We are still standing, although it may be only on one leg. But after a lot of eliminations, we are alive in at least one pool in the Last Man Standing contest at America’s Bookie. The team that bailed us out last week was the Cleveland Browns, who, we figured, could not possibly lose twice in a row to a winless team. I guess we were right, as the Oakland Raiders were somewhat obliging. Still, Cleveland, with its putt-putt offense, did not inspire a lot of confidence.
This week we are not sure whether we have an explosive bunch in front of us either, but we may have an accommodating opponent. We are going with the Cincinnati Bengals, who have a 4-2-1 straight-up record (4-3 against the points) as they play host to the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have emerged victorious only against the Browns in their eight games (2-6 against the spread).
A couple of notes first for America’s Bookie customers – Cincinnati, in all likelihood, will have AJ Green, the Pro Bowl wide receiver, in the lineup for this game. We don’t know how long it will be for, but he should be available. Who they WON’T have is Giovanni Bernard, who has run for 446 yards, catches passes out of the backfield, and has enough speed to make big plays. Bernard suffered a hip injury last week, and is being held out of this game. Perhaps he will be available four days from now, as Cincinnati has to play Cleveland.
We must say that we believe Blake Bortles has a chance to be an outstanding NFL quarterback. We just don’t think it’s right now. Admittedly, he does not have a big arsenal of weapons around him, but he is also making some poor decisions. There’s no way around that when you look at his numbers, as he is thrown a dozen interceptions and been sacked 17 times already. Two of his interceptions were returned for touchdowns last week against Miami, and if you are in the Last Man Standing contest, that is the kind of help you really need.
There is still some hope for the Jaguars, as they may have developed a running back out of Denard Robinson, the former dual threat quarterback at the University of Michigan. Let’s put it this way – the Wolverines wish they had him right now. But the Jags will be without some of their defensive leaders, including linebacker Paul Posluszny, the leading tackler who is gone for the rest of the year, as is Alan Ball, the best player in the secondary. When you don’t have a lot of personnel to begin with, it’s very tough to sustain those kind of injuries. Jacksonville does have 25 quarterback sacks, but Cincinnati seems to have protected Andy Dalton very well, as he’s been sacked only seven times in seven games.
If you look at the NFL betting line at America’s Bookie on this game, Cincinnati is a 10.5-point favorite, and on the money line they are -550. So it’s not like we are making a particularly daring play. But one thing we are doing is preserving some better teams to use later, which we’ve discovered is a pretty good strategy to employ.
Of course, starting out with two pools and getting eliminated out of one of them already when it’s about halfway through the season is not really where we wanted to be, but we’ve got some confidence in our resourcefulness.
Time will tell.