Each week, theScore’s betting writer, Alex Kolodziej, will share a running diary of his Sunday experiences. Here’s the first edition, featuring bonus Monday night content (all times PT):

It’s 104 degrees in Tempe, yet I can’t stop thinking about Christmas.

To be clear, that doesn’t mean I’m fixated on snow, or ornaments on a tree, or presents. For me, Christmas is more of a feeling. And with the first NFL Sunday coming on the heels of last weekend’s Saturday NCAA bonanza, I’m about to get my second Christmas in eight days.

But all that bottled-up enthusiasm comes with a lingering cloud of defeat.

Any momentum I hoped to generate heading into the first Sunday of the NFL season was halted by an 0-4 night in college football. If there’s such a thing as a hangover despite consuming not a single drop of alcohol, I feel all of it.

Sunday, Sept. 9

4:30 a.m. – It’s how I know I’m a pessimist. The joyful iPhone alarm signaling the start of the day is met with my realization that the wake-up of wake-ups is already over, just like that. Poof. 365 more days until the next. Anyway, it’s the opening Sunday of the NFL season, and I’ve been waiting for this day, this routine, and this adrenaline for months.

4:40 a.m. – I’d typically let a pot of coffee percolate while running through the numbers, but this week, it’s just the coffee. I locked in three plays (Bengals-Colts over 46.5, Bills-Ravens over 40.5, and Seahawks +3) about four weeks prior, hoping to get good prices before the post-preseason market wave shaped the numbers a little more.

Bengals-Colts over 46.5
Bills-Ravens over 40.5
Seahawks +3 (at Broncos)

5:25 a.m. – I typically opt for a can of tobacco:pot of coffee ratio of 1:1. I don’t think it’s necessary or attractive to mention how much of both I’ve plowed through already as I sit on my floor, laptop open, killing time.

6:03 a.m. – A lot of people ask me why I’m up so early before the games. Aside from monitoring lines, I don’t have a definitive answer. I feel the need to clear my head, but I don’t. I could simply sleep the day away and check my account by day’s end. But if betting with emotion is wrong, I honestly don’t want to be right.

7:05 a.m. – Someone on Twitter posted a picture of Baltimore’s field. It’s raining. A lot. I check where the total is at – down from 40.5 to 38.5. Line or total moves like that are gut-wrenching. It’s difficult to not feel like you’re 0-1 three hours before kickoff.

9:51 a.m. – I checked my Venmo account and realized I had $33 in there that I didn’t know about. Now, let me be clear about something. You might think I have 33 extra dollars. However, I didn’t even know I had that money. So, really, it’s like a free bet. See the psychological loophole there? If I lose, it’s like I didn’t lose anything. If I win, that’s a net gain of 60-something dollars right there. It’s a no-brainer. I’ve cheated the system. San Francisco-Minnesota over 46.5, please.

Bengals-Colts over 46.5
Bills-Ravens over 40.5
Seahawks +3 (at Broncos)
San Francisco-Minnesota over 46.5

9:58 a.m. – Today’s crowd is light on guests but my one and only apartment rule stays the same: NFL RedZone must be on, and I can’t have a game I’ve wagered on playing on another TV. I personally avoid watching full NFL games. I’m not impressed by The Roger League’s product, and I strongly prefer having Scott Hanson guide my Sunday.

10 a.m. – I texted my friend and told him that if Hanson is wearing a navy tie, I’m betting every game on the board. I’ll be damned, navy with white stripes! (I didn’t live up to my promise – likely for the best.)

10:09 a.m. – Andrew Luck throws a red-zone interception. Nine minutes into the day and I’m already triggered.

10:39 a.m. – Hanson double boxes the Ravens-Bills and 49ers-Vikings games, both over bets. Touchdown in Baltimore, touchdown in Minny. Inject that into my spine with an 18-inch syringe.

11:11 a.m. – A 14-play drive that takes up more than seven minutes ends in a red-zone turnover. I missed the NFL so much.

11:36 a.m. – I just added Seahawks-Broncos over 42, small. I’m officially rooting hard for Seattle’s offense … against the Broncos’ front seven … in Mile High … with whatever is blocking for Russell Wilson. This should end well.

Bengals-Colts over 46.5
Bills-Ravens over 40.5
Seahawks +3 (at Broncos)
San Francisco-Minnesota over 46.5
Seahawks-Broncos over 42

12:13 p.m. – Double dip again: A.J. Green touchdown, Vikings touchdown. Clean another syringe for my back. My roommate tries to tell me how that benefited his fantasy team, but I couldn’t care less. The kid needs more points.

12:22 p.m. – As Hanson puts it, it’s “witching hour,” with tight games heading into the fourth. We need seven points in Indianapolis, 10 in Minnesota over the same time period, and any score in Baltimore with two rookie quarterbacks. There’s a pit in the center of where my small intestine should be.

12:32 p.m. – Bengals touchdown. That’s win No. 1 and much needed to start the day after Herm Edwards and the Sun Devils crushed my soul into oblivion 12 hours ago.

12:35 p.m. – Nothing like a backdoor Bills field goal down 40-0. That’s two wins in the span of four minutes. The Scott Hanson juju is back in full force.

Bengals-Colts over 46.5 ?
Bills-Ravens over 40.5 ????????
Seahawks +3 (at Broncos)
San Francisco-Minnesota over 46.5
Seahawks-Broncos over 42

1:12 p.m. – Vikings-Niners stays under 46.5. Kind of crazy that I can’t even count that as a loss, you know? The Venmo glitch! Honestly, though, the second half started picking up and I thought we were in good shape. Next time, I’m spending that $33 on Whataburger.

(Speaking of food, I don’t eat during the weekends until 8 p.m. I drink anywhere from 48-96 ounces of coffee and 6-10 teaspoons of coconut oil. Keep the stomach empty in case a bad beat induces vomiting, which would result in only clean dry heaves.)

1:43 p.m. – Earl Thomas picks off Case Keenum and the Seahawks go up 7-0 early in Denver. This is a Seahawks apartment right now. We are the 12th man.

1:53 p.m. – Week 3 odds for college football were just released. I love Notre Dame, Ohio, and Florida State, for what it’s worth. Scanning a computer screen is the only physical activity I’ll do all day. Aside from checking Week 3 openers, I burn negative calories.

2:06 p.m. – Something named Will Dissly keeps making big plays for the Seahawks. Don’t know him, but I think I need a lime-green Dissly shirsey.

2:56 p.m. – 17-10 Broncos at the half. I’m torn on what to root for. Any points are good, but I need them from Seattle. Also, just realized my muscle spasms are kicking in from the surplus of coffee.

3:20 p.m. – I’ve ignored every phone call today. Read a text from my mother, though, who’s 2,000-plus miles away. It read: “Did you get smoked betting?” That’s a real-life text.

3:47 p.m. – 20-17 Broncos heading into the fourth. Any Seahawks points will do. I caved and ate two SweeTarts for anyone counting my calories.

3:52 p.m. – Sometimes deep balls feel like they’re in the air forever. When Russell Wilson heaved his first of the fourth quarter, I could’ve read every Harry Potter book as it hung there. When it finally came down, it hit Tyler Lockett for a touchdown. 24-20. The over hit. Now I just need the Seahawks’ Legion of Boom defense to hold firm.

Bengals-Colts over 46.5 ?
Bills-Ravens over 40.5 ?
Seahawks +3 (at Broncos)
San Francisco-Minnesota over 46.5
????????
Seahawks-Broncos over 42
????????

4:05 p.m. – Broncos touchdown. 27-24. Feels like a home-team cheat code at work.

4:19 p.m. – Russell Wilson sacked on third down with four minutes left. Unless there’s a miracle, I’m almost rooting for the Broncos to run this clock out and not backdoor field goal me.

4:28 p.m. – Broncos punt from Seattle’s 44 with 1:08 left. I like to play it cool and pretend I don’t care what happens here, so long as we at least push. (Narrator voice: He cares a lot.)

4:31 p.m. – And that’s exactly what happens – 27-24 final and a 3-1-1 finish on the day. As the clock hits zeroes, I immediately check if there’s anything I like for Bears-Packers. There isn’t. I also decide that purchasing a saturated fat- and sodium-filled meal is better than forcing the issue.

A steak burrito, chips, and a large Diet Coke: the perfect meal to watch Aaron Rodgers crush my hometown’s heart into fragments yet again.

The perfect Christmas, am I right?

5:11 p.m. – I absolutely caved, pushing a small bet on Bears +7.5 and, with the total down from 47.5 to 45.5, making a larger bet on the over. What am I supposed to do, watch “60 Minutes”? Blasphemy!

Bengals-Colts over 46.5 ?
Bills-Ravens over 40.5 ????????
Seahawks +3 (at Broncos) PUSH
San Francisco-Minnesota over 46.5
????????
Seahawks-Broncos over 42 ????????
Bears +7.5 (at Packers)
Packers-Bears over 45.5

5:35 p.m. – The Bears just went right down the field for a touchdown midway through the first with ease. That darn Matt Nagy and his RPOs!

6:08 p.m. – 10-0 Bears early in the second, but there’s a problem: Aaron Rodgers just suffered an injury. I now need points from DeShone Kizer, who turns the ball over in the red zone at will.

6:15 p.m. – You can’t make this stuff up. It took seven minutes. Seven! Like clockwork, a Kizer turnover in the red zone. I’ll forever be upset that Khalil Mack joining the Bears took away two first-round picks and I have nothing to look forward to on draft night, but he’s playing out of his mind.

6:31 p.m. – And apparently that’s an understatement, because he just picked off Kizer and scored a touchdown. It’s 17-0 going into the half. The Bears wager looks like it’ll get there, though the over needs work.

7:03 p.m. – Another Bears field goal with a little more than 9:00 left in the third to make it 20-0, but there’s better news: Rodgers is back. I’ve never been so excited to see a man who’s single-handedly lowered my hometown’s morale.

7:21 p.m. – Packers settle for a field goal late in the third. 20-3. I need chaos in the fourth, and I need it yesterday.

7:40 p.m. – Geronimo Allison just made a huge touchdown catch early in the fourth to make it 20-10. So yeah, I’ll roll that touchdown back into the third. It sounds a lot easier to say you need 17 points in the fourth as opposed to 24. Again, I’m mentally cheating the system.

7:57 p.m. – For the first time since the first quarter, I’m back to being invested. Rodgers hits Davante Adams for a touchdown with 9:01 left. These are quick drives, too.

8:10 p.m. – The Bears are just draining the clock and I hope it comes back to bite them. Seriously, I do. It’s third-and-1 with a little less than three minutes to go, deep into Packers territory. I’m officially rooting against the offense.

8:11 p.m. – Nagy actually called a pass play! Unreal, this guy. Packers get a stop, Bears convert on a field goal, and Rodgers has a century to score a go-ahead touchdown to get this one over the total.

8:17 p.m. – KYLE FULLER JUST DROPPED AN INTERCEPTION. The commentators mention how much daylight Fuller would’ve had if he picked it off, but I like to imagine he would’ve just fallen down. Yeah, that’s totally what he would’ve done. Nah, it wouldn’t have been a pick-6.

8:20 p.m. – Randall Cobb just went 75 yards to the house for a touchdown. I don’t believe it. A 10-yard drag route just turned into a touchdown. The over miraculously just hit. I do my victory lap around the apartment kitchen. But what I thought was an easy win in the third quarter – my Bears +7.5 ticket – is now in jeopardy.

8:29 p.m. – Turnover on downs for the Bears in their own territory. They have two timeouts with less than a minute. If Rodgers isn’t in victory formation I’m going to have a meltdown. Or, if the Bears let the Packers score to go up eight to ensure they get the ball back, I hope my roommate has another TV, because my fist will end up inside the one sitting on the entertainment center.

8:35 p.m. – 00:02 left from the 40. The Packers are still lining up in their offensive formation. Mike McCarthy, don’t do this to me!

8:38 p.m. – Rodgers just threw a fly route down the sideline with time expiring. The Packers receiver had a step, too. I felt like the guy in “Two for the Money,” screaming “KNOCK IT DOWN!” Didn’t need it. Overthrown ball. Game over. My Bears are still the Bears and continued to get carved up by Rodgers with the game on the line. And I couldn’t be more thankful this time around.

Bengals-Colts over 46.5 ?
Bills-Ravens over 40.5 ????????
Seahawks +3 (at Broncos) PUSH
San Francisco-Minnesota over 46.5
????????
Seahawks-Broncos over 42 ????????
Bears +7.5 (at Packers) ????????
Packers-Bears over 45.5 ????????

Monday, Sept. 10

12:44 p.m. – I don’t like anything for the two Monday Night Football games, though I felt a lean toward the New York Jets plus the points. I sit on the couch, alone, wondering how I’m going to fill my downtime for the evening. At that point, I know it’s only a matter of time until I cave.

Bengals-Colts over 46.5 ?
Bills-Ravens over 40.5 ????????
Seahawks +3 (at Broncos) PUSH
San Francisco-Minnesota over 46.5
????????
Seahawks-Broncos over 42 ????????
Bears +7.5 (at Packers) ????????
Packers-Bears over 45.5 ????????
Jets +6.5 (at Lions)
Jets-Lions over 44

3:31 p.m. – Consider me caved. I’m playing the Jets +6.5 and I added the over 44 for the first Monday Night Football game. Matt Stafford and Sammy Darns in a dome? I hope neither team calls a running play.

4:12 p.m. – Darnold pick-6 on the first play. LOL.

4:41 p.m. – Isaiah Crowell scores and it’s 7-7 with 4:21 left in the first. It came after the replay booth confirmed a third-down catch. It probably shouldn’t have been, either. If I had the Lions and/or the under, I’m busting out Goodell’s handbook and reciting why it isn’t. But nope, it was absolutely 100 percent a catch – you can’t overturn that, fellas.

4:52 p.m. – 10-7 Jets, end of the first. Darnold looks better and we all know Stafford will suddenly remember how to play now that his defense gave up the lead.

5:17 p.m. – The Jets just ran a reverse on third down to take them out of field-goal range. Whoever had Jeremy Bates as the first offensive coordinator I want fired in 2018 (+1,000), come collect your winnings.

5:32 p.m. – Darnold connects on a 41-yard pass to Robby Anderson. Huge touchdown to make it 17-7 Jets.

5:35 p.m. – I can’t remember the last time I had a sip of water. I’m still going strong with coffee for the next half hour. Big pumpkin spice guy. Oh, and the Lions are driving down the field on a two-minute drill. I kind of want a field goal here, right?

5:43 p.m. – 17-10 Jets, half.

6:03 p.m. – Lions go right down the field. 17-17. I need a rookie quarterback on the road to keep this from getting out of hand. I’ve seen how this unfolds.

6:10 p.m. – Big fan of defensive pass interference when I have an over bet. Melt it down and let me sip it from a vial.

6:13 p.m. – Sammy Darns! Another touchdown pass to Quincy Enunwa, who nearly gave me an aneurysm as he exposed the ball trying to stretch over the goal line. 24-17 Jets. That ensures at least one winning bet.

6:19 p.m. – Darron Lee pick-6. 31-17 Jets. I’m the Grinch GIF. Run out the darned clock!

6:31 p.m. – Andre Roberts punt-return touchdown. 38-17. Chalk both of ’em up. (Literally, as he was running down the sideline.) I checked the Rams-Raiders line. This time, I truly don’t like anything. I’ll clock out with a 7-1-1 finish on the week and prepare – as my mother would put it – to get smoked on any college football game played later than 7 p.m. ET this Saturday.

Bengals-Colts over 46.5 ?
Bills-Ravens over 40.5 ????????
Seahawks +3 (at Broncos) PUSH
San Francisco-Minnesota over 46.5
????????
Seahawks-Broncos over 42 ????????
Bears +7.5 (at Packers) ????????
Packers-Bears over 45.5 ????????
Jets +6.5 (at Lions) ????????
Jets-Lions over 44 ????????

Thanks for following along. And remember: If it’s in your Venmo or PayPal account, it’s free bet credit.

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)

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