You place your bets, and you take your chances

The latest COVID-19 surge is taking its toll on college and pro football games—and the people who like to bet on them.

In a sport where teams strive for stability and predictability, nothing is sure from day-to-day. Take the Steelers and Ravens: They were supposed to play last Sunday, a game that was moved to Monday and finally played on Wednesday afternoon. Pittsburgh’s game this week with Washington has now been moved to Monday, and Baltimore’s bout with CAVID-19 moved them to Tuesday against the Cowboys.

Others are being impacted too. Now that Santa Clara County has banned all contact sports for at least three weeks, the 49ers are going to practice and play their two remaining “home” games in Arizona. (Nobody knows yet what Stanford and San Jose State are going to do about practice and playing.) Denver had to play New Orleans with a quarterback called up from the taxi squad because their three regular QBs were declared out of the game.

College games are being canceled left and right, and schedules are being reworked on the fly. After BYU and Coastal Carolina had their games canceled, they decided to play each other this week. Besides, BYU needs more formidable competition than it has faced so far this year to boost its bowl prospects, and Coastal Carolina is the best one available.

So how are you supposed to handicap that game? BYU, which is undefeated against a cream puff schedule, has to fly across country at almost the last minute to play Coastal, which has played well enough to get ranked.

I’ll pass on that game, thank you. There are three other games that interested me this week, but have been canceled. The three I’ve bet on may actually play this week, or maybe they won’t. One thing I do know for sure: Football teams don’t handle disruptions to their routines well, and the home field isn’t worth much if anything this year. I have less confidence in my selections this season than I have in a long time.

But I did go 3-2 on last week’s selections, bringing the season record to a modestly profitable 20-16. Hopefully I can get closer to my season goal of 60% winners with this week’s picks.

COLLEGE

–Rutgers (+11) over Penn St.

–Central Michigan (-1.5) over Ball St.

–Tulane (-1.5) over Memphis

NFL

–Titans (-5.5) over Browns

–Cardinals (+3) over Rams

–Steelers (-7.5) over Washington

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