If we have learned anything in sports, it’s that it’s all about talent evaluation, which tells you why the Falcons are thriving with Matt Ryan and the Dallas Cowboys are too often flailing with Tony Romo and Steve Phillips is sitting in that special corner of what-were-you-thinking hell, because, like, dude, I know every general can’t resist the scrappy overachieving infielder once in a while and running the New York Mets can fry the mere mortal’s braincells but did you really mean to firebomb your life over the Mark Lemke of female interns?
The Falcons have done almost everything right in the last 22 months. The Cowboys haven’t quite done everything wrong. It just seems that way.
Jerry Jones has picked the wrong players. He has picked the wrong coaches. He certainly picked the wrong surgeon of cheekology for his last nip-tuck.
About the only thing Falcons owner Arthur Blank probably would want from Jones would be the cash register receipts being generated by his new House of Gluttony, Cowboys Stadium (which is still without naming rights, as the Federal Reserve pulled out two weeks ago when the Cowboys had to rally to beat the Chiefs).
Falcons-Cowboys? This one’s pretty easy to evaluate. Dallas actually has some talent. Problem is everybody too often is running in the wrong direction. Think panic. Think brain melt. Think Phillips running head first into a wall. Again. The only thing I can’t figure out is why I’m getting four points to play with?
Take them. You won’t need them. Falcons over Cowboys.
(Where Knowledge is Good)
Georgia Tech at Virginia: The last time the Jackets won in Charlottesville, they won a national championship in 1990 and Georgia fans started leaving sticky notes on Ray Goff’s forehead about Zaxbys. You know, other than Goff, everything else is pretty much still on the table: The BCS and Georgia depression. Jackets cover 5 1/2.
Georgia: The Bulldogs are off this week. Uga VII has informed the Seiler family he will not be making next week’s trip to Jacksonville and will be viewing the game via Skype.
Florida at Ms. State: Tim Tebow has four fumbles, two interceptions and been sacked 12 times in six games, all of which makes you wonder where Florida would be if he was actually having a good season. Oh that’s right: 6-0 and ranked No. 1 in the BCS. Can playing in Starkville be much tougher than a bye? No. Gators cover 23.
Tennessee at Alabama: Vols coach Lane Kiffin said this week, “I don’t think there’s any doubt who the No. 1 team in the country is,” and he was talking about Alabama, which basically accomplishes two things Phil Fulmer could never do: Stick it to Florida while at the same time supplying a sufficient alibi ahead of time before getting pounded by Alabama. So much for the entertainment in Knoxville: Tide covers 14.
Clemson at Miami: Saw a headline. “Honeymoon over for Dabo Swinney.” Gee, after the long romance with the Motel 6 of candidates, who’d a thunk it? Hurricanes cover 4 1/2.
Vikings at Steelers: Jeff Reed is a lunatic defensive tackle trapped in a kicker’s body. He pummeled a convenience store towel dispenser in February (the towel dispenser started it) and after last week’s game was arrested for public intoxication, resisting arrest, simple arrest and generally being a complete drunken idiot, which, as it turns out, is now illegal after Steeler games. If I’m Mike Tomlin, I’m striking a match near Reed’s mouth and catapulting him toward Brett Favre. Steelers cover 4.
Saints at Dolphins: Chad Henne has looked pretty solid in his two starts. Drew Brees has looked like some implausible lab creation that just landed from Alpha Centauri. Checkmate! Saints cover 6.
Eagles at Redskins: I’m not suggesting Dan Snyder ranks among the most mocked figures in the history of Washington D.C. But like, at least when Eliot Spitzer turned into a cartoon, you could look at pictures of Ashley Dupre and think, “OK. I can see why he lost his mind a little.” But what possesses an NFL owner to sue financially strapped season-ticketholders who need to sell their seats for income, publicly emasculate his head coach six games into a season and turn over playcalling to Sherm Lewis, who was nearly five years into retirement and — I’m not making this up — was playing Bingo at a seniors center when he got the phone call? The Eagles lost to the Raiders. Turns out they’re the standard this week. Philly covers 7.
Packers at Browns: Twelve Cleveland players missed practice with the flu. If they start kissing opponents, they’ve got a shot to win another game. Packers cover 7 1/2.
Patriots at Bucs (in London): Seems to me the NFL could’ve excited football fans in London more if they had Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen walk down the street during a bye week instead of having the Patriots play Tampa Bay. Actually, Bucs fans wouldn’t mind that either for the next 10 games. Pats win but take Tampa and the 14 1/2.
Bears at Bengals: Chicago signed Jay Cutler to a $30 million extension after losing to the Falcons. So if he’s worth another $30 million at 3-2, what’s the quarterback they traded, Kyle Orton, worth at 6-0? Take the gift 1 1/2 and Bears on the road.
Last week: 8-3 straight up, 5-6 against the line.
Bottom dollars: 50-25 straight up, 36-39 against the line.