NFL coaches insert themselves into gamblers’ lives far too often. Here are two coaching decisions that, if you had action on these games, left you with your head in your hands.
Week 5, Tennessee was a 2½-point underdog, hosting Kansas City. The Titans trailed late, 26-17, and with time for one more play found themselves on the Kansas City 15-yard line. Instead of going for a meaningless touchdown (i.e. back-door cover), Titans coach Mike Munchak inexplicably rushed his field goal unit onto the field. The attempt missed, time expired, and I — having taken Tennessee — sat motionless for 10 minutes.
Week 7, Kansas City was a 6-point favorite, hosting Houston. Kansas City led, 17-16, and recovered a fumble on the Houston goal line with 90 seconds left. Instead of punching in a touchdown, Chiefs coach Andy Reid knelt on the football, ran out the clock, and escaped with the 1-point win. Reid’s strategy was sound, but imagine betting on Kansas City and, before it took a knee, thinking you had a chance to cover?
Let’s make sure the decisions below — all based on new starting quarterbacks — can’t be upended by anyone with a headset.
This week’s picks (home team in caps):
Seattle (-11) at ST. LOUIS: This is a lot of points to give on the road in a Monday night division game. But St. Louis has a weak running game and its new quarterback is Kellen Clemens. These are factors that play into the Seahawks’ hands and should allow them to coast to their second straight road cover. Risking $165 to win $150.
KANSAS CITY (-7½) over Cleveland: The Chiefs will wrap up a three-game homestand by facing the Browns and their new quarterback, Jason Campbell. Cleveland cobbled together three early wins but the insertion of Campbell as the starter is tantamount to waving a white flag on the season. The only question will be how many points the Browns get each week. Risking $165 to win $150.
MINNESOTA (+9) over Green Bay: Christian Ponder is temporarily back in as Minnesota’s starting quarterback, and he can overcome Green Bay’s vulnerable defense. The Packers have become a solid rushing team behind rookie Eddie Lacy, but he has little experience running on turf, at Alabama and in the pros. Risking $165 to win $150.
Last week: 3-2, plus $130. Season: 12-13-1, minus $355.Ed Ryan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @EdzoRyan