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|Date||Match Up||Rating||Score||Result||Profit||Lead Time||Analysis|
|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
|09-09-10||Central Michigan v. Temple -7||Top||10-13||Loss||-110||19 h 7 m||Show|
I'm playing on TEMPLE. The Chippewas have been the best team in the MAC in recent seasons. Indeed, they've gone 32-7 in MAC play the last five years. No other team reached 25 conference wins.
Things figure to be different this year though. Central Michigan loses its top running back and both its top receivers. Making matters worse, the Chipewas no longer have QB Dan LeFevour.
Additionally, they've got a new head coach and are learning new systems on both sides of the ball. The defense returns only five starters.
Unlike their guests, the Owls return plenty (16) of starters. They also lost just 14 lettermen. Keep in mind that this team was 7-0 at one point last season.
The Owls believe they have their best team in many years. They're talking about reaching double-digits in wins for the second time in team history, the only other time coming back in 1979.
Both teams had a "warm-up" game last week and Central Michigan looked better than Temple. That's worked in our favor though, as has the Chippewas' past reputation. I say that, as I feel that this line could easily be higher.
Speaking of the 'line,' the Owls have thrived as favorites in this range. They're 8-2-1 ATS (10-1 SU) the last 11 times that they were favored in the -3.5 to -9.5 range. That includes a profitable 5-0-1 ATS (6-0 SU) record their last six in that role.
These teams last met in 2008, at Central Michigan. The Owls had an edge in yards but turned the ball over four times and lost 24-14. Here's their chance to avenge that loss and make a statement that they're the team to beat in the MAC. *10
|09-09-10||Cincinnati Reds +1.5 v. Colorado Rockies||Top||5-6||Win||100||5 h 49 m||Show|
I'm playing CINCINNATI on the RUN-LINE. The Reds have dropped the first two games of this series and badly need to avoid getting swept. While I feel that they've got an excellent shot at closing out their road trip with a victory, I also believe there a number of reasons to lay the extra 'juice' and take them at +1.5 runs (on the run-line) instead.
Wood had a bad start at San Francisco a few starts. That was the exception rather than the norm though and he responded in a big way last time out. With his team badly needing a win and playing a huge game against the division-rival Cards, Wood outpitched Wainwright. Wood allowed just a single unearned runs through seven innings. The Reds won 6-1. (Wood even hit a home run.)
Wood is now 5-1 with a 3.18 ERA and 0.963 WHIP in 10 road starts. The Reds were a profitable 8-2 in those games and opposing batters hit a mere .197. Note that one of the two losses was a 1-0 loss at Philadelphia, vs. Roy Halladay and the Phillies. In other words, if getting the Reds at +1.5 in all 10 of Wood's road starts, one would be 9-1.
Speaking of 1-0 games, Wood's only career start vs. the Rockies resulted in a 1-0 loss.
It should also be noted that Wood has been very tough in 'day' games. In six daytime starts, he's gone 3-1 with a 2.72 ERA.
Hammel gets the call for the Rockies. Like Wood, he's been pitching well lately and has had a solid season. Also, like Wood, he's seen all his career starts vs. today's opponent decided by a single run. His two starts vs. Cincinnati finished with scores of 4-3 and 3-2.
Hammel has made 18 starts since the beginning of June and seven of them were decided by only one run.
Also, even including yesterday's 9-2 "blowout," this series has still seen five of the last 10 games decided by a single run.
The Reds closed out their last road trip with a victory (was a 1-run game) on 8/25. Prior to that, they closed out their previous road trip with a victory, at Chicago, on 8/8. Wood was on the mound for that 11-4 victory. With Wood back on the mound here, I feel that the Reds have a great shot at 'doing it again.' *10
|09-05-10||Tulsa -7 v. East Carolina||Top||49-51||Loss||-110||14 h 17 m||Show|
I'm playing on TULSA. I had East Carolina the last couple of times that the Pirates upset the Golden Hurricane, including last year's 44-17 destruction. I'm going with Tulsa this time though, as this should provide a great opportunity for the Golden Hurricane to exact some revenge.
The Pirates have been the CUSA Champs in back to back seasons. This is a rebuilding year though. In addition to having a new coaching staff, the Pirates return only eight starters from last season, including just two on defense. They are inexperienced at quarterback and must learn new schemes on both sides of the ball.
While the Pirates will surely take a step back this season, the Golden Hurricanes figure to be improved from last year. They return 14 starters, including nine on offense. Indeed they return offensive players which accounted for 98% of last season's rushing yards and 91% of last season's passing yards. That type of experience should provide a significant advantage vs. an inexperienced defense which is still learning its new system and which lost ALL of its starting defensive linemen.
Tulsa coach Todd Graham was quoted as saying: "Usually early in the year, teams beat themselves. We're going to make sure we don't beat ourselves with stupid penalties and we're going to take care of the football and make sure we play disciplined, Tulsa football."
The Golden Hurricane have been very strong in September in recent seasons, going 4-1 ATS in September lined games. On the other hand, even the strong ECU squads of the last couple of seasons have gone just 1-6 ATS in September. Those numbers only figure to get worse here.
The Golden Hurricane dominated the Pirates the last time that they played here, a 31-10 victory in 2006. They should be a much improved team this season and I look for their edge in the experience department to more than compensate for the Pirates' home field advantage. *10
|09-04-10||Purdue v. Notre Dame -11||Top||12-23||Push||0||109 h 44 m||Show|
I'm laying the points with NOTRE DAME. As you're probably aware, there are a number of changes at Notre Dame this season. The changes start at the top with Brian Kelly taking over for Charlie Weis.
While the Irish will need to deal with some of the changes in philosophy, Kelly's a proven winner. He'll be looking to make a statement in his first game and I feel that a home game vs. Purdue will provide the perfect opportunity for him to do so.
With new defensive coordinator Bob Diaco switching to a 3-4, the Irish, who return 10 defensive starters, should be much better on defense this season. Diaco followed Kelly from Cincinnati. (The two also worked together before that.) Diaco's defense will the luxury of starting off against a Purdue offense which is still learning the ropes. Note that the Boilermakers' offense, which was already replacing its quarterback and three lineman, suffered another blow when Ralph Bolden, last year's leading rusher, went down with an ACL injury in the spring. Also, note that Diaco's Cincinnati defense ranked third nationally in tackles for loss and tied for 10th in sacks last season. Diaco worked fast, too, as last year was his first year at Cincinnati. He helped a good Cincinnati defense become much better. Note that when switching to Diaco's system last season, the Bearcats allowed 15 points in their opener and just three points in their home opener, the following week. (The Bearcats were 2-0 SU/ATS in those games, winning by a combined score of 117-18!)
Bolden's injury was just one of many injuries that Purdue has had to deal with. All five scholarship running backs missed the spring game and quarterback Robert Marve "wore down" during the spring. Its on the defensive side of the ball where Purdue's real issues are though. Speaking of 'issues,' note that the Boilermakers are just 5-12 SU/ATS the last 17 times that they played a road game with a total in the 52.5 to 56 range.
While Claussen and Tate are gone, the cupboard is far from bare on the Notre Dame offense. The receiving corps is still strong, led my Michael Floyd. Last year's leading rushers Armando Allen and Robert Hughes are both back. Dayne Crist is still unproven at QB but I expect him to prove capable. Kelly has led "turn-arounds" at his previous stops and he always seems to get the most of his quarterbacks. Crist should benefit from facing an inexperienced Purdue secondary.
The Irish players are behind their QB. TE Kyle Rudolph had this to say to the Chicago Tribune about Crist: "Even though he was behind Jimmy, whether it was in the weight room or the classroom or on the practice field, everybody always viewed Dayne as a leader."
The Irish won by "only" three points at Purdue last season. They could have won by more though, as they were up by double-digits at halftime and had a solid edge in the stats department. The most recent game here at Notre Dame was in 2008. The Irish were laying only -2 or -2.5 points and they won by 17. Prior to that, in 2006, the Irish beat Purdue by 14 here. Kelly is well aware of that history and doesn't want to start his tenure by achieving less than previous Notre Dame teams have in the series. I expect Kelly to have his team ready and look for them to start the "new era" with a convincing double-digit victory. *10
|09-03-10||Arizona v. Toledo +16.5||Top||41-2||Loss||-110||20 h 43 m||Show|
I'm playing on TOLEDO. The Wildcats will be a good team this season. However, with only four returning starters on defense, it may take some time for them to come together on that side of the ball. In my opinion, asking them to go on the road and win by more than two touchdowns, against a Toledo team that figures to have one of the better offenses in the MAC, is asking too much.
This is a big game for the Rockets. They've got a second year coach and they'll be looking at this game, a rare nationally televised affair, as a chance to show that their program is on the right track. It should be noted that Toledo has a history of success in 'big' home games. In fact, the Rockets are 5-1 since 2001, when hosting a team from a BCS Conference. Last season, they hosted Colorado. Getting roughly four points, they won outright by 16.
Yes, the Rockets have to replace Aaron Opelt at quarterback. However, Austin Dantin got plenty of snaps last season and completed 66% of his passes. While the Rockets admittedly weren't very good defensively last season, they should be somewhat improved on that side of the ball this year.
The Wildcats have lost eight straight road openers and they rarely play this far East. They've also played poorly on the road outside the Pac-10 in recent seasons. Indeed, the Wildcats are 1-5 ATS the last six times that they were listed as road favorites and a money-burning 7-20 ATS the last 27 times that they were favored in the -10.5 to -21 range.
This could be a high-scoring game and the O/U line has climbed all the way to 60 or 61. That's noteworthy as we find Arizona at 2-7 ATS (1-8 SU) the last nine times that it played with an O/U line ranging between 56.5 to 63. During the same stretch, the Rockets have gone a profitable 7-2 ATS (6-3 SU) when playing a home game with a total in the 56.5 to 63 range. The Rockets have had this game circled and I look for them to give the Wildcats a tougher challenge than many will be expecting. *10
|09-02-10||Pittsburgh Panthers v. Utah Utes -2.5||Top||24-27||Win||100||82 h 19 m||Show|
I'm playing on UTAH. Pittsburgh comes in with the higher ranking. In fact, the Panthers, ranked #15 in the country, are the highest ranked opponent that Utah has opened the season against. I feel that the Utes are favored for good reason though.
Last year was supposed to be the 'rebuilding year.' All the Utes did was go 10-3 and win their 9th straight bowl game. This year, the Utes enter the season in much better offensive shape than they did last season. Last year, there was a battle for the top QB spot. This year, Jordan Wynn comes is firmly entrenched as the starter. Wynn started the final five games last season and the offense produced nearly 35 points per game.
Working behind an experienced (4 returning starters) offensive line, Wynn is complemented by an excellent running game (Senior tailback Eddie Wide rushed for 1069 yards and 12 TD and was a 1st Team All-MWC performer) and a deep receiving corps, led by senior Jereme Brooks (56 catches, 696 yards, 7 TDs).
The Utes should have a solid defensive line, as they return three quality starters. While their secondary is unproven, they're athletic. The Panthers may not be able to exploit the secondary, as they have a QB making his first start.
Pittsburgh is ranked for a reason. The Panthers have plenty of talent, including star running back Dion Lewis and receiver Jonathan Baldwin. However, unlike Utah, as mentioned, the Panthers don't have experience at the quarterback position. Tino Sunseri has a lot of potential and should have a decent year. However, making his first start at a stadium where the home team almost never loses is difficult.
As Utah coach Kyle Whittingham had this to say: "Experienced quarterback doesn't guarantee success, but it is a great starting point..."
While slowing down Lewis will not be easy, the Utes figure to load up against him and try to force Sunseri to beat them. Playing in this hostile environment, I won't be surprised to see a Pittsburgh miscue or two.
The Utes are determined to show that they will be a factor again this year and that they are worthy of next season's conference move. They're 3-0 SU/ATS their last three against teams from the Big East and 3-0 SU/ATS the last three times that they played a game with a line in the +3 to -3 range. While I certainly respect the Panthers, with the line having fallen from its opener, I expect the Utes to improve on those stats here. *10
|09-02-10||Green Bay Packers v. Kansas City Chiefs -5.5||Top||13-17||Loss||-110||57 h 22 m||Show|
I'm playing on KANSAS CITY. Many will look at this game and scratch their heads. They'll see the winless Chiefs laying points vs. a Green Bay team which they just saw dominate on National TV. I believe the Chiefs are favored for good reason though, as I see this one as a case of one team (KC) badly needing a victory vs. another team (GB) which has nothing to prove. The Packers are 2-1 and their QB (Aaron Rodgers) has looked terrific. They are coming off a game in which they scored more points (59) than any team in a preseason game since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. Their main priority should definitely be staying healthy here. On the other hand, the Chiefs have been dismal for years and are 0-3 in this preseason. They could badly use a victory.
Looking back to last preseason and we find that three teams were winless and playing at home for their Week 4 game. Those teams (Denver, Carolina and Jacksonville) went 2-1. The three winless home teams outscored their opponents by a combined score of 53-38.
Note that the Packers were 3-0 heading into Week 4 of last preseason. They went on the road and lost 27-13.
The Chiefs are moving in the right direction. Despite losing by three vs. the Eagles, they played arguably their best preseason game under coach Haley and they had an edge in total yards in that game. Haley was quoted as saying: "I think there's a lot of progress being made. It's encouraging the way we are blocking up front and the way we are moving the football on the ground. Those are good trends and good signs for the direction things are going. That was the most positive sign to date of this football team and the direction we're going. I know it's a preseason game, but the things we've been talking about from day one - being smart, tough, physical - the physical nature of that game was evident."
He went on to say: "If we play with that amount of effort and that physical on a down-in and down-out basis on both sides of the ball, that we're going to be able to make good things happen."
Overall, despite their 0-3 record, the Chiefs have outrushed their opponents by a total of 140 yards, had a better pass completion average and they've had 60 first downs while only allowing 48. Regardless of what Haley might say, he could really use a victory here. I expect his team to be the more motivated squad and look for that to lead to a convincing win and cover. *10
|08-29-10||Pittsburgh v. Denver +2.5||Top||17-34||Win||100||10 h 49 m||Show|
I'm playing on DENVER. Even with tonight's game being played at Denver, the line has moved from its opener and the Steelers are currently small favorites. That's due in part to the fact that the Steelers are 2-0 so far in the preseason while the Broncos are 0-2 ATS. Those records actually work in our favor though, as the Broncos should be the team which comes in with a little more urgency.
Just because a team is 0-2 doesn't mean, they can't win in Week 3. In fact, yesterday I was 2-0 with teams which were 0-2. My teams (Carolina and Houston) won by a combined score of 38-14.
The Broncos have history on their side. They're 5-1 SU/ATS the last six times that they were off consecutive losses in the preseason. The Broncos are also a perfect 3-0 SU/ATS the last three times that they were preseason home underdogs of three points or less. As for the Steelers, they're just 2-5 ATS the last seven times that they were preseason road underdogs of three or fewer points.
True, most of Denver's preseason stats have come under Shanahan, now in Washington. However, the fact that Shanahan is having some early preseason success (Redskins are 2-1) figures to provide even further motivation for the Broncos here.
While its still only preseason, the Broncos figure to have some payback on their minds. Last regular season, they were riding high with a 6-1 record. Then, they faced Pittsburgh on a Monday night game. The Steelers dominated them 28-10 and the Broncos haven't been the same since. Avenging that loss and earning a victory would do wonders for team morale.
Despite their 0-2 record, starting QB Kyle Orton has been solid for the Broncos. He's gone 24-of-35 while throwing for 261 yards with four touchdowns and only one interception. He's expected to play into the third quarter here, with the rest of the healthy Denver starters doing the same.
All things considered, I feel that getting points with the revenge-minded and motivated home team provides us with excellent value. *10
|08-27-10||Philadelphia Eagles v. Kansas City Chiefs +2.5||Top||20-17||Loss||-110||9 h 29 m||Show|
I'm playing on KANSAS CITY. Neither team has been very impressive so far this preseason. I feel that the Chiefs need this game more than the Eagles though. They've got more to prove, to themselves and to their fans. The Chiefs have been a poor team in recent seasons and last year was no exception. They've got a coach in his second year now though, looking to show that his team is going to be improved. They've got a couple of big name coordinators (Romeo Crennel and Charlie Weis) looking to prove that they're as good as their past reputations. They've also got a starting QB looking to prove that he's worth the big bucks that he's getting paid.
Note that Cassell was solid last week, going 14-of-19 for 125 yards, including a six-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Horne. I feel that Cassell is fully capable of going 'toe to toe' vs. Kolb and I like the Chiefs' backups better than Philadelphia's Vick and Kafka - those two threw four interceptions last week.
As for the Eagles, sure, they're looking for improvement and would like to win this game. That said, Andy Reid has nothing to prove. Beating the Chiefs for a preseason game at Arrowhead won't have the slightest effect on how people view him as a coach.
While the Chiefs have admittedly struggled in preseason games under Haley, the Eagles have a much longer history under Reid. Note that they're just 1-6 ATS the last seven times that they played a preseason game with a line in the +3 to -3 range, going a money-burning 10-26-3 ATS their last 39 in that role. That includes a 0-4 SU/ATS mark as a road favorite of -3 points or less.
With most backing the road team, the line has moved in our favor. I feel that provides us with plenty of value with the more motivated home side. *10
|08-26-10||Indianapolis Colts +3.5 v. Green Bay Packers||Top||24-59||Loss||-110||77 h 2 m||Show|
I'm taking the points with INDIANAPOLIS. By now, even most casual fans are aware that the Colts have been a poor bet in the preseason. This season's first two games (both double-digit losses) have only added to the perception that the Colts have little interest in winning "exhibition" games. The oddsmakers know that the betting public wants to fade Indianapolis and has already factored the Colts poor preseason history into the line. I believe that's providing us with plenty of value.
True, the game is in Green Bay. However, the fans aren't as big a factor in the preseason and the "tundra" isn't exactly "frozen" in August.
Additionally, the Colts have a significant scheduling advantage. They last played, at Toronto on 8/19 ET. On the other hand, the Packers played way out on the West Coast (a 10om ET game) on 8/21. Traveling from Seattle and then playing on a very short week can be tough.
Each preseason week is different. Week 3 is the week that the starters see the most playing time. Not surprisingly, that's been when the Colts, always a good team when their top players are in the game, have been at their preseason best. While their overall preseason stats are admittedly pretty bad, note that the Colts have quietly fared quite well in Week 3 of the preseason. Check this out.
Looking back to last season and we find that the Colts lost their Week 3 preseason game, which was also on the road, by only one point. The previous preseason, the colts won their third game (a Week 2 game, but the third for the Colts) outright. They were three point underdogs but went into Atlanta and won by 7. The year before that, the Colts went just 1-3 in the preseason. However, the lone win was their third game, a 37-10 blowout victory in Week 3. The year before that, the Colts were also 1-3 in the preseason. Once again, the lone win was their third game, a 27-14 victory at New Orleans. You get the idea - the Colts have actually fared very well in their third preseason game.
While I respect the Packers, I expect the Colts to be much better than we've seen the past two weeks. Catching the Packers on a short week and returning from the Pacific Northwest, I feel that getting more than a field goal is very generous. *10.
|08-23-10||Arizona Cardinals +4 v. Tennessee Titans||Top||10-24||Loss||-110||10 h 44 m||Show|
I'm taking the points with ARIZONA. This line has climbed from its opener, a significant move. I feel that provides us with plenty of value with the visitors.
True, the Arizona offense will likely be without receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Early Doucet. Certainly, we'd rather have them playing - particularly Fitzgerald, one of the best receivers in the game. That doesn't mean the Cardinals' offense won't be motivated though. On the contrary. The Cards' other offensive players would love to play well, on National TV, and show that their offense was about more than Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald.
Meanwhile, Matt Leinart has much to prove. He's trying to win over his team and prove his doubters wrong. Of course, even though the two won't oppose each other for all that long, he'd probably also like to outperform Vince Young, the QB who beat him in the 2005 Rose Bowl. (Young also beat him with a late comeback last season.) The fact that the first team offense failed to score last week provides further motivation.
Leinart's backup Derek Anderson also has much to prove, as he didn't play well last week.
Comments from Arizona's coach (Ken Whisenhunt) suggest he really wants to see improvement from his offense. He was quoted as saying: "There were a couple of times in the first half, offensively, where it was a joke, to be quite honest with you. Plays that we had run 25 times in two weeks looked like it was the first time we'd run it."
Keep in mind that Fitzgeral wasn't going to play the entire game anyway and that the Titans will also be without several players. Justin Gage (WR), Cortland Finnegan (CB), David Thornton (LB), William Hayes (DE) and Tony Brown (DT) are all expected to be out, to name a few.
Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher has nothing to prove by winning in the preseason. He had this to say of tonight's game: "....I think everybody understands that our starters could score 14 points and not give up any, and then the backups come in and give up 17 and you lose. We all understand what preseason is about."
Both these teams saw their Week 1 games decided by a field goal or less. I feel that this one could also easily come down to the wire, making getting more than a field goal very attractive. *10
|08-22-10||Minnesota Vikings v. San Francisco 49ers -2.5||Top||10-15||Win||100||10 h 36 m||Show|
I'm playing on SAN FRANCISCO. These teams both won their opening game in convincing fashion. The 49'ers beat up on the Colts by a score of 37-17. The Vikings took care of the Rams by a score of 28-7.
Of course, the big story is the return of Brett Favre. (Was there ever really any doubt?) While Favre's return is undoubtedly a positive for the Vikings this season, the future Hall-Of-Famer won't see much action at all here. He'll likely only play a series or two and all the "Favre talk" figures to have been somewhat of a distraction. Also, keep in mind that he's now 40 years old and is coming off ankle-surgery in the offseason.
Having come extremely close to reaching the Super Bowl last season, the Vikings have little to prove. Staying healthy figures to be the top priority. Not only is Favre playing on the repaired ankle but wide receiver Percy Harvin collapsed on the practice field this week.
The 49'ers figure to have more to prove. They believe that this can be the year that they return to the top of the NFC West. However, after going 8-8 last season, establishing and maintaining a winning mentality remains important.
While a preseason victory can't compare to a regular season one, note that the 49'ers may feel that they have a bit of a score to settle with Favre and the Vikings. That's because Minnesota beat them (27-24) on a last second touchdown last season.
While they had some trouble on the road, the 49'ers were a very solid 6-2 at home last regular season. That began with a 2-0 mark in their preseason home games. The 49'ers have played at home in Week 2 of the preseason in each of the past three seasons. They were 3-0 in those three Week 2 home games, winning by a combined score of 81-47. I expect them to continue their strong homefield play tonight, covering the small number along the way. *10
|08-15-10||Denver Broncos v. Cincinnati Bengals -3||Top||24-33||Win||100||9 h 40 m||Show|
I'm laying the points with CINCINNATI. Admittedly, the Bengals didn't look too good in their Hall of Fame Game loss to the Cowboys. That's worked in our favor, as that performance has helped to keep the line reasonably low. Had the Bengals blown out Dallas, we could easily be laying more here. More importantly, having already played a real game, the Bengals should have an advantage.
As Dallas coach Wade Phillips commented after last week's H.O.F. game, "The best thing about it, is you see what you did and what you need to improve on."
Even though I do feel that teams playing the H.O.F game have an advantage in Week 1, I actually played against the Cowboys. However, that was due in large part to the fact that they were playing on a Thursday (after playing on Sunday night and then having to travel) and did not have the proper time to "see what they needed to improve on." (The Cowboys lost outright to the Raiders.) That's the not the case for the Bengals. The H.O.F. game was practically right in their own backyard and they've had a full week in between games.
The fact that the Bengals' offense struggled last week, should provide them with plenty of motivation. Note that Cincy may be able to draw some added motivation by remembering last year's regular season meeting. You may recall that the Broncos won that game after completing a very fortunate 87-yard touchdown, off a tipped ball, in the final minute of the game.
At the time, Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer was quoted as saying: "I've never seen anything like that. I've played football since I was 7 or 8, and I've not seen that." Indeed, that was the longest game-winning play from scrimmage in the final minute of the fourth quarter in NFL history.
As for the Broncos, they've already been decimated by injuries. They were a strong preseason team under Shanahan but their biggest priority here figures to be avoiding losing any more players.
I already noted Dallas lost, when playing on a short week. However, it should also be mentioned that both teams that played in the 2009 H.O.F. game, won their Week 1 game. Each team had an edge in total years and a solid overall advantage in the second half. Buffalo, the team that lost the 2009 H.O.F. game, bounced back to outgain the Bears by a commanding 375-225 edge in total yards in the Week 1 game. The Bills won that game by a touchdown. I expect the Bengals to also bounce back with a solid win, covering the small number along the way. *10
|08-14-10||Tennessee Titans v. Seattle Seahawks -3.5||Top||18-20||Loss||-115||11 h 26 m||Show|
I'm playing on SEATTLE. These teams closed out last season by playing each other. The Titans won that won 17-13. That result allowed the Titans to salvage a .500 season and it dropped the Seahawks to 5-11. While it was still a disappointing season for the Titans, it was far worse for the Seahawks. That should make them the "hungrier" team here. That's particularly true with a new coach playing his first game in front of the home fans.
Pete Carroll hasn't been in the NFL for a decade. Given that his previous NFL record was mediocre, there have been a lot of critics, saying that he won't succeed. He's getting paid a fortune and should be motivated to try and temporarily quite the critics and win the Seattle fans over right away.
He was quoted as saying: "I can't wait to see the fans and see the crowd. I've heard so much about it. There's no way I imagine anything close to what it's going to be like going in there for the first time when we're really cranking it up and it's game time. We'll get to see how far we've come."
The Titans haven't fared too well in their preseason road opener recently. Last season was a bit different, as they played in the H.O.F. Game, a 3-point win on a neutral site. However, their first 'true' road game of the preseason resulted in a 30-10 loss. The previous season, their first preseason road game resulted in a 17-3 loss. They haven't played a Week 1 NFLX game on the road this entire millennium and I feel that they'll have little to prove here and that their biggest goal will be staying healthy.
The Seahawks have been a very strong preseason team in recent seasons. While that wasn't with Carroll running the show, with several competitions going on, a solid QB rotation and players trying to impress their new coach, they've still got what it takes to succeed again here. *10
|06-17-10||Boston Celtics v. Los Angeles Lakers -6.5||Top||79-83||Loss||-110||34 h 20 m||Show|
I'm laying the points with the LA LAKERS. Having been on the correct side of all six games in the Finals, I'm certainly not surprised that we're going to a seventh game. I had the Lakers in Game 1, the Celtics in Game 2, the Lakers in Game 3, the Celtics in Games 4 and 5. After the Lakers dropped those two games, many wrote them off for Game 6. I wasn't one of them. Off that convincing wire-to-wire blowout, the Lakers have now regained their confidence and swagger. I expect them to follow it up with another convincing victory.
When the Celtics beat the Lakers in the Finals two years ago, Paul Pierce was arguably better than Kobe Bryant. That certainly hasn't been the case through the first six games. Indeed, Kobe has been seemingly on a mission the entire playoffs and he's showing no signs of slowing down. Last game, he had "only" 26 points. However, he added 11 rebounds and played great defense. Most importantly, he got help from his supporting cast, something that was missing the previous game.
Kobe was quoted as saying: "I was very happy. We did a great job defensively. We kept them out of the middle, kept them out of the paint, did a good job on the boards. It was a solid effort by us."
Pau Gasol, who had 17 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists, had this to say: "We want to carry everything we did tonight to Game 7, and then I think we'll be in a very good place to win. When you bring the intensity we did tonight, good things are going to happen."
While the Lakers managed to get everyone involved, the Celtics fell apart in that area. Doc Rivers commented: "We played an individual game tonight on both ends. We never gave ourselves an opportunity offensively, because we never trusted each other. Everybody was out to make their own place."
Ray Allen added: "We didn't get in any rhythm early, and it affects our chemistry..."
While the Lakers were already dominating before he went down, it should be noted that Boston's starting center Kendrick Perkins went down hard in the first quarter and did not return. As I release this play, it is still unclear whether he will be available for Game 7. My guess is that he will not be. However, even if he is, he surely won't be 100%. When asked if Perkins would play, Rivers was quoted as saying: "It doesn't look great, but I don't know."
Without Perkins available, or even if he plays and isn't 100%, the Celtics aren't nearly as tough in the paint. That helps the entire Laker team, particularly Gasol. Rivers noted: "He's a guy that cleans the paint up, let's say, and not having him there made the Lakers awful long." He went on to say: "He's one of our guys that I think gives us great spirit, gives us a lot of toughness and size. You know, I hope he can play. It would be tough if he can't."
With Perkins out, Sheldon Williams saw his most playing time in Game 6. That didn't exactly work out too well though. He finished with 0 points and three rebounds in 14 minutes. Rasheed Wallace went 0-7 in his 17 minutes and "Big Baby" also had 0 points, in 27 minutes.
The Lakers have been here before. They've got the best player, the momentum, homecourt advantage and a coach who knows how to win the big game. They're 10-1 at home in the playoffs and, even with a a loss at Boston in Game 5, they're 9-1 SU and 7-3 ATS the last 10 times that they were tied in a playoff series. Looking back further and we find them at a highly profitable 19-7-1 ATS (20-7 SU) their last 27 in that situation. They were the better team all season and I look for them to be the better team again tonight. *10
|06-15-10||Boston Celtics v. Los Angeles Lakers -6.5||Top||67-89||Win||100||30 h 54 m||Show|
I'm laying the points with the LA LAKERS. With the Celtics having won two in a row and now up 3-2, many are likely writing the Lakers off. Not me. I had Boston in each of the last two games (and have been on the right side in every game) so am not surprised to see the Celtics with a series lead. With tonight's game back at LA, I fully expect the Lakers to force a Game 7. More importantly, I also believe that they'll win by enough to earn us a cover.
Kobe Bryant is capable of playing great at any venue. One of the biggest differences about playing in front of the home crowd is how it affects the rest of the Lakers. After watching the Celtics' backups win Game 4, Kobe got virtually no help from his supporting cast when he needed it in Game 5. While they've shown that they can be a bit fragile at times on the road, the rest of the Laker players are a much stronger group, when playing on their own home floor.
Yes, the Celtics split the first two games at LA. However, the Lakers are still 10-1 their last 11 here. A look at those 10 victories shows that they came by a margin of 10.2 points. In my opinion, the Celtics scored the upset here in Game 2 for two reasons. The first reason was that Ray Allen was on absolute fire from 3-point range. The second reason was that the Lakers may have relaxed, if only slightly, already having a lead in the series. I don't expect either of those factors to be an issue here. With the exception of Game 2, the Lakers have done a great job on not letting Ray Allen get open looks from "downtown." Additionally, with their season on the line, there certainly won't be any of the "letdown" or "relaxing" that we saw in Game 2. Between Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant, they'll make sure of that.
For the season, even though they were without Bryant for a number of games, the Lakers are an impressive 43-8 here. The average score of those 51 games was 104.3 to 95.7.
Kobe, who berated his teammates at the end of Game 5 was quoted as saying: "Listen, if you told me at the beginning of the year that we've got two games at home to win a championship, yeah, I'll take that ... "
A look at the first five games of this series shows that all five were decided by at least six points with four being decided by seven or more. The average margin of victory was 8.8 points with the two games here at LA both being decided by nine or more. I expect Kobe to "do his thing" and for the rest of his team to step up and give him the help that he needs, leading to a Laker win and cover. *10
|06-13-10||Los Angeles Lakers v. Boston Celtics -2.5||Top||86-92||Win||100||21 h 56 m||Show|
I'm playing on BOSTON. I've been successfully "zig-zagging" in this series, having gone 4-0 with my side selections. I played the Lakers in Game 1, came back with Boston in Game 2, the Lakers in Game 3 and back to the Celtics in Game 4. I expect the pattern to come to an end here though and feel that the value lies with the Celtics, for the second straight game.
For starters, due in large part to many others jumping on the "zig-zag bandwagon" (and to the fact that the Lakers are such a beloved team) the line is now lower than it was in Game 4. That line opened at -3 and went up to -4. This one is going the opposite way. It opened at -3.5, although only briefly. It then went to -3, then -2.5. It's possible that it could go even lower, still. I feel that anything at -3 or better is providing excellent value.
Many will point to Game 4 and say that there's no way the Celtics can expect another huge performance from the likes of Big Baby Davis and Nate Robinson. That may indeed be true. That said, I think that the Celtics can expect a bigger combined effort from the "Big 4," of Rondo, Allen, Pierce and Garnett. Sure, those players still combined for 54 points, all scoring in double-digits. However, they all finished with less than 20 points. None had more than six rebounds and they shot a combined 21-51. Yet, despite those mediocre stats and despite Kobe doing his thing (he had 33 points) the Celtics still won by seven, scoring 96 points. I feel that we can expect better combined numbers from those four tonight.
Bryant and Gasol will get their points. The rest of the Lakers have been inconsistent though. With only a couple of exceptions, Artest has been a terrible shooter in most games. Odom hasn't played well in this series and doesn't seem to match up well. Fisher had just six points and two assists last game. Perhaps most importantly, Bynum is far from 100%. He only played 12 minutes in the last game and managed a mere two points.
True, as I've pointed out a few times in these playoffs, the Lakers have been great when tied in a playoff series. They're generally at home in those situations though. Additionally, the Celtics aren't too shabby in that spot either, as they're 11-4 SU the last 15 times that they were tied in a playoff series. With the line now so low, a SU victory has a very strong chance in also resulting in a pointspread victory.
Note that the Lakers are just 5-8 ATS and 4-9 SU the last 13 times that they were road underdogs of +3 or less. They're also just 5-9 ATS their last 14 in the Finals. On the other hand, the Celtics are 8-2 ATS their last 10 in the Finals. While it likely won't be "easy," I expect them to improve on those stats here. *10
|06-13-10||New York Mets v. Baltimore Orioles +1.5||Top||11-4||Loss||-130||12 h 1 m||Show|
I'm playing BALTIMORE on the RUN-LINE (+1.5 runs). The Mets have taken the first two games of the series. The Orioles have actually outhit them in both games though and I believe that they're providing us with excellent value, particularly on the run-line.
Admittedly, Millwood has struggled his last few starts. However, two of those games were vs. the Yankees (one home and one away) and the third was vs. the Jays, at Toronto, a team which has been hitting a ton of home runs all season. Millwood, who still has a respectable 4.14 ERA and 1.33 WHIP at home (averaging 6.9 innings per start here) should be happy to see the Mets. He's 8-5 with a 3.36 ERA against them. His teams are 8-3 his last 11 starts vs. the Mets. A closer look shows that Millwood allowed four or fewer earned runs in 10 of those 11 games (5 in the other) including two or fewer in seven of them.
While Millwood's teams are 3-0 his last three starts vs. the Mets, note that two of those games were decided by a single run. Also, note that four of Millwood's last five home starts were decided by one run.
There is no denying that Pelfrey has been very solid. However, he's also been involved in a lot of close games. Since he got blown out (10-0) at Philly on 5/1, he's seen six of his last seven starts decided by two runs or less (the other was decided by 3) with two of the last five being decided by a single run. Last time out, he won 2-1 vs. San Diego.
As good as he's been, the Mets are still just 4-7 his last 11 road starts and two of those four victories came by one run. In other words, the Mets would be just 2-9 his last 11 road starts, if being asked to lay -1.5 runs. Note that the Mets are also just 15-20 (-11.4) vs. the moneyline, the last 35 times that they were listed as road favorites in the -125 to -150 range.
Even having dropped both games in this series, the Orioles are still 23-18 their last 41 I.L. games. I'll grab the +1.5 runs but I feel that they've got a great shot at scoring the upset here. *10
|06-10-10||Los Angeles Lakers v. Boston Celtics -3.5||Top||89-96||Win||100||33 h 16 m||Show|
I'm laying the points with BOSTON. The "zig-zag theory" may not have fared too well in the playoffs. However, it's been alive and well in the playoffs, thus far. The Lakers won and covered in Game 1. The Celtics bounced back with a win and cover in the second game. Game 3 saw the Lakers respond with a win and cover of their own. I expect the "pattern" to continue for another day and look for Boston to even up the series.
The Lakers played great defense in Game 3, holding Boston to a mere 84 points. That didn't surprise me, as I had both LA and the 'under' in that game. They're not always that good, when coming off a strong defensive outing though. In fact, LA is a money-burning 2-8 ATS the last 10 times it held its previous opponent to 85 points or less.
As I mentioned in my analysis of Game 3, the Lakers have been outstanding when tied in a playoff series. They've only been mediocre, when leading in a playoff series though, going 6-6 ATS (7-5 SU) their last 12 in that situation. On the other hand, including their big win in Game 2, the Celtics are a perfect 6-0 SU, going a profitable 5-1 ATS, the last six times that they were trailing in a playoff series.
In my Game 3 analysis, I also noted that this series was playing out similarly to Boston's series vs. Cleveland. In that game, the Celtics lost Game 1 on the road and bounced back to score the upset in the second game. Game 3 saw them return home, only to lose in front of their home fans. So, what happened in Game 4? Just as many were starting to write them off, the veteran Celtics responded with a double-digit victory.
While the Celtics did lose one home game vs. both Orlando and Cleveland, they have yet to lose two home games in any series. Kevin Garnett finally came back to life last game. I expect "The Big Ticket" to deliver another strong effort and this time, I look for his supporting cast to do a much better job. Specifically, its fairly safe to assume that Ray Allen will shoot a lot better than he did in his last game.
The Celtics are 71-25 SU the last 96 times that they were attempting to avenge an earlier loss. During that stretch, they've also gone 37-17 SU when coming off a SU loss as an underdog. I expect them to improve on those stats, covering the small number along the way. *10
|06-08-10||Los Angeles Lakers +2.5 v. Boston Celtics||Top||91-84||Win||100||29 h 40 m||Show|
I'm taking the points with the LA LAKERS. After playing on LA in Game 1, I came back with Boston in Game 2. I'm "zig-zagging" here again for Game 3.
Yes, the Celtics played a lot better on Sunday than they did in the opener. Ray Allen set a Finals record with eight 3-pointers while Rondo recorded another Triple-Double. That said, if Kobe hadn't been in foul trouble, scoring only 21 points, the Lakers very well could have won that game. He's still the best player in this series and I expect him to bounce back with a huge game.
Bryant was quoted as saying: "You're trying to stay even-keel. You don't get too high, don't get too low after a win or a loss. You just go into the next one and take care of business." While that's a good line to feed the media, the fact is that he wasn't happy with his performance. Naturally, he didn't like the fact that the Lakers lost. But he also didn't like Ray Allen stealing the spotlight or that he managed only 21 points. Again, I believe we can expect a big bounce-back effort.
As far as the other key LA players, Gasol is off to a very strong start to the series and Bynum is coming off a breakout game. He had 21 points, six rebounds and seven blocked shots in Game 2. They may not be able to count on quite that big an effort from him here, but at least he's fighting through injury and making his presence felt, more than we saw in the earlier rounds.
Yes, the Celtics are now playing on their homecourt. They've been far from unbeatable here though. The Magic beat them here once and so did the Cavaliers. Overall, they've won just eight of their last 15 games here. For the season, they're a money-burning 19-30-1 ATS here, including an ugly 5-14 ATS when playing a home game with a total of 190 to 194.5.
The Lakers know that they can win here, as they did so in the regular season this year and last - the only two games they played here since the Finals two years ago.
The Lakers, who have earned at least one road win in every series, have also been outstanding when tied in a playoff series. Indeed, they're 19-6 SU and 18-6-1 ATS their last 25 in that situation. That includes a perfect 8-0 SU record their last eight in that situation. They're also 24-8 SU (20-11-1 ATS) the last 32 times that they were attempting to avenge an earlier home loss. In a game that could easily come down to the wire, I'll grab the points. However, I expect LA to regain control of the series and come away with the outright win. *10
|06-06-10||Boston Celtics +6 v. Los Angeles Lakers||Top||103-94||Win||100||54 h 59 m||Show|
I'm taking the points with BOSTON. As you know, the Lakers won Game 1 in convincing fashion. Often, when a favorite covers in the opening game of a series, the line will be slightly lower for the second game. That's not the case here though. In fact, the current line is slightly higher than it was for the opener. I feel that provides us with excellent value on the underdog Celtics.
In my writeup for Game 1 on the Lakers, I noted that the home team had gone a perfect 5-0 SU/ATS in Game 1 of the Finals, over the last five years. However, Game 2 has often been a different story. Last year, was a prime example. In Game 1, the Lakers destroyed the Magic by 25 points.
In Game 2, off that blowout, the line climbed from -6 to -6.5. Yet, the contest was much closer. In fact, it went to overtime, with the Lakers eventually winning by just five points. The previous year, when these teams faced each other in the Finals, Game 2 was also closer than Game 1. The Celtics won the first by double-digits. Yet, Game 2 was decided by only six points.
Looking more closely at the Finals meeting between these teams two years ago and we find that the Lakers did win two of the three games at LA. However, both those victories came by six points or less. Overall, the Lakers are just 11-18-2 ATS their last 31 in the NBA Finals, including 4-7 ATS their last 11.
Even with the Game 1 loss, the Celtics are still 6-1 ATS their last seven in the Finals. They've also been outstanding at bouncing back from a big loss. In fact, they're 19-6 SU and 16-9 ATS the last 25 times that they were coming off a double-digit setback. That includes a 8-4 SU/ATS mark the last dozen times that they were in that situation.
It should also be noted that the Celtics are a perfect 5-0 SU and 4-1 ATS the last five times that they were trailing in a playoff series. This season, after losing Game 1 at Cleveland, listed as +6 point underdogs, they bounced back with a 18-point victory in Game 2. Also, after losing Game 1 at Orlando, listed as +7 point underdogs, they bounced back with a 3-point victory in Game 2. Combine that with their 29-point victory vs. Miami the second game of the opening round and we find them at 3-0 SU/ATS in Game 2 in these playoffs, winning by 50 combined points.
I expect a much better game from the Eastern Conference Champs here, as they continue their "Game 2 success" by earning at least another cover. *10
|05-29-10||Los Angeles Lakers +1.5 v. Phoenix Suns||Top||111-103||Win||100||20 h 53 m||Show|
I'm playing on the LA LAKERS. Home teams are a perfect 5-0 SU in this series. However, I expect that to change this evening. While they only ended up winning at the buzzer, the Lakers dominated much of Game 5. Not only did they do a better job of dealing with the Suns' defense but they also got back to playing strong defense themselves.
The fact that the Suns came all the way back to tie the game, erasing an 18-point deficit, will have many feeling that they will get it done tonight and force a Game 7. While that's certainly a possibility, I feel that the fact that they fought all the way back, only to lose in heartbreaking fashion, will work against them. They know they had an opportunity to steal homecourt advantage and that they didn't make the most of it. Working so hard to fight back, only to come up short, can often work against a team. On the other hand, the Lakers know they dodged a bullet and will badly want to close things out here and avoid a Game 7.
Not that the Lakers should need any more incentive but the fact that Boston won last night should also provide added motivation to get this series done ASAP. The last thing they want to do is have to drag this one out to the full seven games, while Boston sits around and gets rested up.
This series has been similar to the first round matchup with Oklahoma City. In that series, like this one, the home team won all five of the first five games. With the Lakers up 3-2, many expected the trend to continue and for the Thunder to protect their homecourt in Game 6. That didn't happen though, as the Lakers came away with a narrow victory. It probably won't be easy but I look for Kobe and co. to come away with another win here. *10
|05-28-10||Orlando Magic v. Boston Celtics -3||Top||84-96||Win||100||20 h 42 m||Show|
I'm playing on BOSTON. What looked like a sweep has suddenly become a series. Down 3-0, the Magic appeared to be done. They've battled back though and are now right back in the series. If they can win tonight, they'll get to go back to Orlando to play Game 7 on their home floor. Admittedly, that should have the Celtics feeling some pressure. That said, I believe that Boston has the veteran leadership to be able to handle that pressure. The Celtics are also wise enough to know that they better take care of business tonight, as they absolutely do not want to return to the state of Florida. I feel that they'll be able to get it done.
I believe that Boston's last two losses can be rationalized. Losing Game 4 was a result of the Celtics taking the Magic for granted and looking ahead to the Finals. Everyone was already talking about a showdown with the Lakers and Game 3 had been so "easy" that the Celts probably felt that just showing up would be enough to ensure a victory. As a result, they came out with a little less intensity and the Magic jumped all over them. Game 5 can be explained simply by the fact that the game was at Orlando. Beating an elite team on its home floor, in the playoffs, is never easy. The
Magic had gained confidence from the Game 4 win and were now thrilled to be back home and playing another game. However, the series is now back to Boston. Also, the pointspread is now low enough that a SU victory will likely result in an ATS win.
With the line significantly lower than it was for Game 4 here, note that the Celtics are a profitable 4-1 SU/ATS the last five times that they were favored by four points or less, going 12-6 SU/ATS their last 18 in that situation.
On the other hand, including the Game 3 loss, the Magic are 0-3 SU/ATS the last three times that they were underdogs of four or less.
Even with the Game 4 loss, the Celtics are still a healthy 12-8 SU/ATS the last 20 times that they hosted the Magic, going 6-2 SU/ATS their last eight home games overall. They're also a lucrative 15-9 ATS (18-6 SU) the last 24 times that they were coming off a double-digit loss. I expect them to bounce back and improve on those stats here. *10
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