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|Date||Match Up||Rating||Score||Result||Profit||Lead Time||Analysis|
|11-19-11||Wisconsin v. Illinois +15||Top||28-17||Win||100||25 h 58 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on ILLINOIS. I wasn't surprised that the Badgers lost at Michigan State or that they followed it up with a loss at Ohio State. After all, that first loss killed their hopes of an undefeated season. It also hasn't been surprising that the Badgers have responded with back to back big wins. After all, those games came against weak opponents, Purdue and Minnesota. I expect them to have their hands full this afternoon though. While they can't go undefeated, the Badgers are still in the hunt for the Big Ten "Leaders" Division title. They know they're currently a game back of Penn State though and also know that they face those same Nittany Lions next week. Obviously, that's a huge game - and I feel it may be easy to get caught looking past Illinois. That could well prove costly though. The Illini have struggled lately and are admittedly dealing with some adversity. They're without a starting linebacker and their coach is on the "hot seat." As coach Zook noted, however, "When you've got problems, that's when you find out what kind of people you are and what kind of person you are and you've just got to keep on keeping on and work through it..." I expect the Illini to "dig deep" in this one. Note that the teams haven't played for a few years but have a history of playing "close" games. The most recent, at Wisconsin in 2008, was decided by 10 points. The most recent here at Champaign (2007) saw Illinois win by five. Speaking of "close games," the Illini have seen their last two home finales decided by a combined five points. The Illini are 3-1 ATS the last four times that they were listed as underdogs in the +10.5 to +21 range and that includes a 1-0 ATS mark as a home underdog in the +14.5 to +17 range. Looking to salvage their season and possibly their coach's job, I expect the Illini to improve on those stats here. *10
|11-17-11||North Carolina +11 v. Virginia Tech||Top||21-24||Win||100||14 h 38 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on NORTH CAROLINA. Admittedly, the Tar Heels have been a bit inconsistent. That being the case, many bettors are wary to back them. Combine that with the fact that UNC is off an "ugly" loss while V-Tech is off a convincing win and we're getting a very large line to work with. I believe it will prove to be too high. I didn't play on the Tar Heels in their last game. That was a good thing, as they "failed to show up," losing 12-0 at NC State. That was an "instate rivalry" game though and those can tend to have a different feel to them, particularly that one. The Wolfpack wanted it more and played harder. That was the 5th straight time that NC State has beaten UNC though, as that's arguably the most important game to the Wolfpack's fan base. That doesn't seem to be the case for the Tar Heels. However, it should be noted that they've fared well, after losing to the Wolfpack in previous seasons. Last year, they followed up their loss to NC State by winning on the road, at Duke. The previous season, their loss to NC State came in the final game of the regular season. In 2008, the Heels followed up their loss to the Wolfpack with an 8-point victory, as a -7.5 point favorite. the previous season, after losing at NC State, the Heels covered the spread at Georgia Tech, losing by only two (27-25) as a +9.5 point favorite. In other words, just because the Tar Heels stunk against the Wolfpack, it doesn't necessarily mean that they'll do it again. If anything, losing to their "rival" seems to have a motivating effect. In this case, the Heels have also had plenty of extra preparation time, as that game came by on 11/5. Note that UNC is 7-4 SU the last 11 times it was off a conference loss, including a 2-1 SU/ATS mark in that situation this season. Some of you will recall that we backed this same UNC team the game before NC State and the Heels rewarded us by crushing Wake Forest. Also, note that two of UNC's conference losses came by a touchdown or less. The Heels lost by six vs. Miami and by seven at Georgia Tech. The Hokies are off an 11-point win at Georgia Tech but they're no strangers to playing close conference games either. They beat Miami by three and Duke by four. They're still just 2-5 ATS their last seven. While the Hokies are 0-4 ATS the last four times that they were favored in the -10.5 to -21 range, the Tar Heels are 2-0 ATS the last two times that they were underdogs in the +10.5 to +21 range. The Heels won outright here last visit, 20-17 when listed as a +14.5 point underdog. I expect another close one tonight. *10 Best Bet
|11-16-11||Ohio v. Bowling Green +7||Top||29-28||Win||100||9 h 10 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on BOWLING GREEN. The Bobcats are on a nice roll. However, they're playing on a short week here while also playing back to back road games for the first and only time this season. On the other hand, Bowling Green is well-rested and "desperate." While the Bobcats played on 11/10, the Falcons last played on 11/8. Ohio is still looking to wrap up the MAC East but Bowling Green figures to be even more hungry as they need to win this game AND win their final one (winnable road game at Buffalo) to get to six wins. While they were blown out by one of the best teams in the MAC West (NIU) last time out, the Falcons have beaten Temple and Miami Ohio, two of the better teams in the MAC East. While Bowling Green is only 2-3 at home, last week's loss to NIU was the only home defeat which came by more than a touchdown. The other losses here came by seven points and one point. They're still outscoring opponents by a 26.6 to 24.8 margin here. Despite the sub-500 record, the Falcons have really shown improvement from last year (when they finished just 2-10) and are a much stronger team than the one that was a +8 or +9 point underdog at Ohio last year. Yet, now they're playing a "must win" game, have the schedule in their favor AND are playing their home finale, yet we're getting nearly as many points to work with. While they've dropped two in a row, note that the Falcons are already 2-0 ATS this season, after having lost two or more consecutive games. Ohio is certainly a good MAC team and won't be easy to beat. That said, playing their final home game of the season, I expect the Falcons to go all out, improving on those stats with at least another cover. *10 Best Bet
|11-13-11||Buffalo Bills v. Dallas Cowboys -4.5||Top||7-44||Win||100||26 h 29 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on DALLAS. I'm afraid that I still don't believe in the Bills. Last week's 27-11 home loss to the Jets did little to change my opinion of them. Note that Buffalo is only 2-6 SU/ATS the last eight times that it was coming off a divisional loss. In fact, the Bills are just 3-9 SU/ATS the last dozen times that they were off a divisional game - as those games seemingly take a real toll on them. This is a very big game for both teams, as both are fighting to try and get to the top of their division. At 5-3, the Bills are in a 3-way tie with the Jets and Pats, who face each other Sunday Night. Despite being 4-4, the Cowboys are a more legit playoff team though, in my opinion. That said, they also know they can ill afford to fall below .500 and risk potentially falling three games behind the Giants. They didn't cover (as the line was very high) but the Cowboys are off a 10-point win vs. Seattle. They've now won seven of their last 10 November games. They're 3-1 at home. The Bills are 1-2 in true road games. While there will be a lot of talk about the Dallas offense missing receiver Myles Austin, note that the Cowboys' defense should get a boost in this one; leading tackler Sean Lee is expected to return after missing the last game and a half with a wrist injury. With an O/U line in the high 40s, this is expected to be a fairly high-scoring game. That should suit the Cowboys just fine. They're 8-3 SU/ATS the last 11 times that they played a home game with an O/U line in the 45.5 to 49 range. I expect them to improve on those stats here and feel that a line of less than a touchdown with the Cowboys is providing us with excellent value. *10 Personal Fav
|11-12-11||Duke +10.5 v. Virginia||Top||21-31||Win||100||77 h 57 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on DUKE. I feel that these teams are far more evenly matched than the pointspread indicates. Therefore, I feel that getting "double-digits" with the "dog" is very attractive. I won with Duke in this matchup last season. The pointspread was close to a "pick'em" and Duke won by a score of 55-48. Granted, that game was at Duke and this one is at Virginia. Also, this is an improved Virginia team. However, I feel that the same can be said of Duke. Keep in mind that this is now David Cutcliffe's fourth year with the Blue Devils and that with 14 returning starters, this was considered to be his best team since being here. While Duke has lost four straight, keep in mind that two of those losses (vs V-Tech and Wake Forest) came by four points or less. Both those resulted in pointspread victories and have the Blue Devils at a profitable 5-2 ATS their last seven. The Blue Devils have actually won two of their three road games this season, including a victory at Boston College. They're now 8-5-1 ATS their last 14 in the road. As for the recent losses, note that Duke remains a lucrative 7-4 ATS the past few seasons, when off back to back SU losses. On the other hand, during the same stretch, Virginia is only 1-4 ATS when off back to back SU victories. Note that the Cavs lost 28-14 (to NC State) in their most recent home game. In fact, they're just 2-3 ATS at home this season. Their two home wins against 1-A teams came by only four combined points. Looking at the last meeting here and we find that Virginia was a -7.5 point favorite but that Duke won outright, 28-17. The Blue Devils are 11-4 ATS their last 15 against teams with a winning record. They've had Virginia's number the past couple of seasons and I look for them to give their hosts all they can handle once again. *10 Best Bet
|11-12-11||Wyoming v. Air Force -15.5||Top||25-17||Loss||-110||52 h 41 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on AIR FORCE. Just looking at the records of these teams, many might wonder why Air Force is such a big favorite. After all, the Falcons are only 5-4 while Wyoming is 5-3. However, I feel the Falcons are favored for good reason. In fact, I expect them to win this one quite comfortably. Lets take a closer look. As is often the case, records can be deceiving. To its credit, Wyoming did beat an "ok" San Diego State team, one which beat Air Force. That was by far the Cowboys' most impressive victory though. Their other wins came against 1-AA teams Weber State and Texas State University. The other two wins came against Bowling Green and UNLV, both bad teams with losing records. Keep in mind that the Cowboys also lost 63-19 vs. Utah State. Last week, they fought hard vs. TCU but came up short. That loss figures to be tough to bounce back from, as they really "left it all on the field." Granted, the Falcons don't boast many victories over big name or good teams either. They have at least beaten both Navy and Army though. Having also played Boise State tough (11 point loss as +30 point favorite) on the blue turf, the Falcons have shown they can play with anyone. More importantly, for this particular case, they've also demonstrated that they can blow teams out, in the recent 42-0 destruction of New Mexico. The Falcons won by "only" six at Wyoming last season. However, a closer look reveals that they had a 27-12 edge in first downs in that game and had massive statistical edges across the board. They dominated that game, after falling behind early. The Falcons also shutout the Cowboys the last game here. While the Falcons are off a big (won 24-0!) second half, the Cowboys are off a bad (outscored 14-3) one - I feel that'll prove significant here, from a momentum standpoint. The Falcons have won six of seven November games the past couple of seasons. I expect them to improve on those stats in convincing fashion, earning the cover along the way. *10 Personal Favorite
|11-12-11||Nebraska v. Penn State +4||Top||17-14||Win||100||25 h 9 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on PENN STATE. How will the Nittany Lions react to the Paterno scandal/firing? While nobody will know for sure, until the game is actually played. However, my hunch is that they come ready to play. Regardless of how they may feel about Paterno (most still love him but are probably pretty confused) this is a team, school and community that feels the whole world is against them. This is their chance to stand up and show that Penn State is bigger than all that and that they (the players) had nothing to do with any of the alleged atrocities. All that nastiness aside, this is a big football game between a pair of top programs. The Nittany Lions are 5-0 in conference play, coming off a bye, playing at home and have won seven straight games. Meanwhile, the Huskers lost outright (at -17.5 point favorites!) vs. Northwestern, AT Nebraska, last week. (Penn State won by double-digits AT Northwestern!) Yet, the Huskers are favored and because of the scandal, the line has climbed even higher. I feel that's giving us excellent value. With last week's loss, the Huskers are only 3-6 ATS in November the past few seasons. They're also 3-4 ATS, when off a conference loss, during that span. The Nittany Lions are 3-1 ATS (4-0 SU) the last four times that they played a home game with an O/U line ranging between 42.5 and 45. I expect them to band together as a team and to go all out, earning at least another cover. *10
|11-10-11||Ohio v. Central Michigan +7||Top||43-28||Loss||-120||33 h 28 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on CENTRAL MICHIGAN. I won with Ohio last week, so I certainly respect the Bobcats. That said, I feel they're over-valued this week. The win over Temple was an emotional one. Facing a "lesser opponent" it may be easy for the Bobcats to suffer a slight "letdown" here. Either way, the win over Temple has caused this line to be a bit higher than it would have been otherwise. Therefore, its worth noting that the Bobcats are a poor 4-6 ATS the last 10 times that they were listed as road favorites in the -3.5 to -7 range. During the same stretch, the Chippewas were 4-2-1 ATS as home underdogs in the +3.5 to +7 range. True, the Chippewas have only three wins on the season, go to along with an admittedly very poor pointspread record. That said, their schedule has hardly been favorable. Indeed, seven of their last nine games have come on the road, including three straight. A closer look at the results shows that the Chippewas have actually been extremely competitive, dating back to the beginning of October. On 10/1, they won outright vs. Northern Illinois. (The Huskies won 45-14 Tuesday night, improving to 5-1 in MAC play. The Chippewas are the only MAC team that has beaten them.) Dating back to the win over the Huskies, ALL five of Central Michigan's conference games have been decided by seven or fewer points. The last three have ALL been decided by a total of just eight points. They had scores of 24-21, 23-22 (a win) and 24-21. I won with underdog Ohio the last time that these teams met. That was back in the 2009 Mac Championship game, played at Ford Field. Central Michigan was a -13.5 point favorite in that one but won by "only" 10. I look for the underdog to get the cash as this one again proves closer than many will be expecting. *10
|11-08-11||Western Michigan +11.5 v. Toledo||Top||63-66||Win||100||33 h 27 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on WESTERN MICHIGAN. With such a high pointspread, its natural to assume that there's a large talent gap between these teams. With all due respect to Toledo, I don't believe that's the case. Rather, I feel that the Broncos are currently very under-valued and feel that they're capable of giving Toledo everything it can handle. The Broncos are off a bye last week, giving them extra prep. Prior to that, they defeated Ball State by double-digits. They've got five wins on the season and obviously really want a sixth. The Broncos may only be 5-4 but they've had to face three BCS schools, all of them on the road. They lost 34-10 at Michigan to start the season. However, a closer look reveals that they actually limited the Wolverines to 288 total yards of offense. So, the 34 points allowed was a little misleading - although that game was shortened due to lightning. In fact, both teams had exactly 17 first downs, the total yardage was 288-279 and the Broncos had a significant edge in time of possession. So, if not for two defensive TDs by Michigan, that game was actually very close. The Broncos other two games vs. BCS schools saw them win outright at Connecticut, where the Huskies are usually tough AND saw them lose by just three at Illinois. So, this is a team which has proven to be capable of playing tough against top tier opponents, even when facing them on the road. Looking at those three road games vs. BCS foes and we find that the Broncos were underdogs of +3, +13.5 and +14 points. Now, facing a team from the MAC, one which is off a heart-braking loss and which is just 5-4 overall, the Broncos find themselves as double-digit underdogs. Considering that they were only +1.5 at Northern Illinois, the team which just defeated Toledo and which is currently on top (tied with Toledo) of the MAC, I feel this much bigger line is providing excellent value. As noted, Toledo is off a "heartbreaker." I had the 'over,' so was thrilled to seem them score so many points. However, scoring 60 and still losing (they gave up 63!) figures to be rather disheartening. The Broncos have had this game circled since last season. That's because Toledo upset them (WMI was -3.5) at Western Michigan last season. Note that Western Michigan had a whopping 416-268 edge in total yards in that game, to go along with a 24-11 advantage in first downs. In other words, that game could have easily had a different result. The last meeting here at Toledo came in 2009. The Rockets were laying -7.5 for that one. Yet, Western Michigan jumped out to a 41-12 first half lead and cruised to a 58-26 victory. In fact, after years of struggling here, Western Michigan has now won two in row at Toledo. I'll gladly grab the generous points but another outright win won't surprise. *10 Best Bet
|11-06-11||Green Bay Packers v. San Diego Chargers +6.5||Top||45-38||Loss||-110||45 h 53 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on SAN DIEGO. Everyone is pretty down on Phillip Rivers and the Chargers right now, particularly after last week's loss vs. the Chiefs. I feel that they're being a little hard on this team though. Keep in mind that last week's game was their third straight on the road and that it came against a surging division rival which had won three straight and which was "sky high" for a rare Monday night home game. Also, lets not forget that the Chargers had a significant advantage in yards in that game AND that they were in position to win it, if not for a late fumble in the final couple of minutes. Most importantly, let's remember that the Chargers may be 1-3 on the road but that they're a perfect 3-0 out here in San Diego. This week, they should be the team which is "sky high." They've listened to everyone run them through the mud and probably feel they're being unfairly treated. They already lost a game against a marquis team (New England) but that was on the road. Now, they get a chance to host the defending Superbowl champs - the perfect opponent that they can earn some "respect" by beating. True, the Chargers are off a Monday night game. They're 3-1 SU/ATS their last four in that situation though. So, I'm not all that concerned about that part. Really, after that "debacle," the Chargers probably are looking forward to getting back on the field and setting the record straight, ASAP. Also, losing a Monday Night game isn't always a recipe for disaster to following week the way many people tend to believe it is. Looking at the past five Monday night losers, prior to San Diego, we find that those teams went 3-2 SU the following week. The only two losers were Miami and Indianapolis; the only two winless teams in the league. In fact, even those two winless teams played their best after Monday, as they lost by only three and four points, each blowing a double-digit lead in that game. While the Packers are off a bye, with the rule changes, we've seen that isn't necessarily as helpful as it once was. True, the Packers are a great team with a QB who is playing great and who will be motivated to play well in his home state. That doesn't mean that the champs are unbeatable though. I successfully played against the Packers in their last game and the Vikings gave them all they could handle - and that was Christian Ponder's first start. The Chargers were a perfect 8-0 SU in the month of November the past two years and they covered the spread in the last seven of those. Even with the loss at New England, the Chargers are also still 13-6-1 ATS the last 20 times that they were listed as underdogs, including 4-1 ATS their last five in that role. I expect them to bounce back and improve on those stats Sunday afternoon. *10 Main Event
|11-06-11||Cincinnati Bengals v. Tennessee Titans -2.5||Top||24-17||Loss||-110||45 h 43 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on TENNESSEE. At 5-2, the Bengals enter this game with the better record. They've won four straight and are right there with Buffalo amongst the surprise teams of the league, through the first half. That said, at 4-3, the Titans aren't far behind them. In fact, the Titans have been arguably more impressive than the Bengals and are also arguably in better shape to make the playoffs. Remember, this Tennessee team had a coaching and quarterback change to contend with, during the lockout-shortened offseason. So, it wasn't a big surprise that they lost their opening road game at Jacksonville, a team which the Bengals defeated. At least, not a big surprise to me - as I had a big (10*) play against the Titans that day. However, the Titans have since gone 4-2 and the only two losses were against Houston and at Pittsburgh, a pair of top tier teams with a combined 11-5 record. The Bengals did beat Buffalo but lets not forget that the Bills were in a tough spot (off upset of the Pats) that day, so that wasn't that surprising either. Again, at least not to me, as I had a big (10*) play on Cincy that day. The Bengals other wins all came against teams which are currently below .500 though, as they beat the likes of Seattle, Indianapolis, Jacksonville and Cleveland. Those teams are currently a combined 7-23. They also lost vs. Denver, a team that is 1-5 against everyone else and which ranks among the weaker teams in the league. Besides Jacksonville, the other two common opponents which these teams faced were the Broncos, Colts and Browns. The Titans beat the Broncos and hammered the Colts and Browns by 18 and 17 points. Meanwhile, the Bengals lost vs. the Broncos and beat the Colts and Browns by 10 each. My point is that Cincy's 5-2 record is no more impressive to me than Tennessee's 4-3 record. Again, arguably less so. This week, the Titans have the advantage of playing at home and also of playing their third straight game here. They have yet to leave the Eastern Time Zone this season. They also have a road game vs. Carolina on deck - hardly a reason to get caught "looking ahead." On the other than, the Bengals will be playing their second straight road game and last week's game was way out in the Pacific Northwest, at Seattle. Note that the Bengals also have a showdown looming vs. hated Pittsburgh, the defending conference champs and the team which is at the top of their division. So, not only are they in a tough travel spot but they could also easily get caught looking ahead. The Titans are an impressive 31-11 SU and 25-15-2 ATS the last 42 times that they played a home game with an O/U line in the 38.5 to 42 range. During that stretch, they've gone 21-7 SU and 19-7-2 ATS as home favorites of three or fewer points. I expect them to improve on those stats Sunday afternoon. *10 (Personal Favorite.)
|11-06-11||San Francisco 49ers v. Washington Redskins +4||Top||19-11||Loss||-115||124 h 39 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on WASHINGTON. While it was a winning weekend overall, I lost with the Redskins last Sunday. That won't stop me from backing them again this Sunday though, as I feel this is a very favorable situation. For starters, the Redskins are back home. They've won two of three games here and the lone loss came by seven points against a talented and "desperate" Eagles team. The Skins' other two games here resulted in SU victories over Arizona and Washington. The Skins are also in one of their best roles, as we find them at 11-6 ATS The last 17 times that they were listed as home underdogs in the +3.5 to +7 range. Note that they're actually a slightly larger underdog here than they were for their games against Philly and the Giants, teams which are arguably more "proven" than the 49ers. Of course, the reason for the line is that the 49ers have been playing well under Harbaugh and are off to a great start to the season. That said, I don't feel that they're ready to be laying more than a field goal on the road. Keep in mind that this is a West-Coast based team which will be playing an "early" game in the Eastern Time Zone here. Also, note that all three of the 49'ers road games have been decided by six or fewer points, each coming right down to the wire. They beat the Bengals by five points (13-8) by scoring a late TD with less than four minutes remaining. They beat the Eagles by a single point and they were losing against the Lions at the 2-minute warning. In other words, as noted, all their road games have been extremely close. Yet, despite playing thousands of miles away from home, now they're being asked to win by more than a field goal. I feel that's asking too much. Despite the recent struggles, the Skins season isn't a complete "write-off" yet. They're still 3-4, which puts them in a 3-way tie with the Eagles and Cowboys in the NFC East. A win here and they're back to .500. And, that's followed by a game against the struggling Dolphins. So, they know if they can win here, they'll still be very much alive. Note that the Skins last lost three in a row late last season, when they lost four in a row. After the 3-game losing streak, they easily covered the spread at Dallas, losing by three (33-30) as a large underdog. The next week, after having lost four in a row, they won outright, as +7 road underdogs. In fact, after the 3-game slide, the Skins covered the spread in all three of their remaining games to close out the season. Shanahan had never been shutout as a coach in the NFL before Sunday. While the Skins are admittedly still dealing with a number of injuries, I expect Shanahan to have his team "fired up" as the Skins bounce back with a much better effort and improve to 8-3-2 ATS the last 13 times that they'd lost two or more in a row. *10 Best Bet
|11-05-11||LSU v. Alabama -4||Top||9-6||Loss||-110||24 h 40 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on ALABAMA. As you know, this is a huge game. And that's putting it lightly. Indeed, considering that the SEC has won six straight National titles, the winner of this game will be favored to win the National Championship. Both teams are very good. Both are very well coached. Both have dominated their opponents. That's led to both also having excellent pointspread records. The Tide have the #1 defense in the country but LSU is right behind them at #3. Many bettors will see all those similarities and determine that the teams are very equal. They'll expect that to translate to a close game and will therefore be quick to grab the points with the underdog Tigers. I've always fared very well in these "huge" games between "evenly matched" teams, partly as I don't worry so much about the pointspread. True, the teams may well be evenly matched (later, you'll see I argue I feel Alabama is a little better on both sides of the ball) but that often doesn't translate to a close game on the field. Also, games here are rarely close. The Tide are 25-1 their last 26 here and 21 of those wins came by at least 13 points, 22 of them by at least nine. While I do think LSU is an excellent team, I personally feel Alabama is better on both sides of the ball. The Tide allow a mere 6.9 points per game and just 180.5 yards. They've hosted teams like Arkansas and Tennessee while visiting venues like Florida and Penn State. Yet, no team has scored more than 14 points against them. They're recorded two shutouts. At home, the Tide are allowing only 5.4 points per game and 166 yards. The LSU defense is also very good (11.5 ppg game allowed) but is allowing 70 more yards (251.4) per game than Alabama. On the road, the Tigers are allowing 15.2 points and 325 yards. Both offenses are averaging about the same number of points. LSU averages 39.2. Alabama averages 39.4. However, the Tide are averaging a much better 457.6 (464.2 at home) yards per game, while the Tigers are averaging 372 yards per game, just 345.7 on the road. The Tide are playing with revenge from a loss at LSU last year and Saban's teams have long been "money" in the revenge role. The Tide won by nine against the Tigers here in 2009 and I look for them to come away with another win and cover here. *10 Main Event
|11-05-11||Arizona State v. UCLA +9||Top||28-29||Win||100||23 h 12 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on UCLA. Off an embarrassing loss, the Bruins bounced back with a solid win over California last week. That gives them some positive momentum here. Although I'd successfully played against them earlier in the season, I had the Bruins in the game against Cal. At the time, prior to them beating the Bears, I noted that I thought that they were better than we'd seen and that I expected them to show it. After they did just that, apparently Arizona State coach Dennis Erickson agrees. He was quoted as saying: "UCLA has a lot of talent on their football team. They totally dominated that Cal game, which Cal is an awfully good football team. They have a lot of talent. They're good on defense and offense, when they get the ball running." Erickson went on to say: "We're going to have our hands full. Defensively, they run around, they're down four. They've got seven or eight guys that play that have been heavily recruited we tried to recruit some of them ourselves." The Bruins are 4-1 the last five times that they hosted the Sun Devils, including a 23-13 win here in 2009. The Bruins are fighting for a bowl berth here and I look for them to give their guests all they can handle. *10
|11-05-11||Cincinnati v. Pittsburgh +3.5||Top||26-23||Win||100||23 h 41 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on PITTSBURGH. I respect both these teams and feel they're fairly evenly matched. That being said, I feel that getting a field goal or more with the home team is providing us with excellent value. At 6-1, the Bearcats come in with the better overall record. That's worked in our favor, helping us in terms of some added line value. However, a closer look at their schedule reveals that none of the Bearcats' six wins have come against an elite team. The Bearcats did win at USF last time out, perhaps their most impressive victory. However, that win came by only three points and the Bearcats gave up more than 400 yards through the air. Additionally, the Bulls enter the weekend with an 0-3 conference record. So, they haven't exactly lived up to expectations. The Bearcats other five victories have come against Austin Peay, Akron, NC State and Miami Ohio. The first three were at home and the Wolfpack was really banged-up when the Bearcats played them. The loss came at Tennessee and the Bearcats lost that one by 22 points. So, while the 6-1 record may sound impressive, the Bearcats have yet to prove they beat a quality team by more than a field goal on the road. While obviously improved this year, let's not completely forget that this Bearcats team went just 4-8 last season. On the other hand, the Panthers returned numerous starters from the team that went 8-5 last season. They also upgraded their coach. They've only got a 4-3 record but one of the losses came by three points vs. Notre Dame and another came by four points on the road at Iowa, a game which they were dominating most of the way. So, they could easily have a better record. Last time out, the Panthers shook off their first 2-game losing streak of the season by crushing UConn by 15 points. I already mentioned that the Bearcats gave up more than 400 yards through the air in their last game. Now, I'll note that the Panthers put up 433 passing yards in their last. While I already noted that Cincy's 3-point win vs. South Florida was perhaps its most impressive, note that the Panthers hammered those same Bulls by a score of 44-17. The Panthers were slight road favorites (won 28-10) at Cincy last season. Now, an arguably better team is getting points at home. I look for Pitt. to pull off the "upset" here, however, in what could well be a close game, (last game here was 45-44) I'll grab the points. *10 Best Bet
|11-05-11||Washington State v. California -8.5||Top||7-30||Win||100||22 h 9 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on CALIFORNIA. I successfully played against the Bears last Saturday and they got crushed at UCLA. However, I also successfully played on them in their previous game here (their last here in Northern Cal.) and they blew out Utah. Back "home," in one of their best roles and facing a team which they have dominated, I expect the Bears to bounce back with a double-digit win and cover. Both teams badly need this game if they want to give themselves a chance at a bowl. Some might argue that the Cougars need it more as they're just 3-5 with four games remaining. However, I'd argue that they know they are unlikely to make a bowl and don't really believe deep down that they have much of a shot. On the other hand, with four victories and with this home game vs. Washington State and another home game vs. Oregon State on deck, the Bears know they should be able to reach six victories and believe that they will do so. That said, they also know that they close the season with road games at Stanford and at Arizona State. In other words, they absolutely need to take care of business against the Cougars, the worst team in the conference. Note that the Bears have dominated this series with six straight victories. This year's Bears have a more balanced offense than the Cougars to go along with a superior defense. After winning three of their first four, all wins coming against bad teams, the Cougars have come back down to earth with four straight losses. They're off a double-digit loss at Oregon last week and are now playing their final game outside the state of Washington this season. Their last three losses have come by 15, 23 and 30 points. The Cougars are an awful 1-8 ATS the last nine times that they were listed as road underdogs in the +7.5 to +10 range. During the same stretch, the Bears were 7-1 ATS as home favorites int he -7.5 to -10 range. That includes a 15-point victory over Fresno State in that role this season. I expect the Bears to improve on those stats Saturday afternoon, continuing their dominance in this series and taking another step towards becoming bowl eligible. *10 Personal Favorite
|11-03-11||Florida State v. Boston College +15.5||Top||38-7||Loss||-110||9 h 56 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on BOSTON COLLEGE. As usual, the Seminoles are a talented team. Also, off three straight double-digit victories, they're really starting to roll. The betting public knows all about these things though and they also know that Boston College has a poor overall record. Naturally, many will be quick to "lay the points" here. As a result, we're getting a very generous line with the home underdog Eagles here. I feel it will prove to be too high. Yes, the Seminoles' three straight blowout victories have been impressive. However, keep in mind that two of them were at home (both against mediocre opponents) and that the lone road game was at Duke. Let's also remember that, before the winning streak, the Seminoles had lost three straight. The Seminoles are still 1-2 on the road for the season and that includes an outright loss at Wake Forest, when they were laying -10 points. Going back further finds them at a mediocre 7-7 SU/ATS their last 14 road games, including an 1-2 SU/ATS mark when playing a road game with an O/U line in the 42.5 to 49 range. Perhaps more importantly, note that the Seminoles are still an ugly 4-7 ATS (5-6 SU) the past 2+ seasons, when off two or more consecutive victories. There is no denying that the Eagles have endured a disappointing season. That said, they're off their best performance of the season, a 28-17 outright win at Maryland. They ran the ball for an awesome 372 yards (on 62 carries) in that game and that type of performance should give them plenty of confidence and momentum here. Additional confidence should be gained by the fact that Boston College has really played well against Florida State in recent years. Last season, listed as a +22.5 point underdog, the Eagles lost by only five points (24-19) and that was at Tallahassee. The previous season, playing here at Boston College, the underdog Eagles won outright, a 28-21 upset win. Note that November has been a very good month for the Eagles the past couple of seasons, as they've won six of seven November games. That included a 4-0 SU (3-1 ATS) record last November and they were underdogs for two of those games. Despite the poor early results, I feel that the Eagles have a talented defense, better than most probably realize. This is their chance to show the world that they're better than their record indicates. I look for an inspired effort and for that to lead to a pointspread victory. *10 Best Bet
|11-02-11||Temple v. Ohio +4||Top||31-35||Win||100||10 h 48 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on OHIO. Huge game for both teams here. Although both teams are 5-3, admittedly, Temple has accomplished some more impressive results than Ohio. The Owls won big at Maryland and they only lost by four at Penn State. Ohio hasn't done anything of that magnitude. However, that's partly as the Bobcats haven't had the same opportunity to do so. Additionally and perhaps more importantly, those "impressive results" came early on in the season for the Owls. Entering this game, its Ohio which is off a much better performance. With Ohio "getting points" here, note that all three of the Bobcats' losses have come by eight or fewer points and that their last two losses came by one and three points. Last time out, however, the Bobcats shook off those losses and finally put it all together. They went on the road and won by 17, at Akron. Granted, Akron is among the worst teams. However, that still doesn't mean that a double-digit blowout victory doesn't help a team's confidence level. Despite playing on the road, the Bobcats outgained the Zips by a whopping 556-249 margin. On the other hand, Temple stumbled last time out. Facing a weak Bowling Green team, the Owls managed less than 300 yards of total offense and were defeated 13-10. Both teams have since had a "bye," having now played since 10/22. I expect the extra time in between games to favor the team off the big win and with the experienced coach (Frank Solich) over the team off a loss and with a coach (Steve Addazio) in his first year with the team. Lets not forget that Solich's Bobcats went into Temple and beat the Bobcats fairly handily. The Bobcats had a 280-146 advantage in second half yards in that game, pulling away for a 31-23 victory. Including that result, Ohio was 5-1 SU/ATS in November the past two seasons. Going back further finds them at 7-1 SU/ATS their last eight November contests, including a perfect 4-0 SU/ATS their last four November home games. Going back still further finds them at 14-6 ATS their last 20 home November games. This one could well be close, so I'll gladly grab the points. That said, I look for the Bobcats to improve on their impressive November numbers with an outright win. *10 Main Event
|10-30-11||Dallas Cowboys v. Philadelphia Eagles -3||Top||7-34||Win||100||57 h 8 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on PHILADELPHIA. I'm aware that the Eagles are off a bye and that teams haven't fared all that well off a bye so far this season. I'm not taking the Eagles because they're coming off a bye though. (Although it should be noted that the Eagles are 12-0 off a bye under Reid!) Rather, I'm taking the Eagles as they're playing at home and I feel that they've got something to prove. While both teams have their strengths and weaknesses, I feel that the Eagles match up well vs. this Dallas team. Both QBs have certainly had their highs and lows but I'll side with Vick over Romo. While Garrett may well prove to be a "great head coach," until that happens - I'll still give the experienced Reid and the Eagles the coaching edge. I mentioned that I felt that the Eagles have "something to prove." Most of that stems from the fact that they've been underachieving thus far. However, Rob Ryan's "trash-talking" in the summer figures to also provide the Eagles with a source of added "motivation." The Dallas defensive coordinator had this to say of the Eagles in July: "I don't know if we win the all-hype team. I think that might have gone to somebody else, but we're going to beat their ass when we play them." Of course, just winning a home game against a hated division rival should be plenty of motivation, particularly as the Cowboys have beaten them the last two meetings here. I feel that the Eagles are in a good spot. Prior to the bye, they'd finally broken through with a victory. Michael Vick had this to say of the team's morale: "It was just one win. I think if we get the next one, we'll get that confidence. But we definitely feel good about where we are right now. Obviously, there's a lot of work to be done. We're committed to getting that done." With this game having an O/U line in the low 50s, note that the Eagles are a perfect 3-0 SU/ATS the last three times that they played a home game with an O/U line of 49.5 or greater. With their victory over the Redskins, the Eagles are now 13-6 SU and 12-7 ATS the last 19 times that they were favored by four or fewer points. I expect them to improve on those stats Sunday night. *10 Personal Favorite
|10-30-11||New England Patriots v. Pittsburgh Steelers +3||Top||17-25||Win||100||77 h 22 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on PITTSBURGH. As you know, these are both very good teams. The Patriots are 5-1. The Steelers are 5-2. The Pats have won two in a row, failing to cover last time out. The Steelers have won three in a row and covered last time out. The Steelers went to the Superbowl last year but the Patriots remain the favorite of the betting public. As a result, the Pats are favored here, despite this game being played at Pittsburgh. I feel that gives us excellent value with the "underdog" Steelers. Note that the Steelers were laying -4 points when they hosted the Pats last season. While the Pats may have the better overall record, the Steelers' home record is actually better than New England's road record. Pittsburgh lost road games at Baltimore and Houston but is 3-0 at home. Meanwhile, New England is 2-1 on the road. Going back further finds the Pats at 9-9 their last 18 on the road while the Steelers were 16-5 at home, during the same stretch. The Patriots are scoring a whopping 33.3 points and averaging 508.7 yards of offense on the road. They're also giving up 25.7 points and 480 yards of offense though. Opposing teams are averaging 7.4 yards per play against them in their three road games. On the other hand, the Steelers are outscoring opponents by a 26.3 to 10 margin here at home. Opposing teams are averaging a mere 226.3 yards against them here, averaging just 4.1 yards per play against them here. Brady gets all the attention and is clearly among the best of the generation. Rothlisberger is far from a slouch either. He may not look flashy but he continues to get the job done, week after week, season after season. Belichick remains among the best coaches in the game, arguably of this generation. Once again, Tomlin is no slouch either. While Belichick and the Pats are coming off a bye, with the new rules, that extra week may no longer be such an advantage. Either way, note that the Pats are only 0-2-1 ATS the last three times that they were off a bye. While the Pats tend to fare well at this time of the season, the Steelers have been even better. In fact, they're 10-1 SU the last 11 times that they played in weeks 5-9. Going back further finds the Steelers at an outstanding 62-23 (52-30-3 ATS!) the last 115 times that they played in Weeks 5-9. Playing with 'revenge' last season's loss, I expect Big Ben and co. to "grab the cash" once again. *10 Main Event
|10-30-11||Washington Redskins +5 v. Buffalo Bills||Top||0-23||Loss||-110||7 h 44 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on WASHINGTON over Buffalo. The Redskins are dealing with a number of injuries and are off back to back losses. That has many counting them out - both for this week's game and also for the season in general. However, lets not forget that the Redskins are still 3-3 and that they're still only one game back off the lead in the NFC East, which is the exact same position that the (4-2) Bills are in over in the AFC East. In fact, with the Patriots and Jets both residing in the AFC East (as compared to the Cowboys, Giants and Eagles in the NFC East) one could make a case that the Skins have a better chance of winning their division than do the Bills - although either happening is unlikely. In other words, the Redskins' season is far from being a "write-off." The Bills, who are listed as the home team here, are undefeated at "home." In fact, in addition to beating Oakland, they've defeated the likes of the Patriots and the Eagles in their games at Buffalo. However, this game is NOT being played at Buffalo. Rather, its being played at Toronto. As Buffalo safety George Wilson noted: "It's not a home game. We're playing an international game that counts as a home game because it's relatively closer to Buffalo. We're ambassadors of the game, trying to globalize the sport. So we understand that. But at the same time, it's certainly not the same environment that we have here in Ralph Wilson Stadium." Wilson went on to say: "...it still has the feel of a road game because we still have to get on the bus and take the 1 1/2-two hour drive up. In previous years we've seen just as many jerseys for the visiting teams as we saw for our team. The fans tend to cheer for any play, whether it's for the other team or our team..." Note that the Bills are 0-3 in the regular season here in Toronto. True, the Bills are off a bye. However, with the new rules, teams off a bye haven't performed well yet this season. Since the Bills won big in their opener, note that all five of Buffalo's games have been decided by seven or fewer points, four of those being decided by a field goal. Not surprisingly, the Bills are 0-2 ATS when laying points. The Skins lost by double-digits (33-20) last time out. However, a closer look reveals that they actually had an edge in total yards in that game. Also, that was the first time that they lost by more than seven points this season. Their other two losses came by an average of 4.5 points. The Skins are 9-5 ATS the last 14 times that they were listed as underdogs in the +3.5 to +9.5 range. During that stretch, they've also gone a profitable 7-2-2 ATS when off two or more consecutive losses. The Skins are 4-1-3 ATS their last eight against teams from the AFC. Desperate to right the ship before its too late, I expect them to improve on those stats on Sunday. *10 Best Bet
|10-29-11||Wisconsin v. Ohio State +7.5||Top||29-33||Win||100||24 h 14 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on OHIO STATE. With a 6-1 record and a top 15 ranking, the Badgers are a talented and dangerous team. That said, they're also off their first loss of the season. For a team that had dreams of going undefeated and potentially playing for the national title, that can be very tough to bounce back from. That loss was particularly devastating, as the Badgers had battled all the way back from a deficit only to still fall short. Even coach Bielema acknowledged: "This will sting and they will carry this memory with them for the rest of their lives - and it's going to be difficult." At 4-3, its been a disappointing first season for Luke Fickell, as coach of Ohio State. That said, this is still a very proud and talented program. Also, unlike the Badgers - the Buckeyes are coming off a victory in their last game. So, in addition to having homefield advantage, they've also got some positive momentum. Naturally, they'd love to knock off the ranked Badgers, as their season would suddenly start to look a whole lot better, if that were to occur. Fickell had this to say of how last week's victory can help gain some positive momentum: "...this game is a lot more fun when you're winning and this game's a lot more fun when things are going your way a little bit. I know you've got to make those things happen, but that momentum is so huge, that that's what drives you to do this stuff. And those guys maybe haven't had that in a while, so they're excited about it." We know the Badgers defense is better than it showed last week. This is also an improving Ohio State defense though. Last week, they forced three turnovers and limited Illinois to seven points and 285 total yards. Meanwhile, the offense finally saw tailback Dan "Boom" Herron return from his six game suspension. His return paid immediate dividends as he ran for more than 100 yards and scored a touchdown. Lets not forget that Ohio State's lone home loss came vs. Michigan State - the same team that just beat Wisconsin - and that they only lost that one by three points. While most came under Tressel, its still worth noting that the Buckeyes are 15-4 ATS their last 19 here. With the cover at Nebraska, they're also 4-0 ATS the last four times that they were underdogs in the +3.5 to +10 range. Catching the Badgers "thinking about what could have been," I expect them to improve on those stats on Saturday evening. *10 Main Event
|10-29-11||California v. UCLA +5.5||Top||14-31||Win||100||23 h 13 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on UCLA. I've successfully played against the Bruins this season. I also won with the Bears last week. This week, however, I feel the "value" lies with the underdog Bruins. One of the main reasons Cal was my "Personal Favorite" last Saturday was that the Bears were in a great spot. They were playing on a "long week," as their previous game had come on a Thursday. They were also catching Utah playing back to back road games and having had to travel across the entire country, on a "regular" week. The Bears jumped all over the Utes and cruised to a 34-10 victory. This week, however, the Bears are playing on a "regular" week while facing an opponent which has had some extra preparation - as this time its UCLA which is off a Thursday game. As you may have seen, UCLA got embarrassed (at Arizona) in that Thursday game, much as Cal had the previous Thursday. While that game did result in several suspensions, I also expect it to be have a motivating effect. They weren't happy with their performance and badly want to improve here. Of course, back to back blowout losses against the Bears the last two years should also provide the Bruins with some added "hunger" here. Most importantly, the Bruins desperately need victories if they want to entertain any thoughts of a bowl game. While the Bears won as the "home" team last week, they've long struggled in road favorite role. In fact, they're an awful 12-31-1 ATS the last 44 times that they were laying points on the road, including a 3-10 ATS mark as road favorites in the -3.5 to -10 range. More recently, the Bears are 2-7 ATS the last nine times that they were laying points on the road, including 1-4 ATS as road favorites in the -3.5 to -7 range. This is a critical game for the Bruins, as they need three wins in their final five games to become bowl eligible. Knowing that two of those games are on the road (Utah and USC) and that another home game comes against a solid Arizona State team, make this essentially a "must win." I expect them to bounce back with their best effort, leading to at least a cover. *10
|10-29-11||Wake Forest v. North Carolina -7||Top||24-49||Win||100||20 h 47 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on NORTH CAROLINA. Off back to back losses and with back to back road games on deck, the Tar Heels badly need this one. I expect this talented team to respond with its best effort. The Demon Deacons are solid but far from unbeatable and they tend to struggle against quality opposition. They barely beat Duke (24-23) last week and they were hammered 38-17 the previous week. Earlier in the season, they lost by seven at Syracuse. Their best road win came at Boston College and the Eagles aren't as good as the Tar Heels this year. In fact, they're 0-4 in the ACC and 1-6 overall. While a home win vs. Florida State was impressive, note that the Deacons are an ugly 1-9 SU and 3-7 ATS the last 10 times that they faced a team with a winning record. They're 4-10 SU/ATS their last 14 road lined games overall. After getting dominated their previous game, the Deacons were actually outgained on both the ground and through the air by Duke last week. The Blue Devils also controlled the clock, had a 16-minute edge in time of possession. This will be their first time playing back to back road games this season. The Tar Heels are 3-0 SU the last three times that they were off back to back losses and they figure to be in a nasty mood here. I expect them to improve on those stats Saturday afternoon, picking up the cover along the way. *10
|10-27-11||Rice v. Houston -27.5||Top||34-73||Win||100||9 h 10 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on RICE. Its always a bit "scary" to go against a team like Houston. The Cougars have a record setting QB in Kase Keenum, a top 20 ranking and they're among the highest scoring teams in the country. Off back to back blowout victories, few will dare go against them here. That said, I feel that very sentiment has caused this line to become too high. Consider that last week the Cougars opened at -20.5 and closed at -24 vs. Marshall, a team arguably not as talented as Rice. (Marshall did beat Rice but only by four and that game was at Marshall.) That game was actually the highest line that Houston had see too, with the exception of a game vs. 1-AA Georgia State. Now, they're laying a much bigger number. While some may argue otherwise, with the exception of the opening game vs. UCLA, Rice is arguably as capable as any team that Houston has played. Indeed, the Cougars have played a very soft schedule. True, the Owls are off a disappointing loss - but they're still a team which returned 17 starters from last season, one of the most experienced teams in the country. Speaking of last season's team - the Owls actually beat the Cougars last year. Listed as +9.5 point underdogs, they won outright by a score of 34-31, a result which should give them confidence that they can hang with Houston here. (Although Keenum didn't play.) The Owls have played a tougher schedule than the Cougars, as they've faced the likes of Texas, Baylor, Southern Miss, Purdue and Tulsa. They faced the first three of those on the road, too. Yet, this is by far the biggest line that they've had for one of their games. Note that while they have been blown out a few times, they haven't lost any game by more than 25 points. The Cougars failed to cover in their lone Thursday game this season (7-point win vs Utep) and I look for them to receive a tough test than most will be expecting here. *10
|10-24-11||Baltimore Ravens v. Jacksonville Jaguars +11||Top||7-12||Win||100||9 h 22 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on JACKSONVILLE. It'll be tough for a lot of bettors to go against the Ravens here. After all, Baltimore is among the best teams in the AFC and comes in on a roll. They also recently saw what a "good" team (New Orleans) did to a "bad" team (Indianapolis) last night on primetime - and that result in fresh in their memory. That reluctance to go against the Ravens has helped to create plenty of line value for us though, as we're able to get "double-digits" with the home underdog. While I certainly respect the Ravens, I feel that grabbing all those generous points will prove to be the way to go. Off five straight losses, the Jaguars could obviously use a victory. Remember, at the beginning of the season owner Wayne Weaver essentially told Del Rio he better show some improvement. After this, the Jags play three straight road games, too. So, this is their chance to step up and prove that they're not a bunch of "quitters." Keep in mind that the Jags rallied to get themselves in position to have a shot at winning at Pittsburgh last week, eventually falling 17-13. Including that result, four of the Jags' six games have been decided by 10 or fewer points. Five of their six games have been decided by less than 14. Many of the Jacksonville players still like their head coach and I expect them to play hard for him again tonight. Middle linebacker Paul Posluszny had this to say: "When people say, 'Aw, his job is on the line' and stuff like that, I disagree because Del Rio is doing a great job of preparing us and being the leader of this team. It's the players' fault that we're in this situation to begin with, not the head coach or anybody else. As a player, you want to take the heat off your man because we're the ones that caused it." The Ravens have only played two road games so far this season. They got blown out at Tennessee and they blew out the Rams, at St Louis. The Rams are 0-6 though and have been outscored by a 171-56 margin - so, while the Jags have mostly been competitive, the Ravens weren't the only team to blow out the Rams. They're just 11-11 SU their last 22 road games overall. The Jags were 11-8 SU at home, during the same stretch. While it still likely won't ultimately save Del Rio's job, in an attempt to do so, I expect the Jags to give their best effort tonight and for that to lead to at least a "cover." *10
|10-23-11||Green Bay Packers v. Minnesota Vikings +9.5||Top||33-27||Win||100||93 h 21 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on MINNESOTA. I successfully played "against" the Vikings last week, when they got crushed by the Bears. That was on the road though. Off that embarrassing loss on National TV and having returned home to Minnesota, I expect a much better effort from the Vikings here. Regulars will recall that I also had a big play "on" the Vikes in their last home game. They crushed Arizona by a score of 34-10. Its true that the Vikings season is essentially over already - however, in addition to the Packers being a hated division rival, this game offers the Vikes a chance to be the first team to beat the defending champs. Beating Green Bay certainly wouldn't solve all the Vikings' problems - but it sure wouldn't hurt either and would temporarily get the critics off their backs. (After that, they could go back to competing in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes.) Of course, they don't need to beat the Packers here - just don't get blown out. As many probably assumed woud be the case, rookie Christian Ponder is expected to take over for veteran Donovan McNabb on Sunday. While McNabb has certainly done plenty of good things over his career, he really hasn't been effective this with the Vikings this season. After essentially being run out of Philadelphia and Washington, this was supposed to be his chance to save his career. However, he simply hasn't stepped up. While Ponder remains unproven, I expect the switch in QBs to have a positive effect on the team. Of course, having Adrian Peterson in the backfield doesn't hurt either. Despite McNabb's struggles and their 1-5 overall record, the Vikings have still only lost one game by more than seven points. Prior to their blowout win over the Cards, their previous five games had all been decided by five or fewer points. With the win over Arizona, the Vikes are 14-6 SU their last 20 games here. The worst of those six losses came at the hands of these same Packers last November, a 31-3 blowout. The Vikes haven't forgotten that one and I expect them to respond by going all out with a highly motivated effort to avoid a repeat performance. *10 Best Bet
|10-23-11||Denver Broncos v. Miami Dolphins||Top||18-15||Loss||-110||21 h 58 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on MIAMI. These teams have started off so poorly that each of their seasons are already pretty much done, at least in terms of making the playoffs. That said, I feel both will still want to win this game. The 1-4 Broncos, expected to start Tim Tebow at QB, would like to start the Tebow era/experiment off with a victory. Meanwhile, the 0-5 Dolphins would just like a win. Period. I feel the latter will be a bigger motivating factor, particularly with this game being played at Miami. Everyone is pretty down on the Dolphins right now. They know they're 0-5 and they just watched them lose by double-digits on national TV. However, in fairness to the Dolphins, that was their third straight road game and it came against a good Jets team. Additionally, the Dolphins had an edge in total yards, so the lopsided score was somewhat misleading. Additionally, the Dolphins' two home games came against a pair of quality teams, Houston and New England. In other words, this is arguably the Dolphins' "easiest" game to date. As they follow this game with another pair of road games, the Dolphins know they need to take advantage of this winnable opportunity. True, the Broncos are off a "bye," a situation that has historically been good to them. However, they've got a different coach than they've had in the past when they built up their impressive "post bye record" and with this year's rule changes, the bye may no longer be as advantageous as it once was. The Dolphins have long had success against teams from the AFC West, going 32-14 ATS their last 46 against teams from that division. That includes a 7-1 ATS (6-2 SU) mark against the Broncos. Desperate for their first victory, I expect them to go all out and to improve on those stats Sunday afternoon. *10
|10-22-11||Utah v. California -1||Top||10-34||Win||100||23 h 45 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on CALIFORNIA. I'll start by conceding that the Utes looked better than the Golden Bears last week. Utah went on the road and outplayed Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, Cal was beaten soundly by USC. Those results have worked in our favor though, as we now just need the Bears to win the game - instead of needing them to cover a small spread. I feel that's providing us with excellent value. While I respect the Utes, who are a well-coached team, I feel the schedule favors the Bears here - and I expect them to bounce back with their very best effort. While the Utes are surely hungry for their first official Pac-12 win, they're now playing their second straight road game - and they've had to travel from Pittsburgh to the West Coast in between those games. They're also still without their #1 QB. On the other hand, the Bears played right here last week. Plus, their game came on Thursday. So, not only did they have no travel to contend with, they also had some extra time in between games. Note that the Bears are 2-0 SU/ATS the last two times that they were listed as home favorites of three or fewer points and that they're also 2-0 ATS when playing with eight day's rest in between games. The Bears need this game every bit as much as the Utes. I believe this will prove to a favorable matchup for them and I look for the homefield and scheduling advantage to ultimately prove the difference. *10 Personal Favorite
|10-22-11||Memphis v. Tulane -12.5||Top||33-17||Loss||-105||19 h 11 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on TULANE. The Green Wave just saw their head coach (Bob Toledo) "resign" on Tuesday. That will likely prevent many from backing the Green Wave here. I say "Good riddance." Toledo was 15-40 here at Tulane, never making it to a bowl game. Last week, his team didn't show up in a blowout loss to Utep. While the idea is often that a team can't respond positively to a mid-season coaching change, if the situation is right, they most certainly can - just look at Arizona on Thursday night, the Wildcats played their best game of the season, after getting a new coach. In this case, I feel the situation sets up very well for the Green Wave to start the "new era" with a convincing victory. For starters, Toledo will be replaced by interim head coach Mark Hutson. Hutson has been serving as the offensive coordinator, so he's already familiar with the team and vice versa. Additionally, the Green Wave are facing perhaps the perfect opponent. Not only is Memphis a bad team but the Tigers are also currently really struggling. Memphis, which ranks 116th in the country in scoring with just 14 points per game, is 0-4 its last for games, getting outscored by a 143-54 margin. Combine the terrible offense with the fact that the Memphis defense gives up 499.1 yards and 36.4 points per game and its easy to see why Memphis is among the worst teams in the country. Note that the Tigers are a terrible 8-20 ATS (2-26 SU!) the last 28 times that they were getting points. Despite failing to cover last week, Tulane is still 6-3 ATS the past couple of seasons when off two or more consecutive losses. I expect the Green Wave to bounce back in "blowout" fashion here *10 Big Easy
|10-22-11||Oklahoma State v. Missouri +7.5||Top||45-24||Loss||-110||16 h 45 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on MISSOURI. The Cowboys are a dangerous team with one of the top QB/receiver tandems in the country. They've proven that they can win on the road. However, the Tigers are also a very capable team themselves, one which is generally tough to beat here at home. The Tigers crushed Iowa State by a score of 52-7 here last week. While the competition has admittedly been rather weak, the Tigers are 3-0 here at home, outscoring teams by a 46-7.7 margin. The Cowboys are off a 12-point win at Texas. Give them credit for that, as winning at Texas is no small task - even this year. That said, that game hinged on a couple of key plays (as most games do) and could have easily been closer than it was. Either way, it was a much harder fought contest than Missouri was involved in and now they're playing their second straight road game and their fourth road game in their last five games overall. That can be a tough spot - note that the Cowboys won by only one point the last time that they played the second of back to back road games. While OSU has an edge on offense, I don't feel the gap is as big as the betting public likely believes. Remember, Missouri ranks 13th in the country in total offense at nearly 500 yards per game. They're able to both run and pass effectively. Perhaps more importantly, I feel that the Tiger may have the superior defense. Despite playing road games at places like Oklahoma, Arizona State and Kansas State, the Tigers are still only giving up 20.3 points per game. The Cowboys, meanwhile, are giving up more than 27 game, including 29.3 (and 441 ypg) on the road. The Tigers typically like these "high-scoring games" here, as they are 3-1 ATS (4-0 SU) the last four times that they played a home game with an O/U line in the 63 to 70 range. The Tigers have won 10 straight at Faurot Field. I expect them to give the Cowboys all they can handle and then some. *10 Best Bet
|10-21-11||West Virginia v. Syracuse +14.5||Top||23-49||Win||100||34 h 32 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on SYRACUSE. I really like how this one sets up for the home underdog. While they failed to cover for the second straight week, the Orange are off a 37-34 road win at Tulane. They're now 4-2 SU on the season, including a 7-point win over Wake Forest and a 33-30 win over Toledo. In fact, a closer look shows that five of the Orange's six games have been decided by a touchdown or less, three of them by a field goal. The only exception was a road game at USC, which saw the Orange lose by 21, 38-17. Winning close (and OT) games figures to give them confidence here. The Mountaineers are always talented and they're off a strong 5-1 start. The lone loss came vs. LSU, one of the top teams in the country, so there's no shame in that. That said, they've only played one road game (at Maryland) and they only won that one by six. Off back to back big home wins (over a bad Bowling Green team and a mediocre UConn team that rarely plays well on the road) note that the Mountaineers are an awful 4-9 ATS (6-7 SU) the past few seasons, when off two or more consecutive SU victories. Listed as +13.5 point underdogs, the Orange won outright at West Virginia last season. This year's Syracuse team is even deeper and arguably stronger. That's saying a lot, considering that last year's team won a bowl game, finishing 8-5. Knowing they were able to beat WVU last year also figures to give the Orange some confidence here. West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen knows the Orange aren't "slouches." He was quoted as saying: "Syracuse is a good football team. They're 4-2. They figure out ways to win. Both of the opponents that they've lost to are 5-1. They play a very physical brand of football. Defensively, they pressure you a ton." Both teams are off a bye. WVU is 3-3 ATS (4-2 SU) the past couple of seasons, when off a bye. Syracuse, however, is 3-0 SU/ATS when off a bye. When given extra time to prepare, Doug Marrone led the Orange to a bowl win. Off their most recent regular season bye, which came last season, the Orange won outright at South Florida, as 8-point underdog. While I respect the Mountaineers, I feel this line is generously high and I look for the Orange to give them all they can handle (and then some) for the second straight year. *10
|10-18-11||Florida International +3 v. Arkansas State||Top||16-34||Loss||-105||10 h 42 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL. This is a big game for both teams. However, I would argue that its even more important for the visitors. Both are 4-2 overall but the Red Wolves are 2-0 in conference play while the Golden Panthers are 1-1. With Louisiana Lafayette off to a somewhat surprising perfect 4-0 (6-1 overall) start in conference play, that makes tonight's game even more important for the Panthers, as they can ill afford to fall to 1-2 in conference play. Keep in mind that this FIU team was considered one of the preseason favorites to win the Sun Belt. Also, remember, this was a team that returned 15 starters from last year's team which won the "Little Caesar's" Bowl. Note that FIU's conference loss came against Louisiana - that means that if they lost here they'd be 1-2 and would have losses against both teams which would be undefeated in conference play, as Arkansas State would move to 3-0. That would put the Panthers in an extremely difficult position - particularly with underachieving Troy on deck - a team which has won a minimum of eight games in five straight seasons and which has earned at least a share of the Sun Belt title in each. As FIU coach Mario Cristobal said of tonight's game: "...it is of tremendous importance." While the Panthers were putting together a winning season last year, note that the Red Wolves were just 3-9. They're clearly improved this season, however, this was not a team necessarily expected to challenge for the conference title. Even Arkansas State coach Hugh Freeze noted: "FIU probably has more talent and are deeper than some of us are ... " The Red Wolves have had success passing the ball this season and the FIU pass defense admittedly hasn't been a strength. That said, the Panthers have really played solid defense in their two road games and they've had plenty of time to prepare for the Red Wolves pass attack. Note that Florida International is 2-0 on the road, including a win at Louisville, and that it allowed 17 or fewer points in both of those road games. The Panthers beat the Red Wolves by seven last year. That was a 1-point game in the fourth quarter though and I feel this one could also be close. Note that the Red Wolves have seen back to back games decided by five or fewer points. The Panthers are already 2-0 ATS as underdogs and I look for them to earn at least another cover here. *10
|10-16-11||Cleveland Browns +7 v. Oakland Raiders||Top||17-24||Push||0||19 h 25 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on CLEVELAND. I like how this one sets up for the visitors. The 2-2 Browns are off a bye. Meanwhile, the Raiders are off a big upset road win at Houston. Prior to that, they faced the likes of the Patriots and Jets. In the middle of all that, they've had to deal with the passing of Al Davis. Although this is supposed to be a "tribute" game to Davis, with division rival KC on deck and with this being such an emotional time, I feel that this could easily be a prime "letdown" spot. Note that the Raiders are a poor 10-21 ATS their last 31 against AFC North opponents. In addition to potentially being in a tough scheduling spot, the Raiders are favored for the first time all season. They're just 2-3 ATS the last five times that they were laying points. Note that the Oakland defense ranks 31st in the league, allowing 438.6 yards per game. Even though they won last week, the Raiders were outgained by a 473 to 278 margin. Even though the Browns lost last time out, they still gained more than 400 yards on offense, holding a 416-332 overall advantage. The Browns have been solid as underdogs of this size. They're 5-3 ATS the last eight times that they were listed as underdogs in the +3.5 to +9.5 range, four of those wins coming outright. The Browns won their only road game this season and they're 7-1 ATS the last eight against the Raiders. I expect them to improve on those stats Sunday afternoon. *10 Best Bet
|10-16-11||Buffalo Bills v. NY Giants -3||Top||24-27||Push||0||74 h 30 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on the NY GIANTS. With a 4-1 record and victories over the likes of the Patriots and Eagles, the Bills are right up there with the Lions, as the talk of the league. While I'll certainly admit that they're improved from last season, I'm not ready to "drink the kool aid" quite yet. Rather, I expect this to be the week that they come back down to earth. Yes, the wins over the Pats and Eagles were impressive. However, both came at home. Also, the Bill were outgained in total yards in both those games. In fact, they gave up a combined 984 yards of total offense in those two games alone! Since shutting down the Chiefs at KC in Week 1, the Bills have allowed all four opponents to pass for a minimum of 287 yards, three of those opponents throwing for 315 or more. That spells bad news against Eli Manning and a Giants' offense which has gained 306 and 395 passing yards the last two weeks. With the Bills giving up so many yards through the air, one might assume that their rushing defense would have to be good. That's not the case though. The Bills gave up 174 yards on the ground last week and 171 the previous week. All five of their opponents have topped the 100 mark on the ground. After getting upset by Seattle last week, the Giants figure to be in a nasty mood. Even with that setback, they're still 7-3 SU and 6-4 ATS in October the past few seasons. Prior to the Seattle loss, the Giants had won three straight - each victory coming by more than a field goal. While the Bills' offense has obviously been impressive, I still believe that this is still a highly capable Giants' defense - one which is better than we saw last week. Note that the Giants' defensive coordinator (Perry Fewell) was previously the defensive coordinator for the Bills; he also served as their interim coach, before being passed over for Chan Gailey. Not only should that provide Fewell with some extra motivation - which he should be able to pass onto this players - but it gives him some added familiarity with the Bills, which potentially could prove advantageous. As Gailey acknowledged: "Well, he certainly knows a lot of the people that are on this team. He knows what some of the strengths and weaknesses are of some of our players. I think that's probably a little bit of an advantage for him to be able to talk about personnel." Buffalo linebacker Andra Davis said this of his team: "We're getting the breaks. I don't really believe in luck. But whatever it is, we'll take it." I look for the Bills' "luck" to run out on Sunday afternoon. *10 Personal Favorite
|10-16-11||Carolina Panthers v. Atlanta Falcons -3.5||Top||17-31||Win||100||66 h 30 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on ATLANTA. The 2-3 Falcons have a better (SU) record than the (1-4) Panthers. However, while the Panthers are being viewed (by some) as a "pleasant surprise," the Falcons are being considered a "disappointment." That may be true, to some extent. That viewpoint could certainly be supported by the ATS records of the two teams. Atlanta is 1-4 ATS. Carolina is 4-1 ATS. That's fine by me though, as that "sentiment" and those ATS records have worked in our favor. Indeed, this line is far lower than it would have been if these teams met here a few weeks ago, or at anytime in recent memory. Looking back to last season and we find that that Falcons were favored by seven AT Carolina and by a whopping 14 points when the teams met here at Atlanta. For what its worth, Atlanta won and covered both games - each resulting in an identical 31-10 score. True, they're not where they wanted to be. However, in fairness to the Falcons, they're first five games have all been tough. Three of them came on the road and their two home games came against the likes of the Eagles and the Packers. They beat Philly and easily could have beaten Green Bay. Obviously, the Panthers are a big step down in class from the world champs. Going back further finds the Falcons at 14-5 SU and 12-7 ATS their last 19 here. Speaking of "taking a step down in class," the Falcons tend to "take care of business" against the league's weaker teams. I successfully played against the Falcons at Seattle, when Seahawks were 1-2, but even with that ATS loss, the Falcons are still a team which is 9-4 ATS (12-1 SU!) its last 13 against teams with a losing record. Given their home record and those stats against losing teams, its no surprise that the Falcons are 16-9 ATS the last 25 times that they were laying points, including 4-1 ATS (5-0 SU) the last five times that they were listed as home favorites in the -3.5 to -7 range. The Falcons have won three straight home games in this series and I look for them to make it four in a row, as they welcome Cam Newton back to his home state with a convincing win and cover. *10 Big Easy
|10-15-11||Kansas State v. Texas Tech -3.5||Top||41-34||Loss||-106||48 h 29 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on TEXAS TECH. The Wildcats come to town riding high with an undefeated record and a top 20 national ranking. I believe that the unranked Red Raiders are favored for good reason though. The Red Raiders are 4-1 SU/ATS and their lone loss came against Texas [email protected], a team which is arguably better than any K-State has faced. The Red Raiders have also dominated the Wildcats, winning five straight in the series. The last meeting resulted in a 66-14 destruction. The Wildcats have admittedly been stingy on defense. However, they haven't had to deal with an offense quite like this one. The Red Raiders rank in the top 10 nationally in points per game (45.8), passing yards (354.6) AND total yards per game (524.6). Their Quarterback (Seth Doege) is tied for second in Division 1-A football with 17 touchdowns. In fact, Doege has thrown at least three touchdowns in every game and he ranks sixth in the nation with 341.2 yards per game. The Red Raiders play at Oklahoma next. That means if they don't win here, they'll likely be looking at a 3-game losing streak, something they know they can ill afford. On the other hand, off their big win vs. Missouri and with instate rival Kansas on deck, its possible that the Wildcats have their minds on other things, if only slightly. Excluding "pushes," the Red Raiders are an impressive and profitable 64-36 ATS their last 100 home lined games. During that stretch, they've also gone 37-19 ATS when off a conference loss, including 5-2 ATS their last seven in that situation. I expect them to again bounce back, continuing their dominance in this series and covering the small number along the way. *10 Personal Favorite
|10-15-11||Michigan v. Michigan State -2||Top||14-28||Win||100||41 h 27 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on MICHIGAN STATE. The Wolverines are off to an impressive 6-0 start. However, five of those victories have come at home and the lone road game came at Northwestern - and that came last week. Now, they take a big step up in class and play their second straight road game. Some may note that the Wolverines beat Notre Dame and that the Spartans lost to those same Irish. However, lets not forget that Michigan faced Notre Dame at home (and needed a miracle win) while the Spartans did so on the road. Also, note that the Spartans won at Ohio State, arguably a far more impressive feat than anything that the Wolverines have yet to accomplish. The Spartans beat Michigan 34-17 at Michigan last season and also 26-20 here at Michigan State two seasons ago. Off a bye, they're well-rested and should be well-prepared. They're 7-4 ATS (8-3 SU) in October the past few seasons. While the Spartans' offense is very capable, the defense is outstanding. They've only permitted only six offensive touchdowns in five games. The Spartans are allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete less than half of their passes. They've recorded seven interceptions and have recovered three fumbles. They'rea allowing an average of just 2.2 yards per carry on the ground. The Spartans are 17-3 SU the last 20 times that they were listed as favorites. I expect them to improve on those stats here, covering the very small number along the way. *10
|10-13-11||USC v. California +3.5||Top||30-9||Loss||-110||25 h 20 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on CALIFORNIA. I lost with the Bears last week (won with the Under in same game) but am fully willing to give them another shot on Thursday. Last week's game was on the road, vs. a very powerful Oregon offense. The Bears came ready to play - in fact, they were beating the Ducks 15-14 at halftime. However, they couldn't keep it up in the second half. They're back home now though, albeit at a home (AT&T Park) they're not that familiar with, and I expect a highly motivated effort for the full 60-minutes. Note that the Bears are 2-0 at "home" this season, going 10-5 their last 15 "home games." The Bears were blown out at USC last season and they definitely want to avoid a similar feat here. As coach Tedford noted: "That was definitely a long day. We have to make sure that doesn't happen again." The Trojans remain a dangerous team. QB Barkley lit up the Bears last season and he's got another year under his belt. Of course, it helps having Robert Woods, the #1 receiver in the Pac-12, at his disposal. While the Bears do have a good defense, they're missing their top corner and Woods will likely put up fairly big numbers again. That said, the Bears have an extremely talented top receiver themselves. Keenan Allen ranks #2 in the Pac-12 and he's looking forward to trying to keep up with Woods. Allen was quoted as saying this about Woods and Thursday's game: "I definitely look forward to it. We're both good athletes. I met him at the All-American camp. We hung out. I'm going to come out there and compete. He's obviously faster than I am, but I can make some moves." Allen and co. should be able to have a solid day against a USC secondary that gave up more than 400 passing yards against Arizona in its last game, a 48-41 home victory on 10/1. Prior to that, in their last road game, the Trojans got blown out 43-22 at Arizona State. The Trojans are just 3-7-1 ATS the last 11 times that they were listed as road favorites and they're also only 3-7 ATS the last 10 times that they were off a conference victory. Meanwhile, during that same stretch, the Bears are 2-1 SU/ATS when off back to back losses. In the end, while this is a very important game for both teams, I expect the Bears to be a little "hungrier." They desperately want to avoid losing three in a row and to avoid getting blown out on National TV in back to back weeks. They're also looking for payback from the last couple of years in this series. I'll gladly grab the points but look for the Bears to rise to the occasion and score the uspet. *10 Main Event
|10-10-11||Chicago Bears +6 v. Detroit Lions||Top||13-24||Loss||-105||10 h 33 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on CHICAGO. The Lions are off to an impressive 4-0 start. However, a closer look shows that three of their four games were decided by a touchdown or less and that each of their last two games were decided by four or fewer. Now, they're being asked to lay more than that against a talented and highly motivated divisional rival. While the Lions first three games came against the likes of Tampa, KC and Minnesota - the Bears were dealing with the likes of the Saints, Packers and Falcons - three of the very best in the league. Going 1-2 in those games wasn't what they were hoping for but wasn't all that bad, considering. They finally stepped down in class last week and promptly got a win. At 2-2 and already 0-1 in the division, they know they can't afford to lose this one. The Lions did blow out KC in impressive fashion. However, even with that cover, they're still a team which is 11-17-1 ATS the last 29 times it was listed as a home favorite in the -3.5 to -7 range. Even with the win over the Vikings, the Lions also have just three wins in 13 tries the past few seasons against divisional opponents. They've been "playing with fire" lately and I expect them to have their hands full the entire way vs. a Chicago team which is 3-0 SU/ATS its last three Monday night games. In a game that could easily come down to the wire, I'll gladly grab the generous points but I won't be at all surprised if the Lions suffer their first loss. *10
|10-09-11||Green Bay Packers v. Atlanta Falcons +6.5||Top||25-14||Loss||-110||33 h 25 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on ATLANTA. I successfully played against the Falcons last week. At the time, I noted that they were a very good team at home but only a mediocre one on the road and that I felt they were laying too many points. I also noted that they may well have this week's game against Green Bay on the back of their minds. Lets start by looking at an excerpt from last week's analysis: "...While the Seahawks are coming off a momentum building divisional victory, the Falcons are coming off a potentially deflating divisional loss. Its true that they've been pretty good at bouncing back from divisional losses the past couple of seasons - I know as I've won with them in that situation. However, in this case, they're thousands of miles away from home and playing their second straight road game. Additionally, they've got a huge rematch with the defending Superbowl Champs on deck - next week's Sunday night ESPN game. So, while they do certainly need a victory - its entirely possible that they could already have the Packers, the team which knocked them out of the playoffs last year, on the back of their minds..." That game worked out well, as the Falcons got the SU win but failed to cover. Meanwhile, Green Bay won big, while covering, vs. Denver. Those results, combined with the fact that the Packers are the SB Champs, have helped to provide us with an extremely generous number on the Falcons here. Indeed, keep in mind that Atlanta was a -1 point favorite when these teams faced each other here last January and a -2.5 point favorite when they met here during last reg. season. True, Green Bay is off a fast start and the offense is clicking. The pass defense has showed some real chinks in its armor though and the Falcons have a QB who is more than capable of exploiting a suspect secondary. In fact, the Packer defense ranks 31st against the pass with 335.8 yards allowed per game and has yielded 25 plays of 20-plus yards. Even with the playoff loss to the Packers here, the Falcons are still a superb 16-4 their last 20 games here. Of the four losses, two of them came by three or fewer points. The Falcons are 7-3 ATS the last 10 in this series and I look for them to earn AT LEAST another cover here. *10
|10-09-11||Arizona Cardinals v. Minnesota Vikings -1||Top||10-34||Win||100||49 h 25 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on MINNESOTA. With many believing the season is already finished, (at 0-4 the Vikings aren't likely coming back to make the playoffs, not in the competitive NFC North) many Viking fans may no longer even want to see their team win. I don't feel the players are ready to pack it in though. Rather, I feel they'll view this a winnable game and will go all out in an effort to make the most of it. While their playoff chances will be bleak no matter what happens here, Minnesota knows that this is really a 'must win' game, if it wants to give itself any hope of keeping the season "meaningful." After all, the Vikes have Chicago and Green Bay on deck, followed by Carolina. The division games certainly won't be easy but at least they provide the opportunity to improve. Having been so competitive, the Vikes at least have reason not to "give up" yet. While the Vikings are a very disappointing 0-4, the Cardinals haven't been much better. They're 1-3 and off three straight losses, including a particularly painful one last time out. Their lone victory came against Carolina (when Cam Newton was making his first start at QB) and the Cards were badly outagained in that one. With a couple of tough games on deck, they know they need this one. Yet, they also may be starting to feel discouraged - and, unlike the Vikes, they won't be getting any extra energy from being at home. The Vikes beat the Cards 27-24 last season. While the score was close, Minnesota actually dominated statistically. The Vikes had a 28-13 edge in first downs and a 527-225 edge in total yards. The Vikes are 16-9 ATS (19-6 SU) the last 25 times that they were listed as home favorites of -3 or fewer points. I expect them to put it all together here and come away with the win and cover. *10 Personal Favorite
|10-09-11||Cincinnati Bengals v. Jacksonville Jaguars -1||Top||30-20||Loss||-114||26 h 51 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on JACKSONVILLE. I won with the Bengals last week. That was a great spot for them though. Not only were they at home but they were catching an over-valued Buffalo team off an emotional victory over the Patriots. That caused the Bengals to be getting more than a field goal at home, which I felt offered excellent value. Now, however, they're on the road and essentially being asked to win outright. I feel that value has now shifted and that the Bengals are actually being given too much respect here. While the Bengals are getting plenty of credit for beating the Bills - as noted, that was an excellent spot for them - and the Bills likely aren't quite as good as many still seems to think. Prior to that, Cincy faced the likes of Cleveland, Denver and San Francisco - none of which were playoff teams last year. In fact, the four opponents that they've faced thus far were a combined 19-45 last year and NONE had more than six wins. Now, they'll take on their first opponent all season which had a record of .500 or better last season. The Jags, 1-3 this year, were 8-8 last season. Note that the Bengals are 1-8 ATS their last nine against teams with a losing record. The Jaguars, on the other hand, have already taken on the likes of the Saints and the Jets. They did lose both their road games but split their home games, beating the Titans while losing vs. New Orleans last week. The Bengals clearly represent a drop in class and with a road game at Pittsburgh on deck, the Jags know they can't afford to slip up here - if they want to stop this season from getting completely away. The Jags are a respectable 13-9-1 ATS (15-8 SU) the last 23 times that they were home favorites of three or fewer points. They've won seven straight home meetings vs the Bengals and I look for them to find a way to win this "battle of rookie QBs" on Sunday afternoon. *9
|10-08-11||Washington State v. UCLA Bruins -3.5||Top||25-28||Loss||-105||35 h 51 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on UCLA. The Cougars have the better record. However, I believe that the Bruins are still the better team and that they'll show it on Saturday night. Great start for the Cougars, who are clearly an improved team. They'll be playing their third straight road game here though and, that being the case, I don't feel they're ready to win here at UCLA. The Bruins have had a tough schedule. Three of their five games have been on the road. I successfully played against them at Houston, so was not surprised to see them lose that one. They did win at Oregon State, although the Beavers have struggled. Last week, they lost at Stanford - so there's no shame in that. Of their two home games, one resulted in a double-digit win vs. SJ. State and the most recent resulted in a loss vs. Texas - no real shame in that either. That does make this a very important game though. Bruins are 38-18-1 all-time against the Cougars. They beat them 42-28 here last season and 42-7 at Washington State the previous season. In fact, UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel has never lost to the Cougars. While the Cougars are improved from last year, the Bruins were also expected to be improved. Keep in mind that this team returned 17 starters from last season. Their next four games are arguably all more difficult than this one. In other words, this is a game they absolutely need. I expect the Bruins to be a little "hungrier" and I look for them to do an effective job in controlling the clock and limiting the time that the Washington State offense spends on the field. The Bruins are 12-6-1 ATS the last 19 times that they were listed as home favorites in the -3.5 to -7 range. During that stretch, they've also gone 8-3 SU/ATS when playing a home game with an O/U line in the 56.5 to 63 range. I expect them to improve on those stats here. *10 (Personal Favorite)
|10-08-11||Florida Atlantic v. North Texas -3.5||Top||17-31||Win||100||32 h 52 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on NORTH TEXAS. I like how this one sets up for the Mean Green. North Texas has had a tough schedule thus far. The Mean Green played three road games and were double-digit underdogs in each. Their first home game came against a good Houston team. The Mean Green lost that one. Their most recent - and only other - home game came against Indiana, a Big Ten team. Despite being underdogs, the Mean Green won that one by three. Now, they step down in class to face a Florida Atlantic team which is in a tough spot. After getting blown out in their first three games, the Owls left it all the field last time out. They still lost, however, falling 37-34 to Louisiana. They rallied to tie that one, only to give up the winning field goal at the buzzer. That figures to be a tough loss to bounce back, particularly for a weak 0-4 team that is now playing its fifth straight road game, while looking ahead to finally going home. Note that the Owls are just 1-6 ATS the last seven times that they were off a conference loss. During that stretch, they were also 0-3 ATS as road underdogs in the +3.5 to +7 range. The Owls' offense has been terrible so far this season ranking 119th in total yards per game and 116th in points scored. The Mean Green finally beat them (at FAU) last year and this year I look for them to do so by an even wider margin. *10 (Annihilator)
|10-06-11||California +24 v. Oregon||Top||15-43||Loss||-110||83 h 33 m||Show|
I'm playing on CALIFORNIA. The Ducks are a good team. Ok, they're probably even a VERY good team. That said, the Bears are also a lot more talented than many people seem to realize and I believe this pointspread will prove to be too high.
The Ducks lost 40-27 vs. LSU in their opener. No real shame in that, as LSU has an excellent team. Still, the 40 points allowed was a little concerning. They won each of their next two games in blowout fashion. However, those were both against very weak teams and both those victories came at home. In their last game, the Ducks won by 25 (56-31) at Arizona. That was an impressive result and final score.
However, a look at the total yards (516-480) shows that the game could have easily been much closer and that the Ducks defense was again vulnerable to giving up a lot of points.
The Bears are solid on both sides of the ball. They beat Fresno State by more than two touchdowns in their opener and followed it up with a road win at Colorado in their next game. That was followed by a 63-12 pasting of a bad team, before they suffered their first loss of the season in their last game. That loss, which came at Washington, came by only eight points though and the Bears had a 457 to 409 edge in total yards.
As strong as they've been in recent seasons, note that the Ducks are just 5-8 ATS their last 13 games against teams with a winning record. During that stretch, they've gone just 2-4 ATS when coming off a bye and 1-2 ATS when playing on a Thursday night. Going back further finds them at 4-6 ATS their last 10 on a Thursday.
I won with the Bears when they hosted the Ducks last season. Getting +19 points, they lost by only two, 15-13. The Bears haven't been this big an underdog in some time. Going back a bit finds them at 4-1 ATS the last five times that they were underdogs in the +21.5 to +31 range. I expect them to improve on those stats Thursday, as they give the Ducks a tougher game than expected for the second straight season. *10 Thurs. Best Bet
|10-06-11||Western Kentucky v. Middle Tenn State -9.5||Top||36-33||Loss||-110||81 h 53 m||Show|
I'm playing on MIDDLE TENN. STATE. I really like how this one sets up for the home team. The Blue Raiders won last week but didn't cover. The Hilltoppers, on the other hand, covered the spread but didn't win. Not only did those results help to keep this line somewhat reasonable, with both teams now playing on a short week, I feel the team that's playing at home and coming off a close SU win will have a significant emotional advantage over the team that's playing on the road and off a close SU loss. Note that close losses can be difficult to bounce back from, often even harder for college kids playing on a short week.
Speaking of playing on a short week, note that Western Kentucky is a terrible 2-18 SU the last 20 times that it played with six or fewer days' rest in between games while Middle Tennessee State is 15-2 SU and 13-4 ATS when doing so.
The Blue Raiders first three games were tough, as they were double-digit underdogs in each. They nearly won at Purdue, losing by only three. Off that close loss, they got blown out by Georgia Tech. (As noted, close losses can be tough to recover from!) Next, the Blue Raiders followed it up by losing by only three at Troy, nearly scoring the upset. Off that painful loss, they weren't able to blow out Memphis on Saturday. Still, they did get the SU victory - which was what all they were really after. Now, having gotten those three tough games out of the way and fully recovered from the letdown from the loss at Troy, I feel they're ready to build off Saturday's victory by blowing out a weak Western Kentucky team.
While Western Kentucky was able to remain competitive with Arkansas State last week, its previous three games all resulted in double-digit losses. That includes a 41-14 blowout home loss vs. lowly Indiana State, a game in which Western Kentucky was laying -14 points.
The Blue Raiders won by only one at Western Kentucky last season. However, they crushed the Hilltoppers by a score of 62-24 the last time that the teams met here. They're 12-5 SU/ATS their last 17 conference games and I look for them to improve on those stats with a double-digit win on Thursday. *10 Roast
|10-02-11||Detroit Lions v. Dallas Cowboys||Top||34-30||Loss||-110||75 h 48 m||Show|
I'm playing on DALLAS. Many will be quick to back the Lions here. After all, Detroit is off to a perfect start while everyone just saw a banged-up Dallas team barely squeak by Washington on Monday Night. Now, most will figure Dallas got "lucky" and will look to play against the Cowboys, based on their injury situation and based on the fact that they're playing on a short week.
Its true that playing with injuries and also playing on a short week are both factors which should be considered. However, its also true that in this case, both those factors have already been taken into account into the line. (When these teams met here last season, Dallas opened at -6.5 and closed at -5.5.) I feel that's providing us with excellent value, as the Cowboys now essentially just need to win the game and are not being asked to lay a big number.
While playing on a short week should always be considered, in this case, there was no travel involved. It wasn't a situation like Oakland had in Week 1 where it played in Denver on Monday night and then at Buffalo on Sunday afternoon. Besides, good teams can overcome playing on a short week and do so regularly. Look at the Patriots in Week 1. They won by 14 at Miami on Monday night and returned home to beat New England to defeat a good San Diego team by 14 the next Sunday. Another banged-up NFC East team, the Giants, won on Monday night in Week 2. The next Sunday afternoon, playing on a short week, they won by double-digits at Philadelphia.
As for the injuries, Romo delivered a truly "gutty" performance on Monday night. That may not have earned the Cowboys the cover but it did earn them them the SU victory. Perhaps even more importantly, at least in terms of how they play this week, Romo's performance earned him some extra respect in the Cowboys' locker room. The rest of the Cowboys saw their leader coming to work hurt and leading by example and I feel that has helped bring them together in the locker-room. In other words, I feel they're ready to go to war for their QB on Sunday afternoon and lay it all on the line.
You may have heard Dez Bryant's quotes about Romo and why he played last game: "I wasn't sure about playing tonight but if a guy with a puncture lung and broken rib can get out there and play, I can. Tony inspired me..."
As for Romo, he's now had some time to get used to some of the new faces in his offense and as noted, the MNF victory should have brought them together. After Wednesday practice, Romo had this to say of his young receiving corps and what to expect this weekend: "Obviously, if you were watching the game, you could tell there were a couple of things we need to execute on better. That's what practice this week is for. We're going to make sure we get these guys going. They did a good job today. It'll be good to go on Sunday."
Most will talk about Dallas being in a tough scheduling spot but many will forget that this isn't an easy situation for the Lions either. Sure, they're off to an impressive start. However, they're also off a huge comeback OT road win vs. a divisional rival. They're now playing their second straight road game and their third road game in the first four weeks. They've also got another divisional game (Chicago) on deck. That's a rare Monday Night home game too, so if there was ever a game to "look ahead" to - that would qualify.
While the Lions are 0-5 SU the last five times that they played a road game with an O/U line in the 45.5 to 49 range, the Cowboys are 7-2 SU and 8-1 ATS when they played a home game with an O/U line in the same range. The Cowboys beat the Lions by double-digits here last season and I look for them to find away to earn another victory on Sunday. *10 (Personal Favorite.)
|10-02-11||Buffalo Bills v. Cincinnati Bengals +3.5||Top||20-23||Win||100||51 h 44 m||Show|
I'm playing on CINCINNATI. I lost with the Bengals last Sunday. I'm willing to give them another shot here though. The Bengals have been competitive in every game and check in at 2-1 ATS. While they lost last week, they were leading that game much of the way. They still only lost by five. All three of their games have been decided by 10 or fewer points.
The Bills have certainly gotten off to an impressive start. Indeed, few would have figured they'd be 3-0 at this stage. Clearly, they're an improved team from last year. However, I'm personally not ready to buy into them being a Superbowl contender quite yet. More importantly, off one of their biggest wins in recent memory and with a home showdown with Michael Vick's Eagles on deck, I feel that they're ripe for a "letdown" vs. the "lowly" Bengals.
The Bengals figure to be highly motivated. Not only do they want to bounce back from last week's loss but they're also playing with 'revenge' from a 49-31 loss last season. That was no "ordinary" defeat, as the Bengals held a 31-14 halftime lead, before getting outscored 35-0 in the second half. Clearly, they'd like to get some payback for that debacle. l
The Bills are just 3-8 SU/ATS the last 11 times that they were off a divisional games. That includes a 1-2 SU/ATS mark when off a divisional win.
The Bengals, on the other hand, are 15-8 ATS the last 23 times that they were getting points, including an impressive 8-2 ATS the last 10 times that they were underdogs of four or fewer points. I expect them to improve on those stats here. *10 (Best Bet)
|10-01-11||Auburn v. South Carolina -10.5||Top||16-13||Loss||-105||101 h 2 m||Show|
I'm playing on SOUTH CAROLINA. I won with the Gamecocks last week, a 21-18 victory over Vanderbilt. That result worked out very well.
The Gamecocks covered the spread for me but didn't "destroy" Vanderbilt on the scoreboard. That has helped to keep this line a little
lower than it could potentially have been, had South Carolina won by a greater margin.
After that game, Spurrier was quoted as saying: "I apologize to Gamecock fans for such a putrid offensive performance. But we won the
The fact is they didn't just win - they dominated. They just did so with defense. Indeed, the Gamecocks held the Commodores, who had
previously been 3-0, to a mere 77 yards and just five first downs.
In the end, South Carolina would finish with a commanding 367-77 edge in total yards, with a 17-5 edge in first downs. The Gamecocks
defense harrassed Vanderbilt starting QB James Smith, sacking him six times. They eventually knocked him out of the game entirely in the
Vancerbilt coach James Franklin said this of the South Carolina defense: "We got manhandled up front. Their athleticism up front was
obvious. We struggled with that all night."
The South Carolina offense can indeed play better than it did last week - we saw that when the Gamecocks scored 56 vs. East Carolina and
45 vs. Georgia. However, the Auburn defense may not find it so easy to improve on its poor performances. The Tigers are allowing an
average of 31 points per game and they allowed 38 points (and 624 total yards!) in their lone road game.
The Gamecocks, 7-4 ATS the last 11 times that they were listed as home favorites in the -10.5 to -14 range, haven't forgotten last year, when Auburn beat them in both the regular season and the SEC Title game. I expect them to earn some payback with a convincing double-digit victory. *10 Personal Favorite
|10-01-11||Buffalo v. Tennessee -28.5||Top||10-41||Win||100||26 h 3 m||Show|
I'm playing on TENNESSEE. After a trio of ATS wins to start the season, the Bulls came back to earth last week, losing by 14 as 8.5 point home underdogs. Now, they're up against a better team and playing in a very hostile environment. I expect a one-sided blowout.
While they "pushed" as 26-point favorites in this season's opener, last year's Volunteers proved to be capable of blowing bad teams out. The two biggest pointspreads they saw were -38.5 and -19.5. The Vols won those games by scores of 50-0 and 50-14, respectively. This year's team is arguably deeper and stronger.
The Vols, who are off a bye, also figure to be motivated to earn themselves a big win. That's because they're last game resulted in a loss at Florida and their next four games, after Buffalo, come against the likes of Georgia, LSU, Alabama and South Carolina. This is arguably the easiest game left on the Vols' schedule and they could use the confidence that comes from crushing a team.
Even with a couple of ATS victories this season, the Bulls are still 6-12 ATS as underdogs the past few seasons. During that stretch, the Vols are 9-6-1 ATS when laying points. That includes a 2-1-1 ATS mark as home favorites in the -21.5 to -31 range. I expect the Vols to improve on those stats here, as this one turns into one of the bigger mismatches of the weekend. *9 (Big Easy)
|10-01-11||Air Force +3.5 v. Navy||Top||35-34||Win||100||16 h 51 m||Show|
I'm playing on AIR FORCE. I believe that we're getting excellent value with the Falcons here. Both teams are 2-1 SU. Both have beaten up on a pair of bad teams while both have lost their only game vs. a quality opponent. The Falcons beat South Dakota and Tennessee State and their only loss came vs. TCU. The Midshipmen beat Western Kentucky and Delaware, while losing vs. South Carolina. Not much difference there. Yet, due to the venue, Navy is laying more than a field goal.
True, Navy has enjoyed recent pointspread success in this series and covered the spread last year. However, that game saw Air Force laying -9.5 points. The Falcons still won but "only" by eight. The previous season, at Navy, the Midshipmen won by three. (The Falcons missed a fg at the buzzer in that one that would have forced OT.)
This year's Air Force team is arguably even more talented than last year's team and has high expectations. The Falcons are also in one of their best roles as we find them at a profitable 4-1 ATS the last five times that they were listed as underdogs in the 3.5 to 10 range.
On the other hand, Navy is just 1-4 ATS the last five times it was listed as a home favorite in the -3.5 to -7 range.
Navy did have last week off to regroup but is still coming off a tough loss. On the other hand, Air Force enters with plenty of confidence having racked up a school record 792 yards of offense last week. I'll gladly grab the points but won't be at all surprised if the Falcons win this one for the second straight year. *10
|09-29-11||South Florida v. Pittsburgh +3||Top||17-44||Win||100||57 h 27 m||Show|
I'm playing on PITTSBURGH. I feel that this line, which has climbed from its opener, is providing us with outstanding value. These teams met last season at South Florida and the Panthers were a -3 point favorite. (Pittsburgh won 17-10) Now, they're meeting at Pittsburgh and the Bulls are the ones which are laying points. Given the swing from one season to the next, one might assume that the Bulls brought back significantly more starters from last year. That's not the case though. In fact, the Panthers brought back 13 starters to USF's 11.
So, why the big swing with South Florida going from home underdog to road favorite in the course of a single season? While, in addition to Pittsburgh having a new coach, the main reason is that USF is 4-0 while Pittsburgh is 2-2. The Bulls even have a victory over a team (Notre Dame) which defeated the Panthers.
Many will assume that because USF beat Notre Dame and because Notre Dame beat Piitsburgh, that USF will surely defeat Pittsburgh. That type of logic doesn't often hold up though, as one needs to look at things on a much deeper level.
While the Bulls deserve credit for beating Notre Dame, it should be noted that they were outgained by a 508-254 margin in that game. Meanwhile, their other three games all came at home and all came against extremely weak opponents. Seeing as the Bulls were favored by more than 20 points for each of those games, its no surprise that they resulted in victories.
The Panthers lost a tough one at Iowa as they blew a big lead. Perhaps a bit "hungover" or "deflated" from that game, they lost 15-12 to the Irish.
Still, having been "only" outgained by a 398-268 yard margin by the Irish, from a yardage standpoint, Pitt. actually played ND a lot tougher than USF did.
Yet, here we have the Panthers getting points at home - based largely on the fact that they lost to ND while USF won vs. ND.
As for the coaching change, Graham should be an improvement over Wannestedt and this is his chance to show that to the world, in a nationally televised game.
The Panthers have beaten the Bulls three times in a row. Graham inherited a very good defense and now he's had a handful of games to work with the offense, which he has averaging greater than 27 points per game.
The Panthers know they need this one badly, both to stop their current skid and to keep their goal of winning the Big East within reach. They were 8-1 SU in Weeks 5-9 the past couple of seasons, going 7-1 ATS in those games. I expect them to score the "upset" but will happily grab whatever points are being offered. *10 (Main Event)
|09-28-11||Washington Nationals v. Florida Marlins +1.5||Top||3-1||Loss||-126||6 h 56 m||Show|
I'm playing FLORIDA on the RUN-LINE (+1.5 Runs.) I won with the Marlins yesterday, a 1-run win for Florida. I feel that the Marlins have an excellent shot at closing out their season and their time at this stadium with a victory. In fact, I expect them to do so. However, as they're listed as fairly healthy underdogs on the moneyline, we're able to get them at an excellent price on the run-line. In a game that could easily again be close, like yesterday's that may well prove valuable and that's the way I'm going to play it.
The Nats are favored largely because they've got Stepehn Strasburg on the mound. He's certainly got bigtime talent. However, he's also made just four starts since coming off Tommy John surgery. He's seen his innings limited since coming back and has only gone more than five innings once - a six-inning effort in a 4-1, 13-inning loss to these same Marlins on Sept. 17. Note that this will be Strasburg's first road start.
Volstad outlasted Strasburg in the 9/17 game, although he didn't factor in the decision either. He followed it up with a gem last time out. That's back to back games where he's gone seven complete innings and allowed only a single run.
While the Nats are 1-2 in Straburg's starts vs. Florida, the Marlins are 10-3 in Volstad's starts vs. Washington.
True, the Marlins can't wait to get out of here and into their new home. Still, they've gone 780-720 in 19 years here and I believe that they would like to close things out with a victory, while also playing hard for 80-year-old Jack McKeon, who will retire at season
|09-25-11||Arizona Cardinals v. Seattle Seahawks +3.5||Top||10-13||Win||100||30 h 47 m||Show|
I'm playing on SEATTLE. The Seahawks are 0-2. The Cardinals are 1-1. However, Arizona's lone victory came at home and that was against Carolina, a team which was playing its first game under a new coach and with a QB making his debut in the NFL. That QB (Newton) would go on to have a monster day and the Cards have now given up 686 yards through the air in two games. Last week, playing on the road, they also gave up 172 on the ground, en route to a 22-21 loss. Clearly, this has not been one of the league's better defenses. Yet, winless on the road, they're laying more than a field goal against a desperate division rival, one which is playing its home opener. Note that Arizona is only 5-10 ATS the last 15 times that it was favored.
Its early but this is truly a critical game for Seattle. The Seahawks host a very good Atlanta team after this week. After that, they're back on the road for two more weeks. While they did get blown out last week, that loss came at Pittsburgh - against a top tier team which was playing its home opener.
Coming to the Pacific Northwest is no picnic for visting teams. The Seahawks are 10-7 SU and 11-6 ATS here the past couple of seasons.
That includes a 3-0 SU/ATS mark when playing here when the O/U line ranged between 42.5 and 45 points. It should also be noted that the Seahawks are 7-3 ATS (6-4 SU) the last 10 times that they were off two or more consecutive losses.
The Seahawks were 2-0 against the Cards last season and both victories came by double-digits. They were laying -6.5 for the game here at Seattle. Now, we're getting a field goal or more for their home opener, which I feel is providing us with excellent value. *10 NFC West GOY
|09-25-11||San Francisco 49ers v. Cincinnati Bengals -1.5||Top||13-8||Loss||-125||106 h 37 m||Show|
I'm playing on CINCINNATI. The Bengals as a favorite? Who would have thought. That is indeed the case, as Cincy checks in with a 2-0 ATS record (1-1 SU) and with several advantages over their West Coast based guests. While I do respect the 49'ers, I expect the Bengals to close out September with a winning record.
Both teams won their first game and both suffered a tough loss in their second. The Bengals "split" was arguably more impressive though, as both games came on the road. The 49ers, on the other hand, played both their games at home.
Each new season brings new hope. Having achieved a split on the road and returning home for two very winnable games (they host Buffalo next week) the Bengals are suddenly filled with some new found optimism. A win on Sunday and the city and fans will embrace this team, temporarily forgetting about the years of futility.
While the Bengals return home filled with hope, the 49ers figure to somewhat deflated. That's because their Week 2 loss was arguably even more devastating. (They were up by 10 points in the fourth quarter and lost in OT.)
I had the 49ers in that game (a push) and strongly disagreed with Harbaugh's fourth quarter decision to keep "keep the points on the board" with a field goal and go up by 10, rather than accept a penalty and keep the drive going. Other than a turnover, at worst case scenario, the 49ers run three three plays, gain nothing (or even lose a bit) and attempt a shorter field goal. That would have taken valuable time of the clock - considering that Dallas hit the regulation-tying fg at the buzzer, every second was precious. If Harbaugh had the faith in his kicker to go for such a long field goal in the first place - he should have been confident that he would have been able to hit from even closer range. And, with a little luck, the 49ers pick up a first down or two and/or convert for a touchdown. The latter would have put the game away completely.
Instead Harbaugh, a rookie coach in the NFL, chose to "play it safe" and keep the field goal. Evidently, he'd heard the saying: "never take points off the board." Cleary, at least in my humble opinion, this was a situation where that saying did not apply. While I do think Harbaugh may indeed turn out to be a decent NFL coach, I feel that last week's decision may well come back to haunt him this week.
While there are certainly many who will argue that Harbaugh made the correct decision (they're entitled to their opinion) at least some of his players have to be questioning it, if only to themselves. Either way, they're off a devastating loss and now must travel clear across the country to play an "early" (10am PST) game against a newly inspired team, playing its home opener.
While I've primarily focused on the mental state of each of the teams, it should be noted that the Bengals have also had a significant statistical edge, in most offensive categories. The Bengals are averaging 105 rushing yards per game to go along with 232 yards per game through the air. They've averaged 6.8 yards per pass play and four yards per rush. The 49'ers, on the other hand, have averaged 79 yards per game on the ground and only 128 through the air. They've averaged 5.8 yards per pass play and only 2.8 per rushing play.
Overall, the Bengals have outgained opponents by a 338 to 312 margin while the 49ers have been outgained by a 299-207 mark.
While this is obviously a "new era," its still worth noting that the 49ers are a dreadful 6-13-3 ATS (6-16 SU) the last 22 times that they were road underdogs of three or fewer points.
The Bengals have now quietly gone 6-1 ATS their last seven September games and the lone loss came at New England. I backed them in their lone September home game last season and they rewarded me with a 15-10 outright victory (as 3-point underdogs) over the Ravens. I expect them to get it done again here. *10
|09-25-11||Detroit Lions v. Minnesota Vikings +4||Top||26-23||Win||100||106 h 33 m||Show|
I'm playing on MINNESOTA. What a difference a year can make. These teams also met here in Week 3 last season. At the time, although both teams were 0-2, the Vikings were double-digit favorites. (The line opened at -10 and closed at -13.) This year, the Vikings are again 0-2. However, the Lions are now 2-0 and check in as road favorites, laying more than a field goal. As impressive as the Lions were last week, I feel that provides us with excellent value with what figures to be a "desperate" Vikings team.
The Vikings are 0-2 but both losses have been competitive. They lost by four to Bucs last week and by seven at San Diego in Week 1. In fact, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, Minnesota is the first team to lose its first two games despite leading both by double digits at halftime. (The Vikes led the Chargers 17-7 at halftime and led the Bucs 17-0)
While some teams might hang their heads about the blown leads, the Vikes are "looking at the bright side. " Minnesota receiver Percy Harvin had this to say: "It's definitely a positive. I think we all just sat in there (watching the Bucs game film) and it kind of made us mad knowing that they did nothing to beat us."
The Vikings are 4-1 ATS the last five times that they were off two or more consecutive losses. They're also 7-4 ATS the last 11 times that they were home underdogs in the +3.5 to +7 range. On the other hand, during the same stretch, the Lions were 2-6 ATS (3-5 SU) as road favorites in the -3.5 to -7 range.
Going back to last year's game here, a 24-10 win for the Vikings, we find that it wasn't Brett Favre that beat the Lions. (Favre threw for just 201 yards and had 2 ints vs. only 1 TD) Rather, it was Adrian Peterson. The Vikings' star running back ran for 160 yards and two touchdowns.
After the win, Peterson was quoted as saying: "That's really just the mentality that I have. When things aren't really going well, I want to get the guys going up front and establish the run game. We were pretty productive." I expect a big day from Peterson and the Vikings rush attack again here.
Even with last week's loss, the Vikings are still 13-4 at home the past few seasons. They're not willing to write this season off yet, which is essentially what a loss here will do. They're 17-2 SU the last 19 times that they hosted the Lions, including 13-0 the last 13. While I expect them to make it 14 straight here, I'll gladly grab the generous points. *10 (Best Bet)
|09-24-11||Oklahoma State v. Texas A&M -4||Top||30-29||Loss||-110||77 h 19 m||Show|
I'm playing on TEXAS A&M. Needless to say, this is a huge game for both teams. Each are undefeated. Each are highly ranked. Each have big goals this season. Playing at home and with a "score to settle," I expect the Aggies to be the team which emerges victorious.
Many of you will recall last year's meeting, a wild affair to say the least. The Aggies were up 21-7 at halftime. However, the Cowboys ended up winning 38-35. Turnovers were the story in that one. The Aggies turned the ball over five times; one of those turnovers was a 4th quarter fumble which was returned 63 yards for a touchdown. Then, with 16 seconds left, the Aggies threw an interception which was returned 28 yards to set up the Cowboys' game-winning field goal. Ouch!
That was at Stillwater though, while this is at College Station. Big difference.
A closer look at last year's stats shows that the Aggies dominated statistically, turnovers notwithstanding. In fact, Texas A&M significantly outgained the Cowboys on both the ground AND through the air. Overall, the Aggies finished with 535 total yards (109 and 426) while the Cowboys only had 351 (67 and 284).
Its true that this year's Cowboys team could potentially be even more explosive than last year's, although I feel that its too early to say that yet. The Cowboys returned 14 starters, including nine on offense. Receiver Blackmon is truly the real deal.
However, while the Cowboys returned 14 starters, the Aggies returned a whopping 18. Ten on offense and eight on defense. In his fourth year here, this is clearly the most talent that Mike Sherman has had to work with.
Speaking of Sherman, this guy is no slouch. He gets little media attention - arguably less so than other coaches of ranked teams. Perhaps partly because he's not particularly "flashy" and doesn't seem to care for the spotlight. He's a proven winner in the pros though (57-36 as a head coach in the NFL w/ 4 playoff trips) and he's got his Aggies headed in the right direction. They were 10-15 his first two years here, including a blowout loss at Oklahoma State in 2008 and a close loss to the Cowboys here in 2009. However, in his third season, Sherman turned the corner, as the team went 9-4, including wins over Oklahoma, Texas, Nebraska and Texas Tech. As noted, they easily could also have beaten Oklahoma State.
Last year was a relatively young Aggies team - now they're experienced. Now, they're playing at home. Sherman has now beaten every other team "in the area" but not this one. Obviously, he's had this one circled and it means a great deal to him.
The Aggies are 12-6-1 ATS their last 20 "home" games and 5-2 ATS the last seven times that they were favored by four or fewer points. Ultimately, I expect them to be a little "hungrier" and for their superior defense, combined with homefield advantage, to be the difference. *10 (NCAA Personal Favorite.)
|09-22-11||North Carolina State +8 v. Cincinnati||Top||14-44||Loss||-105||33 h 10 m||Show|
I'm playing on NC STATE. I won with the "under" when these teams played last year. This year, I feel that the pointspread is too high and I'm grabbing the points with the visiting underdog.
Both teams have blown out a pair of bad teams and each has lost in their only game against a half decent opponent. The Wolfpack lost by seven at Wake Forest. The Bearcats were blown out at Tennessee.
The Wolfpack, who were 2-0 on Thursdays last season, return 13 starters from a team that went 9-4 last season. That included a 30-19 victory over Cincinnati. Granted, that was at Raleigh and the Wolfpack still had QB Russell Wilson, now at Wisconsin.
Cincinnati gained only 75 yards on the ground in 31 rushing attempts in last year's game. NC State, on the other hand, gained 158 rushing yards on 36 attempts. The Bearcats should certainly be improved this year. However, keep in mind that they were only 4-8 last season. So, asking them to beat a team, that dominated them last year, by more than a touchdown is asking a lot.
Its true that the NC State defense, which originally returned eight starters from last season, has been hit by several injuries. Naturally, that's not a good thing. However, that's been factored into this line already and it should be remembered that the Cincinnati defense has also been less than impressive. Despite facing 1-AA Austin Peay and Akron, one of the weakest teams in 1-A football, the Bearcats have allowed all three opponents to rush for at least 125 yards. They've also allowed all three opponents to pass for a minimum of 150 yards, including 405 by Tennessee. Overall, the Vols gained a whopping 531 total yards.
Even without Wilson, the Wolfpack offense is more than capable of also having success here. Coach Tom O'Brien had this to say of his new QB: "I think Glennon has done better than I would have expected him to be at this point. When you complete 17 out of 20 and it's the second best completion percentage in school history only to Philip Rivers, who is the marquee marker here as far as quarterback goes. Mike Glennon had three incompletions, one was a throw away and the other two hit guys in the hands. From halftime of Wake Forest through now it's been, for a guy that's only played three games, it's been a pretty remarkable stretch..."
The Wolfpack are 3-0 ATS their last three against teams from the Big East. They're also 4-2 ATS the last six times that they were listed as underdogs in the +3.5 to +10 range. During that stretch, the Bearcats were just 0-3 ATS as favorites in the -3.5 to -10 range. I feel that this one could well come down to the wire and will grab the points with Glennon and the Wolfpack. *10
|09-19-11||St. Louis Rams +7 v. NY Giants||Top||16-28||Loss||-104||18 h 5 m||Show|
I'm playing on ST. LOUIS. Both teams are off disappointing opening week losses. Both teams are already dealing with several key injuries. While the Giants do have the advantage of playing at home, I expect them to have their hands full here.
While he has had to use a special glove to throw, St. Louis QB Sam Bradford has been cleared to play and is expected to be fine. He should be licking his chops at the chance to face a banged-up Giants defense which allowed Rex Grossman to throw for 305 yards last week.
Many tend to think of the Giants as a strong favorite and a team that rolls over teams at home. However, that hasn't been the case in recent seasons. After failing to cover at Washington in the opener, they're just 10-13 ATS when laying points the past few seasons. During that stretch, they were just 6-10 ATS at home.
On the other hand, the Rams have gone 9-7 ATS on the road. Once called the "greatest show on turf," the Rams are actually 7-4 ATS on grass the past couple of seasons.
Monday Night games are always a big deal for all the players. With both teams off losses, its also a very important for both teams. However, I feel it could be a little more "special" for the Rams. Not only have they played far fewer MNF games than New York the past few seasons but they've also got a coach (Steve Spagnuolo) who used to be a defensive coordinator for these same Giants.
I expect Spagnuolo to have the Rams ready. Catching the Giants in between a pair of big divisional games (they've got the Eagles on deck) and with the line having climbed from its opener, I also expect them to earn at least the cover. *10
|09-18-11||Philadelphia Eagles v. Atlanta Falcons +3||Top||31-35||Win||100||18 h 29 m||Show|
I'm playing on ATLANTA. While I didn't touch the Eagles/ Rams game, I successfully played against the Falcons in last week's loss at Chicago. The Falcons are a much different team at home though and I expect them to bounce back in a big way here.
With last week's win, the Eagles are a respectable 10-8 ATS on the road, the past 2+ seasons. However, during the same stretch, the Falcons are 11-6 ATS (13-4 SU) at home, going 14-6 ATS overall during dome games and 14-8 ATS on turf. (The Eagles are now 2-4 ATS on turf, during that stretch.)
As you're probably aware, Philadelphia QB Michael Vick used to be a member of the Falcons. This will be his second trip back here, as an Eagle.
Vick's Eagles won 34-7 here two years ago. Not that they should need any but I expect that to provide Atlanta with some extra motivation here. After all, the last thing the Falcons want is their old QB coming in here and showing them up. Not fro their home opener - not when they're already 0-1 and have a pair of road games on deck.
Keep in mind that Matt Ryan didn't play in that game two years ago. Ryan, who very rarely loses here, will be running the show tonight and he'll be determined to remind everyone that this is indeed "his house." I'll gladly grab whatever points they're offering but expect the Falcons to score the "upset." *10
|09-18-11||Chicago Bears v. New Orleans Saints -6.5||Top||13-30||Win||100||82 h 5 m||Show|
I'm playing on NEW ORLEANS. I won with the Bears last week and therefore was not surprised that they knocked off the Falcons. This week, the Bears are up against another tough NFC South opponent. This time, however, they're playing on the road. I expect a much different result.
As I mentioned last week, the Bears are a much better home team. On the road, they've gone a mediocre 8-8 SU and 7-8-1 ATS the past couple of seasons. That includes a money-burning 1-3 SU/ATS record as road underdogs in the +3.5 to +7 range.
During that stretch, note that the Bears are also winless (0-3 SU/ATS) when playing a road game where the O/U line ranged from 45.5 to 49 points. Going back further finds them at a dismal 2-13 SU and 4-11 ATS their last 15 in that situation.
The Saints had a tough matchup in Week 1, as they were on the road against the defending Superbowl Champs. Despite failing to cover in that one, they played the Packers tough the entire way and finished with a ton of offense. Brees was 32 of 49 for 419 yards. Even without receiver Colston, this is still an extremely dangerous offense.
The Bears were able to get ahead of the Falcons, a situation they tend to fare well in. They're not so good when playing from behind though. Given the Saints' offensive numbers last week and the fact that they're 13-5 at home the past couple of seasons, that could well be the case here.
In addition to having an outstanding QB in Brees, the Saints are very well coached. Peyton, who took a bit of rare heat for some decisions against the Packers, is among the best in the game. He's had a couple of extra days to prepare his team, as the Saints played on Thursday night.
Peyton, Brees and co. have high expectations this year and know they can ill afford to fall to 0-2. I expect them to bounce back with a convincing win and cover. *10 (NFL Personal Favorite)
|09-17-11||Oklahoma State v. Tulsa +14||Top||59-33||Loss||-110||43 h 55 m||Show|
I'm playing on TULSA. Oklahoma State is a dangerous and explosive team, one which is capable of putting up big points. The betting public is well aware of this. Off the big win over Arizona, they'll be quick to want to back the Cowboys here. However, the oddsmakers are also well aware of this and have posted a rather large number. I believe it'll prove too large and that the value lies with the revenge-minded home underdog.
Like the betting public and the oddsmakers, Tulsa knows full well how potent the Cowboys are. After all, Oklahoma State crushed the Golden Hurricane by a score of 65-28 last Sept. 18. That was at Stillwater though, while this one's at Tulsa.
True, the Cowboys offense is among the best around. The same can't necessarily be said of the team's defense or discipline though. While they have had a couple of extra days of preparation time, the Cowboys are off a big "bowl rematch" (vs Arizona) and have a huge game at Texas A&M on deck. That one ranks among their biggest games of the year. In other words, this game may not mean quite as much to the Cowboys as it does to Tulsa.
While the Golden Hurricane do have a new coach this year (Bill Blankenship) they're loaded with experience. In fact, this team brought back 18 starters from last year's team, losing just 13 lettermen. By the end of the year, they could well be the best team in Conference USA. True, the Golden Hurricane did suspend star receiver Damaris Johnson. His loss hurt initially - but Bryan Burnham has helped pick up the slack wtih 10 catches for 162 yards and three touchdowns.
The Golden Hurricane have already played a bigtime opponent, getting blown out at Oklahoma in Week 1. That was on the road though, their first game with the new coach. They bounced back with a convincing 31-3 victory at Tulane last week. That gives them some positive momentum and should give them some much needed confidence for Saturday night's big home opener.
After the blowout loss at Stillwater last season, the Golden Hurricane closed out the regular season on a 8-1 run (lone loss was on the road and by only 3 points) before crushing Hawaii 62-35 in the Hawaii Bowl. In other words, this is a team which has become accustomed to winning. Its also a team which hasn't forgotten last year's debacle in this series.
The Golden Hurricane are 7-1 ATS (6-2 SU) the last eight times that they were off a conference victory. Off their big win over Tulane, I expect them to give the Cowboys all they can handle here. *10 (Top Revenge play)
|09-17-11||Arkansas State v. Virginia Tech -24||Top||7-26||Loss||-110||61 h 47 m||Show|
I'm playing on VIRGINIA TECH. At first glance, this line many appear fairly high. However, if Arkansas State wasn't off a big win and a 2-0 ATS start and if Virginia Tech wasn't off an ATS loss, the line could easily be higher. As it is, I don't feel that it will prove to be high enough.
The Hokies are certainly capable of delivering a blowout. Their lone home game resulted in a 66-13 victory. Laying -27 points, they won by 53 points.
Note that Virginia Tech is a perfect 5-0 SU/ATS the last five times that it was a favorite in the -21.5 to -31 range. During that stretch, Beamer's squad has gone an impressive 18-8 ATS as a favorite overall.
The Red Wolves lone road game resulted in an 18-point loss, as a 19-point underdog. Even with that cover, Arkansas State remains a poor 6-9 ATS its last 15 road line games and 6-8 ATS (1-13 SU) its last 14 as underdogs.
The Hokies believe that this year's team has a shot at a perfect season. As such, they'd like to make sure that they crush teams like this, to "look good" for the polls. Three meetings in this series have seen the Hokies win by an average score of 49-5. The Hokies had a 422-191 edge in average yards in those games. I expect this one to also be very one-sided. *10 (Big Easy)
|09-17-11||Michigan State v. Notre Dame -4||Top||13-31||Win||100||60 h 8 m||Show|
I'm playing on NOTRE DAME. I respect the Spartans. In fact, I played on them last week and they rewarded me with a 44-0 victory. That was a home game against Florida Atlantic though. This week, they're playing a road game at Notre Dame. Big difference.
Off back to back losses, including a true heartbreaker vs Michigan, the Irish figure to be seeing red. Keep in mind that this is a very good Notre Dame - just one which has been snakebitten by turnovers thus far.
As coach Brian Kelly said: "The one stat that really matters for me is the turnover takeaway, and there's a direct correlation to percentage of winning when you turn the ball over. There's no stat for me that tells the story more than that."
That's true - but for the record, the Irish have put up more than 500 yards of offense in each of their first two games. They've outgained opponents by an average of 508 to 254 at home and 510.5 to 353 overall. Those aren't the stats typical of an 0-2 team. Rather, with numbers like that, one would expect most teams to have been 2-0 with a pair of convincing victories.
Off the Michigan loss, some teams might really react badly. This is Notre Dame though - a team with a ton of pride and a team with a passionate and competitive coach in Kelly that won't allow them to hang their heads.
Kelly had this to say of his team: "If we do not beat ourselves, we've got a chance to be the kind of football team that we all believe that we can be. I can see it. I've coached almost 250 football games. I can feel and see a football team coming together. They've got to take care of the football. They've got to execute better, and they will..."
The Spartans, who took on lowly Youngstown State before the FAU game, are just 5-10 ATS since 2008, when listed as underdogs, including 3-5 ATS the last eight. They were last underdogs in the bowl game vs Alabama and lost 49-7. Prior to that, they were underdogs vs. Iowa on 10/30 and lost 37-6.
The Spartans won last year's game by 34-31, in OT. That was at Michigan State. This year, the Spartans returned 12 starters while the Irish returned 17. Playing at home and desperate for a victory, I expect the Irish to avenge that loss in a big way here. *10 (NCAA Personal Favorite)
|09-17-11||Pittsburgh +3.5 v. Iowa||Top||27-31||Loss||-110||50 h 51 m||Show|
I'm playing on PITTSBURGH. The Hawkeyes have the advantage of playing at home, which is the primary reason that they're favored. I believe the Panthers are currently the stronger team though.
Wannestedt had some success here at Pittsburgh. However, he was never particularly well liked and was forced out. Todd Graham comes in from Tulsa, where he had an impressive 36-17 record as a head coach in four years. Last year, he took Tulsa from a 5-7 record to a 10-3 record.
Wannestedt certainly didn't leave the cupboard bare, as Graham inherited a talented team with 13 returning starters. With eight defensive starters back, the Panthers have arguably the most talented defense in the Big East. On offense, Graham brings a new more "QB friendly" system, which the players have now had a couple of real games to learn.
This will be the Panthers' first true test under Graham as the first two games came against Buffalo and Maine. Naturally, the Panthers won both those first games. However, the fact that they failed to cover in either, is helping us in terms of line value here.
Iowa is well coached and is usually tough. That said, this year's team is quite inexperienced. In fact, with only nine returning starters, they're the least experienced team in the Big East.
The Hawkeyes' lack of experience caught up with them last week, as they were upset at rival Iowa State, 44-41. The fact that the setback came in the third overtime figures to make it extra "draining," both physically and emotionally. Indeed, it was the first OT game in the 59 game series between Iowa and Iowa State and the highest-scoring to boot.
After the loss at Iowa State, coach Kirk Ferentz said this of his team: "Right now, we've got a lot of work to do. It became pretty evident today..."
The last meeting between these teams (back in 2008) was decided by a single point, a 21-20 victory for Pittsburgh. I expect the Panthers to score the outright victory here. However, in game that could easily also "go down to the wire," I'll gladly grab the points. *10 (Annihilator)
|09-16-11||Boise State v. Toledo +20.5||Top||40-15||Loss||-105||41 h 13 m||Show|
I'm playing on TOLEDO. Boise State is very good, as usual. However, I believe this line has gotten a little out of control. It was high to begin with an has climbed even higher since its opener. With all due respect to the Broncos, I believe it will prove to be too high.
The Rockets are generally tough at Toledo. Indeed, they're 51-19 SU their last 70 home lined games. That includes an 8-4 SU (7-5 ATS) mark the past couple of seasons. This year's lone home game came against an inferior opponent (New Hampshire) but saw the Rockets put up 58 points on 591 yards.
More impressive, last week the Rockets nearly beat the Buckeyes, at Ohio State. They eventually lost 27-22, easily covering as +17.5 point underdogs. That was at Ohio State. Yet, now they're at home and getting even more points.
Some might feel that the close loss to Ohio State will be difficult for Toledo to "recover" from, as can sometimes be the case. The Rockets weren't really expecting to win that game though - at least not going into it. So, I don't feel there will be much of a "letdown" effect. Not when they're playing a home televised game against a nationally ranked opponent which embarrassed them last season. While we know Boise is very well coached, I believe the same can be said of Toledo.
Speaking of last season, this year's Toledo team returned a whopping 18 starters, most in the MAC, losing just nine lettermen. Even with the loss on the blue turf, they were still a solid 8-5. After the loss at Boise, the Rockets won all four of their remaining home games last year, one by a touchdown and the other three by double-digits.
While it may seem that they're always blowing teams out, note that the Broncos are just 2-4 ATS the past couple of seasons when favored in the -10.5 to -21 range. Against a Toledo team with plenty of experience and offense talent, I expect the Broncos to face a much tougher test than most will be expecting. *9
|09-15-11||LSU v. Mississippi State +4.5||Top||19-6||Loss||-110||17 h 22 m||Show|
I'm playing on MISSISSIPPI STATE. Obviously, this is a huge game for both teams. LSU wants to stay undefeated. Mississippi State wants to bounce back from last week's loss to Auburn and to avenge a string of losses in this series. The Tigers bring the higher seed to the table and a victory against Oregon on their resume. Clearly, they're a talented team. The Bulldogs are better than many realize too though and I feel that this season's early results are helping to provide us with excellent value.
Mississippi State won nine games last season, including victories over teams like Georgia and Florida. Its only home losses were a 3-point setback against Auburn, the eventual national champion and a double-OT loss against Arkansas, ranked #13 at the time. (It should be noted that the Bulldogs did get "blown out" at LSU - however, it should also be noted that turnovers led to the lopsided score.) This year's Mississippi State squad brought back a whopping 16 starters, the most in Dan Mullen's career here yet.
The Bulldogs may not be "fancy" but that doesn't mean they don't possess a potent offense. Through two games, they're averaging 585 yards and 46.5 points. Even with some injuries on the offensive line, this is still a very experienced Bulldog offense and I expect them to have success here.
Note that the Bulldogs are playing their home opener and that they're 15-5 SU their last 20 home openers, including 3-0 the last three years.
The Tigers are 4-5 ATS in road lined games the past few seasons, 1-2 ATS as road favorites. Off to a 2-0 start, note that the Tigers are also an ugly 35-53 ATS in lined games, when coming off two or more consecutive victories, including a 4-8 ATS mark their last 12 in that situation.
The Bulldogs have the physical talent to match up against LSU. They're playing at home on a Thursday night and they're getting a field goal (or more) to boot. They very nearly knocked off the Tigers here in 2009, outgaining them by a 151 to 30 margin on the ground in that game. That one was eventually decided by four points. While I feel the Bulldogs have an excellent shot at the outright victory, in a game that could once again easily come down to the wire, I'll gladly grab the points. *10
|09-12-11||New England Patriots v. Miami Dolphins +7.5||Top||38-24||Loss||-100||9 h 8 m||Show|
I'm playing on MIAMI. I'm well aware that the Patriots are a dangerous team. I'm also aware that they beat up on the Dolphins in both last year's meetings. That said, I feel that this line is far too high and that we're getting excellent value with the home underdog Dolphins. Keep in mind that the Patriots were only a -1 point favorite when playing here last season, although that was a "meaningless" game. Still, going back further and we find the lines here the past three Pats' visites were +1, +5 and +1.
While they did get blown out here last season, lets also not forget that the Dolphins are still 13-7 the last 20 times that they hosted the Patriots. Two seasons ago, getting five points, the Dolphins won outright here. The Dolphins are a profitable 8-5 ATS the last 13 meetings here. They're also 11-5 ATS the last 16 times that they were underdogs of eight or fewer points.
With Tom Brady running the show, the Pats offense will surely be potent, the Dolphins should be tough defensively this season, which makes getting large points attractive. Brady knows he'll be facing a fired up Miami "D." He had this to say: "It's a dangerous group. They're experienced in the secondary. They've been playing together now for a little while and they're very good, especially when the pass rush gets going."
When these teams met last year, it was already the end of the year and Miami was already playing out the strong. Week 1 offers every team new hope though. Filled with that optimism, backed by the support of the home fans and motivated by revenge and hatred for a division rival, I expect the Dolphins to give their "high profile" guests all they can handle with a solid shot at the outright upset. *10
|09-11-11||Tennessee Titans v. Jacksonville Jaguars -1||Top||14-16||Win||100||35 h 25 m||Show|
I'm playing on JACKSONVILLE. These division rivals have very similar 2-year records. Yet, if you asked many fans or recreational bettors, most would probably remember the Titans as having been more successful. In fact, Tennessee was 14-18 the past two seasons while Jacksonville was slightly better, at 15-17. (Their ATS records, 14-17-1 and 14-18, were nearly identical.) The Jags' 10-6 home record is considerably better than the Titans' 6-10 road mark though. With this game being played at Jacksonville and the pointspread unlikely to be a factor, I feel the value lies with Jacksonville.
The Jags have parted ways with longtime QB David Garrard. That means Luke McCown will start under center. Many will refuse to back the Jags because of this. However, I don't view this as a dropoff. McCown has been around for five seasons now and knows this is his chance.
The Titans, of course, also have a new QB. While Hasselbeck is certainly more of a proven commodity than McCown, he's still on a new team. As it is in Jacksonville, Tennessee also has a young QB waiting for his chance.
Some may point to the Titans having a big advantage running the ball but I'm not even willing to give them that, as the Jags have a dangerous running game of their own. (Jacksonville outrushed Tennessee 258 to 57 the last meeting.) Note that while Johnson is back at running back, Tennessee fullback Ahmad Hall has been suspended four games for using performance-enhancing substances.
The Jags are 15-8 SU and 13-9-1 ATS the last 23 times that they were listed as home favorites of -3 or fewer points. They've got a coach on the "hot seat" and, while the Jags have since won at Tennessee, they still haven't forgotten that the Titans handed them the worst loss in franchise history the last time the teams met here.
In the end, I feel that homefield and the stability at the head-coaching position will prove to be the difference. It probably was time for the Titans and Fischer to part ways. However, with the lockout having affected everything, in this case, I expect it to favor the team with the veteran coach, as compared to the team which just made a coaching change. The Jays are 8-2 SU the last 10 times that they played a game where the O/U line ranged between 35.5 and 42 points. I expect them to improve on those stats, covering the small number along the way. *10
|09-10-11||South Carolina v. Georgia +3||Top||45-42||Push||0||45 h 6 m||Show|
I'm playing on GEORGIA. Once again last week's results have worked in our favor again here. Georgia lost vs. Boise State while South Carolina beat up on East Carolina. That's among the reasons we're able to get a very talented Georgia team as an underdog, which I feel provides us with excellent value.
Naturally, this is a huge game in the SEC East, as both these teams feel they have the necessary talent to win the division. Its arguably bigger for Georgia though. Not only are the Bulldogs off a loss but they're also playing at home and have a coach on the hot seat. Additionally, the Bulldogs will be looking to avenge a loss at South Carolina from last season. That meeting also came in Week 2 and the setback started a 3-game losing skid for the Bulldogs - they haven't forgotten and should deliver a much better effort, now that they're the ones playing at home.
South Carolina did win by 19 last week but still failed to cover. The defense gave up five touchdowns and South Carolina could have easily lost outright if not for having five East Carolina turnovers go their way. The Gamecocks are now just 6-9 ATS the last 15 times that they were laying points. Note that the Gamecocks are also just 5-11 their last 16 road openers. They last played here at Athens in 2009 (also in Week 2) and lost by four points.
In the end, I look for homefield to be the difference as a highly motivated Georgia squad rises to the occasion and scores the upset. *10 SEC Main Event
|09-10-11||Hawaii v. Washington -6||Top||32-40||Win||100||50 h 54 m||Show|
I'm playing on WASHINGTON. This line came out low and immediately climbed from its opener. That won't stop me from playing on the Huskies though, as I feel the line should have been higher than a touchdown to begin with. Indeed, last week's results have worked in our favor by keeping the low line lower than it easily could have been. Hawaii won and covered vs. Colorado while Washington barely squeaked by lowly Eastern Washington.
The Warriors were playing at home though, a late Saturday night game. Now, they make their first road trip of the season - often a big deal for a young team. True, the Warriors return QB Bryant Moniz. However, he only has two of last year's offensive starters around him. Overall, the Warriors return only nine starters from last year.
On the other hand, the Huskies lost QB Locker yet return 15 starters overall. True, Locker was a star. However, the Huskies showed last season that they were more than about Locker, as he was banged up almost the entire year. This year's team will be anxious to show they can win big without Locker while looking to build some confidence and positive momentum for next week's big showdown at Nebraska. I feel that last week's "squeaker" will prove to be a good wakeup call for them. Losing outright would have been disastrous but winning a close one
Keep in mind that the Huskies beat ranked teams like USC and Oregon State last season while closing out the regular season with three straight victories (California, UCLA, Washington State) to advance to a bowl. They then proceeded to knock out Nebraska, avenging an earlier loss, 19-7 in the Holiday Bowl. I had the Huskies in that game, as well as some other big wins on them, incl. the UCLA one - so, followed this team closely.
In addition to being inexperienced, the Warriors are an ugly 2-9 ATS (1-10 SU) the last 11 times that they were road underdogs in the +3.5 to +7 range. The Huskies are 12-4 SU their last 16 against teams from the WAC and 7-1 SU the last eight times that they were laying points. I expect them to improve on those stats, covering the still relatively low number along the way. *10 (Personal Favorite)
|09-10-11||Florida Atlantic v. Michigan State -32||Top||0-44||Win||100||46 h 14 m||Show|
I'm playing on MICHIGAN STATE. Laying more than four touchdowns, obviously the Spartans have some major advantages in this one. I feel the line could easily be higher. The Owls were +34 point underdogs at Florida last week and lost by 38. I feel this year's Michigan State team, arguably Dantonio's strongest here, may currently be even better than Florida.
After last week's lost Owls coach Schnellenberger said this of his team: "I was disappointed in our football team because, as I watched the game unfold, it became obvious that we weren't prepared for the game or we didn't expect them to be as good as they were. I can't determine how hard they played or the talent or lack of talent because we made an error on almost every play."
Don't expect Michigan State to show the Owls any sympathy. After not properly "hammering" Youngstown State last week (they won 28-6) the Spartans should be anxious to lay a beating on someone and I expect them to have plenty of motivation to keep the pedal to the metal the entire way here. I say that as they faced the Owls last year and were leading 27-7 and then let FAU get back in the game.
After last week's game Dantonio had this to say: "I think everyone has got to take a look at themselves, coaches, players, everybody and go back and get ready to play the next one against Florida Atlantic. I think it can certainly serve to motivate us by asking the question, 'Who are we? Who are we as a football team?' Hopefully that wasn't us out there...." Clearly, he'd like his team to deliver a convincing blowout.
The Owls blowout loss in Week 1 was nothing new - they finished last season by losing their last three games by scores of 34, 24 and 37 points. In fact, the Owls are an awful 2-14 ATS the last 16 times that they were listed as road underdogs of greater than 21 points. That includes an 0-4 ATS mark as underdogs of greater than 31 points. The Spartans, on the other hand, are 3-2 ATS the last five times that they were listed as favorites of greater than 31 points. I expect them to improve on those stats here. *10
|09-08-11||Arizona +14.5 v. Oklahoma State||Top||14-37||Loss||-110||40 h 10 m||Show|
I'm playing on ARIZONA. If you're a fan of college football, you'll probably remember that these teams faced each other in a bowl game (Alamo Bowl) last December 29th. You also may recall that Oklahoma State won that game by a score of 36-10. My friend, who manages a large sportsbook, told me that game was among the most one-sided, in terms of everyone wagering on one team, of the bowl season. The betting public firmly backed the Cowboys and the sportsbooks took it on the chin. Looking back at the "internet consensus reports" from that game shows a similar tendency with the players heavily supporting the Cowboys. Roughly 75% of the 5000+ contest players won with Oklahoma State.
The majority of people that watched that game will remember that Oklahoma State "easily" won and covered. Indeed, for many of them it was probably among their most "lopsided" victories of the bowl season. As a result and with the Cowboys playing at home and coming off a blowout win in Week 1, many will be quick to again back Oklahoma State here. Well aware of this, the oddsmakers have been forced to put up a very big number. I believe this has provided us with excellent line value with what should be a very hungry Arizona squad.
A closer look at the bowl game shows that the game could have easily been closer than the final score suggests. In fact, Arizona had a solid edge in total yards, (370-312) first downs, (25-17) and a commanding 37:31 to 22:29 advantage in terms of time of possession.
Given those stats and given the final score, one can easily see that turnovers must have played a factor. That indeed was the case. The Wildcats had six possessions in OSU territory in the first half alone, yet managed only a touchdown.
Even Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Bill Young acknowledged: "...we had a good score in the bowl game, but it really wasn't indicative of how the game was. There was a couple of interceptions that turned it and big plays on offense and so forth that sometimes you don't get those, so we have to be ready to play."
Needless to say, the Wildcats will be fired up to try and avenge that loss and show that they are better than the score of the Alamo Bowl suggests.
True, the Cowboys are a very dangerous and explosive team. They've got an excellent QB and one of the best receivers (Justin Blackmon) in the country, The Wildcats have the type of offensive weapons that should allow them to keep up though. While the competition (Northern Arizona) was obviously inferior, note that senior QB Nick Foles threw for FBS-best 412 yards and five touchdowns last week. He's got a bigtime target in Juron Criner, last year's leading receiver in the Pac-10. Criner had six catches for 151 yards and a touchdown last week.
Coach Stoops said this: "Foles and Criner are our go-to guys and are very established players, and that is what we expect from those guys every time they step on the field."
Oklahoma State, also facing inferior competition, did rack up 61 points against Louisiana-Lafeyette last week. The Cowboys also gave up 34 points though and QB Weeden was picked off three times. Obviously, Arizona is a big step up in class.
While the Cowboys are 1-3 ATS the last four times that they were favored in the -10.5 to -21 range, the Wildcats are 1-0 ATS as underdogs in +10.5 to +21 range. They're also 2-0 ATS the last two times that they played a road game where the O/U line ranged from 63 to 70 points. I expect them to improve on those stats on Thursday night. *10
|09-03-11||Boise State v. Georgia +3.5||Top||35-21||Loss||-110||81 h 16 m||Show|
I'm playing on GEORGIA. This is one of the biggest games of opening week. Led by a Heisman trophy candidate at quarterback, the Broncos check in with the #5 ranking. They're very well-coached and have proven to get it done, year after year. The Bulldogs are off a losing season (their first since 1996) and therefore aren't getting much respect by the betting public. However, make no mistake, this team is also loaded with talent. Indeed, they're still ranked in the top 20 to start the season.
Kellen Moore has proven to be legit star at QB for Boise. That said, he lost a number of key players around him this year. Also, the Bulldogs have a very capable QB of their own.
Indeed, Murray had 24 touchdowns last season against just eight interceptions. He also had a 61% completion rate and threw for more than 3,000 yards in the air. Keep in mind that was his first year and that he was up against SEC opponents.
Speaking of the SEC, for all their success, the Broncos are 0-4 SU this millennium against teams from the SEC. In 2000, they lost 38-31 vs. Arkansas. The following season, they were beaten 32-13 by South Carolina. The next year, in 2002, they lost 41-14, again vs. Arkansas. Then, in 2005, facing Georgia, the Broncos were destroyed 48-13.
Note that Georgia was laying more than a touchdown for that game. Now, the Bulldogs are getting a field goal or more. Excellent line value, in my opinion.
We know the Broncos are great on the Blue Turf at home at Boise - this game is being played at the Georgia Dome though and the Dawgs aren't too shabby on turf themselves. Indeed, they're a profitable 14-5 ATS their last 19 games played on turf.
True, the Broncos really want to win this game. Not only would it get them some payback for the 2005 loss but it would get them on the right track in their quest for another undefeated season. Don't think the Bulldogs are any less motivated though. This is their backyard and they're off a losing season. A win here would be a great way to start the season the right way and to stop the critics from immediately jumping all over them. While I like Georgia to win outright, in a game that could easily come down to the wire, I'll happily grab the points. *10
|09-03-11||UCLA v. Houston -2.5||Top||34-38||Win||100||18 h 39 m||Show|
I'm playing on HOUSTON. I had a big win on the 'under' when these teams faced each other last season. The O/U line was 66 and they combined for only 44 points, a 31-13 victory for the Bruins. Despite playing on the road, the Cougars were favored by -3.5 points for that game. This year, despite now playing at home, Houston is favored by (slightly) fewer points. Considering that I feel they are an improved team from last season, I feel that's providing us with excellent value.
The Bruins have not been a good road team in recent seasons. They're 3-9 SU and 4-8 ATS their last dozen away from UCLA. Note that they're also just 5-12-1 ATS (4-14 SU) the l8 times that they were listed as underdogs and 0-3 SU/ATS the last three times that they played a game where the line ranged from the +3 to -3.
The Cougars feel they have a score to settle. Not only did the Bruins embarrass them last season but UCLA also knocked out Houston's star QB. Case Keenum is back this year though and he and the Cougars believe they have an outside shot a perfect season, if they can win this game. Naturally, I expect them to be extremely motivated.
While I respect the Bruins, I feel that home-field will ultimately prove to be the difference. The Cougars are 7-3 SU/ATS their last 10 home lined games and I look for them to step up and get some payback on Saturday afternoon. *10
|09-01-11||Pittsburgh Steelers v. Carolina Panthers -3||Top||33-17||Loss||-100||10 h 31 m||Show|
I'm playing on CAROLINA. Many recreational bettors won't be able to resist the Steelers as underdogs here. They know its preseason but this is still the mighty Steelers vs. the lowly Panthers. Getting the Steelers as underdogs probably seems like a no-brainer. Things don't generally work that way in the preseason, particularly not in Week 4. The fact is that the Panthers have far more reason to want to win this game.
The Panthers, who have a new coach, are playing at home and looking to build positive momentum, team morale and raise excitement within the city. All those factors should be motivating for Carolina but none of them are relevant to Pittsburgh. Indeed, the Steelers truly have very little to play for here and a victory against one of the weakest teams in the NFC really doesn't help them in any way. Indeed, the Steelers surely are already thinking about their opener vs. Baltimore.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is one of several Steelers who aren't even expected to take part in tonight's game, a list that may also include Troy Polamalu, linebacker James Farrior, center Maurkice Pouncey and cornerbacks Ike Taylor and Bryant McFadden.
On the other hand, the Panthers still have themselves a bit of a QB battle going on. While Newton currently looks like the #1 guy, Jimmy Claussen wants to have something to say about that. This is his chance and I look for him to step up and perform well.
While the Steelers dominated Carolina in the preseason in the Fox era, I look for things to start out differently under the new regime, as the "hungrier" team earns the win and cover. *10
|09-01-11||St Louis Rams v. Jacksonville Jaguars -3||Top||24-17||Loss||-125||9 h 59 m||Show|
I'm playing on JACKSONVILLE. Already 3-0 in the preseason, the Rams feel pretty good about themselves. On the other hand, the Jags have mostly struggled on both sides of the ball. In the regular season, that would favor the Rams. However, the final week of the preseason is often all about which team wants it more. In this case, I expect the Jags to be the more motivated team.
The Jags are expected to give Maurice Jones-Drew some playing time for the first time and the whole team and city wants good things from rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert, the team's first-round choice in the 2011 draft. I look for the Jacksonville players to give extra effort and the coaches to try and put Gabbert in position to get himself a victory.
The Jags have won 30 of their last 50 non-conference preseason games, going 5-2 ATS in the last seven of them. I expect them to improve on those stats tonight. *10
|09-01-11||North Texas +14.5 v. Florida International||Top||16-41||Loss||-110||57 h 39 m||Show|
I'm playing on NORTH TEXAS. Both teams have some issues and both are likely to make a few mistakes in their opening game. Each team has some matchup advantages. While the Golden Panthers do have the advantage of playing at home, I believe this is simply a case of the favorite laying too many points.
This is a big game for the Mean Green. They've got a lot of new excitement about this year's team but they also haven't forgotten that the Golden Panthers embarrassed them, at North Texas, last year. What better way to start this season than by getting some payback.
Note that last year's line was -4.5 and that the line for the 2009 meeting, here at Florida International, was only -3. (FIU won that game by a touchdown.) In fact, all six meetings between these teams have had lines of less than a touchdown.
Even with last year's cover at North Texas, the Golden Panthers are still just 5-7-1 ATS as favorites the past few seasons. During that time, they're only 3-7 ATS in lined home games. They're also 0-1 ATS as favorites in the -10.5 to -21 range.
Meanwhile, North Texas checks in at 3-1 ATS the last four times it was an underdog in the +10.5 to +21 range and 7-5 ATS its last dozen road lined games.
As of this writing, the O/U line is 53.5 or 54. Therefore, its worth mentioning that FIU is just 2-4 ATS (1-5 SU) the last six times it played a home game with an O/U line in the 52.5 to 56 range. That includes an 0-2 ATS mark the past few seasons. On the other hand, North Texas is a perfect 6-0 ATS the last six times it played a road game with an O/U line in the 52.5 to 56 range, going 9-2 ATS its last 11 in that situation. I'm grabbing all the points I can get. *10
|08-28-11||New Orleans Saints v. Oakland Raiders +4.5||Top||40-20||Loss||-110||10 h 43 m||Show|
I'm playing on OAKLAND. The Saints are a well coached team, one which won the Superbowl only two years ago. On the other hand, the Raiders are a team which has mostly struggled ever since getting to the big game vs. Tampa Bay more than eight years ago. With the Raiders also nursing some injuries and off to an 0-2 SU/ATS start to the preseason, many will figure the Saints are a "no-brainer." Not me.
I actually played against Oakland last week. So, I wasn't surprised that the Raiders lost that one. The fact that they got "crushed" (the final score was only 17-3 but the stats were extremely lopsided) works in our favor here. Not only does it help us a bit in terms of line value but it also should help motivate the Raiders here.
The Raiders should already have plenty of motivation. Not only did the Saints destroy them here in the 2009 preseason but this is an opportunity for them to show that they can compete with the top teams from the NFC - and that last week's poor effort against SF was just a "fluke."
The Saints, who are also off a loss and also dealing with some injury concerns, figure to be a little less "hungry." After all, a preseason road win vs. Raiders isn't going to affect them, one way or another, in the grand scheme of things. Note that New Orleans gave up a whopping 208 rushing yards and 436 yards in total in last week's loss.
Also, even though there's still Week 4 to go, with the Saints playing the opening Thursday game, (vs. the Packers) they're that much closer to starting the real thing - potentially making this game seem even less meaningful.
With the Saints at just 2-11 ATS the last 13 times that they were listed as preseason favorites in the -3.5 to -9.5 range, I'll gladly grab the generous points with what should be a highly motivated home underdog. *3
|08-27-11||Houston Texans v. San Francisco 49ers +4||Top||30-7||Loss||-110||9 h 25 m||Show|
I'm playing on SAN FRANCISCO. Despite playing on the road, the Texans are laying more than a field goal here. That's due to a couple of reasons. For starters, the Texans are an "impressive" 2-0 SU/ATS. Also, the Texans are expected to play their starters longer than the 49ers, as Harbaugh has indidcated that the starters will have a fairly early exit. The 49er "backups" have played quite well though. (Last week, the 49ers outscored the Raiders by a 14-3 margin the second half.) This is their chance to prove they can compete and I look for them to be extremely motivated to do so.
Having already beaten the likes of the Saints and the Jets, the Texans have little to prove here. Note that the Texans are still 2-4 SU/ATS the past few years, when laying points in the preseason. Going back further finds them at a money-burning 3-8-2 ATS the last 13 times they were preseason favorites.
While they deserve some credit for the wins against the Jets and Saints, note that the Texans have only had a 328.5 to 320.5 edge in total yards in those two games. On the other hand, the 49ers have enjoyed a 318 to 251 edge in yards, including a whopping 402 to 214 edge here at home. In fact, the 49ers have been terrific in preseason home games for years. I expect them to earn at least the cover here. *10
|08-26-11||Green Bay Packers v. Indianapolis Colts +9||Top||24-21||Win||100||57 h 24 m||Show|
I'm playing on INDIANAPOLIS. Even most casual fans know that the Colts don't generally fare too well in the preseason. The players and fans have always known that Peyton Manning would be there for Game 1 of the regular season and that everything would be "ok." That type of attitude along with typically "vanilla" play-calling, has led to Indianapolis having a very poor preseason record over the years. In fact, with an 0-2 SU/ATS mark this season, the Colts are now a dismal 1-9 sU and 2-8 ATS the past few preseasons.
Combine the Colts poor preseason numbers with the fact that they're facing the defending Super Bowl Champs, a team which is coming off a win and cover last week, and we've got a very high number. Indeed, we don't see the Colts getting more than a touchdown at home too often.
For a number of reasons, I expect the Colts to treat this game a lot more seriously than they normally do though. That being the case, I feel the inflated line is providing us with excellent value.
For starters, this is their final preseason home game. Last season, they lost their final preseason home game - but only by two points. The previous season, they defeated Philadelphia in their final preseason home game. Listed as +3.5 point underdogs, they won 23-15.
Also, there are rumors (I don't think we should necessarily believe them) that Manning may not be ready to play for Week 1. Whether or not that's true, I feel the Colts would like to show that they can indeed win without their star QB.
This is also a televised game and it comes against the defending Super Bowl champs. Additionally, the Colts were embarrassed at Green Bay in Week 3 of the preseason last year. With all due respect to the Packers, I expect a vastly different result here. *10
|08-26-11||St Louis Rams v. Kansas City Chiefs +2.5||Top||14-10||Loss||-110||57 h 21 m||Show|
I'm playing on KANSAS CITY. The Chiefs are another team with a recent history of preseason failure. As a result, we find them getting points, despite playing at home. I feel this provides us with excellent value, as I expect the Chiefs to treat this game seriously and for them to earn the outright victory.
The Rams are 2-0 already and have little to prove. Off to an 0-2 start, the same cannot be said of the Chiefs. Expectations are high in KC this season and after back to back blowout losses, the fans are starting to grumble.
Both teams have coaches in their third year and both saw their teams improve considerably in 2010 from 2009. I believe that the Chiefs are a little further along though and with the game being played at Arrowhead, I expect them to have the advantage.
The Chiefs had a 7-1 record at Arrowhead last regular season and finished in the top 10 in the league in numerous categories.
These teams met in the preseason a couple of years ago, at St. Louis. The Chiefs outgained the Rams by a significant margin but were done in by turnovers. This time, playing at KC, I expect it to be the Chiefs which are victorious. *10
|08-25-11||Carolina Panthers v. Cincinnati Bengals -3||Top||13-24||Win||100||57 h 56 m||Show|
I'm playing on CINCINNATI. Not much is expected from either of these teams this season. Indeed, both are projected to finish well below
.500, each at the bottom of their respective divisions. That said, I expect this game to be far more meaningful for the Bengals.
The Panthers lost 20-10 at Miami on Saturday. That was somewhat of a "respectable" loss though and they'd actually defeated Green Bay in
their previous game. Prior to that, in their lone home game, the Panthers defeated the defending Super Champs. In other words, the
Panthers have already experienced some success and there's no real pressure on them to win here.
The situation is entirely different for Cincinnati. The Bengals are 0-2 and they've been blown out in both games. In fact, this is the worst preseason start in franchise history - and we know this team's history isn't very good. In two games, they've been outscored by a margin of 51 points, a 61-10 combined score. The previous "record" was a 31-point margin. (That came back in 1986 when they lost their first two games by a combined score of 20-0 and 28-17.)
As offensive coordinator Jay Gruden noted: "We started with a very low standard so we have nowhere to go but up. We have to make do with what we have and make the most of it."
This is a team that needs to show the fans that they're even worth supporting. A victory here might actually sell a few seats when the real season starts. It would certainly go a long way in giving the team some badly needed confidence. Remember, this team had Carson Palmer leave on them and they're still trying to show that they can win without him.
Last week, the Bengals were on the road and facing a very powerful Jets team. That proved too much for them to handle. They're at home now though and facing a much weaker opponent. (Keep in mind that the Jets are projected to win 10 wins while the Panthers are being projected to win 4.5!) I expect them to be the "hungrier" team here and for a highly motivated effort to lead to a win and cover. *10
|08-21-11||San Diego Chargers +1.5 v. Dallas Cowboys||Top||20-7||Win||100||9 h 24 m||Show|
I'm playing on SAN DIEGO. Playing at home, one might assume that the Cowboys will be the more motivated team here. They already have a win under their belts though, while the same cannot be said of the Chargers, who fell to Seattle. I expect that to give San Diego some extra "hunger" to finish this one off correctly here. Not that these games really matter all that much but the fact that the Cowboys beat the Chargers (at San Diego) in Week 2 of last preseason could still help provide the Chargers with a little added incentive. Note that the Chargers had a 294 to 194 edge in yards in that one.
Dallas will likely be without No. 1 WR Miles Austin, who injured his hamstring in camp this week. Conversely, the Chargers are expected to see Antonio Gates make his preseason debut. The Cowboys are dealing with several other injuries, as well.
Philip Rivers didn't play much last week but was very sharp when in the game. Indeed, he was five for six with 87 yards and a touchdown. Naturally, he'll be seeing significantly more playing time here. Billy Volek is an extremely capable backup.
The Cowboys are a horrible 15-35 ATS their last 50 preseason games where the O/U line ranged between 35.5 to 42. While this is a "new era," I don't expect those numbers to get any better tonight. *10
|08-19-11||San Francisco Giants v. Houston Astros +1.5||Top||0-6||Win||100||10 h 47 m||Show|
I'm playing on HOUSTON on the Run-Line (+1.5 Runs.) With the Giants listed as mid-sized favorites on the moneyline, we're able to get quite a reasonable price on the Astros on the run-line. I believe that's providing us with excellent value.
The Giants are off a tough 1-0 loss against Atlanta yesterday. That was a very big series for them and watching their ace pitch very well, only to lose, figures to take a toll.
Rodriguez has a very solid 3.50 ERA and 1.288 WHIP on the season. His 117 K's to 47 walks is also very solid. His career stats at home are significantly better than his road stats.
Rodriguez did get roughed up by the Giants in 2006, his first start against them. However, he's only made two starts against them since that time (both last year) and he delivered quality efforts in each of those, most recently allowing only two unearned runs on just four hits, en route to earning a 7-5 Houston win.
Vogelsong has been dominant at home. Although still solid (3.46 ERA, 1.365 WHIP) his road numbers aren't nearly as good.
The Astros are off three straight 1-run games and they won the last two of them. Meanwhile, the Giants have now seen three of their last four decided by a single run. Houston is finally playing a bit better and here we're getting an extra +1.5 runs to work with against a SF lineup which has scored three or fewer runs in five of its last eight games. *10
|08-19-11||Kansas City Chiefs +7 v. Baltimore Ravens||Top||13-31||Loss||-110||31 h 28 m||Show|
I'm playing on KC. Its true that the Chiefs have not been a good preseason team in recent years. Its also true that they got smoked in their Week 1 opener. Everyone knows that they've struggled though and that has helped to provide us with excellent line value.
Quite simply, I feel this is too many points. This is a different KC team than the one in recent years. In recent years, they were a young team with no expectations. While there were still some players fighting for jobs, for the most part they had little depth. This year's team has bigger expectations and arguably more depth. I expect last week's blowout loss to provide them with some motivation, as they were completely shut out; something no team likes, not even in preseason.
Added motivation should come from the fact that the KC defeated by the Ravens in the playoffs last season, blowing out and embarrassing the Chiefs in front of the Arrowhead faithful.
Speaking of "added motivation," note the Chiefs have three new players on their roster, all who came from Baltimore, including nose tackle Kelly Gregg. Gregg started 124 games for the Ravens the last 10 seasons but was released prior to training camp.
The Ravens also struggled in their preseason opener, one which saw their offensive line give up six sacks. Speaking of the offensive line, note that the Ravens will be without center Matt Birk again. He'll sit out a second straight week while recovering from knee surgery. Also, Baltimore guard Marshal Yanda is currently questionable with a back injury.
In the end, I expect the Chiefs to be the "hungrier" team and for that to lead to them earning at least a cover. *10
|08-14-11||Texas Rangers v. Oakland A's +1.5||Top||7-6||Win||100||6 h 1 m||Show|
I'm playing on OAKLAND on the Run-Line. The Rangers have won each of the first two games of this series in convincing fashion. Today, however, I expect them to have their hands full the entire way. With the Rangers favored on the moneyline, we're able to get the A's at a very reasonable price on the run-line. While I feel the A's have an excellent shot at the "outright win," in a game where runs are expected to be fairly limited, (O/U line is currently 8u15) getting an extra +1.5 runs to work with could easily prove to be very valuable.
Harden goes for the A's. When healthy, he's always been extremely capable. He showed that in his last start. Pitching at Toronto, he allowed just one run on only five hits, through seven complete innings. He had eight K's with only two walks and the A's won by a score of 4-1.
While he didn't factor in the decision, Harden was also very sharp in his most recent home start. In that one, he allowed just two runs on only three hits, through six complete innings. He had seven K's and allowed just two walks. Including that start, Harden has a very solid 3.32 ERA in three home starts, to go along with an outstanding 0.789 WHIP. In 19 innings here, he's got an impressive 22 K's with only four walks.
Note that Harden figures to have some extra motivation, as he pitched for Texas last season. The Rangers already roughed him up on 7/1 (at Texas) but that was just his second start of the season. He's in a much better groove now and I expect him to be much better, here at Oakland. Note that Harden's teams are a profitable 11-5 in his last 16 August "home" starts. Two of those five losses came by a single run. So, if getting +1.5 runs on each, his teams would be 13-3 in his last 16 August home starts.
Admittedly, Harrison is also very tough. That said, the Rangers are just 6-9 his last 15 road starts. Note that the last four of those victories all came by two runs or less, one of them by a single run. So, they'd be just 5-10 his last 15 road starts, if laying -1.5 runs in each. One of those losses came in Harrison's last start here at Oakland. In that game, he allowed four runs in just 1 2/3 innings, en route to suffering a 7-2 loss. While Harrison should be better than that this afternoon, I look for Harden to match him pitch for pitch and for the A's to earn AT LEAST the "cover." *10
|08-13-11||Boston Red Sox v. Seattle Mariners +1.5||Top||4-5||Win||100||12 h 50 m||Show|
I'm playing SEATTLE on the Run-Line. The Red Sox grabbed yesterday's series opener. With their ace on the mound, I feel that the Mariners have an excellent shot at bouncing back and evening up the series this afternoon. That said, with the Red Sox favored, we're able to get the M's at +1.5 runs at a very reasonable price. In a game where runs are expected to be precious, (O/U line is currently 6.5) getting an extra +1.5 runs to work with could easily prove to be very valuable.
As noted, Hernandez goes for the home team. He suffered a very tough 2-1 loss last time out. (Note that it came by only one run.) In that outing, he allowed just four hits and two runs through eight innings. He also had 12 K's and didn't walk a single batter. His previous two starts resulted in a 4-2 victory over the A's and a 9-2 win over the Yankees. That give shim a 2-1 record (3-0 if getting +1.5 in all games) with a superb 2.11 ERA and 0.985 WHIP his last three starts. He's averaged greater than seven innings in those games and has a very impressive 26 K's in 21 1/3 innings.
Note that Hernandez is 4-2 in 10 starts vs. the Red Sox. Seattle was 6-4 in those games and one of the four losses came by a single run, so they'd be 7-3 if getting +1.5.
Of course, Beckett has also been very tough and he's also enjoyed plenty of success vs. the Mariners, since joining Boston. That said, his last three starts (and four of his last five) have ALL been decided by a single run. Additionally, his last start here at Seattle was also decided by a single run, a 2-1 "pitcher's duel."
With the M's now 12-3 in Hernandez's last 15 August home starts, I'll happily grab the extra +1.5 runs. *10
|08-12-11||Tampa Bay Buccaneers v. Kansas City Chiefs +3||Top||25-0||Loss||-110||43 h 14 m||Show|
I'm playing on KANSAS CITY. Its true that the Chiefs' recent preseason record hasn't been too impressive. That's a big part of the reason that this line has moved from its opener and why KC is now getting points at home, rather than laying them. I believe this is providing us with excellent value.
One of the primary reasons for the Chiefs' recent preseason problems is that they had little depth. For the most part, it was fairly evident who the starters would be at each position. This year, however, the Chiefs are considerably deeper. Therefore, there should be a few more battles and as a result, players should be fighting harder for their starting positions than we saw in recent years.
Also, having experienced some success last season, the Chiefs want to keep the positive feelings going by opening up with a victory in their preseason home opener.
Speaking of last season, you may recall that these teams also faced each other last preseason. That game was played at Tampa Bay, yet the Bucs were favored by less than they currently are here at Kansas City. True, the Bucs won that game by five (20-15) points. However, a closer look reveals that the Chiefs had a significant edge in time of possession, first downs and total yards. Indeed, if not for losing the turnover battle (3-0) KC would have surely won that one. (The Chiefs held the ball 35 of 60 mins and had a 24-13 edge in first downs.)
I'll gladly grab whatever points are being offered but I look for the Chiefs to step up and start the season with an outright victory. *10
|08-10-11||Philadelphia Phillies v. Los Angeles Dodgers +1.5||Top||9-8||Win||100||12 h 58 m||Show|
I'm playing on the LA DODGERS at +1.5 runs. With the Phillies listed as mid-sized road favorites, we're able to get the Dodgers on the run-line at a relatively reasonable price. I feel the Dodgers have an excellent shot at the "upset" here. However, the Phillies are a very tough team and in a game that is expected to be low-scoring (the O/U line is only 7) getting that extra +1.5 runs could prove very valuable. (We saw that last night, when the Dodgers scored with two outs in the bottom of the 9th to lose 2-1.)
There's no denying that Worley has been very good. That said, note that four of his last eight starts resulted in a 1-run victories. This again demonstrates that getting an extra +1.5 runs to work with could easily come into play.
For the most part, Billingsley has been very stingy at home. In 11 starts here, he's got an excellent 2.87 ERA and 1.222 WHIP. He's allowed one earned run or less in three of his last four home starts. Not surprisingly, the Dodgers were 3-1 in those games. He's only allowed three home runs in his last 11 starts here and opposing hitters are batting only .226 against him here.
While Worley hasn't started against the Dodgers, Billingsley has pitched very well against the Phillies each of the past two seasons. In 2009, he beat them 5-3, allowing just one run in seven innings. Last season, almost exactly one year to the day, he held them to two runs through six complete innings.
Even after last night's loss, the Dodgers are still 47-36 against the moneyline the past few seasons, when playing a home game with an O/U line of seven or less. Catching the Phillies playing the final game of a 10-game road trip, I expect the Dodgers to earn at least the "cover." *10
|08-06-11||Philadelphia Phillies v. San Francisco Giants +1.5||Top||2-1||Win||100||6 h 55 m||Show|
I'm playing SAN FRANCISCO on the Run-Line. (+1.5 runs.) In a game featuring a pair of excellent pitchers, one which has an O/U line of less than seven runs, runs figure to be at a premium. That said, getting an extra +1.5 runs to work with becomes extremely valuable.
Coincidentally, even though I have plenty of respect for Hamels, I also played against the Phillies in his last start, also taking the +1.5 runs with the home underdog. The Phillies did rally for a comeback extra-inning 4-3 victory but the +1.5 runs came in extremely handy, as it turned a losing ticket into a winner. It was Hamels' second straight start which was decided by a single run. His previous start came against none other than Matt Cain.
Cain was better than Hamels on that day. He allowed one run through seven innings - and it was unearned. Hamels was also tough, just not quite as good as Cain. He allowed two runs, both earned, through 7 2/3 innings. Hamels allowed six hits, Cain gave up just four.
That was at Philadelphia but Cain's last home start against the Phillies also came against Hamels. He also outpitched Hamels in that one, earning a 3-0 victory. Cain allowed just two hits through his seven shutout innings. That brings the Phillies to 0-3 in Hamels' last three starts in this series.
Despite a couple of recent losses, the Giants are still 14-6 in Cain's last 20 starts here. Four of the six losses came by two or fewer runs, which again helps to show how valuable the +1.5 runs could be. Cain should be highly motivated here. Not only is he looking to bounce back from a rare bad outing and to help his team get a badly needed victory but he's also looking to make Phillies manager Charlie Manuel eat his words. After the last series, Manuel said Cain and Lincecum were "good but not great." I expect Cain to be "great" today, or at least "good" enough to get the Giants a win on the run-line. *10
|06-12-11||Dallas Mavericks v. Miami Heat -5||Top||105-95||Loss||-105||43 h 13 m||Show|
I'm playing on MIAMI. In a much win situation, we're having to lay a relatively big number with the Heat here. That will likely cause many to back the underdog Mavs. Not me. I expect the Heat to win this one in convincing fashion.
I successfully played the Heat in Game of this series - they won that one by eight points. At the time, I had this to say: "...with this game being played at Miami, I feel that the Heat need this game more and that they'll be the team which ultimately wins it. Note that the Heat are a perfect 8-0 SU at home in the playoffs and that they've won 10 straight games on this floor. More importantly, note that ALL 10 victories came by more than five points..."
Of course, the Mavs won Game 2 here, so Miami's undefeated streak here is finished. However, my point remains that they've been terrific on this floor.
Miami coach Spoelstra had this to say: "We're going home, and we wouldn't have it any other way than the hard way. This is an opportunity for us. That's why you play a seven-game series. You've got to play it out. And this is where we feel comfortable."
Naturally, the Heat can't be happy with the fact that they gave up 112 points last time out. That was the most points that they allowed since way back in March. The last time that they allowed a team to score triple-digits against them (Charlotte scored 103 against them on 4/8) they responded with a 23-point (100-77) victory in their next game.
The last time that the Heat allowed a team to score 105 or more points against them (Washington scored 107 against them on 3/30) they responded with a 19 point (111-92) victory in their next game.
The bottom line is that I'm not ready to write the Heat off yet. Lebron had this to say: "We'll be better in Game 6..." and I expect that to be the case. *10
|06-09-11||Miami Heat +1.5 v. Dallas Mavericks||Top||103-112||Loss||-111||10 h 27 m||Show|
I'm playing on MIAMI. I had Dallas last game, getting either a win or push, depending on when one played. Playing in a "must win" game, I just didn't think the Mavs were ready to go down without a fight. However, I've also backed the Heat in each of their SU/ATS victories in this series - and I still feel that they're going to prove to be the champions. I look for them to take a big step towards achieving that goal tonight.
Nowitzki is quite an amazing player and its hard not to like him. He lays it all on the line every game and has nearly single-handedly taken his team to this point. Ok, that's not exactly fair to Kidd, Terry and co. Still, its fair to say that Dirk plays a far more pivotal role for his team than either James, Wade or Bosh does for his. If James has a poor offensive game, Wade and James are there to pick up the slack. If Wade plays poorly, James and Bosh are capable of elevating their game. Dirk doesn't have that luxury. If he doesn't have a great game, his supporting isn't necessarily as capable of carrying the load.
Case in point, James managed a mere eight points in Game 4. Yet, the Heat were still up big with 10 minutes left in the game - and they were still within one shot of forcing OT. Just think what kind of shape the Mavs would be in, if Dirk decided to score only eight.
In this case, I feel that Dirk could really use some help. Yes, Wednesday was an 'off day.' Still Nowitzki was visibly exhausted on Tuesday. Dealing with a sinus infection, lack of sleep and a fever in triple-digits didn't help matters. I expect it to catch up for him here and for Miami's "triple-headed monster" to be the difference.
Including their win in Game 3 at Dallas, the Heat are 2-0 when tied in a playoff series. Already 3-0 in Game 5's in these playoffs, the Heat are also 9-1 the last 10 times that they scored 85 or fewer points in their previous game. I expect them to bounce back and seize control of the series. *10
|06-07-11||Miami Heat v. Dallas Mavericks -2.5||Top||83-86||Win||100||34 h 21 m||Show|
I'm playing on DALLAS. I'm not surprised by the fact that the Mavericks are down 2-1, as I played on the Heat in each of their victories. That said, I'm also not willing to write the Mavs off. Not in their "last stand." While the Mavs won't get eliminated if they lose on Tuesday, they also know that this is truly a "must win" game. Their chances of coming back from a 3-1 deficit - and needing two win two games at Miami - are very slim. With their backs against the wall, I expect the Mavs to respond with their best effort of the series.
In addition to all the veteran leadership on the floor, the Mavs are very well-coached. That combination rarely sees them get "upset" twice in a row. Indeed, they've been excellent when coming off a SU loss, when listed as a favorite. They're 35-12 SU their last 47 in that situation, going 12-2 SU this season. They were a profitable 9-5 ATS (64%) in those games - and in this case, with such a low pointspread, a SU victory is highly likely to also result in an ATS victory.
The Mavs are still an outstanding 14-4 ATS in the playoffs. That includes a 1-0 ATS mark when trailing in a series - as they bounced back with a victory in Game 2, at Miami.
We've already seen that the Heat can get a bit "cocky," as witnessed in their Game 2 4th quarter meltdown. They'll certainly try and guard against it, but there's a chance that they could again "relax," if only slightly. Regardless of whether or not that proves to be the case, I expect them to see a different Dallas team here - one which comes out "on fire" from the opening tip.
The Mavs are still a highly profitable 25-12 ATS their last 37 games against teams with a winning record. I expect them to improve on those stats here and won't be surprised if they do so in convincing fashion. *10
|06-05-11||Miami Heat +2.5 v. Dallas Mavericks||Top||88-86||Win||100||18 h 0 m||Show|
I'm playing on MIAMI. I had the Heat when they won Game 1. I didn't play a 'side' in Game 2 but am coming back with the Heat again for Game 3.
As you know, the Mavericks are off a very impressive fourth quarter comeback in Game 2. The Heat were up 15 in the fourth and Dallas still came all the way back for the victory. How will the Heat react to that potentially "devastating" loss? Will they hang their heads and come out flat, thinking about what could have been? Or, will they respond like champions and bounce back to reclaim homecourt advantage? I believe the answer will prove to the latter.
I believe that the Heat will have learned a lesson from the Game 2 loss. They should have learned to never let down and to play at 100% the entire 48 minutes - or more, if necessary.
The Heat know how to win on the road. They're 32-16 SU on the road, including 11-4 the last 15. They've won at least one road game in each playoff series thus far, winning at Philadelphia, Boston AND at Chicago. Their last two road games saw them allow 80 and 75 points.
While Nowitzki is certainly a very talented player, in the end, I feel that Miami's "3-headed monster" will prove to be too much as the Heat bounce back and score the minor upset. *10
|06-04-11||Atlanta Braves v. New York Mets +1.5||Top||0-5||Win||100||9 h 54 m||Show|
I'm playing the NEW YORK METS on the run-line (+1.5 runs). I've won with the Braves numerous times when Jurrjens has pitched and I'm
well aware that he's been enjoying an excellent season. However, nearly everyone else knows about Jurrjens' success now too, particularly with him having just been named the "NL Pitcher of the Month" for May. That's caused the Braves to be favored on the road, despite going up a Mets team which is undefeated on the season with Dillon Gee in the mound. More importantly, that's given us a relatively reasonable price on the home underdog at +1.5 runs, which is what I'll be playing on.
There really aren't too many bad things one can say about Jurrjens right now. Not only is he in excellent current forum, but he's also enjoyed success vs. the Mets. That said, athletes can often be a bit superstitious and Jurrjens' comments about returning to Citi Field leave the impression that he may be a little "nervous" about pitching here.
You may recall that Jurrjens suffered a torn meniscus during a side session last September and that injury stopped him from being able to play in the playoffs.
Jurrjens was quoted as saying: "It's going to be awkward going out there to warm up. Things happen for a reason."
Thoughts like that could potentially throw off a pitcher...
While I won't count on that, I will count on another strong performance from Dillon Gee. He hasn't gotten the publicity of Jurrjens but he's certainly been getting it done. Last time out, he allowed three runs through seven innings, striking out eight and walking only one. The Mets won 7-3. With that result, New York is now a perfect 7-0 (+7.8) in games started by Gee this season.
Gee has been at his best at home, too. In four starts here, Gee is 3-0 with a 2.42 ERA. Not quite as dominating as Jurrjens' numbers - but not that far off either. Note that Gee's got an outstanding 0.774 WHIP his last three starts, meaning he's not allowing many baserunners at all.
Note that Gee is already 1-0 against the Braves this season, beating Hanson at Atlanta. Also, before getting hurt in the warm-up here last September, Jurrjens' previous start here saw him suffer a 3-1 loss. Jurrjens walked four batters in that game, while only striking out three. That gives him 11 walks his last three starts vs. NY.
I do think the Mets have an excellent shot at the outright win. After all, they're 7-0 with Gee on the mound. However, in a game where runs will likely be at a premium, getting an extra run to work with could make the difference, particularly given that the Braves entered this series having played five consecutive one run games. *10 Personal Favorite on NY +1.5
|05-31-11||Dallas Mavericks v. Miami Heat -4.5||Top||84-92||Win||100||59 h 49 m||Show|
I'm playing on MIAMI. The Mavericks won here in the regular season and they may be the "sentimental" pick to take Game 1. This is a much different Miami team now though, one which has improved significantly since that 12/20 meeting.
Its debatable about which team was more "impressive" in getting here. The Mavs may have had the tougher earlier matchups but the Heat arguably faced a more difficult opponent in the conference finals. Either way, both teams have been very good and one could make a case for either - and find plenty of stats to support it.
That said, with this game being played at Miami, I feel that the Heat need this game more and that they'll be the team which ultimately wins it. Note that the Heat are a perfect 8-0 SU at home in the playoffs and that they've won 10 straight games on this floor. More importantly, note that ALL 10 victories came by more than five points.
The Heat, who held the Bulls to 80 points in the final game of that series, are 20-1 SU and 14-6-1 ATS the last 21 times that they held their previous opponent to 85 or fewer points. I expect them to improve on those stats on Tuesday night. *10
|05-23-11||Dallas Mavericks v. Oklahoma City Thunder -3.5||Top||112-105||Loss||-108||19 h 31 m||Show|
I'm playing on OKLAHOMA CITY. Through three games, this series has gone back and forth. The Mavericks won and covered in Game 1. The Thunder bounced back with an upset win in Game 2, temporarily stealing homecourt advantage. The Mavs quickly answered, delivering a convincing wire-to-wire blowout victory in Game 3.
As impressive as the Mavs looked, I still don't feel that they're "unbeatable."
While they're still a young team, they're very well-coached and the Thunder have been at their very best with their backs to the wall in these playoffs. In fact, including the win in Game 2, they're a perfect 3-0 SU/ATS when trailing in a playoff series. That brings them to 6-1 ATS in that situation, since the team came to Oklahoma City.
The Thunder are also a highly impressive 15-1 SU (10-5-1 ATS) the last 16 times that they were coming off a SU loss, when they'd been listed as a favorite. Going back further finds them at 26-8 SU and 22-11-1 ATS in that situation, the past few seasons.
Additionally, we find the Thunder at 24-14 ATS (28-10 SU) the last 38 times that they were playing with "revenge" including a 9-5 ATS mark, when attempting to avenge a home loss. Going back further finds them at an outstanding 73-47-2 ATS in the revenge role, the past few seasons.
As this is now pretty much a "must win" game - and given their success in this situation - the Thunder are currently slightly larger favorites than they were for Game 3. That's not enough to scare me off though. Note that OKC is a profitable 5-1 ATS the last six times that it was listed as a home favorite in the -3.5 to -6 range. With their backs against the wall, I expect the Thunder to again elevate their play and for them to even up the series with another solid win and cover. *10
|05-22-11||Chicago Bulls v. Miami Heat -4.5||Top||85-96||Win||100||58 h 6 m||Show|
I'm playing on MIAMI. This series has pretty much gone as I expected. I had the Bulls in Game 1 and thought they would start the series with a victory. They won by a score of 103-82. I wasn't entirely sure who I thought would win the second game. Instead, as I expected a "defensive battle," I successfully played on the "under." The teams combined for a mere 67 points in the second half and the game stayed below the total by 20+ points.
Even though I didn't play the 'side,' I watched Game 2 very closely. Before the game - and as I was watching the game - I had said to myself that the winner of Game 2 would very likely win the series. If the Bulls had gone up 2-0, I feel that they would have had a fairly strong chance at winning two of the next five games. However, with the Bulls managing only 10 points in the fourth (and 29 in the second half) and with the Heat having earned the "road split," I now feel that Miami has a solid advantage. While it remains to be seen whether or not they can actually win the series, I do expect the Heat to carry the positive momentum from Game 2 into Game 3 and look for that to lead to a solid win and cover.
Winning Game 2 was very important for the obvious reasons that it gave the Heat their first game and that it allowed them to now have homecourt advantage in the series. However, it was also extremely important from a psychological standpoint. The Bulls had beaten the Heat in every previous meeting. Now, the Heat have "exorcised those demons," much as they did in a big win over Boston, late in the regular season. Now, they know that they can beat this team - and it should help to give them in the "confidence" department.
On the other hand, the Bulls may have some doubt - will they be able to score against this team?
It should be noted that the Heat have been at their very best when coming off a dominant defensive effort. In fact, they're 18-1 SU and 12-6-1 ATS the last 19 times that they had allowed 85 or fewer points in their previous game. I expect them to improve on those stats with another solid win and cover on Sunday evening. *10
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