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|Date||Match Up||Rating||Score||Result||Profit||Lead Time||Analysis|
|10-20-12||Utah +10.5 v. Oregon State||Top||7-21||Loss||-105||60 h 23 m||Show|
I'm playing on UTAH. If you've followed my picks in recent seasons, you'll know that I've had considerable success backing the Utes as an underdog. Getting double-digits, I feel the Utes offer excellent value again on Saturday night.
The Beavers have certainly gotten off to an impressive start; a win Saturday night will give them their first 6-0 start in more than 100 years. They lost their starting QB and had to go with a backup (Cody Vaz) last week - and they still didn't miss a beat.
Still, keep in mind that Vaz hadn't made a start since high-school, prior to last week. Life isn't usually perfectly smooth for new QBs; an initial strong performance can often be followed by a shaky one.
Likewise, a mediocre performance in a QB's first start (like Travis Wilson's debut as the Utes starter) can be followed by an improved effort with his game under his belt.
Basically, what I'm trying to say, is not to over-react to one start from a QB.
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said this of Travis Wilson: Right now Travis is our guy. We are pleased with his initial performance. We don't want him playing on eggshells. There is a fine line - we talk about being competitive and we need him to perform, but at the same time he has to know that we have confidence in him and what we saw in that game we have confidence in him that he will continue to perform."
The Utes have won four of five in this series, including a 27-8 win last season. The Utes didn't pass the ball well in that game but they didn't need to. Instead, they outgained the Beavers by a 225-32 margin on the ground. Keep in mind that this year's Utah team returned 16 starters from that team. They expected to be even stronger this year. While they're down their starting QB, this is still an experienced team.
The Beavers are 4-0 ATS as underdogs this season but 0-1 ATS when laying points. They're five wins have come by a total of just 44 points. Going back further finds them at 2-7 ATS the past few seasons, as favorites.
Meanwhile, the Utes are 3-1 ATS as underdogs this season, improving to 50-27-1 ATS the last 78 times that they were getting points. They're 2-4 on the season (3-3 ATS) but only one of their four losses came by more than 10 points.
A well-coached team, the Utes are 3-0 ATS the past few seasons, when off two or more consecutive SU losses. The Utes know that they've got some winnable games on deck and that a win here would serve as a springboard for the rest of the season. I expect them to keep it close with an excellent shot at scoring the outright upset. *10 Best Bet
|10-20-12||Georgia v. Kentucky +26||Top||29-24||Win||100||9 h 11 m||Show|
I'm playing on KENTUCKY. True, the Wildcats have been brutal. True, they're up against a powerful team. I feel that this will be a good spot for them though and they're offering us plenty of line value.
The Wildcats are getting nearly four touchdowns at the betting window here. To put that line in perspective, its by far the biggest pointspread that the Wildcats have seen this year, even though they've played at road venues like Louisville, Florida and Arkansas.
The most that they've lost by at home is 21 points; they were 20 point underdogs vs. South Carolina in that game.
Now, they're getting roughly an extra touchdown against a Georgia team which just got blown out 35-7 by those same Gamecocks.
The Bulldogs followed up their loss at South Carolina by having a bye last week. The popular consensus will be that they'll be angry and that they'll look to dominate their over-matched guests.
I'll agree that Georgia wants to do that. However, thats easier said than done. Off the first loss and a bye AND with a huge showdown against Florida on deck, I feel that it will be hard to focus on "lowly" Kentucky.
Note that Georgia is 1-3 ATS the last four times it played with two week's rest and just 2-5 ATS the last seven times it was off a conference loss.
This lowly Kentucky team lost by only nine points (as a 30.5 point underdog!) last season though. In fact, five straight series meetings have been decided by 13 or fewer points, Kentucky covering three of the last four. I look for this one to also prove closer than expected, the Cats improving to 3-1 ATS the last four times that they were underdogs in the 21.5 to 31 range. *9
|10-20-12||Idaho +31 v. Louisiana Tech||Top||28-70||Loss||-110||9 h 6 m||Show|
I'm playing on IDAHO. The Bulldogs have had a great season. However, they're in a difficult spot and I don't feel that they'll be able to cover such a large number.
Last week, LA Tech suffered its first loss of the season, a 59-57 heartbreaker vs. Texas [email protected] Note that game was originally supposed to be played on Aug. 30, but was postponed because of Hurricane Isaac.
Its often difficult for a team to bounce back from its first defeat, particularly when that team wast starting to have dreams of an undefeated season.
It can be even harder to recover when that first loss was of the "heart-breaking" variety. Having rallied all the way back from down 27 to pull within two, I'd call last week a heartbreaker.
Louisiana Tech coach Sonny Dykes said: "I was proud of the way they fought. But we came here to win. There are no moral victories here."
Again, I feel that it will be difficult to be fully focused, after that type of loss.
Six of the last seven meetings, including each of the last three, were decided by less than two touchdowns. With the Bulldogs still thinking "what if," I look for this one to also prove closer than many will be expecting. *9
|10-20-12||South Carolina v. Florida -3.5||Top||11-44||Win||100||6 h 3 m||Show|
I'm playing on FLORIDA. Some are surprised by the Gators' fast start. This is a talented and experienced team though. I still don't feel that they're getting enough credit here.
Thsi is a team which checks in at 6-0 SU and 5-1 ATS. They've won on the road at venues like Texas [email protected], Tennessee and Vanderbilt, the latter two of those road wins coming by double-digits.
Beating up on Kentucky 38-0 wasn't that big a deal. However, beating LSU by eight points was significant.
The Gators are confident and realizing that the sky is the limit for them. They're also getting healthier.
Center Jon Harrison, left tackle Xavier Nixon and guard James Wilson are all expected to return. Linebacker Jelani Jenkins will also likely return and defensive end Dominique Easley is expected to be do the same.
On the other hand, the Gamecocks are banged-up. Most importantly, Spurrier has said that Marcus Lattimore may not play and that Kenny Miles is expected to start. Even if Lattimore is available, he's likely to be at less than 100%.
Note that Miles hasn't been very effective in limited action, averaging only 3.7 yards per carry with just one touchdown. A senior, Miles hasn't averaged more than four yards per carry since his freshman season in 2009.
In addition to Lattimore, other significant players dealing with some health concerns include defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles. While Clowney is currently probably, Quarles is listed as doubtful.
The Gamecocks are a talented team and they're off to an impressive start. Last week's loss figures to be a bit tough to immediately shake off though, as they were starting to entertain thoughts of an undefeated season. When a team actually believes an undefeated season is possible, losing that first one can be difficult to bounce back from.
While the Gamecocks won here in 2010, the Gators have still dominated them here in The Swamp. I expect them to resume that domination Saturday afternoon, covering the small number along the way. *9
|10-20-12||New Mexico State +31 v. Utah State||Top||7-41||Loss||-110||5 h 17 m||Show|
I'm playing on NEW MEXICO STATE. Utah State is having a great season and has been one of the most profitable teams around. However, its not a team accustomed to laying anywhere close to this many points.
The largest previous pointspread that Utah State was asked to lay was 22 vs. UNLV. They won that game by exactly 22 points. They did beat the Southern Utah Thunderbirds by 31, a game that they were favored by 21 for. Southern Utah is a 1AA team though. Now, Utah State is being asked to lay an extra 10 points against a 1A team.
Keep in mind that New Mexico State hasn't lost by more than 27 points all season.
Also note that New Mexico State, which is coming off a bye, is 8-2 ATS in October the past few seasons and that New Mexico State has played Utah State tough in recent seasons.
In fact, the last three meetings have ALL been decided by five points or less, New Mexico State goig 3-0 ATS. Last year's game had a final score of 24-21. It was 27-22 the previous season and New Mexico State won outright 20-17 in 2009.
Utah State has not been a strong favorite and I look for this one to prove closer than expected once again. *9
|10-20-12||Iowa State v. Oklahoma State -14||Top||10-31||Win||100||50 h 2 m||Show|
I'm playing on OKLAHOMA STATE. Regulars will recall that I successfully backed Iowa State in this matchup last year. The Cyclones were roughly 4-TD underdogs in that game and they won outright. Last year's game set up very nicely for the Cyclones. I feel that this one sets up very nicely for the Cowboys though and I expect a vastly different result from last year.
Here's an excerpt from last year' playing on Iowa State: "...with all due respect to the Cowboys, I feel this line will prove to be too high. Off back to back wins, the Cyclones are arguably playing their best football right now. One of those victories was a 41-7 destruction of Texas Tech - so, the Cowboys weren't the only team to blow out the Red Raiders recently. The Cyclones have allowed only 17 total points their last two games and they've ran the ball for more than 600 yards in those games. They won't be able to "shut" down the Cowboys but that's at least the right formula for "slowing" them down. Off a bye, they've had plenty of extra time to prepare for this dangerous attack. The Cowboys are playing the second of b2b road games here. Off such a huge blowout and with a bye and then Oklahoma, their biggest game of the year, on deck - they could easily get caught looking past the Cyclones here. Iowa State, on the other hand, is playing its home finale. Given the situation and that the Cyclones haven't lost by more than 23 at home all year (they've hosted the likes of Iowa, [email protected] and Texas) and with this number having climbed from its already high opener, I feel that we're getting excellent value with the home underdog ... "
While the line is roughly half what it was last season, the Cowboys are now playing at home. Obviously, the Cyclones will have their full attention. After all, last year's loss spoiled their dreams of an undefeated season. Throw in the fact that its an important game in the Big 12 standing AND that a win will vault Mike Gundy past Pat Jones for the most wins in Oklahoma State history AND there are plenty of reasons for the Cowboys to really want this one.
Perhaps due in part to the fact that they were off a disappointing loss to Texas and perhaps partly due to the fact that they were looking ahead to this week's game, the Cowboys didn't cover last time out. They did still win though (20-4 at Kansas) which should give them their positive momentum and swagger back.
On the other hand, the Cyclones are off a tough loss against K-State in their last game. They had a chance to pull the upset in that game and that would have gone a really long way in making this season special. To come close only to eventually fall short can be tough.
Last time, remember, the Cyclones were playing their home finale and were off back to back wins. This time, not only is Iowa State off a loss but Oklahoma State is playing its homecoming game. In other words, the situation is entirely different from what it was last season.
Even with last week's ATS loss, the Cowboys are a terrific 7-2 ATS (8-1 SU) in October the past few seasons. During that time, they're 19-8 ATS (24-3 SU) when laying points, including a 5-2 ATS (7-0 SU) mark as home favorites in the 10.5 to 21 range. I expect the revenge-minded Cowboys, who destroyed the Cyclones in the last meeting here, to improve on that stat in convincing fashion. *10 Personal Favorite
|10-19-12||Connecticut +4.5 v. Syracuse||Top||10-40||Loss||-115||9 h 12 m||Show|
I'm playing on UCONN. The Huskies are a perfect 5-0 SU/ATS in this series the past five seasons. While the Orange would surely love to snap that losing streak, I don't feel that they're currently playing well enough to be laying more than a field goal.
Both teams have losing records. Both are off a loss. Both have also shown a tendency to play close games.
The Huskies are off a 3-point loss vs. Temple. It marked the fifth time in their last six games that the final score was decided by a touchdown or less. Only one team (Rutgers) has beaten them by more than six points all season.
Syracuse lost by eight last time out. The 2-4 Orange have just one win by more than one point. That was a 28-17 victory against 1-AA Stony Brook.
The Orange are just 6-10 ATS the past few seasons when laying points. That includes a 2-4 ATS mark when favored in the 3.5 to 10 range. During that time, they're 2-6 ATS when off a conference loss.
Meanwhile, over the same time period, the Huskies are 4-2 ATS when off a conference loss and 3-0 ATS when off back to back SU losses. They're 5-3 ATS, during that time, when listed as underdogs in the 3.5 to 10 range. I look for at least another cover here. *10
|10-18-12||Oregon -8 v. Arizona State||Top||43-21||Win||100||11 h 10 m||Show|
I'm playing on OREGON. I've won with many home underdogs on Thursday nights over the years, so I'm well aware that its normally tough to beat a team in front of its home fans on these Thursday ESPN games. Oregon is no "normal" team though. Indeed, the Ducks have won 10 straight conference road games. The Ducks have also outscored the Sun Devils by a 175-81 margin in winning four straight here at Tempe. Overall, the Ducks have won seven straight in the series. I look for them to continue that dominance for another year on Thursday night.
The Ducks know an undefeated record give them a great shot at playing for the National Title. They also know that this is a chance for them to remind everyone of how good they are.
Arizona State has played very well so far this season and has been one of the most profitable teams at the betting window. This is a major step up in class though.
The Ducks score more than 52 points a game and rush for more than 300 yards per game. Coming off a bye, Oregon is fresh and has had extra time to game plan.
As Marcus Mariota noted: "It is good for everyone to get back to 100 percent and get ready to play Arizona State."
The Ducks are 7-3 ATS (10-0 SU) their last 10 on the road and they were favored in nine of those. They know they have to keep their perfect record in tact for the USC game to really matter (for their national title hopes) and I look for them to take care of business in convincing fashion. *10 Main Event
|10-18-12||Seattle Seahawks v. San Francisco 49ers -7||Top||6-13||Push||0||11 h 51 m||Show|
I'm playing on SAN FRANCISCO. I've successfully played on and against the Seahawks this season, while also getting burned by them in the Monday Night refereeing debacle vs. Green Bay. I successfully played against them the following week at St. Louis but haven't gone against them since. Good thing, as they've covered both games. I feel this should prove to be another good spot to do so though.
The Seahawks don't have too far to travel. Still, I feel that the short week works in favor of the home team.
Note that the 49'ers are 14-5-1 ATS (14-6 SU) their last 20 home games. Meanwhile, the Seahawks are only 7-12-1 ATS (6-14 SU) their last 20 road games.
In addition to the short week and venue, I also like how recent results set this one up. While the Seahawks may be patting themselves on the back a bit, the 49'ers are angry, as they were embarrassed by the Giants last week. This is a SF team which wants the world to view it as "elite." Last week's loss didn't help but a big Thursday Night blowout on national television will go a long way in restoring their "image." More importantly, it'll allow the 49'ers to pull ahead of their pesky guests in the division race.
The Seahawks are just 2-4 ATS (1-5 SU) the past six times that they were off back to back victories while the 49'ers are typically at their best off a loss. Off this season's only previous defeat, they bounced back with a 34-0 blowout win their next game. They've dominated the Seahawks here the past few seasons and I look for them to bounce back with another big win and cover. *10
|10-18-12||Houston v. SMU +5||Top||42-72||Win||100||10 h 19 m||Show|
I'm playing on SMU. With 13 victories, Houston was one of last year's big stories. While this year's team is still talented, its not as good as last year's. I feel the Cougars are ripe for an upset.
While they''ve now won a few in a row, the Cougars are still 3-3 on the season. None of the teams (Rice, North Texas, UAB) they've beaten are as good as the one they'll face tonight, at least in my opinion.
Note that the Cougars lost their only true road game by a score of 37-6.
Also, note that the Cougars are only 3-9-1 ATS the last 13 times that they were listed as road favorites in the 3.5 to 7 range, 0-2 ATS the past couple of seasons.
Perhaps looking ahead to this game or perhaps just bothered by playing back-to-back road games, the Mustangs stumbled at Tulane last time out. Prior to that, however, they won 17-0 at Utep.
The Mustangs are only 1-2 at home. However, the two losses came against a pair of really good teams, Texas A&M and TCU. And they only lost by eight against the Frogs. I don't think the Cougars are as good as either of those teams.
Since taking over the Mustangs, Jones has yet to beat Houston, an instate rival. I feel he's had this one circled since before the season started and that this year will offer Jones his best shot. The Mustangs had an edge in total yards the last time they hosted Houston. This time, they take it a step further and earn (at least) the cover. *10
|10-15-12||Denver Broncos v. San Diego Chargers||Top||35-24||Loss||-115||21 h 38 m||Show|
I'm playing on SAN DIEGO. I successfully played against both these teams in their last game. The Chargers were on the wrong side of history vs. Drew Brees and the Saints. The Broncos got crushed at New England. Playing at home, with the point spread essentially a non-factor, I like the Chargers to be the team which bounces back.
The Chargers did get beaten badly by Atlanta here. That wasn't common for them though, as they're typically very tough to beat here at San Diego. They're 3-1 their last four here and 13-7 their last 20.
Conversely, the Broncos are 0-4 their last four away from Denver (0-2 this season) and 6-14 their last 20.
The Chargers have been laying at least a field goal (and as many as 11.5 points) in each of the last eight meetings against the Broncos here. While Manning wasn't around for those previous games, I feel the Chargers are offering great value. *10
|10-14-12||Green Bay Packers +3.5 v. Houston Texans||Top||42-24||Win||100||25 h 15 m||Show|
I'm playing on GREEN BAY. I haven't played on the Packers since the replacement refs stole the game (and cover) from them up at Seattle. Good thing, as the Packers have failed to cover both games since that debacle. I feel this will be a good spot for them to "get the cash" though.
The Texans are indeed a very good team. However, they're playing on a short week here, after playing on Monday night at New York.
I successfully backed the Jets in that Monday night game. Not only did the Texans fail to cover for the first time but they also lost All-Pro linebacker Brian Cushing to a season-ending injury.
As coach Kubiak acknowledged: "A big blow for our team ... "
In addition to leading the team in tackles, Cushing is an "emotional leader."
Note that the Texans are 1-3 SU/ATS the last four times that they came off a Monday night game, 0-2 SU/ATS their last two times in that situation.
The Packers, who have seen three straight games decided by a field goal or less, are a profitable 5-1 ATS as underdogs the past few seasons, going a terrific 14-5-1 ATS the last 20 times that they were getting points. They're 7-3 ATS their last 10 against AFC teams and I look for them to earn AT LEAST another cover here. *10 Main Event
|10-14-12||St. Louis Cardinals v. San Francisco Giants -1.5||Top||6-4||Loss||-100||10 h 36 m||Show|
I'm playing on SAN FRANCISCO. While the Giants did get stuck in limbo having to wait to see where they were going to play, eventually being forced to re-fuel when learning they were coming home, I like how the schedule sets up for them. Both teams are off an emotional series.
The Cards figure to be exhuasted. Daniel Descalso acknowledged as much. He was quoted saying: "It was a long night for us. It's nice we had this day off to kind of regroup and get a little rest. But it's hard not to be excited after a game like last night, the way that game ended, and to get on a plane and fly all the way across country. We're still recovering.''
Lynn has a great record but his 3.92 road ERA doesn't compare favorably to Bumgarner's 2.61 mark at home.
The Giants were 13-7 as home favorites in the -125 to -150 range. I expect them to improve on those stats this evening. *9
|10-14-12||St. Louis Rams v. Miami Dolphins -4.5||Top||14-17||Loss||-110||18 h 32 m||Show|
I'm playing on MIAMI. I successfully backed the Rams against Washington, Arizona AND Seattle. However, I also successfully played against them when they lost at Chicago, while staying away from their opening game against Detroit entirely. While they're certainly an improved team from last season, I feel that this will be another good spot to go against them.
Like the Rams, the Dolphins are off to a solid start. While they're only 2-3, they've played three of five on the road. They also could have easily been 3-2, as the loss against the Jets was theirs for the taking. Either way, they're off a win at Cincinnati and know this game represents an excellent opportunity to climb back to the .500 mark.
The Dolphins are outscoring teams by a 27.5 to 18 margin in two games here, averaging 416.5 yards of offense in those games.
Lets not forget that the Rams have lost five straight away from St. Louis and that they have just three wins their last 20 road games. They're 1-11 their last 12 road games and that one road win came at Cleveland by a single point (13-12) when the Browns were at their worst. ALL 11 of those losses came by at least four points, too.
The Rams are being outscored by a 25 to 14.5 margin on the road. The St. Louis offense is averaging a mere 205.5 yards per game on the road. Losing leading receiver Danny Amendola isn't going to help matters. (He was injured against Arizona.)
Bradford noted: "Obviously, losing Danny is big. Everyone knows that he's a big part of our offense. A lot of what we do runs through him.''
Without Amendola, the Rams will likely look to rely even more than normal on the ground game. However, that plays right into the Dolphins' hands.
After limiting the Bengals to 80 yards, the Dolphins have now gone 19 straight games without allowing a 100-yard rusher. In fact, the Miami run defense is #1 in the NFL with 61.4 yards allowed per game and just 2.7 yards per carry.
The Dolphins have dominated the Rams here over the years. I expect them to do so again, improving to 7-3 ATS their last 10 against NFC teams along the way. *10 Personal Favorite
|10-14-12||Indianapolis Colts v. NY Jets -3||Top||9-35||Win||100||3 h 48 m||Show|
I'm playing on the NEW YORK JETS. I won with the Jets against Houston on Monday. While the Colts have shown they are improved from last season, they still represent a fairly big step down in class from the Texans. I expect the Jets to find the matchup favorable and look for them to come through with a win and cover.
True, the Jets are coming off a Monday night game. However, that was here at New York. So, there was no travel involved. Additionally, note that they're 15-4 ATS the last 19 times that they were off a Monday night game, 3-1 ATS the past couple of seasons.
The Colts are off an impressive comeback win against the Packers. That may have this young team ripe for a letdown though.
Ryan believes Sanchez starting gives him the best chance and I agree. He commented: "We're not preparing to lose, that's for sure. We're thinking we're going to win, starting this week."
Remember, the Colts are 4-13 on the road the past few seasons while the Jets are 12-7 at home. The Colts lone road game this season resulted in a 20-point loss.
Nothing is expected of the Colts this season. The Jets still have dreams of the postseason though. Given that they've fallen below .500 and have a road game at New England on deck, if they want to keep those dreams alive, this really becomes essentially a must win game. I look for them to step up and get it done. *9
|10-13-12||New Mexico v. Hawaii +3||Top||35-23||Loss||-130||26 h 55 m||Show|
I'm playing on HAWAII. I played against the Warriors in their last home game. That worked out well for me, as they got destroyed (69-24) by Nevada. The Warriors followed that up with back to back blowout road losses, failing to cover in each of those games. I also successfully played against the Warriors in the recently blowout loss (47-0) at BYU. So, I'm acutely aware of Hawaii's recent struggles.
I feel that those results, combined with the fact that the Lobos have covered a few in a row, have helped to give us excellent value here.
Yes, the Warriors are 1-4. Thats really no surprise though. Three of the losses were on the road. Hawaii was an underdog of 44, 26 and 19.5 points. So, not only were the Warriors expected to lose, they were expected to lose big.
As noted, I played against the Warriors in their home loss against Nevada. So, that didn't come as a surprise either. That leaves only one other game. That was against Lamar and the Warriors were -36 point favorites. So, they were expected to win that one easily. They did what was expected, winning by a score of 54-2.
Now, for the first time all season, the Warriors have a game against an opponent of similar talent. In fact, I feel Hawaii may have the superior talent.
Lets not forget that New Mexico was 1-11 last season. This season's team has already tripled that win total but those wins came at home against Southern and Texas State and "in state" against rival New Mexico State.
Off a "big win," feeling good about themselves, and now traveling outside their state for the first time, I feel the Lobos may be susceptible to an "island letdown." Note that they haven't won back to back games since 2008 and that they haven't won a game outside the state of New Mexico since October of 2007.
After this game, its likely going to be a long time (UNLV on 11/24) until the Warriors have a chance to win a game in front of the home fans. That's because three of their next four games come on the road - and the lone home game during that time comes against Boise State. Armed with this knowledge, I expect the Warriors to be treating this a "very big" game. Let's not forget that head coach Norm Chow is still looking for his first win over a 1A team. So, there should be no lack of motivation.
While they haven't been in that role in some time, the Lobos are a poor 11-17 ATS the last 28 times that they were listed as road favorites. Meanwhile, during the same stretch, the Warriors were 21-10-1 ATS (22-10 SU) when the line ranged from +3 to -3, including 6-3 ATS as road underdogs of three or fewer points.
Even with the loss to Nevada, the Warriors are 10-6 ATS (11-5 SU) here the past few seasons. They can win this game and I think they will. *10 Underdog GOY
|10-13-12||South Carolina v. LSU -2.5||Top||21-23||Loss||-105||10 h 49 m||Show|
I'm playing on LSU. The Gamecocks come in with a big winning streak and a higher ranking. Off an impressive win over Georgia, they deserve it. I still feel that the Tigers are favored for good reason though. Playing at home, I expect them to come away with the victory, covering the small number along the way.
The Tigers are off a rare loss, their first in the "regular season" since way back in November of 2010. The big question is, how will the Tigers react to the defeat.
Les Miles noted: "It is an interesting thing, too, because for the first time in a year and a half we are talking about a regular-season loss, and it is miserable for us. Our football team is not enjoying it and certainly our coaching staff isn't, either."
I believe the Tigers will respond with flying colors. While a first loss kills the dreams of many teams, the situation is different here. The Tigers know that a victory here will put them right back in the hunt for the National title.
Safety Eric Reid noted: "It's a perfect situation. We had a tough loss, but at the same time, we can have a big win this Saturday."
Looking back to the Tigers' last regular season loss and we find that it actually came in the last game of the regular season, a 31-23 setback at Arkansas. They responded to that loss by trouncing Texas [email protected] in their bowl game.
That situation was a little different though, due to the long layoff between games. Plus, that loss to Arkansas wasn't the Tigers first loss of that season. They'd already lost a little over a month earlier, at Auburn.
I feel that loss at Auburn was a little more comparable to the current situation, as the Tigers had previously been undefeated. So, how did they respond? With an outright "upset" of Alabama the very next game. Remember, this is a very well-coached team.
The Gamecocks are definitely not slouches. They're also both well-coached and talented. Still, lets not forget that the Tigers are 10-1 as a host in this series. Also, while they've thrived in that situation so far this season, keep in mind that the Gamecocks are still only 5-9 ATS the last 14 times that they were off a conference win.
Interestingly, the Tigers were also coming off a loss the last time that these teams faced each other, back in 2008. In fact, LSU was off the worst loss of Les Miles' era, losing 51-21 against Florida. Miles got his guys to bounce back with a 24-17 win at South Carolina that day. I expect him to have them ready once again. *10 Main Event
|10-13-12||Oregon State v. BYU -5.5||Top||42-24||Loss||-105||30 h 36 m||Show|
I'm playing on BYU. The Beavers come in with the higher ranking. However, I believe that the Cougars are favored for good reason. And not just because of Oregon State's QB issues. Of course, that's not likely to make things any easier for the Beavers. While the Beavers are 4-0, they haven't started 5-0 since my grandparents were young.
Oregon State QB Cody Vaz has appeared in only five games in his entire career and he's completed just six of 17 passes for 48 yards. Should Vaz go down, his backup is redshirt freshman quarterback Richie Harrington, a walk-on.
Oregon State coach Mike Riley acknowledged this of Vaz: "The only unfortunate part is that I haven't played him enough."
The Cougars didn't cover last week - but they did manage a win against a tough and pesky Utah State team. With that game coming on a Friday, BYU gets an extra day of preparation. Prior to that game, the Cougars dominated Hawaii by a score of 47-0. They're 4-0 here on the season, outgaining teams by a 469.5 to 217.5 margin.
While they failed to win at Utah in Week 3, (I went against them there) note that the Cougars are a profitable 8-2 ATS the last 10 times that they were off consecutive SU victories.
The Cougars won by 10 at Oregon State last season. They outrushed the Beavers by a commanding 282-59 margin. They returned 14 starters from that team, too.
BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall is an OSU alumni and this is the homecoming game for the Cougars. Opportunities to beat ranked opponents don't come around all the time. I expect the well coached Cougars to take care of business in convincing fashion. *10 Personal Favorite
|10-13-12||West Virginia v. Texas Tech +4.5||Top||14-49||Win||100||18 h 38 m||Show|
I'm playing on TEXAS TECH. After scoring 70 points against Baylor two weeks ago and then following it up with a road win at Texas, the Mountaineers are receiving plenty of attention from the media. Rightfully so, they've been pretty impressive. I feel that this will be a tough spot for them though. I also feel that all that media attention has them over-valued. Meanwhile, I feel that Texas Tech comes in under-valued, flying under the radar.
The schedules have arguably been fairly similar. The Mountaineers faced easy teams in Marshall, James Madison and Maryland to start the season. Likewise, the Red Raiders faced easy opponents in Northwestern State, Texas State and New Mexico in their first three games. Each team faced a lesser ranked Big 12 opponent in its fourth game. The Mountaineers hosted Baylor, the Red Raiders played at Iowa State. In the fifth game, last time out, WVU played Texas while Texas Tech took on Oklahoma. So, given that I feel the schedules are fairly close, I feel its fair to compare the stats.
Yes, WVU has the edge on offense. The Mountaineers are averaging a whopping 52 points on 570.8 yards of offense. However, the Red Raiders aren't as far behind as one might expect. They're averaging 39 points on 509.6 yards. At home, Texas Tech is averaging 520.7 yards, which is actually more than WVU averages on the road.
Its on the other side of the ball where Texas Tech has the advantage. The Red Raiders are allowing only 16.8 points and just 210 yards of offense. Meanwhile, WVU is allowing 35 points on 460 yards.
So, if we look at that a different way, we find that Texas Tech is outscoring opponents by 22.2 points per game while WVU is outscoring its opponents by "only" 17 per game.
Meanwhile, the Red Raiders are gaining 299.4 more yards of offense per game than their opponents while the Mountaineers are gaining only 110.8 more than their foes.
The Mountaineers have seen three straight games decided by 10 or fewer points. Their games have been getting progressively closer. They'll be playing back to back road games for the only time this season. Off the upset at Texas and with a big showdown vs. Kansas State on deck, this is a tough spot.
While the Red Raiders are off a disappointing loss, that loss came against Oklahoma - and it was their first loss of the season. Prior to that, they were 4-0 with all four victories coming by double-digits.
Last week's loss notwithstanding, I still believe that this is a very good Texas Tech team. Keep in mind that the Red Raiders brought back 17 starters from a team which was ranked as high as #19 at one point early last year.
I don't believe that the Raiders are going to hang their heads. This is their homecoming game and it offers them a chance to beat a ranked opponent. Note that Texas Tech is 39-23 ATS its last 60+ off a conference loss.
During that stretch, even with the loss against Oklahoma, the Red Raiders were 7-3 ATS as a home underdogs in the +3.5 to +7 range. (All seven ATS wins were also SU wins.) I expect the Raiders to rise to the occasion and earn AT LEAST another cover on Saturday afternoon. *10 Best Bet
|10-13-12||Northwestern v. Minnesota +3.5||Top||21-13||Loss||-110||14 h 45 m||Show|
I'm playing on MINNESOTA. I played against the Gophers when they were beaten at Iowa, their very last game. At the time, I suggested that the undefeated Gophers were over-valued. Perception can change quickly though.
Off a single road loss, suddenly the Gophers are being considered a bad team again. In fact, they're getting nearly as many points for this home game as they were at Iowa.
Like the Gophers, the Wildcats are also coming off their first loss of the season. I feel that their loss will be more difficult to "bounce back" emotionally and physically from.
First of all, Northwestern's loss came last Saturday while Minnesota's loss came the previous week. So, the Gophers have had an extra week to physically/emotionally recover, while also having extra preparation time go gameplan for the Wildcats.
Not only have they had more "recovery time," but the Gophers loss was of the "blowout variety." Those type of losses can often be easier to bounce back from than a closer loss. The Wildcats were really starting to think they were good and were beginning to entertain thoughts of keeping their undefeated record going for a few more weeks - losing a relatively close game at Penn State figures to be painful.
Note that the Wildcats, now 2-8 ATS the last 10 October games, are just 3-7 ATS the last 10 times that they were off a conference loss. During that stretch, they've gone 2-4 ATS as road favorites.
Of course, playing back to back road games is tough in itself.
Even with the loss at Iowa, the Gophers are still 12-7-1 ATS the last 20 times that they were listed as underdogs. The Gophers covered (lost 29-28 as 4.5 point underdogs) when these teams played here in 2010. I expect at least another cover. *9
|10-12-12||Navy +2 v. Central Michigan||Top||31-13||Win||100||10 h 21 m||Show|
I'm playing on NAVY. I won with the Midshipmen against Air Force last week. Navy prevailed in a hard fought game, winning in OT. While Central Michigan isn't a complete "cupcake," this is indeed a very winnable game for the Midshipmen. The question is how they'll respond to the win over their rival. Back on track, I believe the answer will be that the Midshipmen will build some positive momentum from that game.
The last time that Navy beat Air Force was in 2009. That was also a hard fought OT win. The next week, the Midshipmen followed it up with a 49-point win on the road. They haven't won by that many points since.
True, the Midshipmen are playing the second of back-to-back road games. This is a well-conditoned and well-coached team though, one which was quite competitive in that situation last season. The Midshipmen were 0-2 when playing the second of b2b road games last season. However, both losses came by just three points, including one at South Carolina against a Gamecocks team that was ranked #11 at the time. (Navy was a +16 point underdog.)
The Chippewas come in off back-to-back double-digit losses, failing to cover in both games. They're giving up an average of 495 yards and 45.3 points their past three games. For the season they're allowing an average of 457.6 ypg, including a whopping 223 ypg (5.8 ypr) on the ground. That should spell trouble against a rejuvenated Navy rushing attack.
The Chippewas are a dismal 1-10 ATS (2-9 SU) in October the past few seasons. During that stretch, they're 2-9 ATS off a conference loss, going 3-9 ATS (5-7 SU) in their home games. Off three straight road games, they're in a bit of a tough scheduling spot themselves.
The Midshipmen have long been excellent as underdogs. They're particularly tough as slight road underdogs, going 7-2 ATS the last nine times that they were listed as road underdogs of three or fewer points. I expect them to improve on those stats Friday night. *10
|10-11-12||Arizona State v. Colorado +23||Top||51-17||Loss||-110||23 h 26 m||Show|
I'm playing on COLORADO. If I'm backing an underdog, I like to feel that the underdog has a chance at the outright win. That's not really necessary when getting more than three touchdowns though. That said, I feel the Buffaloes are coming into this game, looking for a win.
The Sun Devils are 4-1 on the season but only 1-1 on the road. That road win came by only 10 points, too.
While the Buffaloes have admittedly fared pretty poorly in the W/L column, they've also seen three of five games decided by five points or less.
Obviously, winning this game will not be easy; the Buffaloes are large underdogs for a reason. However, with road games at USC and Oregon on deck, this does represent the Buffaloes best shot at an October win. Throw in the fact that it comes on national TV and I look for them to be "fired up" and to deliver their best performance.
Historians will be interested to learn that Colorado is 2-0 on Thursday night games at Folsom Field, having beaten Stanford in 1990 and West Virginia in 2008.
Arizona State will be bringing pressure. The extra time off may help the Buffaloes a little there though. QB Jordan Webb noted: "I think the offensive line is really prepared. We've got some schemes that will help us. I think I have full faith in our offensive line. ... "
This was actually the first bye that the Buffaloes have had under coach Embree, now in his second season.
He said this of the time off: ''It's been good for us, we're excited to get some guys back healthy, allow us to address a few issues, tackling and turnovers. We did a lot live tackling. To the players it may not have felt like a bye, because we had a lot of live periods within practice and it was good to do that.''
Although teams usually get fired up for Thursday night games, the Sun Devils, 4-6 ATS their last 10 Thursday games, have a much bigger Thursday game (home game vs. Oregon) coming up next week. I feel they could get caught looking ahead.
For all their impressive stats, lets not forget that this Arizona State team was the least experienced team in the Pac 12 to start the season, returning only eight starter.
The Buffaloes were beaten soundly at Arizona State in Embree's first season as coach. Now, in his second year, he gets a chance to show he's got his program on the right track - and to help with future recruiting - by delivering a much more competitive game. I expect the Buffaloes to do just that. *10 Best Bet
|10-11-12||Pittsburgh Steelers v. Tennessee Titans +6||Top||23-26||Win||100||34 h 10 m||Show|
I'm playing on TENNESSEE. Off back to back blowout losses and having been blown out in four of five games, not many people want to touch the Titans here. Many probably can't wait to bet the Steelers as "only" a single-digit favorite. Winning on the road is rarely easy though, let alone doing so by a large margin.
Admittedly, the Titans have stunk. Much of that is their own fault. However, in all fairness, they've had a VERY difficult opening schedule.
The Titans have played only two home games and those came against New England and Detroit. They earned a split out of those games, which wasn't all that bad. After all, they were underdogs in each.
The Titans first two road games came at San Diego and at Houston. The Chargers are among the better team's in the AFC and Houston has the best record in the league. Their last game came at Minnesota, against a Vikings team which has suddenly caught fire.
While I did lose with the Titans at Minnesota (bad call!) I still feel that they're a better team than we've seen thus far. The Titans players feel the same way. Playing at home, on National TV, against yet another tough opponent - offers them a chance to prove it.
Coach Munchak noted: "We know this is our big opportunity to hopefully change the opinion of a lot of people by how we play on Thursday night."
The Steelers always command respect. However, the fact is that they're only 1-3 ATS on the season and their only win of greater than two points came at home. They're getting outscored by an average of 32.5 to 25 on the road. They're now 7-12 ATS away from Pittsburgh the past few seasons.
Note that the Steelers are off a hard-fought win over an instate rival (Philly) and that they have a divisional battle against Cincinnati on deck. Although teams generally get up for "TV" games, given the situation, it sill may be easy to look past the lowly Titans. Either way, I do feel that the short week favors the home team.
Also, lets not forget that the Steelers are still without safety Troy Polamalu. Its also possible that linebacker LaMarr Woodley will miss the game. If he does play, he may be at less than 100%.
Tomlin said this of Woodley's status: "We're at the early portion of the season and we've got to be smart with how we deal with that."
The Titans, 5-1 ATS their last six Thursday games, are 7-2 (6-3 ATS) in nine games as a host in this series, since they moved from Houston. (The Steelers' only two wins both came by 10 or less.) The Titans are also 9-4 ATS the last 13 times that they were listed as home underdogs in the +3.5 to +7 range. I expect them to rise to the occasion and I'm grabbing the points. *10 Main Event
|10-08-12||Houston Texans v. NY Jets +9||Top||23-17||Win||100||12 h 31 m||Show|
I'm playing on the NEW YORK JETS. Even the most casual of investors knows that they want to buy stocks when they're low and sell them when they're high. Of course, that's easier said than done. While its certainly not the only thing I consider, I've always believed the same is true of the NFL. In this case, I believe we're getting the Jets at a bargain rate while the Texans have become over-priced.
The Texans have indeed developed into a very good team. They'll be hungry to show that to the world. The betting public already knows how good they are though. They're being asked to lay more than seven points on the road.
To give that some perspective, before the regular season even started, some sportsbooks released lines on every single NFL game. People already knew the Texans were going to be good yet the line for this game was only a "pick'em."
True, the Jets are without Revis and Holmes while the Texans have been every bit as good as Houston fans could have hoped. Obviously, those factors should and have affected the line. Still, I think a line swing of greater than a TD is giving us excellent value with what I feel will be a very hungry and determined home underdog.
Just as the Texans will be looking to show the world that they're the real thing, the Jets will be looking to show the world that they're a much better team than the one which was beaten 34-0 last Sunday.
Sanchez had one of the best games of his career in a victory over the Texans in 2010, throwing for 315 yards. That was closer than expected, as it was decided by just a field goal. I look for this one to also prove closer than expected and I'm grabbing all the points I can get. *10
|10-07-12||San Diego Chargers v. New Orleans Saints -3||Top||24-31||Win||100||12 h 37 m||Show|
I'm playing on NEW ORLEANS. The playoffs are already now likely out of the question. However, that doesn't mean that this Saints team won't be giving everything its got here. This is desperation time. A chance to show the world on National TV that they're not a joke and that they're bigger than the offseason scandal. I expect them to rise to the occasion and play their best game.
Brees will break Johnny Unitas' record tonight and he obviously wants to do so with a win. He only faced the Chargers, his former team, once and he three for 339 yards and three TDs en route to a 37-32 victory, at London England. He's off a big game and will be facing a banged-up San Diego secondary.
Rivers knows Brees will be ready for a big game. He was quoted saying: "It's been many years since I've been around Drew but he's treating today like they're 4-0. He's very steady. And that's how you bounce back from a situation like they're in. In a Drew Brees team with what they've been though, you can't ever count them out of anything. We'll get their best ... "
The Saints last two losses have come by four combined points. So, its not like they're playing as poorly as their record indicates. Interim coach Aaron Kromer noted: "You can see more positives. We really feel that we're on the cusp of getting on a roll."
The Chargers are certainly a capable team. However, they're also capable of getting beaten by a good team. We saw that when they faced another NFC South team, as Atlanta annihilated them.
Obviously Rivers and co. want to win and perform well. They're not "desperate" to do so though. I expect the Saints to want this one more and that extra level of motivation, combined with homefield advantage, to ultimately make the difference. *10 Main Event
|10-07-12||Denver Broncos v. New England Patriots -6||Top||21-31||Win||100||8 h 55 m||Show|
I'm playing on NEW ENGLAND. Manning and Brady have had some epic showdowns over the years. This one figures to favor Brady though. Not only is he playing at home but he's also got a team around him that he's completely familiar with. While he's certainly looked good at times, even really good, let's not forget that Manning is still getting comfortable with his new team and that he's also still not that far removed from all those surgeries.
While he does have a fairly capable replacement (former Patriot Dan Koppen) it should be noted that Manning lost his starting center last week when J.D. Walton went down. He'd previously missed only one snap in his 3-year career. Obviously Koppen will be motivated to play well against his former team - and isn't probably too much of a downgrade - however, there can be some possible "chemistry issues" involved with a center making his first start on a new team, even an experienced one. Even one mistake could prove to be very big.
The Pats lost their only game here and will want to make amends for that. I also feel that the Pats are still stinging from the Super Bowl loss and that Brady will want to be the "top dog" in his own house. Brady must have felt the same way the last time that the Broncos came here. At the time, Tebow was in his "prime" and getting all kinds of publicity. IBrady wasn't too cool with that though. The Pats destroyed Denver by a score of 45-10. Brady threw 6 TDs.
Overall the Pats outscored the Broncos 86-33 while gaining more than 450 yards in each of last season's two games. Manning should help the Denver offense improve on those numbers but that's a huge gap to make up. Brady, who led his team to 52 points last week, figures to be licking his chops at facing a defense he carved up last season. While the Broncos defense has admittedly improved, I don't think they've improved enough to slow down a Patriot offense that finally found its groove in the second half of last week's game. I like the Pats to pull away and win this one by more than a touchdown. *10 Personal Favorite
|10-07-12||Tennessee Titans +6 v. Minnesota Vikings||Top||7-30||Loss||-110||8 h 42 m||Show|
I'm playing on TENNESSEE. Many will back the favorite here, strictly based on the records. (The Titans are 1-3. The Vikings are 3-1.) I feel that the value lies with the underdog though.
Keep in mind that the Vikings got to play the Colts and Jaguars (they split those games) while all four of Tennessee's games (Pats and Lions at home and Chargers and Texans on the road) have been difficult.
A defensive-minded team that likes to run the ball, Minnesota tends to play a lot of close games. When I played on them against the Lions, I noted the following quote from coach Frazier: "The way our team is built, we're going to play a lot of close games."
That tendency to play close games leads to the Vikings being better as underdogs than as favorites. They're already 2-0 ATS as underdogs but are 0-1-1 ATS (1-1 SU) as favorites. They're 5-8-1 ATS their last 14 when laying points, 1-2 ATS as home favorites in the -3.
With the loss at Indianapolis, note that the Vikings are also now 2-7-1 ATS (2-8 SU) their last 10 against AFC opponents. Meanwhile, during the same stretch, the Titans are 6-2-1 ATS (6-3 SU) against NFC opponents. They're an outstanding 39-17-6 (44-18 SU!) their last 62 against NFC teams.
I'm comfortable with Hasselbeck at QB. Remember, he was the starter last season and has had plenty of success in this league. While the Vikings have a big-time back in Peterson, the Titans have a pretty good one too. Johsnon ran 25 times for 141 yards last game.
The schedule doesn't get easier for a little while yet for the Titans as they've got Pittsburgh on deck. They know they have to survive this difficult first stage and I look for them to be "desperate" here.
Three of the Vikings four games have been decided by a TD or less, two of them by a field goal. In a game that could easily be decided in the final minutes, grab the points. *10 Non-Conf GOW
|10-07-12||Buffalo Bills +11 v. San Francisco 49ers||Top||3-45||Loss||-135||8 h 40 m||Show|
I'm playing on BUFFALO. The 49ers are off a blowout win while the Bills are off a blowout loss. That's got everyone again believing that the 49'ers are among the best in the league and the Bills are among the league's worst. I feel that perception is providing value with the road team.
Yes, the 49ers are a good team. However, last week's result notwithstanding, I still don't believe that they're the type of team that's going to win a lot of games by huge margins. Note that two of their three wins came by single-digits.
Off the 34-0 win and with a huge "revenge" game vs. the defending Super Bowl champs on deck, I feel it will be easy to look past lowly Buffalo.
The Bills have alternated between wins and losses. Off a loss, they should be hungry. After getting blown out by a pair of AFC East rivals, Buffalo, 17-6-1 ATS its last 24 against NFC West teams (all of that in the past) would love to be able to show it can hang with an elite team from the other conference.
This Buffalo team is averaging 28.7 points per game and has scored at least 24 points in every game. Look for them to be more competitive than most will be expecting. *9
|10-07-12||Chicago Bears v. Jacksonville Jaguars +6||Top||41-3||Loss||-105||8 h 31 m||Show|
I'm playing on JACKSONVILLE. The Bears are coming off an impressive Monday night win. However, they're now playing a second straight road game and doing so on a short week. That's a bigger deal than it may sound like.
Everyone's pretty high on the Bears after the Monday night win. However, it should be noted that they're actually being outgained by a 375.5 to 264.4 margin in their road games.
It should also be noted that Cutler is 0-2 against the Jaguars.
The only time that the Bears played road games in back to back weeks last season, the second game was decided by four points. The last time that the played a road game, after playing on the previous Monday, they lost 17-3.
I expect the Jags to be at their best and won't be surprised if they find a way to score the outright upset. *10 Best Bet
|10-07-12||Philadelphia Eagles v. Pittsburgh Steelers -3||Top||14-16||Loss||-125||4 h 22 m||Show|
I'm playing on PITTSBURGH. I had the Eagles (and the Under) in last week's 19-17 victory over the Giants. I also played against the Steelers in their last game, a 34-31 loss at Oakland. This one sets up nicely for Pittsburgh though.
While Philadelphia is off a hard-fought and emotional win over the defending champions, the Steelers had last week off.
Note that the Steelers are 3-0 SU and 2-1 ATS the last three times they were coming off a bye, going 20-9 SU their last 29.
The Eagles have failed to cover in each of their road games. They barely squeaked by Cleveland (17-16) and got blown out (27-6) at Arizona.
The Steelers crushed the Jets (27-10) in their lone home game. They're 15-4 SU here the past 2+ seasons, going 13-6 at the betting window.
The Eagles are just 4-6 ATS their last 10 against AFC opponents. During that stretch, the Steelers were 6-3 ATS against NFL foes. With the venue and schedule in their favor, I expect the Steelers to improve on those stats Sunday afternoon. *9
|10-07-12||Baltimore Ravens v. Kansas City Chiefs +6.5||Top||9-6||Win||100||4 h 18 m||Show|
I'm playing on KC. The Ravens come in with a 3-1 record while the Chiefs are only 1-3. While the Ravens will surely be a popular pick amongst recreational bettors, I feel the underdog is offering plenty of value.
Admittedly, the Ravens are a bit of a "scary" or intimidating team, as they are indeed very capable. That causes many bettors to avoid betting against them and/or to bet on them. I feel they can often be over-valued. I successfully played against them in their ATS loss vs. Cleveland and feel that they'll be in for another battle.
While two of their three wins have been close, the Ravens have thrived at home, going 3-0. However, they lost their lone road game, a 1-point loss at Philadelphia.
The Ravens like to run a no-huddle offense. That can be tough when playing at a loud road venue - and Arrowhead is known for being "hostile."
Admittedly, its been a tough start for the Chiefs. They did beat the Saints though and they are typically competitive against good teams. They're 7-4 ATS the last 2+ seasons against teams with a winning record.
The Ravens are 6-9-1 ATS their last 16 off back to back SU victories. Each of their last three have been decided by seven or less, two of them by a point. Grab the generous points. *9
|10-06-12||West Virginia v. Texas -7||Top||48-45||Loss||-103||23 h 15 m||Show|
I'm playing on TEXAS. Many bettors are likely going to favor the underdog here. They will see the Mountaineers are coming off a game in which they scored 70 points. They'll see that the Mountaineers have a Heisman Trophy frontrunner at QB. And, they'll see that its the Mountaineers which actually have the higher national ranking. I feel that the Longhorns are favored for good reason though.
While the 70 points are standing out in people's memories, I feel that the Longhorns have done much more thus far. Both teams are 4-0. However, the Longhorns have a 35 point road win over an SEC team (albeit a weak one) AND a road win at Oklahoma State.
That win against the Cowboys was huge. It gives the Longhorns a real shot at playing for the National Title. There are only a few really big tests remaining and this is one of them. Of course, the big one is vs. Oklahoma the following week.
I feel the the Longhorns learned a lesson in 2010. They had a 3-0 record that season and were hosting UCLA in their fourth game, prior to facing Oklahoma in their fifth game. Favored by more than two touchdowns, they got caught looking ahead to the Sooners and got smoked. The Longhorns never recovered that season, finishing 5-7.
Last year's team also started off 3-0, with one game to play before meeting Oklahoma. This time, having learned its lesson the previous year, Texas took care of business, delivering a 37-14 victory as a -9.5 point favorite. Although they still lost vs. the Sooners, the Longhorns at least went into that game with an undefeated record. With the lesson of 2010 still fresh in their memories, I expect Brown's team to avoid any letdown and/or look-ahead here.
The Mountaineers have yet to play a true road game and have been favored by double-digits in every game. Sure, they scored 70 against Baylor. Don't forget, they also allowed 63.
Geno Smith will get all the headlines here. However, Texas also has a very good QB in David Ash. Indeed, Ash has completed 78% of his passes for 1,007 yards (251.8 ypg) and has 10 TDs against only one interception.
This has traditionally been a good role for the Longhorns; they're 9-3-1 ATS the last 13 times that they were listed as home favorites in the -3.5 to -7 range. (During that stretch, the Mountaineers were only 4-7 ATS as road underdogs in the +3.5 to +7 range.)
The Mountaineers had a successful Big 12 debut. Facing a far more formidable opponent and a much better defense, expect them to find the going considerably more difficult here. *10 Main Event
|10-06-12||Iowa State v. TCU -7||Top||37-23||Loss||-105||20 h 5 m||Show|
I'm playing on TCU. Ranked #15 in the country, the Horned Frogs are finally getting a little respect. However, as the only school in the entire country currently with a double-digit win streak, they don't believe they're getting enough. Beating up on a mediocre Iowa State team, one which has a deceivingly decent 3-1 record, will look good on their resum
|10-06-12||Georgia Tech +11 v. Clemson||Top||31-47||Loss||-115||20 h 50 m||Show|
I'm playing on GEORGIA TECH. These teams will be meeting for the fifth time in the last four years. The Yellow Jackets won 31-17 last season and have a 50-25-2 lead in the all-time series. They're getting double-digits here and I feel that's providing us with excellent line value.
Admittedly, the Tigers are dynamic offensively. Facing a defensively-challenged Georgia Tech team, they should score points.
I believe the Yellow Jackets will also have plenty of offensive success though. The Tigers are giving up 438 yards per game (543.5 in conference play!) while the Yellow Jackets are averaging a whopping 329 yards of offense per game on the ground.
While the Yellow Jackets may have been looking ahead to this game last week, the Tigers are off back to back hard-fought road games. They survived some adversity at Boston College last week, playing without star receiver Sammy Watkins. Watkins, who is indeed a very talented player, has been cleared to play this week. However, as can sometimes be the case when a star returns, I won't be surprised if the rest of the unit lets down, if only slightly.
Off an embarrassing loss, I don't expect that to be an issue for the well-coached Yellow Jackets. As Paul Johnson noted about the game vs. Clemson, after last week's loss: "...we have to come out and play a lot harder than we did today, or it could be ugly." I believe he'll have had the ear of his players this week and I look for a much improved effort.
Clemson coach Swinney knows he can expect Georgia Tech's best. He was quoted "This is a team that I know they're coming off a tough loss to Middle Tennessee, but they've had two overtime losses at Virginia Tech and then against Miami. I think everybody knows the kind of team that Georgia Tech is and the kind of coaching staff that they have. We're going to have to play a great game."
While the revenge-minded Tigers would love a big win, keep in mind that Clemson has seen all three of its games against quality opposition decided by 14 points or less. The Tigers did beat Boston College by 14 - however, they were losing that game at halftime. So, it was close. They lost by eight at Florida State and they beat Auburn by seven.
While last week's game got out of hand, G-Tech has also been involved in close games. They've had two blowout wins and two losses by six or less. In their lone road game, they lost by three at Virginia Tech.
With both teams hungry for a win, I feel this one could very well also come down to the wire and I'm grabbing all the points I can get. *10 Best Bet
|10-06-12||Navy +8 v. Air Force||Top||28-21||Win||100||16 h 56 m||Show|
I'm playing on NAVY. I won with Air Force when these teams met last season. Navy was a 3-point favorite but the Falcons pulled off a 35-34 upset. Despite that setback, the Midshipmen are still a profitable 8-2 ATS the last 10 in the series. In a game that could easily again come down to the wire, I feel that they're providing us with very fair value.
While it hasn't been the case so far this season, Navy has long been a strong underdog, going 62-30-2 ATS its last 94 when getting points.
On the other hand, the Falcons are just 6-14 ATS the last 20 times that they were laying points. Note that they're only 4-10 ATS their last 14 home lined games.
Admittedly, Navy has gotten off to a disappointing start. However, this was supposed to be an improved Navy team from last season. And remember, the Midshipmen were favored against AF last year.
Keep in mind that two of Navy's losses came against Notre Dame (at Ireland) and at Penn State. So, there was no real shame in losing those games. Losing at home against SJ State wasn't too good. However, the Spartans nearly did the same thing to Stanford and the Midshipmen were underdogs in that game. So, that loss was somewhat excusable too. They won their only other game by a score of 41-3.
Air Force has the better 2-2 record. Its loss vs. Michigan was certainly excusable. However, losing at UNLV wasn't too good - the Rebels are a bad team and AF was lying -10.5 points in that game. The only two wins came against Idaho State and Colorado State, a pair of bad teams. So, really, this team has done nothing. At least, not yet.
Last year wasn't the first close game between these teams. In fact, each of the last four games was decided by eight points or less. Eight of the last nine meetings have been decided by eight or fewer points and all nine of those were decided by 11 or less. Also, the last four meetings in Colorado Springs were ALL decided by a TD or less.
While the Air Force offense has been quite potent, the defense is giving up more than 435 yards per game. I expect that to be just what the doctor ordered for Navy. In another game that could easily come down to the wire, I'm grabbing all the points I can get. *9
|10-05-12||Pittsburgh +2 v. Syracuse||Top||13-14||Win||100||23 h 14 m||Show|
I'm playing on PITTSBURGH. The Orange opened as underdogs and are now small favorites. I feel the initial line was more accurate though and disagree with the line move.
After an awful 0-2 start, the Panthers have recovered. (Remember, they were adjusting to a new coach.) This is a team which brought back 14 starters and was expected to be good. They lost badly the last time they were on National TV and will be looking to show the country that they're better than that.
There's nothing particularly impressive about the Panthers' 55-0 beatdown of Gardner Webb, as that was to be expected. Still, that type of blowout victory can build a team's confidence. The 35-17 destruction of Virginia Tech WAS impressive, far more so than anything that the 1-3 Orange have accomplished.
Syracuse has one win and it came against 1-AA Stony Brook. (The Orange won by 11 as a 21.5 pt fav) There's nothing to be ashamed of about their double-digit loss vs. USC. However, losses against Northwestern and Minnesota are telling.
On the season, the Orange have turned the ball over 10 times and are averaging nine penalties per game.
While the pointspread won't likely be a factor here, note that the Panthers are 5-2-1 ATS the last eight times that they played a game with a line in the -3 to +3 range. During that stretch, the Orange were just 3-8 SU/ATS when doing so.
The Panthers have dominated this series in recent years. Meeting for the last time as Big East rivals, I expect them to continue that dominance Friday night. *9
|10-04-12||USC v. Utah +14.5||Top||38-28||Win||100||21 h 33 m||Show|
I'm playing on UTAH. I won with the Utes against BYU as home underdogs but successfully played against them at Utah State, as road favorites. The Utes are home underdogs again here, one of their best roles, and I again feel that they're providing us with excellent value.
As always, USC has excellent athletes. Really, this team is loaded - on both sides of the ball. Still, being asked to lay two TDs on the road - at a venue like this - is asking a lot.
The Trojans have only played one true road game (Stanford) and they lost that one outright. The Utes are undefeated at home.
The Utes are 48-27 ATS the last 75 times that they were getting points, 6-3 ATS when listed as underdogs in the +10.5 to +21 range.
The Utes lost by only nine points at USC last season. They were only +7.5 point underdogs in that one. Now, they're playing at home AND getting an extra touchdown to boot.
Granted, the Trojans are arguably a better team than they were last season. However, the same can arguably be said of the Utes. Keep in mind that Jordan Wynn was just one of 16 returning starters.
Last year's 9-point USC win was a little deceiving. The score was just 17-14 and Utah was lining up for a 41-yrd field goal to send the game to OT. However, the Trojans blocked the kick and took it 68 yards the other way. (The Pac-12 didn't even announce that the TD counted until long after the Coliseum had emptied; fans thought it didn't count.)
After that game, Utah's first in the conference, coach Kyle Whittingham said. ""It was baptism by fire. We stayed toe-to-toe, but we have to find a way to win close games. ... If you have a group of competitive guys, you want to play the best in the country. Personnel-wise, USC stacks up with anyone in the country."
True, the Utes didn't look too good in their last game getting blown out by Arizona State. That was on the road though - they've 4-2 SU the last six times that they were off a conference loss.
While both teams are off a bye, I feel that the extra time may have helped Utah more. Its given players like star running back John White, junior defensive end Joe Kruger (2.5 sacks, two forced fumbles) and sophomore safety Eric Rowe more time to heal. Also, off a loss, I feel that the Utes may be more receptive in practice than the Trojans, who could potentially be a little full of themselves.
Utah is 6-1 after byes during Kyle Whittingham
|10-04-12||Arizona Cardinals v. St. Louis Rams +2||Top||3-17||Win||100||58 h 53 m||Show|
I'm playing on ST. LOUIS. I'm 3-0 in St. Louis games this season. I successfully played against the Rams at Chicago. However, I also backed them in each of their two games here at St. Louis. I feel that this will be another good spot to do so.
There's no denying that the Cardinals are off to a great start. They're one of only three undefeated teams and they've got wins over the likes of New England and Philadelphia.
Only one of those wins has come on the road though, which means that the Rams' 2-0 home record is actually stronger than the Cards' 1-0 record outside of the desert.
It should also be noted that the Cards are being outgained by an average of 357.2 to 271.1 per game, in terms of total yards of offense. They were outgained 387-245 in their lone road game. (The Rams are outgaining teams by a 369-349 margin here at St. Louis.)
I feel that the short week will favor the home team. The Rams played an early game last Sunday, right here at St. Louis. The Cards played a later game on Sunday and it went to OT. That put them an extra 4 hours behind the Rams right there - and then they had to travel to St. Louis and get adjusted to being there.
While teams typically watch film and get treatments for injuries and soreness on Monday (and the often take Tuesday off) the he Rams were already back at work Sunday night. They were on back into field work Monday.
As St. Louis defensive end Chris Long noted: "Short weeks are less than ideal, but both teams are dealing with it. It's just going to be about who prepares better and who takes care of their bodies better and who adapts better."
While its only a matter of hours, I really do think that avoiding travel and the small amount of extra prep time will serve the Ram well here.
Long went on to say: "I'd like to think that we've got a lot of hard workers and smart guys in here, even though we have young guys, guys who are willing to make those sacrifices that will get you back to your equilibrium by Thursday."
After Monday's practice, Jeff Fisher had this to say: "The guys, they worked the soreness out and they're ready to go. By Thursday night, they're excited to be able to play. It's prime time and we hope things work out well for us.''
Arizona wants this game, obviously. However, the Rams need it more. This is a chance to move above .500 and for them to be right in the thick of the division race. The fans will be extremely fired up, as will the players.
While the Cards were 1-7 SU and 2-6 ATS in October the past couple of seasons, the Rams were a surprising 5-4 ATS and 4-5 SU. With both the venue and schedule in their favor, I expect the Rams to improve on those stats with an "upset" win. *10 Best Bet
|10-04-12||Arkansas State v. Florida International +2||Top||34-20||Loss||-110||19 h 14 m||Show|
I'm playing on FIU. The Golden Panthers have been good to me so far this season. I won with "over" in their first game, a loss at Duke. Note that the Golden Panthers racked up more than 500 yards in offense in that one, enjoying a significant edge in that department. I also backed them as underdogs in games at UCF and vs. Louisville. They lost those games but earned the cover in each. I feel that this will be a great spot for them to break through with an outright win.
Arkansas State was the best team in this conference last season. However, I don't believe that's the case this season. The Red Wolves are already 0-1 in conference play, losing at home to Western Kentucky. Sure, they've got two wins. However, those wins both came at home and they came against Alcorn State and Memphis. They were favored by 23.5 and 39.5 points in those games. So, wins were expected. (They did blow out 1-AA Alcorn State but won by only five against Memphis.)
While the Red Wolves suffered major personnel losses from last season, the Golden Panthers brought back many returning starters. They were picked by many before the season began to win this conference and they've had this game circled since the schedule came out. They'll be looking for some payback from a loss at Arkansas State last season, a game which was tied at halftime. Now, an FIU team which is arguably stronger than it was last season gets to play at home against an Arkansas St team which is arguably weaker than it was last season.
While a healthy Medlock may have been preferred at QB, I feel that E.J. Hilliard (25-of-36, 286 yards) will prove capable.
The Golden Panthers are only 1-4 this season but they're 1-1 at home. They're lone home loss came against a good Louisville team though. And, as I mentioned, they had a big yardage edge on Duke in the loss there. I expect them to be sky high for this one, dropping the Red Wolves to 9-20 the last 29 times that they played a game with a line in the -3 to +3 range. *10
|10-01-12||Chicago Bears v. Dallas Cowboys -3||Top||34-18||Loss||-120||11 h 40 m||Show|
I'm playing on DALLAS. I won with the Bears last game. However, that was at home against the Rams. Plus, in addition to having homefield advantage, the Bears also had some extra preparation for that game. Stepping up in class and now playing at a difficult road venue, I expect the Bears to find the going much tougher here.
Some may feel that the Bears have been the more impressive team thus far. After all, they're 2-1 ATS while the Cowboys are 1-2 ATS. However, we have to consider the schedules. The Bears two wins both came at home and they came against the likes of Indianapolis and St. Louis, last year's two very worst teams.
The Cowboys did get blown out at Seattle - that was a difficult spot (you may remember we played against them there) though as they were off the emotional win over the defending champion Giants, while playing far from home.
Contrary to popular opinion, the Cowboys' two victories were actually quite impressive. They went on the road and beat the defending champions, outplaying them in the process. Last tame, they limited the Bucs to a mere 166 total yards of offense.
While the Cowboys are outgaining opponents by a 342-250 margin, the Bears are only outgaining opponents by a 290-279 margin.
Even after the victory last time out, Cutler acknowledged the Bears' offense is still a work in progress. He was quoted saying: "Right now we're just learning the offense. Everyone's getting comfortable. We're finding our identity. Offensive coordinator Mike Tice is still finding his identity as a play-caller ... "
Note that Forte, a big part of the Chicago offense and a player who scored an important fourth quarter TD last time these teams met, is questionable.
Forte practiced Wednesday and proclaimed himself ready to go. However, Lovie Smith noted that he "still has a long ways to go."
When these teams faced each other here two seasons ago, the line was Dallas -7. The Bears won that game. However, it was the Cowboys who had a 374-270 advantage in total yards.
With their improved defense, I feel that the Cowboys are actually a better team than they were in that 2010 meeting. Yet, we're getting them at a far more reasonable line. I feel that's providing us with excellent value. Lay the points. *10
|09-30-12||NY Giants v. Philadelphia Eagles -1||Top||17-19||Win||100||21 h 53 m||Show|
I'm playing on PHILADELPHIA. I'll admit that Eli has been better than Vick thus far. I'll also admit that the Giants were the superior team last time out. However, the fact is that both teams are 2-1.
The Eagles' loss came on the road and against an undefeated Arizona team which has been playing surprisingly well. They beat Baltimore in their only home game - and the Ravens are among the best teams in the league.
I'd argue that win over the Ravens was more impressive than either of the Giants' victories, which came against a pair of teams which were a combined 10-22 last season. Note that Philadelphia outagained Baltimore by a 486-325 margin in that game
As you probably saw, the Giants were outplayed by the Cowboys in their lone game against a team which was .500 or better last season
While the Giants have converted more of the opportunities, looking more closely at total yards per game shows that both teams are actually very close. The Giants are averaging an impressive 426 per game, 405 on the road. Yet, the Eagles aren't far behind. They're averaging 416.7 per game, 486 at home.
However, on the other side of the ball, the Eagles have a significant advantage. They're allowing 275.7 per game while the Giants are allowing 355.7.
While I already acknowledged the Manning had been better than Vick thus far, that doesn't mean he's going to be better today. Vick, still an amazing athlete, has a lot to prove. Facing the champs on National TV, I expect him to elevate his game.
The Eagles have quietly dominated the Giants, going 7-1 SU/ATS the last eight meetings. I have a feeling they continue that dominance Sunday night. *10
|09-30-12||Washington Redskins v. Tampa Bay Buccaneers -1||Top||24-22||Loss||-116||17 h 14 m||Show|
I'm playing on TAMPA BAY. Based at least partially on Robert Griffin III putting up big numbers in his first game, many probably feel that the Redskins have been a more impressive team than the Bucs. I'm not one of them.
The Bucs did lose both their road games. However, both those losses came by less than a touchdown and they came against a pair of tough NFC East teams, New York and Dallas. They won their only home game, taking care of business against Carolina.
While the Skins opening victory over the Saints seemed pretty impressive at the time, with the Saints still winless, that win doesn't seem quite as special anymore. The Skins have since lost vs. the Bengals and Rams.
While the Skins have been better offensively, the Bucs have been better defensively. Washington is allowing 33.7 points per game. Tampa is allowing just 22.3. Washington's 10 touchdown passes allowed is the most in the league.
Everyone is a bit down on Tampa QB Freeman at the moment. However, coach Schiano had this to say: "I have a great trust level with him. There's not a doubt in my mind he's going to do great this year and beyond."
I agree with Schiano and think people shouldn't over-react to the poor offensive production - again, their last two games came on the road against tough NFC East foes.
The Bucs are a perfect 6-0 their last six regular season home games against the Skins. I feel their advantage on the defensive side of the ball will help make it seven straight. *10 Personal Fav
|09-30-12||Oakland Raiders +7 v. Denver Broncos||Top||6-37||Loss||-115||4 h 52 m||Show|
I'm playing on OAKLAND. I won with the Raiders last week. At the time, they were winless and facing Pittsburgh. Many were writing them off. I stated the following though:
"Admittedly, the Raiders haven't looked too good so far this season. Admittedly, the Steelers are a tough opponent. That said, I like the Raiders to bounce back with their best game. Off to an 0-2 start and with back to back difficult road games on deck, the Raiders know they can't afford another loss here - or the season could/will quickly become a write-off. It wasn't supposed to be this way though. Not this season. Some of you may recall that I backed the Raider in Week 3 of the preseason, the week when the starters see the most time. The Raiders were hosting the Lions. In my analysis on Oakland at the time, I included the following quote from Oakland's Michael Huff: 'We want to show everybody that this is the new Raiders. We're going to put that on film every Sunday
|09-30-12||San Francisco 49ers v. NY Jets +4.5||Top||34-0||Loss||-105||14 h 31 m||Show|
I'm playing on the NEW YORK JETS. Not many people are giving the Jets much of a chance here. They can't get over the bad preseason or the loss of Revis. Many of the same people are convinced that the 49'ers are the best team in the league. With that being the general perception of this game, we're able to get the Jets, plus more than a field goal, at home. With all due respect to the 49'ers, I feel this is giving us excellent value with the Jets.
Everyone thought the 49'ers were invincible before last week's game. What happened? Playing an early game in the Eastern Time Zone, against a mediocre opponent, they were beaten soundly.
With that result, the 49ers are just 7-11 ATS on the road the past 2+ seasons, going 8-10 SU. On the other hand, the Jets were dominant (48-28) in their only home game. They're 12-5 SU here the past 2+ seasons. Two of those five losses came by four points or less, too.
Note that each of the 49'ers last seven road wins has come by single-digits. Two of those came by less than a field goal.
Everyone's talking about the Jets losing the game Revis missed. However, keep in mind that was at Pittsburgh with the Steelers coming off a loss. There's a pretty good chance that the Jets were going to lose that one even if Revis played.
A closer look reveals that the Jets are actually 3-1 when Revis hasn't started and that the defense has actually really elevated its game, rising to the challenge. In four games where Revis didn't play at all, they allowed only 17.75 points per game and a total of just 288 yards per game. So, while Revis is an excellent player, contrary to popular belief, this Jets defense is capable of rising to the challenge in his absence.
As coach Ryan said."This is a team game, and as a team, we've got to step it up. Ithink we'll respond. We certainly have to accept the challenge, and we're going to come out and compete. We might do it a little differently, but we're certainly going to give it our best shot, without question."
I expect the Jets to win outright but will gladly improve my chances even further by grabbing the generous points. *10 Best Bet
|09-30-12||Seattle Seahawks v. St. Louis Rams +3||Top||13-19||Win||100||1 h 53 m||Show|
I'm playing on ST LOUIS. I played against the Rams last week. That was at Chicago though and they were catching the Bears off a loss and with extra preparation time. This week's game sets up far more favorably.
This time, the Rams' opponent is off an "emotional" last second victory and is playing on a short week. Throw in the fact that the Seahawks are a West Coast based team playing in an early Eastern time zone game and this becomes quite a difficult scheduling spot for the visitors.
Yet, the Seahawks are the team laying a field goal. Including this season's loss at Arizona, note that they're 0-2 ATS the past couple of seasons, as road favorites of three or less.
Overall, this team is only 5-13 SU on the road, including 2-9 (2-8-1 ATS) when playing a road game with an O/U line ranging between 38.5 and 42.
While I did successfully play against the Rams in their last game, I also successfully play on them in their lone home game. They beat an over-rated Washington team outright in that game. With the schedule strongly in their favor, I expect them to do the same to an over-rated Seattle team this afternoon. *9
|09-29-12||Wisconsin +12 v. Nebraska||Top||27-30||Win||100||24 h 20 m||Show|
I'm playing on WISCONSIN. I feel that this line is too high. Both teams are 3-1. Yet, because the Huskers have won in more impressive fashion, they're getting a lot more respect than the Badgers here.
True, the victories have been impressive. However, keep in mind that Nebraska was favored by more than 20 points in all three of those games. The Huskers were supposed to win those in blowout fashion. The only time that they faced a quality opponent (UCLA) they lost by six.
The Badgers also lost a close road game against a Pac-12 school. But because their three wins have been close, they're getting run through the mud. That close game experience can be beneficial though - and it should be noted that the win against Utah State came against arguably a more talented opponent than the Huskers have beaten yet this season.
The Badgers, who hammered the Huskers last season, have won five straight conference games, going 14-3 their last 17 conference games. I believe they're better than people realize and feel that their talented defense will serve them well, when trying to cover a large number. (The Badgers are 13-6-1 ATS the last 20 times that they were underdogs of greater than eight points.)
Coach Bielema noted: "It's a tremendous challenge to go on the road and win the way you want to in this league so that's an opportunity that we have in front of us. We get better every week, the team has the right attitude, like I said I don't have any worries about the way guys handle their work during the course of the week and we will see where we are Saturday."
The Badgers are 4-1 ATS the last five times that they were getting points. All four of their games have been decided by 11 or fewer points and three were decided by five or less. In another game that could easily come down to the wire, I'm grabbing all the points I can get. *10 Main Event
|09-29-12||Florida State v. South Florida +16.5||Top||30-17||Win||100||22 h 26 m||Show|
I'm playing on SOUTH FLORIDA. The Seminoles are a talented team. However, I don't feel that they should be laying more than two touchdowns here.
The Bulls check in with a disappointing 2-2 record and off back to back losses. Note that both losses came by 10 points or less.
Off an impressive win at Nevada, the Bulls moved to 2-0 after two games. However, they had to play their next game on a short week and were upset by Rutgers. For a team that had dreams of being 4-0 heading into this week's showdown vs. Florida State, the loss at Rutgers was disappointing. Still thinking about the Rutgers loss and possibly looking ahead to the Seminoles, the Bulls suffered a letdown were upset at Ball State last week. This is still a solid team and I expect them to be much better here.
Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher knows the Bulls are no joke. He said the following: ''I don't look at this as a lesser game. I think South Florida is an extremely talented football team. ... They have guys on their team from when they defeated us,'' adding that the Bulls won't be in awe of the favored Seminoles because many players from the teams have known each other since they were high school prospects. ''In their mind, that gives them more motivation and more energy to try to knock you off I don't think there's any doubt...''
When Fisher refers to "the team that beat them," he's referring to the 2009 Bulls which upset the Seminoles. A 14-point underdog, the Bulls won by 10.
South Florida QB BJ Daniels, a Tallahassee native, was a red-shirt freshman at the time. Now a senior, Daniels is a dual threat, that can beat you with both is arm and his legs. He's already thrown for 1,142 yards and nine touchdowns while running for 199 yards.
The Bulls have beaten the likes of Notre Dame and Miami under Holtz and will go into this game thinking upset.
Coach Holtz had this to say of this week's game: "...we've played in some big football games in the past. I don't think the players will be intimidated. They're excited about the opportunity. They understand the last couple of weeks we have not played stellar football, and this is an opportunity to go out and perform against a Top 5 team.''
While this game is huge for the Bulls, its not such a big deal for the Seminoles. They're off a big conference win last time out and have another one on deck.
The Bulls are 7-3 ATS their last 10 against teams from the ACC. They're also 8-3 ATS the last 11 times that they were underdogs of greater than eight points. I expect them to be ready and for them to provide their "rivals" a much tougher game than most will be expecting. *10 Best Bet
|09-29-12||Arizona State v. California +1||Top||27-17||Loss||-109||29 h 28 m||Show|
I'm playing on CALIFORNIA. I believe that getting the Bears at home in the pick'em range offers excellent value.
A big reason for the low line is California's 1-3 record. However, the fact it that the Bears were only "supposed" to be 2-2. So, 1-3 isn't that far off.
The game that the Bears lost, which they were expected to win, was the opener vs. Nevada. In case you haven't noticed, the Wolfpack are a pretty good team though. (They just scored 69 points and are averaging better than 44.) So, while the Bears should have beaten them - it was never going to be a cakewalk. Plus, playing a team's first game can be difficult.
The other two losses both came on the road and they were against Ohio State and USC. So, there's no shame in either of those losses. In fact, they almost beat the Buckeyes. Then, after leaving it all out on the field in that game, they were beaten more soundly at USC.
They're back home now though and I expect the Bears to wake up from their "hibernation." Facing Arizona State should help.
While the Sun Devils have played rather well at home, they lost their only road game. They're 3-9 on the road the past few seasons. This is still an inexperienced team (fewest returning starters in the Pac-12) with a new coach. I don't expect road victories to come easily.
Admittedly, the Sun Devils defense has played well. Give them credit for that. However, lets not get carried away.
Keep in mind the following, the three 1A teams that the Sun Devils have faced were Illinois, Missouri and Utah. Those teams entered the season expecting to have Nathan Scheelhaase, James Franklin and Jordan Wynn. In the case of the first two (Franklin and Scheelhaase) both those QBs played the previous week, meaning that both Missouri and Illinois faced ASU with QBs making their first ever start, with offenses that had worked with the presumed starter all fall.
In other words, those impressive Arizona State defensive numbers have gone up against offenses which weren't at their best. Their secondary has yet to be tested - and it will be on Saturday
The Bears are 8-1 in nine meetings with the Sun Devils since Tedford became coach, including 4-0 the last four. They won those games by an average of 14 points, including an 11-point win at Arizona St. last season.
Having lost that game vs. Nevada, the Bears know this is essentially as must-win game, if they want to go to to a bowl. They've still got UCLA, Stanford and Oregon to go - plus games against Washington State, Utah and Oregon State all come on the road. Again, they can ill-afford another loss. Desperate for a win, I expect the Bears to rise to the occasion and continue their dominance in the series. *10 Personal Favorite
|09-29-12||Minnesota v. Iowa -6.5||Top||13-31||Win||100||17 h 35 m||Show|
I'm playing on IOWA. A lot of bettors are probably going to be tempted to grab the points here. They'll look at this matchup, see Minnesota's 4-0 record against Iowa's 2-2 mark and they'll assume that the Gophers are the better team. That perception and those records have kept the line on Iowa reasonably low. Given that I expect the Hawkeyes to bounce back with a double-digit win, I feel that's providing us with excellent value.
Give the Gophers credit for the 4-0 start. Wins are wins, no matter who they come against. However, a closer look reveals that three of those wins came at home, none of them against elite teams, and that the only road win came at UNLV, in Week 1. The Rebels were considered so weak that the Gophers were favored by -9.5 points in that one. Yet, they won by only three, doing so in triple-OT. The three home wins came against New Hampshire, Western Michigan and Syracuse. Again, not exactly teams that we'll be expecting to see on New Year's Day. So, let's not get too carried away by the 4-0 start. (There's a reason why they didn't receive a single vote in this week's AP poll.)
While the Hawkeyes are certainly disappointed with their 2-2 start, Kirk Farentz's team is typically at its best off a loss. Indeed, the Hawkeyes are an outstanding 35-15 ATS their last 50 times line games off a SU loss. Even with a few non-covers so far this season, they're still 18-8 ATS the last 25 times that they failed to cover their previous game.
The Gophers won the last two games in this series. Both those were at Minnesota though. The Hawkeyes have dominated the meetings at Iowa, winning five straight and eight of nine. They were 7-2 ATS in those games, too.
A look at the recent pointspreads in this series shows that the Hawkeyes were favored by at least 13 points in each of the last three meetings, as well as each of the last two here at Iowa.
I'm not getting too carried away wth the non-conference records. This is the beginning of conference play and I expect Ferentz's Hawkeyes to bounce back, as they usually do off a loss, with a solid win an cover. *9
|09-28-12||Hawaii v. BYU -26.5||Top||0-47||Win||100||9 h 25 m||Show|
I'm playing on BYU. The Cougars have treated me well so far this season. I successfully played on them when they blew out Washington State in their opener. I also successfully played against them when they lost outright at Utah. Last week, they covered for me at Boise, losing by a single point. While that was a difficult loss, Friday's matchup should provide an excellent opportunity to right the ship with a blowout win.
I successfully played against Hawaii last week. I felt Nevada, which hadn't won on the Island since the 1940s, was going to be really motivated. I also felt that the Warriors were going to be over-matched. That certainly proved to be the case. Playing in front of their own home fans, Hawaii was beaten by 45 points.
It appears that Taysom Hill will be getting the start at QB. (Note that it was Hill who drove for the TD against Boise.) That's fine with me. But I'd have been fine with Nelson, too. Either way, I expect the offense to have success against a Hawaii defense which gave up 69 points and nearly 600 yards of offense.
I quite like the fact that the Cougars played on 9/20 while the Warriors played a very late game on 9/22, at Hawaii.
While the spread may seem high, note that BYU is 3-0 SU/ATS the last three times it was favored in the -21.5 to --31 range.
The Cougars have dominated the Warriors in recent years including a 21-point win at Hawaii last season. I believe the talent gap, or at least the "playing ability," between the teams is currently even wider. Catching the Warriors on a short week and now facing them at home, I expect the Cougars to deliver an even bigger blowout. *10
|09-27-12||Cleveland Browns +12.5 v. Baltimore Ravens||Top||16-23||Win||100||34 h 48 m||Show|
I'm playing on CLEVELAND. Obviously, the Ravens are pretty good. I think this is too many points for them to be laying though.
Each of Baltimore's last two games have been decided by a single point. Even though this is a TV game, off those hard-fought emotional games and playing on a short week, while also dealing with added emotion surrounding the death of Torrey Smith's brother, I feel it may be hard for the Ravens to fully "get up" for lowly Cleveland.
True, the Browns are off to a disappointing 0-3 start. That should ensure that they're "desperate" here though. Another loss and their season really is a "write-off."
Although the Browns are winless, they have been competitive. All three of their losses came by 10 points or less and two of them came by seven or less.
Speaking of "close games," the Ravens and Browns often seem to play close games against each other. All four meetings since 2010 have been decided by 14 points or less. The two games here at Baltimore were both decided by seven or less.
While the offense has certainly been clicking, the vaunted Ravens defense, still without Suggs, is giving up more than 400 yards per game.
The Ravens are 1-5 ATS the last six times that they were double-digit favorites. During that stretch, the Browns are 4-2 ATS as double-digit underdogs. I'm grabbing all the points I can get. *9 Best Bet
|09-24-12||Green Bay Packers -3 v. Seattle Seahawks||Top||12-14||Loss||-115||10 h 26 m||Show|
I'm playing on GREEN BAY. Many of you know that I have a soft spot in my heart for home underdogs. Four of my six plays yesterday were "sides." All four of those were home teams and three of them were underdogs. All four of those teams covered the spread for me and the three underdogs (Tennessee, Minnesota, Oakland) all won outright.
I've already nailed numerous home underdogs in college too, including outright winners on Arizona over Oklahoma State, Utah State over Utah and Utah over BYU, just to name a few. This past Saturday, I covered with home underdogs Colorado State and FIU, the latter for the second straight week. I even had Seattle in last week's victory here over Dallas. The point that I'm trying to make is that I fully understand the importance of playing at home.
Having spent considerable time in Seattle and having attended several games here, I'm also well aware that this is no easy venue. Seattle fans love their Seahawks and take pride in being as loud as they can. They'll surely be fired up here.
While there's no doubt that the Seahawks are a better team here than they are on the road, all that fan support can only take a team so far.
When I can play on a road team which I feel is superior, when the line is smaller than I think it should be and I when I believe that other situational factors are in my favor, I won't hesitate to go against my "home underdog nature" and back the road favorite. (That was the case Saturday night at Hawaii, when I backed road favorite Nevada, which won by 45.)
In this case, I do feel that the Packers are the superior team. The Seahawks (and the NFC West) have come a long way - but the Packers are still an elite team - and I feel they've got a score to settle against this division, after getting upset by the 49'ers in Week 1.
I like Pete Carroll and think he's doing a great job with this team. However, for my money, Mike McCarthy is about as good as it gets. He was one of the big reasons I rode the Packers to the Super Bowl a couple of years ago. He and his coaching staff have had plenty of extra time to prepare as the Packers' last played way back on 9/13. I expect them to be extremely well prepared.
Of course, having a QB like Rodgers helps. After back to back sub-bar outings and an "incident" with teammate James Jones, I believe Rodgers and co. are ready to explode. The Monday night stage provides the perfect opportunity.
While the Seahawks defense did admittedly play well against the Cowboys, I expect Rodgers to have considerably more success. He's 2-0 against the Seahawks, both wins were by double-digits.
As for the Packers defense, they were dominant last time out - every bit as good as Seattle's effort vs. Dallas.
The Packers know how to win on the road. They're 13-6 SU and 11-8 ATS away from Lambeau the past couple of seasons. This game kicks-off a stretch where they play four of five on the road. With McCarthy having the extra time to have them ready, I expect the Packers to kick-off that stretch with a win and cover. *10 Main Event
|09-23-12||Pittsburgh Steelers v. Oakland Raiders +4||Top||31-34||Win||100||7 h 50 m||Show|
I'm playing on OAKLAND. Admittedly, the Raiders haven't looked too good so far this season. Admittedly, the Steelers are a tough opponent. That said, I like the Raiders to bounce back with their best game.
Off to an 0-2 start and with back to back difficult road games on deck, the Raiders know they can't afford another loss here - or the season could/will quickly become a write-off.
It wasn't supposed to be this way though. Not this season. Some of you may recall that I backed the Raider in Week 3 of the preseason, the week when the starters see the most time. The Raiders were hosting the Lions. In my analysis on Oakland at the time, I included the following quote from Oakland's Michael Huff:
'We want to show everybody that this is the new Raiders. We're going to put that on film every Sunday
|09-23-12||St Louis Rams v. Chicago Bears -7.5||Top||6-23||Win||100||75 h 60 m||Show|
I'm playing on CHICAGO. I won with the Rams last week and I'll likely back them again in certain spots throughout the season. Last week's game was against Washington though, a team with a rookie QB making his first start on the road and a team which I felt was over-valued off its Week 1 upset of the Saints. Now playing at a difficult road venue, I expect the Rams to find things much more difficult this week.
The Bears come in angry. They weren't happy with their performance at Green Bay and have in a foul mood about it ever since. Cutler has been vocal about his displeasure and I expect him to lead by example with a big effort here.
The fact that the Bears played on a Thursday should serve them well here. Not only have they had more time to build up their anger over last week's win, they've had more time to gameplan for the Rams.
Give the Rams credit for a nice comeback last week and don't expect them to be pushovers. Do keep in mind that they're still 3-14 on the road the past 2+ seasons though. Even with the cover at Detroit in Week 1, they're still 7-10 ATS in those games.
While both teams have possible question marks with their running backs, I've long been of the mind that most backs in this league are pretty good. With a few notable exceptions, one's essentially as good as another. So, that's not a factor in this play.
The Bears have beaten the Rams three straight times. Those wins all came by a minimum of eight points. The scores were 42-27, 27-3 and 17-9. Going back further finds that Chicago is 4-1 ATS this millennium against St. Louis.
More importantly, the Bears are also 4-0 SU the past couple of seasons off a divisional loss, covering in three of those games. The last time that they played a home game, following a divisional loss, they won by a score of 39-10. I expect another double-digit win here. *10 Personal Favorite
|09-23-12||San Francisco 49ers v. Minnesota Vikings +7||Top||13-24||Win||100||4 h 30 m||Show|
I'm playing on MINNESOTA. The 49'ers have clearly turned into a pretty good team, perhaps even a very good one. However, I'm not willing to anoint them as the "best in the league" or "conference" yet. That's what many seem to be doing though. In fact, I'm personally not even willing to just hand them the NFC West either. (There's still A LOT of football to be played!) Even if the 49'ers do prove to be as good as they appear to be after (only) two games, I still feel that they're presently over-valued. I also feel that this will be a dangerous spot for them.
Off back to back "high profile" wins, it should be easy for the 49'ers to overlook the "lowly" Vikings, or at least let their guard down - if only slightly. After all, they beat the mighty Packers at Lambeau in Week 1 and then proceeded to win on National TV against Jim Schwartz and the Lions. With all the extra attention placed on the "handshake," that was certainly a big game, too.
The Vikings are no slouches though and should not be overlooked. They won their lone home game and they lost their only road game by three points.
While the 49'ers are a very good a defensive team, they're still not necessarily an offensive juggernaut. Rather, they've got an "efficient" offense. Teams like that can have trouble covering large pointspreads, particularly away from home.
Note that the 49'ers are 8-9 SU and 7-10 ATS their last 17 away from San Francisco and that only one of those victories came by greater than eight points - and that was back in 2010.
Of course, it should also be mentioned that the 49'ers are a West Coast team playing an early game in the East, the first time that they will do so this season.
While both SF's games have been decided by single digits, the Vikings have seen both games decided by a field goal. Even coach Frazier acknowledged: "The way our team is built, we're going to play a lot of close games." I'm grabbing all the points I can get. *10 Best Bet
|09-23-12||Detroit Lions v. Tennessee Titans +4||Top||41-44||Win||105||3 h 26 m||Show|
I'm playing on TENNESSEE. While I'm off to a strong start to the season, the Titans haven't done me any favors. Getting more than a field goal at home, in what has really become a must win game, I'm ready to give them another shot this afternoon though.
While the Lions are obviously a much better team than they were for most of the last two decades, they've been far from dominant this season. The only won by four against St. Louis and they lost by eight at San Francisco. Off that "emotional" (due to the handshake as it was on primetime) loss and with a divisional game on deck, playing their second straight road game is likely going to be tough.
The Lions, a dome team, are 2-7 ATS the last nine times that the were listed as road favorites in the -3.5 to -7 range.
During that stretch, the Titans were 8-4 ATS as home underdogs in the +3.5 to +7 range.
After back to back losses against two of the AFC's best (Pats and Chargers) the Titans should be happy to host an NFC team. They're 38-17-6 ATS their last 61 against NFC teams, 5-2-1 ATS the last couple of seasons.
With back to back road games on deck, followed by Pittsburgh after that, the Titans can't afford another loss here. I expect their best effort and for that to lead to AT LEAST a cover. *9
|09-22-12||Nevada -8 v. Hawaii||Top||69-24||Win||100||36 h 16 m||Show|
I'm playing on NEVADA. I watched the Wolfpack play here last Christmas Eve at the Hawaii Bowl. The Wolfpack didn't win SU but did cover the spread for me. That was against a fairly tough Southern Miss. squad though. This game comes against a less talented Hawaii squad. This time, I expect the Wolfpack to earn BOTH the win and the cover.
Having been here less than a year ago, the Wolfpack should be less susceptible to the "island's distractions." Having lost the bowl game here and having been upset by the Warriors here in 2010, I expect a very determined effort to come away with a victory this time.
That 2010 Hawaii team had won three in a row when it faced Nevada and was a confident group. The Wolfpack were off to their best start since becoming an FBS program some 18 years before that - and were upset 27-21. While they did beat the Warriors by 14 (at Nevada) last year, coach Ault won't let his players forget the 2010 loss.
An outright win its in only road game, against a fairly good (California) opponent, shows that the Wolfpack know how to win away from home. It was no fluke either. They ran for 220 yards while passing for 230 mark (25 0f 32!) while holding the Bears to 110 yards rushing and an 18 for 38 mark through the air.
Hawaii hasn't given us much to work with yet. The Warriors were blown out by USC, as expected. Then, they blew out Lamar, also as expected. Keep in mind that an inexperienced offense is still learning new schemes while the defense returned only two starters from last season.
I feel that the Wolfpack are the more complete team, on both sides of the ball. While the line has dropped to single-digits, I expect a double-digit win. *10 Personal Favorite
|09-22-12||San Jose State v. San Diego State -2.5||Top||38-34||Loss||-110||25 h 38 m||Show|
I'm playing on SAN DIEGO STATE. I've already won with the Spartans twice this season. I had them when they nearly upset Stanford and again last week, when they blew out Colorado State. I expect this to be their toughest match yet though and feel that the value now lies in going against them.
Adjusting to the loss of their QB and facing a fairly tough opponent on the road, the Aztecs lost their first game, 21-12 at Washington. They did cover the spread in that one though. The offense has come to life the last two games, scoring 42 and 49 points. That should give them plenty of confidence here.
Yes, the Spartans did nearly score an improbable upset at Stanford. That seems even more impressive now that the Cardinal have beaten USC. However, the fact is that SJ State was catching the Cardinal playing the first game of the season and playing their first game without Luck. The Cardinal were still "going through the motions" a bit while SJ State came ready to play. I don't expect the Aztecs to take them lightly.
While the Spartans do have a winning pointspread on the road the past few seasons, a closer look shows that they're actually only 2-18 SU their last 20 road games. All but two of those 18 losses came by a minimum of three points. I mention the SU record, as this line is low enough that a SU win has a strong chance in also resulting in an ATS cover.
As for the Aztecs, they're 12-5 their last 17 here and 11 of those wins came by a minimum of five points.
While the offense is starting to adjust to life without Lindley, the Aztec defense ranks 15th in the country, with 8.3 tackles per loss per game.
I look for homefield to prove the difference as the Aztecs improve to 17-3 SU the last 20 times that they were in the favorite role, covering the small number along the way. *9
|09-22-12||Utah State v. Colorado State +13.5||Top||31-19||Win||100||33 h 42 m||Show|
I'm playing on COLORADO STATE. I successfully played on Utah State a couple of weeks ago while also successfully playing against Colorado State last week. However, this time I feel that the line value and betting situation are in favor of the Rams.
When I took the Aggies, they were listed as home underdogs vs. Utah. After beating the Utes, they did a good job of avoiding a letdown and very nearly won at Wisconsin last time out. However, a narrow 2-point loss may have them wondering "what if" a little here.
Either way, the Aggies are now in rather unfamiliar territory. They're 0-3 ATS the last three times that they were listed as road favorite at -10.5 to -14 point favorites.
During that stretch, the Rams were 4-2 ATS as home underdogs in the +10.5 to +14 range.
Overall, the Aggies are a poor 4-8-1 ATS the last 13 times that they were laying points, 2-7 ATS their last nine against teams with a losing record.
Last year's game was decided by a single point - and that was at Utah State. Including that 35-34 win, the Rams have won four straight in the series. This year's Colorado State squad, while still not a great team, is arguably better than last season's team and now they get to play at home. All things considered, I feel this line is generously high. *10
|09-22-12||Louisville v. Florida International +13.5||Top||28-21||Win||100||23 h 29 m||Show|
I'm playing on FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL. In part to their 3-0 record, the Cardinals are laying double-digits in this game. However, I feel that the difference in talent, experience and coaching doesn't warrant such a high number; certainly not on the road.
I respect the Cardinals. In fact, I won with them in their win against Kentucky. That was a fairly impressive win, blowing out a rival by 18 points. However, that was at home and a rebuilding Kentucky team was playing its first game of the season. As predicted, the experienced Cardinals took advantage of that. With Kentucky since having lost at home to Western Kentucky, it again shows that the Wildcats aren't much of a team.
The Cardinals other two wins also both came at home. One was against Missouri State - and they failed to cover. The other was against North Carolina and they won by five, giving up more than 400 yards in the process.
Now, off that narrow conference win, they're playing their first road game of the season. That can be tough in itself. Yet, they're also being asked to lay two touchdowns, which is considerably tougher.
FIU isn't getting much respect, thanks in part to a 1-2 record. The Golden Panthers are perhaps the best team in their conference though and that 1-2 record is a little deceiving. Both losses came on the road - the Golden Panthers dominated one statistically (vs. Duke) and rallied to cover (against a good UCF team) in the other, losing by 13. They also won their only home game.
You may recall that these same two teams faced each other at Louisville last year. I won with the Under in that game and watched the Golden Panthers go on the road and limit the Cardinals to just 17 points. FIU would win that game 24-17.
While Louisville admittedly has a stronger team than it did last season, I believe that the same can be said of this FIU team. Keep in mind that the Golden Panthers returned 17 starters from last year. While Louisville is well coached, I believe the same can be said of FIU, a team which went to a bowl in 2011 after closing the regular season with three straight double-digit wins.
While the Cards are 4-5 ATS the last nine times that they were road favorites in the -10.5 to -14 range, the Golden Panthers are 7-4 ATS the last 11 times that they were underdogs. With last year's upset, they're also 5-1 ATS their last six against the Big East. I'll gladly grab the big points but won't be surprised if they pull off the outright win. *10
|09-20-12||BYU +7.5 v. Boise State||Top||6-7||Win||100||11 h 4 m||Show|
I'm playing on BYU. When I played against BYU last week, it wasn't because I didn't feel that the Cougars were a good team. I just felt that the value lay against them. This week, while Boise is always well-coached and talented, I feel that the value lies on the Cougars.
Everyone knows how tough the Broncos are on the blue turf. That's caught up with them at the betting window though. Even with a cover here against Miami Ohio last week, the Broncos are only 4-9 ATS here the past 2+ seasons.
True, the Broncos covered in their opening week loss at Michigan State. However, they were dominated in that game (461-206 in yards) and were fortunate to get the cover.
BYU crushed Washington State and its lone loss (last week's game at Utah) came down to the wire and was decided by three points. This is a team which returned 14 starters from a team which won 10 games last season. They're arguably more talented than they were in 2011.
The same can't be said for the Broncos, that was evident in the game at Michigan State. Indeed, this team returned just seven starters from last year's 12- win team.
The Cougars are a profitable 4-1 ATS the last five times that they were underdogs in the +3.5 to +10 range. I expect them to improve on those stats Thursday. *10
|09-17-12||Denver Broncos v. Atlanta Falcons -3||Top||21-27||Win||100||10 h 55 m||Show|
I'm playing on ATLANTA. Both teams were impressive in Week 1. Denver beat a better team than Atlanta did. However, the Falcons won by more and they did so on the road. Again, both looked good.
I feel that the Falcons are the more complete team at the moment though. They've been a strong club for a few years now and Ryan is highly familiar with his offense. This really could be "their year," particularly with the Saints stumbling out of the gate. Beating Peyton Manning on National TV would get them a lot of respect, which they feel they deserve and will also put them squarely in the driver's seat in their division.
Speaking of Ryan, you're probably aware that he practically never loses here. The Falcons are 26-4 in his regular season home starts. With a very low pointspread tonight, a SU win is also likely to result in a cover.
The Falcons are 7-2 against AFC foes the past few seasons, going 6-2-1 at the betting window. On the other hand, while they didn't have Manning, the Broncos were only 2-5-1 ATS against NFC opponents.
The Falcons have been a strong favorite in recent seasons, going 16-8-2 ATS the last 26 times that they were laying points, including 4-2 SU/ATS as a home favorite of three or fewer points. While Manning may be happy to be back in a dome, this one belongs to Ryan. *10 Main Event
|09-16-12||Tennessee Titans +7 v. San Diego Chargers||Top||10-38||Loss||-110||20 h 54 m||Show|
I'm playing on TENNESSEE. With the Chargers off a win and the Titans off a blowout loss, many will be looking to back the home favorite here. I'm expecting a very close game though and feel that taking the points will prove to be the way to go.
While the Titans lost, their loss came against the Patriots - a team that can make anybody look bad. Meanwhile, the Chargers won - but that as much about Oakland looking back as them looking good. SD ran the ball 20 times for only 32 yards and even Rivers threw for only 231 with just one one TD. Note that Ryan Matthews remains questionable.
True, Locker's status is also up in the air. However, keep in mind that Hasselbeck is a proven veteran, who has led this team to many wins and who started all 16 games last season. Whichever QB is under center, I feel the Titans will be all right. Of course, a (usually) big-time running attack combined with a (usually) stingy defense will help any QB. Expect the Titans to be better in both those areas this week.
Tennessee hopes to get receiver Kenny Brit and defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks back. Both players could help their respective units.
Even with last week's win, the Chargers are still 2-5 ATS in September the last few seasons. Over that stretch, they're also just 11-14 ATS when laying points. With the Chargers playing on a short week, don't be surprised if this one comes right down to the wire. *9
|09-16-12||Washington Redskins v. St Louis Rams +3.5||Top||28-31||Win||100||20 h 36 m||Show|
I'm playing on ST. LOUIS. Robert Griffin III and the Redskins shocked the Saints in Week 1. The Rams lost to Detroit. That has many wanting to back the suddenly popular Skins. I feel that's providing us with excellent value on the home underdog.
Yes, the Rams were bad last season. That was partly due to a massive number of injuries. They're already dealing with a few injuries this season. Nothing like last year though. In addition to being healthier, new coach Jeff Fisher has had plenty of success in the past and has breathed some new life into the franchise.
The Skins weren't that much better though. They finished at 5-11. I'm not ready to anoint them as Super Bowl contenders quite yet though. Life isn't always going to be easy for RG3, particularly on the road. Winning on the road is rarely easy. Doing it in back to back weeks is even tougher.
The Skins have been a terrible favorite over the years. They're 1-3 ATS the last four times that they were laying points and a dismal 47-78 ATS the last 125.
The Rams played a good Detroit team tough in Week 1, losing by four on the road. Playing their home opener, they're going to be fired up, as are their fans. I'll happily grab the points but feel the Rams have a great shot at the upset here. *9
|09-16-12||Dallas Cowboys v. Seattle Seahawks +3.5||Top||7-27||Win||100||20 h 35 m||Show|
I'm playing on SEATTLE. If these teams met here in Week 1, the line wouldn't be nearly so generous. Everyone was high on Seattle after the preseason and down on Dallas. However, public sentiment has quickly shifted. After just a single game, the Cowboys are again "America's Team" while the Seahawks are last month's news. I feel that's an over-reaction and that we're now getting strong value with the home underdog.
Keep in mind that Seattle's Week 1 loss, which came by only four points and which could have easily been a win, came on the road. This team is typically much better in front of its loving fans.
In 17 games here the past couple of seasons, the Hawks are a lucrative 12-5 ATS. That includes a perfect 4-0 SU/ATS record when playing a home game with an O/U line in the 42.5 to 45 range.
As impressive as the Cowboys win was, keep in mind that they're only 2-8 ATS the last 10 times that they were off a division game, including 1-3 ATS when off a divisional win.
The Cowboys are also just 4-15-1 ATS the last 20 times that they were in the favorite role, 0-6-1 ATS the last seven times that they were favored by four or less. Grab the points. *9
|09-16-12||Tampa Bay Buccaneers v. NY Giants -7||Top||34-41||Push||0||22 h 54 m||Show|
I'm playing on the NY GIANTS. The Bucs were the more impressive team in Week 1. They knocked off Carolina while the Giants were busy falling to Dallas. I really like how this one sets up for the champs though.
Note that those results set this one up nicely. Not only should they make the Giants "extremely motivated," they've also kept this line around a touchdown, instead of in the -10 range, where it easily could have been, if the Week 1 results were a little different.
Defending Super Bowl champs rarely lose their opening game. At least, not in recent memory. They generally come out and play like champs, at least for one game. The Giants didn't against Dallas. I expect them to do so here though.
Let's not forget that this is a well-coached team, both talented and proud. With last week's stringing loss to Dallas coming way back on Wednesday, they've had plenty of extra preparation time. Off to an 0-1 start, I believe that its safe to say that they won't take Tampa lightly - the Bucs' victory over Carolina helped ensure that.
Needless to say, the Giants weren't happy with their performance on Opening Night. New York's Justin Tuck comments are reflective of the way the team has viewed that loss: "I haven't slept well, so I think we all are itching to get back on the field ... "
Coach Coughlin added: "You can't lose a game. Everybody's 1-0, and we're 0-1. We have another big game this weekend. That's the great thing about our profession, we get to line up and play again."
Let's also keep in mind that Tampa was just 4-12 last season, getting outscored by a whopping 494-287 margin. No other team allowed as many points. Only St. Louis had a worse "net points" mark. The Rams allowed 214 more points than they scored. The Bucs allowed 207 more. Also, note that the team that the Bucs beat last week (Carolina) was only 6-10 last year. So, lets not get too carried away with this team yet. They Bucs may well be better than last season - how they could not be - but there's a long way to go before we can start considering them a "good" team.
Also, note that the Bucs are 2-7-1 ATS the last 10 times that they were off a division game, including a 1-3 ATS mark off a division win.
More preparation time. More motivation. Home field. Better offense. Better defense. Superior coaching. Add it all up and I expect a double-digit win. *10 Personal Favorite
|09-16-12||Baltimore Ravens v. Philadelphia Eagles -1||Top||23-24||Push||0||22 h 50 m||Show|
I'm playing on PHILADELPHIA. The Ravens were the more impressive team in Game 1. They beat Cincinnati by double-digits while the Eagles barely escaped with a victory against Cleveland. Those results have worked in our favor here. If the Eagles had blown out Cleveland the Ravens had eked out a win (or lost) vs. Cincy, we could have easily been seeing a higher line. Instead, we're able to get Philadelphia, at home, for less than a field goal. With all due respect to the Ravens, I feel that's providing us with excellent value.
Note that the Eagles are 4-2 ATS (5-1 SU) the last six times that they were listed as home favorites of three or fewer points.
True, the Ravens are a good team. I believe the same can be said of the Eagles though.
I also don't believe that coming off a divisional win on a Monday night game is necessarily the best situation for this Baltimore team. Note that the Ravens are 1-2 ATS the last three times that they were coming off a Monday night game, going 6-10 ATS their last 16 in that role.
While Flacco and the offense was certainly impressive, I'm not so sold on the Ravens' defense as many are. Keep in mind that they without Suggs, the reigning defensive player of the year. With everyone singing the Ravens' praises, you may not have noticed that the Bengals did run for 129 yards, on 28 carries.
With the Ravens' run defense potentially not what it once was, note that Philadelphia is a near perfect 9-1 when LeSean McCoy rushes for 100 or more yards.
While I respect both teams and both coaches, I feel that the home field and scheduling advantage will ultimately prove the difference. *10
|09-15-12||BYU v. Utah +3.5||Top||21-24||Win||100||26 h 31 m||Show|
I'm playing on UTAH. There were a number of reasons why I played against the Utes in their last game. None of them were because they aren't a good team. Rather, I thought that their opponent (Utah State) was better than many realized and that the line was higher than it should be.
I also noted that the Utes typically didn't fare too well in the favorite role. Here's an excerpt from the analysis of that play: "...The Utes are an ugly 23-39 ATS the last 62 times that they were favored in the -3.5 to -10 range and 3-8 ATS the last 11 times that they were laying points overall."
This time, however, its the Utes which are the underdog. That's typically a much better role for them, particularly when in this range. Indeed, they're 27-12-1 ATS the last 40 times that they were underdogs in the +3.5 to +10 range, going a lucrative 47-26-1 ATS as underdogs over that time overall.
The fact that Utah crushed BYU last season will have a lot of people wanting to back the revenge-minded Cougars here. That will surely make BYU want to win. However, the fact is that BYU also really wanted to win last year. Teams always want to badly win these instate rivalries and the added motivation that comes from revenge isn't always as significant as many believe. Of course, if BYU does happen to win big, they'll be saying that revenge was a factor. I don't expect that'll be the case though. Note that the last game here was decided by a single point.
True, the Utes lost QB Jordan Wynn last time out. I don't feel that's as big a deal as many might imagine though. Even before the season, Kyle Whittingham noted this was the deepest QB rotation he'd had in eight years here. Hays will likely get the majority of the snaps but Travis Wilson could also see some snaps. Note that Hays threw three TDs in the postseason win over Georgia Tech.
I respect BYU. In fact, I won with the Cougars in their opening win against Washington State. That was at home though and the Cougars were still playing the first game under a new coach. They're playing their first road game here though and it comes against a well-coached bitter rival.
Most are throwing the Utes under the bus I still believe that this Utah team is very capable. They beat the Cougars 17-16 the last time that the teams met here. Another close win here won't surprise. *10
|09-15-12||Colorado State v. San Jose State -10.5||Top||20-40||Win||100||24 h 41 m||Show|
I'm playing on SAN JOSE STATE. I won with the Spartans in their opener. Playing at Stanford, they nearly pulled off the upset. Despite the close 20-17 loss, the Spartans didn't suffer a letdown in their second game. Instead, they took care of Cal Davis. Laying 20, they won by 32. Colorado State is better than Cal Davis. But the Rams are still not a very good team. I expect another double-digit win for a Spartans team which is playing with confidence.
The Rams were able to get up for their opening game against rival Colorado. Listed as 6-point underdogs, they won 22-17. Last week's result shows this team has a long way to go though. Playing at home, the Rams loss 22-7 against N. Dakota State.
The Spartans were underdogs at Colorado State last year. Yet, they never trailed the entire game and ended up winning 38-31. This year, they've got a stronger team. Its Coach MacIntyre's third season here and his best team yet.
On the other hand, the Rams have a new coach in Jim McElwain. While the cupboard isn't bare, keep in mind that McElwain inherited a team that was 3-9 last season. I'll repeat that last week's double-digit loss against N. Dakota State tells a lot about this team.
Note that the Rams are just 7-22 ATS their last 29 lined games on turf. They've won just two of 11 road games the past couple of seasons, going 4-7 ATS.
Despite facing less than dominant competition, the Rams offense is averaging only 231.0 ypg. They'll face a SJ State defense which ranks 18th in the nation with only 266.0 ypg allowed, despite having faced Stanford. Note that the Spartans rank 12th in the country with 9.5 tackles per loss per game. (The Rams rank 109th in that category, w/ 3.5 per game.) This is a SJ State team playing with confidence and licking its chops at the chance to climb above the .500 mark.
While both teams are 1-1, they enter this game going in different directions. The Spartans, who have won three of four, (upset both Fresno and Navy to close out 2011) were better than the Rams last season. Playing at home, I expect this year's stronger team to have an even bigger advantage. *10 Personal Favorite
|09-15-12||Florida International +17 v. Central Florida||Top||20-33||Win||100||20 h 36 m||Show|
I'm playing on FIU. I believe that teams are a lot more evenly matched than is reflected in the line. Getting more than two touchdowns to work with, I feel the visiting Panthers are providing excellent value.
A look at last year's meeting between these schools shows that UCF was favored by 6 points. Yet, FIU won the game, 17-10. While we haven't necessarily seen that yet, this year's team is stronger. Keep in mind that this FIU squad entered the season as favorites to win the Sun Belt, bringing back numerous starters from last year's team.
True, the Panthers have failed to cover in both games - a big part of the reason for such a generous line. However, a closer look reveals that they dominated statistically in Week 1 but lost - so, they deserved a better fate there. Last week, perhaps overestimating their opponent, the Panthers didn't dominate the way they hoped to. They did claw their way to an OT win though. That should give them some confidence here and get them pointed in the right direction. The experience of playing and winning such a close game may also serve them well here.
Admittedly, this UCF team is pretty loaded. The Knights are among the most talented teams in their conference. Playing with revenge and also playing their home opener, they'll surely be fired up here. Note that the Knights are only 1-9 the last 16 years against instate opponents though. They should be happy if can just manage to win (SU) here.
Dating back to last season, the Knights have seen five of six games decided by 17 or fewer points. I look for this one to also prove closer than many will be expecting, with the Panthers improving to 5-1 ATS the last six times that they were listed as road underdogs in the +14.5 to +21 range. *10 Best Bet
|09-10-12||Cincinnati Bengals +7.5 v. Baltimore Ravens||Top||13-44||Loss||-117||9 h 19 m||Show|
I'm playing on CINCINNATI. The Ravens have been a very good team in recent years and they're likely going to be tough again this season. The Bengals are no slouches either though and in this case, I believe that the value lies with the visitor.
Baltimore has a rising young star at QB in Flacco. While Flacco has more games under his belt, the Bengals have a rising young star at QB of their own. Dalton's been a winner his whole career and he made the Pro Bowl as a rookie. (Dalton threw for 3,398 yards and 20 TDs with 13 interceptions.)
The Ravens did outscore the Bengals last season - but not by all hat much. Baltimore averaged 23.2 points. Cincinnati averaged 20.8 points. Note that the Bengals average went up on the road, as they averaged 22 ppg away from Cincinnati.
The Ravens did also have the statistical edge on the other side of the ball. However, once again the difference wasn't as big as many might assume.
While the Ravens defense is well known for consistently being dominant, note that Defensive Player of the Year Terrell Suggs is out at the moment. While Ray Lewis and Ed Reed remain the faces of the unit, Suggs is the one who recorded 14 sacks last season.
Baltimore's Torrey Smith conceded the following: "It's definitely tough without Suggs. It's definitely a difference ... "
Getting this many points could well come into play. Both of last year's meetings were decided by eight or fewer points. The previous season, both meetings were decided by six or less.
In fact, a look at the last 15 meetings reveals that only one of those games resulted in a Baltimore win of greater than eight points. That was back in 2008, too. Not surprisingly, the Bengals were a profitable 10-4-1 ATS in those games.
The Bengals have typically been tough in September too, as they're 12-7-1 ATS their last 20 games played in September, including 4-1 ATS their last five. A closer look reveals that only two of their last 20 September games have resulted in losses of greater than eight. Grab as many points as you can get and expect another close one. *10 Best Bet
|09-09-12||Buffalo Bills v. NY Jets -2.5||Top||28-48||Win||100||28 h 32 m||Show|
I'm playing on the NEW YORK JETS. The season hasn't even started but many have already jumped off the Jets' bandwagon. That's largely due to a poor preseason. I learned long ago not to over-react to preseason results though, good or bad.
All the "bandwagon jumping" has caused the line to come down to what it would have (and was) prior to the preseason. I feel that's providing us with excellent value on the home side. Note that the Jets are 10-6-1 ATS (10-7 SU) the past couple of seasons, when playing a game with a line in the +3 to -3 range. During the same stretch, the Bills were only 3-8-3 (4-10 SU) when doing so. They're 0-5-1 ATS the last six times that they were road underdogs of three or less.
Sure, everyone's pretty down on New York right now while being high on Buffalo. Keep in mind that while the Jets were 11-5 at home the past couple of seasons, the Bills were 3-13 on the road.
The Jets won last year's two meetings by scores of 27-11 and 28-24. They were laying nine points for the game at New York. The year before they won by scores of 38-7 and 38-14.
The Bills should be improved defensively this season. Really, they can only go up - last year's team allowed a franchise-worst 5,938 yards, recording a mere 29 sacks in the process. Switching to a 4-3 (and signing Mario Williams) should help. However, it may take time.
While Fitzpatrick is considered to be a lot better than Sanchez by most, keep in mind that he threw 16 interceptions over the final nine games of last season.
In closing, while the gap may indeed have closed a little between these teams, I don't feel that its closed enough for the Jets to become this low a favorite, when they were laying -9.5 here last season. Lay the small number. *10 Personal Favorite
|09-09-12||New England Patriots v. Tennessee Titans +6||Top||34-13||Loss||-120||18 h 46 m||Show|
I'm playing on TENNESSEE. Even most casual NFL fans know that the team which lost in the Super Bowl often takes a step backwards, the year after losing. Some likely aren't aware that this typically happens right out of the gate. Indeed, the SB loser is 0-12 ATS in its opening game the past 12 years. Obviously, that streak will eventually come to an end. I don't think it will be this Sunday afternoon.
While New England should again be potent offensively, Tennessee figures to have the edge on the other side of the ball. The Titans allowed less than 20 points per game last season. Note that the Titans also only allowed 16.8 ppg in the preseason, best in the AFC.
While the Pats D allowed 440.3 yards per game on the road last season, the Titans D allowed only 342.6 per game at home.
While I'm not holding the Patriots' poor preseason against them, I do feel that the Titans positive preseason showing will be good for a young team.
Coach Mike Munchak said this of Tennessee's preseason: "You get a confidence going. You start getting a confidence going in each other. To me, when you're playing a game it doesn't matter. It's all about playing your best. I think our guys approached it that way in the preseason that we needed to establish an identity a little bit more that we can go and make those kind of plays."
While the Pats have admittedly been very tough on opening day, most of their recent opening day games have come at home (3 of L4 yrs) and/or against a week opponent. They're on the road here though - and the Titans couldn't be considered a pushover, certainly not here at Tennessee.
The Titans have won six of their last nine home games; only one of those nine games resulted in a loss of greater than seven points. Locker has the offense energized and the defense is fired up for the challenge of shutting down Brady.
The Titans are 5-2-1 ATS since the start of the 2011 calendar year, when listed as underdogs. Although some of the faces are different, they haven't forgotten the 59-0 beating the Pats put on them at New England in 2009. I expect an entirely different result here. *9
|09-08-12||Oklahoma State v. Arizona +11||Top||38-59||Win||100||60 h 53 m||Show|
I'm playing on ARIZONA. I believe that the Wildcats have had this game circled. For starters, its a chance to host a nationally ranked opponent. It also gives the Wildcats a chance to see how good they really are. Additionally, they haven't forgotten that these same Cowboys whipped them each of the last two seasons. I feel that they'll be highly motivated to prove that this year will be a different story.
The Wildcats have a new coach, in Rich Rodriguez. While Rodriguez wasn't around for last year's two losses, he sure knows the significance of this game and the opportunity it provides. He's brought some new excitement to the program and I expect his players to be ready to go.
True, the Wildcats failed to cover in their opener. Laying -10.5 points, they won by only seven, needing OT to do so. However, that 24-17 victory over Toledo tells only half the story.
A closer look at the stats shows that Arizona actually had a commanding 624-358 advantage in total yards. However, they had two TDs called back by penalties, missed a pair of easy FGs and also turned the ball over three times.
In other words, the Wildcats dominated. They just shot themselves in the foot a bit. In fact, their 624 yards was the second most in school history.
While the mistakes are a bit of a concern, that's partly expected in a team's first game of the season, particularly with a new coach. I really like how the game finished. The Wildcats overcame their mistakes and won in OT. Not only does that give them confidence and positive momentum, the fact that they weren't "perfect" should make it easier to focus on Rodriguez's message this week.
While the Cowboys are a well coached team, it may be a little harder for Gundy to get his message across this week. That's because his players may be patting themselves on the back a little, after an 84-0 blowout of Savannah State, thinking that every week is going to be a cakewalk.
Sure, Gundy was able to give his starters some extra rest. However, they didn't necessarily learn anything from the "lopsided" win and aren't likely to benefit from it as much as Arizona will from its "close" win.
Gundy had this to say of last weeks' rout: "It always concerns us because as a coach, you want to get your players enough work to where you feel like they've advanced in different areas and gotten prepared for the next week but you don't want to get them too much work to where they stress their bodies, they stress their legs or could have at times been vulnerable to some sort of an injury. We would have liked to have more work. It didn't work out that way."
Everyone remembers the Cowboys crushing opponents from the past couple of seasons. And, with last week's 84-0 win, many will assume that this year will just be business as usual. However, lets not forget that this team has 10 new starters from last year's Big 12 championship team. I feel that the line is very generous (it was only 14 LY and that was at OSU and it was only 4.5 here in 2010) and I look for the revenge-minded Wildcats to step up and earn AT LEAST the cover. *10 Revenge GOY
|09-08-12||Akron v. Florida International -23.5||Top||38-41||Loss||-108||9 h 54 m||Show|
I'm playing on FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL. The Panthers didn't get off to the start they wanted. While they were underdogs, they still had hoped to win at Duke. That didn't happen. However, they did play well in the loss and this is still a solid team - one which will now be playing with some anger and which is playing its home opener. Taking a significant step down in class, I expect the Panthers to bounce back with a convincing win.
The Panthers have been in back to back bowl games. Although it's Week 2, after losing at Duke, FIU knows it absolutely can't afford to mess around here, if it wants to make it three in a row.
Akron's got a coach (Terry Bowden) with a recognizable last name. However, that's about all the Zips have. They've lost nine in a row, dating back to last season and were just 2-22 the last two years. They lost 56-14 vs. UCF last weekend, falling behind 35-0 out of the gate. This hasn't been a good role either. They're 1-5 ATS (0-6 SU) the last six times that they were underdogs of greater than 21 points, 6-15-1 ATS as underdogs the last couple of seasons overall.
The Zips have all kinds of problems, including an inability to run and an inability to stop the run.
The Zips, who averaged 2.6 yards per carry in their opener, gave up an average of 219.6 yards on the ground last season, good for 108th in the country. I guess they should feel pretty good about allowing "only" 206 rushing yards (and 4 rushing TDs) last week.
Note that an already terrible defense lost perhaps its best player when linebacker Brian Wagner transferred in the offseason.
A closer look at last week's stats shows that the Panthers actually outgained Duke by a 513-420 margin. In his debut as the team's full-time starter, QB Jake Medlock threw for 348 yards and two TDs, without recording an interception.
All that offense didn't bother me at all last week - as I had a winning ticket on the Over in the FIU/Duke game. However, I do expect it to have a motivating effect on the Panthers defense here, as they'll look to bounce back with an improved effort. Keep in mind that this unit gave up only 19.4 points per game and led the Sun Belt with 2.7 sacks per contest in 2011. This year's team returned a whopping 17 starters, 10 of them on the defensive side of the ball.
Not only are the Panthers upset about las week's loss, all those starters are still smarting from losing in the bowl game last year. They'll be looking to take out their anger on someone and lowly Akron should be just what the doctor ordered.
The Panthers, picked to win the SBC by the leagues coaches prior to the season, dominated North Texas, 41-16, in last season's home opener. This one could easily prove more lopsided. *10 Personal Favorite
|09-08-12||Iowa State v. Iowa -4.5||Top||9-6||Loss||-110||54 h 7 m||Show|
I'm playing on IOWA. While I successfully played against the Hawkeyes last week, I feel that this will be an excellent spot to back them.
Playing at home and listed as +6.5 point underdogs, Iowa State won 44-41 against Iowa last season. Iowa won 35-7 the previous year, easily covering as -13 point favorites. That game was 35-0 until the Cyclones scored in "garbage time," too.
Due in part to last week's results, we don't have to lay nearly as big a number with the Hawkeyes on Saturday. I feel thats providing excellent value. Keep in mind that Iowa is 12-4 ATS the last 16 times that it was listed as a home favorite in the -3.5 to -7 range.
While I'm happy that they've helped us in terms of getting a more reasonable line, I'm not too worried about last week's results. There can be a bit of rust in Week 1 and Iowa was up against a Northern Illinois team which had the longest winning streak in the country. That game was also played at Soldier Field, which could have been a little intimidating for a young team. The Hawkeyes did still win the game and they did it in such a manner that they should be able to bring some positive momentum into Saturday.
Now back "home," the Hawkeyes will be confident. It should be noted that they've won 11 straight home openers and that those victories have come by an average of 33 points per game.
The Hawkeyes will be wearing "throwback" uniforms for this game, commemorating the 1921-22 back-to-back Big Ten championship teams that went a combined 14-0. Expect an inspired effort from the revenge-minded Hawkeyes, as they knock off their rivals and cover the small number along the way. *9
|09-08-12||Miami (Fla) v. Kansas State -6.5||Top||13-52||Win||100||3 h 41 m||Show|
I'm playing on K-STATE. Some will likely see the Hurricanes getting this many points and be quick to back the underdog. I feel the Wildcats are favored by this many points for good reason though.
These teams met last September, at Miami. The Hurricanes were favored by double-digits but the Wildcats won outright. This year's K-State team should be better and now get to play at home.
While the Hurricanes returned 10 starters from last season and appear to be in a bit of a rebuilding year, the Wildcats returned 14 starters from a team which won 10 games last season.
Among the returning starters is QB Klein, who threw for 3000+ yards and whopping 40 TDs last season. The Wildcats return all the key components of their running game along with an experienced offensive line. Additionally, their receiving corps is more experienced than it has been the past few seasons.
The Hurricanes are playing their second straight road game, not an easy spot right out of the gate. The Wildcats, on the other hand, are playing their second straight at home.
The Wildcats are 7-5-1 ATS (13-3 SU) the last 13 times that they were listed as home favorites in the -3.5 to -7 range. I expect them to improve on those stats in convincing fashion Saturday afternoon. *9
|09-07-12||Utah v. Utah State +7||Top||20-27||Win||100||10 h 6 m||Show|
I'm playing on UTAH STATE. There is no denying that Utah has had its way with its instate rival this millennium. Indeed, the Utes have won 12 straight meetings, most of them by a comfortable margin. Utah should be pretty good again this year, too. That said, I feel that the gap has narrowed between these teams and that the Utes will have a much tougher fight on their hands than they, or many others, will expect.
While the WAC may not be as tough as it once was, the Aggies are one of the best teams left in it. They were 7-5 last regular season, before losing by a single point in their bowl game, their first since 1997. A closer look at their five regular season losses shows that only one came by greater than a touchdown - and that was on the road at Fresno State.
Overall, including the bowl game, the Aggies' six losses came by an average of just 4.33 points.
They lost by only four points at Auburn, which was ranked in the Top 25 at the time. They also lost by only three points at BYU, while beating Nevada.
Overall, the Aggies saw no fewer than TEN of their 2011 games decided by seven points or less. In other words, this team is no stranger to playing close games. Having battled the likes of BYU and Auburn while also "playing in the postseason," the Aggies won't be intimidated by Utah, the way that they might normally be.
It looked like Utah State QB Kennedy, part of a terrific tandem with Chuckie Keeton, might be hurt last week. However, he'll be ready to go - the "stinger," which was to his non-throwing shoulder, reportedly proved less serious than originally feared.
Either way, Keeton was 22 for 25 for 304 yards and two touchdowns last week - and he can run too. Utah coach Whittingham acknowledged that Keeton's ability to both run and throw presents a "headache" for defensive coordinators. He went on to say this of Keeton: "He is a tremendous athlete with a good arm who moves well in the pocket."
The Utes are an ugly 23-39 ATS the last 62 times that they were favored in the -3.5 to -10 range and 3-8 ATS the last 11 times that they were laying points overall. Meanwhile, the Aggies are an outstanding 14-5-1 ATS the last 20 times that they were getting points, not surprising given their tendency to play close games. I won't be surprised if this one also comes down to the wire and am grabbing all the points I can get with the highly motivated home underdog. *10 Main Event
|09-06-12||Pittsburgh +4.5 v. Cincinnati||Top||10-34||Loss||-110||11 h 32 m||Show|
I'm playing on PITTSBURGH. Its safe to say that not many people imagined Pittsburgh losing its opener to Youngstown State. Laying -18, the Panthers lost by 14. Ouch! I believe that result has worked in our favor though.
With the Panthers checking in at 0-1, many are wanting to back the Bearcats. As a result, we're getting more than three points to work with. Considering that these teams saw last year's game decided by just a field goal, that could well prove significant.
Additionally, I expect last week's shocker to serve us a wake-up call to the Panthers. They were embarrassed and it should have been easy for new coach Chryst to get his message across in practice this week. I expect a highly motivated effort.
The cupboard was far from bare for Chryst, former offensive coordinator at Wisconsin, as Pittsburgh returned numerous starters.
That's not really the case for the Bearcats, who suffered more offseason losses.
Note that Cincinnati was just 5-9 ATS in conference play the last couple of seasons. During that time, the Panthers were 11-3 ATS in conference play.
While Pittsburgh has had a game to work out the kinks, the Bearcats have not. I won't be surprised if that works to the Panthers' advantage.
The Panthers won 28-10 the last time they were here. I'll grab the points but won't be at all surprised by another outright Pittsburgh win. *10
|09-02-12||Kentucky v. Louisville -13||Top||14-32||Win||100||6 h 36 m||Show|
I'm playing on LOUISVILLE. It goes without saying that these teams don't like each other. Both teams come in with something to prove. With the Cardinals laying double-digits, its also assumed that they are the stronger team in this matchup, this year. While its true that these type of "rivalry" games aren't always won by the team which is stronger on paper, in this case, I feel that the large line is justified.
The Wildcats finished below .500 last season. A punchless offense was a big part of the problem. At less than 260 yards per game, they were 118th in total offense. While the Cats do return many of their skill players, scoring again figures to be an issue, particularly against what should be a stingy Louisville D. Playing without tailback Josh Clemons doesn't figure to help matters.
In 2011, Louisville was second in the Big East in total defense. The Cardinals were 23rd in the country in total defense and 10th in rushing defense. At home, they allowed a mere 15.8 points per game. They return the bulk of last year's defensive starters.
The Cardinals won 24-17 at Kentucky last season, covering as -4 point favorites. That was early (Sept 17) in the season. They got stronger late in the season, winning five of their final six. Big East Freshman of the Year Teddy Bridgewater came into his own.
Obviously, Kentucky plays in the tougher conference. Knowing this and perhaps also knowing that the road team has fared well in this series in recent seasons, many may be tempted to take the points. However, they should keep in mind that the Wildcats are 0-5 ATS the last five times that they were listed as underdogs in the 10.5 to 21 range, including an 0-2 mark as road underdogs in the 10.5 to 14 range.
The Cardinals had a commanding 181 to 35 advantage on the ground in last year's game. I believe they're better on both sides of the ball and I expect them to ultimately pull away for a double-digit win. *10 Personal Favorite
|09-01-12||Tulsa -1 v. Iowa State||Top||23-38||Loss||-110||54 h 6 m||Show|
I'm playing on TULSA. It would be fairly easy to make a case for the home team. The Cyclones hail from the "bigger" school and they also from the bigger conference. They've traditionally had success in home openers while Tulsa has traditionally struggled in road openers. The Cyclones are even a very slight underdog to boot. Those factors should have many tempted to back Iowa State. However, in my opinion, all that is trumped by Tulsa being the stronger team.
The Golden Hurricane had a very difficult early season schedule last season. Three of their first four games came against Top 10 teams (Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Boise State) including two of those games coming on the road. Those three teams ranked #1, #4 and #8 when Tulsa played them. So it wasn't all that surprising that the Golden Hurricane were 1-3 after their first four games. They didn't lose another game the rest of the entire regular season, until falling against Houston in the CUSA title game and then again against BYU (by only 3) in their bowl game.
That's a lot more than Iowa State can say though. The Cyclones are off back to back losing seasons and have now finished below .500 in five of the last six seasons. During that stretch, they are a combined 27-47. Last year's team did have a couple of memorable wins - regulars will recall we won with the Cyclones when they beat Oklahoma State outright. Still, it was another losing year - and this figures to be more of the same.
The Golden Hurricane have covered the spread in nine of their last 12 "road" games and they're 4-1 SU/ATS the last five times that they were listed as a road favorite - although in this case, the line is not likely to come into play.
While the Golden Hurricane are 4-2 SU/ATS the last few seasons when playing a game where the line ranged from the -3 to +3, the Cyclones are 0-2 SU/ATS when doing the same.
While last year's tough start was practically inevitable, Tulsa has visions of starting 8-0 this season. Whether or not the Golden Hurricane can accomplish that goal remains to be the seen, however, I look for them to at least take the first step on Saturday afternoon. *10 Annihilator
|09-01-12||Iowa v. Northern Illinois +9.5||Top||18-17||Win||100||7 h 38 m||Show|
I'm playing on NORTHERN ILLINOIS. This game will be played at Soldier Field. These teams met here on this exact day, five years ago. The Hawkeyes eked out a cover on that day. Laying -12, they won by 13 points - a 16-3 victory. However, a closer look reveals that the stats weren't quite as lopsided as the score. The Hawkeyes did enjoy a solid edge on the ground but the Huskies threw for nearly 100 more yards. NIU ended up missing a 44 yard field goal while also throwing three interceptions on the Iowa side of the field. I believe that this year's teams enter the season on a more equal footing than they did for that game five years ago. (NIU finished only 2-10 in 2007!) Yet, the pointspread isn't that much different. That being the case, I feel that the underdog Huskies are providing excellent value.
Northern Illinois enters the season on a red hot run. In fact, including their bowl win, the Huskies have won nine straight games. They last lost in October 2011 and that was by only seven points. This team has had only had one loss of greater than seven points since the opening game of the 2010 season. That game last year vs. Wisconsin, the #7 team in the country at the time.
While they do lost QB Chandler Harnish - now known at Mr. Irrelevant - they do bring back a number of starters, particularly on defense.
Unlike the 2007 team, this year's Huskies should run the ball on Saturday afternoon. They finished 12th last year in rushing at 234.1 yards per game, while also scoring more than 38 points per game. QB Jordan Lynch is considered a better runner than Harnish, too.
Kirk Ferentz is still calling the shots in Iowa. However, the Hawkeyes have new coordinators on both offense and defense and are a relatively inexperienced team.
The Huskies are 3-1 ATS the last four times that they were underdogs in the 3.5 to 10 point range, winning two of those games outright. They believe they can win this one outright and I expect them to keep it close the entire way. *10 Best Bet
|08-31-12||San Jose State +26 v. Stanford||Top||17-20||Win||100||37 h 33 m||Show|
I'm playing on SAN JOSE STATE. With Andrew Luck running the show, the Cardinal have been very good the past couple of seasons. Harbaugh left after a very good 2010 season and the team lost a number of key players. Yet, they became even more profitable under Shaw, failing to cover only twice all season. Luck is now with the Colts though and the team has several other key losses. I don't expect such a dominating pointspread record for Stanford this year and feel that this initial line is a little on the high side.
In addition to losing Luck, the Cardinal will be without tight end Coby Fleener, who led the team with 10 touchdown receptions a year ago. He was a second-round pick by the Colts, Also, offensive linemen David DeCastro and Jonathan Martin were selected in the first and second rounds, respectively.
The Stanford defense does return seven starters. However, one of those is Shayne Skov and he's been suspended for this game.
You may recall that these teams also met in last season's opener. Yes, the Cardinal won by a commanding 57-3 margin. However, that was with Luck running the show. It should also be noted that the score was a little misleading. The Cardinal benefitted from excellent field position, as three of their second quarter scoring drives came from 22 total yards of offense. In fact, the Spartans enjoyed an edge in total yards of offense in the first half, while also recording one more first down.
After the debacle vs. Stanford, the Spartans really came together. While they went only 5-6 the rest of the way, none of those other six losses came by greater than 13 points. In fact, the only other loss of greater than 10 points came at BYU - and that was by only 13. Each of their final four games were decided by a field goal or less including victories vs. Navy and Fresno State to close out the season.
While they did lose some players, this is still arguably McIntrye's most talented team. He's played at Alabama and Stanford in his first two games of his first two seasons - so he knows what to expect here.
Last year's game here notwithstanding, McIntyre's teams have been excellent in the underdog role. I look for the Spartans to keep this one closer than most will be expecting, as life without Luck proves slightly more difficult than imagined. *10
|08-30-12||Denver Broncos v. Arizona Cardinals -2.5||Top||16-13||Loss||-110||14 h 45 m||Show|
I'm playing on ARIZONA. I believe that the Cardinals will want this one more than the Broncos.
Ryan Lindley is slated to get the start for Arizona and he has to figure this is his big chance. While Whisenhunt has publicly announced that "Ryan's not going to come out of this game as a starter," neither Skelton or Kolb have seized control and claimed the starter's job. While one of them will likely be the Week 1 starter, a strong performance by Lindley here would stick in people's minds and would give him a good chance of getting a shot to start, sooner or later.
I like Lindley. His San Diego State team closed last season by scoring 35, 31, 35 and 30 points. He finished the season with 23 TDs to just eight INTs, threw for more than 3000 yards and had a QB rating of 125.7. That was the third straight season that he topped the 3000 yard mark, throwing for at least 23 TDs in each of those seasons. In 2010, he had an impressive 149.4 QB rating, throwing for nearly 4000 yards.
Whisenhunt wants to get Lindley time with the first team starters and there's a chance that the Arizona first-teamers will be playing against the Denver backups.
Whisenhunt noted: "Whenever you talk about what Ryan
|08-30-12||Washington State v. BYU -11.5||Top||6-30||Win||100||13 h 5 m||Show|
I'm playing on BYU. Perhaps the biggest story attached to this game is the return of Mike Leach to the sidelines. The former Texas Tech coach had plenty of success, prior to getting run out of town in 2009. He'll look to some excitement back to Washington State. Given his track record, the Cougars are likely to improve under Leach's watch. However, this is a very tough test for them and I don't expect that improvement to be immediate.
While the cupboard is not bare, in terms of talent, the Cougars are learning a brand new offense. Washington State should get decent QB play and does have a bigtime receiver in Marquess Wilson. He'll surely be a big part of the offense. However, BYU is well aware of Wilson - and after Wilson, the rest of the supporting cast has some question marks.
The defense gave up more than 400 yards per game last season and now switches from a 4-3 to a 3-4. That may also take some time.
I feel that BYU has an advantage on both the offensive and the defensive line.
I look for BYU to have success exploiting WSU's suspect front seven. BYU, a well coached team with an established system, will be hungry to start off well after a sluggish start last season. The Cougars have a senior quarterback, a talented offensive line and a dynamic pair of big and fast receivers. (Hoffman and Apo are 6'4" and 6'3".)
The defense is also talented and experienced. Keep in mind that BYU closed out last season by winning its final three games by a combined score of 42-14, prior to knocking off Tulsa (by 3) in the bowl.
The Cougars outscored teams by an average score of 32.9 to 18.3 here last season, outgaining them by nearly 100 yards per game here. Note that the margin of victory is greater than two touchdowns. (Washington State was outscored by an average score of 36 to 22.4, a margin of greater than 13 per game.
Leach, a BYU alum, gets a rude welcome back to the game. I expect the home team to pull away for a convincing win. *10 Personal Favorite
|08-30-12||Oakland Raiders +6.5 v. Seattle Seahawks||Top||3-21||Loss||-110||13 h 31 m||Show|
I'm playing on OAKLAND. While the Seahawks have been impressive the entire preseason, the Raiders have steadily improved. They began with a 3-0 loss to Dallas. That suited me fine, as I had a play on the under. I didn't play their second game but the Raiders bounced back with a much better performance. They lost 31-27 at Arizona, eking out a cover in the process.
I backed the Raiders last week and they rewarded me with their best effort yet. Not only did they beat the Lions by a score of 31-20, they outgained them by a commanding 513-281 margin. An impressive performance indeed.
Prior to that game, I noted the following in my analysis: "...I believe that Oakland players want this one. Michael Huff had this to say: 'We want to show everybody that this is the new Raiders. We're going to put that on film every Sunday
|07-27-12||Pittsburgh: J Karstens v. Houston: J Lyles +1.5||Top||6-5||Win||100||10 h 55 m||Show|
I'm playing HOUSTON on the RUN-LINE. (+1.5 runs.) Admittedly, the Astros have been pretty bad for quite some time. They dropped yesterday's opener, extending their lengthy losing skid. All those losses have started to work in our favor as the Astros' lines are starting to get juicer and juicier. In today's case, we're able to get them on the run-line (+1.5 runs) at roughly a pick'em price. Given the matchup, I feel that's providing us with excellent value.
The pitching matchup features Karstens taking on Lyles. Overall, Karstens has been better. He's also been stronger in his last few starts. However, a closer look reveals that Lyles has actually been much better at home than Karstens has on the road.
Karstens has been outstanding at Pittsburgh, including 15 shutout innings in his last two home starts. However, in five road starts, he's just 1-2 with a terrible 6.12 ERA and a high 1.44 WHIP. The Pirates are 2-3 when he starts on the road and Karstens only averages five innings per road start. It should be noted that THREE of Karsten's five road starts (60%) were decided by a single run.
Going back further finds the Pirates at just 6-11 in Karsten's last 17 road starts and that NINE of those 17 were decided by a single run.
Lyles has really had problems on the road. That hasn't been the case here at Houston though. He's averaging 6.5 innings per home start and has a respectable 3.62 ERA and 1.206 WHIP in five starts here overall. The Astros have won four of his last seven starts here and they'd be 5-2 in those games, if getting +1.5 runs each time.
Lyles' lone home start vs. Pittsburgh resulted in a 1-run loss.
The Pirates are very tough at Pittsburgh. However, they're still below .500 on the road and they're still only 6-13 here at Houston, since the start of the 2010 season. They'd be just 4-15 in those games, if laying -1.5 runs each time.
I'm grabbing the +1.5 runs with what should be a Houston squad desperate to snap its losing streak. *10
|07-03-12||Cincinnati Reds v. Los Angeles Dodgers +1.5||Top||1-3||Win||100||12 h 58 m||Show|
I'm playing on the LA DODGERS on the Run-Line (+1.5 Runs.) With an O/U line of 6.5, this is expected to be a low-scoring game. Naturally, in low-scoring games, every run takes on added importance. That said, I feel that getting an extra +1.5 runs with the home team is providing us with excellent value tonight.
Both starters have been outstanding. Cueto is 9-4 with a 2.26 ERA and 1.142 WHIP. Not to be outdone, Capuano is 9-3 with a 2.69 ERA and 1.097 WHIP. At home, Capuano's numbers are even better. In eight starts here, he's 5-1 with a superb 1.87 ERA.
Note that Capuano pitched well (again) last time out - but suffered a 1-run loss, losing 3-2. That was the fourth of Capuano's last five starts that was decided by a single run. So, while the Dodgers are only 3-2 vs. the moneyline his last five starts, they'd be a perfect 5-0 if they were getting +1.5 runs in all those games.
It should also be noted that each of Capuano's two 2011 starts vs. the Reds were decided by a single run.
Cueto is off a 5-0 loss last time out. The Reds are only 1-4 when he's started against the Dodgers and the only victory was a 1-run (3-2) game. So, they'd be 0-5 if laying -1.5 runs in all those games.
True, Ethier and Kemp remain out. However, the Reds are expected to be without Votto. In a potentially close low-scoring contest, I'm grabbing the extra +1.5 runs with Capuano and the Dodgers. *9 Annihilator
|06-21-12||Oklahoma City Thunder +3.5 v. Miami Heat||Top||106-121||Loss||-110||12 h 16 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on OKLAHOMA CITY. Since successfully backing the Thunder in Game 1, I've been sticking with the Heat in these Finals. I'm switching sides in Game 5 though, as I don't think this talented Thunder team is quite ready to say die. History says that teams that are up 3-1 in the Finals go on to win the series. Those teams don't always win Game 5 though - and the Thunder are the type of team that doesn't care about what history says. While this is an elimination game, in a way, the pressure is off the Thunder. They know they are now expected to lose. As a result, I expect them to be loose. Let's not forget that every game has basically come down to the wire. By no means do the Thunder feel outclassed or intimidated. Despite the last couple of losses, note that the Thunder are still a terrific 66-38 ATS the past 100+ times that they faced a team which defeated them in the previous meeting. They're also still 9-4 ATS the past few playoffs, when trailing in a series. The Heat, who have now won three consecutive games, are just 11-15 ATS when having won their previous three games. Off three straight loses, note that the Thunder are a perfect 5-0 SU/ATS the last five times that they'd lost three in a row. The only time that they were in that situation this season, they responded with a convincing 16 point victory. With the pressure off, I expect them to "relax" and respond with their best effort of the series. *10
|06-19-12||Oklahoma City Thunder v. Miami Heat -3.5||Top||98-104||Win||100||12 h 6 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on MIAMI. These are both excellent teams and this has been a close series so far. As you know, Miami has won and covered in each of the last two games, since dropping the opener. As the Thunder had quite a chance to cover the spread in Game 3, many will look to 'zig-zag' and back them in Game 4. I feel that's providing us with excellent value on the Heat, as the Game 4 line is now even lower than it was for Game 3. I also look at things a little differently. Rather than assume that the Thunder will bounce back, just because they were "very close" in Game 3, I feel that the close loss can be hard to recover from. And that Miami's "close win" can be both a "wake up call" (not that the Heat need one!) and a source of momentum. While there are plenty of stats one could point to for both teams, I feel that homecourt, "Finals Experience" and Lebron's desire to win will ultimately again prove the difference. Even though the games in this series have been close, each one has still ended up being decided by a minimum of four points and the winning team has covered in each case. Given the relatively low number, I feel that's likely to be the case again. The Thunder are a very respectable 25-16 on the road. However, the Heat are a commanding 37-7 at home. Obviously, they really really want to win this series. However, the Thunder have already taken the next step, by winning the West. Even if they lose here, they've established themselves as a top Western team for many years to come. They're likely to be back in the Finals again, perhaps several times. Unlike the Thunder, the Heat have been here before and lost. (They won before Lebron came but are 0-1 in the Finals with him.) They're on a mission and anything less than winning this series will be considered a massive failure. They know they can seize control by winning this pivotal game but also that the Thunder will gain the advantage if they win it. I don't expect any letdown whatsoever. Rather, I feel that Lebron will be "all business" and in "smelling blood" mode. He desperately wants this championship, arguably more than any other player. The Heat are 3-1 ATS (4-0 SU) as home favorites in the -3.5 to -6 range. With Lebron willing them to victory, I expect them to improve on those stats Tuesday night. *10
|06-14-12||Miami Heat v. Oklahoma City Thunder -5.5||Top||100-96||Loss||-104||17 h 7 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on OKLAHOMA CITY in the FIRST HALF. Perhaps the Oklahoma City Thunder were a little nervous due to Tuesday being their first game in the NBA Finals. Perhaps they were a bit rusty, due to having had a much longer layoff than the Heat. Or, perhaps they just ran into a Miami team which was still rolling with momentum from its big Game 6 and Game 7 victories over Boston in the previous series. Whatever the reason, or combination of reasons, the Thunder stumbled out of the gate in the opening game. They were down 29-22 at the end of the first half and 54-47 at halftime. That's actually the second time in a row they were down at half. However, before that, the Thunder had been leading at halftime in five of their previous games, including three straight. They had halftime leads of 52-44, 55-43 and 54-41 in those games. In other words, although we saw differently the last couple of games, this OKC team has shown an ability to start fast. The Heat may have had the lead at halftime of Game 1 but they haven't really been a very good first half team in the playoffs. While there certainly are exceptions, Lebron often tends to look to get others involved in the first half, before taking over in the second. Getting ahead in the first half didn't work for the Heat in Game 1 and they may sub-consciously no longer even think leading at the break is all its cracked up to be. You may recall the Heat were trailing 53-46 at the break in Game 7 vs. Boston and still came back to win by 13. They did have a halftime lead in Game 5 and Game 6, going 1-1 ATS. However, they were down big in Game 4 and down big in Game 3, Game 2 AND tied (when favored) in Game 1. Add it up and prior to Tuesday's first half victory, the Heat had gone 1-6 ATS (2-4-1 SU) in the first half of the Boston series. In other words, although we saw differently on Tuesday, this team has shown a tendency to start off a bit slowly. They won't have any rust this time and they shouldn't be nervous. They dominated the fourth quarter of Game 1 and I expect them to pick up right where they left off. Look for them to take the lead into the break, covering the small number along the way. *10
|06-12-12||Miami Heat v. Oklahoma City Thunder -5||Top||94-105||Win||100||35 h 18 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on OKLAHOMA CITY. I rode the Heat in Game 6 and Game 7 of the Boston/Miami series. I think Tuesday's game will prove much more difficult. Lebron and co. have had a couple of days off. However, they're still off an exhausting 7-game series with a bitter rival. Now, they've got to travel to take on a very well-rested and very talented opponent. Note that the Thunder are a perfect 4-0 ATS the last four times that they played with three or more day's rest. While the Heat won as short favorites at Boston in Game 6, they're an ugly 1-5 ATS the last six times that they were listed as underdogs. The Heat were crushed by 16 points by the Thunder here back in late March. While the Heat are 22-19 on the road, outscoring opponents by a mere 95.7 to 94.2 margin, the Thunder are a commanding 34-7 at home. They outscored visiting teams by a 105.3 to 95.5 margin. They hit 49% of their shots here while holding opponents to a 42.5% mark. Some could argue that Lebron, Wade and Bosh are a better "Big 3" than Durant, Westbrook and Harden. (Really, that's debatable and will be better answered after this series.) However, I like the Thunder's "secondary" players better, at least for an opening game at OKC. Looking at some more stats, we find the Heat at just 41-42-1 ATS the past few seasons against teams from the West, including 8-10 ATS this season. Meanwhile, the Thunder ware 50-28 ATS against teams from the East, including 13-5 SU/ATS this season. They've played arguably tougher competition (Dallas, LA and San Antonio compared to NY, Indiana and Boston) and I look for them to improve on those numbers with a win and cover on Tuesday. *10
|06-09-12||Boston Celtics v. Miami Heat -7.5||Top||88-101||Win||100||10 h 9 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on MIAMI. *10 In my analysis of Game 6, I noted the following: "...As usual, there are plenty of stats one could use to make an argument for either side. In the end, however, I believe it will come down to Lebron refusing to be denied ... " That sure proved to be the case. Lebron had arguably the best game of his entire career and the Heat crushed the Celtics, essentially from wire-to-wire. I expect James and co. to ride the positive momentum from that clutch performance into Game 7. At one point in Game 5 of the Thunder/Spurs series, when OKC won on the road, TNT analyst Steve Kerr commented: "It just feels like Oklahoma City senses it. They are ready to break through. It's like a changing of the guard right before our eyes." I believe that's also what we witnessed in Game 6 at Boston. The Celtics have given the Heat fits in this series and many times over the years. However, with Bosh back on the floor to take some of the Celtics' attention off Wade and more importantly with Lebron taking his game to another level, I believe we witnessed a "changing of the guard" in this series. I believe the younger Heat "officially have their number" right now and I expect another dominating performance. The Celtics are only 5-9 ATS the last 14 times that they attempted to avenge an earlier home loss and they're also only 3-5 ATS (2-6 SU) the last eight times that they were listed as road underdogs in the +6.5 to +9 range. So, this isn't one of their best roles. After losing two straight in the series vs. the Pacers, the Heat got it together with a big road win at Indiana. They then proceeded to return home and follow it up with a commanding 115-83 victory the next game, the first of five straight wins and four straight covers. Having again snapped their skid on the road, I expect the Heat to again build off their big road win, closing out the series in convincing fashion. *10
|06-07-12||Miami Heat -1.5 v. Boston Celtics||Top||98-79||Win||100||11 h 13 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on MIAMI. Things have sure changed in the Eastern Conference. After Rose went down and the Bulls got knocked out, many expected the Heat to practically coast all the way to the Finals. Off to a 2-0 lead after two games against the Celtics, it appeared that might indeed be the case. However, as you know, the Celtics have suddenly won three straight. Now, they get a chance to close things out on their home floor. Can Lebron and co. step up and get it done, in hostile territory against this veteran Celtic group? I believe the answer will prove to be yes. Bosh gave them 14 minutes, nine points and seven rebounds last time out. With that playing time under his belt and some more time to recover, hopefully he'll be able to give them more minutes here. Either way, whatever he can contribute, the Heat won't be sitting around waiting for him to lead them. I expect them to get right after it. As usual, there are plenty of stats one could use to make an argument for either side. In the end, however, I believe it will come down to Lebron refusing to be denied. Both he and Wade can get to the basket and/or foul line nearly any time they really want to. I expect them to do so early and often here. This is just the second time that the Heat found themselves trailing in a series this postseason. The previous time, they responded with an 8-point road win at Indiana. Meanwhile, the Celtics are only 2-4 SU/ATS when leading in a series. While it may not be easy, I'm not counting out the Heat quite yet. Behind a big game from their stars and an improved defensive effort, I expect them to find a way to force Game 7. *10
|06-04-12||Oklahoma City Thunder v. San Antonio Spurs -5||Top||108-103||Loss||-105||10 h 16 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on SAN ANTONIO. So far, the home team has won all four games going 3-1 ATS. I won with the "under" in Game 1, avoiding the side. That was the game in which Harden hit two 3-pointers in the final five seconds, one of them at the buzzer, to give the Thunder a very fortunate cover. Since then, the home team has won each game by at least six points and by an average of nearly 12. I've been on the right side of each of those games, winning with the Spurs in Game 2 and the Thunder in Game 3 and Game 4. With the series shifting back to San Antonio, I'm coming back with the Spurs on Monday night. When the Spurs had won 20 in a row, some felt they might just run the table. At the time, I stated that I felt all that talk was far too premature and that they were still in for a major fight with the Thunder. Of course, OKC crushed them in Game 3, snapping the streak. In the next game, I noted that many will assume the Spurs, who had just won 20 in a row, couldn't possibly lose two in a row. I also pointed out that streaks are funny though and that often when a big winning streak is snapped, it can be followed with a second straight loss. Sure enough, that's what happened. The Spurs have now had their wake-up call though. They wanted to be challenged and now they have been. Returning home, I expect them to respond with their very best game. This is a Spurs team which is an outstanding 28-9-2 ATS on this floor. Note that the Spurs are also still a solid 16-10 ATS (19-7 SU) when facing an opponent which defeated them in the previous meeting. The Thunder are just 9-18 ATS after scoring 105 or more in their previous game. They're also only 3-7 ATS (4-6 SU) when playing a road game with an O/U line in the 200 to 204.5 range. On the other hand, the Spurs are 6-2 ATS (7-1 SU) when playing a home game with an O/U line in that range. The Thunder are a very good team. They're talented, athletic and hungry. The Spurs are still playing as well as they have in years though and they've got all kinds of experience in this situation. While the Thunder are only 2-3 SU/ATS the last five times that they were tied in a playoff series, the Spurs are a highly profitable 19-8-1 ATS (20-8 SU) their last 28 that situation. The home team is a 3-point buzzer beater away from being a perfect 4-0 ATS in this series. In the end, I look for homecourt to again be the difference as the battle-tested Spurs step up, extend their home winning streak and cover the relatively short number along the way. *10
|06-03-12||Miami Heat -1.5 v. Boston Celtics||Top||91-93||Loss||-115||10 h 7 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing MIAMI for the first half. The Celtics are now 3-0 ATS for the "first half" in this series. The teams were tied 46-46 at halftime in Game 1. Boston led 53-46 at the break in Game 2. Last time out, the Celtics held a 55-42 lead going into the locker-room. I expect a much different result this evening though. Off their first loss in the series and having been dominated in the first half last time out, I expect a determined effort from James and co. right out of the gate. Off their first loss in the Indiana series, although they would go on to lose that one too, the Heat took control right out of the gate. They led 26-17 after one quarter. It wasn't until the second half that they fell part, getting outscored 51-32. Off their first (and only) loss in the Knicks' series, the Heat responded by jumping all over NY out of the gate. They led 28-24 after one quarter and 55-44 at halftime. I expect James to do his thing and also expect a much better performance from Wade. The Celtics were a little more hungry/desperate last time out. I don't expect that to be the case here - at least not in the first half. The Heat will make adjustments, which I expect to pay immediate dividends and I look for them to take their first lead into the locker-room. *10
|06-02-12||San Antonio Spurs v. Oklahoma City Thunder -3.5||Top||103-109||Win||100||11 h 4 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on OKLAHOMA CITY. I won with the Thunder (and the under) last game and I'm coming right back them again in Game 4. After they reeled off 20 straight victories, many people will feel that the Spurs can't possibly lose two in a row. Streaks are funny though. Often, when a long winning streak is snapped, we'll see that team follow it up with another loss. Likewise, a team that snaps a long losing streak will often follow up their initial victory with another one. In this case, the Spurs have now lost that "unbeatable" feeling. Meanwhile, the Thunder have regained their confidence and swagger. Keep in mind that its still the Thunder who need this game more and that they're now an excellent 8-3 ATS the last 11 times that they were trailing in a playoff series. While the Spurs are a very solid 26-12 on the road, the Thunder are an even better 32-7 at home. I expect them to improve on those stats Saturday night, covering the small number along the way. *10
|06-01-12||Miami Heat +2 v. Boston Celtics||Top||91-101||Loss||-100||11 h 50 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing MIAMI for the 1st Half. I'm a little on the fence about who I feel will ultimately win this game. However, I do expect the Heat to come out "on fire" in the first half and believe they have an excellent shot of leading, going into the break. As you know, the Heat are up 2-0 in the series. They won and covered in Game 1. In Game 2, the Heat won but failed to cover. Despite the 2-0 series lead, the Heat have actually been trailing at halftime of each game. The score was tied (46-46) at halftime of Game and the Celtics led 53-46 at the break in Game 2. Having played the Heat tough in each of the first halves hasn't helped Boston yet. That being the case and off their devastating Game 2 loss, I won't be surprised if the Celtics come out a little flat here. The Celtics are very disappointed with the Game 2 loss, as they easily could have won that game. They wasted a remarkable performance from Rondo and have been complaining about the officiating. They could easily be hanging their heads a bit right out of the gate. The Heat know this is their chance to grab control of this series. A win here and its essentially over. A loss and the series is back on. That being the case, I expect James and co. to be all business right from the opening tip. The last time these teams met here was on 4/24. Boston won 78-66. However, the Heat had a 34-28 lead at halftime. I expect the Heat to again have the lead at the break here. *10
|05-31-12||San Antonio Spurs v. Oklahoma City Thunder -4||Top||82-102||Win||100||13 h 19 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on OKLAHOMA CITY. I won with the Spurs last game, after cashing with the 'under' in the opener. Obviously, with 20 straight wins, the Spurs have been very impressive and are playing at an extremely high level. Still, with the series shifting to Oklahoma City and the Thunder now fully in "must win" mode, I expect San Antonio's remarkable run to come to an end. The Spurs are an impressive 26-11 on the road. However, the Thunder are an even better 31-7 at home. The teams split two meetings here this season. The spread wasn't a factor in either game. The Spurs won one by nine. The Thunder won the other by 12. It should, however, be noted that each of those lines were higher (-5 and -6) that tonight's game. The Thunder are favored by less here, which I feel is providing excellent value. While the Spurs are outscoring teams by three points (101.1 to 98.1) on the road, the Thunder are outscoring teams by nearly 10 points (105.3 to 95.5) here at OKC. Although they came up short in Game 2, the Thunder are still an excellent 64-36 ATS the last 100 times that they faced a team which defeated them in the previous meeting, 12-6 ATS their last 18 in that situation. They're undefeated on this floor during the postseason, crushing the Lakers by 16 points the last time that they played here. Even with the Game 2 loss, the Thunder are still a profitable 7-3 ATS the last 10 times that they were trailing in a playoff series. Many are already giving the Spurs this series. I think its still got a LONG way to go though. Playing on their home floor with the fans providing extra energy, I expect the OKC "Big 3" to get more help from their supporting cast and for that to lead to a badly needed victory. *10
|05-29-12||Oklahoma City Thunder v. San Antonio Spurs -4.5||Top||111-120||Win||100||15 h 37 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on SAN ANTONIO. After the Spurs won but failed to cover in Game 1, the line has dropped a little lower for Game 2. I feel that's providing us with excellent value on the home team. True, the Thunder are a very talented team. They've been great during the playoffs and gave the Spurs a battle in the opener. However, as good as the Thunder have been, the Spurs have been better. They've simply been playing at another level. With 19 straight wins, this team is starting to set records. A win here will break the record for longest winning streak extended in the playoffs. I didn't play a side in the first game, instead winning with the total. So, I was able to watch the game objectionably - although this is something I always strive for. That said. I feel the Thunder were very fortunate to get the cover. It took a wild series of events concluding with a James Harden 3-pointer at the buzzer, his second from beyond the arc in the final five seconds. Despite failing to cover on Sunday, the Spurs are 30-13-1 ATS against winning teams this season and 39-18-3 ATS when laying points and 33-5 SU and 27-9-2 ATS at home. The Thunder, on the other hand, are 22-15-1 ATS on the road and only 21-21-1 ATS against teams with a winning record. Off their huge fourth quarter and Game 1 victory, I look for the Spurs to keep on rolling into the history books, this time covering the small number along the way. *10
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