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|Date||Match Up||Rating||Score||Result||Profit||Lead Time||Analysis|
|10-27-11||Rice v. Houston -27.5||Top||34-73||Win||100||9 h 10 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on RICE. Its always a bit "scary" to go against a team like Houston. The Cougars have a record setting QB in Kase Keenum, a top 20 ranking and they're among the highest scoring teams in the country. Off back to back blowout victories, few will dare go against them here. That said, I feel that very sentiment has caused this line to become too high. Consider that last week the Cougars opened at -20.5 and closed at -24 vs. Marshall, a team arguably not as talented as Rice. (Marshall did beat Rice but only by four and that game was at Marshall.) That game was actually the highest line that Houston had see too, with the exception of a game vs. 1-AA Georgia State. Now, they're laying a much bigger number. While some may argue otherwise, with the exception of the opening game vs. UCLA, Rice is arguably as capable as any team that Houston has played. Indeed, the Cougars have played a very soft schedule. True, the Owls are off a disappointing loss - but they're still a team which returned 17 starters from last season, one of the most experienced teams in the country. Speaking of last season's team - the Owls actually beat the Cougars last year. Listed as +9.5 point underdogs, they won outright by a score of 34-31, a result which should give them confidence that they can hang with Houston here. (Although Keenum didn't play.) The Owls have played a tougher schedule than the Cougars, as they've faced the likes of Texas, Baylor, Southern Miss, Purdue and Tulsa. They faced the first three of those on the road, too. Yet, this is by far the biggest line that they've had for one of their games. Note that while they have been blown out a few times, they haven't lost any game by more than 25 points. The Cougars failed to cover in their lone Thursday game this season (7-point win vs Utep) and I look for them to receive a tough test than most will be expecting here. *10
|10-24-11||Baltimore Ravens v. Jacksonville Jaguars +11||Top||7-12||Win||100||9 h 22 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on JACKSONVILLE. It'll be tough for a lot of bettors to go against the Ravens here. After all, Baltimore is among the best teams in the AFC and comes in on a roll. They also recently saw what a "good" team (New Orleans) did to a "bad" team (Indianapolis) last night on primetime - and that result in fresh in their memory. That reluctance to go against the Ravens has helped to create plenty of line value for us though, as we're able to get "double-digits" with the home underdog. While I certainly respect the Ravens, I feel that grabbing all those generous points will prove to be the way to go. Off five straight losses, the Jaguars could obviously use a victory. Remember, at the beginning of the season owner Wayne Weaver essentially told Del Rio he better show some improvement. After this, the Jags play three straight road games, too. So, this is their chance to step up and prove that they're not a bunch of "quitters." Keep in mind that the Jags rallied to get themselves in position to have a shot at winning at Pittsburgh last week, eventually falling 17-13. Including that result, four of the Jags' six games have been decided by 10 or fewer points. Five of their six games have been decided by less than 14. Many of the Jacksonville players still like their head coach and I expect them to play hard for him again tonight. Middle linebacker Paul Posluszny had this to say: "When people say, 'Aw, his job is on the line' and stuff like that, I disagree because Del Rio is doing a great job of preparing us and being the leader of this team. It's the players' fault that we're in this situation to begin with, not the head coach or anybody else. As a player, you want to take the heat off your man because we're the ones that caused it." The Ravens have only played two road games so far this season. They got blown out at Tennessee and they blew out the Rams, at St Louis. The Rams are 0-6 though and have been outscored by a 171-56 margin - so, while the Jags have mostly been competitive, the Ravens weren't the only team to blow out the Rams. They're just 11-11 SU their last 22 road games overall. The Jags were 11-8 SU at home, during the same stretch. While it still likely won't ultimately save Del Rio's job, in an attempt to do so, I expect the Jags to give their best effort tonight and for that to lead to at least a "cover." *10
|10-23-11||Green Bay Packers v. Minnesota Vikings +9.5||Top||33-27||Win||100||93 h 21 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on MINNESOTA. I successfully played "against" the Vikings last week, when they got crushed by the Bears. That was on the road though. Off that embarrassing loss on National TV and having returned home to Minnesota, I expect a much better effort from the Vikings here. Regulars will recall that I also had a big play "on" the Vikes in their last home game. They crushed Arizona by a score of 34-10. Its true that the Vikings season is essentially over already - however, in addition to the Packers being a hated division rival, this game offers the Vikes a chance to be the first team to beat the defending champs. Beating Green Bay certainly wouldn't solve all the Vikings' problems - but it sure wouldn't hurt either and would temporarily get the critics off their backs. (After that, they could go back to competing in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes.) Of course, they don't need to beat the Packers here - just don't get blown out. As many probably assumed woud be the case, rookie Christian Ponder is expected to take over for veteran Donovan McNabb on Sunday. While McNabb has certainly done plenty of good things over his career, he really hasn't been effective this with the Vikings this season. After essentially being run out of Philadelphia and Washington, this was supposed to be his chance to save his career. However, he simply hasn't stepped up. While Ponder remains unproven, I expect the switch in QBs to have a positive effect on the team. Of course, having Adrian Peterson in the backfield doesn't hurt either. Despite McNabb's struggles and their 1-5 overall record, the Vikings have still only lost one game by more than seven points. Prior to their blowout win over the Cards, their previous five games had all been decided by five or fewer points. With the win over Arizona, the Vikes are 14-6 SU their last 20 games here. The worst of those six losses came at the hands of these same Packers last November, a 31-3 blowout. The Vikes haven't forgotten that one and I expect them to respond by going all out with a highly motivated effort to avoid a repeat performance. *10 Best Bet
|10-23-11||Denver Broncos v. Miami Dolphins||Top||18-15||Loss||-110||21 h 58 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on MIAMI. These teams have started off so poorly that each of their seasons are already pretty much done, at least in terms of making the playoffs. That said, I feel both will still want to win this game. The 1-4 Broncos, expected to start Tim Tebow at QB, would like to start the Tebow era/experiment off with a victory. Meanwhile, the 0-5 Dolphins would just like a win. Period. I feel the latter will be a bigger motivating factor, particularly with this game being played at Miami. Everyone is pretty down on the Dolphins right now. They know they're 0-5 and they just watched them lose by double-digits on national TV. However, in fairness to the Dolphins, that was their third straight road game and it came against a good Jets team. Additionally, the Dolphins had an edge in total yards, so the lopsided score was somewhat misleading. Additionally, the Dolphins' two home games came against a pair of quality teams, Houston and New England. In other words, this is arguably the Dolphins' "easiest" game to date. As they follow this game with another pair of road games, the Dolphins know they need to take advantage of this winnable opportunity. True, the Broncos are off a "bye," a situation that has historically been good to them. However, they've got a different coach than they've had in the past when they built up their impressive "post bye record" and with this year's rule changes, the bye may no longer be as advantageous as it once was. The Dolphins have long had success against teams from the AFC West, going 32-14 ATS their last 46 against teams from that division. That includes a 7-1 ATS (6-2 SU) mark against the Broncos. Desperate for their first victory, I expect them to go all out and to improve on those stats Sunday afternoon. *10
|10-22-11||Utah v. California -1||Top||10-34||Win||100||23 h 45 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on CALIFORNIA. I'll start by conceding that the Utes looked better than the Golden Bears last week. Utah went on the road and outplayed Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, Cal was beaten soundly by USC. Those results have worked in our favor though, as we now just need the Bears to win the game - instead of needing them to cover a small spread. I feel that's providing us with excellent value. While I respect the Utes, who are a well-coached team, I feel the schedule favors the Bears here - and I expect them to bounce back with their very best effort. While the Utes are surely hungry for their first official Pac-12 win, they're now playing their second straight road game - and they've had to travel from Pittsburgh to the West Coast in between those games. They're also still without their #1 QB. On the other hand, the Bears played right here last week. Plus, their game came on Thursday. So, not only did they have no travel to contend with, they also had some extra time in between games. Note that the Bears are 2-0 SU/ATS the last two times that they were listed as home favorites of three or fewer points and that they're also 2-0 ATS when playing with eight day's rest in between games. The Bears need this game every bit as much as the Utes. I believe this will prove to a favorable matchup for them and I look for the homefield and scheduling advantage to ultimately prove the difference. *10 Personal Favorite
|10-22-11||Memphis v. Tulane -12.5||Top||33-17||Loss||-105||19 h 11 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on TULANE. The Green Wave just saw their head coach (Bob Toledo) "resign" on Tuesday. That will likely prevent many from backing the Green Wave here. I say "Good riddance." Toledo was 15-40 here at Tulane, never making it to a bowl game. Last week, his team didn't show up in a blowout loss to Utep. While the idea is often that a team can't respond positively to a mid-season coaching change, if the situation is right, they most certainly can - just look at Arizona on Thursday night, the Wildcats played their best game of the season, after getting a new coach. In this case, I feel the situation sets up very well for the Green Wave to start the "new era" with a convincing victory. For starters, Toledo will be replaced by interim head coach Mark Hutson. Hutson has been serving as the offensive coordinator, so he's already familiar with the team and vice versa. Additionally, the Green Wave are facing perhaps the perfect opponent. Not only is Memphis a bad team but the Tigers are also currently really struggling. Memphis, which ranks 116th in the country in scoring with just 14 points per game, is 0-4 its last for games, getting outscored by a 143-54 margin. Combine the terrible offense with the fact that the Memphis defense gives up 499.1 yards and 36.4 points per game and its easy to see why Memphis is among the worst teams in the country. Note that the Tigers are a terrible 8-20 ATS (2-26 SU!) the last 28 times that they were getting points. Despite failing to cover last week, Tulane is still 6-3 ATS the past couple of seasons when off two or more consecutive losses. I expect the Green Wave to bounce back in "blowout" fashion here *10 Big Easy
|10-22-11||Oklahoma State v. Missouri +7.5||Top||45-24||Loss||-110||16 h 45 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on MISSOURI. The Cowboys are a dangerous team with one of the top QB/receiver tandems in the country. They've proven that they can win on the road. However, the Tigers are also a very capable team themselves, one which is generally tough to beat here at home. The Tigers crushed Iowa State by a score of 52-7 here last week. While the competition has admittedly been rather weak, the Tigers are 3-0 here at home, outscoring teams by a 46-7.7 margin. The Cowboys are off a 12-point win at Texas. Give them credit for that, as winning at Texas is no small task - even this year. That said, that game hinged on a couple of key plays (as most games do) and could have easily been closer than it was. Either way, it was a much harder fought contest than Missouri was involved in and now they're playing their second straight road game and their fourth road game in their last five games overall. That can be a tough spot - note that the Cowboys won by only one point the last time that they played the second of back to back road games. While OSU has an edge on offense, I don't feel the gap is as big as the betting public likely believes. Remember, Missouri ranks 13th in the country in total offense at nearly 500 yards per game. They're able to both run and pass effectively. Perhaps more importantly, I feel that the Tiger may have the superior defense. Despite playing road games at places like Oklahoma, Arizona State and Kansas State, the Tigers are still only giving up 20.3 points per game. The Cowboys, meanwhile, are giving up more than 27 game, including 29.3 (and 441 ypg) on the road. The Tigers typically like these "high-scoring games" here, as they are 3-1 ATS (4-0 SU) the last four times that they played a home game with an O/U line in the 63 to 70 range. The Tigers have won 10 straight at Faurot Field. I expect them to give the Cowboys all they can handle and then some. *10 Best Bet
|10-21-11||West Virginia v. Syracuse +14.5||Top||23-49||Win||100||34 h 32 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on SYRACUSE. I really like how this one sets up for the home underdog. While they failed to cover for the second straight week, the Orange are off a 37-34 road win at Tulane. They're now 4-2 SU on the season, including a 7-point win over Wake Forest and a 33-30 win over Toledo. In fact, a closer look shows that five of the Orange's six games have been decided by a touchdown or less, three of them by a field goal. The only exception was a road game at USC, which saw the Orange lose by 21, 38-17. Winning close (and OT) games figures to give them confidence here. The Mountaineers are always talented and they're off a strong 5-1 start. The lone loss came vs. LSU, one of the top teams in the country, so there's no shame in that. That said, they've only played one road game (at Maryland) and they only won that one by six. Off back to back big home wins (over a bad Bowling Green team and a mediocre UConn team that rarely plays well on the road) note that the Mountaineers are an awful 4-9 ATS (6-7 SU) the past few seasons, when off two or more consecutive SU victories. Listed as +13.5 point underdogs, the Orange won outright at West Virginia last season. This year's Syracuse team is even deeper and arguably stronger. That's saying a lot, considering that last year's team won a bowl game, finishing 8-5. Knowing they were able to beat WVU last year also figures to give the Orange some confidence here. West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen knows the Orange aren't "slouches." He was quoted as saying: "Syracuse is a good football team. They're 4-2. They figure out ways to win. Both of the opponents that they've lost to are 5-1. They play a very physical brand of football. Defensively, they pressure you a ton." Both teams are off a bye. WVU is 3-3 ATS (4-2 SU) the past couple of seasons, when off a bye. Syracuse, however, is 3-0 SU/ATS when off a bye. When given extra time to prepare, Doug Marrone led the Orange to a bowl win. Off their most recent regular season bye, which came last season, the Orange won outright at South Florida, as 8-point underdog. While I respect the Mountaineers, I feel this line is generously high and I look for the Orange to give them all they can handle (and then some) for the second straight year. *10
|10-18-11||Florida International +3 v. Arkansas State||Top||16-34||Loss||-105||10 h 42 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL. This is a big game for both teams. However, I would argue that its even more important for the visitors. Both are 4-2 overall but the Red Wolves are 2-0 in conference play while the Golden Panthers are 1-1. With Louisiana Lafayette off to a somewhat surprising perfect 4-0 (6-1 overall) start in conference play, that makes tonight's game even more important for the Panthers, as they can ill afford to fall to 1-2 in conference play. Keep in mind that this FIU team was considered one of the preseason favorites to win the Sun Belt. Also, remember, this was a team that returned 15 starters from last year's team which won the "Little Caesar's" Bowl. Note that FIU's conference loss came against Louisiana - that means that if they lost here they'd be 1-2 and would have losses against both teams which would be undefeated in conference play, as Arkansas State would move to 3-0. That would put the Panthers in an extremely difficult position - particularly with underachieving Troy on deck - a team which has won a minimum of eight games in five straight seasons and which has earned at least a share of the Sun Belt title in each. As FIU coach Mario Cristobal said of tonight's game: "...it is of tremendous importance." While the Panthers were putting together a winning season last year, note that the Red Wolves were just 3-9. They're clearly improved this season, however, this was not a team necessarily expected to challenge for the conference title. Even Arkansas State coach Hugh Freeze noted: "FIU probably has more talent and are deeper than some of us are ... " The Red Wolves have had success passing the ball this season and the FIU pass defense admittedly hasn't been a strength. That said, the Panthers have really played solid defense in their two road games and they've had plenty of time to prepare for the Red Wolves pass attack. Note that Florida International is 2-0 on the road, including a win at Louisville, and that it allowed 17 or fewer points in both of those road games. The Panthers beat the Red Wolves by seven last year. That was a 1-point game in the fourth quarter though and I feel this one could also be close. Note that the Red Wolves have seen back to back games decided by five or fewer points. The Panthers are already 2-0 ATS as underdogs and I look for them to earn at least another cover here. *10
|10-16-11||Cleveland Browns +7 v. Oakland Raiders||Top||17-24||Push||0||19 h 25 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on CLEVELAND. I like how this one sets up for the visitors. The 2-2 Browns are off a bye. Meanwhile, the Raiders are off a big upset road win at Houston. Prior to that, they faced the likes of the Patriots and Jets. In the middle of all that, they've had to deal with the passing of Al Davis. Although this is supposed to be a "tribute" game to Davis, with division rival KC on deck and with this being such an emotional time, I feel that this could easily be a prime "letdown" spot. Note that the Raiders are a poor 10-21 ATS their last 31 against AFC North opponents. In addition to potentially being in a tough scheduling spot, the Raiders are favored for the first time all season. They're just 2-3 ATS the last five times that they were laying points. Note that the Oakland defense ranks 31st in the league, allowing 438.6 yards per game. Even though they won last week, the Raiders were outgained by a 473 to 278 margin. Even though the Browns lost last time out, they still gained more than 400 yards on offense, holding a 416-332 overall advantage. The Browns have been solid as underdogs of this size. They're 5-3 ATS the last eight times that they were listed as underdogs in the +3.5 to +9.5 range, four of those wins coming outright. The Browns won their only road game this season and they're 7-1 ATS the last eight against the Raiders. I expect them to improve on those stats Sunday afternoon. *10 Best Bet
|10-16-11||Buffalo Bills v. NY Giants -3||Top||24-27||Push||0||74 h 30 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on the NY GIANTS. With a 4-1 record and victories over the likes of the Patriots and Eagles, the Bills are right up there with the Lions, as the talk of the league. While I'll certainly admit that they're improved from last season, I'm not ready to "drink the kool aid" quite yet. Rather, I expect this to be the week that they come back down to earth. Yes, the wins over the Pats and Eagles were impressive. However, both came at home. Also, the Bill were outgained in total yards in both those games. In fact, they gave up a combined 984 yards of total offense in those two games alone! Since shutting down the Chiefs at KC in Week 1, the Bills have allowed all four opponents to pass for a minimum of 287 yards, three of those opponents throwing for 315 or more. That spells bad news against Eli Manning and a Giants' offense which has gained 306 and 395 passing yards the last two weeks. With the Bills giving up so many yards through the air, one might assume that their rushing defense would have to be good. That's not the case though. The Bills gave up 174 yards on the ground last week and 171 the previous week. All five of their opponents have topped the 100 mark on the ground. After getting upset by Seattle last week, the Giants figure to be in a nasty mood. Even with that setback, they're still 7-3 SU and 6-4 ATS in October the past few seasons. Prior to the Seattle loss, the Giants had won three straight - each victory coming by more than a field goal. While the Bills' offense has obviously been impressive, I still believe that this is still a highly capable Giants' defense - one which is better than we saw last week. Note that the Giants' defensive coordinator (Perry Fewell) was previously the defensive coordinator for the Bills; he also served as their interim coach, before being passed over for Chan Gailey. Not only should that provide Fewell with some extra motivation - which he should be able to pass onto this players - but it gives him some added familiarity with the Bills, which potentially could prove advantageous. As Gailey acknowledged: "Well, he certainly knows a lot of the people that are on this team. He knows what some of the strengths and weaknesses are of some of our players. I think that's probably a little bit of an advantage for him to be able to talk about personnel." Buffalo linebacker Andra Davis said this of his team: "We're getting the breaks. I don't really believe in luck. But whatever it is, we'll take it." I look for the Bills' "luck" to run out on Sunday afternoon. *10 Personal Favorite
|10-16-11||Carolina Panthers v. Atlanta Falcons -3.5||Top||17-31||Win||100||66 h 30 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on ATLANTA. The 2-3 Falcons have a better (SU) record than the (1-4) Panthers. However, while the Panthers are being viewed (by some) as a "pleasant surprise," the Falcons are being considered a "disappointment." That may be true, to some extent. That viewpoint could certainly be supported by the ATS records of the two teams. Atlanta is 1-4 ATS. Carolina is 4-1 ATS. That's fine by me though, as that "sentiment" and those ATS records have worked in our favor. Indeed, this line is far lower than it would have been if these teams met here a few weeks ago, or at anytime in recent memory. Looking back to last season and we find that that Falcons were favored by seven AT Carolina and by a whopping 14 points when the teams met here at Atlanta. For what its worth, Atlanta won and covered both games - each resulting in an identical 31-10 score. True, they're not where they wanted to be. However, in fairness to the Falcons, they're first five games have all been tough. Three of them came on the road and their two home games came against the likes of the Eagles and the Packers. They beat Philly and easily could have beaten Green Bay. Obviously, the Panthers are a big step down in class from the world champs. Going back further finds the Falcons at 14-5 SU and 12-7 ATS their last 19 here. Speaking of "taking a step down in class," the Falcons tend to "take care of business" against the league's weaker teams. I successfully played against the Falcons at Seattle, when Seahawks were 1-2, but even with that ATS loss, the Falcons are still a team which is 9-4 ATS (12-1 SU!) its last 13 against teams with a losing record. Given their home record and those stats against losing teams, its no surprise that the Falcons are 16-9 ATS the last 25 times that they were laying points, including 4-1 ATS (5-0 SU) the last five times that they were listed as home favorites in the -3.5 to -7 range. The Falcons have won three straight home games in this series and I look for them to make it four in a row, as they welcome Cam Newton back to his home state with a convincing win and cover. *10 Big Easy
|10-15-11||Kansas State v. Texas Tech -3.5||Top||41-34||Loss||-106||48 h 29 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on TEXAS TECH. The Wildcats come to town riding high with an undefeated record and a top 20 national ranking. I believe that the unranked Red Raiders are favored for good reason though. The Red Raiders are 4-1 SU/ATS and their lone loss came against Texas [email protected], a team which is arguably better than any K-State has faced. The Red Raiders have also dominated the Wildcats, winning five straight in the series. The last meeting resulted in a 66-14 destruction. The Wildcats have admittedly been stingy on defense. However, they haven't had to deal with an offense quite like this one. The Red Raiders rank in the top 10 nationally in points per game (45.8), passing yards (354.6) AND total yards per game (524.6). Their Quarterback (Seth Doege) is tied for second in Division 1-A football with 17 touchdowns. In fact, Doege has thrown at least three touchdowns in every game and he ranks sixth in the nation with 341.2 yards per game. The Red Raiders play at Oklahoma next. That means if they don't win here, they'll likely be looking at a 3-game losing streak, something they know they can ill afford. On the other hand, off their big win vs. Missouri and with instate rival Kansas on deck, its possible that the Wildcats have their minds on other things, if only slightly. Excluding "pushes," the Red Raiders are an impressive and profitable 64-36 ATS their last 100 home lined games. During that stretch, they've also gone 37-19 ATS when off a conference loss, including 5-2 ATS their last seven in that situation. I expect them to again bounce back, continuing their dominance in this series and covering the small number along the way. *10 Personal Favorite
|10-15-11||Michigan v. Michigan State -2||Top||14-28||Win||100||41 h 27 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on MICHIGAN STATE. The Wolverines are off to an impressive 6-0 start. However, five of those victories have come at home and the lone road game came at Northwestern - and that came last week. Now, they take a big step up in class and play their second straight road game. Some may note that the Wolverines beat Notre Dame and that the Spartans lost to those same Irish. However, lets not forget that Michigan faced Notre Dame at home (and needed a miracle win) while the Spartans did so on the road. Also, note that the Spartans won at Ohio State, arguably a far more impressive feat than anything that the Wolverines have yet to accomplish. The Spartans beat Michigan 34-17 at Michigan last season and also 26-20 here at Michigan State two seasons ago. Off a bye, they're well-rested and should be well-prepared. They're 7-4 ATS (8-3 SU) in October the past few seasons. While the Spartans' offense is very capable, the defense is outstanding. They've only permitted only six offensive touchdowns in five games. The Spartans are allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete less than half of their passes. They've recorded seven interceptions and have recovered three fumbles. They'rea allowing an average of just 2.2 yards per carry on the ground. The Spartans are 17-3 SU the last 20 times that they were listed as favorites. I expect them to improve on those stats here, covering the very small number along the way. *10
|10-13-11||USC v. California +3.5||Top||30-9||Loss||-110||25 h 20 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on CALIFORNIA. I lost with the Bears last week (won with the Under in same game) but am fully willing to give them another shot on Thursday. Last week's game was on the road, vs. a very powerful Oregon offense. The Bears came ready to play - in fact, they were beating the Ducks 15-14 at halftime. However, they couldn't keep it up in the second half. They're back home now though, albeit at a home (AT&T Park) they're not that familiar with, and I expect a highly motivated effort for the full 60-minutes. Note that the Bears are 2-0 at "home" this season, going 10-5 their last 15 "home games." The Bears were blown out at USC last season and they definitely want to avoid a similar feat here. As coach Tedford noted: "That was definitely a long day. We have to make sure that doesn't happen again." The Trojans remain a dangerous team. QB Barkley lit up the Bears last season and he's got another year under his belt. Of course, it helps having Robert Woods, the #1 receiver in the Pac-12, at his disposal. While the Bears do have a good defense, they're missing their top corner and Woods will likely put up fairly big numbers again. That said, the Bears have an extremely talented top receiver themselves. Keenan Allen ranks #2 in the Pac-12 and he's looking forward to trying to keep up with Woods. Allen was quoted as saying this about Woods and Thursday's game: "I definitely look forward to it. We're both good athletes. I met him at the All-American camp. We hung out. I'm going to come out there and compete. He's obviously faster than I am, but I can make some moves." Allen and co. should be able to have a solid day against a USC secondary that gave up more than 400 passing yards against Arizona in its last game, a 48-41 home victory on 10/1. Prior to that, in their last road game, the Trojans got blown out 43-22 at Arizona State. The Trojans are just 3-7-1 ATS the last 11 times that they were listed as road favorites and they're also only 3-7 ATS the last 10 times that they were off a conference victory. Meanwhile, during that same stretch, the Bears are 2-1 SU/ATS when off back to back losses. In the end, while this is a very important game for both teams, I expect the Bears to be a little "hungrier." They desperately want to avoid losing three in a row and to avoid getting blown out on National TV in back to back weeks. They're also looking for payback from the last couple of years in this series. I'll gladly grab the points but look for the Bears to rise to the occasion and score the uspet. *10 Main Event
|10-10-11||Chicago Bears +6 v. Detroit Lions||Top||13-24||Loss||-105||10 h 33 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on CHICAGO. The Lions are off to an impressive 4-0 start. However, a closer look shows that three of their four games were decided by a touchdown or less and that each of their last two games were decided by four or fewer. Now, they're being asked to lay more than that against a talented and highly motivated divisional rival. While the Lions first three games came against the likes of Tampa, KC and Minnesota - the Bears were dealing with the likes of the Saints, Packers and Falcons - three of the very best in the league. Going 1-2 in those games wasn't what they were hoping for but wasn't all that bad, considering. They finally stepped down in class last week and promptly got a win. At 2-2 and already 0-1 in the division, they know they can't afford to lose this one. The Lions did blow out KC in impressive fashion. However, even with that cover, they're still a team which is 11-17-1 ATS the last 29 times it was listed as a home favorite in the -3.5 to -7 range. Even with the win over the Vikings, the Lions also have just three wins in 13 tries the past few seasons against divisional opponents. They've been "playing with fire" lately and I expect them to have their hands full the entire way vs. a Chicago team which is 3-0 SU/ATS its last three Monday night games. In a game that could easily come down to the wire, I'll gladly grab the generous points but I won't be at all surprised if the Lions suffer their first loss. *10
|10-09-11||Green Bay Packers v. Atlanta Falcons +6.5||Top||25-14||Loss||-110||33 h 25 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on ATLANTA. I successfully played against the Falcons last week. At the time, I noted that they were a very good team at home but only a mediocre one on the road and that I felt they were laying too many points. I also noted that they may well have this week's game against Green Bay on the back of their minds. Lets start by looking at an excerpt from last week's analysis: "...While the Seahawks are coming off a momentum building divisional victory, the Falcons are coming off a potentially deflating divisional loss. Its true that they've been pretty good at bouncing back from divisional losses the past couple of seasons - I know as I've won with them in that situation. However, in this case, they're thousands of miles away from home and playing their second straight road game. Additionally, they've got a huge rematch with the defending Superbowl Champs on deck - next week's Sunday night ESPN game. So, while they do certainly need a victory - its entirely possible that they could already have the Packers, the team which knocked them out of the playoffs last year, on the back of their minds..." That game worked out well, as the Falcons got the SU win but failed to cover. Meanwhile, Green Bay won big, while covering, vs. Denver. Those results, combined with the fact that the Packers are the SB Champs, have helped to provide us with an extremely generous number on the Falcons here. Indeed, keep in mind that Atlanta was a -1 point favorite when these teams faced each other here last January and a -2.5 point favorite when they met here during last reg. season. True, Green Bay is off a fast start and the offense is clicking. The pass defense has showed some real chinks in its armor though and the Falcons have a QB who is more than capable of exploiting a suspect secondary. In fact, the Packer defense ranks 31st against the pass with 335.8 yards allowed per game and has yielded 25 plays of 20-plus yards. Even with the playoff loss to the Packers here, the Falcons are still a superb 16-4 their last 20 games here. Of the four losses, two of them came by three or fewer points. The Falcons are 7-3 ATS the last 10 in this series and I look for them to earn AT LEAST another cover here. *10
|10-09-11||Arizona Cardinals v. Minnesota Vikings -1||Top||10-34||Win||100||49 h 25 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on MINNESOTA. With many believing the season is already finished, (at 0-4 the Vikings aren't likely coming back to make the playoffs, not in the competitive NFC North) many Viking fans may no longer even want to see their team win. I don't feel the players are ready to pack it in though. Rather, I feel they'll view this a winnable game and will go all out in an effort to make the most of it. While their playoff chances will be bleak no matter what happens here, Minnesota knows that this is really a 'must win' game, if it wants to give itself any hope of keeping the season "meaningful." After all, the Vikes have Chicago and Green Bay on deck, followed by Carolina. The division games certainly won't be easy but at least they provide the opportunity to improve. Having been so competitive, the Vikes at least have reason not to "give up" yet. While the Vikings are a very disappointing 0-4, the Cardinals haven't been much better. They're 1-3 and off three straight losses, including a particularly painful one last time out. Their lone victory came against Carolina (when Cam Newton was making his first start at QB) and the Cards were badly outagained in that one. With a couple of tough games on deck, they know they need this one. Yet, they also may be starting to feel discouraged - and, unlike the Vikes, they won't be getting any extra energy from being at home. The Vikes beat the Cards 27-24 last season. While the score was close, Minnesota actually dominated statistically. The Vikes had a 28-13 edge in first downs and a 527-225 edge in total yards. The Vikes are 16-9 ATS (19-6 SU) the last 25 times that they were listed as home favorites of -3 or fewer points. I expect them to put it all together here and come away with the win and cover. *10 Personal Favorite
|10-09-11||Cincinnati Bengals v. Jacksonville Jaguars -1||Top||30-20||Loss||-114||26 h 51 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on JACKSONVILLE. I won with the Bengals last week. That was a great spot for them though. Not only were they at home but they were catching an over-valued Buffalo team off an emotional victory over the Patriots. That caused the Bengals to be getting more than a field goal at home, which I felt offered excellent value. Now, however, they're on the road and essentially being asked to win outright. I feel that value has now shifted and that the Bengals are actually being given too much respect here. While the Bengals are getting plenty of credit for beating the Bills - as noted, that was an excellent spot for them - and the Bills likely aren't quite as good as many still seems to think. Prior to that, Cincy faced the likes of Cleveland, Denver and San Francisco - none of which were playoff teams last year. In fact, the four opponents that they've faced thus far were a combined 19-45 last year and NONE had more than six wins. Now, they'll take on their first opponent all season which had a record of .500 or better last season. The Jags, 1-3 this year, were 8-8 last season. Note that the Bengals are 1-8 ATS their last nine against teams with a losing record. The Jaguars, on the other hand, have already taken on the likes of the Saints and the Jets. They did lose both their road games but split their home games, beating the Titans while losing vs. New Orleans last week. The Bengals clearly represent a drop in class and with a road game at Pittsburgh on deck, the Jags know they can't afford to slip up here - if they want to stop this season from getting completely away. The Jags are a respectable 13-9-1 ATS (15-8 SU) the last 23 times that they were home favorites of three or fewer points. They've won seven straight home meetings vs the Bengals and I look for them to find a way to win this "battle of rookie QBs" on Sunday afternoon. *9
|10-08-11||Washington State v. UCLA Bruins -3.5||Top||25-28||Loss||-105||35 h 51 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on UCLA. The Cougars have the better record. However, I believe that the Bruins are still the better team and that they'll show it on Saturday night. Great start for the Cougars, who are clearly an improved team. They'll be playing their third straight road game here though and, that being the case, I don't feel they're ready to win here at UCLA. The Bruins have had a tough schedule. Three of their five games have been on the road. I successfully played against them at Houston, so was not surprised to see them lose that one. They did win at Oregon State, although the Beavers have struggled. Last week, they lost at Stanford - so there's no shame in that. Of their two home games, one resulted in a double-digit win vs. SJ. State and the most recent resulted in a loss vs. Texas - no real shame in that either. That does make this a very important game though. Bruins are 38-18-1 all-time against the Cougars. They beat them 42-28 here last season and 42-7 at Washington State the previous season. In fact, UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel has never lost to the Cougars. While the Cougars are improved from last year, the Bruins were also expected to be improved. Keep in mind that this team returned 17 starters from last season. Their next four games are arguably all more difficult than this one. In other words, this is a game they absolutely need. I expect the Bruins to be a little "hungrier" and I look for them to do an effective job in controlling the clock and limiting the time that the Washington State offense spends on the field. The Bruins are 12-6-1 ATS the last 19 times that they were listed as home favorites in the -3.5 to -7 range. During that stretch, they've also gone 8-3 SU/ATS when playing a home game with an O/U line in the 56.5 to 63 range. I expect them to improve on those stats here. *10 (Personal Favorite)
|10-08-11||Florida Atlantic v. North Texas -3.5||Top||17-31||Win||100||32 h 52 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on NORTH TEXAS. I like how this one sets up for the Mean Green. North Texas has had a tough schedule thus far. The Mean Green played three road games and were double-digit underdogs in each. Their first home game came against a good Houston team. The Mean Green lost that one. Their most recent - and only other - home game came against Indiana, a Big Ten team. Despite being underdogs, the Mean Green won that one by three. Now, they step down in class to face a Florida Atlantic team which is in a tough spot. After getting blown out in their first three games, the Owls left it all the field last time out. They still lost, however, falling 37-34 to Louisiana. They rallied to tie that one, only to give up the winning field goal at the buzzer. That figures to be a tough loss to bounce back, particularly for a weak 0-4 team that is now playing its fifth straight road game, while looking ahead to finally going home. Note that the Owls are just 1-6 ATS the last seven times that they were off a conference loss. During that stretch, they were also 0-3 ATS as road underdogs in the +3.5 to +7 range. The Owls' offense has been terrible so far this season ranking 119th in total yards per game and 116th in points scored. The Mean Green finally beat them (at FAU) last year and this year I look for them to do so by an even wider margin. *10 (Annihilator)
|10-06-11||California +24 v. Oregon||Top||15-43||Loss||-110||83 h 33 m||Show|
I'm playing on CALIFORNIA. The Ducks are a good team. Ok, they're probably even a VERY good team. That said, the Bears are also a lot more talented than many people seem to realize and I believe this pointspread will prove to be too high.
The Ducks lost 40-27 vs. LSU in their opener. No real shame in that, as LSU has an excellent team. Still, the 40 points allowed was a little concerning. They won each of their next two games in blowout fashion. However, those were both against very weak teams and both those victories came at home. In their last game, the Ducks won by 25 (56-31) at Arizona. That was an impressive result and final score.
However, a look at the total yards (516-480) shows that the game could have easily been much closer and that the Ducks defense was again vulnerable to giving up a lot of points.
The Bears are solid on both sides of the ball. They beat Fresno State by more than two touchdowns in their opener and followed it up with a road win at Colorado in their next game. That was followed by a 63-12 pasting of a bad team, before they suffered their first loss of the season in their last game. That loss, which came at Washington, came by only eight points though and the Bears had a 457 to 409 edge in total yards.
As strong as they've been in recent seasons, note that the Ducks are just 5-8 ATS their last 13 games against teams with a winning record. During that stretch, they've gone just 2-4 ATS when coming off a bye and 1-2 ATS when playing on a Thursday night. Going back further finds them at 4-6 ATS their last 10 on a Thursday.
I won with the Bears when they hosted the Ducks last season. Getting +19 points, they lost by only two, 15-13. The Bears haven't been this big an underdog in some time. Going back a bit finds them at 4-1 ATS the last five times that they were underdogs in the +21.5 to +31 range. I expect them to improve on those stats Thursday, as they give the Ducks a tougher game than expected for the second straight season. *10 Thurs. Best Bet
|10-06-11||Western Kentucky v. Middle Tenn State -9.5||Top||36-33||Loss||-110||81 h 53 m||Show|
I'm playing on MIDDLE TENN. STATE. I really like how this one sets up for the home team. The Blue Raiders won last week but didn't cover. The Hilltoppers, on the other hand, covered the spread but didn't win. Not only did those results help to keep this line somewhat reasonable, with both teams now playing on a short week, I feel the team that's playing at home and coming off a close SU win will have a significant emotional advantage over the team that's playing on the road and off a close SU loss. Note that close losses can be difficult to bounce back from, often even harder for college kids playing on a short week.
Speaking of playing on a short week, note that Western Kentucky is a terrible 2-18 SU the last 20 times that it played with six or fewer days' rest in between games while Middle Tennessee State is 15-2 SU and 13-4 ATS when doing so.
The Blue Raiders first three games were tough, as they were double-digit underdogs in each. They nearly won at Purdue, losing by only three. Off that close loss, they got blown out by Georgia Tech. (As noted, close losses can be tough to recover from!) Next, the Blue Raiders followed it up by losing by only three at Troy, nearly scoring the upset. Off that painful loss, they weren't able to blow out Memphis on Saturday. Still, they did get the SU victory - which was what all they were really after. Now, having gotten those three tough games out of the way and fully recovered from the letdown from the loss at Troy, I feel they're ready to build off Saturday's victory by blowing out a weak Western Kentucky team.
While Western Kentucky was able to remain competitive with Arkansas State last week, its previous three games all resulted in double-digit losses. That includes a 41-14 blowout home loss vs. lowly Indiana State, a game in which Western Kentucky was laying -14 points.
The Blue Raiders won by only one at Western Kentucky last season. However, they crushed the Hilltoppers by a score of 62-24 the last time that the teams met here. They're 12-5 SU/ATS their last 17 conference games and I look for them to improve on those stats with a double-digit win on Thursday. *10 Roast
|10-02-11||Detroit Lions v. Dallas Cowboys||Top||34-30||Loss||-110||75 h 48 m||Show|
I'm playing on DALLAS. Many will be quick to back the Lions here. After all, Detroit is off to a perfect start while everyone just saw a banged-up Dallas team barely squeak by Washington on Monday Night. Now, most will figure Dallas got "lucky" and will look to play against the Cowboys, based on their injury situation and based on the fact that they're playing on a short week.
Its true that playing with injuries and also playing on a short week are both factors which should be considered. However, its also true that in this case, both those factors have already been taken into account into the line. (When these teams met here last season, Dallas opened at -6.5 and closed at -5.5.) I feel that's providing us with excellent value, as the Cowboys now essentially just need to win the game and are not being asked to lay a big number.
While playing on a short week should always be considered, in this case, there was no travel involved. It wasn't a situation like Oakland had in Week 1 where it played in Denver on Monday night and then at Buffalo on Sunday afternoon. Besides, good teams can overcome playing on a short week and do so regularly. Look at the Patriots in Week 1. They won by 14 at Miami on Monday night and returned home to beat New England to defeat a good San Diego team by 14 the next Sunday. Another banged-up NFC East team, the Giants, won on Monday night in Week 2. The next Sunday afternoon, playing on a short week, they won by double-digits at Philadelphia.
As for the injuries, Romo delivered a truly "gutty" performance on Monday night. That may not have earned the Cowboys the cover but it did earn them them the SU victory. Perhaps even more importantly, at least in terms of how they play this week, Romo's performance earned him some extra respect in the Cowboys' locker room. The rest of the Cowboys saw their leader coming to work hurt and leading by example and I feel that has helped bring them together in the locker-room. In other words, I feel they're ready to go to war for their QB on Sunday afternoon and lay it all on the line.
You may have heard Dez Bryant's quotes about Romo and why he played last game: "I wasn't sure about playing tonight but if a guy with a puncture lung and broken rib can get out there and play, I can. Tony inspired me..."
As for Romo, he's now had some time to get used to some of the new faces in his offense and as noted, the MNF victory should have brought them together. After Wednesday practice, Romo had this to say of his young receiving corps and what to expect this weekend: "Obviously, if you were watching the game, you could tell there were a couple of things we need to execute on better. That's what practice this week is for. We're going to make sure we get these guys going. They did a good job today. It'll be good to go on Sunday."
Most will talk about Dallas being in a tough scheduling spot but many will forget that this isn't an easy situation for the Lions either. Sure, they're off to an impressive start. However, they're also off a huge comeback OT road win vs. a divisional rival. They're now playing their second straight road game and their third road game in the first four weeks. They've also got another divisional game (Chicago) on deck. That's a rare Monday Night home game too, so if there was ever a game to "look ahead" to - that would qualify.
While the Lions are 0-5 SU the last five times that they played a road game with an O/U line in the 45.5 to 49 range, the Cowboys are 7-2 SU and 8-1 ATS when they played a home game with an O/U line in the same range. The Cowboys beat the Lions by double-digits here last season and I look for them to find away to earn another victory on Sunday. *10 (Personal Favorite.)
|10-02-11||Buffalo Bills v. Cincinnati Bengals +3.5||Top||20-23||Win||100||51 h 44 m||Show|
I'm playing on CINCINNATI. I lost with the Bengals last Sunday. I'm willing to give them another shot here though. The Bengals have been competitive in every game and check in at 2-1 ATS. While they lost last week, they were leading that game much of the way. They still only lost by five. All three of their games have been decided by 10 or fewer points.
The Bills have certainly gotten off to an impressive start. Indeed, few would have figured they'd be 3-0 at this stage. Clearly, they're an improved team from last year. However, I'm personally not ready to buy into them being a Superbowl contender quite yet. More importantly, off one of their biggest wins in recent memory and with a home showdown with Michael Vick's Eagles on deck, I feel that they're ripe for a "letdown" vs. the "lowly" Bengals.
The Bengals figure to be highly motivated. Not only do they want to bounce back from last week's loss but they're also playing with 'revenge' from a 49-31 loss last season. That was no "ordinary" defeat, as the Bengals held a 31-14 halftime lead, before getting outscored 35-0 in the second half. Clearly, they'd like to get some payback for that debacle. l
The Bills are just 3-8 SU/ATS the last 11 times that they were off a divisional games. That includes a 1-2 SU/ATS mark when off a divisional win.
The Bengals, on the other hand, are 15-8 ATS the last 23 times that they were getting points, including an impressive 8-2 ATS the last 10 times that they were underdogs of four or fewer points. I expect them to improve on those stats here. *10 (Best Bet)
|10-01-11||Auburn v. South Carolina -10.5||Top||16-13||Loss||-105||101 h 2 m||Show|
I'm playing on SOUTH CAROLINA. I won with the Gamecocks last week, a 21-18 victory over Vanderbilt. That result worked out very well.
The Gamecocks covered the spread for me but didn't "destroy" Vanderbilt on the scoreboard. That has helped to keep this line a little
lower than it could potentially have been, had South Carolina won by a greater margin.
After that game, Spurrier was quoted as saying: "I apologize to Gamecock fans for such a putrid offensive performance. But we won the
The fact is they didn't just win - they dominated. They just did so with defense. Indeed, the Gamecocks held the Commodores, who had
previously been 3-0, to a mere 77 yards and just five first downs.
In the end, South Carolina would finish with a commanding 367-77 edge in total yards, with a 17-5 edge in first downs. The Gamecocks
defense harrassed Vanderbilt starting QB James Smith, sacking him six times. They eventually knocked him out of the game entirely in the
Vancerbilt coach James Franklin said this of the South Carolina defense: "We got manhandled up front. Their athleticism up front was
obvious. We struggled with that all night."
The South Carolina offense can indeed play better than it did last week - we saw that when the Gamecocks scored 56 vs. East Carolina and
45 vs. Georgia. However, the Auburn defense may not find it so easy to improve on its poor performances. The Tigers are allowing an
average of 31 points per game and they allowed 38 points (and 624 total yards!) in their lone road game.
The Gamecocks, 7-4 ATS the last 11 times that they were listed as home favorites in the -10.5 to -14 range, haven't forgotten last year, when Auburn beat them in both the regular season and the SEC Title game. I expect them to earn some payback with a convincing double-digit victory. *10 Personal Favorite
|10-01-11||Buffalo v. Tennessee -28.5||Top||10-41||Win||100||26 h 3 m||Show|
I'm playing on TENNESSEE. After a trio of ATS wins to start the season, the Bulls came back to earth last week, losing by 14 as 8.5 point home underdogs. Now, they're up against a better team and playing in a very hostile environment. I expect a one-sided blowout.
While they "pushed" as 26-point favorites in this season's opener, last year's Volunteers proved to be capable of blowing bad teams out. The two biggest pointspreads they saw were -38.5 and -19.5. The Vols won those games by scores of 50-0 and 50-14, respectively. This year's team is arguably deeper and stronger.
The Vols, who are off a bye, also figure to be motivated to earn themselves a big win. That's because they're last game resulted in a loss at Florida and their next four games, after Buffalo, come against the likes of Georgia, LSU, Alabama and South Carolina. This is arguably the easiest game left on the Vols' schedule and they could use the confidence that comes from crushing a team.
Even with a couple of ATS victories this season, the Bulls are still 6-12 ATS as underdogs the past few seasons. During that stretch, the Vols are 9-6-1 ATS when laying points. That includes a 2-1-1 ATS mark as home favorites in the -21.5 to -31 range. I expect the Vols to improve on those stats here, as this one turns into one of the bigger mismatches of the weekend. *9 (Big Easy)
|10-01-11||Air Force +3.5 v. Navy||Top||35-34||Win||100||16 h 51 m||Show|
I'm playing on AIR FORCE. I believe that we're getting excellent value with the Falcons here. Both teams are 2-1 SU. Both have beaten up on a pair of bad teams while both have lost their only game vs. a quality opponent. The Falcons beat South Dakota and Tennessee State and their only loss came vs. TCU. The Midshipmen beat Western Kentucky and Delaware, while losing vs. South Carolina. Not much difference there. Yet, due to the venue, Navy is laying more than a field goal.
True, Navy has enjoyed recent pointspread success in this series and covered the spread last year. However, that game saw Air Force laying -9.5 points. The Falcons still won but "only" by eight. The previous season, at Navy, the Midshipmen won by three. (The Falcons missed a fg at the buzzer in that one that would have forced OT.)
This year's Air Force team is arguably even more talented than last year's team and has high expectations. The Falcons are also in one of their best roles as we find them at a profitable 4-1 ATS the last five times that they were listed as underdogs in the 3.5 to 10 range.
On the other hand, Navy is just 1-4 ATS the last five times it was listed as a home favorite in the -3.5 to -7 range.
Navy did have last week off to regroup but is still coming off a tough loss. On the other hand, Air Force enters with plenty of confidence having racked up a school record 792 yards of offense last week. I'll gladly grab the points but won't be at all surprised if the Falcons win this one for the second straight year. *10
|09-29-11||South Florida v. Pittsburgh +3||Top||17-44||Win||100||57 h 27 m||Show|
I'm playing on PITTSBURGH. I feel that this line, which has climbed from its opener, is providing us with outstanding value. These teams met last season at South Florida and the Panthers were a -3 point favorite. (Pittsburgh won 17-10) Now, they're meeting at Pittsburgh and the Bulls are the ones which are laying points. Given the swing from one season to the next, one might assume that the Bulls brought back significantly more starters from last year. That's not the case though. In fact, the Panthers brought back 13 starters to USF's 11.
So, why the big swing with South Florida going from home underdog to road favorite in the course of a single season? While, in addition to Pittsburgh having a new coach, the main reason is that USF is 4-0 while Pittsburgh is 2-2. The Bulls even have a victory over a team (Notre Dame) which defeated the Panthers.
Many will assume that because USF beat Notre Dame and because Notre Dame beat Piitsburgh, that USF will surely defeat Pittsburgh. That type of logic doesn't often hold up though, as one needs to look at things on a much deeper level.
While the Bulls deserve credit for beating Notre Dame, it should be noted that they were outgained by a 508-254 margin in that game. Meanwhile, their other three games all came at home and all came against extremely weak opponents. Seeing as the Bulls were favored by more than 20 points for each of those games, its no surprise that they resulted in victories.
The Panthers lost a tough one at Iowa as they blew a big lead. Perhaps a bit "hungover" or "deflated" from that game, they lost 15-12 to the Irish.
Still, having been "only" outgained by a 398-268 yard margin by the Irish, from a yardage standpoint, Pitt. actually played ND a lot tougher than USF did.
Yet, here we have the Panthers getting points at home - based largely on the fact that they lost to ND while USF won vs. ND.
As for the coaching change, Graham should be an improvement over Wannestedt and this is his chance to show that to the world, in a nationally televised game.
The Panthers have beaten the Bulls three times in a row. Graham inherited a very good defense and now he's had a handful of games to work with the offense, which he has averaging greater than 27 points per game.
The Panthers know they need this one badly, both to stop their current skid and to keep their goal of winning the Big East within reach. They were 8-1 SU in Weeks 5-9 the past couple of seasons, going 7-1 ATS in those games. I expect them to score the "upset" but will happily grab whatever points are being offered. *10 (Main Event)
|09-28-11||Washington Nationals v. Florida Marlins +1.5||Top||3-1||Loss||-126||6 h 56 m||Show|
I'm playing FLORIDA on the RUN-LINE (+1.5 Runs.) I won with the Marlins yesterday, a 1-run win for Florida. I feel that the Marlins have an excellent shot at closing out their season and their time at this stadium with a victory. In fact, I expect them to do so. However, as they're listed as fairly healthy underdogs on the moneyline, we're able to get them at an excellent price on the run-line. In a game that could easily again be close, like yesterday's that may well prove valuable and that's the way I'm going to play it.
The Nats are favored largely because they've got Stepehn Strasburg on the mound. He's certainly got bigtime talent. However, he's also made just four starts since coming off Tommy John surgery. He's seen his innings limited since coming back and has only gone more than five innings once - a six-inning effort in a 4-1, 13-inning loss to these same Marlins on Sept. 17. Note that this will be Strasburg's first road start.
Volstad outlasted Strasburg in the 9/17 game, although he didn't factor in the decision either. He followed it up with a gem last time out. That's back to back games where he's gone seven complete innings and allowed only a single run.
While the Nats are 1-2 in Straburg's starts vs. Florida, the Marlins are 10-3 in Volstad's starts vs. Washington.
True, the Marlins can't wait to get out of here and into their new home. Still, they've gone 780-720 in 19 years here and I believe that they would like to close things out with a victory, while also playing hard for 80-year-old Jack McKeon, who will retire at season
|09-25-11||Arizona Cardinals v. Seattle Seahawks +3.5||Top||10-13||Win||100||30 h 47 m||Show|
I'm playing on SEATTLE. The Seahawks are 0-2. The Cardinals are 1-1. However, Arizona's lone victory came at home and that was against Carolina, a team which was playing its first game under a new coach and with a QB making his debut in the NFL. That QB (Newton) would go on to have a monster day and the Cards have now given up 686 yards through the air in two games. Last week, playing on the road, they also gave up 172 on the ground, en route to a 22-21 loss. Clearly, this has not been one of the league's better defenses. Yet, winless on the road, they're laying more than a field goal against a desperate division rival, one which is playing its home opener. Note that Arizona is only 5-10 ATS the last 15 times that it was favored.
Its early but this is truly a critical game for Seattle. The Seahawks host a very good Atlanta team after this week. After that, they're back on the road for two more weeks. While they did get blown out last week, that loss came at Pittsburgh - against a top tier team which was playing its home opener.
Coming to the Pacific Northwest is no picnic for visting teams. The Seahawks are 10-7 SU and 11-6 ATS here the past couple of seasons.
That includes a 3-0 SU/ATS mark when playing here when the O/U line ranged between 42.5 and 45 points. It should also be noted that the Seahawks are 7-3 ATS (6-4 SU) the last 10 times that they were off two or more consecutive losses.
The Seahawks were 2-0 against the Cards last season and both victories came by double-digits. They were laying -6.5 for the game here at Seattle. Now, we're getting a field goal or more for their home opener, which I feel is providing us with excellent value. *10 NFC West GOY
|09-25-11||San Francisco 49ers v. Cincinnati Bengals -1.5||Top||13-8||Loss||-125||106 h 37 m||Show|
I'm playing on CINCINNATI. The Bengals as a favorite? Who would have thought. That is indeed the case, as Cincy checks in with a 2-0 ATS record (1-1 SU) and with several advantages over their West Coast based guests. While I do respect the 49'ers, I expect the Bengals to close out September with a winning record.
Both teams won their first game and both suffered a tough loss in their second. The Bengals "split" was arguably more impressive though, as both games came on the road. The 49ers, on the other hand, played both their games at home.
Each new season brings new hope. Having achieved a split on the road and returning home for two very winnable games (they host Buffalo next week) the Bengals are suddenly filled with some new found optimism. A win on Sunday and the city and fans will embrace this team, temporarily forgetting about the years of futility.
While the Bengals return home filled with hope, the 49ers figure to somewhat deflated. That's because their Week 2 loss was arguably even more devastating. (They were up by 10 points in the fourth quarter and lost in OT.)
I had the 49ers in that game (a push) and strongly disagreed with Harbaugh's fourth quarter decision to keep "keep the points on the board" with a field goal and go up by 10, rather than accept a penalty and keep the drive going. Other than a turnover, at worst case scenario, the 49ers run three three plays, gain nothing (or even lose a bit) and attempt a shorter field goal. That would have taken valuable time of the clock - considering that Dallas hit the regulation-tying fg at the buzzer, every second was precious. If Harbaugh had the faith in his kicker to go for such a long field goal in the first place - he should have been confident that he would have been able to hit from even closer range. And, with a little luck, the 49ers pick up a first down or two and/or convert for a touchdown. The latter would have put the game away completely.
Instead Harbaugh, a rookie coach in the NFL, chose to "play it safe" and keep the field goal. Evidently, he'd heard the saying: "never take points off the board." Cleary, at least in my humble opinion, this was a situation where that saying did not apply. While I do think Harbaugh may indeed turn out to be a decent NFL coach, I feel that last week's decision may well come back to haunt him this week.
While there are certainly many who will argue that Harbaugh made the correct decision (they're entitled to their opinion) at least some of his players have to be questioning it, if only to themselves. Either way, they're off a devastating loss and now must travel clear across the country to play an "early" (10am PST) game against a newly inspired team, playing its home opener.
While I've primarily focused on the mental state of each of the teams, it should be noted that the Bengals have also had a significant statistical edge, in most offensive categories. The Bengals are averaging 105 rushing yards per game to go along with 232 yards per game through the air. They've averaged 6.8 yards per pass play and four yards per rush. The 49'ers, on the other hand, have averaged 79 yards per game on the ground and only 128 through the air. They've averaged 5.8 yards per pass play and only 2.8 per rushing play.
Overall, the Bengals have outgained opponents by a 338 to 312 margin while the 49ers have been outgained by a 299-207 mark.
While this is obviously a "new era," its still worth noting that the 49ers are a dreadful 6-13-3 ATS (6-16 SU) the last 22 times that they were road underdogs of three or fewer points.
The Bengals have now quietly gone 6-1 ATS their last seven September games and the lone loss came at New England. I backed them in their lone September home game last season and they rewarded me with a 15-10 outright victory (as 3-point underdogs) over the Ravens. I expect them to get it done again here. *10
|09-25-11||Detroit Lions v. Minnesota Vikings +4||Top||26-23||Win||100||106 h 33 m||Show|
I'm playing on MINNESOTA. What a difference a year can make. These teams also met here in Week 3 last season. At the time, although both teams were 0-2, the Vikings were double-digit favorites. (The line opened at -10 and closed at -13.) This year, the Vikings are again 0-2. However, the Lions are now 2-0 and check in as road favorites, laying more than a field goal. As impressive as the Lions were last week, I feel that provides us with excellent value with what figures to be a "desperate" Vikings team.
The Vikings are 0-2 but both losses have been competitive. They lost by four to Bucs last week and by seven at San Diego in Week 1. In fact, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, Minnesota is the first team to lose its first two games despite leading both by double digits at halftime. (The Vikes led the Chargers 17-7 at halftime and led the Bucs 17-0)
While some teams might hang their heads about the blown leads, the Vikes are "looking at the bright side. " Minnesota receiver Percy Harvin had this to say: "It's definitely a positive. I think we all just sat in there (watching the Bucs game film) and it kind of made us mad knowing that they did nothing to beat us."
The Vikings are 4-1 ATS the last five times that they were off two or more consecutive losses. They're also 7-4 ATS the last 11 times that they were home underdogs in the +3.5 to +7 range. On the other hand, during the same stretch, the Lions were 2-6 ATS (3-5 SU) as road favorites in the -3.5 to -7 range.
Going back to last year's game here, a 24-10 win for the Vikings, we find that it wasn't Brett Favre that beat the Lions. (Favre threw for just 201 yards and had 2 ints vs. only 1 TD) Rather, it was Adrian Peterson. The Vikings' star running back ran for 160 yards and two touchdowns.
After the win, Peterson was quoted as saying: "That's really just the mentality that I have. When things aren't really going well, I want to get the guys going up front and establish the run game. We were pretty productive." I expect a big day from Peterson and the Vikings rush attack again here.
Even with last week's loss, the Vikings are still 13-4 at home the past few seasons. They're not willing to write this season off yet, which is essentially what a loss here will do. They're 17-2 SU the last 19 times that they hosted the Lions, including 13-0 the last 13. While I expect them to make it 14 straight here, I'll gladly grab the generous points. *10 (Best Bet)
|09-24-11||Oklahoma State v. Texas A&M -4||Top||30-29||Loss||-110||77 h 19 m||Show|
I'm playing on TEXAS A&M. Needless to say, this is a huge game for both teams. Each are undefeated. Each are highly ranked. Each have big goals this season. Playing at home and with a "score to settle," I expect the Aggies to be the team which emerges victorious.
Many of you will recall last year's meeting, a wild affair to say the least. The Aggies were up 21-7 at halftime. However, the Cowboys ended up winning 38-35. Turnovers were the story in that one. The Aggies turned the ball over five times; one of those turnovers was a 4th quarter fumble which was returned 63 yards for a touchdown. Then, with 16 seconds left, the Aggies threw an interception which was returned 28 yards to set up the Cowboys' game-winning field goal. Ouch!
That was at Stillwater though, while this is at College Station. Big difference.
A closer look at last year's stats shows that the Aggies dominated statistically, turnovers notwithstanding. In fact, Texas A&M significantly outgained the Cowboys on both the ground AND through the air. Overall, the Aggies finished with 535 total yards (109 and 426) while the Cowboys only had 351 (67 and 284).
Its true that this year's Cowboys team could potentially be even more explosive than last year's, although I feel that its too early to say that yet. The Cowboys returned 14 starters, including nine on offense. Receiver Blackmon is truly the real deal.
However, while the Cowboys returned 14 starters, the Aggies returned a whopping 18. Ten on offense and eight on defense. In his fourth year here, this is clearly the most talent that Mike Sherman has had to work with.
Speaking of Sherman, this guy is no slouch. He gets little media attention - arguably less so than other coaches of ranked teams. Perhaps partly because he's not particularly "flashy" and doesn't seem to care for the spotlight. He's a proven winner in the pros though (57-36 as a head coach in the NFL w/ 4 playoff trips) and he's got his Aggies headed in the right direction. They were 10-15 his first two years here, including a blowout loss at Oklahoma State in 2008 and a close loss to the Cowboys here in 2009. However, in his third season, Sherman turned the corner, as the team went 9-4, including wins over Oklahoma, Texas, Nebraska and Texas Tech. As noted, they easily could also have beaten Oklahoma State.
Last year was a relatively young Aggies team - now they're experienced. Now, they're playing at home. Sherman has now beaten every other team "in the area" but not this one. Obviously, he's had this one circled and it means a great deal to him.
The Aggies are 12-6-1 ATS their last 20 "home" games and 5-2 ATS the last seven times that they were favored by four or fewer points. Ultimately, I expect them to be a little "hungrier" and for their superior defense, combined with homefield advantage, to be the difference. *10 (NCAA Personal Favorite.)
|09-22-11||North Carolina State +8 v. Cincinnati||Top||14-44||Loss||-105||33 h 10 m||Show|
I'm playing on NC STATE. I won with the "under" when these teams played last year. This year, I feel that the pointspread is too high and I'm grabbing the points with the visiting underdog.
Both teams have blown out a pair of bad teams and each has lost in their only game against a half decent opponent. The Wolfpack lost by seven at Wake Forest. The Bearcats were blown out at Tennessee.
The Wolfpack, who were 2-0 on Thursdays last season, return 13 starters from a team that went 9-4 last season. That included a 30-19 victory over Cincinnati. Granted, that was at Raleigh and the Wolfpack still had QB Russell Wilson, now at Wisconsin.
Cincinnati gained only 75 yards on the ground in 31 rushing attempts in last year's game. NC State, on the other hand, gained 158 rushing yards on 36 attempts. The Bearcats should certainly be improved this year. However, keep in mind that they were only 4-8 last season. So, asking them to beat a team, that dominated them last year, by more than a touchdown is asking a lot.
Its true that the NC State defense, which originally returned eight starters from last season, has been hit by several injuries. Naturally, that's not a good thing. However, that's been factored into this line already and it should be remembered that the Cincinnati defense has also been less than impressive. Despite facing 1-AA Austin Peay and Akron, one of the weakest teams in 1-A football, the Bearcats have allowed all three opponents to rush for at least 125 yards. They've also allowed all three opponents to pass for a minimum of 150 yards, including 405 by Tennessee. Overall, the Vols gained a whopping 531 total yards.
Even without Wilson, the Wolfpack offense is more than capable of also having success here. Coach Tom O'Brien had this to say of his new QB: "I think Glennon has done better than I would have expected him to be at this point. When you complete 17 out of 20 and it's the second best completion percentage in school history only to Philip Rivers, who is the marquee marker here as far as quarterback goes. Mike Glennon had three incompletions, one was a throw away and the other two hit guys in the hands. From halftime of Wake Forest through now it's been, for a guy that's only played three games, it's been a pretty remarkable stretch..."
The Wolfpack are 3-0 ATS their last three against teams from the Big East. They're also 4-2 ATS the last six times that they were listed as underdogs in the +3.5 to +10 range. During that stretch, the Bearcats were just 0-3 ATS as favorites in the -3.5 to -10 range. I feel that this one could well come down to the wire and will grab the points with Glennon and the Wolfpack. *10
|09-19-11||St. Louis Rams +7 v. NY Giants||Top||16-28||Loss||-104||18 h 5 m||Show|
I'm playing on ST. LOUIS. Both teams are off disappointing opening week losses. Both teams are already dealing with several key injuries. While the Giants do have the advantage of playing at home, I expect them to have their hands full here.
While he has had to use a special glove to throw, St. Louis QB Sam Bradford has been cleared to play and is expected to be fine. He should be licking his chops at the chance to face a banged-up Giants defense which allowed Rex Grossman to throw for 305 yards last week.
Many tend to think of the Giants as a strong favorite and a team that rolls over teams at home. However, that hasn't been the case in recent seasons. After failing to cover at Washington in the opener, they're just 10-13 ATS when laying points the past few seasons. During that stretch, they were just 6-10 ATS at home.
On the other hand, the Rams have gone 9-7 ATS on the road. Once called the "greatest show on turf," the Rams are actually 7-4 ATS on grass the past couple of seasons.
Monday Night games are always a big deal for all the players. With both teams off losses, its also a very important for both teams. However, I feel it could be a little more "special" for the Rams. Not only have they played far fewer MNF games than New York the past few seasons but they've also got a coach (Steve Spagnuolo) who used to be a defensive coordinator for these same Giants.
I expect Spagnuolo to have the Rams ready. Catching the Giants in between a pair of big divisional games (they've got the Eagles on deck) and with the line having climbed from its opener, I also expect them to earn at least the cover. *10
|09-18-11||Philadelphia Eagles v. Atlanta Falcons +3||Top||31-35||Win||100||18 h 29 m||Show|
I'm playing on ATLANTA. While I didn't touch the Eagles/ Rams game, I successfully played against the Falcons in last week's loss at Chicago. The Falcons are a much different team at home though and I expect them to bounce back in a big way here.
With last week's win, the Eagles are a respectable 10-8 ATS on the road, the past 2+ seasons. However, during the same stretch, the Falcons are 11-6 ATS (13-4 SU) at home, going 14-6 ATS overall during dome games and 14-8 ATS on turf. (The Eagles are now 2-4 ATS on turf, during that stretch.)
As you're probably aware, Philadelphia QB Michael Vick used to be a member of the Falcons. This will be his second trip back here, as an Eagle.
Vick's Eagles won 34-7 here two years ago. Not that they should need any but I expect that to provide Atlanta with some extra motivation here. After all, the last thing the Falcons want is their old QB coming in here and showing them up. Not fro their home opener - not when they're already 0-1 and have a pair of road games on deck.
Keep in mind that Matt Ryan didn't play in that game two years ago. Ryan, who very rarely loses here, will be running the show tonight and he'll be determined to remind everyone that this is indeed "his house." I'll gladly grab whatever points they're offering but expect the Falcons to score the "upset." *10
|09-18-11||Chicago Bears v. New Orleans Saints -6.5||Top||13-30||Win||100||82 h 5 m||Show|
I'm playing on NEW ORLEANS. I won with the Bears last week and therefore was not surprised that they knocked off the Falcons. This week, the Bears are up against another tough NFC South opponent. This time, however, they're playing on the road. I expect a much different result.
As I mentioned last week, the Bears are a much better home team. On the road, they've gone a mediocre 8-8 SU and 7-8-1 ATS the past couple of seasons. That includes a money-burning 1-3 SU/ATS record as road underdogs in the +3.5 to +7 range.
During that stretch, note that the Bears are also winless (0-3 SU/ATS) when playing a road game where the O/U line ranged from 45.5 to 49 points. Going back further finds them at a dismal 2-13 SU and 4-11 ATS their last 15 in that situation.
The Saints had a tough matchup in Week 1, as they were on the road against the defending Superbowl Champs. Despite failing to cover in that one, they played the Packers tough the entire way and finished with a ton of offense. Brees was 32 of 49 for 419 yards. Even without receiver Colston, this is still an extremely dangerous offense.
The Bears were able to get ahead of the Falcons, a situation they tend to fare well in. They're not so good when playing from behind though. Given the Saints' offensive numbers last week and the fact that they're 13-5 at home the past couple of seasons, that could well be the case here.
In addition to having an outstanding QB in Brees, the Saints are very well coached. Peyton, who took a bit of rare heat for some decisions against the Packers, is among the best in the game. He's had a couple of extra days to prepare his team, as the Saints played on Thursday night.
Peyton, Brees and co. have high expectations this year and know they can ill afford to fall to 0-2. I expect them to bounce back with a convincing win and cover. *10 (NFL Personal Favorite)
|09-17-11||Oklahoma State v. Tulsa +14||Top||59-33||Loss||-110||43 h 55 m||Show|
I'm playing on TULSA. Oklahoma State is a dangerous and explosive team, one which is capable of putting up big points. The betting public is well aware of this. Off the big win over Arizona, they'll be quick to want to back the Cowboys here. However, the oddsmakers are also well aware of this and have posted a rather large number. I believe it'll prove too large and that the value lies with the revenge-minded home underdog.
Like the betting public and the oddsmakers, Tulsa knows full well how potent the Cowboys are. After all, Oklahoma State crushed the Golden Hurricane by a score of 65-28 last Sept. 18. That was at Stillwater though, while this one's at Tulsa.
True, the Cowboys offense is among the best around. The same can't necessarily be said of the team's defense or discipline though. While they have had a couple of extra days of preparation time, the Cowboys are off a big "bowl rematch" (vs Arizona) and have a huge game at Texas A&M on deck. That one ranks among their biggest games of the year. In other words, this game may not mean quite as much to the Cowboys as it does to Tulsa.
While the Golden Hurricane do have a new coach this year (Bill Blankenship) they're loaded with experience. In fact, this team brought back 18 starters from last year's team, losing just 13 lettermen. By the end of the year, they could well be the best team in Conference USA. True, the Golden Hurricane did suspend star receiver Damaris Johnson. His loss hurt initially - but Bryan Burnham has helped pick up the slack wtih 10 catches for 162 yards and three touchdowns.
The Golden Hurricane have already played a bigtime opponent, getting blown out at Oklahoma in Week 1. That was on the road though, their first game with the new coach. They bounced back with a convincing 31-3 victory at Tulane last week. That gives them some positive momentum and should give them some much needed confidence for Saturday night's big home opener.
After the blowout loss at Stillwater last season, the Golden Hurricane closed out the regular season on a 8-1 run (lone loss was on the road and by only 3 points) before crushing Hawaii 62-35 in the Hawaii Bowl. In other words, this is a team which has become accustomed to winning. Its also a team which hasn't forgotten last year's debacle in this series.
The Golden Hurricane are 7-1 ATS (6-2 SU) the last eight times that they were off a conference victory. Off their big win over Tulane, I expect them to give the Cowboys all they can handle here. *10 (Top Revenge play)
|09-17-11||Arkansas State v. Virginia Tech -24||Top||7-26||Loss||-110||61 h 47 m||Show|
I'm playing on VIRGINIA TECH. At first glance, this line many appear fairly high. However, if Arkansas State wasn't off a big win and a 2-0 ATS start and if Virginia Tech wasn't off an ATS loss, the line could easily be higher. As it is, I don't feel that it will prove to be high enough.
The Hokies are certainly capable of delivering a blowout. Their lone home game resulted in a 66-13 victory. Laying -27 points, they won by 53 points.
Note that Virginia Tech is a perfect 5-0 SU/ATS the last five times that it was a favorite in the -21.5 to -31 range. During that stretch, Beamer's squad has gone an impressive 18-8 ATS as a favorite overall.
The Red Wolves lone road game resulted in an 18-point loss, as a 19-point underdog. Even with that cover, Arkansas State remains a poor 6-9 ATS its last 15 road line games and 6-8 ATS (1-13 SU) its last 14 as underdogs.
The Hokies believe that this year's team has a shot at a perfect season. As such, they'd like to make sure that they crush teams like this, to "look good" for the polls. Three meetings in this series have seen the Hokies win by an average score of 49-5. The Hokies had a 422-191 edge in average yards in those games. I expect this one to also be very one-sided. *10 (Big Easy)
|09-17-11||Michigan State v. Notre Dame -4||Top||13-31||Win||100||60 h 8 m||Show|
I'm playing on NOTRE DAME. I respect the Spartans. In fact, I played on them last week and they rewarded me with a 44-0 victory. That was a home game against Florida Atlantic though. This week, they're playing a road game at Notre Dame. Big difference.
Off back to back losses, including a true heartbreaker vs Michigan, the Irish figure to be seeing red. Keep in mind that this is a very good Notre Dame - just one which has been snakebitten by turnovers thus far.
As coach Brian Kelly said: "The one stat that really matters for me is the turnover takeaway, and there's a direct correlation to percentage of winning when you turn the ball over. There's no stat for me that tells the story more than that."
That's true - but for the record, the Irish have put up more than 500 yards of offense in each of their first two games. They've outgained opponents by an average of 508 to 254 at home and 510.5 to 353 overall. Those aren't the stats typical of an 0-2 team. Rather, with numbers like that, one would expect most teams to have been 2-0 with a pair of convincing victories.
Off the Michigan loss, some teams might really react badly. This is Notre Dame though - a team with a ton of pride and a team with a passionate and competitive coach in Kelly that won't allow them to hang their heads.
Kelly had this to say of his team: "If we do not beat ourselves, we've got a chance to be the kind of football team that we all believe that we can be. I can see it. I've coached almost 250 football games. I can feel and see a football team coming together. They've got to take care of the football. They've got to execute better, and they will..."
The Spartans, who took on lowly Youngstown State before the FAU game, are just 5-10 ATS since 2008, when listed as underdogs, including 3-5 ATS the last eight. They were last underdogs in the bowl game vs Alabama and lost 49-7. Prior to that, they were underdogs vs. Iowa on 10/30 and lost 37-6.
The Spartans won last year's game by 34-31, in OT. That was at Michigan State. This year, the Spartans returned 12 starters while the Irish returned 17. Playing at home and desperate for a victory, I expect the Irish to avenge that loss in a big way here. *10 (NCAA Personal Favorite)
|09-17-11||Pittsburgh +3.5 v. Iowa||Top||27-31||Loss||-110||50 h 51 m||Show|
I'm playing on PITTSBURGH. The Hawkeyes have the advantage of playing at home, which is the primary reason that they're favored. I believe the Panthers are currently the stronger team though.
Wannestedt had some success here at Pittsburgh. However, he was never particularly well liked and was forced out. Todd Graham comes in from Tulsa, where he had an impressive 36-17 record as a head coach in four years. Last year, he took Tulsa from a 5-7 record to a 10-3 record.
Wannestedt certainly didn't leave the cupboard bare, as Graham inherited a talented team with 13 returning starters. With eight defensive starters back, the Panthers have arguably the most talented defense in the Big East. On offense, Graham brings a new more "QB friendly" system, which the players have now had a couple of real games to learn.
This will be the Panthers' first true test under Graham as the first two games came against Buffalo and Maine. Naturally, the Panthers won both those first games. However, the fact that they failed to cover in either, is helping us in terms of line value here.
Iowa is well coached and is usually tough. That said, this year's team is quite inexperienced. In fact, with only nine returning starters, they're the least experienced team in the Big East.
The Hawkeyes' lack of experience caught up with them last week, as they were upset at rival Iowa State, 44-41. The fact that the setback came in the third overtime figures to make it extra "draining," both physically and emotionally. Indeed, it was the first OT game in the 59 game series between Iowa and Iowa State and the highest-scoring to boot.
After the loss at Iowa State, coach Kirk Ferentz said this of his team: "Right now, we've got a lot of work to do. It became pretty evident today..."
The last meeting between these teams (back in 2008) was decided by a single point, a 21-20 victory for Pittsburgh. I expect the Panthers to score the outright victory here. However, in game that could easily also "go down to the wire," I'll gladly grab the points. *10 (Annihilator)
|09-16-11||Boise State v. Toledo +20.5||Top||40-15||Loss||-105||41 h 13 m||Show|
I'm playing on TOLEDO. Boise State is very good, as usual. However, I believe this line has gotten a little out of control. It was high to begin with an has climbed even higher since its opener. With all due respect to the Broncos, I believe it will prove to be too high.
The Rockets are generally tough at Toledo. Indeed, they're 51-19 SU their last 70 home lined games. That includes an 8-4 SU (7-5 ATS) mark the past couple of seasons. This year's lone home game came against an inferior opponent (New Hampshire) but saw the Rockets put up 58 points on 591 yards.
More impressive, last week the Rockets nearly beat the Buckeyes, at Ohio State. They eventually lost 27-22, easily covering as +17.5 point underdogs. That was at Ohio State. Yet, now they're at home and getting even more points.
Some might feel that the close loss to Ohio State will be difficult for Toledo to "recover" from, as can sometimes be the case. The Rockets weren't really expecting to win that game though - at least not going into it. So, I don't feel there will be much of a "letdown" effect. Not when they're playing a home televised game against a nationally ranked opponent which embarrassed them last season. While we know Boise is very well coached, I believe the same can be said of Toledo.
Speaking of last season, this year's Toledo team returned a whopping 18 starters, most in the MAC, losing just nine lettermen. Even with the loss on the blue turf, they were still a solid 8-5. After the loss at Boise, the Rockets won all four of their remaining home games last year, one by a touchdown and the other three by double-digits.
While it may seem that they're always blowing teams out, note that the Broncos are just 2-4 ATS the past couple of seasons when favored in the -10.5 to -21 range. Against a Toledo team with plenty of experience and offense talent, I expect the Broncos to face a much tougher test than most will be expecting. *9
|09-15-11||LSU v. Mississippi State +4.5||Top||19-6||Loss||-110||17 h 22 m||Show|
I'm playing on MISSISSIPPI STATE. Obviously, this is a huge game for both teams. LSU wants to stay undefeated. Mississippi State wants to bounce back from last week's loss to Auburn and to avenge a string of losses in this series. The Tigers bring the higher seed to the table and a victory against Oregon on their resume. Clearly, they're a talented team. The Bulldogs are better than many realize too though and I feel that this season's early results are helping to provide us with excellent value.
Mississippi State won nine games last season, including victories over teams like Georgia and Florida. Its only home losses were a 3-point setback against Auburn, the eventual national champion and a double-OT loss against Arkansas, ranked #13 at the time. (It should be noted that the Bulldogs did get "blown out" at LSU - however, it should also be noted that turnovers led to the lopsided score.) This year's Mississippi State squad brought back a whopping 16 starters, the most in Dan Mullen's career here yet.
The Bulldogs may not be "fancy" but that doesn't mean they don't possess a potent offense. Through two games, they're averaging 585 yards and 46.5 points. Even with some injuries on the offensive line, this is still a very experienced Bulldog offense and I expect them to have success here.
Note that the Bulldogs are playing their home opener and that they're 15-5 SU their last 20 home openers, including 3-0 the last three years.
The Tigers are 4-5 ATS in road lined games the past few seasons, 1-2 ATS as road favorites. Off to a 2-0 start, note that the Tigers are also an ugly 35-53 ATS in lined games, when coming off two or more consecutive victories, including a 4-8 ATS mark their last 12 in that situation.
The Bulldogs have the physical talent to match up against LSU. They're playing at home on a Thursday night and they're getting a field goal (or more) to boot. They very nearly knocked off the Tigers here in 2009, outgaining them by a 151 to 30 margin on the ground in that game. That one was eventually decided by four points. While I feel the Bulldogs have an excellent shot at the outright victory, in a game that could once again easily come down to the wire, I'll gladly grab the points. *10
|09-12-11||New England Patriots v. Miami Dolphins +7.5||Top||38-24||Loss||-100||9 h 8 m||Show|
I'm playing on MIAMI. I'm well aware that the Patriots are a dangerous team. I'm also aware that they beat up on the Dolphins in both last year's meetings. That said, I feel that this line is far too high and that we're getting excellent value with the home underdog Dolphins. Keep in mind that the Patriots were only a -1 point favorite when playing here last season, although that was a "meaningless" game. Still, going back further and we find the lines here the past three Pats' visites were +1, +5 and +1.
While they did get blown out here last season, lets also not forget that the Dolphins are still 13-7 the last 20 times that they hosted the Patriots. Two seasons ago, getting five points, the Dolphins won outright here. The Dolphins are a profitable 8-5 ATS the last 13 meetings here. They're also 11-5 ATS the last 16 times that they were underdogs of eight or fewer points.
With Tom Brady running the show, the Pats offense will surely be potent, the Dolphins should be tough defensively this season, which makes getting large points attractive. Brady knows he'll be facing a fired up Miami "D." He had this to say: "It's a dangerous group. They're experienced in the secondary. They've been playing together now for a little while and they're very good, especially when the pass rush gets going."
When these teams met last year, it was already the end of the year and Miami was already playing out the strong. Week 1 offers every team new hope though. Filled with that optimism, backed by the support of the home fans and motivated by revenge and hatred for a division rival, I expect the Dolphins to give their "high profile" guests all they can handle with a solid shot at the outright upset. *10
|09-11-11||Tennessee Titans v. Jacksonville Jaguars -1||Top||14-16||Win||100||35 h 25 m||Show|
I'm playing on JACKSONVILLE. These division rivals have very similar 2-year records. Yet, if you asked many fans or recreational bettors, most would probably remember the Titans as having been more successful. In fact, Tennessee was 14-18 the past two seasons while Jacksonville was slightly better, at 15-17. (Their ATS records, 14-17-1 and 14-18, were nearly identical.) The Jags' 10-6 home record is considerably better than the Titans' 6-10 road mark though. With this game being played at Jacksonville and the pointspread unlikely to be a factor, I feel the value lies with Jacksonville.
The Jags have parted ways with longtime QB David Garrard. That means Luke McCown will start under center. Many will refuse to back the Jags because of this. However, I don't view this as a dropoff. McCown has been around for five seasons now and knows this is his chance.
The Titans, of course, also have a new QB. While Hasselbeck is certainly more of a proven commodity than McCown, he's still on a new team. As it is in Jacksonville, Tennessee also has a young QB waiting for his chance.
Some may point to the Titans having a big advantage running the ball but I'm not even willing to give them that, as the Jags have a dangerous running game of their own. (Jacksonville outrushed Tennessee 258 to 57 the last meeting.) Note that while Johnson is back at running back, Tennessee fullback Ahmad Hall has been suspended four games for using performance-enhancing substances.
The Jags are 15-8 SU and 13-9-1 ATS the last 23 times that they were listed as home favorites of -3 or fewer points. They've got a coach on the "hot seat" and, while the Jags have since won at Tennessee, they still haven't forgotten that the Titans handed them the worst loss in franchise history the last time the teams met here.
In the end, I feel that homefield and the stability at the head-coaching position will prove to be the difference. It probably was time for the Titans and Fischer to part ways. However, with the lockout having affected everything, in this case, I expect it to favor the team with the veteran coach, as compared to the team which just made a coaching change. The Jays are 8-2 SU the last 10 times that they played a game where the O/U line ranged between 35.5 and 42 points. I expect them to improve on those stats, covering the small number along the way. *10
|09-10-11||South Carolina v. Georgia +3||Top||45-42||Push||0||45 h 6 m||Show|
I'm playing on GEORGIA. Once again last week's results have worked in our favor again here. Georgia lost vs. Boise State while South Carolina beat up on East Carolina. That's among the reasons we're able to get a very talented Georgia team as an underdog, which I feel provides us with excellent value.
Naturally, this is a huge game in the SEC East, as both these teams feel they have the necessary talent to win the division. Its arguably bigger for Georgia though. Not only are the Bulldogs off a loss but they're also playing at home and have a coach on the hot seat. Additionally, the Bulldogs will be looking to avenge a loss at South Carolina from last season. That meeting also came in Week 2 and the setback started a 3-game losing skid for the Bulldogs - they haven't forgotten and should deliver a much better effort, now that they're the ones playing at home.
South Carolina did win by 19 last week but still failed to cover. The defense gave up five touchdowns and South Carolina could have easily lost outright if not for having five East Carolina turnovers go their way. The Gamecocks are now just 6-9 ATS the last 15 times that they were laying points. Note that the Gamecocks are also just 5-11 their last 16 road openers. They last played here at Athens in 2009 (also in Week 2) and lost by four points.
In the end, I look for homefield to be the difference as a highly motivated Georgia squad rises to the occasion and scores the upset. *10 SEC Main Event
|09-10-11||Hawaii v. Washington -6||Top||32-40||Win||100||50 h 54 m||Show|
I'm playing on WASHINGTON. This line came out low and immediately climbed from its opener. That won't stop me from playing on the Huskies though, as I feel the line should have been higher than a touchdown to begin with. Indeed, last week's results have worked in our favor by keeping the low line lower than it easily could have been. Hawaii won and covered vs. Colorado while Washington barely squeaked by lowly Eastern Washington.
The Warriors were playing at home though, a late Saturday night game. Now, they make their first road trip of the season - often a big deal for a young team. True, the Warriors return QB Bryant Moniz. However, he only has two of last year's offensive starters around him. Overall, the Warriors return only nine starters from last year.
On the other hand, the Huskies lost QB Locker yet return 15 starters overall. True, Locker was a star. However, the Huskies showed last season that they were more than about Locker, as he was banged up almost the entire year. This year's team will be anxious to show they can win big without Locker while looking to build some confidence and positive momentum for next week's big showdown at Nebraska. I feel that last week's "squeaker" will prove to be a good wakeup call for them. Losing outright would have been disastrous but winning a close one
Keep in mind that the Huskies beat ranked teams like USC and Oregon State last season while closing out the regular season with three straight victories (California, UCLA, Washington State) to advance to a bowl. They then proceeded to knock out Nebraska, avenging an earlier loss, 19-7 in the Holiday Bowl. I had the Huskies in that game, as well as some other big wins on them, incl. the UCLA one - so, followed this team closely.
In addition to being inexperienced, the Warriors are an ugly 2-9 ATS (1-10 SU) the last 11 times that they were road underdogs in the +3.5 to +7 range. The Huskies are 12-4 SU their last 16 against teams from the WAC and 7-1 SU the last eight times that they were laying points. I expect them to improve on those stats, covering the still relatively low number along the way. *10 (Personal Favorite)
|09-10-11||Florida Atlantic v. Michigan State -32||Top||0-44||Win||100||46 h 14 m||Show|
I'm playing on MICHIGAN STATE. Laying more than four touchdowns, obviously the Spartans have some major advantages in this one. I feel the line could easily be higher. The Owls were +34 point underdogs at Florida last week and lost by 38. I feel this year's Michigan State team, arguably Dantonio's strongest here, may currently be even better than Florida.
After last week's lost Owls coach Schnellenberger said this of his team: "I was disappointed in our football team because, as I watched the game unfold, it became obvious that we weren't prepared for the game or we didn't expect them to be as good as they were. I can't determine how hard they played or the talent or lack of talent because we made an error on almost every play."
Don't expect Michigan State to show the Owls any sympathy. After not properly "hammering" Youngstown State last week (they won 28-6) the Spartans should be anxious to lay a beating on someone and I expect them to have plenty of motivation to keep the pedal to the metal the entire way here. I say that as they faced the Owls last year and were leading 27-7 and then let FAU get back in the game.
After last week's game Dantonio had this to say: "I think everyone has got to take a look at themselves, coaches, players, everybody and go back and get ready to play the next one against Florida Atlantic. I think it can certainly serve to motivate us by asking the question, 'Who are we? Who are we as a football team?' Hopefully that wasn't us out there...." Clearly, he'd like his team to deliver a convincing blowout.
The Owls blowout loss in Week 1 was nothing new - they finished last season by losing their last three games by scores of 34, 24 and 37 points. In fact, the Owls are an awful 2-14 ATS the last 16 times that they were listed as road underdogs of greater than 21 points. That includes an 0-4 ATS mark as underdogs of greater than 31 points. The Spartans, on the other hand, are 3-2 ATS the last five times that they were listed as favorites of greater than 31 points. I expect them to improve on those stats here. *10
|09-08-11||Arizona +14.5 v. Oklahoma State||Top||14-37||Loss||-110||40 h 10 m||Show|
I'm playing on ARIZONA. If you're a fan of college football, you'll probably remember that these teams faced each other in a bowl game (Alamo Bowl) last December 29th. You also may recall that Oklahoma State won that game by a score of 36-10. My friend, who manages a large sportsbook, told me that game was among the most one-sided, in terms of everyone wagering on one team, of the bowl season. The betting public firmly backed the Cowboys and the sportsbooks took it on the chin. Looking back at the "internet consensus reports" from that game shows a similar tendency with the players heavily supporting the Cowboys. Roughly 75% of the 5000+ contest players won with Oklahoma State.
The majority of people that watched that game will remember that Oklahoma State "easily" won and covered. Indeed, for many of them it was probably among their most "lopsided" victories of the bowl season. As a result and with the Cowboys playing at home and coming off a blowout win in Week 1, many will be quick to again back Oklahoma State here. Well aware of this, the oddsmakers have been forced to put up a very big number. I believe this has provided us with excellent line value with what should be a very hungry Arizona squad.
A closer look at the bowl game shows that the game could have easily been closer than the final score suggests. In fact, Arizona had a solid edge in total yards, (370-312) first downs, (25-17) and a commanding 37:31 to 22:29 advantage in terms of time of possession.
Given those stats and given the final score, one can easily see that turnovers must have played a factor. That indeed was the case. The Wildcats had six possessions in OSU territory in the first half alone, yet managed only a touchdown.
Even Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Bill Young acknowledged: "...we had a good score in the bowl game, but it really wasn't indicative of how the game was. There was a couple of interceptions that turned it and big plays on offense and so forth that sometimes you don't get those, so we have to be ready to play."
Needless to say, the Wildcats will be fired up to try and avenge that loss and show that they are better than the score of the Alamo Bowl suggests.
True, the Cowboys are a very dangerous and explosive team. They've got an excellent QB and one of the best receivers (Justin Blackmon) in the country, The Wildcats have the type of offensive weapons that should allow them to keep up though. While the competition (Northern Arizona) was obviously inferior, note that senior QB Nick Foles threw for FBS-best 412 yards and five touchdowns last week. He's got a bigtime target in Juron Criner, last year's leading receiver in the Pac-10. Criner had six catches for 151 yards and a touchdown last week.
Coach Stoops said this: "Foles and Criner are our go-to guys and are very established players, and that is what we expect from those guys every time they step on the field."
Oklahoma State, also facing inferior competition, did rack up 61 points against Louisiana-Lafeyette last week. The Cowboys also gave up 34 points though and QB Weeden was picked off three times. Obviously, Arizona is a big step up in class.
While the Cowboys are 1-3 ATS the last four times that they were favored in the -10.5 to -21 range, the Wildcats are 1-0 ATS as underdogs in +10.5 to +21 range. They're also 2-0 ATS the last two times that they played a road game where the O/U line ranged from 63 to 70 points. I expect them to improve on those stats on Thursday night. *10
|09-03-11||Boise State v. Georgia +3.5||Top||35-21||Loss||-110||81 h 16 m||Show|
I'm playing on GEORGIA. This is one of the biggest games of opening week. Led by a Heisman trophy candidate at quarterback, the Broncos check in with the #5 ranking. They're very well-coached and have proven to get it done, year after year. The Bulldogs are off a losing season (their first since 1996) and therefore aren't getting much respect by the betting public. However, make no mistake, this team is also loaded with talent. Indeed, they're still ranked in the top 20 to start the season.
Kellen Moore has proven to be legit star at QB for Boise. That said, he lost a number of key players around him this year. Also, the Bulldogs have a very capable QB of their own.
Indeed, Murray had 24 touchdowns last season against just eight interceptions. He also had a 61% completion rate and threw for more than 3,000 yards in the air. Keep in mind that was his first year and that he was up against SEC opponents.
Speaking of the SEC, for all their success, the Broncos are 0-4 SU this millennium against teams from the SEC. In 2000, they lost 38-31 vs. Arkansas. The following season, they were beaten 32-13 by South Carolina. The next year, in 2002, they lost 41-14, again vs. Arkansas. Then, in 2005, facing Georgia, the Broncos were destroyed 48-13.
Note that Georgia was laying more than a touchdown for that game. Now, the Bulldogs are getting a field goal or more. Excellent line value, in my opinion.
We know the Broncos are great on the Blue Turf at home at Boise - this game is being played at the Georgia Dome though and the Dawgs aren't too shabby on turf themselves. Indeed, they're a profitable 14-5 ATS their last 19 games played on turf.
True, the Broncos really want to win this game. Not only would it get them some payback for the 2005 loss but it would get them on the right track in their quest for another undefeated season. Don't think the Bulldogs are any less motivated though. This is their backyard and they're off a losing season. A win here would be a great way to start the season the right way and to stop the critics from immediately jumping all over them. While I like Georgia to win outright, in a game that could easily come down to the wire, I'll happily grab the points. *10
|09-03-11||UCLA v. Houston -2.5||Top||34-38||Win||100||18 h 39 m||Show|
I'm playing on HOUSTON. I had a big win on the 'under' when these teams faced each other last season. The O/U line was 66 and they combined for only 44 points, a 31-13 victory for the Bruins. Despite playing on the road, the Cougars were favored by -3.5 points for that game. This year, despite now playing at home, Houston is favored by (slightly) fewer points. Considering that I feel they are an improved team from last season, I feel that's providing us with excellent value.
The Bruins have not been a good road team in recent seasons. They're 3-9 SU and 4-8 ATS their last dozen away from UCLA. Note that they're also just 5-12-1 ATS (4-14 SU) the l8 times that they were listed as underdogs and 0-3 SU/ATS the last three times that they played a game where the line ranged from the +3 to -3.
The Cougars feel they have a score to settle. Not only did the Bruins embarrass them last season but UCLA also knocked out Houston's star QB. Case Keenum is back this year though and he and the Cougars believe they have an outside shot a perfect season, if they can win this game. Naturally, I expect them to be extremely motivated.
While I respect the Bruins, I feel that home-field will ultimately prove to be the difference. The Cougars are 7-3 SU/ATS their last 10 home lined games and I look for them to step up and get some payback on Saturday afternoon. *10
|09-01-11||Pittsburgh Steelers v. Carolina Panthers -3||Top||33-17||Loss||-100||10 h 31 m||Show|
I'm playing on CAROLINA. Many recreational bettors won't be able to resist the Steelers as underdogs here. They know its preseason but this is still the mighty Steelers vs. the lowly Panthers. Getting the Steelers as underdogs probably seems like a no-brainer. Things don't generally work that way in the preseason, particularly not in Week 4. The fact is that the Panthers have far more reason to want to win this game.
The Panthers, who have a new coach, are playing at home and looking to build positive momentum, team morale and raise excitement within the city. All those factors should be motivating for Carolina but none of them are relevant to Pittsburgh. Indeed, the Steelers truly have very little to play for here and a victory against one of the weakest teams in the NFC really doesn't help them in any way. Indeed, the Steelers surely are already thinking about their opener vs. Baltimore.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is one of several Steelers who aren't even expected to take part in tonight's game, a list that may also include Troy Polamalu, linebacker James Farrior, center Maurkice Pouncey and cornerbacks Ike Taylor and Bryant McFadden.
On the other hand, the Panthers still have themselves a bit of a QB battle going on. While Newton currently looks like the #1 guy, Jimmy Claussen wants to have something to say about that. This is his chance and I look for him to step up and perform well.
While the Steelers dominated Carolina in the preseason in the Fox era, I look for things to start out differently under the new regime, as the "hungrier" team earns the win and cover. *10
|09-01-11||St Louis Rams v. Jacksonville Jaguars -3||Top||24-17||Loss||-125||9 h 59 m||Show|
I'm playing on JACKSONVILLE. Already 3-0 in the preseason, the Rams feel pretty good about themselves. On the other hand, the Jags have mostly struggled on both sides of the ball. In the regular season, that would favor the Rams. However, the final week of the preseason is often all about which team wants it more. In this case, I expect the Jags to be the more motivated team.
The Jags are expected to give Maurice Jones-Drew some playing time for the first time and the whole team and city wants good things from rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert, the team's first-round choice in the 2011 draft. I look for the Jacksonville players to give extra effort and the coaches to try and put Gabbert in position to get himself a victory.
The Jags have won 30 of their last 50 non-conference preseason games, going 5-2 ATS in the last seven of them. I expect them to improve on those stats tonight. *10
|09-01-11||North Texas +14.5 v. Florida International||Top||16-41||Loss||-110||57 h 39 m||Show|
I'm playing on NORTH TEXAS. Both teams have some issues and both are likely to make a few mistakes in their opening game. Each team has some matchup advantages. While the Golden Panthers do have the advantage of playing at home, I believe this is simply a case of the favorite laying too many points.
This is a big game for the Mean Green. They've got a lot of new excitement about this year's team but they also haven't forgotten that the Golden Panthers embarrassed them, at North Texas, last year. What better way to start this season than by getting some payback.
Note that last year's line was -4.5 and that the line for the 2009 meeting, here at Florida International, was only -3. (FIU won that game by a touchdown.) In fact, all six meetings between these teams have had lines of less than a touchdown.
Even with last year's cover at North Texas, the Golden Panthers are still just 5-7-1 ATS as favorites the past few seasons. During that time, they're only 3-7 ATS in lined home games. They're also 0-1 ATS as favorites in the -10.5 to -21 range.
Meanwhile, North Texas checks in at 3-1 ATS the last four times it was an underdog in the +10.5 to +21 range and 7-5 ATS its last dozen road lined games.
As of this writing, the O/U line is 53.5 or 54. Therefore, its worth mentioning that FIU is just 2-4 ATS (1-5 SU) the last six times it played a home game with an O/U line in the 52.5 to 56 range. That includes an 0-2 ATS mark the past few seasons. On the other hand, North Texas is a perfect 6-0 ATS the last six times it played a road game with an O/U line in the 52.5 to 56 range, going 9-2 ATS its last 11 in that situation. I'm grabbing all the points I can get. *10
|08-28-11||New Orleans Saints v. Oakland Raiders +4.5||Top||40-20||Loss||-110||10 h 43 m||Show|
I'm playing on OAKLAND. The Saints are a well coached team, one which won the Superbowl only two years ago. On the other hand, the Raiders are a team which has mostly struggled ever since getting to the big game vs. Tampa Bay more than eight years ago. With the Raiders also nursing some injuries and off to an 0-2 SU/ATS start to the preseason, many will figure the Saints are a "no-brainer." Not me.
I actually played against Oakland last week. So, I wasn't surprised that the Raiders lost that one. The fact that they got "crushed" (the final score was only 17-3 but the stats were extremely lopsided) works in our favor here. Not only does it help us a bit in terms of line value but it also should help motivate the Raiders here.
The Raiders should already have plenty of motivation. Not only did the Saints destroy them here in the 2009 preseason but this is an opportunity for them to show that they can compete with the top teams from the NFC - and that last week's poor effort against SF was just a "fluke."
The Saints, who are also off a loss and also dealing with some injury concerns, figure to be a little less "hungry." After all, a preseason road win vs. Raiders isn't going to affect them, one way or another, in the grand scheme of things. Note that New Orleans gave up a whopping 208 rushing yards and 436 yards in total in last week's loss.
Also, even though there's still Week 4 to go, with the Saints playing the opening Thursday game, (vs. the Packers) they're that much closer to starting the real thing - potentially making this game seem even less meaningful.
With the Saints at just 2-11 ATS the last 13 times that they were listed as preseason favorites in the -3.5 to -9.5 range, I'll gladly grab the generous points with what should be a highly motivated home underdog. *3
|08-27-11||Houston Texans v. San Francisco 49ers +4||Top||30-7||Loss||-110||9 h 25 m||Show|
I'm playing on SAN FRANCISCO. Despite playing on the road, the Texans are laying more than a field goal here. That's due to a couple of reasons. For starters, the Texans are an "impressive" 2-0 SU/ATS. Also, the Texans are expected to play their starters longer than the 49ers, as Harbaugh has indidcated that the starters will have a fairly early exit. The 49er "backups" have played quite well though. (Last week, the 49ers outscored the Raiders by a 14-3 margin the second half.) This is their chance to prove they can compete and I look for them to be extremely motivated to do so.
Having already beaten the likes of the Saints and the Jets, the Texans have little to prove here. Note that the Texans are still 2-4 SU/ATS the past few years, when laying points in the preseason. Going back further finds them at a money-burning 3-8-2 ATS the last 13 times they were preseason favorites.
While they deserve some credit for the wins against the Jets and Saints, note that the Texans have only had a 328.5 to 320.5 edge in total yards in those two games. On the other hand, the 49ers have enjoyed a 318 to 251 edge in yards, including a whopping 402 to 214 edge here at home. In fact, the 49ers have been terrific in preseason home games for years. I expect them to earn at least the cover here. *10
|08-26-11||Green Bay Packers v. Indianapolis Colts +9||Top||24-21||Win||100||57 h 24 m||Show|
I'm playing on INDIANAPOLIS. Even most casual fans know that the Colts don't generally fare too well in the preseason. The players and fans have always known that Peyton Manning would be there for Game 1 of the regular season and that everything would be "ok." That type of attitude along with typically "vanilla" play-calling, has led to Indianapolis having a very poor preseason record over the years. In fact, with an 0-2 SU/ATS mark this season, the Colts are now a dismal 1-9 sU and 2-8 ATS the past few preseasons.
Combine the Colts poor preseason numbers with the fact that they're facing the defending Super Bowl Champs, a team which is coming off a win and cover last week, and we've got a very high number. Indeed, we don't see the Colts getting more than a touchdown at home too often.
For a number of reasons, I expect the Colts to treat this game a lot more seriously than they normally do though. That being the case, I feel the inflated line is providing us with excellent value.
For starters, this is their final preseason home game. Last season, they lost their final preseason home game - but only by two points. The previous season, they defeated Philadelphia in their final preseason home game. Listed as +3.5 point underdogs, they won 23-15.
Also, there are rumors (I don't think we should necessarily believe them) that Manning may not be ready to play for Week 1. Whether or not that's true, I feel the Colts would like to show that they can indeed win without their star QB.
This is also a televised game and it comes against the defending Super Bowl champs. Additionally, the Colts were embarrassed at Green Bay in Week 3 of the preseason last year. With all due respect to the Packers, I expect a vastly different result here. *10
|08-26-11||St Louis Rams v. Kansas City Chiefs +2.5||Top||14-10||Loss||-110||57 h 21 m||Show|
I'm playing on KANSAS CITY. The Chiefs are another team with a recent history of preseason failure. As a result, we find them getting points, despite playing at home. I feel this provides us with excellent value, as I expect the Chiefs to treat this game seriously and for them to earn the outright victory.
The Rams are 2-0 already and have little to prove. Off to an 0-2 start, the same cannot be said of the Chiefs. Expectations are high in KC this season and after back to back blowout losses, the fans are starting to grumble.
Both teams have coaches in their third year and both saw their teams improve considerably in 2010 from 2009. I believe that the Chiefs are a little further along though and with the game being played at Arrowhead, I expect them to have the advantage.
The Chiefs had a 7-1 record at Arrowhead last regular season and finished in the top 10 in the league in numerous categories.
These teams met in the preseason a couple of years ago, at St. Louis. The Chiefs outgained the Rams by a significant margin but were done in by turnovers. This time, playing at KC, I expect it to be the Chiefs which are victorious. *10
|08-25-11||Carolina Panthers v. Cincinnati Bengals -3||Top||13-24||Win||100||57 h 56 m||Show|
I'm playing on CINCINNATI. Not much is expected from either of these teams this season. Indeed, both are projected to finish well below
.500, each at the bottom of their respective divisions. That said, I expect this game to be far more meaningful for the Bengals.
The Panthers lost 20-10 at Miami on Saturday. That was somewhat of a "respectable" loss though and they'd actually defeated Green Bay in
their previous game. Prior to that, in their lone home game, the Panthers defeated the defending Super Champs. In other words, the
Panthers have already experienced some success and there's no real pressure on them to win here.
The situation is entirely different for Cincinnati. The Bengals are 0-2 and they've been blown out in both games. In fact, this is the worst preseason start in franchise history - and we know this team's history isn't very good. In two games, they've been outscored by a margin of 51 points, a 61-10 combined score. The previous "record" was a 31-point margin. (That came back in 1986 when they lost their first two games by a combined score of 20-0 and 28-17.)
As offensive coordinator Jay Gruden noted: "We started with a very low standard so we have nowhere to go but up. We have to make do with what we have and make the most of it."
This is a team that needs to show the fans that they're even worth supporting. A victory here might actually sell a few seats when the real season starts. It would certainly go a long way in giving the team some badly needed confidence. Remember, this team had Carson Palmer leave on them and they're still trying to show that they can win without him.
Last week, the Bengals were on the road and facing a very powerful Jets team. That proved too much for them to handle. They're at home now though and facing a much weaker opponent. (Keep in mind that the Jets are projected to win 10 wins while the Panthers are being projected to win 4.5!) I expect them to be the "hungrier" team here and for a highly motivated effort to lead to a win and cover. *10
|08-21-11||San Diego Chargers +1.5 v. Dallas Cowboys||Top||20-7||Win||100||9 h 24 m||Show|
I'm playing on SAN DIEGO. Playing at home, one might assume that the Cowboys will be the more motivated team here. They already have a win under their belts though, while the same cannot be said of the Chargers, who fell to Seattle. I expect that to give San Diego some extra "hunger" to finish this one off correctly here. Not that these games really matter all that much but the fact that the Cowboys beat the Chargers (at San Diego) in Week 2 of last preseason could still help provide the Chargers with a little added incentive. Note that the Chargers had a 294 to 194 edge in yards in that one.
Dallas will likely be without No. 1 WR Miles Austin, who injured his hamstring in camp this week. Conversely, the Chargers are expected to see Antonio Gates make his preseason debut. The Cowboys are dealing with several other injuries, as well.
Philip Rivers didn't play much last week but was very sharp when in the game. Indeed, he was five for six with 87 yards and a touchdown. Naturally, he'll be seeing significantly more playing time here. Billy Volek is an extremely capable backup.
The Cowboys are a horrible 15-35 ATS their last 50 preseason games where the O/U line ranged between 35.5 to 42. While this is a "new era," I don't expect those numbers to get any better tonight. *10
|08-19-11||San Francisco Giants v. Houston Astros +1.5||Top||0-6||Win||100||10 h 47 m||Show|
I'm playing on HOUSTON on the Run-Line (+1.5 Runs.) With the Giants listed as mid-sized favorites on the moneyline, we're able to get quite a reasonable price on the Astros on the run-line. I believe that's providing us with excellent value.
The Giants are off a tough 1-0 loss against Atlanta yesterday. That was a very big series for them and watching their ace pitch very well, only to lose, figures to take a toll.
Rodriguez has a very solid 3.50 ERA and 1.288 WHIP on the season. His 117 K's to 47 walks is also very solid. His career stats at home are significantly better than his road stats.
Rodriguez did get roughed up by the Giants in 2006, his first start against them. However, he's only made two starts against them since that time (both last year) and he delivered quality efforts in each of those, most recently allowing only two unearned runs on just four hits, en route to earning a 7-5 Houston win.
Vogelsong has been dominant at home. Although still solid (3.46 ERA, 1.365 WHIP) his road numbers aren't nearly as good.
The Astros are off three straight 1-run games and they won the last two of them. Meanwhile, the Giants have now seen three of their last four decided by a single run. Houston is finally playing a bit better and here we're getting an extra +1.5 runs to work with against a SF lineup which has scored three or fewer runs in five of its last eight games. *10
|08-19-11||Kansas City Chiefs +7 v. Baltimore Ravens||Top||13-31||Loss||-110||31 h 28 m||Show|
I'm playing on KC. Its true that the Chiefs have not been a good preseason team in recent years. Its also true that they got smoked in their Week 1 opener. Everyone knows that they've struggled though and that has helped to provide us with excellent line value.
Quite simply, I feel this is too many points. This is a different KC team than the one in recent years. In recent years, they were a young team with no expectations. While there were still some players fighting for jobs, for the most part they had little depth. This year's team has bigger expectations and arguably more depth. I expect last week's blowout loss to provide them with some motivation, as they were completely shut out; something no team likes, not even in preseason.
Added motivation should come from the fact that the KC defeated by the Ravens in the playoffs last season, blowing out and embarrassing the Chiefs in front of the Arrowhead faithful.
Speaking of "added motivation," note the Chiefs have three new players on their roster, all who came from Baltimore, including nose tackle Kelly Gregg. Gregg started 124 games for the Ravens the last 10 seasons but was released prior to training camp.
The Ravens also struggled in their preseason opener, one which saw their offensive line give up six sacks. Speaking of the offensive line, note that the Ravens will be without center Matt Birk again. He'll sit out a second straight week while recovering from knee surgery. Also, Baltimore guard Marshal Yanda is currently questionable with a back injury.
In the end, I expect the Chiefs to be the "hungrier" team and for that to lead to them earning at least a cover. *10
|08-14-11||Texas Rangers v. Oakland A's +1.5||Top||7-6||Win||100||6 h 1 m||Show|
I'm playing on OAKLAND on the Run-Line. The Rangers have won each of the first two games of this series in convincing fashion. Today, however, I expect them to have their hands full the entire way. With the Rangers favored on the moneyline, we're able to get the A's at a very reasonable price on the run-line. While I feel the A's have an excellent shot at the "outright win," in a game where runs are expected to be fairly limited, (O/U line is currently 8u15) getting an extra +1.5 runs to work with could easily prove to be very valuable.
Harden goes for the A's. When healthy, he's always been extremely capable. He showed that in his last start. Pitching at Toronto, he allowed just one run on only five hits, through seven complete innings. He had eight K's with only two walks and the A's won by a score of 4-1.
While he didn't factor in the decision, Harden was also very sharp in his most recent home start. In that one, he allowed just two runs on only three hits, through six complete innings. He had seven K's and allowed just two walks. Including that start, Harden has a very solid 3.32 ERA in three home starts, to go along with an outstanding 0.789 WHIP. In 19 innings here, he's got an impressive 22 K's with only four walks.
Note that Harden figures to have some extra motivation, as he pitched for Texas last season. The Rangers already roughed him up on 7/1 (at Texas) but that was just his second start of the season. He's in a much better groove now and I expect him to be much better, here at Oakland. Note that Harden's teams are a profitable 11-5 in his last 16 August "home" starts. Two of those five losses came by a single run. So, if getting +1.5 runs on each, his teams would be 13-3 in his last 16 August home starts.
Admittedly, Harrison is also very tough. That said, the Rangers are just 6-9 his last 15 road starts. Note that the last four of those victories all came by two runs or less, one of them by a single run. So, they'd be just 5-10 his last 15 road starts, if laying -1.5 runs in each. One of those losses came in Harrison's last start here at Oakland. In that game, he allowed four runs in just 1 2/3 innings, en route to suffering a 7-2 loss. While Harrison should be better than that this afternoon, I look for Harden to match him pitch for pitch and for the A's to earn AT LEAST the "cover." *10
|08-13-11||Boston Red Sox v. Seattle Mariners +1.5||Top||4-5||Win||100||12 h 50 m||Show|
I'm playing SEATTLE on the Run-Line. The Red Sox grabbed yesterday's series opener. With their ace on the mound, I feel that the Mariners have an excellent shot at bouncing back and evening up the series this afternoon. That said, with the Red Sox favored, we're able to get the M's at +1.5 runs at a very reasonable price. In a game where runs are expected to be precious, (O/U line is currently 6.5) getting an extra +1.5 runs to work with could easily prove to be very valuable.
As noted, Hernandez goes for the home team. He suffered a very tough 2-1 loss last time out. (Note that it came by only one run.) In that outing, he allowed just four hits and two runs through eight innings. He also had 12 K's and didn't walk a single batter. His previous two starts resulted in a 4-2 victory over the A's and a 9-2 win over the Yankees. That give shim a 2-1 record (3-0 if getting +1.5 in all games) with a superb 2.11 ERA and 0.985 WHIP his last three starts. He's averaged greater than seven innings in those games and has a very impressive 26 K's in 21 1/3 innings.
Note that Hernandez is 4-2 in 10 starts vs. the Red Sox. Seattle was 6-4 in those games and one of the four losses came by a single run, so they'd be 7-3 if getting +1.5.
Of course, Beckett has also been very tough and he's also enjoyed plenty of success vs. the Mariners, since joining Boston. That said, his last three starts (and four of his last five) have ALL been decided by a single run. Additionally, his last start here at Seattle was also decided by a single run, a 2-1 "pitcher's duel."
With the M's now 12-3 in Hernandez's last 15 August home starts, I'll happily grab the extra +1.5 runs. *10
|08-12-11||Tampa Bay Buccaneers v. Kansas City Chiefs +3||Top||25-0||Loss||-110||43 h 14 m||Show|
I'm playing on KANSAS CITY. Its true that the Chiefs' recent preseason record hasn't been too impressive. That's a big part of the reason that this line has moved from its opener and why KC is now getting points at home, rather than laying them. I believe this is providing us with excellent value.
One of the primary reasons for the Chiefs' recent preseason problems is that they had little depth. For the most part, it was fairly evident who the starters would be at each position. This year, however, the Chiefs are considerably deeper. Therefore, there should be a few more battles and as a result, players should be fighting harder for their starting positions than we saw in recent years.
Also, having experienced some success last season, the Chiefs want to keep the positive feelings going by opening up with a victory in their preseason home opener.
Speaking of last season, you may recall that these teams also faced each other last preseason. That game was played at Tampa Bay, yet the Bucs were favored by less than they currently are here at Kansas City. True, the Bucs won that game by five (20-15) points. However, a closer look reveals that the Chiefs had a significant edge in time of possession, first downs and total yards. Indeed, if not for losing the turnover battle (3-0) KC would have surely won that one. (The Chiefs held the ball 35 of 60 mins and had a 24-13 edge in first downs.)
I'll gladly grab whatever points are being offered but I look for the Chiefs to step up and start the season with an outright victory. *10
|08-10-11||Philadelphia Phillies v. Los Angeles Dodgers +1.5||Top||9-8||Win||100||12 h 58 m||Show|
I'm playing on the LA DODGERS at +1.5 runs. With the Phillies listed as mid-sized road favorites, we're able to get the Dodgers on the run-line at a relatively reasonable price. I feel the Dodgers have an excellent shot at the "upset" here. However, the Phillies are a very tough team and in a game that is expected to be low-scoring (the O/U line is only 7) getting that extra +1.5 runs could prove very valuable. (We saw that last night, when the Dodgers scored with two outs in the bottom of the 9th to lose 2-1.)
There's no denying that Worley has been very good. That said, note that four of his last eight starts resulted in a 1-run victories. This again demonstrates that getting an extra +1.5 runs to work with could easily come into play.
For the most part, Billingsley has been very stingy at home. In 11 starts here, he's got an excellent 2.87 ERA and 1.222 WHIP. He's allowed one earned run or less in three of his last four home starts. Not surprisingly, the Dodgers were 3-1 in those games. He's only allowed three home runs in his last 11 starts here and opposing hitters are batting only .226 against him here.
While Worley hasn't started against the Dodgers, Billingsley has pitched very well against the Phillies each of the past two seasons. In 2009, he beat them 5-3, allowing just one run in seven innings. Last season, almost exactly one year to the day, he held them to two runs through six complete innings.
Even after last night's loss, the Dodgers are still 47-36 against the moneyline the past few seasons, when playing a home game with an O/U line of seven or less. Catching the Phillies playing the final game of a 10-game road trip, I expect the Dodgers to earn at least the "cover." *10
|08-06-11||Philadelphia Phillies v. San Francisco Giants +1.5||Top||2-1||Win||100||6 h 55 m||Show|
I'm playing SAN FRANCISCO on the Run-Line. (+1.5 runs.) In a game featuring a pair of excellent pitchers, one which has an O/U line of less than seven runs, runs figure to be at a premium. That said, getting an extra +1.5 runs to work with becomes extremely valuable.
Coincidentally, even though I have plenty of respect for Hamels, I also played against the Phillies in his last start, also taking the +1.5 runs with the home underdog. The Phillies did rally for a comeback extra-inning 4-3 victory but the +1.5 runs came in extremely handy, as it turned a losing ticket into a winner. It was Hamels' second straight start which was decided by a single run. His previous start came against none other than Matt Cain.
Cain was better than Hamels on that day. He allowed one run through seven innings - and it was unearned. Hamels was also tough, just not quite as good as Cain. He allowed two runs, both earned, through 7 2/3 innings. Hamels allowed six hits, Cain gave up just four.
That was at Philadelphia but Cain's last home start against the Phillies also came against Hamels. He also outpitched Hamels in that one, earning a 3-0 victory. Cain allowed just two hits through his seven shutout innings. That brings the Phillies to 0-3 in Hamels' last three starts in this series.
Despite a couple of recent losses, the Giants are still 14-6 in Cain's last 20 starts here. Four of the six losses came by two or fewer runs, which again helps to show how valuable the +1.5 runs could be. Cain should be highly motivated here. Not only is he looking to bounce back from a rare bad outing and to help his team get a badly needed victory but he's also looking to make Phillies manager Charlie Manuel eat his words. After the last series, Manuel said Cain and Lincecum were "good but not great." I expect Cain to be "great" today, or at least "good" enough to get the Giants a win on the run-line. *10
|06-12-11||Dallas Mavericks v. Miami Heat -5||Top||105-95||Loss||-105||43 h 13 m||Show|
I'm playing on MIAMI. In a much win situation, we're having to lay a relatively big number with the Heat here. That will likely cause many to back the underdog Mavs. Not me. I expect the Heat to win this one in convincing fashion.
I successfully played the Heat in Game of this series - they won that one by eight points. At the time, I had this to say: "...with this game being played at Miami, I feel that the Heat need this game more and that they'll be the team which ultimately wins it. Note that the Heat are a perfect 8-0 SU at home in the playoffs and that they've won 10 straight games on this floor. More importantly, note that ALL 10 victories came by more than five points..."
Of course, the Mavs won Game 2 here, so Miami's undefeated streak here is finished. However, my point remains that they've been terrific on this floor.
Miami coach Spoelstra had this to say: "We're going home, and we wouldn't have it any other way than the hard way. This is an opportunity for us. That's why you play a seven-game series. You've got to play it out. And this is where we feel comfortable."
Naturally, the Heat can't be happy with the fact that they gave up 112 points last time out. That was the most points that they allowed since way back in March. The last time that they allowed a team to score triple-digits against them (Charlotte scored 103 against them on 4/8) they responded with a 23-point (100-77) victory in their next game.
The last time that the Heat allowed a team to score 105 or more points against them (Washington scored 107 against them on 3/30) they responded with a 19 point (111-92) victory in their next game.
The bottom line is that I'm not ready to write the Heat off yet. Lebron had this to say: "We'll be better in Game 6..." and I expect that to be the case. *10
|06-09-11||Miami Heat +1.5 v. Dallas Mavericks||Top||103-112||Loss||-111||10 h 27 m||Show|
I'm playing on MIAMI. I had Dallas last game, getting either a win or push, depending on when one played. Playing in a "must win" game, I just didn't think the Mavs were ready to go down without a fight. However, I've also backed the Heat in each of their SU/ATS victories in this series - and I still feel that they're going to prove to be the champions. I look for them to take a big step towards achieving that goal tonight.
Nowitzki is quite an amazing player and its hard not to like him. He lays it all on the line every game and has nearly single-handedly taken his team to this point. Ok, that's not exactly fair to Kidd, Terry and co. Still, its fair to say that Dirk plays a far more pivotal role for his team than either James, Wade or Bosh does for his. If James has a poor offensive game, Wade and James are there to pick up the slack. If Wade plays poorly, James and Bosh are capable of elevating their game. Dirk doesn't have that luxury. If he doesn't have a great game, his supporting isn't necessarily as capable of carrying the load.
Case in point, James managed a mere eight points in Game 4. Yet, the Heat were still up big with 10 minutes left in the game - and they were still within one shot of forcing OT. Just think what kind of shape the Mavs would be in, if Dirk decided to score only eight.
In this case, I feel that Dirk could really use some help. Yes, Wednesday was an 'off day.' Still Nowitzki was visibly exhausted on Tuesday. Dealing with a sinus infection, lack of sleep and a fever in triple-digits didn't help matters. I expect it to catch up for him here and for Miami's "triple-headed monster" to be the difference.
Including their win in Game 3 at Dallas, the Heat are 2-0 when tied in a playoff series. Already 3-0 in Game 5's in these playoffs, the Heat are also 9-1 the last 10 times that they scored 85 or fewer points in their previous game. I expect them to bounce back and seize control of the series. *10
|06-07-11||Miami Heat v. Dallas Mavericks -2.5||Top||83-86||Win||100||34 h 21 m||Show|
I'm playing on DALLAS. I'm not surprised by the fact that the Mavericks are down 2-1, as I played on the Heat in each of their victories. That said, I'm also not willing to write the Mavs off. Not in their "last stand." While the Mavs won't get eliminated if they lose on Tuesday, they also know that this is truly a "must win" game. Their chances of coming back from a 3-1 deficit - and needing two win two games at Miami - are very slim. With their backs against the wall, I expect the Mavs to respond with their best effort of the series.
In addition to all the veteran leadership on the floor, the Mavs are very well-coached. That combination rarely sees them get "upset" twice in a row. Indeed, they've been excellent when coming off a SU loss, when listed as a favorite. They're 35-12 SU their last 47 in that situation, going 12-2 SU this season. They were a profitable 9-5 ATS (64%) in those games - and in this case, with such a low pointspread, a SU victory is highly likely to also result in an ATS victory.
The Mavs are still an outstanding 14-4 ATS in the playoffs. That includes a 1-0 ATS mark when trailing in a series - as they bounced back with a victory in Game 2, at Miami.
We've already seen that the Heat can get a bit "cocky," as witnessed in their Game 2 4th quarter meltdown. They'll certainly try and guard against it, but there's a chance that they could again "relax," if only slightly. Regardless of whether or not that proves to be the case, I expect them to see a different Dallas team here - one which comes out "on fire" from the opening tip.
The Mavs are still a highly profitable 25-12 ATS their last 37 games against teams with a winning record. I expect them to improve on those stats here and won't be surprised if they do so in convincing fashion. *10
|06-05-11||Miami Heat +2.5 v. Dallas Mavericks||Top||88-86||Win||100||18 h 0 m||Show|
I'm playing on MIAMI. I had the Heat when they won Game 1. I didn't play a 'side' in Game 2 but am coming back with the Heat again for Game 3.
As you know, the Mavericks are off a very impressive fourth quarter comeback in Game 2. The Heat were up 15 in the fourth and Dallas still came all the way back for the victory. How will the Heat react to that potentially "devastating" loss? Will they hang their heads and come out flat, thinking about what could have been? Or, will they respond like champions and bounce back to reclaim homecourt advantage? I believe the answer will prove to the latter.
I believe that the Heat will have learned a lesson from the Game 2 loss. They should have learned to never let down and to play at 100% the entire 48 minutes - or more, if necessary.
The Heat know how to win on the road. They're 32-16 SU on the road, including 11-4 the last 15. They've won at least one road game in each playoff series thus far, winning at Philadelphia, Boston AND at Chicago. Their last two road games saw them allow 80 and 75 points.
While Nowitzki is certainly a very talented player, in the end, I feel that Miami's "3-headed monster" will prove to be too much as the Heat bounce back and score the minor upset. *10
|06-04-11||Atlanta Braves v. New York Mets +1.5||Top||0-5||Win||100||9 h 54 m||Show|
I'm playing the NEW YORK METS on the run-line (+1.5 runs). I've won with the Braves numerous times when Jurrjens has pitched and I'm
well aware that he's been enjoying an excellent season. However, nearly everyone else knows about Jurrjens' success now too, particularly with him having just been named the "NL Pitcher of the Month" for May. That's caused the Braves to be favored on the road, despite going up a Mets team which is undefeated on the season with Dillon Gee in the mound. More importantly, that's given us a relatively reasonable price on the home underdog at +1.5 runs, which is what I'll be playing on.
There really aren't too many bad things one can say about Jurrjens right now. Not only is he in excellent current forum, but he's also enjoyed success vs. the Mets. That said, athletes can often be a bit superstitious and Jurrjens' comments about returning to Citi Field leave the impression that he may be a little "nervous" about pitching here.
You may recall that Jurrjens suffered a torn meniscus during a side session last September and that injury stopped him from being able to play in the playoffs.
Jurrjens was quoted as saying: "It's going to be awkward going out there to warm up. Things happen for a reason."
Thoughts like that could potentially throw off a pitcher...
While I won't count on that, I will count on another strong performance from Dillon Gee. He hasn't gotten the publicity of Jurrjens but he's certainly been getting it done. Last time out, he allowed three runs through seven innings, striking out eight and walking only one. The Mets won 7-3. With that result, New York is now a perfect 7-0 (+7.8) in games started by Gee this season.
Gee has been at his best at home, too. In four starts here, Gee is 3-0 with a 2.42 ERA. Not quite as dominating as Jurrjens' numbers - but not that far off either. Note that Gee's got an outstanding 0.774 WHIP his last three starts, meaning he's not allowing many baserunners at all.
Note that Gee is already 1-0 against the Braves this season, beating Hanson at Atlanta. Also, before getting hurt in the warm-up here last September, Jurrjens' previous start here saw him suffer a 3-1 loss. Jurrjens walked four batters in that game, while only striking out three. That gives him 11 walks his last three starts vs. NY.
I do think the Mets have an excellent shot at the outright win. After all, they're 7-0 with Gee on the mound. However, in a game where runs will likely be at a premium, getting an extra run to work with could make the difference, particularly given that the Braves entered this series having played five consecutive one run games. *10 Personal Favorite on NY +1.5
|05-31-11||Dallas Mavericks v. Miami Heat -4.5||Top||84-92||Win||100||59 h 49 m||Show|
I'm playing on MIAMI. The Mavericks won here in the regular season and they may be the "sentimental" pick to take Game 1. This is a much different Miami team now though, one which has improved significantly since that 12/20 meeting.
Its debatable about which team was more "impressive" in getting here. The Mavs may have had the tougher earlier matchups but the Heat arguably faced a more difficult opponent in the conference finals. Either way, both teams have been very good and one could make a case for either - and find plenty of stats to support it.
That said, with this game being played at Miami, I feel that the Heat need this game more and that they'll be the team which ultimately wins it. Note that the Heat are a perfect 8-0 SU at home in the playoffs and that they've won 10 straight games on this floor. More importantly, note that ALL 10 victories came by more than five points.
The Heat, who held the Bulls to 80 points in the final game of that series, are 20-1 SU and 14-6-1 ATS the last 21 times that they held their previous opponent to 85 or fewer points. I expect them to improve on those stats on Tuesday night. *10
|05-23-11||Dallas Mavericks v. Oklahoma City Thunder -3.5||Top||112-105||Loss||-108||19 h 31 m||Show|
I'm playing on OKLAHOMA CITY. Through three games, this series has gone back and forth. The Mavericks won and covered in Game 1. The Thunder bounced back with an upset win in Game 2, temporarily stealing homecourt advantage. The Mavs quickly answered, delivering a convincing wire-to-wire blowout victory in Game 3.
As impressive as the Mavs looked, I still don't feel that they're "unbeatable."
While they're still a young team, they're very well-coached and the Thunder have been at their very best with their backs to the wall in these playoffs. In fact, including the win in Game 2, they're a perfect 3-0 SU/ATS when trailing in a playoff series. That brings them to 6-1 ATS in that situation, since the team came to Oklahoma City.
The Thunder are also a highly impressive 15-1 SU (10-5-1 ATS) the last 16 times that they were coming off a SU loss, when they'd been listed as a favorite. Going back further finds them at 26-8 SU and 22-11-1 ATS in that situation, the past few seasons.
Additionally, we find the Thunder at 24-14 ATS (28-10 SU) the last 38 times that they were playing with "revenge" including a 9-5 ATS mark, when attempting to avenge a home loss. Going back further finds them at an outstanding 73-47-2 ATS in the revenge role, the past few seasons.
As this is now pretty much a "must win" game - and given their success in this situation - the Thunder are currently slightly larger favorites than they were for Game 3. That's not enough to scare me off though. Note that OKC is a profitable 5-1 ATS the last six times that it was listed as a home favorite in the -3.5 to -6 range. With their backs against the wall, I expect the Thunder to again elevate their play and for them to even up the series with another solid win and cover. *10
|05-22-11||Chicago Bulls v. Miami Heat -4.5||Top||85-96||Win||100||58 h 6 m||Show|
I'm playing on MIAMI. This series has pretty much gone as I expected. I had the Bulls in Game 1 and thought they would start the series with a victory. They won by a score of 103-82. I wasn't entirely sure who I thought would win the second game. Instead, as I expected a "defensive battle," I successfully played on the "under." The teams combined for a mere 67 points in the second half and the game stayed below the total by 20+ points.
Even though I didn't play the 'side,' I watched Game 2 very closely. Before the game - and as I was watching the game - I had said to myself that the winner of Game 2 would very likely win the series. If the Bulls had gone up 2-0, I feel that they would have had a fairly strong chance at winning two of the next five games. However, with the Bulls managing only 10 points in the fourth (and 29 in the second half) and with the Heat having earned the "road split," I now feel that Miami has a solid advantage. While it remains to be seen whether or not they can actually win the series, I do expect the Heat to carry the positive momentum from Game 2 into Game 3 and look for that to lead to a solid win and cover.
Winning Game 2 was very important for the obvious reasons that it gave the Heat their first game and that it allowed them to now have homecourt advantage in the series. However, it was also extremely important from a psychological standpoint. The Bulls had beaten the Heat in every previous meeting. Now, the Heat have "exorcised those demons," much as they did in a big win over Boston, late in the regular season. Now, they know that they can beat this team - and it should help to give them in the "confidence" department.
On the other hand, the Bulls may have some doubt - will they be able to score against this team?
It should be noted that the Heat have been at their very best when coming off a dominant defensive effort. In fact, they're 18-1 SU and 12-6-1 ATS the last 19 times that they had allowed 85 or fewer points in their previous game. I expect them to improve on those stats with another solid win and cover on Sunday evening. *10
|05-15-11||Miami Heat v. Chicago Bulls -2||Top||82-103||Win||100||27 h 18 m||Show|
I'm playing on CHICAGO. The Bulls aren't getting much respect here. They were the best team during the regular season and they have the league MVP. They're also playing at home. Yet, they're underdogs for the series and are barely favored for Game 1. I'm not making any series wagers/predictions quite yet. However, I do feel that we're getting excellent value on the Bulls on Sunday.
In addition to the "Lebron factor," the primary reason for such a low line is that many people perceive that the Heat have been the more "impressive" team in the playoffs so far. After all, Miami just knocked off the mighty Celtics while Chicago "only" defeated Atlanta. The Bulls didn't choose their opponent though - they earned the right to playing Atlanta, based on their #1 seed. They also closed that series with arguably their best performance of the playoffs, playing outstanding basketball on both sides of the ball.
Indeed, they went into Atlanta - which has been a tough venue for years - and defeated the Hawks by 20 points. They shot 53.2% (41 of 77) while limiting the Hawks to 36.5% (27 of 74) shooting. They also won the previous game, their most recent here at Chicago, by double-digits. In fact, they won four of the final five games in that series by double-digits. That said, contrary to popular opinion, I would argue they've been every bit as "impressive" as the Heat recently.
One of the big reasons that the Bulls had a better record than the Heat is their superior play against top tier teams. While the Heat were 25-18 SU and 21-20-1 against winning teams, the Bulls were 28-12 SU and 26-13-1 ATS against winning teams. That includes a 19-5 SU mark their last 24!
All three regular season games were close. However, the Bulls found a way to win all three of them. I believe they'll also find a way to grab Game 1, covering the small number along the way. *10
|05-13-11||Oklahoma City Thunder v. Memphis Grizzlies -1.5||Top||83-95||Win||100||12 h 53 m||Show|
I'm playing on MEMPHIS. As most of you know, I won with Oklahoma City (and the 'under') in Game 5 of this series. I had a number of reasons for playing on the Thunder in that game, including the fact that they were off a momentum-building triple-OT win, which I felt would be "deflating" for the Grizzlies. Also, of course, that game was being played at Oklahoma City. Tonight's game sets up much differently though and this time, I'm backing the Grizzlies.
While a triple OT loss can be very difficult to immediately recover from, a "blowout" loss is often much easier to "bounce back" from. Rather than feeling "deflated" and thinking about "what could have been," the team which got blown out is now focused on restoring its image and proving that its much better than it just showed. Note that the Grizzlies are a profitable 9-3-1 ATS when coming off a double-digit loss.
Almost all teams play better at home. That said, homecourt typically means more to these Grizzlies than it does to most teams. With the Game 5 loss, the Grizzlies are only 18-29 on the road. However, they're a terrific 34-12 here at home, going a highly profitable 30-15-1 ATS.
The Grizzlies are also in a couple of their most profitable situations. Not only are they 31-13 ATS the last 44 times that they played with "revenge," but they're also 6-1-1 ATS the last eight times that they failed to score more than 85 points in their previous game.
Even with the triple-OT heartbreaker, the Grizzlies are 16-4 SU and 15-5 ATS their last 20 games here. They've had a great run through these playoffs and I don't think its over quite yet. *10
|05-11-11||Memphis Grizzlies v. Atlanta Hawks -6||Top||72-99||Win||100||11 h 6 m||Show|
I'm playing on OKLAHOMA CITY. As you're probably aware, these teams were involved in triple-overtime game last time out. I believe that game will prove to be the turning point in the series. Had the Grizzlies been able to pull that one out, they would have had an excellent shot at winning the series. However, they squandered that opportunity and knowing that can be difficult to recover from.
While the teams had yesterday off, they still figure to be physically tired. However, the Thunder have the support of the home crowd to help give them a "boost" and they're also energized by the fact that they won the last game.
As Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said of his team: "It feels much better being 2-2 and Game 5 on our home floor. It would have been a tough mountain to climb being down 3-1. Not impossible, but very tough. We're excited. Guys, there's plenty of energy in their bodies. They're going to have energy."
While the Grizzlies did manage a split in the first two games here, keep in mind that they're still only 18-28 on the road. On the other hand, the Thunder are an impressive 34-12 here at Oklahoma City.
While it was hardly a "wire-to-wire-blowout," the Thunder did end up winning Game 4 by double-digits, obviously a very "big" win. They've been able to build off those type of victories all year. In fact, they're 15-7 ATS (16-8 SU) the last 24 times that they were off a win by 10 or more points. I expect the Thunder to ride the momentum of that victory into tonight's game and look for this to be the most one-sided game of the series, to date. *10
|05-09-11||Miami Heat -1 v. Boston Celtics||Top||98-90||Win||100||9 h 56 m||Show|
I'm playing on MIAMI. I won with the Celtics in Game 3, while also cashing with the 'under' in the same game. Admittedly, that was an impressive second half performance from Boston. However, the win was costly. As you probably saw, (or heard about) Rondo took a hard fall and reportedly dislocated his elbow. Somehow, as you would have also seen, he came back into Game 3 - after trainers popped his elbow back into place.
Rondo's courage/toughness, seemed to help inspire the Celtics to play even harder in Game 3. Also, Rondo is expected to play again in Game 4, at least he has anything to say about it. He was quoted as saying: "Don't ask me how I feel. I'm going to play regardless. You may see me hold my arm, but I'm not going to use it as an excuse."
As admirable as that may or may not be, emotion can generally only carry a team or player so far. The reality is, if he plays, the Celtics' pointguard will be playing with an arm that's less than 100%. He was never the best shooter to begin with - with an arm that's less than 100%, the Heat won't have to respect his shot - at least until he proves he can knock shots down from the outside.
Rondo being in the game won't ignite the same kind of passion that it did for the Celtics in the last game. Now, I expect his injury to prove to be a liability.
James and co. are well aware that the Celtics won't have their starting pointguard at 100% and I expect them to aggressively attack and try to exploit that situation.
The Heat were 5-1 this season, after scoring less than 85 points in their previous game. That includes a 1-0 mark in the playoffs. They know this is their chance to really take control of the series and I expect them to bounce back and do just that. *10
|05-08-11||Los Angeles Lakers +2 v. Dallas Mavericks||Top||86-122||Loss||-110||5 h 7 m||Show|
I'm playing on LA. Down 0-3 and playing on the road, most teams wouldn't think they had any kind of chance. The Lakers aren't a "normal" team though. They've got a superstar and a coach who would both love nothing more than to add to their legacy by "doing the impossible." While I won't go as far as to say the Lakers are going to come back and win the series, I do expect them to find a way to score the upset this afternoon.
In addition to being talented, unlike other teams in this situation, the champs may actually believe they can still do it. Kobe Bryant put it this way: "I might be sick in the head or crazy or thrown off or something like that, but I still think we are going to win this series..."
Kobe would eventually go on to say: "...My teammates are fine. When you think about it, it makes sense. I will explain it to them and it will make sense. Win the next game, go to L.A., and they're not going to beat us in L.A. to close it out. Than we come back here and see what happens."
The Lakers won here in March and they very nearly won here in Game 3. They'll have Artest back today which should help improve their 3-point defense. They're still 61-22 SU the last 83 times that they faced a team which defeated them in the previous meeting and I don't think they're ready to go home yet. *10 (Main Event.)
|05-07-11||Miami Heat v. Boston Celtics -3||Top||81-97||Win||100||21 h 27 m||Show|
I'm playing on BOSTON. I didn't play a side in Game 2 of this series. I did have the Heat in Game 1 though and am not surprised that they won both games at Miami. However, the series has now shifted to Boston and I fully expect the battle-tested Celtics to respond accordingly.
Although they didn't cover in Game 2, the Celtics have been at their best when trailing in a playoff series. Indeed, they're now 7-1 SU and 6-2 ATS their last eight in that situation.
The defending Eastern Conference Champions are also typically very tough to beat when they're coming off a bad loss. Over the past few seasons, they've gone 19-9 SU and 18-10 ATS when coming off a double-digit loss.
In addition to this game now being at Boston, I like the fact that there's been a longer gap in between games. The Heat were building some momentum and this gives them a chance to 'cool off.'
While James and co. have now broken through at Miami, the Celtics have still dominated the Heat here at Boston. In fact, Boston is a perfect 10-0 the last 10 meetings here. While the Celtics went "only" 7-3 ATS in those games, the last nine wins here ALL came by a minimum of three points and they came by an average of 11.2 points. In what is essentially a "must-win" situation, I expect the Celtics to continue their homecourt dominance in the series and covering the small number along the way. *10 (Main Event)
|05-03-11||Memphis Grizzlies v. Oklahoma City Thunder -6.5||Top||102-111||Win||100||10 h 25 m||Show|
I'm playing on OKLAHOMA CITY. After dropping Game 1, I full expect that we'll see a different Thunder team tonight.
The Thunder never trailed in the first round but were 3-1 SU/ATS when trailing in a series in last year's playoffs. That goes hand in hand with the fact that they've been excellent at bouncing back, off an upset loss. Over the past few seasons, the Thunders have gone a terrific 21-11-1 ATS (25-8 SU) when coming off a SU loss as a favorite.
The Thunder have also excelled when attempting to avenge an earlier loss. They're a profitable 69-47-1 ATS in the 'revenge role' the past few seasons. That includes a 20-14 ATS (24-10 SU!) mark the last 34.
While the Grizzlies are just 9-15 ATS the last 24 times that they were off a double-digit win, the Thunder are 31-21 ATS the past few seasons, when coming off a double-digit loss.
While the Grizzlies have certainly been playing week. Keep in mind that they're still 18-27 on the road. On the other hand, the Thunder are still 33-12 at home. I expect them to bounce back and improve on those stats, covering the reasonably low number along the way. *10
|05-02-11||Atlanta Hawks v. Chicago Bulls -8.5||Top||103-95||Loss||-104||21 h 0 m||Show|
I'm playing on CHICAGO. The fact people feel the Bulls "struggled" to beat Indiana has helped to keep this line lower than it could have been. I feel that it will prove to be too low.
Each series is different. The Hawks matched up well vs. the Magic and the Pacers matched up (relatively) well vs. the Bulls. The Pacers were able to compete with the Bulls in large part to the fact that they were physical. The Hawks aren't that type of team though.
Another factor which I feel will be significant is that the Hawks will be without Kirk Hinrich. The former Chicago guard got hurt right near the end of Atlanta's final game vs. Orlando. Considering that he averaged nearly 29 minutes per game in the Orlando series and that he scored at least six points in every game and double-digits in three of Atlanta's victories - his loss should be noticed.
Looking at the regular season series and we find that the Hawks did manage a 3-point win in the first meeting. That was at Atlanta though. The next meeting came here at Chicago and saw the Bulls win by a convincing 94-76 margin. The final meeting saw Chicago win by 33 points!
Including the earlier victory vs. the Hawks here, the Bulls are 8-4 ATS (10-2 ATS) the last dozen times that they were home favorites in the -6.5 to -9 range.
Its also worth noting that the Bulls are 10-3 ATS the last 13 times that they played with three or more day's rest in between games. On the other hand, the Hawks are only 1-6 ATS the last seven times that they played with three or more day's rest in between games.
Additionally, note that the Hawks are a dismal 2-14-1 ATS (1-16 SU) their last 17 games in the second round of the playoffs, including 0-7-1 ATS their last eight.
With a total in the high 170s, this is expected to be a fairly low-scoring game. That type of tempo suits the Bulls just fine. They're 6-1 ATS (7-0 SU) when playing a game with an O/U line in the 170s. I expect them to improve on those stats by starting this series off with a double-digit victory. *10
|05-01-11||Boston Celtics v. Miami Heat -5||Top||90-99||Win||100||27 h 13 m||Show|
I'm playing on MIAMI. The Celtics were arguably more impressive in closing out the Knicks, than the Heat were in closing out the 76ers. While that will likely cause a lot of bettors to back Boston, its important to keep in mind that this is an entirely different matchup and series.
Also, while Boston did sweep the Knicks, keep in mind that Miami's four victories over Philadelphia actually came by a greater margin than Boston's four victories.
After winning a pair of very close games to start the series, the Celtics were seemingly able to break the Knicks' will. It didn't help matters that New York wasn't healthy. The Celtics won't be able to break the will of the Heat though. At least, not for Game 1, at Miami.
The Celtics had a recent history of dominating the Heat. That changed in the last game though. I had a "Main Event" on the Heat for that 4/3 game and therefore thoroughly enjoyed watching them dismantle the Celtics by a 100-77 margin. With that result, any psychological advantage that the Celtics may have once enjoyed, is no longer.
While the Celtics did close out the series with NY with back to back big wins, note that they're still an awful 36-62-1 ATS, when coming off a double-digit victory, the past few seasons. That includes a horrible 7-24 ATS mark in that situation this season.
Its also worth noting that the Celtics are just 8-12 ATS the last 20 times that they played with three or more day's rest in between games and 1-3 ATS the last four times that they played a road game with an O/U line in the 180 to 184.5 range.
Including the blowout victory over Boston three weeks ago, the Heat are 12-8 ATS the last 20 times that they were favored by six or fewer points, including 4-2 ATS in that role since mid-March. I expect them to improve on those stats on Sunday afternoon, as they start things off with a convincing victory. *10
|04-29-11||San Antonio Spurs +3 v. Memphis Grizzlies||Top||91-99||Loss||-100||11 h 56 m||Show|
I'm playing on SAN ANTONIO. I'll be the first to admit that Wednesday's win on San Antonio was "rather fortunate." If you watched the game or saw the highlights, you'll know what I'm talking about. The Spurs were down and out and needed a game-tying 3-pointer with less than two seconds left in regulation, just to force overtime. Then, they even managed to win by seven points in OT, enough to cover (some late bettors pushed) by half a point.
Knowing that the Spurs "got a little lucky" just to survive Game 5, many bettors will likely be quick to back the Grizzlies here. Often, however, giving a good team a "second chance" with a "lucky" win is like waking up a sleeping giant.
Coach Popovich was quoted as saying: "We hung in tough. That's all about character, and I never doubt that our guys have that, for sure."
In this case, I expect the veteran Spurs to know they were fortunate and to appreciate the significance of having a second life. On the other hand, it would only be natural for the younger Grizzlies to feel a little "deflated" and for them to be thinking about the opportunity which they squandered.
While the Grizzlies are admittedly tough at home, the Spurs are highly capable on the road. They're now 26-16-1 ATS on the road this season. That includes a 9-6 ATS mark as road underdogs and an 8-1 ATS record when playing a road game with an O/U line in the 190 to 194.5 range.
In a game that could come down to the wire once again, I'll grab the points. However, I look for the "rejuventated" Spurs to step up and score the outright upset. *10
|04-27-11||Memphis Grizzlies v. San Antonio Spurs -6.5||Top||103-110||Win||100||10 h 1 m||Show|
I'm playing on SAN ANTONIO. Clearly, the Spurs have their hands full in this series. Not only are they down 3-1 in games, but they've failed to
cover the spread in all four games. That said, I successfully backed the Magic yesterday, who were also down 3-1. I said that "I wasn't counting them out" and they rewarded me with a 101-76 victory. I'm not counting out the Spurs either and I expect them to also reward me with a convincing win and cover.
As Tim Duncan noted: "We put ourselves in this position. We gotta stay alive."
True, the Spurs lost both games at Memphis. The Grizzlies have been very tough there all year long though. However, they're not nearly as good on the road. Indeed, the Grizzlies were an excellent 30-11 at home but a poor 16-25 at home.
The Spurs, on the other hand, were 36-5 at home during the regular season. While they split the first two playoff meetings here, they're still 15-2 the last 17 times that they were a host in this series.
Duncan and co. know that their time is running out and that they can't afford to squander all this year's hard work. Ginobli had this to say: "We got a lot to lose. We had an unbelievable season. We were the No. 1 seed in the league for 65, 70 games, playing unbelievable."
The Spurs are 35-14 SU the past few seasons, when off an upset loss as a favorite, including 8-3 their last 11. They're also 23-10 SU (19-13 ATS) the last 32 times that they were off a double-digit loss. That includes a 7-2 SU and 6-3 ATS the mark their last nine in that situation.
Just as we saw from the Lakers and Magic last night, I expect the veteran team in a "must win" spot to respond with flying covers. Look for the Spurs to record a double-digit victory, making a statement that this series is far from over. *10
|04-26-11||New Orleans Hornets v. Los Angeles Lakers -10||Top||90-106||Win||100||12 h 17 m||Show|
I'm playing on the LA LAKERS. Ok. The first four games have been "fun." Now, its time for the Lakers to get serious. I expect them to respond like the champions that they are and for tonight's game to result in a double-digit blowout.
While the Lakers are typically a team that the betting public loves to back, with Kobe banged-up and Chris Paul "lighting it up," many have been abandoning ship here - and siding with New Orleans. That's kept the line (relatively) reasonable, at least in my opinion.
Many bettors tend to have short and/or selective memories. Those backing New Orleans are forgetting (or choosing to ignore) that the Hornets were 18-23 on the road this season and that the Lakers were 30-11 at home.
They're also forgetting that the battle-tested Lakers have been in similar positions many times and typically thrive on them. In fact, almost exactly one year ago to the day, they were in practically an identical situation.
The date was 4/27/2010. The Lakers were tied 2-2 with the Thunder, a young and talented team. The Thunder had covered three straight games and many felt they had LA on the ropes. I stepped out with my biggest play of the first round on the Lakers though and they rewarded me with a 111-87 destruction.
As Phil Jackson noted of his players: "They certainly play better when they're in a desperate mode, there's no doubt about that. They were somber. They understand the nature of we to have to do with this ballclub."
While the Hornets are only 2-3 ATS (1-4 SU) during the same stretch, the Lakers are an outstanding 20-8-1 ATS the last 29 times that they were tied in a playoff series. That includes an 8-3 ATS (10-1 SU) mark their last 11 in that situation. I expect them to "bring their A-Game" and improve on those stats here. *10
|04-23-11||Dallas Mavericks v. Portland Trail Blazers -4||Top||82-84||Loss||-103||6 h 13 m||Show|
I'm playing on PORTLAND. I've gone 10-1 the last two days. The lone loser was Portland on Thursday, although hopefully some were able to 'push' on that game. The Blazers won by five points, but that wasn't quite enough for a cover. A five point will be more than enough today though and I'm willing to give the Blazers another chance.
Many will be reluctant to play against the Mavericks. The feeling is that the Mavs are so good that they can't lose two in a row. Dallas has been a very "streaky" team all year though and it hasn't been uncommon for a loss to be followed up with another loss.
While the Mavs will surely try and "dig deep" and respond to the Game 3 loss, the Blazers have regained their confidence and I believe that they'll be even better than they were on Thursday. (They could have easily won that one by more than they did.)
After all, after two losses at Dallas and with some "grumbling" from Brandon Roy, the Blazers may not have been entirely sure how they were going to react to being down 0-2. They came through, at least from a SU perspective, as they usually do here at Portland.
Here's an excerpt from my Thursday writeup, which specifically referred to the Blazers player here at Portland: "...While the Blazers were just 18-23 on the road, (now 18-25) they were an outstanding 30-11 here in Portland. Playing at home, desperate for a victory, I expect them to elevate their game. Playing better at home is nothing new for the Blazers. They were 26-15 here in 2009 and 34-7 here in 2008. That's a 3-year record of 90-33. They're 10-1 their last 11 here. The Blazers also have a 46-18 edge at home in the regular season against the Mavericks, and they're 6-1 in playoff games here against them..."
Roy, in particular, was far better at Portland than he was at Dallas. He had 16 points, after doing nothing in the first two games. He was quoted as saying: "Last night I went out there and just played and had fun. And that's what I
|04-22-11||Boston Celtics +3.5 v. New York Knicks||Top||113-96||Win||100||8 h 23 m||Show|
I'm playing on BOSTON. The first two games have both been very close with the visiting underdog covering in each. In each case, the playoff-tested Celtics found a way to win in the end. While a change of venue can sometimes bring a change of "tempo," I don't expect it change the ultimate outcome. I feel the Celtics, who watched Miami go up 3-0 at Philadelphia last night, will be highly motivated to "take care of business" tonight and that they're more than capable of doing so, regardless of venue. That said, with the line having climbed from its opener and with the first two games having been so close, I'll gladly grab the "generous" points.
The Celtics are a solid 35-24-3 ATS (59%) as underdogs the past few seasons, including 13-7 ATS (65%) their past 20 in that situation. They've been particularly successful as small road underdogs recently, going 7-2 ATS the last nine times that they were underdogs of four or fewer points. Six of those resulted in outright victories.
The Knicks clearly have a lot of talent. However, they're still not "clicking" as a team and they're also playing at less than 100%. I expect both to play, but Billups and Stoudemire are each banged-up.
I also don't think a couple of questionable shot-taking decisions by Anthony probably sit too well and that the Knicks could be "hanging their heads" a bit, thinking about "what could have been" if they'd just managed to grab one of the first two games.
Even Anthony acknowledged the following: ..."I think it was more like a mental exhaustion, just knowing how hard we played, how close we were in both of those games for us to not win any of those games..."
The Celtics have dominated the Knicks on this floor for years and will be inspired to do so in front of the various celebrities in attendance for the first game here in years. They're 35-12 SU (27-17-3 ATS) the past few seasons, when playing with two day's rest in between games, and I feel they're providing us with plenty of value here. *10
|04-21-11||Dallas Mavericks v. Portland Trail Blazers -5.5||Top||92-97||Loss||-105||12 h 57 m||Show|
I'm playing on PORTLAND. Most teams are better on their home floor than they are when playing on the road. That's particularly true of Portland. While the Blazers were just 18-23 on the road, (now 18-25) they were an outstanding 30-11 here in Portland. Playing at home, desperate for a victory, I expect them to elevate their game.
Playing better at home is nothing new for the Blazers. They were 26-15 here in 2009 and 34-7 here in 2008. That's a 3-year record of 90-33. They're 10-1 their last 11 here.
The Blazers also have a 46-18 edge at home in the regular season against the Mavericks, and they're 6-1 in playoff games here against them.
As Dirk Nowitzki acknowledged: "We know that they are a very good home team so we wanted to hold home court here and go up there with a 2-0 lead but this series is far from over. They play well at home, they make shots, and they play tough D so we've got to be prepared for a tough game on Thursday."
The Blazers are 8-4 SU/ATS the last dozen times that they had played their previous three on the road, going 25-13 their last 38 in that situation.
The Blazers are also 6-1 SU/ATS the last seven times that they played a home game with an O/U line in the 185 to 189.5 range. Looking back further finds them at 12-4 SU/ATS their last 16 in that situation.
One of those victories came the last time that the Blazers hosted the Mavs, a game here on 4/3. I had a big play on the Blazers in that game and they won by eight points. I'm backing them again here and expect them to win by at least that much once again. *10
|04-20-11||New Orleans Hornets v. Los Angeles Lakers -11.5||Top||78-87||Loss||-105||21 h 6 m||Show|
I'm playing on the LA LAKERS. I didn't play the first game of this series. I felt, as most do, that the Lakers were the superior team. However, I wasn't entirely sure whether or not they'd "bring their A Game." It turned out that they didn't. Tonight, however, I expect the Hornets to have the Lakers' full attention.
Normally, the Lakers would be considerd quite a "public" team. In a situation like this, where they'd lost the first game of a series, one would expect everyone and their dog to be backing the Lakers here. However, thanks to the Lakers having struggled down the stretch, many are "wary" of them here - and that has caused the line to be pretty much the same as it was for the opener. Given that the Lakers' backs are now against the wall, I feel that's offering us excellent value.
Lets not forget that the Lakers are a playoff tested team - with arguably the game's best player and its best coach. Also, keep in mind that these are the defending champs and that they destroyed the Hornets during the regular season. The Lakers were 4-0 during the reg. season, most recently a commanding 18-point victory here on 3/27.
Even with the Game 1 victory, note the Hornets are still just 1-5 ATS their last six playoff games.
The Lakers are 2-0 SU/ATS the last two times that they were trailing in a playoff series and they'e a profitable 16-9 ATS (20-5 SU) the last 25 times that they were attempting to avenge an earlier home loss. I expect them to improve on those stats here. *10
|04-18-11||Indiana Pacers v. Chicago Bulls -12||Top||90-96||Loss||-104||18 h 22 m||Show|
I'm playing on CHICAGO. Remembering that Indiana very nearly pulled off the upset in Game 1, many bettors will likely be tempted to grab the big points here. I feel that Game 1 will serve as a "wake up call" for the Bulls and that their big finish in that game will allow the Bulls to carry some positive momentum into tonight's contest. On the other hand, having squandered a golden opportunity, the Pacers have to be feeling rather deflated.
While the line may seem high, keep in mind that there was a major gap between these teams this season and the Bulls are also by far the "hotter" team. The Pacers have now lost three in a row. The Bulls have won 10 straight.
The Bulls are 37-5 here at Chicago, outscoring teams by more than 10 points per game here. Conversely, the Pacers are an ugly 13-29 on the road. Prior to the Game 1 loss, each of their previous three road losses came by a minimum of a dozen points.
With the O/U line having climbed a bit from the opening game, not that the Pacers are a poor 3-7-1 ATS when playing a road game with an O/U line in the 190 to 194.5 range.
The two regular season meetings here saw Chicago win by 19 points and by 21 points. I expect another convincing victory here. *10
|04-17-11||New York Knicks v. Boston Celtics -6||Top||85-87||Loss||-105||16 h 1 m||Show|
I'm playing on BOSTON. The Knicks are a talented team and they've got some players with postseason experience. However, the Celtics are arguably more talented and they've got even more postseason experience. Perhaps most importantly, they've got plenty of experience playing together, as a team. Of course, playing on their homecourt should also provide them with a significant edge. I expect that to be evident today and feel that the current line will prove to be too low.
These teams just met here on the final day of the regular season. The Celtics won that game by a score of 112-102. That result doesn't mean all that much - as the stars for both teams, or at least most of them, were given the game off. However, it does show that the Celtics second stringers are more than capable of holding their own (and then some) with the NY second stringers.
A look at this season's other three meetings reveals that the Celtics also won all three of those. The first two meetings were in the fall, prior to the Knicks big trade. However, the 3/21 meeting at New York featured the current NY lineup and the Celtics won that one by double-digits.
The Celtics aren't always that great in the favorite role. That's often because they're being asked to lay very large pointspreads though. When favored in this range, they've actually fared quite well. In fact, they're a profitable 15-9 ATS (17-7 SU) the past few seasons, when listed as home favorites in the -3.5 to -6 range.
The Celtics may not have been great down the stretch. However, this is a team which is capable of "flipping the switch" and taking its game to another level. I expect that to be the case here as the Celtics homecourt advantage and playoff experience (as a team) proves to be too much for the Knicks to handle *10
|04-13-11||New Orleans Hornets v. Dallas Mavericks -9.5||Top||89-121||Win||100||9 h 58 m||Show|
I'm playing on DALLAS. In addition to being among the best teams, as I've pointed out several times this season, the Mavericks continue to be among the league's "streakiest" teams. Indeed, this is a team which has had several medium-sized losing streaks to go along with numerous large winning runs.
The Mavs have lost three or more games in a row four times this season and four or more on three separate occasions. Recently, they closed out March and began April on another 0-4 SU/ATS skid. However, they've since responded by winning three straight, both SU and ATS. They're certainly capable of making it four straight - and I believe they'll be motivated to do so.
Given its "streaky nature," its not all that surprising to learn that Dallas is an outstanding 26-6 SU this season when having won its previous three games. The Mavs were a highly profitable 21-10-1 ATS in those games.
While the Mavs have won three straight, two by double-digits - the Hornets have dropped two in a row, each by double-digits. A 22-point home loss at Memphis was followed by an 11-point loss vs. the Jazz, at New Orleans.
Don't expect the Mavs to show their struggling guests any sympathy. The Hornets have won each of the last two meetings and that should provide Dallas with some added motivation.
Jason Terry had this to say on the Mavs delivering some payback: "They've got our number right now from the last couple of times we played them in New Orleans. So, we're really looking forward to this game."
Perhaps more importantly, the Mavs need a win to improve and/or maintain their playoff seeding. They have a shot at catching the Lakers for second overall, although that would require LA losing vs. Sacramento, so probably isn't likely. However, they do need a victory to make sure they don't fall all the way to fourth.
Rick Carlisle was quoted as saying: "On the one hand, it's exciting, there's a possibility to move up if we keep winning and if the Lakers lose. On the other side of it, there's a lot of different possibilities. I've been in this position many times before, and very seldom does it look like you're locked into something."
A loss should ensure the Hornets the 8th seed, or at least give them a good shot at getting it. They'd never say it, but that's actually probably better for them than finishing 7th. That's because they'd face the Spurs, instead of the Lakers (or Mavs.) The Hornets were 2-2 vs. San Antonio but 0-4 vs. the Lakers. I certainly don't expect them to "tank" the game - yet, at the same time, I won't be surprised if Dallas is the team playing harder in the fourth quarter.
The Mavericks averaged 100 points per game this season, 101 at home. That's typically bad news for the somewhat offensively-challenged Hornets as they're an awful 54-83-2 ATS the last 139 times that they faced a team that averages 99 or more points per game.
While the pointspread may initially seem a little high, note that the Mavs are 5-1 ATS the last six times that they were listed as home favorites in the -9.5 to -12 range. I expect them to pad those stats with a double-digit victory here. *10
|04-10-11||Boston Celtics v. Miami Heat -6||Top||77-100||Win||100||5 h 26 m||Show|
I'm playing on MIAMI. With the #2 seed on the line, this is a huge game for both teams. However, I would argue that its bigger for the Heat. I say that as they've lost all three games against the Celtics. As much as they could use homecourt advantage against the Celtics in the second round of the playoffs, they also need to beat them for psychological reasons. They really don't want to go into the playoffs thinking that they can't beat Boston.
Miami coach Erik Spoelstra was quoted as saying: "We think we're a different team than the last three times we've played them, but until we prove it in between the lines, it doesn't matter."
Adding even further fuel to the fire, keep in mind that Boston knocked Miami out of the playoffs last season AND that Boston knocked out Lebron James' Cavaliers. In other words, Miami badly wants to win this game - for many reasons.
Lebron was quoted as saying: "We're going against a team that we haven't beaten this year, that we kind of looked at before the season as needing to get to that point as far as chemistry, as far as what they do as a team. There is not one guy on their team that you have to pay attention to
|04-06-11||Phoenix Suns v. Minnesota Timberwolves +3.5||Top||108-98||Loss||-105||10 h 43 m||Show|
I'm playing on MINNESOTA. While they may not have Kevin Love, I like how this one sets up for the T-Wolves. Both teams lost close games on the road yesterday. While they're both now in a back-to-back spot, the T-Wolves had the previous two nights off, having not played since 4/2. Meanwhile, the Suns played on 4/3. That means that they're playing their third game, all on the road, in the last four days.
Neither team will be making the playoffs. The T-Wolves have known this for ages though, while the news is still relatively recent for the Suns. With Phoenix off back to back games against top tier "playoff teams" (San Antonio and Chicago) and with games vs. the Hornets and Mavericks on deck, it may be easy for them to "go through the motions" a bit against a "non-playoff team" which they have dominated.
The fact that they've been dominated by the Suns in recent years should provide the T-Wolves with some added motivation here. Playing at home, I believe this game will mean more to them than it does to the Suns. Note that the teams play again at Phoenix on 5/11. That's more likely to be the game that the Suns really care about and it means the T-Wolves better "hold serve" on their homecourt, or likely get swept in the season series, once again.
The T-Wolves covered the spread in the game at Phoenix and are now 2-0 ATS the last two in the series. I look for them to be the "hungrier" and "fresher" team here and for that to lead to at least another cover. *10
|04-05-11||Milwaukee Bucks v. Orlando Magic -8||Top||72-78||Loss||-105||9 h 41 m||Show|
I'm playing on ORLANDO. Recent results have provided us with a very reasonable line on the Magic. I believe it will prove to be too low.
I like the Bucks and have won with them many times in recent weeks. In fact, I won with them when they played the Magic a few weeks ago. That was at Milwaukee though, where the Bucks are a much better team. The Bucks were getting +6.5 points for that game and given their strong play on their homecourt, I felt that was too high. That proved to be the case. Orlando won by four points, in overtime, but Milwaukee covered.
Again, that was at Milwaukee though, where the Bucks are above .500. Now, the Bucks are on the road, where they've gone a dismal 11-26. Also, while the Magic have been mediocre on the road this season, they're 27-11 at home.
The Magic have been frustrated with their play of late and they weren't pleased with their effort at Milwaukee a few weeks ago. Van Gundy ripped into his team for a loss last time out and is demanding a better effort. A big "blowout" win would go a long way in "restoring order" and I look for that to be the goal for Van Gundy and co. here.
The Bucks came up with a big overtime win to stay alive last time out. That was at home though and, realisitically, losses in two of their previous three games (all on the road) pretty much killed their chances. The players know that they're very likely out of the race. As Brandon Jennings noted: "It's still about finishing strong. That's part of being a professional."
"Finishing strong" is easier said than done when a team doesn't truly believe it has a chance though, (the Bucks play at Miami tomorrow night and the prospects of "sweeping Florida" must seem pretty unlikely) particularly against an opponent set on blowing them out.
Note that the Bucks are 3-6 ATS off an "upset" win and 5-11 ATS when playing with two day's rest in between games.
The Magic are a perfect 10-0 the last 10 times that they hosted the Bucks. The Magic were 7-3 ATS in those games with eight of the victories, including each of the last four, coming by double-digits. (Note that they were laying -11.5 points when they hosted the Bucks in January.) I expect them to continue that dominance with another double-digit win here, helping to officially "put Milwaukee out of its misery." *10
|04-03-11||Cleveland Cavaliers v. New York Knicks -11||Top||107-123||Win||100||7 h 7 m||Show|
I'm playing on NEW YORK. I won with the Knicks when they beat Orlando recently. I didn't play on them in their next game, as I wasn't sure how they'd react and thought a small emotional letdown might occur. That proved to be a good thing, as the Knicks failed to cover. They did earn a SU victory though, beating New Jersey by four. Now, on their first "winning streak" in recent weeks and with plenty of "motivation" for a big win, I expect them to follow it up with a blowout victory.
I say the Knicks should have "plenty of motivation" for a couple of reasons. For starters, though they've won their last could of games, both have been "close" victories. This is a team which could really use a "blowout" win to build confidence and to officially serve notice that "this team is back."
Perhaps more importantly, the Knicks have bigtime "revenge" on their minds. It was bad enough that the Cavaliers used to beat up on them when Lebron James played in Cleveland. However, its completely "unacceptable" for the Knicks to have dropped all three meetings with the Cavs so far this season.
Two of those losses came since the Carmello Anthony trade, which prompted the former Denver star to note how important this game is. Anthony was quoted as saying: "That
|04-01-11||Atlanta Hawks v. Portland Trail Blazers -2.5||Top||91-98||Win||100||12 h 49 m||Show|
I'm playing on PORTLAND. These teams have met three times this season, most recently at Oklahoma City on 3/27. The Thunder won that meeting by nine points and are 3-0 in the season series. (The first two games were decided by a combined three points.) I expect the revenge-minded Blazers to bounce back and avoid the season series sweep.
The Blazers find themselves in one of their best roles. They're a perfect 5-0 SU/ATS the last five times that they were listed as home favorites of -3 or fewer points.
The Blazers are fighting to try and improve their playoff positioning. They're currently tied with New Orleans for sixth place, one game ahead of Memphis.
On the other hand, although they've admittedly been playing well, the Thunder don't have much to play for, in terms of improving their playoff positioning. They're not going to catch either the Lakers or Spurs for the #1 or #2 seed - however, they're pretty much a lock to win their division - regardless of what happens tonight.
While the Thunder have been very solid on the road, the Blazers have been even better at home. They're 26-10 here this season and are now 89-35 here the past few years.
Even including the 1-point loss here back in November, the Blazers are still 6-2 the last eight times that they were a host in this series. All six victories came by a minimum of four points. Playing with "triple-revenge," I expect the Blazers to be at their best - as they cool off the Thunder and improve to 27-13 the last 40 times that they were off a SU loss when listed as a favorite. *10
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