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|Date||Match Up||Rating||Score||Result||Profit||Lead Time||Analysis|
|11-23-14||Dallas Cowboys v. NY Giants +3||Top||31-28||Push||0||119 h 28 m||Show|
I’m playing on the New York Giants as my 10* Best Bet Sunday. New York is coming off a miserable showing against San Francisco, but despite Eli Manning’s five interceptions the G-Men actually had a chance to win the game in the dying minutes of the fourth quarter. The Giants stay home for this Sunday Night showdown with the Dallas Cowboys, and would love to throw a wrench in Big D’s playoff plans.
New York gave Dallas a good fight in their first meeting, never letting the Cowboys feel comfortable in that Week 7 clash in Arlington. The Giants have a decisive home edge versus Dallas Sunday night, with rain in the forecast making for some slick field conditions and temperatures dipping into the low 40s. The Cowboys have shown in the past that they’re not used to playing in the elements.
The Giants also catch the Cowboys looking ahead to next Thursday’s Thanksgiving Day showdown with the Philadelphia Eagles. That matinee meeting will go a long way in deciding the division. Dallas has a short week to prepare for that matchup, so focus could be split between Sunday night and what lies ahead on Turkey Day.
New York’s defense did a good job limiting San Francisco’s passing game in Week 11. Colin Kaepernick completed just 15 of 29 passes for 193 yards, and the Niners converted on third down just six of 14 times. The Giants are in the top half of the league in third down defense, allowing opponents to convert on just 39.53 percent of third down tries. That should stump the Dallas offense, which is among the best in the NFL at keep the chains moving, boasting a third down conversion percentage of 50.77.
A tough road spot for the Cowboys and a Giants defense looking to build off a underrated performance is why I’m playing on New York as my 10* Best Bet Sunday.
|11-23-14||Arizona Cardinals v. Seattle Seahawks -6.5||Top||3-19||Win||100||98 h 51 m||Show|
I’m playing on the Seattle Seahawks as my 10* Best of the Best Sunday. The defending Super Bowl champs don’t have time to lick their wounds after losing to the Kansas City Chiefs last Sunday. That’s a good thing for Seattle backers, as this team is chomping at the bit to get back on the field and prove they’re still top dog in the NFC against the conference-leading Arizona Cardinals.
|11-22-14||USC v. UCLA -3.5||Top||20-38||Win||100||101 h 54 m||Show|
I am playing on UCLA. The Bruins control their own destiny in winning their first conference championship since 1998 and I believe they’ll get the win and cover at home against USC on Saturday.
|11-22-14||Oklahoma State +27 v. Baylor||Top||28-49||Win||100||122 h 8 m||Show|
OKLAHOMA STATE at BAYLOR I am playing on OKLAHOMA STATE. I believe oddsmakers have inflated this spread way too much for a Baylor team that’s trendy to cheer for right now against an Oklahoma State team that many are loving to criticize right now. While the Cowboys have been underdogs this season, they haven’t been underdogs of within two touchdowns of this week’s number and I feel they’re going to give Baylor an effort that may surprise some. What I like is that there is no panic in the Cowboys, which is essential because head coach Mike Gundy knows many of his team’s offensive challenges come from a young offensive line that will take time to develop. “I’m not sure anger and frustration is a positive resource for improvement,” a calm Gundy told reporters after his team’s fourth straight loss last week. Gundy has managed to keep the focus on him this week also, which has turned some attention away from his struggling units on the field. Oklahoma State legend Boone Pickens said this week that he cheers for the Cowboys and “I don’t care who coaches ‘em”. That has everyone in Stillwater talking about an inferred snub of their coach and it means his players aren’t reading about how bad they are in every local news story. Gundy has been a master in the past of getting his players to pull for him and I believe that’s what will happen on Saturday in a spot where oddsmakers are being very generous with the points. 9* Saturday Shocker
|11-22-14||Arizona +4 v. Utah||Top||42-10||Win||100||118 h 1 m||Show|
I am playing on ARIZONA. The Wildcats still have hopes of winning the Pac-12 South and I like that motivator, among other things, to propel them to a win on Saturday while preventing them from looking ahead to state rival Arizona State in their season finale.
|11-22-14||Louisville v. Notre Dame -3.5||Top||31-28||Loss||-106||99 h 20 m||Show|
|11-20-14||Kansas City Chiefs v. Oakland Raiders +8||Top||20-24||Win||100||69 h 46 m||Show|
10* Analysis to come before 7AM on game day
|11-20-14||North Carolina +6.5 v. Duke||Top||45-20||Win||100||76 h 13 m||Show|
I am playing on NORTH CAROLINA. Last week I successfully faded Duke by releasing a play on Virginia Tech and I believe the Blue Devils are laying too many points once again this week in their annual Tobacco Road showdown.
Besides having a dangerous offense that ranks 23rd in the nation in scoring, UNC is a team that causes turnovers and I feel that turnovers are going to be a huge factor in this game. The Tar Heels have recovered nine fumbles and picked off 11 passes this season and have forced at least one turnover in every game they’ve played.
Duke, meanwhile, is coming off its worst turnover performance of the season after coughing the ball up three times against Virginia Tech. The Blue Devils seemingly fell apart in every aspect against the Hokies including missing two field goals by a perfect field goal kicker this season and they gave up four sacks after giving up just four all season combined.
They won’t get away with more sloppy play against a UNC team that is playing its best football of the year with three wins in its last four games. The Heels also have a ton of motivation for this game. A win Thursday night would secure bowl eligibility for them and end arch rival Duke’s hopes of winning the ACC Coastal Division. 10* Thursday Best Bet - UNC
|11-20-14||Kansas State v. West Virginia -2||Top||26-20||Loss||-110||76 h 40 m||Show|
I am playing on WEST VIRGINIA. I feel the Mountaineers are being a little undervalued here by oddsmakers Thursday night after two straight losses.
Those losses were to a Big-12 leading TCU squad on a last-second field goal and to a vastly improved Texas team that faced the Mountaineers while I believe they were facing a bit of a hangover from the TCU loss.
WVU is still a very good team despite the losses and I believe they’ll be propelled by an incredible home atmosphere on Senior Night in front of a national TV audience. The Mountaineers have used a bye week to shake off the sting of the two-game slide and to get healthy while preparing for another tough opponent.
One of the key matchups that has me liking West Virginia here is its outstanding passing game against a so-so pass defense for K-State. WVU ranks 12th in the country with 318 passing yards per game and the team has five receivers with at least 200 yards this year. One of the few weaknesses on this Wildcats team is its pass defense where it ranks 56th in the nation in passing yards allowed and 63rd in the nation in passing efficiency defense.
I expect this game to be another exciting one for West Virginia but the determining factor for me is the Mountaineers’ top strength is playing against what I feel is K-State’s biggest weakness. That adds up to what I believe is a very strong play. 10* Thursday Personal Favorite
|11-19-14||Oklahoma City Thunder v. Denver Nuggets -6.5||Top||100-107||Win||100||29 h 44 m||Show|
I’m playing on the Denver Nuggets as my 10* Revenge Best of the Best Wednesday. The Nuggets get a chance to even the score with the Oklahoma City Thunder Wednesday, hosting OKC after losing to the Thunder 102-91 on the road earlier this month.
|11-18-14||New York Knicks +3.5 v. Milwaukee Bucks||Top||113-117||Loss||-109||28 h 38 m||Show|
I am playing on NEW YORK. The Knicks finally snapped their streak of futility after seven games with a win over the Denver Nuggets on Sunday. I like the Knicks to continue their winning ways Tuesday night in Milwaukee and they even have a few points to work with as the underdog.
New York is finally showing signs of life in its new and much talked about triangle offense implemented by coach Derek Fisher this season. The Knicks managed 100 points or more in each of their last two games, which were the first games they reached triple digits all season.
“Every game I'm starting to become a little bit more comfortable with my role,” Carmelo Anthony said after the game.
Anthony poured in 28 points and had just 14 field goal attempts on Sunday and he’s made 20 of his past 27 shots over his last six quarters for 58 points. With Anthony playing more effectively, J.R. Smith had his best game of the year Sunday also with 28 points of his own.
I don’t feel oddsmakers quite believe the Knicks have sorted out their woes yet, which is why we’re getting a good number on New York here on Tuesday. I expect the cat to be out of the bag in another game or two and every NBA bettor will soon know the Knicks have found their offensive rhythm. 10* Best Bet - Knicks
|11-17-14||Houston Rockets v. Memphis Grizzlies -4||Top||93-119||Win||100||6 h 36 m||Show|
I am playing on MEMPHIS. The Grizzlies have won 19 straight games at home and catch Houston in a great spot on home court on Monday. The Rockets are playing the second game in a back-to-back situation after facing Oklahoma City last night and this is their third game in four nights. Houston did try to use its bench at OKC in a game in which they scored just 69 points, but their two stars James Harden and Dwight Howard each played over 37 minutes apiece. I believe that’s an especially tough spot for Howard, who will face his toughest post challenge of the season with the Grizzlies’ duo of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. The pair have helped lead Memphis to a 9-1 start to the season and are a huge reason why they lead the NBA in points allowed at 91.3 and rank fourth in defensive efficiency. Memphis is also getting fantastic back court play right now from point guard Mike Conley, who’s average six assists and almost 17 points per game. The return of Courtney Lee on Nov. 5 has been a huge help also. He’s averaging 15.5 points on 53.3 percent shooting in the six games since his return. A defensive stalwart on the road is a brutal matchup for the Rockets during this grinding stretch of their schedule. I believe Memphis will continue its winning ways at home and cover the small number set by oddsmakers. 10* Personal Favorite
|11-16-14||New England Patriots v. Indianapolis Colts -2.5||Top||42-20||Loss||-120||128 h 12 m||Show|
I’m playing on the Indianapolis Colts as a 10* Sunday Night Football Main Event. Indianapolis can get some revenge on the New England Patriots at home in this marquee matchup Sunday night and also stake its claim as the team to beat in the AFC.
The Colts bowed out of the playoff last season, losing 43-22 to the Patriots at Gillette Stadium in the AFC Divisional Round this past January. Indianapolis hasn’t forgotten that loss and will be looking at Sunday as a true test of where it stands in the conference picture.
Andrew Luck hasn’t had much success against the Patriots in the past, especially when it comes to limiting his turnovers. However, both head-to-head meetings came in New England. This time around, Luck is peaking and playing inside the comfortable domed confines of Lucas Oil Stadium.
Both of these offense are going to try and chew up as much time off the clock in order to freeze out the other. And while both have the potential to dominate time of possession, the Colts have a much better running game than the Patriots do at this point. Ahmad Bradshaw is a threat to run or catch for gains and Trent Richardson can punishing opposing tacklers with his smash-mouth style of running.
A revenge-fueled Colts side dominating the football with plenty of weapons is why I’m playing on Indianapolis as a 10* Sunday Night Football Main Event.
|11-16-14||Denver Broncos v. St. Louis Rams +10||Top||7-22||Win||100||121 h 55 m||Show|
I’m playing the St. Louis Rams as my 9* Breakfast Club Sunday. The Rams have shown a tendency to play up to their competition, hanging with the NFL’s elite in those tough games. St. Louis faces just that in Week 11, playing a Denver Broncos club taking to the road for the third straight week.
The Rams had the Arizona Cardinals on their heels last week, jumping out to a 14-10 lead before succumbing to the Cardinals defense and losing a lopsided game. However, that fight is nothing new for St. Louis, which has taken wins over NFC powers San Francisco and the defending champion Seattle Seahawks in recent weeks.
The Broncos come to St. Louis weary from the road. This will be their third straight away game, after losing at New England on Sunday night three weeks ago and rolling Oakland in the Bay Area last Sunday. Denver hasn’t been that sharp away from Mile High, suffering their two losses on the road.
The Broncos are putting up 28.2 points per road game – nearly a touchdown less than at home – and QB Peyton Manning is completing 64.5 percent of his passes in enemy territory, compared to 71.2 percent inside Sports Authority Field. Five of his seven total interceptions have come on the road as well.
He’ll go up against a Rams pass rush that has unleashed hell in the last four games after a very slow start to the year. St. Louis has 16 sacks in that span, including an eight-sack effort in the win over the 49ers three weeks ago. Pro Bowl DE Robert Quinn was held without a sack through the first five games but has erupted for six sacks in the last four contests.
A hard-nosed Rams team ramping up the pass rush versus a road-weary Broncos side is why I’m playing on St. Louis as my 9* Breakfast Club Sunday.
|11-16-14||San Francisco 49ers v. NY Giants +4.5||Top||16-10||Loss||-110||121 h 46 m||Show|
I’m playing on the New York Giants as my 10* Best Bet Sunday. The Giants are back home hosting a San Francisco 49ers team bound for a letdown after pulling off a come-from-behind overtime victory in New Orleans last week. On top of that, the Niners have to cross the country for this early 1 p.m. ET kickoff Sunday.
The 49ers needed some magic and help from the officials in their much-needed win over the Saints. San Francisco’s offense sputtered again late in the game, managing only three points in the second half versus New Orleans. On the year, the Niners are averaging only 6.2 points in the final two quarters – last in the NFL – including just 2.9 points per fourth quarter.
This will be San Francisco’s second straight road game, a situation that cost them a head-turning loss to the Denver Broncos in Week 7. The Niners not only deal with that schedule spot but also an early start time on the East Coast. This 1 p.m. ET kickoff is at 10 a.m. back in the Bay Area against a Giants team that has won five of the last six encounters with San Francisco, including the last two meetings in East Rutherford.
New York has its back against a wall after a loss in Seattle last week. The Giants have dropped four straight games but three of those have come away from MetLife Stadium. The G-Men are happy to be home, where they average more than five points more per game and QB Eli Manning has passed for 793 yards, six touchdowns and zero interceptions in his last three home stands.
A sputtering Niners offense making a cross-country trip to face a home-happy Giants squad is why I’m playing on New York as my 10* Best Bet Sunday.
|11-16-14||Minnesota Vikings v. Chicago Bears -3||Top||13-21||Win||100||121 h 44 m||Show|
I’m playing on the Chicago Bears as my 10* Personal Favorite Sunday. Chicago is coming off an embarrassing loss to the Packers on Sunday Night Football and desperately needs a win. Enter the Minnesota Vikings, who have struggled in recent trips to Soldier Field.
The Bears have been backed into a corner after Sunday’s beatdown at the hands of the rival Packers. They’ve lost three straight and five of their last six going back to Week 4. This Chicago team was supposed to compete for the NFC title and its running out of time to make a run at the wild card.
The Bears’ biggest problem has been their slow starts, digging an early hole that they’re unable to claw out of. After Sunday’s loss, in which Chicago allowed 42 first-half points to the Packers, the Bears have been outscored 94-7 through the first two quarters during their current three-game slide.
Luckily, for Chicago, the Vikings have been ice cold in the opening quarters, averaging just 8.1 points per first half this season. Minnesota has been slow out of the blocks even in their last two games – both wins – scoring a combined 10 points in the first halves of those outings. Overall, the Vikings offense ranks 26th in the NFL - 18.7 points per game.
Minnesota has lost five in a row in the Windy City, going back to 2009, and has managed to cover in only one of those trips. Mother Nature could be playing into those woes for the Vikings, with the forecast calling for cold and a chance of snow in Chicago Sunday.
A desperate Bears team at home taking on a slow-starting Vikings side is why I’m playing on Chicago as my 10* Personal Favorite
|11-15-14||Phoenix Suns v. Los Angeles Clippers -6.5||Top||107-120||Win||100||29 h 8 m||Show|
I’m playing on the Los Angeles Clippers as a 10* Situational Best of the Best Saturday. The Clippers have enjoyed an extended break, with their last game coming five days ago. That’s a much-needed hiatus after an inconsistent start to the year. Los Angeles will have fresh legs against the Phoenix Suns, who are playing the second half of back-to-back games Saturday night.
The Suns roll into L.A. fresh off a home loss to the Charlotte Hornets Friday night. Phoenix, which will be playing its third game in four nights Saturday, crumbled in the fourth quarter after having a one-point lead, giving up 29 points to the Hornets in the final frame. The Suns have allowed opponents to top the 100-point plateau in six of their last seven games and rank 24th in the league in defense.
The Clippers hope the time off worked out the kinks in their offense. Los Angeles is shooting 44.9 percent from the field and averaging just over 100 points per game, after posting 108 points per outing in 2013 – tied for tops in the NBA.The Clippers won’t need too much extra in the points department to edge a weary Suns team, about to tip off a six-game road trip which will send them East for most of the month.
This situational matchup, with the Clippers well rested and the Suns going back-to-back nights, is why I’m playing on Los Angeles as a 10* Situational Best of the Best Saturday.
|11-15-14||LSU v. Arkansas -2.5||Top||0-17||Win||100||125 h 19 m||Show|
I am playing on ARKANSAS. Every SEC team that played the Razorbacks this season left the field wiping its brow and letting out a humongous sigh of relief.
|11-15-14||Utah v. Stanford -7.5||Top||20-17||Loss||-105||123 h 9 m||Show|
I am playing on STANFORD. The Cardinal need one more win to become bowl eligible, they are seeking revenge after losing to Utah last season, and Saturday marks their last home game of the season.
|11-15-14||Mississippi State v. Alabama -7||Top||20-25||Loss||-100||121 h 59 m||Show|
|11-14-14||Utah Jazz v. New York Knicks -3||Top||102-100||Loss||-115||21 h 16 m||Show|
I’m playing on the New York Knicks as a 10* Personal Favorite Friday. The Knicks welcome a road weary Utah Jazz team to Madison Square Garden and try to snap a six-game losing slide in what is shaping up to be a must-win game for New York.
The Knicks have stumbled out of the blocks, falling back in the Eastern Conference standings. New York’s offense has struggled to find its form in head coach Derek Fisher’s new triangle offense, coming into Friday ranked among the bottom of the league in scoring. However, star forward Carmelo Anthony is starting to heat up – scoring 27 points on 10-of-17 shooting in the loss to Orlando - and can spark this offense if he finds his stroke.
The Jazz may be the perfect opponents to help New York end this slide. Utah’s defense is giving up 102.2 points per game to start the season, and allowed Atlanta to shoot better than 51 percent from the field in their loss to the Hawks Wednesday. On the other side of the floor, the Jazz don’t pose much of an offensive threat to the Knicks, managing just 90.5 points per game over their last four contest.
New York has owned Utah in recent meetings, having covered the spread in 20 of their previous 26 head-to-head battles, including a 9-0 ATS winning streak against the Jazz inside MSG.
A desperate Knicks teams and a road-weary Jazz side is why I’m playing on New York as a 10* Personal Favorite Friday.
|11-13-14||California +14 v. USC||Top||30-38||Win||100||79 h 50 m||Show|
I am playing on CAL. The Golden Bears haven’t beating USC since 2003 and at I believe the Trojans should be nervous about this year’s game even though it is at Los Angeles Coliseum.
The reason is Cal brings one of the best quarterbacks and overall passing games in the nation and it will face a USC secondary that is neither incredible nor entirely healthy.
USC ranks 101st in the nation in passing yards allowed per game Freshman starting safety John Plattenburg has a Charlie horse and is expected to be a game-time decision on Thursday. Outside linebacker/safety and arguably the team’s best defensive standout, Su'a Cravens, is expected to play but he suffered an MCL sprain in the last game against Washington State.
I feel Bears quarterback Jared Goff will be able to keep Cal in this game and maybe even give them a shot at winning it. He ranks fourth in the nation with 3,119 passing yards and is four passing TDs away from tying a single-season record at Cal. Goff has only four interceptions compared to 10 last year and what makes him so dangerous is the way he spreads the ball around. Cal has six receivers with at least 20 catches this season.
The Golden Bears are 4-0 against the spread on the road this season and I feel oddsmakers are being far to nice to them once again for this Pac-12 showdown. 10* Thursday Best Bet
|11-13-14||East Carolina -2 v. Cincinnati||Top||46-54||Loss||-106||77 h 57 m||Show|
I am playing on EAST CAROLINA. I like the Pirates to come away from Cincinnati with a win on Thursday for two main reasons.
The first is that just about anywhere you look, the Pirates stack up better statistically. The second is that ECU is coming off one of its most baffling losses in recent school memory and I believe the Pirates will be extra hungry for a win against the Bearcats.
There’s no real need to go through every statistic but ECU’s numbers are better than Cincy’s when you stack them up in just about every category on offense and defense. The Pirates have the No. 4 total offense and the No. 3 passing offense in the nation but the number I feel might have the biggest impact on Thursday is the Pirates’ rush defense.
ECU’s rush defense ranks eighth in the country and allows just 96.8 yards per game. That will be key against a Cincy offense that used a run game to propel the team to a win over Tulane last week. The Bearcats had two 100-yard rushers in that contest for the first time in a game since 2003, which was a huge benefit for QB Munchie Legaux. Legaux is now the starting QB in place of Gunner Kiel, who has been bothered by a rib injury for several weeks.
I don’t believe Legaux will have the comfort level he did against Tulane where a running game opened up the field and made passing easier. I expect ECU to stall the rush and put a tighter squeeze on executing an air assault.
ECU is coming off a tough 20-10 loss to Temple and the baffling part is the Pirates never really threatened to win the game despite outgaining the Owls by 293 yards. Five turnovers in sloppy weather killed ECU in the end and I expect the Pirates to take better care of the ball against Cincy.
The Pirates are 11-0 ATS following a straight up loss and they have outgained their opponents in yards in all eight of their games this season. 9* Thursday Roast
|11-12-14||Orlando Magic v. New York Knicks -6||Top||97-95||Loss||-110||13 h 50 m||Show|
I am playing on the KNICKS. While New York is still struggling to find any sort of rhythm, the good news is that the Knicks are catching the right team at the right time to get back on track. The Magic are coming off an excruciating loss to the Raptors last night during which they held a double-digit lead at one point. Orlando collapsed in the final quarter and was outscored 32-17 to lose 104-100. “It’s very hard, but it’s basketball,” guard Evan Fournier said after the loss. “I feel like I’m saying the same stuff for five games: We play good and we have a little stretch where we just don’t pay attention to the details, and that’s basically where we lose the game.” Magic coach Jaque Vaughn had to play his starters more than he likely would’ve wanted to in a back-to-back situation with four of his starting five playing at least 39 minutes each. But the Magic were desperately trying to salvage the win and managing for tonight’s game against the Knicks went out the window. I believe the Knicks will be able to take advantage of a fatigued and demoralized Magic squad on home court tonight. Orlando went 5-13 in the second game of back-to-backs last season and the Knicks have won and covered nine of the last 10 meetings with Orlando. 10* Personal Favorite
|11-11-14||Orlando Magic +11 v. Toronto Raptors||Top||100-104||Win||100||28 h 59 m||Show|
I’m playing on the Orlando Magic as my 10* Best Bet Tuesday. The Magic head north of the border to face the Toronto Raptors Tuesday night. Toronto has jumped out to a strong start to the season but has built that record against some softer opponents.
The Raptors added another tick to their win column with a blowout over Philadelphia Sunday. Toronto is surprising some with its 6-1 record to open the year but a quick glance at who those victories have come against will make you think twice about Toronto’s elite status.
The Raptors have puffed up their odds with wins over the hapless Sixers, Celtics, Hawks and Tuesday’s opponents the Magic, and taken advantage of teams missing key players – Wizards and Thunder. Those six clubs have a combined record of 14-25 and Washington is currently the only one over .500.
Unlike the overvalued Raptors, the Magic have been very undervalued in their recent outings. Orlando has covered in three of its last four games – all of those ATS wins coming as an underdog. The Magic have done a good job defending in that span, giving up just over 96 points in regulation in those four contests. That’s a major improvement on Orlando’s season average of 101 points against.
The Raptors’ soft opening schedule and the Magic’s new-found defense is why I’m playing on Orlando as my 10* Best Bet Tuesday.
|11-10-14||Carolina Panthers +6 v. Philadelphia Eagles||Top||21-45||Loss||-103||176 h 37 m||Show|
I’m playing on the Carolina Panthers as my 10* MNF Main Event Monday. The Panthers are hungry for a win after going without a victory since early October. They clash with a Philadelphia Eagles team putting a backup QB under center against one of the NFL’s toughest defenses.
Mark Sanchez is the man in the City of Brotherly Love, whether Eagles faithful like it or not. An injury to starter Nick Foles has the former Jets QB in the spotlight. Sanchez looked brilliant at moments in relief of Foles last weekend but was picked off twice in the win over Houston.
This Chip Kelly offense is all about timing, something Sanchez and his first-team targets haven’t worked on much. Add to that poor chemistry and Carolina team that will bring pressure to put Sanchez on his heels.
The Panthers have gone up against three top teams – Green Bay, Seattle and New Orleans – the last three weeks, facing three Super Bowl winning quarterbacks in three straight losses. Carolina actually did a good job against New Orleans QB Drew Brees and takes a major step down versus Sanchez.
The Panthers have the patience and ground game to slow down the Eagles’ up-tempo attack. This rushing attack has been limited in recent games with Carolina playing from behind and forced to abandon the run at times. However, the Panthers combo of RBs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart is finally healthy and, along with Cam Newton’s ability to scramble, should allow them to chew up the turf – and clock – icing Philadelphia’s offense on the sideline.
The Eagles’ QB issues and a Panthers team hungry for a win is why I’m playing on Carolina as my 10* MNF Main Event Monday.
|11-09-14||Golden State Warriors v. Phoenix Suns +1||Top||95-107||Win||100||26 h 38 m||Show|
I’m playing on the Phoenix Suns as my 10* Best Bet Sunday. Phoenix is at home hosting a Golden State Warriors side coming off a huge game against the Houston Rockets Saturday night.
Golden State will be ripe for a letdown after mixing it up with the Western Conference-leading Rockets. Back-to-back games will have the Warriors up-tempo offense a step slower, which will benefit a Phoenix side rested up and motivated after a crushing loss to Sacramento in two overtimes Friday night.
The Suns are planning on picking up the pace with their offense – perfect timing to put Golden State on its heels. Phoenix opened that loss to Sacramento with a 36-point first quarter before pumping the breaks the rest of the game. Head coach Jeff Hornacek liked what he saw in that opening frame and is telling his backcourt to pick up the pace instead of walking into the offense.
The Suns have the horses to match the Warriors' pace, scoring an average of 103.2 points per game to start the season. Phoenix has covered in four of its previous five meetings with Golden State and has come away as an ATS victor in six of its last eight games versus the Warriors inside US Airways Center.
A letdown spot for the Warriors and the Suns' commitment to pushing the pace is why I’m playing on Phoenix as my 10* Best Bet Sunday.
|11-09-14||Kansas City Chiefs v. Buffalo Bills +1.5||Top||17-13||Loss||-104||143 h 16 m||Show|
I’m playing on the Buffalo Bills as my 10* Breakfast Club Sunday. Buffalo is coming off the bye week and hosts a streaking Kansas City Chiefs team that could get caught looking ahead to next week’s date with the defending Super Bowl champs.
The Bills took back-to-back wins into the bye and roll into this game at 5-3 SU, smack in the middle of the postseason wild card hunt in the AFC. Buffalo QB Kyle Orton, who took over as the starter four games ago, has had the extra week to work with his receivers and that should add some punch to this offense, which is trying to overcome injuries to the rushing corps.
Kansas City has had its own issues on offense. The Chiefs are putting up just 22.8 points per game on the road with the passing game struggling to move the chains. Away from Arrowhead, Alex Smith is managing an average of only 196 passing yards and meets a Buffalo defense among the most underrated in the league.
The Bills, under new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, have done a tremendous job limiting opponents’ chances. Buffalo is giving up just 326 yards per game – eighth in the league – and has forced rival offenses to settle for field goal attempts on 45 percent of their trips inside the red zone at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The Bills have been especially stingy against the run, budging for only 3.6 yards per carry – seventh lowest in the NFL – and can put the breaks on Kansas City’s ground game.
That defense could crack an unfocused Kansas City team in the mouth, with the Chiefs riding high on their current three-game streak and looking ahead to Week 11’s showdown with the Seattle Seahawks back in Arrowhead.
An underrated Bills stop unit and an improving passing game is why I’m playing on Buffalo as my 10* Breakfast Club Sunday.
|11-09-14||Pittsburgh Steelers v. NY Jets +6||Top||13-20||Win||100||69 h 0 m||Show|
Jets. 10* best bet. Analysis before game day
|11-09-14||Miami Dolphins v. Detroit Lions -2.5||Top||16-20||Win||100||68 h 13 m||Show|
I’m playing on the Detroit Lions as my 10* Personal Favorite Sunday. Detroit took a three-game winning streak into the bye week and takes on a Miami Dolphins team that isn’t as good as its own three-game winning run would lead bettors to believe.
The Lions offense is usually the squad getting the headlines but the stop unit is the talk of the town in the Motor City. Detroit ranks No. 1 in yards allowed, giving up only 290 yards per game, and has a dominating front four that is pressuring opposing passers for 23 sacks on the season. Miami has struggled with protection at times and this Lions pass rush can disrupt a Dolphins offense that is finding it form.
Not to be outdone, Detroit offense returns its top weapon in WR Calvin Johnson, who has sat out the previous three games with an ankle injury. Johnson is the lifeblood of this offense, which has struggled without him drawing defenders to his side of the field. Detroit has averaged just over 19 points since he went down. The Lions are also getting dynamic RB Reggie Bush back on the field, another weapons the Miami defense must account for.
The Dolphins come into Week 10 on a three-game tear but have taken those wins over some teams in tough situations. Miami took advantage of a reeling Bears squad with locker room issues, then beat up on the toothless Jaguars, before hosting a Chargers team that traveled cross country for an early kickoff last Sunday.
The Lions defense and its ability to pressure the passer and an offense getting its top target back is why I’m playing on Detroit as my 10* Personal Favorite Sunday.
|11-08-14||Alabama -6.5 v. LSU||Top||20-13||Win||100||52 h 12 m||Show|
I am playing on ALABAMA. The Crimson Tide have perhaps their best and most balanced offense we’ve seen in years, which is a little scary for LSU and confidence boosting for this pick.
|11-08-14||Portland Trail Blazers v. Los Angeles Clippers -3.5||Top||102-106||Win||100||23 h 8 m||Show|
I’m playing on the Los Angeles Clippers. Los Angeles is try to erase a bad loss to Golden State when the Clippers host the Portland Trail Blazers Saturday. Los Angeles has stumbled to open the schedule and head coach Doc Rivers ripped into this players, hoping to light a fire for this game.
The Clippers have been terribly inconsistent to start the year, following wins with losses in their last four contests. Los Angeles’ defense isn’t where it needs to be, allowing more than 104 points per game, but Saturday offers a chance to make a statement against a hungry team trying to leapfrog L.A. in the Western Conference.
Portland is coming off two straight wins over Cleveland and Dallas, and is bound for a letdown on the road Saturday. The Blazers offense depends a lot on PG Damian Lillard to create chances, and when he struggles so does Portland. Los Angeles will throw a lot of bodies at Lillard Saturday, using Chris Paul, Jordan Farmar and Chris Douglas-Roberts to disrupt his night.
The Clippers frontcourt duo of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan match up well with Blazers versatile big man LaMarcus Aldridge and have the athletic ability to stay with him inside and out. Aldridge put up just 16 and 20 points in the past two games and will have limited looks Saturday.
The Clippers getting a wake-up call and bad matchups for the Blazers is why I’m playing on Los Angeles. 10*
|11-08-14||Notre Dame v. Arizona State -2.5||Top||31-55||Win||100||47 h 12 m||Show|
I am playing on ARIZONA STATE. I like the Sun Devils here and it may not be for the reasons you might think. Most folks think offense when they look at ASU and it’s no wonder. The Sun Devils own the No. 22 total offense in the nation and they’ve scored at least 38 points in four games this year. But I like them to beat the Domers on Saturday with defense. Arizona State started a little more slowly than it would’ve liked on defense but the team also had to replace nine starters on defense coming into the season. Lately the Sun Devils are coming into their own and they’ve given up an average of just 15.33 points per game over their last three. They also allowed fewer than 300 yards in each of those games in quality wins over Utah, Washington and Stanford. "I don’t think any team will score more than 20 points on us the rest of the season," said WR Jaelen Strong this week. I think Arizona State will also be able to take advantage of a Notre Dame defense that has gone from stellar in the early season to sloppy recently. The Irish are giving up an average of 37.7 points over their last three contests and they just lost starting linebacker Joe Schmidt for the season to an ankle injury. 10* PERSONAL FAVORITE
|11-08-14||Duke v. Syracuse +3.5||Top||27-10||Loss||-114||118 h 12 m||Show|
I am playing on SYRACUSE. Last week I played against Duke when the Blue Devils traveled to Pitt and the difference between covering that game and not was a missed 26-yard field goal by Pitt’s kicker that allowed the game to go to overtime.
|11-08-14||Georgia -10 v. Kentucky||Top||63-31||Win||100||118 h 3 m||Show|
I am playing on GEORGIA. Any hopes the Wildcats had of Georgia overlooking them went out the window last week when the Bulldogs took a licking from Florida 38-20 with the Bulldogs favored by 11.5 points.
|11-06-14||Dallas Mavericks v. Portland Trail Blazers -2||Top||87-108||Win||100||14 h 34 m||Show|
I’m playing on the Portland Trail Blazers as my 10* TNT Game of the Week Thursday. The Blazers are coming off a statement win over the Cleveland Cavaliers at home and now try to make waves in their own conference with a victory over the Dallas Mavericks in the Rose Garden Thursday night.
Portland did a great job defensively against the Cavaliers, limiting Cleveland to 82 points on 36.5 percent shooting. The most impressive performance was the effort put in by Wesley Matthews, who checked LeBron James to 4-of-12 shooting and only 11 points. The Trail Blazers' hard-nosed defense faces a Dallas offense that ranks No. 1 in the league after just four games – averaging 111.8 points a night.
The Mavericks are opening a tough stretch of schedule that has them in action three of the next four nights. Dallas’ defense hasn’t been the tightest to open the year, giving up 105 points per game so far and allowing basement teams like Boston and Utah to hang over 100 points on them in the first four contests.
Portland has plenty of firepower as well. It boasts one of the best inside-out combos in Damian Lillard, who woke up from his scoring slumber with 27 points versus the Cavs, and forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who is a tough matchups for the Mavericks on both ends of the floor. The Blazers’ production will see a major increase with Lillard back on track after he misfired in the first three games of the year.
A dreadful Dallas defense and a Blazers team rounding into form is why I’m playing on Portland as my 10* TNT Game of the Week Thursday.
|11-05-14||New York Knicks v. Detroit Pistons -4||Top||95-98||Loss||-110||12 h 54 m||Show|
I’m playing on the Detroit Pistons as my 10* Personal Favorite Wednesday. The Pistons play host to the New York Knicks, who are coming off a loss to Washington Tuesday night. Detroit is hungry for its first win of the season and its physical brand of basketball will wear down a Knicks side playing the second half of back-to-back games.
The Pistons had the misfortune of opening the season with two straight road games, then completely laid an egg against Brooklyn at home this weekend. Detroit has had an extended break to work out those early-season kinks and new head coach Stan Van Gundy has his team prepared to face the Knicks Wednesday.
New York was rolled by the Wizards, losing 98-83 after getting outscored 58-38 in the second half. That late letdown is a sign of a fatigued team. The Knicks have a minus-6.5 point second-half scoring differential to start the year – sixth lowest in the NBA – and shot just 37 percent from the field Tuesday.
Detroit is a big physical team that bullies its way inside and crashes the boards hard, ranking as one of the top rebounding clubs in the league. That bruising style of play will wear down an already-tired New York side that kicks off a three-game road trip in Motown Wednesday night.
A hungry and hefty Pistons side and a Knicks team running on empty is why I’m playing Detroit as my 10* Personal Favorite Wednesday.
|11-04-14||Cleveland Cavaliers v. Portland Trail Blazers +3||Top||82-101||Win||100||13 h 53 m||Show|
I’m playing on the Portland Trail Blazers as my 10* Best Bet Tuesday. The Blazers are getting discounted at home against the overhyped Cleveland Cavaliers, opening a three-game Western road trip Tuesday.
Cleveland enters Tuesday’s game coming off a hard-fought overtime win against the Chicago Bulls Halloween night. The Cavaliers aren’t crushing opponents as many predicted, instead stumbling through the same chemistry issues LeBron James faced when he joined the Miami Heat. Cleveland is nowhere near as solid on defense as the Heat were and it’s shown in the early goings.
Portland is always a tough team inside the Rose Garden, and is looking to right the ship after back-to-back losses. The Trail Blazers need more from All-Star guard Damian Lillard, who is expected to play Tuesday after nursing an abdominal injury. Lillard is shooting under 27 percent from the field to start the year but will rise to the challenge of Cleveland’s stud PG Kyrie Irving. Last season, Lillard hung 36 and 28 points on the Cavs in their two meetings.
While the stars will shine when these teams collide, the difference will likely be Portland’s ability to go down the bench compared to Cleveland’s shallow reserves. The Blazers can bring in veteran bodies like C Chris Kaman and PG Steve Blake at those key positions, and backups Will Barton and Thomas Robinson are instant energy players. Cleveland’s bench ranks third last in production and doesn’t get much beyond swingman Tristan Thompson.
The Blazers’ depth and Lillard’s dominance versus the Cavaliers is why I’m playing on Portland as my 10* Best Bet Tuesday.
|11-02-14||Baltimore Ravens v. Pittsburgh Steelers +1||Top||23-43||Win||100||94 h 37 m||Show|
I’m playing on the Pittsburgh Steelers as my 10* Main Event Sunday night. The Steelers have revenge on their minds versus the Baltimore Ravens and come into Week 9 playing some of the best football in the league, with perhaps the hottest quarterback under center.
Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger put up a game for the ages in a 51-34 victory over the Colts last weekend, throwing for six touchdowns and 522 yards. Big Ben is not likely to repeat that output but he’s had the hot hand, with 1,288 yards passing and 10 touchdowns to one interception in the last four games in which the Steelers are 3-1 SU and ATS.
Pittsburgh was embarrassed by Baltimore in Week 2, losing 26-6 and getting shutout of the end zone. The Steelers have covered in three of their last five head-to-head meetings with the Ravens, with a push in that span, and oddsmakers aren’t giving them much credit despite holding the home edge at Heinz Field.
Baltimore has some holes in its defense, most notably starting corner Jimmy Smith. The Ravens have done a good job against the run this season but are allowing 256 yards passing per game – 22nd in the NFL. Pittsburgh has plenty of weapons to choose from and Roethlisberger will exploit any weaknesses he finds in the pass defense.
With Pittsburgh red hot and stoked by revenge against the Ravens, I’m playing on Pittsburgh as my 10* Main Event Sunday night.
|11-02-14||Oakland Raiders v. Seattle Seahawks -15||Top||24-30||Loss||-108||90 h 58 m||Show|
I’m playing on the Seattle Seahawks as my 10* Personal Favorite Sunday. The defending Super Bowl champs have put in three shaky performances – going 2-1 SU and 0-3 ATS – but have a chance to redeem themselves in front of the infamous 12th Man against the winless Oakland Raiders and rookie QB Derek Carr Sunday.
Enough is enough for the Seahawks, who look nothing like the team that dominated Denver in the Super Bowl last February. Seattle’s defense has been nowhere near as imposing, giving up an average of 126 rushing yards against in that three-game span. This divisional spat with the Raiders, who rank dead last in rushing yards (69.6 per game), is a great kick starter to get the Seahawks stop unit back on track.
Another hiccup in the Seattle system is the offense, which stalled out for only 13 points in a close win over Carolina last week. Running back Marshawn Lynch has been the center of ridicule, managing just under 59 yards per game in that three-game stretch. Beast Mode will look to shut those doubters up with a big day on the ground against a Oakland defense getting bullied for 130.1 rushing yards per outing – 26th in the NFL.
Even the Mother Nature is setting up for a big day from the Seahawks. The forecast for Seattle is calling for soggy weather and temperatures dipping into the 40s – a perfect day for football by CenturyLink Field standards.
With Seattle anxious to impress and the Raiders and their rookie passer walking into hostile territory, I’m playing on Seattle as my 10* Personal Favorite Sunday.
|11-02-14||Denver Broncos v. New England Patriots +3.5||Top||21-43||Win||100||90 h 48 m||Show|
I’m playing on the New England Patriots as my 10* Rivalry Best of the Best Sunday. Peyton Manning and Tom Brady open another chapter in their longstanding rivalry in Week 9. The Patriots have the home-field edge and history on their side Sunday afternoon.
Manning and Brady have been going at it for a while. This will be the 16th meeting between the two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks, with Brady and the Patriots holding a 10-5 SU and 7-6-2 ATS edge. However, historical records don’t hold much water compared to current form, and no team looks hotter than New England heading into Week 9.
After many wrote off the Pats in the early going, New England has reeled off four straight victories since losing in embarrassing fashion at Kansas City on Monday Night Football. But despite that roll, oddsmakers are still discounting New England and setting it as a rare home underdog this Sunday. Since his time with the Pats, Brady is 7-1 ATS as a home pup.
The Patriots have outscored opponents 158-87 in that four-game span. And while the offense steals a lot of the headlines – especially in this type of matchup – New England’s defense has been one of the best stop units in the league. The Patriots have the second-best pass defense in the NFL, allowing only 210.9 yards against per game, and boast eight interceptions and 10 forced fumbles. This unit checked Manning to just 150 yards passing, two touchdowns and an interception in last year’s remarkable comeback in Foxborough.
An undervalued Patriots team with a defense stepping up for this big game is why I’m playing New England as my 10* Rivalry Best Game Of The Year.
|11-02-14||NY Jets +10.5 v. Kansas City Chiefs||Top||10-24||Loss||-135||138 h 33 m||Show|
I’m playing on the New York Jets as my 10* AFC Best of the Best Sunday. The Jets are being discounted by the oddsmakers in this road trip to face the Kansas City Chiefs, but have shown a toughness away from home this season.
New York is hoping the injection of veteran QB Michael Vick will help spark the offense in Week 9 after struggling to gain ground with second-year passer Geno Smith under center. Smith often tried too hard to be the “pass first” QB, giving up many opportunities to run the ball instead. The Jets won’t have that problem with Vick, who can still chew up big yardage with his legs.
The threat of Vick breaking off big gains on the ground will keep the Chiefs defense on its toes, and will likely leave them to designate a linebacker to spy on the QB if Vick can do some damage with the run. That should open up some shorter underneath passes to new playmaker Percy Harvin, who can tack on yards after the catch, as well as budding TE Jace Amaro, who is currently second on the team in receiving yards.
Kansas City has done a good job stymieing the passing game this year – ranked tops in the NFL – but have been pushed around by opposing run games. On top of Vick’s ability to scramble, New York is getting great production from RB Chris Ivory. He’s found the end zone five times already and dominated the Patriots on Thursday night two weeks ago, running for 107 yards and picking up 5.1 yards per carry.
The Chiefs allowed 171 yards to San Francisco three games ago, but haven’t faced a dominant rushing attack since. The Jets come into Week 9 with the fourth-most potent ground game, at 139.9 yards an outing. New York can control the pace of the game and keep this contest much closer than books expect.
A relentless Jets ground game and a Chiefs defense that’s been bulldozed at times this season is why I’m playing on the New York Jets as my 10*
|11-02-14||Tampa Bay Buccaneers +7 v. Cleveland Browns||Top||17-22||Win||100||87 h 43 m||Show|
I’m playing on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as my 10* Breakfast Club Sunday. Tampa Bay isn’t getting much respect on the road in Ohio, despite taking on a Cleveland Browns team that has lost its offensive pace and has benefited from a light schedule.
The Buccaneers have dropped some tight games in recent weeks, suffering two overtime losses including a 19-13 defeat in the added frame against Minnesota last weekend. Tampa Bay could easily be 3-1 in its last four and this spread would look a lot different.
The Bucs butt heads with a Browns team that has watched the power from its running game go out the window. After marching through opponents to open the season, Cleveland has managed to rush for just 108 yards on 55 carries in its last two outings – an average of just 1.96 yards per run. The power outage on the ground has everything to do with the loss to star center Alex Mack, who is out with a broken leg.
Adding to Cleveland’s offensive woes is a concussion to standout TE Jordan Cameron, who is out indefinitely after suffering yet another concussion against Oakland last week. Cameron was QB Brian Hoyer’s safety net and without him and a legit run game to keep the defense honest, Hoyer could find himself under a ton of pressure from a Bucs defense that is still out to prove itself.
A hungry Tampa Bay team and a Cleveland offense limping into Week 9 is why I’m playing on Tampa Bay as my 10* Breakfast Club Sunday.
|11-01-14||Oklahoma State +14.5 v. Kansas State||Top||14-48||Loss||-110||71 h 15 m||Show|
10* Best Bet, Oklahoma State, analysis posted shortly ...
|11-01-14||Tennessee v. South Carolina -7||Top||45-42||Loss||-105||71 h 54 m||Show|
I am playing on SOUTH CAROLINA. I like the Gamecocks here Saturday as the Vols enter hostile territory in a tough SEC night game environment in Columbia.
|11-01-14||Duke v. Pittsburgh -3.5||Top||51-48||Loss||-103||64 h 35 m||Show|
I am playing on PITT. I’m expecting Pittsburgh to bounce back after a rough game last week that saw them cough up four turnovers on their first six plays that led to a drubbing before they even realized what time it was.
I expect the Panthers to be much better against a more traditional offense like Duke’s this week after facing the triple offense of Georgia Tech last week. Pitt owns the 17th ranked overall defense in the country, the sixth ranked pass defense and the 11th ranked third down conversion defense. Those are the numbers that I feel will be the deciding factors in Saturday’s game.
Pitt boasts a force on the ground in James Conner, who leads the ACC with 1,079 yards and 14 TDs. I believe it’s a great recipe for the Panthers in a game that might see some wintry weather with cold temperatures and a possibility of rain or snow.
Duke’s rush defense is nothing to write home about with 193 yards against per game, which I expect to be a major advantage for Pitt in controlling the pace of this contest. 10* ACC GAME OF THE YEAR
|11-01-14||Utah State v. Hawaii +3||Top||35-14||Loss||-112||63 h 53 m||Show|
I am playing on HAWAII. This is a popular game on college Saturdays because bettors easily get caught up in either chasing losses or grabbing one more ‘W’ before NFL Sunday rolls around. It’s the ‘last call’ of the betting world on Saturdays with home games starting around 11 p.m. ET due to Hawaii’s time zone. Despite that, I rarely offer plays on Warriors games unless I really like them and this week is one of those games. Hawaii is getting points on home turf against a team they matchup very similarly statistically with and that’s facing the tough travel to paradise. "Those guys play with their hair on fire," Utah State Matt Wells said this week. "They play hard, they chase the football and play with tremendous effort. I know that is something [Clune] has instilled in them and demanded out of them. I think that's very, very evident when you flip on the tape." The Warriors will have an improving O-line to help them do that that is finally getting healthy after some early injuries to start the year. The O-line has given up just three sacks through its first three conference games, which will come in handy against a Utah State squad that is best at stopping the run. What the Aggies aren’t so good at is getting yards when they need them. Utah State, which is seriously depleted at the QB position, ranks 118th in the country in third down conversions and nearly dead last at 124th in fourth down conversion percentage. Utah State also ranks near the worst in the country in penalty yards per game and Hawaii has long been known to get the benefit of the doubt on penalties at Aloha Stadium. The Warriors haven't forgotten last year's 47-10 blowout loss - they'll be looking for some payback here and will be anxious to show how much they've improved. As always, the visiting team is in tough when traveling to Hawaii. Utah State planned to leave Thursday, giving them shorter prep time than usual to prepare for Saturday’s game. 10* Revenge GOY
|10-30-14||Oklahoma City Thunder v. Los Angeles Clippers -11||Top||90-93||Loss||-110||22 h 19 m||Show|
I’m playing on the Los Angeles Clippers as a 10* Thursday. The Clippers have a chance to get a leg up on the Oklahoma City Thunder early in the season, taking on an OKC team without NBA MVP Kevin Durant. These head-to-head matchups are very important for L.A. and could be a major factor once Durant returns and the Western Conference playoff races take shape.
The Thunder looked lost in their first game without Durant at the center of the offense. Oklahoma City was dropped 106-89 by Portland Wednesday night, failing to cover as a 9-point road underdog in the Rose Garden. Russell Westbrook scored 38 in the loss, but the Thunder received little offensive help outside of that, shooting a combined 40.7 percent and managing just 12 points in the fourth quarter.
Oklahoma City is used to Durant creating points when the offense breaks down as well as finding scoring chances for his teammates when defenses key on the dynamic forward. The Thunder are reliant on his ability to stretch the floor and draw bigger defenders away from the hoop with his range from outside.
Los Angeles has plenty of size and talent around the basket and should dominate the Thunder’s frontcourt with Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Spencer Hawes down low. This is a big game for the franchise, debuting for the first time under the ownership of Steve Ballmer. The Clippers will be motivated to open this new era with a bang.
A lost OKC offense and a bigger, motivated Clippers team is why I’m playing on the L.A. Clippers as my 10* GOM.
|10-30-14||Troy +26 v. Georgia Southern||Top||10-42||Loss||-110||36 h 26 m||Show|
I am playing on TROY. At first glance, you see the Trojans are just 1-7 straight up this season and struggling in the final year for their storied coach Larry Blakeney. Upon closer inspection we see that Troy is 4-4 against the spread this year and all four of their covers came against winning teams.
In short, Troy gets up for better teams and it plays down to its competition. Georgia Southern is certainly one of those better teams as the current leader of the Sun Belt Conference and I expect a big effort from the Trojans in a nationally televised Thursday night game.
Georgia Southern relies almost entirely on its ground game to move the chains for 402 yards per game rushing. That’s about 50 yards more than any other team in the country on the ground.
The two things I like about that are: 1. A so-so Trojans defense doesn’t have to worry much about a passing game and 2. This offense has the potential to eat a ton of time on the clock. This is the biggest spread Ga. Southern has seen all season and I see the sand falling to the bottom of the hour glass before the Eagles have a chance to cover this lofty number.
Troy is working with two QBs right now under center but both are mobile and can improvise when needed. I like that factor heading into Thursday along with kickoff threat Chandler Worthy, who ranks 15th in the country in kickoff returns this season. He’s returned two kicks for touchdowns and if Troy can’t get its offense moving, it will likely often work from decent field position at least. 10* Best Bet
|10-29-14||Los Angeles Lakers v. Phoenix Suns -10.5||Top||99-119||Win||100||22 h 13 m||Show|
I am playing on PHOENIX. The Suns enter this season as perhaps the hungriest team in the NBA after missing the playoffs by one game last year and the Lakers have the misfortune of facing them first.
Phoenix catches the Lakers on the second of back-to-back nights after L.A. fell at home to Houston last night in its season opener. That’s a big advantage for the Suns against a banged up Lakers lineup that just lost first-round draft pick Julius Randle last night to a broken leg.
New Lakers coach Byron Scott has also said throughout this offseason he’ll be limiting Kobe Bryant’s minutes in the second of back-to-back games, another plus for the Suns tonight.
I believe Phoenix will use one of the best and deepest backcourts in the league to outlast L.A. tonight and win their seventh straight at home against the Lakers. The Suns went 3-1 straight up and 2-2 against the number last year against L.A. – a reflection of how they played against the bottom half of the league.
The Suns went 30-9 against the 14 teams with losing records last campaign and should be looking forward to opening the year against a team they’ve had a lot of recent success against. 10* Personal Favorite
|10-27-14||Washington Redskins +10 v. Dallas Cowboys||Top||20-17||Win||100||107 h 10 m||Show|
I’m playing on the Washington Redskins as my 10* Best Bet Monday. The Redskins have a chance to catch the Dallas Cowboys in a perfect letdown spot on Monday Night Football and won’t roll over for their hated divisional rival, presenting some great value against the spread. Washington has played Dallas hard in past meetings, covering the spread in seven of their last eight games.
The Cowboys come into Week 8 fat and cocky off two massive wins. Dallas stunned Seattle in CenturyLink Field two weeks ago then followed that with a one-sided win against the Giants last Sunday. With an important NFC tilt against the Cardinals on tap, Washington can also catch the Cowboys looking ahead.
The Redskins snapped a four-game skid with a win over Tennessee last Sunday. Washington is handing the ball to third-string QB Colt McCoy this Monday, with head coach Jay Gruden putting his full confidence in the former Texas star. McCoy looked great in relief of Kirk Cousins last week, completing 11 of 12 passes for 128 yards and a touchdown. Washington has dangerous weapons around McCoy in WRs Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson, who was a thorn in the side of the Cowboys during his tenure with the Eagles.
Washington’s defense continues to stay under the radar, despite limiting opponents to just 321.9 yards per game – sixth lowest in the NFL. The Redskins have an aggressive defensive line that will make life tough on Cowboys QB Tony Romo, who is still limited by his nagging back injury. If they can plug the running lanes and keep RB DeMarco Murray from finding daylight, it could be a long night for the Dallas offensive line.
A unfocused Dallas team and an undervalued Washington side is why I’m playing on Washington as my 10* Best Bet Monday.
|10-26-14||Green Bay Packers v. New Orleans Saints -1||Top||23-44||Win||100||156 h 55 m||Show|
I’m playing on the New Orleans Saints as my 10* Main Event Sunday. New Orleans is back home in the Superdome with a chance to make a statement in the NFC and springboard itself back into the Super Bowl conversation against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football
The Saints are kicking themselves after letting the Lions steal a win in Week 7, giving up two late touchdowns to Detroit and losing 24-23 on the road. New Orleans has its back against the wall, sitting at just 2-4 SU and ATS on the season, needing a big game on the NFL’s big stage Sunday night.
This team is a different animal at home, and has been for a long time. The Saints have covered in 36 of their previous 53 home games – 68 percent – and are a perfect 6-0 SU at home on Sunday night under head coach Sean Payton, who took over the clipboard in 2006.
These two teams have produced some lofty scores in recent history, but the Saints could opt to exploit the Packers’ biggest weakness – the run defense – Sunday night. Green Bay is allowing 147.7 yards on the ground per game, which ranks second worst in the NFL. New Orleans lost RB Pierre Thomas last week but returns Mark Ingram and has a dangerous weapon in Khiry Robinson, who has shown his explosiveness this season.
New Orleans defensive coordinator Rob Ryan will likely follow his brother Rex’s gameplan versus Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers. Rex Ryan’s Jets sacked Rodgers four times and limited the former MVP to a 59.5 completion percentage. Look for an aggressive pass rush from New Orleans, which was able to get three sacks on Detroit QB Matt Stafford and pick off two passes last Sunday.
A desperate Saints squad right at home on Sunday night is why I’m playing on New Orleans as my 10* Main Event Sunday.
|10-26-14||Baltimore Ravens v. Cincinnati Bengals||Top||24-27||Win||100||76 h 11 m||Show|
I’m playing on the Cincinnati Bengals as my 10* Breakfast Club Sunday. The Bengals are ripe for a rebound after a dismal showing against the Colts in Week 7 and can’t afford a loss to AFC North rivals, the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday afternoon.
Cincinnati is happy to be back home in Paul Brown Stadium, where it averages 31.3 points per game – compared to just 13.3 on the road. The Bengals actually play their next three games at home, allowing the team to relax and focus on football heading into this important Week 8 matchup. Cincinnati is a moneymaker in Cleveland, covering the spread in 13 of their last 16 home stands.
The Bengals were able to edge the Ravens on the road in Week 1, getting a tremendous game from its defense which limited Baltimore to 16 points and forced two turnovers. Cincinnati will have LB Vontaze Burfict on the field after he suffered a neck injury last week. Burfict was a dominating force in the opener against Baltimore before leaving the game with a concussion – a dramatic turning point in that Week 1 contest.
Baltimore has picked up back-to-back wins against lesser opponents, misleading the odds for this divisional grudge match. The Ravens rolled over the hapless Buccaneers 48-17 in Week 6 and then handled the Falcons with ease, winning 29-7 last Sunday.
Those one-sided victories came against defenses ranked 32nd and 30th respectively. And while the Bengals defense currently sits between those clubs at 31st, this stop unit has shown its teeth. Cincinnati ranks fifth in the NFL in turnover ratio, registering 10 takeaways while turning the ball over just five times.
A home-happy Bengals team and an overrated Ravens side is why I’m playing Cincinnati as my 10* Breakfast Club Sunday.
|10-26-14||Minnesota Vikings v. Tampa Bay Buccaneers -2.5||Top||19-13||Loss||-110||76 h 51 m||Show|
I’m playing on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as my 10* Personal Favorite Sunday. The Buccaneers are off the bye and at home to one of the few NFL teams on par with them in the NFL power ratings, the Minnesota Vikings, who are bound for a letdown after a heartbreaking loss in Week 7.
Tampa Bay enjoyed a bye this past week, with head coach Lovie Smith tinkering with a defense that is allowing a league-worst 34 points per game. The Bucs have run some tough road in recent weeks, facing myriad of elite passers in Joe Flacco, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger and Matt Ryan – three of which have quarterbacked Super Bowl winners.
Tampa Bay gets a break with rookie Teddy Bridgewater under center for the Vikings. Bridgewater has only one touchdown pass to five interceptions, and doesn’t present the deep threat the Bucs have feared in recent games. Minnesota has been miserable at protecting its franchise future, allowing opponents to sack its quarterback 19 times in the past three games.
The Vikings face a familiar foe in former head coach and current Bucs defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier Sunday. Frazier, who was fired from Minnesota last December, has first-hand knowledge of the Vikings personnel and will look to exploit that inside info in Week 8.
Minnesota comes into Week 8 already on its heels. The Vikings lost 17-16 to Buffalo Sunday on a last-second touchdown, handing the team its third straight loss. That deflating result, plus the fact Minnesota has scored 10 or fewer points in four of its seven games sets up perfect for a Tampa Bay team in need of a break.
An opportunistic Bucs team and the Vikings’ offensive woes is why I’m playing on Tampa Bay as my 10* Personal Favorite Sunday.
|10-25-14||Alabama v. Tennessee +17.5||Top||34-20||Win||100||102 h 18 m||Show|
I am playing on TENNESSEE. You may be looking at Alabama’s win 59-0 last week – its largest margin of victory since 1979 – and wondering why I’m taking the Vols this Sunday.
It’s actually because of that big win. I believe oddsmakers have set this line too high in anticipation of Tide supporters who will inevitably jump on Bama no matter what the line was set at after a win like that.
I feel Tennessee’s stout defense can grind this game down to an old-fashioned SEC hit fest, leaving the spread looking way too generous for the underdog by the time the final whistle blows. The Vols own the No. 6 pass defense and the 19th overall defense in the nation. They also own the seventh ranked third down conversion defense in the land, which is an area Bama has had success this season on offense.
The Vols will use a sold out crowd (and an angry one thanks to Lane Kiffin) to help keep Bama off balance on those third down spots where the Tide normally keep the chains moving. I see that leading to some promising field position and a running clock for the Vols, factors which will help them cover the number.
Another element I really like here is that it t’s no secret Alabama is much less comfortable on the road than at home lately. The Crimson Tide have failed to cover the spread in their last four road outings. 10* Best Bet
|10-25-14||West Virginia v. Oklahoma State -1||Top||34-10||Loss||-104||93 h 49 m||Show|
I am playing on OKLAHOMA STATE. I believe the Cowboys will use a deafening home crowd at the ‘Greatest American Homecoming Celebration’ this Saturday to help propel them to a win over West Virginia.
Oddsmakers are anticipating the public will overreact to the Cowboys’ 42-9 loss to TCU last week, which is why OK State isn’t favored by more points here. That game was the worst of the season for the Pokes and I expect them to bounce back this week.
Part of the problem in that loss was an inability to establish a running game. Oklahoma State came into the contest hoping to establish a ground presence but was ultimately stymied by TCU’s 38th nationally ranked rush defense. This week the Cowboys face a weaker West Virginia run defense that allows 167 yards rushing per game. I believe that will help Oklahoma State set up its passing game and get back to scoring points after an off week versus TCU.
Another factor I love about this game is that one of the key mismatches between these two teams is in the red zone. Oklahoma State owns the 15th best red zone offense in the country while West Virginia owns the 117th ranked red zone defense. I feel that will prove extra costly for a West Virginia team that is one of the absolute worst in the country in turnover margin (-1.57) ranked 123rd. OK State - 10* Personal Favorite
|10-19-14||San Francisco 49ers v. Denver Broncos -6.5||Top||17-42||Win||100||120 h 27 m||Show|
I’m playing on the BRONCOS. Denver appears to have hit its stride after struggling prior to the bye week, winning handily over the Arizona Cardinals and New York Jets. Its reward: a home date with a San Francisco 49ers unit that fell asleep at the switch early on before rallying to beat St. Louis.
Led by Peyton Manning and his usual cast of characters, the Denver offense has rolled to 72 points over the past two games - and probably could have scored a lot more than that if it really wanted to. Aside from a rough three-quarter stretch in Seattle - where more than a few teams have had trouble over the years - Manning and the Broncos have looked an awful lot like they did last season. Expect the Broncos to pick on the 49ers’ secondary, particularly since they will likely struggle to do much on the ground.
San Francisco fell behind 14-0 early against the Rams and was fortunate to pull away, taking advantage of several St. Louis miscues. The 49ers shouldn’t expect a repeat from a Broncos side that is allowing the fourth-fewest yards per game in the NFL (318.2). Add in a decimated 49ers defensive line that will be likely be without Patrick Willis, and the Broncos are primed for a big win in prime time.
10* - SNF Game Of The Year
|10-19-14||Arizona Cardinals v. Oakland Raiders +3.5||Top||24-13||Loss||-115||140 h 46 m||Show|
I’m playing on the RAIDERS. Oakland is still looking for its first outright win, but looked good in last week’s narrow loss to San Diego and remains home for a date with an Arizona Cardinals team that has struggled mightily to contain opposing pass attacks all season long.
I’m not expecting much rushing in this one; the Cardinals rank 30th in yards-per-game average (85.6) and third in fewest yards allowed (75.8) while the Raiders are averaging just 72 yards per contest on the ground. But rookie Raiders quarterback Derek Carr erupted for 282 yards and four scores against a Chargers defense that came in as one of the stingiest against the pass - and now he gets to feast on a Cards secondary allowing a league-high 309 yards per contest through the air.
Oakland is also resilient, going 7-3-1 ATS in its last 11 games after allowing 350 or more yards in its previous outing. With the Cardinals expecting to start either Carson Palmer, who chucked 13 interceptions in eight road games last season, or unproven Drew Stanton, who has completed fewer than 49 percent of his passes, I don’t have faith that the offense will score enough to make up for what could be a rough day on the Arizona D.
10* - Non-Conference Game Of The Year
|10-19-14||Kansas City Chiefs v. San Diego Chargers -3.5||Top||23-20||Loss||-107||19 h 30 m||Show|
I’m playing on the CHARGERS. Philip Rivers and Co. have been one of the most impressive home teams so far this season, outscoring the opposition 94-35. And while the visiting Kansas City Chiefs have looked decent in their three road outings so far in 2014, I don’t how they can match Rivers on offense - or stop him on defense.
Rivers has led the Chargers to five wins in a row, with the offense putting up 30 or more points four times in that stretch. And while that run includes victories over Jacksonville, the New York Jets and Oakland - three teams that aren’t exactly Super Bowl contenders - it kicked off with triumphs over Seattle and Buffalo. Rivers has dissected every defense he has encountered since Week 2, and the Chiefs - despite ranking seventh in opposing passing yards per game (214.4) - shouldn’t mount much resistance.
Kansas City’s running game needs to be respected - Jamaal Charles is a phenomenal talent, and his backup (Knile Davis) did terrific work in his absence. But Alex Smith and the passing game has been largely underwhelming yet again, ranked second-last in yards per game (197.4) with just eight touchdowns through five games. As good as Charles is, he can’t do it himself against a Chargers team that should challenge the 30-point plateau.
San Diego comes in 7-1 ATS in its last eight games; expect that trend to continue this week.
10* Personal Favorite
|10-19-14||Cleveland Browns v. Jacksonville Jaguars +6||Top||6-24||Win||100||123 h 22 m||Show|
I’m playing on the JAGUARS. Jacksonville nearly pulled out its first win of the season in Tennessee last weekend, and now returns home to face a Cleveland Browns team that is giving up more than 400 yards per game. I’ll happily take the points here, even with the Jags’ offense still struggling to find its legs.
The switch from Chad Henne to Blake Bortles hasn’t yet resulted in more points on the scoreboard, but it has allowed Jacksonville to sustain longer drives and keep the beleaguered defense fresh. The Jaguars averaged just over 24 minutes of possession time in its first three games, and close to 29 minutes in three contests since. That has had a major impact on a defensive unit that has limited opponents to 33 combined points in back-to-back losses.
The Jaguars are also committed to running the ball more - and that could cause a problem for a Browns defense surrendering the most rushing yards per game in the NFL (149.6). And these aren’t elite rushing games the Browns are facing - they allow 149 yards on the ground against Tennessee, 160 versus Baltimore and 174 to New Orleans. Jacksonville hasn’t run the ball well all season - but I believe they’ll do so with plenty of success this Sunday.
10* - Best Bet
|10-18-14||Notre Dame v. Florida State -10||Top||27-31||Loss||-100||14 h 17 m||Show|
Jameis Winston (probable) and the Seminoles offense is on a three-week stretch of dominance, and that should continue unabated against a Fighting Irish team that has been solid defensively for most of the season, but inexplicably gave up 43 points at home to North Carolina last week.
The Irish are fortunate to still be unbeaten at this point, having turned the ball over nine times in the last three games. Quarterback Everett Golson has thrown four picks in his previous three contests and completed barely 50 percent of his combined passes in wins over Stanford and the Tar Heels. The Seminoles turned three Syracuse turnovers into 10 points last week, and will make Golson and Notre Dame pay for not holding on to the football.
And let’s be real: this pick is mostly about the Florida State offense, which should pick apart Notre Dame’s young, suspect secondary. The Seminoles have racked up 1,489 yards of total offense over their last three games, coinciding with Winston’s return to the lineup. They’re also 9-3 ATS in their last 12 home games, and have won their last 10 contests at Doak Campbell Stadium by an average of 41.8 points. I expect Winston to play and I expect a double-digit win.
10* - Main Event
|10-18-14||Oklahoma State +9 v. TCU||Top||9-42||Loss||-115||114 h 33 m||Show|
I’m playing on OKLAHOMA STATE. The Cowboys have yet to play a bad game this season - they gave top-ranked Florida State all it could handle before falling just short in the season opener, then reeled off five straight victories while scoring more than 35 points four times. Take them as an underdog against TCU? Don’t mind if I do.
From a trends perspective, Oklahoma State has plenty going for it. It’s 21-6-1 ATS in its last 28 October games, and 7-3 ATS in its previous 10 conference tilts. The Cowboys are in the top 30 nationally in points per game, and have held opponents to 20 or fewer points in three of their last four games. Simply put, they’re one of the most balanced teams out there - not only in the Big 12, but in the NCAA.
The Horned Frogs have an impressive offence in their own right, but they’ve been put in their place on the defensive end after a strong showing against a trio of pretenders. TCU surrendered 94 points against Oklahoma and Baylor, and should face a similar challenge against quarterback Daxx Garman and a relentless Cowboys attack. And while Horned Frogs junior QB Trevone Boykin is a talent, he completed just 41-of-85 passes against the Sooners and Bears - and that won’t fly against Oklahoma State.
10* - Best Bet
|10-18-14||Texas A&M v. Alabama -11.5||Top||0-59||Win||100||114 h 38 m||Show|
I’m playing on ALABAMA. Saturday’s matchup against visiting Texas A&M is a tale of two teams headed in opposite directions, and until I see Kenny Hill and the Aggies prove they can play four solid quarters against quality opposition, they can’t be trusted - especially in hostile Tuscaloosa.
Texas A&M’s once-formidable offense has all but disappeared over the first three quarters of its last three games, registering just 38 points over that span. Hill and the boys can’t seem to get things going until the fourth quarter - and if they wait that long against the Crimson Tide, they could find themselves down by four touchdowns - and no team comes back from that kind of deficit at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Alabama looked shaky at times in a loss to Ole Miss and a narrow win over Arkansas, but I’m not betting against the Tide at home. Especially not with the Aggies having surrendered 83 points over their last two games and boasting a 1-6 ATS mark in their last seven conference games. This is also Alabama’s lone home game in a six-week stretch, so you know they’re going to come out firing.
10* - Personal Favorite
|10-18-14||Kansas State v. Oklahoma -8||Top||31-30||Loss||-110||110 h 59 m||Show|
I’m playing on OKLAHOMA. The Sooners come into this one ready to prove that last week’s win over Texas wasn’t a fluke, even though the numbers suggest it may have been. Oklahoma remains a contender for the Big 12 title despite struggling in back-to-back games, and recent trends suggest they should have little trouble handling visiting Kansas State on Saturday.
The Sooners have played down to the level of their competition at times over the past few years, but they’ve also shown an innate ability to get up for good teams. Oklahoma is 6-1 ATS in its last seven games against teams with winning records. And the Sooners don’t let bad games affect them moving forward, having gone 7-0 ATS in their last seven games after surrendering more than 450 yards in their previous outing. Don’t expect Oklahoma’s defensive struggles to continue through the weekend.
The Wildcats have played just one road game this season, and came nowhere near covering in that one, escaping with a 32-28 victory over Iowa State despite going in as an 11 1/2-point favorite. Kansas State boasts one of the more potent running games in the conference - averaging 4 1/2 yards per carry with 18 touchdowns - but could have fits against an Oklahoma defense limiting opponents to 3.2 yards per carry. And if the Wildcats can’t get the run game going, it could be a long day in Norman.
10* - Breakfast Club
|10-12-14||NY Giants v. Philadelphia Eagles -2.5||Top||0-27||Win||100||164 h 10 m||Show|
I’m playing on the Philadelphia Eagles as my 10* Divisional Best Of Best Sunday. Philadelphia can make a statement in the NFC East with a win over the New York Giants, who have won three in a row since dropping their first two contests.
The Eagles are scoring on both sides of the ball in recent weeks, finding the end zone on blocked punts and punt returns while also scoring off an interception return. Philadelphia is getting excellent play from its special teams, especially a return unit that is giving the offense tremendous starting field position.
The offense has needed that help in recent games. Chip Kelly’s high-octane attack has sputtered a bit, with QB Nick Foles making some costly mistakes. However, Kelly cracked down on Foles and has tinkered with his passer leading into this Sunday night game, confident he can find his form again.
The Giants defense has been able to capitalize on some friendly defensive matchups recently. New York faced Houston without RB Arian Foster, caught Washington backup Kirk Cousins in a bad place, and hosted an Atlanta team that can’t score on the road this past weekend. In the first two games of the season, the G-Men coughed up 60 combined points and will be exposed again in Philadelphia.
New York is also prone to mistakes on the offensive end, especially QB Eli Manning. While he’s been solid during the team’s winning streak, Manning threw four picks to start the season and totaled 27 interceptions last season – three of which came against the Eagles. This Philadelphia defense can turn those errors into points very quickly.
A Philadelphia team capable of scoring points on offense, defense and special teams, as well as a mistake-prone Giants side is why I’m playing on the Philadelphia Eagles as my 10* Divisional GAME OF THE MONTH Sunday.
|10-12-14||San Diego Chargers v. Oakland Raiders +8||Top||31-28||Win||100||160 h 8 m||Show|
I’m playing on the Oakland Raiders as my 10* Best Bet Sunday. The Silver and Black are under new leadership for the time being, with Dennis Allen getting the ax and fiery Tony Sporano taking over on an interim basis. The team has responded in a positive light and are a live underdog against the San Diego Chargers in Week 6.
Sporano got things started with a bang in the Bay Area, prompting his players to bury a football representing the team’s slow start to the season. By the looks of things, and reports out of practice, there’s new life in the Raiders coming into Sunday. The drills were smoother and quicker, the team seemed more focused and an importance on fundamental football has play looking sharper.
On the other side of the field, the Chargers are scrambling to fill holes on their depth chart thanks to a rash of injuries. The rushing corps was already depleted with the losses of Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead, but now that fellow RB Donald Brown is dealing with a concussion the Bolts are scrambling to find capable bodies to run the football – even going as far as giving veteran Ronnie Brown another go-around.
On top of the banged-up running game, San Diego is down to its fourth-string center after Doug Legursky was placed on IR this week. The Chargers are forced to slide rookie guard Chris Watt to center for this Sunday’s game, throwing a major wrench in the Bolts offense.
The Raiders defense, which is expected to pick up the pace with Sporano making the calls, will test that weakness in the Bolts’ offensive line. Without a running game to keep Oakland honest, expect plenty of blitz packages from the Raiders as they try to rush QB Philip Rivers in the pocket. Points may be hard to come by, even for this Chargers attack that has seemed so potent at times.
A revitalized Oakland side and a Chargers teams frantically trying to fill holes is why I’m playing on the Oakland Raiders as my 10* Best Bet.
|10-11-14||LSU -1 v. Florida||Top||30-27||Win||100||138 h 54 m||Show|
I am playing on LSU. The Gators are in a bit of a mess entering this week while LSU will be hungry to rebound after a humbling loss to Auburn last week.
Florida’s offense has been nothing to brag about amid quarterback struggles this season. But last week it appeared for a fleeting moment like they had a solution. Backup QB Treon Harris came off the bench and was just efficient enough to propel the Gators to a 10-9 win over Tennessee.
The bad news for Florida is the team has placed him on interim suspension following sexual assault allegations against Harris that came on Monday. The incident allegedly took place in the wee hours of Sunday morning and the Gators have been dealing with all the distractions and the media circus that come with that kind of controversy.
It means Florida will return to Jeff Driskel, who couldn’t find a Gator in the Everglades right now. He hasn’t been able to throw for even 100 yards in each of his last two games with one measly touchdown pass and five interceptions combined in those games.
LSU has been having its own QB issues but the Tigers couldn’t have caught Florida at a better time here. LSU is also 4-1 against the spread its last five games coming off a straight up loss.
Coach Les Miles knows how to get his team to rebound and I strongly believe LSU will take down the Gators in the Swamp. 10* Personal Favorite
|10-11-14||Penn State v. Michigan -1||Top||13-18||Win||100||138 h 49 m||Show|
I am playing on MICHIGAN. The Wolverines just might come into this game with the biggest home edge in all of college football this week.
This will be the Wolverines’ first Big Ten night game in Michigan Stadium’s 88-year history and they’ll be playing it with huge revenge motivation after Penn State won and covered the last five meetings in the series.
This is only the third home night game in Michigan’s history and the school set an attendance record each of the previous two occurences. I believe a hostile crowd of over 110,000 will make life miserable for Penn State on Saturday and the Nittany Lions will fall short in an old fashioned style Big Ten battle where two great defenses will gut it out.
There isn’t much to separate these two on defense but where Michigan has a key advantage is the Wolverines are 15-for-15 in red zone opportunities this year. That makes them only one of five schools in the country to be perfect in that category. In a game where I anticipate limited red zone opportunities, I like Michigan to fulfill what the home crowd is looking for on Saturday. 10* Big Ten GOM
|10-11-14||North Carolina +16.5 v. Notre Dame||Top||43-50||Win||100||134 h 11 m||Show|
I am playing on NORTH CAROLINA. I believe there is a spot here to fade Notre Dame at a time where this very public Irish team is being lauded in the media and visions of national championships and Heisman Trophies are dancing in the heads of Irish supporters.
The Tar Heels are 0-5 against the spread this year, but I see a quickly improving team that’s getting a generous helping of points on Saturday. Their weakness has been on defense – mainly its youth - where they brought an inexperienced batch of starters to the field.
Things are starting jell now and last week they allowed the fewest number of yards since their season opening victory against Liberty. The Heels held Virginia Tech to a respectable 357 yards and eventually it was the offense’s three turnovers in bad spots, all of which led to touchdowns, that doomed UNC.
I believe UNC will take better care of the ball this week and throw some things at Notre Dame that will keep the Irish guessing. The Heels say they’ll stick with a dual quarterback rotation of Marquise Williams and Mitch Trubisky. They’ll use the two to continue to run a no-huddle, up-tempo offense that aims to keep the Irish unsettled on defense and I believe that will ultimately help them cover this big number. 10* Best Bet
|10-05-14||Cincinnati Bengals v. New England Patriots +1.5||Top||17-43||Win||100||105 h 43 m||Show|
I am playing on NEW ENGLAND. The betting public could barely wait for oddsmakers to release this line before they started throwing money down on the Bengals for this Sunday night matchup. I believe they’re throwing money down the drain and here’s why.
Let’s keep in mind that the Patriots are 2-2 this season, not 0-4 like the recent dooms day media coverage would suggest. That’s still good enough for a three-way tie for tops in the AFC East.
The Pats are at home this week where they’ve won 10 straight games and gone 7-3 against the spread in those efforts. They’ve also won and covered in their last four home games against winnings teams, which shouldn’t surprise anyone that Tom Brady and Bill Belichick tend to rise to the occasion.
This line is skewed by the fact the Pats are coming off one of their worst losses in the Brady-Belichick era but I always caution bettors not to overreact to one game. I’m focusing instead on the fact the Pats own the fourth-best total defense in the league and the best passing defense. That will be enough to keep New England close and allow Brady and the offense to snap out of their passing funk.
The Pats can only go up on offense and there’s no better spot for them to quiet the apocalyptic criticism than at home in a Sunday Nighter.
10* Main Event
|10-05-14||Kansas City Chiefs v. San Francisco 49ers -6||Top||17-22||Loss||-104||101 h 5 m||Show|
I am playing on SAN FRANCISCO. I believe the 49ers will stop the Chiefs’ momentum and send them spiraling back to earth after Sunday’s game.
Kansas City was able to handle the Patriots last week on home soil by bullying them at the line of scrimmage. I don’t see that happening this week on hostile ground in San Francisco. The Niners have one of the best front seven units in the NFL and the their O-line is coming off its best game of the season after running back Frank Gore dashed for 118 yards against the Eagles.
San Fran owns the second best overall defense in the NFL and they have a knack for turning the ball over with five interceptions and four fumble recoveries. They’ll also be very comfortable playing against their former QB Alex Smith on the other side of the field.
On offense, the Niners present a challenge the Chiefs haven’t truly faced yet this year – a legit dual threat QB. Colin Kaepernick leads the NFL with 187 rushing yards and though he doesn’t rack up a ton of mileage through the air, he is efficient with a 66.9 completion percentage. The Niners offense also knows how to move the chains when it needs to, ranking fifth in the NFL in 3rd down conversion rate.
10* Personal Favorite
|10-05-14||Chicago Bears v. Carolina Panthers -2.5||Top||24-31||Win||100||98 h 25 m||Show|
I’m playing on CAROLINA. Panthers QB Cam Newton faces one of his favorite teams to throw against on Sunday, which is just what Carolina needs to snap out of its two-game losing streak.
Newton has passed for over 300 yards each of the last two times he faced the Bears and don’t be surprised if he does it a third straight time. The Bears secondary ranks a disappointing 20th in the league in passing yards allowed and they have struggled to consistently bring a pass rush. (They rank just 20th in the league in rushing yards allowed.)
On offense, the Bears were thankful to see running back Matt Forte explode for 122 yards rushing last week while QB Jay Cutler struggles to establish some rhythm through the air. The problem with that for the Bears is they have a banged up offensive line that suffered another blow in practice this week when starting left tackle Jermon Bushrod hurt his knee and had to leave the field.
Carolina is an undervalued squad that has been the victim of a nasty schedule to start the season. I see them handling the Bears on Sunday in front of the home crowd.
10* Breakfast Club
|10-04-14||LSU v. Auburn -7.5||Top||7-41||Win||100||94 h 26 m||Show|
I am playing on AUBURN. Auburn Tigers faithful have been waiting since 2010 to taste another victory against SEC West foe LSU and I believe they won’t have to wait any longer than this weekend.
Auburn is in a perfect spot here with a drastically improved, stifling defensive unit that will face a freshman quarterback about to make his first college start. Auburn ranks better statistically in just about every defensive category compared to last year’s team, ranking in the top 20 in the nation in total yards, rushing yards, and points allowed.
LSU, meanwhile, hasn’t seen the consistency it would like on offense which is why the Tigers are starting Brandon Harris. Harris led seven touchdown drives last game – but that was against New Mexico State in a friendly atmosphere. I’m anticipating he’ll learn some tough lessons on Saturday.
10* Personal Favorite
|09-28-14||New Orleans Saints -3 v. Dallas Cowboys||Top||17-38||Loss||-113||104 h 18 m||Show|
I'm playing on NEW ORLEANS. After losing two straight heartbreakers, the Saints got a long overdue win last week at home. They beat Minnesota 20-9 as 9.5-point favorites within the friendly confines of the Superdome. But having to hit the road for a third time in four weeks has tempered enthusiasm here, meaning we can get away with laying a pretty short number against a still suspect Cowboys team.
Dallas had a huge come from behind victory Sunday, beating the Rams 34-31. They trailed early 21-0 and for the first time we saw the Cowboys defense play poorly. They gave up 448 yards and allowed St. Louis to convert 8 of 13 on third down. Not a good sign when getting set to face Drew Brees.
These teams played last year and the results were ugly if you were a Cowboys fan. The game was in New Orleans and the Saints won 49-17 with Brees connecting on 34 of his 41 pass attempts. It was his third straight game throwing for at least 350 yards against this Dallas defense. The offense set a NFL record, gaining 40 first downs.
The Saints are clearly not the same team on the road. They are 0-2 this year and lost four straight regular season road games. But that lack of success has not applied to Dallas. Brees is 3-0 all-time on the road vs. the Cowboys.
I'd say that Brees should look to pick on Cowboys' cornerback Mo Claiborne in this one, but the defender's role is going to be greatly reduced here after an awful game vs. St. Louis and storming out of practice earlier this week. But if Claiborne is the starter, that gives you an idea on just how bad the reserves are.
Ultimately, the Saints are going to win some road games. This one is not outdoors, which works to the benefit of their offense. The defense obviously made a ton of strides last week vs. Minnesota. Dallas is just 6-11 ATS its last 17 home games including 1-4 ATS last five. 10* main event.
|09-28-14||Philadelphia Eagles v. San Francisco 49ers -5||Top||21-26||Push||0||101 h 33 m||Show|
I'm playing on SAN FRANCISCO. The 49ers are a team that really needs to win this week. They're 1-2 and have faded badly in the second half of back to back losses to Chicago and Arizona. Really, had it not been for a turnover-fueled first half lead against Dallas, things could actually be worse.
Despite this, I had expected bettors to leap on San Francisco this week in a must-win spot as they host Philadelphia. The sharp money did initially, but since then the line has held as the majority of tickets have actually come in on the underdog. A contrarian by nature, I often find myself on the opposite side of the public. That is the case here.
Obviously what the public sees here is a 3-0 team getting points. But the Eagles are not your ordinary 3-0 team. In all three games they have had to come from behind. They've trailed in all three games by 10 or more points at one point. Prior to this, no team had ever started a season 3-0 when trailing by double digits in each game.
An early hole here wouldn't be as easy for Philadelphia to climb out of. On paper, the 49ers are a team designed to protect leads. That has been their signature the past three seasons under Jim Harbaugh. But strangely, it's been a different story this year. In the first halves of games, San Francisco has outscored opponents 59-16. In the second half, they are looking at a 52-3 deficit. That's stunning, but not irreversible. I would say the next time we see them get out to a big lead (here?), they will close out in familiar form.
One key trend is that San Francisco has yet to lose three straight games under Harbaugh. Last year in Week 4, they were off two straight losses and routed St. Louis 35-11. That's the only time they'd lost two straight under Harbaugh.
Philadelphia's isn't without its own issues, on both sides of the football. They've allowed 61 points the last two games and if you take out the second half vs. Jacksonville, they have given up an average of 10 points per quarter. They haven't sacked the quarterback in the last two games. The offensive line, which was so good last season, is dealing with multiple injuries. 10* personal favorite.
|09-27-14||Duke v. Miami (Fla) -7||Top||10-22||Win||100||82 h 56 m||Show|
I'm playing on MIAMI. Anyone that was expecting an early season drop off from Duke after the Blue Devils won the ACC Coastal last year has to be scratching their head. Then again the level of competition hasn't been too great for David Cutcliffe's team, which is now 4-0 SU after a 47-13 win over Tulane last week.
Things definitely get tougher this week as Duke visits Coral Gables to play a Hurricanes team that will a) be out for revenge and b) angry after losing last week at Nebraska.
The revenge comes from a 48-30 loss last year in Durham. Miami was coming off back to back losses there and were without Duke Johnson, who got injured in the Florida State game. Before last year, Miami had not lost to Duke going all the way back to 1976.
Last week's loss to Nebraska saw Miami get run over and commit five personal foul penalties in the second half alone. The penalties can be corrected. The poor run defense could be an issue, but at least they won't be up against Ameer Abdullah again.
The big difference for Miami on offense this year compared to last is the presence of their own running back Johnson. So far, he is averaging 6.1 yards per carry. Had the team not fallen behind in both losses, Johnson could perhaps have been used more effectively.
QB Brad Kaaya has steadily improved over the course of four games. The freshman has thrown for over 300 yards each of the last two games. Against Nebraska, he was 28 of 42 for a career best 359 yards.
Though one-point away from being 4-0 ATS, the competition just hasn't been that great for Duke, who has played Elon, Troy, Kansas and Tulane.
While the stats may not support Miami being the favorite here, I'll still side with their superior athleticism and individual matchup advantages. 10* personal favorite.
|09-27-14||Stanford v. Washington +8||Top||20-13||Win||100||79 h 54 m||Show|
I'm playing on WASHINGTON. This is a game that I expect to go down to the wire. Washington has played Stanford tough each of the last two years, including a 17-13 upset at home in 2012. Last year's game was 31-28 in favor of Stanford, but it was UW that held the 489 to 279 edge in total yards. They covered as eight-point underdogs.
Now, we have a similar line, only this time in Seattle. Seems like a pretty good value to me. I know it's coach Chris Petersen's first year, but the Huskies are 4-1 ATS their last five as home dogs.
Washington has started 4-0 for Petersen, which is the first time a coach has started that well at the school in over a century. It wasn't easy last week as they actually trailed Georgia State 14-0 (as five TD favorites!) before closing the game on a 45-0 run during which they would outgain their opponent 231 to 73.
Winning the turnover margin, 4-0, did the Huskies a lot of favors obviously last week. Personally, I'm not putting a ton of stock into that early deficit. I had Washington the week previous when they blew out Illinois 44-19.
Stanford is off a bye. Both wins this year have been shutouts. But they have suffered a very frustrating loss, to USC, even though they moved the ball well in that game.
Coming off the bye, naturally you would expect the Cardinal to be "amped up." But those who have played in Husky Stadium aren't shy about letting you know that it's one of the toughest places to play in the entire country, if you're the road team. A young Stanford offensive line could struggle Saturday afternoon. Washington is 19-3 straight up its last 22 home games. 10* best bet.
|09-27-14||Tennessee v. Georgia -17||Top||32-35||Loss||-106||74 h 9 m||Show|
I'm playing on GEORGIA. If the current number holds, this would be the largest pointspread in the history of the Georgia-Tennessee rivalry. Frankly, it's indicative of the way this SEC East matchup has gone in recent years. Georgia has won four years in a row, and while the last three have been pretty close games, this one figures to be a blowout.
The Bulldogs come into this game off a 66-0 beatdown of Troy that saw them run for 367 yards, their most ever under coach Mark Richt. That's with Heisman candidate Todd Gurley running the ball only six times. So Gurley will be at full strength here and that's bad news for a Tennessee team that's coming off a 34-10 loss to Oklahoma. In doing so, the Vols allowed 7.4 yards per carry to a freshman running back.
The Volunteers had an off-week after losing to OU, but I don't see it helping much against a far superior opponent. This has been a program on the decline for some time. Tennessee just can't hang with the big boys anymore. They did upset South Carolina last season, but also lost to Oregon, Florida, Alabama, Missouri and Auburn all by two touchdowns or more.
Tennessee is a young team dealing with injuries. That's a bad combo when heading "between the hedges." Two of the team's top five receivers may not play here, which would be a crippling blow. It's already been confirmed that Von Pearson will not play in this game.
Additionally, no team in America has played more true freshman this season than the Vols have. They've sent 22 such players onto the field after just four games.
I've also been impressed with Georgia QB Hutson Mason, who is completing 71.2 percent of his passes this year. The Bulldogs are going to be just too much for the Vols. 10* main event
|09-25-14||NY Giants +3.5 v. Washington Redskins||Top||45-14||Win||100||73 h 54 m||Show|
I'm playing on the GIANTS. While the Giants won last week to improve their record to 1-2, the Redskins lost (but covered) and now find themselves in the same place in the NFC East standings. I see the value as being on the dog in this one.
Eli Manning is finally starting to look like Eli Manning again. He comes off his best game of the season, completing 21 of 28 passes against Houston for 234 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Most importantly, he didn't throw an interception. Manning was also supplemented with a nice running game, courtesy of Rashad Jennings going for 176 yards.
While the Giants ended up winning by a final score of only 30-17, it wasn't even that close. They outgained Houston 262 to 83 in the 1st half. Again, perhaps the most important thing is that they won the turnover battle for the 1st time in a game this season.
Everyone has been quick to jump on the Kirk Cousins bandwagon in Washington. But while the backup quarterback has put up some impressive stats so far, all he has to show for it is a win over the winless Jaguars. He has faced two bad defenses thus far as well.
The home team has dominated Thursday night football so far, but under coach Tom Coughlin, New York is 3-1 ATS on TNF. Coughlin is also 11-8-1 ATS and 14-6 straight up vs. the Redskins in his time on the Giants sidelines.
The Giants swept the Redskins last season. Both games came late in the year. While Washington was a bad team in 2013, I would be remiss if I didn't point out that Cousins started the second of the two games. He played very poorly, completing just 19 of 49 passes while also throwing two interceptions.
Also important is pointing out that the underdog is on a 6-1 ATS run in this NFC East rivalry. 10* best bet.
|09-22-14||Chicago Bears v. NY Jets -2.5||Top||27-19||Loss||-110||27 h 17 m||Show|
I'm playing on the NY JETS. Last week saw the Jets blow a 21-3 lead at Green Bay, losing 31-24, but covering as underdogs. The Bears were outright winners in San Francisco, but their game went the opposite way of the Jets as they fell behind early only to mount a successful comeback. I'm not sold that is all is right with Chicago now. I'll be going with the Jets.
Thanks to a +4 turnover margin, the Bears were able to come from behind and beat San Francisco 28-20. Assuming the Jets can take better care of the football than the 49ers did, Chicago still has a lot to prove in my book.
This is a team that lost outright in Week 1, at home, to Buffalo. They were down 20-7 going into the fourth quarter last Sunday. So they're one big quarter away from being 0-2 and really they hadn't looked very good at all before that big fourth quarter in San Francisco.
Winning back to back primetime games is not easy to do. Especially when you are the road team in both games. That's the situation for Chicago and I'm just not confident in them in this spot given a 2-6 ATS record off a win under Marc Trestman. Overall, the Bears are a bankroll busting 5-12-1 ATS the last two seasons.
The Bears' run defense looks no better this year. They've given up an average of 5.3 yards per carry in two games, allowing 320 yards on the ground. The Jets have run the ball very well in their two games, including 212 yards in the win vs. Oakland. They had 146 more last week against the Packers. They also have a mobile QB in Geno Smith.
Not only do the Jets have the league's best rushing offense, but they also have the league's best rushing defense. They've allowed an average of just 52.5 yards per game so far.
The Jets were 6-2 SU last year off a loss. They had the same record at home. I'll lay a short number in this situation. 10* main event.
|09-21-14||Kansas City Chiefs v. Miami Dolphins -4||Top||34-15||Loss||-110||139 h 32 m||Show|
I'm playing on MIAMI. Neither of these teams played well last week. Actually, I take that back. Kansas City played better than expected in covering the spread in a 24-17 loss to the Broncos. But the bottom line is that the Chiefs have opened 0-2, and this has the look of a difficult season for them. I'll lay the points with the Dolphins here.
Miami at least has a win to its credit, beating New England in Week 1. That was here at home. They didn't fare nearly as well last week up in Buffalo, but that's a place where they traditionally struggle. Back at home, I'd expect them to bounce back.
Both teams may be without their starting running back for this game (check statuses). It is confirmed that Miami will not have Knowshon Moreno available for the next four weeks after he dislocated his elbow against the Bills. Kansas City is still unsure of the status of Jamaal Charles, but remember he wasn't very effective in an opening week loss to Tennessee. Another key injury the Chiefs are dealing with is the ankle of starting safety Eric Berry.
Overall, seven Kansas City starters are either injured or suspended right now.
I have to wonder how KC will respond after suffering such a tough loss in Denver last week. History says not well as the team is 3-7 ATS off its last 10 straight up losses while also going 1-4 ATS off its last five ATS wins.
Miami has done well at home recently, covering five of six. They are also 5-2 ATS in September the last two years.
Chiefs QB Alex Smith has not played well and comes into this game as the league's lowest rated passer. If the Dolphins offensive line can protect Ryan Tannehill the same way they did vs. New England, then they should leave with the cash. 10* personal favorite.
|09-21-14||Oakland Raiders +16 v. New England Patriots||Top||9-16||Win||100||154 h 21 m||Show|
I'm playing on OAKLAND. Those who find value in taking large underdogs will have that theory put to the test this week as the Raiders visit New England. This line was quickly bet up and it has reached a point where I personally feel the value is on Oakland.
Don't get me wrong; the Raiders have struggled. Most would consider them to be the worst team in the league. That's why they're getting so many points. But I am of the opinion that this is simply too many points to lay in an NFL game, especially one taking place so early in the season. There's always the issue of motivation for the favorite.
New England is a team that's earned a reputation for putting up a lot of points. But even though they scored 30 last week on Minnesota, I don't believe this Patriots offense is as good as previous editions. They failed to gain even 300 yards against the Vikings and one of their three touchdowns came after a blocked field goal.
Tom Brady seems to be in a bit of a decline. He threw for just 149 yards last week after completing only 51.8 percent of his passes in the first game.
The Patriots have also hurt themselves. They've had a league-high 263 yards go against them due to penalties.
Bad starts have been another issue. They have fallen behind 7-0 in both games thus far. Against Miami, they went three and out, then had a punt blocked. Versus Minnesota, they gave up a seven-play, 80 yard opening drive. With the spread being this high, falling behind at all would make it very difficult to cover.
New England has not been a good bet as a double digit fave recently. They are just 6-14 ATS laying 10 or more points dating back to the 2008 season including 1-6 ATS the last seven times. 10* best bet.
|09-21-14||Houston Texans v. NY Giants +2.5||Top||17-30||Win||100||154 h 14 m||Show|
I'm playing the GIANTS. For a second straight week, Houston is a road favorite. They easily covered last week, but that was against Oakland. The Giants come in desperately needing a win, having opened 0-2, both straight up and against the spread. As a home underdog, I think they are a tremendous value in Week 3.
Let's not forget the Texans also opened 2-0 last year. They would go on to lose their final 14 games in what was a disastrous season. No one, including me, is saying that will happen again in 2014. But, the level of competition hasn't been too significant to this point either. So far, Houston has beaten both the Redskins and the Raiders, two teams that combined for just seven wins a year ago.
The Giants have played a couple of decent teams in Detroit and Arizona. While we all saw them struggle in the first game (Monday night game), they actually played a lot better last week vs. the Cardinals. With the team down 22-14, running back Rashad Jennings had a costly fumble inside the Arizona 20-yard line. That was only after a Ted Ginn punt return for a TD and the Giants fumbling the ensuing kickoff away, setting up a Cardinals' field goal.
One positive development for New York against Arizona was the play of QB Eli Manning. After a rough preseason, Manning appeared to have a grasp of the new offense for the first time. He completed 26 of 39 pass attempts for 277 yards and two touchdowns. One of his two interceptions came on a desperation heave at the end of the game. The other was on a tipped ball.
Last week's win and cover by the Texans broke an 8-game ATS losing streak when looking to follow up a SU win.
Surprisingly, despite two relatively comfortable wins, Houston has been outgained in both games this year. Turnovers, which killed them last year, have swung in their favor and that's a big reason for them being unbeaten right now. But I look for the Giants to get the breaks in this one. 10* best bet.
|09-20-14||Oregon v. Washington State +24||Top||38-31||Win||100||133 h 38 m||Show|
I'm playing on WASHINGTON STATE. One could certainly make the argument that this game matches up the best team and worst team from the Pac 12. But the pointspread is referred to the "great equalizer" for a reason. Taking a generous amount of points at home this week, I like Washington State to cover against #2 Oregon.
Though they are just 1-2 SU/ATS, Washington State has yet to be an underdog. So the disappointing start to the season that includes losses to both Rutgers and Nevada actually works in our favor here. It is likely that the Cougars wouldn't be getting nearly this many points had they lost only once and certainly not if they were unbeaten.
The Cougars have actually covered four years in a row against the Ducks, every time as a big dog. Last year's game saw them lose 62-38 down in Eugene, but they were taking nearly 40 points.
This will be the first time Oregon has played on the road this season. After covering the spread in each of the final eight road games under Chip Kelly, the Ducks fell to 3-2 SU/ATS outside of Eugene last year under Mark Helfrich.
This is also the first time that Washington State has played UO in Pullman since 2010. The 2012 "home game" was actually played in Seattle. That 2010 matchup was the closest between the teams in recent memory as the Ducks won by "only" 20 points.
As long as Mike Leach is the coach, you know WSU is going to put points on the board. While they certainly may have trouble stopping Oregon on offense, the Cougars should be able to score enough to stay within the generous number. The team averaged 31.0 points per game last season and is up over 36 PPG through three games this year. 10* main event.
|09-20-14||California v. Arizona -12||Top||45-49||Loss||-110||132 h 25 m||Show|
I'm playing on ARIZONA. I believe Rich Rodriguez's team will be taking this game seriously as they very nearly lost to Cal last year in Berkeley as a big favorite. But this year's game is at home and this isn't the first time in 2014 that I've backed the Wildcats in Tucson. They came out of the gates with a real easy 58-13 win over UNLV in the opener.
Since that time, it's been a pair of close calls for "Rich Rod." I went against his team in Week 2 as they visited UT-San Antonio and won by just a 26-23 margin. I laid off last week's home game vs. Nevada as they won 35-28, but still feel I've got a pretty good pulse on Arizona nonetheless.
With the two narrow wins, bettors have lined up early to bet against the Wildcats. I feel that works to our advantage. A Cal team I played in the opening week against Northwestern (a win) is now being overvalued.
I say that because the Bears have lost their last 14 Pac 12 games. That's the second longest conference losing streak in the entire country right now.
Both teams are pretty good at stopping the run. But when it comes to offense, Arizona is much better. In fact, there are few better nationally on that side of the ball. They come in averaging 582.7 yards per game. That is tops among all Pac 12 teams and 8th overall in the country. The Wildcats may be averaging slightly less points than they were at this time last year, but the yardage is up, both on a per play and per game basis.
Freshman QB Anu Soloman has been better than expected as has freshman running back Nick Wilson, who had big shoes to fill after Ka'Deem Carey went to the NFL.
I just don't see Cal as being ready to compete with the upper echelon in the conference. 10* personal favorite.
|09-20-14||Texas A&M v. SMU +31.5||Top||58-6||Loss||-110||126 h 2 m||Show|
I'm playing on SMU. Sometimes, when taking a look at a given matchup, there's no disputing who the underdog should be. This is one of those instances as Southern Methodist hosts #6 Texas A&M. The Aggies are rightfully big favorites in this spot, but I think too big of favorites against a SMU team that will play desperate football here. I'm going to take the points.
To say things haven't gone well for SMU thus far would be a mild understatement. They lost their first two games - against Baylor and North Texas - by a combined 88-6 margin. Then their coach June Jones resigned due to personal reasons. It's hard to imagine any team in the country being in worse shape after only three games than the Mustangs are.
But they have had an extra week to prepare and should come out fired up to play this, their first home game of the season, for a new head coach. Tom Mason, who was the defensive coordinator under Jones, is taking over on an interim basis for the remainder of the year.
I just think that this is too many points for any team to lay on the road. It would be easy for Texas A&M to look past this game and towards a stretch of four key SEC West battles that follow it.
Also, the Aggies will be without one of their key playmakers, Speedy Noil. The aptly named wide receiver has suffered an unspecified injury according to coach Kevin Sumlin. The five-star recruit, who also returns punts and kicks, currently leads the team in all-purpose yardage.
The Aggies "only" won by 28 points last week over Rice and that was at home. I can guarantee you that no matter where the line closes, it will be the most points the team has had to lay in any road game during Sumlin's tenure at College Station. 10* best bet.
|09-18-14||Auburn v. Kansas State +9.5||Top||20-14||Win||100||82 h 28 m||Show|
I'm playing on KANSAS STATE. Auburn deserves all the respect that it's getting here from the oddsmakers as they come into Thursday night on a 13-0 ATS run. But that being said, I still feel they're laying too many points against a ranked, non-conference foe that has treated its own backers well when playing at home. I'll be taking the points in this one.
Kansas State boasts an 88-53 ATS home record in Bill Snyder's 22 years in Manhattan. That's 62.5%. They may not have covered the spread in the opening game this year, but they were also laying in excess of 40 points against Stephen F. Austin.
Laying points on the road in these Thursday night situations is always tough. Take note of the fact Auburn has not played a true road game out of conference in the last two seasons. The have played one non-SEC foe at a neutral site each year. In 2012, they lost their opening game to Clemson in Atlanta and then of course last year fell to Florida State in the BCS Championship Game.
Since Snyder came back to the school in 2007, Kansas State has a 27-7 SU home record. Surprisingly, they lost three times at home last year, matching the number of losses from the previous three seasons combined. But all three losses were by 10 points or less.
The key for the Wildcats will be stopping the run. Auburn led the nation in rushing yardage last season and again is averaging well over 300 yards per game on the ground this year. But Kansas State has allowed just 174 yards rushing total in two games. 10* main event.
|09-15-14||Philadelphia Eagles +3 v. Indianapolis Colts||Top||30-27||Win||100||26 h 52 m||Show|
I'm playing on PHILADELPHIA. With the Colts losing last week, many are going to be pointing towards Andrew Luck's 9-0-1 ATS record off a SU loss the last two years. But I don't necessarily share that same faith in this year's Colts. Especially now that they're laying points to a Philadelphia team that can score in bunches. I'm taking the Eagles.
Neither of these teams got off to good starts in Week 1. Indianapolis obviously lost, falling to Denver 32-24. But because they were able to come back from a 24-0 deficit to cover, I think the public is putting too much faith in them. Philadelphia was trailing by a similar margin last week vs. Jacksonville, but still covered a double digit spread against Jacksonville. That's more impresssive to me.
I expect Indy to struggle all season defensively. They were already going to be without Robert Mathis for four games (suspended), but now he's lost for the year after injuring himself while working out. Mathis led the NFL in sacks (19.5) last year. That's a big loss. They also allowed 102 yards rushing against the Broncos. Last year, Philadelphia led the NFL in rushing.
The Colts have also become too one-dimensional on offense. They can't run the ball and the Trent Richardson trade looks worse with each passing game. Andrew Luck just doesn't have enough help this year.
The team will be weaker at linebacker in this game with Jerrell Freeman (33 straight starts) not playing because of a hamstring injury. His replacement, Josh McNary, missed a good deal of training camp.
Even with two backups playing last week (will be the same this week), Philadelphia's offensive line didn't allow a sack in the second half against Jacksonville. That's impressive.
Though Indy has proven itself to be a great bounce back team, I just don't trust this defense enough to call for them to even win the game. 10* main event.
|09-14-14||St. Louis Rams +7 v. Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Top||19-17||Win||100||92 h 57 m||Show|
I'm playing on ST. LOUIS. Both of these teams are off ugly home losses to start the year. Already coming into the game with problems at QB, St. Louis scored only six points in an ugly loss to Minnesota at home that saw them have to call upon third-string QB Austin Davis (remember that Sam Bradford is out for the year). Tampa Bay hardly did any better. They scored only 14 points in a home loss to Carolina. Josh McCown did not look like the same quarterback we saw for a nice stretch last year in Chicago, including tossing a horrible interception right after fumbling the ball on the same play.
Because Tampa Bay was expected to improve this year and St. Louis was expected to basically be the same or worse, the public has gotten down early on the Bucs in this game, pushing the line higher than it should be. Tampa might win this one, but I can't see them covering. Not after last week's performance.
This is the kind of matchup where I'd probably take the dog regardless. Because the game is in Tampa, it's obviously going to be the Rams catching points. But with a very good front four, I believe they're uniquely suited to stopping a Bucs offense that looked pretty lost last week.
When the advanced line for this game was posted at the Westgate (formerly Las Vegas Hilton) prior to the Week 1 kickoffs, it had Tampa Bay laying only 2.5 points. While the Rams certainly didn't perform up to expectations last week, neither did the Buccaneers, so in this instance I feel the line move, especially as significant as it is, is unwarranted.
TB was held scoreless for three quarters last week and quite frankly McCown looked horrible. He threw for only 183 yards on 35 attempts, which works out to 5.2 YPA. That's an ugly number.
McCown's job this week is made more difficult by the fact that Logan Mankins is out. Acquired in a trade with New England right before the regular season, Mankins was supposed to be the difference maker for a Bucs offensive line that otherwise had plenty of question marks. Even with Chris Long being injured, the Rams' front four remains talented enough (they still have Robert Quinn), to make it long day for the Bucs up front. 10* best bet.
|09-14-14||Jacksonville Jaguars v. Washington Redskins -5.5||Top||10-41||Win||100||137 h 54 m||Show|
I'm playing on WASHINGTON. Is it too early to start talking about a "must win" for 1st year Redskins coach Jay Gruden? Starting 0-2 against the AFC South is I'm sure not the way he envisioned his tenure beginning, so a win over Jacksonville is something I'd certainly call a "must."
Washington opened the season by losing 17-6 at Houston (Remember, I took the Texans). While Robert Griffin III and the offense continue to not impress, the one positive takeaway I had for the team was a defense that held Texans stud running back Arian Foster to an average of just 3.8 yards per carry. The Redskins did finish the game with the edge in total yards, 372-316.
Jacksonville meanwhile was a painful beat for their backers as an early 17-0 lead turned into a 34-17 loss and those who took them plus the double digits went from feeling they had a potential outright winner on their hands to a losing ticket altogether.
I can see how given all the buzz underdogs created in Week 1 (went 11-5 ATS overall) that those same people might want to come back with the Jaguars again this week. But I'd tell those folks to beware. This is still not a very good team and their shortcoming became apparent as they fell apart down the stretch last week.
The offense didn't really do anything after taking that 17-0 lead. Toby Gerhart was given a pretty sweet deal to be the lead running back here, but gaining only 42 yards on 18 carries is not a positive sign. Chad Henne is still the quarterback, by the way. Defensively, this team lacks a serious pass rush. That's got to be music to the ears of RG3 after facing Houston last week.
At the end of the day, Gruden can't lose his 1st home game or he risks losing the fanbase. Look for Washington to win this one by at least a touchdown. 10* personal favorite.
|09-13-14||Northen Illinois v. UNLV +9||Top||48-34||Loss||-110||130 h 19 m||Show|
I'm playing on UNLV. It's been a pretty rough start to the season so far for these Rebels. I went against them in their first game as they lost a laugher at Arizona, 58-13 as big underdogs. Last week, though a win, was hardly any more impressive as they beat a lowly FCS squad, Northern Colorado, by only a 13-12 final margin.
Though that kind of win isn't going to impress anyone, it should be mentioned that UNLV did turn the ball over four times, obviously making it harder on themselves. One positive is that they did run the ball for 211 yards.
They are back to catching a big number this week as they host Northern Illinois, who is off a win over Northwestern, which was one of just a series of black eyes for the Big 10 last week. But despite beating a team from the Big 10 for a second straight year, I don't believe there's reason to think that this Huskies team will be as strong as the last couple of seasons.
Sure NIU has won 16 consecutive road games. But they were held scoreless in the first half last week by a Northwestern defense that likely isn't very good. This is also the second of what will be three straight road games for the team. This is the sandwich game as they'll play Arkansas next week, again a foe from a bigger conference. I can see them looking past UNLV here.
Last year when Northern Illinois was better and had Jordan Lynch at quarterback, they went out West once during the regular season and failed to cover an even larger number against a poor Idaho team. Ironically, they had just beaten Iowa the game previous, so it's a similar letdown situation this week.
NIU was actually 0-2 ATS on the West Coast last year, also losing its bowl game to Utah State by a score of 21-14. 10* best bet.
|09-13-14||Georgia v. South Carolina +6||Top||35-38||Win||104||130 h 31 m||Show|
I'm playing on SOUTH CAROLINA. Who would have guessed that this would be the line for this all-important SEC East matchup just two weeks ago? But with the Gamecocks off to a lethargic start that includes that high-profile, embarrassing loss to Texas A&M in the opener and then a close call last week vs. East Carolina, they are now a decided underdog against Georgia. The Bulldogs have played just one game and looked impressive against Clemson.
I was on Georgia there, laying the points. Though it ended up being a relatively easy cover, it was a three-point game going into the fourth quarter. They will not have the benefit of playing in Athens in this game.
Last year it was Georgia that came into this matchup in somewhat of dire straits, off a LOSS to Clemson the week prior. Now that they are off a win AND a bye week, it's kind of easy to see why they'd be favored, especially with South Carolina struggling. But I think it's too many points. Before the season started, South Carolina absolutely would have been favored here.
Remember that South Carolina came into the season owning the nation's longest home win streak at 18 games. A&M caught them off guard. I don't think Georgia will.
Georgia had lost to South Carolina three straight times before winning last year. They have not won in Columbia since '08, scoring a total of only 13 points in two losses since.
The Gamecocks' defense has taken it on the chin in the first two games, but the pass-happy attacks of A&M and East Carolina may very well have simply been bad matchups for their secondary. Georgia is a run-first team that I see them matching up better against.
Speaking of running the ball, South Carolina will have to get Mike Davis going. He has just 116 yards rushing in the first two games. He went for 149 last year against Georgia. He was not healthy in the A&M game and the team falling behind early didn't help his production. Last week, he did run for 101 yards against East Carolina. This week, I'll call for a big game from him and South Carolina. 10* SEC best of the best.
|09-13-14||Illinois v. Washington -14.5||Top||19-44||Win||100||128 h 1 m||Show|
I'm playing on WASHINGTON. Chris Petersen is perhaps finding out that life in the Pac 12 isn't all that it's cracked up to be. His Huskies have struggled to a 2-0 start, beating Hawaii and Eastern Washington by a combined 8 points. But I'll give them a bit of a pass as playing out on the Island can be tough as can the week after.
If there's one conference you want to be playing right now, it's the Big 10. The once proud league got beat up badly last week with a number of high profile losses. Who would have guessed that Illinois would be among the few left at 2-0? But the Illini have certainly had a couple of close calls. In Week 1, they actually trailed Youngstown State (a FCS team) 9-7 entering the fourth quarter. Last week saw them neck and neck with Western Kentucky, again trailing at home as favorites entering the final 15 minutes.
Oddsmakers are predicting another easy win for the Pac 12 over the Big 10 this week. This is hardly Oregon-Michigan State in terms of overall levels of talent, but might the discrepancy between the two teams be the same?
Washington beat Illinois last year by 10 points in Chicago, a game they never trailed. Though it got close in the end, the Huskies led by as many as three touchdowns. They also rolled up 600-plus yards total offense, nearly double that of the Illini.
Taking their act on the road this year is probably not going to end well for Illinois. They have lost eight of nine away games the last two years for coach Tim Beckman. They are also 1-8 against the spread. The last time they traveled West was two years ago against Arizona State and predictably they lost badly 45-14 (as only 4-point dogs?)
Meanwhile, Washington has a pretty safe bet in Seattle, going 15-6 ATS its last 21. 10* personal favorite.
|09-13-14||Iowa State v. Iowa -12.5||Top||20-17||Loss||-100||127 h 14 m||Show|
I'm playing on IOWA. On a Saturday that saw the Big 10 pretty much embarrass itself nationally, Iowa came awfully close to putting itself at the top of the list. They trailed Ball State with a minute to go, at home, before scoring a touchdown to go ahead for good 17-13. After not being that impressive either in the first game against Northern Iowa, there's some real "soul searching" going on right now in Iowa City leading up to the big in-state rivalry game with Iowa State.
Fortunately for the Hawkeyes, ISU is more down than they are. The Cyclones opened their season by getting blown out by North Dakota State, the second year in a row the Bison opened their season with a win over a Big 12 opponent. Then last week saw ISU come close, but ultimately fall short against Kansas State in a 32-28 loss.
Though Iowa State left town with the cash last week and the last four matchups with Iowa have all been decided by six points or less, I'm still going to lay the points with the favorite this year. Iowa should be better while little was expected from the contingent from Ames.
Iowa's goal this season is a Big 10 championship and with a favorable schedule and the conference being down, they should be a player. Their four top players on offense all returned. After throwing 2 or more touchdown passes in seven games last year, QB Rudock had a career-high in yards last week with 322. This offensive line, thought to be one of the best in the Big 10, should be better.
I'll point out that the Hawkeyes missed three field goals last week against Ball State. That was part of the reason that the game was close despite Iowa having a 27-13 edge in first downs and a 455-219 edge in yards. The defense did not allow a touchdown in the game as the only time Ball State found the end zone came on an early fumble return. 10* best of the best.
|09-11-14||Pittsburgh Steelers v. Baltimore Ravens -2.5||Top||6-26||Win||100||72 h 19 m||Show|
I'm playing on BALTIMORE. Obviously, this game is going to take a back seat to the Ray Rice storyline. But I feel in a must-win spot, the Ravens are somewhat being undervalued here. They nearly came back to beat Cincinnati last week while Pittsburgh almost blew it against Cleveland. I can't see Baltimore, traditionally a very strong home team, opening its season with two straight division losses at M&T Bank Stadium.
There were some trends last week that really supported a play on the Ravens. Before losing outright to the Bengals to open the season, the team was 9-0 straight up and 8-1 against the spread as a home favorite of three points or less under John Harbaugh. Week 1 marked their first home loss in the first four weeks of the season since Harbaugh's been the coach here. Just last year, they were 6-2 SU at home. The fact that they lost last week doesn't make those trends any less true; there's just a loss in there now.
Incredibly, the past five meetings between these teams have all been decided by three points or less. That makes a case for the dog in this situation, especially since the Ravens only won 22-20 over the Steelers Thanksgiving night at home last year. (PIttsburgh left with the cash as three-point underdogs after missing a potential game-tying 2-pt conversion.)
But the Steelers were also on the verge of not covering that game obviously, before the late TD. They were on the wrong end of a backdoor cover last week, blowing a 27-3 lead at home to the Browns and needing a last second field goal just to pull out the straight up win.
With the Ray Rice situation hopefully behind them, perhaps Baltimore pulls together in this one? It's a game they have to have and in the past we've seen teams pull together amidst similar distractions.
Perhaps Joe Flacco's numbers would have looked a lot better last week had his receivers not dropped six passes. Also, the Ravens defense did allow just one touchdown, the late bomb to AJ Green. Pittsburgh's defense looked a lot worse against a Cleveland offense that few have an affinity for. 10* main event.
|09-08-14||San Diego Chargers +3.5 v. Arizona Cardinals||Top||17-18||Win||100||182 h 44 m||Show|
I'm playing on SAN DIEGO. Getting the "hook" (half point) here is obviously pretty nice. But I wouldn't be surprised if we didn't end up needing it at all as I think the Chargers have an excellent shot at taking this game outright.
Arizona is coming off a 10-win season. But few are predicting a repeat finish this season playing in the tough NFC West. The Cardinals defense carried them last year, but three of their starting players from the front seven are gone (Dansby, Dockett, Washington). That's going to spell trouble against a Chargers offense that by most measures only ranked behind Denver in terms of being the best in the league in 2013.
San Diego's defense was its Achilles heel last year, but that group actually improved as the season went along, thanks to a pass rush. They brought in some new cornerbacks in the offseason, one in the draft (Verrett) and one in free agency (Flowers), and I like those moves.
But when discussing the Chargers, you have to talk QB Philip Rivers. He completed almost 70% of his passes last season, a number which the coaching staff predicted before the season and was laughed at for. The new coaching staff did wonders for him and he ended up with almost 4500 yards passing and 32 touchdown passes.
Even if tight end Antonio Gates can't go tonight, Rivers won't be lacking for weapons. Receiver Keenan Allen had great rookie year and the Chargers have another TE in waiting in LaDarius Green.
I am far more worried about Arizona's injury situation. Running back Andre Ellington was supposed to have a breakout year, but has been limited in practice and will be a gametime decision. Also, what if punter Dave Zastudil can't go? The team doesn't have another punter on the roster!
The Cardinals are 0-4 ATS their last four appearances on Monday Night Football. 10* best bet.
|09-07-14||Washington Redskins v. Houston Texans -2.5||Top||6-17||Win||100||148 h 27 m||Show|
I'm playing on HOUSTON. Two teams looking to rebound from very disappointing campaigns meet in the first week of the season. With Houston at home and available below the key number of three, I've decided to lay the points.
In fact, according to record these teams should have drafted 1-2 back in April. But because of the Robert Griffin III trade, the Redskins lost their right to the #2 overall choice. Houston being able to add Jadeveon Clowney while Washington really added no one of consequence is an obvious and automatic advantage in the Texans favor.
We have two rookie head coaches making their debuts in this one as well. Both have been head coaches before; Houston's Bill O'Brien in college and Washington's Jay Gruden in the Arena League. Both were also offensive coordinators previously in the NFL. Opening at home, I give the slight edge to O'Brien.
With Clowney joining JJ Watt, I give the Texans a significant edge defensively in this matchup. Linebacker Brian Cushing also returns from an injury-riddled campaign.
While Houston has questions at quarterback (Ryan Fitzpatrick?), who knows if RG3 will ever be able to stay healthy for Washington? After the disastrous end to the Mike Shanahan era in D.C, things can probably only get better, but Griffin is back to square one.
Trends aren't necessarily as useful when you have new head coaches. But for what it's worth, the Redskins did fail to cover five of their last six road games last year. There is the fact that Houston lost its last 14 games last season. So O'Brien and the new coaching staff will be desperate for a win. They'll get it and the cover. 10* personal favorite.
|09-06-14||BYU v. Texas -3.5||Top||41-7||Loss||-106||142 h 32 m||Show|
I'm playing on TEXAS. I'm well aware that Longhorns QB David Ash is going to miss this game. But by now the team should be used to playing without him. Also, with the way the defense played for Charlie Strong in the opener, the impact of Ash's absence won't be as great.
I know it was "only" North Texas, but the Mean Green have a veteran offensive line and it was dominated by the Texas front four. They forced two interceptions on the first seven pass attempts they faced and brought constant pressure throughout the game. They allowed only eight first downs and 94 total yards! That's what you call a dominating performance.
Remember that Strong's defenses at Louisville were very good. Just last year he presided over a unit that ranked #1 against the run in the entire country. That will come in handy facing a BYU offense that averaged 5.5 yards per carry in last week's 35-10 win over Connecticut.
Lest we forget the revenge angle that's in play. The Longhorns got embarrassed last year out in Provo, losing 40-21. They actually came into that game as seven-point favorites. That loss signaled the end of the Mack Brown era. As noted above, the defense BYU will run into here is going to be much tougher.
Ash played last year against BYU and obviously wasn't much a difference maker. As I said before, they are used to being without him as he was lost for the year in game #3 (week after BYU) last season. The 'Horns responded by winning seven of their final nine regular season games.
Look for the defense to carry Texas to victory in this game as we're getting good value and Ash won't be missed as much as you think. 10* revenge GOM
|09-06-14||East Carolina v. South Carolina -13.5||Top||23-33||Loss||-118||141 h 3 m||Show|
I'm playing on SOUTH CAROLINA. Obviously, you couldn't have drawn up a worse start for Steve Spurrier and South Carolina as they got hammered by Texas A&M in their opening game, 52-28, at home. They obviously weren't ready for A&M quarterback Kenny Hill. None of us were.
This week's opponent fortunately won't be nearly as challenging and this looks like a bounce back spot for the Old Ball Coach and his team. The opponent is East Carolina, a team that just two years ago the Gamecocks clobbered on this field by a score of 48-10. They easily covered the three touchdown spread in that one.
The line for this matchup isn't nearly as high because of what happened last week. Unfortunately, some of the value is now gone because the number has been bet up, but that's still okay. I expect South Carolina to roll in this one.
East Carolina is a team that like Texas A&M will look look to pass the ball quite a bit. Last week, it really didn't matter what the Pirates' offensive gameplan was because they were obviously going to defeat NC Central and they did by a score of 52-7. But I wouldn't count on Spurrier's defense being as bad as it was last Thursday.
What I would count on is South Carolina bouncing back. Only once in the previous three seasons have they lost back to back games. That was in 2012 when they played at LSU and Florida in consecutive weeks. Don't forget that coming into the year, this was the team with nation's longest home winning streak.
Laying two scores seems like a lot if you watched the Gamecocks last week, but considering the mood the coaching staff is likely to be in, plus how we all viewed this team before the A&M game, they're certainly up to the challenge. 10* personal favorite.
|09-06-14||Georgia Tech v. Tulane +10.5||Top||38-21||Loss||-102||138 h 1 m||Show|
I'm playing on TULANE. Going against Tulane provided me with my first win of this college football season. I have to say that it was a fortunate one though.
Playing at Tulsa and getting anywhere from 3.5 (where line opened) to 6.5 (where it closed), the Green Wave came out and took a 21-7 lead on the road. At that point, I was sweating pretty badly. But not only did Tulsa come back and win, but they prevailed by seven points in double overtime! A real bad beat if you were a Tulane bettor though.
This week sees the Green Wave taking double digits at home against Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets opened their season with a fairly uninspired 38-19 win over Wofford. That was at home too. Not sure if I'd want to be caught laying double digits on the road with this relatively inexperienced GT team this early in the season, so I'll go the other way.
The Yellow Jackets were a double digit road favorite only once all of last season. They pushed at Virginia, winning 35-25. They went 0-3-1 ATS their final four road games in 2013.
They are also 0-4-1 ATS their last five games following a SU win, showing that they can't maintain success typically. Since Paul Johnson's first two seasons when they went 5-0 ATS as road chalk, the Jackets are just 6-8-2 ATS in that role.
Tulane is both 5-0 ATS off an ATS loss and 4-0 ATS its last four home games. The Tulsa team they played last week figures to be improved this year. I can't say the same about Georgia Tech.
The Green Wave had over 500 yards of total offense last week. I like seeing that. They've also had two additional days to prepare for this game. 10* best bet.
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