LAYING THE POINTS

Here's your hard-luck NFL gambling guide for this weekend

Do the opposite! Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images.

Recently a new neighbor asked me, "You're in the lame street media (here we go), you got any picks for the games this week?"

You came to the right guy. I work down the hall from the ESPN 97.5 guys. I hear things. You want games? I got games.

I told him: take Alabama (-18.5) over Notre Dame, Clemson (-7.5) over Ohio State, and just because you seem like a good person, here's a third one, the Titans (-7 over Texans). The numbers are too low. These games are guaranteed wipeouts.

Three for three, baby. All losers. Alabama and the Titans didn't cover and Clemson lost outright. I'm good like that. I don't bet because, borrowing from Michael Corleone in Godfather II, the greatest movie ever made, if history has taught me anything, it's that I stink at betting on sports.

I used to work in Phoenix – the boys and me, we all got pretty heavy into sports betting. There was a shuttle flight to Las Vegas. We'd go up after work, sometimes during lunch. Been there, done that, lost my paycheck. True story, swear: I once bet a six-team parlay, all favorites. If they all hit, that's 45 to 1 odds. That's some sweet action. I lost all six games. That's just as hard as winning all six.

If I bet $20 on the Harlem Globetrotters, that would be the night the Washington Generals won, which they haven't done since 1972. If I bet on a 5th grade production of Moby Dick, Ahab would catch the whale and buy drinks for everybody at the Krusty Krab.

When it comes to sports betting, I am George Costanza: "Every decision I've ever made in my entire life has been wrong, be it something to wear, something to eat, it's all been wrong."

So in the spirit of Bizarro World, where "us do opposite of all Earthly things! Us hate beauty. Us love ugliness! Is big crime to make anything perfect," here are my "guaranteed loser" picks for this weekend's NFL Divisional Round playoff games. You know what to do.

Remember, the winners of this weekend's games advance to their respective Conference Championship game.

For Houston Texans fans, let me explain what a Conference Championship game is, because your team has never gotten that far. Conference Championship games are reserved for teams that go deep in the playoffs, with the winners advancing to the Super Bowl. Now, the Super Bowl is a game…

Kansas City Chiefs (-8) vs. Cleveland Browns: Don't be fooled by the Browns' destruction of the Steelers last weekend. The Steelers were sitting ducks, the most overrated, under-achieving team in the league down the stretch. Security guards at his home stadium think Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield's first name is "Parker." The Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes romp, 45-18. Take the Chiefs.

Buffalo Bills (-2) vs. Baltimore Ravens: The Bills are my favorite team to watch this season. Quarterback Josh Allen is the real deal, cannon arm, can run, team believes in him. The Ravens were impressive last week against Tennessee (I lost that one, too), but they have a running back playing quarterback. All in on the Bills, 35-31.

Green Bay Packers (-6.5) vs. Los Angeles Rams: Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is this year's MVP. Every team should draft a quarterback just to rile up their guy. The team with the better quarterback and better receivers wins in the NFL. That's Green Bay. Although Jake from State Farm says there is no Rodgers Rate, back the Pack, 42-17.

New Orleans Saints (-4) vs. Tampa Bay Bucs: a few years ago, I asked a former NFL quarterback who used to work with me for his Super Bowl pick. He said, "Never bet against Tom Brady in a big game." I took his advice. Ouch! These teams have played twice this year with the Saints winning both times. They say it's hard to beat a team three times, but it's really not. One team is clearly better, and it's the Saints, 27-16.

There you go, four guaranteed losers. See you at your inbox.

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Houston loses in San Francisco

Astros drop back-and-forth middle game to Giants to even series

Houston's offense couldn't keep up with the Giants on Saturday. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

With the impressive win in the opener to start the series, the Astros entered Saturday's middle game against the Giants with an opportunity to not just secure the series but surpass San Francisco for the best record in the league. They'd have to wait to take that crown, as the Giants would out-slug the Astros to even the series.

Final Score: Giants 8, Astros 6

Astros' Record: 64-41, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jay Jackson (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Blake Taylor (2-3)

Teams trade blows early, Giants chase Greinke out early

The teams traded blows early in this one, with the Giants tagging Zack Greinke with six runs, all on homers. The first was a solo shot in the bottom of the second to start the scoring before hitting one in each inning through the fourth: two-run blasts in the third and fourth, then a go-ahead solo shot in the bottom of the fifth, putting them ahead 6-5 at the time. Greinke would face one more batter, allowing a single to end his lackluster day: 4.0 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 4 HR, 93 P.

Houston's offense kept things close to try and keep Greinke in a position to win, going up 3-1 in the third on a two-run Aledmys Diaz homer and another coming in on an error. After San Francisco scored four unanswered to make it 5-3, Diaz homered again in the top of the fifth to cut the deficit to one run before Yuli Gurriel would tie it with an RBI double.

Astros stay in it, but Giants even the series by winning the slug-fest

With Greinke exiting with no outs in the fifth, Houston handed the ball to Phil Maton, acquired in the recent Myles Straw trade, to make his debut for his new team. He worked himself into a jam, allowing a single and hitting a batter to load the bases with one out, but was able to get back-to-back strikeouts to strike out the side and strand all three runners, keeping it a one-run game.

That proved pivotal in the top of the sixth, as with two outs, Martin Maldonado would launch a game-tying solo homer, making it 6-6. Blake Taylor took over out of the bullpen in the bottom of the inning but would face just three batters, getting two outs while leaving one on as Dusty Baker moved on to Cristian Javier. Javier would watch the Giants retake the lead, getting back-to-back singles to bring in a run and make it 7-6.

Javier stayed in the game in the bottom of the seventh, allowing a leadoff single but erasing it by striking out the next three batters. Still a 7-6 game in the bottom of the eighth, Yimi Garcia made his Astros debut but did not keep the score there, allowing a leadoff solo homer to make it a two-run game. The 8-6 score would go final as Houston's offense came up empty again in the top of the ninth, setting up a rubber game in the finale.

Up Next: The series finale will get underway at 3:05 PM Central on Sunday in San Francisco. Luis Garcia (7-5, 3.19 ERA) will take the mound for Houston, going opposite Logan Webb (4-3, 3.36 ERA) for the Giants.

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