I’m now relishing couch potato Sundays

What is our fixation with NFL action on Sundays?
We are far removed from America’s favourite game up here, yet we are so easily connected to it through our television and computer screens.
I had never really understood the obsession with watching grown men wrestle over a pigskin—choosing instead to watch the one NHL Sunday matinee game that foolishly decided to be scheduled up against the big, bad NFL. But I’ve officially joined the majority this year.
It might have been a direct result of my recent involvement in the “Dungeons and Dragons” of adult life (fantasy football on Yahoo!), but nevertheless, my Sunday routine usually involves dragging myself out of bed, quickly getting all the daily monotonous tasks out of the way before noon, and then sitting down and watching every NFL game available on Canadian television until I hit the pillow at night (excluding work assignments that invariably force me out of the house, but I digress).
I now seem to love the game I swore would never come close to hockey on my depth chart. But hey, wait just a minute, don’t break into a mob and light the torches just yet, hockey fans.
I still favour Canada’s national pastime first and foremost. It’s in my blood. But, to be honest, I now prefer to watch a meaningless match-up in football over a meaningless match-up in hockey. That’s probably due more to the hype surrounding the NFL, and how it transfers to a more exciting product on television.
They have more resources, closer camera angles, and added entertainment value (through analysis and interviews) that keep you glued to the TV set. NHL games too often feel far removed from the action on the ice, with cameras set-up in the cheap seats, uninteresting broadcasters, and zero crowd noise.
TSN and CBC are the exceptions to that rule, producing game coverage that is more interactive, with better use of cameras and sound. But nothing can duplicate the NFL’s production.
But come to think of it, I think I just watch the NFL because it’s the NFL. I don’t have an allegiance to any one team like I have with the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes, but I still enjoy the action all the same. Maybe it’s because I can relax and enjoy it more than I can watching a Coyotes’ game.
With the Coyotes, I’m on pins and needles every minute of every game—living or dying with every play or misplay they make.
With the NFL, I do favour the games that have some of my fantasy football picks playing in them because I can cheer every touchdown pass or 75-yard catch that add to my fantasy point totals, but there isn’t that same level of anxiety.
My recent interest in the NFL also might have to do with my Sunday point spread ritual, which involves betting a small amount ($10 or less) on a handful of games. It’s usually low-risk, low-reward, and if I did the math, I’d say I’m in the green by a few bucks though it’s nothing that would help me put a down payment on a new car.
Nevertheless, it adds some extra excitement to watching the usual slate of NFL games every Sunday. I think the key is to stick to a budget, and bet consistently the same week in and week out. Too often I see people hitting the ATM at the convenience store as a last-minute hunch to bet the farm on a couple of favourable games.
The odds are stacked against you, and believe me, you’ll lose more often than you win.
Truthfully, betting on the point spread is a winnable option, especially if you are an avid fan and do your research on the match-ups. It’s not 100 percent luck or chance like most gambling ventures (even though there are a handful of upsets and surprises each week that prove me wrong on that front). But by knowing which defensive players are hurt, or which team’s running back is banged up, you at least can make a confident pick most football experts would agree with.
I go in with low expectations every week (that way I don’t get disappointed), however, out of the eight weeks I’ve played this year, three have produced winning tickets. It should’ve been four (and a $200 win), but the referees disallowed a late Pittsburgh Steelers’ touchdown in their Week 11 win over the San Diego Chargers.
That’s just how it goes. The good news is I still have a week left of regular-season play to secure that car payment.
A guy can dream, can’t he?

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