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|Date||Match Up||Rating||Score||Result||Profit||Lead Time||Analysis|
|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.
|09-01-14||Miami (Fla) v. Louisville -3||Top||13-31||Win||100||23 h 54 m||Show|
I'm playing on LOUISVILLE. These teams just met in the Russell Athletic Bowl at the end of last season. Louisville dominated in a 36-9 rout. Though they won't have Teddy Bridgewater (NFL) or DeVante Parker (injured) for the 2014 opener, they do have Bobby Petrino back on the sidelines and as a result I don't expect the Cardinals to skip a beat. Look for them to win big in their first ever ACC home game.
Miami will be starting a true freshman at quarterback themselves, so both teams are dealing with new starters at the position. At least Will Gardner has some previous experience for Louisville.
Petrino won 41 games in his four-year previous stint at Louisville. Since then, his career has been marred in controversy. He famously quit the Atlanta Falcons to become the coach at Arkansas, but then was caught with a female student after he crashed his motorcycle. He resurfaced at Western Kentucky last year where he went 8-4 straight up. Obviously, he's still a very good coach.
Every year we hear how Miami "is back." Every year this never really takes place. Last year's team lost four games. This year's returns fewer starters and plays a tougher schedule. This is a tough spot having to open their season on the road with Brad Kaaya making his first career start.
Miami's top offensive weapon is running back Duke Johnson, who is coming back from a serious ankle injury that cost him the second half of last season. Louisville shockingly led the nation in rushing yards allowed last season.
With this being a national TV game at home, Petrino and the new coaching staff are absolutely going to place a massive emphasis on winning here. They will with room to spare. 10* main event.
|08-31-14||Utah State +6.5 v. Tennessee||Top||7-38||Loss||-106||190 h 29 m||Show|
I'm playing on UTAH STATE. Tennessee owns the unique distinction of being the ONLY team in the country not to return a single starter along either the offensive or defensive line. This is a dangerous Utah State team they are laying points to and I think it's too many.
When looking at Utah State this year, QB Chuckie Keeton is the name to remember. Considered to be one of the more irreplaceable players in all of CFB, Keeton was lost for the year at the midpoint of last season. The Aggies still made the Mountain West Championship Game and there gave Fresno State all they could handle.
Keeton is back this year. Something you may not know is that at the time of the ACL injury he was second in the entire country in TD passes with 18. He makes Utah State infinitely better.
The Aggies won't be intimidated by the environment of Neyland Stadium either. Three years ago with Keeton making his first career start they went into Auburn and nearly won as 23-point underdogs. That Auburn team was coming off a National Championship. This Tennessee team certainly is not.
Utah State also brings in a quality defense. Last year saw them rank 2nd in the country, giving up just 2.8 yards per rush.
It's pretty incredible to see how far Tennessee has fallen down the SEC pecking order. They've had four consecutive losing seasons. It's going to be tough avoiding a fifth as they face one of the nation's most difficult schedules.
The SEC vs. the Mountain West is what's helped to inflate this line. But Tennessee is one of the SEC's worst teams and Utah State is one of the MWC's best. Take the points in this one. 10* GOM
|08-30-14||Ohio +3 v. Kent State||Top||17-14||Win||100||166 h 31 m||Show|
I'm playing on OHIO. Let's get right into the revenge angle, shall we? Ohio was Kent's final opponent last year. This is a game Ohio has been waiting for all offseason as they were hammered 44-18 at home by a Kent team that finished only 4-8. That's one of those head scratchers when you look back at the previous season's results. I expect the Bobcats to gain a measure of revenge coming out of the gate.
Last year's game saw Ohio fall into a huge hole early as Kent State scored two defensive touchdowns in the opening nine minutes. It was pretty much over from there. You'd have to believe that something similar won't happen again.
This is actually a double revenge situation for Ohio as they lost here 28-6 in 2012. But that was a ranked Golden Flashes team that was the program's best since the 70's. This KSU team loses perhaps its best players on both sides of the ball from last season, RB Dri Archer and DT Roosevelt Nix.
Ohio also loses a ton of talent, especially on offense, but does have eight starters back on defense. They were the better team overall last year and should be again this year.
Taking the points in this MAC East rivalry has traditionally been the way to go. The underdog has taken the game outright in half of the past six matchups. Usually that has been Kent State getting points. That's not the case this year, however. I can't see the Bobcats failing to cover a 6th straight time against their division rivals.
Kent was 0-4-1 ATS at home last year. 10* revenge game of the month.
|08-30-14||Clemson v. Georgia -7.5||Top||21-45||Win||100||10 h 34 m||Show|
I'm playing on GEORGIA. Two big things have me pointing towards Georgia in this matchup. One is revenge. Two is they should be much improved while Clemson is likely to go in the other direction. I'm not concerned about laying the points either as the Bulldogs have lost only one game "between the Hedges" the last two years.
Georgia is off an 8-5 season where many things went wrong, namely an injury to starting quarterback Aaron Murray. Hutson Mason had to step in as his replacement and he certainly performed admirably. He led the team from 20 points back to defeat Georgia Tech in the final regular season game and then threw for 320 yards against Nebraska in the bowl game. Those performances bode well for this season.
There were also a number of close losses for Georgia last season, most notably the one against Auburn with the ridiculous deflection on the Hail Mary. They also lost by four at Vanderbilt and by three at Clemson. This will be an improved team this year.
That three-point loss to Clemson could have gone either way. The Bulldogs actually had the edge in total yards and did lead for most of the second quarter. Getting the rematch at home is a big deal, especially in a season opener.
Clemson loses a number of its top players at the skill positions, most notably WR Sammy Watkins. But also gone is their all-time leading passer Tajh Boyd, who had 5 touchdowns and 312 total yards in last year's game. I'm not sure how the Tigers will replace that.
Don't be surprised if Georgia RB Todd Gurley is the difference in this one. Last year, he ran for 154 yards against Clemson - on only 12 carries. He is perhaps the best running back in the entire country. 10* personal favorite.
|08-30-14||California +11 v. Northwestern||Top||31-24||Win||100||163 h 4 m||Show|
I'm playing on CALIFORNIA. This line has been bouncing around since it opened. Many other bettors quickly joined me on the dog as Cal went from +12 to +10. There's since been some buyback on the chalk. Getting double digits, I feel the value is on California.
This is a cross-country trip for the Bears, who hosted Northwestern in the 2013 opener and lost 44-30. That set the tone for a terrible first season under Sonny Dykes where they went 1-11 with no wins over FBS teams. But I think there's reasons to be a little more optimistic with this year's Cal team.
They bring 15 starters back, nine of them on offense. As a freshman, QB Jared Goff set the passing record (for freshman) at the university. It's also unlikely that the team will finish -15 in turnover margin again as they did last season. Basically, what I'm saying is Cal can only go up.
Northwestern is also coming off a terribly disappointing season. They were more competitive than California was, but no team (perhaps in the nation) had worse luck at the end of games. They too are almost guaranteed of improving on 2013's win total. But I'm still not sure I like the Wildcats in the chalk role. They failed to cover four of five times last season laying points in Evanston.
Last year's game was a bit closer than the final score indicates. It was tied early in the 4th quarter and Cal was able to cut the lead to 7 points with just under five minutes to go. They also had to overcome two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns. That's basically a guaranteed loss right there and ended up being the difference in the final score.
Northwestern is a team not known for winning games by big margins. I prefer to be on them as a dog, quite honestly. There is also the issue of RB Venric Mark, who was to be suspended for the first two games anyway, transferring out of the program. Grab the points. 10* best bet.
|08-28-14||Seattle Seahawks v. Oakland Raiders +5||Top||31-41||Win||100||39 h 37 m||Show|
I'm playing on OAKLAND. Because of how good Seattle has been in the preseason under Pete Carroll, we have a very unusual line for this time of year where the road team is actually laying 5.5 points. I can't recall a time where I've seen a road team favored by this many points in preseason. Part of that has to do with the home team being the Raiders. But I don't see much of an emphasis being placed on winning for Seattle here. So, I'll take the points.
Oakland's second and third team offense has actually performed admirably this preseason. They have scored late touchdowns in all three games. While that hasn't led to a cover, two of the team's games have been decided by four points or less. Two of the team's three TD's last week came in the fourth quarter. That's an encouraging sign here because those are the players who will be seeing the majority of time this week.
Seattle's first team offense has been incredible so far. But Russell Wilson and company will not play in this game. Last week saw the team score just three points in the second half after Wilson departed. Again, an encouraging sign considering who is likely to be playing this week.
The Raiders may also be motivated by the fact that they've lost three years in a row to the Seahawks in the preseason finale. I just think that 5.5 points is too many to be laying in a game, on the road, where winning isn't necessarily a priority. Road favorites are not only 2-5 ATS in the preseason, but 2-5 straight up as well. 10* best bet.
|08-23-14||Tampa Bay Buccaneers +3 v. Buffalo Bills||Top||27-14||Win||100||93 h 57 m||Show|
I'm playing on TAMPA BAY. The Buccaneers have opened the preseason 0-2. Normally, that isn't a huge deal, but it is when you have a new head coach. Lovie Smith has yet to taste victory on the Tampa Bay sideline and after last week's pretty poor showing, he should have his team super motivated this week as they visit Buffalo. I'll be taking the points.
The Bills have played three preseason games so far. They started by losing the Hall of Fame Game, giving up a late TD to the Giants when all the reserves were in. Since then, they beat Carolina by two and lost to Pittsburgh by three, both on the road. So this will be their first time playing in front of the home fans, who are restless about the team's future.
Normally, you'd perhaps want to back a team that has an extra game under its belt and is playing at home for the first time. But all of the Bills games have been close (all decided by four points or less) and for all their struggles, the Bucs have only lost by six points in both of their games.
Tampa Bay was robbed of a potential score last week when rookie WR Mike Evans made a costly fumble at the 1-yard line that went through the end zone for a touchback. If he doesn't do that and the Bucs punch it in, we're possibly talking about them coming off a win here.
Speaking of rookie wide receivers, Sammy Watkins left last week's game with an injury for the Bills. So they are not going to push him too hard here.
Tampa Bay still has a bit of quarterback battle going on with Josh McCown and Mike Glennon. Buffalo knows EJ Manuel will be their man. The road team has more to prove this week. 10* best bet.
|08-16-14||Atlanta Falcons v. Houston Texans -2||Top||7-32||Win||100||121 h 31 m||Show|
I'm playing on HOUSTON. Things could not have gone worse for Bill O' Brien in his return to the NFL. His Texans were shutout 32-0 by Arizona last week in the preseason opener. But the good news is that no one will remember that result if his team is able to bounce back this week at home vs. Atlanta.
**Note that it looks as if I'm not alone in calling for Houston to have a bounce back performance. Bet this game ASAP as I already have.
While the Texans were getting blanked last week, the Falcons won their preseason opener 16-10 over the Miami Dolphins. But wins this time of year have been rare under Mike Smith. Atlanta was just 7-17 straight up in his previous six seasons and 3-9 ATS the previous three.
Homefield advantage definitely seemed to matter in Week 1 of the preseason with the home team taking 14 of the 16 games played straight up. Both of these teams games fell into that pattern.
Even more interesting is that 1st year head coaches were 4-0 straight up at home last week. You'll recall that I took Ken Whisenhunt and Tennessee last Saturday at home vs. Green Bay. The number for the Titans was less than the standard three points, which is why I jumped on the Texans so quickly here.
As I said last week,"there's no better way to get the fans believing in your program than by starting out the season with a victory, regardless if its "only" preseason or not." This is now especially important for O'Brien after his team got walloped last week.
Having already won its preseason opener and with the "dress rehearsal" game next week, I don't think that the end result will mean much to Atlanta here. It will for Houston. 10* personal favorite.
|08-09-14||Green Bay Packers v. Tennessee Titans||Top||16-20||Win||100||123 h 10 m||Show|
I'm playing on TENNESSEE. This will be our first look at the Titans under the direction of Ken Whisenhunt. With the game taking place at home, I expect an added emphasis to be placed on winning for the team's new coach. There's no better way to get the fans believing in your program than by starting out the season with a victory, regardless if its "only" preseason or not.
The opponent will be Green Bay, a team that has little to prove in the preseason. QB Aaron Rodgers leads a team that many feel can reach the Super Bowl. However, after a season where a major injury cost Rogers several games and almost kept the Packers from the playoffs, don't expect to see him on the field for long when the games "don't count."
However, in Tennessee, QB Jake Locker has much to prove. Coming under the tutelage of Whisenhunt can only help him. Last season saw "Coach Wiz" reinvent the career of San Diego QB Philip Rivers, who had the best passer rating of his career. The Chargers offense placed in the top five in yards per game and Whisenhunt was named the top assistant in the league. Thus, it was no surprise to see him get his second chance at being a head coach in this league. Remember it was only a few years ago that he took Arizona to the Super Bowl!
Green Bay's offense certainly didn't do a lot last year in the preseason. In fact, they averaged only 9.2 points per game in going 1-3 both straight up and against the spread.
Because of the teams' different profiles nationally, we are able to get a pretty good number here on the Titans at home. Not only are they laying less than a field goal, but we are able to get them at a "Pick 'em," meaning all we need is a straight up win. 10* personal favorite.
|08-01-14||Toronto Argonauts +3 v. Montreal Alouettes||Top||31-5||Win||100||84 h 53 m||Show|
I’m playing on TORONTO. I successfully played against the Raptors at Ottawa a couple of weeks ago. After a tough narrow loss in that game, the Argos were blown out at Saskatchewan last week. I expect that game to provide the Argos with some added motivation here. Stepping down in class, I look for them to bounce back with a much improved effort.
While its been a disappointing start for the Argos, they enter the week with as many victories as every other team in the Eastern Conference. After winning its opener, Montreal has lost its last two games by a combined score of 75-38. While the Als had the best QB in the league for most of the past decade, Calvillo isn’t around any longer. Last week’s game notwithstanding, Toronto now arguably has the best QB in the East.
Following last week's 37-9 loss to Saskatchewan, Toronto’s Chris Van Zeyl used the word “embarrassed,” emphasizing the need for change in terms of the team’s attention to detail. Van Zeyl had this to say: “It’s on every individual in this locker room to make sure we’re ready to play every game and it starts in practice through walkthrough right up until game day. It’s the preparation, the attention to detail. Right now, it’s a little lax. I definitely believe and I’ve seen it in the past that we got to pick our (expletive) up. It’s on everybody in this locker room. I don’t think I played my best game. Ask anybody and they’ll honestly say they did not play their best game. We have to go from there and know we can improve as individuals and as a team.”
The Argos are 5-1 ATS their last six visits here, 3-0 SU/ATS their last three. I expect at least another cover here. 10* best bet
|07-26-14||Ottawa Redblacks v. Hamilton Tiger-Cats -4.5||Top||23-33||Win||100||82 h 4 m||Show|
I’m playing on HAMILTON. I won with Ottawa last week. That was a good spot for the Redblacks. A winless expansion team, they were playing their home opener - a huge game for them. Give Ottawa credit for eking out a victory in that game. However, this time, the shoe is on the other foot. This time, Ottawa is on the road. This time, Ottawa is facing a winless team, which is playing its home opener. Ottawa lost its two road games by a combined score of 63-39, each loss coming by greater than a touchdown. Even in last week’s win, there were some vulnerabilities. This is still an expansion team. While they may be 0-3 SU, the Ti-Cats have played three road games, all of them against Western Conference opponents. They’ve covered the last two of those. Stepping down in class, I expect the Ti-Cats to reward the home faithful with a big win. 10* personal favorite
|06-15-14||Miami Heat +6 v. San Antonio Spurs||Top||87-104||Loss||-107||58 h 48 m||Show|
I’m playing on MIAMI. I’ve successfully backed the Spurs a few times in this series now, supporting them in Game 1 and Game 3. This will be the first time that I’m taking Miami though.
The Spurs have certainly looked impressive the past two games. They’re obviously a very good team, one which is playing very well right now. The Heat are still the champs though and I don’t believe they’re going to go down without a serious fight.
Lets not forget that the Heat are still 9-1 SU and 8-2 ATS the last 10 times that they were trailing in a playoff series.
While neither game at Miami was close, the two here at San Antonio were. The most recent game (Game 2) here was decided by only two points. The first game here saw San Antonio win by 15. However, that game was also close until the final minutes. I won’t be surprised if this one also comes down to the wire. That said, we’re getting more points with the Heat than we were for any game in these playoffs and I’m grabbing all the points I can get. 10* main event
|06-10-14||San Antonio Spurs +4.5 v. Miami Heat||Top||111-92||Win||100||36 h 38 m||Show|
I’m playing on SAN ANTONIO. These teams split the first two games at San Antonio. While the Spurs did pull away at the end of the first, both games were close. I won’t be surprised to see an important Game 3 also come down to the wire. That said, I believe that getting this many points with the visitors is providing us with plenty of value.
The Heat are well known for their ability to bounce back from a playoff loss and they added to that reputation on Sunday. The Spurs are pretty good at doing so themselves though and they tend to thrive when a series is tied. They’re 4-1 SU their last five off a loss, most recently beating the Thunder by 28.
A very well-coached team which almost never panics, the Spurs are also an outstanding 27-11 SU (25-12-1 ATS) the last 38 times that they played when a series was tied. During that stretch, they’re 32-15 ATS (39-8 SU!) off an upset loss.
Last year, just like this year, the Spurs won Game 1 and the Heat won Game 2. The Spurs would go on to win Game 3 by 36 points, the most one-sided game of the series. While a similar blowout would be surprising, another Spurs’ victory would not. 10* main event
|06-05-14||Miami Heat v. San Antonio Spurs -3.5||Top||95-110||Win||100||97 h 2 m||Show|
I’m playing on SAN ANTONIO. Obviously, both teams really want to start the series with a victory. Playing at home, I believe its more important for the Spurs to do so though. I expect them to have a little more sense of urgency.
San Antonio has been all business in Game 1 the last couple of rounds. The Spurs won the opening game of the last series by 17 points. The previous round, they won the opening game by 24. Having lost the first game against Indiana - and still easily winning the series - and having lost the first game against the Spurs in last years Finals, the Heat may have the sense that they could do so again.
While the Heat are 0-3-1 ATS (0-4 SU) as road underdogs in the +3.5 to +6 range, the Spurs are 8-3 ATS (9-2 SU) as home favorites in the -3.5 to -6 range. That includes a 111-87 destruction of the Heat when the teams met here in March. I look for Popovich to have them ready and I expect them to take care of business once again. 10* roast
|05-29-14||Oklahoma City Thunder v. San Antonio Spurs -4||Top||89-117||Win||100||30 h 27 m||Show|
I’m playing on San Antonio. Nobody has forgotten the 2012 Western Conference Finals. The Spurs won the first two games against the Thunder in that series only to go on to lose the next four. While some are expecting history to repeat itself, I’m not among them.
These are not the 2012 Spurs. This is a team which does not panic. While this is a Game 5 instead of a Game 7, its obviously a critical game, one the Spurs can ill afford to lose. Here’s a small excerpt from a writeup I used the last time that the Spurs were in a “must win” situation, Game 7 against the Mavs:
"...Popovich, Duncan and co. have all been here before. They’ve got nothing to prove. There’s no sense of panic. Duncan had this to say about having to play a Game 7. ‘’It doesn’t matter how many games it takes. We’re not worried or disappointed...’' (The Spurs would go on to win in blowout fashion.)
I believe that sense of calmness, which comes from their experience, their coach and the type of players (Duncan) they have, will serve them well here. They know what they need to do and I look for them to do it.
Obviously, home court has been huge in the series. The home team has won big in all four games.
The Spurs have been money over the years, Game 3 notwithstanding, when off a double-digit loss. They’re 8-6 ATS 12-2 SU the last 14 times that they were off a loss of 10 or more points, going 21-14 ATS (29-6 SU) their last 35. Going back over the years, we find them at a lucrative 124-86-10 ATS their last 220 in that situation.
I expect home court to again prove to be the difference, the Spurs improving to 8-3 ATS the last 11 times that they were listed as home favorites in the -3.5 to -6 range. 10* Roast
|05-28-14||Miami Heat v. Indiana Pacers +3||Top||90-93||Win||100||12 h 57 m||Show|
I’m playing on INDIANA. The Pacers were already heavy underdogs coming into the series and now nobody is giving them any chance at all. I don’t believe they’re going to go down without a fight though. The pressure is now completely off the Pacers. I believe they’ll be able to be loose, while also playing with a sense of pride at the same time.
The Pacers are still 9-2 SU (8-3 ATS) their last 11 when trailing in a playoff series. During that time, they’re 39-11 at home (Miami 26-21 on road) and 15-6 off a double-digit loss.
Obviously, the Heat would really like to close out the series tonight. However, with the Spurs/Thunder now still a long way from being over, there may not be quite the same sense of urgency, as there would be if the Spurs had swept, as some thought might be the case after the first two games in that series.
The four point Game 2 loss notwithstanding, the Pacers have had plenty of recent success against the Heat here. I believe they’ll come in expecting to win.
George Hill had this to say: ''I think that is when we are at our best, when our back is against the wall. We are going to be home in front of our fans and I'm sure they're going to be going crazy.’’ I agree. 10* main event
|05-25-14||San Antonio Spurs v. Oklahoma City Thunder -2||Top||97-106||Win||100||82 h 12 m||Show|
I’m on OKLAHOMA CITY. I respect the Spurs and have backed them a few times of late, most recently in Game 1 of this series. However, I believe this is a strong spot for the Thunder.
As you’re probably aware, the Spurs are up 2-0. Neither game at San Antonio was close. This game is at Oklahoma City though. The Thunder have won back-to-back games here and are 15-4 their last 19 here. They’ve also owned the Spurs here. In fact, they’re a perfect 7-0 SU/ATS the last seven meetings against San Antonio here.
Speaking of 7-0, the Thunder are also 7-0 SU (5-2 ATS) the last seven times that they’d played their previous three or more games on the road, 18-4 SU their last 22 in that situation.
There’s some talk that Ibaka could come back, as he’s been healing faster than expected. Obviously a healthy Ibaka would help this team a lot. I’m not going to rely on him returning though.
Even with the loss in Game 2, the Thunder are still 3-1 SU and 2-1-1 ATS when trailing in a playoff series. Obviously, they need a win here. With Durant and Westbrook rising to the occasion, I expect them to get it, covering the small number along the way. 10* Conf. Finals GOY
|05-18-14||Miami Heat v. Indiana Pacers +3||Top||96-107||Win||100||44 h 49 m||Show|
I’m playing on INDIANA. Homecourt didn’t mean much in the Pacers’ last series. However, I expect it to prove significant here.
The Heat are still only 25-20 on the road. The Pacers are still 38-10 at home. The Heat allow 97.4 points on the road. The Pacers allow only 88.9 here at home.
All four regular season meetings were won by the home team. The Pacers won the two games here by scores of 90-84 and 84-83. In both cases, Indiana was favored. This time, we’re actually getting a couple of points.
Nearly everyone expects the Heat to win. I believe the Pacers match up well against them though. This is the series they’ve been waiting for all season and I expect it to bring out their best.
With their last game having come Thursday, the Pacers have had an optimal amount of rest, at least for them; not too much, not too little. They’re 15-2 SU (11-6 ATS) when playing with two day’s rest. The Pacers know they can’t afford to lose another Game 1. Don’t be shocked when they score the upset. 10* main event
|05-15-14||Oklahoma City Thunder +5 v. Los Angeles Clippers||Top||104-98||Win||100||14 h 38 m||Show|
I’m playing on OKC. This series has been getting closer and closer and the two previous games here at LA . The first game (at OKC) was decided by 17 points, the second by 11. When the series shifted to LA for Game 3, the game was decided by only six points. Neither team ever led by double-digits. Game 4 was even closer, as it was decided by only two points. Last game? The closest yet, a 1-point win for OKC. While we can’t keep getting closer (as you can’t get closer than Game 5) another close one tonight won’t surprise. (Overall, the total points in the series is 540-539.) That said, I believe the number of the visiting Thunder is generous.
Homecourt has meant little in the series, as the road team has covered four of five games. The Thunder covered both games here at LA, winning one by six and losing the other by two. Keep in mind that there are still distractions from the Sterling scandal still in LA. Additionally, the Clippers could easily be thinking about “what might have been,” after blowing Game 5 in heart-breaking (and controversial) fashion.
Remember last round? Just like this series, the Thunder also saw their Game 5 (at OKC) decided by a single point, a 99-100 thriller vs. the Grizzlies. Remember what happened in Game 6? The Thunder went on the road and crushed the Grizzlies by 20 points.
The Thunder know the Spurs are waiting and they’d really rather not have to drag this to a Game 7. They’re 5-1 ATS their last six as road underdogs in the 3.5 to 6 range and I expect AT LEAST another cover tonight. 10* main event
|05-14-14||PORTLAND GM5 v. SAN ANTONIO GM5 -7.5||Top||82-104||Win||100||32 h 20 m||Show|
I’m playing on SAN ANTONIO. After dominating the first three games of the series, the Spurs stumbled in Game 4. Give the Blazers credit for showing some pride and avoiding the sweep. However, even they know that their chances of coming back to win the series are remote, at best. With the series shifting back to San Antonio, I expect the savvy Spurs to leave no room for doubt.
The Spurs jumped all over the Blazers in the two games here. They were up 65-39 and 70-51 at halftime. They’re going to come out with a lot of intensity again and I feel it will be difficult for the Blazers to avoid falling behind. If/When they do fall behind, reality figures to set in - their season is done.
The Spurs are 11-7 ATS (16-2 SU!) off an “upset” loss. Going back further finds them at a profitable 31-15 ATS (38-8 SU!) in that situation the past few seasons. In fact, that’s been a spot they’ve fared well in throughout the majority of the Duncan/Popovich era.
The Blazers have already had a successful season and can hold their heads high. The Spurs are on a mission though and I expect them to advance with a double-digit win. 10* 2nd Rd. GOY
|05-13-14||WASHINGTON GM5 v. INDIANA GM5 -5||Top||102-79||Loss||-109||19 h 40 m||Show|
I’m playing on INDIANA. With three straight victories, the Pacers have taken this series over. The team that dominated much of the regular season has seemingly returned. That said, with a chance to close the deal and a line this low, I feel they’re providing us with excellent value.
The Pacers are 19-11 ATS (22-8 SU) the last 30 times that they were listed as home favorites in the -3.5 to -6 range. When they finally got a chance to put the Hawks away, they did so decisively. I expect them to do so again here. 10* personal favorite
|05-09-14||Miami Marlins v. San Diego Padres +1.5||Top||1-10||Win||100||12 h 7 m||Show|
I’m playing SAN DIEGO on the Run-Line. (+1.5 Runs) This game isn’t expected to see many runs. In fact, as I write this, the O/U line is only 5.5 at a lot of shops. With runs expected to be at a premium, every run takes on added significance. That said, I believe that getting an extra +1.5 runs with the home team here, is offering excellent value.
Fernandez has proven to be an excellent pitcher. However, he’s not generally nearly as good on the road. This season, he’s got a 0.78 ERA at home but a 4.50 ERA on the road. That was the case last season too. He had a 1.19 ERA at home but a 3.50 mark on the road.
The Marlins are only 6-9 in Fernandez’s 15 career road starts. A closer look shows that all six of those wins came by two runs or less and that four of them came by a single run. In other words, they’d be just 2-13 if being asked to laying -1.5 runs in all his 15 starts.
Ross can pitch and he should be fired up to go head-to-head with Miami’s ace. Like Fernandez, he’s better at home. In fact, he’s got an ugly 5.94 ERA on the road but a stellar 1.67 mark in four starts here at Petco. The Padres have won his last three home starts and they’d be 5-1 his last six here, if getting +1.5 runs in each.
The Marlins are 10-16 (-6.6) vs. the money-line the past couple of seasons, when off three or more consecutive wins. During that time, the Padres are a profitable 28-22 (+11.8) off three or more consec. losses. I expect AT LEAST a “cover” tonight. 10*
|05-06-14||Portland Trail Blazers v. San Antonio Spurs -6.5||Top||92-116||Win||100||13 h 9 m||Show|
I’m playing on SAN ANTONIO. We saw the road teams have success last night. However, I expect the home team to have the advantage here.
Give the Blazers credit for having a great series against Houston. That was another relatively inexperienced playoff team though. Tonight, they’ll be up against a veteran team that is loaded with playoff experience and savvy, not to mention talent.
The Blazers are excellent at home but only respectable on the road. The Spurs, on the other hand, are dominant (35-10) at home. They outscore teams by an average of 106-97.6 here overall.
While the Blazers have been sitting around for a few days, the Spurs come in with plenty of momentum, as Sunday's Game 7 was their biggest win of the opening series.
Off that 119-96 beatdown, note that the Spurs are 71-42-3 ATS (81-35 SU) the past few seasons, after scoring 105 or more points in their previous game.
The Spurs beat the Blazers by 13 here the last time the teams met. They were laying -8.5 points for that one. We’re getting a better line to work with and I expect another big win. 10* annihilator
|05-05-14||Washington Wizards v. Indiana Pacers -4||Top||102-96||Loss||-103||18 h 6 m||Show|
I’m playing on INDIANA. Its true that the Wizards had an easier time in the first round than the Pacers did. That has allowed them some extra preparation time, as they’ve had more time in between games than Indiana. I believe the Pacers have regained momentum though and don’t feel the small window in between games will hurt them. In fact, I feel it will work to their advantage. Note that the Wizards have some similarities with the Hawks, in terms of playing style. So, the Pacers should be somewhat ready for them.
Meanwhile, when they’d been playing so well, the Wizards probably didn’t need such an extended break between games. Note that Washington is only 2-4 ATS (1-5 SU) the last six times it played with three or more day’s rest in between games.
Looking at some stats and we find that the Pacers are 5-1 ATS (6-0 SU) the last six times that they played a home game with an O/U line in the 180 to 184.5 range. They’re also 19-9 ATS (21-7 SU) the last few seasons, as home favorites in the -3.5 to -6 range.
The Pacers have beaten the Wizards 12 straight times here, most recently a 93-66 destruction in January. Before that, it was a 93-73 blowout in November. They’ve been laying a minimum of -6.5 points for all eight meetings against the Wizards here since 2010, including -9.5 and -10 for this season’s two meetings. We’re getting a much smaller number to work with here and I believe that’s providing excellent value. 10* personal favorite
|05-04-14||Dallas Mavericks v. San Antonio Spurs -6||Top||96-119||Win||100||20 h 1 m||Show|
I’m playing on SAN ANTONIO. Admittedly, the Spurs haven’t been very good to me this series. That won’t prevent me from backing them here though.
We saw the importance of homecourt for the three Game 7’s yesterday. All three home teams won. Two of them covered. The victories came by an average of nearly 10 points a game.
One could certainly make a case for the Mavericks, as they’ve played the Spurs tough every game. At the end of the day, I believe the Spurs’ depth and experience will prove to be too much for them. Not only are the Spurs at home, they’re a superior team overall.
Popovich, Duncan and co. have all been here before. They’ve got nothing to prove. There’s no sense of panic. Duncan had this to say about having to play a Game 7. ‘’It doesn’t matter how many games it takes. We’re not worried or disappointed.''
The Spurs, who were favored in Game 6, are an outstanding 30-15 ATS (37-8 SU!) the last 45 times that they were off an upset loss. I don’t believe run is over yet. I look for them to come through with their best game of the series, en route to a big win and cover. 10* main event
|05-04-14||Brooklyn Nets v. Toronto Raptors -2.5||Top||104-103||Loss||-110||18 h 31 m||Show|
I’m playing on TORONTO. Many are likely going to back Brooklyn here. True, the Nets have a lot of recognizable faces and plenty of playoff experience. However, I really like the character of this well-coached Raptor team and I believe that playing an early Sunday game (something they do regularly) here at Toronto gives them the advantage.
We saw the importance of homecourt for the three Game 7’s yesterday. All three home teams won. Two of them covered. The victories came by an average of nearly 10 points a game, each by a minimum of five.
Brooklyn’s Andray Blatche was doing some trash-talking and guaranteed the Nets would win this game. That didn’t sit well with the Raptors. Toronto guard Greivis Vasquez had this to say: ''Who does he think he is? He's not KG or Paul Pierce or Jason Kidd. We're not going to listen to his nonsense.’'
I agree with DeRozan when he said that the Nets had more pressure on them. He had this to say: ''Yeah, man. We ain't got not 100 million payroll or whatever they got. That's all on them. At the end of the day, they have more to lose than us.''
The Nets are just 2-5 ATS (1-6 SU) as road underdogs of three or fewer points. They’re also 2-3 ATS (1-4 SU) when playing on the road with an O/U line in the 185 to 189.5 range. On the other hand, the Raptors are 4-1 ATS (5-0 SU) as home favorites of three or less. Don’t be surprised when they improve on those stats this afternoon. 10* breakfast club
|05-03-14||GOLDEN STATE GM7 v. LA CLIPPERS GM7 -7||Top||121-126||Loss||-115||34 h 34 m||Show|
I’m playing on LA. This series has certainly had a little bit of everything. While the last game came down to the wire, there have also been a few lopsided victories. The more focused team and/or the one which has overcome distractions, has generally had the advantage. With this being a Game 7, once the game starts, I expect both teams to effectively block out the distractions and this one to be decided on the floor. Playing at home, I like the Clippers’ chances.
There’s a fair amount of talk about LA’s Chris Paul being injured. He’s a warrior though and I’m not too worried about that. Paul had this to say: ''I'll be there. Seven-thirty, that ball's throwed up, I'll be there. Can't wait.’”
I’m not so confident that Golden State’s Jermaine O’neal will be able to bounce back and be ready the way Paul is for the Clippers. Even if he plays, he’s likely to be at less than 100%. For a Warriors’ team already without Bogut, that figures to spell trouble.
While they failed to cover in all three games at Oakland, the Clippers won each of the last two here at LA by double-digits. Those wins came by 10 and 40 points. With Paul refusing to let his team lose, I look for the Clippers to overcome the adversity with another convincing win and cover. 10* personal favorite
|05-03-14||MEMPHIS GM7 v. OKLAHOMA CITY GM7 -7.5||Top||109-120||Win||100||31 h 54 m||Show|
I’m playing on OKC. The Thunder have regained the momentum and are back at home. They fought hard all season to be able to play this game here and I expect them to rise to the occasion with their best effort.
As if beating the Thunder in a Game 7 at OKC wasn’t already going to be difficult enough, the Grizzlies will be without Zach Randolph, who has been suspended. While that caused the line to climb slightly, I think his loss is greater than was reflected by the relatively small move. Throw in the fact that Conley is way less than 100% and things aren't going to easy for the Grizzlies, who are rarely as good on the road as they are at home.
Conley commented: "Me being banged up, you're going to have to ask more out of different guys, see a lot of guys step up ...''
The Thunder are the stronger team. They won by 20 last time out, their second double-digit win in the series. Playing at home, I look for them to dictate the tempo en route to another convincing win and cover. 10*
|05-02-14||San Antonio Spurs -3 v. Dallas Mavericks||Top||111-113||Loss||-105||11 h 38 m||Show|
I’m playing on SAN ANTONIO. I haven’t had much success with the Spurs in this series. That won’t prevent me from backing them here though.
The Mavs got big games from Nowitzki and Carter last time out and still lost by six. A closer look shows that all three San Antonio victories have come by a minimum of four points. Tonight, with a lower line, that’ll be enough for a cover.
Speaking of the lower line, note that the Mavs are only 2-6 SU/ATS the last eight times that they were listed as home underdogs of three or fewer points.
The Spurs, who are 70-41-3 ATS (80-34 SU) the past couple of seasons after scoring 105 or more in their previous game, have got the momentum back in their corner. Needless to day, they don’t want to see a Game 7. I believe they’ll smell the blood in the water and close things out, covering the small number along the way. 10* Main Event
|04-30-14||Dallas Mavericks v. San Antonio Spurs -6||Top||103-109||Push||0||11 h 21 m||Show|
I’m playing on SAN ANTONIO. While they didn’t make it easy on themselves, the Spurs dug deep and came away with a badly needed victory last time out. Now, despite the venue shifting back to San Antonio, they’re only laying a couple more points than they were at Dallas. I believe that’s providing excellent value.
While the Spurs dominated all season, the Mavs squeaked into the playoffs. This was almost like a rebuilding year for Dallas, while San Antonio had championship aspirations from the start. Don’t forget that before this series, the Spurs had beaten the Mavs 10 straight times. They’re still 16-5 SU and 13-8 ATS (or 13-7-1 ATS) the last 21 in the series.
It should be noted that Blair is suspended for Dallas, for a kick in the last game. When he left the last game, he was 5 for 5 on shooting with 12 points and 11 rebounds (+ 2 steals) in 16 minutes. I believe that his absence will prove to be a big blow.
The Spurs have been here before. They're 23-11-1 ATS (24-11 SU) the last 35 times that they’ve been tied in a playoff series.
I believe the Spurs now have the momentum back on their side. I expect them to put it all together with their best game of the series, leading to a convincing win and cover. 10* personal favorite
|04-28-14||San Antonio Spurs -4 v. Dallas Mavericks||Top||93-89||Push||0||18 h 7 m||Show|
I’m playing on SAN ANTONIO. Give the Mavericks credit. They’re up 2-1 and playing Game 4 here at home. However, lets not forget that the Spurs were the best team in the league during the regular season. Night after night, city after city, they brought their A-Game. While its not an elimination game, its still one the Spurs know they desperately need. I expect them to be at their best.
Keep in mind that the Spurs 30-11 road record was better than the Mavs’ 23-18 mark here at Dallas. While the Spurs dominated all season, the Mavs squeaked into the playoffs. This was almost like a rebuilding year for Dallas, while San Antonio had championship aspirations from the start.
Don’t forget that before this series, the Spurs had beaten the Mavs 10 straight times. They’re still 15-5 SU and 13-7 ATS the last 20 in the series.
Despite failing to get it done last time out, the Spurs are still a dominating 30-14 ATS (36-8 SU) the last 44 times that they were off an “upset” loss, 10-6 ATS this season. On the other hand, the Mavs are just 5-7 ATS off a SU victory as an underdog.
The Spurs are 15-9 ATS the past couple of seasons when playing a road game with an O/U line in the 200 to 204.5 range. That includes a 6-3 ATS mark this season. Conversely, the Mavs are 2-7 ATS when playing a home game with a total in the same range, 8-15 ATS the past couple of seasons.
Losing in the manner the Spurs lost Game 3 can be tough on a team. However, as Ginobili noted of the extremely well-coached Spurs: ''On a tough blow like this one, having been there, having suffered way worse than this, can help … We’ve got to go for it and play better.”
I’m not counting out the top seeds yet. I expect the Spurs to play their best game of the series and for that to lead to a win and cover. 10* West Conf Opening Rnd. GOY
|04-28-14||Atlanta Hawks v. Indiana Pacers -6.5||Top||107-97||Loss||-110||17 h 31 m||Show|
I’m playing on INDIANA. The Pacers dug deep last game and came through with a critical victory. Back home, where they’re typically much stronger, I expect them to follow it up with another very important win.
I played on the Pacers in Game 2, which was the most recent game here. Having lost the opener, they were fully focused on the task at hand. They won by 16.
Including that one-sided win, the Pacers have now taken seven of the last nine meetings with the Hawks, here at Indiana. The last five of those victories (and six of the seven overall) all came by double-digits. Indiana wins came by 16, 10, 23, 15 and 17 points.
I believe the Pacers are the superior team. They were dominant for most of the season, before going through a lull towards the end. I believe they’ve reawakened and the team that earned the #1 seed is ready to return. They’re still 36-7 here at Indiana, outscoring teams by an average of more than 10 points per game.
Paul George had this to say: "We've got to put this game and this series away.” I look for George and co. to do so in convincing fashion. 10* personal favorite
|04-23-14||Dallas Mavericks v. San Antonio Spurs -8||Top||113-92||Loss||-105||12 h 46 m||Show|
I’m playing on SAN ANTONIO. The Spurs took the Mavs’ best punch in Game 1. While they didn’t cover, they emerged victorious. I expect that close call to serve as a wake up call and feel that the Mavs aren’t likely to get another shot at an upset.
The common logic here seems to be that if the Mavs were so close, even without a big game from Dirk. That now if Dirk plays better, they’ll win easily. That’s not necessarily the case though. Everything else is never equal - so one can’t look at it that way.
The Spurs are 29-4 SU and 22-11 ATS the last 33 times that they played with two day’s rest in between games. They’ve dominated in the first round the past couple of seasons and I look for them to prove they’re the more complete team tonight. 10* personal favorite
|04-20-14||Dallas Mavericks v. San Antonio Spurs -9||Top||85-90||Loss||-114||26 h 24 m||Show|
10* Spurs. Analysis before 7am PST Sunday.
|04-14-14||Orlando Magic v. Chicago Bulls -12||Top||95-108||Win||100||10 h 8 m||Show|
I’m playing on CHICAGO. Both teams lost yesterday. For Orlando, it was just another loss, business as usual. However, for the Bulls, it was a big loss, a game they would have liked to have won. I expect this well-coached team to bounce back with its best effort.
While the Bulls already know they’ll have home court advantage for the first round, they’re still trying to finish with the #3 seed, instead of the #4, which is the reason yesterday’s loss was a tough one.
Noah had this to say about yesterday’s game and the importance of getting ready for today: "We let a big game slip. It was probably the biggest game of the season. Disappointing the way our mentality wasn't good, but overall we just won't have time, just got to let this one go, get ready tomorrow.”
The Bulls can still get the #3 seed but they need to win both their games (after this, they play at Charlotte on Wednesday) and hope that Toronto loses one of its games. (The Bulls could also lose one and hope that Toronto loses both its last two but given the Raptors are hosting Milwaukee tonight, that scenario isn’t that likely.)
While the Bulls are 26-14 at home, the Magic are 4-36 on the road. No other team has a worse road record.
The Bulls, who are 9-6-1 ATS when playing the second of back-to-back games, are in one of this season's better roles here. They’re 3-1 ATS as home favorites in the -9.5 to -12 range. (The Magic are 2-3 ATS as road underdogs in the +9.5 to +12 range.)
The last time that the Bulls played the second of b2b games, they won by 18 points, at Washington. Their previous two times in that situation both also resulted in double-digit wins.
Not only do the Bulls need to win to stay alive for the #3 seed, this is also their regular season home finale. Additionally, the Magic beat them here earlier in the season. In other words, there should be no shortage of motivation. I’m expecting a blowout. 10* personal favorite
|04-13-14||Oklahoma City Thunder v. Indiana Pacers -2||Top||97-102||Win||100||11 h 10 m||Show|
I’m playing on INDIANA. Some might scratch their heads a little to see the Pacers favored here. After all, they’ve really struggled in recent weeks while the Thunder have continued to play well. I believe Indiana is favored for good reason though.
For starters, lets not forget that the Pacers are still 34-6 at home. That’s a much better record than the Thunder have on the road. (They’re 25-14 away from OKC.)
While the Thunder allow more than 100 points (101.2) per game on the road, the Pacers allow just 87.8 here at Indiana.
Perhaps more importantly, at least in this case, the Pacers “need” this game more than the Thunder. OKC already has the #2 seed locked up. It can’t get better, or worse. I’m not counting on it - but its possible that the Thunder could limit the minutes of one/some of their stars/starters.
Meanwhile, the Pacers are still in the hunt for the top seed in the East - although they’ll still need a little help from the Heat. The fact that Miami lost by double-digits at Atlanta last night figures to give them some hope.
While gaining the #1 seed would surely be a big deal for the Pacers, just gaining some confidence from being able to beat a championship contender - one they would love to see in the Finals - would be huge. Many of their recent struggles would be forgotten if they could go out and deliver a victory this afternoon. I expect them to be extremely motivated to do just that.
While I’ve already mentioned that the Thunder have played better than the Pacers down the stretch, it should be noted that OKC is actually only 7-10 ATS its last 17 against teams with a winning record.
The Pacers, who got blown out at OKC earlier, are 12-9 ATS (16-5 SU) when attempting to avenge an earlier loss. I expect them to bring their “A Game” here, improving on those stats in convincing fashion. 10* Main Event
|04-11-14||Portland Trail Blazers v. Utah Jazz +8||Top||111-99||Loss||-110||27 h 46 m||Show|
I’m playing on UTAH. The Blazers are hot. The Jazz are not. The Blazers are getting ready for the playoffs and fighting for a better seed. The Jazz are getting ready to go golfing. Needless to say, most will likely be backing Portland. As is often the case, I’ll be on the opposite side.
Its true that the Blazers have more to play for, on paper. Its also true that they’ve been a better team all year. That’s all been factored into the line though. I believe the number is generously high and I look for the Jazz to provide a much tougher test than most will be expecting.
The Jazz lost their last game (against Dallas) by double-digits. I believe there were some positives though. The Mavs hit 16 of their first 17 shots, which is awfully tough to overcome. Yet, the Jazz didn’t hang their heads. They kept fighting the whole way. In fact, while the damage was already done, they outscored Dallas after the first period. (They won two of the final three quarters while losing the other by a single point.)
While the Blazers are hot, I don’t expect them to hit 16 of their first 17 shots - and I look for Utah to have learned a lesson from the last loss and to come out with more intensity from the opening tip.
Utah’s Trey Burke noted: We have to be patient ... continue to fight out there, continue to play hard … It's tough to beat a team when they're shooting 94 percent in the first quarter. We can't allow that to happen."
While they’ve still been solid on the road, the Blazers aren’t as dominating away from Portland. They outscore teams by an average of 1.4 points on the road. Meanwhile, the Jazz get outscored by an average of 3.2 points per game at home.
This is the Blazers’ final road game and they’re ned two games come against a pair of playoff teams, the Warriors and the Clippers. I believe it will be easy for them to take the “lowly Jazz” for granted.
Meanwhile, this is Utah’s final game against a team which will be going to the playoffs. For the Jazz, that means that this is their final “meaningful game” (chance to play a small role in shaping the playoff picture) and I expect that to provide them with some motivation. (Their next three games come at Denver, vs the Lakers and at Minnesota.)
Added motivation for the Jazz stems from the fact that the Blazers have beaten them in all three meetings this season. They’ll be looking to avoid the series sweep, something which has never happened against Portland.
The Blazers have only won one of their last five games by more than seven points, that 12-point win coming against the banged-up Lakers. Their last two games came against the Pelicans and Kings and were decided by just five combined points.
The Jazz are a profitable 9-5 ATS (7-7 SU) after scoring 85 or fewer points in their previous game. They’ve been in that situation twice since the start of March and they responded by winning each of their next games outright. I expect AT LEAST another cover tonight. 10* N.W. Div GOY.
|04-09-14||Charlotte Bobcats v. Washington Wizards -5||Top||94-88||Loss||-105||9 h 32 m||Show|
I’m playing on WASHINGTON. This is a big game for both teams, in terms of postseason seeding. Both teams have already punched their playoff tickets. However, they’re batting each other for the sixth spot. Playing at home, I expect the Wizards to have the edge.
Sixth place figures to be a more attractive proposition than seventh. That’s because it would mean facing either Toronto or Chicago in the first round. The alternative is Indiana or Miami, for the team which finishes in seventh. Even with the Pacers’ recent struggles, they’ve still been pretty hard to beat at home and a date with the Bulls or Raptors is likely more appealing - needless to say, they won’t want to have to face Miami.
While the Bobcats are a respectable 23-16 at home, they’re only 16-22 on the road.
The Bobcats may have taken two of three meetings against the Wizards so far but they’re still only 4-10 SU and 6-8 ATS against divisional opponents. Meanwhile, the Wizards are 8-5 SU and 7-5-1 ATS in their divisional games.
While the Bobcats are 9-13 SU off an upset win, the Wizards are 8-5 SU off an upset loss.
Throw in the fact that the Wizards are 24-17 ATS when attempting to avenge an earlier loss and I say its time for some payback. 10* personal fav
|04-06-14||Oklahoma City Thunder v. Phoenix Suns +3||Top||115-122||Win||100||21 h 39 m||Show|
I’m playing on PHOENIX. While I really respect the Thunder, I believe they’re over-valued here.
The Thunder are certainly a solid road team. However, the Suns have arguably been even better here at Phoenix.
While the Thunder have 23 wins away from OKC, the Suns have 25 wins here at Phoenix.
The Thunder outscore teams by a 104.8 to 100.8 margin on the road. However, the Suns have outscored teams by a wider 108.2 to 102.6 margin here at Phoenix.
Not only have the Suns been arguably better at home than the Thunder have on the road, they also need this game more. OKC is fairly comfortably in second in the conference while the Suns are in a dogfight with Memphis and Dallas for the final spot.
With four of their final five on the road, this game becomes even more critical for the Suns. While they lost both at OKC, they upset the Thunder in this season’s lone meeting here.
Including last month's result here, the Thunder are 2-4 ATS when playing a road game with an O/U line of 210 or greater. Meanwhile, the Suns are a lucrative 27-13 ATS when listed as underdogs. I expect them to rise to the occasion with AT LEAST another cover here. 10* best bet
|04-06-14||Atlanta Hawks v. Indiana Pacers -8||Top||107-88||Loss||-105||18 h 36 m||Show|
I’m playing on INDIANA. While the Pacers have had real trouble on the road recently, they’re still very tough to beat here at home. I expect their best effort today.
The Pacers are an outstanding 24-1 at home against Eastern Conference opponents, 34-5 here overall. That includes a 108-98 win against the Hawks here on 2/18. They were favored by 10 points in that one - but we’re getting a better line to work with here.
Including that victory, the Pacers have beaten the Hawks six straight times here. They were 4-1-1 ATS in those games, five of the wins coming by double-digits.
While they could badly use a win, the Hawks are in one of their worst roles. They’re an ugly 1-6 ATS (0-7 SU) as a road underdog in the 6.5 to 9 range. Overall, they’re an ugly 2-13 their last 15 on the road, going a money-burning 3-11-1 ATS.
The Pacers, who play three of their final four on the road, have only one more regular season home game after this - and that comes against OKC. That makes taking care of business here very important - and I expect them to do just that. 10* personal favorite
|04-05-14||Connecticut v. Florida -6||Top||63-53||Loss||-110||127 h 17 m||Show|
I’m playing on FLORIDA. While the Huskies deserve a lot of credit for making it this far, I expect their run to come to an end here.
While both teams are very capable on both sides of the ball, I believe the Gators’ edge on the defensive end of the floor will ultimately prove the difference.
The Gators allow 56.7 points per game. The Huskies allow 63.7. Over their last five games, the Gators are allowing a mere 56 points, holding opposing teams to a 39% shooting percentage. During that stretch, the Huskies are allowing 69.4 points with opposing teams shooting 42.7%.
Speaking of good defenses, note that the Huskies are only 4-6 SU/ATS the last 10 times that they faced a team which allowed 64 or fewer points per game. During that stretch, the Gators are 6-2 ATS (7-1 SU) when facing a team which gives up 64 or less.
While Scottie Wilbekin was the SEC Player of the Year, he isn’t get the same type of recognition that Shabazz Napier is. Whether or not that’s fair, I believe that the rest of the Gator lineup is far more balanced. Four Florida players average double-digits in scoring.
It should be noted that this is Billy Donovan’s fourth Final Four and he’s won in each of his three previous trips.
True, the Huskies did beat the Gators earlier in the season. However, Florida hasn’t lost a game since then. While being in the Final 4 is all the motivation any team needs, it should be noted that the Gators are 8-2 SU and 6-4 ATS the last 10 times that they attempted to avenge an earlier loss. I expect them to improve on those stats in relatively convincing fashion. 10*
|04-04-14||Philadelphia 76ers v. Boston Celtics -9.5||Top||111-102||Loss||-105||10 h 21 m||Show|
I’m playing on BOSTON. The road team has won both meetings so far this season. I expect a big win for the home team this evening though.
On an extended losing streak and with four of their next five on the road - one of those at Philadelphia against these same 76’ers - the Celtics know that this is their best opportunity to reward the home faithful with one last big win.
Boston guard Jerryd Bayless had this to say: "I think Friday is another opportunity, and we just need to take advantage of it. We have a winnable game on Friday and hopefully we're able to pull it out .. "
While the 76’ers finally stopped the bleeding a few games back, they’re still a terrible team. They lost by 30 (vs. Charlotte) last time out and they get outscored by an average of 12 points per game away from Philadelphia.
Note that the 76’ers are an ugly 15-31 ATS after allowing 105 or more points in their previous game.
Bottom line: I expect the Celtics to be the more motivated team and I look for them to pull away for a double-digit victory. 10* personal favorite
|04-04-14||Denver Nuggets v. Memphis Grizzlies -9||Top||92-100||Loss||-105||21 h 35 m||Show|
I’m playing on MEMPHIS. After a tough road trip, the Grizzlies figure to be happy to be home. Off an ugly loss at Minnesota, I expect them to bounce back with a big win.
The Grizzlies haven’t had many home games lately. In fact, they’ve only played six games at Memphis since the start of March. A closer look at those results shows that they were a perfect 6-0 in those games and that EVERY one of the wins came by double-digits.
Going back a little further finds that the Grizzlies are a perfect 10-0 here since mid-February, a dominating 16-2 here since 1/10.
On the other hand, the Nuggets are only 13-24 on the road this season. They’ve lost their last four on the road and two of their last three away games resulted in double-digit losses.
The Grizzlies know they need all the wins that they can get right now. They also know they’ve got some tough games on deck, making it all the more important to take advantage of tonight’s opportunity. They beat the Nuggets by 21 points (120-99) in this season’s lone meeting here and I expect another double-digit win this evening. 10* Main Event
|04-03-14||San Antonio Spurs v. Oklahoma City Thunder -2.5||Top||94-106||Win||100||9 h 28 m||Show|
I’m playing on OKC. Admittedly, its tough to beat the Spurs. Indeed, no team has done so for many weeks. The Thunder are one of the few clubs capable of doing so though. In fact, the Thunder have beaten the Spurs four straight times overall and six straight times, here at OKC. With the schedule in their favor, I look for the Thunder to continue that recent dominance, snapping the Spurs’ win streak at 19.
While the Thunder had the last few days off, the Spurs are off a game vs. the Warriors last night. True, they’re more than capable of winning in a b2b spot. Still, this will also be their third game in four days and their fifth in the last seven. Going back a little further finds that this will be the Spurs’ ninth game in 14 days. By comparison, this will be OKC’s sixth game, during the same stretch.
That’s a pretty difficult scheduling spot for the Spurs, even if their wins have been coming easily. While Popovich doesn’t always reveal his plans until close to game-time, given his tendencies and the tough schedule, it certainly wouldn’t surprise to see one or more players given the night off.
It would be easy to assume that the Spurs are great in the “revenge” role. After all, they’re so well-coached and they’re very good in nearly every role. That hasn’t been the case this season though. They’re 7-12 ATS when attempting to avenge a loss, 6-3 ATS when attempting to avenge a home loss.
Playing at home and playing with the fresher legs, I expect the Thunder, who are still trying to catch the Spurs in the standings to take care of business. 10* main event
|03-31-14||Milwaukee Bucks v. Detroit Pistons -5.5||Top||111-116||Loss||-110||27 h 8 m||Show|
I’m playing on DETROIT. I successfully played on the Bucks on 3/27, in their win against the Lakers. At the time, I suggested that they would be highly motivated to take advantage of the most winnable game remaining on their schedule. This time, I believe the shoe is on the other foot. A look at the Pistons’ remaining schedule shows that this is the most winnable game remaining on Detroit’s schedule, at least on paper. This time, I expect it to be the Pistons who will be highly motivated to make the most of the opportunity to win one for the home fans.
While the Pistons are admittedly pretty bad, the Bucks are worse. Their 14-59 record, which is the worst in the league, includes an ugly 5-31 mark on the road. They’re 1-19 SU on the road in 2014, 0-9 their last nine.
While they split this season’s meetings at Milwaukee, the Pistons are 15-5 the last 20 times that they hosted the Bucks. That includes a 113-94 blowout win here back in November.
In addition to wanting to snap their skid and win one for the home fans, I believe the Pistons will be hungry to bounce back from Saturday’s debacle, at Philadelphia. Its bad enough that they were the team that the 76’ers snapped their losing streak against, but the 76’ers crushed them. That was embarrassing and I look for them to respond with their very best effort, en route to a convincing win and cover. 10*
|03-30-14||Kentucky v. Michigan +2||Top||75-72||Loss||-104||31 h 17 m||Show|
|03-30-14||Connecticut v. Michigan State -5||Top||60-54||Loss||-110||29 h 42 m||Show|
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