I tried to get my 2012 football gambling season off on the right foot last night with a Cowboys (+170) and Over 46 parlay, which left me feeling unfulfilled and cold inside. Why I insist on parlaying everything when I would have had a fine payday just by picking the Cowboys moneyline, I’ll never know. Greed or just plain stupidity, I guess.

But the only good part about handing someone else your money and not getting anything in return on a Wednesday night is the fact that Sunday is right around the corner, with ample opportunities to get that money back and then some.

As long as I don’t decide to toss a six-team parlay into there, I’m predicting big things for this weekend. And if not, there’s always next weekend right? It’s a long season, and if we’ve learned anything at all from our good friends the Tortoise and the Hare it’s that we don’t want to waste our energy too early. Slow and steady wins the race, or it at least keeps you in the race. If you’ve got a bankroll of $1,000, perhaps don’t throw it all down on opening weekend.

That said, this weekend is a potential moneymaking paradise. The thing about the first few weeks is that we don’t know anything. We think teams are good and we think teams are bad, but it’s the NFL – things are weird. Bad teams rise up and become playoff contenders all the time. So the lines are usually very conservative. Nobody wants to put anything too high because it might prove to be the complete opposite, leaving them looking like a fool. For instance, if you set a line at -10 and the underdog wins by 21, well you missed by 31 points. Everyone’s got an ego, and nobody wants to be that wrong.

So instead, the lines are small, which is good for people like me (and presumably you). We can take advantage if we’re smart, and get teams for a discount. Of course, we don’t know squat about the NFL at this point in the season either, and assuming that we know more than the odds makers is teetering on arrogant. But we’re here to make money, not be modest.

Here, then, are a few of the bets I like this week:

Packers (-5) over 49ers

Count me among those who don’t think the 49ers are actual Super Bowl contenders again. They’ve got a great defense, but relying on Alex Smith to play mistake free for a second consecutive season is like being a male masseuse and expecting John Travolta not to try to pay you for a handjob. Yes, he may not offer because he doesn’t like your skin or something, but odds are he’s going to try to get you  to whack him off.

I just can’t shake the fact that Alex Smith is Alex Smith. I even wrote a glowing column about him last year when the 49ers beat the Saints in the playoffs, but I think I just been drinking stump whiskey all day. The bottom line here is that it’s Aaron Rodgers vs. Smith, in Green Bay. The Niners may have the best defense in the NFC, but the Packers have the best offense.

And before you chime in with, “BUT A GOOD DEFENSE ALLLWAYS BEATS A GOOD OFFENSE!” you can freaking can it. That’s not true. The disparity between the offenses in this case is greater than the disparity between the defenses, and that shall set you free. The Packers can score against the 49ers. It might only be 24 instead of 38, but they’ll score. On the other hand, I’m not sure the 49ers can score against anyone.

On a side note, do you think that at this very moment Jim Harbaugh is somewhere masturbating furiously? I have this idea that every single one of the 49ers’ assistants have walked into Harbaugh’s office with a suggestion about the gameplan, and Harbaugh is completely naked sitting on his desk just beating his dick like he’s Liam Neeson and his dick just kidnapped his daughter for sex trafficking purposes. Then he looks up (doesn’t stop masturbating) and screams “GET OUT! GET THE HELL OUT!”

Yes, that is how I picture Jim Harbaugh.

Colts (+10) over Bears

Are the Bears really this good, and are the Colts really this bad? Isn’t it a little too early in the season to declare the Bears contenders and the Colts as the worst team in the league, especially when the Colts have the No. 1 overall pick at quarterback and he’s being described as the most NFL ready quarterback to ever come out of the draft? This line feels at least three points too high.

Jay Cutler may not have a double chin anymore, but what he lacks in gullet he makes up for in ill-advised throws to the other team. It just seems like the odds makers decided “Okay, the Bears are supposed to be very good, the Colts aren’t, let’s make it a big number.” I’m riding the Andrew Luck train on this one.

Eagles (-9) over Browns

Yeah….even though this game falls into the exact same category as the one above it (Eagles are supposed to be very good, the Browns aren’t), it’s a little bit different. For one, I think the Eagles are legitimately really, really good. It’s all contingent on the health of No. 7, but as long as he’s out there at full strength they should be contenders. The Browns…well…they’re terrible. They’re starting a 28-year-old rookie at quarterback, a la Chris Weinke, and everyone else on the team is brutal. Throw in the suspension of Joe Haden for injecting himself with horse tranquilizers or whatever it was, and you’ve got a perfect storm.

Patriots (-6) over Titans

Let me take back what I said before about slow and steady – if you want to put your entire bankroll on this game, I wouldn’t blame you. Did I miss something? Does Tom Brady have swine flu? Why would the Patriots be favored by one touchdown when they’re basically completely healthy, are the favorites to win the AFC, they almost never lose football games of any kind and they’re playing the Jake Locker-led Titans who may or may not be a four-win team?

The only reason I would be hesitant (and this is just a little devil’s advocate – I’m not hesitant) is that Vegas must know something weird. I don’t have any ideas, though. I want to speculate, but what could they know? Gronk has herpes? Kenny Britt is on steroids? It’s just a mindboggling line.

I guess it falls into the conservative category, and Vegas isn’t quite sure what to do with the Titans. They’re one of those teams that doesn’t really have a designation to start the year. Are they supposed to be good or bad? It’s pretty hard to say. Just remember that the Patriots beat the Titans 59-0 in 2009, even though that game was in Foxboro. The last time the two teams played in Tennessee, the Pats won 40-23 in 2006.

I don’t think homefield for the Titans should skew the fact that if the Patriots win this game by less than a touchdown they will have played very poorly.

Chargers (+1) over Raiders

The Chargers have a history of getting off to terrible starts, while the Raiders have a history of not being good at the game of professional football. It sounds like the lesser of two evils, and Philip Rivers over Carson Palmer is like Mila Kunis over Rachel Dratch. It’s so lopsided that you almost laugh before you get it out.

Remember when the Raiders gave up TWO FIRST ROUND PICKS for Carson Palmer!? Now they’re stuck with him as he routinely underthrows guys on crossing patterns and yells at his teammates, all the while looking like he ate Jay Cutler’s excess fat from a few years ago.

That actually may be the worst trade in the history of professional sports, the more I think about it. Hm. That makes this pick even easier. If the Raiders can make a trade like that, what makes you think they can beat a quality opponent?

Thank me later.

Happy gambling, you degenerates.

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