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Imagine that Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley comes across an old Mad magazine sketch.

One panel shows a football team wildly celebrating its field goal, kicked as time in the game expired.

Another panel shows a sports writer asking the coach the reason for the celebration, considering his team needed a touchdown and ended up losing 12-10.

The coach says: "We beat the point spread!"

Now imagine Bradley posting that old Mad sketch on the Jags' bulletin board today. For inspiration.

And imagine his pregame speech going something like this:

"OK, Jags, listen up! We've got our work cut out for us. We're facing a future Hall of Fame quarterback who's flying that Denver offense like it's a predator drone, destroying all enemies, most of whom don't even know what's hit 'em.

"Last week the Broncos scored 51 points. They haven't lost a game this year. Meanwhile, we've scored 51 points all season and haven't won a game. Those stats tend to leave some folks in a cold sweat. Me, it makes me hot for some action.

"Bring it on!

"Yes, sir, Vegas oddsmakers have made Mr. Peyton Manning and Company 28-point favorites, and I understand that the folks who make it their business to know such things are saying that it's the biggest mismatch in NFL history, point-spread-wise.

"And that's good news, men! Why? Because when we take the field in front of a rabidly hostile crowd in a few minutes, we'll have a 28-0 lead! No foolin'!

"Of course, the scoreboard is going to say 0-0, at least at the opening kickoff, but I want you to look at that 0-0 on scoreboard and see 28-0 in favor of us!

"And after the Broncos score a touchdown, I don't want you to see 7-0 in favor of them, I want you to see 28-7 in favor of us! And when they score again, I don't want you to see 14-0 in favor of them, I want you to see 28-14 in favor of us!

"And so on and so forth.

"And after they score again and again and again and again and again, well, that's when I expect you dig in and fight for your lives and come up with something, anything, even a freakin' safety.

"We are NOT going to lose by 28 or more points! We've got way too much pride to let that happen!

"Because as every red-blooded NFL-betting fan throughout Jag Nation knows, to paraphrase the legendary Vince Lombardi, the point spread isn't everything, but it's something!

"Sure, we'd love to win the old-school way, on the field, in reality. We'd love to upset the Broncos in their own house!

"But, hey, we don't expect that to happen. We might be underachievers, but we're not certifiably insane. We'll beat the Broncos today only if pigs fly, but we do have a shot — and I say we've got more than a shot — at beating the point spread!

"Look, those Vegas oddsmakers know a lot, but they don't know all. I happen to know something about football, too, and I say the oddsmakers should be tested for point-spread enhancing drugs. We are NOT going to lose by 28 or more points!

"True, we're not only 0-5 in the standings, we're 0-5 against the point spread, which is even worse.

"But, just like those Vegas oddsmakers have their computers and inside info and such, well, I know how to add two plus two, too.

"First of all, in our five defeats so far, only twice have we lost by 28 or more points. Our average loss is only by 22.4 points. That's a far cry — almost a touchdown's difference — from 28 points!

"Then there are the mighty Denver Broncos, whom some are calling the most potent team since Papa Bear George Halas and a few cronies started a pro football league almost 100 years ago.

"Just because the Broncos haven't scored fewer than 37 points in any of their games so far. Just because twice they've scored more than 50 and another time scored 49.

"Well, you know what I say to all of that? I say: Oh, yeah?!

"The Broncos are 5-0 in the standings but they are a very pedestrian 3-2 against the point spread! Their defense, such as it is, has yielded almost 28 points a game!

"I say we've got a shot! I say we take our shot!

"To paraphrase the late, great Al Davis: Just beat the spread, baby!"

Robert Rubino can be reached at RobertoRubino@comcast.net.