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THE BETTOR’S EDGE

Injury to Seahawks kicker made for a rude awakening

Seahawks kicker Sebastian Janikowski (center) hurt his leg attempting a long field goal in the wild-card matchup vs. Dallas.
Seahawks kicker Sebastian Janikowski (center) hurt his leg attempting a long field goal in the wild-card matchup vs. Dallas.(roger steinman/AP)

I have a six-month-old daughter, so falling asleep while watching a night game — even when money is on the line — has evolved into a common occurrence. The most recent example was Saturday night, during the Dallas-Seattle wild-card matchup.

I drifted off with about 12 minutes remaining and Dallas ahead, 17-14. In this space, I had Dallas giving 2. In real life, I had Dallas giving 2½. I remember feeling good about this action before I lost consciousness, particularly because Seattle kicker Sebastian Janikowski had departed the game with a leg injury.

When I was awake, I had been on a text thread with two other veteran gamblers (all of us had bet Dallas at -2½), and while I slept, Dallas seized a 24-14 lead with 2:08 to play. At this point, my phone started buzzing, but I didn’t read the messages until the newest addition to my family’s payroll awoke like a rooster early the next morning.

The text messages were eerie, an almost frightening look back at a glimpse into the future, as one of my friends feared the worst and predicted the outcome.

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“You guys know what’s coming, right?” he texted.

“Quick drive and a touchdown by Seattle; no kicker so they’ll go for two and make it.”

If this guy was right, Seattle would tack on 8 points and trail, 24-22, busting the 2½-point spread.

“Nah, we’re good,” chimed in my other friend.

Two minutes later:

“Oh Lord.”

“Here we go.”

“COME ON.”

Each friend followed with one-word expletives. I didn’t see these messages until 6 a.m. but I also knew what was coming when I looked up the final score: Dallas, 24-22.

Even when kickers aren’t on the field, they’re still capable of ruining your day.

This week’s picks (home team in caps):

KANSAS CITY (-5) over Indianapolis: Yes, the Chiefs have issues on defense, and yes, the Colts are a great story, emerging as a playoff factor one year ahead of schedule. But Wild Card Weekend is notorious for glamorizing teams that advance while making us forget why a team like Kansas City earned the AFC’s top seed.

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Over the course of 60 minutes, and after a bye, Kansas City will convincingly advance. Risking $110 to win $100.

Dallas (+7) over LA RAMS: Before covering the spread vs. NFC West bottom-feeders Arizona and San Francisco in their final two regular-season games, the Rams failed to beat the number in nine of their previous 11 contests. That’s one thing I keep going back to when analyzing this game, and here’s another: running back Ezekiel Elliott of the Cowboys is going to do everything he can on the big stage to seize the spotlight from his Rams counterpart, Todd Gurley. Risking $110 to win $100.

LA Chargers (+4) over NEW ENGLAND: The Patriots have won 15 in a row at home. The Chargers have won seven straight on the road — and covered the spread in all seven. So who has the advantage? It’s a difficult question to answer, and I’m not surprised this is the smallest spread of the weekend.

The Chargers have playmakers all over the field, and despite quarterback Philip Rivers having a poor career record against the Patriots, I’m standing by the future bet I made last summer on Los Angeles to win the Super Bowl. Risking $165 to win $150.

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NEW ORLEANS (-8) over Philadelphia: The Saints are not only the NFL’s most complete team, but they are beginning this year’s playoff run with last year’s stinging divisional-round loss in Minnesota still fresh in their minds. That’s a dangerous combination if you’re an opponent of New Orleans, and the surging Eagles are about to find out how difficult it is to repeat. Risking $110 to win $100.

Last week: 2-1-1, plus $140. Season: 41-35-2, plus $25.


Ed Ryan can be reached at edward.ryaniii@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @EdzoRyan.