"Beat The Man" - Week One

Welcome back, my friends, to the show that never ends! Now that Tackle Football is here for real, we proudly present the 2004 debut of Scott Jones' "Beat The Man", an irreverent and knowledgable take on this weekend's marquee matchups.

Ahhhhhhhh…Football is back. Besides the opportunity to get away from your wife/girlfriend and spill beer all over your friends, bark at a television screen that can’t bark back, and walk with a higher sense of pride because YOUR team wins games on Sunday, Football affords one more thing…the chance to blow all your hard-earned cash on a point spread.

This is the stuff of bliss.

But here at “Beat The Man”, we want to do away with having a losing Football Season. We want to take our hard-earned cash to the Bookman (or your office pool), throw it down with unfettered arrogance and declare, “I OWN YOU!”. And when the scores come in and our cash flow has increased, we like to strut around for a couple days, boasting, “I CRUSH THE MAN!” Cuz it’s not just about the money. It’s about pummeling The Man for all those losers out there he’s mocked in the past. We’re here for our fellow man (lower case). And that’s what betting is all about…(did that fly?)

Over the years, I’ve had a pretty decent record vs. The Man. Sometimes he gets my money, but most times I get his (I’m no ‘Rounder’ though, eh reader J?). Last year I started off red-hot here, posting 12-2 against the spread the first month. But I got goosed by the midseason, the Eagles, and a VERY disappointing late season (normally my finest hour) to end at a record just above .500. Which means we bet a lot so the Bookman could make a little juice from us. But it gave us plenty of ammo to bark at television screens with teams we normally don’t care about. And infuriate the poor guy at the bar who sees you in your Seahawk jersey, going maniacal for the Vikings, while he’s just trying to squeak out a win for his lowly Browns. Just remember, we’re doing him and all those other losers a favor…riiiiiiight?

So let’s start right now. Here’s this week’s picks:

I see promise for Atlanta this year. As far as I’m concerned, last year never happened. Vick is healthy and wiser. The one-two punch of shoulder-buster T.J. Duckett and waterbug Warrick Dunn can do lots of things. They picked up a complement to WR Peerless Price in rookie buckeye Jenkins, and ball handler Dez White. And their OL grabbed Alex Gibbs away from Denver. Something else they grabbed – a Defense. Jim Mora likes to throw players at you on D, and he got some of those this off-season in rookie cover man DeAngelo Hall (out for this game), OLB Demarrio Williams, FS Etrick Pruitt, and DT Chad Lavalais. All of whom saw extensive action in the pre-season. Package them with an already frightening DL, all-world MLB Brooking (listed as questionable), and C Aaron Beasley (who can scrap a little) and I think Mora has what he needs to run his packages.

Guess who he’s running them against this week? His old buddies, the 49ers, who now suck more than ever. Surely the Rookie coach would LOVE to make a nice showing vs. his x-mates, eh? Book it.

The Fish are in trouble. Did you see that they just gave up a 3rd round pick for Lamar Gordon of the Rams? And DE Ogunleye for a serviceable WR? “Hi, nice to meet you, Panic!”. They’re a mess. Their OL is made up of new faces, they have no running game, and their QB has enormous ears. (I actually like Jay Fiedler, he plays hard, but those ears cause him to throw interceptions sometimes. He hears too much, “Hey Jay – throw it here!”). They’ve had an off-season of nightmarish proportions. Missing on most all of their targeted Free Agents, Ricky-gate, the continuing saga of teaser David Boston, Ogunleye giving them the finger, a 2nd Rd pick for a guy (Feeley) who couldn’t beat Dumbo out… bad things, man.

Can you name one team that is one of the best at avoiding panic, and knows how to field a team? The Titans. And that makes this game a lock. Because you cannot bet against a team simply because they’re not very good. They’ve GOT to be matched against a team that can exploit them. Tennessee will do that. (Note: This game plays on Saturday due to the continual barrage of Hurricanes those poor Floridians are encountering. Add that to the mix as well. Sorry, betting has no compassion).

DC –1.5 vs TAMPA
So that’s 2 road teams to start the season. That makes us a little nervous. We’ll phone E.T. and get a home game with the Skins. I have the Skins as a playoff team this year and a division winner (forget about Philly, I’m not interested). I like what they’ve done, and I really like what they have – with Joe Gibbs at the helm. He’s got his WR trio and a heady QB who understands how to play within a system. And he has the scariest RB threat since Barry Sanders. Gee, that’s pretty good! He’s also coaching for a team that’s been a bit trapped the last few years. They want to break out of that mold like a supernova and that stadium is going to be rocking like the mighty Zep, with Joe Gibbs back in war paint for Game1.

And what about Tampa? A lot of people seem to like their off-season. I’m not sure what they’re all so excited about. That roster altered at an insane percentage. I just can’t be comfortable with that at all (the Redskins are an exception to that rule). And what is there to get excited about anyway? Joey Galloway and Charlie Garner? Don’t think so. Welcome home Mr. Gibbs…

Let’s stay home for a bit. I’ll tell ya, as a Seahawk fan? I’m really frightened of the Vikings this year. I mean, they are really scary. We all know about the offense (and we now know Bennett can run the ball more than in just a simple straight line; RB reserves also very good as he’s not playing this week). It’s the Defense that scares me. Because – it’s decent now! They may field a competitive defense this year! Now THAT’S scary. Watch out for rookie Udeze on the end added to 2 very fearsome inside lineman (Hovan and Williams). If you can get to the QB, you can do lottttts of other things behind that. And behind that they return EJ Henderson (who had a very promising rookie campaign) and Chris Claiborne (who should be better than he is, but he’s worth starting) and added rookie Dontarrious Thomas (who I had a chance to see in pre-season and I mean he was all over the ball. A bit like Packer Nick Barnett was last pre-season). They also managed to snag a real football player in CB Antoine Winfield to a questionable secondary. Pressure the QB…

Now, Bill Parcells is a great coach. But is Dallas a great team? Were they as good as their record last year? Are they now, on paper, as good as last year’s record - this year? Can Testeverde play at a high level? What does Eddie George have left in the tank? Can they overcome the loss of Darren Woodson? (nice starters in that secondary, but the depth is weak). Can we stop asking questions and recognize that the Vikings are at home and they don’t have NEARLY as many questions? Yes, we can… Mine tastes like Purple! (Sorry, obscure reference to an old yogurt commercial there).

I’m a musician, so let’s get back on the road. Is everyone blind (faith)? Do they really think Philly is a better team than last year, or even as good? Does anyone remember that they struggled seriously last year early, then pulled out some lucky wins thanks to phenomenal play by then-unknown RB Westbrook (he was a ST ace to start). Got on the confidence train and walked through a relatively easy schedule… only to lose AGAIN in the NFC Championship game? Since then they’ve lost LOTS of their D and added a guy who’s great (but has injury concerns) at DE, and a real jackass who’s great (but not nearly as great as he thinks he is) at Wideout. They shelved the approach they’ve been using for years, panicked, and went for the quick fix star players (at the cost of many, many good players). If you add those 2 guys to LAST year’s team – you’ve really got something. But this year’s team is suffering major losses. Math is addition AND subtraction, don’t forget that.

Now, the Giants are NOT as bad as their record last year. They actually have a serviceable Offense and maybe a better than that Defense. Lots of turnover for them this off-season (not good) but with Coughlin at the helm, they will be ready to play on Sunday. I think I’m getting WAY too many points vs. the boo-birds in Philly, who just came off another reason to bash their team at the earliest convenience last January. Never, never take a team just because you think they can squeak through the spread and lose but cover. That is not what I’m doing here. The G-men have a chance to win. Very unpopular pick, I’m sure…

So those are the picks for the opening week to the Seahawks Championship Season. There are some other games I like. But that’s not what we post here at BTM. We post games I EXPECT to win. You’ll get 3-5 games a week; I won’t alter the amount of picks because I’m trying to catch up on a bad record, and I won’t lower them to hold a good percentage. I’ll give you the picks I’m willing to wager my cash on – every week. (And one other recommendation. Last year I had several readers take my picks and do a parlay. They missed out on lots of money. Do you REALLY expect me to go undefeated? Please, use a parlay if you just want to go small on me. But don’t come banging on my door when you’re down for the year and I’m ahead because I used the SAME picks, and bet value for each individual wager). Use your best judgement, I’m only here for your amusement and maybe to confirm or counter a bet you’re considering. And don’t bet money you don’t have!! Your wives really know how to rifle those kitchen appliances…

And what about our Hawks? I just said they’re going Bowl on us this year and I don’t have them on the list? We’re on the road. We’re also starting 2 questionable LB’s and a first time starting SS (Bierria), we’re playing a solid D-line and our O-line has been in flux all pre-season. We’re playing a very unpredictable New Orleans team who can beat pretty much anybody any week (or lose to anybody). Let’s just lay off that game and see if we can fix the road hex to star the year… (let’s do this, blue!)

Here’s a recap of this week’s picks:
TENN –3.5
DC –1.5
MINN –4.5
NYG +9.5

As always, beat The Man down with a shovel like he’s Joe Pesci and his cousin!

PS This article went in before the game, but won’t post until after, so this won’t count on the record but - I had N ENGL over INDY in Thursday Nights game. I think Indy has lost what they gained, and are in for a struggle this year (defensive woes). NE however, is better than ever. (Please post this regardless of how silly I might look, Editor D. I can take it!)

G. Scott Jones is a freelance writer who contributes regularly to Seahawks.Net. Reaction of any sort is always encouraged at schleprockhawk@sbcglobal.net.

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