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|Date||Match Up||Rating||Score||Result||Profit||Lead Time||Analysis|
|09-14-13||Bowling Green v. Indiana -2.5||Top||10-42||Win||100||49 h 52 m||Show|
After blowing out Indiana St. in its opener, Indiana had a lot of momentum going into its second game against Navy but the Hoosiers came in with no energy and were behind 17-0 midway through the second quarter. The six-point final deficit would be as close as they would get in what turned out to be a horrific home loss. Now it will be up to Indiana to regroup and bounce back to avoid back-to-back losses before facing an extremely tough four-game stretch on the schedule. Indiana was, and still is, on the radar for me as a team that could have a very good season and there is experience all over the place following their 4-8 season from a year ago. The Hoosiers lost four of those games by four points or fewer and that tends to come around the following season. I played against Bowling Green last week and it was a bad call on my part as the Falcons went into Kent St. and hammered the Golden Flashes. They outgained them by 274 total yards but they held just a two-point lead at the break before scoring 17 unanswered points in the second half. I am still not completely sold on Bowling Green as a win over Tulsa to open the season looked impressive at first until the Golden Hurricane needed a field goal last week with no time left to defeat Colorado St. at home. Kent St. meanwhile was without running back Dri Archer (bad info received on my part) last week and apparently the narrow seven-point win over Liberty was not an aberration after all. Now comes a true test for the Falcons. While Indiana is far from the elite in the Big Ten, it is still a Big Ten with Big Ten athletes. The Indiana defense got shredded by Navy last week on the ground as it allowed 444 yards rushing but the Hoosiers will not be seeing anymore of that triple option attack. Put them against an average offense and a similar one that they go against in practice and they will be fine which is what I expect here. Indiana doesn't plan to spend much time figuring out where it can alter scheme or personnel. Instead, head coach Kevin Wilson wants players to maintain confidence, wipe away memories of the Navy debacle, improve fundamentals and most important, try to create some turnovers. On the flip side, the offense has carried the weight for Indiana thus far and while it will be facing one of the top defenses in the MAC, the Falcons defense has had its share of issues against teams from BCS conferences. Here, we play against teams where the line is +3 to -3 that had a winning record last season playing a team that had a losing season, in non-conference games. This situation is 36-11 ATS (76.6 percent) over the last 10 seasons. 10* (124) Indiana Hoosiers
|09-12-13||NY Jets v. New England Patriots OVER 43||Top||10-13||Loss||-110||48 h 39 m||Show|
Not many people will be giving the over a chance based on what we saw these teams do last week. The Jets offense sputtered as expected with rookie Geno Smith behind center but they were able to do just enough, along with some help from a bonehead Tampa Bay penalty, to pull out the victory. New York managed only 304 yards of offense while putting up just 18 points but I see better things taking place this week. Smith was able to not only make plays with his strong arm, but scrambled out of trouble multiple times Sunday. He threw for 256 yards and a touchdown which are certainly not earth shattering numbers but so a guy that only took 69 snaps in the preseason, it is a very solid line. The Jets are facing a Patriots defense that was pretty average a year ago and there are some questions about whether or not they will stay at that level or even fall down some. Against Buffalo, they allowed just 286 total yards and while that was also against a fellow rookie starting quarterback, facing Smith in his second game should prove to be more difficult than facing E.J. Manual in his first game. The Jets defense was very solid as they held Tampa Bay to 250 total yards including just 65 yards rushing on 25 carries (2.6 ypc). The defense was a question coming into the season and despite a solid Week One, I think it is still a question. The Jets run defense is a lot better than the Bills version, and the Patriots won't have Shane Vereen to fall back on. If neither Brandon Bolden nor LeGarrette Blount can get it done, then they will be forced to throw the ball a lot and that only helps us here. The New England passing offense is a work in progress as all five of quarterback Tom Brady's top receivers from 2012 were absent in Buffalo. They accounted for 338 of his 401 completions last season, which is 84.3 percent but you cannot count him out. New England still managed 431 total yards and heading home, it will be more than fine. Coming off two unders last week, I really think we are catching a ton of value. This is the lowest total in this series since 2010 when the Patriots and Jets began their over run of seven straight games, a streak that is still in progress. Based on the line and spread, the projection would be New England 28 New York 16 and I believe that the Jets can get more than that as settling for three field goals against Tampa Bay hurt them. The over is 20-8-1 in the Jets last 29 games after allowing less than 90 yards rushing in their previous game while the over is 20-8 in the Patriots last 28 games against teams with a winning record. 10* Over (101) New York Jets/(102)/New England Patriots
|09-12-13||TCU v. Texas Tech UNDER 62.5||Top||10-20||Win||100||47 h 54 m||Show|
TCU and Texas Tech have started the season by each going 2-0 to the over so that alone is going to plant the public behind the over again this week. Because of that, this total will likely continue to climb through gametime so when taking the under in these nationally televised weeknight games, it is best to hold off as late as you can because this number will not be coming down. The Horned Frogs and Red Raiders were involved in high scoring games this past weekend but it is very important to note that both went over the total in their games by just a half-point which is another reason for additional value. These teams met last year for the first time since 2006 and it was a very entertaining game that saw 109 points scored but 37 of those were scored in overtime so the final was a bit misleading. The total closed at 57 in last year's game so you can see how the number this year has been affected by that meeting as well as the recent results from this season. Texas Tech is ranked eighth in the nation in total offense and 10th in scoring offense, averaging 596 ypg and 51 ppg respectively, but the Red Raiders haven't exactly been challenged yet. They put up 731 total yards against Stephen F. Austin in their 61-13 win this past Saturday but comes a true test. They did pass that test last season against the Horned Frogs by scoring 56 points but they were held to 389 total yards as they were able to take advantage of three TCU turnovers. On the other side, the Horned Frogs are ranked 99th in total offense and things could get worse before they get better. Unfortunately for the Horned Frogs, the win over Southeastern Louisiana came with a price. Quarterback Casey Pachall will miss the next eight weeks after breaking his left arm. Trevone Boykin is no slouch as he was the starting quarterback last season after Pachall left the team but he is more of a mobile threat than a pure passer so more running on the offense could speed up the game and keep the clock moving. TCU did not have a great game defensively in its opener against LSU but this is a unit that brought back nine starters from last year's 16th ranked total defense. While Texas Tech is not known for defense, it finished 38th in total defense last year and also brought back nine starters. Through two games this year, the Red Raiders are just 82nd in total defense but 40th in scoring defense as the 'bend don't break' style has paid off. I see a lower than expected scoring game on Thursday and we will take advantage of the generous number that we have been offered. 10* Under (103) TCU Horned Frogs/(204) Texas Tech Red Raiders
|09-09-13||Philadelphia Eagles +3.5 v. Washington Redskins||Top||33-27||Win||100||12 h 40 m||Show|
Last night, we got our first glimpse of what the NFC East could be like this season and it wasn't pretty as Dallas and New York put forth a very ugly effort. Tonight, the other two teams square off as the new look Eagles head to Washington to take on the projected divisional championship by the majority. The big storyline for Washington is quarterback Robert Griffin III who is back in the starting lineup after tearing his ACL just over eight months ago. He says he is ready and that he would not be out there otherwise and that I believe. But while his knee may be back to full health, he will be showing some rust as he did not take a snap during the preseason which puts him in a tough spot here. On the other side, the Eagles brought in Chip Kelly from Oregon and with him comes a brand new system which is obviously tricky to pick up right away. But I still give that edge to Philadelphia as while it may take time to learn, it is impossible for a defense to prepare for something it has never seen before. The Redskins can look at all the preseason film they want. But Kelly, like most NFL coaches, didn't give much away in his game-planning for those contests. In six career starts against Washington, Michael Vick is 3-1 with 805 passing yards, eight touchdowns and only two interceptions. He has also ran for two touchdowns, while rushing for over 100 yards. The big game could come from LeSean McCoy however. He looked unstoppable in the preseason in Kelly's new offense, and he will be utilized much more than he was in Andy Reid's pass happy west coast offense. The Eagles lost both meetings a year ago and after a disastrous 4-12 season, they will be out to open the Kelly era with a victory and while motivation will not be lacking on the other side, Philadelphia has more answers to the questions coming into this one. Additionally, the Redskins defense puts Philadelphia into a solid situation where we play against favorites in a divisional matchup that allowed 5.4 yppl or more last season. This situation is 48-20 ATS (70.6 percent) over the last 10 seasons. Going back to last season, the Redskins have been the much better team against the spread and because of their 4-0 preseason, I feel the value is on the side of the Eagles as that hook on top of the field goal is huge in my opinion. 10* (479) Philadelphia Eagles
|09-08-13||Oakland Raiders +10.5 v. Indianapolis Colts||Top||17-21||Win||100||50 h 42 m||Show|
Week One of the regular season can be a tricky one for both bettors and linesmakers. Setting the lines is tough as the main parameters are based on last season's performances and this year's expectations and this line is clearly taking those into account. The Colts had one of the best turnaround seasons ever as they went from going 2-14 in 2011 to 11-5 in 2012 and earning a playoff berth. Indianapolis is now back on the map and expectations are high once again but as good as the Colts were last season, they were never favored even close to what they are favored by in Week One against the Raiders. I'm not saying last year was a fluke but of the 11 wins Indianapolis had, six of those came by four points or fewer while another came in overtime by six points. Adding to this, the Colts became the first team in NFL history to win 11 or more games during the regular season while being outscored by their opponents. The Colts covered 11 games last season but six of those were as underdogs and the five they covered as favorites, they were a 4.5-point chalk or less each time. The Raiders are not expected to be a very good team this season as they have one of the lowest regular season win totals which is 5.5. They went 4-12 last season which after two straight 8-8 seasons so they are definitely going the wrong way but this is the NFL and strange things can happen, case in point the Colts last season. Oakland was not very good on the road, going 1-7 but again all of this is playing into this line which is why it is as high as it is. Looking at matchups, stopping the Colts offense and quarterback Andrew Luck is not an easy task but if ever there is a matchup that suits the Raiders, this is it. Their secondary is looking very good as Charles Woodson, D.J. Hayden, Tracy Porter, and Mike Jenkins form a great unit. The Colts are thin in the backfield so the Raiders should see a lot of throws from Luck and let's not forget, he had 18 interceptions a year ago. On the other side, Terrelle Pryor will get the start and while he has proven nothing, the read-option he will utilize could cause some problems for the Colts. I am a contrarian by nature, especially in the NFL, and this is the ultimate in contrarian as the public is all over the Colts which is just the way I prefer it the first week of the season. 10* (471) Oakland Raiders
|09-08-13||Seattle Seahawks v. Carolina Panthers +4||Top||12-7||Loss||-110||50 h 33 m||Show|
There are four home underdogs on Sunday and I feel this one is the best of the bunch. As said before, Week One of the regular season can be a tricky one for both bettors and linesmakers as setting the lines is tough with the main parameters based on last season's performances and this year's expectations. Seattle was outstanding last year by going 11-5 in the regular season and then splitting in the playoffs. The Seahawks closed by winning five straight to end the regular season and then taking out Washington in the first round of the playoffs after falling behind early before losing by two at Atlanta in the Divisional Round. They are now considered a Super Bowl contender by many and their +350 to win the NFC certainly proves that. Based on all of this, there is no way they could not be a road favorite to open the season and it has a step further as they are favored by more than a field goal. Seattle put together its second straight undefeated preseason but lest we forget that after going 4-0 last season, it opened the regular season at Arizona and lost outright as a point favorite. Now the Seahawks have to travel to the east coast for an early game and while rumor has it, they are preparing the right way for it, it is not an easy task. After closing 2011 with wins in four of their final six games, expectations were high for the Panthers last year, especially after the great rookie season Cam Newton had at quarterback. Unfortunately, Carolina would start the season 2-8 and the season was lost. The Panthers did go 5-1 over their last six games including winning their last four but this time around, expectations are not nearly as high and that helps us with public perception which ultimately helps us with the line. One huge edge for the Panthers here is the banged up Seattle defense as Bruce Irvin starts his suspension, Chris Clemons won't play while still recovering from his knee injury, Cliff Avril is nursing a hamstring, and Seattle's two starting defensive tackles are battling groin injuries. As for the Carolina defense, it improved from 2011 to 2012 and should be better this year thanks to rookies Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short who will contribute right away. I expect Newton to have a big season as he will be playing with a chip on his shoulder amid the criticism he has taken but he played as good as any quarterback in the second half of last season. Don't be surprised to see the outright win here. 10* (468) Carolina Panthers
|09-07-13||Minnesota v. New Mexico State +15.5||Top||44-21||Loss||-110||59 h 41 m||Show|
We played against Minnesota last Thursday and while the final score showed a blowout win by the Gophers, it never should have been that way. Minnesota was outgained by 99 total yards but it was fortunate to score three touchdowns by other than the offense as it returned the second half kickoff for a touchdown, returned a blocked field goal for a touchdown and returned an interception for a touchdown, all in a span of just over a quarter. The 28-point win is obviously misleading as both the offense and defense was inconsistent and now the Gophers make a trip across country and are being asked to lay over two scores. They have won only nine road games since 2007 and have been a road favorite just a few times, most recently last season when they were favored by 8.5 points at UNLV and escaped with a win in three overtimes. This is another prime example of the markets taking a result too much into consideration when not the whole picture was looked at. New Mexico St. is coming off an ugly loss at Texas as it went down by 49 points while getting outgained by 369 total yards. The Aggies trailed by just a 14-7 score at halftime however so while the second half was a disaster, they showed they could compete with a team like Texas and Minnesota is no Texas. The Aggies offense proved to be light years ahead of where it was in 2012 with a no-huddle attack that has been implemented, one that saw the Aggies observe Texas' defense, make the appropriate play call at the line of scrimmage and then attack from there. Minnesota does have a strong defense but after allowing 419 total yards to UNLV, I don't see it stopping New Mexico St. enough to try and cover this massive number. On the other side, the Gophers are going to be without starting running back Donnell Kirkwood as he has a sprained right ankle and is not expected to play Saturday. New Mexico St. is an Independent this year which means the schedule is pretty tough but not brutal and this is one of those swing games that it needs to win. Even if it doesn't happen, we have a big number to lean back on. 10* (370) New Mexico St. Aggies
|09-07-13||North Texas v. Ohio -4||Top||21-27||Win||100||58 h 2 m||Show|
We were on the complete wrong side with Ohio on Sunday as it got smashed at Louisville 49-7. While I do not think the Bobcats are as bad as they played against the Cardinals, I definitely underestimated Louisville in that game and while I still feel the Cardinals are overrated, the amount has certainly decreased. Now Ohio heads back home and takes a big step down in class as it welcomes North Texas. The Bobcats are coming off their fourth consecutive winning season a year ago and despite just 12 starters back, those returning starters are key players and big time playmakers on offense for that matter. The offense managed only 273 total yards against Louisville but facing a Mean Green defense will get them back on track. North Texas allowed only six points to Idaho in its opener but did give up 369 total yards as it was fortunate than the Vandals put the ball on the ground four times, losing three of those fumbles. Because of the blowout loss suffered in their opener, the value is clearly on the side of the Bobcats which are 15-3 over their last three years at home. North Texas won by 34 points while outgaining Idaho by 201 total yards and while that win looks impressive, the Vandals are expected to be one of the worst teams in the FBS this season so we cannot take a lot away from that victory. The Mean Green are now 8-4 at home since the start of the 2010 season but they have gone 2-11 on the road over that stretch and going back further, they are 8-38 over their last 46 road games going back to 2006. To their credit, this is expected to be one of the better North Texas teams we have seen in a few years but until it can get better play on the road, they will be a fade at these short prices. The Mean Green were a single digit road underdog only once last season and they lost that game by 17 points at Marshall. Additionally, playing well in back-to-back games has been few and far between at north Texas is 4-18 ATS in its last 22 games following a win. Meanwhile, the Bobcats are 6-1 ATS in their last seven games after allowing more than 40 points in their previous game. I expect a huge effort from Ohio as it takes its frustrations out Saturday night. 10* (318) Ohio Bobcats
|09-07-13||Bowling Green v. Kent State +7.5||Top||41-22||Loss||-110||51 h 39 m||Show|
Bowling Green put together a very surprising run a season ago as after opening 1-3, it went on to win seven of its last eight regular season games before losing to San Jose St. in the Military Bowl. That success coupled with 19 returning starters has given the Falcons some pretty lofty expectations as they have been tabbed by many to with the MAC East ahead of Ohio. With expectations comes public backing which in turn affects the lines that are posted and I feel that is the case here. It doesn't hurt matters that Bowling Green destroyed Tulsa in its season opener at home 34-7 while outgaining the Golden Hurricane by 123 total yards. The Falcons were a favorite by a field goal in that one and despite a switch to the road, they are actually now favored by more than a touchdown. Kent St. is coming off a win of its own as it defeated Liberty in its season opener. It was far from a dominating performance however as it won by just a touchdown over its FCS opponent but a win is a win and if for nothing else, the close call helps us out with the line this week. Still, the Golden Flashes outgained Liberty by 139 total yards including 135 yards on the ground despite an injury to running back Dri Archer who was hurt after just three carries and did not return. Archer is considered a sleeper Heisman candidate and the good news is that the injury suffered was minor as it was a twisted ankle so he will be ready to go. Kent St. has two very solid situations on its side as well. First, we play on underdogs of 3.5 to 10 points in the first two weeks of the year, bowl team from prior season who lost their last two games. This situation is 34-8 ATS (81 percent) since 1992. Second, we play on home underdogs of 3.5 to 10 points after one or more consecutive straight up wins, in the first two weeks of the season. This situation is 40-12 ATS (76.9 percent) since 1992. Over the last five seasons, there two scenarios have combined to go an outstanding 24-2 ATS. Additionally, the Golden Flashes are 12-3-1 ATS in their last 16 games following a win while Bowling Green is 4-12-1 ATS in its last 17 games against teams with a winning record. 10* (360) Kent St. Golden Flashes
|09-06-13||Central Florida v. Florida International +24.5||Top||38-0||Loss||-110||36 h 56 m||Show|
This is what we call an overreaction line after the first week. Central Florida rolled over Akron by 31 points at home as a 24-point favorite and now it hits the road favored by more points this week. The Zips are not a good team as they have won only three games during the last three seasons and came into the game against the Knights riding a 26-game road losing streak which was extended to 27 games. Central Florida did what it had to do and it could very well do the same here however laying this number on the road is ludicrous especially when it is 9-13 ATS as a road chalk of any kind under George O'Leary and has a game at Penn St. on deck so the lookahead possibility is there. Additionally, Central Florida has gone 1-4 ATS in its last five games as a double-digit road favorite We played and won against Florida International last week as it was hammered 43-10 while getting outgained by 405 total yards. Rarely will you see a team play horrid game consecutively (and vice versa for that matter) and this number is definitely an overreaction to that loss against the Terrapins. That was more of a play on Maryland more than anything else and I am banking on a much better performance from the Golden Panthers as they head home for this one. Adding even more fire to the pot is the fact that they closed last season by dropping their final five games at home. The Knights defeated Florida International at home last season by 13 points as a 17-point favorite and instead of the line going down based on the venue change, it has gone up by over a touchdown and that is a huge swing for a team that is not considered to be an overly dominating team to begin with. The Knights are 0-6 ATS in their last six games after allowing less than 275 total yards in their previous game while going 1-8 ATS in their last nine games following a home win. Meanwhile, Florida International is 5-1 ATS in its last six games as a double-digit underdog against an opponent that is coming off a double-digit win. 10* (484) Florida International Golden Panthers
|09-05-13||Baltimore Ravens +7.5 v. Denver Broncos||Top||27-49||Loss||-110||35 h 37 m||Show|
Prior to last season when the Giants lost against Dallas on Thursday night to open the season, we had seen the past Super Bowl champions win their season openers in each of the previous three years starting with Pittsburgh in 2009, New Orleans in 2010 and Green Bay in 2011. It needs to be noted that all three of those teams were favored and at home and the Ravens did not get the luxury of getting a home game to open the season because of a conflict with the Orioles. Baltimore was already set to host the Chicago White Sox next door at 7:05 and because of a shared parking lot, both could play the same night and a compromise could not be made. I feel the Ravens will be playing with a chip on their shoulder because of this. Since the offseason started, the Ravens, in particular linebacker Terrell Suggs, have talked about the lack of respect given the team, and head coach John Harbaugh has echoed those sentiments throughout training camp. The defending Super Bowl Champions will be out to prove the doubters wrong. Denver will no doubt be amped up for this game as this is the matchup that saw their season come to an end last year. The Broncos were 7-1 at home during the regular season with most of those being blowouts so they are obviously favored for a reason. I think the line is way too much even though it is less than the 9.5-point spread from that playoff game. Baltimore did lose a lot from last year especially on the defensive side, namely Ray Lewis and Ed Reed but I think the defense will be improved as they are bigger, faster, younger and stronger on defense and last season they weren't that great to begin with. On the other side, a sloppy preseason on offense should have no one worried as Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell says the Ravens' offense could display some different characteristics now that the games actually count. As far as the Broncos go, they are the favorites to win the Super Bowl but they have some questions as well. Defensively, they are without Von Miller and Champ Bailey isn't close to 100 percent while the loss of outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil to Baltimore is huge. Offensively, Peyton Manning is still one of the best quarterbacks around but his offensive line and running game are average at best and he will be under pressure all night. Obviously, Denver will be out for revenge but winning and covering are two different matters. 10* (451) Baltimore Ravens
|09-02-13||Florida State -10 v. Pittsburgh||Top||41-13||Win||100||124 h 27 m||Show|
Despite a 12-2 season a year ago, it was considered a disappointing campaign for Florida St. The Seminoles came in ranked seventh in the preseason polls and they were considered a strong contender to play for the BCS Championship. Things started well with five straight double-digit wins but then an uncalled for loss at NC State by a point ended those championship hopes. They would go on to lose to sixth ranked Florida at home later in the season before winning the final two games. This season, expectations are lower as Florida St. is not ranked in the preseason top ten and that could be a better thing as flying under the radar early could be a benefit, especially at the betting window. I am not one to bet a lot of road favorites but I feel this line is way off and possibly for the wrong reason. The Seminoles lost a ton of talent as they will have to replace 11 players that were drafted including quarterback E.J. Manuel. Instead of rebuilding though, this team is reloading. While head coach Jimbo Fisher's early classes had to play right away, the staff has carefully selected immediate-impact contributors while allowing a number of talented recruits to develop further. Replacing Manuel is Jameis Winston who is a redshirt freshman and while his first start is on the road, it is no issue as this kid is the real deal. He will have four starters back on the offensive line to protect him and give him lanes and he has numerous playmakers at his disposal. On defense, the Seminoles will have the ability to rotate as many as 10 tackles and ends so the loss of six starters from the front seven is not nearly as bad is it would be for most teams. I do not see Pittsburgh doing much on offense against this athletic defense. The Panthers starting quarterback is Tom Savage who has not played since 2010 after transferring from Rutgers to Arizona and then Arizona to here. Likely starting running back Rushel Shell transferred while five of the top seven receivers from last year are gone. The defense will be asked to carry the load until the offense can find its chemistry and while this unit was outstanding last year, that was against a weak schedule. That changes now in the move to the ACC and the Panthers do not have the speed to slow down Florida St. as the Seminoles dominate both sides of the ball. 10* (219) Florida St. Seminoles
|09-01-13||Ohio +21 v. Louisville||Top||7-49||Loss||-110||96 h 7 m||Show|
This game sets up very similar to a play that was made on Saturday as we are going against early season hype which has caused an inflated line. Louisville is coming in as a sleeper pick to make it to the BCS Championship following an 11-2 season last year that including a 33-23 win over Florida in the Sugar Bowl. There is plenty of talent on this team and the Cardinals return 16 starters overall but I am far from sold on this team making a huge run. Even if they do run the table and go undefeated, it will be difficult to include them in the championship game as their schedule is a cakewalk. Entering the season, Louisville's schedule is ranked 98th out of 126 FBS teams and it can be argued that the toughest game on the slate does not come until the final game of the season at Cincinnati. Because of the preseason hype, the Cardinals are favored by close to three touchdowns in most shops and the recommendation is to wait this one out until we get closer to gametime as I expect it to hit 21 points everywhere with the possibility of even going over that in some places. Ohio is no slouch and with the disciplined way this team plays, walking out of Louisville with an outright win is far from out of the question. The Bobcats are going off a 9-4 season and it certainly could have been a lot better. Ohio opened up 7-0 but then injuries started piling up after more than a dozen players suffered season-ending injuries in 2012. The team is healthy once again as head coach Frank Solich lightened the load during camp to try and keep his team fresh and injury free and the plan worked. Offensively, this team is loaded as it returns nearly all skill position players, with eight returning starters players overall. This includes quarterback Tyler Tettlton, running back Beau Blankenship and receiver Donte Foster. Defensively, the Bobcats lost a lot up front but they return leading tackler Keith Moore at linebacker and they have a healthy group of defensive backs that a year ago were devastated by injuries. Slowing down the Cardinals offense will not be easy but the Bobcats offense brings enough to the table to keep up. If Ohio can create some turnovers on defense and protect the ball on offense, it could be the Bobcats that that move into position to make that magical run to the championship instead of Louisville. 10* (215) Ohio Bobcats
|08-31-13||Northwestern v. California OVER 57||Top||44-30||Win||100||79 h 15 m||Show|
We have not seen a ton of movement in this total since it opened but that should change by gametime so it may be best to jump on this one early as I expect it to go no where but up. Northwestern comes in with one of its best teams on paper in a long time and most of that comes from the offense as the Wildcats have eight starters back from last years 10-3 team. They averaged 31.7 ppg and they should get going right away against a Golden Bears defense that was ravaged at the end of the season last year, allowing 59 and 62 points in their final two games. Changes had to be made and they were. Along with head coach Jeff Tedford being shown the door, both coordinators are new. New defensive coordinator Andy Buh, who was most recently the linebackers coach at Wisconsin, will be installing a 4-3 formation to replace the 3-4 of years past. That will take time to develop and the Wildcats, led by the quarterback duo of Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian along with numerous playmakers including the top three returning rushers and six of the top seven returning receivers, will exploit it. Sonny Dykes takes over a California offense that averaged just 23.0 ppg and his system should provide a boost to the unit right away. In his third and final season with Louisiana Tech, Dykes oversaw the top ranked offense in the country as the Bulldogs racked up 577.9 ypg. It will not be that potent right away but the Golden Bears players are buying into it which makes a world of difference. Additionally, this is a very athletic team on offense and that is something that Northwestern tends to struggle against on that side of the ball. California is starting a true freshman at quarterback in Jared Goff, which is always a concern, but we are not asking for an astronomical amount of points here although going into the 30's would not be a surprise at all. Look for this one to fly over the total with ease. 10* Over (213) Northwestern Wildcats/(214) California Golden Bears
|08-31-13||Boise State v. Washington Huskies -3.5||Top||6-38||Win||100||79 h 55 m||Show|
Saturday night, Washington will be playing at Husky Stadium for the first time since 2011 after it was forced to play at CenturyLink Field because of renovations. This will be one crazy atmosphere and one that the home team will take full advantage of. This is a rematch from the Las Vegas Bowl last year in which Boise St. won by two points so the Huskies will be out for some early season payback. The Huskies have gone 7-6 in each of the last three seasons and this is the best team on paper over that stretch as they have the experience and talent to make a run in the Pac 12. Quarterback Keith Price has a regression from the previous season but we should see him rebound this year as he has numerous weapons around him. Running back Bishop Sankey and wide receiver Kasen Williams form as dynamic duo as there is in the conference. The problem last season was a banged up offensive line so keeping that unit healthy will be key. Since this is the first game, we are catching them at their healthiest. The defense was extremely solid last year and it was a very young defense on top of that so a year older will have them even better. Year in and year out, Boise St. head coach Chris Peterson brings in great teams but this could be one of his biggest challenges yet. Six starters need to be replaced on each side, and some big holes have to be filled on the defensive front six and the offensive line, two hugely important areas that go a long way in success or lack thereof. The Broncos know all about being tested early in the season and they would like to learn from their loss against Michigan St. last year as they were outgained 461-206 but it won't be that easy in this environment. You hate to say 'must win' game this early in the season but this one qualifies for the Huskies as they need some early season momentum going their way. "Nah, we're not over it," head coach Steve Sarkisian said of the way 2012 ended. "We're not over it. We're antsy. We're pissed. We're not over it, and we won't be until we get to go hit somebody else." This game also falls into the great situation of playing an unranked home favorite against a ranked road underdog. 10* (210) Washington Huskies
|08-31-13||Buffalo +35 v. Ohio State||Top||20-40||Win||100||69 h 15 m||Show|
After opening under 35 points, this line has crept over the five-touchdown barrier and we will strike. Early season lines are determined on predictions of how teams will do as there is no history of games that can be looked at. That gives us some big advantages when looking at these games and going against teams that are getting overhyped. Ohio St. is one of those. This isn't to say the Buckeyes are not a good team because they are outstanding but this line inflated based on the name and the hype. Ohio St. went 12-0 last season but was ineligible for the postseason and many are calling for another undefeated season. The offense will be explosive once again behind quarterback Braxton Miller who also led the team in rushing. He will be asked to do it again here as running backs Carlos Hyde and Rod Smith will both miss this one. On the other side, the Buckeyes defense is very young and inexperience with just four returning starters. Three of those are in the secondary but Ohio St. finished 11 in the Big Ten in passing defense so this may not be a good thing. Even worse, the best returning corner, Bradley Roby, has been suspended for the opener. The front seven has to be rebuilt and that is a big question mark, especially early in the season. Buffalo has done much the last few years but this could be the best Bulls team that head coach Jeff Quinn has put on the field in his four years. They have gone from two wins to three wins to four wins through his first three years and they are talking about being MAC East champions and at worst, making it to their first bowl game since 2008. Buffalo brings back 16 returning starters including nine on offense and that is where it can take advantage because of the inexperienced Ohio St. stop unit. The Bulls offense needs more firepower and has to be more consistent in the passing game, but back Branden Oliver is a special runner and the line should be terrific with three starters returning and the starting five solid. The strength last season for the bulls was their defense and they will be tough once again. The Bulls came up with one of the nation
|08-29-13||Ole Miss -3 v. Vanderbilt||Top||39-35||Win||100||57 h 46 m||Show|
This certainly isn't the most ideal line we are getting but I don't think it will even come into play. Ole Miss exceeded expectations last year as it went 7-6 which included a bowl win over Pittsburgh. The coaching job that Hugh Freeze did was outstanding and this year, expectations are higher which is forcing the Rebels to be favored on the road. They have 19 returning starters which is by far the most in the SEC and they brought in one of the best recruiting classes in the country which actually makes them a darkhorse contender. Ole Miss lost some close games last season and one of those came at home against Vanderbilt in the final minute so it will be out for some payback. The offense is loaded with quarterback Bo Wallace back under center and potential All-SEC running back Jeff Scott and wide receiver Donte Moncrief around him. Last year, the Rebels averaged 31.5 ppg which was nearly double from the 2011 season. If Ole Miss wants to take the next step, it must come on defense, where the Rebels finished 11th in the SEC stopping the pass last season. The good news is that Vanderbilt does not have the passing attack to take advantage like it did last year as quarterback Jordan Rodgers is gone. Additionally, wide receiver Chris Boyd was charged with assisting defendants accused of rape and sexual assault, was indicted and suspended indefinitely from the football team. Last season, he started all 13 games, accumulated 50 catches and averaged 59.5 ypg and he caught the winning touchdown pass for the Commodores in the win over the Rebels. Vanderbilt returns 13 starters overall and this year it will not be sneaking up on teams like it did in 2012. The offense will take a step down while the defensive line, a strength last season, needs to replace three of four starters. The Commodores have momentum from winning their final six games from last season however, that puts them into a negative situation as we play against teams in the first week of the season, after closing out last season with three or more straight spread covers and finished with a winning percentage between .600 and .800 playing a team that had a winning record. This situation is 25-4 ATS (86.2 percent) since 1992. 10* (143) Mississippi Rebels
|02-03-13||Baltimore Ravens +4 v. San Francisco 49ers||Top||34-31||Win||100||237 h 60 m||Show|
Two weeks ago, the AFC was -3 in the Super Bowl and now the AFC that is represented by Baltimore is getting points. That line two weeks ago could have been determined by the matchup between the top seeds Denver and Atlanta but I not think the swing should be this big with the fact that Baltimore is now the AFC representative. The value is tremendous and we are backing a team getting more points that is should that is peaking at the right time.
Baltimore is certainly playing some of its best football of the season so the extra week off may have some concerned. I do not think this is a liability though and I actually think it helps the Ravens out more than anything. The Giants were in the same scenario a season ago and they ended up winning the Super Bowl. The additional week off gives Baltimore extra time to get ready for Colin Kaepernick and it will be the first team that has had two weeks to prepare for him this season.
Another bonus for the extra time off for Baltimore is to rest its defense. The Ravens defense has been on field for 1,342 plays this season and since start of 2001, no defense has logged more plays in a season The Ravens have allowed a lot of yards during the playoffs, 415.0 ypg in fact, but due to the volume of plays run against them, they're allowing just 4.86 yppl, which is the lowest number among the 12 playoff teams so the defense that gets a bad rap has stepped up huge.
Joe Flacco has become the first quarterback in NFL history to win six playoff games on the road and this season he has been exceptional. He has completed 51-93 pass attempts for 853 yards with eight touchdowns and zero interceptions for a passer rating of 114.7. A large portion of that success can be credited to a reshuffled offensive line that has allowed just four sacks this postseason. I was pretty unimpressed with the 49ers against the Falcons and taking them out of San Francisco has made a big difference.
The utilization of the no-huddle offense has simplified the game for Flacco while producing a better rhythm and tempo. Consequently, the Ravens have blown through the playoffs behind an offense that is far more explosive and diverse than the regular-season version. Because the offensive line has been so good, the 49ers will not have much success getting to Flacco and that is huge as the San Francisco pass defense is only good when the defensive line can apply pressure.
On the other side, the 49ers will utilize a combination of zone-read running and play-action passing against a Ravens defense that struggled to contain a similar offensive attack run by Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins in Week 14. This means nothing in my opinion as the Ravens are a difference defense now. They are playing at a much higher level and it cannot be understated that Baltimore was not even close to 100 percent healthy in that game as it is now.
If this is a close game toward the end of the game, Baltimore has a huge edge in my opinion. Even though he is just a rookie, Ravens kicker Justin Tucker has missed only three field goals all season long and is a perfect 4-4 from beyond 50 yards. Conversely, David Akers for San Francisco hit the upright on a FG attempt against the Falcons and nearly was replaced before the game. He has not attempted a field goal over 40 yards in the playoffs where he was just 9-19 during the regular season. 10* (101) Baltimore Ravens
|01-20-13||Baltimore Ravens +10 v. New England Patriots||Top||28-13||Win||100||131 h 53 m||Show|
This is a rematch of not only the Week Three meeting, won by Baltimore by a point, but also a rematch of last year's AFC Championship, which the Patriots won by a field goal. New England was able to cover the inflated line against Houston last week but I do not see it happening again. In the first meeting this year, Baltimore was favored by 2.5 points which should make the Patriots about a 4.5-point favorite here based on a venue switch. Have these teams changed that much to inflate the line this much? I do not think so.
The Ravens got an improbable win in Denver thanks to a defensive gaffe by the Broncos that allowed a 71-yard touchdown pass with less than a minute remaining to send the game into overtime. Still, Baltimore has to be given a lot of credit to be able to go into Denver and take down the top seed that was riding an 11-game winning streak. The question is, can the Ravens get up once again and do the same? I totally expect them to as I not only expect them to keep it close, an outright win is far from out of the question.
I think Baltimore is in fine shape similar to last season despite a lot of distractions and negative situations coming into the postseason. The Ravens lost several key performers to injuries, fired their offensive coordinator following their 13th game and dropped four of their final five contests heading into the playoffs. I am nit buying any of the 'Team of Destiny' talk but I do buy the fact that when teams are down and thought to be out, they tend to step up as adversity can bring out the best in players.
Hats off to New England for taking out the Texans but they only outgained Houston by 32 totals yards but were able to take advantage of Houston mistakes and that doesn't mean turnovers. Matt Schaub did not play a very good game and the Texans finished 4-15 on third down and a team cannot win with that type of inconsistency. The victory over the Texans came with a cost, as star tight end Rob Gronkowski re-injured his left forearm and is out for the rest of the playoffs.
The Patriots will be out for revenge but this line totally takes away any edge, if there was any at all. They actually fall into a negative situation where we play against home favorites that are revenging a loss against opponent after two consecutive covers as a favorite. This situation is 24-5 ATS (82.8 percent) over the last 10 seasons. The Ravens have been in this situation before and have thrived, going 10-4 ATS in their last 14 road playoff games while New England is 2-8 ATS in its last 10 playoff games. 10* (303) Baltimore Ravens
|01-20-13||San Francisco 49ers v. Atlanta Falcons UNDER 49||Top||28-24||Loss||-110||128 h 35 m||Show|
After seeing every game go under the total in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs, every game in the Divisional Round went over the total and none were even close. Each game this past weekend went over by at least 12 points and the average game score was a whopping 69 ppg. What does that do for us this week? I creates some inflated totals because after those overs hit, the same will be bet this week by the majority of the betting markets so the linesmakers had to make the proper adjustments.
This number is sitting at 48 in most spots as of Monday morning and putting into perspective from the Atlanta side, it is a higher total than last week despite going up against a better defense and arguably the best stop unit in the NFL. The Falcons were able to hang 30 points on a very solid Seattle defense but most of the damage came early and once the Seahawks made their adjustments, Atlanta struggled. Expect the 49ers to have a gameplan right from the beginning that is going to make Atlanta stay in neutral.
The big concern here is the Falcons defense as they got exposed once again last week against the Seahawks. Whether it was a prevent type of defense that was played late, Atlanta could not stop Seattle down the stretch but I think that experience will help them going forward. The experience of playing a mobile quarterback like Russell Wilson should help the Falcons prepare for Colin Kaepernick, who is even more dangerous running the read-option behind a huge and tough offensive line.
On the other side, the 49ers won't get caught off-guard by Atlanta's rushing attack like the Seahawks as the Falcons rushed for a season-high 167 yards. San Francisco is third in total defense and second in scoring defense but it is the balance that really hurts opponents as the 49ers are fourth against the pass and against the run while ranking third in passing ypa and rushing ypc. Taking nothing away from Seattle's defense, but this is going to be a whole different scenario for the Falcons.
The 49ers have now gone over the total in five straight games and that is another reason this one is so high as streaks like that love to be played. We play on the under involving road teams where the total is between 42.5 and 49 points after allowing 30 points or more last game against opponent after a playing a game where 50 total points or more were scored. This situation is 124-75 under (62.3 percent) since 1983. Also, Atlanta is 10-2 to the under in its last 12 games after scoring 30 or more points last game. 10* Under (301) San Francisco 49ers/(302) Atlanta Falcons
|01-20-13||San Francisco 49ers -4 v. Atlanta Falcons||Top||28-24||Push||0||127 h 30 m||Show|
The Falcons got the monkey off their backs as they were finally able to win in the playoffs which was their first postseason win since 2004. It was the first playoff victory for head coach Mike Smith and for quarterback Matt Ryan as they had come in with a 0-3 playoff record prior to the miraculous win. Blowing a 27-7 lead looked as though Atlanta was in for another decimating defeat but it was able to move down field in under 30 seconds to kick the game-winning field goal.
San Francisco was arguably rooting for Seattle so it could get to play this game at home however the matchup is much better here despite the fact it has to take to the road. The 49ers are coming off a domination of the Packers as they outgained Green Bay by 227 total yards and the game was not even as close as the 14-point margin of victory showed. They held the Packers to 352 total yards and only 17 points can be blamed on the defense as a pick six and a garbage score late upped the Green Bay scoring output.
Atlanta knows it has a lot of work to be done on defense and while I do think it will be able to get over that second half debacle against the Seahawks, this unit is not very good right now. The Falcons are 24th in total yards allowed and while the point totals have been kept in check for the most part, that is largely due to turnovers which will not be easy to come by here as San Francisco turned it over on 16 times during the regular season, tied for second fewest in the NFL.
On the other side, the 49ers won't get caught off-guard by Atlanta's rushing attack like the Seahawks as the Falcons rushed for a season-high 167 yards. San Francisco is third in total defense and second in scoring defense but it is the balance that really hurts opponents as the 49ers are fourth against the pass and against the run while ranking third in passing ypa and rushing ypc. Taking nothing away from Seattle's defense, but this is going to be a whole different scenario for the Falcons.
We play against home teams where the line is +3 to -3 that are allowing 370 or more ypg going up against teams allowing between 295 and 335 ypg. This situation is 53-27 ATS (66.2 percent) since 1983. San Francisco is 15-4 ATS in its last 19 games against teams allowing 5.65 or more yppl while under head coach Jim Harbaugh, it is 7-0 ATS against teams with a winning percentage of .750 or better. Conversely, the Falcons are 3-19 ATS in their last 22 home games coming off a home win. 10* (301) San Francisco 49ers
|01-13-13||Houston Texans +9.5 v. New England Patriots||Top||28-41||Loss||-110||146 h 13 m||Show|
I bet on the Patriots in the last matchup with Houston back on December 10th and it doesn't get much easier than that one as New England rolled to a 42-14 win. The betting public has not forgotten that game and with everyone still down on the Texans, they will be looking for a similar result here. Thus, the number had to be adjusted and it has been adjusted by four points which is a huge overreaction in my opinion. New England is surely one of the best teams in the NFL but this line is absurd.
The Texans won by just six points against the Bengals in their Wild Card matchup on Saturday but they dominated by more than what that score is telling us. A pick six by the Bengals was the only touchdown scored and Houston dominated by outgaining Cincinnati 420-198. Looking at just the score is not a true indication as Houston stepped up after a lethargic end to the regular season and this is still a very dangerous team on both sides of the ball.
Betting against the Patriots at home in the playoffs was never a wise move as they were a perfect 4-0 from 2003 to 2007 but since then, New England is just 1-5 ATS in its last six home playoff games so while many will argue going against the Patriots at home is suicide, it is fact is not what it used to be. Playing against the Patriots coming off a bye is another myth as New England is 2-11 ATS in its last 13 home games with two weeks of rest, outscoring their opponents by just 3.9 ppg.
The Texans are obviously playing with revenge here and while road revenge is not a great scenario to back, this one is different. Houston was absolutely embarrassed on national television and it will be out to make sure that does not happen again. The Texans fall into a great situation as well as we play on underdogs of 3.5 to 10 points that are revenging a loss where the opponent scored 28 or more points, with a winning record in the second half of the season. This situation is 24-4 ATS (85.7 percent) over the last 10 seasons. 10* (115) Houston Texans
|01-13-13||Seattle Seahawks v. Atlanta Falcons OVER 45.5||Top||28-30||Win||100||142 h 16 m||Show|
We saw all four Wild Card Round game stay under the total which helped ease some of the pain for bookmakers that were killed by all four favorites coming in. That being said, we are likely going to see more high scoring games in the Divisional Round and I think this one has the most potent to surpass the total by the greatest amount. These teams are a combined 20-13 to the under this season and it is the recent results where I feel we are getting the best value out of this number.
Seattle had gone on a 5-0 over streak prior to the final week of the regular season where it stayed under against the Rams and last week against Washington also resulted in a winning under ticket. Granted this is the highest total the Seahawks have seen all season but it is for a reason. The defense has allowed 17 points or less in six straight games but one look at the opposing offenses will tell you why, not counting last week because of the RGIII injury. Now comes a test.
The Falcons are ranked eighth in total offense and seventh in scoring offense and it is largely due to a passing offense that is sixth overall and fourth in ypa. They have the best one-two punch in the league with receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White not to mention tight end Tony Gonzalez and slot receiver Harry Douglas that work the underneath and middle of the field. This offense provides a tough matchup for arguably the best secondary in the NFL and Atlanta should be able to exploit it.
Seattle will be without defensive end Chris Clemons who tore his ACL against Washington and that is a big blow. He registered 11.5 sacks while forcing three fumbles for Seattle in 2012. Seattle falls into a contrarian over situation as we play the over where the total is between 42.5 and 49 points involving a team off two or more consecutive unders and allowing 17 or fewer ppg on the season. This situation is 27-5 to the over (84.4 percent) the last five seasons. 10* Over (113) Seattle Seahawks/(114) Atlanta Falcons
|01-12-13||Baltimore Ravens +9.5 v. Denver Broncos||Top||38-35||Win||100||122 h 13 m||Show|
With the favorites going a perfect 4-0 ATS in the Wild Card round, we are seeing a lot of value on some underdogs this week and this is one of them. It is no secret that the public loves this Denver team and why not? The Broncos closed on a perfect 4-0 ATS run while going 8-3 ATS over their last 11 games. Therefore, this line is inflated. Denver was a double-digit favorite in three of its last four games and while it covered all three of those, they were against teams not even sniffing the playoffs.
The kneejerk reaction for Baltimore would be it is in for an emotional letdown after taking out Indianapolis in what was Ray Lewis' last home game. If it was the regular season and the Ravens were not going to the playoffs then I will buy that but there is not going to be any sort of a letdown here in the postseason. Baltimore has proven that it can win on the road in the playoffs, going 5-3 straight up and ATS the last four years and not once has it seen a line this big.
Denver went into Baltimore and smacked around the Ravens earlier this season but the spot was a horrible one for Ravens when looking back. I was on Baltimore in that game but that was more of a play against the Broncos which were riding an eight-game winning streak. Baltimore was coming off two overtime games, where it went 1-1, as well as a game against Pittsburgh sandwiched in-between which it lost by three points. The situation is a lot different this week.
The Broncos have eclipsed 30 points in each of their last three games and with the week off, some of that momentum has been lost. Additionally, they are 2-11 ATS in their last 13 games after scoring 30 points or more in three straight games. Baltimore falls into a phenomenal league-wide situation where we play on underdogs of 3.5 to 10 points that are revenging a loss where the opponent scored 28 or more points, with a winning record in the second half of the season. This situation is 24-4 ATS (85.7 percent) over the last 10 seasons. 10* (109) Baltimore Ravens
|01-07-13||Alabama v. Notre Dame +10||Top||42-14||Loss||-125||34 h 35 m||Show|
Not a whole lot needs to be said for this matchup as information has been thrown around for five weeks now. Looking at power rankings alone, Alabama and Notre Dame are separated by just two points with the Irish playing a slightly tougher schedule. Notre Dame went 5-0 against top 50 teams while Alabama went 3-1 against teams ranked within the top 50. Alabama is just 1-3 ATS this season when laying less than two touchdowns while Notre Dame is 4-1 ATS this season away from home.
Both of these defenses are extremely powerful and it is not going to be easy for the offenses to get a lot going. Notre Dame has surrendered only 10.3 ppg which is the fewest in the country thanks to their huge front four and athletic linebacking core. Alabama has a huge offensive line that opened a lot of holes for a potent running attack but the Irish have only allowed two rushing touchdowns this season. That is no accident and we saw how Alabama struggled against an LSU defense that is not as good.
On the other side, the outcome will have a lot to do how quarterback Everett Golson plays for the Irish. He was not very good early in the season as his lack of experience was glaring but he has developed into a very solid quarterback. Over his last five games he tallied 239 yards of offense per game or more while tossing seven touchdowns and only two interceptions and in four of those games rushed for a combined 224 yards. The Alabama defense is tough but Golson is the type of player than can give it fits.
Because of the SEC dominance in this particular bowl game over the years, Alabama is given a sizable edge. But is the SEC really as good this season as people are playing it out to be? A lot of the teams have looked extremely overrated and while bowl games can be considered a tough comparison, it does show the possibility of Alabama being slightly overrated as well. With these teams beating each other up during conference season, it can be argued that the problems were not as evident then as they are now.
We have the advantage of taking a sizable underdog that certainly has a shot at winning this game outright. That gives us two areas to win as an Irish victory means an obvious cover but they can also lose the game and we can still win in a close game. Alabama has to win going away to cover the ticket and this is the type of matchup that I just do not see happening. The Crimson Tide were dominant in this game last season and many will fall back on that but this year's Alabama version is not as strong. 10* (270) Notre Dame Fighting Irish
|01-06-13||Arkansas State v. Kent State +3.5||Top||17-13||Loss||-106||32 h 48 m||Show|
This is the final bowl game before the BCS Championship and while the names do not look good, we are dealing with two solid programs. Kent St. had a chance to play in a BCS bowl game but lost to Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship so motivation could be an issue. However, considering that the Golden Flashes have never won a bowl game of any kind, motivation will be no issue at all. Kent St. is 15-3 over its last 18 games so even with the loss to the Huskies, confidence is apparent.
Arkansas St. is riding a seven-game winning streak but with this being its first game since December 1st, any momentum has been lost. The Red Wolves won the Sun Belt Conference for a second straight season so this is a very solid team with a very solid offense and a pretty decent defense. They defeated just two teams with a winning record though and while they too will be in search of their first ever bowl victory, they are at a huge disadvantage in the coaching category.
Kent St. head coach Darrell Hazell accepted the head coaching job at Purdue but unlike most coaches that leave immediately to go recruit and start their new position, Hazell is actually sticking around to coach him team. He wanted the opportunity to try to lead Kent St. to its first-ever bowl victory as this is the school's first postseason appearance since losing to Tampa in the Tangerine Bowl in 1972. The players and the captains said it was very important to have this staff involved.
Arkansas St. meanwhile is going to be without head coach Gus Malzahn who took over at Auburn and left right away. Defensive coordinator John Thompson will serve as Arkansas St.'s interim coach and this is nothing new to the Red Wolves. Last season they headed to this bowl game with an interim coach after Hugh Freeze departed to coach Mississippi, and they lost 38-20 to Northern Illinois. Sire, the Red Wolves can use that as motivation but it certainly is a distraction.
These teams are considered evenly matched and the power rankings prove it yet the Golden Flashes are significant underdogs here. That should suit them just fine though as they are 4-1-1 ATS this season when getting points while going 12-3 ATS in their last 15 games against teams with a winning percentage between .600 and .750. Arkansas St. meanwhile is 4-20 ATS in its last 24 games against teams averaging 4.75 ypc or better and the rushing game will be what carries the Golden Flashes to victory. 10* (268) Kent St. Golden Flashes
|01-06-13||Indianapolis Colts v. Baltimore Ravens -6.5||Top||9-24||Win||100||122 h 37 m||Show|
Indianapolis has been a great story this season from the huge turnaround from last season to the inspired play backing the coaching situation. Now we are at a different level and while the run was a fantastic one, this is where it comes to an end. The Colts are an extremely young team with nine starters having no playoff experience whatsoever and that is a pretty big thing at this level. Indianapolis has only three wins against teams with a winning record as it played the easiest schedule in the NFL.
Baltimore lost its regular season finale at Cincinnati but it wasn't because it was outplayed. The Ravens got the starters some work before pulling them to avoid injuries and while there is no momentum heading into the postseason, it should not be an issue here. They went 1-4 in their final five games and that will deter some people to back them but more importantly in my opinion is the fact that they outgained their last two opponents by 347 and 163 yards.
Colts quarterback Andrew Luck had a great rookie season as he tossed 23 touchdowns and threw for 4,374 yards but it is hard to ignore the fact that he threw 18 interceptions and his 76.5 passer rating was seventh worst among qualified starters. The Ravens defense was not up to their usual dominating standards this season but they still finished 12th in scoring defense. Baltimore finished +9 in turnover margin, third in the AFC, while its 28 takeaways were fifth in the conference.
The Colts have had the ability to win close games this season but they are -12 in turnover margin and at -30 points in scoring margin, they are the only playoff team that is in the negative. While the offense has shown some good signs, it is too inconsistent to try and make any sort of run. The Colts have failed to reach 300 total yards in any of their last four games. On the other side, the defense finished the regular season ranked 26th overall and 21st in points allowed. Baltimore will have no issues moving the ball.
The Ravens have a great situation on their side as we play against teams that are coming off a win over a division rival as a home underdog, with a winning record on the season playing another winning team. This situation is 37-13 ATS (74 percent) since 1983 with the average point differential being +10 ppg. Additionally, Baltimore is 19-8 ATS in its last 27 home games versus teams that are allowing 5.65 or more yppl. A great story comes to an end in Baltimore on Sunday. 10* (106) Baltimore Ravens
|01-05-13||Cincinnati Bengals v. Houston Texans -4||Top||13-19||Win||100||101 h 28 m||Show|
Same time. Same matchup. Same result? I definitely believe so. The media is saying the Texans are done and after losing three of their last four games to knock themselves out of a first round bye, the public has its doubts are well and rightfully so. This is one of the most talented teams in the league on both sides of the ball and if they come out with the fire and passion that they possessed early in the season, they are going to be a tough out but obviously they need to pick it up right here.
The Bengals have been here before, literally. Cincinnati played in Houston in the Wild Card round last year and it got hammered 31-10 and that was against a banged up Texans team that was missing some key players, most notably quarterback Matt Schaub. The Bengals will be better off this year with their experience but I still do not think they have what it takes to make noise in the postseason. They beat only two playoff teams this year, Washington when it had yet to hit its stride, and Baltimore in Week 17 when the Ravens rested their starters most of the game.
The gameplan should be an easy one for Houston as it needs to run the ball and should not have a problem doing so. The Texans last three losses produced an average of just 78.7 ypg on the ground and it is important to note that they are 7-0 in games this season in which Arian Foster rushed for 100-plus yards and 5-4 in the others. The Bengals rushing defense is average and while they went through a stretch of five games of not allowing 100 yards, they allowed 206 yards last week against Baltimore.
The Houston defense has been ravaged with injuries this season, notably the linebacking corps but the unit is pretty healthy coming into the playoffs. Overall, the Texans are seventh in total defense and ninth in scoring defense and despite the loss to the Colts, they allowed just 265 total yards. The Bengals are ranked 22nd in total offense and that is pretty weak considering they played the second easiest schedule in the NFL this season. I do not see them having much success here.
Houston falls into a solid league-wide system where we play on home teams that are coming off two or more consecutive unders, in a game involving two teams averaging between 23 and 27 ppg. This situation is 42-16 ATS (72.4 percent) since 1983. Also, the Texans are 17-5 ATS in their last 22 home games against teams with a winning road record while the Bengals are 5-17 ATS in their last 22 games after allowing 200 or more rushing yards last game. 10* (102) Houston Texans
|01-04-13||Texas A&M v. Oklahoma +3.5||Top||41-13||Loss||-110||25 h 31 m||Show|
Oklahoma has obviously had a very good season at 10-2 yet it is an underdog here for the first time this season. All of the hype that Texas A&M has received since defeating Alabama and then along with the Johnny Manziel Heisman Trophy win has put this team in the public spotlight like it hasn't been before and that is playing a big factor in this line. As is the fact that the Aggies come from the top conference in the nation but the SEC has not shown much so far in the postseason.
Oklahoma's speed and efficiency on offense will be a factor in deciding the winner because the Sooners have the athletes capable of running a fast-tempo scheme throughout the game's four quarters, a facet that developed over the course of the season. Against Oklahoma St., Oklahoma ran 103 offensive plays that eventually wore down the Cowboys defense late in the fourth quarter and a repeat of that is possible here since the Aggies did not see many offenses like this in the SEC.
Stopping the Aggies offense is top priority. If the Sooners can initiate a good pass rush while simultaneously taking away freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel's wide receivers, Oklahoma could very easily handcuff Texas A&M's potent scoring machine. In the two games Texas A&M lost this season, Manziel had just 87 rushing yards. He has to be able to move around to open up the offense so keeping him in the pocket will be top priority. It is easier said than done but the Sooners is more than capable.
The problem the Sooners have run into this season is trying to find a way to integrate the running game into the offense. In their two losses, they combined to run for just 103 yards but the Aggies rushing defense is fairly average. On the other side, coaching could be a concern as Texas A&M running backs coach Clarence McKinney will call the offensive plays in place of former offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury, who accepted the head coaching job at Texas Tech.
Oklahoma falls into a solid situation where we play on teams with a winning percentage of .800 or better where the line is +3 to -3 after failing to cover the spread in three out of their last four games. This situation is 57-28 ATS (67.1 percent) since 1992. Additionally, Texas A&M is 2-15 ATS in its last 17 games away from home after gaining 525 or more yards in its previous game while the Sooners are 12-3 ATS in the 15 games under head coach Bob Stoops when the line is between +3 and -3. 10* (264) Oklahoma Sooners
|01-03-13||Kansas State +8.5 v. Oregon||Top||17-35||Loss||-110||12 h 10 m||Show|
This was pegged to be the BCS Championship with just a couple weeks remaining in the regular season but both Kansas St. and Oregon lost on the same Saturday and there was not enough time to recover. This isn't the most glamorous matchup but it is an intriguing one where two different styles of football will collide in Arizona. The Oregon offense is one of the best in the nation as it is fourth overall and second in scoring so stopping the Ducks will be impossible right? Wrong. Kansas St. is a type of team that Oregon has struggled against in the last few years in its system as Auburn in 2011, LSU in 2011 and Stanford in 2012 all bring a similar physical defense that the Wildcats possess. Kansas St. is not going to back down and will have no problem going up and hitting Oregon in the mouth. For the season, the Wildcats scored an astounding 143 points off turnovers, forging a plus-21 margin to lead the nation. That trait, coupled with their uncanny knack for protecting the football, often enabled Kansas St. to win some games when they were outgained. As for that offense, Kansas St. plans to control the clock with a solid running game and it will obviously want to keep Oregon off the field as much as possible. The Ducks defense is average as they are 47th overall and 26th in scoring and while the Wildcats are not flashy, they still average 40.7 ppg which is 10th most in the country. Kansas St. also has a significant edge in special teams, notable the kickoff and punt returns as it leads the nation in both categories. Two other big factors will be in play as Kansas St,. quarterback is 100 percent healthy once again and the other factor is coaching. Wildcats Bill Snyder is one of the best in the business while all of the Chip Kelly talk to the NFL is a huge distraction and one that should have waited until after this game had passed. Kansas St. is 6-0 ATS against teams averaging 200 rushing ypg while going 12-3 ATS against teams averaging 31 or more ppg over the last two seasons. 10* (261) Kansas St. Wildcats
|01-02-13||Louisville v. Florida UNDER 47||Top||33-23||Loss||-115||10 h 50 m||Show|
Florida is obviously the better team in this matchup and that should lead the Gators to dictating the tempo and the way the game is played. They have one of the best defenses in the country as they are ranked fifth overall and third in scoring and they have allowed more than 20 points only once which came in their last game against Florida St. That game flew over the total which happened to be only the fourth game in 11 lined games that Florida surpassed the total. While the defense is one of the best, the offense has struggled all season as the Gators are ranked 101st in total offense and 74th in scoring offense. That scoring average is that high only because of a very positive turnover margin and Louisville is a team that does not turn the ball over much so Florida should not be given opportunities to take advantage. The Cardinals bring in a potent offense but the schedule had a lot to do with that as this is the first team from the top 50 that the Cardinals have had to face and the last time they saw a defense this good happened to come in their last game against Rutgers where they managed only 20 points. The passing offense is the strength but Louisville knows it has to run the ball to be successful as balance will be the key. Even when Louisville does try and pass, it is not going to be east. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater had an outstanding season, throwing for nearly 3,500 yards with 25 touchdowns and just seven interceptions while completing 69 percent of his passes. The Gators only allow approximately 186.4 ypg passing while also picking off the eighth-most passes with 19. The Gators defense kept Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel and Georgia's Aaron Murray in check and should do the same to Bridgewater. Both teams fall into a great total situation as we play the under in the second half of the season in a game involving two teams that are outgaining opponents by 0.6 to 1.2 yppl, in a non-conference game between two teams from major conferences. This situation is 72-26 (73.5 percent) to the under since 1992. 10* Under (259) Louisville Cardinals/(260) Florida Gators
|01-01-13||Nebraska v. Georgia -8||Top||31-45||Win||100||26 h 39 m||Show|
Both Georgia and Nebraska come into this game having lost their respective conference championship games so the team that can recover the most will have the big advantage here. That team will be Georgia. The Bulldogs lost a heartbreaker against Alabama in the SEC Championship and while a lot more was on the line than was on the line for Nebraska in its Big Ten Championship loss, I feel they will be plenty motivated here. One big reason is their losses in their last two bowl games including a loss against another Big Ten opponent Michigan St. last season in overtime. The story here will be the defense for Georgia that got manhandled against the Crimson Tide as they allowed 350 yards rushing. Georgia came into that game having allowed 302 and 306 rushing yards in its previous two games and the task will not be easy against a tough Nebraska rushing offense. However, this defense looked gassed at the end of the season and the time off to recharge is huge. The Huskers are coming off an embarrassing 70-31 loss against Wisconsin and the game was a lot worse than the score shows. The defense got exposed and will get exposed again against Aaron Murray who will be the toughest quarterback they have seen this year. Also exposed was an offensive line that the Badgers were able to control throughout the game as most of the yardage came in garbage time. The Bulldogs are 5-1 ATS in their last six games after allowing more than 450 total yards in their previous game while going 7-0 ATS in their last seven games after two straight games of committing one or fewer turnovers. From top to bottom, Georgia is clearly the better team and it will show on the field come Tuesday. 10* (254) Georgia Bulldogs
|01-01-13||Northwestern v. Mississippi State +2||Top||34-20||Loss||-105||25 h 44 m||Show|
Northwestern was a covering machine this year as the Wildcats are 11-1 against the number and that is no doubt playing into this line. They won nine games this year but had only one big win down the stretch which was a three-point win over Michigan St. in the second to last game of the season. Northwestern did have quality wins over Syracuse and Vanderbilt early in the season but that was before those teams hit their stride so those are not a very good indication of the competition. Motivation will not be lacking for Northwestern for sure as the Wildcats have lost nine consecutive bowl games since their lone victory, which came in the 1949 Rose Bowl. Mississippi St. started the season 7-0 but finished 1-4 down the stretch and the schedule had a lot to do with that. The Bulldogs lost three straight games after the undefeated start but those games were against Alabama, Texas A&M and LSU so there is nothing to be ashamed of there. A loss in the season finale against Mississippi in the Egg Bowl can be considered a bad loss for sure and Mississippi St. will be out for some retribution after that. The Bulldogs defense crumbled down the stretch but they feel that the time off has allowed them to heal, both physically and mentally. The challenge will be tough but this is one of the most talented defenses around and as long as they are communicating, they will be tough to break. The SEC was as powerful as always while the Big Ten was in a down year so the fact that the Wildcats are favorites here is a surprise. While Northwestern has been a huge moneymaker, it is just 4-14 ATS in its last 18 games after a win by 20 or more points while Mississippi St. is 15-3 ATS in its last 18 games after scoring 20 or more points in the first half in two straight games. 10* (250) Mississippi St. Bulldogs
|12-31-12||Iowa State v. Tulsa +1.5||Top||17-31||Win||100||27 h 36 m||Show|
Tulsa won the C-USA Championship with a victory in overtime against Central Florida which punched its ticket into the Liberty Bowl. At 10-3, the Golden Hurricane have a chance to match their most win in school history so motivation will certainly not be an issue. Also adding to the motivation for them is the fact they opened the season with a loss at Iowa St. so they are getting a rare chance at same season revenge. Tulsa went on to win seven straight games after that and its only two losses the rest of the way were by four points at Arkansas and eight points at SMU, which was right after claiming the C-USA West so it can be forgiven for that. Iowa had a pretty solid season but after starting off 4-1, the Cyclones lost five of their final seven games. They did have a big win over Baylor but the other win came against 1-11 Kansas. To their credit, they did lose to some very good teams down the stretch but there are too many issues going on right now. They are starting a redshirt freshman at quarterback and while San Richardson did look good against West Virginia and Kansas, those teams have the 118th and 114th pass defenses in the country respectively. A big factor in that win earlier this season for Iowa St. was that running back Shontrelle Johnson ran for a career-high 120 yards and a touchdown. However Johnson didn't gain more than 73 yards in any of his next 11 games and is out for this one after injuring his right knee in a practice earlier this month. Additionally, Iowa St. will be without three-time All-Big XII linebacker and captain Jake Knott. Tulsa has a great rushing offense and the passing game will flourish against the 113th ranked Cyclones passing defense. Look for Tulsa to get its revenge in a game it should be favored in but is not. 10* (244) Tulsa Golden Hurricane
|12-31-12||Georgia Tech +7.5 v. USC||Top||21-7||Win||100||25 h 11 m||Show|
Two disappointing teams square off in the Sun Bowl as USC, which came in with National Championship aspirations, sitting at 7-5 and Georgia Tech, which was expected to contend in the ACC, actually coming in with a losing record. The Trojans are arguably the biggest disappointment in all of college football and even after an early loss against Stanford, they were still talking BCS Bowl and a National Championship. Both goals went away toward the end of the season as USC dropped four of its last five games. Georgia Tech is the only team in a bowl game this season with as losing record but because it played 13 games that included the ACC Championship, it was able to get to the six-win mark for eligibility. Going out on a high note will be important, especially returning to the place they lost last year. Besides falling 30-27 to Utah a season ago in the same stadium, they have lost seven straight bowl games so it will be the seniors that will be out trying to avoid a 0-4 bowl record. For the Trojans, quarterback Matt Barkley is out while receiver Marqise Lee is listed as questionable so the offense will be far from full strength. Redshirt freshman Max Wittek will be under center in Barkley's place after making his first career start against Notre Dame, going 14 of 23 for 186 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. He could be in more trouble if Lee cannot go. On the other side, the Yellow Jackets triple option attack will be hard to stop. They ran for over 4,000 yards while six players ran for more than 400 yards and three for more than 600 yards so the balance is hard to contain. USC is going bowling for the first time in three years because of NCAA sanctions but this is not where the Trojans wanted to be so motivation should very well be lacking. 10* (241) Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
|12-30-12||Dallas Cowboys v. Washington Redskins UNDER 49||Top||18-28||Win||100||54 h 19 m||Show|
Dallas and Washington are playing for the NFC East and neither team will want to get into a shootout as that is where the majority of mistakes can be made. We are getting a lot of value here as well based on recent results and recent meeting history. These teams met on Thanksgiving and the game flew over the number as 69 points were scored on a 47-point closing number. Additionally, both teams have been involved in high-scoring games of late as Dallas as gone over in two straight games and even though both went into overtime, that did not come into play. Meanwhile Washington has gone over in three straight games and because of these factors, we are seeing a very high number here. Not counting Dallas playing New Orleans last week, this is the highest total the Cowboys have seen and for Washington, it has gone under in the last four games where the total was 48 points or higher. Add to the fact this is the Sunday night game and the public will be all over the over so the market had to adjust. Dallas is 7-0 to the under in its last seven games on the road with a total of 45.5 or higher while Washington is 12-5 to the under in its last 17 games against teams with a winning record. 10* Under (315) Dallas Cowboys/(316) Washington Redskins
|12-30-12||Miami Dolphins v. New England Patriots -10||Top||0-28||Win||100||50 h 9 m||Show|
The Patriots played a horrible game at home against San Francisco two weeks ago and instead of coming out and rebounding huge last week, they struggled again against the Jaguars. New England won but if was hardly a good effort and the Patriots know that they need a big game heading into the playoffs. New England is still in line for the top seed in the AFC but it needs both Houston and Denver to lose. The Texans play early so New England will know its fate but that doesn't mean it will quit should Houston win as a first round bye would still be a possibility should Denver lose. That scenario isn't likely but as stated, the Patriots are going to play to win and win big to get their momentum and confidence back in order. The Dolphins are not going to give in either as they have won two straight games but those both came at home against the lowly Jaguars and Bills. They have lost three straight road games and overall have been outgained in nine of their last 11 games and 11 of 16 on the season. They hung tough against New England in the first meeting and we are actually getting line value on the Patriots as they were favored by eight points in Miami and are favored by only two more points here. New England is 18-6 ATS in the last two weeks of the regular season under head coach Bill Belichick so it will again play full out for four quarters. 10* (304) New England Patriots
|12-30-12||St. Louis Rams +11 v. Seattle Seahawks||Top||13-20||Win||100||50 h 3 m||Show|
Seattle is playing at a very high level right now so this will not be a very popular pick but the majority of mine in the NFL aren't popular anyway. The Seahawks are coming off a blowout win over San Francisco to keep their divisional hopes alive but those hopes are slim. Seattle needs to win and have San Francisco to lost at home against Arizona and that is pretty unlikely so we could see Seattle resting some players as the game progresses. It was the third straight blowout victory for the Seahawks as they have outscored their opponents 150-30 but keeping this up is extremely difficult. Because of the big wins, the line has gone through the roof and that is proven by the fact that Seattle was laying the exact same number against the Cardinals at home three weeks ago and the Rams cannot be compared to Arizona. St. Louis has closed strong and while it will not make the playoffs, finishing with a winning record is the goal right now. The Rams are 4--1 over their last five games and they have not lost on the road since mid-October at Miami, going 3-0-1 since then. This is a revenge game for Seattle but that is not a big factor and it actually goes against the Seahawks as we play against home favorites that are revenging a loss after two consecutive covers as a favorite. This situation is 23-5 ATS (82.1 percent) over the last 10 seasons. 10* (331) St. Louis Rams
|12-29-12||TCU v. Michigan State +3||Top||16-17||Win||100||53 h 58 m||Show|
I'm a little surprised at this line. I know the Big Ten has had a down season and every team from the conference is an underdog in the bowl games but I feel this is one of those that is wrong. Michigan St. had a down season as it finished 6-6 but that record should be so much better. With the exception of Notre Dame, every one of their losses was by four points or fewer including four by a field goal of less. The 6-6 record is playing into this line but this team is one of the best 6-6 teams in the country.
TCU started the season strong once again at 4-0 but then quarterback Casey Pachall was thrown off the team after being arrested. The Horned Frogs went on the lose their next game at home against Iowa St. and could not get anything going consistently the rest of the season. They had a signature win at Texas on Thanksgiving but could not carry the momentum as they lost the season finale at home against Oklahoma. Like Michigan St., they were better on the road than at home.
Instead of focusing on what might have been, the Spartans are using this final game as a springboard into the 2013 season. Head coach Mark Dantonio has always emphasized winning the final game of the season and was able to last season by beating Georgia in the Outback Bowl. Michigan St. is playing the roll of the rushing dogs as well. TCU was last in the Big XII with 3.9 ypc - and the Horned Frogs may have a tough time moving the ball against Michigan St. which was fourth in total defense, allowing only 274.5 ypg.
Michigan St. is 8-1 ATS in its last nine games away from home against teams with a winning record while going 9-1 ATS in its last 10 games after allowing 225 ypg or less in two straight games. The Horned Frogs meanwhile are 0-7 ATS in their last seven non-conference games. 10* (238) Michigan St. Spartans
|12-29-12||Navy +14 v. Arizona State||Top||28-62||Loss||-109||47 h 57 m||Show|
It was a tough start to the season for Navy but the Midshipmen closed it out by winning seven of eight, capped by claiming the Commander-In-Chief's Trophy against Army. They are obviously peaking at the right time and the time off should not be an issue of losing momentum as their regular season finale came just three weeks ago while Arizona St. has been off for an additional 15 days which is a huge difference. Navy has not won a bowl game since 2009 so there is a lot of motivation here.
The Sun Devils closed the season with two straight wins including a victory over rival Arizona after entering the fourth quarter down by 10 points. Prior to that, Arizona St. lost four in a row so it was definitely a big way to end the season but we are unsure if it can keep it going. Again, the additional time off is a huge disadvantage and it will be argued that the Sun Devils benefitted to prepare for the Navy running game, they actually did not know the opponent until much later.
Navy and its triple-option offense hope to take advantage of a Sun Devils defense which allowed four of its final six opponents to rush for more than 200 yards. The Midshipmen are sixth in the nation in rushing offense with 275.6 ypg. Overall, the Sun Devils are 72nd in the country in rushing defense including 10th in the Pac 12. they possess one of the best passing defense in the country but it won't matter here and a big reason for that is they got gashed in the running game.
Navy falls into a great situation as we play against favorites of 10.5 to 21 points that are coming off a win over a conference rival as an underdog, with a winning record on the season playing another winning team. This situation is 34-11 ATS (75.6 percent) since 1992. Navy is the epitome of a bowl rushing dog and we take advantage of a very generous line. 10* (231) Navy Midshipmen
|12-28-12||Minnesota +13 v. Texas Tech||Top||31-34||Win||100||28 h 57 m||Show|
Texas Tech is a sizable favorite here but a lot has changed between the time this line came out and gametime yet the line has not moved much at all. Gone is head coach Tommy Tuberville who took the head coaching job at Cincinnati. Preparing for a game without the coach that brought you there is always tough but at least the Red Raiders were in good hands with offensive coordinator Neal Brown leading the team. That is until bolted to Kentucky two days later to take the same position.
Because of the defections, offensive line coach Chris Thomsen will take over as interim coach and receivers coach Sonny Cumbie will handle duties as offensive coordinator. Granted they know the systems and players but they are far from having the ability to lead in a bowl game with so little time to prepare. Making matters worse, Red Raiders starting defensive back Cornelius Douglas, backup linebacker Chris Payne and backup defensive tackle Leon Mackey won't play in the bowl game due to rules infractions.
Neither team comes in with a lot of momentum which is a wash as Minnesota closed 2-6 in its last eight games while Texas Tech finished 1-4 in its last five games. This is the first bowl game for the Gophers since 2009 and they will be going for their first bowl win since 2004 so there is definitely motivation in that regard. What is Texas Tech playing for? Maybe they want to prove to their coaches that they can win without them but laying a number this big is asking too much for the Red Raiders.
These teams met in the 2006 Insight Bowl and while that game has no bearing on this contest, the Minnesota players have been made aware of what happened. The Golden Gophers held a 38-7 third-quarter lead before allowing the Red Raiders to rally and win 44-41 in overtime, which is the biggest bowl comeback in Division I history. Revenge is certainly not the angle to be used but it is an interesting dynamic that will have the players definitely be focused for the sake of the program.
Minnesota did not have much production offense down the stretch but it should be in for a big day here. The Red Raiders only forced 10 turnovers, third-worst in the FBS and didn't have one in their final five games while the defense allowed at least 52 points in four of their last six games, finishing 90th in scoring defense overall. Playing on double-digit underdogs prior to the big New Years bowls and beyond has always been a great angle and the situation here only makes it stronger. 10* (227) Minnesota Golden Gophers
|12-28-12||Ohio v. Louisiana Monroe -7||Top||45-14||Loss||-101||21 h 11 m||Show|
The Bobcats come in with little momentum but have a lot of motivation. Ohio looked to be a BCS buster early in the season as it jumped out to a 7-0 start including a win over Penn St. but then things turned around in a hurry. The Bobcats were upset at Miami Ohio which was the start of four losses in their final five games to finish 8-4. The Bobcats played here two years ago against Troy and were pounded 48-21 so they are obviously looking for a better outcome this time around so motivation is in play.
The Warhawks opened the season with a win against Arkansas and a three-point loss to Auburn in overtime. Those games put them on the map but after the two opponents finished a combined 7-17, some of the luster was lost. UL-Monroe would go on to finish at 6-2 in the Sun Belt Conference, good for a three-way tie for second place but had only two wins over teams with a winning record and one of those was a one-point victory over Western Kentucky in overtime. Still, this is a pretty potent team.
The big issue for the Ohio collapse was injuries as it lost 13 starters at some point down the stretch. The Bobcats are more healthy thanks to the time off but the offensive line is still a mess with three players out and another still banged up. This is a problem for their running game which started strong but faltered down the stretch. UL-Monroe has a strong rushing defense to begin with and now it should be even better off. The Warhawks have advantages in both offensive ypc and defensive ypc which are always big.
UL-Monroe is playing in its first ever bowl game so there will be no lack of motivation here either. The Warhawks went 7-2 down the stretch and it is very important to note that quarterback Kolton Browning was knocked out early in the loss against UL-Lafayette and missed the next game against Arkansas St., the other loss. Browning because the Sun Belt Conference Play of the Year which shows how important he is to the team and now healthy again, he will be a contributor here.
The Warhawks also get the advantage of playing this game near its home as Shreveport is a mere 97 miles on Interstate 20 from the Warhawks campus in Monroe. Ohio is just 1-8 ATS in its nine games under head coach Frank Solich after scoring 14 points or fewer in its last game while the Warhawks are 16-7 ATS in their last 23 games after accumulating less than 100 yards rushing in their previous game. Unlike its conference mate Western Kentucky, look for UL-Monroe to take advantage of its first ever bowl game. 10* (224) UL-Monroe Warhawks
|12-27-12||Cincinnati v. Duke +7||Top||48-34||Loss||-101||81 h 3 m||Show|
The Blue Devils closed the season with four straight losses but the good news is that Duke will have had a month to forget about that horrible ending and focus on its first bowl game in nearly two decades. The Blue Devils are excited about playing this game just over two hours from their campus and there will be two forms of motivation here. Duke will be out to avoid a losing season and not head into next year on a five-game losing streak while at the same time, win the programs first bowl game since 1960.
Cincinnati claimed a share of the Big East title with a 5-2 record and it is 9-3 overall with a chance to win 10 games for the fifth time in six years. All three losses were by a touchdown or less including a setback at home against Rutgers that ended the chance of an outright championship. The Bearcats closed with two wins to end the regular season but has only one win against a winning team over the last three months of the season. In addition, the psyche of this team is in question.
Cincinnati is one of a number of teams that will be playing a bowl without the coach that got it there. Butch Jones turned down an offer from Colorado amid speculation that he was staying with the Bearcats only to find out the next day he was heading to Tennessee. The Bearcats hired Tommy Tuberville away from Texas Tech but defensive line coach Steve Stripling will coach the team, as announced following Jones' departure. They can rise to the occasion or just play it out and I expect the latter to take place.
The Blue Devils offense will have to perform at a high level to stay in this one and while they struggled down the stretch, rumor has it that some new wrinkles have been added for this game. Cincinnati is 41st in total defense but 12th in scoring defense thanks to an opportunistic defense that had 24 takeaways. Duke gave it up only 17 times though so taking care of the ball will again obviously be important. The Bearcats are at a disadvantage in the passing game, ranked 63rd on offense and 72nd on defense.
This number has come down quite a bit from its opener as early sharp money came pouring in on the Blue Devils and justifiably so. The Bearcats are 0-7 ATS in their last seven games away from home against teams allowing 34 or more ppg and Duke has a big coaching edge in David Cutcliffe as his teams are 22-9 ATS away from home against teams with a winning record. Additionally, Duke is 13-4 ATS in its last 17 games after allowing 450 or more yards last game. 10* (220) Duke Blue Devils
|12-26-12||Central Michigan v. Western Kentucky -5||Top||24-21||Loss||-105||58 h 18 m||Show|
Central Michigan opened up 2-1 which included a big upset (at the time, not anymore) at Iowa but then it dropped four straight, all by double digits, and five of its next six games to fall to 3-6. The Chippewas can thank the schedule makers as they finished with three cupcakes to close out the season and were able to win them all even though they were outgained in two of those. The final game against Massachusetts was the only game this season that Central Michigan outgained its opponent and that was only by 27 total yards.
Western Kentucky made a significant hire with Bobby Petrino taking over as head coach although defensive coordinator Lance Guidry was named interim coach and will coach the team in the bowl game. This is the first bowl game in the history of the program so there will certainly be no lack of motivation on the Hilltoppers sideline especially considering they were 7-5 last year and were passed over on a bowl. They will be out to prove something tonight while adding some history to the program.
The interim coach situation for the Hilltoppers is not a bad one though and is of no concern here. Guidry is making his second appearance as an interim coach in a bowl after leading Miami (Ohio) to a 34-21 victory in the 2011 GoDaddy. com Bowl over Middle Tennessee St. following Mike Haywood's departure to coach Pittsburgh. The challenge is to get the Hilltoppers playing like they did early in the season as a 1-3 wasn't ideal although they did end the season with that victory.
The Chippewas do not possess a great offense and have a below average defense. They are ranked 67th in total offense and 94th in total defense, both of which are good for seventh in the 14-team MAC. The Hilltoppers offense is slightly better but it is their defense that could be the difference as they come in 23rd in total defense which was tops in the Sun Belt Conference. Western Kentucky led the conference with 31 sacks and was 12th among FBS teams with 7.42 tackles for loss per game.
At 125th in the Sagarin Ratings, the Chippewas are the lowest-ranked team in a bowl game and that is pretty bad considering there are 21 teams from the FCS ranked ahead of them. Central Michigan is 0-7 ATS in its last seven games against teams with a winning record while Western Kentucky is 8-1 ATS in its last nine game against teams allowing 31 or more ppg. Also, the Hilltoppers are 7-0 ATS in their last seven games away from home coming off a home game. 10* (216) Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
|12-24-12||SMU v. Fresno State -11.5||Top||43-10||Loss||-101||32 h 6 m||Show|
I always take a look at the underdogs in bowls with lines this big but I cannot justify a play on SMU and Fresno St. is favored this big for a reason. The Bulldogs started slow with a 2-2 record but went on a 7-1 to end the season with the lone loss coming against Boise St. by 10 points on the road. The other losses were at Oregon and at Tulsa which came by just a single point. The Bulldogs should be pretty motivated to win as they have lost three straight bowl games so the seniors will want to go out winners.
Despite being bowl eligible, I'm not sold on this SMU team. When SMU won, it won big and when it lost, it lost big as well as five of its six wins were by 17 points or more while four of its six losses were by 22 or more points. Those five big wins came against four non-bowl teams and one FCS team while the four big losses were all against teams playing in a bowl game. There is motivation for SMU as they could be the first teams in the history of the program to win back-to-back bowl games.
The Bulldogs have edges all over the field. The Bulldogs bring in one of the top offenses in the country as they are ranked 14th overall and 12th in scoring and they really lit it up during their closing five-game winning streak, averaging 47.2 ppg, winning those games by an average of 25.8 ppg. Quarterback Derek Carr threw for 3,742 yards and 36 touchdowns this year, while running back Robbie Rouse topped 1,000 yards for the third consecutive season. This offense will not be stopped by a below average SMU defense.
The SMU offense made up for the defense in some cases but it still ranked 93rd in the country and scoring was only better because it is 12th in the nation in turnover margin. Those turnovers will be tough to come by here because Fresno St. finished fifth in the nation in turnover margin. On the other side, the Bulldogs are 19th in total defense and 27th in scoring defense as they allowed 20 points or fewer seven times including 10 points or less three times.
This is a homecoming for SMU head coach June Jones who is back at Aloha Stadium for the first time since 2007 when he coached Hawaii but that won't matter here. Fresno St. is a perfect 9-0 ATS as a favorite and 7-0 ATS after scoring 37 or more points this season. Meanwhile SMU is 3-12 in its last 15 games away from home coming off an outright win as an underdog while going 0-7 ATS in its last seven games away from home after a conference win by six point or less as an underdog. 10* (214) Fresno St. Bulldogs
|12-23-12||San Francisco 49ers v. Seattle Seahawks +1||Top||13-42||Win||100||81 h 58 m||Show|
I won with New England two weeks ago as it easily took care of Houston on national television. Based on that and the whole public to see, I went against the Patriots and took the 49ers and they were able to take out New England, again on national television. Now San Francisco is riding the overinflated public side angle and it is playing its second straight difficult road game in one of the most difficult venues in the league. The 49ers are a great team but not in a great position.
The Seahawks have won three straight games to climb right into the playoff picture and the divisional race for that matter. Seattle is 9-5 and it has the best record in the NFC for non-divisional leaders so getting that first Wild Card spot is looking good as it can clinch with a win. Seattle and Atlanta are the only two remaining undefeated home teams in the league heading into this week. The last home loss for the Seahawks came last season in the final home game and it was against the 49ers so it looks to be payback time.
Normally, playing on a team like Seattle is a no-no as it is coming off consecutive blowout wins where it put up a ton of points and that typically is a play against situation if anything. There is a big difference here though. Those teams coming off big win tend to get overvalued next time out but that isn't the case here as the Seahawks have moved to a home underdog in some spots. As a rule, we would have to lay down a lot of points to grab Seattle but instead we are getting value this week.
While the scores the past two weeks have appeared to be somewhat an anomaly, the Seahawks were trending upward in scoring even before the two blowouts. Over the past eight weeks, the Seahawks are the second-highest scoring team in the NFL at 33.4 ppg, trailing only New England, and they have scored 21 or more points in seven straight games after doing so only twice in their first seven games. The offense might have an edge again as the 49ers defense was on the field for 94 plays against New England.
While San Francisco's defense gets most of the pub, Seattle is ranked third in total defense and second in scoring defense so the unit is just a solid and is that much better at home. The Seahawks fall into a great situation where we play on home teams that are averaging between 23 and 27 ppg going up against teams allowing between 14 and 18 ppg, after scoring 24 points or more in the first half last game. This situation is 24-5 ATS (82.8 percent) since 1983. 10* (130) Seattle Seahawks
|12-23-12||NY Giants -1 v. Baltimore Ravens||Top||14-33||Loss||-125||77 h 45 m||Show|
This is a big game for both sides but more so for the Giants. New York is coming off that blowout loss in Atlanta so it needs to right the ship right now if it wants to have any chance of defending its Super Bowl title. The Giants are in a three-way tie for first place in the NFL East and a five-way tie for the second and final NFC Wild Card spot. Baltimore comes in with the better record but the Giants are the better team and in a good spot to bounce back.
It can be argued that the Ravens are also in a great spot to bounce back following their third straight loss last week against the Broncos. I disagree with that though as this is a very fragile team right now that has actually gotten away with a lot of fortunate breaks. Wins over Kansas City, Dallas and San Diego all could have gone the other way so going 3-0 right there is lucky. The Ravens have been outgained in nine of their last 10 games and that is finally starting to come back to haunt them.
This is an interesting scenario where we could catch a break based on one of the early games. Should the Steelers defeat Cincinnati at home at 1:00, Baltimore locks up the division and with no chance at a first round bye, it would not be surprising to see the Ravens sit some players for at least part of this game. Obviously we can not make this play based on hoping another team wins but that could only add to the strength. Play it early as the line will likely go up quite a bit if the Steelers are winning comfortably.
After starting the season strong, Baltimore has slipped considerably. It is ranked 21st in total offense and 26th in total defense and while the scoring rankings are considerably higher, it is starting to come back more into line. The Giants have been hit or miss for the last few games but with the exception of last week, the offense has been more consistent as they are 10th overall and sixth in scoring. They have not been held to single-digits in scoring since 2009 and have not been shutout since the 2005 playoffs.
That being said, the Giants are 4-1 ATS in their last five games after scoring less than 15 points in their previous game while Baltimore is now 0-6 ATS in its last six home games after one or more consecutive losses. Also, we play on road teams where the line is +3 to -3 that are allowing 360 or more total ypg, after allowing 400 or more total ypg in their last three games. This situation is 27-6 ATS (81.8 percent) over the last 10 seasons with the average point differential being close to a touchdown per game. 10* (121) New York Giants
|12-23-12||Oakland Raiders +9.5 v. Carolina Panthers||Top||6-17||Loss||-121||74 h 35 m||Show|
Carolina has been very impressive the last two weeks in its wins over Atlanta and San Diego but that makes this the perfect time to go against the Panthers. It is extremely difficult to justify a team that is 5-9 on the season to be favored over a team that is just one game worse by this many points. I have been on the Panthers quite a few times this season but not when they have been favored as they have lost four of five games outright when laying points and this is by far the largest they have put down this season.
Oakland is coming off an impressive win over Kansas City and while beating the Chiefs is far from quality, it gave this team some much needed confidence and momentum to try and close the season strong. The victory snapped a six-game losing skid for Oakland and the big factor was that it was able to run the ball which is a key to the Raiders success. They have not done very well on the east coast but considering this is the same line they got in Baltimore and Cincinnati, two playoff teams, the value is definitely there.
The Raiders rushed for a season high 203 yards against Kansas City and it was just the fifth time all season they have surpassed even 100 yards on the ground. They are 3-2 in those games but one of those losses was at Atlanta where they lost by just a field goal. Carolina's rushing defense has been great the last two weeks but it will be put to the test here with a healthy Darren McFadden which is huge for Oakland. The Panthers have allowed over 120 yards rushing in eight of their 14 games this season.
A lot of the talk now is about the resurgent Cam Newton and in all fairness, he has been exceptional over his last five games. Facing the Raiders would think to keep that going but they are coming off their best game of the season and the defense can feed off that effort. Carolina is coming off two 30-point efforts but it is still ranked 22nd in scoring offense and it hasn't been consistent enough to keep rolling like this. With a game at New Orleans to close out the season, look for a possible lookahead here as well.
The Raiders fall into a great contrarian situation here as well as we play on road underdogs of 3.5 to 10 points that are getting outscored by opponents by seven or more ppg, after scoring 17 points or less in three straight games. This situation is 83-46 ATS (64.3 percent) since 1983. Carolina is just 1-5 ATS in its last six home games while the Raiders are 5-2 ATS in their last seven road games against teams with a losing home record. Too many points to pass up here. 10* (105) Oakland Raiders
|12-23-12||New Orleans Saints +3 v. Dallas Cowboys||Top||34-31||Win||100||73 h 9 m||Show|
I lost playing against Dallas last week but I will again fade the Cowboys here. They were fortunate to get out of last week with a win in overtime as they got a gift wrapped interception from Ben Roethlisberger and converted that into the game winning field goal. Dallas is now tied with the Giants and Redskins for first place in the NFC East so this is no doubt a must win situation and as we all know, must wins situations do not always translate into wins with the pressure involved.
We did win on New Orleans last week as the Saints shook off two poor performances, or should say Drew Brees shook off two poor performances, and easily defeated the Buccaneers. Obviously the playoffs are a very slim option for the Saints and we saw what happened when they were able to play loose. New Orleans has won the yardage battle in each of the last three games and closing the season with a big finish is a big goal right now. But the playoffs are still a slight possibility so winning is still top priority.
New Orleans needs a lot of help to get it but it really isn't very complicated. The Saints need to win this week and against Carolina next week. On top of that the Saints need Dallas to lose its final game, the Rams to lose at least once, and the Vikings, Giants, and Bears all to lose their final two games. Sure it is not very likely but with a chance still there, we will be getting a big performance out of the entire team. This includes both offense and defense, the latter showing a ton of improvement.
The Saints have now gone four straight games without allowing 400 yards on defense after allowing over 400 yards in each of their first 10 games. The Cowboys meanwhile have been outgained in four of their last seven and five of their last nine games. The talent on this team is incredible yet the Cowboys have had more than a three-game winning streak only once since the start of the 2010 season. December has let them down before and I see it happening again.
New Orleans is +10 points in scoring margin and could easily be 8-6, whereas Dallas is -11 points in scoring margin and is pretty fortunate to be where it is right now. Play against favorites that are coming off a win as a home underdog, with a winning record on the season. This situation is 69-33 ATS (67.6 percent) since 1983. Additionally, New Orleans is 12-4 ATS in its last 16 games against teams allowing a 61 percent or higher completion percentage while Dallas is 1-8 ATS in its last nine home games in that same dynamic. 10* (115) New Orleans Saints
|12-22-12||Atlanta Falcons v. Detroit Lions +4.5||Top||31-18||Loss||-110||57 h 13 m||Show|
The Falcons are now a win away from clinching a first round bye in the playoffs after dismantling the Giants last Sunday. While the win was impressive, it can be chalked up as the Giants losing the game as they had opportunities to keep the game close early but missed a short third down conversion which led to a missed field goal and then missed a short fourth down conversion in the second quarter. This is obviously a big one for Atlanta but this is a big number to be putting down in this spot.
The Lions season has unraveled pretty quickly as after a 4-4 start, they have dropped six straight games and you can blame turnovers. Last week in their 28-point loss to the Cardinals, they had four turnovers including two interceptions returned for touchdowns. During the six-game losing streak, Detroit outgained four opponents by a total of 286 yards while it was outgained in the two other games by only 43 total yards so it is clearly playing better than that winless record indicates.
Motivation plays a big part in handicapping this time of year and while Atlanta has it, we have to make sure Detroit has it as well. "Everybody in the league is the same way," Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said. "I dare you to find a team in the NFL that will say we're playing for next year or stuff like that. There's too much urgency in this league. There's too much at stake every single week for individuals as players, for coaches, for organizations. There's too much every single week to strive to win for."
Despite allowing 38 points last week, the Lions defense was excellent once again as it allowed just 196 total yards. Overall, the defense is ranked 12th in the NFL while the offense is ranked second and those rankings usually do not fit a team that is 4-10. Both of those rankings are better than those of the Falcons so staying on the right side of the turnovers is what needs to be done for Detroit. Heading back home after a two-game roadtrip and on the national stage will have the Lions ready.
Detroit falls into two solid situations. We play on home underdogs or pickems coming off a road loss by 14 points or more, in December games. This situation is 75-35 ATS (68.2 percent) since 1983. Second, we play against road favorites in the second half of the season that are averaging 370 or more ypg going up teams allowing between 335 and 370 ypg. This situation is 63-30 ATS (67.7 percent) since 1983. Additionally, the Lions are 15-5 ATS in their last 20 games off a loss by 28 or more points while Atlanta is 0-6 ATS after allowing 14 points or less last game. 10* (102) Detroit Lions
|12-22-12||East Carolina v. Louisiana-Lafayette -4.5||Top||34-43||Win||100||96 h 55 m||Show|
East Carolina finished in a tie with UCF in the C-USA East Division but lost the tiebreaker after losing to the Knights 40-20. It should be noted that those seven conference wins all came against teams not playing in a bowl game and its only non-conference win came against Appalachian St. of the FCS. The Pirates lost its other three non-conference games by a combined score of 131-44 and those three opponents are all in a bowl game as well.
UL-Lafayette finished in a tie for second place in the Sun Belt Conference with a 6-2 record with one of those losses coming against conference champion Arkansas St. by 23 points. Its only win against a team with a winning conference record was a victory at rival UL-Monroe but you cannot blame them on the weakness of the conference. In non-conference action, the Cajuns got thumped at Oklahoma St. but lost by just a touchdown at Florida on a blocked punt return for a score with only 13 seconds remaining.
Both offenses are very potent but I like the balance of the Cajuns and not just the balance between run and pass but the balance between the players. Quarterback Terrance Broadway has been outstanding over the second half and he along with running back Alonzo Harris combined for over 1,400 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns. The receiving corps is led by Harry Peoples with 61 receptions for 774 yards and five touchdowns. However, three other receivers have over 500 yards and at least three touchdowns.
Additionally, Lafayette is very efficient when it gets into the redzone as it is scoring at a 94 percent clip which is second in the nation only to Louisville. East Carolina is 84th in the nation in scoring defense and 77th in total defense so it won't be showing much resistance. The Pirates allowed 40 or more points on four different occasions and again, this was against a pretty weak schedule. On the other side, the Cajuns allow more yards but allow fewer points which is big here.
The Cajuns won here last season over San Diego St. on a last second field goal as six-point underdogs but now they take on the role of favorites by that same amount. They fall into a great situation also as we play against underdogs of 3.5 to 10 points that are coming off two straight wins against conference rivals going up against an opponent off a double digit road win. This situation is 40-13 ATS (75.5 percent) over the last 10 seasons. The favorite brings it home here. 10* (210) La-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns
|12-20-12||BYU -3 v. San Diego State||Top||23-6||Win||100||56 h 9 m||Show|
San Diego St. claimed a share of the MWC title thanks to a seven-game winning streak to end the season and it caught a very good break in its bowl game as it is playing very close to home. This means great fan support and limited distractions even though the players are not staying in their normal digs as they are shacking up in a hotel similar to BYU. Playing on their home field is more good than bad but the Aztecs have some disadvantages that go beyond that.
BYU enters this game with a 7.5 record but it easily could have been better. Losses to Utah, Boise St. and Notre Dame were by a combined seven points and all of those came on the road so the Cougars are arguably a lot better than their record shows. They win with defense as BYU brings in the nation's third best defense, allowing only 266.3 ypg. The Aztecs have scored a lot but the total offense is ranked only 57th in the nation so they could have some issues against the Cougars stop unit.
The big mystery here is the quarterback situation for BYU. Head coach Bronco Mendenhall said there's no change to the status of senior quarterback Riley Nelson, who has been the Cougars starter this season, but who's also nursing a rib injury. With Nelson still questionable for Thursday's game, backup James Lark has gotten more reps in practice. Lark started in Nelson's place in the Cougar's final game against New Mexico, and threw for 384 yards and six touchdowns in the win.
While we may not know who is starting just yet, the Aztecs are getting as well which makes their preparation a little more difficult. Mendenhall said he will make a decision on his starter on game day so San Diego St. has to prepare for two different quarterbacks who are pretty different in their quarterbacking styles. The Aztecs defense has been spotty all season as they are 43rd overall and 44th in scoring and BYU caught fire near the end of the season, scoring 41, 52 and 50 points in three of its last four games.
BYU has a great situation on its side as we play on teams away from home in the second half of the season where the line is +3 to -3 that are averaging between 3.5 and 4.3 ypc going up against teams allowing between 3.5 and 4.3 ypc, after allowing 125 or less rushing yards in two straight games. This situation is 31-9 ATS (77.5 percent) since 1992. Additionally, BYU is 8-0 ATS against teams allowing 58 percent completions or more while the Aztecs are 9-21 ATS against teams allowing 3.25 or less ypc. 10* (205) BYU Cougars
|12-17-12||NY Jets +2 v. Tennessee Titans||Top||10-14||Loss||-110||34 h 45 m||Show|
We won with the Jets last Sunday against Jacksonville and we will back them again here. The two-game winning streak has put them back in the hunt for the playoffs and with a very favorable schedule to close out, they are in excellent shape but will obviously still need some help along the way. The public is still fading this team which is just fine as it gives us good value with the number in what is a must win spot. Normally, cases like that lead to inflated numbers but that is not the case here.
Tennessee lost its third straight game last week at Indianapolis and it has dropped five of its last six games to fall out of the playoff picture. The Titans will no doubt try and bring their A game here with this game being on national television but the problem is they don't have much of an A game. They have struggled on both sides of the ball but turnovers remain the biggest factor in their struggles as their 26 giveaways are tied for third most in the AFC.
The Jets are no stranger to turnovers either but Tennessee has just 16 takeaways with is fifth fewest in the conference. New York has a chance to get the offense going once again as the titans are ranked 27th in the NFL in total defense and 31st in points allowed. I expected a bigger game from Mark Sanchez last week but we didn't get it but now he faces a unit ranked 26th in passing yards allowed and 24th in passing ypa allowed. The return of Braylon Edwards could be a huge boost as he is expected to play right away.
New York still possesses a stout defense as it is ranked eighth overall and while the rushing defense has been a weakness, the Titans have not been able to do much of late. Running back Chris Johnson looked like he was finally out of his slump but he has been held to 175 yards on 53 carries (3.3 ypc) while failing to reach the end zone during the Titans' three-game slide. New York's defense has been excellent the past two weeks against the NFL's two worst offenses.
The Jets fall into a great league-wide situation here as we play against home teams where the line is +3 to -3 that are allowing 370 or more total ypg going up against teams allowing between 295 and 335 total ypg. This situation is 51-26 ATS (66.2 percent) since 1983. Additionally, Tennessee is 2-9 ATS as a favorite over the last two seasons and is 5-23-1 ATS in its last 29 games after accumulating more than 250 yards passing in its previous game. The Jets playoff hopes stay alive. 10* (331) New York Jets
|12-16-12||San Francisco 49ers +6 v. New England Patriots||Top||41-34||Win||100||86 h 5 m||Show|
The Patriots were three-point favorites over the 49ers prior to the game against Houston and now the line has increased significantly. It's a pretty safe reason why. New England looked dominant against Houston on Monday night and it will be a very heavy bet team again this week. As of Wednesday morning, over two-thirds of the action is on the Patriots according to offshore reports and while we won with them against the Texans, we will be going against them here as value has clearly hit the side of the 49ers.
San Francisco is coming off a win over Miami on Sunday and now it heads east for what has turned into a big game for both sides. The Patriots are still in the hunt for the top seed in the AFC as they own wins over both Denver and Houston, the two teams that are fighting for the top spot. On the other side, this is far from meaningless for the 49ers as they have a game at Seattle next week so should they lose here, they could be just a half-game up going into next week with the division on the line.
While the Patriots were able to shred through the Houston defense on Monday, things will not be as easy here. The Texans have struggled this season against good passing teams but San Francisco is much different. Houston is 19th against the pass while San Francisco is second in that category as well as first in points allowed, ypa passing, and rushing touchdowns allowed while ranked second in total defense, passing defense and rushing defense. New England will have a tough time here.
The 49ers offense is not as strong but it doesn't need to be when the defense is playing at such a high level and we will see that in this spotlight game. San Francisco is 12th in total offense and 13th in scoring offense so it is an above average unit and will face a Patriots defense that has improved in points allowed over the last few games but are still ranked 26th in total defense. The 49ers will have success running the ball as New England has allowed 100 or more yards rushing in seven straight games.
San Francisco is 6-0 ATS against teams allowing 375 ypg or more, 9-1 ATS against teams allowing 7.0 or more ypa passing and 14-4 ATS against teams allowing 5.65 or more yppl while the Patriots are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games after allowing less than 15 points in their previous game. Also, we play on teams in the second half of the season allowing between 14 and 18 ppg going up against teams allowing between 18 and 23 after allowing three points or less in the first half last game. This situation is 25-5 ATS (83.3 percent) over the last five seasons. 10* (329) San Francisco 49ers
|12-16-12||Pittsburgh Steelers -1 v. Dallas Cowboys||Top||24-27||Loss||-117||122 h 15 m||Show|
The Steelers lost a big game last week against the Chargers and it was one they could have done without. Pittsburgh is now tied with the Bengals for the second Wild Card spot in the AFC with the Jets just one game back so now it is dealing with an absolute must win scenario. The good news is that the Steelers final two games are at home against the Bengals and Browns but neither of those games are gimmies anymore. Expect a big bounceback effort from Pittsburgh on Sunday.
Dallas played a very courageous game in Cincinnati last week following the tragedy that took place the previous morning. The Cowboys rallied late for the victory and while a playoff push is a necessity, this is not going to be an easy spot. Similar to the Chiefs two weeks ago when they came together in the midst of a tragedy and won and then laid an egg the following week, I can see the same happening here as the emotions of what transpired is too much to overcome the following week.
After a four-game winning streak, the Steelers have dropped three of its last four games but they outgained their opponent in each of those games. They have been outgained only twice all season and on the year, they are outgaining opponents by 79.4 ypg so they are definitely playing better than their record indicated. The difference? Turnovers. Pittsburgh has not won the turnover battle since Week Five against the Eagles as they have lost the turnover battle six times and tied it three times in the last nine games.
The Cowboys meanwhile have been outgained in four of their last six and five of their last eight games. The talent on this team is incredible yet the Cowboys have had more than a two-game winning streak only once since the start of the 2010 season, which they will be striving for this week. The offense gained just 288 total yards against the Bengals last week and now they face a Steelers defense that is ranked first in the NFL, yielding just 262.4 ypg and have to go on without leading receiver Dez Bryant.
The Steelers opened as underdogs and were quickly bet up to favorites with early money. It is definitely the right move and coaching will be a big factor in this game as Mike Tomlin is clearly better than Jason Garrett. Case in point, the Steelers are 11-2 ATS in their last 13 games following a loss while the Cowboys are 2-12 ATS in their last 14 games following a win. That is based on preparation in the situation and the Steelers once again will have the significant edge. 10* (325) Pittsburgh Steelers
|12-16-12||Detroit Lions v. Arizona Cardinals +6||Top||10-38||Win||100||122 h 5 m||Show|
Arizona got embarrassed last Sunday in Seattle 58-0 and after starting the season 4-0, the Cardinals have dropped their last nine games and put head coach Ken Whisenhunt on the hot seat. Not many people will be touching the Cardinals this week after getting outgained by 339 total yards but that is exactly why we will be on them because it sets up the typical 'bounce' angle in the NFL as well as provide significant line value. The number here is an overreaction to that blowout loss.
The overreaction is proven by the fact that thee is no way Detroit should be favored no the road by this many points over any team. Sure the talent is there but the Lions do not know how to win at this point as they have lost five straight games including the last three by a single possession. Coming off three straight home games followed by a game at rival Green Bay where they have not won in over two decades, this team that has no hopes for the playoffs has no interest in this game whatsoever.
This game reminds me a lot of the Tennessee game at New England back in 2009. The Titans were pounded 59-0 by the Patriots to fall to 0-6 and Tennessee came back the following week to win at home over Jacksonville by 17 points. Obviously this game cannot predict any future outcomes but it gives an example of what players are capable of doing in this league after getting shown up, and badly for that matter. Egos go a long way in this game and the Cardinals do no want theirs bruised again.
As far as the matchup itself goes, the Lions played one of their best defensive games of the season but we can thank the weather partly for that. This is a solid defense that is ranked 13th in the NFL in total defense but they still allow a ton of points as they are 26th in scoring. Arizona has a great opportunity to bust out on offense, something that has not happened in a while. The Detroit offense is potent as we all know but Arizona is a respectable 12th in total defense and after last week, that unit will be ready to play.
The offense for Arizona is in a great spot as it is 13-3 ATS in its last 16 home games in the second half of the season against teams allowing 5.65 or more yppl while the Lions are 8-19 ATS in their last 27 games in the second half of the season against teams averaging 17 ppg or less. Also we play on teams that are averaging between 14 and 18 ppg going up against teams allowing between 23 and 27 ppg, after a loss by 21 or more points. This situation is 25-6 ATS (80.6 percent) over the last 10 seasons. 10* (324) Arizona Cardinals
|12-16-12||Tampa Bay Buccaneers v. New Orleans Saints -3.5||Top||0-41||Win||100||118 h 27 m||Show|
Both Tampa Bay and New Orleans come into this game riding three-game losing streaks so clearly there is no momentum on either side. While the Buccaneers have lost their three games by a combined 11 points and the Saints have lost their three games by a combined 45 points, it is the latter which has actually been playing better. New Orleans outgained both the Falcons and Giants and are +53.7 ypg in those contests while Tampa Bay was outgained in all three and by an average of 59.3 ypg.
Tampa Bay is still clinging on to a small hope of making the playoffs so this is obviously a must win situation. But coming off that loss against Philadelphia last week is devastating as it looked as though the Buccaneers had the game locked up. Not so much. The defense, which has actually been playing pretty well, fell apart at the worst possible time against the Eagles and now they will be facing Drew Brees who has put up a combined passer rating of 112.7, his worst two-game total since 2007.
It is hard to explain the struggles of Brees but it is not lack of effort and you can just see that he is clearly frustrated over his performances. In the last three games, Brees has no touchdowns and six interceptions on 43 attempts of more than 10 yards, according to ESPN Stats & Information. But two of those games were on the road and the other was against the 49ers which have the second best total defense as well as the second best passing defense in the NFL. We will see a rebound here at home.
While many will argue it has been the defense on top of it, turnovers have been the Saints undoing the last two games as they have a 9-3 disadvantage in that category. The defense has actually been fairly good as after allowing 400 or more total yards in each of its first 10 games, New Orleans has allowed fewer than 400 yards in each of its last three games, giving up just 350.7 ypg over that stretch. That certainly is not the best average but from what it was, it is a massive improvement.
While the Saints playoff hopes are done, expect them to continue to play hard, especially at home as they know the fans deserve it. New Orleans is 6-0 ATS in its last six home games against teams allowing 350 or more passing ypg while the Buccaneers are 2-9 ATS in their last 11 games against teams allowing 350 or more passing ypg. Also, the Saints are 7-0 ATS in their last seven home games as favorites of less than a touchdown and 7-0 ATS in their last seven home games after gaining 400 or more ypg over their last three games. 10* (308) New Orleans Saints
|12-15-12||Nevada +9.5 v. Arizona||Top||48-49||Win||100||119 h 44 m||Show|
I won with Nevada in its final game of the regular season against Boise St. and while it was an outright loss for the Wolf Pack, that should help as a motivator heading into their bowl game. This is definitely not the bowl game the Wolf Pack were hoping for but playing against a BCS Conference team should have it motivated along with the fact the 16 seniors want to go out winners. A slow end to the season will steer many away from Nevada but this is the time to jump on as line value is at its peak.
Arizona did not exactly end the regular season very strong as it lost to rival Arizona St. at home. The Wildcats won the yardage battle 522-460 but four turnovers did them in. They are not thrilled about being here as they were hoping for a Sun Bowl or a Las Vegas Bowl bid so motivation, or a lack there of, could play a big factor here. Making things tougher is that there is a quick turnaround with it being the first bowl game and it happens to come right at the end of finals week.
Both teams come in with very potent offenses and defenses that have struggled. Nevada is 11th in total offense and 20th in scoring offense and it is a very balanced attack. The Wolf Pack were one of the top rushing teams in the nation as they averaged 262 ypg which is seventh in the nation. The passing game was fairly efficient as well as Nevada is 30th in passing efficiency while quarterback Cody Fajardo is 11th in the nation in total offense so there should be no stopping this unit.
Arizona has one of the worst defenses in the country as it is 116th in total defense and 100th in scoring defense and it has been equally bad at stopping the run and the pass so facing a balanced attack is a nightmare scenario. The Wildcats do bring in a stronger offense but Nevada possesses a stronger defense as well so while the offenses have the advantages on both sides, the Wolf Pack have the edge overall as the line is in favor of the underdog when matchups like this take place.
Nevada was horrible in the role of favorite this season, going 1-8 ATS but it went a perfect 2-0 ATS as underdogs of a touchdown or more. Arizona meanwhile is 9-21 ATS in its last 30 games after accumulating more than 200 yards rushing in its previous game and this is not a good price as it is 14-30 ATS in its last 44 games as a favorite between 3.5 and 10 points. Also, the Wildcats are 3-11 ATS in their last 14 games against teams averaging 31 or more ppg. Motivation plays a key role in this one. 10* (201) Nevada Wolf Pack
|12-13-12||Cincinnati Bengals v. Philadelphia Eagles +3||Top||34-13||Loss||-100||72 h 22 m||Show|
The Eagles looked dead on Sunday as they trailed the Buccaneers by 11 points but rallied to pull out a much needed win which ended their eight-game losing skid. They easily could have folded then they allowed 21 unanswered points but they did not give up and played hard right to the end and that is a big part of the play here. Obviously the playoffs are out but they gained some renewed confidence and the goal now is to finish strong. Playing with no pressure means playing loose which is always an advantage.
The Bengals are coming off a devastating loss against the Cowboys to fall to 7-6 and now must travel on a short week. Cincinnati had a four-game winning streak prior to the loss and things are not looking very good with the remainder of the schedule as it closes with games against Pittsburgh and Baltimore. The Bengals are still in the mix for grabbing a Wild Card spot but the Sunday loss may have told us that they are not as good as was perceived when they were riding that winning streak.
The Eagles won on Sunday despite losing the turnover battle for the 10th time in 13 games this season. The good news is that they only turned it over once but it was the fifth consecutive game that Philadelphia's defense did not have a takeaway and while that is not a good thing, it is one of those streaks that will not last the rest of the season and Cincinnati has given it up 21 times on the year. The Eagles allowed just 314 total yards against Tampa Bay.
Offensively, Philadelphia got a great game out of quarterback Nick Foles which was a huge step for the rookie and one that he can build on. He threw for two touchdowns in the final four minutes to overcome that 11-point deficit, finishing with an Eagles' rookie-record 32 completions and 381 yards. The Bengals defense has gone four straight games without allowing 300 yards but playing at that high level is tough to do and playing on the short week makes it even more difficult.
The Eagles played on Sunday like we thought they were going to play all season as there was more energy, more hustle and more heart in this game than they've shown for weeks. Now they will be bringing that same energy home where they have not won since September 30th against the Giants. The Eagles go from an eight-point road underdog to a three-point home underdog so they are definitely on the value side with this number. Expect to see another very inspired effort on Thursday. 10* (302) Philadelphia Eagles
|12-10-12||Houston Texans v. New England Patriots -3||Top||14-42||Win||100||81 h 13 m||Show|
This is arguably the best Monday night matchup of the season thus far and this one will go a long way in playoff seedings. Both Houston and New England clinched playoff berths last week, the Patriots clinching the division and the Texans now one win away from the division title. This game obviously means a lot to both sides so motivation will not be an issue but the situation is much better for New England as it heads home after a road win while Houston is playing its third straight road contest.
The Patriots are riding a six-game winning streak and while the opposition has been average, they will be out to prove something here. Their last real quality win came here against Denver and that was the last time the Broncos lost so that definitely says something. The three losses for New England this year all could have been wins as they lost those games by a combined four points. All three losses came down to the final minute with two of those decided on last second field goals.
The Texans share the best record in the NFL with Atlanta as a loss to Green Bay is the only blemish on the card. That game can definitely tell us something as Houston struggled against a potent offense in the Packers and it also struggled against the Lions on Thanksgiving as it snuck out a win there. The Texans will be facing another strong offense here as the Patriot lead the NFL in both total offense and scoring offense and the banged up defense could be in for another long night.
While the Patriots offense is the best, the defense is far from it as it is ranked 26th in total defense. But the defense thrives on turnovers as its 33 takeaways easily lead the AFC and their +24 turnover difference is by far the best in football. That has limited opposing teams from scoring much as New England is a respectable 14th in scoring defense. Houston's offense is no joke but gaining 1,154 yards and 77 points in consecutive games against Jacksonville and Detroit has skewed the numbers.
Coming off a divisional win is no letdown for New England as it is 10-2 ATS in its last 12 games coming off a divisional win and the Patriots have covered four straight Monday night games. They also fall into a great situation where we play against road underdogs of 3.5 to 10 points that are coming off two consecutive road wins, with a winning record on the season playing another winning team. This situation is 23-5 ATS (82.1 percent) since 1983. The Patriots prove they are still the team to beat in the AFC. 10* (134) New England Patriots
|12-09-12||Baltimore Ravens +3 v. Washington Redskins||Top||28-31||Push||0||89 h 30 m||Show|
I won with Washington on Monday night and that was clearly a huge win for the Redskins as they pulled to within just one game of the Giants in the NFC East. They remain at home which may seem like a good spot but I think Washington has itself in a tough one based on the opposition. The Redskins are coming off three straight victories and if that doesn't spell letdown, nothing does. Yes, there is a lot on the line so a letdown may be the wrong term but this will be tough to come back from.
Baltimore is coming off a loss against Pittsburgh and while it still has a two-game lead in the AFC North, with Pittsburgh back home against San Diego, a loss here from the Ravens will most likely mean that lead is trimmed to just one game. The Ravens have won three straight games on the road and they know they need to keep the pedal down with Ben Roethlisberger on his way back very shortly. With a game at home against Denver coming up, Baltimore knows it needs this one.
The Ravens had won four straight games prior to the Steelers loss and they have followed up each of their previous two losses with wins. The offense has taken a step back the last three games as they have averaged just 16.3 ppg and have been held to fewer than 300 yards in two of those games. Now Baltimore gets to face one of the worst defenses in the NFL as the Redskins are ranked 29th in total defense and 23rd in scoring defense. A great effort last week against New York will not be duplicated again.
The Washington offense has been solid all season with RGIII becoming a legitimate star in this league. Baltimore's defense has not played that well this season but it has played a lot better since its bye week. After allowing 23 ppg and 400 ypg through its first seven games, the Ravens have allowed just 16.2 ppg and 333.4 ypg over their last five games which is a huge recovery. There is a lot of pride with this unit just because they are getting older doesn't mean that they cannot still compete.
Terrell Suggs is a gametime decision this week. The Ravens are 12-3 ATS in its last 15 games coming off an upset loss as a home favorite and they fall into a great situation where we play on teams where the line is +3 to -3 that are coming off a home loss by three points or less, in the second half of the season. This situation is 29-10 ATS (74.4 percent) over the last 10 seasons. A great spot catching Washington in both a physical and emotional letdown. 10* (105) Baltimore Ravens
|12-09-12||Atlanta Falcons v. Carolina Panthers +3.5||Top||20-30||Win||100||88 h 19 m||Show|
Carolina was in a very tough spot last week having to go to Kansas City and play a game a day after tragedy hit the Chiefs. We won with Kansas City in that game and the emotions from it carries that team through. The opposite was the case for the Panthers as they were put into a situation no team wants to be in. They were coming off a big Monday night road win at Philadelphia on top of it so the short week didn't help matters. Now back home, look for a full out effort.
The Falcons got away with another one. This team is 11-1 and a lot of that has been done with smoke and mirrors and fortunate bounces. They were outgained by 153 yards against the Saints last Thursday but managed to pick off Drew Brees five times. Those throws were bad ones too so the credit cannot solely go to the defense as Brees was clearly not himself. There is still a lot at stake for Atlanta as far as playoff seeding and such but coming off a division clinching win is tough to recover from.
Carolina was able to outgain Kansas City last week but it was unable to match the Chiefs energy. The Panthers have now outgained four of their last seven opponents but only have two wins to show for it. Closing has been a big issue as in their last seven losses, six have been by six points or less including one in overtime. Carolina has been painfully close at home to being a lot better but a 1-5 record is what has put them down to where they are right now but they continue to play hard.
The defense will have to play a big game in order to slow down the Falcons offense but this defense has played a lot better. The Panthers are ranked 14th in total defense and after allowing more than 400 yards three times in their first four games, they have allowed 400 yards only once since. After defeating the New Orleans Saints 23-13 on Thursday, Falcons coach Mike Smith gave the team four days off and the gameplanning for this game did not begin until Wednesday.
The first meeting was a close one on Atlanta as the Panthers lost on a 40-yard field goal with five second left and they falls into two successful revenge spots. We play on teams that are revenging a loss by three points or less, team with a losing record in the second half of the season. This situation is 22-5 ATS (81.5 percent) over the last five seasons. Also we play on home teams that are revenging a loss where opponent scored 28 or more points, off an upset loss as a road favorite. This situation is 43-18 ATS (70.5 percent) since 1983. 10* (118) Carolina Panthers
|12-09-12||Kansas City Chiefs v. Cleveland Browns -6.5||Top||7-30||Win||100||88 h 8 m||Show|
You have to give Kansas City a lot of credit for not only playing last week after the Jovan Belcher tragedy, but going out and winning. A lot of times in sports, emotions take over and that is what happened last week with the Chiefs as they went out and snapped their eight-game losing streak. At the same time though, those emotions can do a complete reversal and I expect that to happen this week. This team is emotionally spent and playing this week is going to be a lot tougher than last week.
After starting the season 0-5, the Browns have been playing a lot better as they are 4-3 over their last seven games. Three of those victories came against the Bengals, Chargers and Steelers so it isn't like that have been beating up on the NFL doormats although Kansas City can certainly fit into that category. Cleveland has won two straight games and it has been extremely competitive at home all season with a 3-3 record while getting outscored by just 0.6 ppg.
The Chiefs are coming off two straight draining games as the week prior, they lost a close game at home against rival Denver so now hitting the road after three straight home games, a loss against Cincinnati started the homestand, is a challenge. To their credit, they have put up some good games on the road including at Pittsburgh and at New Orleans but they have also put up some real duds with three of the four losses coming by 18, 28 and 18 points.
Defensively, the Chiefs are ranked 26th against the run, giving up 129.3 ypg. They rank ninth against the pass, giving up 219.9 ypg, but it is not necessarily because of stellar work. Opposing quarterbacks have thrown for 2,774 yards at a 60.3 completion rate, averaged 8.3 yards per pass and posted a 103.0 rating. They have thrown for 25 touchdowns and been intercepted seven times. The Browns should have no problem moving the ball as the offensive is coming off its best game of the season with 475 yards.
This is a big number for the Browns to be laying but I feel it is completely justified based on the situation. They have been an underdog in every one of their previous home games but considering the last four have been against quality opponents (yes at the time San Diego was quality), that just makes sense. The Browns are 12-3-1 ATS in their last 16 games after accumulating more than 350 total yards in their previous game while the Chiefs are 0-4 ATS in their last four games after a win. 10* (108) Cleveland Browns
|12-09-12||NY Jets -2.5 v. Jacksonville Jaguars||Top||17-10||Win||100||50 h 59 m||Show|
I was originally staying away from this game based on the fact the Jets were likely going to start Greg McElroy as I honestly thought we had seen the last of Mark Sanchez in a Jets uniform. Well, he was just recently named the starter once again and I think we are going to see one of his best efforts of the season. People are so down on him right now which makes him in a perfect take situation. "It was probably the worst and best experience of my life," Sanchez said Wednesday, reflecting on last Sunday's benching.
Jacksonville is coming off a loss in Buffalo on a very rainy day so it is hard to take a lot out of that game because of the bad weather. What can be taken out of it though is the fact that the Jaguars continue to get stung by the injury bug. Starting running back Rashad Jennings and starting wide receiver Cecil Shorts both suffered concussions last week and both are likely out this week which depletes and already poor offense. Jacksonville is ranked 31st in total offense and 30th in scoring offense.
It may be tough for some to hear me defend Sanchez but I'm going to. The benching was a very good thing as it should serve as a huge motivator for him. In addition, he has played against some very tough defenses as in his 12 starts, he has faced defenses ranked 1st, 2nd, 4th, 6th, 7th and 12th in half of those. The Jets have averaged 11.3 ppg in those games. In the other games, New York has put up 26.7 ppg and considering the Jaguars are ranked 31st in total defense and 30th in scoring defense, the Jets offense should roll.
The Jets are having a rough season no doubt but to their credit, they have played the league's 2nd toughest schedule. They have faced five teams in the top ten and seven teams in the top 16, going 0-5 and 1-6 respectively so they are 4-1 against the bottom half of the NFL. Jacksonville certainly falls into that category. Granted, elite teams are capable of defeating other elite teams in the NFL but no one here is calling the Jets elite. But they are good enough the steamroll one of the worst teams in the NFL.
Playing road favorites in the NFL is not going to be a winning proposition over the long haul but some spots it is deemed that way when the situation arises and this is one of those. Additionally, the Jets fall into a solid situation where we play against home teams where the line is +3 to -3 that are getting outscored by opponents by 10 or more ppg. This situation is 33-9 ATS (78.6 percent) over the last five seasons. Don't be surprised to see one of the best efforts of the season from New York this week. 10* (113) New York Jets
|12-08-12||Navy v. Army +7||Top||17-13||Win||100||122 h 11 m||Show|
Could this finally be the year? Army has lost the last 10 meetings to Navy which is easily the longest streak in the history of this series that dates back to 1890. It has been another disappointing year for the Black Knights who missed out on a bowl game last season and can now finish no better than their 3-9 record from a season ago. They are coming off a 31-point pounding against Temple but they were only outgained by 70 yards as turnovers did them in. The public will remember the score and nothing else.
Navy is going to the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl to be played December 29th against Arizona St. which is its ninth bowl in 10 years. After starting 1-3 including getting shutout at home against San Jose St., the Midshipmen closed strong which was sparked by an overtime win at Air Force that started a 6-1 run over the final seven games. They are outgaining opponents by less than 10 ypg and they have been outgained in half of their last eight games.
As bad as the record seems for Army, it hasn't played all that bad. It is getting outgained by just 1.3 ypg and as mentioned before, turnovers have played a big role in the losses. The Black Knights are 94th in the nation in turnover margin but they should not be bad off here as Navy is only 72nd in the same category. Army own the nation's best rushing offense, averaging 369.8 ypg on 5.5 ypc so while they pile on the yards, they do it effectively with a strong yard per carry average.
The winner of the Army-Navy game will take home the Commander-In-Chief's Trophy, which is presented annually to the winner of the football competition among the three major Service Academies and is named in honor of the President of the United States. This year's game marks the first time since 2005 that the trophy was on the line in the Army-Navy game and just the sixth time since the trophy's inception in 1972. While this game is big every year, it is bigger now so this is Army's bowl game.
Navy is just 4-7 ATS this season including going 0-4 ATS in its four games as a favorite against FBS teams. Army falls into a great contrarian situation as we play on underdogs of 3.5 to 10 points after having lost seven or eight out of their last eight games going up against an opponent after having won four or five out of their last six games. This situation is 31-12 ATS (72.1 percent) over the last 10 seasons. Additionally, the Black Knights are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games after allowing more than 40 points in their previous game. 10* (104) Army Black Knights
|12-06-12||Denver Broncos v. Oakland Raiders +11.5||Top||26-13||Loss||-115||46 h 18 m||Show|
Denver has won seven straight games and is definitely poised to give the AFC leaders a run come playoff time. With won come popularity, with popularity comes betting attraction and with betting attraction comes inflated lines. Yes, Denver is playing great and Oakland is far from it but this line is extremely overpriced. Getting anything over a touchdown at home is huge in this league and that is proven by home underdogs of 8 points or more are 27-3 ATS over the last four years.
The Raiders are coming off another tough loss as they lost by three points against the Browns to make it five straight defeats going back to the start of November. They have not been playing that badly as they have outgained five of their last eight opponents and on the season they are getting outgained by only 25.2 ppg which is very respectable for a team with their record. The issue has been miscues as Oakland has lost the turnover battle in four of its last five games.
Denver won the first meeting in this series and it wasn't even close as the Broncos won by 31 points while outgaining Oakland by 266 total yards. Despite losing the next game against the Patriots, that first meeting against Oakland seemed to have set a spark and got them rolling after a 1-2 start to the season. This is a divisional rivalry and even though one team is rolling and the other is reeling, records can be tossed out the door and I expect the Raiders to give all they have to get their revenge on national television.
Raiders head coach Dennis Allen, the former Broncos defensive coordinator, left the team immediately after the Cleveland game to be with his father who eventually passed away on Tuesday. If there ever is a time for a team to come together and win one for their coach, this is the time. With the short week, the position coaches had begun some of the scouting of the Broncos last week to allow the coordinators to put together the game plan on Sunday night and Monday. Therefore there is not a big disadvantage with Allen being out.
Oakland has numerous situations on its side in this game and one of the best is to play on home underdogs or pickems that are averaging 5.4 or more yppl, after allowing 400 or more total yards in two consecutive games. This situation is 30-10 ATS (75%) since 1983. Additionally, Denver is 0-10 ATS in its last 10 games against teams getting outscored by 10 or more ppg while the Raiders are 11-5 ATS in their last 16 divisional games. 10* (102) Oakland Raiders
|12-03-12||NY Giants v. Washington Redskins +3||Top||16-17||Win||100||13 h 53 m||Show|
The Giants won the first meeting in a wild game as they scored a 77-yard touchdown pass with 1:13 remaining after Washington had just taken the lead less that 20 seconds prior. Obviously the Redskins want revenge from that game but more important they need a win to keep their playoff hopes alive. Sitting at 5-6, they are a game out of the NFC's second Wild Card spot heading into Sunday and just as important, a victory puts them just a game behind New York in the NFC East.
The Giants looked great last week coming out of the bye and people will be riding them based on past success this time of year. Also, they have been great on the road the last couple years but the line is totally overinflated here. New York was favored by six and a half points in that first meeting at home and not a lot has changed since then so if anything, this game should be a pickem. Going against the masses here as this line has been driven up to provide a great home underdog opportunity.
New York has succeeded this season with a lot due to turnovers. The Giants have won the turnover battle in six of their last seven games and that has been a huge part to why they are fifth in the NFL in scoring offense and ninth in the NFL in scoring defense. They are 10th in total offense and just 23rd in total defense and that is where the Redskins can take advantage. Holding Green Bay to 317 yards and 10 points was a huge effort but repeating that will be a challenge here.
The Redskins offense has thrived with RGIII behind center as they are sixth in total offense and seventh in scoring offense. Those two rankings are so close and so good because they do not turn the ball over. Washington has given it up only once over its last four games and for the season its 10 giveaways are the fewest in the NFC and third in the NFL. The defense was riddled with injuries early in the season but they have been playing a lot but recently.
Washington can take advantage it is 10-0 ATS in its last 10 games in the second half of the season against teams allowing six or more yppl. Additionally, the Redskins fall into a great situation where we play against road favorites that are allowing between 18 and 23 ppg going up against teams allowing between 23 and 27 ppg, after a win by 10 or more points. This situation is 55-28 ATS (66.3 percent) since 1983. Also, the Giants are 1-5 ATS in their last six games against teams with a losing record. 10* (368) Washington Redskins
|12-02-12||Houston Texans v. Tennessee Titans +7||Top||24-10||Loss||-110||72 h 11 m||Show|
Houston is coming off two straight overtime wins which can be looked at in two different ways. It can bring a huge amount of confidence or it can produce a pretty big letdown. In the Texans case, I feel it is the latter. They were winning early in the season and winning these tight games is more of a sigh of relief than anything and it shows that they are not playing at a high level despite being 10-1. That record plays into the lines going forward and we are again catching a good number playing against Houston.
When Jake Locker came back into the lineup, the Titans looked like a different team two games ago even though he showed some rust. He had a much more productive game against Jacksonville last week but two interceptions hurt him. Still, Tennessee scored 56 points the last two games while outgaining both opponents which was the first time it has outgained consecutive opponents this season. Better yet, both of those games were on the road so the Titans should have some extra confidence going into this revenge game.
Tennessee was thumped in Houston in the first meeting by 24 points even though it outgained the Texans by 28 yards. The difference there was turnovers as the Titans lost the turnover battle 3-0 and two of those were interceptions that were returned for touchdowns. That was the game that Locker was hurt in and he missed most of that game and five others because of a separated non-throwing shoulder. The offenses needed a boost and has gotten it and now playing a very banged up Texans defense.
If coming off two consecutive overtime wins wasn't bad enough, Houston has a game at New England next Monday night so this is a very tough sandwich situation. Even throw in the previous week's hard fought win at Chicago and that adds up to a brutal three-game stretch. Head coach Gary Kubiak summed it up perfectly. "It's been very taxing on the team. Winning was so important, of course. To come out of there (Detroit) with a win because of where we're at and some of the issues we have, it was exceptional."
As mentioned, this is a revenge game for Tennessee and it falls into a terrific revenge situation where we play on underdogs of 3.5 to 10 points that are revenging a loss where opponent scored 35 or more points, off a loss against a division rival. This situation is 49-18 ATS (73.1 percent) since 1983. In addition, Houston is 4-15 ATS in its last 19 games against teams allowing 27 or more ppg while going 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games after allowing more than 30 points in their previous game. Upset alert right here. 10* (356) Tennessee Titans
|12-02-12||Indianapolis Colts v. Detroit Lions -4.5||Top||35-33||Loss||-110||72 h 5 m||Show|
The Lions have dropped two brutal home games in a row to fall to 4-7 and are now clinging by a thread in hopes of the playoffs. There is a three-way tie for the second Wild Card spot at 6-5 so it is going to take a lot of winning and a lot of help to get it done. This is now a must win game or the season will officially be done for Detroit as three of its final four games are against the Packers, Falcons and Bears. The extra time off from Thanksgiving to go along with no travel should help.
Indianapolis won against last week to improve to 7-4 and it currently sits in the first Wild Card spot in the AFC. That win was at home though where the Colts are 5-1 compared to just 2-3 on the road with the victories coming at Jacksonville and Tennessee and it is no coincidence that those were divisional wins. Those wins happened to follow home wins but the last time the Colts won at home and a divisional game was not on deck resulted in a 35-9 loss at New York to the Jets.
This is the third straight home game for the Lions and it falls into a similar situation that Cincinnati was in three weeks ago. Since 1985 there have been 180 teams that have played a three-game homestand and only 10 times have they dropped all three of those games. 18 times teams have lost the first two games and gone on to win with the only exception being the 2008 Lions that went 0-16 that year. Cincinnati defeated the Giants in Week 10 after dropping the first two games of its homestand.
The Lions are second in the NFL in total offense but they have killed themselves with turnovers which seems to be a common theme with all of these losing teams. The good news here though is that Indianapolis does not know how to take the ball away as it dead last in the NFL with just seven takeaways. The Lions should no problem moving the ball against the 20th ranked defense and scoring against the 22nd ranked defense in passing touchdowns allowed.
Detroit's defense has struggled over the last three games but it should clamp down here. Andrew Luck is a solid rookie quarterback but the Colts also turn the ball over on offense which has cut into their scoring as they are 21st in scoring offense. We play on home favorites of 3.5 to 10 points that are outgaining opponents by 40 to 100 going up against teams with a yardage margin between +/- 40 ypg, after gaining 400 or more total yards in their previous game. This situation is 33-10 ATS (77 percent) over the last 10 seasons. 10* (350) Detroit Lions
|12-02-12||Minnesota Vikings v. Green Bay Packers OVER 46.5||Top||14-23||Loss||-102||72 h 52 m||Show|
While many saw a closer game or a high scoring game, not many saw the Packers offense get completely shutdown by the Giants last week. Green Bay managed only 10 points which was not only a season low but it was the fewest amount of points scored in its last 32 games, a stretch that goes back to the final game of the 2010 regular season. The Packers scored fewer than 10 points twice prior that season and followed that up with high scoring games of 52 and 58 points next time out.
The Vikings are also coming off a game where they scored only 10 points which is also a season low for them. Minnesota was coming off three straight games that went over the total and while the offense played its part, it was the defense that really played poorly as the Vikings allowed an average of 30 ppg. Now they catch the Packers off their worst output of the season as well as putting up just 314 and 317 total yards the last two games which will spell some serious trouble for the Vikings defense.
Scoring on the road has been a challenge for Minnesota as it is averaging 19.2 ppg but it has put up at least 20 points in four of its five of its road games and that number should be more than enough to push this one over. The Vikings passing offense has had its problems over the last few games as Christian Ponder has been playing poorly but Green Bay has the 22nd ranked passing defense in the NFL and while Green Bay's rushing defense is better, Minnesota counters that with Adrian Peterson.
On top of that, the Packers will be without defensive end C.J. Wilson, a cornerstone of their run defense. And the news is still bad at the other two levels as linebacker Clay Matthews is likely out one more week while the secondary will be shorthanded again this week with Charles Woodson and Sam Shields remaining out. That could mean some needed balance in the Vikings offense and a chance to have a much better game than the seven points they scored here last November.
Historical scenarios are on our side here also as Green Bay is 7-0 to the over in its last seven home games against teams allowing a completion percentage of 64 percent or higher and 6-0 to the over in its last six home games in the second half of the season. Also, the Packers are 4-0 to the over in their last four games following an ATS loss while the Vikings are 4-0 to the over in their last four games after scoring 15 points or less in their previous game. 10* Over (341) Minnesota Vikings/(342) Green Bay Packers
|12-01-12||Nebraska v. Wisconsin +3||Top||31-70||Win||100||102 h 48 m||Show|
Wisconsin no doubt backed into the Big Ten Championship but it is not going to apologize for it. The Badgers finished the season at 4-4 in the conference and 7-5 overall and they definitely had some of the worst luck in the country. They lost three games in overtime and the other two losses were by three points each so a few bounces their way and the record looks a lot better. Many will argue that Wisconsin does not belong here but this is still a very solid team capable of a second straight Big Ten Championship.
I do like the way how Nebraska finished the season with six straight wins and was able to hold off Michigan for the Big Ten Legends Division title. I don't like how it closed in its last game though as the Huskers struggled against a pretty bad Iowa team that was playing for nothing as it was well out of the bowl picture. Momentum can be a big thing but when it comes to a game like this, momentum can become secondary because of what is at stake.
Nebraska brings in a powerful offense that is ranked 26th overall and 29th in scoring but it was held to a season low 263 total yards last week against the Hawkeyes. The Huskers were fortunate that the Iowa offense was putrid this year. After going over 500 total yards in four of their first six games, the Huskers have not done so in any of their last five games. Nebraska did torch Wisconsin for 440 yards in the first meeting but that was an aberration as the Badgers are 11th in total defense and have allowed just 278.7 ypg since.
The Badgers will be looking for some payback after losing in Lincoln earlier this season, blowing a 17-point second half lead and they are more than capable of doing it. Let's not forget what happened last season when Wisconsin made history by overcoming an earlier heartbreaking loss to Michigan St. with a 42-39 victory over the Spartans in the first Big Ten title game. The experience of going through that experience last year should be an advantage for the Badgers.
This is one of those games where Wisconsin will go back at the film of the first meeting and make adjustments while Nebraska may not tweak as much based on the success it had. The Badgers have been great in these spots as they are 21-9 ATS in their last 30 games after two straight losses and they have not lost three straight games since 2008. Also, Wisconsin is 21-8 ATS in its last 29 games against teams averaging 450 or more ypg so it knows how to scheme on defense. 10* (338) Wisconsin Badgers
|12-01-12||Oklahoma -6 v. TCU||Top||24-17||Win||100||93 h 25 m||Show|
Oklahoma is coming off a big win last week against Oklahoma St. in overtime. The Sooners did not lead until the game was done and while a big victory like that against a rival can cause a letdown, I don't see it happening here. There is still a lot at stake for Oklahoma as it can win the Big XII with a win here and a Kansas St. loss Saturday night but even if the Wildcats do win, the Sooners will likely be going to a BCS bowl game with a victory barring the crazy Kent St. scenario.
We won with TCU on Thanksgiving as it went into Texas and defeated the Longhorns so that will be a difficult game to bounceback from. The Horned Frogs improved to 7-4 with the victory and also finished the season a very solid 5-1 on the road. They are just 2-3 at home however with one of those wins coming against Grambling of the FCS and the other against 4-8 Virginia. TCU lost all three games against Big XII opposition and all three of those teams are bowl eligible.
I mentioned the Kent St. scenario. The Golden Flashes are 17th in the BCS standings, one spot away from securing an automatic BCS bid and perhaps taking away the last at-large opportunity out there. "I think that we have a chance. That's the only thing I've been aware of," receiver Justin Brown said. "I don't know anything about all of that other stuff. You guys probably know way more than me. I just know we've got to play TCU." Oklahoma just needs to go out and take care of its own business and let it unfold..
While the Horned Frogs defense has again been very solid, the Sooners offense is peaking once again. After getting stifled by Notre Dame, the Sooners have put up 593 yards in three of four games, averaging a whopping 583.3 ypg while averaging 44.5 ppg. Overall the offense is ranked ninth overall and seventh in scoring defense, both of which are third in the Big XII. The Horned Frogs have struggled against some of the stronger offenses in the conference and we will see that here again.
This is one of those situation where if Oklahoma gets up early, TCU will have difficulties playing catch up. This is even true with the Sooners recent struggles on defense. They are 7-0 ATS in their last seven road games after allowing 17 points or more in the first half in two straight games. Additionally, under head coach Bob Stoops, Oklahoma is 18-9 ATS in 27 games after two or more consecutive losses against the spread while the Horned Frogs are 0-7 ATS in their last seven home games against teams with a winning road record. 10* (313) Oklahoma Sooners
|11-30-12||UCLA Bruins +9 v. Stanford||Top||24-27||Win||100||82 h 39 m||Show|
Stanford defeated UCLA in the regular season finale to set up this rematch for the Pac 12 Championship. It is a rarity for teams to play twice in the same season let alone twice in two weeks so there is obviously no edge on either side as far as familiarity goes. We do get an edge in the result from last week that no one is going to soon forget which makes Stanford a typical public side this week as a 17-point win on the road will have bettors lining up behind them expecting a bigger win at home. If it were only that easy.
The game came down to 13 seconds in the third quarter when everything fell Stanford's way. It began with an interception for Stanford than started a drive at the Bruins' 42-yard line. Cardinal running back Stepfan Taylor went 40 yards to set up his 1-yard touchdown run two plays later. Then Stanford recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and went 11 yards for another score. Those two turnovers were the big difference as overall, Stanford only outgained UCLA by 47 total yards.
Taking nothing away from Stanford winning but UCLA did not play its typical game. The Cardinal have a great defense no doubt but the Bruins hurt themselves in many ways and were taken out of their gameplan. The Bruins were limited to 261 yards passing and one touchdown, while giving up seven sacks and an interception and it didn't help matters by a number of dropped passes. The offensive line is where UCLA needs to make adjustments as well as quarterback Brett Hundley getting rid of the ball quicker.
Plain and simple, it is difficult beating the same team twice in one season. This has nothing to do with familiarity as mentioned before but it has to do with changing gameplans. The Bruins will be doing things differently to make things work while Stanford likely will not be changing much because of the adage 'if it isn't broke, don't fix it'. UCLA will be bringing different looks and new wrinkles and that is where a big advantage can occur if done properly and Jim Mora is good enough to do that.
I expect the Bruins to be able to rush the ball better even though Stanford has a very strong rushing defense. UCLA is 5-0 ATS in its last five games after accumulating less than 100 yards rushing in its previous game while going 9-3 ATS in its last 12 games following a double-digit home loss. The Bruins are still a very solid 9-3 on the year and they have not been underdogs of this many points all season as the most points they have received is six points and that resulted in an outright win at Arizona St. 10* (307) UCLA Bruins
|11-29-12||New Orleans Saints +3.5 v. Atlanta Falcons||Top||13-23||Loss||-107||58 h 17 m||Show|
Even though the Saints lost on Sunday against San Francisco, their playoff chances remained pretty much unchanged. The Falcons defeated the Buccaneers, the Dolphins defeated the Seahawks, and the Bears knocked off the Vikings which leaves New Orleans still just a game back in the Wild Card race but they hold the tiebreaker over all three. A win here is huge as it notches another conference win and those three other teams are all playing games on the road against playoff caliber teams as well.
The Falcons are coming off another close win as they defeated Tampa Bay on the road in a big divisional game, snapping the Buccaneers four-game winning streak. Atlanta has now played three straight games where it easily could have lost but was able to pull out the victory in two of those. The Falcons did lose the first of the three games at New Orleans and while they will be out for revenge here, it is not going to easy at all as the Saints are still playing at a high level.
Despite hanging with the 49ers for the first half this past Sunday, long downfield drives by San Francisco and two interceptions from Drew Brees on consecutive passes were enough to seal the deal for New Orleans. The Saints were held to just 290 yards of total offense which comes as no surprise as the 49ers defense is ranked second overall and first in scoring. The Falcons are not nearly as good as they are 15th in total defense in the NFL and allowed 440 total yards in the first meeting.
Obviously the Saints defense has some issues as they are ranked dead last in the league in total defense. They thing is though they have gotten better as the season has gone on as they are becoming more familiar with Steve Spagnuolo's defense as it is the first season with it. After allowing 459 or more yards in five of the first seven games, New Orleans has not yielded that amount in any of its last four games, giving up an average of 420 ypg including a season low 375 yards against the 49ers.
The Saints have been able to take advantage of bad teams in the past as they are 8-0 ATS in their last eight games in the second half of the season against teams allowing a completion percentage of 61 percent or worse and 8-0 ATS against teams allowing 5.65 or more yppl. Also, we play against favorites of 3.5 to 10 points in the second half of the season that are +/- 0.4 in yppl margin against teams that are -0.4 to -1 in yppl margin. This situation is 78-39 ATS (66.7 percent) over the last 10 seasons. 10* (301) New Orleans Saints
|11-29-12||Louisville +3 v. Rutgers||Top||20-17||Win||100||57 h 15 m||Show|
Louisville has picked a bad time to fall apart as it has lost two straight games which has now put it behind the eight-ball to make it to a BCS bowl game. The Cardinals lost at Syracuse three weeks ago which did not come as a huge surprise as the Orange are playing some of the best football in the Big East Conference. Losing at home this past week to Connecticut in overtime was a surprise though. They still outgained the Huskies by 160 total yards but were unable to get anything going early in the game.
Rutgers is also coming off a loss as it played its worst game of the season in a loss at Pittsburgh by 21 points. The Scarlet Knights were outgained by 158 total yards which was the third time in their last six games that they have gotten outyarded by the opposition. The offense remains a huge issue as Rutgers is ranked 99th in total offense and 93rd in scoring offense in the country and it will not be able to keep up with Louisville should the Cardinals get ahead early.
The Rutgers defense has been the strength all season as it is ranked 14th overall and fourth in scoring, both of which are near or at the top of the Big East Conference. Those are impressive rankings indeed however the Scarlet Knights have struggled against good offenses, namely Arkansas and Syracuse where they allowed 492 and 418 yards respectively. Also, this will be the second highest scoring offense they have seen all season with Kent St. being the highest and they allowed 35 points to the Golden Flashes.
The Cardinals were quick to minimize the meaning of their upset loss to Connecticut. They admitted to disappointment but stopped well short of dejection. Having lost two straight games and almost certainly their place in the national polls, they found solace in the lasting insignificance of Saturday's score. Because a win here and they are heading to the Orange Bowl as they will be the highest ranked team in the Big East. Louisville is 12-4 ATS in its last 16 road games against teams with a winning home record.
The Cardinals have also been solid when coming off a defeat as they are 6-1 ATS in their last seven games following a loss while going 9-1 ATS in their last 10 road games following a loss as a home favorite. Louisville falls into a great situation also as we play on road teams where the line is +3 to -3 that are averaging between 390 and 440 ypg going up against teams averaging between 330 and 390 ypg, after allowing 3.75 or less yppl in their previous game. This situation is 24-3 ATS (88.9 percent) since 1992. 10* (303) Louisville Cardinals
|11-26-12||Carolina Panthers v. Philadelphia Eagles UNDER 41||Top||30-22||Loss||-110||24 h 12 m||Show|
Carolina has gone over in two straight games but both of those games were at home against a couple teams whose offenses have been piling up the points. The same cannot be said for the Eagles which will again be without Michael Vick and will also be missing running back LeSean McCoy. Philadelphia managed only six points last week against the Redskins with Nick Foles under center and while the Panthers defense is far from a stout unit, expect the Eagles to continue their struggles on offense.
This is a contrarian under call against the Eagles defense which has been lit up for 31, 38, 28 and 30 points over their last four games. However this is the type of game that a defense that has been gashed tends to step up in big situations and a Monday night game can certainly qualify. The Panthers offense has had their struggles this season as they are 22nd overall and 27th in scoring. They have been held to 331 yards or less in five of their last six games and seven times overall on the season.
On the other side, the Panthers want to step up as well. Defensive end Charles Johnson said the Panthers want to prove a point Monday regardless of who plays quarterback for the Eagles. "Hopefully, we can show up and show out. When the lights come on, you should play your butt off. The whole world's watching, so just leave it all out on the line," Johnson said. "We definitely have to show the world what Carolina Panthers defense is about. Hopefully, we can do that and come out with a W."
While the Eagles have two big names out on offense, they have been bad to begin with. They are 14th overall in total offense but 31st in scoring offense and a lot of that has been because of turnovers. Philadelphia has scored more than 23 points only once this year and has tallied 17 points or less in six of ten games on the season. History shows the struggles will go on as the Eagles are 12-3 to the under in their last 15 home games against teams with a winning percentage of .250 or less.
Additionally, the Eagles are 17-4 to the under in their last 21 games after allowing 25 points or more in two straight games while Carolina is 19-8 to the under in its last 27 games coming off a home loss against a division rival. Also, we play the under involving home teams where the total is between 35.5 and 42 points with a defense allowing 24 or more ppg, after scoring seven points or less in the first half in two straight games. This situation is 24-7 to the under (77.4 percent) over the last five seasons. 10* Under (245) Carolina Panthers/(246) Philadelphia Eagles
|11-25-12||Baltimore Ravens v. San Diego Chargers +2||Top||16-13||Loss||-105||6 h 13 m||Show|
The Chargers got us a win last week but chalked up another loss for them as they fell to 4-6 and the playoffs are looking dimmer and dimmer. They trail the Wild Card leaders by two games so there is still hope but they cannot afford to lose here, especially on their home field. Typically San Diego would be favored here but after losing five of six games, we are getting a very good number with the Chargers. They are 6-2 ATS in their last eight games following a loss and they know what is at stake here.
The Ravens won a tough game at Pittsburgh on Sunday night and not only does that setup a letdown spot here, they have a home game against Pittsburgh on deck. Traveling across country only adds to the sandwich spot for a Baltimore team that is not nearly as good on the road as it is at home. The Ravens are 3-2 on the highway and prior to the win over the Steelers, the other two wins came at Cleveland and Kansas City which are a combined 3-17. Baltimore has been outgained in six straight games.
The Chargers have a great situation on their side as we play against favorites with defense that is allowing 130 or more rushing ypg, after gaining 75 or less rushing yards last game. This situation is 51-29 ATS (63.8 percent) over the last 10 seasons. 10* (238) San Diego Chargers
|11-25-12||Denver Broncos v. Kansas City Chiefs +11.5||Top||17-9||Win||100||3 h 18 m||Show|
We snuck out a win against Denver last week with the Chargers and we will go against the Broncos again here as they are completely overvalued. Yes, they are playing some of the best football in the NFL and because it is no secret, the lines are showing it. Denver has won five straight games by scoring more than 30 points each time and even the best NFL teams ever cannot keep that up. The Broncos have won their last three road games and this is the spot for that to come to an end.
Kansas City is playing just the opposite as it has dropped seven straight games and has yet to win at home this season, going 0-5. The Chiefs are coming off a blowout loss at home against the Bengals but we can give them a pardon as they were coming off a short week following a very tough loss in overtime at Pittsburgh. Now playing a divisional game, they step up once again. Kansas City falls into a spectacular situation as we play on underdogs of 10.5 or more points after seven or more consecutive losses going up against teams after one or more consecutive wins. This situation is 25-6 ATS (80.6 percent) since 1983. 10* (228) Kansas City Chiefs
|11-25-12||Atlanta Falcons -1 v. Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Top||24-23||Push||0||3 h 2 m||Show|
The Falcons got off to an 8-0 start before dropping their first game in New Orleans two weeks ago. It took them a while to show up last week against Arizona but eventually they did and snuck out with a four-point win. Those two effort will have them more than ready for what has turned into a bog divisional game. Atlanta actually outgained the Cardinals last week and the Saints prior to that and has now won the yardage battle in seven of it last eight games. Prior to New Orleans, the four road wins were by an average of 14.8 ppg.
Tampa Bay is playing some of the best football in the league right now as it has won and covered four straight games. That is keeping this line very reasonable as a Falcons win likely means a cover as well. The Buccaneers got away with a game last week in Carolina as it rallied from an 11-point deficit to eventually take the game in overtime. It is hard to call this a letdown situation facing the division leaders but it surely puts Tampa Bay in a tough spot and even more so by trying to keep its winning streak alive.
The Falcons fall into a great situation where we play on road teams where the line is +3 to -3 after having won four out of their last five games, in November games. This situation is 41-13 ATS (75.9 percent) over the last 10 seasons. 10* (233) Atlanta Falcons
|11-24-12||Louisiana Tech +4 v. San Jose State||Top||43-52||Loss||-105||14 h 36 m||Show|
What a tough loss last week for Louisiana Tech. The Bulldogs were down by 24 points late in the third quarter before returning a kickoff for a touchdown and eventually tying the game with no time left on a field goal which sent the game into overtime. They were stopped in the extra session and while that was a tough loss to take, expect a big rebound here as they try and lock down second place in the WAC. Louisiana has had no trouble winning on the road, going a perfect 5-0 this season.
We won with San Jose St. last week as it defeated BYU outright as a three-point home underdog. Now the Spartans go form an underdog to a favorite in a span of one week against a team that is better than the one they just defeated. It was a big win for San Jose St. and it apparently opened the eyes of the books but this is way too much of a jump. The Spartans are 4-1 at home this season with the lone loss coming against a very similar team in Utah St. by 22 points and now face a team ready for some payback. 10* (195) Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
|11-24-12||Rice v. UTEP||Top||33-24||Loss||-110||10 h 21 m||Show|
This time of year, emotion plays a big part in these games as teams that are completely out of the bowl picture just want the season to be over. This will not be the case for UTEP. The Miners are 3-8 and have no shot at a bowl game but this week it was announced that head coach Mike Price will be retiring after this game and UTEP will do everything it takes to send him out a winner. Despite the poor record, the Miners have hung around in a lot of games against vastly superior competition.
Rice does in fact have something to play for as after its win over SMU last week, the Owls are one win away from bowl eligibility. I have backed Rice twice in its last three victories but both of those games were at home. The Owls are 2-3 on the road this season but those wins came against Kansas and Tulane which combined are just 3-19. it has been a great run to go from 1-5 to this position for the Owls but this will be a very tough task as UTEP has an offense that can keep up and a defense that has excelled at home. 10* (204) UTEP Miners
|11-24-12||Kentucky v. Tennessee -13.5||Top||17-37||Win||100||4 h 7 m||Show|
To say it has been a disappointing season at Tennessee would be an understatement. The Volunteers are 0-7 in the SEC and will be without recently fired head coach Derek Dooley for the season finale. The fact that he declined to coach the final game says a lot about him and what he thinks about the program. Jim Chaney will take over this week and you can guarantee the players will be giving 110% effort for him to show what a lame duck coach Dooley really was. Add in the revenge factor as well.
Kentucky has had a much worse season as it had dropped eight straight games before winning last week against Samford from the FCS. The Wildcats are 2-9 overall including going 0-4 on the road, losing all of those games by 18 points or more and by an average of 30.3 ppg. This will be the final game for head coach Joker Phillips who is also gone after the season but considering they carried him off the field after the Samford win, that was the one they were after and this one, even though it is a rival, spells letdown. 10* (160) Tennessee Volunteers
|11-23-12||Arizona State v. Arizona -3||Top||41-34||Loss||-105||76 h 30 m||Show|
With both Arizona St. and Arizona already bowl eligible, this one comes down to the rivalry itself and we give the edge to the Wildcats. They are laying a small number at home and with the road team winning the last three meetings, the value is placed on the short home field price. Arizona is 7-4 and after suffering through a three-game losing streak, it has won four of its last five games including solid home wins against USC and Washington. The only home loss this season was a three-point setback to then undefeated Oregon St.
The Sun Devils were off to a 5-1 start to the season and then the wheels came off with four straight losses, three of which came by double-digits before they bounced back with a win over lowly Washington St. last week. Arizona St. is just 2-3 on the road with the wins coming against 3-9 California and 1-10 Colorado. They have put up some very impressive numbers as they have outgained the opposition by 300 or more yards four times but those came against Northern Arizona of the FCS and three other teams a combined 7-26.
The Wildcats fall into a great situation as well as we play on home teams that are averaging between 190 and 230 ypg rushing going up against teams allowing between 140 and 190 ypg rushing, after gaining 300 or more rushing yards last game. This situation is 36-12 ATS (75 percent) since 1992. The home team finally break the series skid with a comfortable home victory. 10* (138) Arizona Wildcats
|11-22-12||New England Patriots v. NY Jets UNDER 48.5||Top||49-19||Loss||-110||51 h 20 m||Show|
The Patriot offense was on display again this past week as they hung 59 points on the Colts in a 35-point win. However the score is deceiving as two touchdowns came on interception returns and another on a punt return so it wasn't all offense that got it done. New England has gone over the total in eight straight games and this signals the time to go against that. This total has dropped from its opening but with it being New England in primetime, expect this one to rise once we get closer to kickoff.
The Jets halted their three-game losing streak as they won by 14 points over the Rams despite outgaining St. Louis by just eight total yards. The game went over the total and now the Jets are hit with their biggest O/U of the season so we are seeing value the other way. The defense has allowed fewer than 300 yards in three of its last five games so they are more than capable of slowing the Patriots offense down. New York is still a dismal 30th in the NFL in total offense. Hold off until later in the week to hit this under as it should rise again as mentioned. 10* Under (107) New England Patriots/(108) New York Jets
|11-22-12||TCU +7 v. Texas||Top||20-13||Win||100||50 h 24 m||Show|
I think this line is a bit of an overreaction to the Longhorns' four-game winning streak. Ever since they were thumped by Oklahoma, Texas has won every game but only one of those was done in impressive fashion and that was against Iowa St. in the last game. Prior to that, the Longhorns were outgained in five of their previous six games and on the season, they are outgaining opponents by just 28.3 ypg. Four of the last five wins have come by an average of six ppg with none of those coming by more than nine points.
TCU has had a rough stretch of losses in three of its last four games but the numbers have not been that bad. The Horned Frogs won the yardage battle in two of those losses and they have won the stats in eight of 10 games. TCU is outgaining opponents by an average of 85.2 ypg as the defense remains the strength, allowing just 326.3 ypg which is good for 16th in the country and first in the Big XII. It has allowed more than 400 yards only twice, to Baylor and Oklahoma St., two of the top three offenses in the nation.
TCU is 9-1 ATS in its last 10 games following a loss while going 6-0 ATS in its last six games after a bye and that comes down to coaching. It is 4-1 on the road and Texas is 2-7 in its last nine home games against teams with a winning road record. Also, we play against home favorites with a winning percentage of .800 or better after having won 4 or 5 out of their last 6 games, playing a team with a winning percentage between .501 and .600. This situation is 29-9 ATS (76.3 percent) over the last 10 seasons. 10* (109) TCU Horned Frogs
|11-22-12||Washington Redskins v. Dallas Cowboys -3||Top||38-31||Loss||-110||48 h 31 m||Show|
Dallas got another scare from an inferior opponent as it had to rally from a 13-0 halftime deficit to defeat Cleveland in overtime. The Cowboys would have taken a huge hit with a loss but they improved to 5-5 and get to remain home for their annual Thanksgiving game. The win was far from impressive and preparing for the Redskins will be tough but I think that victory is going to spark them this week. Dallas has won six of the last seven Thanksgiving Day games with the lone loss coming when Tony Romo was out.
Washington looked very impressive against the Eagles as they snapped their three-game losing streak. However you want to look at it though, the Eagles were not ready to play and they have given up on the season so the win cannot be perceived as good as it may look. Robert Griffin III had an outstanding game with just one incompletion and five touchdowns and while the defense allowed just six points, it is still 26th overall and 25th in points allowed. The short week will be too much for Washington here. 10* (106) Dallas Cowboys
|11-20-12||Akron +19 v. Toledo||Top||23-35||Win||100||12 h 54 m||Show|
A look at the records shows that Toledo has a huge advantage in this matchup and thus the big line is justified. But when digging deeper, that is not the case at all. Akron is just 1-10 and is thankful this miserable season is coming to an end but it has played hard all year and will continue to do so in the national spotlight. Of those 10 losses, six came by fewer points than what it is getting here including four losses by eight points or fewer. The Zips are getting the most points that they have gotten in the MAC all season.
Toledo was ranked in the top 25 not too long ago but consecutive losses have put a damper on what could have been a championship season in the MAC. Instead, the Rockets limp into their regular season finale and while the thought for many is that they will come out and destroy Akron after suffering two straight loss, the fact is they may not be capable of even doing it. While all three losses have been by a touchdown, Toledo has won four games by a touchdown or less and its eight wins have been by just 9.5 ppg.
The problem for both teams has been the defense and that is what will keep the Zips hanging around here. Akron is 40th in the country in total offense which is very strong for a team that has only one win. They are 14th in passing offense which is not good for the Rockets as they are 109th in total defense including 116th in passing defense. Both teams have played similar schedules with some tough out of conference games along with a game against a team from the FCS so the numbers are pretty legit.
Toledo will likely be without running back David Fluellen who was hurt last week and that is a big blow as he is fourth in the nation in rushing, averaging 132.7 ypg. He is diagnosed with a high ankle sprain and that is tough to overcome. 10* (101) Akron Zips
|11-19-12||Chicago Bears +7 v. San Francisco 49ers||Top||7-32||Loss||-114||12 h 27 m||Show|
Last night we saw how hard the Steelers played without their starting quarterback as the rest of the team stepped up and nearly defeated the Ravens. They should have as they outgained Baltimore 311-200 as a punt return touchdown was the difference. Flash forward to tonight and we are seeing a very similar situation where the Bears will be without their starting quarterback as Jason Campbell will be starting in place of Jay Cutler so expect a similar step up in effort from the rest of the team.
Campbell is an established quarterback so it is not like Chicago is going with an unseasoned rookie or young player with no experience. Last season, the Bears went from 7-3 and looking toward the playoffs to losing five of their final six to finish 8-8 and that's why they brought in Campbell in the offseason. The Bears are in fine shape here because of their defense. They are fifth overall and second in points allowed and they are coming off a very impressive showing against the Texans as they allowed only 215 total yards.
Campbell went 10-5 over his last 15 starts with the Oakland Raiders, completing 60.3 percent of his passes with 17 touchdowns, eight interceptions and an 89.6 passer rating. Still, it will be important for the Bears to establish their running game with Matt Forte who is averaging 4.7 ypc, just 0.2 off his career best from last season, and he's on pace for 1,028 yards. Getting him going will be big as it will take a lot of pressure off Campbell and help to keep the 49ers defense off balance.
The 49ers had allowed just one opposing running back to top 100 yards in a span of 45 regular-season games before a recent stretch that began last month. In the last four games, the Giants' Ahmad Bradshaw, the Seahawks' Marshawn Lynch and Rams' Steven Jackson have gone over 100 against the 49ers. Last week, the Rams seemed to physically win in the trenches versus the usually physical 49ers and were very creative in their play calling and the Bears obviously are just as physical.
San Francisco is no juggernaut on offense as it is ranked 13th overall and 14th in scoring and the only reason the rankings are that high is because of the game against the Bills where they scored 45 points and gained 621 yards on offense. Chicago is 8-0 ATS in its last eight road games after having won two out of their last three games while going 9-4 ATS in its last 13 games after allowing less than 15 points in its previous game. A low scoring game is in our favor with the undervalued Bears in this one.
Update: San Francisco announced this afternoon that Alex Smith will not play tonight which will further hinder the offense. The line has dropped so for those who locked it in early, good job. This is still a play however as the line is sitting at 3.5 across the board as of 2:45 ET. 10* (435) Chicago Bears
|11-18-12||San Diego Chargers +8.5 v. Denver Broncos||Top||23-30||Win||100||51 h 39 m||Show|
The Broncos have killed us the last two weeks as they were able to win and cover as road favorites with the public going along for the ride. The same public will not be jumping off the Denver bandwagon just yet and because of that, the books had to set a line that is substantially overinflated. It opened at -7 and has already been bet up to -7.5 and even -8 in some places. This is roughly a nine-point swing from the first meeting when Denver came back from a 24-0 deficit to win on Monday night.
The Chargers are coming off a loss, their fourth defeat in their last five games after a 3-1 start. Sitting at 4-5, this is a must win game for San Diego. If it loses, it trails the Broncos by three games in the AFC West and it is essentially four games because of the head-to-head series loss. A 3-6 record is also not in a very position for the AFC Wild Card and although the Chargers would not be eliminated, a 5-5 record and a game behind Denver in the division looks a lot better.
Similar to some other games, the Chargers goal is to slow this game down to shorten and not get into a track meet with Denver. They can do this by running the ball more frequent. The running game has been very good for the most part as they have surpassed 100 yards on the ground in seven of their last eight games. Denver's rushing defense is decent but it is not a top ten unit and defensive end Elvis Dumervil is questionable for this game and his absence would be big although we cannot count on it officially.
The Chargers do not want to get into a track meet as mentioned but they still have a very solid defense that has been playing especially well of late. San Diego is seventh in the NFL in total defense and they have allowed fewer than 300 yards in three straight games. Granted, Denver is a much stronger offense than what it has seen but the Chargers are allowing a respectable 7.1 ypa. Peyton Manning ripped them apart in the second half of the first meeting so expect the correct adjustments to be made.
San Diego falls into a very simple yet effective dynamic where we play on road underdogs coming off a road loss in the second half of the season. This situation is 100-50 ATS (66.7 percent) over the last 10 seasons. The Broncos offense is clicking as they have scored 31 or more points in four straight games and that is a great scenario to go against and Denver itself is 2-10 ATS in its last 12 games after scoring 30 or more points in three straight games. Look for a close game in this big divisional battle. 10* (431) San Diego Chargers
|11-18-12||New Orleans Saints v. Oakland Raiders +6||Top||38-17||Loss||-115||51 h 45 m||Show|
The Raiders are coming off an embarrassing performance in Baltimore as they lost 55-20 but that means they are filled with value this week. Oakland actually outgained Baltimore in that game so it wasn't quite as bad as the final score shows but that is what most people pay attention to. Now Oakland heads home where it is 2-2 with wins in two of its last three games and it has the ability to keep up with the Saints offense if it comes down to that which it may not even have to.
New Orleans accomplished exactly what it wanted to do and that is hand the hated Falcons their first loss of the season. The goalline stand to end the game was impressive as the defense has been a sieve all season and that stop is still being celebrated. Now the Saints hit the road out west where they are 1-3 on the season and overvalued once again. Despite winning four of its last five games, New Orleans has been outgained in all five of those games as well as seven of nine games on the season.
The Saints offense is again playing at a high level so the key for that will be for the Raiders to keep them off the field. They can accomplish this by coming with a gameplan to manufacture a strong running game. Oakland has been very inconsistent in running the ball this year as it couldn't even get to 100 yards in the last two games combined. That changes here though as New Orleans has the worst rushing defense in the NFL and it has surrendered over 200 yards rushing on four different occasions.
When they do need to pass the ball, the Raiders have been very good this year as they are fifth in the NFL is passing offense. Carson Palmer has done a great job with what he has and Oakland has a great downfield passing attack with Denarius Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey as both are averaging in excess of 15 yards per catch. While the Saints cannot spot the run, they are also having trouble stopping opposing quarterbacks as they are 31st in passing defense and allow a league-worst 104.4 passer rating.
Oakland gave up a ton of points last week but teams tend to bounce back as they are 5-1 straight up after allowing 55 or more points since 2005. Two other situations are in our favor as we play against favorites coming off a win as a home underdog. This situation is 28-9 ATS (75.7 percent) since 1983. Also, we play on underdogs of 3.5 to 10 points after a loss by 14 or more points that are averaging between 18 and 23 ppg going up against teams averaging 27 or more ppg. This situation is 34-10 ATS (77.3 percent) since 1983. 10* (430) Oakland Raiders
|11-18-12||Tampa Bay Buccaneers v. Carolina Panthers +2||Top||27-21||Loss||-110||50 h 45 m||Show|
We lost a tough one with Carolina last week as Denver scored 16 point via defense and special teams. Once that pick six took place, the whole dynamic of the game changed. The Panthers were getting three and a half points against Denver and now they are getting a point and a half against Tampa Bay? Denver is clearly two points better than the Buccaneers so we are not only getting line value here but we get to buck a team that is now a public darling after three straight wins.
The Buccaneers have been playing very good of late but the wins have not been that impressive in my book. Defeating Minnesota and Oakland on the road were good but not great and against the Chargers, Tampa Bay was outgained by 147 total yards. The Buccaneers took advantage of a blocked punt return and an interception return for touchdowns so they were the beneficiaries of those fortunate plays as opposed to Carolina which was on the other side of those last game.
Overall, the Carolina offense was not very good last week as it managed only 250 total yards which was a surprise as it had a very solid run going following a horrible performance against Seattle. The Panthers should be able to turn that around here against Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers are second to last in the NFL in total defense and they have allowed an average of 419.3 ypg over their last four games. The defense on the road has been even worse as they are allowing 423.5 on the highway this season.
The Carolina defense held Denver to its second lowest yardage total in its last seven games so it can take that positive away. The Broncos did score 36 points but 14 of those came way of defense and special teams. Tampa Bay's offense has really picked things up as it has been scoring a ton of points but this is a trend we are going to buck as the Buccaneers are coming off their third worst performance on offense of the season as they managed only 279 total yards against the Chargers.
Despite the records, Tampa Bay is -35.8 ypg in yardage margin while Carolina is -10.6 ypg in yardage margin which shows the team that has been better from endzone to endzone. Despite this, Carolina goes from a three-point road favorite in the first meeting to a home underdog this meeting which sets up playing on teams with a winning percentage of .250 or less with a line between +3 and -3 revenging a loss as a favorite, in the second half of the season. This situation is 23-3 ATS (88.5 percent) since 1983. 10* (418) Carolina Panthers
|11-18-12||Jacksonville Jaguars +15.5 v. Houston Texans||Top||37-43||Win||100||48 h 2 m||Show|
I will gladly take this many points in an NFL game no matter good or how bad the teams may be. The situation sets us up even better. Houston is coming off a hard-fought, physical game at Chicago on Monday night in which it was able to sneak out with the win. Now it heads home on a short week laying over two touchdowns in a meaningless game. On top of that, the Texans have a short week coming up as they play at Detroit on Thanksgiving Day meaning they will be doing preparation for that game this week.
The Jaguars are not a very good team as we all know but even bad teams cover in the NFL. That includes Jacksonville which is 4-5 ATS so while still not profitable, it has been far from a money burner on the season. Double-digit underdogs are not as common in the NFL as they used to be but since 1990, they are hitting at a 65 percent clip including a perfect 3-0 last week. I am well aware that Houston has covered all three as double-digit favorites this year but none of those were spots like this.
The Jaguars offense has been bad all season but it has been inconsistent which is actually okay when dealing with a negative since there have been some good performances. They were completely shut down in the first meeting at home against the Texans but there will be a different plan here as the Jaguars will go more no-huddle on offense. Quarterback Blaine Gabbert seems more at ease when playing the hurry up and it help be beneficial going against Houston which likes to use a lot of situational substituting.
Jacksonville has taken a step backwards from last season on defense but it still has shown to be very stout at times. Allowing 238 total yards in their last road game at Green Bay is a perfect case in point. As far as Houston goes, it is not going to be throwing everything it has at Jacksonville on offense because with a short week on tap, the Texans cannot afford to expend a ton of energy as a physical game with Detroit awaits. Running back Arian Foster may be sharing time in the backfield with Justin Forsett which helps our cause.
Jacksonville has a solid contrarian situation going for it as we play on underdogs of 10.5 or more points that are averaging fewer than 265 ypg going up against teams that are allowing between 265 and 295 ypg. This situation is 35-12 ATS (74.5 percent) since 1983. In addition, Houston is 4-14 ATS in its last 18 games against teams allowing 27 or more ppg while Jacksonville is 12-3 ATS in its last 15 road games revenging a same season loss. The Jaguars have covered all four road games this year as well. 10* (425) Jacksonville Jaguars
|11-17-12||BYU v. San Jose State +3||Top||14-20||Win||100||58 h 42 m||Show|
BYU comes into this game with a 6-4 record including 1-3 on the road yet it is the favorite over a team that possesses a better record. The Cougars have been consistently streaky this season as they have alternated two-game winning and losing streaks all year to get to their 6-4 record. The last two victories have been the most impressive statistically as going in and hammering Georgia Tech was impressive but destroying 1-9 Idaho at home is far from it.
San Jose St. knew the possibilities were there for a special season and it has not disappointed. The Spartans opened the season with a three-point loss at Stanford and we have seen what the Cardinal have done this season post-Luck so that was certainly a quality loss. A loss at home against Utah St. is the only other blemish on the schedule as San Jose St. has quietly gone 8-2 and is making bowl plans for the first time since 2006. The Spartans go from a 40-point home favorite to a home dog in matter of just a week.
San Jose St. is a very balanced team all around as it is ranked fourth or better in the WAC in every major statistical category that the NCAA tracks including second or better in 12 of 17 categories. The WAC is certainly not a strong conference however the rankings show that the Spartans have no weakness in any aspect of their game and that is a very rare quality. Extrapolating these stats to a national level shows San Jose St. is ranked in the top 30 in over half of those categories.
BYU has played a tougher schedule this season which shows its body of work has been solid all around as well but the Spartans can take advantage of a pretty anemic offense that has been inconsistent all season. The Cougars have had two good games in a row on offense but the defenses faced have been of poor quality. They have faced three teams that are ranked in the top 25 in total defense, which is where San Jose St. sits, and they have averaged ac mere 8.7 ppg.
The Spartans haven't exactly beaten the best teams either but confidence and momentum they have gotten is enormous. They are 10-2 ATS in their last 12 games as underdogs and 14-3 ATS in their last 17 games after scoring 31 or more points in two straight games. San Jose St. falls into a great contrarian situation as we play on home underdogs of 3.5 to 10 points that are averaging between 3.0 and 3.5 ypc going up against teams allowing fewer than 3.0 ypc. This situation is 43-14 ATS (75.4 percent) over the last 10 seasons. 10* (382) San Jose St. Spartans
|11-17-12||Ohio State v. Wisconsin -2||Top||21-14||Loss||-110||52 h 34 m||Show|
While many have been calling it a down season for Wisconsin, the Badgers are a few plays away from having a much better record at this point. They are 7-3 on the season but are now playing their best football of the year as they have won four of their last five games as the offense is starting to really hum along. The three losses have come by three points each and while it was outgained in each of those defeats, Wisconsin could be considered one of the best three-loss teams in the country right now.
Ohio St. players and coaches have to be given a lot of credit for what it has done this season. The talent is certainly there but with nothing to play for because of NCAA infractions, the fact that they have been motivated this far into the season is pretty impressive. What isn't impressive however has been the schedule as the Buckeyes have played a very light schedule with only three teams in current bowl positions. This will be the toughest test to date.
Wisconsin is known for its solid running attack on a yearly basis and after a slow start, there were concerns. The Badgers have quieted the critics over he last month as they have averaged 346.8 ypg over their last four games and that included a net 19-yard output against Michigan St. Last week against Indiana, Wisconsin rushed for a school record 564 yards. Ohio St. does have a good rushing defense as it is allowing 107.9 ypg but again, it comes down to the schedule.
While the Buckeyes spot a solid defense, the Badgers sport an incredible defense. They are ranked 15th in total defense and 12th in scoring defense and their rushing defense is tops in the Big Ten. Wisconsin had a couple rough back-to-back games against UTEP and Nebraska in the first half of the season but it has been stout since then as the Badgers have not allowed more than 16 points in any of their last five games, allowing just over two touchdowns per contest.
The Badgers fall into a solid situation as we play against road underdogs that are coming off three straight wins against conference rivals going up against an opponent off a double digit road win. This situation is 30-8 ATS (78.9 percent) over the last 10 seasons. The Buckeyes offense has been rolling but they are just 0-7 ATS in their last seven games after gaining 6.25 or more yppl last game while Wisconsin is 10-1 ATS in its last 11 home games following a win by 35 or more points. 10* (396) Wisconsin Badgers
|11-17-12||Houston v. Marshall -3||Top||41-44||Push||0||49 h 32 m||Show|
We played on Marshall last week at UAB and despite a strong comeback near the end of the game, the Thundering Herd lost, hurting their chances for a bowl game. Afterwards, players admitted they came out flat which is absurd considering what was at stake. Now the games are truly must win situations and after last week's debacle, you can guarantee that Marshall players will not be coming out flat this week. With two games left and sitting two games under .500, Marshall has to win out.
Houston is also sitting at 4-6 on the season so it too will have to win out to make it to a bowl game but it is a bigger stretch for the Cougars at this point. They have dropped their last two games but they have played poorly for three straight games as they have been outgained by 155, 173 and 244 total yards over that stretch, The Cougars defense has been the culprit of late as they have given up 516.3 ypg during the three-game stretch and Marshall has an offense that can take advantage.
Marshall is eighth in the nation in total offense, averaging 511.3 ypg and it is first in C-USA in total offense, scoring offense and passing offense. The Thundering Herd have scored 31 points or more in all but two of their 10 games and that run will continues against a Cougars defense that is 109th overall and 111th in scoring in the country. While they did fare well against Rice and UAB, they have allowed 41 or more points four times including 56 points against Louisiana Tech and 72 points against SMU.
Marshall's defense is not much better and that has been the cause for some of the problems this season. The Houston offense is notoriously strong but it is far from the same unit this season. The Cougars are a pedestrian 47th in scoring offense and they are coming off two bad games against East Carolina and Tulsa including scoring a season low seven points last week. Should this game try to turn into a shootout, Marshall will have the significant edge.
The Cougars find themselves in many negative situations here as they are 8-22 ATS in their last 30 games against teams averaging 425 or more ypg while getting outscored by 16.8 ppg in those 30 games. Also, Houston is 3-12 ATS in its last 15 games after being outrushed by 125 or more yards in two straight games and coming off a loss by 20 points or more, the Cougars are 1-6 ATS in their last seven games after that. Marshall keeps the postseason hopes alive with a victory. 10* (332) Marshall Thundering Herd
|11-15-12||Miami Dolphins v. Buffalo Bills -1||Top||14-19||Win||100||57 h 24 m||Show|
The Bills dropped to 3-6 following their third straight loss and the hopes of sneaking into the playoffs are getting slimmer by the week. The possibility is still there as only Pittsburgh and Indianapolis have winning records in the race for the two Wild Card spots. Buffalo had its chance to upset the Patriots but a costly interception with just 23 seconds remaining ended the comeback attempt. The Bills outgained the Patriots by 134 total yards but turnovers did them in.
The Dolphins have dropped two in a row and they were exposed on Sunday against lowly Tennessee. It was the fifth straight game that Miami got outgained and the seventh time in nine games on the season so despite being just a game under .500, it has been pretty fortunate along the way. The Dolphins are 2-3 on the road with the wins coming against the Jets and Bengals despite getting outgained in both games as turnovers were the difference. Despite all of this, Miami is a very slight road underdog once again.
This game will come down to how the Bills can recover from that heartbreaking loss in New England. Heading home definitely will help as will the fact that it has already been announced that the game is sold out which is a big gain for Buffalo. While the recovery is a question, the same can be said for the Dolphins as their loss was much worse and might be even tough to recover from since it is a very young team and once that has not had to bounce back on the road after a big loss.
Miami is just 26th in the NFL in total offense and 25th in scoring offense. The rushing game has been horrible of late as the Dolphins have not had 100 rushing yards in any game since Week Three. In their past six games they are averaging a mere 72 rushing ypg. Buffalo's defense is suspect but it should be fine here. On the other side, the Bills will be without Fred Jackson but C.J. Spiller can more than make up for it. Over the last four games, he has totaled over 100 yards rushing and receiving combined.
This is a must win game for both sides and we give the edge to the home team on a Thursday night with a very small line. Miami is 2-10 ATS in its last 12 games coming off two straight up losses as a favorite while Buffalo is 16-5 ATS in its last 21 home games after a game with a turnover margin of -3 or worse. The Bills won this season against Kansas City after getting pummeled on the road in New York against the Jets after a -3 turnover margin. 10* (306) Buffalo Bills
|11-15-12||North Carolina -3 v. Virginia||Top||37-13||Win||100||56 h 54 m||Show|
Virginia has kept its slim bowl hopes alive with wins in its last two games including a last second victory over Miami on Saturday. The Cavaliers were celebrating like they had just won a bowl game and not a team that is still competing to try and get into one so that alone shows they will be in a letdown spot here. Virginia had lost six straight games prior to this two-game run so while it is carrying some added momentum around, it is very hard to see this team keep going on like this.
North Carolina is coming off a loss against Georgia Tech as it allowed a whopping 68 points to the Yellow Jackets. The Tar Heels had no answer for the Georgia Tech option which came as no surprise as they have had trouble the last few years as preparing for that attack is tough to do. North Carolina has come back the last two years with wins and covers following its loss to Georgia Tech as it certainly found the going much easier in its follow up game.
The Yellow Jackets 68 points were the most ever allowed by North Carolina to a conference opponent so we should see a major bounceback after that embarrassment. The Tar Heels defense really is not that bad as they came into that game ranked 43rd overall and 27th in scoring so Virginia will have it hands full despite what happened last week. The Cavaliers are just 87th in the country in scoring offense as they have scored 20 points or fewer in six of their 10 games.
On the other side, Virginia has a defense that is ranked 33rd overall but 74th in points allowed and the big variances in points and yards on both sides comes down to turnovers. The Cavaliers are ranked 112th in the nation in turnover margin at -1.20 per game while North Carolina is ranked 29th at +0.60 per game. Forecasting turnovers is nearly impossible but at this level, these trends tend to remain pretty consistent. Also, the Tar Heels are 4-0-1 ATS in their last five games after allowing 40 or more points.
North Carolina has yet to cover on the road this season but all four games have come against teams that are at .500 or better on the season. Also, that winless ATS mark is negated by the fact that Virginia has not been able to cover at home as it is 0-5-1 ATS ay home and 1-8-1 overall. The Tar Heels have been favored in each of their last seven games but they have been favored by at least 6.5 points in each of those games so they are getting a very favorable number here. 10* (307) North Carolina Tar Heels
|11-12-12||Kansas City Chiefs +13.5 v. Pittsburgh Steelers||Top||13-16||Win||100||11 h 40 m||Show|
Kansas City comes into this game with a 1-7 record following another disappointing performance last Thursday at San Diego. The Chiefs actually once again did not play bad but they were hurt by turnovers as they had four miscues and it was the seventh time in eight games they have been on the wrong side of the turnover battle. That has obviously hurt both sides of the ball as despite being near the bottom of the NFL in points scored and allowed, they are 16th and 17th in total offense and total defense respectively.
The Steelers are very heavy favorites in this game as they have won three straight games and are looking good to make another serious playoff push. This is a horrible spot in my opinion though as Pittsburgh is coming off a huge win last week in New York against the Giants and it has a game on deck with Baltimore next week which will have huge implications in the AFC North. The Steelers have no interest in this game so we will not be seeing their best effort Monday night.
How bad have turnovers hurt the Chiefs? Despite being 1-7, they are outgaining opponents by 10.5 ypg which is 11th best in the NFL. So obviously they have hurt quite a bit. Handicapping turnovers is a tough thing to do since there is no basis for it as a lot of that comes down to luck and being in the right place at the right time or vice versa. The Steelers used to be a ball-hawking defense but that is not the case anymore as they finished last in the AFC in takeaways last year and have just eight this year.
The key for Kansas City tonight will be to establish a running game and not give it up. While the Steelers defense is tops in the NFL, their rushing defense has been a weakness. They have allowed only 100 yards once this season but teams are not trying to run which is the reason as Pittsburgh has seen the third fewest amount of rushing attempts in the league. The Steelers are allowing a rather high 4.0 ypc and with the Chiefs averaging 4.7 ypc on offense, they can definitely take advantage.
The weather is not looking great tonight so that should favor the underdog as poor conditions tend to shorten games which is a benefit for big underdogs. Kansas City falls into numerous positive situations and one that stands out in fact has to do with turnovers as we play on road underdogs of 10.5 or more points with a turnover margin of -1 per game or worse on the season, after a game where they committed four or more turnovers. This situation is 28-8 ATS (77.8 percent) since 1983. 10* (239) Kansas City Chiefs
|11-11-12||Denver Broncos v. Carolina Panthers +4.5||Top||36-14||Loss||-105||99 h 32 m||Show|
This is certainly not the best of spots for Denver as it is coming off a road win at Cincinnati last week and now has to travel back east once again to take on Carolina. The Broncos have a showdown with San Diego next week so they can certainly be in lookahead mode but the fact that they are on the road for a second consecutive week is what makes this one a go. Denver has won three straight, scoring more than 30 points in each, and that is a go against if ever there was one.
Carolina is coming off a much needed victory as it had dropped five straight games prior to the victory at Washington last week. That skid started with a blowout loss against the Giants but the next four games all could have gone either way as the four defeats came by five points or fewer and by an average of 3.0 ppg. Carolina is clearly the best 2-6 team in football as they are outgaining opponent by an average of 1.9 ypg which is small but no other team that is at least four games under .500 can claim that.
The Panthers offense should be able to feed off their solid game last week and have some solid success at home. Many will be questioning how the Carolina defense will stop Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense and my answer is keep playing like it has. Since Carolina fell to Atlanta 30-28 in Week Four, the Panthers' defense has been one of the league's best, ranking fourth in total defense, allowing just 292.3 ypg and pass defense, allowing 189.0 ypg and fifth in points allowed with only 17.8 ppg.
I played against Denver last week and it was able to escape despite getting outgained by the Bengals. The Broncos are a highly public betting team right now as they have posted a 5-3 ATS mark including wins in their last two games on the road. We have seen the value be completely depleted from Denver and last week was one of those games where we were arguably on the right side of the wager but ended with a bad result. The home underdog once again gets the call today.
Play against road favorites in the second half of the season that are averaging 370 ypg or more on offense going up against teams that are allowing between 335 and 370 ypg on defense. This situation is 58-27 ATS (68.2 percent) since 1983. Carolina has thrive in situations like this as it is 12-2 ATS in it last 14 home games against teams that are averaging 375 or more ypg. In addition, the Broncos are 1-10 ATS in their last 11 games after scoring 30 or more points in three straight games. 10* (222) Carolina Panthers
|11-11-12||Atlanta Falcons v. New Orleans Saints +3||Top||27-31||Win||100||98 h 6 m||Show|
Atlanta once again was able to avoid its first loss of the season as it defeated the Cowboys and got the frontdoor cover thanks to a field goal with 17 seconds remaining. The Falcons hit the road once again where they are 4-0 on the season but three of those wins came against some very disappointing opposition. The same can be said about this week's foe but the further we get into the season with that unblemished record, the more amped the other team is going to be to stop that streak.
We can definitely say New Orleans is at the top of that list. The Saints and Falcons have become pretty big rivals and with New Orleans being at the top of the division two of the last three years and Atlanta claiming the other year, it has turned bitter. The Saints have struggled to a 3-5 start this season but after opening 0-4, they have started to catch a little bit of fire with wins in three of their last four games. The playoffs were once a distant dream but that is no longer the case anymore as New Orleans is right back in it.
The Falcons have played a schedule ranked 28th in the NFL by Sagarin so you would think they have been dominating. Well, they haven't. While winning is what counts, it is a very below average 8-0 team and Sagarin backs that up with the Falcons sitting sixth in his power rankings. The Falcons are outgaining opponents by just 20.3 ypg. Looking at rankings, Atlanta is eighth in total offense and 19th in total defense and last year's 10-6 team actually had a better average ranking (10th and 12th respectively).
New Orleans still possesses one of the best offense in the NFL as it is ranked fifth in total offense and eighth in scoring offense and put the ball in Drew Brees' hands on his home turf is a scary thought for the opponent. The Saints have two home losses this year to a couple bad teams in Washington and Kansas City but they did have chances to win both of those games but the defense was horrific both times out. That will be an issue with some again here but the switch may have finally been flipped.
The Saints defense responded when it needed to against the Eagles on Monday and they can feed off that effort. That unit is part of a great situation as we play on home underdogs or pickems that are averaging 5.4 or more yppl, after allowing 400 or more total yards in two consecutive games. This situation is 29-8 ATS (78.4 percent) since 1983. The Saints are 6-0 ATS in their last six home games against winning teams and 6-0 ATS in their last six home games against teams averaging 350 or more ypg on offense. 10* (228) New Orleans Saints
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