention to into to one that people love to point and laugh at and root against. Either way, they aren’t winning. At one point, us Jets fans thought that we had our coach in Herman Edwards, in Eric Mangini, when those guys surprised us early on by bringing us to the playoffs. I think Rex is a better coach than both of those guys, and I really hope that we don’t look back on him the same way we do those guys.

I fear, however, that we will.

Oh yeah, the picks:

Jaguars +6 at Bills, 49ers -7 at Rams, Jets -4.5 vs. Cardinals

Bonus Non-Football Bet of the Week (Season Record: 5-6-1): Boxing Bet Alert: Miguel Cotto vs. Austin Trout. I like Cotto at -230 to win, and under 9.5 rounds at +220.

 

Turn On The Jets Week 12 Best Bets: Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad

Chris Celletti with his weekly NFL Best Bets, including a needed rant on the state of the Jets

Because anytime you can name your sports column after a MeatLoaf song, you have to do it.

Week 11 Record: 1-2

Season Record: 12-20-1

I named my column so for two reasons. The first is quite simple, that at this point I’ll take two out of three of my Best Bets picks every week for the rest of the season. If that happens, I’d finish below .500 at 24-26-1. At this point I’d take that, just like the Jets would probably sign up for a 7-9 finish to this season. Thus, we’re at my second reason for why I named my column as I did.

I had the joy of ringing in the holiday season at MetLife Stadium last night, which means that I was there to see the Jets’ 2012 season come crashing down. When the Patriots scored 21 points in less than a minute, I thought to myself that this was as bad as I’ve seen the Jets play, as an entire team, maybe in my life. Yes, that includes the 4-25 stretch under Rich Kotite, the Brooks Bollinger games, the Neil O’Donnell games. Not only are the Jets 4-7, they’ve been thoroughly outclassed five times this year. Five times! Even the Jacksonville Jaguars keep games close – they were in it late against the Packers at Lambeau and took the Texans to overtime recently. At this point, the Jets are incapable of staying in a game with a good NFL team, which is inexcusable with the way this league is structured.

I, like many Jets fans, became enamored with Rex Ryan when he took over in 2009. Even then you could criticize his boasts, his X’s and O’s, his game management, but what we all thought he did was what we have been waiting for our whole lives – he changed the culture of the Jets. We all have to admit that we were hoodwinked, and had the blindfold over our eyes in 2009 and 2010. The culture has not changed at all. These are the same New York Jets. This is Pete Carrol, this is Al Groh, this is Herm Edwards, this is Eric Mangini, and yes, this is Rich Kotite. This is, unfortunately, Same. Old. Jets.

So what do you do when your team is not only this bad but this disillusioned? You gut it, and gut it now. As far as I’m concerned, I won’t be satisfied heading into next training camp unless two out of these three people are gone: Mark Sanchez, Rex Ryan and Mike Tannenbaum. So again, here, I’ll take two out of three.

Admittedly this is unrealistic. If Woody Johnson has the stones to fire Mike Tannenbaum – something he has earned – whoever the new General Manger is would likely want to bring in his own head coach, which means that Rex Ryan would be gone, and whoever the new coach is would probably want his own quarterback, which means Sanchez would be gone. And given that Johnson apparently loves Tannenbaum and Ryan, and Sanchez is owned a ton of guaranteed money next year, chances are they’ll all be back next season. Wonderful.

On to the picks:

Raiders +8 at Bengals: The Raiders defense is awful but they do put up a lot of points. This line seems a tiny bit high for me, and I like the chances of a backdoor cover given the Raiders can hit big plays.

Falcons -1 at Buccaneers: I think the Falcons win this game, and to me, if they win it they’re going to cover a one point spread.

/Watches in dismay as the Falcons win by 1

Ravens (Pick) at Chargers: John Harbaugh vs. Norv Turner? That’s a whitewash.

Bonus Non-Football Bet of the Week (Season Record 4-6-1)

Let’s go with an NBA Player Prop, something we haven’t done at these parts yet this season. I went on over to Bet US and looked for a Jeremy Lin prop ahead of tonight’s Knicks-Rockets game, and to my dismay there were none. I really, really wanted to take the under on anything they would have presented to me re: Lin (note: I’d be handing you free money, Bet US). Well, they’re giving me an over/under of 24.5 points for Carmelo Anthony. You know where I’m going with this one.

Turn On The Jets Week 11 Best Bets: Or Worst Bets?

Chris Celletti with his weekly Best Bets for Turn On The Jets

Week 10 Record: 1-2

Season Record: 11-18-1

Week 10 Record in Race For The Steak Picks: 10-3

For this week, I think it’s apropos to rename this piece “Worst Bets”, considering what happened last week with my picks. In the 13 games your Turn On The Jets staff picked from Week 10 of the NFL season, I went 10-3. The three games I did not get right were the Bears over the Texans, the Chargers covering against the Bucs and the Giants over the Bengals. If you recall (I’m sure my picks are ingrained in your mind), I picked the Bears and Chargers in my Best Bets from Week 10, and so desperately wanted to choose my Giants pick because I thought that game was a foregone conclusion. Then Eli Manning turned all Mark Sanchez on us.

Before we get to my picks for this week, I wanted to weigh in on a  few things, as I’m wont to do in this space:

-People have to stop with the “Poor ol’ Timothy Tebow!” shtick. Please. Yeah, he’s a good guy. He doesn’t deserve to wake up one day to see his teammates trashing him in the “media” – regardless of if the story is true or not. But let’s not get all worried about how unfair this whole thing is to Tim Tebow. Newsflash: the world of pro sports is a tough business. People love you, people hate you, the media is horrible, the fans are horrible, etc. But I don’t feel like I need to worry about the feelings of a guy who has won two National Titles in college, a Heisman trophy, was a first round pick in the NFL, is a MILLIONAIRE, and is dating Camilla Belle. I’m supposed to feel bad for this guy because of a fabricated news story that said that some teammates think he sucks? Excuse me if I felt worse for Chad Pennington when the home crowd cheered him getting injured and replaced by Jay Fiedler.

But the Jets only have themselves to blame for the mess they’re in, and I for one am glad in a way that the Tebow thing is blowing up. In a perfect world, this would be the wake up call Woody Johnson needs to learn that it’s not good to try and be Jerry Jones, and just hire competent football people (read: NOT Mike Tannenbaum), and let them run the show. Sadly, I don’t see that happening, because Woody Johnson is a horrible owner.

Along with many on this site, I’ve been a big time defender of Mark Sanchez (I would love to see him coached by Bill Cowher), but I would bench him on Sunday if the Jets had a viable backup (I don’t know, maybe someone like Drew Stanton? That name just popped into my head, I really have no idea why). They don’t. The worst possible thing that could happen to the Jets is to insert Tebow and win a few fluky games like the Broncos did last year, enough wins for the coaching staff to think that he could be the long-term solution at QB. Thankfully it doesn’t look like it’s going to go that way, and that’s a good thing. I have no idea who is going to be the Jets’ QB next year, but I know it shouldn’t be Tim Tebow.

-The Knicks are for real. You can no longer just say “The Knicks are off to a good start.” Did people say that about the Spurs, who started 7-1? No. People just said “Of course the Spurs have a good record, they’re a good team”. The Knicks are a damn good team, and anyone who doesn’t think so just isn’t being fair. This isn’t to say the Knicks are going 82-0 (although they might!) or that they’re beating the Heat and winning a title. But they’re a good team, one of the league’s best, and it’s going to be a fun season at MSG.

-I wonder what the narrative would have been if Jeremy Lin was still on the Knicks and did what Raymond Felton did against the Spurs, outplaying Tony Parker and dropping 25 while leading the Knicks to a huge win, while Carmelo Anthony scored nine points.

Okay, on to the picks.

Broncos -7.5 vs. Chargers – I’ve went with the Broncos for two straight weeks and they’ve done good for me, so I’m sticking with them. I also took the Chargers last week, which was patently moronic.

Eagles +3.5 at Redskins – I know, I know, the Eagles are just as bad a mess as the Jets, and Andy Reid is all but fired, but this is the exact game the Eagles ALWAYS win. Of course they’re going to win Nick Foles’ first start! This is how the Eagles do. Remember all the times they won games with Ty Detmer? Same thing. Philly fans are going to overreact like the South after Obama’s reelection when Foles leads them to a win on Sunday, and it’s going to be glorious when they start 1-4 next year and Foles has a QB rating of 61.

Packers -3.5 at Lions – Pack have won four in a row, heating up at the right time. Watch out, NFC.

Bonus Non-Football Bet of the Week (Season Record: 4-5-1)

Let’s see if we can hit a 3-way NBA parlay (chances: highly unlikely). Hawks -2 at Kings, Jazz +1 at Sixers and Timberwolves -2 vs. Warriors.

Turn On The Jets Week 10 Best Bets

Chris Celletti with his weekly NFL Best Bets

Week 9 Record: 2-1

Season Record: 10-16-1

Why do the Giants always look like such a good bet? It’s like every single week I look at them and I’m like “Yeah of course they’re covering that.” Look at this week, -3.5 against the Bengals? Really? I feel like the Giants win this game by four points or more 99% of the time. So am I going to go with them as one of my three highlight picks this week? Not a chance. Moral of the story is, no matter what, you just can’t rely on your rival when you need them. Not only would a Giant cover last week against the Steelers have given me a 3-0 record for the week, it would have helped out the Jets, ever so slightly, in their grave playoff hopes. So I won’t go with the Giants this week. This means the Giants will win by 17 points.

Conversely, my go-to look every week is towards the Jacksonville Jaguars. Of course they played in the useless Thursday night game, and I write my Best Bets piece for Friday, so this week I couldn’t rely on them.

That got me thinking about on these Thursday night games. This year’s full-season Thursday night slate is proof that NFL is immune to it’s own stupidity and selfishness. The Thursday night games have been AWFUL. Absolutely, horrifyingly terrible. And it’s no wonder why. Football players are supposed to have five, six days off between games, and it’s showed in almost every Thursday night game this year. On top of that, by guaranteeing every team in the league be featured, we’re consistently seeing terrible teams every Thursday.

But the immunity of the league is proven when you go on social media on Thursday nights, and of course in the television ratings. I didn’t watch a single snap of Colts-Jaguars last night. I’m admittedly not a total crazy football nut as some other people, and because of that, Colts-Jaguars does absolutely nothing for me. But when I went on Twitter last night, I saw people complaining about the game. This has been a trend every Thursday night this season. You hop on social media and see things like “Oh my god, this is horrible football!”  There’s an easy solution to this: nobody is forcing you to watch Thursday Night Football.

Don’t give me that you just love football so much that it doesn’t matter who plays or how miserable the game is, you watch it no matter what. That’s stupid. Basketball is my favorite sport to watch, I love both the NBA and college ball. The other day, Sixers-Hornets was on ESPN. I didn’t sit there and watch all 48 minutes because I love basketball. I watched Nick Young clank three contested fadeaways in a row and saw Greivis Vazquez chuck an outlet pass into the ninth row and said “Yeah, no thanks.”

So next Thursday when you sit there watching the Bills and Dolphins sling crap around on your TV for three hours, realize that you probably wasted some valuable time. You could have been doing something productive with your life, like playing video games, posting political statuses on your Facebook page, or best yet, writing a column about how bad the Thursday night NFL games are.

On to the picks:

Broncos -4 at Carolina – The Broncos did well for me last week and I like this line just right where it is, thank you.

Bears -1.5 vs. Texans – The weather could be bad on Sunday night in the Windy City, which I think favors the Bears. Their defense is just too good right now.

/Really wants to take the Giants. GAAHHHHH

Chargers +3 at Buccaneers – I really can’t explain my choice here. This is just a bad sporting event in general.

Bonus Non-Football Bet of the Week (Season Record: 3-5-1)

Last week I didn’t believe the Knicks would beat the Heat to start their season and I was gladly wrong. I’ll take it. The Knicks have been so impressive early on. Carmelo Anthony is scoring – of course – and rebounding and playing defense. Ray Felton and Jason Kidd are helping zip the ball around on offense, finding open guys. J.R. Smith looks like the Sixth Man of the Year. Ronnie Brewer (Ronnie Brewer?!) is draining threes. Kurt Thomas is fouling the living hell out of people. God I love Kurt Thomas. Steve Novak was only 2-of-8 in the last two games. Huh? GET WITH THE PROGRAM, STEVE.

Knicks -6 vs. the Mavs? In oh-so-eloquent words of Walt Clyde Frazier: YYYYYYYYYYYup!

Turn On The Jets Week 9 Best Bets

Week 8 Record: 0-3

Season Record: 8-15-1

Just as the season started spiraling downhill for our reviled beloved New York Jets last Sunday, the same thing happened for my Best Bets record as well, as I went 0-3 and fell to a horrific 8-15-1 on the season.

A few random tidbits before we get to my picks, because whatever I say about those is clearly a waste of the space and time in your head:

-It’s amazing how a national disaster like Hurricane Sandy brings out both the best in people and the worst in people. Of course there are going to be your looters and such, but you’re hearing stories about fights at gas stations and people stealing generators and other totally insane things. If Chris Christie and Barack Obama can all of a sudden become best bros and band together during something like this, surely all these jerks in the tri-state area can take a step back and realize that people’s lives and homes have been destroyed, and that’s a lot more important than whether they can have a light on in their still in-tact house or have a full battery in their Iphone. America is really awesome sometimes and really sucks sometimes, but I guess that’s just people in general.

-On that note, I don’t have a huge issue with the Knicks and Heat playing on Friday at Madison Square Garden. To me, the Marathon on Sunday is a different story because there are street closures all over the place to accommodate the race, and there are people all over the city that still need lots of help, whether it be food or water or even rescuing. By holding the Marathon, the city might be making it harder for some of those stranded and in need to receive help. I don’t see a basketball game being played at MSG having the same potential impact, but I can understand why some people would be put off by the NBA deciding to still play the game.

-And then there was that story about James Dolan and The Madison Square Garden Company forcing employees who couldn’t make it to work on Thursday because of Sandy to take personal or sick days to cover the missed time. The fact that I still root so vigorously for the Knicks and Rangers proves to myself that I can rightly separate sports teams from sports owners. Because if and when the Knicks or Rangers ever win a title again, I will be the happiest person in the world, totally independent of the fact that I will be sick to my stomach over the fact that Dolan will have won as well. That man deserves to never smile again.

-Meanwhile, while New York City, Long Island the Jersey Shore are just in the infancy of recovering from this awful natural disaster, we still have a bunch of suits who are worried about their money. On a much less serious note, of course, the NHL has to be absolutely kidding with this lockout, right? Rumor has it that they’re soon going to announce the cancellation of the Winter Classic, the annual outdoor game which is the only thing on the NHL calendar that garners any national attention other than when there’s a huge brawl in the playoffs or something. Nice job, Gary Bettman. You’re averaging a lockout every eight seasons.

And don’t give me the excuse that Bettman is “just working for the owners, trying to get them the best deal”. Yeah, that’s technically what he’s there to do, but it’s HIS fault that the owners have been hemorrhaging money so badly that they have to lockout after every CBA expires. How is it his fault? How about the gross over-expansion and moving of teams, on his watch, to hockey havens like Nashville, Columbus, Sunrise, Phoenix and Raleigh. Why is there not a team in Quebec City? Why are there three teams in the New York area (the New Jersey Devils are a total joke, a TV ratings and attendance disaster and should probably move now that the Islanders are in Brooklyn), and only one in Montreal and Toronto? How does this make any sense?

You have to think this is it for Bettman. NHL owners clearly care about making money, or else they wouldn’t keep telling Bettman to shut down operations every eight years. Once this is settled, whenever that is, the owners have to finally realize that whatever Bettman has done for them over the past 25 years or so simply isn’t working. If it was, they’d be making money. The conspiracy theories about David Stern planting Bettman in the NHL to take down a competitor are gaining steam with every passing day.

And now, on to the football picks, if you’re still with me:

Giants -3 vs. Steelers 

The Giants are either dominating games or just finding ways to win right now. That’s what good teams do. They’ll do it again on Sunday.

Broncos -4 at Bengals

The way Peyton Manning is playing right now, I can’t bet against the Broncos.

Lions -4.5 at Jaguars

A Vegas bookie apparently made the Jaguars 24-point faves against Alabama. That line is a joke. Alabama wouldn’t gain 24 yards against the Jaguars. But this Sunday the Jaguars play a fellow NFL team, and they’ll lose, because they’re quite bad.

Bonus Non-Football Bet of the Week – Season Record 3-4-1

I guess I’ll give myself a push for last week, when I picked the Knicks to beat the Nets in the game that didn’t happen on Thursday because of the storm? Is that acceptable, ladies and gentlemen of the jury? Since I was going to go with the Knicks’ original season opener last week, I’ll take a shot with their new season opener against the Miami Heat. While I was all gung-ho about the Knicks mutilating the Nets, I don’t think that will happen on Friday, unfortunately. The Heat are six point favorites and I think they cover that, pulling away late in a game that’s close most of the way. And then on Saturday we can all wake up to the inevitable 4,000 word evisceration of Carmelo Anthony from Harvey Araton. Welcome back, NBA!

 

Turn On The Jets NFL Week 8 Best Bets

Chris Celletti with his weekly NFL Best Bets. Who should you be putting your money on this Sunday?

Week 7 Record: 1-2 

Season Record: 8-12-1

In honor of Hurricane Sandy, Snowicane, The Frankenstorm – whatever you want to call that crazy thing we’re supposed to get early next week that’s supposed to turn New York City on its ear, I’m going to flip things around this week and start my piece off with my Bonus Non-Football Bet of The Week. I’m 3-4 on the season with these, but the game I’m going to pick this week is one that’s closer to my heart than any other pick I’ve ever made on this site – next Thursday’s season opener for the New York Knicks against the Brooklyn Nets, Round 1 of the New York-Brooklyn turf war. Now it’s way too early for the line for this game to have come out, but this pick is much more symbolic anyway. I’m taking the Knicks outright, whatever the moneyline is.

I guess its natural that the Nets are being overrated heading into this season. The shiny new arena, all the Jay-Z crap, a new name and all will do that for you. But let’s get one thing patently straight here – the Nets ARE being overrated heading into this season. Many people are picking them as a 50+ win team, saying they’re so much clearly better than the Knicks, and that they’re closer to the Boston Celtics than anyone else in the Atlantic Division. I’m here to tell you that that’s false, and that if the Nets were still the New Jersey Nets, playing in Newark, with those old uniforms, but had the EXACT SAME ROSTER – nobody would have them as a 50-win squad.

As a Knicks fan, I’ve watched enough bad defensive basketball to know how truly important defense is in the NBA. For years, the Knicks were an embarrassment on defense – last year that changed with the addition of Tyson Chandler. And all anyone who hates the Knicks wants to point out is how bad their stars – Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire are on defense. They’re not wrong in that criticism at all. So then why is everyone totally ignoring that the Nets have, without question, the worst defensive frontcourt in the NBA? Scour every roster and I dare you to find a starting center-power forward combination that would struggle to defend a potato and a desk chair on a pick and roll more than Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries.

The Nets are a good team, don’t get me wrong. They have a lot of talent and have a good coach in Avery Johnson. They’ll make the playoffs. But can we stop with waxing on and on about how great they’re going to be? This has reached insane levels – when the media is writing “ANDRAY BLATCHE REDEMPTION” stories, you know we’re on Mars with this whole thing. If the Knicks signed Andray Blatche, I can only imagine the crap they’d be getting. And if the Nets don’t win this year, I really don’t see how they’re going to improve from here on out. Like the Knicks, they’re pretty strapped with who they have. They signed Lopez and Williams to max deals and they traded for Joe Johnson and his crazy contract. Unless Lopez improves as a defender and rebounder in the coming years, I don’t see how they possibly get anywhere close to Miami.

And oh yeah, while I’m at it, how about we call Deron Williams what he is – an insanely talented top NBA player who has never won anything and bickered and pouted and drove a Hall of Fame coach to QUIT. Do people remember this? When Williams drove Jerry Sloan so mad that he quit in the middle of the season? Why is this ignored, but all people want to mention about Carmelo Anthony is that he was selfish and un-coachable and forced his way out of Denver? Why is Deron Williams allowed to have essentially done the same thing and gotten away with it? Okay, I’m done with the questions.

As for the game, I’m not going to go into crazy specifics as to why I think the Knicks will win. It’s one out of 82 games, they could lose by 40 for all I know. But if I’m New York (as long as Tyson Chandler is healthy), I run pick and rolls with Ray Felton/Jason Kidd and Chandler/Amare Stoudemire all night. Chandler is a marginal offensive player at best, but he should put up 40 points on 20 dunks.

Oh yeah, this is a Jets site – let’s get to my picks for this week.

Jets -2 vs. Dolphins 

The Jets absolutely have to win this game. They’re at home against a rookie quarterback – a situation they’ve done well in under Rex Ryan. New York’s defense has been a lot better as of late, so I don’t think the Dolphins will quite gash the Jets on the ground the way they did in Week 3. Also, the Jets are in a pretty good rhythm in the passing game (BUT HERP DERP SANCHEZ SUCKS YOU MORON LOLZ), and Miami’s pass defense isn’t very good. You’ll get my official prediction a bit later, but the Jets cover. Oh yeah they do.

Bears -7.5 vs. Panthers

I really like the way the Bears are playing right now; they’re a balanced offensive team, Brandon Marshall is quite possibly the best receiver in the league right now, and their defense is all-world. Even Jay Cutler can’t screw this thing up…yet. The Panthers on the other hand are a total mess. Teams have either figured out Cam Newton or he’s just not very good. It will take time to find that out for sure – like with all quarterbacks ahem ahem – but right now Carolina is one of the worst teams in the league. At home and on a roll right now, I like the Bears pretty big.

Saints +6 at Broncos

We know how bad the Saints’ defense is, but they’re still averaging almost 30 points a game. I just feel like anytime you give an offense like this an additional six points, you take it. This is likely going to be a wild, high scoring game. I don’t love the Saints outdoors, but I’m still going to take these six points and hope for the best.

 

Turn On The Jets NFL Week 7 Best Bets: Changing the Approach

Chris Celletti with his weekly NFL Best Bets. Where should you put your money this weekend?

Week 6 Record: 2-1 (Respectable!)

Season Record: 7-10-1 (Getting there!)

Underdogs are killing it in the NFL this season. It started early and most chalked it up to the usual early-season parity and also those weirdos who were pretending to be refs. But funny thing is that it’s kept up. Last week, underdogs were 12-2. The only two favorites that covered? Your New York Football Jets and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and I had ’em both. Yippeee!

So this week I’m going to do something a little odd, which is pick three dogs and hope I get them right. Underdogs cover or outright win every single week in the NFL, and chances are with the way things are going that three will win this week. Hopefully I nab them. Let’s call it Changing the Approach, and I’d like to offer a little bit of advice to a billion dollar operation who should try the same thing: The New York Yankees.

The Yankees, the Bronx Bombers with all their power and all their home runs and questionable starting pitching just got swept by the Detroit Tigers in the ALCS. They went 3-6 in the postseason, while batting a historically-inept .188. Their starting pitching, outside of C.C. Sabathia in Game 4 against the Tigers, was incredible. Delmon Young drove in six runs in the sweep, the Yankees scored six themselves. Alex Rodriguez’s world came crashing down, Derek Jeter’s ankle exploded into 19 pieces, Nick Swisher and Curtis Granderson looked like they were actually trying NOT to hit the ball, and …well, you get the point.

At least the Red Sox finished last.

But this has to be the wake up call the Yankees needed. When you look back at the 2009 postseason, when the Yanks won their 27th World Series, you now have to count it as an outlier. For all the years the Yankees went into the postseason worried sick about their starting pitching, it’s almost always been the offense’s sputtering that sent them home. The theme has always been the same: horrible with runners in scoring position, no productive outs, no stealing of bases/pushing the envelope, way too dependent on the long ball, and A-Rod sucking. This season, all of that rued its collective ugly head, but it went to epic proportions. If the Yankees finally realize that they need to be a more versatile offensive team and make changes to that end this offseason, the 2012 postseason might be the best thing that ever happened to the franchise. If not, we’ll likely be saying the same thing next year.

What the Yankees need to do is change the approach. Look, A-Rod will most likely be back next season. If they can get rid of him, they will, and they should, but we’re going to assume he’s back. And that’s fine, really. He just has to be the full-time DH next season, and see if he can give the Yankees 500 healthy at bats. Nick Swisher will be gone. He’s been a good regular season player, but it’s time to move on. He somehow makes Postseason A-Rod look like Ted Williams, which is amazing.

But what the Yankees can’t do is replace Swisher with another home-run-seeking guy. They already have power in the lineup with Robinson Cano and yes, A-Rod. Russell Martin will likely be back, who will chip in 20 homers or so (he just needs to be way better as an average hitter). Where the Yankees can make big, meaningful moves towards youth and versatility is in left field/right field, third base and center field. If I’m Brian Cashman, I’m shopping Granderson this offseason. The Yankees just don’t need a guy who is going to hit 43 home runs but hit .220 and strike out 200 times. They don’t need Adam Dunn, which is what Granderson has become. Another team will take him. Guys like him have value on some teams. The Yankees aren’t one of those teams.

If I’m the Yankees in 2013, I bring back Ichiro Suzuki on a one year deal and stick him in right field. Brett Gardner plays every game in center field. I get a younger, versatile left fielder and a similar player for third base. It almost doesn’t even matter who. Just someone who can hit .270, play decent defense, bunt, steal, and most importantly, someone who isn’t just looking to mash the ball into the seats every at-bat. The rest of the infield stays the same. A rotation of Sabathia, Phil Hughes, Hiroki Kuroda (who should also be brought back on a short deal), and perhaps Michael Pineda and Andy Pettitte is good enough, as was proved this October.

But if the Yanks write a blank check to Josh Hamilton and stick him in right or left field, I have a feeling that they’ll be cleaning out their lockers at about the same time next season. It’s not that Hamilton isn’t a great player, he’s just not the type of player the Yankees need. They have enough of those already. They need some more versatility, some more youth and speed, and they have ample opportunities to add that this offseason.

Now, onto the picks:

Ravens +7 at Texans

I think we can chalk this line up to ZOMG Ray Lewish is hurt the Ravens are toast! The Texans haven’t looked great for the past six quarters. The Jets did a good job against them in the second half in Week 5, and the Packers wiped them in Week 6. I guess you could say that the Texans are due to play a good game, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to have an easy time with the Ravens. This just smells like a field goal game to me. I think you take seven points with the Ravens against anyone in the NFL.

Redskins +6.5 at Giants

The Giants went 0-2 against the ‘Skins last season. They always seem to struggle with them. I could also see this being a little bit of a let-down game for the G-Men, coming off a big road win at San Francisco last week. For some reason I just have visions of RGIII running all over the place, keeping this a dogfight to the end.

Cardinals +6.5 at Vikings

Chances are this will be a really low scoring game, with two good defenses going head to head. Generally, those types of games are close all the way through. I actually like the Cards straight up in this one, so give me the 6.5 points.

Bonus Non-Football Bet of the Week (Season Record 3-3)

Shameless plug here – I’ll be ringside this Saturday when boxing debuts at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, on assignment for SBNation New York. Does that mean I probably shouldn’t make a gambling prediction for one of these fights? Yeah, but whatever. Of course, in typical boxing fashion, Saturday’s main event between super-exciting Danny Garcia and grizzled vet Erik Morales is in doubt because Morales probably failed a drug test, but there are other good fights on the card for boxing nuts. One I’m looking forward to is Randall Bailey against Devon Alexander for Bailey’s welterweight crown. Bailey pulled a shocking victory out of nowhere in his last fight against Mike Jones, flooring Jones in the 11th round after being out-boxed the previous 10. Bailey is never out of any fight, because he’s one of boxing’s toughest one-punch punchers (check YouTube for some highlights). Alexander is wildly talented but his toughness has often been put into question. The fight presents a compelling dynamic, and I’m going to say Bailey pulls the upset and retains his title. He’s at +450 to do so, so this would be another fairly big upset for Bailey.

Turn On The Jets NFL Week 6 Best Bets

Chris Celletti with his Best Bets for week 6 of the NFL season

Week 5 record: 1-2

Season record: 5-9-1

Before you scoff at my horrific record, please remember that I warned you how ugly this was going to be before the season. Also, I have picked 5 out of 15 games correctly, with one push, so it’s kind of like I’m currently batting .333 with a walk. Or something like that. Either way, at this success rate I should be batting clean up for the Yankees and earn a 7-year, $120 million contract this offseason. More on those awesome Yankees in a second.

A few quick things before I get to my picks:

-So now that the Colts beat the Packers last week, does this mean Mitt Romney is going to win in November? I feel partially responsible now if this happens.

-I can’t be the only person who pretends I’m a running back when I’m navigating my way through Port Authority, Penn Station or any crowded NYC street during rush hour, am I? It really is an art form, because if you don’t look ahead and pick out holes to hit, you’re really gonna end up like Shonn Greene – a.k.a. on your ass in no time. On Tuesday morning, I was pretending I was Arian Foster, weaving my way in and out of clueless commuters (Jets defenders) to find open space. I guess Monday was still fresh in my mind.

-Steve Novak is on pace for about 616/616 from three this year.

Okay, on to the lousy picks.

Jets -3.5 vs. Colts

I haven’t picked the Jets in any of my Best Bets columns yet, so I’m going for it this week. I actually think the Jets will get the running game going a little bit, which should help Mark Sanchez in what’s a crucial game for him. On the other side, Andrew Luck has a completion percentage that’s barely better than Sanchez’s, so I think the Jets’ defense will have a solid showing. We’re yet to make our official staff predictions, but here’s a teaser in that I think the Jets cover.

Bucs -4.5 vs. Chiefs

Brady Quinn on the road. Brady Quinn on the road. Brady Quinn on the road. BRADY QUINN ON THE ROAD.

Eagles -3 vs. Lions

I just think this is a god matchup for the Eagles, at home. Detroit is off to a bad start and the Eagles’ defense has been pretty good this season. As usual, if Michael Vick can avoid turnovers, the Eagles are a tough team to knock off. Remember last year when the Lions made the playoffs? That was fun.

Bonus Non-Football Bet of the Week (Season Record 3-2)

The Orioles are +175 to win Game 5. Of course the Orioles are going to win! Have you watched the Yankees recently? They’re reinventing how to play bad playoff baseball and feeding the appetites of those old time Yankee fans who yearn for the days of Bernie Williams and Scott Brosius and Paul O’Neill and guys who “played the right way” (whatever the hell that means). One reason I think the Yanks are done tonight is because they’re at home. How many times in the past 10 years have the Yankees lost big/deciding games at home, where all you heard was “it’s okay, we’re back at the Stadium”? A bunch come to mind: Game 6 in the 2003 World Series vs. the Marlins, Games 6 and 7 in the 2004 ALCS vs. the Red Sox, the 2007 ALDS against the Indians, and last year’s Game 5 vs. the Tigers. I hope I’m wrong, but I have a feeling you’ll be able to add Game 5 of the 2012 ALDS vs. the Baltimore Orioles to that list. Well, at least somewhere Jimmy McNulty and Bunk Moreland will be celebrating.