• Max Carlson

Max against the Spread | Week 13: Smooth Sailing

Last week I debuted a new format, in which I analyze three locks of the week and the 49er game. I'm still picking against the spread for all games, and will continue to keep track of that record as well, but after digesting some reader feedback, I decided to make my locks of the week the focal point of my articles. The new format got off to a great start, because much like the smash 1999 hit by Rob Thomas and Carlos Santana, my first three locks were Smooth, and I went 3-0 in those picks.

I told you to take the Bears covering in Detroit, the Saints covering the big spread in Atlanta, and the Giants covering 6 points on the road against the defending champions. They all hit, and hopefully we can keep it going with this week’s slate.

Lock 1:

Saints (-7.5) @ Cowboys

[52.5 O/U]

Man, this game is a hot one, like seven inches from the midday sun. The Saints are, in the eyes of many (including most Vegas books), the favorites to win the Super Bowl. While Dallas, led by Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, and a very exciting young LB corps, has been playing with a reinvigorated attitude, and have won their last three contests.

As good as Dallas has looked, I don’t see any way they keep this one close. Having to prepare your defense for this 2018 Sean Payton/Drew Brees offense should be a felony, and the indictment hammer needs to come crashing down on Commissioner Goodell for this goof.

This pick is my munequita, my Spanish Harlem, Mona Lisa. I have absolutely no reservations about picking the Saints to win by 8. To be honest, it’s going to be hard not to include New Orleans in my locks of the week moving forward, regardless of the spread.

The pick: Saints (-7.5) [OVER 52.5]

Lock 2:

Colts (-4) @ Jaguars

[47 O/U]

Andrew Luck and the Colts are back. While the defense still needs work, head coach Frank Reich has the offense rolling as they head into this matchup with the tailspinning Jaguars. The Colts did lose TE Jack Doyle for the year, but the resurgence of former first round pick Eric Ebron should help soften that blow. Rookie guard Quenton Nelson continues to impress, and when Andrew Luck is kept upright, good things happen.

The home team, meanwhile, has continued to dig themselves into an insurmountable hole all season long. From star CB Jalen Ramsey’s incessant and oftentimes baseless trash talking, to the recently healthy and subsequently suspended Leonard Fournette, all of these negatives have led up to this week’s big news:

Blake Bortles has been benched for Cody Kessler. Yes, that Cody Kessler.

While the Jacksonville defense is still a force, they’ll need Kessler to come in and make an immediate impact, much like how a relatively unknown singer by the name of Rob Thomas made an immediate impact on Carlos Santana’s comeback album “Supernatural” when he lent his talents to the collaborative smash-hit Smooth. The whole world knew who Rob Thomas was after that performance, but I can’t say that will be the case with Cody Kessler after his upcoming performance.

The pick: Colts (-4) [UNDER 47]

Lock 3:

Chargers @ Steelers (-3.5)

[51.5 O/U]

With Melvin Gordon likely out this week for the Chargers, they’ll look to Austin Ekeler to step into a larger role and fill the void left by their star running back out of Wisconsin. While the loss of Melvin Gordon is huge, I’m confident that Austin will step in and make some big plays in this one.

Pittsburgh is coming off a humiliating loss in Denver that saw their fate sealed at the hands of Big Ben’s inexplicable interception to a Denver defensive lineman at the very end of the game. They still command the NFC North, but with Cleveland and Baltimore playing well and winning games, the Steelers find themselves in a must-win game here at home.

The Steelers absolutely have the firepower to run away with this one, but after Philip Rivers’ record-setting performance last week (25 straight completions to start the game, and 28 of 29 passing on the day), I’m taking the underdogs in this one. If Austin Ekeler can help keep the time of possession in San Diego’s favor, and Keenan Allen can continue to come up with catch after catch, then I’m confident that the Chargers will keep this one within 3, which is the amount of Grammy Awards won by Rob Thomas and Carlos Santana for their chart-topping pop hit, Smooth.

The pick: Chargers (+3.5) [OVER 51.5]

49ers Game:

49ers @ Seahawks (-9.5)

[46 O/U]

Between the unfortunate news regarding Reuben Foster and the humiliating loss in Tampa Bay, the 49ers are coming off arguably the franchise’s worst week since that fateful week in the 2015 offseason where it seemed like every player on Jim Harbaugh’s once dominant roster either retired, signed elsewhere, or got arrested.

What better place to rebound than CenturyLink Field in Seattle, where the 49ers haven’t won a football game since 2011?

It’s been a mad season, San Francisco fans - but fear not! As the NFL draft gets closer by the day, sometimes a mad season can be a good thing. In 2000, pop rock band Matchbox 20 released their second studio album “Mad Season” which quickly rose up the Billboard Charts and eventually went quadruple platinum. The album’s success was due largely in part to lead singer Rob Thomas’ chart-smashing collaboration the year prior with Latin rocker Carlos Santana on their iconic song Smooth.

While the draft may be an enticing oasis at the end of this vast desert of a season for the fans, there are still games to be played on field. The Seahawks have seemingly completed their rebuild in a matter of weeks, while the 49ers are still stuck in an endless cycle of injuries, fourth-quarter collapses, and off-the-field issues. As much as I’d love to see an upset here, I think this game will get out of hand quickly.

If the 49ers want any shot at keeping this one close, QB Nick Mullens will have to give us his heart, make it real, or else forget about it.

The pick: Seahawks (-9.5) [Under 46]

Remaining Games:

BAL @ ATL - (BAL +1)

CHI @ NYG - (CHI -4.5)

BUF @ MIA - (MIA -4.5)

DEN @ CIN - (CIN +5.5)

LAR @ DET - (LAR -10)

CLE @ HOU - (HOU -5.5)

ARI @ GB - (ARI +14)

CAR @ TB - (CAR -3.5)

KC @ OAK - (KC -15)

NYJ @ TEN - (TEN -8)

MIN @ NE - (MIN +5)

WAS @ PHI - (PHI -6.5)

If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, call the National Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-522-4700

If you or someone you know is interested in checking out a wonderful pop and psychedelic latin-rock infused jam, please check out “Smooth” by Carlos Santana and Rob Thomas on iTunes or Spotify.

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