"I am not a smart man." -Forrest Gump
A more profane version of this famous quote from Robert Zemeckis' 1994 classic played on repeat across my cerebral cortex last Sunday afternoon as my phone exploded with text message after text message after text message. Not from my wife, a card-carrying member of #BillsMafia who just had her guts ripped out by Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. But from Mush, who had just rattled off a 3-1 record in last week's column to my 0-4.
A column, mind you, that I had pitched to my editors thinking it would be a brilliant and hilarious idea. A column that, in part, was designed to mock Mush. A column that has since ignited in my face, triggering an influx of ridicule on so many different group text threads that I'd be better served changing my number or giving up the technology altogether.
I was at the Encore here in Vegas watching Kansas City-Buffalo unfold from my favorite spot in town as my cell phone's battery life drained courtesy of the unrelenting vibrations caused by a barrage of text messages. A sample:
"Tell Kezirian I'm in the passenger seat on Monday's show."
"0-4 SON! Looks like we have a new Mush."
"Thinking about moving to Vegas."
"Where can I buy some of those pocket squares?"
And those are just the communications fit to print. There's honestly some truly nasty stuff in there.
It's not as if I don't deserve it. But if I don't flip the script between now and the conclusion of the Super Bowl, I shudder to think what my life will look like until the start of next football season.
The Mush and I spoke Wednesday afternoon for longer than I would have liked. Here are his locks and my picks for Championship Weekend. He requested I refer to his selections as "locks" and not "picks." His hubris knows no limits.
Mush: "I'm making three bets here. Can I make three bets here or am I only allowed to make one?" [editor's note: Mush didn't wait for a response before he continued talking] "Of course I can make three bets here. I can make fifty bets here. I'm hot right now, son. Give the people what they want."
"Lay the tuddy with Kansas City, pound the over and give me Patty Mahomes over passing yards. What's that number on Mahomes passing yards?" [Fortenbaugh responds, "289.5."] "Oh yeah, son! That's going way over. Patty is 6-2 to the over for his career in playoff games at Arrowhead and he just touched up Pittsburgh for 400 yards and Buffalo for 378. That train ain't stopping for nobody. Bengals can't win this game. The lights are too bright."
Mush's locks: Chiefs -7, over 54.5 points, Mahomes over 289.5 passing yards
Fortenbaugh: The look-ahead line for this matchup was Kansas City at under a touchdown, so I like the value in Cincinnati at +7.5, but only at +7.5. I need the hook to get involved. The Chiefs have surrendered close to 26 points per game over their last six outings, with three of those contests coming against below-average offenses in Pittsburgh (twice) and Denver.
From a props perspective, give me Bengals running back Joe Mixon at over 3.5 receptions and over 28.5 receiving yards. During the regular season, Kansas City surrendered the fourth-most receptions to opposing running backs and third-most receiving yards to opposing running backs. In the first meeting between these two, Mixon was targeted eight times, catching seven passes for 40 yards. With Joe Burrow under heavy duress, look for him to check it down to Mixon early and often.
Fortenbaugh's picks: Bengals at +7.5 or better, Mixon over 3.5 receptions, Mixon over 28.5 receiving yards
Mush: "I wasn't sure how to play this one until I saw you pick San Francisco on Daily Wager." Give me the Rams. Every idiot is backing the Niners. Matty Staff is balling right now. Jimmy Garoppolo is a mess. That guy hasn't thrown a single touchdown pass in the playoffs. I like OBJ at +140 to score an anytime touchdown and give me Matty Staff over 2.5 rushing yards. You see this guy? He's running the ball like an animal in the postseason. 10 carries, 28 yards. Do sacks count against rushing yards?" [Fortenbaugh responds, "No."] "Ok, good. Put me down on that over."
Fortenbaugh: The 49ers are +150 on the moneyline, which implies they have a 40 percent chance of winning this football game. I think that's awfully low considering the extra day of rest, lack of home-field advantage for Los Angeles and fact that San Francisco has won six straight in this series, five of which have come from the underdog position. And that's for a moneyline bet! At +3.5, I like the dog.
I'm also playing Cam Akers under 60.5 rushing yards. He hasn't topped 55 rushing yards in either playoff game despite averaging a ridiculous 20.5 rushing attempts per contest. San Francisco ranks sixth in opponent yards per rushing attempt and is excellent at controlling the tempo via their own rushing attack.
Fortenbaugh's picks: 49ers +3.5, Akers under 60.5 rushing yards