You guys may already know this, but I have a few superstitions. Like many men, I believe that where I sit, what I wear and who I'm talking to during a baseball game can actually affect the outcome of the game. I believe that there are certain shirts I can wear that almost always get me laid (and other shirts?like my “Back to the Future” T-shirt?that can actually keep me from getting laid). I believe that God wants us to laugh as much as possible, which is why I try to laugh as much as I can, even when I'm in a shitty mood. And I believe in the gambling gods.

(A quote from reader and friend, Kevin from Boca: “Every time you write “gambling gods” I get a picture in my mind of a bunch of flat nosed mobsters with poker chip halos looking down from the heavens and saying things like, “You believe he told his girlfriend he lost money? Oh, he is so screwed this year. Take care of him, Vinny.” God I love writing for this site.)

At any rate, the gambling gods will humble the hell out of you. Gambling, though not necessarily a sin, is not something to be taken lightly. Every superstition must be respected. To quote Paul Newman from Color of Money, “Money won is twice as sweet as money earned.” Well, because of that, it's at least twice as unlikely to win money as it is to earn it. Which is why I promised the gambling gods that I would not write about my sports gambling until I lost a game. Well, last week, I went 1-1-1, essentially breaking even (minus the juice). I am 7-1-1 for the season. So, I have consulted with the gambling gods, and, with their permission (by which I am humbled), I will now tell you my gambling strategy for 2006. It is as follows:

“In this era of NFL parity, it is easier to bet against a loser than it is to bet on a winner.”

I'll explain what I mean by this during the picks. Speaking of which, let's do this thing, shall we?

Indeed we shall.

(God, I really need to quit talking to myself.)

Home teams in CAPS

Colts (-9) over JETS
One of these days, I may bring myself to pick the Jets for something other than losing. But it just feels wrong. Like, hitting-on-a-high-school-girl kind of wrong. Maybe in a few weeks. Maybe.

Chargers (-21/2) over RAVENS
I really wish this game was funny, but since it's not, I'll share with you the complete list of items I have broken or ruined thanks to the Tampa Bay Buccaneer's miserable start.

3 beer mugs
1 baseball cap
1 wall picture
1 wall

And we're only in week 4.

Vikings (+1) over BILLS
I don't know what to make of the Bills this year. Come to think of it, I haven't known what to make of the Bills this century. Between them and the Jets, I might as well flip a coin. Thankfully, Brad Johnson plays for the Vikings. He practically makes my pick for me, here. By the way, do you think JP Losman's as bad in bed as he is on the football field? Couldn't you just imagine his girlfriend getting all depressed as she starts closing in on a climax that she knows will not happen because he never comes through when it counts? I'll bet her nickname for him is First Half Lover.

Cowboys (-9) over TITANS
Actual exchange between the guy who runs the pizza shop next to my work and myself:

Me: Did you hear T.O. tried to kill himself?
Dave: T.O. killed himself?
Me: No, he tried to. He's fine now.
Dave: Aww, man. What a bummer.

49ers (+7) over CHIEFS
Actual email from my friend Atwood in KC:

“Money I've made selling Chiefs tickets on EBay: $2250.
Money I've made betting against the Chiefs: $250.
Odds of my wife divorcing me when she finds out I spent this money on a dirt bike: 3 to 1.
Odds of my wife killing me when she finds out I'm spending this Sunday afternoon playing poker with the boys instead of being at the Chiefs game (like I told her I was): 2 to 1.

Never get married, Nate.”

Saints (+71/2) over PANTHERS
This game was the toughest one on the board. I have no idea what happened Monday night in New Orleans. But I just want to say, to every broadcaster and sportswriter who expressed how much this win helped heal the city of New Orleans, “Shut the fuck up! Football is entertainment. That's it. Winning or losing a game will not build a house, save a soul or bring back a loved one. So please, fucking spare me.”

FALCONS (-7) over Cardinals
I'm running out of original ways to say this, but I'm still willing to try: if covering a spread were the space program, the Cardinals would be Poland.

I bet on this one.

Dolphins (-31/2) over TEXANS
To borrow a phrase from Homer Simpson:

“Yeah Moe, those teams suck. I mean, I've seen some teams suck before but those are the suckiest sucks that ever sucked. Hold on, my wiener kids are listening.”

I wouldn't watch this game if the sideline reporters were topless.

RAMS (-51/2) over Lions
Mike Martz is returning to St. Louis. Listen closely as an entire city pretends to give a shit.

BENGALS (-6) over Patriots
All right, here are three guys I would absolutely love to go out drinking with at one time: Chad Johnson, Tom Brady and Carson Palmer. If you couldn't get laid hanging out with that crew, you do not deserve a penis. I mean that.

Jaguars (-3) over REDSKINS
You get the feeling that the Jaguars defense watched that tape of last week's Skins/Texans game and just laughed the whole way through? Everyone seems to think that Brunell will be unstoppable now that he's gone to the short pass, which is like saying that Dustin Diamond (Screech Powers of “Saved by the Bell” fame) will be much better off now that he's finally starred in a porno. I mean, maybe it'll buy some time, but the end result stays the same.

I also bet on this one.

Browns (-3) over RAIDERS
How do you think the Raiders spent their bye week? I like to imagine Randy Moss, Aaron Brooks and Art Shell all playing video games at Sebastian Janikowski's house while smoking pot, popping pills and arguing about who's sober enough to call in the carry-out order. God, I love the '06 Raiders.

And you know I bet on this one.

BEARS (-31/2) over Seahawks
The Madden curse finally got Shaun Alexander. For those of you who don't know, bad things always happen to the player who appears on the cover of Madden each year. You're not even allowed to bet on this. It's a guarantee. And, because there's not much else to say here either, the following is an excerpt from the upcoming scene in the movie that is Rex Grossman's life:

“Oh, and down goes Grossman. He is not getting up. And this crowd here has been silenced. What a vicious hit on the oft-injured Grossman. And you know, all over Chicago, fans are praying that he'll be able to return to this game and lead his team against the defending NFC champs.

“Wait, what's this? Grossman is standing. He's okay! And the fans here in Soldier Field, and probably all over Chicago, breathe a collective sigh of relief.”

I asked one of my friends from Chicago when he felt that Grossman would get his season ending injury this year. His response, “Week 7.”

You gotta love Bears' fans. They expect misery.

EAGLES (-11) over Packers
It is because of Brett Favre and the Packers that I am telling you what I bet on this week. And, as promised, here is an elaboration on my gambling strategy for this year.

The following teams are straight-up losers.

Raiders, Packers, Cardinals, Texans, Redskins, Dolphins, Niners, Chiefs, Titans, Bills, Jets (and I know the Bucs suck too but they have a bye this week so they are omitted).

Step 1. Rank these teams from suckiest to least suckiest. For example, this week looks like this:

Raiders, Texans, Cardinals, Chiefs, Titans, Redskins, Dolphins, Bills, Packers (who really moved up by the way), Niners and Jets.

Step 2. Find an underrated winner. If one doesn't jump out at you right away, don't bet on a winner. I was all over the Bears in weeks 2 and 3. But they are no longer underrated. Everyone knows, now. So, this week (much like week 1 before I knew how good the Bears were) I didn't pick a winner. You see, my working theory here is that it is easier to pick a loser than a winner. If I can't find the underrated winner quicker than I can find my keys, I don't pick one.

Step 3. Decide if Vegas has overrated or underrated the losers. (For example, teams like the Texans get no love from Vegas because they have sucked for so long.) Then, find the overrated losers and bet against them. I bet against the Raiders the first two weeks, I bet against the Cardinals twice, and I bet against the Packers three times. These teams always find ways to get more love than they deserve from Vegas, be it due to unnecessary hype resulting from personnel moves (Cardinals and Raiders) or from employing a player and/or coach who has burned the odds makers too many times over the years (Packers and Redskins).

This week, my overrated losers are the Cardinals and Raiders (my old stand-bys who have not yet failed me because they keep finding new and unusual ways to blow it) and the Redskins (whose success last week against the worst team in the league somehow got them credit from the boys in Vegas).

Anyway, that's my system.

And it's for entertainment purposes only.

That is, unless you use it for gambling.

Last week: 5-7-2
Overall Record: 23-21-2