By FRED FAOUR
The NFL season kicks off tonight — finally — after weeks of meaningless preseason “action.” The Super Bowl rematch heads to Denver, where the new-look Broncos take on the relatively same-look Carolina Panthers. It kicks off an NFL weekend that will also feature the Texans-Bears, Saints-Raiders and Cowboys-Giants. Get ready for the standard week 1 overreactions no matter what happens over the next four days.
Meanwhile, our good friends at Whitmeyer’s Distilling have a great setup for football weekends. Tastings and tours are at 6 p.m. tonight and Friday, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday. They have a terrific bar setup in the new place and it is an awesome spot to watch all the games. Tours are just $10 and you get to sample all of the products, including their limited release items. (You will love the single barrel). You can also buy bottles to take home. It is well worth your time. Travis and Chris Whitmeyer are great friends who make a terrific product. Now on with the show….
Potential plays for the weekend: I am looking at between 3-5 games as potential plays this weekend. I generally don’t make decisions until right before game time after monitoring line moves. I might wind up playing all five. I might play one. I will mention what games I actually play on the show. I am not a tout who is selling picks. I am offering opinions on some games I like. Hopefully you have listened to the awesome audio book An Introduction to Sports Betting: Blitz Style and can come up with your own plays.
Tonight I have nothing on the NFL. Maybe lean under but I will be staying away. However, I am taking a hard look at Syracuse plus-14.5 at home against Louisville. Love Thursday night home dogs in college ball, and there has to be a little overreaction to Louisville crushing an overmatched team last week.
On Saturday, I probably will play Washington State plus 11.5 at Boise. Another classic overreaction to last week. Boise rolled, while WSU lost to Eastern Washington, an FCS school. The Cougars also lost to an FCS school last year and went on to win eight games. And Eastern Washington is not your standard FCS team; that’s a legitimate, year-in, year-out title contender. No shame in losing to them. Bounce back game for the Cougars.
I am also curious on Penn State plus 5.5 at Pitt but will probably pass.
More on this tomorrow, but NFL games that intrigue me: Steelers -3.5 against Washington, Buffalo plus 3.5 at Baltimore, and New Orleans pick ’em against the Raiders.
It’s not good enough: The Texans have gone 9-7 in each of Bill O’Brien’s first two seasons. He says that bar is too low. He is right. In year 3 of his system with a revamped offense, they should be better than that. Will they be? We find out soon enough. Thank the football gods we have real games now.
More J.J. drama: J.J. Watt is an amazing football player. He might be the best defensive lineman I’ve ever seen. But J.J. Watt the media darling sure seems to like attention. He questioned whether he would ever play again after last season’s surgery. It sure feels like J.J. creating a narrative for when he comes back and plays like a beast on Sunday. “He went from perhaps never playing again to being the dominant J.J. Watt of old.” Between stuff like that and the endless H.E.B. commercials, expect Watt to keep generating attention. He doesn’t need it. His play speaks for itself.
Greg Ward, Jr. update: The Cougars play Lamar on Saturday in what essentially is a scrimmage as they prepare for a more critical game Thursday night in Cincinnati. Their brilliant quarterback and longshot Heisman hopeful Greg Ward Jr. will likely be a gametime decision. Ward might be better off sitting this one out if he is less than 100 percent. Bigger challenges await.
Astros update: The Astros damned near pulled out another win in Cleveland last night but came up short in a 6-5 setback. They will get out with at least a split of the four game series, but a win today would be a nice boost to their wildcard hopes with six more tough games coming next. And Carlos Correa’s injury has to be a concern.
Moral of this story: Don’t marry your son. Or your daughter. And no, it did not happen in Florida. Probable Gem of the year.
A great cause: A terrific young man is doing this tomorrow. If you can spare a little, help him out.
QUOTES OF THE DAY
(This one is with a tip of the cap to yesterday’s rant).
“I used to trust the media
To tell me the truth, tell us the truth
But now I’ve seen the payoffs
Everywhere I look
Who do you trust when everyone’s a crook?”
Queensryche, Revolution Calling from Operation Mindcrime
“Kid, I’ve been a UH honk since I was banging your mom in the back seat of my Z28 after a Whitesnake concert.”