By Bill Foley
Every father wants his son or daughter to cheer for the same teams he does.
You should let them choose for themselves, but it is OK to try to influence heavily along the way. That’s why my son has slept with his Chicago Bears blanket since the day he was born.
It’s why he wore Chicago Bears onesies, and it is why his drawers and closet have always been filled with navy blue, orange and white.
I became a fan of the Bears and Red Sox because those are the teams that my dad liked, and those teams have always been our bond. Talking about our teams was the one thing that could bring us back together during those teenage years when we didn’t get along so well.
My dad picked the Bears because he liked Gayle Sayers and Dick Butkus. When he told me about Walter Payton, I was hooked.
While my son cheers for the Red Sox with me, I lost him to the Los Angeles Rams thanks to a running back with a funny name. Two years ago — when the Rams struggled to a 4-12 record during their first season back in La La Land — Grady discovered Todd Gurley.
As good as the running back was on the field, he was even better on Madden Mobile. That got Grady hooked. Even though he sometimes wears the Walter Payton jersey we got him, he doesn’t like it as much as his Gurley jersey.
I’ve tried to get him back by making fun of Gurley’s name, but the taunting only strengthened his resolve. Perhaps if the Rams weren’t 11-1, I’d have a shot.
Grady is 11, which is the same age I was when the 1985 Bears shuffled to the Super Bowl XX title, and he seems pretty set on his team, and Sunday night marks the first time his Rams will play my Bears.
It is a night I am not really looking forward to.
Until now, Grady has stood by me when the Bears are playing, though he isn’t as enthusiastic about it as he was before he discovered Gurley. Sunday night could be first time that he officially breaks with me, ending a bond that I hoped would have lasted a lifetime.
No, I will not try to force him to cheer for the Bears. He can cheer for his Rams and that Gurley running back.
If the Bears don’t win, however, I’m taking away his Xbox.
He doesn’t have to be a Bears fan, but I’ve decided to ground him until the Monsters of the Midway win the Super Bowl again.
Speaking of winning, my picks have been doing just that lately. Last week I went 12-4 straight up and 9-7 against the spread. That brings me to 120-72 on the season. I’m 92-98-2 against the spread.
That puts me one hot streak away from breaking even with Vegas.
Following are my Week 14 picks. The lines are from ESPN. By the way, isn’t it great to see Chris Berman back on the Mothership? I missed Boomer.
Jacksonville (plus 4.5) at Tennessee
Cody Kessler and the Jaguars are flying high after last week’s 6-0 win over the Colts.
Is Friends still on NBC on Thursdays?
Titans by 11
New York Jets (plus 3) at Buffalo
The Bills pummeled the Jets 41-10 a few weeks ago. And that was before the Pride of Wyoming returned.
Bills by 14
Carolina (minus 2) at Cleveland
The wheels have come off in Carolina, where head coach Ron Rivera has resorted to firing assistants.
The Browns aren’t bad at home. I can’t believe my fingers just typed that.
Browns by 3
Atlanta (plus 5.5) at Green Bay
Now that Aaron Rodgers finally got Mike McCarthy fired, will the quarterback actually try to win this week?
It’s too late for that dumpster fire in Title Town.
Falcons by 3
Baltimore (plus 6.5) at Kansas City
Kansas City got rid of one guy who we know hit a woman when the team sent Kareem Hunt packing last week.
Before we all start to praise the Chiefs, remember, they’re still utilizing Tyreek Hill, who admitted to punching and strangling his pregnant girlfriend in 2014.
So, the Chiefs are only batting .500 when it comes to dealing with domestic violence. On the bright side, that puts them way ahead of Washington and Dallas.
Woke Chiefs by 7
New England (minus 7.5) at Miami
The Patriots aren’t the Patriots in Miami.
Take the points.
Patriots by just 4
New Orleans (minus 8) at Tampa Bay
Nothing says bounce back for Drew Brees and Co. like facing that Buccaneer defense.
Saints by 14
New York Giants (minus 3.5) at Washington
Washington lost two quarterbacks to a broken leg. Still, they won’t even think about signing a certain protesting quarterback to try to save their season.
How many women does Colin Kaepernick have to beat up to get a second chance?
Giants by 7
Indianapolis (plus 5) at Houston
Nobody wants to play the Texans right now.
Texans by 10
Cincinnati (plus 14) at Los Angeles Chargers
The Bengals are now officially the second best professional football team in Ohio. Third if you count Ohio State.
Chargers by 21
Denver (plus 4) at San Francisco
Don’t worry 49ers fans. Kyle Shanahan only has four short years left on his contract.
Broncos by 8
Philadelphia (plus 3.5) at Dallas
Go ahead and put that Cowboys Starter jacket back in the closet.
Eagles by 2
Pittsburgh (plus 10.5) at Oakland
This one has upset written all over it.
This time I’m not even joking.
Raiders by 1
Detroit (minus 3) at Arizona
The Packers were the first team not coached by Kyle Shanahan that the Cardinals beat this year.
Lions by 6
Los Angeles Rams (minus 3) at Chicago
A team from Los Angeles playing a December night game in Chicago?
Looks like the Xbox is safe. For now.
Bears by 3
Minnesota (plus 3.5) at Seattle
Have you noticed that the “fans” who call themselves 12s suddenly realized it’s football season again?
It’s only going to get worse.
Seahawks by 10