Bad Beats: And A Child Shall Lead YouS

Your weekly gambling column, featuring smart plays, oddball propositions, all your tales of woe — plus, betting advice from a 13-year-old boy! Send your stories to tips@deadspin.com. Subject: Bad beats.

Let's say somebody told you a 13-year-old boy was writing a column for a supposedly legitimate sports blog. What would you think? Let me guess. A montage of your early teen years play across your mind. "Man was I a stupid asshole back then," you'd think. "How the hell does this happen?" And what would you think if you were further told that this teenager was offering you gambling advice? I know exactly how you'd react: with a 10-minute rant about society and how the quality of everything has diminished. You might also call protective services.

But let me tell you: This is that rare case when listening to a middle-schooler's thoughts on how to gamble your money would be the smart play. I'm in eighth grade. I come home from school with my homework finished. Then, I have from 3 to midnight to do basically whatever the hell I want. With some sports, chores, friends sprinkled in, I spend much of my night taking in every little NFL nugget from the past week. I went 141-116 (.551) this year. I think I have some credibility. Your gambling failures, meanwhile, have been extra bad. That's The Situation. I am The Solution.

So who am I? A kid living in Fairfield County in Connecticut, just about 45 minutes away from the Big Apple. My name is Jack O'Connell, and you can find more of my stuff at my blog and my Twitter. My teams are the Jets, Yankees, Fighting Irish, and the Knicks. I've got a laptop, 30 bucks in my wallet, and lots of free time, and I aspire to give you sports through the eyes of a 13-year-old. Those who say kids are too exposed or don't have enough free time are incorrect. Those who say teens don't get enough out of their free time are correct. So this one is for productivity and a little teenage representation.

HANDICAP ZONE

Games to bet (my picks are underlined)

Cardinals +7 at Saints: The Cardinals have a QB older than my dad and are coming off one of the worst defensive performances in playoff history, though they won. That speaks volumes about the stride this offense is hitting. Now it looks like Boldin is going to join the party as well. The Saints, however, have looked very mediocre the past few weeks, scoring just 17 points at home against the Bucs in Week 16 — with their starters.

Whenever gambling, always factor in how well the team is playing right now, not how well they played earlier this season. Right now, the Saints look one-and-done. Because everyone on Earth wants the Saints to come away with a "W" besides me, it may be hard to put your money against them. (Winning just five years removed from a hurricane isn't much of a story. The Jets are winning only one year removed from having Eric Mangini as their coach. Now that's a story.) But I have to go with Kurt Warner in the postseason. It's like betting on my Spanish teacher to say the word "basically" during class. It's a guarantee.

Jets +7 at Chargers: Home-field may be a factor in New Orleans, but not here. San Diego is no hostile environment. Although the only fireman in attendance will probably be Mark Sanchez's dad, I think the weather will work in the Sanchize's favor. They should be able to wear out San Diego's below-average rushing defense and contain Philip Rivers and his famous "confidence" that for some reason is never referred to as arrogance. The Chargers running game will be non-existent because Norv "The Personality" Turner doesn't have the beans in his bag to play Sproles over LaDainian Tomlinson.

Sanchez will probably be the key. Every other phase of the game is a lock. I trust him to keep it close and maybe win. Hopefully.

Games to avoid

Cowboys +2.5 at Vikings: You might as well flip a coin. I do believe that whoever wins will do so commandingly. I think Minnesota's offense has more potential for an explosion, and I can't picture the Vikes going one-and-done. But as weird as this sounds, I think Dallas is the safer bet. Dallas has been playing so well under Norv Turner's mentally disabled older brother, Wade Phillips. Bet at your own risk.

Ravens +6 at Colts: I have no clue what to expect from Baltimore. I have no clue what to expect from the Indianapolis defense. I look at this game as an automatic win for Indy, but Baltimore has been gritty over the past few weeks. I feel like Harbaugh has his team playing with just a little bit more fire than the muted Jim Caldwell. Then again, it seems nuts to bet against Peyton Manning facing a weak Baltimore secondary. My football mind tells me Indianapolis, but my gambling mind leans towards Baltimore. Just don't put a cent on it.

Prop bets

Super Bowl MVP: Go with Miles Austin if the Cowboys make it out of Minnesota (and Vegas gets around to posting his odds). Right now, the Cowboys (+500) are a decent bet to win the Super Bowl. And in a Super Bowl victory, Tony Romo will pile up a lot of passing yards. Keep in mind that if both Romo and Austin have a good game — like Roethlisberger and Holmes last year — the award could easily go to Austin. Whatever his odds, they'll offer a very good value.

Most rushing yards, divisional round: I like Beanie Wells (+450). I know this don't seem like a very good bet, but Cadillac Williams just ran for over 100 yards against the Saints defense. I see Beanie breaking one and finishing with 120 yards Do not bet Adrian Peterson (+200). He rushed for 100-plus yards against a winning team just once this year.

GIRLS I'D LIKE TO KISS OF THE WEEK: KYLIE AND KENDALL JENNER

Bad Beats: And A Child Shall Lead YouS

Being 13 years old, I get annoyed that there aren't any hot celebrities hovering around my age. Sure, there are those High School Musical movies, with sophomores who in reality are 27. But why not a real 14-year-old? I guess child labor laws have a lot to do with that. Anyway, Kylie (12) and Kendall (14): They get about a minute of airtime on Keeping Up with the Kardashians, and Kendall is already a model. I'm jumping on the bandwagon before it gets rolling; in exactly six years, these girls become socialites.

(Warning: Even if you have a wife or girlfriend who is fairly lenient when it comes to your commenting on the physical appearance of other girls, please refrain from acknowledging the hotness — or even existence — of Kylie and Kendall Kardashian Jenner. Statistics show that when a male comments to a wife or girlfriend about the hotness — or even existence — of a pretty girl under 15, the relationship ends within an hour of the comment. It's true.)

BAD BEATS: READERS SHARE THEIR TALES OF WOE

While in college I was a pretty poor student and suffering from a long losing streak. I decided to put my last $50 on an exact margin of victory on a crappy Thursday night game between the Lions and Vikings (I think Cris Carter made his 1000th career reception this night). Anyway I felt like the Vikes would win in the range of 14-16. It was a good 10-1 shot. Anyway, up 7 in the 4th, Robert Smith breaks lose a big TD run putting the margin at 14. I was sitting pretty - $500 would have covered a whole semester of crappy beer and fast food. In garbage time the great Stoney Case puts up a quasi hail mary that is clearly caught inbounds near the goal line. Too may elation, the refs ruled the pass out of bounds. I thought I had dodged a crushing defeat. Well……. On the next f***ing play the Lions run the same hail mary only this time it's caught for the garbage time TD.

It's bad enough I lost that bet, but now I have to remember for the rest of my life who Stoney Case was. (P. Sylvester)

Here's mine. I used to think mine was the worst (who doesn't) but have read some pretty good ones from your site so far. And not that it needs mentioning but my story is 100% true.

I'm a long time bettor, probably going on 16 years now and this is by far my worst beat ever. So it's a Monday night game about, I don't know, 10 or so years ago with Pittsburgh at Jacksonville. I'm a die hard Steelers fan and normally i don't like to bet on my team but I guess this night I made an exception. The spread in the game was Jacksonville -3.5. I put $300 on the Steelers. Now i realize that $300 isn't a huge amount of money with respect to a gambling story but it's all realitive. Considering my net worth at the time (I was a 24 year old student), it would be the equivilant if Donald Trump laid $100,000,000 on the Steelers. So the score is 23-21 Jacksonville with under a minute to play and Pittsburgh driving. I'm praying that Jacksonville doesn't get a bugs bunny TD for the cover. FYI, bugs bunny TDs are what my buddy and I call those end of game TDs that lead to game being covered or going over the number and they are usually of the pick six and fumble recovery variety. Back to my bad beat. So again it's 23-21 Jacksonville now with under 10 seconds to go. If memory serves i think it was either four or six seconds left. Pittsburgh is now lining up for a 40 or so yard game winning field goal. My thinking is, if Pittsburgh makes it, sweet. I win my bet and my favourite team wins. If they miss the field goal, oh well. At least I still win my bet. Well what happens, of course it's blocked and returned for a touchdown. Game over. Make the final Jacksonville 29-21. I feel violently ill at this point. That was quite possibly the absolute worst thing that could've happend. A $630 swing in my finances. And what topped it off was my dad (who i hide the fact that i gambled from) called two seconds after the game and left a message laughing at what just happendin the game. Of course he had no idea how sick i felt at that moment. (Greg M.)

I will never bet the lions again. I had a 7 team 20 dollar parlay 3 early games 4 late games Cardinals +110, Texans +8, Dolphins +11, late games Titans +180, Chargers +190, Panthers +12.5, and the Lions +10.5. All the early games came through all of my late games are close but looking good panthers lose by 10 one down three to go chargers come back and win by one, two games left titans up 2 TD's with like 2 minutes left all that's left is the lions. The lions are down 5 with the ball so I do the dumbest thing I turn off the game and start heading over to the local casino to cash my ticket I'm thinking that they are down 5 with the ball with about a minute left there's no way they can not cover this game. So I get to the casino give the ticket to the sports book guy he runs it through the machine and says its not a winner I say what are you talking about all the games should be over he runs it again still a loser I say look over the games he does. Then he says I see your problem you have Detroit on here I say yeah they were down 5 with the ball he says they lost by 12. I said how he said they threw an interception and Seattle ran it back for a touchdown to cover the game. I stood there looking dumbfounded I was already spending the money the ticket would've paid 2600 dollars. (Anthony W.)

Share your bad beat with the world. E-mail us at tips@deadspin.com. Subject: Bad beats.

PUNDIT PROP BET OF THE WEEK: YOU BETCHA EDITION

Bad Beats: And A Child Shall Lead YouS

Via Paddy Power:

"When will Sarah Palin lose her Fox News position?"

Between Sept. 1, 2010, and Dec. 31, 2010: 10/11
After Jan. 1, 2011: 11/10
Before Sept. 1, 2010: 8/1

Jack O'Connell is an eighth-grader living in Fairfield County, Conn. He blogs at The Sporting Universe and tweets at @joconnell2.