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|Date||Match Up||Rating||Score||Result||Profit||Lead Time||Analysis|
|12-17-10||Utah Jazz v. New Orleans Hornets +1.5||Top||71-100||Win||100||9 h 6 m||Show|
I'm playing on NEW ORLEANS. Admittedly, the Hornets haven't covered the spread too often lately. They're 0-3-1 ATS their last four games and only one of those resulted in a SU victory. However, that "SU" victory came in their last game - and I believe that it was the type of win that they'll really be able to build some positive momentum from.
I say that the Hornets are off a "momentum-building" victory as they were down by as many as 23 points in the second half, yet still rallied to earn the victory. Often, that type of win can be "just what the doctor ordered."
The Jazz are playing well and have the better overall record. However, lets not lose sight of the fact that the Hornets still have the better home record (10-3) than the Jazz (7-3) do on the road.
Looking back further, however, and we find the Jazz at just 44-56 SU their last 100 road games. During that stretch, the Hornets were 63-34 SU at home. In this case, with the Hornets listed as slight underdogs, of course a SU victory will result in a 'cover.' I believe that provides us with excellent value.
The Hornets have plenty of motivation. They're playing with 'revenge' as they lost at Utah earlier. The Jazz also beat them the last time here at New Orleans. However, Chris Paul didn't play in that one. While Williams has traditionally gotten the better of him, I expect Paul and his supporting cast to come up big here, scoring the minor upset and improving to 9-6 SU the last 15 times that they were playing with 'revenge.' *10
|12-16-10||San Antonio Spurs v. Denver Nuggets +2||Top||113-112||Win||100||12 h 15 m||Show|
I'm playing on DENVER. While San Antonio is red hot, this is a difficult spot. The Spurs are playing the second of back to back games here, as they're off a very close win vs. the Bucks last night. They've been fortunate that they haven't had to play back to back games since 12/1, when they faced the Clippers. I had LA in that game, so enjoyed watching the Spurs lose outright. (Its no coincidence that was the last time that they even lost a game.) Including that 12/1 setback, the Spurs are just 18-20 ATS in the second of back to back games the past few seasons, not one of their best roles.
Not all back to back spots are equal either. This one figures to be challenging. For starters, last night's game was of the "hard-fought" variety. Additionally, they're in the high altitude of Denver, where the Nuggets are extremely tough to beat. In fact, at 11-1 (91.7%) the Nuggets currently have the best home winning percentage in the entire NBA.
The Nuggets will be going for their 11th straight home win here and their 45 home wins since the beginning of 2009-10 is the most in the NBA.
Yet, despite the homecourt and scheduling advantage, the Nuggets find themselves as underdogs. That's due in large part to the Spurs' superior overall record (Nuggets have struggled away from Denver) and also due to the fact that Billups is expected to be out again for the Nuggets. The Nuggets did just fine without him last game though as Ty Lawson started (had 16 points and 6 assists) and the Nuggets crushed a good Orlando team by 17 points. Including that result, the Nuggets are 4-2 ATS (all four ATS wins were also SU wins) the last six times that they were home underdogs of three or fewer points. Knowing that they'll be battling these same Spurs at San Antonio in a few days (teams play at SA on 12/22) I expect the Nuggets to continue their strong play here, taking care of business in front of the home fans once again. *10
|12-14-10||Philadelphia 76ers v. New Jersey Nets +1.5||Top||82-77||Loss||-110||7 h 13 m||Show|
I'm playing on NEW JERSEY. These teams met on 11/27. The 76'ers won that one, in blowout fashion. At the time, even though the game was at Philadelphia, the Nets were only a 1-point underdog. Now, only a few weeks later, the teams are playing at New Jersey. Yet, despite the change in venues, the line hasn't really changed. I feel that provides us with excellent value with the home 'underdog' Nets.
True, the 76'ers have had some success lately. That's come at Philly though. In fact, they're a dismal 1-10 on the road, only Washington (0-12) in worse in the Eastern Conference.
True, the Nets have really struggled, since the loss at Philly. However, in fairness, they've only played four home games, since that time. A look at those games shows that the opponents were Portland, Oklahoma City, Boston and the Lakers. (Those are four pretty good teams!) With the exception of a blowout loss to Boston (no real shame in that) New Jersey was very respectable in the other games. The Nets beat Portland by two, lost by only three vs. OKC and by only seven vs the Lakers.
Looking back further and we find that the Nets really haven't had that many 'non-playoff' teams play here. Prior to the loss at Philly, the Nets had only played two home games over the previous two weeks. Those games came against Atlanta (a 6 point win) and Orlando (a 1 point loss.)
In other words, while the 76ers have admittedly been playing better basketball (at home) of late, they still represent a step down in class from recent teams which have visited here. Note that the Nets are a perfect 4-0 ATS the last four times that they were a host in this series. Playing with 'revenge' from the earlier loss and "desperate" for a victory, I look for the Nets to improve on those stats here. *10
|12-13-10||Baltimore Ravens v. Houston Texans +3||Top||34-28||Loss||-100||10 h 18 m||Show|
I'm playing on HOUSTON. The Ravens are an excellent team at home. Even with a tough loss last week, they're still 5-1 at Baltimore. They've only been mediocre on the road though, going 3-3.
Granted, they have played at some tough venues. Still, they haven't played at the same level away from home. The last time that they were a road favorite of this size, they lost outright at Cincinnati. While a Monday Night game is generally reason enough for players to get excited, I feel that the Ravens are in a tough spot. Last week's game vs. Pittsburgh was their "game of the year" and they blew their chance, a game they easily could have won. That may have caused some to think "what could have been" over the past week. Off that defeat and with a home date vs. the defending Super Bowl champs on deck, a game vs. a "sub-500" team may not receive their complete attention. We saw what happened to the Jets yesterday, who had lost their "game of the year" the previous week.
Taking this game for granted will prove costly, as the Texans are better than their record indicates. While their recent losing skid will keep them out of the playoffs (barring a miracle) the Texans aren't going to quite. In their last game here, they beat the Titans by a score of 20-0. We know they've long had a capable offense but the Texans allowed a mere 162 total yards in that game. They're now 12-8 SU their last 20 home games and they've always been tough at home at this time of the year. In fact, the Texans are a perfect 9-0 SU/ATS their last nine December home games. They were underdogs in a few of those games, too.
The Ravens offense has struggled of late. Now, Baltimore will be without tight end Todd Heap, as he injured his hamstring last week. Heap is third on the team in receiving yards (546) and fourth in receptions (37) this season.
Even if the Texans don't really believe making a playoff run is a possibility, I feel that they'll be "fired up" here. While Monday Night games haven't been that common for the Texans, they already got to play one this season. That was at Indianapolis though, so winning was going to be tough. They lost 31-17. I feel that the fact that the Texans also lost last season's lone Monday night game (20-17 loss vs. the Titans) figures to provide them with plenty of motivation here. The Texans believe that they're better than their record shows and know that this is their chance to prove it to the National audience. In addition to their outstanding home record in December, the Texans are 7-4-1 ATS (7-5 SU) the last dozen times that they were listed as home underdogs of three points or less. I expect them to improve on those stats here. *10
|12-12-10||Kansas City Chiefs v. San Diego Chargers -9||Top||0-31||Win||100||21 h 5 m||Show|
I'm playing on SAN DIEGO. I won with the Chiefs (and also won with the 'under') when these teams faced each other back in September. Therefore, I wasn't particularly surprised to see the Chiefs score the upset in that game. At the time, I pointed out that I felt they were "going to be an improved team." I'll admit, however, I didn't expect them to be in first place in the division by the time that this week's rematch rolled around.
That's the case though, which makes this an absolutely huge game for the Chargers, essentially a "must win." I expect them to respond with their best effort.
Give the Raiders credit for beating the Chargers last week. However, note that they did benefit from some early San Diego miscues, including a big muffed punt by Sproles, who eventually got knocked out of the game. Take that away and the game could easily have gone the other way. A look back to the first meeting shows that the Chiefs were also rather fornuate. In fact, the Chargers had a whopping 389 to 197 advantage in total yards in that game, to go along with a commanding 37:28 to 22.32 edge in terms of time of possession. Note that the Chiefs benefited from very nasty weather and were extremely motivated by the fact that they were playing their first game in their new stadium and their first home Monday night game in years.
There won't be any surprising the Chargers this week though and the Chiefs won't have their home fans cheering them on. In fact, it now appears that they may not even have their starting QB, as Cassel didn't practice on Thursday. That would mean Croyle would get the call - and his career record as a starter is less than stellar. Its hard to imagine him going into San Diego and being asked to do much. (I based my original play on Cassel, but am happy with either.) Either way, I expect whoever is behind center to find the going tough, against what figures to be an extremely determined and focused San Diego defense. Keep in mind that before last week's disappointing loss, the Charger "D" went to Indianapolis and held Manning and the Colts to 14 points.
The Chargers are 5-3 SU/ATS the past few seasons, when attempting to avenge an earlier loss. During that stretch they were 3-1 SU/ATS when coming off a division loss and 5-2 ATS (6-1 SU) when listed as home favorites in the -3.5 to -7 range. While things are certainly a lot closer than in the past, until the Chiefs beat them here at San Diego, I still feel the Chargers are the class of this division. I expect that to be the case here. *10
|12-12-10||Cleveland Browns v. Buffalo Bills -1||Top||6-13||Win||100||17 h 53 m||Show|
I'm playing on BUFFALO. I successfully played against the Bills when they were blown out (38-7) last week. That was on the road though and they were coming off a "heartbreaker" the previous week. I feel that this week's spot is significantly more favorable.
Its been a trying year for the Bills. They haven't "quit" though and have been competitive nearly every week. While I enjoyed watching them get blown out last week, I saw that they continued to fight the entire way. Having wagered on the 'under' in the 2nd half, I was paying closer attention to "garbage time" than I normally would have.)
This week, in addition to returning home, the Bills take a step down in class. Give the Browns credit. Like the Bills, they've been competitive nearly every week. Unlike the Bills, they've actually won some of their games. In fact, a few of their wins were against some really good teams.
The Browns still aren't going to the playoffs though - and they're still just 2-4 on the road. They did win at Miami last week - but that came on a field goal on the game's final play and the Browns hardly looked "dominant." Indeed, the managed only 12 first downs and 252 total yards. Now, they play the middle of three straight road games. With next week's coming against their "instate rival" (Bengals) it may be tough to get up for a game against the "lowly" Bills.
That shouldn't be the case for the Bills. As mentioned, this is a team which has been fighting hard the whole season but coming up just short.
After this, their final three games all come against the other AFC East teams (Jets, Pats, Dolphins) and the games against NY and Miami are on the road. That leaves a date with the Patriots for their home finale. In other words, the Bills know that this is their best chance to give the home fans one last victory. I expect that to make them the more "motivated" team, which often can be the deciding factor at this time of the season, between non-playoff teams.
The Bills may gain some added motivation from the fact that the Browns narrowly defeated them each of the last two seasons. Last year, the teams played an "ugly game" which the Browns ended up winning 6-3. Buffalo had a solid advantage in total yards in that game though and the Browns' passing "attack" as just 2 for 17. While we didn't see it last week, the Bills offense has started to come around. I expect a highly motivated effort and for that to lead to a rare victory. *10
|12-12-10||Atlanta Falcons v. Carolina Panthers +8||Top||31-10||Loss||-105||17 h 52 m||Show|
I'm playing on CAROLINA. The Falcons are a good team. The Panthers have not been a good team, this season. That's factored into the line though, as the Panthers are playing at home, yet getting more than a touchdown. Given the situation, I feel that provides us with solid value with the home underdog.
The Falcons are off back to back "big wins," including one of their biggest of the season last week. Now, they're playing the second of back to back road games (they also play on the road next week) for just the second time this season. The first time (10/17) resulted in a 14-point loss. Note that they were also 0-2 SU last season, when playing the second of back to back road games.
The Panthers, who haven't lost seven in a row since 2002, aren't going to quit. Not in a division game against a team which may well make some noise in the playoffs. This is their chance to show they can still compete with a top tier team. (They do face the Falcons again in the final week of the reg. season but that will be at Atlanta where the Falcons have been 'unbeatable.')
Coach Fox was quoted as saying this of his team: "We're going to coach our rear ends off. These guys will play their rear ends off. Hopefully we can get some results."
Speaking of Fox, his teams have gone 6-1-1 ATS (6-2 SU) in the final four weeks of the regular season the past two years. I look for them to surprise here, giving the Falcons all they can handle the entire way. *10
|12-11-10||New Mexico State +14 v. New Mexico||Top||62-78||Loss||-110||10 h 21 m||Show|
I'm playing on NEW MEXICO STATE. The Aggies battle in-state rival New Mexico for the second time in a week as part of a
|12-11-10||Cleveland Cavaliers +8.5 v. Houston Rockets||Top||95-110||Loss||-110||10 h 46 m||Show|
I'm playing on CLEVELAND. Since being embarrassed by Lebron and the Heat, the Cavaliers have admittedly really struggled. They did play the Bulls fairly tough (5 point loss) last time out though and they've got the schedule in their favor here.
The Cavs know that they're being trashed by the media and I expect them to show some pride here. With three more difficult road games on deck, they know that starting off the current trip with a good effort is extremely important.
While the Cavs haven't played since 12/8, the Rockets are off a hard-fought loss at Milwaukee last night. In addition to being just 3-5 ATS as favorites, the Rockets are only 2-3 ATS (1-4 SU) when playing the second of back to back games. Their lone SU win (vs. Minnesota) in that situation was more than a month ago. Given those stats and the Rockets' 8-14 overall record, I don't feel that they should be laying more than a "touchdown" here.
After last night's loss, Houston's Lowry noted: "We didn't do enough. We let them get some shots that we shouldn't have. We made some mental mistakes and mistakes that we could have avoided. And they made us pay for it."
After the 'cover' vs. the Bulls, Cleveland's coach Byron Scott commented: "We played hard for 48 minutes. If we play hard like that, I can live with that." I expect the Cavs to again "play hard" and look for that type of determination to lead to at least a cover. *10
|12-10-10||Houston Rockets v. Milwaukee Bucks -3.5||Top||91-97||Win||100||10 h 17 m||Show|
I'm playing on MILWAUKEE. The Bucks got a much needed victory in their last game, a 2-point win over an Indiana team which had been playing quite well. I expect the Bucks, who hit the winning shot at the buzzer of that game, to build some positive momentum off that "close win" and for them to string together another victory.
While this season didn't start off well, the Bucks have been very solid at home in recent years and they're now starting to shown real signs of coming around. Before the victory over the Pacers, they lost (vs. Miami) but before that they beat Orlando.
Much of that has to do with the return of Andrew Bogut, who had been out with injury. Since returning, the Bucks center has averaged 19.7 points and 14 rebounds. After hitting the winner vs. Indiana, Bogut was quoted as saying: "The Pacers have beaten some good teams and to get a win like this it feels good to get this in the final seconds. We knew it was going to be a tough night and hopefully we can get things rolling."
Tonight, they'll also be facing a team which has started to play better basketball. The Rockets have won three of their last four, including a 14 point home win over the Pistons last time out. They're still "banged up" though and they're still an ugly 3-9 on the road though, where they give up a whopping 109.4 points per game, allowing opponents to hit 47.8% of their shots. (*By comparison, the Bucks allow 89.6 points at home, with opposing teams shooting 44.9%.)
Note that the Rockets are a money-burning 21-32-1 ATS, the past 2+ seasons, when off a double-digit victory. During that stretch, they've also gone 12-17 ATS, after allowing 85 or fewer points, 8-15 ATS against teams from the Central and 8-10 ATS when playing a road game with an O/U line in the 195 to 199.5 range.
On the other hand, during that stretch, the Bucks are 14-6 ATS when playing a home game with an O/U line in the 195 to 199.5 range. They're also 13-7-1 ATS after having played three straight games at home and 17-10 ATS when listed as home favorites in the -3.5 to -6 range. I expect those stats to improve here, as homecourt and superior defense prove to be the difference. *10
|12-09-10||Indianapolis Colts v. Tennessee Titans +3.5||Top||30-28||Win||100||33 h 22 m||Show|
I'm playing on TENNESSEE. Both these teams have struggled recently and both are desperate for a victory here. Many can't possibly imagine the Colts struggling like this. However, the reality is that they've got some serious issues. They've got no running game, the defense has struggled and Manning has thrown 11 interceptions in his last three games. Now, they'll take on a Titans team which has 15 interceptions on the season, eighth best in the league.
True, the Titans have their own issues, the biggest problem being a lack offense. They'll finally have the same QB (Collins) making consecutive starts though, the first time that they've been able to say since Vince Young beat the Cowboys and Jaguars in Weeks 5 and 6. I expect that "continuity" to have a positive effect.
The Titans should also be able to get their ground game going again, as the Colts have allowed an average of 171.3 rushing yards during their 3-game skid.
Yes, the Colts badly (desperately) need a victory. However, there's a chance that they could still make the playoffs, even with a loss here. That's not the case for Titans though. They know that their entire season is done, if they lose here. No exceptions. I won't say they "want it" any more than the Colts - I only point it out as many may think that they're already out of the playoff race, when they are actually still mathematically alive.
As Tennessee defensive tackle Jovan Haye said after last week's loss: "We can't lick our wounds for too long. We've got the Colts on Thursday. Five-game losing streak. The only way to stop the bleeding is to win the game."
While some may point to the fact that the Colts have enjoyed a lot of success in their Thursday games, the Titans haven't been too shabby in that department either. They're 4-1 ATS their last five games played on a Thursday. Personally, I don't put too much stock into those past Thursday records. However, I do like the fact that the Titans played at home last week, so that there was no added travel time to cut into an already "short week."
Perhaps more importantly, the Titans are 3-1 ATS the last four times that they hosted the Colts. Note that two of those meetings were decided by three or fewer points. Also, note that the Colts have now seen three of their last five decided by a field goal or less. With both teams in "must win mode," I could easily see this one also coming down to the wire. That said, with the line having climbed from its opener, I feel we're getting excellent value with the home underdog. *10
|12-08-10||Washington Wizards v. Sacramento Kings -4||Top||91-116||Win||100||12 h 38 m||Show|
I'm playing on SACRAMENTO. The Wizards, now 0-11 away from Washington, are going to win a road game some time. Given the fact that the Kings are struggling, they probably feel that tonight could be "the night." The Kings, who have lost eight straight, arguably "need" a home win every bit as much as the Wizards need a road win though (if not more) and I feel that they'll have the advantage tonight.
While Sacramento had last night off, the Wizards were involved in a fairly hard-fought game vs. the Lakers. Thanks to a big night from Nick Young, an LA native, they were able to stay in the game almost the entire way. Give them credit for doing so, but that also caused them to extend themselves more than they would have in a blowout loss. Now, playing their third road game in the past four nights, fatigue could well be a factor here.
While Sacramento's Tyreke Evans has been bothered by plantar fascititis, Washington may well be without Andray Blatche again. Blatche, who missed last night's game, is averaging 17.1 points and 7.8 rebounds.
Its certainly been a rocky start for the Kings. They've been playing hard recently though and they very nearly beat Dallas in their last game here. Naturally, the Wizards represent a step down in class from the Mavericks. Their next game comes against Miami and than they take to the road and don't return home until December 19th. That makes taking advantage of this winnable game that much more critical.
The Wizards are 6-14-1 ATS (3-18 SU) the last 21 times that they were listed as road underdogs in the +3.5 to +6 range. The last time that they played the second of back to back games (11/17 at Boston) they lost by 31 points. I expect the Kings to be the "fresher" team down the stretch and I look for that to translate to a much needed win and cover. *10
|12-05-10||Buffalo Bills v. Minnesota Vikings -4.5||Top||14-38||Win||100||4 h 39 m||Show|
I'm playing on MINNESOTA. The Bills have been playing arguably "better football" than the Vikings over the past several weeks. Indeed, they deserve credit for "playing hard," despite having no chance of making the playoffs. The Vikings are still the "better team" though and I feel that they'll have the advantage here.
For starters, lets not forget that the Bills are just 1-4 on the road. They're giving up more than 30 (30.6) points per game away from Buffalo and opposing teams are averaging 386 total yards in those games. On the other hand, despite all this season's struggles, the Vikings still have a winning record (3-2) at home, having outgained opponents by a 345.4 to 268.8 margin here.
In addition to having home field advantage, I believe that last week's results favor the Vikings. Both teams covered the spread. However, while the Bills lost a "heartbreaker" to the Steelers, the Vikings bounced back with a badly needed victory vs. the Redskins. I feel that the Vikes will be able to build from that win while the Bills may be rather deflated, after that tough loss.
It should be noted that the Bills were fortunate to even be in last week's game as it easily could have been a blowout in the first half. For the game, they were badly outgained and the 200+ rushing yards that they allowed does not bode well for them here.
The Vikes are still 9-6 ATS (12-3 SU) the last 15 times that they were favored in the -3.5 to -9.5 range. With this number having fallen a bit from its opener, I look for them to build off last week's win and improve on those stats here. *10
|12-04-10||Nebraska v. Oklahoma -4||Top||20-23||Loss||-110||9 h 17 m||Show|
I'm playing on OKLAHOMA. This is a big game featuring a pair of big name programs. Both teams are talented, well-coached and playing well. The Huskers, who head to the Big 10 next season, would love to exit the Big 12 on top. Many will expect them to do so. I'm not one of them. While the Big 12 conference may have belonged to the Huskers in the late 90s, for the most part, its belonged to Oklahoma (and Texas) since that time. The last thing Stoops and the Sooners want to do is to let the Huskers leave as the best team. Anyway, my point is that while some may expect Nebraska to be the more motivated team, in my opinion, both teams should be equally "hungry." That said, it should come down to talent and matchups and I feel that will provide Oklahoma with the advantage.
The Huskers beat the Sooners last season. That was at Lincoln though, while tonight's game will be at Arlington. The Huskers won that game in large part because they were able to shut down Oklahoma QB Landry Jones. He's got another year under his belt now though and he's on absolute fire at the moment. In fact, he's thrown for 1,853 yards in his last five games - the best total in the country since Oct. 30 - and a whopping 17 touchdowns. While the Nebraska defense remains worthy of respect, I expect Jones to have a MUCH better showing here than he did last season.
While Oklahoma should benefit from improved QB play from last season, Nebraska has some issues behind center. QB Taylor Martinez, the player largely responsible for the Huskers' offensive success this season, is banged up with an ankle injury. He'll probably see at least some playing time here, but as running is a big part of his game, an ankle injury figures to have an effect.
Nebraska coach Bo Pelini was quoted as saying: "We'll play the guy we feel is going to give us the best chance to win the game, and it might be a combination of the two."
Stoops may not always come through in the bowls but his Sooners are 4-0 in the Big 12 Championship game since 2004. That includes a 21-7 win over the Huskers in 2006. I expect another victory for Stoops' crew here and look for them to cover the small number along the way, avenging last season's loss and improving to 8-3-1 ATS the last dozen times that they played on a neutral field with an O/U line in the 52 to 56 range. *10
|12-04-10||Nevada v. Louisiana Tech +8.5||Top||35-17||Loss||-110||5 h 38 m||Show|
I'm playing on LA TECH. I had Nevada last week. However, I feel this will prove to be an excellent spot to go against them.
If there's ever a good spot for a letdown for the Wolfpack, this figures to be it. Nevada coach Chris Ault called last week's win: "It is the greatest victory this university's ever had in football I can tell you that. I wasn't here in 1898, but some of my players think I was."
Off a victory of that magnitude, even though this is still a big game, it may be easy for the Wolfpack to "relax" a little vs. lightly regarded LA Tech. That will prove costly though as the Bulldogs are quietly playing well. Note that Nevada is just 3-6 ATS the last nine times it was favored in the -3.5 to -10 range, including an 0-2 ATS mark as a road favorite in the -7.5 to -10 range.
The Bulldogs are off back to back road wins, scoring 86 combined points in the process. They're 2-2 SU their last four home games but both losses came by six points or less, one by only a single point.
Looking back further and we find the Bulldogs at a profitable 11-3 ATS their last 14 home lined games. They're also an excellent 11-2 ATS their last 13 games against teams with a winning record, going 6-2-1 ATS the last nine times that they were underdogs in the +3.5 to +10 range.
The Bulldogs were blown out at Nevada last season but they played the Wolfpack tough when the teams met here in 2008, losing by only four. Playing their final home game and desperate to become bowl eligible, I expect them to give their guests all they can handle again here. *10
|12-03-10||Illinois v. Fresno State +6||Top||23-25||Win||100||12 h 54 m||Show|
I'm playing on FRESNO STATE. The Illini have been a more "profitable" team than the Bulldogs. Illinois is a lucrative 8-3 ATS on the season. Fresno State, on the hand, is just 4-6 ATS in its lined games. However, at 7-4 SU, Fresno State still has the better SU record, as Illinois is only 6-5. In this case, a SU win will also ensure an ATS victory. In fact, we're even getting more than a field goal to work with on the home underdog. I believe that provides us with excellent value.
The Bulldogs have long been excellent as home underdogs in this range. They're 6-2 ATS the last eight times that they were listed as home underdogs in the +3.5 to +7 range. Five of those games resulted in outright wins.
On the other hand, during the same stretch, the Illini were 1-3-1 ATS (2-3) SU, when listed as road favorites in the -3.5 to -7 range. They're 6-11 ATS as favorites overall the past few seasons, 0-3 ATS as road favorites.
While the Illini offense has been clicking, the defense has been vulnerable. In fact, they've given up more than 130 points their past three games. The Illini did have last week off - but this is still a long ways from home - for a regular season non-conference game, against a team which traditionally isn't a 'rival,' even one which beat them (53-52) last season.
This game may not have an impact on where the Bulldogs go bowling. Its still their final home game of the season though, the final home game ever for the seniors. It also may have an impact on Pat Hill's future. Even though, he's got a contract, until the Bulldogs start beating the likes of Nevada and Boise, Hill's job may not be entirely secure. A victory on National TV here would go a long way, particularly with the 51-0 loss to Boise still in everyone's recent memory. In other words, there should be no shortage of motivation.
These teams met last season and played a thriller that was decided by a single point. Additionally, the Bulldogs have seen three of their last four games decided by six points or less while the Illini have seen two of their last three decided by four or less. Given those results, I feel that this one could also easily come down to the wire and am grabbing the points. *10
|12-01-10||San Antonio Spurs v. Los Angeles Clippers +7.5||Top||85-90||Win||100||12 h 17 m||Show|
I'm playing on the LA CLIPPERS. The Spurs have been great on the road. In fact, with another win last night, they're now a perfect 8-0 away from home. I feel that this will be a tough spot for them. Not only is it the second of back to back games but its also the Spurs third road game in the last four night and they're eighth game in the last 13 days. That's a lot of basketball - even if some of the victories were relatively easy. With a return to San Antonio to follow, it may be easy to look past the lowly Clippers, a team which they've dominated.
I expect that to prove costly though. The Clippers have been more competitive recently, as evidenced by their 3-1 ATS record the past four games. While the Spurs were involved in a "fast tempo" game at Golden State, the Clippers had last night off. They're playing with "double-revenge" here and also looking to avoid the seasons series sweep, as they've already lost both games vs. the Spurs this season. Note that both losses came by 12 or less with the game here at LA being decided by single-digits.
Speaking of the earlier meeting here at LA, note that last time it was the Clippers who were playing the second of back to back games (they'd played at Dallas the previous night) while the Spurs came in "rested."
True, the Spurs have been really clicking offensively. However, note that the Clippers are 6-3 ATS against teams which average more than 99 points per game. Playing without Kaman and Davis, the Clippers 'stung' a red hot Hornets team a little more than a week ago. I had them in that game and feel that they're also capable of giving the Spurs all that they can handle here. *10
|12-01-10||Detroit Pistons v. Miami Heat -11.5||Top||72-97||Win||100||9 h 34 m||Show|
I'm playing on MIAMI. The Heat have certainly been costly for their backers. They finally snapped their losing streak last time out but failed to cover the spread, once again. They did win that game by 11 points, so weren't that far off from covering. Tonight's line is lower than that one was (it was -13.5) yet I feel that its got potential to be an even more lopsided result.
True, the Heat have a much anticipated game at Cleveland on deck. Given that it's "Lebron's homecoming," that's certainly a game that a team could "look ahead" too. That said, the last thing Lebron and co. want to do is to lose another game, right before tomorrow's "big game." Rather, they'd much prefer to return to Cleveland with some momentum - and what better way than by blowing out the Pistons.
I feel that the Pistons are "ripe to get blown out." They were involved in a hard-fought game at Orlando last night. While they eventually lost by 11, they were winning at halftime. Those types of losses tend to be more "draining," physically and/or mentally. Note that the Pistons are a money-burning 10-33 SU and 16-26-1 ATS the past 2+ seasons, when playing the second of back to back games. The last time that they did so, they lost 104-85 at Memphis. Including that blowout loss, the Pistons will be playing their sixth game in the past nine days. (Note that they've got an immediate rematch with Orlando on deck for Friday, so could potentially also be thinking about the return trip home for that game.)
The Heat are 6-1 ATS against the Pistons since the beginning of 2009. Two of three meetings in 2010 resulted in Miami "blowout wins" of 17 (92-65 and 98-81) or greater points. I don't expect tomorrow's trip to Cleveland to prevent them from improving on those stats here. *10
|11-28-10||Tampa Bay Buccaneers v. Baltimore Ravens -7||Top||10-17||Push||0||6 h 45 m||Show|
I'm playing on BALTIMORE. The Bucs are playing well and they've beaten me a couple of times in recent weeks. I expect their recent run of pointspread success to come to an end here though.
I successfully played against the Ravens a couple of weeks ago. That was on the road, at Atlanta, though. Even at the time, I noted that I really respected the Ravens, just that I knew how tough the Falcons were extremely tough at home. In fact, Atlanta is one of only five teams which is undefeated at home. Another of those teams? You guessed it - Baltimore.
While the Ravens lost that game at Atlanta by a 26-21 margin, they showed plenty of character, battling back from a big deficit. That's their only loss over the past month and they followed it up with a convincing 24-point victory.
At home, the Ravens are a perfect 4-0. Their last game here was against Miami on 11/7 and they won by a score of 26-10. Including that result, three of their four victories here came by at least a touchdown. Looking back further and we find the Ravens at an outstanding 16-4 SU and 13-7 ATS their last 20 games here.
Not surprisingly, the Ravens are also a profitable 16-8 ATS (20-4 SU) as favorites over the past few seasons. That includes a 7-3 ATS (9-1 SU) record as favorites in the -3.5 to -9.5 range.
This will be the Bucs' final game against teams from the AFC North. They eked out 3-point victories over the Browns and Bengals, teams which are a combined 5-16 on the season. However, when stepping up against the Steelers, they were blown out by a score of 38-13. Note that Ravens and Steelers are both currently sitting at 7-3 and that the Ravens won outright at Pittsburgh. While I've come to respect the Bucs, I believe that the Ravens are better on both sides of the ball and I look for them to demonstrate it here. *10
|11-27-10||Kansas State v. North Texas +15||Top||49-41||Win||100||6 h 45 m||Show|
I'm playing on NORTH TEXAS. Some may argue that the Wildcats have more to play for. They've got six wins on the season. However, they're off back to back losses and a seventh victory would strengthen their case for a bowl bid. In my opinion, however, the Mean Green have every bit as much to play for, if not more.
Not only is this the home finale for the Mean Green but its also their final home game ever at Fouts Field. Naturally, they'd really like to close the doors with a victory.
True, the Wildcats play in a much better conference than North Texas. They've been inconsistent though and with four losses in their last five games, I don't feel that they deserve to be laying 2+ touchdowns here. Not when they're below .500 on the road, where they give up more than 444 yards and 31 points per game. Note that this is the third straight road game for the Wildcats, who gave up 44 points and nearly 500 yards at Colorado last week.
While outright wins haven't been easy to come by, the Mean Green have been competitive nearly every week, for the past couple of months. They're 3-5 SU their last eight games but only one of those eight games resulted in a loss of greater than 12 points - and that was more than a month ago, before the coaching chance. In their last home game, the Mean Green covered vs. a solid Troy team, losing by six.
Note that the Mean Green lead the Sun Belt Conference and rank among the top 25 teams in the country in terms of rushing offense. They've averaged 193.5 yards per game on the ground. They'll be up against a K-State defense which has been abused on the ground for weeks now.
Clearly, North Texas has played much better under Mike Canales, who is 2-2 SU and 3-1 ATS as interim coach. Canales is a candidate to keep the job and one would have to think that a win here would certainly improve his chances. I expect Canales to have the Mean Green ready and I look for them to be in this one the entire way. *10
|11-27-10||Washington Huskies v. California -6.5||Top||16-13||Loss||-110||5 h 17 m||Show|
I'm playing on CALIFORNIA. I had a big win with the Huskies in their last game. That was a home win vs. UCLA though, on a rare Thursday night game in Washington. I knew the Huskies hadn't beaten UCLA in recent seasons and I knew they'd be hungry to do in front of the national audience, particularly as it was the final home game of Locker and the Huskies' many other seniors career. The Huskies rose to the occasion and came through with a double-digit win. Now, however, they step up in class to take on a California team which will be playing its home finale and which figures to be extremely motivated.
Cal has a ton to play for. The Bears come off back to back losses. Those games were against Oregon and Stanford though, teams that defeated the Huskies by a combined score of 94-16. So, they'll be looking to snap their skid. Most importantly, they also need a win to reach 6-6 on the season which would make them bowl eligible. Additionally, the Huskies upset them last season, embarrassing them in the process. Lastly, this is their home finale and the final game at Memorial Stadium until 2012, as it will undergo renovations.
While the Huskies did beat them 42-10 at Washington last season, the Bears pounded them 48-7 when the teams met here in 2008. True, the Huskies also need a win to keep their bowl hopes alive. However, while this is Cal's final game, the Huskies would have to win here and then also go on the road and win at Washington State. Yes, they'd love to win both those games. However, having won their home finale - even if they lose this one - if they can beat rival Washington State next week, the Huskies would still probably be somewhat happy with themselves - even though they'd never admit it. Not so for Cal. Anything less than a win here will be a major disappointment for the Bears. Note that Cal has gone to seven straight bowls.
Even with last week's win, the Huskies are still 4-6 and QB Locker is still struggling and still less than 100% healthy. Last week, it was the ground game, not Locker, which won it for the Huskies. He was just 10-of-21 for 68 yds with an INT last week. For the season, the Huskies are only 1-3 on the road, where they've been outscored by an average score of 37.7 to 19.7.
The Bears have been much better at home than on the road all season. The only two losses here were against Oregon and Stanford and they nearly beat the Ducks, losing by a score of only 15-13. Even factoring in the blowout loss to Stanford, the Bears are still outscoring opponents by a commanding 36 to 16 margin here. Opposing teams are managing a mere 247 yards per game here.
While the Huskies are 2-10 SU/ATS the last 12 times that they played a road game where the total ranged between 49.5 and 52, the Bears are a perfect 5-0 SU/ATS when playing a home game with a total in the 49.5 to 52 range and a perfect 10-0 SU/ATS when playing a home game with a total in the 49.5 to 56 range.
The Bears don't lose two in a row often. They're 3-0 SU/ATS the last three times that they did though. I expect them to pad those stats with a convincing win and cover to close out Memorial Stadium this afternoon. *10
|11-26-10||Boise State v. Nevada +14.5||Top||31-34||Win||100||12 h 48 m||Show|
I'm playing on NEVADA. I narrowly won with the Wolfpack when these teams faced each other last season. Getting +12 or +13 points, Nevada rallied from a larger deficit and lost by 11. The previous season's game, the most recent here at Nevada, also finished very close to the number. Boise State was favored by -6.5 points and won by seven. This year's game is back at Nevada. Yet, we're getting an even higher number on the underdog Wolfpack than we were for last year's game on the blue turf. With all due respect to the Broncos, who are indeed a very strong team, I believe that provides excellent value with the home underdog.
Boise State has yet to really be challenged since the opening week of the season and the Broncos did come through for me in a big way against Hawaii. That was at home though and their road schedule has been quite 'easy.' To their credit, the Broncos did win a close game vs. a good Virginia Tech team at a 'neutral site.' However, just like last season, when they caught Oregon in the opening week, they may have been fortunate to face the Hokies before they really got rolling. Either way, that was the Broncos only difficult game, that wasn't on the blue turf, and they only won by three points. Other road games came at Idaho, San Jose State, New Mexico State and Wyoming. Idaho, San Jose St. and New Mexico St. all have losing records and are a combined 3-16 in WAC play. Meanwhile, Wyoming is 3-9 on the season and 1-7 in the Mountain West.
Needless to say, Nevada is a far better team and a far more difficult venue than Wyoming, New Mex. St, San Jose St or Idaho. Indeed, the Wolfpack are 10-1 on the season including 6-0 at home. While Boise squeaked past V-Tech in non-conference action, Nevada beat both California AND BYU by double-digits, when stepping outside the WAC.
Since their lone defeat (lost by 6 at Hawaii) the Wolfpack are averaging greater than 50 points per game. They've got the offense to go toe to toe vs. the Broncos and I look for them to do just that, improving to 9-3 ATS in November the past three seasons. *10
|11-26-10||New Orleans Hornets v. Portland Trail Blazers -3||Top||97-78||Loss||-110||12 h 32 m||Show|
I'm playing on PORTLAND. While I respect the Hornets, I've had some success going against them recently. They got off to such a hot start that I felt that they'd become somewhat over-valued. I also felt that they were "playing above their heads" a little and expected them to come back down to earth, if only slightly. I played against them in the first game of their current road trip, at Sacramento on 11/21. They won but didn't cover. I also played against them at LA the following night, they lost outright vs. the Clippers. I didn't touch the Hornets' next game. However, they got blown out by 18 points (105-87) at Utah. Off back to back losses, they'd definitely like to bounce back here. However, those losses reveal that things aren't quite as "rosy" in New Orleans, as many previously thought. More importantly, they'll be taking on a talented Portland team, which is very tough at home and which is determined to serve up some "payback" from an earlier loss at New Orleans.
While the Hornets are playing their fourth road game in the past six days, the Blazers haven't played a single game during that stretch. Their last game was on 11/26, a 103-94 loss to Utah. Sometimes, such a long break can hurt a team. However, in this case, I expect it to help the Blazers. That's because it should have allowed Brandon Roy time to properly heal. In fact, with the added rest, the Blazers might even get a few minutes from Joel Przybilla - although I won't expect much of a contribution there. Either way, as the game progresses, I'd prefer to have the well-rested home team as opposed to a visiting team which is playing in its fourth different city in the past six days. Note that the Blazers are 8-3 SU the past few seasons, when playing with three or more day's rest in between games.
Speaking of road trips, while the Hornets may be looking forward to returning home (and to a big showdown vs. the Spurs), the Blazers know that they head out on the road for four games after this. That, combined with the fact that the Hornets already beat them, should provide plenty of motivation. The Blazers are an outstanding 18-9 ATS (22-5 SU) the past 2+ seasons, when coming off a SU loss as a favorite. I expect them to improve on those stats here. *10
|11-25-10||Texas A&M v. Texas +3.5||Top||24-17||Loss||-105||22 h 46 m||Show|
I'm playing on TEXAS. I won with the Longhorns last week. Laying roughly three touchdowns against Florida Atlantic, they won by a score of 51-17, recording more than 500 yards of offense. That victory snapped a 4-game losing skid and kept their bowl hopes alive. Having gotten the monkey off their back, if only partially, I expect the Longhorns to build some positive momentum and look for them to follow it up with another victory here.
The Aggies are also off a victory and they've admittedly been playing very well in recent weeks. They're far from unbeatable on the road though. In four games away from College Station, they've gone 2-2. They won at Baylor and Kansas while losing at Oklahoma State and a "neutral site" (Arlington) game vs. Arkansas.
While the Aggies would clearly love to win, the Longhorns have plenty of motivation. Not only would a victory, on National TV, help to ease their disappointment but it would also make them bowl eligible. As Mack Brown noted: "If we can do our job Thursday night, there's absolutely no doubt that we'll be excited to go wherever. There's no such thing as a bad bowl."
Texas linebacker Emmanuel Acho added. "...This is going to be the biggest game of the season, but if we take what we did Saturday and improve on it, we are going to do very well."
Yes, the Aggies come in with the higher ranking. The Longhorns are still arguably the more talented team though and they've playing at home. Its also interesting to note that the last time these teams faced each other when only Texas A&M was ranked was back in 1998. The Aggies were #6 at the time while the Longhorns were unranked. Texas still won.
With an O/U line in the high 40s, note that the Aggies are a dismal 2-12 ATS the last 14 times that they played a road game with an O/U line in the 45.5 to 49 range and 4-10 ATS when playing on a Thursday. During the same stretch, the Longhorns have gone 9-4 ATS when playing a home game with an O/U line in the 45.5 to 49 range and 6-3 SU/ATS when playing on a Thursday. I'll grab the points but I look for the Longhorns, 16-1 SU their last 17 home finales, to improve on those stats by scoring the outright "upset." *10
|11-25-10||New England Patriots v. Detroit Lions +7||Top||45-24||Loss||-105||15 h 26 m||Show|
I'm playing on DETROIT. The Lions getting blown out on Thanksgiving morning has become somewhat of a tradition. Facing a red hot New England team, most of the betting public will expect another mismatch. This year's team has been far more competitive than recent versions though and I feel that they're providing us with excellent value.
The Lions failed to cover last week. However, they still held a 338 to 265 advantage in total yards. Additionally, they've still gone a highly profitable 7-2-1 ATS on the season. Five of their SU losses this season have been by five points or less. They've been particularly tough at home. In fact, they're a perfect 4-0 ATS (2-2 SU) here, outscoring teams by an average of 33.2 to 22.2.
On the other hand, the Pats are 3-2 SU/ATS on the road, outscoring opponents by a modest 26.2 to 24.4 margin. Note that New England was outgained by an average of 385.6 to 294.2 in those games, in terms of total yards.
While playing on Thanksgiving is always a special "treat" for teams, I feel that the Pats could be susceptible to overlooking the Lions here. After all, they're off back to back huge conference games (Steelers and Colts) AND they've got a huge divisional showdown vs. the Jets on deck.
For all this season's success, note that the Pats are just 2-4-1 ATS when laying points, including 0-1 SU/ATS when listed as road favorites in the -3.5 to -7 range. That loss was against Cleveland a few weeks back, the last time that the Pats played a team with a losing record. I had a big play on the Browns in that game and thought that getting +4 points at the time was generous. Now, we're getting even more points to work with and given how competitive the Lions have been at home, I feel that's just too much.
The bottom line is that I really don't feel that there's as big a gap between these teams as indicated by the records. They've averaged nearly an identical number of yards per game on offense and Detroit is actually allowing less yards per game on defense. This is the Lions' chance to show the national audience that things really are different this season. I look for them to do just that by taking this game down to the wire with a solid shot at the outright upset. *10
|11-22-10||New Orleans Hornets v. Los Angeles Clippers +5.5||Top||95-99||Win||100||12 h 7 m||Show|
I'm playing on the LA CLIPPERS. I successfully played against the Hornets yesterday. That result worked out well, in terms of setting up today's play. Not only did the Hornets (barely) fail to cover, but they won their game outright. So, I got to cash yesterday's basketball ticket AND the Hornets may be slightly more complacent today, then they would have been if they'd lost yesterday. Off that result, now playing their third game in four days AND with a bigger game vs. Utah on deck, I feel that the Hornets may have some trouble focusing on the lowly Clippers.
The Clippers are somewhat more talented than their record indicates though and they're capable of surprising. While they're a modest 8-7 ATS the last 15 times that they were home underdogs in the +6 to +9.5 range, during the same stretch, the Hornets were 2-3 ATS when listed as road favorites in the -6 to -9.5 range and just 42-55-1 ATS as favorites, overall.
Admittedly, the Clippers have had trouble getting wins lately and they've also had trouble beating the Hornets in recent years. They're still playing hard though and I believe that they can take some positives from Saturday's loss. Coach Del Negro was quoted as saying: "...I'm happy with the way we battled. We had opportunities there, kept fighting to cut the lead, but we battled and fought and tried to grind it out. Blake shot it real well, we were aggressive the whole game..."
While they only have one win in their last 11 games, only three of those games (and only one at home) resulted in a double-digit loss. In other words, they've been more competitive than one would imagine, if only looking at the recent record. One of those double-digit losses came at New Orleans, putting the Clippers in the 'revenge' role here.
As noted yesterday, the Hornets also tend to fare poorly against "defensively challenged" teams. Including yesterday's result, they're now a money-burning 39-61-1 ATS the last 101 times that they faced a team which allows 99 or more points per game. They're likely to have a few new faces in the lineup tonight (due to their recent trade) and that may take a bit of adjusting. All things considered, I feel that the situation favors the revenge-minded Clippers and I look for them to give their guests a much tougher game than expected. *10
|11-22-10||Denver Broncos v. San Diego Chargers -8.5||Top||14-35||Win||100||10 h 38 m||Show|
I'm playing on SAN DIEGO. The Broncos earned a big win vs. KC last week, doing San Diego a favor in the process. Don't expect the Chargers to show them any kindness here though. The Chargers got off to their typically slow start and are now having to dig their way out of a hole. With the Chiefs winning again yesterday, (Raiders lost) the Chargers know that they absolutely need this one. That's particularly true, given that they're 0-2 in the division. A win here and they tie Oakland and stay within a game of the Chiefs.
Of course, one could argue that the 3-6 Broncos need the game even more. However, I'd argue that the Broncos don't truly believe that they can come all the way back to win the division, while the Chargers still expect to do so.
While the Broncos did manage to beat up on the Chiefs, they'd gone 0-4 SU/ATS in their previous four games. Those losses came by an average of 17.75 points. The Chargers, who had last week off, are 2-0 SU/ATS their last two games, beating Tennessee by eight and winning at Houston by six.
For the season, the Chargers are 3-1 SU/ATS at home, outscoring opponents by an average score of 33 to 17.7. They've outgained opponents by a commanding average of 428.7 to 255.7 mark, in terms of total yards per home game. Conversely, the Broncos are 1-3 SU/ATS on the road.
The Broncos are 1-5 ats the last six times that they were off a division win and 2-9 ats (1-10 su) the last 11 times that they were listed as road underdogs in the +7.5 to +10 range. During the same stretch, the Chargers were 15-6 ATS when listed as home favorites in the -7.5 to -10 range. I expect them to improve on those stats with a convincing double-digit win here. *10
|11-21-10||Tampa Bay Buccaneers v. San Francisco 49ers -3||Top||21-0||Loss||-135||6 h 31 m||Show|
I'm playing on SAN FRANCISCO. The Bucs (6-3) have a much better record. However, I believe that the 49'ers are favored for good reason.
The 49ers are only 3-6 on the season. However, two of those victories came in their last two games. Also, all three of their victories came when they were listed as the 'home' team. This is a team which is feeling no pressure and which is playing with a renewed sense of confidence.
Frank Gore was quoted as saying: "When we go out there, it's just like we
|11-21-10||Green Bay Packers v. Minnesota Vikings +3||Top||31-3||Loss||-100||2 h 10 m||Show|
I'm playing on MINNESOTA. I've played against the Vikings a lot of times since late last season and I won with Green Bay when these teams met earlier. The primary reason that I played against the Vikings at various times was that I felt that they were over-valued. An important key to beating the NFL pointspread is knowing when to "buy low" though, while "selling high." In this case, due to recent results, I now believe that the Packers have become the team which is a little 'over valued' while the Vikings are now beginning to present much better line value. Indeed, consider that the Vikings were + 2.5 point underdogs at Lambeau. Now, the Vikings are even (slightly) bigger underdogs, even though the game is being played at Minnesota.
While the Packers have been better overall, keep in mind that the Vikings actually have a better home record (3-1) than the Packers do on the road.
The Packers are coming off a bye. Given that they've been dealing with injury issues all season, they surely welcomed the break. That said, they were off three straight victories and a break can sometimes kill a team's momentum. Note that Green Bay is just 4-7 ATS the last 11 times it was favored by four points or less.
The Vikings know that their season is likely done. That said, they also know that its not quite mathematically over yet and that a victory here would keep their flickering hopes alive. As a result, I don't expect there to be any "quit." Cornerback Lito Sheppard noted: "It's not like we're not playing. We're playing hard. It's not even about the coaches. Each individual in here has a job to do and is going to be held accountable regardless of if the coach is here or not. We understand that."
Of course, this also figures to be Favre's final game vs. the Packers. While the future Hall-Of-Fame QB may be downplaying it, I expect him to rise to the occasion. He was quoted as saying: "We can't be concerned about anything else but winning the football game."
The Vikings are 17-3 SU their last 20 games here, including a 30-23 win over the Packers last season. With seven straight meetings between these teams, here at Minnesota, decided by seven or less, I'll grab the points. However, I expect the Vikings to improve on those stats by scoring the outright upset. *10
|11-20-10||New York Knicks v. Los Angeles Clippers -1||Top||124-115||Loss||-110||12 h 1 m||Show|
I'm playing on the LA CLIPPERS. The Clippers are on a losing streak and are off to a bad start to the season. Nothing new about that. This team does have some talent though and tonight's game sets up very favorably for them to get a much-needed victory.
On Tuesday, the Knicks went into Denver and lost by two points (120-118) to the Nuggets. The following night, they were involved in another hard-fought game, this time earning a 113-106 victory at Sacramento. After having Thursday off, last night, the Knicks knocked off the Warriors by a score of 125-119. That makes this the Knicks' fourth game in the past five days - with each of the first three being played at a very "up tempo" pace. That said, I expect fatigue to be a factor here.
Note that even with Wednesday's win at Sacramento, the Knicks are still 12-28 SU the last 40 times that they played the second of back to back games.
The Clippers have had some pointspread success against "high-scoring" teams and they're 10-3 SU the last 13 times that they hosted the Knicks. I expect them to be both the "fresher" and the "hungrier" team here and for that to lead to a much-needed victory. *10
|11-20-10||San Jose State +29.5 v. Hawaii||Top||7-41||Loss||-105||26 h 46 m||Show|
I'm playing on SAN JOSE STATE. I successfully played against the Warriors in their last game, a blowout loss at Boise State. They're back home now and they've had an extra week to "lick their wounds" and to prepare for San Jose State. As a result, most will expect them to bounce back with a blowout victory. After all, they'd been pretty impressive before those loss to the Broncos. While they may indeed bounce back with a solid win, in my opinion, asking them to win by greater than four touchdowns is asking too much.
The Warriors, 1-2 SU/ATS the last three times they were coming off a bye, had a big winning streak snapped in the loss at Boise. That was a huge game for them - this one is not. I believe that it will have been hard for them to put Boise out of their heads these past two weeks and that fully focusing on San Jose State will have been difficult. Keep in mind that the Warriors have already accepted an invitation to the Hawaii Bowl.
The Spartans haven't been winning. However, they have been competitive - at least recently. Last week, they lost by four points vs. Utah State. The previous week, in their last road game, they lost by two at New Mexico State. Before that they lost by 15 vs. Fresno State and before that they lost by 22 at Nevada. Other than the Nevada game, which was still a cover, their only "blowout loss" in conference play was vs. Boise State. As already mentioned, Hawaii was also blown out by the Broncos.
These Spartans are a "battle-tested bunch" and their ugly overall record is due in part to the fact that they played a killer non-conference schedule. They began the season at Alabama. The next week, they were at Wisconsin. Two weeks later, they were at Utah.
Overall, the Spartans have been outgained pretty significantly - again, that's partly due to the schedule. However, over their last three games they've only been outgained by a 437 to 406 margin, in terms of total yards. Led by senior quarterback Jordan La Secla, the Spartans have thrown for 300-plus yards in three straight games with seven touchdown passes.
The Spartans finished only 2-10 last season but still played Hawaii very tough, as they have for a few seasons in a row now. The Warriors won last season's meeting by a 17-10 score, in overtime. The previous season, at Hawaii, San Jose State scored an outright win. Before that, in 2007, the Spartans hung within seven, losing 42-35. I look for this one to be closer than most are expecting once again and am grabbing the generous points. *10
|11-20-10||Florida Atlantic v. Texas -21||Top||17-51||Win||100||5 h 13 m||Show|
I'm playing on TEXAS. As you know, its been a very disappointing season for the Longhorns. A "blowout" win over Florida Atlantic won't change that fact. That said, it would make this team feel a lot better about itself. It would also keep the Longhorns' "bowl" hopes alive and give them some much needed momentum for next week's final vs. Texas A&M. The Longhorns have serious talent edges in this game and I expect them to come together and demonstrate that this afternoon.
While there's no denying Texas has the talent and athletic advantage, some may fear that the Longhorns have quit on the season. I don't expect that to be an issue though. Coach Mack Brown concurs. He was quoted as saying: "We've asked the kids to make sure they've committed for 12 days on Saturday. ... We want the kids to keep fighting. We said you cannot have the season you want, but you can't ever quit. If you quit, what an awful message to you in the rest of your life -- I don't see them doing that."
While the Longhorns are 14-0 SU against teams currently in the Sun Belt, the Owls are 0-5 SU/ATS their last five against teams from the Big 12.
The Owls have been terrible in non-conference road games for years. The last time that they played a non-conference opponent with any type of talent on 10/2, when they visited South Florida. That resulted in a 31-3 blowout loss. Including that result, they're just 7-12 SU/ATS on the road, the past few seasons.
Given the fact that they need a win to keep their bowl hopes alive, there will be no looking past the Owls. Texas senior James Kirkendoll said this of the team's current state of mind: "I think at this point we have a sense of urgency. It doesn't matter who we play. We have to win the next two games if we want to go to a bowl game."
These teams met here in 2008. Before the game Florida Atlantic coach Howard Schnellenberger suggested that Texas was "soft" and vulnerable against "smash-mouth football." The Longhorns went on to punish the Owls with a commanding 232-37 edge on the ground, which led to a 31-13 advantage in first downs. The final score was 52-10 in favor of the Longhorns. They've got a lot of frustration to take out and I look for a similarly lopsided result here. *10
|11-19-10||New Jersey Nets v. Sacramento Kings -3.5||Top||81-86||Win||100||11 h 17 m||Show|
I'm playing on SACRAMENTO. The Kings could badly use a victory and tonight should provide an excellent opportunity to earn one. These teams already faced each other a few weeks ago. The Kings were in great shape to win that game, as they were up by eight points with less than four minutes to play. However, the Nets outscored them 17-3 down the stretch, en route to a 106-100 victory. That was at New Jersey though. Tonight's game is at Sacramento, where the Kings have been much better for years.
Admittedly, the Nets have been better defensively than the Kings. Note that the Nets are just 22-56 SU and 31-46-1 ATS the past seasons when matched up against a team which allows 99 or more per game.
The Kings have the edge on the offensive side of the ball. They average more than 100 points per game while New Jersey averages only 92.8.
The Nets are playing their third straight road game and play at Denver tomorrow. Note that they're already 0-2 when playing the front end of back to back games so far this season.
The Kings also lost at New Jersey last season - not many teams did. However, they won by double-digits when the teams played here at Sacramento. That brought them to 10-1 SU and 7-3-1 ATS the last 11 times that they were a host in this series. Desperate for a victory and playing with revenge for last month's setback, I expect them to continue that homecourt series dominance this evening. *10
|11-19-10||Fresno State +30.5 v. Boise State||Top||0-51||Loss||-110||11 h 13 m||Show|
I'm playing on FRESNO STATE. There is no denying that the Broncos are a powerful team, particularly here on their blue turf. Indeed, they've outscored opponents by an average of 46.2 to 16.2 in going undefeated here this season. Tonight's opponent is a lot more talented than the majority of the other teams that the Broncos have been beating up on recently. That said, I believe this line is too high.
The Bulldogs lost their last game. That was by just a single point vs. a potent Nevada team though. Speaking of the Wolfpack, note that Boise plays at Nevada next week. As the Broncos have had that game circled, as this season's one possible stumbling block, it may be pretty easy to look past Frenso here, particularly considering that they've (mostly) handled the Broncos with ease over the years. (Fresno did win 27-7 in 2005.)
Speaking of Nevada, the Bulldogs very nearly beat the Wolfpack last week. They were winning in the fourth quarter and lost by a score of 35-34.
While that was certainly a tough loss, it also showed that the Bulldogs are capable of trading punches with a high-scoring team - there were seven lead changes in that game. Granted, a home game against Nevada is a whole different story from a game on the blue turf, against this Bronco team.
However, my point is that Fresno has been playing at a high level and should have confidence to believe it can compete. Prior to that, the Bulldogs had won three straight, outscoring opponents by a 106-62 margin. Two of those wins came on the road.
While the Boise run defense is admittedly very good, Fresno's Robbie Rouse has rushed for more than 500 yards the past two weeks alone. By keeping the clock moving, the Fresno ground game should help lessen the amount of time that Kellen Moore and the Boise offense spends on the field.
Speaking of Moore, he'll be up against a Fresno State defense which is holding opponents to 193.9 passing yards per game. In the WAC, only Boise allows less. The Broncos are currently giving up 165.9.
The Bulldogs, who lost by 17 vs. Boise last season, are 4-2 ATS the last six times that they were underdogs of greater than three touchdowns. I expect them to improve on those stats tonight, giving their hosts a tougher game than most are expecting and hanging within the inflated number. *10
|11-18-10||UCLA Bruins v. Washington Huskies -2||Top||7-24||Win||100||33 h 15 m||Show|
I'm playing on WASHINGTON. These teams both had last week off. That break figures to have come at a better time for the Huskies. That's because they'd been absolutely destroyed in their last three games, losing by a combined score of 138-30. In fairness, those three games came against three of the best teams in the conference (Arizona, Stanford and Oregon) and two of them came on the road.
That said, after losing three in a row by 30 or more, a break was much-needed. On the other hand, after beating Oregon State last time out, the Bruins probably wouldn't have minded if they played at Washington last week. Also, the added time gives the Huskies more time to prepare for the "pistol" offense, which UCLA has been running.
While the Bruins do have the slightly better record, they've still lost their last two road games by a combined score of 95-20. Looking back further and we find the Bruins at an ugly 5-15 SU their last 20 road games.
Admittedly, the Bruins have dominated the Huskies, from a w/l standpoint, in recent years. UCLA is 3-0 SU the last three meetings and 11-3 SU the last 14. However, a closer look reveals that the Huskies have actually gone 3-2 ATS the last five meetings. Last season's meeting, which was played at UCLA, was decided by a single point, 24-23 in favor of the Bruins. The Huskies brought back more returning starters (18-13) from those teams than did the Bruins, incl. QB Jake Locker.
Speaking of Locker, while he's still listed as questionable, I fully expect him to get the start here. After Tuesday's practice Coach Sarkisian 'tweeted,' "Jake Locker is cleared to play!"
Clearly, this was not the year that Locker had in mind. However, this is a chance for some redemption. He gets to play his final home game ever and he gets to do it on National TV, against a team which has always dominated his team. A big win here will go a LONG way. He's highly talented and I expect him to be the "leader" that his team needs here.
Thursday games don't come around here very often. In fact, the Huskies haven't played anywhere on a Thursday since a 1999 game at BYU. That makes this is a very BIG game, particularly with former coach Neuhisal returning to town. Even bigger, the Huskies need to win this game to keep their bowl hopes alive. Find a way to win here - and there's still hope. Needless to say, the crowd should be very enthusiastic.
Locker is just one of 16 seniors playing their final home game. Its been a long haul and this is their chance to go out on top. Wearing their black uniforms and with the crowd all in black, I expect Locker and co. to come away with the victory, covering the small number along the way. *10
|11-17-10||Miami v. Akron +9.5||Top||19-14||Win||100||7 h 21 m||Show|
I'm playing on AKRON. Miami Ohio has a winning record and comes in on a roll. Akron is winless. No brainer on the visitors, right? Not in my opinion!
This is a huge game for the Zips. This is their chance to earn a win and to do it on "TV" (ESPNU). I believe that they've got the "situation" in their favor. Akron was competitive last time out. Playing on the road, at Ball State, they lost by seven. That was back on 11/6, so they've had plenty of preparation time.
Miami Ohio, which has shown a tendency to let teams back in the game, is also off a close road game. The Redhawks won by three, at Bowling Green. They've had a "normal" week of rest, as that game was also on a Wednesday. However, this will be their third straight road game, which can be challenging. In fact, this is their fifth road game in their past six games.
The Redhawks have won three of their last four games. However, the three wins came by an average of only seven points. In fact, only one of the Redhawks six road games resulted in a win of greater than seven points and that came by just 12.
Even with last week's victory, the Redhawks are still 1-7 SU and 3-5 ATS in November the past few seasons. With an O/U line in the high 40s, it also worth noting that the Redhawks are a dismal 1-11 SU/ATS the last dozen times that they played a road game with an O/U line in the 45.5 to 49 range, incl. 0-5 SU/ATS their last five in that situation.
The Redhawks, who have a banged-up starting QB, haven't fared as well as road favorites in this range. With Akron, 14-5 its last 19 November home games, "desperate" for a win, I'm grabbing all the points that I can get. *10
|11-15-10||Philadelphia Eagles v. Washington Redskins +3.5||Top||59-28||Loss||-110||10 h 8 m||Show|
I'm playing on WASHINGTON. I won with the Skins when they defeated the Eagles on 10/3. The Skins may have been a little fortunate to get the outright win there, as the Eagles had an advantage in overall total yards. However, the 'cover' was never really in jeopardy. Due in large part to that result, many will be quick to back the 'revenge-minded' Eagles here. They'll have the idea that the Eagles couldn't possibly lose both games to McNabb's new team. In my opinion, that perception has created excellent value with the home underdog. Indeed, we're getting nearly as many points with the Skins tonight as we were for the game at Philadelphia.
I successfully played against the Skins in their last game. However, at the time, they were playing their second straight road game and they were catching the Lions off a bye. This time, the Skins are the ones at home AND they're the ones who are now coming off a bye. Big difference.
Since losing the 10/3 game to the Skins, the Eagles have been perfect at home. They beat the Falcons by 14 and the Colts by two. However, they've been far from "dominant" on the road. In their last road game, they were destroyed 37-19 at Tennessee. They did beat up on the Jaguars, at Jacksonville. Their other two road games both resulted in 3-point victories, at Detroit and at San Francisco. Dating back to last season, only of their last six road games resulted in a win by greater than three points.
It's also worth noting that Reid's Eagles are just 3-7 ATS their last 10 games played in the month of November.
Additionally, note that the Shanahan is an impressive 11-4 SU when coming off a bye.
Speaking of Shanahan, you probably heard the McNabb got benched for the final minutes of the loss at Detroit. While he's been dealing with some hamstring issues, the bye figures to have come at the right time, both for him and for the team. Note that McNabb also got benched in 2008, when still with the Eagles. He responded by throwing 14 touchdowns (and just five interceptions) while leading the Eagles on a 6-2 run the rest of the season and all the way to the NFC title game. I expect him to play tonight and I expect him to respond well, again.
These teams typically play close games against each other. Including Washington's 5-point win earlier, the last eight meetings have ALL been decided by 10 points or less. With the Skins off a bye and desperate to remain in the divisional race, I look for this one to also come down to the wire and am grabbing the generous points. *10
|11-15-10||Minnesota Timberwolves v. Charlotte Bobcats -9||Top||110-113||Loss||-110||8 h 8 m||Show|
I'm playing on CHARLOTTE. I've had the Bobcats in each of their past three home games, going 2-0-1 ATS. In all three cases, the Bobcats were "getting points" against an elite team. They lost by three points vs. the Magic, four points vs. the Spurs and by one point vs. the Jazz. While those losses had to have been frustrating, this evening, the Bobcats will take a significant step down in class. With the schedule in their favor, I expect them to respond with a convincing double-digit victory.
The T-Wolves come to town on quite the roll and you probably heard about Kevin Love's big "30-30" game. In fact, with another cover yesterday, they're a perfect 4-0 ATS their last four games. This is a tough spot for them though. Not only did they play yesterday, but they also will be playing their ninth game in the past 14 days, including their fifth in the last seven. That's a very gruelling stretch, particularly as those games were all fairly "hard-fought."
While this is arguably more difficult than a "typical" back to back spot, its still worth noting that the T-Wolves are 1-2 SU/ATS when playing the second of back to back games. They did beat Sacramento on 11/10. However, both their previous games, when playing for the second time in two days, resulted in losses of 20 or more points. They lost 109-89 at Memphis and 128-86 at Orlando.
Including that loss at Memphis, they're just 9-14 ATS (5-18 SU) the last 23 times that they were listed as road underdogs in the +6.5 to +9 range.
While the Bobcats' offense has yet to really start fully clicking, the defense continues to be mostly solid. That's not the case for the T-Wolves, who allow 109.4 points per game, incl. a whopping 112.1 on the road. That's significant as we find the Bobcats at an impressive 51-34-1 ATS the past few seasons, when facing a team which allows 99 or more points per game.
The Bobcats beat the T-Wolves by 13 here last season and by 10 in 2008. They're 5-1 SU and 4-2 ATS in six all-time home meetings vs. the T-Wolves and I look for them to continue that dominance here. *10
|11-14-10||Carolina Panthers +7.5 v. Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Top||16-31||Loss||-105||3 h 36 m||Show|
I'm playing on CAROLINA. These teams both suffered a "divisional loss" last week. Carolina got crushed by New Orleans. Tampa "hung around" and lost by six at Atlanta. While Tampa's loss was "more impressive," I feel that it will be the more difficult of the two losses to "bounce back" from.
While the Panthers weren't in their game for long, the Bucs hung around and remained in the game, despite being badly outgained. In fact, in the end, they had a chance to win the game outright.
That was a "huge" game, as the Bucs would have been alone, on top of the division, if they'd pulled it off. However, with the loss, they now find themselves behind both the Saints and the Falcons in the division race. While there's still a lot of football left, realistically, the Bucs know that they aren't likely to overtake either of those teams, let alone both. Keep in mind that they're a young team, which had been 'over-achieving.' Dealing with that "reality" and thinking about "what could have been" can be difficult.
Of course, the Bucs aren't that great off a division game, no matter what the circumstances. They're just 4-9 SU/ATS the last 13 times that they were off a divisional game, including 0-2 ATS this season. They're 3-5 ATS (2-6 SU) when off a divisional loss.
While the Bucs did win 20-7 at Carolina, that was their only victory this season which came by greater than three points.
The Panthers have none of that. Their season is a writeoff and they were blown out last week. Don't think that they won't be motivated though. For starters, this is a divisional game and that should be plenty of motivation by itself. Additionally, the Panthers are off their worst loss of the season. No team likes to be blown out two weeks in a row. Note that prior to last week's loss, the Panthers had only lost one other game (this season) by 14 or more points. They responded to that game by beating the 49'ers outright, their lone win of the season.
Additional motivation for the Panthers is provided by the fact that the Bucs beat them earlier this season. Note that the Panthers are an outstanding 9-2 SU/ATS the last 11 times that they were attempting to avenge an earlier loss.
Even with the earlier loss, the Panthers are also 11-4 SU and 10-5 ATS their last 15 meetings with the Bucs. I expect them to improve on those stats here. *10
|11-13-10||South Carolina v. Florida -6.5||Top||36-14||Loss||-110||30 h 31 m||Show|
I'm playing on FLORIDA. The Gamecocks have been good to me in recent seasons, both on and against. This season, I've only been involved in one of their games. I had a big (10*) play on them in their game against Alabama. Getting +6.5 or +7 points, the Gamecocks won the game outright. While that win showed the Gamecocks are capable of beating any opponent, it should be noted that it came at home. It should also be noted that South Carolina has been inconsistent since that victory. In fact, even though they've been favored in all four games, they're just 2-2 SU and 1-3 ATS since the win over Alabama. Last time out, they were crushed 41-20 by Arkansas. Now, they'll face a talented Florida team which has started to click on all cylinders, seemingly just at the right time.
Both teams come in at 6-3 and both are 4-3 in conference play. That makes this is an absolutely huge game, for both teams. Indeed, the winner heads to Atlanta for the SEC Championship game.
Obviously, South Carolina desperately wants this game. The program has never been there. The Gamecocks have been humbled by Florida over and over again and got absolutely destroyed last season. Of course, there's also the "Spurrier factor," as the former Gator legend would dearly love a win on Saturday.
Don't think the Gators don't want this game every bit as much though. Center Mike Pouncey had this to say of the Gators' mindset and about what this week's game means: "...I feel like we're back on track. It means a lot. Our whole goal in the offseason is to get to Atlanta. If you would have told me we would have lost three games and still had a chance to win this last game and go to the SEC championship, I wouldn't take it back for nothing in the world."
We can probably cut South Carolina a little slack for last week's blowout loss vs. Arkansas. After all, the Gamecocks knew they were going to have to beat Florida, no matter what happened. That said, they still would have surely preferred to be heading into this week's game with some positive momentum and one can't simply ignore the fact that they were outgained by a 443-295 margin.
On the other hand, the Gators followed up a momentum-building victory over Georgia by destroying Vanderbilt. They outgained the Commodores by a 480-109 margin. Admittedly, Arkansas is a much tougher opponent than Vanderbilt. However, my point is that the Gators enter the game with positive momentum, while the Gamecocks do not.
While the Gamecocks did manage a win at Vanderbilt in their last road game, they're still an awful 4-11 their last 15 road games, going 1-4 ATS in the last five of those.
South Carolina's secondary is an area of weakness that Florida should be able to exploit. The Gamecocks' pass defense (264.7 yards per game) ranks just 109th in the nation. Note that Chris Culliver is out for the season and fellow starting cornerback C.C. Whitlock is currently recovering from a concussion. Speaking of "pass defense," note that the Florida secondary has 18 interceptions, tied for first in the country.
Florida coach Urban Meyer had this to say of his team: "It's not how you start; it's how you finish, and I think we're finishing strong." Speaking of finishing strong, note that Meyer's Gators are now a perfect 10-0 SU in November the past 2+ seasons, going 7-2 ATS in lined games. In fact, my assistant tells me that the Gators are 19-0 their last 19 November games, going 11-2 ATS their last 13.
Its also worth noting that the Gators are 9-2 SU/ATS the last 11 times that they were listed as home favorites in the -3.5 to -7 range. I expect Meyer's team to keep on rolling for another day, recording another double-digit victory and continuing the Gators' long-standing dominance in this "rivalry." *10
|11-13-10||Utah v. Notre Dame +6||Top||3-28||Win||100||52 h 33 m||Show|
I'm playing on NOTRE DAME. Last Saturday, I successfully played against a couple of teams (Michigan State and Missouri) which had just suffered their first loss. In each case, they'd been undefeated and really starting to "dream big." In each case, those dreams were shattered with a blowout loss. Neither was able to respond with a cover. This week, Utah is among the teams which is coming off its first loss. Once again, just like the Spartans and Tigers, the Utes were really starting to get excited about their bowl prospects. However, playing one of their biggest games in years, they were absolutely destroyed by TCU. They'd love to immediately "bounce back" with a blowout victory of their own and many will expect them to. That's a lot easier said than done though. While the Utes are a well-coached team, the players are still only kids. Seeing all one's dreams suddenly go "up in smoke" is difficult and emotional losses generally do have an affect.
Don't expect the Irish to "feel sorry" for the Utes though. They've had a disappointing season thus far. A big win over a Top 20 team like Utah would get them to .500 and would make things seem a whole lot better. It would also get them back to .500 on the season.
While the Utes were busy getting crushed, the Irish had last week off. That bye came at a good time as it allowed the Irish more time to prepare for a tough Utah team. That figures to be particularly valuable for freshman QB Tommy Rees. Note that Rees came on in relief of Crist last game and threw for over 330 yards with four touchdowns. Of course, it helps having a bigtime receiver like Michael Floyd to throw to. Note that Rees and Floyd connected on 11 passes for 104 yards and two touchdowns,
Coach Kelly said this of Rees: "You can see the strengths that Tommy has in picking up a game plan, where it comes natural to him. It's you go into a practice and he understands what you're trying to accomplish..."
For all their overall success, the Utes are just 2-5 ATS the last seven times that they were listed as favorite in the -3.5 to -10 range. During that stretch, the Irish are 4-2-1 ATS as underdogs in the +3.5 to +10 range and 3-0 ATS when coming off a bye. I expect them to improve on those stats here. *10
|11-12-10||Utah Jazz v. Atlanta Hawks -4||Top||90-86||Loss||-110||9 h 47 m||Show|
I'm playing on ATLANTA. The Jazz come in as the "hotter" team. In fact, they're off back to back upset victories at Miami and Orlando. Pretty impressive stuff. Off those two wins, they may be patting themselves on the back a bit here though and it could be easy to let their guard down, if only slightly. That will prove costly though as the Hawks are generally very strong on this floor and as they should be extremely "hungry" tonight.
Indeed, the Hawks have lost three straight games and should be desperate to get back on track. Note that the Hawks are a profitable 8-4-1 ATS since the start of the 2008 season, when off three or more consecutive losses. Also, note that they haven't lost three straight home games (they've currently lost b2b games here) since the 2007/2008 season.
Atlanta's Josh Smith had this to say: "We'll figure out what's going wrong, and we'll fix it really quick."
Before "writing off" the Hawks because of their current losing streak, lets not forget that they're still a solid 6-3 on the season. Perhaps more important, keep in mind that this team went an awesome 34-7 SU here last regular season, after going an impressive 31-10 here the previous season. During the same stretch, the Jazz were a combined 36-46 on the road.
The Hawks are a solid 16-11 ATS (20-7 SU) the past 2+ seasons when listed as home favorites in the -3.5 to -6 range. During that stretch, the Jazz were a money-burning 7-14 ATS (6-15 SU) when listed as road underdogs in the +3.5 to +6 range.
The Hawks swept the Jazz last season and they're 3-0 SU/ATS the last three series meetings here at Atlanta. That includes a 96-83 victory here last season. I expect them to continue that success here, bouncing back with a much needed win and cover. *10
|11-11-10||Baltimore Ravens v. Atlanta Falcons -1.5||Top||21-26||Win||100||82 h 3 m||Show|
I'm playing on ATLANTA. I had the Falcons on Sunday, so was giving their game extra attention while it was live. Though that play turned out to be a loser, I still saw a lot of good things from the Falcons. Note that Altanta held a solid 365 to 278 edge in total yards and a commanding 26-14 advantage in first downs. They still won their game by six points, more than enough for a cover here, and are now an impressive 6-2 SU on the season. Their only two losses came on the road, at Pittsburgh and at Philadelphia, neither an easy place to win.
With last week's victory, the Falcons are now 4-0 at home. They've outscored opponents by an average score of 30.7 to 18.5 here, outgaining them by a 404.5 to 319 margin. Looking back further and we find that the Falcons are a perfect 13-0 the last 13 times that Matt Ryan has started here at the Georgia Dome. Last time out, Ryan was 24 of 36 for 235 yards and a TD. The previous game, he went 24 for 33 for 299 yards and three TDs. Last week's victory brought him to an incredible 17-1 SU for his career at home. (We can look at SU stats, as a SU win should provide an ATS win.)
Given their record here at home, the Falcons are loaded with confidence. After a big goal line stand helped preserve the victory over the Bucs, Atlanta cornerback Dunta Robinson said this of his team: "We know how to win. This team has done a great job of finishing. When our backs are against the wall, we can find a way to win the football game."
Of course, the Ravens are no slouches either. In fact, they're a very good team. They're not unbeatable on the road though, as evidenced by their 2-2 SU record away from Baltimore. While both teams will be playing on a "short week," having to do so on the road can be challenging. While the Ravens "D" has admittedly been excellent, they've only scored an average of 14.2 points in their four road games, averaging 309 yards. As already noted the Falcons score more than 30 per game at home while averaging more than 400 yards.
With an O/U line of 43, note that the Ravens are just 2-6 SU the last eight times that they played a road game with an O/U line in the 42.5 to 45 range, going 6-14 SU their last 20 in that situation. On the other hand, Atlanta is 8-1 SU its last nine home games with an O/U line in the 42.5 to 45 range. With all due respect to the Ravens, I expect Atlanta's home field advantage to again prove the difference here. *10
|11-09-10||New York Knicks v. Milwaukee Bucks -4.5||Top||80-107||Win||100||10 h 33 m||Show|
I'm playing on MILWAUKEE. The Bucks have gotten off to a slow (2-5) start. They're better than that record indicates though, particularly here at home. In fairness to the Bucks, four of their games have come on the road and two of their three home games came against tough Western Conference opponents. They did win their only home game vs. an Eastern Conf. opponent, a double-digit victory over the Bobcats. In fact, a closer look reveals that they're 3-0 ATS (2-1 SU) against teams from the Eastern Conference. The lone loss came by just three points, in OT, at Boston. Also, before jumping to any hasty conclusions based on the Bucks slow start, keep in mind that they were 28-13 on this floor last season. This evening they should be highly motivated for a victory and they'll be facing a Knicks team which they have previously dominated.
Granted, this is a different New York team. Stoudemire is a bigtime talent and should only make this team better. That's not necessarily going to happen overnight though. We saw evidence of that last game. The Knicks shot made just five of 24 fourth quarter shots and were held without a field goal for the final four minutes.
After that game, a 106-96 home loss to a struggling Philadelphia team, Stoudemire was quoted as saying: "We are a very young team and making young mistakes..." Keep in mind that that Knicks are starting a pair of rookies, while also still adjusting to the lineup changes.
The Bucks are 6-1 SU/ATS their last seven against the Knicks. The last meeting came in February, at New York. Bogut was absolutely dominant. Not only did he score 24 points but he grabbed a whopping 20 rebounds while blocking five shots and contesting numerous others. That performance helped the Bucks limit NY to a mere 67 points. The Knicks made only 33.8 of their field goals. The last meeting here at Milwaukee saw the Bucks hammer the Knicks by a 102-87 margin. The Bucks were up 66-35 by halftime and put it on "cruise control" the rest of the way.
The Bucks are 15-9 ATS (17-7 SU) the last 24 times that they were listed as home favorites in the -3.5 to -6 range. During that that stretch, they've gone a profitable 16-9 ATS when coming off a game in which they scored 85 or fewer points and an outstanding 48-24-3 ATS when facing a team which allows 99 or more points per game. Desperate for a victory, I expect the Bucks to continue their dominance in this series, covering the relatively small number along the way. *10
|11-08-10||Pittsburgh Steelers v. Cincinnati Bengals +6.5||Top||27-21||Win||100||10 h 24 m||Show|
I'm playing on CINCINNATI. I've successfully played against Pittsburgh each of the past two weeks. Its certainly not that I don't respect the Steelers as a team. Rather, its a case of the betting public giving them too much respect. While I rarely play against a team three weeks in a row, I feel that Pittsburgh is again overvalued here. The fact that this is a Monday night game and that they've had success on Mondays, under Tomlin, has helped to drive the line up even further .Note that the line has climbed from its opener, providing even further line value with the home underdog Bengals.
Also, note that Cincinnati is 2-1 SU/ATS the last 2+ seasons when listed as a home underdog in the +3.5 to +7 range.
While teams like the Cowboys and Vikings have been considered major flops in the AFC, the Bengals have been among the more disappointing teams in the AFC. That doesn't mean that they're not going to play hard here though. This is still a talented team, one which won the division last season, and this is still a Monday Night game against a hated rival. As QB Palmer had to say: "... in no way are we packing it in."
While the Bengals struggles are well documented, the Steelers have been having some problems of their own of late. Their run defense is so good that teams have begun to attack them through the air. That's proven successful as opposing teams are averaging a whopping 261.5 passing yards against Pittsburgh over the last four games. While the Cincy pass attack admittedly hasn't been as potent as we've seen in the past, I believe that Palmer and co. are also fully capable of having success through the air.
There's rarely any "looking ahead" or "looking back" when facing a divisional rival on Monday Night. That said, it should be noted that this is somewhat of a difficult scheduling spot for the Steelers. They're off a game vs. the defending world champs and they've got New England on deck, a team they are battling for the top spot in the AFC and who they could meet in the playoffs.
While the Steelers had their way with the Bengals in 2008, Cincy won both meetings last season. Both games were close, each being decided by six or fewer points. The game here at Cincinnati finished with a score of 23-20. I could easily see this one also going down to the wire and am grabbing the generous points. *10
|11-07-10||Tampa Bay Buccaneers v. Atlanta Falcons -8.5||Top||21-27||Loss||-105||50 h 27 m||Show|
I'm playing on ATLANTA. A couple of months ago, few would have anticipated this being a huge game in the NFC South. That's the case though. The winner of this game improve to 6-2 and gain sole possession of first place in the division. The loser may find itself overtaken by the Saints and all the way down in third. While the teams have equal (5-2) records, I believe that the Falcons are the stronger team. With the game being played at Atlanta, I expect them to prove it, in convincing fashion.
Give the Bucs credit. Getting to 5-2, no matter how a team does it, is an accomplishment. That said, a closer look inside the Bucs numbers shows that they've been rather fortunate. For the season, they've been outscored by a 163-130 margin. (Atlanta's numbers are the opposite. The Falcons have outscored teams by a 169-133 count.) That works out to opposing teams outscoring them by an average margin of 23.3 to 19.4. The Bucs have also been outgained by an average of 359.9 to 321.7, in terms of yards per game. Opposing teams are averaging six yards per play. Note the type of numbers one would expect from a 5-2 team.
The reason that the Bucs have been able to achieve that record, despite their poor stats, is that they've won close games against bad or mediocre teams and then gotten blown out when they've stepped up in competition. They've earned close wins vs. Cleveland, Carolina, Cincy (that was a miracle win) St Louis and Arizona. However, when facing the Steelers and Saints, they were beaten by scores of 38-13 and 31-6.
Despite getting blown out in those games, Tampa's coach (Rasheem Morris) has called the Bucs the "best team in the NFC." That should give the Falcons plenty of motivation to "teach them a lesson," - not that they should be in need of any added motivation.
Atlanta cornerback Dunta Robinson had this to say: "We feel like we're the best team. I guess we'll see on Sunday. Someone is walking out of here 6-2. We think it's going to be us."
The Falcons are a perfect 3-0 here at home. They've won those games by an average score of 32 to 17.7. In their three games here, they've outgained teams by an average of 417.7 to 332.7, in terms of total yards. This year's 3-0 home record is no surprise. That's because the Falcons are very tough to beat here. In fact, the Falcons are a perfect 12-0 the last 12 times that Matt Ryan has started here at the Georgia Dome. Last time out. Ryan went 24 for 33 for 299 yards and three TDs. That victory brought him to an incredible 16-1 for his career at home.
In addition to enjoying their significant homefield advantage, the Falcons have the schedule in their favor. Last week, they had a bye. Prior to that, they'd played here at home. (Last year, coming off their bye week, the Falcons destroyed the 49'ers by a score of 45-10.) On the other hand, the Bucs are off a hard-fought game at Arizona last week and are now playing the second of back to back road games, for the first time this season. They were 1-2 SU/ATS in that situation last season, both losses came by double-digits.
Its also worth noting that the Bucs are 3-5 ATS the last eight times that they were off back to back victories. Earlier this season, after winning two straight, they lost 38-13.
The Falcons were laying -13 for last year's home game against the Bucs. Even though this year's game "sets up" very well for Atlanta, we're getting a much lower number to work with. I feel that provides us with excellent value. The Falcons are 13-6 ATS (16-3 SU) at home, since the start of the 2008/2009 season. That includes a 2-0 SU/ATS mark when they've been listed as home favorites in the -7.5 to -10 range. They beat Tampa by 10 last meeting (had a 397-206 edge in yards) and I expect them to pad those stats with another double-digit victory here. *10
|11-07-10||New England Patriots v. Cleveland Browns +5||Top||14-34||Win||100||11 h 4 m||Show|
I'm playing on CLEVELAND. Off five straight wins, the Patriots are quickly becoming a favorite of the betting public again. I feel that this will be a very tough spot for them though.
New England comes off a big game and a relatively "hard fought" win vs. Brett Favre's Vikings. I call it a "big game" as the Vikes were a playoff team last season and were pretty much in a "must win" spot. Additionally, there's the extra "hype" that comes anytime Brett Favre is involved in a game. In last week's case, there was also the return of Randy Moss to New England.
Prior to last week's home game vs. the Vikings, the Pats were out on the West Coast for another "big game" vs. the Chargers. I call that one a "big game" as the Chargers have been a playoff team for several years and because the Patriots have played a few memorable playoff games against them and therefore have a bit of a rivalry built up. Prior to that it was Baltimore (another "good" team) and before that, the Pats played three straight divisional games.
On deck, they've got a game against Pittsburgh. The Steelers are a natural rival as they're the last AFC team to win the Superbowl and they're currently a team which the Pats are batting for the top overall spot in the AFC and/or which they could meet in the playoffs. Having played all those "big" games and with another "big" one on deck, it may be easy to look past the "lowly" Browns, a team which has struggled for many years now. I expect that to prove costly.
While New England was busy battling with Minnesota, the Browns had a bye last week. Prior to that bye, they traveled to New Orleans and beat the World Champs by double-digits. That victory should give them the confidence to know that they can beat anyone. They're now 3-2-1 ATS as underdogs this season and have been far more competitive than their 2-5 record indicates. Three of their games have been decided by three or fewer points and four of their five losses came by 10 or less.
Of course, the Browns should be highly motivated to score the upset here. Not only do the Pats have the best record in the AFC but the city of Cleveland (along with Coach Mangini) doesn't much care for Belichick, a former Browns coach.
The Browns, 2-0 ATS their last two against AFC East teams, are 6-3-1 ATS the last 10 times that they played a home game with an O/U line in the 42.5 to 45 range, including 3-0-1 ATS their last four in that situation. Off their bye and catching the Pats in a difficult scheduling spot, I expect them to improve on those stats this afternoon. *10
|11-06-10||Missouri Tigers v. Texas Tech Red Raiders +4.5||Top||17-24||Win||100||21 h 9 m||Show|
I'm playing on TEXAS TECH. After upsetting Oklahoma the previous week, the Tigers saw their perfect season come to an end at Lincoln last week, getting pounded in the process. I feel that they'll have a difficult time recovering from that loss.
While the Tigers are certainly a talented team, I don't think that they were as good as last week's perfect record indicated. However, that doesn't mean that they weren't starting to believe they were headed to the National Title game, or, at least a very "big" bowl game. Having those dreams shattered so suddenly can be hard on a team. As coach Gary Pinkel noted: "It's our first loss of the year. It's very difficult for all of us."
Note that Pinkel's Tigers are just 3-5 ATS the last eight times that they were coming off a conference loss. During that stretch, they've also gone just 2-6 ATS in their games played in the month of November.
Admittedly, the Red Raiders have had a frustrating season. Still, they're more talented than their 4-4 record indicates. They're well coached and there are several reasons why they should be highly motivated for a victory. For starters, the Tigers are a conference rival and still rank in the Top 15 in the country. Any visit from a ranked team is a big deal. Also, the Tigers have beaten Texas Tech three straight times. Even though those games were before Tuberville arrived here, that's still reason to be extra "fired up."
Most importantly, at 4-4, the Red Raiders still need two more victories to become bowl eligible for an 11th straight season. A look at the upcoming schedule shows that the Red Raiders travel to Oklahoma next week. Naturally, winning there isn't going to be easy. The other two games come against Weber State and Houston. Of course, they're going to beat Weber State. However, a victory in that one doesn't count towards bowl eligibility. Therefore, assuming that they will beat Houston and lose at Oklahoma, then becoming bowl eligible comes down to beating Missouri. Obviously, that makes this a very important game.
While the results didn't come under Tuberville, the Red Raiders are 6-2 ATS the last eight times that they were listed as home underdogs in the +3.5 to +7 range. Note that all six of those pointspread victories also came in "SU" fashion. While I'll grab the points, I expect Tech to step up and score another outright win here. *10
|11-06-10||Orlando Magic v. Charlotte Bobcats +7.5||Top||91-88||Win||100||8 h 48 m||Show|
I'm playing on CHARLOTTE. Both these teams played last night and both are playing their third game in four nights. The fact that Orlando won (105-90 over NJ) last night and that Charlotte lost (97-90 at Detroit), may make the Bobcats a little extra "hungry" tonight. Of course, given that the Magic knocked them out of the playoffs last season, the Bobcats should already have plenty of motivation.
True, the Bobcats haven't beaten the Magic here in some time. However, if we look at the recent meetings here, we find lines ranging from pick'em to +4. Today, we're getting a far more generous line to work with. I believe that provides us with excellent value.
Speaking of the higher line, note that the Magic, already 0-1 on the road, are 6-9 ATS the past 2+ seasons when listed as road favorites in the -6.5 to -9 range. They also happened to be playing the second of back to back games there, making them 0-1 ATS in that situation this season. They're now a mediocre 18-16-2 ATS in that situation the past 2+ seasons.
On the other hand, the Bobcats are 3-1 ATS the last four times that they were listed as home underdogs in the +6.5 to +9 range. They've also had no trouble in back to back spots, going 27-17-1 ATS.
During that stretch, Charlotte has also gone a lucrative 23-12-1 ATS in divisional games. With the Bobcats giving everything they've got, I expect those stats to improve here. *10
|11-06-10||Hawaii Warriors v. Boise State -21||Top||7-42||Win||100||23 h 35 m||Show|
I'm playing on BOISE STATE. I successfully played against the Broncos in their last game. They beat LA Tech 49-20 but didn't cover the huge number. However, even at the time, I noted that I thought the Broncos were an outstanding team, I just felt that the LA Tech offense was a bit better than people realized and that the line was too high. That result worked out just about perfectly. For starters, I was able to cash my ticket on the Bulldogs. Also, as they didn't 'cover,' a few bettors jumped off the Boise bandwagon. That's helped us in terms of line value, by keeping the line slightly lower than it might have been otherwise. Additionally, as the Broncos won by "only" 29 points, they actually lost some ground in the polls. As a result, in an effort to "impress," the Broncos know that they could really use a "bigtime blowout" here.
I believe that the Broncos are better than Hawaii on both sides of the ball. In addition to playing at home, they've also got a significant scheduling advantage.
The Broncos last played on 10/26. That was here on the blue turf. Prior to that, their previous game had been on 10/16. So, that's two games since 10/16, each with an extra gap in the middle. During the same span, the Warriors have played three games. Making matters worse, the Warriors have been going back and forth from Hawaii every week. On 10/2, they played at Hawaii. On 10/9, they played at Fresno. On 10/16, they were back at Hawaii. On 10/23, they were at Utah State and last week, they were back home at Hawaii. Now, they're again on the "mainland." Give the Warriors credit, as they've done a great job. However, at some point that much traveling tends to take a toll and I expect that to be the case here.
Note that the Warriors accepted an invitation to the Hawaii Bowl after last week's. Even though this is a huge game, after missing the bowls last season, that could be cause for a bit of a letdown. That's particularly true given that the players now know that nothing will change, from a bowl perspective, even if they somehow beat Boise.
Also, note that the Warriors are an ugly 1-5 ATS (0-6 SU) the last six times that they were listed as road underdogs in the +17.5 to +21 range.
While the Broncos may have won their last game by only 29 points, they've now win 21 games in a row. That's the longest streak in the country.
The Broncos also have a 19-game conference winning streak. That's also the best in the country. Additionally, they've won 29 straight at home. Their last four victories have come by 29, 48, 43 and 59 points.
Given their remarkable run of success, the Broncos have plenty of excellent ATS stats in their favor. A couple that are particularly impressive are their 8-2 ATS run against teams with a winning record and an extremely impressive 31-10 ATS mark in the month of November, dating back to the 90s.
Looking at last season's meeting and we find that the Broncos traveled to Hawaii and hammered the Warriors by a score of 54-9. The score was 34-0 at halftime. The Warriors have shown that they are a better football team this season. However, the Broncos are also arguably better and this season they're playing on their own turf. They've got a scheduling advantage and plenty of motivation. Yet, they're laying fewer points than they were on the road for last year's game. In a game that I feel could turn ugly, I feel that provides us with plenty of value. *10 WAC Blowout GOY
|11-03-10||Los Angeles Lakers v. Sacramento Kings +5.5||Top||112-100||Loss||-110||12 h 39 m||Show|
I'm playing on SACRAMENTO. I successfully played against the Kings in their last game. At the time, they were laying a small handful of points vs. Toronto. In my analysis, I wrote that they'd been involved in a number of close games and that I felt that one would also come down to the wire. That's exactly what happened, with the Kings eventually earning a 3-point victory. That result worked out very well.
For starters, I able to cash my ticket on the Raptors. Also, the fact that the Kings failed to cover helped us a bit in the "line value" department here. (If Sacramento had blown out Toronto, we likely wouldn't be getting such a generous line here.) Additionally, the fact that the Kings were able to erase a large 2nd half deficit figures to provide them with both "confidence" and "momentum," going into tonight's showdown.
Phil Jackson knows that "momentum" and "confidence" can certainly be a factor. He said this of the Kings: "They have just come off a really big win coming back from a deficit in the fourth quarter, beating Toronto, so they have a lot of enthusiasm up there. They're playing with some confidence, I think that
|11-03-10||Rutgers Scarlet Knights v. South Florida Bulls -10.5||Top||27-28||Loss||-110||31 h 24 m||Show|
I'm playing on SOUTH FLORIDA. I won with the Bulls their last game. Getting +9.5 points, they won outright at Cincinnati. Now, off a bye last week, they return home to take on a struggling Rutgers squad. I expect the Bulls, who should have plenty of motivation, to follow up the win over Cincy with a double-digit "blowout" win here.
There are several reasons why I say that the Bulls should have "plenty of motivation." Here are a few of them. For starters, every team likes to win on National TV. That goes for both teams though, so that by itself isn't a real advantage. However, the fans also tend to get extra "fired up" when the cameras are around and some of that excitement/energy often gets passed on to to the players of the home team, making a positive difference.
For the Bulls, there's also have a matter of some "payback." Last season, Rutgers hammered them by a score of 31-0. The previous year, in the most recent game here, Rutgers embarrassed them by a score of 49-16. Yes, this year's team has a new coach (Skip Holtz) who wasn't here for those losses. However, with 15 returning starters, there are plenty of lingering bad memories. Additionally, Holtz and co. would love to accomplish something that the previous regime failed to do in recent seasons.
Additional motivation should come from the fact that the Bulls lost their last home game, getting upset by Syracuse. Nothing like a blowout win to erase the bad taste of that game.
Perhaps most important, with the win over the Bearcats, the Bulls have gotten themselves back into contention in the Big East. A win here and they're at 2-2 (in Big East play) and alone in third place. A win also would give them a shot at finishing over .500 in the conference for the first time in three years.
While the Bulls are off a big win, the Knights check in off a blowout loss (41-21) vs. Pittsburgh. They're 4-3 on the season but just 1-6 at the betting window.
The Bulls offense admittedly hasn't been that great, but I feel they're moving in the right direction. The Bulls average 30.7 points and 339 yards at home. The same can't be said for Rutgers. The Knights are averaging just 21 points and a mere 208.3 yards on the road. Defensively, the Bulls are allowing 10.5 points and 270.7 yards at home. Rutgers, on the other hand, is allowing 25 points and 423.9 yards per game on the road.
Holtz had this to say about this game and his players: "They understand what they've got to get done and the way this football team has kind of owned us, especially the last two years." I expect his team to respond accordingly. *10
|10-31-10||Pittsburgh Steelers v. New Orleans Saints +1||Top||10-20||Win||100||19 h 5 m||Show|
I'm playing on NEW ORLEANS. I usually don't play on the defending Super Bowl champions more than a few times per year. In fact, I have yet to play on the Saints yet this entire season. (I did successfully play against them at SF) One of the reasons that I usually avoid SB champs is that other teams generally bring their "A Game" when they face them.
Additionally, the lines are generally inflated, as the majority of the betting public likes to ride the champs - at least at the beginning of the season. In this case, however, as the Saints have been losing - and because they're now facing a team which has been winning and which is generally also a favorite of the betting public, I finally feel that the Saints are providing us with decent line value.
Yes, the Steelers are a very capable team. They're hardly unbeatable though. Last week, I successfully played against them and they barely eked out a win at Miami. Now, in addition to playing the second of back to back to back road games, (they play at Cincy next week) the Steelers are playing at a much tougher venue and doing so against a much tougher opponent. Speaking of that Miami game, note that the Steeler lost defensive end Aaron Smith. This guy doesn't get much recognition from casual fans but he's a bigtime player, one who is the most important guy up front in the Steelers' 3-4 defense. While they've still got plenty of talent on defense, Smith's loss IS significant. (*The Steelers are 23-7 the L30 games that Smith has played and 7-8 the L15 he has missed. In the games Smith missed, they allowed an extra TD per game, to go along with an extra 40+ rushing ypg.)
Even though I haven't been riding the Saints this season, I still do really respect them. Not only did they come through for me bigtime in last year's playoffs (and Superbowl) but they were very good to me in their "statement" games during the regular season. I'm talking about the big televised games which they played against the Giants on 10/18 and the Patriots on 11/30. In each case, there was some doubt surrounding the Saints. In each case, they were up against an elite opponent, or at least one which was considered to be 'elite' at the time. However, I played them on them in both games and they rewarded me with convincing 48-27 and 38-17 blowout victories.
Note that even with last week's loss, the Saints are still 9-1 ATS (8-2 SU) their last 10 games against teams from the AFC. Here, facing another top tier opponent on National TV, and with many beginning to write them off, I expect them to again elevate their game and for that to again result in a "statement victory" *10
|10-31-10||Tampa Bay Buccaneers v. Arizona Cardinals -3||Top||38-35||Loss||-120||15 h 59 m||Show|
I'm playing on ARIZONA. The Bucs come in with the better record. They're 4-2 and the Cardinals are 3-3. However, playing in the NFC West, its Arizona which has the better shot at making the playoffs. Playing at home, I also expect it to be Arizona which has the better shot at earning a victory here.
A closer look at the Bucs' 4-2 record shows that they've been somewhat fortunate. They beat Cleveland by three, got a "miracle win" at Cincinnati and then beat St. Louis by one last week. Their other victory came against Carolina. When facing quality teams, Pittsburgh and New Orleans, they were outclassed, losing by scores of 38-13 and 31-6. In other words, they're very capable of getting "blown out." While Arizona may not be in the class of those teams right now, keep in mind that this is still a team (minus Warner and a couple of other key players) which has been in the playoffs the past couple of years. That type of "big game experience" and the fact that they are a team which is "used to success," gives them an advantage over a young Bucs team which is moving into unfamiliar territory.
Taking a look at some stats and we find that the Bucs are 3-8-1 the last 12 times that they played a game with a line in the -3 to +3 range. That includes a 1-4 SU/ATS record as road underdogs of +3 or fewer. During the same stretch, the Cards have gone a profitable 12-6-1 ATS when they've played a game with a line in the -3 to +3 range.
True, the Bucs are undefeated on the road. However, the Cards are also undefeated here at home and they've been tough here for years. They're 6-1 SU and 5-2 ATS their last seven here, dating back to last season.
While the Arizona offense has admittedly struggled, note that the Cards are expected to get back #2 receiver Steve Breaston. He's missed the past four games with a knee injury. His return should help Larry Fitzgerald and the entire offense.
Last week's loss to Seattle notwithstanding, this has been the Cards' time of year. Indeed, they're 9-2 ATS (8-3 SU) in Weeks 5-9 the last few seasons. (The Bucs were 4-8 ATS during the same period.) I expect Whisenhunt's Cards to pad those stats with a convincing victory here. *10
|10-31-10||Dallas Mavericks v. Los Angeles Clippers +5.5||Top||99-83||Loss||-110||12 h 40 m||Show|
I'm playing on LA CLIPPERS. The Clippers are off to a 0-2 SU/ATS start. Both losses came by double-digits. So, what else is new, right? True, the Clippers are typically pretty bad. It's also true that they're not ready to dethrone the Lakers as the best team in LA. All that said, I believe that this year's team is actually capable of being a lot more competitive than many believe.
While they've been fairly good to me (on and against) over the years, I lost with the Clippers in this season's home opener. They were catching Portland off a big game the previous night and I felt it was a good spot for them. They played the Blazers tough through three quarters but fell apart in the fourth. I've included an excerpt from my writeup of that game here, to show what I felt about LA, coming into the season:
"...As for the Clippers, every new season brings new hope. This year's team has a new coach (Vinny Del Negro) and some very solid talent. Center Chris Kaman averaged 18.5 points and 9.3 rebounds last year. They've also got dangerous scorers like veteran Baron Davis and youngster Eric Gordon. Gordon, the seventh overall pick in 2008, averaged 16.9 points last season. He was quoted as saying: "Most definitely we'll be a whole better team than last year. It's just a better vibe and everybody is listening. I think the expectations will be fulfilled. We just need to keep guys healthy." Additionally, the Clippers finally get Blake Griffin. Griffin was the #1 pick but missed last year with an injury. He's ready to go now though, having averaged 17.3 points and 12.3 rebounds in six preseason games..."
Note the Griffin has a "double-double" in both games so far. At 17 points per game, Griffin is one of five Clippers averaging 9.5 or greater points per game thus far, incl. Gordon at 20.5.
While the Portland pick didn't turn out, it still doesn't change the way I feel about he Clippers. I still believe that they're a little more talented than many realize and that they'll be capable of surprising teams, on any given night. Off back to back losses to start the season, I also believe that they'll be extremely motivated here. The last thing this team needs/wants is to have the players getting the feeling of "here we go again," and they'd desperately love a victory here.
As for the Mavericks, yes, they'd certainly like to bounce back from a disappointing 1-point loss to Memphis. However, they've already got a victory under their belts and with a big game vs. Denver next on their schedule, it should be easy to get caught looking past the lowly Clippers. That'll prove costly as I expect the Clippers to play their best game of the young season to date, giving their guests all they can handle with a great shot at the outright upset. *10
|10-30-10||Auburn Tigers v. Mississippi Rebels +7||Top||51-31||Loss||-100||28 h 22 m||Show|
I'm playing on MISSISSIPPI. With a perfect record and a top 5 ranking, the Tigers are obviously a very solid team, one which I respect. In fact, many of you will recall that I had a big play on them a couple of weeks ago, when they crushed Arkansas by a 65-43 count. They followed that victory up by beating LSU by seven points last week. Those games were both at home though. Now, the Tigers take to the road, where things have been far more challenging. I expect them to have their hands full.
The Tigers have only played two road games, at Kentucky and Mississippi State. In both cases, they won by only a field goal.
The Rebels lost each of their last two games. Those were both on the road, at very difficult venues though, Arkansas and Alabama. Note that in both cases, they still stayed within 14 points. Now, they're back home though, where they beat Kentucky and Fresno State in their last two games.
While most have now become familiar with Cam Newton, Auburn's big star QB, the Rebels have a very capable "dual-threat" QB of their own. Masoli three for 327 yards and three TDs against Arkansas last time out and he'll be facing an Auburn pass defense which ranks 101st in the country.
Auburn's coach Gene Chizik said this of the Rebels' passing attack: "When (Masoli) gets outside the pocket and he throws the ball down the field, they're making a lot of big things happen. He brings definitely a dimension to the team that's two-fold, and his athletic ability is the reason he's able to do those things."
While they lost at Auburn last season, the Rebels had an edge in both first downs and time of possession. The last time that they hosted the Tigers was in 2008 - Ole Miss won that game by a score of 17-7.
Note that the Rebels are 7-2 SU the last nine times that they were coming off a conference loss. They're also 6-2 ATS the last eight times that they were listed as underdogs. Looking back further and we find them at a perfect 5-0 ATS the last five times that they played a home game with an O/U line in the 56 to 63.5 range. I expect them to improve on those stats here. *9
|10-30-10||Michigan State Spartans v. Iowa Hawkeyes -6.5||Top||6-37||Win||100||26 h 47 m||Show|
I'm playing on IOWA. A few weeks back, the Spartans beat the Badgers. Last week, the Badgers beat the Hawkeyes, who are now 5-2. At 8-0, the Spartans also bring the better record to the table. Therefore, given those results and records, many will expect the Spartans to also beat the Hawkeyes. As usual, I see things differently.
Historically, homefield tends to be significant in this series. In fact, the home team has won nine of the last 10 meetings in this series. The exception was last season, when the Hawkeyes scored on the final play to earn a road win.
Speaking of homefield advantage, the Hawkeyes are playing their second straight home game. The Spartans are playing their second straight on the road. That's the first (and will be the only) time that the Spartans have done that this season. Last season, when playing the second of back to back road games, they were 0-1 SU/ATS. Listed as +2 point underdogs, they lost by eight. Looking back further and we find the Spartans at 0-4 SU since 2006, when playing the second of back to back reg. season road games. That includes a 0-1 SU/ATS mark here at Iowa. (The Spartans also 1-3 the last four years after having faced Northwestern in their previous game.)
While the perfect record is certainly impressive, keep in mind that last week's win at Northwestern was Michigan State's first game outside the state of Michigan. They were also somewhat fortunate to win, as they had to rally for a big second half combeback. As MSU QB Kirk Cousins noted: "We are a second-half team..."
Having the ability to come from behind is certainly important. That said, if/when they fall behind again here, I expect the Spartans to find "coming back" a lot more difficult. Keep in mind that Iowa returned 14 starters from last year's 11-2 team, which won the Orange Bowl. The Hawkeyes are both well-coached and talented. They're also a perfect 4-0 SU/ATS this millennium, when hosting the Spartans. All four of those victories came by a minimum of five points and they came by an average of 15.5. I look for those stats to improve here, as the Hawkeyes bounce back and hand the Spartans their first loss of the season. *10
|10-30-10||Louisville Cardinals v. Pittsburgh Panthers -9||Top||3-20||Win||100||20 h 47 m||Show|
I'm playing on PITTSBURGH. Louisville comes off an impressive 26-0 victory. Give the Cardinals credit. However, lets not forget that they were facing a UConn team which is now 0-4 on the road. Now, its the Cardinals which are playing on the road. Making matters worse, this time, they'll be facing a far stronger opponent, arguably the most talented team in the conference.
True, the Cardinals are a respectable 4-3. However, last week's win over UConn was arguably their biggest win and I already noted that the Huskies are winless on the road. (The Cardinals also caught the Huskies breaking in a new QB.) Prior to that, Louisville's other three victories came against Eastern Kentucky, Arkansas State and Memphis - all three of those teams are weaklings this year.
Yes, the Huskies defense has been solid. The offense is fairly one-dimensional though and I believe that the Panthers are stronger on both sides of the ball. Note that the Huskies' strength on offense is running the ball and that plays right into Pittsburgh's hands. The Panthers' strength on defense has been shutting down the run. The Panthers are allowing a mere 92.4 ypg on the ground.
The Panthers began the season with big expectations. While they started slowly, they've now begun to click on all cylinders. They've won three of their last four games, all three victories coming by double-digits, incl. a 41-21 blowout of Rutgers last week and a 45-14 destruction of Syracuse, the previous week. Including those results, the Panthers are now 9-2 SU and 8-2-1 ATS in October, the past few seasons. Clearly, this has been Wannestedt's "time of year."
It's also worth noting that the Panthers are a profitable 34-18 ATS (excluding pushes) their last 52 lined games, when coming off a conference win. That includes a 7-3 ATS mark the past few seasons.
I mentioned that the Panthers have been strong in October. One of their recent October victories was last season, at Louisville. Pittsburgh was laying -6.5 points and won by 25, a 35-10 victory. The most recent meeting here at Pittsburgh also resulted in a blowout victory for the Panthers. Pittsburgh won that one by a score of 41-10.
The Panthers are the lone undefeated team remaining in the Big East. Playing at home, I expect another double-digit victory. *10
|10-29-10||Cleveland Cavaliers v. Toronto Raptors -3||Top||81-101||Win||100||9 h 43 m||Show|
I'm playing on TORONTO. As you're likely aware, these teams both saw their superstar leave for the 'sunnier pastures' of Miami over the summer. In their opening game, naturally, both teams wanted to make a 'statement' that they could still win. The Cavaliers played hard and upset the Celtics. The Raptors also played hard, but came up a little short vs. the Knicks.
Give them credit for beating the Celtics - as that's never easy. However, keep in mind that the Cavs were playing at home and that they were catching Boston off a game vs. Miami the previous night. The game meant more to the Cavs than it did to Boston and they played with more passion when it mattered. Tonight, however, the Cavs will be on the road. They won't have any scheduling advantage and they'll be facing an opponent which will be every bit as 'hungry' as they are, if not more so.
In addition to being without James, note that the Cavs are dealing with a nagging injury to Mo Williams. If he plays, it may not be for many minutes. Additionally, it appears likely that Vareajo will also miss the game, as his father is having heart surgery and the team has excused him to be with him. In addition to missing some of last year's stars, the Cavs also have a new coach and are learning a new offense.
The Raptors fell behind significantly against New York in the opener. To their credit, they battled all the way back. In the end, however, they proved to have no answer for a determined Amare Stoudemire. The Cavs don't have a player capable of dominating like Stoudemire though, at least not anymore, making for a more favorable matchup for Toronto.
True, the Raptors are young. However, I believe that they've got more talent than many realize. They've got a talented back court and their big man Bargnani has unique skills, which make him tough to defend. The Cavs know that as they watched him score 28 against them - almost exactly one year ago to the day - leading the Raptors to a 101-91 upset here on 10/28/09. Lebron had a "triple-double" and Toronto still won. (The Cavs did win the other meeting here and took 3 of 4 on the season.)
Knowing they head out to the West Coast after this, this is a very important game for the Raptors. This is a very winnable game and I expect them to make the most of it. *10
|10-28-10||Florida State v. North Carolina State +4||Top||24-28||Win||100||18 h 40 m||Show|
I'm playing on NC STATE. The Seminoles have only lost one game all season, a 47-17 blowout loss at Oklahoma. I successfully played against them that day and feel that this will prove to be another good spot to do so.
The Seminoles are a strong team and they come in on a roll. However, the Wolfpack have proven to be better than expected this year and they'll be extremely motivated to deliver the upset in front of their home fans and the national audience.
The Wolfpack are an improved team from last year. However, even last year, playing at Talahassee, they lost by only three points. Now they get to play the Seminoles at Raleigh. They've gone 3-1 SU/ATS at home, the lone loss coming vs. Virginia Tech, a team they outgained.
QB Russell Wilson, has had some turnover issues of late. However, he's still got excellent numbers overall. For the season, he's averaging 303.4 passing yards per game and he's tossed 18 TDs. He's also rushed for 200 yards and two more scores.
While this is a huge game for both teams, one could argue its bigger for the Wolfpack. Coach O'Brien certainly knows how important it is. When asked if it was the most important game since he's been here, he was quoted as saying: "Yeah, certainly. Without question it is."
Both teams had last week off. The O'Brien and the Wolfpack have already shown that they can capitalize on extra preparation time this season.
When playing with nine days in-between the Cincinnati and Georgia Tech games, they responded by playing their best game, crushing the Jackets (at Georgia Tech) by a score of 45-28. Note that the Wolpack, who have 12 days off between games here, are 3-0 ATS after a bye the past 2+ seasons.
Speaking of "crushing" victories, in their most recent home, the Wolfpack hammered Boston College by a score of 44-17. Coincidentally, the Seminoles hosted Boston College last time out. Unlike NC State, they barely won, earning a 24-19 victory. Note that the Seminoles are an ugly 4-11-1 ATS the last 16 times that they were listed as road favorites in the -3.5 to -7 range.
While the Seminoles have an excellent pass rush, the Wolfpack are also capable of getting after the quarterback. They're averaging three sacks a game. With FSU QB Ponder still nursing a sore elbow and with the FSU offensive line missing a starter (right guard David Spurlock) its fairly safe to expect the Pack to bring some pressure.
The Wolfpack are a profitable 14-7-1 ATS the last 22 times that they were getting points, including 3-1 SU/ATS when listed as home underdogs in the +3.5 to +7 range. Playing their "biggest game in years," I expect them to improve on those stats here. *10
|10-27-10||Texas Rangers v. San Francisco Giants +1.5||Top||7-11||Win||100||10 h 34 m||Show|
I'm playing on SAN FRANCISCO on the Run-Line, at +1.5 RUNS. The World Series begins with another great pitching matchup, Cliff Lee vs. Tim Lincecum. Both former Cy Young award winners are in excellent current form and both are capable of dominating each and every time they take the mound. Naturally, its expected to be a low-scoring game. Indeed, the O/U line is just 5.5. I feel that the Giants, who are small underdogs, have an excellent shot at winning the game "outright." However, in a game like that, where runs figure to be at such a premium, getting an extra +1.5 runs to work with becomes that much more valuable.
Not even factoring in them laying an extra -1.5 runs, note that the Rangers are only 6-13 (-8.7) vs. the moneyline, when playing on the road with a line in the 100 to -125 range. During that stretch, the Giants are 5-4 (+1.3) as home underdogs of +100 to +125.
I successfully went against Lincecum in his last start. (He was up against Halladay and the Phillies were in a "must win" spot.) He still pitched very well though, allowing two earned runs (Philly also scored an unearned run against him) on just four hits, through seven complete innings. He had 7 K's and one walk. Overall, he now has a 1.96 ERA and 0.739 WHIP in the playoffs, averaging 7 2/3 innings while recording 29 K's with only five walks.
Again illustrating the importance of runs, in a game like this, Lincecum's last five home starts have all been decided by two runs or less, three of them by a single run. With the run-line price having fallen from its opener, I'm grabbing the +1.5 runs with Lincecum and the Giants. *10
|10-25-10||NY Giants v. Dallas Cowboys -3||Top||41-35||Loss||-115||25 h 18 m||Show|
I'm playing on DALLAS. Naturally, this is a huge game in the always competitive NFC East. It's particularly big for the Cowboys, as they've lost two in a row and are just 1-4 on the season. Keep in mind that this is a team which considers itself a Super Bowl contender. Playing at home, in a "must win" spot, I expect the Cowboys to bounce back with their best game.
Note that the Cowboys played a great defensive game, the last time they were off two straight losses, going into Houston and limiting a potent Texans offense to only 13 points. They won that game by a score of 27-13. Including that result, the Cowboys are a perfect 3-0 SU/ATS the last three times that they were coming off back to back losses. Looking back further and we find that they're 23-15-3 ATS (25-16 SU) their last 41 in that situation.
Owner Jerry Jones had this to say in his team's ability to bounce back: "I believe in these guys, I believe in the coaching staff, I believe in Wade Phillips. I believe we can turn things around. While the odds are against us, we can make all the things happen that we wanted to do this year."
Despite their poor record, note that the Cowboys entered the weekend with the third-best offense and fourth-best defense in the league, in terms of yardage. Last week, they limited the Vikings to only 188 total yards but again caught some tough breaks. Minnesota scored points off turnovers and also managed a 95-yard kickoff return touchdowns.
Tony Romo had this to say: "We have to play well this weekend to win, to beat these guys," Romo said. "I think that it would be an important stepping stone going in the right direction for the rest of the season and it would just hopefully carry over." Giving them some hope that the season isn't quite done yet, note that Romo and the Cowboys know that they have a very winnable game (home vs. Jacksonville) on deck. Also, although the Redskins won, the fact that Philadelphia lost really helps the Cowboys in giving them the knowledge that there's "still hope."
The Cowboys are still 2-0 SU/ATS as home favorites of -4 or less in 2010 (both victories came in January) beating the Eagles by scores of 24-0 and 34-14. With their backs to the wall, I expect them to respond with another win and cover. 10*
|10-24-10||New England Patriots v. San Diego Chargers -2||Top||23-20||Loss||-110||16 h 18 m||Show|
I'm playing on SAN DIEGO. The Patriots are off three straight wins. The Chargers are off two straight losses. No-brainer on Brady and the Pats, right? Not in my opinion. Those results have worked in our favor in a couple of different ways. For starters, they should ensure that we get an extremely motivated effort from the Chargers, as they know they can't afford to lose another one here.
Additionally, they've helped to keep this afternoon's line lower than it otherwise could have been.
A closer look at San Diego's recent losses shows that they both came on the road. In fact, this is a team which is now 0-4 on the road but 2-0 at home. Those home wins weren't close either. They won those games by scores of 38-13 and 41-10. Dating back to last season, the Chargers are now 7-1 their last eight games here, the lone loss coming in the playoffs vs. the Jets. Going back still further and we find the Chargers at 14-5 their last 19 games here. Note that 13 of those 14 victories came by a field goal or greater.
Of course, these teams also have some history against each other. While the Patriots have mostly held the advantage, the Chargers whipped them 30-10 the last time that the teams met here, back in October of 2008. Going back to my point about line value, note that the Chargers were laying -6 points in that game and -4.5 the previous time that they hosted the Pats.
The Chargers are 4-1 SU and 3-2 ATS the last five times that they were coming off back to back losses. The last time that they were off two straight reg. season defeats they bounced back was at exactly this time last year. They responded by bouncing back with a 37-7 blowout win. I look for them to bounce back with another victory here, covering the small number along the way. *10
|10-24-10||Washington Redskins v. Chicago Bears -3||Top||17-14||Loss||-100||12 h 9 m||Show|
I'm playing on CHICAGO. The Redskins have been good to me this year. I've successfully played both on and against them and have yet to lose with them. I feel that this will prove to be another good spot to go against them.
The Bears have lost two of three. They're still a solid 4-2 on the season though, outscoring opponents by an average 18.7 to 16.2 margin. The Redskins haven't been quite as good. They're 3-3 and have given up more points than they've scored. On the road, they're getting outscored by an average of 21 to 16.5.
A closer look reveals that the Skins may be somewhat fortunate to even have a .500 record. That's because they've been outgained by an average of nearly 100 yards per game and are giving up an average of 432.5 yards per game. That's the worst mark in the entire league.
The Bears admittedly have had some issues on the offensive line. Lovie Smith expects improvement in that area this week though. When asked about the offensive line, Smith was quoted as saying: "I'm excited about this week hopefully having the same combination start the game and play together."
With McNabb returning to his old stomping grounds, the Redskins did manage a win at Philadelphia. However, they were outgained in that game and they got crushed at St. Louis in their only other road game. They're now an awful 2-11 their last 13 road games.
While a lot of people always seem to be down on them, the Bears are still 14-6 SU their last 20 home games, including 7-1 SU (5-3 ATS) when playing a home game with an O/U line in the 38.5 to 42 range. I expect them to improve on those stats here, covering the small number along the way. 10*
|10-23-10||Air Force Falcons v. TCU Horned Frogs -18||Top||7-38||Win||100||26 h 6 m||Show|
I'm playing on TCU. I respect the Falcons. They're a solid squad that plays hard. They've got a 5-2 record and both their losses came by a field goal or less. In fact, they even hung within a field goal of the Sooners, at Oklahoma. That said, this is a very difficult spot for them and I feel that this will be their toughest game of the year. I look for them to suffer their first - and probably only - blowout loss of the season.
I say this is a "tough spot" for Air Force for a number of reasons. Here are a few of them. For starters, the Falcons are playing the second of back to back road games. The last time they did so, they barely beat a bad Wyoming team, failing to cover the spread. (TCU beat Wyoming 45-0.) That marked the start of the Falcons' current 0-4 ATS run.
Also, last week's loss figures to be a difficult one to bounce back from. It was a big game. The Falcons were #23 in the nation and had a chance to be perfect in conference play and 6-1 going into the showdown with TCU. It was close the entire way but the Falcons came up short, losing 27-25. With two minutes left, Air Force scored a touchdown to pull within 20-18. The ensuing 2-point conversion was initially ruled good, making it 20-20. A review caused it to be overturned though. That's a difficult pill to swallow and that defeat may have them thinking about "what could have been." Note that Air Force is a dismal 17-40 ATS, dating back to the early 1990s, when coming off a conference loss.
Of course, the Horned Frogs are again among the best teams in the country. They've been perhaps the best non-BCS team each of the past two seasons and this is arguably their best team ever. They're undefeated on the season, excellent on both sides of the ball and very well-coached. They've won their last three games by a combined score of 104-3. The average score of their home games is 45.7 to 5.
The fact that Air Force played Oklahoma so tough figures to give the Frogs plenty of incentive here. After all, if the Sooners only beat the Falcons by three points and then TCU comes in and smashes them by 30+, it makes the Frogs look that much better.
Note that TCU has been unbeatable here and that the Frogs have been particularly tough when playing home games with O/U lines in this range. In fact, they're a profitable 13-2 ATS the last 15 times that they played a home game with an O/U line in the 45 to 49.5 range.
The Falcons have been able to play the Frogs tough at home recently. Last year, at Air Force, TCU only beat them by a score of 20-17. That score could have easily been more lopsided though. Not only did TCU have a big statistical edge, but the Frogs had a few key turnovers, including two inside the AF 10. They also had to contend with nasty (icy rain) weather. It was a different story the last time that the teams met here at Forth Worth though. In that game, laying between -19.5 and -20.5 points, the Frogs won by a score of 44-10. TCU had a commanding 30-7 edge in first downs and a massive 504-161 edge in total yards. Patterson saw what Oregon did on National TV on Thursday night and he'll be looking to have his team "look good." I expect another one-sided affair. 10*
|10-23-10||Hawaii Warriors v. Utah State Aggies +3.5||Top||45-7||Loss||-105||30 h 27 m||Show|
I'm playing on UTAH STATE. I had the Aggies in their last home game. Hosting BYU, they were listed as small (opened at +6.5 and closed at +4.5) point underdogs. The Aggies didn't need the points though as they won convincingly, 31-16. The Aggies had a big edge in total yards, particularly on the ground. They finished with 242 rushing yards. BYU finished with 65 rushing yards. The Aggies did lose their most recent game. That was on the road though and they've since had enjoyed a bye week. The extra preparation time figures to come in handy, as Hawaii has been rolling.
True, the Warriors are "hot" and are off back to back upset victories. They're also in a difficult scheduling spot. They began October with a home game vs. LA Tech. That was followed by a trip to Fresno State. That was followed by a return back to Hawaii to host Nevada. Now, they are again flying back to the "mainland." That's a lot of travel time. Also, off those two huge victories it could be quite easy for them to suffer a bit of a "letdown" against a smaller-named opponent, such as Utah State. As BYU found out, that can be costly.
Including the win over the Cougars, the Aggies are now 9-4 ATS their last 13 home lined games. That includes a 5-2 ATS mark when playing a home game with an O/U line in the 56.5 to 63 range.
Speaking of that BYU game, here's a small excerpt from inside my writeup from that game, which I feel is applicable again here: "...the Aggies did get blown out at San Diego State last week. They played Fresno State fairly tough in their most recent home game though. That game was tied at halftime and also entering the fourth quarter. The Aggies easily won their other home game, a blowout vs. a weak Idaho State program. More impressive, however, was the way they played Oklahoma. Indeed, this team actually outgained the Sooners and lost by only seven points, at Oklahoma. Unlike BYU, the Aggies could be considered an 'experienced team,' as they brought back 16 starters from last season's team. While the Cougars no longer have Max Hall, the Aggies bring back QB Diondre Borel. You may recall that Borel was 20 of 28 for 213 yards at BYU last year..."
The Aggies are 3-0 ATS the last three times that they were coming off a bye. Off last season's bye, they covered by double-digits at Texas A&M. They're also 8-3 ATS the last 11 times that their previous game was a loss vs. a WAC opponent.
While they aren't happy with their 2-4 record, the Aggies still believe that they can make it to a bowl game. They can only afford two more losses - and they've got road games at both Nevada and Boise State to come. In other words, this game is absolutely massive for them. (Their three November games: New Mexico State, San Jose State and Idaho are all very winnable.)
The Aggies did lose (49-36) at Hawaii last season. They beat the Warriors when the teams played here in 2008 though. Listed as +5 point underdogs, they won outright by a score of 30-14. This year's Utah State team is arguably much more talented than that one. While I'll grab the points, playing a huge game, with the schedule and venue in their favor, I look for this year's Aggies to step up and score another upset. 10*
|10-23-10||Kansas State Wildcats v. Baylor Bears -6||Top||42-47||Loss||-115||5 h 7 m||Show|
I'm playing on BAYLOR. The Wildcats come in with the better record. However, I believe that the Bears are the stronger team. Playing at home, in one of their very best roles, I look for them to demonstrate that here.
After losing to Texas Tech two weeks ago, the Bears got off to a slow start in last week's game at Colorado. They rallied in the second half for a victory though, which gives them some positive momentum heading into today's game. The same can be said of K-State, as the Wildcats bounced back from a loss vs. Nebraska by punishing Kansas in their last game. Colorado is a tougher opponent than Kansas this year though and the Bears outgained the Buffaloes by a whopping 543-399 margin.
That win over Kansas was the Wildcats first true road game of the season. Now, while they've had some extra preparation time, they're playing their second straight road game, which can often be difficult. (K-State is 0-3 SU and 1-2 ATS the last three times it played the second of b2b road games.) Also, as impressive as a 59-7 win over Kansas may sound, keep in mind that Baylor also blew out (55-7) Kansas and that the Jayhawks are horrible this season.
The Wildcats got destroyed by Nebraska and arguably their "biggest" win came at home against UCLA, a team that just lost 61-14 on Thursday night.
This Baylor team really wants to get to a bowl. However, with nothing but tough games remaining, this game against Kansas, which is also the Bears' homecoming game, is absolutely critical.
The Wildcats are 7-8 ATS the lat 15 times that they were listed as underdogs. That includes a 1-3 ATS mark when they've been listed as underdogs in the +3.5 to +10 range. During the same stretch, the Bears have gone 7-2 ATS as favorites, including a perfect 5-0 ATS when listed as favorites in the -3.5 to -10 range. I expect them to improve on those stats here. *10
|10-22-10||South Florida Bulls +8 v. Cincinnati Bearcats||Top||38-30||Win||100||55 h 47 m||Show|
I'm playing on SOUTH FLORIDA. Both these teams played on "weeknight" TV last week. The Bulls lost. The Bearcats won. That's worked in our favor here, as many bettors personally watched those games and will be far more likely to favor the team that won last week. However, keep in mind that Cincinnati was playing at Louisville while South Florida was taking on West Virginia, a much tougher opponent. Therefore, even though many will do so, comparing those results isn't exactly fair.
Many will remember Cincinnati's great run the past two seasons. This year's team isn't quite as strong though and already has three losses. They returned 12 starters from last season's team. On the other hand, South Florida returned 15 starters from last year's team. While the Bulls are only 3-3, two of those losses have been on the road at very difficult venues. In addition to last week's game at West Virginia, they lost at Florida. Don't be fooled by last week's loss and the "disappointing" record, these Bulls have both speed and talent. The offense has struggled so far - but did return 10 starters on that side of the ball, so I feel its only a matter of time. The defense has been stout and held the potent WVU to less than 300 yards last week. While they have yet to beat a "quality" opponent, this is their best opportunity to do so and they'd love nothing more than to prove that to the nation by upsetting the defending conference champs on National TV.
The Bearcats did play Oklahoma tough, losing by only two. They haven't really beaten a good team yet though, as their three victories came vs. Louisville, Miami Ohio and Indiana State. The loss vs. the Sooners can certainly be forgiven. However, losses at Fresno State and NC State show that they're far from unbeatable.
While the Bearcats arguably had an edge in the coaching department the past couple of years, I don't feel that's necessarily the case any longer. Cincinatti's Butch Jones has enjoyed success in his past coaching jobs. Skip Holtz is also a proven winner though, one who is coming off back to back conference titles at East Carolina. I expect him to have the Bulls, who have had one more day of preparation than the Bearcats, "ready to go" and look for them to improve to 4-1 ATS the last five times that they were coming off back to back losses. *10
|10-18-10||Tennessee Titans v. Jacksonville Jaguars +3||Top||30-3||Loss||-115||23 h 45 m||Show|
I'm playing on JACKSONVILLE. The perception is that the Titans are the stronger team in this matchup. As a result, the Titans are the favorites, despite playing on the road. However, both teams have identical 3-2 records and with the game being played at Jacksonville, I expect the Jaguars to be the team which has the advantage.
True, the Titans have impressive home wins vs. the likes of Dallas and the the NY Giants. That said, the Jaguars are off back to back victories and they beat the Colts in their last game here. With back to back difficult road games on deck, the Jags know that this is an extremely important game.
Speaking of back to back road games, that's the situation that the Titans find themselves in. The Titans haven't played back to back road games in more than a year now. The last time that they did so was on 10/04/09. Their opponent that day was these very same Jaguars. As is this case again here, Tennessee was a slight road favorite for that game. Yet, the Jags delivered a convincing 37-17 victory.
While they've had success on the road so far this season, the Titans are still just 8-12-1 ATS (9-12 SU) the last 21 times that they were road favorites of -3 points or less. During the same stretch, including last year's win over the Titans here, the Jags have gone a profitable 14-9-1 ATS (12-12 SU) when listed as home underdogs of +3 points or less.
With the O/U line having climbed all the way above the 45 mark, its also worth noting that the Jags are a perfect 8-0 SU (6-2 ATS) the last eight times that they played a home game with an O/U line in the 45.5 to 49 range. I'll grab the points but expect the Jags to improve on those stats by scoring the minor upset. *10
|10-17-10||Kansas City Chiefs v. Houston Texans -4.5||Top||31-35||Loss||-110||25 h 20 m||Show|
I'm playing on HOUSTON. The Chiefs lost their first game last week. Facing another dangerous and motivated opponent from the AFC South, I expect them to drop their second straight.
Admittedly, the Chiefs are an improved team. That said, in my opinion, they're still the weakest team that the Texans have faced here at home. Their three previous home games came against the Colts, Cowboys and Giants. Now, they get to play back to back home games for the first time this season and get to face an arguably inferior opponent. The first time that they got to play b2b home games last season, they won the second game by a score of 29-6.
As for the Chiefs, off a double-digit loss at Indy last week, they're now playing their second straight road game. They're now 1-7 SU (3-5 ATS) in October the past few seasons. During that stretch, the Texans were 7-3 SU and 5-4-1 ATS in their October games.
Even though they weren't very good last week and have now lost two straight home games, the Texans are still an impressive 7-2 SU their last nine games. That includes home victories over the likes of the Colts and Patriots. Note that the Texans haven't lost three straight home games since way back in 2005.
It should be noted that Houston's star receiver Andre Johnson is slowly recovering, which is important news for the offense. He returned last week and, despite wearing an ankle brace, had five catches for 95 yards. The Texans hope he can play an even bigger role this week.
These teams last met in 2007. The Texans won that game by a score of 20-3. I believe that they're still the stronger team and I expect another relatively convincing victory here. *10
|10-16-10||Arkansas Razorbacks v. Auburn Tigers -4||Top||43-65||Win||100||53 h 7 m||Show|
I'm playing on AUBURN. These are both very good teams and both are off to excellent starts. Both have bigtime quarterbacks and both have been playing solid defense. The Razorbacks are 4-1 and their only defeat came against Alabama, a close loss in which they covered the spread. From a win/loss standpoint, the Tigers have been even better. They're a perfect 6-0. They've earned close road wins at Mississippi State and Kentucky, while beating the likes of Clemson and South Carolina here at home.
Clearly, its a huge game for both teams. In my opinion, the Tigers could "want it" just a little bit more though. Last season, they finally became ranked (moved up to #17) for the first and only time, before their game at Arkansas. Yet, they were blown out 44-23 and never returned to the Top 25 the rest of the regular season.
Perhaps more important than any feelings of 'revenge,' the Tigers know that if they can win this game, that they've got a real shot at being undefeated, when they face Alabama in late November. In other words, if things work out, there's a possible path to the National Title game in front of them.
A closer look at last season's shows that the Tigers were playing their second straight road game, as they were off a big (upset) win at Tennessee, the previous week. This time, its Arkansas which will be playing away from home, for the second straight week. (Last week, they faced Texas A&M, at Arlington.)
For last year's meeting, in addition to playing back to back road games, the Tigers were still a team which was in the first year of a new coach's system. This year, in addition to playing at home, the Tigers brought back 15 starters, now in their second year of the system. Big difference.
We know Arkansas has a potent passing attack. Teams still generally need to be able to run to be able to pass effectively though and I expect Arkansas to have trouble doing so. Auburn defensive coordinator Ted Roof had this to say: "They throw the ball more than they run the ball, but they were able to run it on us last year. That's something that we have to make sure we do a good job on is limiting their running game." For the season, Auburn is allowing only 95.7 rushing yards per game, at a clip of just 2.8 yards per attempt.
I respect the Razorbacks and did win with them in their ATS win vs. Alabama. The fact that they've scored only three second half points in back to back games is concerning though.
The Tigers have had three games decided by a field goal, two of them on the road. Many will point towards those close games and say that they're fortunate to have a perfect record. Maybe so. I tend to agree with coach Chizik though, when he says that close games benefit a team. He was quoted as saying: "You cant schedule close games. It works wonders in how it builds team chemistry."
The Tigers followed up their last 3-point win (vs. Clemson) with an 8-point win vs. South Carolina. I expect them to follow up last week's close game with a more convincing victory, avenging last year's loss and remaining undefeated. *10
|10-16-10||Texas Longhorns +10.5 v. Nebraska Huskers||Top||20-13||Win||100||40 h 17 m||Show|
I'm playing on TEXAS. Talk about a turnaround from one year to the next. Last season, Texas was laying two touchdowns when these teams faced each other. This season, Nebraska is now the team which is laying more than a touchdown. With all due respect to the Huskers and the fact this this season's game is at Lincoln, I believe that's too big a swing.
The Huskers are off an impressive blowout victory over Kansas State. That came on TV, so everyone saw them dominate. That's worked in our favor here, in terms of line value. The Longhorns' last game was a blowout loss vs. Oklahoma, also on National TV, which again has worked in our favor.
While this Texas team won't be winning any national titles, its still got plenty of bigtime talent. The Huskers were able to crush K-State, due to the fact that their quarterback kept breaking off huge runs and couldn't be tackled. To his credit, Taylor Martinez is having a great season. However, running against K-State and running against Texas are entirely different matters.
True, Texas has lost two straight games. The Longhorns haven't lost three straight in the regular season since the year before Mack Brown arrived (1997) though. Also, they've had a much-needed bye, since the loss to the Sooners.
There is no denying that Nebraska badly wants to win this game. They felt they got screwed in last year's game and they know that an undefeated record gives them a shot at playing for the national title. Also, as they're leaving for the Big-Ten, a win here would be extra sweet. That said, wanting and doing are entirely different matters. Keep in mind that the Longhorns have beaten the Huskers in eight of the last nine meetings.
Bo Pelini knows beating Texas won't be easy. He was quoted as as saying: "The coaches and players over there have a lot of pride. They've won a lot of football games for a long time. They're going to come out firing. We understand that and know that's going to be the case..."
Looking back a number of years and we find Texas is 10-4 SU the last 14 times it was coming off back to back losses. During that stretch, the Longhorns were 33-10 SU when coming off a bye. During that stretch, they've also gone a profitable 27-15 ATS when listed as underdogs.
Last year's game was decided on the final play of the game. I could easily see this one also coming down to the wire, which makes getting more than a touchdown very attractive. *10
|10-16-10||Vanderbilt Commodores v. Georgia Bulldogs -15.5||Top||0-43||Win||100||74 h 7 m||Show|
I'm playing on GEORGIA. After a very disappointing 1-4 start, the Bulldogs took out their frustrations on Tennessee last week. They limited the Volunteers to a mere nine rushing yards (on 26 carries) en route to a one-sided 41-14 victory. I had a big play on the Bulldogs in that game. This week, I look for them to build positive momentum off that big win and put together another dominant effort.
Last week, the Bulldogs were hosting a Tennessee team which was off an emotional loss at LSU. This week, they're facing a relatively weak Vanderbilt team, one which they've dominated for years.
Last season, laying -7.5 points, the Bulldogs traveled to Vanderbilt and won by 24 points. This year, the game is being played at Georgia and the gap in talent is arguably even bigger. Note that Georgia returned 15 starters from last year's 8-5 team. On the other hand, the Commodores returned only 11 starters from last season's 2-10 team.
It should be mentioned that junior RB Caleb King was arrested and will serve a two game suspension starting Saturday. That said, I expect QB Aaron Murray to have no trouble leading the offense.
In last week's play on Georgia, I noted the following: "...It should be noted that Georgia got receiver A.J. Green back from a four-game suspension last week. Green, a big-time talent, had seven catches for 119 yards and two touchdowns. Needless to say, he's a welcome addition..." Green followed up that performance by catching six passes for 96 yards, with another touchdown, vs. the Vols.
The Georgia defense was particularly dominant. The Vols scored only 14 points and had just 12 first downs. They also managed a mere nine rushing yards on 26 carries. That victory was desperately needed. However, Richt and co. know that they badly need to follow it up with another.
The Commodores have alternated pointspread wins and losses. In Week 1, they covered at Northwestern, losing by two. In Week 2, they got blown out at LSU, losing by two. That was followed by a solid win at Mississippi State. They haven't been able to string together back to back strong performances though, as they were blown out at Connecticut in their following game. Last week, to their credit, they blew out a bad Eastern Michigan team. Needless to say, the competition they'll face here will be far tougher.
Based on last week's big win over Eastern Michigan and based on Georgia's poor overall record, many will probably favor the underdog here. However, I expect the Commodores "pattern" of alternating pointspread wins and losses to continue, with the more talented Bulldogs building off last week's victory and delivering another double-digit blowout. *10
|10-13-10||Central Florida v. Marshall +5.5||Top||35-14||Loss||-110||29 h 2 m||Show|
I'm playing on MARSHALL. I successfully played on the Thundering Herd when these teams faced each other last season. Listed as seven point underdogs, the Thundering Herd led that game 20-14 in the closing minutes. However, the Knights' Bruce Miller (C-USA defensive Player of the Year) forced a fumble that UCF recovered. The Knights turned that into the game-winning touchdown, earning the 21-20 victory. While that was a heartbreaker for Marshall players and fans, those of us who took the points with the Herd earned a relatively easy cover. I believe that Marshall is again providing us with excellent value.
The Knights come in as the much hotter team. They crushed UAB last week, improving to 7-0 their last seven league games, dating back to last season. Marshall, on the other hand, is off a blowout loss at Southern Miss. Marshall's loss came on the road though while UCF's victory came at home. Note that the Knights lost their last road game (at K-State) and that their lone road victory came vs. a fairly weak Buffalo team.
Looking back further and we find that the Knights are just 5-10 SU their last 15 road games, although they did win their last game here at Marshall.
Central Florida's coach George O'Leary knows that Marshall will provide a tougher test than one might expect from their record. He was quoted as saying: "This game here concerns me..."
While the Herd are only 1-4 overall, note that two of their losses came to 2nd ranked Ohio State, and 22nd ranked West Virginia and that three of the four losses came on the road. Also, note that they took WVU all the way to Overtime, losing 24-21. (The Herd had a 21-6 edge in that one.) That was one of their two home games. Their other home game was against Ohio - and the Herd won that one. So, that means that they're 1-1 here with both games being decided by a field goal or less.
Brian Anderson is expected to be back under center for the Herd. In this season's two starts here, he's completed 41 of 59 passes for 524 yards and six touchdowns with no interceptions.
Looking back further and we find that the Herd are 6-4 their last 10 home games, dating back to their 2008 loss vs. UCF here. Note that ALL four of those losses came by seven points or less and that three of them came by four or fewer. In other words, Marshall has been very competitive here, for quite some time now.
Note that the Herd are coming off a bye, giving them some extra preparation time here. Additionally, it should also be noted that are a perfect 4-0 ATS (3-1 SU) the last four times that they were listed as home underdogs in the +3.5 to +7 range. During the same stretch, the Knights were just 2-5 ATS (3-4 SU) when listed as road favorites in the -3.5 to -7 range.
This a very big game for the Herd and they've been offering free and discounted tickets in an effort to pack the 40,000-seat stadium. In a game that could easily come down to the wire, I'm grabbing the points with the home underdog. *10
|10-10-10||Philadelphia Phillies v. Cincinnati Reds +1.5||Top||2-0||Loss||-140||9 h 1 m||Show|
I'm playing CINCINNATI on the RUN-LINE. Everyone knows that the Phillies are a very good team. With a 2-0 series lead and with Hamels on the mound, they're currently listed as medium-sized road favorites. That hasn't been one of their better roles though. Indeed, they're a money-burning 19-30 (-22.4) the last 49 times that the were listed as road favorites in the -125 to -150 range, including an ugly 4-13 (-14) their last 17 in that role. With the Phillies favored on the "regular" moneyline, we're able to get a very reasonable price on the Reds on the run-line. I believe that offers us the best value here.
As mentioned, the Phillies are tough. Admittedly, Hamels is also tough. While he was only 5-6 on the road, he's had plenty of postseason experience and he's also pitched well here at Cincinnati.
That said, the Reds have been tough at home all season. They were 49-32 here, better than the Phillies 45-36 mark on the road. They've also had plenty of success against southpaw starters, going 34-22 (+9.1).
Cueto may not have pitched in the playoffs, but I believe he will pitch well. He was 1-0 with a 1.20 ERA in two starts against the Phillies this season. Cueoto's also got a sparkling 0.96 ERA in his last four starts here at Cincinnati. For the season, he was 6-3 with a 3.20 ERA and 1.223 WHIP here, most recently allowing one earned run through seven complete innings.
Cueoto was quoted as saying: "I'm going to throw a nice game. I'm going to do my job. That's all I think."
Hamels' lone start against the Reds this season resulted in a 1-0 final. His last start at Cincinnati (May of 2009) was also decided by a single run. The Reds lost Cueoto's start at Philadelphia by one run but they won 7-3 when he pitched at home vs. the Phillies. With the Reds desperate and fighting for their lives, I'm grabbing the +1.5 runs. *10
|10-10-10||Tennessee Titans v. Dallas Cowboys -6.5||Top||34-27||Loss||-110||102 h 0 m||Show|
I'm playing on DALLAS. I may have played against the Cowboys when they lost vs. the Redskins, but I still respect them and feel that they're among the most dangerous teams in the NFC. I also feel that this will be a good spot for them to come through with a big win.
To their credit, the Titans have fared very well against teams from the NFC in recent seasons. This year, they've already beaten up on the Giants, which was their only road game. That may have been partly a case of the Titans catching the Giants at the right time though, as New York was fresh off a nationally televised blowout loss vs. the Colts, in the Manning vs. Manning showdown.
No such luck this time. The Cowboys responded to their 0-2 start by blowing out a very good Houston team in their last game. They've since had a bye. Note that the Cowboys are an outstanding 16-5 in post-bye games, since the bye was implemented by the NFL in 1990.
Under Phillips, the Cowboys have not only won all three games following their bye, but they even have at least a three-game winning streak after the break in all three of Phillips' seasons as head coach.
Some of you will recall that I had a big play (*10 "Personal Favorite") on the Cowboys, following their bye last season. Laying -5 or -5.5 points, Dallas crushed a solid Atlanta team by a score of 37-21.
The previous season, following their bye, the Cowboys went on the road and won outright at Washington. In 2007, following their bye, they traveled to Philadelphia and smashed the Eagles by a score of 38-17.
In other words, regardless of one's opinion of Phillips, there's no denying that he's been able to have the Cowboys "ready to go," following their past byes.
It should also be noted that the bye should have allowed tight end Jason Witten and left guard Kyle Kosier (among others) the time to heal and be ready to play here. That may not have been the case if the Cowboys played last week as both players had suffered knee injuries in the win over Houston.
Witten was quoted as saying: "This is a good time for us to play well and take care of what we need to do. It's too early to panic or anything like that. But we got ourselves in a hole, and we know we're still in good shape, but we have to start playing well and put some wins together."
While the media won't spend much time talking about it, the Titans suffered some costly injuries along the defensive line last week. That's not a good thing right before traveling to Dallas. Of course, it should also be mentioned that the Titans secondary allowed Kyle Orton and the Broncos to go 35 of 50 and throw for nearly 350 yards last week.
Underdogs have gotten off to a strong start to the season but here's a case where I expect the favorite to 'get the cash'. *10
|10-09-10||Alabama v. South Carolina +7.5||Top||21-35||Win||100||28 h 45 m||Show|
I'm playing on SOUTH CAROLINA. I didn't play last week's Alabama/Florida game. I did play against the Crimson Tide in their most recent road game though, at Arkansas, two weeks ago. The Tide won
that game but it wasn't easy and they didn't cover. Now, off last week's big home win vs. Florida, they'll be playing their third road game in the past four weeks and third straight top 25 team. Eventually, that tends to take a toll. Once again, the Tide will be matched up against a talented, well-coached and hungry opponent. Once again, as they have in each of their past two regular season SEC road games, I expect them to have their hands full.
I say that the Tide had their hands full in each of their last two regular season road games, as prior to Arkansas, their previous SEC reg. season road game was against Auburn last season. (Laying -10 points, the Tide won by five, 26-21. Auburn outgained Alabama 332-291 in that game and dominated on the ground 151-73. The game was close the entire way with Alabama winning in the final 90 seconds.)
We know Alabama is an excellent team. As noted, South Carolina is no slouch either though. The Gamecocks can run the ball. They're also efficient at throwing the ball. While the defense hasn't been quite as stout as Spurrier probably would have liked thus far, the talent is there and the Gamecocks are also very capable on that side of the ball. Also, note that the Gamecocks already have 12 sacks through four games.
The Tide won last year's meeting, at Alabama. The Gamecocks covered though, losing by 14. Spurrier is now 2-1 vs. Saban. Additionally, the home team has won eight of the last 10 meetings in the series. This year's Alabama team is extremely strong but did lose a lot of talent on the defensive side of the ball from last year. South Carolina, which returned 16 starters (2nd most in the SEC) is arguably stronger.
The Gamecocks, who are coming off a bye, are 12-3 SU and 9-5-1 ATS their last 15 home lined games. That includes a 1-0-1 ATS (1-1 SU) mark as home underdogs in the +3.5 to +7 range. I believe that homefield and the advantage of having the bye will both prove to be extremely important. While I'll grabe the points, I won't be at all surprised if Spurrier's Gamecocks step up and shock the champs with an outright victory. *10
|10-09-10||Tennessee v. Georgia -10.5||Top||14-41||Win||100||26 h 2 m||Show|
I'm playing on GEORGIA. I really like how this one sets up for the home team. The Volunteers are a relatively young team, one with a new coaching staff. Last week, they went on the road and played their first road game of the season. It wasn't exactly an "easy" venue either, as they were playing at Baton Rouge vs. an undefeated LSU squad.
Give the young Vols credit, as they played a terrific game. Listed as double-digit underdogs, they very nearly scored the outright upset. In fact, if not for an absolutely bizarre final play, the Vols would have done so. With Tennessee leading by four, the Tigers, who were right down near the goal line, had one play left to punch it in. They snapped the ball for the final play but the QB wasn't ready and it resulted in a fumble. As time expired, Tennessee players and coach ran on the field, thinking that they had won the game. It wasn't meant to be though, as the officials ruled that the Vols had too many men on the field on the previous play. Given another chance, the Tigers made the most of it and scored the winning touchdown.
Talk about a devastating loss. To come that close to scoring a huge, season-changing upset. Only to have it snatched away from you at the last second. That's difficult for any team. Its even worse for a young team which is now playing back to back road games for the first time - while doing so against a talented but under-achieving Georgia team which figures to have absolutely no sympathy.
The Bulldogs were expecting to have a strong season but have gotten off to a terrible 1-4 start. Like the Vols, Georgia is also off a very difficult loss - although it arguably wasn't quite as devastating as Tennessee's defeat. The Bulldogs are an experienced team though (they're 15 starters was the 3rd most in the SEC) and they've got a veteran and proven head coach in Mark Richt.
They're also playing at home, where they've gone 72-29 SU in lined games, dating back to the early '90s. Three of this season's four losses came on the road - and the lone home loss was against a good Arkansas squad.
It should be noted that Georgia got receiver A.J. Green back from a four-game suspension last week. Green, a big-time talent, had seven catches for 119 yards and two touchdowns. Needless to say, he's a welcome addition.
They're poor record notwithstanding, I believe that the Bulldogs are the more talented team. I also feel that they'll be able to do a better job in "dealing with" last week's loss. Even with last week's loss, the Bulldogs are still a profitable 13-3 ATS the last 16 times that they were off back to back losses. I expect them to improve on those stats with a double-digit victory on Saturday afternoon. *10
|10-07-10||Nebraska v. Kansas State +12||Top||48-13||Loss||-110||31 h 10 m||Show|
I'm playing on KANSAS STATE. The Huskers are a good team and they've been dominant thus far. All four of their wins have come by a minimum of two touchdowns. That said, a closer look reveals that only one of those games was really that "impressive." That was their 56-21 destruction of the Huskies, at Washington. Give them credit for that one. However, the other three victories have all come at home and they've come against the likes of Western Kentucky, Idaho and South Dakota State.
Note that Nebraska was 0-3 ATS in those games. Last time out, facing lowly South Dakota State, star QB Taylor Martinez was 6 of 14 for 140 yards with only one touchdown. He was held to a season-low 75 rushing yards and was replaced by Cody Green in the fourth quarter. Despite winning by wide margins, the Huskers have been unable to cover the 'inflated' pointspreads. Now, they're being asked to go on the road and win by double-digits against an undefeated and highly motivated conference rival. I believe that's asking too much.
The Wildcats come in with a perfect 4-0 record. In addition to blowing out Missouri State, they've earned victories over the likes of UCLA, Iowa State and Central Florida. All three of those wins came by single-digits, including a big comeback (scored winning TD with 24 secs left) last time out. I feel that the Wildcats "close-game experience" will serve them well here.
The Wildcats covered at Nebraska at the end of last season. They lost that one by 14. While the Huskers may be even better this season, I feel that the same can be said of the Wildcats. Including last season's ATS loss against K-State, the Huskers are a money-burning 1-6 ATS the last seven times that they were listed as favorites in the -10.5 to -21 range. Looking back further and we find the Huskers at 2-6 the last eight times that they were listed as road favorites in the -10.5 to -14 range.
True, the Wildcats are going to have their hands full in stopping the Huskers rushing attack. Nebraska coach Bo Pelini knows his Huskers are also in for a challenge though. He said this of the Wildcats: "They are well coached. They are physical. They are good team. It will be a real challenge on the road..." Note that the Jayhawks have a bigtime rushing attack of their own and that while the Huskers have been tough against the run, they're currently dealing with some issues at linebacker, with a couple of starters expected to be out.
The Huskers were just 3-5 ATS (4-4 SU) when playing in the month of October, the past couple of seasons. During that stretch, the Wildcats were 6-3 ATS in their October games. Snyder's team played two October home games last season and the Wildcats won by a combined score of 82-20. They were underdogs vs. Texas A&M but won by a score of 62-14. The following week, they were small favorites vs. Colorado, and they won by two touchdowns. While I certainly respect the Huskers, I look for the Wildcats to give them all they can handle here, improving to 16-5 ATS their last 21 October home games. *10
|10-04-10||New England Patriots v. Miami Dolphins||Top||41-14||Loss||-110||21 h 54 m||Show|
I'm playing on MIAMI. Everyone knows that the Patriots have been the class of the AFC East in recent years. However, I'm not yet convinced that this year's team is quite as powerful as some of the elite New England teams. On the other hand, I also believe that this is the strongest Dolphin team that we've seen for some time. With the game being played at Miami, I feel that the Dolphins are providing us with plenty of value.
Both teams come in at 2-1 and each have already had two common opponents. Both lost vs. the Jets. Both beat the Bills. (The Pats did so at home, the Dolphins did so on the road.) The Dolphins won at Minnesota. The Pats beat the Bengals. While winning on the road at Minnesota is arguably more impressive than winning at Cincinnati, overall, those are pretty similar results. However, because the Pats won last week, while the Dolphins lost, the perception remains the Pats have been the "better" team and/or that they're still the better team. Again, I believe that perception has helped to give us excellent line value.
While all games, particularly ones within the division are important, this game is arguably bigger for the Dolphins. They already lost their home opener and if they lose this one, they'll be 0-2 vs. the Jets and Pats and they'll still have to face each of them on the road. The Pats, on the other hand, could lose this one and still know that they get to host both the Jets and Dolphins. Additionally, the Dolphins play at Green Bay in their next game, which is currently a very difficult place to play. So, the Dolphins know that if they lose here, that they could very easily be looking at a 3-game losing streak, after their next game.
Some might be surprised to learn that the Dolphins have actually been a much more profitable team against fellow AFC East opponents, in recent seasons, than the Pats have. Including this season's 0-2 ATS mark, the Pats are just 5-8-1 ATS in division games, since the start of the 2008 season. On the other hand, including this season's 1-1 ATS mark, the Dolphins are a profitable 10-4 ATS (9-5 SU) in division games, during the same stretch.
Note that the Dolphins were 2-0 ATS against the Pats last season, including a 22-21 victory when the teams faced each other here at Miami.
Including that result, the Dolphins (who are currently slight underdogs) are 14-9 ATS as underdogs, the past 2+ seasons. During that season, they've also gone a profitable 5-2 ATS in the month of October. I expect them to bounce back and improve on those stats here. *10
|10-03-10||Chicago Bears v. New York Giants -3||Top||3-17||Win||100||22 h 11 m||Show|
I'm playing on the NEW YORK GIANTS. Give the Bears credit for beating the Packers on Monday Night and for starting 3-0. That said, they've been a little fortunate to be 3-0 and this is a difficult situation and venue for them.
Taking a look at the Bears' three games and we find that they beat the Lions in Week 1. From a statistical standpoint, they did dominate that game. However, that was against a Detroit team which hadn't won on the road in years and which saw its starting QB knocked out in the first half. Additionally, the Bears allowed the Lions to hang around and Detroit would have even won the game, if not for a controversial ruling, on a touchdown, which went in Chicago's favor. As for the other two games, Bears were outgained by a combined 789-574 margin.
The Bears run defense has been excellent. The pass defense has been highly suspect though, as has the rushing offense. Through three games, the Bears have ran for only 206 total yards. They've had 77 or fewer rushing yards in each of their last two games. By comparison, the Giants have ran for greater than 105 in all three of their games, averaging 115 per game.
Last week's game was both hard-fought and emotional. Now, off a that draining victory over their arch-rival, playing on a short week, the Bears must travel to a hostile environment to take on an "angry" Giants team, which figures to be highly motivated to snap its 2-game losing streak.
The Giants check in at 12-8 ATS the last 20 times that they were favored in the -3.5 to -9.5 range, including 6-4 ATS as home favorites in the -3.5 to -7 range. During the same stretch, even including their win at Dallas, the Bears were just 2-6 ATS as underdogs in the +3.5 to +9.5 range and 1-4 ATS as road underdogs in the +3.5 to +7 range.
The NFC East is highly competitive and many are already writing off the Giants. I feel that its far too early to do that. Yes, last season was a bit of a down year, as the Giants finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs. Lets not forget that this team was a major player for several years before that though. They know that they absolutely can not afford another loss here, particularly with a tough game at Houston on deck, and I expect them to respond with their best game of the season. *10
|10-03-10||Indianapolis Colts v. Jacksonville Jaguars +8||Top||28-31||Win||100||18 h 3 m||Show|
I'm playing on JACKSVONVILLE. With Peyton Manning running the show, there is no denying that the Colts have a very capable offense. Manning has gotten off to another great start and is coming off a big game. That said, Indianapolis is far from flawless. Perhaps most importantly, the Colts running defense remains suspect. Through three games, the Colts are allowing the fourth-most rushing yards per game (141.3) in the league.
I expect Maurice Jones-Drew and the Jaguars rushing attack to have a big day. Drew may have only 218 yards thus far. However, he's coming off a season in which he had 1391 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns, so he's certainly capable. As Colts' coach Jim Caldwell noted of Drew: "...He does it all extremely well, I mean he's a guy that first of all, he can find the holes quickly," Colts coach Jim Caldwell said. "I mean he's a great back with great vision..."
True, the Jags are off back to back bad losses. Those results have worked in our favor though, as they've helped to keep this week's line generously high. Note that one of those losses came at a difficult road venue (San Diego) and that the Jags are still 1-1 at home. Even including last week's loss, the Jags are still 6-3 SU their last nine games here. Note that only of those losses (last week's) came by greater than four points. In other words, if one was getting the same line that the Jags are getting today, one would have been 8-1 ATS in those games.
True, the Jags haven't had much luck in beating the Colts here over the years. They're just 2-6 the last eight times that the teams faced each other here at Jacksonville. However, a closer look reveals that five of the Colts' six victories came by eight points or less. Last year's game here was a "wild affair," that went back and forth and saw nine lead changes. The Colts eventually won by four points, (35-31) after scoring a late touchdown. In other words, it was an extremely close game which easily could have gone either way. (Note that the Jags also entered that game, having lost their previous game.)
A look at the Jags' last 20 home games shows that last week was only the third time that they lost by third time that they lost by greater than 10 points. In each of the previous two cases, they bounced back with a SU and ATS victory. In 2008, after getting destroyed 30-12 here by the Vikings, the Jags bounced back and upset the Packers in their next home game. Last season, after Arizona beat them by two touchdowns here in late September, the Jags bounced back and began October by crushing Tennessee 37-13 in their next home game. Now, almost exactly one year later, I expect the Jags to again bounce back with a big effort, giving their guests all they can handle and earning at least another cover. *10
|10-02-10||Stanford Cardinal v. Oregon Ducks -7||Top||31-52||Win||100||34 h 46 m||Show|
I'm playing on OREGON. I really respect the Cardinal. They're a strong well-coached team with a great QB. They've also gotten off to an excellent start to the season. I even won with them when they upset the Ducks last season. That was a terrific scheduling spot for the Cardinal though. For starters, they were under-valued, as many still didn't realize how good they were. Indeed, despite playing at home, they were getting +6.5 or +7 points. Not only were the Cardinal playing at home, they were also coming off a bye. Additionally, they were catching Oregon off an upset win over USC. Indeed, as I said, it was a terrific "setup" for Stanford. This year figures to be much different.
We know how good Oregon was last season. The 2010 version could well be better. Last year's team returned only nine starters. This year's team returned a whopping 17. In going 4-0, the Ducks have destroyed their opponents by an average score of 57.7 to 11. That includes road games at venues like Arizona State and Tennessee.
Last year, the Ducks may have overlooked Stanford. Having lost that game, they surely won't make the same mistake here. Indeed, both teams know that this game ranks among the most important games of the year.
The Cardinal are 1-2 SU/ATS the last three times that they were listed as road underdogs in the +3.5 to +7 range. During the same stretch, the Ducks are 2-0 SU/ATS as home favorites in the -3.5 to -7 range. The Cardinal are 3-4 SU/ATS in October the past few seasons. The Ducks are 6-1 SU and 5-2 ATS in October.
Last year, as mentioned, Stanford had the advantage of playing at home and coming off a bye. No such luck this season. Not only are the Cardinal on the road - but they also played on the road last week, a nationally televised affair at Notre Dame. Give them credit for playing very well in that game. However, the Cardinal have not performed well when playing the second of back to back road games.
Stanford played back to back road games twice in 2006. After playing at UCLA, they proceeded to lose by 21 vs. Notre Dame. Also, after playing at Oregon, the Cardinal lost outright (as -9.5 point favorites) to San Jose State. In 2007, the Cardinal played b2b road games just once. After winning at Arizona in the first leg of the "road trip," they lost by 17 at Oregon State when playing their second straight away from home. In 2008, the Cardinal were 0-2 SU/ATS when playing the second of back to back road games, losing by 17 and 7 points. True, the Cardinal are better now than they were then. Stanford was pretty good last season too though - and the Cardinal were still 0-2 when playing the second of back to back road games. They lost at Wake Forest and also at Arizona. Lets see, that 0-7 SU the last seven times that the Cardinal played the second of b2b road games.
While they lost at Stanford last season, the Ducks are 4-0 SU and 3-1 ATS the last four times that they hosted the Cardinal. They won all four games by a minimum of a touchdown and by an average of 26.75 points. Playing with 'revenge' and with much on the line, I expect another convincing win and cover. *10
|10-01-10||Oakland Athletics v. Seattle Mariners +1.5||Top||9-0||Loss||-153||11 h 21 m||Show|
I'm playing on SEATTLE on the RUN-LINE (at +1.5 runs.) The A's pounded the M's in yesterday's series opener. The A's are still 1-6 their last seven games though. Tonight, I feel that the value lies with the home team, particularly when we can get an extra +1.5 runs to work with, at a fairly reasonable price.
French gets the call for Seattle and he's pitched very well here. In fact, in five home starts he's gone 3-1 with a stellar 2.57 ERA and 0.971 WHIP, averaging seven innings per start. He allowed four earned runs or less in all five of those starts while also going at least six innings in each. French's last start came on the road, at Tampa. He allowed two runs and earned the "W" in a 6-2 Seattle victory. Note that French's last start vs. Oakland resulted in a 1- run loss.
Cahill has enjoyed a very strong season for the A's. However, while he's been exceptional at home, he's only been mediocre on the road. In 14 road starts, he's gone 6-5 with a 4.17 ERA. The A's are just 1-3 his last four road starts and that five of his last 20 road starts have been decided by a single run.
Cahill's last start came at home - and he got rocked. In four innings, he gave up 12 hits (2 HR's) and seven runs. His last road start was also rough. In five innings, he gave up two home runs and six earned runs.
Note that the A's are 1-3 (Cahill is 0-3) in his four starts vs. Seattle and that the lone victory came by a single run. Also with such a low O/U line, note that the A's are an awful 7-18 (-11.4) the last 25 times that they played a road game with an O/U line of seven or less.
Even with yesterday's loss, the M's are still 16-4 the last 20 times that they hosted the A's, 17-3 if one had been getting +1.5 runs in all those games. *10
|09-30-10||Texas A&M +3.5 v. Oklahoma State||Top||35-38||Win||100||19 h 18 m||Show|
I'm playing TEXAS A&M. The Cowboys have beaten the Aggies in back to back seasons. Playing at home, most expect them to "do it again" and they're listed as favorites. However, I believe that the Aggies, who have never lost three in a row in the series and are still 17-8 all-time, have an excellent shot at the upset.
Both teams check in at 3-0. Neither has played a really difficult opponent though. Oklahoma State did have to face Tulsa, a tougher opponent than the Aggies have dealt with. Still, this figures to be by far the biggest challenge for both teams.
Speaking of the Tulsa game, Oklahoma State admittedly did put up some rather awesome offensive stats in that game. The Cowboys were far less impressive on the defensive side of the ball though and they'll be up against a far tougher defense here (than they saw vs. Tulsa) though.
The Cowboys have had an edge over the Aggies in the talent and/or experience department the past two seasons. That's not the case here though. Arguably not in the talent department and definitely not in terms of experience. The Aggies brought back 16 starters this season, second most in the Big 12. On the other hand, the Cowboys suffered some major losses from last season, including QB Zac Robinson, WR Dez Bryant and six of their top seven tacklers. Overall, they brought back only eight starters from last season's team.
Speaking of last season, the Aggies gave the Cowboys all they could handle in last year's game, eventually losing by five. At the time the Cowboys were ranked #15 in the country. Needless to say, they're not nearly as highly regarded this season, at least not yet. On the other hand, the Aggies figure to be much improved from last year.
The Cowboys are just 1-4 ATS the last five times that they were favored by four points or less. On the other hand, the database shows that the Aggies have only been listed as road underdogs of four points or less twice since October of 2007. On 10/20/07, they were small underdogs at Nebraska. The following season, in October of 2008, they were three road point underdogs at Iowa State. In each case, they won outright. They beat the Huskers 36-14 in '07 and they beat the Cyclones 49-35 in Oct. of '08. I'll be grabbing the points. However, I won't be at all surprised if the well rested Aggies score another "outright" October road victory tonight. *10
|09-26-10||New York Jets v. Miami Dolphins -1.5||Top||31-23||Loss||-110||58 h 40 m||Show|
I'm playing on MIAMI. I respect the Jets and I had them in last week's big win over the Patriots. I also really respect the Dolphins though. Despite their 2-0 record, I feel that they're still currently flying somewhat under the radar.
The Dolphins have quietly gone 2-0. Sure, the first win came vs. the Bills. However, it was on the road. And, in this league, winning on the road is rarely easy, regardless of the opponent. Last week, the Dolphins were again on the road. This time, the opponent was a well-rested Minnesota team, determined to bounce back from its opening night loss at New Orleans. Once again, the Dolphins quietly took care of business, earning a 15-10 upset win.
Off those two victories and alone on top of the AFC East, the Dolphins are loaded with confidence. Yet, they know they won't earn much respect until/unless they can beat the Jets here and/or the Patriots next week. This will be their home opener, so it goes without saying that the fans will be "fired up," particularly given the Dolphins' undefeated record and the magnitude of this game.
Yes, the Jets victory over the Patriots was impressive. Keep in mind that it came at home though. In fact, both their games came at home - and they were far less impressive in their opening week loss vs. Baltimore.
Braylon Edwards was one of the key offensive performers in New York's win over the Patriots. He had five receptions for 45 yards and a touchdown. I mention Edwards, as he was arrested for drunk driving (two other Jets were also with him) at about 5am Tuesday morning. At I write this, he's expected to play, but not start. Remember, the team is already without star receiver Santonio Holmes, serving a suspension for drugs.
As Edwards is expected to play, the Jets will probably be "ok" without him starting. That said, the distraction of the extra media from the latest "scandal" will likely be harder to deal with. Keep in mind that the Jets are already in the media more than other times. Then, don't forget that they were harrassing the female reporter after their last game. These types of incidents generally make it tough to focus in practice, which isn't what a team needs before a key divisional battle.
Note that New York center Nick Mangold is banged-up, as is longtime Miami star Jason Taylor, now a Jet. Both will likely play but may not be 100%. Linebacker Calvin Pace is expected to remain out.
It should also be noted that the Jets' secondary will be without Revis, as he got hurt last week. The defense is still capable - even without Revis. However, taking away one of the best cornerbacks in the league certainly doesn't help.
Speaking of defense, the Dolphins' "D" has been great. They picked off Favre three times last week and they limited the Bills to only 166 total yards.
The Dolphins beat healthier Jets teams in both games last year and Miami is arguably better this season. Including last year's sweep in this series and their Week 1 cover at Buffalo, the Dolphins are a profitable 10-3 ATS in division play, since the start of the 2008 season. I expect them to improve on those stats, moving to 3-0 and extending their division lead. *10
|09-26-10||Washington Redskins v. St Louis Rams +3.5||Top||16-30||Win||100||53 h 8 m||Show|
I'm playing on ST. LOUIS. I like the "new" Redskins and I won with them in their Week 1 upset victory vs. Dallas. They've still got some "issues" though, as both their defense and ground game are struggling. I didn't play on or against Washington in last week's game vs. Houston. However, like most of you, I did see how the game ended. (Actually, I watched the entire game on replay, but its the ending that I'm concerned about.) As you know, the ending did not go in Washington's favor. Having led most of the way, the Skins squandered a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter and eventually lost in Overtime.
That type of defeat can be difficult to bounce back from. Rubbing salt in the wound, note that Trent Williams, Washington's left tackle, was injured and is expected to be out on Sunday. Even if the Redskins are able to avoid thinking about last week's setback, it may be hard to focus on the "lowly" Rams. The Skins have already played two "emotional" games and they've got another really big game on deck. Indeed, they face division rival Philadelphia, McNabb's former team, next week.
I won't try and say that the Rams are an elite team. They're not. That said, they're playing at home and Bradford now has a couple of games under his belt. At 0-2, the Rams know can ill afford another loss. They should be "desperate" here and I expect them to play their best game. Of course, it should help that Bradford and co. will be going up against a Washington defense which is still learning a new system and which has allowed more yards (453 per game) than any team in the league.
Shanahan said this of his defense: "You're going to give up big plays in any defense when you're just kind of getting started. It's a learning curve..."
The Redskins, who will be playing on the road for the first time this season, won just five of 16 road games the last two seasons. Now, they're being asked to go on the road and win by more than a field goal. Note that they're a money-burning 1-6 ATS the last seven times that they were listed as favorites in the -3.5 to -9.5 range.
Note that the Redskins have seen each of their games decided by six points or less. Meanwhile, the Rams have seen each of their games decided by four or less.
These teams met each of the last two seasons. In each case, Washington was a heavy favorite. However, both games were decided by only two points. The Rams won 19-17 two years ago and the Redskins won 9-7 last year. This would could easily also come down to the wire, making the points very attractive. *10
|09-25-10||Utah State +8 v. San Diego State||Top||7-41||Loss||-110||99 h 37 m||Show|
I'm playing on UTAH STATE. While they both lost last week, I feel that these teams are each improved from last season. The Aztecs' loss figures to be tougher to bounce back from though, which is one of the reasons I favor the visitors here.
The reason that I say the Aztecs could have some trouble "bouncing back," is because they lost an absolute heartbreaker last Saturday. Playing on the road, against a solid Missouri team, the Aztecs were underdogs of greater than two touchdowns. After all, they had a 22-game losing streak against teams from a Bowl Championship Series conference. However, they played a great game and with only one minute remaining, appeared on the verge of scoring the big upset. That's when Missouri hit them with a 68-yard touchdown pass though. The Missouri play (T.J. Moe) made a move at midfield which caused two San Diego State players to collide.
Remember, these are still kids and "emotional losses" can be difficult to recover from. A victory last week would have been huge for the program and it may be easy for them to be thinking about "what could have been."
Note that this isn't the first time that the Aztecs have played a "big name opponents" close. Most recently, after losing by only eight (as +21.5 point underdogs) vs. the Irish in Week 2 of the 2008 season, San Diego State responded by getting blown out by 25 vs. San Jose State (a team from the WAC) the following week.
Even though I think this will be a tough spot for them, I do respect the Aztecs. They've proven to have quite a potent offense. That said, Utah State has already shown an ability to hang tough against a far stronger opponent, at a far more difficult venue. Indeed, the Aggies went into Norman and lost by only seven vs. the Sooners in Week 1. In fact, the Aggies actually had a 431-412 edge in total yards in that game.
As mentioned, Utah State also lost last week. While it was certainly disappointing, the Aggies' loss (41-24 vs. Fresno State) wasn't nearly so "gut-wrenching" and therefore shouldn't be as difficult to bounce back from. Note that the game was a lot closer than the 41-24 score indicated. The Bulldogs benefitted from a big day on special teams. Also, note that that the Aggies are 8-2 (80%) ATS the last 10 times that they were off a loss vs. a conference oppponent.
The Aztecs have gone just 2-4 ATS the last six times that they were favored. During that stretch, the Aggies have gone 12-6-1 ATS when getting points.
The Aggies returned 16 starters (8 on each side of the ball) this season, including QB Diondre Borel. They've got some winnable games down the stretch and believe that if they can steal a couple of their next ones, that they have a shot at a bowl. After last game, Borel was quoted as saying: "This wasn't our best game; we will rebound and learn from this loss. We won't lose any confidence going forward, we feel like this is a special year for us and we will continue to fight to win games." I expect Borel and co. to "continue to fight" and for them to give their deflated hosts all they can handle. *10
|09-25-10||Oklahoma -13.5 v. Cincinnati U||Top||31-29||Loss||-110||77 h 39 m||Show|
I'm playing on OKLAHOMA. In Week 1, the Sooners struggled with Utah State. As a result, many bettors immediately jumped off the Oklahoma bandwagon. That led to a generously low line on Oklahoma for Week 2. Hosting Florida State, they were laying only a touchdown. It also led to an extremely focused group of Sooners, which in turn led to a 47-17 blowout victory. After that 30-point win, fickle bettors were quick to jump back on the Oklahoma bandwagon for last week's game vs. Air Force. Once again, the Sooners struggled. They won but didn't come to close to covering. That result has many bettors again abandoning the Sooners, which in turn has led to a very generous line, one which has come down significantly from its opener. I feel that provides us with plenty of value on the favorite.
So, why were the Sooners able to blow out Florida State yet struggle with Utah State and Air Force. In my opinion, there are a couple of primary reasons. Most importantly, I believe that they were able to get fully "up" for a game vs. a big name team like Florida State, while that was a little more difficult for the lesser opponents. Also, both Utah State and Air Force are underrated teams.
Not only did the Sooners overlook them but they were actually more talented than expected or than many people still realize.
The Sooners should have no problem "getting up" for Saturday's game. For starters, they just struggled in putting away Air Force. As it did after the Utah State game, that should ensure that Stoops and co. have the full attention of their players in practice this week. Also, Cincinnati is a bigger name program, one that is coming off a Big East Championship.
This is a much different Bearcats team than the one we saw last season though. If you watched Thursday's game vs. NC State, you'll know what I'm talking about. Cincinnati lost by "only" 11 points but it easily could have been worse. The fact that they were only able to again 75 rushing yards on 31 carries made things extremely difficult on their QB, who was dealing with pressure all night. Things were even worse in the season opening 28-14 loss to Fresno State, as the Bearcats rushed for a mere 15 yards on 32 carries.
That kind of production from the running game won't cut it against the Sooners. If Cincinnati had trouble with the Wolfpack, they're going to find that the Sooners are stronger, more talented and more athletic.
The Bearcats and their fans might hope that Oklahoma will look past them, ahead to next week's showdown vs. Texas. That's wishful thinking though. Not only did the Sooners get a "wake up call" last week, but they're 2-0 before Texas the last two seasons, winning by scores of 49-17 and 33-7.
The Sooners destroyed the Bearcats when these teams met two years ago. Oklahoma had a 592-326 edge in total yards and won by 26 points. I expect another convincing victory with the Sooners winning by more than two touchdowns and improving to 8-3 ATS the last 11 times that they were favored in the -10.5 to -21 range. *10
|09-23-10||Miami (Florida) v. Pittsburgh +3.5||Top||31-3||Loss||-110||55 h 44 m||Show|
I'm playing on PITTSBURGH. I played against the Panthers in their opening game. They lost by three points at Utah. That resulted in a 'push' for most, although the line was -2.5 when I released the play. Either way, even at the time, I acknowledged that the Panthers were a very talented team. I only felt that Utah was a very difficult venue for a team to play its opening game. The Panthers are back home now though. Naturally, that makes a significant difference. Miami is also a talented team, arguably even more so than the Panthers - the reason they're favored on the road. Like Pittsburgh, the Hurricanes have blown out one weak opponent and lost on the road vs. a good one. Their road loss came by double-digits at Ohio State, vs. a very strong Buckeyes team.
The Hurricanes are now 7-6 SU on the road the past 2+ seasons. During that stretch, the Panthers are 11-3 SU at home.
As noted, the Hurricanes are a good team. However, they've always got a talented lineup and they often underachieve. They haven't been very good in the role of small favorites either. They're 7-12 ATS the last 19 times that they were favored by four points or less, including just 2-5 ATS their last seven in that role. Overall, the Canes are just 4-8 ATS the last 12 times that they were favorites.
On the other hand, counting the Utah game as a 'push,' the Panthers are a profitable 4-1-1 ATS the last six times that they were underdogs of four points or less. Overall, the Panthers are 9-4-1 ATS the last 14 times that they were listed as underdogs, dating back to the beginning of the 2007 season.
Although neither knew it would be easy, both teams were hoping to be undefeated at this point. I like the fact that Pittsburgh's loss came in Week 1 though. The Panthers have had an opportunity to bounce back from it. Miami, on the other hand, hasn't played since the loss.
After the loss at Ohio State, coach Shannon really let his team have it. The players say that they'll use that as motivation. It doesn't always work that way though. The Hurricanes believed that if they could have won at Ohio State, that this could have been a really special season. While it can still be a great season, it can no longer be an undefeated one. Dealing with that first loss, when a team has high expectations, is often difficult. We can look at fellow ACC member, Virginia Tech, for a recent. The Hokies also believe that their season could be "special," if they could beat Boise State in their opener. They lost that game by a field goal though. All the players talked about bouncing back the following week. Instead, they were still do disappointed from the opening loss, that they responded by losing to James Madison in their next game.
It should also be noted that this is the middle of three road games and that Miami has Clemson on deck, a team which rallied late and defeated them in Overtime last season. Playing at home, I'll grab the points with Wannstedt's Panthers. *10
|09-20-10||New Orleans Saints v. San Francisco 49ers +6||Top||25-22||Win||100||130 h 18 m||Show|
I'm playing on SAN FRANCISCO. I successfully played against the 49'ers last week. They were laying points on the road for that game though, against a hungry and improved divisional opponent. Now, the 49'ers are back home and getting points. Given how much better they play at home, that's extremely significant. Not that they should need any extra motivation, but the fact that they're facing the defending World Champs, while doing so on National TV, should have the 49'ers players that much more excited about this big game.
As noted, the 49'ers are much better at home. Last season, they were 2-6 on the road but 6-2 at home. Having closed out the 2008 season with three straight home wins, they're now 9-2 (7-2-2 ATS) their last 11 regular season games here. During that stretch, they've even gone a perfect 4-0 in their preaseason home games. Clearly, this is a team which prefers playing here at San Francisco and which has established a strong home field advantage. Naturally, a win against the Saints would really solidify that resume.
Having won with the Saints several times in last year's dream season, I have a lot of respect for them. They're talented and well-coached. However, asking them to lay more than a field goal on the road against an improved and hungry team, which plays great at home, is asking a lot.
For years, I've been winning on the Super Bowl champs in Week 1 of the regular season. (The last two years I've gotten off doing so and have won with the 'under' in both cases instead.) Those defending SB Champs almost always seem to get up for their opening game and play great. It seems that they're still riding an emotional high from the previous season. However, that often doesn't last into the following game.
Last year, the Steelers were the defending champs. Much like the Saints did this year, the Steelers won their first game - but it was close. They beat Tennessee by three. I successfully played against the Steelers in their next game though. They went on the road and lost outright at Chicago.
In this case, the Saints are off the big highly publicized rematch with the Vikings and they've got a date with Atlanta, their biggest division rival, on deck.
While the majority of the games were from the "glory years," note that the 49'ers are a profitable 22-9 ATS their last 31 Monday Night games, including 2-0 ATS the past couple of seasons. Perhaps more importantly, they're also a perfect 4-0 ATS the last four times that they were off a divisional loss. I expect them to bounce back with a huge effort here, improving on those stats and earning at least a cover. *10
|09-18-10||Alabama v. Duke +24.5||Top||62-13||Loss||-110||46 h 22 m||Show|
I'm playing on DUKE. Generally, when I play on an underdog, I like to feel that the underdog has a real shot at winning the game outright. However, when getting more than three extra touchdowns to work with, that doesn't necessarily have to be the case. In this case, I feel the line is too high and believe that the Blue Devils will prove more competitive than most expect.
Yes, Alabama is an excellent team. The Crimson Tide are the defending champs. They're off a blowout win over Penn State and now they're expected to get Mark Ingram back. Facing lowly Duke, most will expect an easy blowout. This is a decent Duke team though and its also a difficult spot for Alabama.
For starters, the Tide are playing their first road game of the season. While they've admittedly been an excellent road team, the Tide won last season's first "true road game" (they'd previously played a neutral site game, which they won by 10) by "only" 18 points.
Not only are the Tide playing their first road game, but they're in a potential "letdown" and/or "lookahead" spot. Not only are they off a blowout win over a big name program, they've also got the start of SEC play on deck. Following Duke, the Tide will face a nationally ranked Arkansas team and that's followed by Florida. Off the big win, which could cause some players to be patting themselves on the back a bit, and with the big games on deck, it would be easy to look past lowly Duke.
Regarding the expected return of Ingram. Yes, he makes the offense even stronger. That said, there can sometimes be a tendency for other players to let down a little, when a 'star' returns.
While the Tide still have some bigtime defenders, (and have only allowed six points) it should be noted that they only returned two starters on that side of the ball. Here, they'll go up against a Duke offense which has been putting up some really big numbers. The Blue Devils lost by six at Wake Forest last week, an ATS loss or push, depending on when/where one played. They put up a whopping 48 points in the process though. That was after they scored 41 in their opener.
While obviously not in the same class as their guests, the Blue Devils are an improved team. Note that Duke coach David Cutliffe is entering his third season, often a good year for college coaches. Cutliffe has Blue Devils players and fans believing that the team has turned the corner. So committed is he to finishing what he started here, Cutliffe even turned down an offer to be the head coach at Tennessee.
While this game means little to Alabama, its one that the Blue Devils have had circled. Just playing well against the defending champs would help show that things are going in the right direction. The line has moved in our favor. I feel that provides us with plenty of value and I look for the Blue Devils to improve to 5-1 ATS their last six non-conference lined games. *10
|09-18-10||East Carolina v. Virginia Tech -19.5||Top||27-49||Win||100||44 h 26 m||Show|
I'm playing on VIRGINIA TECH. Here, we have a 0-2 team facing a 2-0 team. Yet, the winless team is favored by nearly three touchdowns. Some will feel that offers real value on the visitors.
However, I believe the Hokies are favored by this many for good reason and I expect them to bounce back with a blowout victory.
So, how did Virginia Tech get to be 0-2? While, as most of you probably know, the Hokies faced a very good Boise State team in their opener. The Hokies, who began the season as the #10 ranked team,
quietly felt that if they won that game, they'd have a shot at playing for the National title. It was close - but Boise won 33-30. Off that "heart-breaker" and playing on a short week, the Hokies
were stunned by James Madison in their last game.
The Hokies have had a full week of preparation time for this one. They're now long over hanging their heads about the Boise loss and "what could have been." Instead, they're focused on destroying
someone, to regain some confidence after last week's humbling defeat. East Carolina, which returned only eight starters from last season, figures to be the perfect opponent.
Give the Pirates credit for starting 2-0. However, lets keep in mind that both victories came against CUSA opponents and both games came at home. This is still a very inexperienced team, with a 1st
year head coach. Now, they play their first road game - and do so at one of the more difficult venues in the entire country.
Last year, the Hokies traveled to East Carolina and beat a much better Pirates team by 13 points. The Hokies are 3-0 the last three times that they hosted the Pirates, winning by a combined score of 90-24. All three victories were by double-digits.
With an O/U line in the high 50s, note that the Hokies are a perfect 4-0 SU/ATS the last four times that they played a home game with a total in the 56.5 to 63 range. The Hokies are also 13-5 ATS the last 18 times that they were coming off back to back SU losses. They should improve on those stats here, keeping the pedal to the metal the entire way. *10
|09-17-10||California v. Nevada +3.5||Top||31-52||Win||100||91 h 37 m||Show|
I'm playing on NEVADA. These are two good teams, both coming off convincing victories. While I respect California, I also feel that Nevada is an excellent team. Playing at home, I feel that the Wolfpack have an excellent shot at the outright upset.
The Wolfpack destroyed Colorado State 51-6 on Saturday. Nevada had 631 yards of total offense and scored on every offensive possession. The 50+ points was "nothing new." After all, the Wolfpack top the 50 point mark regularly. You may recall that the Wolfpack closed last regular season by scoring 61, 52 and 63 points, before managing "only" 33 at Boise State in their finale.
The Wolfpack offense returned a whopping nine starters this season, including senior QB Colin Kaepernick, so we know they're going to be potent offensively again. Speaking of Kaepernick, he accounted for 402 total yards and four touchdowns last week. He rushed for 161 yards and two touchdowns and he completed 21 of 29 passes for 241 yards and two touchdowns. Through two games, he's now completed 71% of his passes.
The fact that the Wolfpack limited the Rams to only six points was arguably more encouraging than the 51 points scored. It was the fewest points they'd allowed since November of 2006, when the Wolf Pack shut out Louisiana Tech.
California is coming off a 52-7 dismantling of Colorado. As impressive a score as that is, a closer look reveals that the stats weren't nearly as lopsided as the score. The first downs were roughly equal (18-17 in favor of Cal) and the Buffaloes had an edge in time of possession. The
Bears had a solid edge it total yards (356-239) but it still wasn't as wide a margin as one might normally expect of a 45-point win.
I've already stated that I respect the Bears and that they are a talented team. That said, I do think they'll give up quite a few points here. Note that the Bears, who gave up 25.5 points per game last season, lost three starters, including their top guy, from their secondary.
It should also be noted that the Bears, who have their conference opener on deck, are in one of their worst roles here. They're a money-burning 5-15 ATS the last 20 times that they were listed as favorites of four points or less.
The Wolfpack played at Boise last season but this year they host the Broncos. They feel that they've got a real shot at winning that game and subsequently winning the WAC. A win in that game combined with an upset over the Bears here and this is a team that could really gain people's attention.
The Wolfpack are in one of their best roles here, as we find them at 6-2 ATS the last eight times that they were listed as underdogs of four points or less. Five of those games resulted in SU victories. I'll grab the points. However, with Kaepernick "doing his thing," I feel that the Wolfpack have an excellent shot at another upset here. *10
|09-14-10||Boston Red Sox v. Seattle Mariners +1.5||Top||9-6||Loss||-142||20 h 14 m||Show|
I'm playing SEATTLE on the RUN LINE. Here, we're getting a very reasonable price on Seattle at +1.5 runs in a game in which the Mariners should have a significant advantage on the mound.
French is 2-1 with a 2.33 ERA and 0.879 WHIP his last three starts. For the season, he 3-1 with an outstanding 1.93 ERA and 0.964 WHIP in four home starts. In all three home victories, he went at least seven innings and allowed no more than one run.
Matsuzaka, on the other hand, has a terrible 7.85 ERA his last three starts. He's allowed at least four earned runs in all three of those starts, including eight in his last one.
Matsuzaka has made five career starts here at Seattle and the Red Sox won only two of them. Note that all five games were decided by two runs or less and that three of them were decided by a single run.
While they lost yesterday's opener, the M's have played the Red Sox fairly tough here in recent seasons, as the teams are now 10-10 the last 20 meetings at Seattle. If taking Seattle at +1.5 in all those games, one would have been 12-8. With French getting the better of Matsuzaka, I expect the M's to improve on those stats here. *10
|09-13-10||San Diego Chargers v. Kansas City Chiefs +6||Top||14-21||Win||100||12 h 4 m||Show|
I'm playing on KANSAS CITY. Many casual bettors will see a Chargers/Chiefs matchup and assume that the Chargers will win with ease. The Chiefs should be much improved this season though, while the same cannot necessarily be said of the Chargers.
With Rivers and Gates back in the fold, the Chargers should still be potent offensively and are still clearly the division favorite. In my opinion, the loss of Tomlinson probably isn't as big a deal as many might think. However, note that the Chargers are missing Vincent Jackson though, last year's leading receiver. Also, tackle Marcus McNeil remains a holdout. That doesn't get much talk but is significant.
The Chiefs are in the second year under Haley. With the Raiders and Broncos both expected to struggle (both are already 0-1) the Chiefs believe that this could be the year that they challenge the Chargers for supremacy within the division. (I said the same thing of the Texans yesterday and they beat the Colts outright.) Even if the Chiefs don't end up challenging for the AFC West, the belief that they "could," will give them plenty of hope here.
The full support of the home fans, many who also believe that "this year could be different," also figures to provide a significant boost. After the Saints held serve at home on Thursday, note that home teams fared extremely well on Sunday. In fact, they went 11-3 SU with several home underdogs (Texans, Redskins, Seahawks were three that I had) winning outright. A closer look at the three home teams that lost shows that all three lost by seven points or less and that two of those losses came by five or fewer points. In other words, every single home team has either won or been very competitive.
While the Chargers blew out the Chiefs in both meetings in 2009, (further motivation for KC) both 2008 meetings were decided by a single point. I could easily see this one also coming down to the wire and am grabbing the generous points with hungry home dog. *10
|09-12-10||Dallas Cowboys v. Washington Redskins +3.5||Top||7-13||Win||100||18 h 11 m||Show|
I'm playing on WASHINGTON. The Cowboys are the defending division champs and are certainly a team worthy of respect. However, with Shanahan as coach and McNabb as quarterback, the Redskins have an entirely different "personality" and should also be a much improved team.
Shanahan has won Superbowls and McNabb has been to the Superbowl. Both have tasted success in this league and both figure to be hungry to prove that they've "still got it." Both should have a positive effect on teammates.
While preseason results should certainly be taken with a grain of salt, its worth noting that Romo threw for just one touchdown during the exhibition campaign. During that stretch, he had two interceptions and was sacked five times.
The Cowboys are not in one of their better roles as they're just 2-5 ATS the last seven times that they were favored by four points or less.
Despite dropping the last two meetings here, the Skins are still 3-2 SU/ATS the last five times that they were a host in this series. I feel that the Skins have an excellent shot at starting the 'new era' with a outright upset. However, in a game that could easily come down to the wire, I'll gladly grab all the points I can get. *10 (Main Event)
|09-12-10||Detroit Lions v. Chicago Bears -6.5||Top||14-19||Loss||-105||47 h 49 m||Show|
I'm playing on CHICAGO. The Lions were 3-1 in the preseason. The Bears were 0-4. Those results have worked in our favor, as a lot of people are saying the Lions have a shot at the upset here. That has helped to cause the line to remain lower than it could have been.
Yes, the Lions were 3-1 in the preseason and are optimistic entering the season. We've heard that before though. Last season, they were 3-1 in the preseason and full of hope. They proceeded to lose their opener by 18 points and finish at 2-14. In 2008, the Lions were 4-0 in the preseason. Yet, they were 0-16 when the regular season started, including a 13 point loss in Week 1.
Keep in mind that the Lions are now 0-20 SU and 7-11-2 ATS their last 20 regular season road games. Eighteen of those 20 losses came by a minimum of a touchdown. Looking back a bit further and we find the Lions at an ugly 10-40 SU and 16-32-2 ATS the last 50 times that they were road underdogs in the +3.5 to +7 range.
Personally, I'm not overly concerned about Chicago's poor record in the preseason. QB Jay Cutler doesn't seem to be either. When asked about the offense, he was quoted as saying: "The guys had a great summer. With Mike calling the plays and making sure every detail is taken care of, we're going to be good."
Of course, the "Mike" he's talking about is Mike Martz, the Bears' new offensive coordinator. When asked how long it would take for the Bears' offense to get going this week, Cutler was quoted as confidently saying: "First quarter."
While the hope is that Martz will have Cutler and the offense clicking, the Bears' defense has added Julius Peppers. Peppers had 10.5 sacks last season, giving him 81 over the past eight seasons. Naturally, he'll be looking to get to Matthew Stafford.
The Bears have dominated the Lions over the years, including a 4-0 mark the past two seasons. Last year's two meetings resulted in Chicago winning by 14 at Detroit and by 24 here at Chicago. They were laying -9.5 and -13.5 for those games. Now, we're getting them at less than a touchdown and I feel that provided us with excellent value. The Bears are 4-2 ATS their last six September home games and I look for them to improve on those stats here. *10
|09-11-10||Florida State v. Oklahoma -6.5||Top||17-47||Win||100||43 h 3 m||Show|
I'm playing on OKLAHOMA. Last week's results have worked in our favor. Oklahoma struggled against Utah State. Florida State destroyed Samford. However, let's not forget that Utah State is a lot better than Samford. Samford was below .500 in the Southern Conference. Utah State returned 16 starters from a team that closed out last season with two victories in three games and which had managed to be somewhat competitive against teams like Nevada, Hawaii, BYU, Utah and Fresno State. (The only team to beat the Aggies by more than 18 last season was Boise State.)
I say the Week 1 results have worked in our favor for a couple of reasons. For starters, they've helped us in terms of line value. This line could easily have been higher. Instead, its come down from its opener, which was already generously low, in my opinion.
Also, the fact that the Sooners had a "wake up call" last week should have helped them be fully focused during this week's practices, ready to really listen to what coach Stoops has to say.
Yes, the Seminoles are a talented team. In fact, if they can stay healthy, they've got a good chance at advancing to the ACC Title game. That said, the Sooners are an even more talented team, one which should prove to be extremely potent offensively. If the Sooners can stay healthy, they got a legitimate shot at advancing to the National Title game.
The Sooners figure to have something to prove, too. Not only did they fail to impress last week, but they are coming off a bad year. The Oklahoma players and coaches know that blowing out a team like Florida State, on National TV, would go a long way to showing that "the Sooners are back." If/When they do manage to get a lead, I expect them to keep the pedal to the metal the entire way.
It should be noted that the Sooners have thrived as home favorites of this size. In fact, excluding Bowl games (played at neutral sites) and games vs. Texas (played at Dallas) where the Sooners were called the 'home,' team, Oklahoma has gone a perfect 5-0 SU/ATS the last five times that it was a home favorite of eight or fewer points. The last time they were in that role, laying -8 vs. Oklahoma State, they won by 27. Prior to that, laying -7 vs. Texas Tech, they won by 44.
Looking to make a statement to the entire country, I expect another double-digit victory for Stoops' Sooners here. *10
|09-11-10||Hawaii v. Army -3||Top||31-28||Loss||-105||49 h 17 m||Show|
I'm playing on ARMY. I successfully played against the Black Knights last week. However, even at the time, I acknowledged that they were likely going to be an improved team this season. I just felt that they were laying too many points against what I felt would be a very determined Eastern Michigan team. That proved to be the case. Army eked out a SU win, but couldn't cover. This week, with a much lower line, a SU Army victory should also result in a cover. I feel that the situation is favorable for the Knights and look for them to improve to 2-0.
Last week, the Knights were on the road, laying more than a touchdown. This week, they're at home and laying a field goal, or possibly less at some shops. Note that Army is 2-0 SU/ATS the last two times it was a home favorite of -3 points or less and 3-1 SU/ATS its last four times when playing a game with a line in the +3 to -3 range.
Last week, the Knights were facing a revenge-minded home underdog which was determined to earn a victory, after going winless the previous season. This week, the Knights catch the Warriors having traveled from Hawaii off a hard-fought loss vs. USC.
Army may have taken Eastern Michigan for granted a bit last week. The Knights don't figure to do so against a bigger name program like Hawaii, particularly after seeing the Warriors rack up big yardage vs. the Trojans.
Note that this is the further East the Warriors have traveled and that they are just 3-12 ATS in their last 15 road openers.
While the Warriors will surely get their yards through the air, the Knights should be able to effectively run the ball against a very porous Hawaii run defense. (Note that Hawaii QB Bryant Moniz is expected to play but that he's a bit banged up and may not be 100%.)
This game figures to have plenty of significance for the Knights. Not only is it their home opener but coach Rich Ellerson has been a coach in the Hawaii program and that's his alma mater. Army returned 16 starters (high for a service academy) while Hawaii only returned 12. I'll lay the small number with the home team. *10
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