Like an Antonio Brown celebration, some things in life seem great in theory before going differently in reality.
Picking football games can be one of those things, and the past few weeks have provided no shortage of seemingly good picks gone bad.
Responding properly to the inevitable tough losses over the course of a season goes a long way in determining long-term success. Professional bettor David Malinsky offers a brilliant approach on Pregame.com: "You accept those bounces before the game begins. Call it an 'Occupational Privilege Tax', and accept that in every wager you make there are all sorts of shenanigans that exist under the vast circus tent of sport."
Fortunately, just as the bounces and shenanigans will turn winners into losers at times, they'll work out favorably on occasion. While winning remains the ultimate goal, coming to terms with the Occupational Privilege Tax makes it a much more enjoyable journey.
Pittsburgh/Cincinnati Over 49.5
When the Bengals beat the Steelers last month, the 16-10 final score barely made it halfway to this total. Since then Ben Roethlisberger has knocked off the rust, returned to health, and taken Pittsburgh's loaded offense to new heights, leaving Cincinnati little chance to limit the Steelers to such a low output this time around. The good news for the Bengals is that they shouldn't need to.
Pittsburgh's defense is a big question mark, particularly in the secondary. With arguably the NFL's most talented supporting cast at his disposal, Andy Dalton could be in for a big day at home in The Jungle.
Although 16 points was enough to win the first head-to-head matchup, 24 may not be enough in this one. Few teams reach the end zone with more frequency than these two, or more style for that matter.
Tampa Bay -3.5 vs. New Orleans
Jameis Winston's burgeoning presence as both a playmaker and a leader has the Buccaneers reaping the benefits of this year's No. 1 overall draft pick. Tampa Bay finds itself squarely in the NFC playoff mix, thanks to a balanced offensive attack - just now approaching full strength with pass-catchers Vincent Jackson and Austin Seferian-Jenkins back in the fold - and a sound defense flying under the radar.
The Saints face a much different trajectory. Out of the playoff race and on the heels of last week's failed last-ditch effort to salvage the season by knocking off the undefeated Panthers in the Superdome, New Orleans is ripe for an uninspired showing on the road.
Pick of the Week : Teaser - Arizona -1.5 vs. Minnesota, Carolina -1.5 vs. Atlanta
The Vikings are much better than they looked last Sunday, with key injuries on all three levels of their defense playing a major role in a blowout loss to the Seahawks. Just four days later those injuries haven't had sufficient time to heal, keeping them in play as a significant factor tonight against the high-flying Cardinals as they soar toward a first-round playoff bye.
On the second leg of the teaser, the NFC's other team in line for a first-round bye should have little trouble remaining unbeaten when the Panthers host the Falcons. Matt Ryan's productivity has fallen off a cliff in recent weeks, which has led to his relationship with first-year offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan getting called into question. With signs of discord behind the scenes, this isn't ideal timing for Atlanta to step up in class against a strong Carolina defense intent on righting the ship after last week's shootout in New Orleans.
Week 14 Record: 2-1
Picks of the Week: 8-4