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|Date||Match Up||Rating||Score||Result||Profit||Lead Time||Analysis|
|01-01-13||Michigan +6 v. South Carolina||Top||28-33||Win||100||4 h 45 m||Show|
I'm playing on MICHIGAN. I won with South Carolina in last year's bowl, as the Gamecocks wiped the floor with Nebraska. While I certainly still respect Spurrier and co, I feel that the Gamecocks are going to have considerably more difficulty against a Big Ten team this year.
If they didnt know better, some might think that Michigan played a much easier schedule than South Carolina, based on the the Wolverines hailing from the Big Ten and the Gamecocks coming from the SEC. However, the Wolverines faced both Notre Dame and Alalbama this year, the two teams playing the national championship game. The Wolverines also faced Ohio State, the nation's other undefeated team (They lost all three but two of the losses came by a TD or less.)
Additionally, the Wolverines had games against the likes of Michigan State and Nebraska. On the other hand, South Carolina got to avoid Alabama and had a non-conference slate which included Wofford and UAB. While the win over Georgia was impressive, lets not forget that the Gamecocks were blown out by Florida and that they lost vs. LSU, a team which lost yesterday.
The bottom line is that the SEC is still probably the best overall but the conference isn't as dominant as it has been in recent years. Top tier teams from other major conferences - like Clemson yesterday - can now compete and defeat teams near the top of the SEC. Don't be surprised to see it happen again this afternoon. *9
|01-01-13||Northwestern v. Mississippi State +2.5||Top||34-20||Loss||-105||3 h 53 m||Show|
I'm playing on MISSISSIPPI STATE. The Wildcats had a terrific season at the betting window. Up against an SEC team, albeit a lower tier one, I expect their run to come to a crashing halt.
Needless to say, given its drought in the bowls, Northwestern wants this one. However, wanting and doing are entirely different matters and I'm not convinced that the Bulldogs will be any less hungry.
Obviously, we can't compare schedules. The Bulldogs had to face the likes of Alabama, LSU, Texas [email protected], the first of those two both coming on the road. Their "easier" conference games came against the likes of Auburn, Kentucky, Tennessee , Arkansas and Ole Miss. Those teams are more along the lines of what Northwestern faced and the Bulldogs went 4-1 in those games.
The Bulldogs crushed another Big Ten team (Michigan in the Gator Bowl) in the bowls last season, winning by a score of 52-14. With that rout, they're 2-0 in the bowls under Mullen and the school remains undefeated in the bowls for the millennium. I expect Mullen to have them ready to go again here. *9
|12-31-12||Clemson +6.5 v. LSU||Top||25-24||Win||100||9 h 10 m||Show|
I'm playing on CLEMSON. The line has climbed from its opener. Bettors seemingly can't believe that mighty LSU is laying such a small number. I feel that there's good reason though - and the higher this number climbs the better value I feel we're getting with a very good Clemson team.
Speaking of line value, lets start by mentioning that Clemson is 4-1 ATS the last five times it was an underdog in the 3.5 to 10 range, going 26-12-1 ATS its last 39 in that role.
LSU was only 4-7 ATS as a favorite.
True, the Clemson schedule was rather soft - however, you still don't get 10 wins without being pretty good. Clemson was only an underdog once all season. That was at Florida State. The Tigers lost but covered.
While LSU has the stingier defense, Clemson is a team which scored 37 or more points 10 times. Clemson ranks near the top of the nation in scoring (42.3 points per game), total offense (518.3 yards per game) and passing yards (319.6) per game.
In terms of wanting to be here, the edge should favor Clemson. After all, LSU is a team which is used to playing for national titles and expects to play in January.
Clemson began its seen with a win here at the Georgia Dome. Don't be surprised when it finishes the same way. *10 Main Event
|12-31-12||Iowa State v. Tulsa +2||Top||17-31||Win||100||5 h 15 m||Show|
I'm playing on TULSA. The Cyclones won the regular season meeting. That was at Iowa State though and the Golden Hurricane had an early lead.
The Golden Hurricane are obviously motivated to get some revenge, to win a bowl game and to match its single season record for wins. Off a win over Central Florida in the CUSA Championship game, its 10th victory if the season, Tulsa comes in full of confidence.
"It certainly gives you momentum. You want to go into bowl season with a win," coach Bill Blankenship said. "We're excited to be going to Memphis. That's big time."
Of course, that's easy for Blankenship to say considering that Tulsa is a dominating 15-5 SU/ATS the last 20 times that it was coming off a conference win.
While Conference USA doesn't get much respect, we've seen teams like UCF, SMU and Rice look pretty good already. Tulsa had a better record than any of those teams.
The Cyclones, who stumbled down the stretch, have the 113th-ranked pass defense in the FBS, allowing 279.7 yards per game. The run defense isn't likely to be as stout as it could be either, as Iowa State likely won't have three-time All-Big 12 linebacker and captain Jake Knott; he's still recovering from shoulder surgery.
Iowa State's only victory since October came against Kansas, the worst team in the Big 12. (Jayhawks were 0-9 in Conference play, 1-11 overall.) The last two losses came against WVU and Texas, a pair of teams which weren't exactly dominant in their recent bowl games. (Texas won but needed to rally, WVU got blown out.)
The Cyclones are 3-8 all-time in the postseason and 0-3 SU/ATS the last three times that played with two or more week's worth of rest in between games.
In terms of line value, consider that Tulsa was actually a small favorite for the earlier game at Iowa State. Now, even though that was on the road and this is at a neutral site AND even though Tulsa has played better in recent weeks, the Golden Hurricane are a slight dog. Even with the loss back in September, the Hurricane are still 7-3 ATS the last 10 times that they played a game where the line ranged from the +3 to -3. I feel that they're the better team and I expect them to step up and improve on those stats this afternoon. *10 Best Bet
|12-30-12||Dallas Cowboys +3.5 v. Washington Redskins||Top||18-28||Loss||-113||12 h 55 m||Show|
I'm playing on DALLAS. Unlike many of the Week 17 matchups, this game means everything for both teams. Throw in the long-standing rivalry between the NFC East foes and the stadium will clearly be buzzing.
Griffin and co. have surely been a great story. However, at this stage of Griffin's career, with Griffin recently banged-up and Romo playing great, I'll still take Romo for a single winner-take all showdown. I may be proven wrong and RG3 has certainly shown to be a very talented individual but I believe that there's something to be said for experience.
Griffin will be playing his first game under the Sunday night lights. He says his knee is healthier. However, his running plays may still be a little limited. Still dangerous, obviously, but perhaps not as much as a few weeks ago.
Outside of the QBs, I believe that Romo has the better overall supporting cast. While all teams have plenty of injuries at this time of the year, the Cowboys are in better shape than they were for the earlier meeting, when the Skins upset them at Dallas.
The Skins are still only 4-6 ATS the last 10 times that they were favored, going an ugly 50-81-2 ATS when laying points over the long-term.
The Cowboys are 5-2 ATS on the road and 4-2 ATS as underdogs. While Griffin and co. will have many years to get more chances, Romo and co. have a limited window. I look for them to step up and get it done. *10 Main Event
|12-30-12||Dayton v. USC -3||Top||61-63||Loss||-109||4 h 24 m||Show|
I'm playing on USC. Dayton comes in with the better record. However, with the game being played in Southern California, I believe that the Trojans are favored for good reason.
While theve struggled out of the gate, I believe this USC team is better than the record indicates. Keep in mind that its been a very difficult schedule. This is a chance to close out their non-conference slate with a win over a quality opponent and I look for them to go all out to make that happen.
Dayton has only played one true road game all season. To their credit, the Flyers did win that one. Still, they're a long way from home here and getting home for New Year's Eve may already be on their minds. Expect homecourt to be the difference. *9 Personal Favorite
|12-30-12||Houston Texans -6.5 v. Indianapolis Colts||Top||16-28||Loss||-110||6 h 42 m||Show|
I'm playing on HOUSTON. The Colts are playing their starters and they have their head coach back - for the first time all season. While they appear to be serious about wanting to win, the fact is that a victory can't help their positioning. On the other hand, the Texans still could have a chance at helping themselves. I expect them to be the more motivated team.
Defensive end J.J. Watt noted: "We know what it takes," said defensive end J.J. Watt, two sacks shy of Michael Strahan's single-season record of 22 1/2. "We're going to get focused, and then we're going to come out there and earn ourselves home-field advantage."
The Colts, who are great against losing teams but only 1-2 ATS against teams with a winning record, may have eked out a win last week but they didn't exactly look dominant doing it. Indeed, they were outgained by a lopsided 507-288 margin, giving up a whopping 352 yards on the ground. I expect that to spell trouble against the Texans, who are surely licking their collective chops.
The Texans are 3-1 ATS the last four times that they were listed as road favorites in the 3.5 to 7 range. They know what's at stake and I expect them to take care of business. *10 Personal Favorite
|12-30-12||Chicago Bears v. Detroit Lions +3||Top||26-24||Win||100||5 h 16 m||Show|
I'm playing on DETROIT. The Lions rank near the top of the league, in the category of most disappointing season. A talented team, they lost close games in a variety of different ways. That string of close losses eventually caught up with them - fighting so hard to to come up just short, over and over again, will do that. They've been blown out each of the past two weeks. Neither of those were divisional games though. Neither had playoff implications like this one.
The Lions have had an extra day of rest and preparation time here (last game was a Saturday) and that often can be more helpful than it sounds. More importantly, they get to host the hated Bears, a team which beat them by six at Chicago back in October. Better yet, they can play a role in keeping them out of the playoffs. I don't believe that lack of motivation will be an issue. This is an opportunity to show some pride, get some revenge and to give the home fans something to take into the offseason.
As Cutler said of the Lions: "It's safe to say the Lions are disappointed in their season, so they would love nothing more than to make us disappointed for the rest of the year."
Coach Schwartz would note: "You want to end the season on a high note. Last year we were a playoff team ... It does give you a little bit of feeling going into the offseason. It's one of 16, but it is the last one that we play.
Nobody wants teams to celebrate at your own expense. I think that's important."
The Lions beat the Bears 24-13 here last season. I expect them to be at their best again this afternoon. *10 Best Bet
|12-29-12||TCU v. Michigan State +2.5||Top||16-17||Win||100||13 h 48 m||Show|
I'm playing on MICHIGAN STATE. While I respect the Horned Frogs, I expect them to lose this game.
The Spartans are better than their record indicates. With the exception of an early loss vs. Notre Dame, none of their other losses have come by four points. In other words, they easily could have a better record. While I'm already a believer, this game gives the Spartans an opportunity to show the rest of the world that they're better than the record suggests.
Coach Dantonio noted: "We haven't had a football game where we've lost in a big way. They've all been close. One play here, one play there, we're a different football team."
He'd go on to say this of his team's confidence level: "We want to point our compass north. I believe the glass is half full, not half empty. That's how our football team expects to play. We come ready to play every week. We'll play with confidence."
The Frogs, who lost QB Casey Pachall midseason, were last in the Big 12 with 3.9 yards per carry on the ground. I believe they're going to have a tough time moving the ball against a Michigan State defense that ranked fourth in the FBS allowing only 274.5 yards per game.
Ultimately, in a battle of two strong defenses, I feel the Spartans will find a way to score more points. *10 Main Event
|12-29-12||Denver Nuggets v. Memphis Grizzlies -6.5||Top||72-81||Win||100||10 h 22 m||Show|
I'm playing on MEMPHIS. This one sets up very nicely for the home team. The Grizzlies, who are playing with "double-revenge" had the past two nights off. They should have fresh legs. Off back to back losses and looking for some payback from the earlier losses to Denver, they should also be very hungry.
On the other hand, the Nuggets played last night at Dallas. Its true that they've been good in that situation this year. However, not all b2b spots are the same. Not only will the Nuggets be playing the second of back to back games, they'll also now be playing their fourth game in five days. Throw in the fact that the first of those four games was on Christmas - a potentially extra busy, emotional and/or stressful time - and this has been a very grueling stretch. They don't play until New Year's Day and could already have their minds on returning to loved ones in time to ring out the year. The fact that they won big last night could add to the Nuggets' complacency.
Even with last night's win the Nuggets are still only 8-13 on the road. Even with a loss here last time out, the Grizzlies are still 12-3 at home.
The Grizzlies, 5-0 SU the last five times that they played with two day's rest in between games, are 50-34-2 ATS the last 86 times that they were in the revenge role. With the schedule and venue in their favor, I expect them to improve on those stats in convincing fashion here. *10 Personal Favorite
|12-29-12||Oregon State v. Texas +4||Top||27-31||Win||100||9 h 15 m||Show|
I'm playing on TEXAS. The Beavers have had the better year. They've got the higher ranking and they're favored at the betting window. However, I believe that the Longhorns are still the more talented team and I expect them to come ready to play, with a chip on their shoulder.
Give the Beavers credit for a great turnaround, as they were a 3-win team just last year. Still, they only won three of their final six games, one of those wins coming against Nicholl State.
Brown has enjoyed excellent success in the Bowls over the years and tends to fare very well when given time to prepare his team. In fact, the Longhorns are a perfect 5-0 SU/ATS the last five times that they played with two or more week's worth of rest. (They did lose at TCU with some extra time in between games but that wasn't two full weeks)
A look at those five games shows that the Longhorns won by five at Oklahoma State earlier this season. They won last season's bowl games against another Pac-12 team, knocking off Cal by a score of 21-10. Earlier in the season, they wiped out Kansas 43-0 and Iowa State by a score of 37-8. Prior to that, it was an upset win at Nebraska in the 2010 season, a 20-13 victory in a game where the Longhorns were large underdogs. Anyway, you get the point that I'm trying to make. When given time, Mack Brown really knows how to get his team ready.
The Longhorns, perhaps playing for Brown's job, are playing in their home state, a familiar environment. Brown and co. desperately need a win here, or their fans are going to become extremely "restless." I feel that the well-prepared Longhorns will have an edge in the trenches and look for them to step up and score the upset. *10
|12-29-12||Xavier v. Tennessee -6||Top||47-51||Loss||-110||8 h 6 m||Show|
I'm playing on TENNESSEE. Everyone knows Xavier is usually a good team. Sometimes a very good team. To a certain degree, that reputation sticks with a team, even when its going through a tough time. In this case, I believe that Xavier remains a bit over-valued by the betting public and that that Musketeers will be in over their heads.
The Musketeers, who suffered heavy losses from last season, are off back to back losses. They were blown out by 15 points by rival Cincinnati and followed it up by losing outright against lowly Wofford. That makes it 0-4 ATS their last four.
Think the ATS losing streak can't continue? Consider that the Musketeers are 4-11 ATS the last 15 times that they'd failed to cover their previous three or more consecutive games.
The well-rested Volunteers are 3-0 SU/ATS the last three times that they played with seven or more day's rest in between games, 17-8 ATS their last 25 in that situation. They're also 6-1 SU/ATS the last seven times that they played a home game with an O/U line in the 120s.
The Vols are outscoring teams by 15 ppg on this floor. I backed them when they beat a good Wichita State team by nine here a couple of weeks ago (69-60 win on 12/13) and they've since followed it up by beating up on a couple of weaker opponents. I feel that they'll have no trouble taking care of business against (once) might Xavier. *9 Personal Favorite
|12-29-12||Navy +14 v. Arizona State||Top||28-62||Loss||-105||6 h 22 m||Show|
I'm playing on NAVY. I played against the Midshipmen when they failed to cover vs. Army a few weeks ago. However, I also backed the Midshipmen when they won outright vs. Air Force and I still respect them as a team. I feel that they're offering excellent value here.
The Midshipmen are getting a lot of points here and they've performed well in the underdog role for many years. They're 3-0 ATS the last three times that they were underdogs, winning all three outright. They're 9-6 ATS as underdogs the past few seasons and 13-7 ATS the last 20. Going back still further finds them at 81-50-1 ATS as underdogs the past 132.
The Sun Devils are off a win at Arizona, their second straight victory. That was fairly impressive - although it should be noted that it came by only a touchdown. However, those instate rivalry games are a little different, in that there are different emotions in play.
The Sun Devils' previous win did come in "blowout fashion." However, that was against a Washington State team which lost by double-digits six times this season. Prior to those two victories, Arizona State had been on an 0-4 SU/ATS streak.
Navy really isn't getting much respect. However, I agree with ASU coach Graham when he said this of the Midshipmen: "I can tell you they'll be a formidable opponent. They're very different, very difficult, very well-coached, very disciplined ... "
The Midshipmen, who have faced the likes of #1 Notre Dame, won't be intimidated. They've won seven of their last eight and the eight of their last 10. Both losses came by 12 or less. I'll gladly grab all those points. *9
|12-29-12||West Virginia v. Syracuse +4||Top||14-38||Win||100||6 h 58 m||Show|
I'm playing on SYRACUSE. With a big name QB, an early front-runner for the Heisman, the Mountaineers are favored and are likely going to be a popular pick. The Orange know all about Geno Smith though and come in full of confidence. I feel that they're providing us with very fair value.
Formerly members of the same conference, these teams are very familiar with each other. While the Moutaineers had their way with the Orange early in this millennium, its been Syracuse which has had the edge in the "Smith era."
Syracuse beat WVU 19-14 in 2010 and 49-23 last year. The Orange picked off Smith five times in those games, sacking him nine times. He had just three TDs.
While he's not nearly as well known, the Orange have a very capable QB of their own. Ryan Nassib, a senior, threw for more than 3600 yards this season, setting a school record. He'll be facing a WVU defense that gave up more than 38 ppg.
The Orange averaged 473 yards, nearly as many as WVU's 518. Their 458 on the road was roughly the same as WVU's 478 on the road. Yet, on the other side of the ball, the Syracuse advantage is considerably more significant. Syracuse allows 385 ypg compared to WVU's 470. The Orange allow 25.7 ppg compared to the Mountaineers' 38.1.
Syracuse coach Doug Marrone is from the Bronx. Playing at Yankee Stadium, I expect him to have his team ready to play. *9
|12-28-12||Missouri v. UCLA -3||Top||94-97||Push||0||9 h 50 m||Show|
I'm playing on UCLA. Missouri has the higher ranking. However, I believe that the Bruins are favored for good reason.
The Tigers, who have struggled as small road underdogs in recent years, haven't played a true road game all season.
Keep in mind that this Missouri team suffered major losses, including five seniors, from the one that won 30 games last year. While senior Bowers is contributing nicely, one of the remaining seniors (Dixon) is gone.
While the Bruins have battled through some adversity, they come in on a 4-game winning streak and with a chip on their shoulder. They're a talented team and I look for them to accomplish what the UCLA football team could not - a win and cover. *9 Personal Favorite
|12-28-12||Los Angeles Clippers v. Utah Jazz +3||Top||116-114||Win||100||8 h 2 m||Show|
I'm playing on UTAH. I'm not normally not in the habit of going against teams on 15-game winning streaks. However, I feel that the Clippers' run will come to an end here.
While LA was playing a big TNT game vs. Boston last night, the Jazz had the night off. LA is 2-3 ATS this season in the second of b2b games.
Let's not forget that the Jazz have been very tough here at Utah for ages. They're record here this season is just as good as LA's road record.
The Jazz are playing with "revenge," having lost a 1-point game here against the Clippers a few weeks ago. They're still 29-4 SU (22-10-1 ATS) the last 33 times they were a host in the series.
Don't be surprised when the streak comes to an end. *9 best bet
|12-28-12||Rutgers v. Virginia Tech -2||Top||10-13||Win||100||7 h 53 m||Show|
I'm playing on VIRGINIA TECH. I played against Rutgers in the loss vs. Louisville, which was the Knights most recent game. I also played against the Knights in their previous game, a 27-6 loss vs. Pittsburgh. Many were surprised by those losses, as the Knights were 9-1 prior to that. Obviously, I wasn't. I'm still not completely sold on this team and think they'll be in over their heads against what I expect to be a very determined Virginia Tech team.
Yes, its been a down stretch for the Hokies. They're still a very talented team and proud though. One which has seen its reputation take a bit of a hit recently and which will be looking to get some of it back here with a big win.
Rutgers has a good defense. However, I believe that its not a great defense - not as good as the numbers suggest, at least. Playing a soft schedule (Howard, Tulane etc) has helped. Keep in mind that the Knights allowed 20 or more points in all three losses.
The Knights struggle on offense and thats where I expect the Hokies to have an edge.
Rutgers averages 22.4 ppg and 341 ypg. Playing arguably a much tougher schedule, V-Tech averaged 26.1 and 391.8.
Lets not forget that the Knights had dreams of a much bigger bowl, only a few weeks ago. They'll say all the right things. However, I believe that there's the real potential for a bit of a letdown here. Not so with the Hokies, who I expect to rise to the occasion with a big win. *10 Personal Favorite
|12-28-12||Ohio +7 v. Louisiana Monroe||Top||45-14||Win||100||5 h 3 m||Show|
I'm playing on OHIO. After winning seven straight to begin the season, the Bobcats initially had dreams of a bigger bowl. That can sometimes lead to a team going through the motions a bit and not really wanting to be in the "lesser" bowl that the it ends up in. However, I don't expect that to be the case here.
The Bobcats lost four of their last five games. That gives them something to prove. They want to show the world that they're not the fraud that many say they are.
I also believe that the Warhawks will be very motivated, as they're playing in their first bowl game, since joining the FBS. I'll call it a wash in the motivation department.
While the Warhawks did earn an impressive win vs. Arkansas, the Razorbacks weren't as good as they often are. Likewise, playing Auburn tough wasn't as impressive as it would be in a normal year, when the Tigers were stronger. Playing Baylor tough was pretty good - however, that came before the Bears had really got going. While its debatable, I'd argue that Ohio's road at Penn State was every bit as impressive, if not more, than anything LA-Monroe has accomplished.
Either way, I do believe that the Bobcats will have some edges on the field and feel this game will likely be closely contested.
Ohio's Tyler Tettleton doesn't often hurt his team. He completed 62.0 % of his passes for better than 2,500 yards. He also had an impressive 16/3 TD/INT ratio.
Tettleton noted: "We're eager and hungry to get back out there."
The Bobcats have "bowl experience" on their side, as this is their fourth straight. They won by one (24-23 vs. Utah State) last year.
Speaking of close games, the Bobcats played six games which were decided by 10 or fewer points this season, five of them decided by a TD or less and three decided by a field goal.
Likewise, the Warhawks have seen five games decided by six or fewer points.
The Warhawks are 4-7 ATS their last 11 off a win vs a conference rival, 3-10 ATS the last 13 times that they played with two or more week's or rest and 5-15 ATS the last 20 times that they were off a win of six or less. Meanwhile, the Bobcats check in at 5-3 ATS the last eight times that they were underdogs in the 3.5 to 10 range and 3-1 ATS off two or more consecutive losses. In a game that could easily again come down to the wire, I'm grabbing all those generous points. *10 Annihilator
|12-27-12||Cincinnati v. Duke +10||Top||48-34||Loss||-116||11 h 47 m||Show|
I'm playing on DUKE. I believe that this will be a case of the Blue Devils being happier to be here.
After a nearly 2-decade hiatus from the bowls, Duke is back.
True, the Blue Devils did stumble down the stretch. However, this is an entirely new season - we've already seen teams like SMU and Central Florida, who weren't as "hot" as their opponent, win in blowout fashion.
Keep in mind that the Blue Devils faced some tough and/or unique opponents down the stretch - their last four games came against the likes of Florida State, Clemson, G-Tech and Miami.
Thrilled to be here, the Blue Devils will have the advantage of playing close to home, as this game is played at Charlotte.
Duke senior Conner Vernon noted: "It's kind of just one of those things to leave our legacy at Duke football. Not only the first senior class to go to a bowl game since '94 but the first senior class to win a bowl game since a long time. That's definitely the mindset we're going to have going into it."
While the Bearcats have the better record, they really didn't play a very difficult schedule. They did knock off V-Tech (an ACC team that beat Duke) but the rest of their non-conf. schedule was very soft.
Plus, the Big East was quite weak this season.
This is still a team which won only four of its final seven with losses coming against Toledo, Louisville and Rutgers. The wins came against UConn, USF, Temple and Syracuse. Those four teams went a combined 19-31 this season. Other victories came against the likes of Fordam, Delaware State and Miami Ohio. (The Bearcats were laying more than 100 combined points in those games.)
While the Blue Devils have stability at the head coach position, the Bearcats are having to deal with yet another coaching change. Butch Jones has bolted for the greener pastures of Tennessee. Remember, the team has also lost coaches Brian Kelly and Mark D'antonio in recent years, both of whom also used the Cincy job as a springboard for bigger and better things. Defensive coordinator Steve Stripling will coach this game, with Tommy Tuberville taking over next season.
We just saw a team in a similar situation (Western Kentucky was also being coached by its defensive coordinator) get upset last night. Don't be surprised if we seen another upset here. *10 Best Bet
|12-26-12||Central Michigan +6.5 v. Western Kentucky||Top||24-21||Win||100||12 h 40 m||Show|
I'm playing on CENTRAL MICHIGAN. The MAC Conference hasn't fared too well in the bowls thus far. Both Ball State and Toledo were blown out. Meanwhile, LA-Lafayette beat East Carolina, leaving the Sun Belt at 1-0. Those results are among the reasons that many are likely going to favor Western Kentucky in this matchup. I believe that the Hilltoppers, who also lost against LA-Lafayette, are a bit of a fraud though and feel that the value lies squarely with the underdog.
The Hilltoppers made some noise early in the season, as they covered six straight games out of the gate. However, that was in large part due to the fact that they were under-valued by the betting public.
As bettors clued in to the fact that the Hilltoppers were raking in the profits, the line value on them began to disappear. The team would finish the season on a 2-4 ATS streak.
A closer look at the Western Kentucky schedule reveals that the Hilltoppers actually only won three games by more than eight points all season and those were all back in September, one of them coming against Austin Peay. Their final four games were ALL decided by five or less and three of them resulted in losses.
Not surprisingly, the Hilltoppers fared very well as underdogs but stumbled when laying points. They're 5-8 ATS the last 13 times that they were favored.
Not only do the Hilltoppers have trouble winning by a large margin, they're also dealing with a shake up in their coaching ranks. The man who got them here - Willie Taggart - is gone. Bobby Petrino will coach next season. That can certainly be a distraction and is less than ideal.
Neither Petrino nor Taggart will coach here though. Instead, it will be defensive coordinator Lance Guidry calling the plays. To his credit, Guidry did win in a similar situation when with Miami Ohio a couple of years ago. Still, as noted, I believe that this is "less than ideal."
Of course, it should also be noted that Guidry will be without his best defensive player and arguably their best player overall, Quanterus Smith. If you watched the Hawaii Bowl, you saw what a huge impact a single dominant defensive lineman can be. Smith, a defensive end, was that type of player for Western Kentucky. Not only was he the defensive player on the year in the Sun Belt, he also led the entire country with 1.25 sacks per game, finishing with 12.5 in 10 games.
While the Hilltoppers stumbled down the stretch and are dealing with a coaching shake up, the Chippewas closed the season by playing their best football. They were 3-0 SU/ATS their final three games. They also scored at least 30 points in each of their final six games. Additionally, they've got a coach in his third year and are very excited to be here.
Athletic director Dave Heeke noted: "We are thrilled to be back in Detroit for a bowl game."
Of course, Mount Pleasant (Michigan) is only about 150 miles to Detroit while Western Kentucky has to travel about three times as far.
I won't be at all surprised when Central Michigan wins this game and am grabbing all those generous points. *10
|12-25-12||San Diego St +5.5 v. Arizona||Top||67-68||Win||100||12 h 4 m||Show|
I'm playing on SAN DIEGO STATE. (I'm keeping today's college writeups slightly shorter than normal, as Christmas has me running a bit behind.) The Wildcats are a very good team and they're off to a great start. I'm not convinced that they're better than the Aztecs though, who are also a very strong team. That being said, I feel that getting this many points is providing excellent value.
While the Wildcats are 11-0, the Aztecs are 11-1. In fact, they're 11-0 their last 11, since dropping their opener vs. Syracuse.
Speaking of 11-0, note that San Diego State has won 11 straight against teams currently in the Pac-12. Clearly the Aztecs "get up" for games against teams in their part of the country, wanting to show that they're the "best in the west."
The Aztecs, who upset Arizona last year, are 33-16 ATS (39-11) the last 50 times that they faced a team with a winning record. During that stretch, they've gone 7-3 ATS against teams which score 77 or more per game.
While Arizona is strong at both ends of the floor, the Aztecs are also 16-6 ATS (19-3 SU!) their last 22 against teams which allow 64 or fewer points.
Speaking of good defensive teams, the Aztecs have been dominant defensively recently, holding four straight opponents to less than 60. Note that they're 40-3 SU, after allowing 60 or less, 7-0 their last seven.
The Wildcats are only 5-9 ATS the last 14 times that they were listed as neutral court favorites in the 3.5 to 6 range, including an 0-3 ATS mark their last three in that situation. Don't be surprised if they suffer their first loss here. *10 Best Bet
|12-25-12||Houston Rockets v. Chicago Bulls -4.5||Top||120-97||Loss||-105||13 h 44 m||Show|
I'm playing on CHICAGO. These teams met last month at Houston. A close game saw the Rockets pull out a 93-89 victory. With today's rematch being played at Chicago, I expect the revenge-minded Bulls to return the favor.
While they didn't play well in their last game, the Bulls have gotten it together recently. A look at their last game, a loss at Atlanta, shows that the Bulls were playing the second of back to back road games and that they were coming off an upset of the Knicks the previous day. So, it was a difficult spot, scheduling-wise, for them.
The Bulls are well-rested now though, in addition to being back home. They're 27-12 SU the past couple of seasons, when playing with two day's rest in between games.
True, the Rockets have won three straight, all three in impressive fashion. However, two of those came at home; they're still 3-7 on the road. Also, the only time that they previously won three straight this season, they followed it up by losing 120-98. (They're 8-14 ATS the past couple of seasons, after having won their previous three.)
Even with the loss at Atlanta, the Bulls have still won seven of their last 10. They haven't lost two in a row since the loss at Houston.
In fact, after their lost five losses, they've responded by going a perfect 5-0 SU/ATS. They won those games by scores of 93-86, 101-78, 95-85, 96-89 and 100-89. I expect them to respond with another win and cover here. *10 Roast
|12-25-12||Mississippi v. Hawaii +8.5||Top||81-66||Loss||-110||7 h 42 m||Show|
I'm playing on HAWAII. (I'm keeping today's college writeups slightly shorter than normal, as Christmas has me running a bit behind.) The Rebels are a solid and experienced squad. However, they're a long way from home here and laying a lot of points. I feel it will prove to be too many, as I'm expecting a close game. In four road or neutral court games, the Rebels scoring 76.2 points and allowing 75. They were just 1-3 ATS in those games. Those four road/neutral court games weren't against elite teams either, as they faced Middle Tennessee STate, Loyola Marymount, Indiana State and San Francisco. The Rebels won one of those games by seven points and all three of the others were decided by three or less. The Warriors are 5-3 at home, outscoring opponents by a 72 to 64.9 margin. The Warriors may not be that experienced but they are talented and have a legit star in Vander Joaquim, one of five players averaging better than nine points per game. Joaquim averages 14.3 ppg and 7.3 rbg and that's not even the best on the team in either category. That honor belongs to Standhardinger, who is averaging an impressive 16.1 and 8.1 The Warriors are 3-0 ATS the last three times that they were listed as home underdogs in the 6.5 to 9 range. In a game that comes down to the wire, don't be surprised if Hawaii pulls off the upset. *9 Annihilator
|12-25-12||New York Knicks v. Los Angeles Lakers -3.5||Top||94-100||Win||100||7 h 45 m||Show|
I'm playing on LA. The Knicks come in with the much better record and they've already defeated the Lakers once this season. However, I believe that the Lakers are favored for good reason.
True, the Knicks won by nine at MSG. However, in addition to playing on the road, the Lakers were without Pau Gasol AND Steve Nash in that game. They also weren't playing well at the time.
Things are much different. Now playing at home, the Lakers are playing their best basketball of the season. They'll have both Gasol and Nash this time. Off a comeback victory against a Golden State, a team which had been playing well, the Lakers have now won four straight.
Nash's return went about as well as could be hoped. Nash helped key the comeback while scoring a dozen points and adding nine assists.
Coach D'Antoni said this of Nash: "The guy is a winner. I think that we're a completely different team with him out there. The floor opens up and it changes everything."
Of course, D'Antoni should be extremely motivated to win here. The last thing he wants to have happen is to let his former team sweep the season series against his new team, particularly not in front on the national audience.
The Knicks, 1-6 in Christmas Day road games, have been dominated by the Lakers here at LA. In fact, the Lakers have won five straight against the Knicks here, winning those games by an average of greater than a dozen points.
The Lakers are 6-1 SU the seven times that they played a home game with an O/U line of 210 or greater, going 72-20 SU their last 92 in that situation. I expect them to improve on those stats this afternoon, covering the small number along the way. *10 Personal Favorite
|12-24-12||SMU +12.5 v. Fresno State||Top||43-10||Win||100||22 h 38 m||Show|
I'm playing on SMU. The Bulldogs have certainly had an impressive season under first year coach Tim DeRuyter. After going 4-9 under Pat Hill in the WA455616AC last season, the Bulldogs replaced Hill, jumped over to the Mountain West and promptly proceeded to go 9-3, including a 7-1 mark in conference play. While the Bulldogs would surely love to cap things off with a bowl win, its already been a very successful season.
The Mustangs should be very happy to be here, as they began the season with a 2-4 record and didn't become bowl eligible until their final game, a 35-27 victory over C-USA champion Tulsa.
Coincidentally, the Bulldogs also faced Tulsa, losing 27-26 back in September.
Fresno State did blow out a lot of teams. However, their only victories against decent teams came against San Diego State, Nevada and Air Force.
While the Bulldogs are fairly tough against the pass, they were only 75th in the country against the run, which plays into the strength of the Mustangs.
Senior tailback Zach Line ran for more than 1200 yards this year, becoming the fourth player in C-USA history to record three straight seasons with more than 1000 rushing yards. Meanwhile, QB Gilbert ran for 111 yards in the regular season finale and has seven rushing scores on the season.
Of course, SMU coach June Jones has a personal connection to Hawaii, having coached here for nine years. He was quoted as saying this of the Hawaii Bowl: "Having been affiliated with this bowl since its inception, I know that it is one of the best bowl experiences in college football. I'm very excited for our players, staff and fans. This is a special experience."
You may recall that Jones' Mustangs beat Nevada by a score of 45-10 here in the 2009 Hawaii Bowl, a game they were listed as double-digit underdogs for. Don't be surprised if they step up and score another upset. *10
|12-23-12||Dallas Mavericks v. San Antonio Spurs -11||Top||91-129||Win||100||4 h 46 m||Show|
I'm playing on SAN ANTONIO. While they've stumbled a bit recently, the Spurs have had a great start to the season. I recently played against them when they lost at Oklahoma City. However, I believe tonight's game sets up well for a blowout victory.
The Mavericks are 4-11 on the road and have lost five of six overall. The Spurs are 9-2 at home.
The Spurs are outscoring teams by 10 points per game here. The Mavs are being outscored by nearly eight on the road.
The Spurs have taken care of business vs. the league's weaker teams, going 11-1 SU and 9-3 ATS.
The Spurs are healthy. The Mavs are not. In addition to Dirk being out, Derek Fischer hasn't been playing while Collison and Brand are both banged-up.
The Spurs have dominated the Mavs here and they've also won 21 straight home games in the month of December. With a few days off after this and nothing to "save themselves for," I expect the Spurs to continue that streak in convincing fashion here. *9 Personal Favorite
|12-23-12||Washington Redskins v. Philadelphia Eagles +7||Top||27-20||Push||0||6 h 32 m||Show|
I'm playing on PHILADELPHIA. I really like how this one sets up for the home team.
Obviously, the Eagles have had a very disappointing season. Nobody is certain what next season will bring but change is inevitable.
Playing their home finale, this game offers one last chance for this current group of players and coaches to earn the home fans a victory. Reid, who has been through an awful lot this season, has taken this team to the playoffs nine times since becoming coach in 1999. I expect his players to fight their hardest for him.
All the talk will be out Robert Griffin III, who is expected to return. He may not be quite 100% though. Either way, I don't expect him to find the going easy here. (Same goes for Cousins, should he happen to play.)
The Eagles are playing with revenge from an earlier blowout loss at Washington. They've been playing better since that time with two covers in their last three games. Prior to the loss at Washington, they'd beaten the Skins three straight times.
The Redskins did win big at Cleveland last week, even without Griffin. And, as noted, they did beat up on the Eagles last month. However, prior to last week's win, their previous three victories had come by just 11 combined points, none by greater than a touchdown.
The Eagles are playing with some extra preparation time, as their last game came on a Thursday. They're 55-33-3 ATS the last 91 times that they attempted to avenge an earlier loss. I expect them to step up and close out the current era (at Philadelphia) with at least a cover. *10 Best Bet
|12-23-12||Cincinnati Bengals v. Pittsburgh Steelers -3||Top||13-10||Loss||-115||4 h 25 m||Show|
I'm playing on PITTSBURGH. This is a huge game for both teams. While they've struggled lately and are off a heart-breaking loss, the Steelers are still a team that knows how to win and which has been involved in many of these must win games in the past. They've also dominated the Bengals for years and that should give them confidence here. I feel that the current line is providing excellent value.
Yes, the Bengals have played well of late. Yes, they desperately want to win this game. At the end of the day, the Steelers are still 18-6 here the past few seasons, including a 35-7 blowout of these same Bengals the last meeting here.
The Bengals are 4-10-2 ATS their last 16 in the division going an awful 56-86-3 ATS their last 145. The Steelers are 10-6-1 ATS their last 17 division games and 82-62-6 their last 150.
I respect Dalton, Marvin Lewis and the Bengals. However, I still respect Rothlisberger, Tomlin and the Steelers more. Until proven otherwise on the field, the Steelers still own this team. The only other time that the Steelers had lost two straight this season, they stepped up and won outright at Baltimore. With everything on the line, I expect them to step up and get it done again. *10 Personal Favorite
|12-22-12||Weber State v. Portland State +7.5||Top||73-69||Win||100||13 h 30 m||Show|
I'm playing on PORTLAND STATE. I won with the Vikings against Oregon State a little over a week ago. Getting double-digits at the betting window, they lost by only five. I feel that they're offering very fair value once again.
Here's an excerpt of that 12/12 writeup on Portland State: "I've successfully played against teams from the Big Sky Conference more than once already this season. However, I believe that this will be a good spot to back a Big Sky team.
|12-22-12||Atlanta Falcons v. Detroit Lions +4.5||Top||31-18||Loss||-110||35 h 17 m||Show|
I'm playing on DETROIT. Most people will assume that Atlanta has more to play for here and therefore they'll assume that the Falcons will also be the more motivated team.
True, the Falcons are trying to wrap up home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs while also building momentum for more important games. True, the Lions are playing out the string.
That doesn't tell the entire story though.
The Falcons will still control their own destiny, in terms of home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, even if they lose there.
Meanwhile, Detroit has another chance to show the national audience than its better than indicated by its record.
I believe that the Lions are indeed better than their record indicates. I also believe that they'll be highly motivated by the chance to beat this year's best NFC team, particularly after getting embarrassed last week.
QB Stafford noted: "People are competitive, people have pride. People have confidence in themselves. I think that's what helps people bounce back from stuff like this.''
The Falcons showed that they can dominate when fully focused last week. However, keep in mind that they were dominated by Carolina the previous week. Off the big "revenge" win vs. the defending SB champions and with their regular season home finale on deck - and against a division rival - I could easily see the Falcons experiencing a bit of a letdown here.
The Lions are 4-2 ATS the last six times that they were home underdogs in the 3.5 to 7 range. I expect them to bounce back with AT LEAST a cover on Saturday. *10
|12-22-12||Washington +6 v. Boise State||Top||26-28||Win||100||7 h 4 m||Show|
I'm playing on WASHINGTON. I successfully played against the Broncos in their last game. The won but failed to cover vs. Nevada. I expect them to have an even tougher time this afternoon.
I successfully played against the Huskies in their regular season finale. Laying double-digits, they lost outright vs. rival Washington State in the Apple Cup.
That doesn't mean that I don't respect the Huskies, nor does it mean that they haven't had an excellent season. I do believe that it should provide them with some added motivation here though. A win here and that loss can be swept under the rug. However, a loss here and everyone will remember the Huskies team that lost the Apple Cup and then couldn't get it done in a bowl.
The Broncos are always well-coached. However, it still may be hard for them to get up for a lesser bowl game, as this program has become accustomed to striving for bigger games and this will now be their third straight season in the Las Vegas Bowl.
The Huskies played the much tougher schedule and have wins over the likes of San Diego State, Stanford, Oregon State and Cal.
This isn't the same dominant Boise team of years gone by. They lost vs. San Diego State and lost at Michigan State. They beat BYU by a single point and New Mexico by only three. Victories over Fresno State and Nevada were by 10 and six points. Those were arguably their tow most impressive victories, too.
The Huskies have played very well when given some extra rest in between games. They're 3-0 ATS the last three times that they were listed as underdogs, winning all three outright. I look for them to step up and earn AT LEAST another cover here. *10 Best Bet
|12-20-12||BYU v. San Diego State +3.5||Top||23-6||Loss||-110||49 h 13 m||Show|
I'm playing on SAN DIEGO STATE. One of my first wins this college season was with BYU, as I backed the Cougars in their 30-6 win over Washington State way back in August. I also won with the Cougars in their 47-0 blowout of Hawaii. However, I also played against the Cougars when they lost against Utah while successfully playing on their game against Boise (7-6 final) to finish below the total. I feel that the Couars are going to be in tough here.
The Cougars really didn't beat many good teams. Their victory at Georgia Tech was arguably their most impressive accomplishment.
The Aztecs, who are playing in their home stadium. won at Boise and at Nevada. In fact, they've won seven straight overall, covering six of those.
Neither team likes each other - but the "hate" on the Aztecs side of the ball is arguably even greater.
You may recall that BYU bolted the Mountain West in 2010. Some of you may also remember that in the teams' final conference game at BYU in 2010, a botched replay review in BYU's favor helped the Cougars win 24-21. Later, it was revealed that the replay official was actually a BYU employee. Needless to say, the Aztecs would love to get some payback against a team that dominated them over the years.
I won with the Aztecs here two years ago (35-14 over Navy) and think the advantage of playing at home will prove to be significant once again.
Coach Rocky Long said. "When we got to the point that we were bowl eligible, we were hoping we were going to get to stay here at home for a lot of reasons. We wanted to stay home and play in front of and give our fans a chance to see us in a bowl game."
While the Cougars are 3-6 ATS the last nine times that they were laying points, the Aztecs are 8-4 ATS the last 12 times that they were listed as underdogs, four of those resulting in outright wins.
Out of respect for BYU's defense and the possibility of a game that comes down to the wire, I'll grab the points. However, I'm expecting another outright win for what I feel will be a highly motivated Aztec squad. *10
|12-20-12||Oklahoma City Thunder v. Minnesota Timberwolves +4||Top||93-99||Win||100||8 h 15 m||Show|
I'm playing on MINNESOTA. I like how this one sets up for the home team. The T-Wolves had last night off while the Thunder played a fairly hard fought game at Atlanta.
Granted, the athletic Thunder aren't usually too bothered by playing the second of back to games. However, on an extended winning streak and playing the final game before Christmas, I feel that they could get potentially caught looking ahead to the break a little here.
While they're off back to back road losses, the T-Wolves have been playing very well here at Minnesota. In fact, they're a perfect 3-0 SU/ATS here this month.
For the season, the T-Wolves are 7-3 SU and 6-4 ATS here. They allow just 91.4 points per game on this floor, while scoring 96.5 themselves.
It should be noted that the T-Wolves fought hard against the Heat and that losing (103-92) on the road against the defending champs is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, they outrebounded the Heat by 28 in that game.
Coach Rick Adelman noted: "I like the way our guys battled. We just have to respond.''
Adelman has been been excellent at getting his team to "respond" from a double-digit loss, as the T-Wolves are already a perfect 3-0 SU/ATS in that situation this season.
Off a double-digit loss at Toronto on 11/4, the T-Wolves won by double-digits (as 7.5 point underdogs) at Brooklyn the next night. Off a double-digit loss at Golden State, they won outright at Sacramento in their next game. Most recently, off a 10-point loss at Boston, the T-Wolves returned home and won by 18.
The T-Wolves have covered three straight home meetings in this series and five of the last six. I expect AT LEAST another cover here. *10 Best Bet
|12-19-12||Northern Illinois v. Seattle -4||Top||48-75||Win||100||10 h 3 m||Show|
I'm playing on SEATTLE. A member of the WAC for the first time, the Redbirds are playing with a chip on its shoulder. They want to show that they belong. They've mostly taken care of teams that they should be beating but have struggled against top tier teams. After getting outclassed by the Washington Huskies, the Redbirds had a bit of a letdown in losing vs. Jackson State in their next game. I expect them to be fully focused tonight as these Huskies aren't nearly as good as the ones they hosted last week. Indeed, Northern Illinois has lost 20 or more games in six straight seasons. This year's team may be a little better than last year's but the Huskies are still young and another 20+ loss season is looming large. They've only got two wins this season and those came against Judson College and SIU Edwardsville. Give the Huskies credit for covering the spread in each of their last three losses. However, keep in mind that those losses still all came by five or more points and by an average of nearly a dozen. This young team is now playing its third straight on the road, while playing thousands of miles from home. The Redbirds beat the Huskies by a dozen points last season and that was at NIU. Playing on their home floor and upset by their last performance, I expect an inspired Seattle team to take care of business once again. *10 Personal Favorite
|12-18-12||Cal Santa Barbara v. California -13.5||Top||59-68||Loss||-110||15 h 49 m||Show|
I'm playing on CALIFORNIA. The Bears should have advantages all over the floor here. They should also be in a foul mood after having lost three in a row.
While those losses have helped in keeping this number down a little, lets keep in mind that they came against the likes of Wisconsin, UNLV and Creighton, three very good teams.
Obviously, UC-Santa Barbara is a major step down in class.
The Gauchos lost three starters from last year's team, including all-conference stars Orlando Johnson and James Nunnally.
Prior to the season, Gauchos' coach Williams had this to say: "...boy, we
|12-18-12||Toronto Raptors v. Cleveland Cavaliers -4.5||Top||113-99||Loss||-105||13 h 39 m||Show|
I'm playing on CLEVELAND. The Raptors have earned a couple of wins recently and have actually covered the spread in three straight. Outworking teams can do that.
Its important not to confuse hard work with talent though. This is still a lower tier team that is missing arguably its two most talented players.
A closer look at the recent Toronto wins shows that they were both at the Air Canada Centre. They were also both against teams that were in difficult scheduling situations.
I played on the Raptors in the first win, partly as they were catching the Mavericks in a difficult situation. In hindsight, I probably should have also taken them in Sunday's win over Houston, given that Jeremy Lin and co. were playing at MSG the following night.
Either way, the Raptors aren't at home any longer. They're 1-14 on the road, getting outscored by an average of 104.2 to 92.6.
This time, I don't expect the Raptors, 11-18-2 ATS (7-24 SU) the last 31 times they were off an "upset win," to outwork and/or be more focused than their opponent.
This time, the Raptors will be facing a Cleveland team which is desperate to snap a losing skid and knows that, on paper, this is their most winnable game the rest of 2012. (A look at their schedule tells me that they won't be favored by this much again anytime in December.)
The Cavs, who now have their star (Irving) back, lost their last game here. However, they beat the Lakers by six here in their previous home game. So, this is a team capable of defending its home floor.
They're 1-0 ATS as home favorites in the 3.5 to 6 range this season (10 point win vs. Wizards) and I look for them to improve on those stats tonight. *9 Personal Favorite
|12-17-12||San Antonio Spurs v. Oklahoma City Thunder -4.5||Top||93-107||Win||100||14 h 37 m||Show|
I'm playing on OKLAHOMA CITY. The Spurs eked out a 2-point win when these teams met at San Antonio last month. With tonight's rematch being played at OKC, I expect the revenge-minded Thunder to return the favor.
While they haven't covered their last couple of games, the Thunder are still on a serious roll. In fact, they've won 10 straight and have vaulted to the top of the overall standings.
The Thunder haven't lost yet this entire month and they're averaging 109.6 points while shooting better than 50& during their current winning streak.
I feel that the Spurs, who are without Jackson and who may be without Manu Ginobili, will have some trouble keeping up. Even if he does play, Ginobili may be at less than 100%. Meanwhile, Duncan is off a game in which he scored just five points, while making just two of 13 shots.
The Thunder are typically at their best when attempting to avenge an earlier loss, going 44-26 ATS (47-23 SU) the last 70 times that they were in that situation, including 5-2 SU/ATS the last seven.
The Thunder are also a lucrative 12-7 ATS (13-6 SU) the last 19 times that they were listed as home favorites in the 3.5 to 6 range. They're 4-1 SU/ATS their last five home games against the Spurs, including 3-0 SU/ATS the last three. I expect them to keep on rolling for another day. *9 Personal Favorite
|12-17-12||Detroit +19 v. Syracuse||Top||68-72||Win||100||13 h 35 m||Show|
I'm playing on DETROIT. The Orange have been great against the spread this season. Their ATS winning streak appeared to be in jeopardy last time out, as they were only up by three points vs. lowly Canisius at halftime. To their credit, the Orange dominated in the second half. Still, the cover was only secured by a 3-pointer in the closing seconds. They're laying nearly as many points here and they're facing a much better opponent. I feel all the recent covers have caused the line to become a little too inflated.
Off a comeback win over Akron, Detroit comes in with some positive momentum. The Titans were behind much of the way that game, including 10-0 out of the gate. I like the way the Titans never quit and how they closed the game on a 17-5 run. While the Titans obviously know that winning here won't be easy, I believe that Saturday's victory will give them some much-needed confidence here.
Keep in mind that the Titans returned three starters from a team that went to the Big Dance last year. Led by Coach McCallum's son, a talented players averaging nearly 20 points in a game, the Titans have quietly won four straight. They're 3-0 ATS the last three times that they were road underdogs of greater than a dozen points and I look for them to step up and earn the cover this evening. *10 Main Event
|12-16-12||San Francisco 49ers +6 v. New England Patriots||Top||41-34||Win||100||56 h 40 m||Show|
I'm playing on SAN FRANCISCO. I lost playing against the Patriots last week. While they admittedly looked very good, while also making me look pretty bad, I'm still willing to go against them here.
After last week's blowout victory over Houston, the line is higher than it otherwise would have been. I feel that's providing us with excellent value.
Brady seems to be able to throw to just about anyone. However, injuries to targets Gronkowski, Edelman and Stallworth figure to catch up with the Pats against this defense.
While the Texans defense was exposed by the Pats' high-powered offense, this SF defense allows the fewest points in the entire league, at just 14.2 per game.
Kaepernick is obviously not in Brady's class yet (and may never be) as Brady has been getting it done for a decade while Kaepernick has only made four starts. Still, the fact that Kaepernick has completed better than 67% of his passes can't be ignored. He's gaining more than eight yards per attempt, too. Nor can his ability to beat teams with his feet.
Despite the limited number of games, he's already third among NFL quarterbacks with 351 rushing yards. He's averaging a whopping 7.6 per carry and already has five rushing touchdowns.
While the Pats are 5-6-1 ATS their last 12 non-conference games, the 49'ers are 8-3 SU/ATS their last 11 against AFC teams.
The 49'ers are also 7-4-1 ATS as underdogs the past 2+ seasons, including a perfect 3-0 ATS as road underdogs in the 3.5 to 7 range. I believe that their physical rushing attack and powerful defense matches up well against the Pats and I won't be surprised to see them score the outright win. *10 Main Event
|12-16-12||Seattle Seahawks v. Buffalo Bills +6||Top||50-17||Loss||-110||52 h 2 m||Show|
I'm playing on BUFFALO. The Seahawks figure to be a popular pick here. After all, they're off a 58-0 victory last week. Plus, they're battling for the playoffs while the Bills are most likely "playing out the string."
I don't expect the Bills to just roll over though. In fact, while the playoffs aren't really going to happen, this team is still mathematically alive and I believe that they're offering plenty of value.
Its true that the Bills would have preferred to play this game at Buffalo, instead of Toronto. However, I still feel the venue will provide them with an advantage.
Keep in mind that the Seahawks are thousands of miles away from home. Playing away from home doesn't bother some teams. However, its something that the Seahawks haven't really figured out yet. They've won only two of seven games away from Seattle. Note that both of those victories came by less than a touchdown, too.
The Seahawks, who are dealing with several banged-up players, are an awful 21-42 the last 63 times that they were off a divisional victory, going 3-4 ATS (2-5 SU) their last seven in that situation.
Perhaps worse than the potential letdown from the Arizona win is the potential for a "look-ahead" to next week's critical home game vs. San Francisco.
While they're only 3-5 their last eight games, four of the Bills' last five losses have come by less than a touchdown. I look for them to step up and earn at least a cover. *10 Best Bet
|12-16-12||Minnesota Vikings v. St. Louis Rams -1||Top||36-22||Loss||-132||49 h 5 m||Show|
I'm playing on ST. LOUIS. Don't tell these teams that they've got nothing to play for. Both the Vikings and Rams kept their hopes alive by winning last week. Both are still on the outside looking in. Both need another win. With the game being played at St. Louis, I feel that the Rams will have the advantage.
The Vikings are 6-1 at home but only 1-5 (SU and ATS) on the road. They've won just five of 22 road games the past few seasons. The Rams are 2-3-1 on the road, 2-4-1 if you count the game at London. They're 4-2 in games here at St. Louis though.
With a healthy Adrian Peterson in the backfield, the Vikings are obviously a very good running team. However, the Rams have been extremely stout against the run of late.
Last week, they limited Buffalo's C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson to a combined 51 yards on 16 carries. The Bills were fourth in the league in rushing coming into that game.
The previous week, the Rams limited Frank Gore to only 58 yards. A closer look reveals that Gore had 23 yards on one play and only 35 yards on his other 22 carries combined.
Jeff Fisher said this of his team's run defense: "Everybody's been contributing from the back end to defensive tackle Michael Brockers is improving, Kendall's Langford playing good, the ends are playing solid, the linebackers are flowing."
Fisher went on to say that he's not talking to his team about the playoffs: "We have the Vikings coming into this week. That's our focus ... Right now, none of that matters unless we win this game. We have to find a way ..."
The Rams are 7-2 ATS when playing a game with an O/U line in the 35.5 to 42 range, going 15-9 ATS their last 24 in that situation. On the other hand, during that time, the Vikings were just 2-10 ATS when playing a game where the line ranged from 35.5 to 42.
The Rams are also 4-0 SU/ATS the last four times that they played a game with a line ranging from -3 to +3. I look for Fisher's team to "find a way," covering the small number along the way. *10 Personal Favorite
|12-16-12||NY Giants v. Atlanta Falcons||Top||0-34||Win||100||8 h 11 m||Show|
I'm playing on ATLANTA. For a team with an 11-2 overall record, including a perfect 6-0 mark at home, the Falcons sure aren't getting much respect here. I feel that lack of respect is providing us with excellent value.
One could easily make a case for the Giants needing this game more. From a playoff perspective, I'll admit that is in fact true. The Falcons, already division champs, have the best record in the entire NFC and that will remain the case, even if they lose this game. Meanwhile, the Giants have both the Cowboys and Redskins breathing down their necks in the race for the NFC East title.
That said, I expect the Falcons to be every bit as motivated as the defending champions. Indeed, this is a game that Atlanta has had circled since the schedule came out. You may recall that the Giants beat up on the Falcons (24-2) in last year's playoffs, en route to winning the Super Bowl.
I believe that this is a much improved Atlanta team from the one which the Giants defeated last season. I'm not sure that the same can be said of New York though.
While they do have a promising rookie in David Wilson, who is coming off a big game, its still worth noting that the Giants will be without Ahmad Bradshaw, their leading rusher and also his backup, (Andre Brown ) who is out for the season.
Tom Coughlin noted this about the Falcons being a different team from last season: "They have two new coordinators in defensive coordinator Mike Nolan and offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter. They do bring their own personality and style to the way that they're playing, so there is a difference."
As if last year's playoff loss wasn't motivation enough, the Falcons were embarrassed by Carolina last week and have had to listen to all the talk about them being a fraud all week.
Note that Falcons, who are 19-4 SU their last 23 at home, are a perfect 5-0 SU the last five times that they were off a loss vs. a divisional opponent. I expect the revenge-minded Falcons to step up and improve on those stats, making a statement and covering the very small number along the way. *10 "Revenge" GOW
|12-15-12||Tennessee Tech v. Wisc-Milwaukee +1||Top||69-58||Loss||-110||11 h 42 m||Show|
I'm playing on WISCONSIN-MILWAUKEE. This isn't exactly Saturday's "sexiest" matchup. However, as far as I'm concerned, winning a "boring" matchup is more important than losing an "exciting" one. In this case, with the pointspread essentially a non-factor, I feel we're getting excellent value with the home team.
At 5-4, Tennessee Tech comes in with the better record. Wisconsin-Milwaukee is only 3-8. A closer look reveals that the Panthers are 3-1 at home though while the Golden Eagles are only 1-3 on the road.
While the Golden Eagles are being outscored 71-62 on the road, the Panthers are outscoring teams by a 70.2 to 64.7 margin at home.
Last game, Tennessee Tech lost by 20 at Gardner Webb. In their previous road game, the Golden Eagles lost by 16 at Lipscomb. This is a team which has padded its record with wins over the likes of Crowley's Ridge, Coastal Carolina and Berea.
Keep in mind that the Panthers returned three starters from a team that won 20 games last season. Last year's team dealt with numerous injuries too. This year's team is healthy, thus far.
Meanwhile, the Golden Eagles are also without DeOndre Haynes. (Coach Payne said this of Haynes: "...He
|12-15-12||Nevada +10 v. Arizona||Top||48-49||Win||100||48 h 9 m||Show|
I'm playing on NEVADA. These two teams have some similarities. Both can score plenty of points and both also have a tendency to give up quite a few. Not surprisingly, we're seeing an O/U line in the mid-high 70s. I feel that the value lies with the underdog though, not the total.
The Wolfpack are 6-3-1 ATS the last 10 times that they were listed as underdogs, including a 1-0 ATS mark as underdogs in the 3.5 to 10 range.
The Wildcats, on the other hand, have long been terrible when laying points. They're 41-71 ATS the last 100+ times that they were favored, including an awful 14-30 ATS mark when favored in the 3.5 to 10 range. that included a 3-6-1 ATS mark their last 10 in that role. Overall, the Cats were only 2-4 ATS as favorites this season.
While the Wolfpack do give up a high 32.5 points per game, the Wildcats give up 34.3. That number climbs all the way to 48.2 (and 543 ypg!) when the Cats play on the road. On the other hand, Nevada allowed fewer points (29.7 and 395.7 ypg) when playing away from Reno.
In fact, the Wolfpack were on the best on the road, winning five of six, the lone loss coming when they were playing on a short week, at Air Force.
While I won with the Wolfpack in last year's bowl, I like that this game comes earlier and feel that gives Nevada and its unique offense an edge.
If this bowl came in another week or two, Arizona would have had more chance to prepare for the Wolfpack's pistol offense. However, with this being the very first bowl game, that amount of preparation time is lessened.
As Nevada offensive tackle Jeff Nady noted: "The Pistol offense is a unique offense and the less time a team has to prepare for us, I think it gives us a slight edge. I do think this gives us a slight advantage based on the way our offense works."
Of course, motivation is always important to assess in these early bowl games. In this case, I expect the Wolfpack to be very hungry. This team has a strong senior class and they weren't happy with the way they closed out the regular season. They also aren't happy with their recent bowl record and this provides an excellent opportunity to improve in that area.
While I do believe the Wildcats will also want to win this game, I feel that there may be a little more disappointment with being here. Had they taken care of business against ASU in their regular season finale, they may been playing in the Sun Bowl instead. While it won't effect the players, its interesting to note that even some of the Arizona faithful may not be 100% focused on the game - as the Wildcats basketball team happens to host Florida later on Saturday, their biggest non-conf game.
Including their cover in the Hawaii Bowl last season, a game I attended, the Wolfpack are 4-0 ATS their last four games played in the month of December. I expect at least another cover on Saturday. *9
|12-15-12||Elon v. Massachusetts -7.5||Top||73-78||Loss||-110||4 h 23 m||Show|
I'm playing on MASSACHUSETTS. Elon comes in with the better record. In fact, at 6-3, the Phoenix currently have he best overall record in the Southern Conference. While the Phoenix are indeed an improved team from recent years, I expect them to have their hands full against what I expect will be a highly motivated Massachusetts squad.
True, the Minutemen have a pretty ugly ATS mark, at the moment. They're still 4-3 SU though and the three losses came vs. NC State, Tennessee and Miami, far more talented teams than they one that they'll face here.
When matched up against lesser foes, Harvard, Providence, Siena and Northeastern, the Minutemen have gone a perfect 4-0 SU. They finally broke through with a cover last time out, too - a 72-66 victory at Northeastern, when listed as 3.5 point favorites.
Note that this game is technically being called a "neutral" court game, as its being played at Springfield, rather than Amherst. That's only a distance of about 30 miles though. So, its not exactly going to be a "neutral" environment.
These teams also faced each other last season. The Minutemen hammered them by an 87-65 score, covering as 9.5 point favorites. I believe that they're still the superior team and I expect them to demonstrate that with another convincing win and cover. *10 Annihilator
|12-14-12||Charlotte U v. Miami (Fla) -7.5||Top||46-77||Win||100||10 h 4 m||Show|
I'm playing on MIAMI. Last night, we went against undefeated Wichita State. Playing at home, the Vols would pull away for a 9-point victory. Tonight, I expect it to be the Charlotte 49'ers which suffer their first loss of the season.
With a 9-0 record, the 49'ers are clearly doing something right. Clearly, this is Alan Major's best team, in this his third season as Charlotte's coach. That's not saying all that much, however, when considering that the 49'ers were only 23-37 in his first two years.
Also, I believe that the 9-0 record needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Not only have the opponents been largely inferior but the 49'ers have only played one true road game. I expect that record to begin to come back to earth, starting tonight.
The Hurricanes aren't ranked at the moment but I believe that they have the talent of a Top 25 team. Keep in mind that this team returned four starters from a squad that won 20 games last season, highlighted by a number of memorable victories, including one at Duke.
Among Miami's victories last season was a 15-point win at Charlotte. Now, an (arguably) improved Canes team get to host the 49'ers.
Last time out, the Hurricanes went on the road and beat up on Massachusetts, another A-10 team, one which I feel is superior to the one that they'll face tonight. (Massachusetts returned four starters from a team that had 25 wins last season.)
Now, the Canes return home where they recently beat Michigan State and Detroit. Those victories came by eight and 15 points, respectively.
While the 49'ers are 2-4 ATS (1-5 SU) the past couple of seasons as road underdogs in the 6.5 to 9 range, the Canes are 2-1 ATS (3-0 SU) when listed as home favorites in the 6.5 to 9 range. I feel that this number could easily be higher and I expect the Canes, who beat Charlotte in all phases of the game last season, to improve on those stats this evening. *9 Personal Favorite
|12-13-12||Cincinnati Bengals v. Philadelphia Eagles +5||Top||34-13||Loss||-110||30 h 21 m||Show|
I'm playing on PHILADELPHIA. I knew I liked the Eagles in this spot. However, I also expected the line to climb above its opening number of three and therefore waited a bit before releasing it. It has now done so. As far as I'm concerned, given the situation, anything better than a field goal is very generous.
I respect the Bengals and I won with them when they beat the Giants. However, I don't feel that they are a team which should be laying more than a field goal on the road here. Not when they're off a heart-breaker and playing a road game, on a short week. Not when they're facing a Philadelphia team which finally enters a game with some much-needed momentum.
After covering the previous week, the Eagles got the monkey off their back with an outright win last week. That was on the road against a Tampa team that was fighting for the playoffs. That victory should appease the home faithful a little while also giving them some much needed confidence.
Now, the Eagles get a chance to do some more "spoiling" while getting to show the nationally televised audience that they aren't a bad as the recent skid made them seem. I expect a highly motivated effort.
Nick Foles, who threw for nearly 400 yards in leading the Eagles to last week's win noted: "It's a great feeling for the team. I think the big thing is, it's a great thing for the team sticking together. We can build off of this.''
As for the Bengals, let's keep in mind, that besides that win over the Giants that they've mostly struggled against top tier competition. They beat Washington. That was early in the season before the Skins had really started to come into their own though. Their other victories came against Cleveland, a team which also defeated them in the rematch, Jacksonville, Miami, KC, Oakland and San Diego. None of those are playoff teams. In fact, those five teams are a combined 15-48.
Obviously, the Eagles haven't been a top tier team this season. However, my point is that the Bengals, 0-6 the last six times that they played a road game when the O/U line ranged from 42.5 to 45, aren't exactly an "elite" team themselves.
Already 2-0 ATS this month, the Eagles are now 14-6 ATS (16-4 SU) their last 20 games played in the month of December, 7-3 SU/ATS the past few seasons.
While this month's ATS victories have come on the road, the Eagles have also won seven of their last eight December home games. I expect them to give their guests all they can handle with an excellent shot at another outright win. *10 Roast
Bonus First Half Play: Eagles.
Keep in mind that this line opened with the Bengals laying a field goal for the entire game. Now, we're able to get that many (or more) points for the first half. I believe that's providing us with excellent value. Note that the Bengals were up by three at halftime last week, after being down by three at the break the previous week.
The Eagles were winning 10-0 at halftime last week and they were up 17-10 the previous week. The week before that, they were winning 15-14 at half. Grab the points. *10
|12-13-12||Wichita State v. Tennessee||Top||60-69||Win||100||11 h 59 m||Show|
I'm playing on TENNESSEE. Wichita State comes in with the much better record and also the higher ranking. Don't be "shocked" when the Volunteers hand their guests their first loss though.
True, the Shockers are off to an impressive 9-0 start. However, the toughest teams that Wichita State has faced are Virginia Commonwealth, Depaul and Iowa.
On the other hand, the Vols are off tough road games at Virginia and Georgetown while also having faced respectable teams like Oklahoma State and Massachusetts, a team arguably better than its current 4-3 record indicates.
While they deserve credit for their undefeated record, keep in mind that these are not the same Shockers that won the 2011 NIT Title or the 2012 Missouri Valley Conference title. While they still have excellent athletes, this is a team that has had nine scholarship seniors graduate in the past two seasons alone. Note that the Shockers are also expected to be without shooting guard Evan Wessel in this game.
The Vols have had plenty of time to get over their disappointing road defeats, having last played on 12/5. Note that Tennessee is 21-5 the past 26 times that it played with seven or more day's rest, including 2-0 SU/ATS the past couple of seasons.
While the Shockers are 10-17 ATS (8-19 SU) the last 27 times that they were listed as road underdogs or three or fewer points, or at pick'em, the Vols are 10-4 ATS the last 14 times that they were listed as home favorites or three or fewer points, or at pick'em.
The Vols have only played two games on this floor and they won both with relative ease. Most recently, on 11/26, they crushed Oakland by a score of 77-50. (Regulars may recall that we backed the Vols in that game.)
I expect homecourt to be the difference as the Shockers inexperience and personnel changes finally catch up with them. *9 annihilator
|12-12-12||Oregon State v. Portland State +11.5||Top||79-74||Win||100||15 h 15 m||Show|
I'm playing on PORTLAND STATE. I've successfully played against teams from the Big Sky Conference more than once already this season. However, I believe that this will be a good spot to back a Big Sky team.
I expect the Vikings to be the "hungrier" team here. They'll be playing an instate rival, one that hails from a much bigger conference. They'll also be playing in front of a packed house, as tickets for the game are reportedly already sold out.
While they tend to play some pretty weak competition, note that the Vikings are 15-5 SU and 10-5 ATS their last 20 games here. NONE of the five losses came by greater than seven points.
The Beavers are certainly better on paper. However, injuries to Gomis and Brandt have narrowed the gap a little. Asking them to cover double-digits on the road is asking a lot. Keep in mind that the Beavers are 3-17 SU (6-13-1 ATS) their last 20 road lined games.
The Vikings, who already covered as large underdogs at Oregon, have only played one home game all season, a double-digit winner. They were blown out out at Oregon State last season. However, the previous three meetings (all some time ago) between these teams were ALL decided by five or fewer points. I have a feeling the Vikings give their guests a real scare here. *10
|12-12-12||Los Angeles Clippers v. Charlotte Bobcats +8.5||Top||100-94||Win||100||11 h 10 m||Show|
I'm playing on CHARLOTTE. The Clippers are on an extended winning streak and they beat me last night. That won't stop me from going against them here though.
Last night's victory was hard-fought, the Clippers had to battle the entire way to pull out the win.
Note that the Clippers are only 2-2 SU/ATS when playing the second of back to back games. Going back to last March, they're only 7-10 ATS and 6-11 SU when playing in that situation.
This is worse than just a regular back to back spot though. The Clippers are also playing their fourth game in the last five days. Throw in a trip from the West Coast mixed in the middle of that and its been a very busy stretch for them.
True, the Bobcats have been struggling, most recently losing by eight vs. Golden State. I liked the fight that they showed against the Warriors last game though, battling back from an early deficit instead of giving up.
After that loss Kemba Walker, who finished with 17 second half points, noted: "We've got to play that way from the start. That's it. We waited too long to play that way. I take full responsibility. I've got to set the tone early and I didn't do that.''
I expect Walker and co. to come out ready to play from the opening tip tonight.
Note that Michael Jordan joined Tuesday's practice, working with players and playing one-on-one vs. Kidd-Gilchrist. That could easily provide a spark and some inspiration.
The Bobcats are on the road tomorrow, before coming back home to face Orlando on 12/15. After that, its an extended trip out West. In other words, with the exception of that game against the Magic, "winnable" games aren't likely going to come around too often in the near future. With the schedule in their favor, I believe that this is indeed a winnable game. I expect the Bobcats to go all out and look for that to result in at least a cover. *10 best bet
|12-11-12||Los Angeles Clippers v. Chicago Bulls +3.5||Top||94-89||Loss||-105||14 h 2 m||Show|
I'm playing on CHICAGO. Derrick Rose remains out. However, the Bulls have been coming around. They're 3-0 SU/ATS their last three games, most recently knocking off the Knicks by eight points on 12/8. I expect them to keep the momentum going for another at least another night. In addition to wanting to extend the winning streak and to protect their home floor, the Bulls have the added motivation of playing with revenge from an embarrassing 11/17 loss, at LA. That 21-point debacle (101-80) was by far their most lopsided defeat of the season and I expect it to provide the Bulls with some added incentive here. After that 11/17 loss, Joakim Noah noted: "We got outscrapped and we got out-competed..." I don't expect lack of "hustle" to be an issue for tonight's rematch. Note that the Bulls were slight underdogs for the game against the Knicks and that they're 9-4 ATS the last 13 times that they were off an "upset" win. Although their ATS record hasn't been that great in this situation, with no spread to cover this time, its also worth noting that the Bulls are 25-11 SU the past 36 times that they played with two day's rest in between games. During the recent winning streak, in addition to playing stout defense, the Bulls have been getting an average of more than 20 points (20.3) per game from Marco Belinelli, who has stepped up his game, making the most of the injuries to others. Belinelli noted: "This is not my first year in the league. This is my sixth year. I don't want to be just a 3-point shooter. I want to be a complete guy. Saturday we played offense and defense, rebound, ran. That's the way we have to play." While they've been very tough at home and are admittedly playing well (6 straight SU wins) right now, the Clippers are still 0-4 ATS (1-3 SU) their last four on the road. Three losses by at least seven points and a 1-point win. A closer look at the Clippers' current 6-game winning streak shows that five of the wins have been at home, none of them against elite teams. The lone road win came by a single point. Including the victory over the Knicks, the Bulls are a terrific 14-6 ATS the last 20 times that they were listed as underdogs of four or fewer points. (Thirteen of those resulted in SU victories.) Its also worth mentioning that they're 24-5 SU the last 29 times that they played a home game with an O/U line in the 185 to 189.5 range. I'll take the points that are being offered but expect them to step up and score the outright win. *10 Main Event
|12-11-12||North Dakota State +14.5 v. Minnesota||Top||57-70||Win||100||13 h 48 m||Show|
I'm playing on NORTH DAKOTA STATE. With a top 15 ranking and a 10-1 overall record, the Gophers are obviously a good team. That said, I feel that this will prove to be a difficult spot and I expect them to have their hands full here. I believe that the Gophers are ripe for a letdown here. Not only did they just have to return from the West Coast, they're also off an emotional game, one which saw Tubby Smith reach 500 wins, the 19th Div. 1 coach to ever do so. As Minnesota's Andre Hollins noted: "This a huge win for coach's career ..." While the Gophers, who face Michigan State later this month, could easily overlook the Bison, I feel that will prove costly. North Dakota State nearly upset the Gophers right here last season. Listed as an 11 point favorite, Minnesota eked out a 63-59 victory. While the Gophers are arguably better than they were, note that the Biston brought back their top five scorers from that team and are also even better this season. Indeed, the Biston check in off three straight double-digit wins and with an 8-2 record overall. One of their losses came at Indiana, the top team in the country - and they hung within 14 points of the Hoosiers. Including the cover vs. Indiana and the near upset here last season, the Bison are a highly profitable 16-5 ATS their last 21 lined non-conference games. While the Gophers are 0-3 ATS as home favorites in the 12.5 to 15 range the past few seasons, the Biston are 1-0 ATS as road underdogs in that range. The Gophers have only lost to a Summit League team once and that was way back in 1936. That happened to be against North Dakota State. I won't go as far as calling for another upset here - although it wouldn't shock me - but I do expect the Bison to step up and give the Gophers another real scare. *10 Best Bet
|12-10-12||Houston Texans +4 v. New England Patriots||Top||14-42||Loss||-110||34 h 45 m||Show|
I'm playing on HOUSTON. Obviously these are both very good teams, each of them very capable of representing the AFC in the Super Bowl. With all due respect to Belichick and Brady, I feel that the Texans are the more complete team.
Both teams can score but the Pats enter with a statistical edge on that side of the ball. They're averaging 35.8 points per game, 34.8 at home. The Texans are averaging 29.2 overall, 25.3 on the road. Still very respectable numbers.
The Texans make up for it on the other side of the ball. They're allowing 16 points per game on the road while the Pats are allowing 24.4 at home.
I won with the Pats when they beat the Broncos back on 10/7. I also won with them when they hammered the Colts on 11/18. So, I'm not opposed to backing them against "good" teams.
I feel that the Texans are stronger than either the Colts or the Broncos though. Certainly, I feel that they're stronger than Indianapolis. Also, a closer look shows that the Pats have stumbled when up against other quality non-divisional opponents.
Sure, they've beaten up on their own division. However, they know those teams and have their number - plus, the Bills, Jets and Dolphins are all sub-500 teams. Entering Sunday's action, they're each 5-7. That's a far cry from Houston's 11-1 record.
The Pats' other non-divisional wins came against Tennessee and St. Louis, teams which are a combined 9-14-1 entering Sunday.
Losses against Arizona, Baltimore and Seattle were some time ago now but shouldn't be entirely forgotten.
I did successfully play against the Texans in their only loss this season, a 42-24 pasting at the hands of the Packers. However, that's the only time that the Texans have lost all season.
They've beaten quality and/or talented teams like the Broncos (they beat them at Denver too, while the Pats beat them at Foxboro) Bears and Lions.
When matched up against the Ravens, a team which defeated New England, the Texans won by a score of 43-13.
When matched up against other AFC East teams, the Texans have gone 3-0. They won those games by scores of 30-10, 23-17 and 21-9. So, they too can dominate the the AFC East teams.
Note that the Texans are 6-0 (4-1-1 ATS) on the road and that they're also 11-5 ATS their last 16 against teams with a winning record.
Back to the Packers game for a minute; I feel that's worked in our favor. That game offered the Texans a rare chance in front of the nationally televised (Sunday night) audience and they got embarrassed. While they did manage a win against the Bears on Monday night, they didn't cover - and that game had an asterisk beside it, due to Cutler not playing. Even the win at Detroit on Thanksgiving was a little "questionable."
Those two primetime games have remained fresh in the memories of bettors as many lost with Houston in one or even both of those games. They're going to be a little hesitant to back the Texans here. That sentiment has worked in four favor, one of the factors keeping the line above a field goal.
I believe the Texans are a team seeking respect, something the Pats already have. I feel that the Texans will view this as a "statement" game and look for them to be at their very best. *10
|12-10-12||Golden State Warriors v. Charlotte Bobcats +5||Top||104-96||Loss||-110||5 h 32 m||Show|
I'm playing on CHARLOTTE. I successfully played against the Warriors in their last game, at Washington on Saturday. They won but had their hands full the entire way, failing to cover. While I respect the Warriors, I feel that they're again a little-overvalued here. I like how this one sets up for the home team. The Bobcats got embarrassed in their last game and are on a losing skid. The Warriors are in the midst of a road trip, thousands of miles from home. They've already had plenty of success on the trip and could be patting themselves on the back a little, while potentially overlooking the lowly Bobcats. Speaking of patting themselves on the back, the Warriors haven't typically fared too well when they've been on a 3-game winning streak. In fact, they're just 1-8 SU and 3-6 ATS their last nine in that situation, most recently getting upset by Orlando one week ago. The Warriors also have a game at Miami on deck, another reason to potentially look past Charlotte. The Bobcats were 3.5 point underdogs when they hosted the Warriors last year and they won outright by 12 points. Hungry to get back on track and knowing that they're going to be facing these same Warriors at Oakland in a couple of weeks, I expect the Bobcats to go all out to defend their homecourt, earning at least a cover in the process. *10 Best Bet
|12-09-12||Detroit Lions +7 v. Green Bay Packers||Top||20-27||Push||0||25 h 24 m||Show|
I'm playing on DETROT. The Lions have certainly found ways to lose - and they cost me last week. However, the fact is that they almost never get blown out. Their last three losses have all come by four points or less, starting with a 24-20 loss vs. these same Packers. Once again, I expect them to be in this one the entire way.
From a playoff perspective, its true that the Packers need this game more. The Lions have no hope. The Packers need every win that they can get. I don't expect the Lions to go through the motions though. This is a hated divisional rival, one which broke their hearts earlier. Also, this is a nationally televised game, an opportunity to show the nation that they're better than their record suggests. Of course, snapping a 20-game skid at Lambeau would be nice too ...
The Packers aren't that far removed from winning a Super Bowl and are certainly worthy of respect. They're missing several key components at the moment though and I don't feel that the current lineup should be laying this many points against what I still believe is a talented Lions team. The Packers did eke out a 9-point vs. Minnesota last week - but that was far from easy. The previous week, they were exposed by the Giants, a 38-10 destruction.
Note that the Packers are 0-2 SU/ATS this season, when off a divisional victory. After beating Chicago, they lost at Seattle. The blowout loss against the Giants came after GB beat the Lions in the earlier meeting.
Given their tendency to avoid being blown out, its not surprising that the Lions are a profitable 10-5 ATS the last 15 times that they were listed as underdogs in the 3.5 to 9.5 range, including a 5-2 ATS mark as road underdogs in the 3.5 to 7 range. I expect them to improve on those stats with AT LEAST a cover on Sunday night. *10 Main Event
|12-09-12||NY Jets -2.5 v. Jacksonville Jaguars||Top||17-10||Win||100||18 h 2 m||Show|
I'm playing on the JETS. Its surely now or never for Sanchez. Rex Ryan has given him the nod once again, after he got benched in last week's game. I may be in the minority but I like that decision. I agree that Sanchez gives the Jets the best chance to win. I feel that playing on the road will help ease the pressure, at least a little, and I expect Sanchez to rise to the occasion and remind everyone that he can actually still play.
Jacksonville figures to be an ideal opponent. Not only are the Jags terrible this season, they're banged-up at the QB and running back positions. Perhaps most importantly, the Jets hammered the Jags by a score of 32-3 last season. Sanchez was 17 of 24 with two TDs in that game. So, he should help in the confidence department.
Of course, Sanchez's job would be much easier if his team has the advantage on the ground. I expect that to be the case.
The Jags give up 144 rushing yards per game, 31st in the league. Meanwhile, the Jags run the ball for only 78.8 yards per game, worst in the league. The Jets check in off a game in which they gained 177 yards on the ground.
The Jets are 3-1-1 ATS (4-1 SU) the last five times that they were listed as road favorites of three or fewer points. They're also 12-7-2 ATS (13-8 SU) the last 21 times that they played a game where the line ranged from -3 to +3.
The Jets are also 13-3 SU and 10-5-1 ATS their last 16 against teams with a losing record. With the Titans, Chargers and Bills on deck, all beatable teams, the Jets aren't completely out of this thing yet. I say they step up and get it done. *10 Personal Favorite
|12-09-12||Tennessee Titans +6 v. Indianapolis Colts||Top||23-27||Win||100||18 h 42 m||Show|
I'm playing on TENNESSEE. The Colts have sure had a great year. However, that doesn't mean that they're be ready to be laying this many points.
A look at the Colts' schedule shows that they've only won one game all season by more than a touchdown. Five victories have come by a field goal or less.
While the Titans were beaten by 14 by a strong Houston team last week, that was just the second time in seven games that they've lost by more than six points.
The Titans have been at their best off back to back losses, going 3-0 ATS. Looking to avenge the earlier loss and potentially catching the Colts looking ahead, if only slightly, to Houston, I expect the Titans to take this one down to the wire with an excellent shot at an outright win. *10 AFC South GOY
|12-09-12||Dallas Cowboys +3.5 v. Cincinnati Bengals||Top||20-19||Win||100||15 h 55 m||Show|
I'm playing on DALLAS. The Cowboys may not have blown out the Eagles. However, they did enough to win. I expect them to build some momentum from that comeback victory and feel that this is an excellent spot for them.
Romo, who broke Aikman's record for TDs in that game, noted: ''It's about winning games. We desperately had to have this win tonight, and our team fought like heck to get a win.''
With that win and their hopes rekindled - but knowing they still absolutely need another one - I expect the Cowboys to again "fight like heck."
The Bengals may have home field advantage. However, they're also off a hard fought game on the West Coast, so there was some traveling across time zones involved.
Speaking of home field "advantage," the Bengals are only 2-3-1 ATS (3-3 SU) here this season while the Cowboys are 4-2 ATS (3-3 SU) on the road.
While the Cowboys may have only won four of their last eight games, all four losses came by a TD or less. I'm grabbing the points. *10 Non-Conf. BEST BET
|12-08-12||Minnesota v. USC +8||Top||71-57||Loss||-110||14 h 12 m||Show|
I'm playing on USC. With a top 20 ranking, the Gophers are obviously a pretty good team. That said, they're a long way from home. I expect them to have their hands full tonight and feel that the the number being offered on the home team is generous.
True, the Trojans are off to a tough start. However, in fairness, they've had a very tough opening schedule. They began the season with a blowout win over Coppin State, as expected. Next, they beat Long Beach State by 18, laying 9.5 points.
From that point onwards, their next six games have come against Illinois, Texas, Marquette (those 3 games coming in 3 days) followed by San Diego State, Nebraska and New Mexico. Of those, only the game vs. San Diego State was played here at USC. They lost that one by six.
So, while the overall record may not look too impressive - there's good reason. This team is still 2-1 on its home floor and the lone loss would have resulted in a cover against today's larger number.
Admittedly, the Gophers have also played some tough teams. However, they've also sprinkled in a lot more cupcakes than the Trojans have. (They've been favored by double-digits in four games and another didn't have a line.) They did win at Florida State. However, this will be just their second true road game of the season. LA is a long way from Minnesota (or Tallahassee) and offers plenty of distractions.
These teams met at Minnesota last season. The Trojans had real trouble scoring, losing 55-40. They're off a game which saw them shoot a season-high 52.9% though and I expect them score considerably more on their home floor. In fact, while I'm happy to grab the points, I won't be surprised if they step up and score the outright win. *10 Best Bet
|12-08-12||New Orleans Hornets v. Miami Heat -13.5||Top||90-106||Win||100||9 h 43 m||Show|
I'm playing on MIAMI. The Hornets are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Off back to back losses the Heat should be in a foul mood. They should be looking to take out their frustrations on someone. The Heat, who had last night off, catch the Hornets off a hard fought game vs. Memphis last night. New Orleans, still without Davis and Gordon, will now be play its third game in the last four nights. The Heat beat the Hornets by 14 last year. Given the setup, I expect this one to be even more lopsided. *10 Personal Favorite
|12-08-12||Navy v. Army +7||Top||17-13||Win||100||72 h 35 m||Show|
I'm playing on ARMY. I won with Army in last year's game. While they couldn't break through with an outright win, the Knights fought hard the entire way and earned the cover, losing by six.
Last year's 26-20 setback was the Knights' 10th straight loss in the series. Needless to say, they'd dearly love to snap that skid. I believe that the talent gap has really lessened and that this indeed could be the year that Army breaks through.
With both teams having beaten Air Force, the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy is in play, making the prospect of a victory even sweeter.
At 7-4, Navy checks in with the significantly better record. However, this year's team hasn't been dominated. They've outscored teams by a very narrow 25.5 to 23.5 margin.
All four Navy losses came by double-digits. However, three victories came by seven points or less. This season's Midshipmen are only 1-4 ATS as favorites.
Air Force was arguably the best team that Navy beat all season and the Midshipmen needed OT to win that one. Army, on the hand, hammered the Falcons by 20 points.
Like I said, I feel this could be the year. Wearing black WWII inspired uniforms, I expect the Knights to step up and earn AT LEAST another cover. *10
|12-08-12||Cleveland State v. North Carolina State -16.5||Top||63-80||Win||100||7 h 12 m||Show|
I'm playing on NC STATE. I believe that there is a major gap in talent between these teams. Yet, recent results are keeping the number quite reasonable.
The Wolfpack haven't gotten off to quite the dominant start that they were probably hoping for. However, his is a team which is talented enough that it is expected to contend for the ACC title.
I expect NC State to be in a foul mood. After going 3-0 ATS/SU to start the season, the Wolfpack lost vs Oklahoma State on 11/18. Still stunned from that loss and the return trip home, they slept-walked through a win vs. UNC-Asheville. Next, was a loss at Michigan. Last time out, they blew the cover at the buzzer, beating UConn by only four. I believe that they'll be looking to take out their frustrations in the form of a blowout win and that inexperienced Cleveland State represents the perfect opponent.
The Vikings had a good year last season. If you look at their early season record, you'd think that they're going to be just as good as last year. That memory or last year along with this season's record is helping in keeping the line However, that record is deceiving, as they've played a number of weak teams. The only good team that they played was Michigan - and the Vikings lost by 30 as a 16 point underdog. The only other decent team that they played was Robert Morris and the Vikings lost that one by 11. Wins have come against the likes of Grambling and Alabama Huntsville; they won the latter by only two points.
Last year, the Vikings returned nearly every starter. As coach Gary Waters noted before the season, "All that is gone." Tim Kamcyzc was the only returning starter, a junior.
Anton Grady was one of the few players who got some experience for Cleveland State last season. He's currently second on the team in scoring with 13.7 points per game. His 5.5 rebounds per game also ranks second and he's #1 in both blocks and steals. Unfortunately for Cleveland State, Grady is out. Needless to say, he'll be missed by a team already short on experience.
NC State has already thrived as a favorite in this range so far this season. The Wolfpack won by 17 when they were favored by 13 as a neutral court favorite vs. Penn State. when favored by 19 vs. Miami Ohio, they won by 38. I expect another blowout. *10
|12-07-12||Orlando Magic v. Sacramento Kings -3||Top||82-91||Win||100||7 h 22 m||Show|
I'm playing on SACRAMENTO. This line has fallen a bit from its opener. Its small enough that a SU has a strong shot of also resulting in an ATS victory. I feel that's providing us with excellent value on the home team.
The Magic may have a decent ATS record on the road - but they're typically getting more points than this. They're still averaging less than 90 points in games away from Orlando, going 3-6. Last time out, they managed only 81 points, eking out a cover in an 87-81 loss.
Including that cover at Utah, the Magic are off three straight ATS victories, including upset wins at LA and Golden State. They've been on the road for all of December though and I feel that it will start to catch up with them here. Note that the only previous time that the Magic had covered the spread in three straight games, they were defeated by 15 points at Minnesota in the next game.
The Kings got back on track with a win last time out, Demarcus Cousins finished with 25 points and 13 rebounds, Tyreke Evans returned to score 23, including a couple of key 3-pointers late in the game. They've got some positive momentum and I look for them to keep it rolling tonight. *9 annihilator
|12-07-12||Los Angeles Lakers v. Oklahoma City Thunder -7.5||Top||108-114||Loss||-105||7 h 13 m||Show|
I'm playing on OKLAHOMA CITY. The Thunder enter tonight's game on a major roll, having gone an impressive 9-1 SU/ATS their 10 games, including a perfect 5-0 SU/ATS their last five.
Obviously, the Thunder aren't going to keep covering forever. Teams can't "bring it" the same way every single night and pointspreads eventually do catch up with extended ATS winning streaks. However, I don't expect any letdown for an ESPN game vs. Kobe Bryant and the fact that tonight's opponent is the "mighty" Lakers has kept this line fairly reasonable. Unfortunately for LA fans, their team is currently a shell of its former self.
Sure, the Lakers won big last time out. That was against the Hornets though, a team that doesn't have the type of talent that they'll be up against tonight. Keep in mind that this team banged-up team is still 3-5 SU/ATS its last eight.
The Thunder are 8-3 ATS (9-2 SU) here, outscoring opponents by an average margin of more than a dozen points per game. The Lakers are 2-5 SU/ATS on the road.
Note that the Thunder, who are playing only their their third game in December, are also 18-7 SU the last 25 times that they played with two day's rest in between games, 2-0 SU/ATS this season. The last time that they played with two day's rest was only three days ago, a 6-point win over Brooklyn The only previous time that they played with two day's rest in between games, they beat the Clippers by 16 points. Interestingly, both OKC scores were identical, the Thunder tallying 117 in each of those games.
This hasn't been a good role for the Lakers in recent seasons, when they're actually outmatched on the road. In fact, they're 1-5 ATS and 0-6 SU the last six times that they were listed as road underdogs in the 6.5 to 9 range.
I expect the well-rested Thunder, who beat the Lakers by 16 the last time that the teams met on this floor, to keep rolling for another night. *10 Main Event
|12-07-12||Charlotte Bobcats v. Milwaukee Bucks -7||Top||93-108||Win||100||6 h 46 m||Show|
I'm playing on MILWAUKEE. I've won with the Bobcats a few times this season, most recently when they covered against the Knicks a couple of nights ago. However, that was at home - and they were catching the Knicks looking ahead to last night's game at Miami. Tonight, the Bobcats are on the road and I expect them to have the full attention of their opponent.
The Bucks came to Charlotte on 11/19 and they were on quite a roll. I played on the Bobcats in that game and they rewarded me with an upset win. Off three straight victories and with a string of bigger games on deck, I felt the Bucks could overlook the Bobcats.
They've since played that tougher stretch of games, including Miami, Chicago (twice) New York, Boston and most recently at San Antonio. With a 2-7 record since the trip to Charlotte, needless to say, the Bucks are no longer "rolling."
Returning home and stepping down in class - while also getting a chance for some payback against the team that started the skid - I expect the Bucks to be all business here.
The Bucks have dominated the Bobcats here, going 13-1 all-time. Behind a highly motivated team effort, I look for them to get back on track with a convincing win. *10 Personal Favorite.
|12-06-12||Dallas Mavericks v. Phoenix Suns -3.5||Top||97-94||Loss||-105||7 h 14 m||Show|
I'm playing on PHOENIX. Its "Customer Satisfaction Night" at the US Airways center tonight. That's a promotion where the Suns are offering fans their money back, if they're not completely satisfied with tonight's game, regardless of whether they win or lose.
I'm not sure of the fine print, or how many fans will try and request a refund. However, I do like how this one sets up for the Suns.
Off a disappointing road trip, the Suns are surely very happy to get back home. They're 2-9 on the road but 5-3 here at home.
While the Suns have admittedly had some trouble covering larger spreads at home, with a low line set for tonight's game, it should be noted that four of their five victories here have come by at least three points.
Meanwhile, with last night's blowout loss at LA, the Mavs are now just 2-7 on the road. Note that they're also just 1-3 SU/ATS when playing the second of back to back games.
For the season, the Mavs are getting outscored by an average of 102.2 to 92.9 when playing away from Dallas.
With the venue and schedule in their favor, I expect the motivated Suns to "satisfy" their fans, en route to a win and cover. *10 Personal Favorite
|12-06-12||Denver Broncos v. Oakland Raiders +11.5||Top||26-13||Loss||-120||29 h 6 m||Show|
I'm playing on OAKLAND. While I won with the Broncos last week, I feel that they're laying too many points here. While the Broncos have many bigger games left in their future, this arguably qualifies as the the Raiders biggest remaining game.
After all, its a nationally televised home game against a divisional opponent, one which crushed them in this season's previous meeting. With no playoffs to look forward to and only one other games coming against "playoff teams," this is about as good as it gets. The Raiders do have one more home game remaining, next week vs. KC. However, while that's perhaps a more "winnable" game, Oakland already defeated the Chiefs once this season. Beating the Broncos would be that much sweeter for them, a chance to show that they can still compete with the best in the division.
In other words, I expect the Raiders to be extremely motivated.
On the other hand, as noted, Denver has many bigger games on deck. Also, having just officially clinched the division, a bit of a letdown may be in order - even though they still want the best record possible and even though clinching the division was already a foregone conclusion.
While the Broncos did manage to hang on for the cover last week, they still only ended up winning by eight points. That's three straight games that they've played which have been decided by eight or less.
The Raiders fought hard right until the end last week, losing by three. I expect them to again take this game right down to the closing seconds, elevating their game and earning AT LEAST the cover. *10 Main Event
|12-06-12||New York Knicks v. Miami Heat -7.5||Top||112-92||Loss||-108||5 h 13 m||Show|
I'm playing on MIAMI. When properly motivated, in my opinion, the Heat are still the best team in the league. The first part of that sentence is key, the "when properly motivated" part.
Facing a team which blew them out earlier, I don't expect motivation to be a problem this evening.
Sure, the Knicks beat up on the Heat earlier. That was at New York though. The Heat are a perfect 8-0 at home this season and they've beaten the Knicks five straight times here.
It should be noted that Carmelo Anthony hurt his finger late in last night's game. If he is even available tonight, he may be at less than 100%. Remember, Stoudemire is already out.
If Anthony can't go, of if he's limited, that means JR Smith would be expected to pick up a lot of the slack. He's hit less than 34% of his shots in eight games against the Heat since the start of last season though. So, that may not be a very reliable option.
On the other hand, James is averaging better than 30 points his last 18 regular season games against NY while Wade is averaging better than 30 his last 13 in the series.
While the Heat are still 13-8-1 ATS (20-2 SU!) in December the past few seasons, the Knicks are just 1-3 SU/ATS when playing the second of b2b games, most recently losing by 10 at Brookyln the last time that they were in that situation.
Add it all up and I'm expecting the revenge-minded champs to deliver a blowout. *9 roast
|12-06-12||Long Beach State +21.5 v. Syracuse||Top||53-84||Loss||-110||5 h 56 m||Show|
I'm playing on LONG BEACH STATE. After dominating their conference the last couple of seasons, this year's Long Beach State team lost four starters, players which had helped build their program into what it is today. Obviously, that's a blow. However, the cupboard is far from bare for this well-coached team.
Prior to the season, coach Monson had this to say of losing those four starters. "It's not like those four guys went to the NBA after one year or just all of a sudden up and graduated. We
|12-05-12||Gonzaga v. Washington State +11.5||Top||71-69||Win||100||8 h 55 m||Show|
I'm playing on WASHINGTON STATE. I respect the Bulldogs, who are off an impressive 8-0 start. However, I feel that they're laying too many points here.
While they're not too far from home, this is the Bulldogs' first "true" road game of the season. They'll face a Cougars team which is a perfect 5-0 on its home floor.
In fact, dating back to a 81-59 blowout of Gonzaga almost exactly two years ago, the Cougars have won 17 straight games on this floor, against non-conference opponents.
The Bulldogs did avenge that loss at Gonzaga last season. However, even that victory came by only eight points.
Even coach Few acknowledged: "This is going to be a difficult week. Washington State is always difficult for us ... "
Having a showdown vs. ranked Illinois could also potentially have the Bulldogs looking ahead.
That'll prove costly as the Cougars are hungry and have a genuine star in senior Brock Motum, who averages nearly 20 points (17.9) and seven boards per game.
Including the victory over Gonzaga here two years ago, the Cougars are 22-10 ATS in home lined games the past 2+ seasons. During that time, the Bulldogs are 8-12-2 ATS on the road, including a 1-3 ATS mark as road favorites in the 9.5 to 12 range.
I successfully played against the Bulldogs in their first "neutral" court site game this season, when they failed to cover vs. Clemson. I expect them to have their hands full once again. *10 Best Bet
|12-05-12||Dallas Mavericks v. Los Angeles Clippers -8.5||Top||90-112||Win||100||8 h 42 m||Show|
I'm playing on LA. I like how this one sets up. The Clippers haven't been covering the spread too often lately, while the Mavs have gotten the money a few times. That's helped to keep the line in the single-digit range, which I feel is providing excellent value.
A closer look shows that the Clippers have actually won three straight and that their last home game resulted in a 35-point victory. Last time out, they rallied from a 14-point deficit, for a 1-point win at Utah. So, despite the recent struggles at the betting window, this talented team has shown some real signs of "coming around" recently.
Keep in mind that the Mavs are 2-6 SU and 3-5 ATS on the road while the Clippers are 7-3 and 6-4 SU at home. The Clippers are outscoring teams by an average of 9.5 ppg on this floor while the Mavs are being outscored by an average margin of 7.8 ppg on the road.
Sure, Kaman will want to have a big game in his first appearance against his former team. However, the Clippers should be equally motivated by the sight of some of their former teammates.
The Clippers took two of three from the Mavs in 2012, crushing them by 19 at Dallas in the last meeting. I expect another convincing win and cover here. *9 Personal Favorite
|12-05-12||New York Knicks v. Charlotte Bobcats +8||Top||100-98||Win||100||4 h 16 m||Show|
I'm playing on CHARLOTTE. After a stretch which saw them win six of eight, the Bobcats have now dropped four straight. That should provide them with a sense of urgency to get back on track here. Its also helped to provide us with some added line value, as we're getting a solid handful of points to work with here.
A closer look at the recent skid reveals that the last three losses have all been by six or fewer points. The Bobcats have still won five of 10 home games this season, the average score of games here being 98.1 to 99.1.
The Knicks have been very good at home but they're 5-4 road record isn't all that special. With a game at Miami on deck tomorrow night, followed by a game at Chicago on the weekend, I feel they could easily get caught looking past the Bobcats here. Grab the points. *9 Best Bet
|12-02-12||Boise State v. Seattle +9||Top||87-64||Loss||-110||7 h 33 m||Show|
I'm playing on SEATTLE. I won with the Redhawks in their first game, a blowout win against Montana State. I've included an excerpt from the analysis of that play here:
Some might see the teams involved here and wonder why Seattle is laying nearly double-digits. However, I feel that the line could be even higher and am expecting a double-digit win. Tonight's game is a big deal for Seattle. The Redhawks begin their first season of play in the Western Athletic Conference and they're eligible to play in the NCAA tournament for the first time since returning to Division I, five years ago. Junior guard Sterling Carter had this to say: "Knowing we can play in the tournament is big," said junior guard That's something big that we want to accomplish this year and we are not going to take our time to get there. I feel like our goal is to win the WAC this year and make a statement." Coach Cameron Dollar, now in his fourth year here, is also extremely optimistic. He was quoted saying: "I think we've got all the components to where, in March, we will be able to do some things and make some noise, for sure." Four players who started at least nine games last season return for Seattle and the Redhawks are deeper than they've been in the past. Typically a fast paced team, I expect the determined Redhawks to run their outmatched opponent right out of the building tonight.
Seattle won that game by 15 points. They also won their only other home game here by nine points. Last time out, playing at Stanford, they stayed within 11, covering as 19.5 point underdogs. Back at home, I feel that the Redhawks are going to come in believing that they can win outright and that they're again providing very fair value.
The Broncos have admittedly been playing well. However, after having recently faced the likes of Michigan State and coming off a big upset win at Creighton, arguably one of the biggest wins in school history, I feel that they're ripe for a letdown, as well as a little over-valued.
Note that Boise is already 0-2 ATS, after scoring 80 or more points in its previous game, falling to 5-10 ATS its last 15 in that situation. Keep in mind that Boise was 1-11 on the road last season. Given the situation, I won't be surprised by the outright upset. *9 Best Bet
|12-02-12||Cleveland Browns v. Oakland Raiders +3||Top||20-17||Push||0||6 h 13 m||Show|
I'm playing on OAKLAND. Admittedly, the Browns have been more competitive than the Raiders in recent weeks. I like how this one sets up for the home team though.
The Browns were able to play their hearts out against a banged-up divisional rival last week, knocking off the Steelers. However, off that win and now playing thousands of miles away for a meaningless game against a non-divsional team, I feel they may have some trouble "getting up" for this one. Divisional wins don't come around often for this team. Note that they're 0-2 SU/ATS the last two times that they were coming off a divisional win.
On the other hand, I expect the Raiders to be extremely motivated. They've been embarrassed the last few weeks and know that this game is one of their best remaining chances at a victory. Keep in mind that the Browns haven't won a game on the road all season long.
From a line value perspective, note that the Browns haven't been favored for a game all season. (They were 2-6-1 ATS as favorites the previous two seasons.) Also, consider that the Raiders were laying 6.5 points when they hosted the Browns last season. Oakland won by seven, 24-17, dominating the Browns by a 151 to 65 margin on the ground.
Speaking of the Oakland ground game, note that the Raiders should have McFadden and Goodson back to bolster the ground game.
Carson Palmer noted: "...good to see them in the huddle and see them get reps and see Darren smiling and hitting the hole hard, and same thing with Goody. Good for the team but also good for the offense to have those guys back.''
The Raiders are 3-2 ATS the last five times that they were home underdogs of three or fewer points. I expect them to step up and improve on those stats here. *10 Best Bet
|12-02-12||Tampa Bay Buccaneers v. Denver Broncos -7.5||Top||23-31||Win||100||6 h 8 m||Show|
I'm playing on DENVER. I successfully played against the Broncos each of the past two weeks, including last week at Kansas City. In each case, I felt that the Broncos were laying too many points and had reason to believe that they'd be in for a dogfight. This week, however, the line is a little more reasonable and I like how the game sets up for them.
Give the Bucs credit. They've played well this season and have been very profitable to their backers. However, I feel that they're in a very difficult spot here. Last week's 1-point loss vs. Atlanta was extremely hard fought and coming up just short like that figures to have an effect here.
Peyton Manning is a master of taking what the defense gives him and exploiting weaknesses. In this case, he knows that the Bucs are tough against the run but also that they're the worst in the entire NFL against the pass - they're giving up a whopping 315.5 passing yards per game. I expect him to have a big day.
The Broncos have been very tough at home this season, outscoring opposing teams by an average of 31.4 to 18.6. They've outgained them in those games by an average of 425.6 to 297.2. On the other hand, the Bucs are being outgained by a 405 to a 361.4 margin away from Tampa.
While its only a formality at this point, the Broncos can wrap up the AFC West title with a win here. I expect them to do so in convincing fashion. *10 Annihilator
|12-02-12||Indianapolis Colts v. Detroit Lions -6.5||Top||35-33||Loss||-105||3 h 16 m||Show|
I'm playing on DETROIT. Andrew Luck and the Colts deserve credit for already exceeding this season's expectations. I feel that they're in tough here though.
The Lions have been the opposite of the Colts in that they've under-achieved. They're still a talented team though and I feel that they'll have the advantage here.
While they've had success at home, the Colts are only 2-3 SU/ATS on the road. Giving up 31.6 points per road game hasn't helped. The two wins came at Tennessee and Jacksonville. (Those two teams enter Week 13 with a combined 6-16 record, 3-8 at their own venues.)
You probably saw that the Lions are coming off a tough loss on Thanksgiving Day. That was against a very good Houston team though, one which is better than the opponent which they'll face here. Note that the Texans were the first non-divisional opponent which has beaten the Lions here. Also, note that the Lions have had an extra couple of days to prepare and heal, due to the Houston game occurring on a Thursday.
Counting the game vs. Houston as a push, the Lions have now gone 6-3-2 ATS against AFC teams the past few seasons, going 12-8-1 ATS at home. They've won six of eight December games, going 5-3 ATS.
While the Colts have more to play for, I expect the Lions to rise up and show some pride here, taking pleasure in doing damage to the Colts' playoff chances. *10 Personal Favorite
|12-02-12||Carolina Panthers v. Kansas City Chiefs +4.5||Top||21-27||Win||100||3 h 9 m||Show|
I'm playing on KANSAS CITY. I was going to play the Chiefs before the recent tragedy. While some may feel that awful event will cause them to struggle, I still like them in this spot.
The Panthers are playing on a short week, while also playing their second straight on the road. They may have defeated the Eagles, a team which is in free-fall. However, they're still 3-8 on the season and I don't believe that they have any business laying more than a field goal here. Keep in mind that this team is 5-16 SU its last 21 on the road.
The Chiefs haven't won a home game all season but they've kept fighting. With only one remaining home game on deck (Colts) and that not coming until Dec. 23rd, this represents their best shot at getting the home fans that elusive victory. Note that they covered against the Broncos last season, playing Denver tough the whole way.
Also, the last time that they were underdogs in the +3.5 to 7 range, they covered vs. Baltimore, improving to 2-0 ATS the last couple of seasons, when in that role.
The Chiefs have quietly gone 8-3 ATS in games against the NFC the past few seasons. In what could well be a close game, I'll grab the points. However, I expect the recent tragedy to help bring the Chiefs together, if only for a day, as they step up and score the upset. *9
|12-02-12||San Francisco 49ers v. St Louis Rams +9||Top||13-16||Win||100||3 h 6 m||Show|
I'm playing on ST. LOUIS. I've been very successful in picking my spots to go and against the Rams this season. Getting more than a touchdown, I feel that they're providing us with excellent value here.
The Rams have already played the 49'ers very tough at San Francisco. You may recall that the teams played to a 24-24 ties there a few weeks ago. Now, they get to face them at St. Louis, where they've played well all season. I expect them to again give the division leaders all that they can handle.
Note that the early starting time may favor the Rams, over their West Coast based guests. In addition to playing an early game in the Eastern time zone, the 49'ers are playing their second straight road game, coming off a playoff rematch with the Saints.
Yes, Kaepernick has been impressive. However, he's still only made a couple of starts and at some point he's likely to experience at least some minor growing pains. Given the fact that Jeff Fisher and the Rams have seen him first-hand, unlike San Francisco's previous two opponents, I won't be surprised if Kaepernick comes back to earth a little here. (Kaepernick played in relief in the earlier game against the Rams, at SF.)
I believe that the Rams, who are 7-3 ATS as underdogs, will really want this one. Fisher had this to say: "This game is really going to tell us who we are as a team. They're the team to beat in our division. We got close but didn't get it done the first time ... "
While I respect the 49'ers, I'm grabbing the generous points. *9
|12-01-12||Colorado v. Wyoming -3||Top||69-76||Win||100||11 h 55 m||Show|
I'm playing on WYOMING. The Buffaloes come in with the higher ranking. However, I believe that the Cowboys are favored for good reason.
The Cowboys, 7-0 on the season, have beaten the Buffaloes five consecutive times. They also own an 18-game "non-conference" home win streak. In fact, the last time that they lost a home game vs. a non-conf. opponent was way back in 2010.
As Colorado coach Tad Boyle acknowledged: Laramie, Wyoming is not an easy place to play. It will be like other teams that come here and play at 7,000 feet. They are going to have the advantage and the altitude, we are going to have to overcome that."
The Buffaloes may be undefeated. However, they needed double-OT to beat Texas Southern last time out, a team which was 1-5 at the time.
The Cowboys are 19-8-2 ATS (24-5 SU) the last 29 times that they were listed as favorites, going 20-9-2 ATS in home lined games the past few seasons. During that stretch, the Buffaloes were only 8-14 ATS (6-16 SU) in road lined games. I expect homecourt to prove the difference. *10 Personal Favorite
|12-01-12||Nebraska -3 v. Wisconsin||Top||31-70||Loss||-130||10 h 46 m||Show|
I'm playing on NEBRASKA. I successfully played against the Huskers just eight days ago. However, that was in large part because I felt that they'd be looking ahead to this much bigger game (even though they did need to beat Iowa) and also because they were playing on a short week and in what I felt was going to be a difficult environment. Here's an excerpt from that writeup:
"...Most are probably expecting a blowout here. The Huskers still need a win here to get to its first Big Ten Championship game while Iowa has lost five in a row. That sentiment has led to a very high line with the home underdog Hawkeyes getting more than two touchdowns. I believe that's providing us with excellent value. I still believe this Iowa team, which hasn't lost six in a row for more than a decade, has some pride. This is their final game and I expect them to treat it like their bowl game, rising to the occasion with their best effort. While even their best effort may not be enough for a win, it should allow them to remain competitive. With this being an early Friday game, after Thanksgiving, Bo Pelini knows its potentially going to be a difficult spot. He noted: "The challenge is going to be to come back in a short week and be ready to go on the road ... " Pelini went on to say this of the Hawkeyes: "We have a lot of respect for their program ... they're gonna play hard, there's a tremendous amount of pride and tradition in that program. It's their Senior Day, there's a lot of things that are going into it for them ... " Iowa is still only giving up 23.8 points per game, just 22.5 at home. On the other hand, Nebraska has allowed an average of 37.7 (453 ypg) on the road. The Hawkeyes have only been home underdogs in the +14.5 to +17 range twice in more than a decade. They covered each of those games and I look for them to do it again here ..."
Things are different here though. Instead of playing on a short week, the Huskers are now well-rested. They also should be 100% focused on the task at hand.
Also, while they failed to cover, the Huskers did still win by six at Iowa. That'd be more than enough here. They've won six straight overall, the last five all wins all coming by more than a field goal. Meanwhile, the Badgers have lost two in a row and three of four. Their lone victory during that stretch came vs. lowly Indiana.
Indeed, many are questioning whether the 7-5 Badgers, who are here only thanks to Penn State and Ohio State being ineligible, even belong in this game.
While the Badgers would like to prove they belong, with a trip to the Rose Bowl on the line, I expect the Huskers to prove otherwise. *10 Personal Favorite
|12-01-12||Florida State v. Georgia Tech +14||Top||21-15||Win||100||82 h 6 m||Show|
I'm playing on GEORGIA TECH. Both teams are off a disappointing effort against an instate rival last game. The Yellow Jackets were blown out at Georgia. The Seminoles were upset at Florida. I feel that those results favor the Yellow Jackets in this game.
Florida State Coach Jumbo Fisher acknowledged that the team that wins this game is likely the one that will be able to better recover/regroup from last week's loss. He was quoted saying: "I don't think there's any doubt. They had a great rivalry game and we did too. You've got to be able to put it behind you quickly and go on. I think that is going to be a big factor, I don't think there's any doubt."
Naturally, the Yellow Jackets wanted to knock off the Bulldogs. However, given that they were double-digit underdogs, the loss wasn't completely unexpected. The Yellow Jackets are being told that they "don't belong" here and I expect them to be highly motivated to prove otherwise.
On the other hand, the Seminoles were favored by a touchdown for their game vs. the Gators. They fell behind early, rallied back and then came up short. As if losing to their instate rivals wasn't bad enough, that loss killed the Seminoles' hopes of playing for the national title. I feel that will be a very tough pill to swallow and that the Noles may be a little flat here.
Making matters worse for the Seminoles, senior defensive end Cornellius "Tank" Carradine went down in the loss against the Gators and will be unavailable.
Off the devastating loss and without one of their top defensive players, preparing for G-Tech's unique offense may prove challenging.
Keep in mind that before last week's loss at Georgia, the Yellow Jackets had scored 33, 68 and 42 points in their previous three games.
The Noles are only 4-8 ATS when laying points this season. I expect them to have their hands full the entire way. *10 Best Bet
|12-01-12||Texas +11 v. Kansas State||Top||24-42||Loss||-105||10 h 40 m||Show|
I'm playing on TEXAS. Some are going to look at this game and think the following: If K-State beat Oklahoma and if Oklahoma pounded Texas, then K-State will also surely blow out Texas. That type of logic rarely works when handicapping football games though. Each matchup is unique and has its own situational factors to consider. Also, each matchup is entirely different and some teams simply match up better against others. There are numerous examples of this in all sports. (While Mike Tyson might have crushed guys that would give Evander Holyfield a tough fight, Holyfield had Tyson's number each time that the two matched up against each other.) In this case, I feel everything sets up nicely for a play on Texas.
Also, if looking at common opponents, one could argue that Texas beat Baylor, a team that just destroyed K-State by a score of 52-24.
Personally, I'm more concerned with the effect the the loss to Baylor will have on the Wildcats here. Keep in mind that this was a team which was really starting to believe that it was destined to play in the National Title game. Each week, that hope grew. Then, suddenly it was snatched away from them. While the Cats have much to play for and surely want to bounce back with a big win, I really feel that it will be a difficult loss to bounce back from. While Snyder has proven to be a master coach of the years, seeing your national title dreams dashed this late in the season is a very tough pill for any team to swallow.
While the Wildcats have had a bye to "recover," that could potentially make it even worse. Note that K-State is just 2-4 ATS its last six after a bye.
The Longhorns lost at a "neutral" site vs. Oklahoma and they've struggled to cover the number at home. However, they've quietly gone 4-0 SU and 3-1 ATS in their four true road games.
While they don't get much respect at the moment, this is still a very talented Longhorns team, one which has only lost by more than a touchdown once all season.
While we have to go back some years, the Longhorns are 3-1 ATS the last four times that they were listed as road underdogs in the 10.5 to 14 range. I expect them to improve on those stats here and won't be at at all surprised if they "shock" the Wildcats with an outright win. *10
|12-01-12||Brooklyn Nets v. Miami Heat -8||Top||89-102||Win||100||9 h 57 m||Show|
I'm playing on MIAMI. Lulled to sleep a little by the fact that the Spurs weren't playing their stars, the Heat coasted a bit in Thursday's win. I expect them to be fully focused here though. With the schedule and venue in their favor, I'm also expecting a blowout win.
Brooklyn comes in on a nice roll. However, this is an extremely difficult scheduling spot. Not only did the Nets, who are 10-34 SU the last 44 times they played the second of b2b games, play yesterday (win at Orlando) but they're also playing their eighth game in the past 12 days, the first few of those games occurring on the West Coast. That's quite a draining schedule.
On the other hand, the Heat are well-rested, as they had a long layoff before Thursday's game. While the Heat have eked out a few victories, they're still 7-0 at home. That includes a 30 point victory over the Nets here a few weeks back. I'm expecting another rout. *9 Personal Favorite
|12-01-12||Pittsburgh v. South Florida +7.5||Top||27-3||Loss||-110||9 h 52 m||Show|
I'm playing on SOUTH FLORIDA. I respect the Panthers. In fact, I successfully played on them just last week. They rewarded me with a convincing 27-6 win over Rutgers. However, that was at home and the pointspread. And, with a line in the pick'em range, the pointspread essentially wasn't a factor. This week, the Panthers are being asked to lay quite a few points, while also playing on the road. I believe that's asking too much.
Lets not forget that the Panthers are still a sub-500 team. Also, note that they're 0-3 ATS the last few seasons, as road favorites in the 3.5 to 7 range. During that stretch, they're just 5-10 SU on the road overall.
Yes, the Panthers are desperate to get to .500 to have a shot at a bowl. However, I expect the Bulls to be every bit as motivated. This is a fairly talented USF team which has underachieved greatly this season. While a win here won't make up for months of frustration, it will greatly help ease the pain. Indeed, the Bulls would surely love to ensure that the Panthers join them watching the bowls on TV. Misery loves company.
Bulls' defensive tackle Cory Grissom had this to say: "That's what we've been talking about. Just make sure if we can't go to a bowl, they can't go. That's out mind-set ... "
Not only would the Bulls like to do some spoiling, they'd love to close the season on a positive note while also showing support for coach Skip Holtz to retain his job.
Additional motivation comes from the fact that the Bulls were blown out at Pittsburgh last season.
USF defensive tackle Luke Sager noted: ''If anything, it gives us more reasons to be up for this game. Last year, they embarrassed us."
Playing without senior QB BJ Daniels is obviously a blow - as he's led this team in recent years. However, Daniels isn't the only senior on the roster, as this will be the final game for 25 USF seniors, all that want to go out as winners. QB Matt Floyd now has a game under his belt, which should help.
Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Dave Huxtable said this of Floyd: 'He's a young kid, but he's going to be a good player .. he does a nice job of handling the offense. He has a nice arm and does some good things throwing the football.''
Coach Holtz said this of winning today's game and sending the seniors out on a winning note: "Without a doubt, it's big. We want to send out the seniors on a positive note. With as much adversity as we've been through the past two years, as hard as they've worked, as hard as they've played, to just fall short, just fall short, just fall short. Those frustrations, yes, a win would go a long way toward erasing those frustrations. Give those seniors a chance to walk out with a positive taste in their mouth. One thing this senior group won't do is quit. I know it's been frustrating. It would go a long way to get a win.''
The Bulls have been terrible as favorites but their tendency to play close games has them at 8-4 ATS the last dozen times that they were listed as underdogs or games that were "pick'em." I expect them to go all out the entire way and look for at least another cover, likely an outright wn. *10 Big East GOY
|12-01-12||Boise State v. Nevada +8.5||Top||27-21||Win||100||6 h 46 m||Show|
I'm playing on NEVADA. I had a big play on the Wolfpack the last time that these teams met here, just a little over two years ago. Listed as double-digit underdogs, Nevada would shock the Broncos in that 11/26/10 contest, winning 34-31. Boise was ranked #3 at the time and was looking to play in a BCS bowl game. I feel that the Wolfpack have an excellent shot at pulling off another shocker this afternoon.
Always well-coached, as usual, the Broncos are a very good team again this year. However, I don't think that they're quite as strong as some of the Boise teams of the past. Recent blowout wins have them looking pretty good. However, the opposition (Hawaii and Colorado State) was hardly top tier. Prior to facing those two lightweights, the Broncos lost to San Diego State.
A look at the schedule shows that the Broncos have really only faced four "decent" teams - and none of those are exactly "elite." The four teams that I refer to as decent are Michigan State, BYU, Fresno State and San Diego State. (Other games came against Colorado State, Hawaii, Wyoming UNLV, Southern Miss, New Mexico and Miami Ohio.) As noted, the Broncos lost outright vs. SD. State. They also lost a close one vs. Michigan State, getting dominated statistically. They beat Fresno by 10 but only squeaked by BYU by a 7-6 score.
In other words, all four games against quality opposition were decided by 10 or fewer points and three of those were decided by four or less.
With games at California, (31-24 win) vs. South Florida (32-31 loss) and at Air Force (48-31 loss) the Wolfpack have arguably played more quality teams.
Also, note that the one common opponent which defeated both Nevada and Boise is SD State - and the Wolfpack played them arguably tougher than the Broncos did, losing 39-38.
While the Wolfpack have already accepted an invitation to a bowl (New Mex. Bowl) game, I certainly don't expect them to go through the motions at all. They hate the Broncos and would love nothing more than to beat them.
Boise coach Peterson noted: "...I think it will be a hard fought game." He went on to say this of the Wolfpack: "They always have good running backs, and I think that comes with the pistol offense. Jefferson has been in the program for a while now and has a great feel for finding creases, it's a difficult offense to defend, it really is."
Even after the recent big wins, this year's Broncos are still averaging a modest 30.7 points on the season, on the strength of only 386 yards per game. That's be ok for some teams. However, its not up to Boise's usual recent standard. Indeed, last year's team averaged more than 44 points per game.
Its also not up to the level of offense that Nevada has produced this season. The Wolfpack check in averaging 38.5 points per game. They average more than 530 yards of offense per game here. (Admittedly, the Broncos have the edge on the other side of the ball.)
While the Wolfpack haven't been a good bet for most of the season, I've fared well in picking my spots on and against them. In fact, I believe that the only time that I played "on" them all year was at Hawaii, one of only two ATS victories. The Wolfpack were favored by a touchdown and they won by a score of 69-24. I feel this is another excellent spot for them. *10 Main Event
|12-01-12||Oklahoma -5 v. TCU||Top||24-17||Win||100||2 h 24 m||Show|
I'm playing on OKLAHOMA. While they haven't been covering the spread recently, the Sooners continue to win. The recent non-covers have been one of the factors which have helped in keeping this line below a touchdown. I believe that's offering us very fair value with what I believe to be a superior team.
In a strange twist of fate, the Sooners are actually cheering for arch-rival Texas today. If the Longhorns can beat K-State, then the Sooners can still win the Big 12 outright. Of course, the Sooners need to take care of TCU here first. That makes this a very big game, one Stoops and co. can't afford to mess around with. That's particularly true, given that they won't know the outcome of the K-State game until later in the day. (As there is no longer a Big 12 Championship game, if both the Sooners and Wildcats win today, or if they both lose, then K-State wins based on holding the tiebreaker, having beaten OU when the teams went head-to-head.)
While the Frogs were better defensively last time out, these teams have similar defensive stats on the season, at least in terms of points allowed. The Sooners are allowing 24.8 points per game and 381.4 yards per game. On the road, they're allowing 23.4 and 394.4. Meanwhile, TCU is allowing 23 and 329.9. At home, the Frogs are allowing 24.6 ppg.
Its on the other side of the ball where the Sooners figure to have the edge. They 41.7 ppg, averaging 512.8 yards. On the road, those numbers actually climb; they average 42.6 and 547.8 away from Norman. Meanwhile, the Frogs average 30.5 and 401.3. Respectable but significantly less than the Sooners.
Given how competitive they've been over the years, one might assume that the Horned Frogs have been a good bet as home underdogs in this range. That hasn't been the case, however, as they're only 3-9 ATS (1-11 SU!) the last dozen times that they were listed as home underdogs in the 3.5 to 7 range.
Including the earlier cover at Texas Tech (41-20 win on 10/6) the Sooners are 2-1 ATS the past couple of seasons as road favorites in the 3.5 to 7 range, 1-0 this season. I expect them to pull away and win by more than a touchdown. *9
|11-30-12||Syracuse v. Arkansas +7||Top||91-82||Loss||-110||10 h 12 m||Show|
I'm playing on ARKANSAS. As usual, Syracuse has a talented team. That said, I feel that that Orange, who lost some key faces from last year, are going to have their hands full here.
Note that this is the first "true" road game (They did play on on an aircraft carrier in San Diego) that the Orange will have played and that they're up against an Arkansas team which is already 3-0 at home and which thrives on pressure defense. In its three games here, the Hogs forced an average of 23 turnovers.
Syracuse's Brandon Triche said this of the Razorbacks: "They're very tough playing at home. They're a transition team and they're going to press us the whole game ... "
Note that Syracuse is just 4-9 ATS its last 13 against teams from the SEC.
I believe that this Arkansas team is destined to be pretty solid this season. This is a huge game for them and I expect them to give their hosts all that they can handle, the entire way. *10 Best Bet
|11-30-12||LOUISIANA TECH v. GEORGIA ST -2||Top||86-68||Loss||-110||9 h 50 m||Show|
I'm playing on GEORGIA STATE. The Panthers have some new faces this year. However, they're also talented, hungry and well-coached. Ron Hunter came in last year and immediately transformed this team, using a suffocating zone defense to finish top five in the country in field goal defense en route to a 22-win season. Hunter lost some players from that team but he's still got plenty to work with. Having failed to cover a few in a row, we're getting a very low number to work with.
The Panthers aren't eligible to play in their league tournament, as there's a rule preventing them from doing so. However, they're still determined to have another strong season.
Hunter said this of not being allowed to play in the tournament: Hunter said this of not being allowed to play in the tournament: "I won
|11-29-12||Denver Nuggets v. Golden State Warriors +1.5||Top||105-106||Win||100||13 h 44 m||Show|
I'm playing on GOLDEN STATE. Having already lost both previous games in the season series, the revenge-minded Warriors should be highly motivated to get some revenge here. I feel that its a good spot for them.
The Nuggets saw their winning streak come to an end on Monday. They blew a 16-point lead en route to a 105-103 defeat. Those type of losses can have a lingering effect and be difficult to immediately bounce back from.
On the other hand, the Warriors are off a momentum-building 96-85 win, their their third victory in four games. Since the Nuggets beat them here on 11/10, in double-OT, the Warriors are now 5-2 their last seven. Both losses came on the road.
While this game means a great deal to the well-rested Warriors, who have tomorrow night off, the Nuggets could potentially get caught looking ahead to tomorrow night's game at LA, vs. the Lakers.
Even with the double-OT loss to the Nuggets, the Warriors are still 4-2 SU/ATS here on the season. Its payback time. *9 best bet
|11-29-12||New Orleans Saints v. Atlanta Falcons -3||Top||13-23||Win||100||24 h 55 m||Show|
I'm playing on ATLANTA. It goes without saying that both teams badly want this one. The Saints are looking to stay alive in the playoff race and continue their dominance over a division rival. The Falcons are looking to clinch the division, while avenging the recent loss at New Orleans, which was their only defeat this season.
I won't go as far as saying that the Falcons will want it more - but I definitely think that they'll be extremely hungry.
While I really respect Brees and the Saints, I don't think we can ignore the venue. The Saints are 2-3 on the road. The Falcons are 5-0 at home.
We may not be able to see it on the scoresheet and its possible that he may never coach here again but I do also think that Sean Payton's absence can be a factor in a big game like this.
While it admittedly didn't help out much last Thursday (Thanksgiving) I do feel that playing at home is generally an even bigger advantage than normal, when playing on a short week.
Speaking of Thursday games, its interesting to note that the Saints are 1-5 ATS their last six Thursday games (1-2 ATS past few seasons) while the Falcons are a lucrative 6-1 ATS (2-0 ATS past few seasons) their last seven Thursday games.
The Saints defense may be improving. However, the numbers are still pretty bad. They're allowing 27.6 ppg and 455.3 ypg. On the road, those numbers climb to 28.4 and 466.2.
On the other hand, the Falcons allow 19.6 ppg and 344.9 ypg.
True, these teams have played some close games in last couple of years and its also true that the Falcons have shown a tendency to play close games this season. Still, the line is low enough that I feel a win will have an excellent shot at a cover. Note that Atlanta is 12-6-1 ATS the last 19 times that it was favored by four or fewer points, 5-1-1 ATS (6-1 SU) its last seven in that role. I expect the Falcons to improve on those stats, making a statement that they're the real deal. *9 Main Event
**BONUS 1ST HALF MONEYLINE PLAY**
I like the Falcons to get off to a quick start here and am playing ATLANTA on the moneyline for the 1st Half. The Falcons found themselves trailing out at halftime (21-17) of the 11/11 meeting and I feel that they'll be on a mission right out of the gate.
The perception is that the Falcons are winning their games late. That's been true to a certain extent. However, a closer look reveals that the game against the Saints was the only time, since their bye Week, that the Falcons have been "trailing" at halftime. They were either tied or winning each other time.
The Saints defense may be improving. However, the numbers are still pretty bad. They're allowing 27.6 ppg and 455.3 ypg. On the road, those numbers climb to 28.4 and 466.2. On the other hand, the Falcons allow 19.6 ppg and 344.9 ypg. *6
|11-29-12||San Antonio Spurs v. Miami Heat -5.5||Top||100-105||Loss||-111||16 h 55 m||Show|
I'm playing on MIAMI. The Spurs have been on a great run. However, they're stepping up in class to take on the champs tonight and they're in an extremely difficult scheduling spot.
The Spurs check in off a game at Orlando last night. They normally fare pretty well when playing the second of back to back games though and Orlando and Miami aren't too far apart. So, that's not the issue. Its worse than that though. Not only will the Spurs be playing the second of back to back games, they'll also be playing their fourth game in the past five days.
Making matters even worse, the first leg of that "4 games in 5 days" stretch was a double-OT game up in Canada, a game where three starters played well over 40 minutes. Throw in the fact that this is the final game of a 6-game road trip and the Spurs really may finally start to suffer from a bit of fatigue.
On the other hand, the Heat come in very well-rested. They last played back on 11/24. Note that they're 10-6 ATS (12-4 SU) the past 2+ seasons, when playing with three day's rest. They've won four straight overall, three of them by seven or more points.
Laying a touchdown, the Heat hammered the Spurs 120-98 here last season. The 2011 game here was even more lopsided, a 110-80 beatdown in favor of Miami. Playing in front of the national audience (those who aren't watching football) I believe the Heat will be motivated to bring the mighty Spurs back down to earth and that the schedule calls for another blowout. *10 Personal Favorite
|11-29-12||Louisville +3 v. Rutgers||Top||20-17||Win||100||33 h 27 m||Show|
I'm playing on LOUISVILLE. I backed the Cardinals in their very first game this season, a 32-14 victory over Kentucky. While it wasn't a big secret, at the time, I pointed out that Louisville was poised for a big year while Kentucky was going to struggle. Now, here we are with the Cardinals playing for the Big East Championship and the conference's berth in the Orange Bowl. While the Big East won't get its first championship game until next season, this game will serve as a "de facto title contest."
Both teams lost last week. Rutgers got crushed by Pittsburgh. The Cardinals were narrowly upset by UConn, Louisville QB Bridgewater breaking his left wrist in the process. While Bridgewater left that game, he did come back to rally his team, leading them to OT. The Cards have had a couple of practices to figure out what he can and cannot do and I expect them to be ready.
Even with a banged-up Bridgewater, the Cardinals have the superior offense. They averaged 32 ppg, including 30 ppg on the road. Rutgers, on the other hand, averaged only 22.9 ppg, 23.8 at home. The Knights' offense has really struggled in recent games too, managing only 16 combined points the past two games.
While everyone will talk about Bridgewater's wrist. Rutgers has QB issues of its own. QB Nova was briefy knocked out of the Pittsburgh game. He would finish with only 157 yards, completing 18 of 37 passes, less than 50%, while throwing another interception. Remember, Nova had six interceptions in a loss vs. Kent State last month.
Obviously, both teams really want the win. Motivation levels should be equal. The Knights have homefield advantage. However, I believe that the Cards are a little stronger. They've also shown an ability to win here, dominating Rutgers by a 40-13 score last time here.
Last year's game at Louisville was much closer (16-14) but the Cardinals won that one too. The recent wins in the series should help their confidence, a good thing after back to back losses.
Overall, despite failing to cover a few this year, the Cardinals are still a lucrative 11-4 ATS (10-5 SU) their last 15 road games.
With Rutgers games averaging less than 37 combined points on the season, we've got an O/U line in the low 40s. That's noteworthy, as the Cards are 7-0-1 ATS the last eight times that they played a road game where the O/U line ranged from 42.5 to 45.
Admittedly, playing a road game on a short week, after a triple-OT game is not normally "ideal." However, a berth in a BCS game isn't normally on the line either and that added adrenaline can go a long way in helping a tired team keep going
The Cardinals are 5-2 ATS the last seven times that they were off a conference loss, 3-0 ATS the last three times that they were off back to back losses. With it all on the line, I look for them to find a way. *10
|11-29-12||Manhattan -7 v. Fordham||Top||65-58||Push||0||9 h 19 m||Show|
I'm playing on MANHATTAN. I played on the Jaspers in their last win a win and cover vs. Hofstra on 11/21. I expect them to get another big win tonight. I've pasted an excerpt of the analysis of that 11/21 victory below, as I feel it give a good indication of what this team is all about.
The Jaspers had a great season under Steve Masiello, a Rick Pitino prodigy. All Manhattan did in Masiello's first season was improve by 15 games, instantly becoming a championship contender in its conference. The Jaspers did get upset (in OT) by Siena in the MAAC tourney, which wasn't the way they wanted to end their otherwise excellent season. That prompted Masiello to comment: "I'm very happy with the year, but disappointed with the finish. But, we got Manhattan back to again being relevant." The Jaspers return most of the pieces from last year including "floor general" Michael Alvardo, who averaged better than three assists per game last season, while chipping in 8.5 points. They may be without senior Beamon here, which is a blow. However, this is a team loaded with depth, I believe with more than enough to handle in experienced Hofstra, a team they beat by nine (on the road) last season. Hofstra coach Cassara said this entering the season: "We've got nine new guys who have never worn the uniform before. That certainly lends itself to taking some time to mesh, and my hope is that we can continue to get better and by the middle of January, middle of February, beginning of March, those nine new pieces have gelled together. And hopefully you
|11-28-12||Dallas Mavericks v. Chicago Bulls -6||Top||78-101||Win||100||10 h 21 m||Show|
I'm playing on CHICAGO. I lost by going against the Mavericks yesterday, part of an overall lousy Tuesday. That stunk, as I hate losing at least as much as anyone. However, whether or not I win or lose with a team, I don't let it cloud my judgement on how I view that team's next game. In this case, while they beat my yesterday, I'm fully ready to go against the Mavs again.
To their credit, the Mavs fought hard all the way last night. They still lost though, eking out a cover by less than a bucket. That hard-fought loss figures to drain their energy a bit here. (The Mavs are 1-2 SU/ATS this season when playing the second of b2b games, going 2-5 SU/ATS their last seven in that situation, since last season.)
Even if the Mavs are able to immediately shake off last night's loss and be fully ready to go here, I expect them to have their hands more than full with what figures to be a very angry "herd" of Bulls.
In what has been a frustrating start to the season, Chicago hit rock-bottom last time out. Out 27 points with the third quarter winding down, the Bulls managed to get outscored 42-14 over the final 15 minutes, en route to a devastating 93-92 loss.
Unlike the Mavs, the Bulls have had a day off to "recover." Also, while the Mavs can take solace in the fact that they fought hard - nobody's questioning their effort last night - the Bulls are furious about what happened to them. This season's early struggles and Rose's absence notwithstanding, I still view this as a talented and well-coached team. I expect them to come out "on a mission."
Having blown the big lead last time out, I expect the Bulls to be fully focused on keeping the pedal to the metal the entire 48 minutes. Note that Chicago is an outstanding 24-10 ATS (27-7 SU) the last 34 times that it was off an "uspet" (SU loss as a favorite) loss.
The Bulls have beaten the Mavs three straight times, limiting them to 81 points in those games, while out-rebounding them by a commanding 52-39 average per game. The Bulls covered the spread in all three of those games, with both games here at Chicago resulting in double-digit wins. Going back further finds the Bulls at 7-1 ATS the last eight meetings in the series. I expect them to improve on those stats tonight. *10 Personal Favorite
|11-28-12||Michigan State v. Miami (Fla) -1||Top||59-67||Win||100||10 h 52 m||Show|
I'm playing on MIAMI. Many are going to see Miami as a slight favorite against might Michigan State and do a bit of a double-take. I believe the Hurricanes deserve to be favored though and that they'll view this as a "statement game," their opportunity to be recognized as a talented program.
The Hurricanes, who returned four starters from last year, are undefeated at home this season. The Spartans are playing their first "true" road game.
The Canes quietly have high hopes for this season and they come in playing with confidence. Last time out, laying 6.5 points against Detroit, they won by 15, a score of 77-62.
Remember, this team won at both Duke and at Florida State last year. They only lost one starter from last year's team (Malcolm Grant) and he had a bad year last year anyway. While Grant played a role early in the season, he struggled down the stretch and really should not be missed much.
The Canes have a coach who has enjoyed postseason success and a team loaded with seniors. This is a big game for them.
The game against Detroit marked the return of senior guard Durand Scott, who had been serving a 6-game suspension, dating back to last season. Scott would score 15 points, making a successful return. He's an important player for this team. Shane Larkin also scored 15. Scott and Larkin are an excellent combo, both strong defenders.
The Spartans are off to a 5-1 start. However, turnovers have plagued them. In fact, they've turned the ball over 20 times in their last two games alone and they did so 67 times in a 4-game stretch, none of those against top tier competition.
Even coach Izzo noted: "I think our guys are going to be great citizens when they get done with basketball, because the Christmas season is lasting all year. They're giving gifts away."
Two of Michigan State's last three games have seen the Spartans win by four or less, games that they were favored by 22.5 and 15.5 points.
Izzo would go on to say: I don't like the way our team is at all. I'm just trying to figure how much of it is due to our preparation or lack thereof with the guys who are injured. But that doesn't have anything to do with some of my key guys turning it over four or five times.''
Of course, Izzo's teams tend to be great come March. However, they're not necessarily always that strong early on in the season.
The Canes are healthier and I also expect them to be "hungrier." Some will view it as an upset but not me. *9
|11-27-12||North Carolina State +6 v. Michigan||Top||72-79||Loss||-110||10 h 54 m||Show|
I'm playing on NC STATE. The Wolverines are off to their best start in recent years and are worthy of a high ranking. Tim Hardaway Jr. won the MVP award as Michigan comes in off a win over K-State in the final of the NIT Tip Off. Impressive start and Hardaway, who got kneed in the head in that win over the Wildcats, is certainly a dangerous player. However, I'm not convinced that the Wolverines any better than the opponent which they'll face tonight.
I feel that the Wolverines are a little over-valued based on their early season success and that the opposite is true of the Wolfpack, a very talented team in their own right, one which returned four starters from last year. Having yet to taste the type of success that Michigan has achieved, I also feel that the Wolfpack are going to be a hungry and determined group here.
The Wolfpack lost in the championship game against Oklahoma State of their tournament in Peurto Rico. Off that big game and trip home and with this big game on deck, the Wolfpack were flat in their last game. In fact, they were nearly upset by lowly UNC Asheville. They did enough to win though, eking out an 82-80 victory. I expect that to serve as a "wake up call" and that we'll get their very best effort here.
Coach Gottfried typically had his team ready to play last season, off a poor defensive effort like it displayed last time out. In fact, NC State is 7-3 ATS its last 10 lined, after allowing 80 or more points in its previous game.
Gottfried had this to say: "We've got to be better. We've got to be better defensively. We've got to develop better chemistry amongst our team. We've got to develop a team spirit that is all about winning - period. Nothing else ... "
It should also be noted that the Wolfpack are 9-5 ATS in lined games the past couple of seasons, after scoring 80 or more in their previous game.
These teams have met twice in recent seasons. The Wolfpack won the most recent meeting by seven points, a 74-67 victory on this exact day (11/27) in 2006. The most recent meeting here at Ann Arbor came back in 2003 and was decided by six points. Another close game won't be surprise and I'm grabbing the generous points. *10 Best Bet
|11-27-12||Dallas Mavericks v. Philadelphia 76ers -3.5||Top||98-100||Loss||-102||9 h 23 m||Show|
I'm playing on PHILADELPHIA. This line is quite low. That means that a SU victory has a good chance in also resulting in a cover. I expect the 76ers to get it done.
The Mavericks are a mess. They did rise to the occasion to eke out a win against the Knicks on 11/21. However, they followed it up with a 26-point loss vs. the Lakers three nights later. (They're playing with two day's rest again here.)
The Mavs, who lost by 19 when coming off a game against the Lakers earlier, are now 2-8 ATS their last 10. For the season, they're 2-4 ATS away from Dallas, including 1-4 their last five. On the other hand, the 76ers have won four of five here at Philadelphia.
While they narrowly missed covering, the 76ers got back on track with a win in their last game. Jrue Holiday had a breakout game, serving up 33 points while also dishing out 13 assists. That snapped a 2-game skid and I look for the 76'ers to build some positive momentum from the victory.
Thaddeus Young commented: "We take a lot of pride in how we play and we didn't want to lose three straight. I think Jrue set the tone from the beginning with his aggressive play. He put us on his shoulders."
The entire city of Philadelphia is really down on the Eagles right now, more than ever after another loss last night. I look for the 76ers to step up and "restore some pride" to the city, with a solid win and cover. *9 Personal Favorite
|11-26-12||Oakland v. Tennessee -12||Top||50-77||Win||100||9 h 42 m||Show|
I'm playing on TENNESSEE. Its payback time. These teams met at Rochester, last November, home of the Golden Grizzlies. Behind 35 points from Reggie Hamilton, the nation's leading scorer, Oakland won 89-81. The previous season, the Golden Grizzlies beat the then-seventh-ranked Volunteers 89-82 in Knoxville. That was Oakland's first ever win over a Top 10 team. With last year's result, Tennessee joined Oregon as the only major-conference programs to lose twice to Oakland since its move to Division I in 1999. Obviously, the Vols don't want to make it three in a row!
The Golden Grizzlies don't have Hamilton this year though and they don't have superstar Keith Benson from the previous season. While the team does still have some returning talent, they don't have that type of "star power" yet. Without a huge effort like we saw from Hamilton last year, I feel they're going to be in trouble.
While they're without Jeronne Maymon at the moment, he's only one of four returning starters from last year's team - one which hasn't forgotten losing to Oakland. This is a talented team, one which should enjoy advantages all over the floor. I feel that they'll be motivated to deliver a blowout and I look for them to get it. *10 Personal Favorite
|11-25-12||Green Bay Packers v. NY Giants -3||Top||10-38||Win||110||11 h 1 m||Show|
I'm playing on the NY GIANTS. These teams both command respect. Both have elite quarterbacks and both are led by Super Bowl winning coaches. Either are capable of winning anywhere, any time. That said, I still feel that home field advantage is significant. And that getting the champs, laying a field goal or less, is offering very fair value.
Obviously, both teams really want this one. Its true that the Packers are playing with "revenge" from last year's playoff loss. However, they're also off a divisional game last week and playing their second straight on the road.
I played against the Giants in their last game, a blowout loss at Cincy. The champs have had two weeks to recover from that embarrassing loss though and they figure to be motivated by it.
Note that the Giants are 2-0 the last couple of seasons, after their bye. They won those two games by a combined score of 61-24. In fact, they're 4-0 SU their last four after a bye, every victory coming by a minimum of a field goal.
Manning seems to particularly benefit off a bye. Indeed, Eli has completed better than 68% of his passed for 1,290 yards, 10 touchdowns and only one interception over that 4-game "post-bye" win streak. I'm going with the champs to bounce back. *9 Personal Favorite
|11-25-12||Baltimore Ravens v. San Diego Chargers +2||Top||16-13||Loss||-105||7 h 8 m||Show|
I'm playing on SAN DIEGO. The Ravens opened as slight favorites in this game and that's still the case as I write this. I understand that the books are looking for balanced action. So, perhaps this will prove to be the perfect line for them to achieve that goal. However, my own "personal line" doesn't take balancing action into consideration.
Actually I make two sets of lines prior to ever seeing the actual ones. One is a line which factors in what I expect to happen in the game, my "personal line." The other is my "projected" line. In this case, I projected the game at "pick'em," which was pretty accurate. However, my "personal line" had the Chargers laying a field goal. In fact, I expect them to win by more even than that. Here's why.
The Ravens have been "unbeatable" at Baltimore. However, they're only 3-2 on the road. A closer look reveals that they are actually being outscored in their road games by a 19.6 to 16.6 margin. Perhaps more alarming, they're being outgained by a 369 to 256.2 margin, in terms of total yards, in those games.
In fact, Baltimore is currently on pace to become only the third team in NFL history to average 20 more points at home than it does on the road.
Looking at the three victories shows that their first two road wins came at Kansas City and at Cleveland. (They beat the Browns by 10 but only beat the Chiefs by three.) Let's keep in mind that those two teams have a combined 3-17 record so far this season. Clearly, San Diego represents a far more difficult opponent.
The Ravens' third and most recent win came last week at Pittsburgh, a 13-10 affair. That sounds fairly impressive until remembering that the Steelers played without Big Ben, not to mention Polamalu and others.
Speaking of that Pittsburgh game, the Ravens have a rematch against those same Steelers next week. Those two games against Pittsburgh are arguably the two most important games on their schedule. Having to fly thousands of miles for a game "sandwiched" between those two games is far from ideal. Throw in the fact that they're without a number of players and matters become even more difficult.
Baltimore has now won three straight. That's not necessarily a good thing though. Counting last week's Pittsburgh game as a "push" (it could have been counted as a loss) the Ravens are just 6-12-2 ATS the last 20 times that they were off two or more consecutive victories.
The Chargers' playoff chances certainly aren't looking too good right now. However, there's still a faint glimmer of hope. That'll be gone if they can't win this one though.
QB Rivers had this to say: "We can't worry about that. We just have to go try and win a game. We have to hang our hat on controlling what we can control.''
The Chargers are outscoring teams by a 24 to 21.2 margin here, outgaining them 335.7 to 312.7 margin. While there are no mulligans in the NFL, if one threw out the early "stinker" vs. the Falcons, the Chargers' home numbers are actually very strong.
This Chargers team is still 13-7 its last 20 games here. That includes a 34-14 victory over these same Ravens here last season. I expect them to dig deep and to find a way to come out on top once again. *10 FF GOY
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