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|Date||Match Up||Rating||Score||Result||Profit||Lead Time||Analysis|
|09-16-21||Giants +3.5 v. Washington Football Team||Top||29-30||Win||100||51 h 22 m||Show|
My 9* NFC 'Least' Game of the Month is on the NY Giants at 8:20 ET.
The Washington Football Team won the NFC East in 2020 at 7-9, earning the division the moniker of NFC 'Least.' In the just completed preseason, Washington was the ONLY team in the NFC East to win a game, going 1-2 SU but 0-3 ATS. As for the Cowboys, Eagles and Giants, they combined to go 0-9-1. How did things go in Week 1? The Eagles won impressively 32-6 in Atlanta and the Cowboys lost 31-29 at Tampa Bay on a last-second FG, but Washington and New York both lost (0-2 ATS).
The Giants travel to D.C. off a 27-13 home loss to Denver, a game in which QB Daniel Jones scored on a 4-yard TD run with no time left on the clock. Washington's defense was the reason it won the division last season but that D allowed the Chargers to gain 424 yards and most notably, to convert 14 of 19 third down attempts. Ryan Fitzpatrick suffered a hip injury early on (3 of 56 for 13 yards) and it looks as if Taylor Heinicke (from the FB powerhouse of Old Dominion) will be Thursday night's starting QB. It's a short week but I like the Giants. Daniel Jones looked OK, as he had 267 passing yards, one touchdown, and zero interceptions (37 attempts. However, the Giants NEED a return to form by Saquan Barkley (10 carries for 26 yards).
The Giants have 'owned' this series lately, winning the last FIVE (4-1 ATS). Want more? The Giants are 19-7 ATS in their last 26 on the road, while the Washington Football team is just 1-5 against the spread in its last six when playing the role of favorite. I expect an outright but grab as many points as you can, The play is New York.
|09-13-21||Ravens v. Raiders UNDER 50.5||Top||27-33||Loss||-110||12 h 55 m||Show|
My 9* MNF Magic play is on Bal/LV Under at 8:15 ET.
Baltimore has a really good team. It has a dynamic offense that averaged 29.3 points per game last year.
The offense is run by LaMar Jackson, who had 2,757 yards, 26 TDs, and nine INTs last year. He also led the team with 1,005 rushing yards and seven touchdowns.
But how will Baltimore adjust after losing Marcus Peters, J.K. Dobbins, Justice Hill, and Gus Edwards to injury ALL in the last week?!
That's obviously the big question Baltimore was one of the best on the defensive side of the ball last season, finishing by conceding just 18.9 PPG.
This tough Ravens' defense will be tasked to slow down Derrick Carr, who had 4,103 yards passing, 27 TDs, and nine INTs last year. Las Vegas also has a strong run game with Josh Jacobs, who had 1,065 rushing yards and 12 major scores last year.
If Jon Gruden is going to make the playoffs with his new team for the first time in four years, clearly Las Vegas has to address its issues on the defensive end, a unit that conceded 29.9 PPG last year.
I don't think Harbrough wants to let Gruden and the Raiders control the tempo. Baltimore wants to wear this home side down and win the war in the trenches and with great field position created by its defense.
There are many different variable factors at play here that make me believe we'll see a low-scoring defensive game, rather than a high-scoring shootout.
The play is the under.
|09-12-21||Bears +9 v. Rams||Top||14-34||Loss||-125||100 h 57 m||Show|
My 9* SNF Magic is on the Chicago Bears.
Both teams are starting new quarterbacks. Matthew Stafford is going to have his hands full now that he's out of the dome in Detroit and amidst the difficult NFC West.
Andy Dalton will get the call to start off with in Chicago, with Justin Fields as a very capable backup ready to step in if needed.
I think the Bears veteran can match Rams' new QB Matthew Stafford's performance (who will face his former team the Lions in Week 7.) The Rams also have to still fill the void left by Cam Akers, who was lost to a torn Achilles.
Granted, the Rams have bigger playmakers on both sides of the ball, but I'm not convinced that Stafford is going to be able to seamlessly fit into this West Coast offense and Conference overall.
The Rams also have to transition for a tricky non-conference road game at Indianapolis next weekend, before then returning home to host the defending champs.
The Bears on the other hand have a very manageable early schedule, which sees them return home to face the Bengals next, followed by the Browns and Lions.
All games are important in a 17 game season, but the Bears will be looking really good if they can manage to pull off a road upset here.
One final thing, Chicago is 7-3 ATS in its last ten NFC road games as an underdog in the +6.5 to +8.5 points range.
I'm not calling for the outright. But everything points to this one coming right down to the wire.
As such, grab as many points as you can.
|09-12-21||Browns +6.5 v. Chiefs||Top||29-33||Win||100||151 h 15 m||Show|
My AFC 10* Game of the Month is on the Cle Browns at 4:25 ET.
Both teams are predicted to do well this season. Obviously, that's no surprise for KC but it looks as if Cleveland has finally "turned the corner." The Chiefs have exceeded their O/U season win total eight seasons in a row.
They're a +445 favorite to win Super Bowl 56 and +234 leader to repeat as conference Champion.
These teams played here last season in the divisional round of the playoffs, and Kansas City had to hold on for dear life in the 22-17 victory. Chiefs' star QB Patrick Mahomes left that one early with an injury.
What I do definitely think can't be ignored though, is that the road team is 4-0 ATS in the past four in this series, including the playoffs.
Cleveland has gotten progressively better each of the last five seasons and that progression is going to continue this year. Especially on the defensive side of the ball, as it concentrated heavily in that department in the offseason, signing Jadeveon Clowney and drafting Northwestern cornerback Greg Newsome II at No. 26 overall.
This is a big contract year for Browns' QB Baker Mayfield. He'll benefit from a 100% healthy Odell Beckham Jr. Note that Cleveland is 4-1 ATS in its last five as a road underdog.
Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs will once again be contending at the end of the season. Of course, they will be. I won't try and bash Kansas City, it's obviously one of the best in the entire league and as long as Mahomes stays healthy, a Super Bowl victory is definitely a very real possibility again.
However, KC went just 8-11 ATS last year including the playoffs.
Anything can happen in Week 1. It's unpredictable. The bottom line is, I think that Mayfield has the offense around him to keep pace with Mahomes.
In a contest that I see coming down to the wire, I'm grabbing the points.
|09-12-21||Steelers v. Bills UNDER 49||Top||23-16||Win||100||146 h 7 m||Show|
My NFL Week 1 Featured Sunday Total is a 9* on Buf/Pit Under at 1:00 ET.
Pittsburgh did well in the preseason, but without really addressing many issues across its offensive line in the offseason, many experts believe the Steelers are poised for a major step-back this year.
Clearly, Ben Roethlisberer isn't getting any younger or more mobile, and I think he's going to be running for his life today against this revamped Buffalo pass rush in its first game of the season in front of the hometown crowd.
Steelers' veteran head coach Mike Tomlin knows this though. And so we can expect the visiting side to run the ball early and often. This will also keep this potent Buffalo offense off the field as long as possible as well.
Pittsburgh's strength last year was on the defensive side of the ball and that'll once again be the case this season.
Buffalo has a Top-5 QB in Josh Allen. Stefon Diggs put up huge numbers in his first season with the Bills last year. But with a Week 2 matchup at division rival Miami in Week 2, the temptation to look ahead and be planning for that one is there as well for the home side.
This is an explosive Buffalo offense, but it faces one of the stiffest defenses it'll see all season right out of the gates. If the Bills want to take the next step though, clearly they'll have to once again make strides on the defensive side of the ball.
I expect a lot of running from each side. Also some hard-hosed defensive play.
This total is more than a little too high. The play is the under.
|09-12-21||Jaguars -2.5 v. Texans||Top||21-37||Loss||-115||144 h 56 m||Show|
My 9* NFL Week 1 Las Vegas Insider is on the Jax Jaguars at 1:00 ET.
Full, detailed analysis Monday afternoon by 3:00 ET.
|09-12-21||Seahawks -2.5 v. Colts||Top||28-16||Win||100||82 h 7 m||Show|
My 9* Weekend Wipeout is on Seattle at 1:00 ET.
Seattle has made the playoffs in EIGHT of the last nine years. The 'Hawks won 12 games last year.
The Colts also made the playoffs last season, while winning 11 games.
Seattle is a difficult offensive team for anyone to handle and it all starts with QB Russell Wilson. He has plenty of 'weapons' around him, including RB Chris Carson and WRs DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett.
The Seahawks have a strong defense as well, one which includes Bobby Wagner, Quandre Diggs, and DJ Reed. Seattle is poised for a big year defensively, many feel a unit that could rival the famed "Legion Of Boom."
The Colts played amazingly well with Philip Rivers under center last year, but Carson Wentz will be the FOURTH new starting QB for Indianapolis in the last four seasons. RB Johnathan Taylor was big last year, and the defense was a strength as well for Indianapolis.
Seattle comes in as the road favorite, meaning oddsmakers would make them about a TD favorite on a neutral field.
I'd agree with that plus Seattle owns a distinct advantage at the QB position.
Wentz has struggled the last few seasons, and he's on a new team under a new system and I just can't see him keeping pace with Wilson's offense down the stretch.
Lay the short price. The play is Seattle.
|09-11-21||Utah v. BYU +7||Top||17-26||Win||100||67 h 59 m||Show|
My 10* CFB Rivalry Game of the Year is on BYU at 10:15 ET.
Utah visits BYU (both teams have opened 1-0) for the school's annual "Holy War" for the Beehive Boot. Utah is off a 40-17 win over Weber State, while BYU beat Arizona 24-16 in Las Vegas. The two bitter rivals did not meet last season (COVID) for just the SECOND time since 1946. To say this is a "revenge" game for BYU would be an understatement, as it's lost nine straight in this series.
|09-11-21||NC State v. Mississippi State +3||10-24||Win||100||119 h 11 m||Show|
The 3rd pick of my STP is on Miss St at 7:00 ET.Both teams are 1-0 straight up to open the season, but I think this is one that favors the home side.
NC State is off a shutout win over USF, while Mississippi State scored 21 points in the last 12 minutes to win 35-34, a comeback that marks the largest in school history.
Wolfpack QB Devin Leary had 232 yards, two TDs, and an INT last week. The ground game looked good too, posting 293 yards.
The defense stepped up and posted the shutout, but I think we have to take that result with a grain of salt.
Mississippi State's offense is dynamic. Last week it got 370 yards, three TDs, and an INT from QB Will Rogers. The defense left everything to be desired in last week's win, but the good news was that the Bulldogs' unit bent, but didn't break.
NC State is a run-first offense, so the Bulldogs' secondary catches a break this week. This one is going to be decided in the trenches and that's where Mississippi State has the advantage.
I expect Miss St to win but I will sure any points I can get. One last thing. NC State is 1-7 SU and ATS vs SEC foes since 2008.
The play is Mississippi State.
|09-11-21||Memphis v. Arkansas State +5.5||Top||55-50||Win||100||80 h 43 m||Show|
My 9* Group of 5 Game of the Week is on Arkansas St at 7:00 ET.
Arkansas State comes in under the radar here in my opinion.
The Red Wolves are off a relatively simple 40-21 win over Central Arkansas as 14-point favorites and I believe they have a legitimate shot at winning today's game outright.
Memphis is off a 42-17 win over Nicholls State, but with a game at home against Mississippi State next weekend, I believe the Tigers are going to get caught looking ahead to that much more high-profile matchup.
Seth Henigan had 265 yards passing and a TD for Memphis last weekend, while Brandon Thomas rushed for 147 yards and a touchdown.
Not to be outdone though, the Red Wolves got a couple of good performances, as James Blackman threw for 169 yards in last week's win, while Layne Hatcher threw for 150 yards and 4 TDs on a perfect 12 of 12 passing!
Alan Lamar led the rushing attack with 67 yards and a TD on 18 carries.
These two teams are led by their dynamic offenses and everything points to an old-fashioned shootout.
It really does have the feel to me of whichever team has its hands on the ball last is going to win this one.
As such, I'm grabbing the points.
|09-11-21||Houston v. Rice +8.5||44-7||Loss||-110||119 h 40 m||Show|
The 2nd play of my STP is an 8* on Rice at 6:30 ET.
Both teams are hungry for a win after opening the season 0-1. Houston lost by 17 to Texas Tech, while Rice lost by 21 to Arkansas.
Last season Houston was 3-5 overall. It had a 21-7 lead going into half-time last week, but it then fell apart in the 38-21 loss. QB Clayton Tune had 174 yards passing and two TDs, but he also had four INTs.
Last season Rice went 2-3. The Owls had a 10-7 lead going into half in their loss last week. QB Wiley Green had 152 yards passing, one touchdown, and four interceptions.
The Owls for the most part controlled their game vs. Arkansas, but three turnovers were the difference in the end.
The Cougars posted just 77 rushing yards and 174 passing yards and averaged just 3.4 yards per play last week.
These teams are rebuilding, but I think Rice is the correct call at home and while I'll stop short in calling for the outright upset, everything points to this one coming down to the wire.
Final thought: Dana Holgorsen is in his third season at Houston and including last weekend's loss, is just 7-14 SU with the Cougars. Grab the points.
|09-11-21||Iowa v. Iowa State -3.5||Top||27-17||Loss||-120||121 h 19 m||Show|
My 9* CFB Week 2 Marquee is on Iowa St at 4:30 ET.
Iowa State lost to Iowa 18-17 in 2019. While it lost straight up, it did manage to cover the spread in that one, as it had 1.5 points afforded to it.
This is a revenge game for the home side (these teams didn't face each other last season.)
Iowa State likely got caught looking ahead to this game after having to hold on for a 16-10 win here over Northern Iowa last week. It was a lackluster effort, as the Cyclones were a 28.5 point favorite.
Iowa clobbered Indiana 34-6 at home last weekend as a 3.5 point favorite. After this game though Iowa doesn't play again until October 1st, while Iowa State has a game at UNLV next weekend.
Regardless, both teams come into this game 1-0 with Iowa St ranked No.. 9 and Iowa at No. 10 *up from No. 18).
The Hawkeyes won 34-6 over Indiana last week but QB Spencer Petras threw for just 145 yards on 13 of 27 passing while also rushing for a score as well. However, the Iowa offense gained just 303 yards, scoring two TDs on INT returns. I seriously wonder if it's more a case of Indiana just playing terribly, rather than Iowa being a world beater right out of the gate to start the season.
While Iowa State had a much more difficult time in its opening game, QB Brock Purdy quietly had 199 yards on 21 of 26 passing, while also rushing for 58 yards on nine carries (he's thrown 46 TDs vs 18 INTs the last two seasons). Breece Hall (led the nation in rushing last season with 1,572 yards plus added 21 TDs) but had just 69 yards and a TD on 23 carries for 69 yards and a touchdown.
The Cyclones defense was also stout, allowing just 10 points to a dangerous Northern Iowa team.
Yes, Iowa has won 13 of the last 17 meetings (plus enters on a seven-game winning streak after ending last season with six straight wins) but Iowa St has 20 returning starters and is also 7-2 ATS in its last nine as a home favorite in the -2.5 to -4.5 points range. Nothing but good things to say about Iowa's Kirk Ferentz but Matt Campbell has led Iowa St to FOUR straight bowls. He led Iowa St to its first regular-season first-place finish of any sort in 119 years and then the Cyclones were selected for the 2021 Fiesta Bowl, the first major-bowl appearance in school history, and defeated Oregon 34-17. They finished ninth in both major bowls, the highest final ranking in school history. Now it's time to win the "biggest-ever Cy-hawk game in series history.
I like the revenge-minded home side to pull away down the stretch.
Lay the points, the play is Iowa State.
|09-11-21||Georgia Southern +7.5 v. Florida Atlantic||6-38||Loss||-110||57 h 2 m||Show|
The 1st play of my STP is an 8* on Georgia Southern at 3:30 ET.
The outright victory is possible, but my official recommendation here will be to grab as many points as you can in this one.
Georgia Southern is 1-0 after posting a tighter than expected 30-25 win over Gardner Webb in Week 1.
The Eagles got 90 yards and a score from Cam Ransom. Logan Wright was big though on the ground with 178 yards rushing and a TD.
Defensively, Anthony Wilson led the Eagles with six total tackles including four solo tackles.
FAU got pounded 35-14 by Florida in its last outing. N’Kosi Perry was decent with 261 yards and a TD on 19 of 33 passing. Johnny Ford and Malcolm Davidson each had 52 rushing yards.
This is not a spot that FAU has performed well in for bettors though, going just 1-4 ATS in its last five as a favorite.
Conversely, Georgia Southern is 4-1 ATS in its last five as an underdog.
FAU had a difficult draw out of the gates, but this isn't an explosive offensive for the home side. Honestly, I have a hard time seeing the Owls keeping up the pace down the stretch, and as I said up top, while the outright win isn't out of the question, in the end, let's grab the points. Note: Ga Southern was 8-4 ATS last season vs FBS opponents.
|09-11-21||Western Kentucky v. Army UNDER 55||Top||35-38||Loss||-110||116 h 15 m||Show|
My 9* Eye-Opener is on WKU/Army Under at 11:30 am ET.
Western Kentucky rolled to a 59-21 win over Tennessee Martin in Week 1, and that total flew well over the number.
Army is off a convincing 43-10 win over Georgia State, and that total also eclipsed the posted number.
These teams didn't play against each other in the shortened COVID season last year, but they did in 2019 and Western Kentucky managed the 17-8 victory.
They'll likely get a few more combined points here in this one, but I definitely expect a very defensive affair again, one which is dominated by the run game by each team while on offense.
Bailey Zappe completed an unrealistic 80 percent of his passes for 424 yards, seven touchdowns, and one interception in his team's win over lowly Tennessee Martin.
The Knights are a run-first team. QB Christian Anderson completed only 50 percent of his passes for 40 yards, one touchdown, and zero interception in last week's win (the Army Black Knights have only six touchdown passes dating back to last season.)
Army racked up 258 rushing yards in Week 1 and it'll look for a duplicate performance here as well against the Hilltoppers.
It's hard to get a firm read on either team's defense at this point, as their opening opponent was pretty weak. But the bottom line is, both defenses looked good and there's no reason not to think that consistent play won't be carried over here as well.
Look for this one to be decided in the trenches.
This number is high, the play is the under.
|09-09-21||Cowboys +8 v. Bucs||Top||29-31||Win||100||75 h 22 m||Show|
My 10* NFL Week 1 Season-Opener is on the Dal Cowboys at 8:20 ET.
Did anyone think the Buccaneers were really going to win the Super Bowl last year?
They were one of the early favorites, but not many would have predicted Tampa winning the Super Bowl after about Week 14.
Does anyone think Tampa can repeat? Even for the best teams of all time, repeating as NFL champion is an unbelievably difficult thing to do.
The Bucs though are once again one of the favorites to win the Super Bowl this season and while Tom Brady and company may indeed go on to do just that, I think they'll have their hands full with Dak Prescott and a Cowboys team that will collectively be playing with a chip on their shoulders this season.
Prescott got injured early on last year and the Cowboys went on to finish 6-10. The offense was decent even without Prescott in, but the problem for the Cowboys was on the other side of the ball.
Dallas was active in the offseason to address several defensive issues, and I expect a dramatic improvement. Keep your eyes on Micah Parsons, who could easily win Defensive Player of the Year this season.
What more can I say about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that hasn't been said a million times already? If you're wagering on this game, then you almost assuredly already know the strengths and weaknesses of the Buccaneers, also the cast of characters in all three phases, and the coaching staff as well.
So why will Brady and Bruce Arians get caught "looking past" the Cowboys on Opening night?
Tampa could be caught flat-footed here out of the gate, as it faces a relatively "simple" opening schedule, with Atlanta coming to town next Sunday, followed by road games at the Rams and Patriots.
Dallas on the other hand has two straight road games to open the season, including a tough one at the Chargers in Week 2.
I think Prescott and the Cowboys throw their best show in Week 1. I also expect the Dallas defense to be vastly improved this season.
Will those things combine to deliver an outright victory for the visiting side in the Champs house?
Probably not, but I do expect this one to be competitive until the final moments. These teams last met in 2018 when Dallas beat Tampa Bay for the 7th time in the last eight matchups. Is that old news? Yes, but this is NOT. The Bucs are on just a 7-19-2 ATS run as a non-division home favorite.
As such, grab the points.
|09-05-21||Notre Dame v. Florida State +7||Top||41-38||Win||100||11 h 42 m||Show|
My 9* 'Bobby Bowden Bowl' is on Florida State at 7:30 ET.
This will be an emotional contest for Florida State, as it is the Seminoles' first game since Bobby Bowden's death (the program will honor its legendary head coach before the game starts.
It is also a very important season, as Florida State's 3-6 record last year was its worst since going 3-8 in 1975, the year before Bowden took over.
Visiting Tallahassee Sunday night will be Notre Dame, which made the CFP last season and opens 2021 as the AP's 9th-ranked team. However, this is considered a "reloading" year for the Fighting Irish. Taking over at QB for Ian Book (a huge winner and third-down master) will be Wisconsin transfer, Jack Coan. His challenge is to lead an offense with just TWO returning starters.
FSU features one of the best stories in college football this season with the debut of former UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton. Milton will be taking the field for the first time in 33 months, after suffering a knee injury against USF in November 2018. The injury was so gruesome that doctors had to consider amputation. After a grueling rehab process and a transfer to Tallahassee, Milton looks to complete a near-miraculous comeback.
This is a great opportunity for the Seminoles to catch the Irish a little uncertain in a few areas. Mike Norvell steps in as FSU's new head coach and in four seasons at Memphis he led the tigers to a 38-15 record and four bowl berths. I like this guy and and he has all the tools in place to improve his offense dramatically this year.
I'm not calling for an upset but the again, I may just be. Bottom line is, TAKE the points!
|09-04-21||Nevada +3.5 v. California||Top||22-17||Win||100||122 h 15 m||Show|
My 10* Non-Conference Game of the Month is on Nevada at 10:30 ET.
Nevada and Cal open their respective season Saturday Sep 4 at California Memorial Stadium in Berkeley. Nevada is coached by Jay Norvell and Cal by Justin Wilcox. Both arrived at their respective schools in 2017. Norvell went 3-9 in his first season in Reno but has led the Wolf Pack to three straight bowls since then, including going 7-2 in last year's pandemic-shortened season after beating Tulane 38-27 in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. Wilcox was 5-7 in his first season but then led Cal to back-to-back bowls in 2018 and 2019. However, COVID pretty much wiped out Cal's entire 2020 season, as the Bears would play just four games (1-3).
I like what Nevada brings to the table in Week 1. QB Carson Strong is expected to take another big step forward this year. Last season he finished with 2,858 yards, 70.1 percent passing, along with a sharp 27-4 TD-to-INT ratio. RB Toa Taua is now a senior and he finished with 675 rushing yards last year. Keep your eyes on WR Romeo Doubs as well, as he had 1,002 yards on 58 receptions in 2020. Nevada returns 10 starters on both offense AND defense. The Wolf Pack were the most penalized team in the MWC last year but with the core of each unit returning, this sloppy play is also expected to take a big turn in the right direction this season.
Cal's defense has been solid the last few years, but the offense has struggled under QB Chase Garbers. He's dealt with several injury issues over the years. He'll benefit from having most of his starting receivers return this season but the offensive line is another issue entirely. The Cal offense was one-dimensional last year, as the OL was never able to stop any sort of a pass rush. Four of the five starters return up front for Cal, so the unit should/could make big progressions this season. Still, Cal offense averaged just 20.3 PPG on 320 YPG in 2020.
Yes, Cal leads the series 22-3-1 but the schools have only met TWICE since 2010. Nevada won 53-21 in Reno back in 2010 and at Berkeley 31-24 in 2012. I believe Nevada is just too deep and have a hard time seeing this Cal offense keeping up the pace down the stretch. The Wolf Pack's defense was middle of the road last year, but with 10 starters returning, expect a significantly improved unit this season. I say that improvement starts right here in Week 1. I think the outright win is in the cards, but let's grab as many points as they give you.
Closing clincher: Under HC Justin Wilcox, Cal is a money-burning 1-8-1 ATS as a home favorite.
|09-04-21||Georgia v. Clemson -3||Top||10-3||Loss||-106||14 h 13 m||Show|
My 9* NCAAF Week 1 Marquee is on Clemson at 7:30 ET.
The No.3-ranked Clemson Tigers take on the No. 5-ranked Georgia Bulldogs Saturday night for the Duke's Mayo Classic in Charlotte. It marks the first meeting between the two regional rivals since 2014, Saturday night's prime time showdown has been eagerly anticipated since being announced last year that ESPN's "College GameDay" will be on hand. Clemson is coming off a 10-2 season that ended with a 49-28 loss to Ohio State in the College Football Playoff semifinals at the Sugar Bowl, while Georgia went 8-2 last season, capping its campaign with a 24-21 win over Cincinnati in the Peach Bowl.
This game is being played at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, where Clemson has won the last four ACC championship games. Here's a list:
34-10 over Notre Dame. 62-17 over Virginia. 42-10 over Pittsburgh. 38-3 over Miami-Fl.
Nick Saban's success at Alabama is unmatched but in "second-place" is Clemson's Dabo Swinney. He has led Clemson to 10-plus wins in 10 consecutive seasons and the Tigers have made the 'Final 4' in the last six CFP, winning national titles in 2016 and 2018. Clemson is the ONLY team the in the country to make the playoff each of the last six years. This will be Clemson's first game in years without the record-setting tandem of QB Trevor Lawrence and RB Travis Etienne, both of whom were selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the first round of the NFL draft last spring. However, don't 'cry' for the Tigers. There are NO worries about DJ Uiagalelei taking over at QB. Filling in for Lawrence last season, he passed for 342 yards in his first career start against BC and then followed that by passing for 439 yards at Notre Dame (most passing yards ND has ever allowed to an opposing QB). 5 TDs and zero INTs in 117 attempts for the season. Clemson has a crowded RB situation with senior Lyn-J Dixon the most experienced of the bunch. However, true freshmen Will Shipley and Phil Mafah were so impressive in fall camp that they could see considerable playing time. As for Clemson's defense, it returns NINE of 11 starters and boasts one of the most imposing front lines in the country.
Georgia's defensive front is expected to rank among the nation's best. The Bulldogs led the country in rushing defense last year after finishing among the national leaders in that category in 2019. However, Georgia's defensive secondary will be breaking in three new starters. Much is being made of JT Daniels at QB for Georgia. He started the final four games last season and threw for 1,231 yards (67.2%) with 10 TDs and 2 INTs. However, his regular season wins came over Miss St, South Carolina and Missouri (combined regular season record of 10-20). Georgia did beat Cincy in Peach Bowl 24-21 but needed to outscore them 14-0 in the 4th-quarter. The game-winner came on a 53-yard FG with THREE seconds left!
Here's a great quote by an opposing coach about Georgia. "The Bulldogs are consistent and talented but are still figuring out how to become elite." Kirby Smart is in his 6th season at Georgia, going 52-14. This just in! He's NO Dabo Swinney. Let's look at his last four years.
2017: won SEC champ game over Auburn but then suffered a heartbreaking 26-23 loss (OT) to Alabama in the national championship game. 2018: lost SEC champ game to Ala, blowing a 14-point lead. 2019: got routed 37-10 in SEC champ game by LSU. 2020: lost 41-24 at #2 Alabama as #3 team and then as #5 team, got crushed by Fla (#8) 44-28 in to biggest regular season meetings.
Where's the team's "big game" win under Smart? Georgia has won SEVEN straight season openers but its last loss in a season opener came 2013. The school that beat them? You guessed it, Clemson. Smart and Georgia once again come up sort in a "Big Game!"
|09-04-21||UTSA +6 v. Illinois||Top||37-30||Win||100||100 h 4 m||Show|
My 9* Situational Stunner is on UTSA at 7:30 ET
I say the Illini have a letdown here after their 30-22 upset victory to kick off the season at home over favored Wisconsin last Saturday (note: Illinois last beat Nebraska in back-to-back years in 1923-24).
UTSA finished 7-5 last year and made it to a bowl game, ultimately falling 31-24 to Louisiana.
Illinois finished 2-6 last year. Head coach Lovie Smith was fired after seven games (note: The Illini last posted a winning season in 2011!). But after their improbable 30-22 win over the Huskers, can anyone say "letdown" spot here? Illinois starting QB Brandon Peters left the game holding his left (non-throwing) shoulder after being sacked hard near the end of the first quarter. He was 3-of-4 passing for 35 yards. He did not return and was replaced by Artur Sitkowski, a sophomore transfer from Rutgers, who went 12-of-15 for 124 yards and two scores. Peters' status is up in the air for Saturday's game and I think it may be too much to expect that Sitkowski will match his effort vs Nebraska.
The Road Runners have plenty of talent, and they've excelled in this spot for bettors, going 7-2 ATS in their last nine as an underdog and 7-2 ATS in their last nine on the road.
UTSA has a potent and underrated offense that returns most of its core group of players (a unit that averaged 415 yards and 28 PPG last year.) Sincere McCormick is a dominant RB that keeps defenses honest and the entire offensive line returns as well.
Illinois gave up 232 years on the ground last week, which doesn't bode well facing this run-first Road Runners attack.
With Maryland at home next, followed by a trip to Purdue, this is also a letdown/look-ahead spot for the home side.
While I do in fact feel an outright upset is possible again on this field for a second straight week, my official call will be to grab as many points as you can.
The play is UTSA.
|09-04-21||Indiana v. Iowa -3.5||6-34||Win||100||9 h 5 m||Show|
My free play is on Iowa at 3:30 ET.
This is a big season-opener for two BIG TEN teams that are hoping to contend in their respective divisions in 2021. Indiana head coach Tom Allen has made a HUGE difference to the football program, as after back-to-back 5-7 (2-7 in Big Ten play) seasons in 20107 and 2018, he's led the Hoosiers to back-to-back bowl games. Indiana went 8-5 in 2019 and 6-2 in 2020's pandemic-shortened season. The Hoosiers were 6-1 SU and 7-0 ATS in Big Ten play but then lost to a 4-5 Ole Miss team 26-20 (as a 9 1/2-point favorite) in the Outback Bowl. Iowa's Kirk Ferentz arrived in Iowa City way back in 1999 and after going 1-10 and 3-9 in his first two seasons, has been a steady, consistent winner. The Hawkeyes opened 2020 with back-to-back losses (by 4 points and one point) but then won SIX in a row, going 5-1 ATS with an average MOV of 21.8 PPG. Iowa earned an 18th bowl bid under Ferentz in 2020 but the Music City Bowl was canceled due to COVID.
Indiana opens the season ranked 17th (the school's first top-25 preseason appearance since 1969), while Iowa is the AP's 18th-ranked team. Indiana QB Michael Penix Jr is back healthy after missing the Hoosiers' last two games of 202 because of a torn ACL in his right knee. He had 14 TDPs and just four INTs last season and let me point out that Indiana is 10-2 the last two seasons when Penix starts at QB and 4-5 when other QBs start. Eight starters return on offense and NINE on a defense that allowed a modest 20.3 PPG. Iowa QB Spencer Petras bounced back from throwing three INTs in a loss to Northwestern in the second game last year to lead the Hawkeyes on that six-game losing streak. During the team's winning streak, Petras threw eight TDPs and just two INTs. I noted Indiana's solid defense above but throughout his career at Iowa, Ferentz has been known for his excellent defensive units. Last season was no different, as Iowa allowed just 16.0 PPG and has not allowed more than 20.0 PPG in any of its last FIVE seasons. Note: Iowa has played 22 straight games without surrendering 25 points, the longest streak of any Power-5 school!
|09-04-21||West Virginia v. Maryland +3||Top||24-30||Win||100||98 h 10 m||Show|
My 9* Weekend Wipeout is on Maryland at 3:30 ET.Maryland's going to have its hands full today with a WVU defense that should be among the best in the Big 12. However, I think the Terps can match pace with the Mountaineers and come away with what some may call a surprising OUTRIGHT win.
The problem for West Virginia is on the offensive side. QB Jarret Doege looked brilliant at times last season, but he was prone to making mistakes as well. Several of them, and all of the time.
Maryland has a well-balanced offense, which isn't great for West Virginia either.
Taulia Tagovailoa will be given the green light today for the home side and he has a slew of dangerous weapons around him (including tight ends Malik Jackson and Chigoziem Okonkwo)
Last year was a difficult one for both teams. But I think that Maryland's ceiling to improve is huge, while WVU is poised for some minor regression on both sides of the ball.
Opening Day and on its own field, I think Maryland wins the day but why not take the points?
The play is Maryland.
|09-04-21||Army +3 v. Georgia State||Top||43-10||Win||100||123 h 35 m||Show|
My 9* Eye-Opener is on Army at 12:00 ET.
Georgia State opens the season at home against a tricky opponent. Clearly, with a spread like this, the oddsmakers feel these teams are evenly matched. I do as well. The Black Knights are not a powerhouse but under head coach Jeff Monken, Army has been 'bowling' in FOUR of the last five seasons (won 10 games in 2017, 11 in 2018 and went 9-3 in last year's pandemic-shortened season, after losing 24-21 to West Va in the Liberty Bowl (covered at plus-7).
Army's option is always a challenge (finished fourth in the nation in rushing yards per game last year at 273 per) but Georgia State's strength on the defensive side of the ball is stopping the run (it ranked third in rushing defense last season.). The Panthers will need to deal with Army QB Tyhier Tyler, who had 578 rushing yards and five scores last year, all coming in the final seven games.
Georgia State began its football program in 2010 and joined the SBC in 2013. The Panthers went 0-12 in 2013 and then 1-13 in 2014. However, the program has gotten things figured out, as the Panthers have played in FOUR bowls the last six seasons. That's likely bad news for the rest of the Sunbelt Conference moving forward. QB Cornelious Brown IV is back under center. He struggled with INTs last year, but he's expected to make big strides this year.
These schools have only played one other time, with the Panthers winning 28-21 in 2019. However, that 2019 Army finished just 5-8, the school's LONE losing season in the past FIVE years! Georgia St has a VERY tough first month, as after this home game with Army, the Panthers have road games at No. 10 North Carolina on Sep 11 and at Auburn on Sep 25. I'm taking the points but expect an outright Army win, which means Georgia St will likely open 0-2 (maybe 1-3 in Sep).
|09-03-21||Michigan State +3.5 v. Northwestern||38-21||Win||100||76 h 26 m||Show|
The third pick of my STP is a 7* on Michigan State at 9:00 ET. Northwestern's offense is poised to take a major step back this season.
Hunter Johnson is back under center for NW, but he struggled after coming over from Clemson last season. Also RB Cam Porter is out for the season now due to a leg injury.
Michigan State has plenty of issues as well, but the defense in its second year under Mel Tucker should be vastly improved.
Whether its Payton Thorne or Anthony Russo starting for the Spartans, they'll both benefit from a few key position players on the offensive side of the ball returning.
Both teams are dealing with offensive issues, but I'd say Northwestern's are greater.
I also believe that MSU has the better defense, which I think will take a big step forward this year.
Outright victory? Yes, that's what I expect. However, grab as many points as you can.
The play is Michigan State.
|09-03-21||Duke -6 v. Charlotte||28-31||Loss||-104||59 h 31 m||Show|
The second pick of my STP is an 8* on Duke at 7:00 ET. Duke is out to bounce back after a 1-9 mark in ACC conference play in 2020. Last year it suffered through posting a nation-high 39 turnovers in 11 games last year.
Gunnar Holmberg is now the starting QB for the Blue Devils and he's going to benefit tremendously from having almost his entire starting offense back around him, including receivers Jake Bobo, Jalon Calhoun and Eli Pancol while Mataeo Durant is back at RB.
The secondary also benefits with most of the starters returning. There's only one way this Duke team can go this year, but in all honesty the many returning players from last season should absolutely see the Blue Devils take a big step forward across the board.
Charlotte was 2-4 last year overall, including 2-2 in C-USA play. QB Chris Reynolds and nine other starters from the offense return for the 49ers. I still don't think it'll be enough though to keep pace with this determined Duke side that'll be playing with a collective chip on its shoulder.
Defense is a major issue for Charlotte this season. It was last year.
These teams played last year and
Duke won by a score of 53-19. That was on Halloween.
While likely not quite as gruesome as last year's result, everything still points to a comfortable blowout victory for Duke in my opinion.
|09-03-21||North Carolina v. Virginia Tech +6||10-17||Win||100||10 h 5 m||Show|
The first pick of my STP is an 8* on Virginia Tech.
Virginia Tech was inconsistent last year. It had some good wins (Virginia), but then also some poor efforts as well (lost 56-45 to the Tar Heels.)
UNC will have QB Sam Howell under center, but most of the pieces around him which proved so successful last year are gone. The defensive unit for the Tar Heels is a work in progress as well.
The bottom line is, I can't see how Howell can do this all by himself. WR Dyami Brown is on the Washington Football Team. WR Dazz Newsome is a Chicago Bear, and the running back tandem of Javonte Williams and Michael Carter has also moved on.
Virginia Tech has the offense to match its opponent today with Braxton Burmeister. The pressure is also completely on ranked UNC in this spot.
Look for the Hokies' experience on the offensive side of the ball prove to be the difference-maker in this one.
That said, grab as many points as you can. The play is Virginia Tech.
|09-02-21||Boise State v. Central Florida -4||Top||31-36||Win||100||292 h 23 m||Show|
My 10* NCAAF Season-Opener is on UCF at 7:00 ET.
|02-07-21||Chiefs -3 v. Bucs||Top||9-31||Loss||-113||130 h 29 m||Show|
My 10* LEGEND Play is on the KC Chiefs at 6:30 ET.
Super Bowl 55 will not be a rematch of the first-ever Super Bowl (Kansas City/Green Bay on Jan 15, 1967) but one would be hard-pressed to argue against the fact that this is one of the most-anticipated matchups of all-time. Tom Brady left New England and Bill Belichick in his rearview mirror and while the Pats failed to win the AFC East for the first time since 2008 by going 7-9 (Belichik's only other losing season in New England came in his first season with the Pats in 2000), Brady led one of the NFL's biggest losers (Tampa Bay) to its second-ever Super Bowl. Brady is now in his 10th Super Bowl (six wins in his first nine tries), where the G.O.A.T. will take on the defending champion Chiefs, led by Patrick Mahomes who many (most?) believe is the "G.O.A.T in Waiting."
Mahomes and the Chiefs ended last season with NINE straight wins, including a 3-0 run in the playoffs. Mahomes led the Chiefs to a 14-1 record through 16 weeks in 202 and then sat out Week 17 since KC had clinched the No. 1 seed. The Chiefs began their postseason defense of last year's Super Bowl title by scoring on each of their four first-half possessions while generating 293 yards to build a 19-3 halftime margin over the Browns. Mahomes was KO'd in the 3rd quarter but KC held on for a 22-17 win. Mahomes wasn't cleared to play until Friday for e the AFC championship game and while the Bills led 9-0 after one quarter, the Chiefs would outscore the Bills 38-6 to take a commanding 38-15 lead by the mid-4th quarter (38-24 final). Mahomes threw for 325 yards with three TDs and zero INTs, after completing 21 of 30 for 255 yards and one TD (no INTs) and a rushing TD against the Browns. TE Kelce caught 105 passes for 1,416 yards (11 TDs) during the regular season and has added 21 catches and three TDs in two playoff games. WR Hill caught 87 passes for 1,276 yards with 15 TDs (plus two rushing TDs) in the regular season, while catching 17 balls in two playoff games to average 16.6 YPC. Rookie RB Edwards-Helaire (803 yards) has been a non-factor in the playoffs but Darel Wiliams has run for 130 yards on 5.0 YPC.
Brady had two TD passes and 381 yards vs Washington but in wins over the Saints (54.5% for 199 yards with 2 TDs and 0 INTs) and Packers (55.6% for 280 yards with 3 TDs and 3 INTs), has not produced vintage Brady efforts. RB Aaron Jones has been limited to 78 yards on 3.4 YPC by injury (ran for 978 yards on 5.1 YPC and 7 TDs in the regular season) but Fournette has "turned back time" rushing for 211 yards and two TDs, while catching 14 passes with one TD. SIX players have caught Brady's seven playoff TD passes. Evans has two TDs (10 catches / 17.3 YPC), Godwin matches Fournette with 14 postseason catches (15.9 YPC / 1 TD) and TE Brate has 11 catches and one TD. Tampa Bay's defense has been superb in winning THREE straight road games. It held Washington to 289 yards, the Saints to 294 yards (forced four turnovers, including three INTs of Brees) and then shutting down Green Bay's running game (67 yards) while sacking Rodgers FIVE times.
Yes, Tampa Bay is the first team to ever host a Super Bowl game but in the "Year of COVID," is that really an edge? Brady's career and especially his success in the postseason is without peer but his efforts against the Saints and the Packers were FAR from impressive (see above). Meanwhile, Mahomes has put up remarkable numbers in his first three full seasons as a starter, going 37-8 with 114 TD passes and just 23 INTs in attempts. He's 6-1 in his seven career postseason games, throwing 17 TDs and just two INTs for a 109.8 QB rating. It's MORE than fair to point out that prior to KC's 38-24 win in the AFC championship game that the Chiefs were on a 1-8 or 0-8-1 ATS run but it's equally fair to counter with the fact that Mahomes enters the Super Bowl having gone 25-1 SU in his last 26 starts (including the postseason). Tampa Bay's defense will NOT be able to contain Mahomes and the Chiefs' offense. Mahomes has a LONG way to go to surpass (if ever can) Brady's career accomplishments but this Super Sunday belongs to the 25-year-old.
|01-24-21||Bills v. Chiefs -3||Top||24-38||Win||100||50 h 43 m||Show|
My 9* PERFECT STORM is on the KC Chiefs at 6:40 ET.
Buffalo QB Josh Allen did not have a big day against the Ravens (206 passing yards / one TD) and the Bills ran for just 32 yards but the Buffalo D held Baltimore's running game in check. CB Taron Johnson literally "stole the show" when he picked off Lamar Jackson and returned it 101 yards for a TD in the late third, breaking Baltimore's back. Buffalo's 17-3 win allowed the Bills to advance to the AFC championship game for the first time since 1994. The Bills head to KC on an EIGHT-game winning streak and have won 11 of 12 (lone loss was the result of that 'Hail Mary' miracle at Arizona in Week 10).
Patrick Mahomes hadn't played in 21 days (since the Chiefs clinched the AFC's top seed in Week 16) when he took the field last Sunday against the Browns. However, the Chiefs began their postseason defense of last year's Super Bowl title by scoring on each of their FOUR first-half possessions while generating 293 yards to build a 19-3 halftime margin. Mahomes completed 11 of his first 12 passes and was 19 of 25 for 233 yards by halftime. Mahomes was KO'd from the game in the third quarter and the Chiefs had to hold on for a 22-17 win. Mahomes will take the field Sunday having won his last 11 starts, as KC becomes the first AFC team to host three consecutive conference title games.
The good news for the Kansas City Chiefs is that Patrick Mahomes is planning to play. Mahomes said Friday that he is out of concussion protocol and is ready to start Sunday's game/ "Talking to all of the doctors and going through all of the testing, we have the belief that I'll have no lingering effects and I'll be able to go out there and be who I am,'' said Mahomes, who practiced for the third consecutive day on Friday. Buffalo QB Josh Allen and the Bills lost a 27-16 Week 6 home game to the Chiefs but have since won EIGHT straight and 11 of 12. Allen joins Mahomes plus legends Brady and Rodgers in the NFL's 'Final 4' and has had a season worthy of being in the same class as his counterparts. He completed 69.2 percent in the regular season for 4,544 yards (had EIGHT 300-yard games) with 37 TDs and just 10 INTs (107.2 QB rating). The Bill's running game (107.7 YPG ranks 20th) is suspect but the addition of Stefon Diggs was HUGE. Diggs' All-Pro season included NFL highs of 127 catches and 1,535 yards (also eight TDs). Fellow WR Beasley added a career-high 82 catches.
Mahomes didn't play in the Chiefs' last regular-season game after they had already clinched the AFC's No. 1 seed. He finished completing 66.3% for 4,740 yards with 38 TDs and just six INTs (QB rating 108.2). KC's running game was not much better than Buffalo's (121.4 YPG) but rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire (803 yards / 4.4 YPC) is expected back after missing the Cleveland game with an ankle injury. KC has GREAT depth at receiver but Sammy Watkins (slowed by injuries all season) is expected to play here, joining an outstanding group led by All-World TE Kelce (105 catches / 1,416 yards / 11 TDs) and WR Hill (87 catches / 15 TDs).
The Bills were not up to the challenge of playing the Chiefs in Week 6 (in Buffalo), as KC held them to 206 total yards. Allen had a season-low 122 passing yards, the team ran for just 84 yards and Diggs had six catches but for only 46 yards. Meanwhile, Mahomes went 21 of 26 for 225 yards with two TDs and no INTs (128.4 QB rating) and Edwards-Helaire ran for 161 yards! Kansas City ended last season winning its final NINE games (including the playoffs) and is 15-2 this season, after beating Cleveland. That's 24-2 SU and KC is just a three-point favorite here at home (Mahomes 'situation' has kept the number this low). I noted that Mahomes has won his last 11 starts (how about 24-1 over his last 25?) and in his five career home starts in the playoffs, has 15 TDs against zero INTs. That's good enough for me to back KC.
|01-24-21||Bucs v. Packers -3||Top||31-26||Loss||-120||102 h 37 m||Show|
My NFL 10* Playoff Game of the Year is on the GB Packers at 3:05 ET.
Tom Brady and the Bucs' offense turned three of four Saints turnovers into TDs and Tampa Bay beat the Saints 30-20 in the divisional round of the playoffs Sunday night at New Orleans. The Saints had beaten the Bucs in BOTH regular season meetings, 34-24 at home in Week 1 and then 38-3 at Tampa in Week 9. Two of those TDs came on short passes to WR Mike Evans and RB Leonard Fournette. Then, after an interception by LB Devin White, Brady drove the Bucs to the one-yard-line, from where he scored himself with 4:57 left to virtually ensure his 14th trip to a conference championship game but his first in the NFC. Brady finished 18 of 33 for 199 yards with two TD passes and that TD run. The 30-20 Tampa Bay win resembled more of a defensive struggle, as the Bucs had a modest 316 total yards and the Saints had just 294. However, unlike in his previous two meetings with the Saints (five INTs and six sacks), Brady was not intercepted and largely avoided pressure, taking only one sack.
|01-17-21||Browns v. Chiefs -9.5||Top||17-22||Loss||-108||69 h 54 m||Show|
My 10* PERFECT STORM is on the KC Chiefs at 3:05 ET.
Full, detailed analysis Saturday afternoon by 3:00 ET.
|01-16-21||Ravens +3 v. Bills||Top||3-17||Loss||-117||56 h 53 m||Show|
My 9* "Battle of the Bs" is on the Bal Ravens at 8:15 ET.
The Baltimore Ravens ended last season on a 12-game winning streak and entered the 2019 postseason 14-2 as the AFC's No. 1 seed. However, the Ravens lost 28-12 at home to the Titans as 10-point favorites. The two teams met in Week 11 of the 2020 season (again in Baltimore) and even with that playoff revenge, the Ravens blew a 21-10 third-quarter lead in a 30-24 OT loss. The Ravens were just 6-5 after their Week 12 loss to Pittsburgh but would go on a 5-0 SU & ATS run to finish 11-5 and earn the AFC's No. 5 seed. The Ravens drew the 4th-seeded Titans in the Wild Card round last Sunday and the THIRD time was 'the charm!' The Ravens fell behind 10-0 in the first quarter but dominated the rest of the way in winning 20-13. Lamar Jackson finally got his first postseason victory (0-2), running for 136 yards and a 48-yard TD while throwing for 179 yards. The Baltimore D held Tennessee to its fewest points all season and smothered 2,000-yard rusher Derrick Henry. Henry had run all over the Ravens with 328 yards rushing combined in the last two meetings but had his worst performance of the season, gaining only 40 yards on 18 carries.
It's been a season to remember for Buffalo in 2020. QB Josh Allen set franchise records of 4,544 passing yards and 37 TDs as well as helping provide a new identity to a rising team that posted the franchise's best victory total since 1991 in going 13-3. The Bills won the AFC East for the first time since 1995 but entered their game with the Colts having lost their last SIX playoff contests since last winning a postseason game following the 1995 season. The Bills' 27-24 win over the Colts snapped that 0-6 postseason skid, winning their first playoff game since a 37-22 win over Miami on Dec 30, 1995. Allen passed for 324 yards with two TDs and zero INTs (121.6 QB rating), while leading the team in rushing with 54 yards and a TD. He's in just this third season but in two playoff games, has become only the FIFTH player since at least 1940 to score a touchdown rushing, passing and receiving in his playoff career (he scored on a 16-yard catch from John Brown in a 22-19 OT loss at Houston a year ago).
Baltimore's Jackson became the first QB in NFL history to rush for at least 1,000 yards in multiple seasons in Baltimore's 38-3 win at Cincinnati in Week 17. Jackson rushed for 97 yards on 11 carries to give him 1,005 yards for the season. The Ravens finished with 404 rushing yards in that contest and led the NFL in rushing for the second straight season (191.9 YPG). How good is the Ravens' running game? It ran for 1,573 yards during its current 6-0 SU & ATS streak, which is more than SIX teams ran for all season! The Ravens are only the third team in NFL history to have three players top 700 yards rushing in a single season with Jackson (1,005 yards), rookie J.K. Dobbins (805) and Gus Edwards (723). Baltimore's defense finished second to the Rams in allowing just 18.9 PPG on the season.
Allen's OUTSTANDING season was sure helped by the signing of WR Stefon Diggs, who caught 127 passes for 1,535 yards and eight TDs in the regular season. He then caught six passes for 128 yards (one TD) vs Indy. Fellow WR Beasley had a career season, catching 82 passes (4 TDs) for 967 yards. Beasley caught seven passes vs the Colts. However, there is a slight concern that BOTH Diggs (oblique) and Beasley (knee) have been somewhat limited this week in practice.
It's true that Buffalo enters on a SEVEN-game winning streak and has won 10 of 11, losing only at Arizona when Murray and Hopkins connected on that improbable "Hail Mary." That said, Baltimore has been playing with a win-or-done urgency since early December, following a 1-4 skid that dropped it to 6-5. The Ravens were depleted by a COVID-19 outbreak in a 19-14 loss at Pittsburgh (but covered), before reeling off six consecutive wins and seven straight ATS wins. The Ravens are 'on a mission of redemption' from last season and it WON'T end here in Buffalo. Hey, maybe the Ravens can get the Browns to upset the Chiefs, meaning Baltimore would host the AFC championship game.
|01-16-21||Rams v. Packers -6.5||Top||18-32||Win||100||30 h 58 m||Show|
My 10* LEGEND Play is on the GB Packers at 4:35 ET.
The Rams started undrafted rookie QB John Wolford at Seattle last week due to Jared Goff's thumb injury but they beat the NFC West champion Seahawks by battering Russell Wilson and avoiding mistakes. The Rams allowed the fewest points (18.5 PPG) and total yards (281.9 YPG) during the regular season and allowed Seattle just 278 total yards and 11 FDs, while holding them to 20 points. Russell Wilson completed only 11 of 27 (40.7%) for 174 yards with two TDS, while throwing a "pick-6" and getting sacked FIVE times (QB rating of 72.1)! Wilson finished the regular season having completed 68.8% for almost 300 YPG with 40 TDs and just 13 INTs with a QB rating of 105.1.
The victory came at a price though. Wolford was KO'd in the game and the Rams will go back to starter Jeff Goff, who is less than three weeks removed from thumb surgery. Goff was nowhere near 100% last Saturday, completing 9 of 19 for 1555 yards with one TD and zero INTs. What's more, defensive tackle Aaron Donald (ribs) and leading WR Cooper Kupp (knee) were injured. The Rams have expressed confidence that Donald, a six-time All-Pro, will play Saturday. Head coach Sean McVay said that "unless something unforeseen happens, the Terminator will be ready." Kupp (92 catches) also insists he'll play. He's joined by fellow WR Woods (90 catches / six TDs) to give LA an outstanding WR duo. The Rams' most important offensive players right now might be rookie RB Cam Akers and left tackle Andrew Whitworth. Although both are recovering from recent injuries, they're the keys to a revitalized ground game that racked up 164 yards rushing last week. Akers missed Week 16 and had just 34 yards on 21 attempts in Week 17, before rushing for 131 yards and one TD vs Seattle.
The Rams come to Lambeau to face Aaron Rodgers and a Green Bay offense that led the NFL in scoring at 31.8 PPG and also committed the fewest TOs (11). Rodgers was consistently GREAT in 2020, leading the NFL with 48 TDs, a 70.7 percent completion rate, a 121.5 passer rating, a league-tying-low five INTs. He's the overwhelming favorite to win the MVP award. WR Davante Adams is the first player in NFL history to have at least 100 receptions with 18 receiving TDs in a season, as he finished with 115 receptions and 18 TDs in just 14 games. TE Tonyan had 52 catches (11 TDs), while RB Jones added 47 catches and two TDs. Like Adams, Jones missed two games but ran for 1,104 yards (5.5 YPC) and scored 11 rushing TDs.
Green Bay lost a Nov 22 game at Indianapolis to the Colts in Week 11 (34-31) but has won SIX in a row since. Green Bay averaged 33.5 PPG during its winning streak and its defense also played very well, allowing only 18.5 PPG. The Packers will be playing a home game in front of paying spectators for the first time this season. The Lambeau Field crowd will include about 6,500 season-ticket holders as well as invited frontline health-care workers and first responders plus a league-mandated allotment for the visiting team. "That's going to help us, give us an extra added home-field advantage that we need, just bringing that extra juice," Packers running back Aaron Jones said. Most importantly, it will be 'Green Bay weather' on Saturday, with temps around freezing or below. Goff has only played two playoff games with temps under 32 degrees and has FIVE interceptions and zero TDs. Rodgers has 40 TDs and just 12 INTs in his 18 postseason games. Lay the points!
|01-11-21||Ohio State v. Alabama -7||Top||24-52||Win||100||151 h 9 m||Show|
My 10* "Signature" LEGEND Play is on Alabama at 8:00 ET.
It's 7-0 Ohio State vs 12-0 Alabama in the CFP Championship Game Monday night at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. The Buckeyes advanced with a DOMINATING 49-28 win over Clemson on Jan 1 in the semifinals. Ohio St QB Justin Fields threw for 385 yards and six TDs, while RB Trey Sermon ran 31 times for 193 yards, as the Buckeyes avenged last season's 29-23 semi final loss to the Tigers. The Clemson defense had NO answer for Fields and the Ohio St offense, as the Buckeyes reeled off 28 unanswered points to take a 35-14 halftime lead.
Mac Jones threw four TD passes, three to WR DeVonta Smith, plus RB Harris 'hurdled' his way to 125 rushing yards, as top-ranked Alabama rolled to a 31-14 victory over fourth-ranked Notre Dame to reach the CFP title game for the FIFTH time in the system's seven seasons (won in 2015 and 2017). Alabama scored on its first THREE possessions and seemed to get 'bored' after taking a 28-7 lead in the third quarter (won 31-14).
Justin Fields has some VERY sore ribs (broken) but there's VERY little doubt he will be under center for this game. He's completed 73.4% for 1,906 yards (remember, just seven games) with 21 TDs and six INTs. WRs Wilson (40 catches / 16.8 YPC/ 5 TDs) and Olave (42 catches / 15.7 YPC / 7 TDs) are terrific, while TE Ruckert has just 12 catches but FIVE have resulted in TDs. RB Sermon enters off running for 331 yards in the Big Ten championship game vs Northwestern and following with 193 yards against Clemson.
Mac Jones completes 77.0% of his passes for 4,036 yards with 36 TDs and just four INTs, giving him a nation's best QB rating of 203.0. DeVonta Smith (105 catches / 15.6 YPC / 20 TDs) is considered the best WR in the nation and Nick Saban just announced that WR Jaylen Waddle (25 catches / 22.3 YPC / 4 TDs in four games) has been cleared to return to practice and could play in this game. RB Harris can't match Sermon's heroics of the last two games but ran for 1,387 yards on 6.1 YPC with 24 TDs on the season.
Both offenses seem 'unstoppable,' as Ohio St averages 42.5 PPG (8th), while Alabama averages 49.7 PPG (2nd). Both defenses are strong with Ohio State allowing 21.0 PPG and Alabama 19.5 PPG. However, the Alabama defense has really 'found itself,' after a poor start. The Crimson Tide allowed 28.8 PPG through their first four games but just 14.1 PPG over their last eight. Note, that includes them giving up 46 points to Florida in the SEC title game. Eliminating that game and the Tide allowed just 9.6 PPG over SEVEN of their last eight!
Yes, Ohio St can claim it's won EIGHT of its last nine games as an underdog SU but matching its effort against Clemson here vs Alabama is to me, 'a bridge too far!' According to Ohio St head coach Ryan Day, his team's loss to Clemson last season reverberated for nearly a year among the Buckeyes. "Fresh off of that game, it was right on our minds, and something that when we got back to work and winter workouts, January, February, it was right there for us," Day said Sunday. "Coming off that game, we just didn't get over it in one day. It took time. "There was even a sign with the score posted in the Buckeyes' weight room , an honor usually reserved for rival Michigan. Ohio St threw a 'near-perfect game' at Clemson and my bet says the Buckeyes can't "do it again" vs Alabama, a team which can 'gain separation' VERY quickly against an opponent. Lay the points!
|01-10-21||Browns v. Steelers -3.5||Top||48-37||Loss||-116||152 h 57 m||Show|
My NFL 10* Wild Card Game of the Year is on the Pit Steelers at 8:15 ET.
The Cleveland Browns clinched a playoff spot for the first time since 2002 with a 24-22 win over the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers last Sunday. The 11-5 Browns snapped the NFL's longest current playoff drought, making the playoffs for the first time since 2002. RB Nick Chubb rushed for 108 yards and a touchdown, ending the season with 1,067 (5.6 YPC) with 12 TDs, despite playing in only 12 games. QB Baker Mayfield completed 17 of 27 passes for 196 yards and a TD and also rushed for a season-high 44 yards. Pittsburgh had clinched the AFC North and a playoff spot in Week 16, so they rested Ben Roethlisberger. Mason Rudolph got the start and completed 22 of 39 passes for 315 yards with two TDs and one INT. Now, one week later, the third-seeded Steelers and sixth-seeded Browns will "do it all over again" Sunday night in Pittsburgh.
Mayfield had a promising rookie season but regressed in 2019, with 22 TDs and 21 INTs for a QB rating of just 78.8. However, he got better throughout the season and finished with 26 TDs and 8 INTs for a 95.9 QB rating in 2020. Chubb (see above) and Hunt (842 yards on 4.2 YPC with six TDs) have given Cleveland excellent balance, as Cleveland's running game comes in averaging 148.3 YPG on the ground (3rd-best). The Cleveland defense got slightly better as the season wore on but finished allowing 26.2 PPG (21st).
The 38-year-old Ben Roethlisberger bounced back from elbow surgery a year ago to complete 65.6% for 3,803 yards with 33 TDs and only 10 INTs in 15 games. The running game ranks last in the NFL (84.4 YPG) but "Big Ben" has an OUTSTANDING group of receivers. Schuster-Smith leads with 97 catches (9 TDs) but fellow WRs like Johnson (88 catches / 7 TDs), Claypool (62 catches / 9 TDs) and Washington (just 30 catches but five TDs) give Big Ben a plethora of options. The offense has averaged just 334.6 YPG (25th) but has managed to average 26.0 PPG, 12th-best. However, defense remains Pittsburgh's 'calling card.' The Steelers' D enters having allowed 19.5 PPG (3rd) on 305.8 YPG (3rd). Pittsburgh's 56 sacks are No. 1 in the NFL.
The Browns are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2002 but the franchise's last playoff win came way back in 1994! First-year Cleveland head coach Kevin Stefanski, whose leadership helped end Cleveland's playoff drought, must now 'watch from afar,' after testing positive for COVID. I guess no AFC team would want to draw the Chiefs as its first playoff opponent but for the Browns, the LAST team they wanted was to face the Steelers, in a one-week turnaround, playing in Pittsburgh with "Big Ben back at QB. Contests between the Browns and Steelers have always been heated given the teams' proximity and history but the Steelers have dominated this series dating back to 2004 (Big Ben's rookie year) with a 28-5-1 SU record! Cleveland's postseason return lasts ONE game. Lay the points!
|01-10-21||Ravens -3 v. Titans||Top||20-13||Win||100||95 h 41 m||Show|
My 9* PERFECT STORM is on the Bal Ravens at 1:05 ET.
Baltimore was just 2-2 through the first four games of the 2019 season but the Ravens would win their final 12 games, covering NINE of their last 10. QB Lamar Jackson was league MVP, posting a 113.3 QB rating (36-6 ratio) while rushing for 1,206 yards (6.9 YPC / 7 TDs), which set a single-record for QBs. Baltimore set a single season record for team rushing yards and became the first team since at least 1950 to average 200-plus pass YPG (201.6) and 200-plus rush YPG (206) in the same season. The D was not quite in the class of the Ray Lewis era units but the Ravens ranked 3rd in points allowed (17.6 PPG) and 4th in yards allowed (300.6 YPG). However, the Ravens were unceremoniously bounced from the playoffs last season, losing 28-12 at home to the Titans as 10-point favorites.
These teams met in Week 11 of the 2020 season (again in Baltimore) and even with that playoff revenge, the Ravens blew a 21-10 third-quarter lead in a 30-24 OT loss. The Ravens were just 6-5 after their Week 12 loss to Pittsburgh but would go on a 5-0 SU & ATS run to finish 11-5 and earn the AFC's No. 5 seed. The Titans battled the Indy Colts all season long for the AFC South title but clinched the division (via a tiebreaker) with a 41-38 win at Houston in Week 17. Derrick Henry rushed for a career-high 250 yards and became the eighth player in NFL history to eclipse 2,000 yards in a season, in Tennessee's Week 17 win, capped by Sam Sloman 37-yard FG on the final play (banked it in). QB Ryan Tannehill totaled three TDs.
Lamar Jackson became the first QB in NFL history to rush for at least 1,000 yards in multiple seasons in Baltimore's 38-3 win at Cincinnati. Jackson rushed for 97 yards on 11 carries to give him 1,005 yards for the season. The Ravens finished with 404 rushing yards, which was the fourth most by a team since 1950. Baltimore didn't quite match last year's rushing record but the Ravens did lead the NFL with 191.9 YPG on 5.5 YPC. Mark Ingram topped 1,000-yards last season but this season was replaced by rookie Dobbins (805 yards on 6.0 YPC with nine TDs) and Edwards (723 yards on 5.0 YPC with five TDs). Baltimore's defense finished No. 2 in points allowed (18.9 PPG).
Ryan Tannehill has had a career season by completing 65.5% for 3,819 yards with 33 TDs and seven INTs (106.5 QB rating). Henry had 2,027 yards rushing (5.4 YPC / 17 TDs), as the Titans finished second to Baltimore with 168.1 YPG on the ground. WRs Brown (70 catches / 15.4 YPC / 11 TDs) and Davis (65 catches / 15.1 YPC / 5 TDs) team with TEs Smith (41 catches / 8 TDs) and Firkser (39 catches). The Tennessee D is no match for Baltimore's, allowing 27.4 PPG (24th) on 398.3 YPG (28th). That's 8.5 PPG and about 70 YPG more.
The Ravens closing 5-0 SU & ATS run saw them outscore opponents on average, 37.2-to-17.8 PPG. Lamar Jackson has 'flopped' badly in two playoff games and I have to believe the "THIRD" time will be the charm.
|01-09-21||Rams v. Seahawks -3.5||Top||30-20||Loss||-110||98 h 53 m||Show|
My 10* Las Vegas Insider is on the Sea Seahawks at 4:40 ET.
The 10-6 Rams (No. 6 seed) and the 12-4 Seahawks (No. 3 seed) meet for a third time this season in Seattle on Saturday The teams split their two meetings this season, with Los Angeles winning 23-16 on Nov 15 at home (Week 10), while the Seahawks 'returned the favor' with a 20-9 win in Seattle (Week 16). Los Angeles head coach Sean McVay was asked whether he had a timetable to determine his starting QB and replied, "Yeah," he said. "Saturday at 1:39."Jared Goff suffered a fractured right thumb in a 20-9 loss at Seattle on Dec.27 and had surgery the following day. John Wolford replaced Goff last weekend against Arizona, helping the Rams clinch a playoff berth with an 18-7 victory. Wolford completed 22 of 38 passes for 231 yards and rushed for a team-high 56 yards, becoming the first player in NFL history to throw for 200 and rush for 50 in their debut. Seattle has no QB concerns with Russell Wilson (4,212 yards / 40 TDs / 13 INTs).
"Jared is our starting quarterback -- the reality is that he had a thumb surgery," McVay said. "We're monitoring that every single day, and that's something we're taking a day at a time, but the anticipation is both those guys are getting themselves ready to go." Along with Goff, LA's top rusher Cam Akers (625 yards) is questionable with an ankle injury and fellow RBs Henderson and Brown had done little for weeks. Some good news is that WR Kupp (92 catches) is expected to play after missing Week 17 (COVID) and along with Woods (90 catches) give LA a strong WR duo. TEs Higbee and Everett have combined for 85 catches with Higbee catching five TDs. Defense has been the key all season for the Rams, who ranks first in both scoring D (18.5 PPG) and total D (281.9 YPG).
RB Chris Carson has been very solid the last six games with 358 yards on 4.8 YPC. He gives balance to a Seattle offense led by Wilson (see above) and the team's dynamic WR duo of Lockett (100 catches / 10 TDs) and Metcalf (83 catches / 10 TDs). Seattle opened 5-0 with Wilson and the offense overcoming the team's defensive woes. However, the Seahawks then lost THREE of four, before recovering with a 6-1 finish. Seattle's defense allowed 26.6 PPG over the first nine games of the season but in that 6-1 'finishing kick,' the 'Legion of Boom' moniker was applicable by allowing just 15.0 PPG!
Seattle won the NFC West title for the first time since 2016 and will host a playoff game for the first time since since January 2017. If Goff plays, he can't possibly be anywhere near 100% and a Wolford/Wilson showdown is a "no-contest!"
|01-03-21||Seahawks -6.5 v. 49ers||26-23||Loss||-112||23 h 24 m||Show|
My *8 NFC West Showdown is on the Sea Seahawks at 4:25 ET.
The 11-4 Seattle Seahawks have already clinched their first NFC West title since 2016, capturing the division title with a 20-9 victory against the Los Angeles Rams last weekend. However, the Seahawks can still earn the NFC's top seed and a first-round bye with a victory but only with a loss by Green Bay at Chicago and a loss or tie by 11-4 New Orleans at 5-10 Carolina (not likely). That said, they will finish the 2020 regular season against the defending NFC champions 49ers, who are wrapping up a dismal regular season. San Francisco is 6-9 and will end its season in its 'home-away-from-home,' Glendale, Az.
The Seahawks are relatively healthy, as Russell Wilson caps a strong year. He's completing 69.7% for 4,031 yards with 38 TDs and 13 INTS (QR rating of 106.30. He has two outstanding WRs in Lockett (88 catches / 8 TDs) and Metcalf (80 catches / 16.0 YPC / 10 TDs) and with RB Carson back healthy (273 yards on 4.9 YPC in four Dec games), the Seattle offense has excellent balance. However, it's Seattle HUGE improvement on defense that makes them an NFC title-contender. Seattle's Week 8 victory over the 49ers was the start of its defensive turnaround and an uptick in its pass rush. The Seahawks have 34 sacks in their last nine outings (most in the league over that span) and over Seattle's last five games, the defense has allowed just 12.2 PPG.
It's true that the injury-plagued 49ers have shown a willingness to play the role of spoiler, as behind third-string quarterback C.J. Beathard, the 49ers dealt Arizona's playoff chances a blow with a 20-12 victory last weekend. Beathard completed 13 of 22 passes for 182 yards and three TDs and Jeff Wilson rushed for a career-high 183 yards and made a 21-yard touchdown catch. However, I believe last Sunday's game was Beathard's "15 minutes of fame' and up against this rejuvenated Seattle defense, will play MORE like the journeyman he is. Seattle has won 11 of the last 13 meetings against San Francisco and I'm willing to lay the points.
|01-03-21||Packers -4 v. Bears||Top||35-16||Win||100||22 h 25 m||Show|
My 10* "Granddaddy of the Them All' Rivalry G.O.Y. on the GB Packers at 4:25 ET.
The Bears/Packers rivalry is the NFL's oldest, as two of the NFL's "Originals' meet for the 202nd time. Green Bay leads the series 100-95-6 but I'll have more to say about that a little later. The 12-3 Packers can clinch a first-round bye and the No. 1 seed in the NFC with a win or a tie against the Bears. The Packers can also get a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs if the 11-4 Seattle Seahawks lose or tie against the San Francisco 49ers. As for Chicago, 'Da Bears can clinch an NFC playoff berth with a win but there also are two other pathways for the Bears to secure a postseason spot. They need 8-7 Arizona to lose at the 9-6 Los Angeles Rams OR, if the Bears and Cardinals each finish Sunday's games with tie scores. Wouldn't that be some 'Daily Double?' Green Bay is on a five-game winning streak and Chicago on a three-game run. More on those streaks in a little bit, as well.
The 37year-old Aaron Rodgers has put up MVP-caliber numbers, completing 70.3% for 4,059 passing yards with 44 TDs and only five INTs. He has a 119.4 QB rating, which leads the league and is the second-best of his HOF career (122.5 QB rating in 2011). RB Jones has 1,062 rushing yards (5.6 YPC / 8 TDs) plus 43 catches for two more TDs. WR Adams has missed two games but has 109 catches for 1.328 yards with 17 TDs plus TE Tonyan's 50 catches and 10 TDs is a big improvement from LY's starter, Jimmy Graham. This balanced offense leads the NFL in scoring 31.6 PPG.
Mitchell Trubisky has played a key role in the late-season turnaround, after he was benched for veteran Nick Foles during a Week 3 game against the Atlanta Falcons. He reclaimed his starting job in Week 12 and has posted a 99.3 passer rating since then with 1,243 passing yards, 10 TDs and four INTs. Montgomery has run for 1,001 yards (4.4 YPC and 7 TDs) plus has 45 catches with another two TDs. WR Robinson has exactly 100 catches for 1,213 yards with six TDs and TE Jimmy Graham (remember that name?), has bounced back with a strong season, catching 48 passes for eight TDs.
Neither defense is anything special, with Green Bay allowing 23.5 PPG and Chicago giving up 22.3. Let me deal with the two teams' streaks. Green Bay is 5-0 SU and 3-2 ATS, although both ATS losses have come in games the Packers won by SEVEN and EIGHT points (would have covered both at this point spread. Much has been made of Trubisky's and Chicago's late run but the team's 3-0 SU & ATS streak has come over the Jags, losers of 14 straight, the Vikings, losers of three straight and SIX straight ATS and the 4-11 Texans, losers of FOUR in a row going 1-3 ATS with the lone ATS win coming by a half-point!
As for recent head-to-head matchups, the Packers routed the Bears 41-25 at Lambeau in Week 12, as Rodgers threw four TDs (Bears led 41-10 entering the fourth quarter. The oldest rivalry in the NFL has been a rather one-sided affair in recent years, with Green Bay winning 18 of 21 against Chicago counting the postseason. As for games in which Rodgers has started, the Packers are 20-5 (again, including the playoffs). It's been rumored that Trubisky's future with the Bears is tied to Chicago beating Green Bay in this one. If that's true, it's time to "Hit the Road, Mitch!"
|01-03-21||Cardinals v. Rams OVER 40.5||Top||7-18||Loss||-121||22 h 59 m||Show|
My 9* Featured Sunday Total is on Arz/LAR Over at 4:25 ET.
The short-handed LA Rams (9-6) are home in Week 17 against NFC West rival Arizona (8-7). While the Rams are one game better than the Cardinals, they need a victory or a Chicago Bears (8-7) loss to the Green Bay Packers to make the playoff field. Meanwhile, the Cards are in a true win-or-go-home scenario. Beat the Rams and they are in the postseason for the first time since 2015. Lose, and the off season begins Sunday night.
The Cardinals were dealt a blow last week when they were completely taken out of their game in a 20-12 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. The defeat came after consecutive victories over the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles. QB Kyler Murray sustained a right leg injury on his final pass attempt Sunday but he WON'T miss here. "Yeah, I'll be playing," Murray said. "There's no holding back. If we lose, I'll be home chillin'. It's my leg. I'm fine. It's an opportunity that only we could ask for. It's an opportunity to play in the playoffs, get in and we're right where we want to be with everything that has happened this year." Murray's had a superb 'sophomore' season, completing 67.1% for 3,884 yards with 26 TDs and 12 INTs. He also has 816 rushing yards (on 6.2 YPC) with 11 TDs. RB Drake has blossomed in 2020 (919 yards and 10 TDs), giving Arizona the third-best running game in the league at 145.9 YPG. The Cardinals' defense has been outstanding at putting pressure on opposing QBs over the past three weeks. The "D" has 17 sacks, 14 tackles for loss, eight forced fumbles and 24 QB hits over that span. However, the defense has struggled overall, since Week 7. The Cards allowed just 18.7 PPG through their first six games but over their last nine, have allowed 28.7 (easy to see that's 10 more PPG!).
The Rams will be without QB Jared Goff, who sustained a thumb injury last Sunday at Seattle and underwent surgery. John Wolford, who has not taken a snap in a regular-season game, is scheduled to start for a team that has lost consecutive games. What's more, WR Cooper Kupp (92 catches / TDs) tested positive for COVID-19 and is out. Those are not the only issues the Rams are dealing with, as RB Darrell Henderson (high ankle sprain) is out while RB Malcolm Brown (shoulder) has been limited at practice. Rookie RB Cam Akers (ankle) will try to get back on the field after not playing against the Seahawks. The LA defense has been terrific all season, allowing 19.3 PGG (3rd) on 286.5 PPG (1st).
The situation looks dire for LA but head coach Sean McVay said, "I believe in this team. I trust in their mental toughness and I think that the overarching message is let's put everything that we have into this. Let's not be afraid to put it all out there one more time. Get back up off the mat and keep swinging and have no regrets no matter how this thing ends up." Recent history is sure on LA's side, as the Rams are on a perfect 7-0 SU & ATS run against the Cardinals (average MOV 21 points!), including a 38-28 victory in the desert (Week 13). We don't see over/under numbers this low very often and I'm expecting an excellent game from Murray and for the make-shift LA offense to score against an Arizona D which has been giving up plenty of points since late-October. Go O-V-E-R!
|01-03-21||Raiders -2.5 v. Broncos||32-31||Loss||-109||12 h 11 m||Show|
My 8* AFC West Showdown is on the LV Raiders at 4:25 ET.
Let me first address "the elephant in the room." The Raiders' once promising season was derailed by FIVE losses in the last six games following a 6-3 start. Their playoff hopes were extinguished by Jon Gruden's dubious decision in the closing minutes last week that resulted in a 26-25 last-second loss to Miami. That leaves the 7-8 Raiders (7-8) outside the playoffs for the 17th time in the past 18 seasons, as they play at Denver in their regular season finale. Here it comes! The Raiders have lost NINE consecutive regular season finales, FOUR in Denver!
However, one could argue that Denver's season was arguably 'over' before it even began. Von Miller suffered a freak season-ending ankle injury six days before the opener, and the cavalcade of injured teammates followed. The injury epidemic and the coronavirus pandemic have been the primary drivers in Denver's FOURTH consecutive losing season and FIFTH straight year without a playoff berth. The Broncos had hoped to see QB Drew Lock make a big leap after he had an impressive ending to 2019 but the second-year QB out of Missouri has struggled. Lock has thrown more interceptions (15) than TD passes (14), while completing only 57.0% (he has at least one turnover in 11 straight games). That gives him a pathetic QB rating of 72.5. The offense averages just 19.5 PPG (29th), while allowing 27.6 PPG (25th). Turnovers, or the lack of forcing them, have contributed greatly to Denver's offensive AND defensive woes. Denver has 32 giveaways and just 12 takeaways, one shy of the franchise low set in 2008. Its turnover differential of minus-20, is double that of the next worst team (the 49ers are at minus-10)!
Back to the Raiders. OK, they have nothing to play for in the standings but I like the fact this team is in that spot (we've seen how the Raiders have folded when games 'meant something'). Individually, TE Darren Waller is putting the finishing touches on one of the most productive seasons in Raiders history. He has 98 catches for 1,079 yards on the season (8 TDs) and needs seven catches to break Hall of Famer Tim Brown's single-season franchise record of 104 set in 1997. Second-year RB Jacobs needs just 24 yards to crack the 1,000-yard mark in his first two seasons plus QB Carr can put the final touch on what's been a career season (67.6% for 3,732 yards with 25 TDs and just seven INTs / QB rating of 102.2).
The Raiders are 5-2 SU on the road this season, including a 40-32 win at KC in Week 5 (Chiefs ONLY loss of the season). The Raiders routed the Broncos 37-12 in Las Vegas (Week 10), while intercepting Lock FOUR times. Remember, this is NOT your father's Broncos, as they've lost FOUR of their last five season finales. 'Second verse, same as the first (Week 10)!"
|01-03-21||Cowboys -1 v. Giants||19-23||Loss||-111||24 h 9 m||Show|
My 8* NFL Las Vegas Insider is on the Dal Cowboys at 1:00 ET.
There are two things we are sure about in the NFC East and that is the division winner will finish with a losing record, making them the FIFTH team since the NFL-AFL merger to enter the playoffs with a losing record, and only the THIRD to do so during a 16-game season. However, we know that the defending champion Eagles are the ONLY team in the division with NOTHING to play for on Sunday! The 6-9 Cowboys and 5-10 Giants meet at MetLife Stadium and the victor will keep its division title hopes alive for at least a few more hours. Both teams need a victory by the Philadelphia Eagles over the visiting Washington Football Team on Sunday night to clinch the crown. As the Cowboys and Giants take the field Sunday afternoon, it's two teams headed in the opposite direction The Giants won FOUR in a row from Week 9-13, including that HUGE 17-12 upset at Seattle. However, the Giants are 0-3 SU and ATS since that win, as the offense has scored a total of just 26 points! Meanwhile, 'left for dead' at 3-9, the Cowboys enter with THREE straight wins (3-0 ATS).
It's been a "Year of Redemption" for veteran QB Andy Dalton, who has the Cowboys averaging 36.0 PPG in their winning streak, while completing 66.3% for an average of 257.0 YPG through the air with seven TDs and just one INT. Elliott missed a game for the first time in career in Week 15 but ran for 105 yards (just his second 100-yard game in 2020) last week. Dalton's has a terrific WR trio in Cooper (86 catches), Lamb (69) and Gallup (55), with all three having five TD grabs. TE Schultz has 56 catches and four TDs.
I'm not sure how the Giants' sad-sack offense can keep up with the Cowboys in this one and while Daniel Jones was a full participant in practice during the week, the second-year QB had just nine TD passes in 423 attempts this season. The Giants do not have a RB in the class of "Zeke" and their receiving corps has nowhere near the talent of Dallas' group.
The Cowboys’ 37-34 home victory over the Giants back in Week 5 was their SEVENTH consecutive win in the series, going 6-1 ATS with an average margin of victory of 12 points. What changes here? I say NOTHING. The Cowboys win and then get to root for the Eagles to beat Washington on SNF.
|01-02-21||Oregon v. Iowa State -3.5||Top||17-34||Win||100||73 h 17 m||Show|
My CFB 10* Game of the Year is on Iowa St at 4:00 ET.
When the pandemic-delayed Pac-12 season started, Oregon (AP preseason No. 9) was a co-favorite with USC to reach the title game. Both schools were only able to play five games but while USC went 5-0 (with THREE "close calls''), Oregon finished 3-2, second in the Pac-12's North Division behind Washington (3-1). The Ducks were scheduled to play Washington at home on Dec 12 but a COVID-19 spike in the Huskies' program caused Washington to cancel that game. That left Oregon 'out in the cold,' with the Huskies set to play the Trojans. However, the COVID situation in Seattle did NOT improve, so lo and behold, the Ducks replaced the Huskies in the championship game. In less than a week, Oregon went from understudy to center stage. Oregon made the most of the opportunity by defeating host USC 31-24 for the championship. The victory gave Oregon (25th in both the AP and CFP) the Pac-12's automatic berth to a New Year's Six game.
Waiting for them will be 8-3 Iowa State (No. 10 CFP / No. 12 AP) in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan 2 in Glendale, Ariz. The Cyclones lost their season opener at home to ULL but then won SEVEN of their next eight games, including a 37-30 home win over then-No. 18 Oklahoma and a 23-20 road win at then-No. 17 Texas (it was Iowa St's first win in Austin since 2010). The Cyclones have never won a championship in the Big 12 or their previous league, the Big Eight. Iowa State's last conference title came back in 1912 (MVC). Iowa State made its first-ever appearance in the Big 12 championship game on Dec 19 but couldn't beat Oklahoma second time, falling 27-21.
This is Mario Cristobal's third season at Oregon, having led the Ducks to back-to-back bowls while going 9-4 and 12-2. Despite losing QB Herbert to the NFL, the Ducks' current QB Tyler Shough has been a solid replacement, passing for 1,480 yards with 13 TDs and five INTs plus running for 263 yards on 4.2 YPC and two TDs. RB Dye has a team-high 391 yards on 7.0 YPC plus his eight receptions have averaged 27.6 YPC with four TDs. Fellow RB Verdell was coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons but has just 285 yards on 4.4 YPC with three TDs. A trio of WRs have combined for 50 catches and just five TDs. Oregon is averaging 33.7 PPG (30th) but allowing 27.3 PPG (55th) on 409.5 YPG (67th).
Iowa St QB Purdy entered 2020 off a 2019 season in which he accounted for 35 TDs (27 passing / 8 rushing) and has completed 66.4% for 2,594 yards with 18 TDs and nine INTs (added four rushing TDs). Speaking of running the football, Breece Hall leads the nation with 1,436 rushing yards (5.9 YPC) and with 19 rushing TDs. WR Hutchinson leads with 60 catches (4 TDs) and TE Kolar has 39 catches with a team-high six TD receptions. Iowa St averaged 32.8 PPG (36th) on 449.1 YPG (26th), which works just fine with a defense allowing 21.8 PPG on 344.3 YPG (ranks 29th in both categories. Defensively, the Ducks are allowing 28.0 PPG.
Iowa St's early upset by ULL was fueled by a 95 KO return TD and a 78-yard TD pass. The Iowa St defense held ULL to just 277 yards for the game, 78 of which came on that TD pass. The Cyclones' other two losses were 24-21 at then-No. 6 Oklahoma St and then 27-21 vs Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game, when Purdy threw THREE interceptions!
I'm not sure a top Pac 12 team is anywhere near in the class of a top Big 12 team and believe Iowa St will demonstrate just that in this contest. Head coach Matt Campbell was 34-15 at Toledo with four bowl appearances and after a 3-9 first season (2016) in Ames, has now led the Cyclones to a FOURTH straight bowl. The Cyclones were not able to win that elusive conference championship but how about capping off the season with a win in the school's first-ever appearance in a New Year's Six Bowl! That's my bet. You in? I guess if you're reading this, you are!
|01-02-21||Kentucky v. NC State +3||Top||23-21||Win||100||9 h 41 m||Show|
My 9* Oddsmaker's Error is on NC State at 12:00 ET.
Both teams in Saturday's Gator bowl won their final games of the 2020 regular season on Dec 5, as Kentucky won 41-18 at home over a 2-8 South Carolina team, while NC State beat Ga Tech in Raleigh 23-13. However, that's where all similarity to their respective 2020 seasons ends. Mark Stoops got the head job at Kentucky back in 2013 but went just 12-25 in his first three seasons. However, Kentucky entered this season off FOUR straight bowl seasons. Yes, Stoops and the Wildcats are in a FIFTH straight bowl this season but don't forget, Kentucky is just 4-6. Dave Doeren is in his 8th season at NC State and after a 3-9 'rookie' year,' led the Wolfpack to FIVE straight winning seasons and bowl berths (3-2), before the Wolfpack slipped to 4-8 in 2019. NC St was picked to finish 11th in the ACC's preseason poll but enter this game 8-3
Kentucky opened 2-2, beating Miss St 24-2 and winning at Tennessee but its only two wins in its last six games came against 0-9 Vandy and 2-8 South Carolina, which played without its head coach and several key starters. QB Trey Wilson threw for just 1,095 yards in 10 games, as Kentucky ranks 121st with 124.1 YPG passing. WR Ali has 49 catches but averages a puny 9.4 YPC with just one TD. No other player has caught more than 14 passes. RBs Rodriguez (701 yards on 6.9 YPC and 9 TDs) and Rose (518 yards on 5.5 YPC and 2 TDs) join QB Wilson (410 yards and five TDs) to give the Wildcats a good ground game (almost 180 YPG). However, Kentucky is averaging just 21.7 PPG (107th).
In comparison, the NC State offense is averaging 31.1 PPG (45th), just shy of 10 PPG more than Kentucky. Last year's starting QB Leary began the season with some COVID issues and when he got back on the field, suffered a broken leg in mid-October. Bailey Hockman has taken over and has accounted for 14 touchdowns and thrown just five interceptions in seven games since replacing Leary against Duke. After a 44-41 home OT loss to Miami, NC St finished 4-0 with Hockman throwing seven TDs and three INTs. He has two good RBs to provide balance in Knight (736 yards on 5.6 YPC with nine TDs) and Person (635 yards on 4.5 YPC with four TDs). WRs Emezie, Thomas and Carter have a combined 102 catches with 13 TDs plus TE Angeline has 27 catches and six TDs.
I guess the fact that Kentucky plays in the SEC and NC State in the ACC is the reason the Wildcats are favored but I "just don't get it!" The Wildcats have the second-worst offense in the Power Five, lost to SEC finalists Alabama and Florida by a combined score of 97-13 and have two wins in the past 11 weeks against teams that went a combined 2-17). North Carolina' strong finish moved them into the top-25 at No. 23 in the CFP rankings and No. 24 in the AP. Back to Kentucky, it's 0-3 vs ranked teams this season (Ala, Fla & Ga), scoring a total of just 16 points. Now I'm NOT putting NC St in a class with those SEC powerhouses but just how do the Wolfpack rate as an underdog to this Kentucky team. The Wolfpack's four consecutive victories is the team's best such stretch to end a regular season since 2008. How about FIVE in a row? I think so!
|01-01-21||Ohio State +7.5 v. Clemson||Top||49-28||Win||100||16 h 1 m||Show|
My 10* Sugar Bowl play (The Rematch) is on Ohio St at 8:00 ET.
Ohio St led 16-0 through the first 25 minutes of last season's semi final against Clemson, but Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence and RB Travis Etienne led a comeback that put the Tigers up 29-23. The Buckeyes drove to the Tigers' 23 with a chance to potentially win the game but Justin Fields was intercepted in the end zone with 37 seconds left in the game. Lawrence had 259 passing yards and a touchdown plus 107 yards and a rushing TD, while Etienne had 134 all-purpose yards and three TDs.
According to Ohio St head coach Ryan Day, that loss has reverberated for nearly a year among the Buckeyes. "Fresh off of that game, it was right on our minds, and something that when we got back to work and winter workouts, January, February, it was right there for us," Day said Sunday. "Coming off that game, we just didn't get over it in one day. It took time. "There was even a sign with the score posted in the Buckeyes' weight room , an honor usually reserved for rival Michigan.
The Big Ten decided to postpone its season on August 11, while the ACC said 'full steam ahead.' The Big Ten eventually reversed course and returned in late October but was left with a 'short' season and no margin for error. The Buckeyes were unable to play the six games they needed to be eligible but NATURALLY, the Big Ten changed that rule and Ohio St won a unimpressive 22-10 victory over Northwestern in the Big Ten title game. However, if you had paid attention to the CFP committee throughout the weekly ranking process, there was NO way the Buckeyes were NOT making the 'Final 4.'
Leave it to Dabo to defend the 'honor' of the ACC and SEC. Swinney said he felt the six-game resume of Ohio State put the Buckeyes on a different playing field than many of the other contenders. Swinney backed up his feelings by ranking the Buckeyes No. 11 in the final coaches' poll of the season. In his own words. "I think any time you step in between the lines, the game of football, there's a lot that can happen. A lot," Swinney said. "I mean, heck, in 2017, we lost to a three-win or four-win Syracuse team and still went to the playoffs. So anything can happen. Guys can get hurt. There's a lot. So I think the fact that we're going to have 11 games as well as the SEC teams -- I mean, you look at Florida and Texas A&M and Alabama. I mean, these teams are going to have 11 games this year. It's incredible and I think the Big Ten had the same opportunity and they chose not to play, and I think the only reason they ended up playing is because of the leadership of the SEC and the ACC and the Big 12, and have demonstrated that we can do it and do it in a safe way. So it's been an unbelievably challenging season, that's for sure. Enough said.
ALL of what Swinney said is true but I can't see how ranking Ohio St No. 11 helps his team. Lawrence's record speaks for itself (34-1 as a starter) but after throwing 66 TDs and just 16 INTs in his first two seasons, his ratio was 22-7 in 2020 (missed two games). Also, what's up with Etienne? He ran for more than 1,600 yards in each of the previous two seasons but had just 882 yards in 2020. Ohio State's Justin Fields has completed 72.6% for 1,521 with 15 TDs and five INTs in six games plus RBs Sermon (675 yards on 8.0 YPC) and Teague (449 yards on 5.0 YPC) give Ohio St plenty of offensive balance.
Looking strictly at the numbers, Ohio St and Clemson are clones. Ohio St averages 44.9 PPG (Clemson 42.5) and allows 17.5 PPG (Clemson 21.0). That said, Clemson has played the tougher AND more challenging schedule (11 games to six) and one HAS to admit that Fields' worst two games came against Ohio St's toughest opponents, Indiana and Northwestern. I've never been one to pay too much attention to "bulletin board" motivation like Dabo ranking Ohio St 11th but Ohio St has waited an entire year for a rematch with Clemson and couldn't possibly have more to prove in this game. I will GLADLY take the points!
|01-01-21||Cincinnati v. Georgia -6.5||Top||21-24||Loss||-112||24 h 7 m||Show|
My 10* Eye Opener is on Georgia at 12:00 ET.
Cincinnati won the American Athletic Conference championship game in a squeaker (27-24 over Tulsa), to finish the regular season 9-0. After Notre Dame was soundly defeated by Clemson in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game, there was talk that maybe the Bearcats were deserving of finishing among the top -our teams in the CFP. The 9-0 Bearcats finished No. 8. 10-1 Notre Dame (No. 4) and 8-1 Texas A&M (No. 5) finishing ahead of Cincy was not really a surprise but when the Bearcats also fell behind 8-2 Oklahoma (No. 6) and 8-3 Florida (No. 7) it became clear that the committee NEVER considered them a 'Final 4' option.
As the top-ranked Group of 5 school, Cincy got a New Year's Six Bowl bid to the Peach Bowl, where it will meet a 7-2 Georgia team that finished No. 9 in the final rankings. Georgia was the AP's preseason No. 4 team but the Bulldogs lost BADLY in both of their "biggest" tests in 2020, losing 41-24 at Alabama and 44-28 in Jacksonville to Florida. Yes, the Bearcats enter the game with a 'chip on their shoulders,' but DON'T make the mistake of thinking Georgia DOESN'T have anything to play for (prove) in this game.
The Bearcats are led by QB Desmond Ridder, the AAC offensive player of the year. He's completing 66.4% for 2,090 passing yards, with 17 TDs and six INTs. He has also rushed for 609 yards (7.2 YPC) and a team-high 12 scores. Gerrid Doaks has rushed for a team-high 673 yards (4.7 YPC / 7 TDs), as the Bearcats rank 14th with 225.0 YPG on the ground. The offense has averaged 39.3 PPG (15th) but it's Cincy's defense which is the standout unit. The Bearcats allow 16.0 PPG (8th) on 314.4 YPG (13th).
Speaking of defense, most pundits claimed Georgia owned the nation's finest defense as the 2020 season got underway. However, as noted above, that defense was NOT able to contain either Alabama (41 points) or Florida (44 points) but this just in, those are two SPECTACULAR offensive teams. Including those two poor efforts, Georgia finished the regular season allowing 19.9 PPG (21st) on 322.8 YPFG (15th). Georgia expected Wake Forest transfer Jamie Newman would lead the offense in 2020 but he opted out prior to the start of the year. JT Daniels (a USC transfer) was coming off an injury and his rehab plus COVID issues kept him on the sidelines until late in the season. However, he's led Georgia to THREE straight wins, throwing for 839 yards with nine TDs and just one INT (Bulldogs averaged 41.6 PPG in that span).
I'm a big fan of Cincy head coach Luke Fickell who said this about playing in a New Year's six Bowl game, "It's huge for our program. If you want to claim you deserve an opportunity or a shot, this is an opportunity, this is a shot." However, this is the FIFTH consecutive year under head coach Kirby Smart that the Bulldogs will play in a New Year's Six Bowl or the CFP. "I'll be honest, when your intention is to win the game, that's not going to change between his guys and your guys," Smart said. "Every coach is going to try to find an angle that gives their guys an edge or competitive advantage, whether that's them being ranked ahead of us or whatever. I don't know Group of Five, Power 5, all those languages, that's for (media). My language is football, and they've got a good team. They haven't been beaten."
Here's the bottom line. I don't believe Cincy is a top-10 team. One can say the Bearcats beat three ranked teams this season but that trio is comprised of Army, SMU and Tulsa. That's not exactly a 'Murderer's Row" of football powers. Getting back to the Georgia defense, taking away the Alabama and Florida games, it allowed 13 PPG on 253 YPG. Including all foes, Georgia led the nation in allowing just 69.3 YPPG on 2.3 YPC. If Ridder and the Cincy offense can't establish the run, the Bearcats will be in for L-O-N-G day. That's my bet. Lay it.
|12-29-20||Oklahoma State v. Miami-FL +2.5||Top||37-34||Loss||-105||47 h 9 m||Show|
My 10* "signature" 37-Club Play is on Miami-Fl at 5:30 ET.
The 7-3 Oklahoma State Cowboys take on the 8-2 Miami Hurricanes in the Cheez-It Bowl on Dec 29 in Orlando, Fl. OSU is ranked 21st in the CFP rankings but is unranked in the AP, after opening the season 15th in the preseason poll. Miami was NOT ranked in the AP's preseason poll (coming off a 6-7 season, including an 'ugly' 14-0 bowl loss to La Tech) but enters the game ranked 18th in both the AP and CFP.
I've believed all season that Oklahoma St has been overrated. Mike Gundy always gets the Cowboys into a bowl game (this marks the 15th straight bowl appearance for OSU under Gundy) but there's been a slippage in his offense the last two seasons. OSU averaged 39.5 PPG in 2015, 38.6 PPG in 2016, 45.0 PPG in 2017 and 38.4 PPG in 2018. The 2019 season saw OSU average 32.5 PPG, despite RB Chuba Hubbard rushing for 2,094 yards (6.4 YPC) and 21 TDs. He was a unanimous All-America selection last season but he's looked disinterested all season (just 625 yards on 4.7 PPC with 5 TDs!) and decided to opt out earlier this month to prepare for the NFL draft (which 'lucky' team will land this gem?). OSU's offense fell under 30 PPG in 2020 (29.5), led by the overrated Spencer Sanders. He's thrown for a modest 1,702 yards with a TD/INT ratio of just 10-8. He's rushed for 244 yards with only two TDs. He's a two-year starter who has 19 INTs in 19 games! Just what am I missing?
Lining up opposite Sanders is a true dual-threat QB in Miami's D'Eriq King, who has passed for 2,573 yards with 22 TDs and just five interceptions, while rushing for 520 yards (4.3 YPC) and four TDs. Miami recently received some great news in that King announced that he will return for his 6th season of college football with the 'Canes. WR Mike Harley (49 catches / 14.9 YPC / 6 TDs) is King's biggest playmaker plus TEs Brevin Jordan and Will Mallory (both considered NFL prospects) have combined for 48 catches and nine TDs.
Oklahoma State's defense is allowing 22.4 PPG (32nd) but in its three losses, gave up 41 points to both Texas and Oklahoma and 29 points to TCU and in a win over Texas Tech (a 4-6 team), allowed 44 points. Miami got some bad news when both star DEs, Jaelan Phillips and Quincy Roche, said they were skipping the bowl game to prepare for the draft.
Miami gave up 104 points in its losses to Clemson and North Carolina, two of the nation's most prolific offenses. However, in Miami's eight wins, the 'Canes allowed just 19.5 PPG.
I'm pretty confident that Sanders has NOTHING in common with Clemson's Lawrence (22-4 ratio and 7 rush TDs) or North Carolina's Howell (27-6 ratio and 5 TDs). In last season's Independence Bowl, Miami lost 14-0 to La Tech, becoming the first Power 5 school to be shut out by a Group of 5 school in a bowl game since the BCS/CFP era began in 1998. If Miami needs more motivation, how about bouncing back from its season-ending 66-26 loss to North Carolina (at home, no less). UNC gained 778 yards of total offense, the most yards Miami has ever allowed. RBs Michael Carter and Javonte Williams combined for 544 rushing yards, the most combined rushing yards by two teammates in FBS history, and five TDs. Miami wins this HANDILY!
|12-27-20||Titans v. Packers -2.5||Top||14-40||Win||100||31 h 9 m||Show|
My 9* SNF Magic play is on the GB Packers at 8:20 ET.
The 10-4 Tennessee Titans visit the 11-3 Green Bay Packers for a SNF matchup of first-place teams that pit the NFL's first- and third-ranked scoring offenses. Tennessee leads the league at 31.1 PPG and Green Bay is 'FAR' behind at 31.0. The Titans are tied with Indianapolis atop the AFC South (but hold the tiebreaker) plus will know well before they take the field if the Colts won or lost at Pittsburgh. As for the Packers, they already know the Saints moved to 11-4 with their rout of the Vikings on Christmas (Packers hold the head-to-head tiebreaker with New Orleans) plus will also know just before kickoff the result of the Rams/Seahawks contest. If the Rams win, Green Bay will clinch the NFC's No. 1 seed by beating the Titans.
The Titans made a run to the AFC championship game last season on the 'legs' of Derrick Henry and the "game management" skills of QB Ryan Tannehill. Henry's 'legs' remain as good as ever, as he leads the NFL with 1,679 rushing yards on 5.2 YPC with 15 TDs. What's been different on offense for Tennessee in 2020 has been the play of Tannehill. He's having a "career season," completing 66.5% for 3,482 yards with 31 TDs and just five INTs (QB rating is 110.4). The team's improved offense has made up for the Tennessee D allowing 25.8 PPG (up from 20.7 and 18.9 the previous two seasons) on 390.5 YPPG, which ranks 26th (about 45 YPG more than in 2019),
Green Bay's defense is allowing 24.2 PPG (14th) but just 337.7 YPG (8th). However, the Packers are counting on Aaron Rodgers and the offense to 'win the day!' Rodgers has completed 69.6% for 3,828 yards with 40 TDs and just four INTs, giving him an NFL-best QB rating of 118.0. It's just another 'ho-hum' season for the future Hall of Famer. WR Adams believes he ranks with the best in the business and may be right, with 98 catches for 15 TDs despite missing two games. TE Tonyan has 49 catches and 10 TDs. Aaron Jones is one of the league's better all-purpose backs, rushing for 968 yards on 5.4 YPC with 8 TDs plus catching 41 passes for another four TDs.
Since losing 34-17 at home to the Colts in Week 10, the Titans have won FOUR of five, averaging 37.4 PPG. The Titans and Packers have each committed a league-low NINE turnovers but the Packers haven't committed a turnover in their last FOUR games (Green Bay is 10-0 when it doesn't have a turnover!). The Packers are 13-2 SU at Lambeau field since the start of the 2019 season (7-1 LY / 6-1 TY) and REALLY want that No. 1 seed. "The Pack" can't control what Seattle does vs the Rams but they can "take care of business" here, in their final regular season game of 2020. That's the bet!
|12-27-20||Rams v. Seahawks||Top||9-20||Win||100||23 h 31 m||Show|
My 9* Oddsmaker's Error Game of the Month is on the Sea Seahawks at 4:25 ET.
How does one explain the Rams losing 23-20 at home last Sunday to the 0-13 NY Jets (as a 17 1/2-point favorite) when they had a chance to clinch a playoff berth with a win??? Were the Rams "looking ahead" to this game in Seattle with the Seahawks? "The only thing that makes you feel better is when you say, ‘All right, let's learn from it, let's own it, and let's move forward accordingly,'" Rams head coach Sean McVay said. "Because dwelling on it or getting still (ticked) off about it really doesn't do you any good for how you move forward." Here's the bottom line. The Rams won the first meeting against Seattle 23-16 back on Nov 15 in LA, as Jared Goff threw for 302 yards and Malcolm Brown rushed for a pair of TDs. That means the Rams would own the first tiebreaker against the Seahawks should they win Sunday to sweep the season series and go into the final week with matching 10-5 records. Speaking of clinching a playoff spot, the Seahawks did just that, holding on for a 20-15 win at Washington, in a game that was NOT as close as the final. Seattle has now clinched its NINTH playoff berth in head coach Pete Carroll's 11 seasons. "(That) was a really big weekend for us," Carroll said. "Real happy with the game that we put together, the way that the whole approach of it worked out well. We got the win that we were looking for and we got a little bit of help too, the Jets, getting their game. All of that adds together and sets up a really big opportunity this weekend coming up."
Jared Goff has had a solid if unspectacular season, completing 68.0% for 3,718 yards with 20 TDs and 12 INTs. He has an excellent WR duo in Kupp (84 catches) and Woods (82) plus TEs Higbee and Everett have a combined 75 receptions (Higbee has 5 TD catches). The running game has NOT missed Gurley but the Rams will be without leading rusher Cam Akers (591 yards on 4.8 YPC), who suffered a high ankle sprain in the loss to New York. LA's in playoff position and has a chance to capture the NFC West because of its defense. The Rams allow just 19.2 PPG (3rd) on 286.1 YPG (1st). LA ranks first in allowing 192.0 YPG through the air and 2nd in allowing just 94.1 YPG on the ground. To win in Seattle, LA will need a great game from its defense.
Seattle jumped out to the best record in the NFC early on, then had a midseason swoon but back-to-back wnsn have them back on the cusp of winning the NFC West. QB Russell was near-perfect early on but then 'cooled off' but what is one's definition of cooling off? With two weeks to go, he's completed 70.2% for 3,806 yards with 37 TDs and 13 TDs plus has run for 475 yards on 6.3 YPC. He's got a terrific trio of WRs in Lockett (85 catches with 8 TDs), Metcalf (74 catches and 10 TDs) and Moore (33 catches / 6 TDs). As Carson (568 yards on 5.0 YCPC with 5 TDs / 32 catches with 5 TDs) has regained his health, the Seattle running game is again very good. Speaking of defense, Seattle allowed 30.4 PPG through its first eight games but has allowed just 16.0 PPG (that two TDs less per game!) over its last six.
CenturyLink Field has been easily one of the toughest home venues in the NFL and even with COVID restrictions taking away Seattle's "12th man" in 2020, the Seahawks are 6-1 SU at home this season. This contest is their final home game of the regular season and the Seahawks aren't just satisfied with a playoff berth (which they clinched last Sunday), as they haven't won an NFC West title since 2016 and haven't hosted a playoff game since January 2017. A win here (no pointspread to worry about) will give them the NFC West title and at least ONE home game in the postseason! "The Price is Sure Right" on the Seahawks.
|12-27-20||Eagles v. Cowboys +3||17-37||Win||100||11 h 6 m||Show|
My 8* is on the Dal Cowboys at 4:25 ET.
The Philadelphia Eagles won the NFC East at 9-7 in 2019, while the HUGELY disappointing Dallas Cowboys finished 8-8. When the season opened, the Eagles and Cowboys (with new head coach Mike McCarthy) were expected to battle for the East title. However, both teams have struggled all season with Philly at 4-9-1 and Dallas at 5-9 but ironically, BOTH remain in the hunt for the NFC East title, as 6-8 Washington is the division-leader (the Giants, like the Cowboys, are 5-9). These teams met back in Week 8 at Philly, when the starting QBs for the game were rookie Ben DiNucci for the Cowboys and veteran Carson Wentz for the Eagles. That situation has been reversed here, as 33-year-old veteran Andy Dalton is under center for Dallas, while 22-year-old rookie Jalen Hurts makes his THIRD straight start for Philly.
Hurts is 1-1 as the starter since replacing Wentz. The Eagles pulled an upset of New Orleans in his first start (167 yards passing one TD / 106 rushing yards) but then lost in Arizona (338 passing yards and three TDs / 63 yards rushing and one TD). RB Miles Sanders has missed some time but it's been a good sophomore season for the RB with 810 yards on 5.4 YPC with five TDs. TE Ertz has been hurt and while he's returned the last three games, he's had just two catches in each one (he caught 88 and 116 passes the L2 years with 14 TDs!). Goedert (43 catches / 3 TDs) has filled in well but Philly's WR corps has seen Jackson miss almost all season (he may play here) with Ward leading with 50 catches (6 TDs) and Fulgham catching 45 with 4 TDs. The Eagles are averaging 21.6 PPG (25th) and allowing 25.8 PPG (22nd).
Dak Prescott was again putting up big numbers before his injury but Dallas wasn't winning. Little changed after he went down but all of a sudden, the Cowboys won 30-7 at Cincy and 41-33 at home to the 49ers. Veteran Andy Dalton has been efficient in the wins, completing 62.5% with four TDs and zero INTs (has averaged a modest 197.0 YPG through the air). He has a VERY talented trio of WRs in Cooper (82 catches / 5 TDs), rookie Lamb (66 / 4 TDs) and Gallup (49 / 3 TDs) plus TE Schultz (53 / 4 TDs) is solid. RB Elliott has underachieved (832 yards on just 3.9 YPC with 5 TDs). He missed his first-ever regular season game due to a calf injury last week but did resistance training at practice Wednesday and could be back in the lineup Sunday. Tony Pollard scored twice and gained 132 yards from scrimmage (69 yards on 5.8 YPC with two TDs), against the Niners in Elliott's absence. The Dallas defense has been a MAJOR issue all season, allowing 30.9 PPG.
The winner here could have a chance to win the division title if Washington loses at home to the Panthers today. Philadelphia won the first meeting 23-9 and supporters will point to this stat. Since 2017 when they won the Super Bowl, the Eagles are 11-2 in games they must win or they'd be eliminated from the playoffs or mathematically knocked out of contention. However, the Eagles enter this contest having lost FIVE in a row on the road, going 0-5 ATS while allowing 30.0 PPG. Dalton has been very solid in the Cowboys' back-to-back wins (see above) plus he's led the Cowboys to wins in three of their last five, completing 66.1 percent of his passes for 1,097 yards with 10 TDs and three INTs during that five-game stretch. He has not been intercepted since Dec 8. Dallas is also plus-seven in turnover margin the last two games, after being among the NFL's worst at minus-13 through the first 12 games. Those seven takeaways in two games came after Dallas forced just 11 in the first 12 games. Again, neither team can control the Carolina/Washington outcome but the winner just could be playing a meaningful game in Week 17, IF Washington loses. My pick says Dallas wins.
|12-27-20||Panthers v. Washington Football Team||20-13||Loss||-116||11 h 45 m||Show|
My 8* play is on the Was FB team at 4:05 ET.
NFL 2020 has been a trying season for all the with the raging pandemic and Washington head coach Ron Rivera has had the added issue of his skin cancer diagnosis and treatment. Rivera coached the Carolina Panthers the previous NINE seasons and led them to a Super Bowl appearance after the 2015 season. When Carolina and Washington last met (Week 17 of 2019), Washington beat Carolina and Rivera was fired two days later. Now, more than a year after being fired from his first head NFL coaching job, he can clinch the NFC East title by beating the team that fired him. Yes, the 6-8 Washington FB Team can become division champs with a win!
The Panthers "got rid of Rivera," but it's clear Carolina's woes run 'deep.' It sure didn't help that superstar RB McCaffrey has played just THREE games. QB Teddy Bridgewater's numbers are not awful (69.8% for 3,360 yards with 14 TDs and eight INTs) but Carolina 'limps in' with SEVEN losses in its last eight games (Panthers are 4-10 on the season). The Carolina offense averages 23.1 PPG (22nd) and its defense allows 25.4 PPG (20th). Most troubling is the fact that the Panthers haven't been able to 'close out' games. The Panthers have lost EIGHT games in which Bridgewater had the ball in his hands on a late fourth-quarter drive with a chance to take the lead or tie. "When you have the opportunity to have that last shot, you want to be able to deliver," Bridgewater said. "And we haven't been able to deliver. We want to get over that hump." Bridgewater is 3-10 as the team's starting QB this season and owner David Tepper seemed to put him on notice with his comments this week. Bridgewater still has two years left on his contract, but the Panthers could have a top-five pick in next year's draft. Blame Bridgewater if you like but about maybe the idea that head coach Matt Rhule would be a difference-maker was 'a bridge too far!' Check his resume. Why give him that 'monster' contract?
Washington opened 2-7 but then won FOUR straight (4-0 ATS), before losing 20-15 at home to Seattle last Sunday (a FIFTH straight ATS win for Washington!). The QB situation has been a revolving door and rookie RB Gibson (659 yards on 4.7 YPC and 11 TDs) plus WR McLaurin (80 catches) BOTH missed the Seattle game. McLaurin is out here but Gibson may play. It seems like Alex Smith will be back starting at QB and his recovery from that brutal leg injury has been one of the season's "feel-good" storylines. Smith is 4-1 as the starter two years removed from breaking his right leg in gruesome fashion. If Smith makes enough progress that his strained right calf feels good enough to play, he will start. If not, it'll be 2019 first-round pick-turned third-stringer-turned starter again Dwayne Haskins, despite being disciplined for breaking COVID-19 protocol by partying without a mask last weekend.
That said, the key to a Washington win is a defense that has allowed just 14.4 PPG over its last five, against a Carolina offense that has 'failed to finish, as noted above. How 'sweet would it be' for Rivera to clinch a division title against the team that fired him last season to bring in the 'legendary' Matt Rhule, The team "without a nickname" clinches a division title today. How fitting for Daniel Snyder, an owner without a 'FB brain!'
|12-27-20||Colts v. Steelers +2||Top||24-28||Win||100||80 h 59 m||Show|
My NFL 10* Game of the Year is on the Pit Steelers at 1:00 ET.
"Once upon a time" Pittsburgh was 11-0 and had some wondering that just maybe, the Steelers had a chance at a 16-0 regular season. However, the 'dream' ended in "unlucky" Week 13 at home vs Washington, 23-17. Now, after back-to-back losses at Buffalo and Cincinnati, Pittsburgh's 'dream season' is on the verge of turning into a 'nightmare!' The Steelers have fallen two games back of the Chiefs for the AFC's No. 1 and currently loses a tiebreaker with the 11-3 Bills for the No. 2 seed. A loss here to the Colts and Pittsburgh could wind up with the No. 4 seed. The Colts are tied with the Tennessee Titans at 10-4 but Tennessee holds the tiebreaker, meaning the Colts have slipped to the No. 6 seed, as they also lose a tiebreaker to the 10-4 Browns. Indy can't afford a slip up either, as both the Dolphins (current No. 7 seed) and Ravens are both 9-5. Yes, there is plenty on the line in this game.
While the Steelers have clinched a spot in the playoffs despite three straight losses, the Colts are surging, having won three in a row, as well as FIVE of six. Philip Rivers has delivered for Indy, as the team's major offseason FA signee has thrown for 3,753 (he'll top 4,000 yards for the EIGHTH straight season and 12th in his last 13) with 22 TDs and nine INTs. Rookie RB Taylor looked like a bust with just 428 rushing yards through his first nine games but he's averaged 103.5 YPG on 5.8 YPC over his last four (team is 4-0). Indy's defense checks in allowing 22.9 PPG (11th) on 334.1 YPG (7th) but I'll look a little closer into those numbers in my 'close!'
The 'wolves' are out after "Big Ben," as he's taken most of the blame for Pittsburgh's slump. It's fair to say he cannot throw the deep ball anymore but he does enter this game with 3,462 passing yards with 30 TDs and 10 INTs on the season. He's got excellent depth in his WR corps, with Smith-Schuster catching 82 balls with 7 TDs, Johnson catching 77 with 6 TDs, rookie Claypool catching 53 with 8 TDs and Washington catching 28 with 5 TDs. TE Ebron has 51 catches but did miss practice (back) mid-week. However, RB Connor (663 yards on 4.3 YPC) did practice and should play. Snell (384 yards) filled in last week and had 84 yards, so while Connor's return would be nice, it's NOT a game-changer.
I believe the key is Pittsburgh defense. First let me go back for a 'peek inside' Indy's numbers. The Colts allowed just 14.0 PPG through their first four but their defense has been VERY mediocre since, allowing 26.4 PPG over its last 10 games. Pittsburgh's offensive woes are real, as the Steelers have averaged just 16.3 PPG in their three-game slide (also scored just 19 points vs a COVID-ravaged Baltimore team the week before the slide began) and "Big Ben" has averaged 178.5 YPG passing the last two games with three TDs and three TDs. However, the Pittsburgh defense has been at the top or right near it week after week. Pittsburgh currently ranks second in points allowed (18.9 per) and second in total D (297.9 YPG), while Its pass D also ranks second (193.3 YPG) and its rush D ranks 8th (104.6 YPG)
The game may be played without snow but it's going be VERY cold in Pittsburgh Friday and Saturday and Sunday's forecast doesn't expect temps to be much above freezing (good old-fashioned Steeler weather). Does it mean "all that much" that Pittsburgh has won SIX straight over Indy (5-1 ATS with a MOV of 14 points)? Maybe not, but it sure doesn't 'scare me away' from my Pittsburgh play!
|12-26-20||Liberty +7 v. Coastal Carolina||Top||37-34||Win||100||24 h 9 m||Show|
My 10* Bowl Rivalry Game of the Year is on Liberty at 7:30 ET.
The Liberty Flames have posted their best regular season in school history (9-1) and look to finish with a second consecutive bowl win against Coastal Carolina. The Chanticleers have made history this year as well, completing the first unbeaten regular season in school and SBC history (8-0). These two both played in the Big South Conference (FCS) and have split their 14 meetings. The teams were scheduled to play on Dec 5 but the game was canceled due to COVID-19 protocols and precautions in the Flames' program. The Flames beat Georgia Southern in last year's Cure Bowl and were the third FBS team to win a bowl in their first season at the top level. As for Coastal Carolina, the Chanticleers will make their first bowl appearance in school history.
Hugh Freeze's Flames are led by QB Malik Willis, who has thrown for 2,040 yards with 20 TDs and just four INTs. He has added 807 yards rushing (tops on the team), averaging 6.7 YPC with 10 more TDs. A trio of RBs have combined for 1,628 rushing yards and 13 TDs, as the team ranks 8th with 252.2 YPG on the ground (5.7 YPC). A trio of WRs have caught 82 passes, averaged 14.4 YPC and have 10 TD receptions. The offense is averaging 38.3 PG (17th) and the defense allows 19.2 PPG (17th) on 301.2 YPG (7th).
What a job Jamey Chadwell has done in just his third season (Chanticleers were 3-9 and 5-7 in his first two). Coastal has dual-threat QB as well in redshirt freshman Grayson McCall, who ranks 36th nationally in total offense with 2,643 yards. He's thrown for 2,170 yards (23 TDs / 2 INTs) and run for 473 yards (4.9 YPC / 6 TDs). RB Marable hasn't quite matched last season's numbers but has run for 84 yards on 5.2 YPC with 12 TDs (has 30 catches from another 7 TDs). Coastal runs for 22.32 YPG (15th). WR Heilegh (52 catches / 15.8 YPC 10 TDs) and TE Likely (25 catches / 20.7 YPC / 4 TDs) are McCall's main guys. The offense averages 37.5 PPG (18th) and the defense gives up 18.7 PPG (15th) on 340.7 YPG (26th).
Go back and check at the two teams' offense and defensive numbers and you'll see mirror images. Liberty's only loss came 15-14 at NC St, when it had a 39-yard field goal attempt blocked with 1:18 remaining in the game. Liberty is 8-2 ATS on the season and enters on a SEVEN-game ATS winning streak. Coastal Carolina is 8-2-1 ATS so again, it's hard to find too much difference in the teams. It was Liberty with the COVID-related problems that caused the Dec 5 to be canceled and the Flames haven't played since a 45-0 shutout of UMass on Nov 27. However, it was Coastal with the COVID issue which canceled its SBC championship game vs ULL on Dec 19, less than 48 hours before the scheduled kickoff. Chadwell said players in quarantine could be cleared by midweek prior to the bowl. We will see.
These old Big South rivals should go toe-to-toe here and I want the points.
|12-26-20||49ers v. Cardinals -4.5||Top||20-12||Loss||-110||26 h 2 m||Show|
My 10* Las Vegas Insider is on the Arz Cardinals at 4:30 ET.
Much has changed since Arizona upset San Francisco 24-20 back in Week 1 of the 2020 season. The 49ers entered that game as the defending NFC champs (off a 13-3 regular season), while Arizona was coming off a 5-10-1 season but was looking forward to "what could be" with Kyler Murray coming off an impressive rookie season. However, as the teams get together for a rematch in Week 16, the 5-9 Niners are coming off a 41-33 loss to the Cowboys, a defeat that officially ended the team's postseason hopes. Meanwhile, the Cards beat the Eagles 33-26 last Sunday to get 8-6 and into the No. 7 seed in the NFC (final playoff spot). A final twist to this game is that BOTH teams will be playing on the State Farm Stadium field for the THIRD time in the last four weeks, as the 49ers have been forced to relocate from Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Ca, because of COVID-19 restrictions in the region. The 49ers have lost their first two 'home' games in Arizona, falling 34-24 in Week 13 to Buffalo 34-24 and then a week later 23-15 to Washington 23-15
The 49ers lost more than just a game that eliminated them from playoff contention against Dallas. The team's best (only?) RB Raheem Mostert has been ruled out for the season after aggravating a high ankle sprain in the loss, while QB Nick Mullens suffered an elbow injury that the 49ers fear could require Tommy John surgery. Mullens was not playing all that well in place of Jimmy G (12 TDs / 12 INTs) but with Garoppolo unlikely to get medical clearance to return to game action either this week or in the finale against Seattle (per head coach Kyle Shanahan), the last man standing appears to be C.J. Beathard. What's more, the San Francisco defense, which was so much a part of last season's run to the Super Bowl, has been riddled with injuries throughout the season and enters this contest having allowed 32.7 PPG during its recent three-game slide.
The Cardinals will take the field in third-place in the NFC West, two games behind Seattle (10-4) and one back of the Los Angeles Rams (9-5). The Rams are at Seattle this Sunday and if the Cards win, they would be just ONE game back of both teams if the Rams win or be tied with the Rams if they lose, going into their matchup in LA in Week 17. Best case scenario for the Cards would be a win and a Chicago loss at Jacksonville, which would clinch a playoff spot. However, the Jags are on a 13-game losing streak. Then again, so were the Jets until last week. Murray threw for a season-best 406 yards and three TDs in last week's home win over Philadelphia. He's thrown for 3,637 yards with 26 TDs and 11 TDs in 2020, while adding 741 rushing yards (6.0 YPC) with 11 TDs. RB Drake leads the team with 874 yards on 4.1 YPC (9 TDs), as the Cards rank 4th in the league averaging 147.8 YPG on the ground. WR Hopkins ranks with the best in the NFL, hauling in 103 passes with six TDs. The Cards D has struggled at times but overall, comes in allowing 23.5 PPG on the season (13th).
I'm assuming the 49ers won't take a chance on Jimmy G but if they do, he couldn't possibly be "ready for primetime." It's likely Beathard will start or maybe even Josh Rosen, who the Niners claimed off the Tampa Bay practice squad to serve as Beathard's backup (Can I vote for Rosen?). Murray should have little trouble against a San Francisco defense that gave up 41 points without forcing a TO against an Andy Dalton-led Dallas team. Meanwhile, the 49ers coughed it up FOUR times, giving them 29 giveaways and a minus-11 TO margin on the season (both rank 2nd-worst in the NFL next to the Broncos). The Cards win with ease and depending how a few other games turn out Sunday, should be in excellent shape for an important Week 17 game, as well as a wild card game the following weekend.
|12-24-20||Hawaii v. Houston -9.5||28-14||Loss||-105||7 h 30 m||Show|
My CFB 10* Bowl Game of the Week is on Houston at 3:30 ET.
The 2020 New Mexico Bowl will be played Christmas Eve in Frisco, Tx (near Dallas). The game is normally played in Albuquerque, NM but was relocated from New Mexico due to that state's health guidelines regarding intercollegiate athletics and travel amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Hawaii got its fourth win of the season with a 38-21 triumph over UNLV on Dec 12, evening its overall and Mountain West Conference marks at 4-4, then accepted the bowl invitation. The Houston Cougars who despite an overall 3-4 record (3-3 American Athletic Conference), are headed to their SEVENTH bowl in the last eight seasons but the first under second-year head coach Dana Holgorsen.
The Rainbow Warriors know all about appearing in bowl games the last two decades, with 11 appearances in that stretch. However, only ONE bowl appearance came in the 48 contiguous states, when a 12-0 Hawaii team played in and lost the 2008 Sugar Bowl (2007 season) 41-10 to Georgia (remember Colt Brennan?). Todd Graham is in his first season at Hawaii but has the Rainbow Warriors in their FOURTH bowl in the last five seasons. QB Chevan Cordeiro has thrown for 1,947 yards with 11 TDs and six INTs plus leads the team in rushing with 450 yards and with seven TDs. Fellow RB Turner has 271 yards (5.6 YPC / 5 TDs) plus has 29 catches with a team-high average of 15.8 YPC, as well as a team-high five TD receptions. A trio of WRs have combined for 93 catches but a total of only two TDs catches, while NONE of them average as much a 9.0 YPC! Hawaii's defense is allowing 29.3 PPG.
It's been a bumpy ride for teams all across college football but the Houston program is right up among the schools the virus has affected most. The Cougars had EIGHT games postponed, canceled or rescheduled due to COVID-19 issues. Between Nov 14 and this bowl game, Houston has played just one game, a 30-27 loss to Memphis on Dec 12. With QB King leaving for Mia-Fl as a graduate transfer, Clayton Tune has stepped in nicely at QB, with 1,832 passing yards (13 TDs / 7 INTs), along with adding 269 rushing yards and five TDs on the ground. RB Porter adds 394 yards on 4.1 YPC and four TDs. Five receivers have caught between 16 and 27 passes, averaging between 10.8 and 15.4 YPC. Stevenson leads with that 15.4 average and has four TDs among his 20 catches. Houston's offense has nice balance (268.1 YPG passing / 155.3 YPG rushing) in averaging 32.6 PPG but its defense allows 32.3 PPG.
Hawaii is traveling over 3,700 miles for this game, while Houston has to travel just a couple hundred miles. I believe Houston is the MUCH better team and oddsmakers agreed, as the Cougars opened around a 12-point favorite. The "early" money has been on Hawaii but that just helps as you should be able to lay less than double digits with Houston. I noted above that Houston has been 'tested' as much as any team in this pandemic-riddled season and I like head coach Holgorsen's pep talk. "I challenge (our players) to win this game so we can buy some rings that say 'COVID CHAMPS' on them, something to remember 2020 by," Holgorsen told Houston radio station SportsTalk 790 last week. "Let's do something to feel good about what happened in 2020. Let's get a ring, put it on the shelf and look at it and say, 'I remember 2020,' and tell your kids about it one day." Lay the points!
|12-23-20||Florida Atlantic +9 v. Memphis||Top||10-25||Loss||-107||4 h 5 m||Show|
My CFB 9* Late-Breaker (Montgomery Bowl) is on FAU at 7:00 ET.
The Montgomery Bowl (7-3 Memphis vs 5-3 FAU) was created after the cancellation of the Fenway Bowl. Memphis was 12-1 when it made a New Year's Six bowl appearance in last year's Cotton Bowl. The Tigers 'hung around' but eventually lost 53-39 to Penn St. Memphis will set a school record by playing in a bowl game for the seventh straight year. This Montgomery Bowl appearance vs FAU may feel like a 'step down' for Memphis but as I will allude to a bit later, the Tigers are desperate for a bowl win. This is the third bowl game in four years for the Owls and fifth since 2007. It's their first bowl outside Florida since 2008.
The Tigers are led by QB Brady White, who is capping a terrific career. He's thrown for 3,096 yards with 28 TDs and nine INTs in 2020, following seasons of 4,014 yards with 33 TDs and 11 INTs in 2019 and 3,296 yards with 26 TDs and nine INTs in 2018. His "go-to" guy is WR Austin (60 catches / 17.1 YPC / 10 TDs), although the running game is fairly mediocre, averaging 142.0 YPG (85th). The defense has been a liability all season, allowing 29.7 PPG (contributing to the team's 3-7 ATS record).
FAU has a non-existent passing game (143.6 YPG ranks 117th) but a solid running game which averages 185.3 YPG (47th). However, the Owls own a solid defense, allowing 16.5 PPG (9th) on 326.4 YPG. Containing White will be a key for FAU and its pass D comes in allowing 175.6 YPG (12th in the nation).
As noted above, Memphis NEEDS a bowl win, as the Tigers haven't gotten one since a double-overtime victory over BYU in the 2014 Miami Beach Bowl. That's not all, as a check of the record book reveals that Memphis is on a 1-7 SU and 0-8 ATS run in its last eight conference championship or bowl games. Meanwhile, FAU is 6-0 SU & ATS in similar contests. I'm taking the BIG points!
|12-23-20||Georgia Southern v. Louisiana Tech +6.5||Top||38-3||Loss||-110||48 h 19 m||Show|
My CFB 10* New Orleans Bowl play is on La Tech at 3:00 ET.
7-5 Georgia Southern of the SBC will take on 5-4 Louisiana Tech of C-USA in Wednesday's New Orleans Bowl at the Superdome. This will be Georgia Southern's FOURTH bowl since moving up from the Football Championship Subdivision in 2014. The Eagles won postseason games in 2015 and 2018 before falling last year 23-16 to Liberty in the Cure Bowl. As for La Tech, securing a winning record for 2020 plus keeping its bowl streak alive, are on the line for the Bulldogs. How many are aware that Louisiana Tech's SIX-game bowl winning streak is the longest active mark for ANY team in the country.
Both teams come in with questions surrounding their QB situation. Shai Werts was the regular Georgia Southern QB for 10 games, but he missed the last two games with a shoulder injury. Justin Tomlin has started the last two but he departed the Dec 12 regular-season finale against Appalachian State with a second-quarter injury after rushing for 76 yards in the game. Miller Mosley, who's considered the team's third-string QB, threw for a touchdown and two interceptions after replacing Tomlin. Werts has accounted for 1,575 yards and 15 TDs from scrimmage and leads the Eagles in rushing with 649 yards, as Georgia Southern ranks 7th in the nation averaging 262.4 YPG. That shoulder injury has sidelined him for the team's last two games, but he has returned to practice and could play in the bowl game. Georgia Southern's defense is solid, allowing 22.3 PPG (31st) on 333.5 YPG (19th).
La Tech reached 10 wins in 2019 for the first time since 1983 but KNEW it would miss QB J'Mar Smith, who threw for 2,977 yards (18/5 ratio) and ran for 4 TDs as a senior. He ended his career winning his final 10 starts. His replacement was expected to be either sophomore Aaron Allen or Abilene Christian transfer, Luke Anthony. Anthony started for most of the season but severely injured his lower right leg when he was tackled late in the fourth quarter last Saturday in a blowout loss to TCU. Allen will get the start here and "on paper," this figures to be a tough matchup for the Bulldogs. La Tech has a non-existent rushing attack (97.7 YPG on the ground ranks 119th) and Anthony is a superior QB than Allen. However, La Tech finds a way into the end zone, averaging 29.3 PPG on the season, despite its 10-point effort vs TCU. The defense is another story, allowing 34.3 PPG (95th).
Here's the bottom line! Skip Holtz is finishing up his eighth season at La Tech. He went just 4-8 in his first season but 2020 marks the SEVENTH consecutive season in which he's led the Bulldogs to a bowl game. As noted above, the Bulldogs have won EACH of the previous six. In last season's Independence Bowl, La Tech beat Miami-Florida 14-0, becoming the first Group of 5 school to shut out a Power-5 school in a bowl game since the BCS/CFP era began in 1998. What's more, Louisiana Tech has not lost to a current Sun Belt Conference opponent since 1996, winning 18 in a row! You really want to give this team about a TD?
|12-22-20||Central Florida v. BYU -3.5||Top||23-49||Win||100||55 h 50 m||Show|
My 10* "Bowl Kickoff' is on BYU at 7:00 ET.
Josh Heupel was named head coach of the UCF Knights on December 5, 2017, replacing the departing Scott Frost, who had led UCF to a perfect 13-0 season in 2017. Heupel continued the 'magic' in 2018, as UCF took a 12-0 record (AND a 25-game winning streak) into its Sugar Bowl game with LSU, where the Tigers snapped that win streak with a 40-32 victory (coming out party for Joe Burrow). UCF followed with a 10-3 season in 2019 but enters Tuesday's bowl game with amore modest record of 6-3. BYU head coach Kalani Sitake took over at Provo back in 2016. The Cougars went 9-4 in his first season, capping the year with a win in the Poinsettia Bowl. However, BYU followed with a 4-9 bowl-less 2017 campaign and in 2018, only the team's win in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl allowed them to finish above .500 at 7-6. Sitake was feeling some 'heat' from the BYU "faithful" in 2019 after a 2-4 start but a five-game winning streak made BYU 7-4 bowl eligible and Sitake was rewarded with a contract extension through 2023. However, the Cougars lost their regular season final 13-3 at SD State and then lost the Hawaii Bowl to Hawaii 34-30, finishing at 7-6 again. Entering 2020, some of those BYU "faithful" who were questioning that extension.
CF opened 2-0 but then lost back-to-back games to Tulsa and Memphis. UCF rebounded to win THREE in a row but lost 36-33 at home to Cincy before finishing with a 58-46 win at USF. QB Gabriel is completing 61.7% for 2,353 yards with 30 TDs and just four INTs, while RBs McCrae (681 yards on 5.2 YPC with 9 TDs) and Anderson (614 yards on 5.6 YPC and four TDs) lead a running game averaging 212.6 YPG (). WR Williams (71 catches / 8 TDs) and Robinson (61 catches / 5 TDs) are both dangerous receivers. The offense averages 44.3 PPG (5th) on 585.6 YPG (5th) but the defense allows 31.4 PPG (78th) on 473.7 YPG (117th).
It didn't take long for Sitake to quiet the naysayers, as BYU rolled through a patchwork schedule but at 9-0 and ranked 8th in the AP poll, BYU found themselves just 14th in the first CFP rankings on Nov 24. The CFP selection committee made it clear in each of its first two rankings that BYU's weak schedule was keeping it outside the top-10, so BYU worked hard to schedule a "quality" opponent and got that chance on Dec 5 when it was able to replace Liberty as Coastal Carolina's opponent on Saturday, after COVID-19 issues prevented the Flames from playing in the game. However, the Cougars were held to season lows in points and yards (405) in a 22-17 loss. BYU ended its regular season on Dec 12 with a 28-14 home win over SD State to finish 10-1, ranked 13th (AP) and 16th (CFP).
QB Zach Wilson has been TERRIFIC, completing 73.2% for 3,267 yards with 30 TDs and just three INTs (his QB rating of 194.8 ranks second to only Alabama's Mac Jones). RB Allgeier has 957 yards on 7.3 YPC with 12 TDs plus BYU has four players with 32 or more catches. WR Milne leads with 63 (8 TDs) and WR Romney has 38 and leads the team averaging 19.9 YPC. WR Pau'u has 40 catches and while TE Rex has a modest 32, he has a team-high 10 TD receptions. BYU's offense is basically as prolific as UCF's, averaging 43.0 PPG (6th) on 512.2 YPG (8th). However, its defense is leaps and bounds better, allowing 14.6 PPG (3rd) 309.0 YPG (9th). Doing the math BYU is allowing about 17 PPG and 170 YPG less than UCF.
One can talk all it wants about BYU's 'soft' schedule but UCF has lost to the three-best teams it has played this season (Cincy, Tulsa and Memphis), with its "best win" coming over 6-5 Tulane. The other five wins have come over teams with a combined record of 11-31 (,262). Talk about a 'phoney' team! Lay the points!
|12-21-20||Steelers v. Bengals OVER 40||Top||17-27||Win||100||14 h 4 m||Show|
My 10* MNF Magic play is on Pit/Cin Over at 8:15 ET.
NFL Week 15 concludes with the Steelers looking to break a two-game losing streak (after an 11-0 start) with a MNF contest in Cincinnati against the 2-10-1 Bengals. With the KC Chiefs moving to 13-1 with a win at New Orleans on Sunday and the Buffalo Bills moving to 11-3 with a Saturday win at Denver, the Steelers BADLY need a win here to move to 12-2. The Bengals should play "the perfect foil" but the Steelers can make a quick call to the Rams and ask how their game with the 0-13 Jets went on Sunday? Spoiler Alert, the Jets (+17) won 23-20 at the Rams, who fell out of first-place in the NFC West. The Bengals have scored just nine, seven and seven points in the three games since rookie QB Joe Burrow was lost for the season but also note that the Steelers have averaged only 18.0 PPG over their last three games, a 19-14 win over the COVID-ravaged Ravens plus back-to-back losses to Washington and Buffalo.
The Steelers could have clinched the AFC North if the Browns had lost Sunday night at the Giants but Pittsburgh got NO help from the Giants, as the Browns won 20-6. As noted above, the Steelers' offense had 'ground to a halt' and questions have swirled around veteran QB Ben Roethlisberger and whether he is reaching the end of his career after the Steelers have come to rely on the passing game but almost exclusively without throwing downfield. Pittsburgh's offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner said it has been difficult to work on the offense with three games in a 12-day span that ended with Sunday night's 26-15 loss at Buffalo. However, the Steelers haven't played since a week ago Sunday and I'm expecting Big Ben to have a HUGE game. After all, Big Ben has completed 66.2% for 3,292 yards with 29 TDs and just nine INTs on the season. Really, people are worried? The last time he faced the Bengals, he passed for 333 yards with four TDs (no INTs) in a 36-10 win. The running game doesn't do much of anything (89.1 YPG ranks 31st) but four WRs contribute plus TE Ebron has 51 catches and four TDs. Back to the WRs, it's Smith-Schuster 79 catches (7 TDs), Johnson with 69 catches (5 TDs), rookie Claypool with 50 catches (8 TDs) and Washington with just 28 catches but 5 TDs.
Cincy backup QB Brandon Allen (27 of 36 for 217 yards with one TD and no INTs last week) is nursing a knee injury and after starting the last three games for the Bengals, will give way to Ryan Finley (rookie from NC St), who will start against the Steelers, Finley has taken the first-team reps with the Bengals' offense in practice this week said head coach Zac Taylor on Saturday. Finley will have to face a Pittsburgh defense that ranks first in points allowed (18.2 PPG) on 303.1 YPG (3rd) and will NOT get any help from a running game averaging 92.3 YPG (30th). He does have a nice trio of WRs in Boyd (78 catches), Higgins (58) and the vet Green (41 catches).
My "over" call is not based on Cincy matching scores with Pittsburgh but rather with the Steelers' offense delivering a 'breakout' performance and for the Bengals to 'chip in' a couple of TDs, maybe even 17-plus points. Pittsburgh has won 10 straight in this series and make it 11 straight with the contest Goin' Over "with room to spare!"
|12-20-20||Eagles v. Cardinals -6||26-33||Win||100||23 h 17 m||Show|
My 8* play is on the Arz Cardinals at 4:05 ET.
The Philadelphia Eagles won the NFC East last season (9-7) and despite a 4-8-1 record in 2020, are just ONE game back in the loss column behind NFC East leader Washington (6-7) with three weeks remaining. What a year 2020 has been! The Eagles are in Arizona to face the 7-6 Cardinals (no easy challenge) but do know that Washington is hosting an excellent Seattle team and the 5-8 Giants should have their hands full with the New & Improved Browns in SNF. An upset win here by the Eagles, "could be a game-changer. However, the Eagles are facing a team also BADLY in need of a win in the Cardinals. Arizona had lost three straight (and four of five) before winning 26-7 last Sunday at the Giants. That victory gave the Cards a 7-6 record, moving them into the SEVENTH and final NFC playoff spot. The 6-7 Bears and Vikings loom at 6-7 and since Chicago is at Minnesota, the winner moves to 7-7, meaning a loss would drop the Cards to 7-7 and into tiebreaking protocol!
The Eagles made a change at QB last week, benching Wentz in favor of rookie Jaen Hurts. The former Alabama and Oklahoma QB went 17 of 30 for 167 yards (one TD / zero INTs) plus ran for 106 yards, as the Eagles delivered a pivotal 24-21 win at home against the New Orleans Saints (Saints had won NINE in a row!). Philly also got news with RB Sanders back on the field, as he ran just 14 times but for 115 yards with two TDs (he has 746 yards on 5.7 YPC on the season, despite being in and out of the lineup). The Philly offense has struggled all season (21.3 PPG on 326, 3 YPG rank 23rd and 25th, respectively), while the D has been only middle-of-the back, allowing 25.2 PPG (19th) on 347.9 YPG (14th).
Arizona QB Kyler Murray had been slowed some in the Cards' 1-4 skid but what's to complain about him throwing for 3,231 yards (23 TDs / 10 INTs) plus rushing for 712 yards (6.2 YPC) and 10 TDs? RB Drake (848 yards on 4.2 YPC with 9 TDs) give Arizona a strong running game (151.2 YPG ranks 4th), while WRs Hopkins 994 catches / 5 TDs) plus Fitzgerald (45 catches ) and Kirk (38 catches / 6b TDs) give Murray quality targets. on the defensive side of the ball, the Cards were allowing just 18.7 PPG over their first six games entering their Week 7 game with Seattle and although the Cards won (37-34), the defense had allowed 30.7 PPG over its previous six, before holding the Giants to seven points and 159 yards on 10 FDs.
Murray is a proven commodity, while Hurst is at best, a "work in progress. The Eagles visit "the desert" having gone 0-4 SU and ATS their last four on the road and I say make it 0-5 SU & ATS after this one.
|12-20-20||Patriots v. Dolphins -1||Top||12-22||Win||100||32 h 59 m||Show|
My 10* Game of the Month is on the Mia Dolphins at 1:00 ET.
The 6-7 New England Pats are staring at what likely is their first non-playoff season since 2008, the last time they didn't win the AFC East. The AFC East winner that season was the 11-5 Miami Dolphins. Miami entered this season having not made the playoffs in 16 of the last 18 seasons but at 8-5, have a chance to claim a wild card spot in 2020. The Bills own a two-game lead over Miami in the division but the Dolphins are currently the No. 7 seed, although only by virtue of owning the tiebreaker over the 8-5 Ravens. However, the Dolphins are just ONE game back of the 5th-seeded Browns and 6th-seeded Titans, who are both 9-4.
Patriots QB Cam Newton, a former league MVP in 2015, is just 6-6 as a starter this season, throwing just five TD passes while getting intercepted 10 times (QB rating is a pathetic 78.9). He has run for 451 with 11 TDs and along with RB Harris (691 yards on 5.0 YPC) gives New England a very good running attack (147.5 YPG ranks 5th). However, Harris injured his back in the fourth quarter of Week 14's loss to the Los Angeles Rams and has been ruled out for Sunday. The receiving corps is one of the league's least impressive, with Edelman having not played since Oct 25. WRs Byrd and Mathis each have 42 catches but between the two, have just one TD catch!. New England's defense ranked first in scoring D (14.1 PPG) and total D (275.9 YPG) in 2019 but this year's unit is allowing 21,5 PPG (that's a full TD higher) on 342.9 YPG (about 70 YPG more per game).
Miami began the season with a 21-11 loss in Week 1 at New England, as veteran Ryan Fitzgerald was the starting QB. However, in the return matchup, Tua Tagovailoa, the No. 5 overall pick in this year's NFL Draft is under center. Despite a lack of healthy, front-line starters at RB, WR, TE or on the offensive line, Tagovailoa is 4-2 as a starter, throwing nine TDs against just one INT (95.2 QB rating). Miami's running game is mostly non-existent (95.2 YPG ranks 27th), so the fact Myles Gaskins 477 yards on 3.9 YPC) is out hardly matters much. TE Gesicki (44 catches / 8 TDs) is not expected to play (big loss) and WR Parker (56 catches / 8 TDs) is questionable. However, as noted above, Tua is making things happen despite missing key offensive players. Just ask KC, which saw him pass for 316 yards and two TDs in last Sunday's hard-fought 33-27 loss.
While New England's defense is way off from last year, Miami's D ranks second in the league in allowing 18.8 PPG. Miami's 25 takeaways ties them for tops in the league with Pittsburgh, with the team's turnover margin of plus-10, being just ONE behind Pittsburgh's leading total of plus-11. Looking back at the Week 1 game, Fitzgerald threw THREE interceptions and still Miami trailed just 14-11 before a fourth quarter TD gave New England the 10-point win. The Pats are just 2-5 on the road, winning only at the 0-13 Jets (on a FG as time expired) and at the 5-9 Chargers. Meanwhile, the Dolphins own the NFL's best ATS record at 10-3, TWO games better than ANY team in the league. Even when the Pats were the division's dominant team the last three seasons, the Dolphins were able to beat them once each in 2019 (27-24 in New England), in 2018 34-33 in Miami) and 2017 (27-20 in Miami). This time around, the Dolphins are the better team and a win is NEEDED to hold the team's playoff position. Tua over Cam and Miami's defense over New England's.
|12-20-20||Bears v. Vikings -2.5||33-27||Loss||-121||32 h 58 m||Show|
My 8* Las Vegas Insider is on the Min Vikings at 1:00 ET.
The 6-7 Minnesota Vikings welcome the 6-7 Chicago Bears to U.S. Bank Stadium with both teams sitting just outside the final playoff spot in the NFC, one game back of the 7-6 Arizona Cardinals. Minnesota owns the tiebreaker against Chicago thanks to a 19-13 road victory in Week 10. Nick Foles suffered hip and glute injuries at the end of that game, prompting head coach Mike Nagy to reinsert Mitch Trubisky as the starter. Foles started eight games following the early-season benching of Trubisky. Trubisky has passed for at least 242 yards in each of his three starts since, and last week finished 24-of-33 for 267 yards and three TDs as the Bears snapped a SIX-game losing streak with a 36-7 home rout of Houston. Minnesota is coming off a 26-14 loss at Tampa Bay and head coach Mike Zimmer has been non-committal regarding the struggles of PK Dan Bailey. He missed three FGs and an extra point against the Buccaneers, one week after missing a FG and two extra points in an overtime win against Jacksonville. Asked first whether Bailey will kick against the Bears and later if the team will pursue another kicker, Zimmer responded with "We'll see," both times.
Neither Foles nor Trubisky seems like the 'answer' at QB for Chicago and it surely doesn't help that Cjhicago's running game averages just 93.2 YPG (28th) on YPC. Montgomery is the lone RB of note, rushing for 760 yards on 4.5 YPC and four TDs. WR Robinson (86 catches / 6 TDs) is again having a good season, while TE Graham has 42 catches (had just 38 LY with Green Bay) and six TDs (had a total of just FIVE the previous two seasons). The defense remains solid, allowing 22.4 PPG (9th) on 347.5 YPG (13th) but the offense averages just 21.7 PPG (25th) on 319.8 YPG (28th).
Minnesota QB Kirk Cousins rarely gets respect but he's completing 67.5% for 3,298 yards with 27 TDs and 12 INTs for a 102.7 QB rating in 2020. That comes on the heels of him completing 70.1 and 69.1% in his first two seasons with the Vikings, passing for 4,298 and 3,603 yards with 56 YTDs and 16 INTs with QB ratings of 90.7 and 107.4. He misses WR Diggs (at Buffalo) but rookie Jefferson has 65 catches on 16.6 YPC with seven TDs, while veteran Thielen has 60 catches with 12 TDs. RB Dalvin Cook topped 100 yards for the third time in four games last week and is the No. 2 rusher in the league (1,352 yards on 5.0 YPC) and is the leader in rushing TDs with 14. Of course, the defense has struggled for most of the season (27.3 PPG allowed ranks 24th).
However, Minnesota's defense DOMINATED the Bears in that Week 10 contest, holding Chicago to 149 yards and a mere 10 FDs. The Bears gained just 41 rushing yards on 17 carries and the team's lone TD of that contest came on a 104-yard KO return. The Bears had beaten the Vikings in all four meetings in 2018 and 12019, so Minnesota's Week 10 win at Chicago was a nice breakthrough. Not sure the Vikings can catch the Cards but this is a VERY winnable game, as is their Week 17 game with the Lions. Next week's game with the Saints? Not so much. Minnesota "keeps hope alive' with a solid home victory here, as the Bears say bye-bye to the 2020 postseason.
|12-20-20||Seahawks -6 v. Washington Football Team||20-15||Loss||-109||20 h 16 m||Show|
My 8* play is on the Sea Seahawks at 1:00 ET.
The Seattle Seahawks are making a habit of facing the first-place team from the NFC East. After beating the Eagles 23-17 at Philadelphia (Week 12) and losing 17-12 at home to the Giants (Week 13), the 9-4 Seahawks will play at 6-7 Washington on Sunday in Week 15, which currently tops the NFC East. Washington has won and covered four straight to take the lead in the NFL's worst division, while Seattle's 9-4 record has them tied atop the NFC West with the Rams but LA owns the tiebreaker. That means Seattle finds itself with the top wild card seed in the NFC (5th).
Russell Wilson quickly established himself as the early favorite for league MVP but after a 5-0 start, Seattle has gone just 4-4. Wilson entered last week's game with just four TDs and three INTs in his previous four games but the in beating their hapless Jets, he had four TD passes. By any measure, Wilson's having a terrific season, completing 70.4% for 3,685 yards with 36 TDs and just 12 INTs (109.0 QB rating. He's got two top-notch WRs in Metcalf (69 catches on 17.1 YPC with 10 TDs ) and Lockett (81 catches with eight TDs). The running game is better than average, gaining 121.1 YPG (12th). The Seahawks' defense has been another story, ranking last in the 32-team league for most of the season but moved up to No. 27 (390.3 YPG) after allowing just 185 total yards in last Sunday's 40-3 pounding of the winless New York Jets.
Washington QB Alex Smith suffered a strained right calf shortly before halftime in last weekend's 23-15 victory at San Francisco and has missed practice time this week, as has leading rusher Antonio Gibson (toe). Coach Ron Rivera said Smith could be a game-time decision. Dwayne Haskins, the No. 15 overall pick in 2019 who was benched after starting the first four games of the season, would replace Smith if he's unavailable. Haskins was 7-of-12 passing for 51 yards against the 49ers. Gibson's absence (he's listed as doubtful) would be HUGE, as he's really come on (659 yards on 4.7 YPC with 11 TDs). Neither Smith nor Haskins 'scare' any defense, even Seattle's. Speaking of defense, Washington's scored twice last week, on an interception 76 yards for a TD and a fumble recovery that went 47 yards for a score. It marked the first time since 1992 Washington won on the road without scoring an offensive TD. In the team's 4-0 run, the defense has allowed 14.3 PPG.
Maybe I'm being stubborn but I'm having a lot of trouble 'buying' Washington and will take Seattle here, which can be pretty sure it will need a win to stay even with the 9-4 Rams, who are hosting the 0-13 Jets. Lay it!
|12-20-20||Bucs v. Falcons +7||Top||31-27||Win||100||8 h 22 m||Show|
My 9* play is on the Atl Falcons at 1:00 ET.
Tampa Bay (8-5) currently sits in sixth place in the NFC, after a 26-14 victory last week at home against Minnesota. Tom Brady was nothing special (15 of 23 for 196 yards and two TDs) but he has 30 TD passes on the season, the EIGHTH time he's done that. The Bus visited Atlanta for a game with the 4-9 Falcons, who are hoping to play the spoiler's role in another lost season. The Falcons' 20-17 loss last week at the Los Angeles Chargers clinched a third straight sub.-500 campaign. Barring a season-ending three-game winning streak, Atlanta will fail to match its 7-9 record of the last two years.
Atlanta fired head coach Dan Quinn after starting 0-5 but is 4-4 under interim coach Raheem Morris, with mostly competitive efforts. QB Matt Ryan has thrown for 3,660 yards (will top 4,000 for the 10th straight season!) with 19 TDs and 11 INTs. Todd Gurley (645 yards on just 3.6 YPF but 9 TDs) has NOT helped the running game, as Atlanta averages a woeful 08.3 YPG on 3.76 YPC. The defense allows 390.6 YPG (28th) but a more modest 24.8 PPG (16th).
Brady's completing of 64.8% for 3,496 yards with 30 TDs and 11 INTS and RB Ronald Jones (900 yards on 5.0 YPC with 6 TDs) has given Tampa Bay a nice offensive balance. However, he was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Wednesday. He was already considered questionable after undergoing surgery Tuesday to have pins placed in a fractured pinkie finger. Leonard Fournette (271 yards) will take over but note that 103 of his 271 rushing yards this season came back in a Week 2 win. Tampa Bay's season-long defensive rankings look solid, allowing 22.6 PPG (11th) on 330.3.9 YPG (7th) but in the team's 1-3 slide (before its win over Minnesota in Week 14), the "stop unit" had done little 'stopping,' allowing 28.8 PPG. The Vikings scored just 14 points but missed three FGs and an extra-point.
This marks the first of two matchups between the Bucs and Falcons in the season's final three weeks (Falcons play at Tampa in Week 17). I realize that the Bucs are focused on breaking a 13-year playoff drought, the second-longest drought in the NFL, but the Falcons are 6-2 ATS their last eight as a division home dog. Also, current Atlanta head coach Morris was Tampa Bay's head coach from 2009-11 before being fired. How much would he 'love' to play spoiler here? Home dog 'barks' loudly.
|12-19-20||Arizona State v. Oregon State +7.5||46-33||Loss||-110||64 h 21 m||Show|
My 8* is on Oregon St at 10:30 ET.
Arizona State opened its season at USC back on Nov 7 and suffered a BRUTAL loss, as the Trojans scored two TDs in the final three minute to eke out a 28-27 win. The Sun Devils' next two games were canceled, before losing 25-18 at home to UCLA on Dec 5. However, ASU took out its frustration against its in-state rival on Dec 11, winning the Territorial Cup 70-7! QB Daniels passed for 203 yards (2 TDs / 0 INTs) and led by White's 133 yards (3 TDs), the Sun Devils ran for 259 yards and seven TDs. ASU 'forcing' SEVEN turnovers (or maybe Arizona 'coughing up' SEVEN giveaways), just may have had something to do with the lopsided rout.
Oregon St opened 0-2 but then won back-to-back games, including a 41-38 upset of then-No. 15 Oregon. The Beavers enter this game off two close losses, 30-24 at Utah and 27-24 at home to Stanford. QB Gebbia was no better than serviceable, completing 62.0% for 824 yards with three TDs and three INTs, while backup Chance Nolan has started the last two, throwing for 221 yards and three TDs in the loss to Stanford. The team's best offensive 'weapon' is RB Jermar Jefferson (756 yards on 6.9 YPC / 7 TDs) but his availability is in question after an ankle injury kept him sidelined in the second half against the Cardinal.,"I've been rehabbing every single day," Jefferson said. "I'm just waiting ... to see how I feel."
Oregon State head coach Jonathan Smith takes solace in his team potentially being one of only two in the Pac-12 (UCLA) to avoid COVID-19 cancellations and play all seven games scheduled this fall. Arizona State and Oregon State also met in Corvallis last year with the Beavers winning 35-34 in dramatic fashion. Sun Devils head coach Herm Edwards elected to go for two at the end of regulation but the attempt failed. That gives ASU a nice 'revenge' motive but I want NO part of laying points on the road with a mediocre team (I'm being kind) coming off a 70-7 win over its biggest rival. As noted, ASU had the benefit of SEVEN turnovers by Arizona, only outgaining the Wildcats by 126 yards. When was the last time you saw that in a 63-point win? Also note that THREE of Oregon State's four losses have come by SIX or less points. Take the home dog!
|12-19-20||Tulsa +14.5 v. Cincinnati||24-27||Win||100||78 h 49 m||Show|
My 8* is on Tulsa at 8:00 ET.
The Cincinnati Bearcats (8-0, 6-0 AAC) initially were slated to visit Tulsa on Oct 17; however, positive COVID-19 cases within the Cincinnati program forced the postponement of that game to De. 5. Television demands briefly shuffled the contest to Dec 4 and then to Dec. 12 in lieu of other commitments. However, additional COVID-19 issues within the Bearcats' program forced the cancellation of that clash. The Golden Hurricane are 6-1, but also 6-0 league play but the AAC allowed the Bearcats to host the title game since their College Football Playoff ranking was superior to the Golden Hurricane's. "We talked to Tulsa about it as well as Cincinnati, and everybody was comfortable that that was the best decision," league commissioner Mike Aresco said. So "away we go."
Tulsa began with a season-opening 16-7 loss to Oklahoma State on Sep 19 but easily covered as a 24 1/2-point underdog. Its next game wasn't until Oct 3, when it won 34-26 at UCF as a 20 1/2-point dog. That victory began a SIX-game winning streak in which Tulsa went 5-1 ATS (including some mind-numbing covers) to finish 6-1 ATS on the season. QB Zach Smith is fine, completing 57.8% for 1,434 yards with 11 TDs and six INTs. Three RBs add between 317 and 356 rushing yards for a team averaging 159.4 on the ground. The Golden Hurricane offense averages 27.7 PPG (70yh) but the team's defense is strong, allowing 19.9 PPG (21st) on 328.4 YPG (20th).
QB Ridder has had a terrific season, completing 66.5% for 1,821 yards with 16 TDs and six INTs. He adds 526 yards rushing 0n 7.9 YPC with 11 TDs. The Bearcats have GREAT balance, averaging 238.9 YPG through the air and 234.3 YPG on the ground, while averaging 40.9 PPG (13th). Defensively, Cincy allows 15.0 PPG (5th) on 308.1 YPG (9th). Is it good news that the Bearcats have been idle since posting a 36-33 victory at UCF back on Nov 21?
Tulsa enters on a SIX-game winning streak, with its 19-6 win at Navy on Dec 5 allowing the Golden Hurricane to contest for a championship for the first time since 2012. Luke Fickell has led the Bearcats to 30-5 record since the beginning of the 2018 season and Cincy will take a 19-game home winning streak into this contest. A Cincy win here and the Bearcats earn a New Year's Six bowl bid as the highest-ranked Group of 5 team. No doubt that the Bearcats are the better team but Tulsa has covered both games as an underdog in 2020 and is 5-1 ATS as 5-1 ATS the last two seasons as an AAC underdog, including an outright upset of UCF on the road this season (see above). Take the points!
|12-19-20||Alabama v. Florida +17.5||Top||52-46||Win||100||38 h 31 m||Show|
My 9* is on Florida at 8:00 ET.
Did Florida's hopes at qualifying for the College Football Playoff 'die' with its shocking 37-34 upset at the hands of LSU in "The Swamp" last Saturday. Florida ran up 609 yards of total offense but offset that with three crucial turnovers, including a pick-six. As for Florida's defense, it gave up 418 yards to a team whose QB was making his first career start. Naturally, Marco Wilson's 'fateful toss' of opposing TE Kole Taylor's footwear 20 yards downfield to celebrate a third-down stop late last week drew ALL of the attention and while it was a "stupid play," there was plenty of blame to go around. While Florida was 'gagging' as a 24-point favorite, Alabama rolled to a 52-3 win at Arkansas, completing its season at 10-0. No. 1 Alabama (AP and CFP) is trying to secure a return to the College Football Playoff after missing out last season for the first time since the four-team postseason format began in 2014. The Crimson Tide may qualify even with a loss, since no other team in the SEC has fewer than two defeats. Florida likely squandered its chance to get into the playoff with a stunning setback to LSU last weekend, but the Gators are still in position to claim their first SEC title since 2008. This will be the 10th time the teams have met in the SEC championship game, with Alabama holding a 5-4 edge. However, the Crimson Tide have won the last SIX meetings against the Gators and Florida coach Dan Mullen is 0-9 in his career against Alabama's Nick Saban.
Alabama is an offensive juggernaut, averaging 49.5 PPG (3rd) on 537 YPG (5th). QB Mac Jones may (should?) be the Heisman favorite, as he's completed 76.4% of his passes for 3,321 yards with 27 TDs and just three INTs (QB rating of 203.9 ranks No. 1). RB Harris has 1,084 yards and 22 TDs), while WR Smith (83 catches with 15 TDs) is arguably the best WR in the nation. The Alabama defense looked 'shaky' in the early part of the season but over its last six games, has allowed just 8.8 PPG ('Bama has covered its last SEVEN games!).
Florida does not have RB to match Harris and while TE Pitts (11 TDs, despite missing significant time) and WR Toney (62 catches / 9 TDs) are both "big time' receivers, Florida's receiving corps can't quite match Alabama's group. However, QB Kyle Trask has had a season comparable to Jones, completing 70.2% for 3,717 yards with 40 TDs and just five INTs. He had THREE first-half TOs in the loss to LSU (including throwing that pick-six), so he's got MUCH to prove in this game. Florida's defense allows 26.3 PPG, which is fine when one's offense is averaging 41.2 PPG (8th), but can the Gators match the Tide score-for-score?
Maybe I'm 'spitting into the wind' with this pick but I just believe the Gators will bring their "A-game" to this contest off of last week's embarrassment. Will it be good enough to beat Alabama? I doubt it but it should be good enough for Florida bettors to 'CA$H!'
|12-19-20||Boise State -6 v. San Jose State||Top||20-34||Loss||-112||34 h 42 m||Show|
My 10* Championship Game of the Month is on Boise St at 4:15 ET.
Boise St is 5-1 (5-0 in MWC) and is once again in the MWC championship game. The Broncos' FB dominance began back in 1999 (Big West), then moved to the WAC from 2002-2010 and has continued in the MWC since 2011. Boise entered the 2020 season with an all-time winning percentage of .731, the highest in all of collegiate football. Waiting for the Broncos in Las Vegas is San Jose St, which is just two years removed from a 1-11 campaign. However, it's the 6-0 Spartans who enter this game as the ranked team at No. 25 in the AP poll (last time in the AP's top-25 was 2012) and at No. 24 in the CFP standings, are ranked for the very first time. The Spartans are 6-0 for the first time since 1939, when that team went unbeaten in 13 contests.
QB Hank Bachmeier had a solid freshman season in 2019 and despite missing TWO of the team's six games in 2020, enters completing 66.1% for 929 yards with six TDs and two INTs. Shakir is his top target (46 catches / 8 TDs) but Thomas is averaging 18.9 YPC on his 17 catches with two TDs. RB Van Buren leads with 356 yards rushing (8 TDs) and while the Broncos' ground game is averaging only 123.0 YPG (108th), Boise St has averaged 36.2 PPG (21st). That goes pretty good with a defense that's allowed 26.0 PPG (46th) on 352.7 YPG (33rd).
San Jose St QB Nick Starkel (previously played at Texas A&M and Arkansas) is completing 66.3% for 1,453 yards with 13 TDs and four INTs. His main targets are WRs Gaither (36 catches / 17.4 YPC / 4 TDs) and Walker (31 catches / 3 TDs) plus TE Deese has just 17 catches but 4 TDs. Tyler Nevers (454 yards on 8.9 YPC (5 TDs) leads a running game averaging 159.8 YPG on 5.0 YPC. San Jose St averages 30.3 PPG (49th) and its defense has been excellent, allowing 17.5 PPG (13th) on 355.7 YPG (34th).
Will San Jose St's 'Cinderella' season continue with a win here, as the Spartans play in their first-ever MWC title game? The program last had a winning record in 2012 and head coach Brian Brennan had an 8-29 mark with the Spartans before this season. In contrast, Boise State is trying to win its FOURTH Mountain West title game as the Broncos make their fourth-consecutive appearance in the game and fifth overall. You may have noticed that the ranked team (San Jose St) is about a TD underdog and could that be because Boise St takes a 14-game conference winning streak into Saturday's game? Then again, maybe it's because the Broncos have won each of the 14 all-time meetings between the two schools (SIX of the wins have come by at least 35 points!)? Series history and Boise St's FB dominance the two decades counts for something. Lay the points!
|12-19-20||Air Force v. Army +3||Top||7-10||Win||100||20 h 6 m||Show|
My 9* Rivalry Game of the Week is on Army at 3:00 ET.
The Air Force Falcons and Army Black Knights meet Saturday at Michie Stadium. Air Force trounced Navy 40-7 way back on Oct 3, while Army beat Navy 15-0 just this past Saturday. That means the winner will receive the coveted Commander-in-Chief's Trophy (established in 1972). Air Force has won the trophy 20 times, Navy 16 and Army just eight (four shared years, with Navy retaining the trophy three times and Air Force once). Air Force's Troy Calhoun is completing his 14th season in 2020 at Colorado Springs, after replacing Fisher DeBerry who retired after 23 years as the Falcons' head coach. He has led the Falcons to 10 bowl appearances in 13 years, including an 11-2 season in 2019, after back-to-back 5-7 seasons in 2017 and 2019. Jeff Monken took over the Army football program in 2014 and after 4-8 and 2-10 seasons, led the Blacks Knights to seasons of 8-5, 10-3 and 11-2 from 2016 through 2018. Each of the seasons were capped by a bowl win The 2017 team tied the school record for most wins in a season when it beat SD State in the Armed Forces Bowl and then the 2018 team broke the school record for wins when it CRUSHED Houston 70-14 in the same bowl the following year. Maybe more importantly, Army beat Navy THREE straight in that span, while capturing the school's first Commander-in-Chief's Trophy since 1996 in 2016, then following up by winning that trophy again in both 2017 and 2018.
COVID has allowed Air Force to play just FIVE games in 2020 with the Falcons playing just TWICE since Oct 31. They won 28-0 at home over New Mexico on Nov 20 and 35-7 at Utah St on Dec 3 (New Mexico is a 2-5 team and Utah St a 1-5 one). Air Force is second in the nation with 336.0 YPG on the ground, averaging 5.9 YPC. Its defense has held opponents to 16.0 PPG (8th) on 307.4 YPG (8th). Army has rebounded off a poor 2019 (5-8) to go 8-2 and now plays its 11th game in this "Year of COVID," losing just ONE game of its 12-game schedule to the virus. Army rushes for 280.1 YPG (4th) on 4.8 YPC plus its defense has played even better than Air Force's, allowing 14.7 PPG (4th) on 272.1 YPG (3rd).
Air Force has won SEVEN of the last 10 meetings against Army, but this season has had issues playing a consistent schedule and its three wins have come against teams with a combined 6-17 record. Army is 6-1 straight up since October and has held THREE of its last six opponents to single digit points, while pitching two 'shutouts' this season. What's more, since the beginning of 2017, Army is 23-2 SU in its 25 game at Michie Stadium. Note that BOTH losses came during 2019's 5-8 campaign. Army is 7-0 SU at home in 2020. I'll take ANY point available. Go Army! Beat Air Force!
|12-18-20||Oregon v. USC -3||Top||31-24||Loss||-107||38 h 58 m||Show|
My 9* Pac-12 Championship Game play is on USC at 8:00 ET.
When the pandemic-delayed Pac-12 Conference football season started, Oregon (AP preseason No. 9) and USC (AP preseason No. 17) were the favorites to reach the title game. Both schools were only able to play five games but while USC went 5-0 (with THREE "close calls''), Oregon finished 3-2, second in the Pac-12's North Division behind Washington (3-1). The Ducks were scheduled to play Washing at home on Dec 12 but a COVID-19 spike in the Huskies' program caused Washington to cancel that game. That left Oregon 'out in the cold,' with the Huskies set to play the Trojans on Friday night. However, the COVID situation in Seattle did NOT improve, so lo and behold, the Ducks will replace the Huskies in the championship game. What a year it's been.
This is Mario Cristobal's third season at Oregon, having led the Ducks to back-to-back bowls while going 9-4 and 12-2. Despite losing QB Herbert to the NFL, the Ducks' current QB Tyler Shough has been more than an adequate replacement, passing for 1,389 yards (277.8 YPG) with 11 TDs and four INTs plus running for 256 yards on 4.9 YPC with five TDs. RB Dye has a team-high 336 yards on 7.5 YPC plus his five receptions have averaged 40.8 YPC with three TDs. A trio of WRs have combined for 47 TDs. Oregon has a nice balance on offense, passing for 277.8 YPG and running for 189.2 YPG, while averaging 34.2 PPG. Defensively, the Ducks are allowing 28.0 PPG.
USC was once known by the nickname of "Tailback U" but no longer. This year's team is averaging a pathetic 109.2 YPG on the ground (3.5 YPC, which ranks 115th in the nation. QB Kedon Slovis has been the team-MVP, completing 70.3% while averaging 320.2. YPG through the air (1,601 yards in five games) with 15 TDs and just four INTs. He leads an offense averaging 35.2 PPG (23rd) and the defense has been sound, allowing 25.0 PPG (41st) on 395.0 YPG (56th).
The Trojans had to rally and were lucky to beat the two Arizona schools to open the season, then beat Utah 33-17 and Washington St, 38-13. However, the "comeback kids" needed to work their 'magic' again last Saturday vs UCLA, rallying from an 18-point deficit to win 43-38. The Ducks opened the season 3-0 (ranked No. 15) but then dropped their last two games on the road; 41-38 to Oregon State and 21-17 to previously winless California. Oregon was No. 23 in the College Football Playoff rankings before its latest loss.
Here's the bottom line. One could argue that Oregon's been given a "second chance" and will make the most of it but I'm siding with the position that USC's Slovis has time and again, "come through in the clutch." How about five TD passes (four in the second half after USC fell behind 28-10) in the UCLA comeback? USC is 7-1 at home since the start of the 2019 season, losing only to Oregon last season (56-24!). Methinks the Trojans will remember that result and the price on this game on their home field gives them a GREAT chance to win and cover the modest impost. "Fight On!"
|12-18-20||UAB v. Marshall -5||Top||22-13||Loss||-110||54 h 16 m||Show|
My 10* "signature" LEGEND Play is on Marshall at 7:00 ET.
UAB is back in the C-USA championship game for the THIRD straight year, becoming the first C-USA program to accomplish such a feat. The Blazers won 27-25 at MTSU in 2018 and then lost last year at FAU, 49-6. UAB will again be the road team in 2020, as it travels to Huntington, West Va to take on Marshall's Thundering Herd. The Blazers are 5-3 on the season, with their 3-1 conference record being good enough to win the West. UAB lost 37-34 (2 OTs) at La Tech on Oct 31 but didn't play again until its 21-16 win at Rice on Dec 12, clinching the school's third straight division title. Marshall knows MORE than a little about Rice, as the Thundering Herd (which also saw games canceled due to COVID issues) was 7-0 when it hosted Rice on Dec 5 and shockingly lost 20-0 as a 24 1/2-point favorite. Marshall won the East with a 4-1 conference mark. Marshall has played in two previous C-USA title games, losing to Rice (there's that team again!) in 2013 but winning the following season against La Tech.
Tyler Johnson began the season as UAB's starting QB but after two games, suffered an injury to his non-throwing shoulder that kept him out indefinitely. He was replaced by Lucerno who was not very effective, completing just 54.1 percent with seven TDs and eight INTs. Johnson played in UAB's Oct 31 loss to La Tech and then started in the 21-16 win at Rice, completing 9 of 18 for two TDs and zero INTs plus ran for 41 yards. He was UAB's leading rusher in that game, because RB Spencer Brown (740 yards on 4.7 YPC with 10 TDs) did not play. His status is questionable for this one. UAB averages 29.3 PPG but its defense has led the way all season, allowing 22.5 PPG (33rd) on 318.9 YPG (145).
However, when one speaks of defense, Marshall is right on the tip of everyone's tongue. The Marshall defense has been special, as it has yet to allow more than 20 points in a game. The stunning 20-0 loss to Rice a few weeks ago was the first time all season the defense allowed more than 17 points. The team's "stop unit" does just that, ranking second in the nation against the run (73.0 YPG), second in total defense (253.9 YPG) and No. 1 in scoring D (11.4 PPG). RB Brenden Knox ran for 1,397 yards and 11 TDs in 2019 (13 games) and in eight games so far in 2020, has 820 yards on 4.9 YPC with 9 TDs. Freshman QB Grant Wells is the franchise guy to build around. He entered the game with Rice averaging 279 YPG passing with 16 TDs and just four INTs in 192 attempts. However, he 'blew up' against the Owls, getting intercepted FIVE times while throwing for just 165 yards.
Oftentimes when teams get off to long winning streaks to open a season and finally lose, they DON'T bounce back like many expect them to. However, this is different, as Marshall has had two weeks to 'stew' over its loss plus is at HOME with an opportunity to win its first C-USA title since 2014 and head to its bowl with a chance to finish this pandemic-riddled season at 9-1. That would be quite an accomplishment.
Marshall was 11-1 SU at home heading to the Rice game since the start of 2019 and while UAB has been a great home to since 2018 in going 21-1 SU, the Blazers are just 9-13 SU on the road in that same span. The point spread is more than fair (and manageable) for the homestanding Herd, who 'Thunder' to a double digit win.
|12-17-20||Chargers v. Raiders -3||Top||30-27||Loss||-130||38 h 16 m||Show|
My NFL 10* Thursday Game of the Year is on the LV Raiders at 8:20 ET.
The Raiders have allowed 200-plus rushing yards in their last two games but were able to split the two games, escaping with a 'miracle' win at the Jets in Week 13 but getting 'run over' 44-27 by the Colts last Sunday at home. The Raiders are now 7-6 and currently or on the outside looking in as the ninth seed in a crowded seven-team AFC playoff race. A loss here in Thursday night's home game with the 4-9 Los Angeles Chargers is as the saying goes, "NOT an option!"
The Chargers have found a franchise QB in Justin Herbert (66.3% for 3,467 yards with 25 TDs and 10 INTs in his rookie season) but the team has found a myriad of ways to blow big leads. Despite Herbert and WR Allen's (99 catches / 8 TDs) excellent seasons, the offense is averaging a modest 22.8 PPG (22nd), while the defense allows 27.8 PPG (26th).
QB Derek Carr is "on pace" for the best season of his career (68.2% for 3,343 yards with 24 TDs and 7 INTs / QB rating of 102.1), supported by RB Jacobs (831 yards and 9 TDs) plus TE Waller (84 catches / 7 TDs). Las Vegas' offense is scoring a bit more than LA's at 26.9 PPG but its defense has struggled most of the season (30.1 PPG ranks 30th!).
These teams met back in LA on Nov 8 (Week 9) and in that one, it looked like the Chargers had won on a 4-yard TD pass on the final play of the game. However, the score was eventually overturned when a replay review showed the ball hit the ground as the receiver came down on the sideline chalk before establishing full control (Las Vegas won, 31-26). That Week 9 win gave the Raiders THREE straight victories over the Chargers. The Chargers are coming off a 20-17 victory over Atlanta on Sunday, hitting a 43-yard field goal as time expired for the winning points. Herbert produced the first game-winning, fourth-quarter drive of his career.
However, considering that the Chargers haven't won back-to-back games all season, I want NO part of them here. As noted above, the Raiders are in a "must-win" situation, as their game next week with the Dolphins won't mean much if they lose here. Las Vegas was a one-point favorite in LA, meaning the Raiders should be a much bigger favorite than they are here at home. Here's some stats to 'chew on!' The Raiders are 8-2 ATS since the start of last season vs AFC West foes, while the Chargers are 1-7-1 ATS over the same time frame vs division opponents. That's a pretty sweet 'daily double' in favor of the Raiders!
|12-14-20||Ravens -3 v. Browns||Top||47-42||Win||100||12 h 7 m||Show|
My 10* AFC North Game of the Year (MNF Magic) is on the Bal Ravens at 8:15 ET.
The Cleveland Browns are looking to end a 17-season playoff drought after taking a big step in the right direction with last Sunday's 41-35 win at the Tennessee Titans, a team that played in last season's AFC title game. The 9-3 Browns welcome the hated-Baltimore Ravens to Cleveland on Monday night, a team that got a much-needed 34-17 win last Tuesday at home over the Cowboys. Baltimore opened the season 5-1 but had lost FOUR of its last five prior to the win over Dallas, dealing with inconsistent play and severe COVID-19 issues. Cleveland currently owns the No. 5 seed in the AFC, while Baltimore is 7-5 and out of the playoffs at the moment. However, a Baltimore win moves them into a tie with 8-5 Miami for the No. 7 seed (final playoff spot) plus would put them just ONE game back of the 9-4 Browns and Titans.
QB Lamar Jackson was activated off the reserve/COVID-19 list a day before the game with Dallas and looked fresh, despite passing for just 107 yards. He rushed for 94 yards as the Ravens dominated the trenches by racking up 294 on the ground. Jackson won't come close to last season's MVP numbers (3,127 passing yards with 36 TDs and 6 INTs / 1,206 rushing yards with 7 TDs) but he does have a solid 17-7 TD/INT ratio and leads Baltimore in rushing with 669 yards 5.8 YPC (4 TDs). Baltimore averaged an NFL-record 206.0 YPG (5.5 YPC) last season and again leads with 169.0 YPC on 5.2 YPC. Mark Ingram joined Jackson with more than 1,000 yards rushing last year but has just 260 yards in 2020. However, Edwards has 487 yards (4.8 YPC / 7 TDs) and rookie Dobbins 451 yards (5.4 YPC / 4 TDs). Baltimore's D allowed 17.6 PPG (2nd) on 300.6 YPG (4th) and this t0year's unit is not far off those numbers, allowing 19.3 PPG (4th) on 337.7 YPG (10th).
Cleveland QB Baker Mayfield passed for four TDs and a season-high 334 yards against the Titans last week, with all of his TDs coming in the first half. Mayfield also threw four of his five TDs in the second half of a win against Cincinnati back on Oct 25. No other QB has matched that in the NFL in 2020. However, note that Mayfield had thrown just two TD passes over his previous four games. His season high prior to last Sunday was just 297 yards. He's barely averaging over 200 YPG passing in 2020, although he's greatly improved his TD/INT ratio to 21-7, after last year's 22-21 mark (his QB rating is 97.9, up from 73.8 in 2019). Cleveland's two-RB attack is just behind Baltimore, ranking second in the NFL by averaging 157.8 YPG on the ground (4.9 YPC). Chubb has 799 yards (6.0 YPC / 7 TDs) and Hunt has 739 yards (4.3 YPC / 4 TDs). However, Cleveland's defense is allowing a worrisome 26.8 PPG (24th).
Cleveland's win over Tennessee was just its SECOND over a team with a current winning record (also beat the 9-4 Colts 32-23 back in Week 7). The Browns' other seven wins have come over Ciny (twice), Washington, Dallas, Houston, Jacksonville and Philadelphia. Just for the record, those seven own a combined record of 21-55-2 (.282). There is NO doubt that Cleveland's first-year head coach Kevin Stefanski has established a different culture but I still don't trust them vs Baltimore, which CRUSHED them in Week 1 by the score of 38-6! That's not exactly news, as since John Harbaugh was named Baltimore's head coach prior to the 2008 season, the Ravens had won 20 of the 24 meetings from through 2019, including a 10-2 mark in Cleveland. Having made it 21 wins in the last 25 games with that Week 1 win, the Ravens now go for a NINTH season-sweep of the series. BTW, Lamar Jackson passed for 275 yards and three TDs and added 45 yards on the ground in that Week 1. Deja vu?
|12-13-20||Steelers v. Bills -2||Top||15-26||Win||100||14 h 15 m||Show|
My 9* SNF Magic play is on the Buf Bills at 8:20 ET.
The Pittsburgh Steelers visit Buffalo for a SNF game with the Bills and for the FIRST time in 2020, the Steelers are coming off a loss. Pittsburgh was upset 23-17 by Washington last Monday and will head to Buffalo 11-1 and hoping to keep pace with (or move ahead of) the 11-1 Chiefs by beating Buffalo. That will be no easy chore, as the Bills are 9-3 after also playing last Monday but coming away with a 34-24 win over San Francisco in a game played in Glendale, Az (home of the Cardinals.
"Big Ben" has bounced back from missing all of last season with a strong season (66.9% for 3,105 yards with 27 TDs and 7 INTs). He's got an excellent trio of WRs in Smith-Schuster (73 catches / 6 TDs), Johnson (65 / 5 TDs) and rookie Claypool (47 / 8 TDs) plus TE Ebron has 49 catches with four TDs. However, Pittsburgh RBs have fought injuries all season and Pittsburgh enters the game averaging only 92.6 YPG on the ground (29th), averaging 3.7 YPC. The defense has been the 'star' of the 2020 season, allowing 17.6 PPG (1st) on 300.5 YPG (3rd).
That defense will be tested by Buffalo QB Josh Allen who is having a breakout year! I say that even though he began the current season as just the fourth QB in NFL history with at least 20 passing TDs (30) and 12 rushing TDs (17) in his first two seasons. However, his 2020 season has been "pretty darn good!" THREE times this season he has thrown for at least 375 yards and three TDs, with a passer rating of at least 130. That includes Monday night, when he threw for 375 yards and four TDs with a 139.1 QB rating. He is the AFC Offensive Player of the Week for the THIRD time. His Y-T-D numbers have him completing 69.9% for 3,403 yards with 26 TDs and eight INTs (QB rating of 105.9). Buffalo's running game is much better than Pittsburgh's (107.4 YPG on 4.0 YPC) but the addition of WR Diggs has been HUGE. He leads the team with 90 catches (four TDs)., while fellow WR Beasley, who has averaged 59 catches per season the last five, has 66 through 12 games (on pace for 88).
After a long winning streak ends, many assume a "bounce-back" but just as often, that team suffers a let down. Pittsburgh's offense has averaged just 18.0 PPG its last two games an as noted above, I believe the Pittsburgh D will have its hands full with Josh Allen. Buffalo's trying to win the AFC East for the first time since 1995 and this contest is its LONE home game in a four-week span. NO "bounce-back" here for the Steelers!
|12-13-20||Washington Football Team v. 49ers -2.5||Top||23-15||Loss||-120||23 h 5 m||Show|
My 10* Non Division Game of the Year is on the SF 49ers at 4:25 ET.
Washington and San Francisco are both 5-7 but while Washington is tied for first in the NFC East, the NFC defending champion 49ers are mired in last-place in the NFC West. Washington began the season 1-5 but its shocking 23-17 win Monday against the previously unbeaten Steelers kept them in a tie with the Giants, who had pulled off quite an upset of their own last Sunday in winning 17-12 at Seattle as an 11-point underdog. Meanwhile, the 49ers made an uphill climb a good bit steeper with a 34-24 loss to the Buffalo Bills last Monday night in Glendale, Az. San Francisco will again 'host' Washington in Glendale on Sunday.
Washington's recent surge has coincided with QB Alex Smith's return from a near career-ending injury (actually, life-threatening). Smith's comeback is truly remarkable but he has just four TD passes and five INTs with a VERY poor QB rating of 83.8. In fact, Washington's defensive play has been the key, as Washington ranks eighth in points allowed (21.7 per) and 4th in total yards (310.9 YPG). That's because in the team's 3-0 SU and ATS run, Washington's D has allowed just 14.0 PPG on 281.7 YPG.
San Francisco has been riddled by injuries all season but ironically, the 49ers were healthier than they've been in a while for Monday's game with Buffalo. However, the San Francisco defense couldn't handle Buffalo QB Josh Allen who threw for 375 yards with four TDs (no INTs). Nick Mullens (still in for Jimmy G) threw for 316 yards and three TDs (but had two INTs). San Francisco's defense has not quite played up to the standards of last year's edition but the 49ers have allowed 24.0 PPG (13th) on 326.3 YPG (6th).
Kudos to Washington's recent play but the 49ers have WON five of their last six meetings with Washington and a closer look at Monday's loss to Buffalo reveals that San Francisco turned the ball over on downs at the Buffalo one-yard line plus Nick Mullens threw two interceptions, including one in the end zone. The 49ers are almost sure to miss the postseason but expect them to get the better of Washington in this one, "with room to spare!"
|12-13-20||Colts v. Raiders +3||44-27||Loss||-110||11 h 55 m||Show|
My 8* Las Vegas Insider is on the LV Raiders at 4:05 ET.
The Colts opened the season losing 27-20 at Jacksonville (the Jags have lost 11 in a row since!) but have recovered from that embarrassment to sit 8-4 as the season enters Week 14. Indy is tied with Tennessee atop the AFC South but the Titans own the tiebreaker. The Colts also lose a tiebreaker to the 8-4 Dolphins, so they currently are the No. 7 seed, the final playoff spot. The Raiders welcome the Colts to Las Vegas off a last-second win last Sunday at the Jets, giving them a 7-5 record which has them in the No. 8 slot, although the Ravens are also 7-5.
After spending his entire career with the Chargers, Philip Rivers signed with the Colts as a FA prior to the start of the current season. He's well on his way to another 4,000-yard season, passing for 3,263 yards with 18 TDs and nine TDs. He hasn't got much help from Indy's running game (only 104.8 YPG), as rookie Taylor (609 yards on 4.1 YPC) has been a disappointment. The Colts defense was near the top of the league for most of the season but the Colts have allowed 32.0 PPG over their last three games.
Las Vegas QB Derek Carr (68.1% for 3,027 yards with 22 TDs and just five INTs / 104.1 QB rating) is having the best season of his career and comes as the star of last Sunday's 'storybook' 31-28 victory over the winless New York Jets. Taking advantage of an all-out blitz, he hit rookie WR Henry Ruggs III in one-on-one coverage for a 46-yard TD with five seconds to go! It was the 20th career fourth-quarter comeback for Carr, an NFL record for most in a player's first seven seasons. He finished with 381 yards passing with three TD passes and one TD run. RB Josh Jacobs (782 yards and nine TDs) gives the offense balance and TE Darren Waller has 77 catches and seven TDs on the season, after his 13 catches for a career-high 200 yards and two TDs vs the Jets. He is just the fourth tight end in NFL history to have 200-plus receiving yards and two TDs in a game. The defense has been an issue most of the season, allowing 28.9 PPG (28th).
Rivers is well-familiar with the Raiders, as this will be his 29th start against them. This contest has major playoff implications for both teams, as the Colts hold the 7th and final playoff spot in the AFC, while the Raiders are just ONE game back. The good news for Las Vegas is that this contest is the first of THREE straight home games, although the Chargers should be a win, this game and the Week 16 game with the Dolphins will likely determine the team's playoff fate. As for the Colts, they follow this game with a second game in their last three with the Texans. The Raiders are the only team to beat the Chiefs (won in KC) and almost took down the Chiefs here in Las Vegas back in Week 11 (lost 35-31). Las Vegas is a very 'LIVE' home dog!
|12-13-20||Cardinals -2 v. Giants||Top||26-7||Win||100||20 h 50 m||Show|
My 9* PERFECT STORM is on the Arz Cardinals at 1:00 ET.
Arizona, the LA Rams and Seattle were all 6-3 and tied atop the NFC West entering Week 11. However as Sunday Dec 13 dawns, the Rams are 9-4, Seattle 8-4 (and poised to join them at 9-4 with a home game against the Jets on tap) but the Cards have fallen off the pace at 6-6. Arizona has lost FOUR of five (lone exception was its 'miracle' Hail Mary win against the Bills). However, in this "season like no other," Arizona's 6-6 record would have them in first place in the 2020 NFC East, ONE game up on New York. The slumping Cards are at MetLife Field on Sunday to take on the surging Giants, who have won FOUR in a row, after a shocking 17-12 win in Seattle (as an 11-point underdog) last Sunday.
Arizona Kyler Murray has been contained better recently but the second-year player is having an impressive season. He's thrown for 2,997 yards with 22 TDs and 10 INTs plus he's run for 665 yards on 56.5 YPC with 10 rush TDs. Drake (768 yards on 4.3 YPC with 5 TDs) has become a reliable RB and his ankle is said to be fine. The problem for Arizona has been its defense. The Cards were allowing just 18.7 PPG over their first six games entering their Week 7 game with Seattle and although the Cards won (37-34), the defense has allowed 30.7 PPG its last six.
The Giants' 2020 season seemed "all but dead" after eight games, when they fell to 1-7 with a 25-23 MNF Week 8 loss to the Bucs. However, the Giants had been competitive in four straight games, a one-point win and three losses by a combined SIX points. The Giants enter this contest on a FOUR-game winning streak (3-1 ATS) and are now tied with Washington for first in the NFC East (Eagles are only 3-8-1) but do own the tiebreaker. QB Jones missed last week's win at Seattle, despite Colt McCoy going just 13 of 22 for 105 yards with one TD and one INT (67.4 QB rating). However, RB Gallman ran for 135 yards and the New York defense held Russell Wilson and the Seattle offense to just one TD.
The victory marked New York's first win this season over a winning team but while the Cards are just 6-6, Arizona is still 'alive' in the NFC wild card chase. Jones is expected to be back but is that really good news. He has more INTs (9) than TD passes (8) on the season with one of the NFL's worst QB ratings (78.7) among regular starters. The Cards are the better team and are overdue for a breakout performance. The "numbers" tell us that the Cards are 8-3 ATS in non-division road games AND that the Giants are just 3-12 ATS their last 15 as a home dog since the start of the 2018 season (an 80% go-against).
|12-13-20||Vikings +7.5 v. Bucs||Top||14-26||Loss||-117||7 h 56 m||Show|
My 9* Ultimate Underdog is on the Min Vikings at 1:00 ET.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers looked as good as any team in the NFC when they were sitting at 6-2 but a 1-3 run has seen them fall back to 7-5 and all of a sudden, the Bucs are fighting for a wild card spot. As for the Vikings, they were 10-6 last season and upset the 13-3 Saints in the playoffs but opened the 2020 season 1-5. However, in contrast to the Bucs, the Vikings come into this contest having won FIVE and six and at 6-6, are tied with the Cards just ONE game back of the Bucs plus Minnesota currently own the tiebreaker over Arizona. Both teams can bolster their NFC playoff chances with a win on Sunday.
Minnesota QB Kirk Cousins rarely gets respect but he's completing 67.8% for 3,073 yards with 26 TDs and 12 INTs for a 103.9 QB rating in 2020. That comes on the heels of him completing 70.1 and 69.1% in his first two seasons with the Vikings, passing for 4,298 and 3,603 yards with 56 YTDs and 16 INTs with QB ratings of 90.7 and 107.4. He misses WR Diggs (at Buffalo) but rookie Jefferson has 61 catches on 17.0 YPC with seven TDs, while veteran Thielen has 57 catches with 12 TDs. RB Dalvin Cook is the No. 2 rusher in the league (1,250 yards on 5.0 YPC) and the leader in rushing TDs with 13. He had 38 touches (32 rushes, 6 catches) in Minnesota's 27-24 overtime win over the Jacksonville Jaguars last week. Of course, the defense has struggled for most of the season (27.4 PPG allowed ranks 26th) but let's not ignore those FIVE wins in six games (loss came by THREE points).
Tampa Bay limped into its bye last week with three losses in its last four games, two by three points each to the Los Angeles Rams and Kansas City Chiefs. A Week 13 bye was likely good news, as the team has been plagued by slow starts (Bucs have been outscored 52-7 in the first quarter of their last four games). Brady's passed for 3,3000 yards with 28 TDs and 11 INTs (on pace for about 4,400 yards with 37 TDs) and RB Ronald Jones is fourth in the NFL in rushing yards with 820 (5.1 YPC and five TDs). WRs Goodwin (49 catches and three TDs ) and Evans (48 catches and 11 TDs) are also getting contributions from TE Gronk (37 catches and four TDs). The season-long defensive rankings look solid, allowing 23.3 PPG (11th) on 329.9 YPG (7th) but in the team's 1-3 slide, the "stop unit" has done little 'stopping,' allowing 28.8 PPG.
Brady has surely made the Bus better but the Bucs continue to struggle as a home favorite (long-time 'ugly' numbers), going 1-3 ATS in that role in 2020. Minnesota's balanced offense should give Tampa Bay's defense fits and I will NOT ignore Minnesota's 5-1 SU run with the LONE loss coming by just THREE points. Take the big points!
|12-12-20||San Diego State v. BYU OVER 47||Top||14-28||Loss||-105||54 h 46 m||Show|
My CFB 10* Total of the Month is on SD St/BYU Over at 10:00 ET.
BYU was ranked no. 8 in the AP poll when the first CFP standings were released and the Cougars found themselves at No. 14. The second CFP rankings saw them move up just one spot, so when the chance came to replace Liberty in its game at Coastal Carolina last Saturday, BYU jumped at the chance with little prep time. The gamble didn't pan out, as the Cougars were held to season-lows of 17 points and yards in the 22-17 loss. The 9-1 Cougars (now No. 18 in the CFP standings) will complete its season by hosting the 4-3 San Diego St Aztecs, looking to secure its first 10-win season since 2011. SD State entered the current season having won 10-plus games in four of its last five years
The Aztecs opened 3-1 but then lost 26-21 at Nevada on Nov 21. The team's game with Fresno St on Nov 27 was canceled early in the week and SDSU hastily arranged a game in Boulder against Colorado but lost 20-10. SD State rebounded with a 29-17 win over a 1-5 Colorado St team last Saturday.
SDSU's defense was great last season, allowing 12.7 PPG on only 288.0 YPG and has posted similar numbers in 2020 (16.3 PPG ranks 8th and 269.6 YPG ranks 3rd). However, San Diego State is just 104th in total offense (343.9 YPG) in averaging 26.1 PPG and it faces a BYU defense that rates fourth in scoring defense (14.7 PPG) and seventh in total defense (300.0 YPG). Head coach Brady Hoke said QB Jordon Brookshire will make his second straight start, after he completed 14 of 24 passes for 130 yards (one TD / one INT) in last Saturday's 29-17 win over Colorado State. RB Greg Bell (team-high 569 rushing yards on 5.9 YPC with six TDs ) has been slowed by an ankle injury but is said to be getting closer to full health.
The Aztecs shut down BYU in last season's 13-3 in San Diego but they are catching the Cougars at the WRONG time and WRONG place. QB Zach Wilson has had a terrific season (73.0% with 27 TDs and just three INTs) but is coming off his worst game of the season against the Chanticleers. He threw for only 240 yards with one TD and one INT, giving him a season-worst, single-game QB rating of 134.9 (it's 197.4 on the season). He has two excellent WRs in Milne (55 catches / 18.4 YPC / 7 TDs) and Romney (38 catches / 19.9 YPC) plus TE Rex has eight TD catches among his 27 catches. Even after the Coastal Carolina game, BYU is averaging a whopping 44.5 PPG on 525.0 YPG.
BYU had topped 40 points in FIVE straight games and EIGHT of nine before scoring only 17 in the loss to the Chanticleers. I realize SDSU has a quality D but I fully expect the Cougars to 'take out' last Saturday's loss on the Aztecs. San Diego State is just 2-16 all-time at LaVell Edwards Stadium and expect 40 points (maybe more more) from BYU making this a prime spot to go O-V-E-R!
|12-12-20||Virginia v. Virginia Tech -2.5||Top||15-33||Win||100||37 h 31 m||Show|
My 9* play is on Va Tech at 8:00 ET.
The Virginia Cavaliers (5-4 / 4-4 ACC) are riding a four-game winning streak and haven't lost since Oct. 24 entering Saturday night's Commonwealth Cup battle in Blacksburg, Va. In contrast, the Va Tech Hokies (4-6 / 4-5 ACC) enter on a four-game losing streak and haven't won since Oct. 31. This will be the 102nd meeting of a series dating back to 1895 and was originally scheduled for Sep 19 but COVID-19 issues in the Hokies' program forced the postponement to this date.
Bronco Mendenhall spent 11 years as BYU head coach, leading the Cougars to 11 bowls during his tenure. He took the Virginia job in 2016 and flopped,' going 2-10 his first season. However, he righted the ship quickly, by following with THREE straight bowl berths. The 2019 season was special, as he led the Cavs to their first victory over Virginia Tech after fifteen consecutive losses in their rivalry, capping a 9–3 regular season and that secured the program's first Coastal Division title and a berth in the 2019 ACC Championship Game and 2019 Orange Bowl.
Justin Fuente used back-to-back seasons of 10-3 and 9-3 (2014 and 2015) at Memphis to land the Va Tech job on November 29, 2015 He replaced the retiring Frank Beamer and in his first season in Blacksburg, Fuente led the Hokies to a 9-3 regular season record and a trip to the ACC Championship, representing the Coastal division, The Hokies defeated the Arkansas Razorbacks 35-24 in the 2016 Belk Bowl, overturning a 24-0 deficit at halftime and winning three consecutive bowl games for the first time in the program's history. Virginia Tech finished the season ranked #16 in both the AP and Coaches Poll. However, while Fuente's led the Hokies to bowl games in each of the last three seasons, Va Tech has lost each one.
Brennan Armstrong has taken over at QB for Virginia and has thrown 16 TDs and nine INTs, while also leading the team in rushing with 529 yards (5 TDs). He's led the Cavs to four straight wins, completing 65.3% with nine TDs and three INTs. He's off back-to-back games with more than 400 yards of total offense, passing for a career-high 383 yards and four TDs vs Abilene Christian on Nov 21 and then rushed for a career-high 130 yards and a TD in last Saturday's 43-32 win over Boston College. RB Kemp is the team's top receiver (58 catches) and TE Poljan has 33 catches and five TDs. WR Davis has played in just six games but averages 25.9 YPC on his 17 receptions with five TDs. The defense. The offense is averaging 32.4 PPG but the defense is allowing 29.2.
Va Tech QB Hendon Hooker exited last Saturday's 45-10 loss at Clemson, experiencing muscle spasms due to temperatures in the low 30s. However, by Monday he was feeling MUCH better and is expected to be just fine. He's completing 65.3% for 1,339 yards with nine TDS and five INTs, plus adds 620 rushing yards on 5.2 YPC with nine TDs. He's joined by RB Herbert, who has 1,020 yards on 7.6 YPC with seven TDs. Va Tech averages 30.9 PPG but allows 33.8.
At first blush, UVa coming in on a four-game winning streak while averaging 43.3 PPG would seem like the obvious choice against a Va Tech team on a four-game slide. UVa is looking for its first five-game winning streak since 2007 but the Hokies own a HUGE revenge motive. The Cavaliers snapped a 15-game losing streak to the Hokies with a 39-30 win last season in Charlottesville when it scored nine points in the final 1:23 with a 48-yard FG and a recovery of a Virginia Tech fumble in the end zone. Va Tech head coach Justin Fuente is on the hot seat with a 37-26 record since taking over in 2016 and with Va Tech's loss dropping them to 46, the Hokies are guaranteed to end the 2020 season with a losing record for only the second time since 1992! This will truly be Va Tech's 'bowl game." I'm on the Hokies.
|12-12-20||USC -2.5 v. UCLA||Top||43-38||Win||100||35 h 41 m||Show|
My 10* Rivalry Game of the Month is on USC at 7:30 ET.
USC is 4-0 and ranked 15th (CFP) and 16th (AP) as it tries to secure a spot in the Pac-12 Conference championship game when the Trojans take on crosstown rival UCLA (3-2) in the Rose Bowl. Colorado hosts Utah at 12 noon ET (7 1/2 hours before this game kicks) and if the Buffs win, USC will NEED to beat UCLA to win the Pac 12 South. USC put itself in position to play for the conference championship by beating visiting Washington State 38-13 last Sunday night. That game was pushed back two days following a small COVID-19 outbreak on the USC team, a situation that initially forced the Trojans to cancel their game against No. 21 Colorado on Nov. 28. The schedule adjustment shrank USC's window to prepare for UCLA. As for the Bruins, they are coming off a 25-18 win at Arizona State last Saturday night, their first win in the month of December since the 2013 Sun Bowl (think about that, for more than a minute or two!). The victory also lifted UCLA's record above .500 for the first time since a win on Oct. 21, 2017, had them at 4-3 (yet another thought to ponder!).
USC was once known by the nickname of "Tailback U" but no longer. This year's team is averaging a pathetic 111.5 YPG on the ground (3.6 YPC). QB Kedon Slovis leads this year's team, completing 72.1% while averaging 314.3 YPG through the air (1,257 yards in four games) with 10 TDs and just two INTS in 165 attempts. He leads an offense averaging 33.3 PPG (30th) and the defense has been sound, allowing 21.8 PPG (26th) on 356.5 YPG (34th). UCLA benefited last weekend with the return of QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson (57.8% completions for 691 yards with 8 TDs and 2 INTs) who was among nine Bruins to miss two games because of COVID-19 concerns. He completed 18 of 24 passes for 192 yards and a TD against Arizona State. He also rushed for 49 yards and a score (218 rush yards on 5.0 YPC and 3 TDs on the season). It seems as if USC's running game has moved to Westwood, as the Bruins are averaging 2267.6 YPG on the ground (16th) on 5.6 YPC. A quick look at the team's defense shows UCLA allowing 24.8 PPG but one must CLOSER!
Let me do just that. First off, UCLA's losses are to now-No. 21 Colorado, when the Bruins allowed 48 points and to then-No. 11 Oregon, allowing 38 points. UCLA's three wins have come over the two Arizona schools (a combined 0-6 entering Friday's Territorial Cup meeting) and 1-3 Cal. The Bruins allowed just 12.7 PPG against that trio, which have a combined 1-9 record. Then there is UCLA head coach Chip Kelly who had a four-year record of 46-7 (.868) at Oregon but since moving on to the NFL and now UCLA, seems to have left his "Genius" moniker in Eugene. Kelly's teams are a combined 38-54 (.413) post-Oregon, including 10-19 (.345) at UCLA.
Anyone really trust "Sir Chip" in a big game like this? As for USC, it needed two TDs in the final three minutes to escape in its season opener 28-27 against ASU and then scored with 25 seconds left to edge Arizona 34-30. However, the Trojans have won 33-17 over Utah and 38-13 over Washington St, since. A win will give the Trojans a 5-0 record for the first time since 2006, when they started 6-0, plus propel into the Pac 12 title game against Washington, a team which just had to cancel its game with Oregon on Saturday due to COVID issues. A win there and USC will play in the Rose Bowl at 6-0. USC has won 16 of the last 21 meetings against UCLA, so expect the Trojans to 'ring' the Victory Bell at the end of Saturday's game!
|12-12-20||North Carolina v. Miami-FL -3||Top||62-26||Loss||-105||26 h 43 m||Show|
My 9* PERFECT STORM is on Miami-Fl at 3:30 ET.
It's a battle of ranked ACC teams from Miami, Fl on Saturday, as No. North Carolina (7-3, 6-3 in the ACC) visits No. 10 Miami-Fl (8-1, 7-1 in the ACC). The Tar Heels are off a 49-9 home win last Saturday over Western Carolina, while Miami routed Duke 45-0 last Saturday, despite having 15 players out due to injuries, coronavirus and other issues. The Tar Heels lost 31-17 at home to No. 2 Notre Dame back Nov 27 but get a chance at another top-10 here against the Hurricanes, who they beat last year 28-25 at Chapel Hill with a late TD.
North Carolina opened 3-0 and rose to No. 5 in the AP poll but were then shocked 31-28 at Florida St, a team whose only other win this season has come over Jacksonville St. QB Sam Howell beat Miami as a freshman last year and is having an excellent sophomore season, completing 68.8% for 3,129 yards with 26 TDs and just six INTs. Two RBs share the ball-carrying duties and BOTH should top 1,000 yards on the season. Carter has 937 yards for 937 yards (7.1 YPC) with seven TDs and Williams has 904 yards (6.7 YPC) with 16 TDs plus has three receiving TDs among his 23 catches. WRs Brown (51 catches on 18.3 YPC with 8 TDs) and Newsome (46 catches / 13.1 YPC / 5 TDs) are Howell's main targets. North Carolina averaged 41.1 PPG but allows 28.6 YPG.
Houston transfer D'Eriq King ranks third in the ACC -- behind only Howell and Clemson's Trevor Lawrence -- in total offense (311.2 yards per game), passing for 2,334 yards with 20 TDs and only four INTs, while rushing for 467 yards and four more TDs. He has fulfilled his reputation as a dual threat. RB Harris leads with 567 yards on 5.2 YPC with eight TDs. King has a bevy of targets with a trio of WRs combining for 102 catches and 10 TDs, while both TEs have four TD catches each, combining for 40 receptions. Miami can't quite match North Carolina's offensive punch (averages 34.9 PPG) but is the much better defensive team, allowing 22.0 PPG on 366.2 YPG.
Speaking of the Miami D, despite missing five key defensive players against Duke, Miami forced FIVE turnovers. A win here and a win next weekend vs Ga Tech and Miami will cap off a 10-1 regular season, which will earn a MAJOR bowl bid. The home team has dominated this series by going 7-1 ATS and with MUCH to play for, expect Miami to avenge last season's three-point loss.
|12-12-20||Wisconsin v. Iowa +2.5||7-28||Win||100||30 h 59 m||Show|
My 8* play is on Iowa at 3:30 ET.
Wisconsin opened its season 2-0, beating Illinois 45-7 on Oct 23 but then having two games canceled because of COVID, before trouncing Michigan 49-11 on Nov 14. In stark contrast, Iowa opened with nail-biting losses of 24-20 at Purdue and 21-20 at home to Northwestern, before winning FIVE in row to move into the national rankings at No. 16 (CFP) and Np. 19 (AP poll). The Hawkeyes look to end this condensed season with a SIXTH straight win when they host the 2-2 Badgers.
Wisconsin QB Graham Mertz completed 74.4% of his passes with seven TDs and zero INTs in Wisconsin's two wins but has completed just 57.3% in Wisconsin's two losses with one TD and four INTs. After scoring 45 and 49 points, the Wisconsin "O" has scored just 13 total points in losses to Northwestern and Indiana. That said, the Wisconsin "D" remains the nation's best, allowing 12.3 PPG (2nd) on 229.3 YPG (1st). Yes, Wisconsin has played only four games but it's rare to see a defense ranked 1st in both rushing D (72.3 YPG ) and passing D (157.0 YPG).
Don't dismiss Iowa's D, which has allowed 17.3 PPG (14th) on 326.4 YPG (15th). QB Spencer Petras is no Nate Stanley, who ended a three-year career at Iowa with 68 TDs and 23 INTs, while posting a 27-12 record as a starter, including winning all THREE bowl appearances! However, Petras has six TDs and just two INTs during Iowa's five-game winning streak (4-1 ATS), in which Iowa has averaged 37.2 PPG. RBs Goodson (656 yards on 5.0 YPC with six TDs) and Sargent (381 yards on 6.0 YPC with seven TDs) give Iowa a balanced offense (195.7 YPG passing and 177.3 YPG rushing).
The Wisconsin/Iowa rivalry began back in 1894 and this is the 93rd meeting The Badgers have won the last four but Iowa is the one with the MOST to play for, while Wisconsin likely just wants to put this pandemic-shortened season behind them. Iowa has outscored its last five opponents 186-76 during its longest winning streak since starting 12-0 in 2015. Make it SIX in a row!
|12-12-20||Navy v. Army -6.5||0-15||Win||100||101 h 40 m||Show|
My 8* play is on Army at 3:30 ET.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the site of one of college football's longest rivalries. Instead of being played at a neutral site such as Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. or Baltimore, Md. Army (7-2) will host Navy (3-6) on Saturday afternoon at Michie Stadium at West Point. It's the first time since 1943, during World War II, that the game will be played at one of the service academies' home fields.
Navy's Ken Niumatalolo took over for Paul Johnson back in 2008 and has led the Midshipmen to 10 winning seasons (and bowls) in his 12 years at the school. However, he and Navy entered the 2019 season off a brutal 3-10 year in 2018. The school's losing streak didn't last long, as the Midshipmen authored one of the finest single-season turnarounds in FBS history by going from 3-10 to 11-2, after beating Kansas St 20-17 (OT) in the Liberty Bowl. Navy's Malcolm Perry set a FBS record for rushing yards by a QB with 2,017, averaging 6.8 YPC while scoring 21 rushing TDs. Navy led the nation with 360.5 YPG on the ground, averaging 6.1 YPC while scoring 52 rushing TDs. However, as noted above, Navy enters this contest just 3-6.
Jeff Monken took over the Army football program in 2014 and after 4-8 and 2-10 seasons, led the Blacks Knights to seasons of 8-5, 10-3 and 11-2 from 2016 through 2018. Each of the seasons were capped by a bowl win The 2017 team tied the school record for most wins in a season when it beat SD State in the Armed Forces Bowl and then the 2018 team broke the school record for wins when it CRUSHED Houston 70-14 in the same bowl the following year. Maybe more importantly, Army beat Navy THREE straight in that span, while capturing the school's first Commander-in-Chief's Trophy since 1996 in 2016, then following up by winning that trophy again in both 2017 and 2018. However, 2019 was a HUGE disappointment for the Cadets. Army opened last season with a 'shaky' 14-7 win over Rice (as 23.5 favorites), extending its winning streak to 10 in a row. That streak was snapped the next week at Michigan but a 24-21 loss in OT at The "Big House" was hardly cause for concern. Army would win its next two games over UTSA (31-21) and Morgan St (52-21) but then the 'wheels came off.' Army would lose SEVEN of its final nine games, beating only sad-sack UMass (1-11 in 2019) and VMI, an FCS school. A crushing 31-7 to Navy was a fitting end to a dismal season.
Navy enters this contest on a FOUR-game losing streak, averaging just 185.4 YPG on 3.7 YPC, after last year's team ran for 360.5 YPG on 6.1 YPC. FB Nelson Smith leads the Midshipmen with 622 yards and eight touchdowns on 117 carries while the passing game has been in flux. In contrast, Army ranks third in the nation with 296.3 YPG on the ground, averaging 5.0 YPC. Seven players have 225-plus rushing yards, led by Buchanan (383 yards on 4.4 YPC) and Robinson (379 yards on 7.6 YPC). NEITHER school has a passing game. Defensively, after holding opponents to just 22.3 PPG last season, Navy is allowing 32.0 PPG. Again, in contrast, Army is allowing just 16.3 PPG (8th), following up on solid defensive efforts the previous four years, allowing between 17.1-to-23.0 PPG.
Army's 6-0 SU at home this season, making them 22-2 SU at Michie Stadium since the start of the 2017. I'm laying the points. Go Army! Beat Navy!
|12-12-20||Utah v. Colorado -1.5||Top||38-21||Loss||-110||50 h 46 m||Show|
My 9* Situational Stunner is on Colorado at 12:00 ET.
Note: The game was originally scheduled for Friday night. It was moved to take the place of the Michigan-Ohio State game, which was canceled because of COVID-19 issues within the Wolverines' program. The Utah-Colorado game will start at 12:05 p.m. ET, which is 10 a.m. local time. No COVID issue regarding these teams.
The Utah Utes and the Colorado Buffaloes conclude their respective abbreviated Pac 12 seasons with this game in Boulder. Utah's Kyle Whittingham was working under Urban Meyer at Utah back in 2004, a season in which the Utes went 12-0. Meyer left for the University of Florida and Whittingham was offered the head coaching job at Utah and also the head coaching job at his alma mater, BYU. He chose Utah and this is his 16th season as the school' head coach. He took Utah to six straight bowl games beginning in 2005, then came back-to-back 5-7 records. However, in 2014, he began another stretch of six straight bowl appearances, including last year's 11-3 record. Only the 2008 team, which went 13-0, had a better one-year record. The Utes come to Boulder having played just THREE games in this "Season of COVID," winning for the first time last Saturday by holding on to beat Oregon St 30-24.
Colorado wasn't expected to do much this year after head coach Mel Tucker was hired away by Michigan State and his replacement, Karl Dorrell, had no spring practice to work in a new QB. Dorrell was head coach at UCLA from 2003 to 2007 and led the Bruins to FIVE bowl appearances in five seasons, although he did not coach in the fifth after he was fired in December 2007. Truth is, his overall record at UCLA was only 35–27. Dorrell was named the 27th full time head coach at Colorado when Mel Tucker bolted after one season for Michigan St. Tucker had taken over from Mike MacIntyre, so Dorrell is Colorado's THIRD head coach in as many seasons. With ZERO expectations, the Buffs have gone 4-0 and have a chance to win the South Division and earn a spot in the Pac-12 title game with a win here and a USC loss at UCLA on Saturday. If both Colorado and USC win (or lose), USC would win a tiebreaker with one more Pac 12 win than the Buffs.
Utah QB Bentley is averaging only 163 YPG through the air with three TDs and four INTs. Freshman RB Ty Jordan ran for 167 yards and a TD in the Utes' 30-24 win over Oregon State last Saturday, a week after a costly fumble in a loss at Washington (more later). Utah has just one player with more than seven receptions through three games and that's TE Kuithe, who has 16 but averages 7.6 YPC and had not caught a TD pass. Utah's defense allowed just 15.0 PPG on 269 YPG last season but with just TWO returning starters, has allowed 25.0 PPG on 346.3 YPG.
Colorado fell behind Arizona 13-0 by the early second quarter last Saturday but shut out the Wildcats the rest of the way for a 24-13 win. RB Jarek Broussard. Broussard has rushed for 733 yards (6.4 YPC) in four games, with 301 coming in last week's win at Arizona. He was named the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week for the second time this season. Broussard (183.3 YPG) is ahead of Rashaan Salaam's four-game total when the late Colorado tailback won the 1994 Heisman Trophy. QB Nagy did throw two INTs vs Arizona but has been steady through four games with 742 yards passing and 179 yards rushing (five rushing TDs). The Buffaloes moved into this week's AP poll at No. 21 this past Sunday for the first time since 2018 and Tuesday night was also ranked No. 21 in the latest CFP standings.
The Utes have lost 33-17 to USC and then 24-21 to Washington, after taking a 21-0 lead at the half. The team's 30-24 win against Oregon St is hardly a 'buy' sign. Meanwhile. Colorado's beaten UCLA at home, Stanford on the road and San Diego St at home, before its comeback win over Arizona. The Buffs can't control what happens in the Rose Bowl with USC and UCLA but can and I believe WILL win this one, giving the Trojans plenty to think about before taking the field on Saturday. A win here, a USC loss to UCLA and a win in the Pac 12 championship game would mean a first-ever Rose Bowl appearance for the Buffs. That's a lot to take in. I'll be happy just to see them win Friday night.
|12-10-20||Patriots v. Rams -5||Top||3-24||Win||100||28 h 52 m||Show|
My 10* Ls Vegas Insider Game of the Year is on the LA Rams at 8:20 ET.
The New England Patriots have won FOUR of their last five, including a 45-0 'spanking' over the Chargers last Sunday. That game was played SoFi Stadium and New England head coach Bill Belichick and his team celebrated that triumph by staying in Los Angeles and working out at UCLA as opposed to making a pair of cross-country flights, as the Pats are right back in SoFi Stadium on Thursday night to face the Los Angeles Rams. Arizona, the LA Rams and Seattle were all 6-3 and tied atop the NFC West entering Week 11 but as Week 14 dawns, the Rams and Seahawks are tied at 8-4 (Rams currently own the tiebreaker), while the Cards have fallen off the pace at 6-6.
That Pats won 45-0 last Sunday in a game in which they gained just 291 of total offense. QB Cam Newton passed for only 69 yards but did have 48 rushing yards with two TDs. The Pats became the seventh team in league history to have a punt returned for a TD (70 yards) and a blocked field goal returned for a TD (44 yards) in the same game. New England did run for 165 yards and for the season have averaged 150.9 YPG on the ground (3rd in the NFL). However, Newton has been just AWFUL as a passer with just five TDs and nine INTs and a QB rating of 80.3 (among the worst of all QBs). The team's top-two pass catchers (Byrd and Meyers) have a combined 75 receptions and just one TD! New England's defense ranked first in the NFL in points allowed (14.1 PPG) and total defense (275.0 YPG) last season but even after last week's shutout, is allowing 21.3 PPG (NINE points per game more than LY) on 344.6 YPG (about 70 YPG more).
Jared Goff led the Rams to a Super Bowl berth in the 2018 season by throwing for 4,688 yards with 32 TDs and just 12 INTs (191.1 QB rating) and while he threw for 4,638 last season, his TD/INT ratio was just 22-16 and his QB rating fell to 86.5 (Rams went from 13-3 to 9-7). He's on pace to throw for around 4,500 yards in 2020 and his TD/INT ratio is 17-10 (QB rating of 93.7). The Rams said good-bye to RB Gurley and the running game has gone from averaging only 93.7 YPG (3.7 YPC) in 2019 to 124.2 YPG (ranks 9th) this season. Henderson, Brown and recently Akers have shared the ball carrying duties. Cam Akers ran 21 times for 72 yards and a TD in LA;s 38-28 win over the Cards but he has an ailing shoulder. Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown will fill in just fine if he's not 100 percent. While New England's top-two receivers have combined for just 75 catches, LA's Kupp has 74 catches and Woods 71. The TE duo of Higbee and Everett have a combined 66 catches with five TDs. As for defense, led by two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald, Los Angeles ranks fifth in scoring defense (20.3 PPG) and second in total defense (295.3 YPG).
An important matchup will be New England's running game (150.9 YPG ranks 3rd) against LA's rush D, which allows 93.1 YPG (3rd-best). The Pats were just 1-4 SU on the road before last Sunday's 45-0 blowout, with their LONE win coming against the still-winless Jets, game game the Pats trailed 27-17 in the fourth quarter before winning 30-27 on a 51-yard FG with 0:00 on the clock. A quick turnaround here vs a VERY good Rams team is NOT a good spot for the Pats. The Rams own impressive wins over Seattle and at Tampa Bay plus last week's 10-point win at Arizona over their last four games (loss came on a FG by the Niners on the final play of the game). Rams are the play!
|12-07-20||Bills +1 v. 49ers||Top||34-24||Win||100||15 h 35 m||Show|
My 10* MNF Game of the Month is on the Buf Bills at 8:15 ET.
The 8-3 Buffalo Bills and 5-6 San Francisco 49ers meet MNF at the home of the Arizona Cardinals, State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Az. The 49ers' home field is Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Ca and due to new COVID-related restrictions in Santa Clara County San Francisco's "home" games in Week 13 (Buffalo) and Week 14 (Washington) have been relocated to the Cardinals' home stadium. The Bills sit atop the AFC East but Miami's win on Sunday means that Buffalo needs to win here to stay one game up on the Dolphins. As for San Francisco, the defending NFC champs are currently in last place in the NFC West, although a win here would move them to 6-6 and into a tie with Arizona and Minnesota, just ONE game behind 7-5 Tampa Bay, which currently holds the NFC's final wild card spot.
Buffalo enters the contest having won FOUR of five, with the lone loss having come at Arizona in Week 10 with what was an almost UNBELIEVABLE ending! The Bills got a much-needed bye in Week 11 Bills and returned in Week 12 with a 27-17 home win over Los Angeles Chargers behind a running and a passing TD from QB Josh Allen and a trick-play score on a 20-yard pass from Cole Beasley to fellow WR Gabriel Davis. Josh Allen is in his third season. He made great strides in his second season (2019) and began the current season as just the fourth QB in NFL history with at least 20 passing TDs (30) and 12 rushing TDs (17) in his first two seasons. He's come into his own in 2020, completing 68.8% for 3,028 yards with 22 TDs and eight INTs, while rushing for 311 yards with six TDs. His QB rating was 67.9 in his rookie season, 85.3 in 2019 and it's up to 102.3 in 2020. More importantly, he has the Bills at 8-3, putting them in position to capture their first division title since 1995. Allen doesn't get much support from his running game either, as the Bills are averaging just 10.4 YPG on the ground (21st). However, the addition of WR Diggs has been HUGE, as he leads the team with 80 catches (four TDs). Fellow WR Beasley, who has averaged 59 catches per season the last five, has 57 through 11 games (on pace for 83). Buffalo's defense allowed just 16.2 PPG last season (2nd to only New England) on 298.3 YPG (3rd) but this season is allowing 25.6 PPG (about 10 points higher), on 373.1 YPG (about 75 yards more per game).
The 49ers have struggled all season with significant injuries and Nick Mullens (67.5% for 1,642 yards with six TDs and seven INTs) will again get the start at QB with Jimmy G still sidelined. RB Mostert (772 yards on 5.6 YPC with eight TDs) has played just five games (346 yards), leaving McKinnon as the "best of the rest" with 315 yards on 3.9 YPC but does have five TDs and 27 catches. San Francisco upset the Rams 23-20 last Sunday and the good news was Mostert returned and WR Samuel returned to catch 11 passes for 133 yards but TE Kittle (37 catches leads the team despite him playing just six games) remains sidelined. The 49ers are averaging only 112.0 YPG on the ground (averaged 141.0 LY) and with Mullens and injuries to their receiving corps, are averaging only 23.7 PPG, down from 29.9 PPG last season.
The Bills have steadily improved under head coach Sean McDermott and want to make sure they DON'T repeat last season 2-3 finish, when they were also 8-3 through 11 games. Buffalo controls its own destiny in the AFC East and after this game, has only one "sure win" in its four remaining games (Denver). The other three are against Pittsburgh (11-0), New England (has won FIVE of six) and Miami. "Big game" for the Bills and a win would be "just desserts" coming in the same stadium they lost that heartbreaker to the Cardinals!
|12-06-20||Patriots v. Chargers -1.5||Top||45-0||Loss||-105||25 h 30 m||Show|
My 10* AFC Game of the Year is on the LA Chargers at 4:25 ET.
The 5-6 New England Patriots have won the AFC East 11 straight years (17 of the last 19) and last had a losing season back in 2000, going 5-11 in Bill Belichick's first season as the Pats' head coach. The Patriots visit LA on Sunday for a game with the 3-8 LA Chargers, having won THREE of their last four to get them to within one game of .500. The contest marks the first of a three-game road trip beginning with Chargers, then staying in LA for a Thursday night game with Rams in Week 14 and finishing up with a game at Miami in Week 15. "We are not where we need to be or want to be," said Belichick. "[A fast start] will be important this week. It's important every week."
The Chargers will take the field having lost FOUR of their last five to fall to 3-8 in what was expected to be a rebuilding year. In fact, the matchup will be the first between the Patriots and Chargers NOT to feature either Tom Brady or Philip Rivers at QB since 1997. Brady famously left New England after 20 years and Rivers left the Chargers after 16 year to sign with the Colts.
New England was counting on former MVP Cam Newton to lead the offense but has just FOUR touchdown passes in 266 attempts with nine INTs. He does have 387 rushing yards (9 TDs) for a running game that ranks fifth by averaging 149.6 YPG on the ground. However, the team's receiving corps is a pathetic group. Edleman is out with an injury (had just 21 catches after six games), while WRs Byrd and Meyers have 71 combined catches and just one TD reception. New England's defense ranked first in the NFL in points allowed (14.1 PPG) and total defense (275.0 YPG) but this season the Pats are allowing 23.2 PPG (that's NINE more per game) on 352.5 YPG.
The Chargers lost Rivers but have found a "franchise" QB in Justin Herbert. He's completing 66.9% for 3,015 yards with 23 TDs and seven TDs (110.9 QB rating). WR Allen is having another brilliant season with 85 catches and seven TDs plus TE Henry has 48 catches with three TDs. The running game is no better than average (117.2 YPG ranks 11th) but the return of Austin Ekeler last week is GREAT news. He ran for 557 yards (3 TDs) and caught 92 passes (8 TDs) last season and last Sunday at Buffalo ran for 44 yards and caught 11 passes for 85 yards. The Chargers are allowing 27.3 PPG (25th) but a more modest 342.9 YPG (12th).
The Chargers have blown double digit leads on a regular basis but I like them here vs the Pats. Yes, the Pats have won three of four but in five road games in 2020, they are 1-4 SU with their LONE win coming against 0-11 Jets, game game the Pats trailed 27-17 in the fourth quarter before winning 30-27 on a 51-yard FG with 0:00 on the clock.
Methinks the Pats have a VERY good chance of a losing season!
|12-06-20||Eagles +9.5 v. Packers||Top||16-30||Loss||-119||19 h 9 m||Show|
My 9* Ultimate Underdog is on the Phi Eagles at 4:25 ET.The Green Bay Packers are 8-3 and chasing the 9-2 Saints for the NFC's No. 1 seed. In stark contrast the Philadelphia Eagles are 3-7-1 but in the NFC 'Least,' they are just a half-game back of first place, as New York (Giants) and Washington are both just 4-7. Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers is having an impressive season (in a HOF career), throwing for 3,100 passing yards with 33 TDs and just four INTs (his QB rating of 117.5 is an NFL-best). As for Philly QB Carson Wentz is struggling. He entered this season having thrown EXACTLY seven INTs in each of the previous three years, while passing for 81 TDs. However, he's completing just 58.1% in 2020 with almost as many INTs (15) as TD passes (16). Philly got some good news this week, as the Eagles activated Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz, who has missed the past five games with an ankle injury. Ertz has caught 431 passes the last five seasons, an average of 86 per. He joins fellow TEs Rodgers (24 catches / 2 TDs) and Goedert (30 catches (3 TDs). He has just one touchdown catch this season after being the team's leading receiver for the past four seasons. RB Sanders has missed some time but he's run for 600 yards on 5.6 YPC with three TDs. The defense has been mediocre, allowing 25.2 PPG (16th) on 338.9 YPG (9th). Rodgers leads an offense scoring 31.7 PPG (1st) and gets plenty of help for WR Adams (74 catches and 11 TDs in nine games), TE Tonyan (37 catches / 7 TDs) and RB Jones, who has 634 yards rushing (4.8 YPC / 6 TDs) plus 33 catches for three TDs. The problem has been a defense allowing 25.7 PPG (19th). The Eagles will have their work cut out for themselves in trying to win at Lambeau but a win could find them back in first place. New York is at 8-3 Seattle (10 1/2-point dogs) and Washington is at 11-0 Pittsburgh (7-point underdogs). I will NOT be surprised to see Wentz have a good game and getting this many points has me taking the Eagles. Good luck...Larry
|12-06-20||Rams -2.5 v. Cardinals||Top||38-28||Win||100||23 h 55 m||Show|
My 9* Division Game of the Month (NFC West) is on the LA Rams at 4:05 ET.
Arizona, the LA Rams and Seattle were all 6-3 and tied atop the NFC West entering Week 11. Seattle is currently 8-3 but the Rams (7-4) and the Cards (6-5) have fallen off the pace, as they square off in a critical game at Glendale, Az on Sunday. The Rams fell out of a first-place tie with the Seahawks on Sunday after a last-second 23-20 home defeat to the San Francisco 49ers, while the Cardinals fell two games off the pace after they lost 20-17 at the New England Patriots, also on a last-second FG. Catching Seattle will be tough (Seahawks have a very easy schedule ahead) but the loser of this game will really hurt its wild card chances.
Jared Goff led the Rams to a Super Bowl berth in the 2018 season by throwing for 4,688 yards with 32 TDs and just 12 INTs (191.1 QB rating) and while he threw for 4,638 last season, his TD/INT ratio was just 22-16 and his QB rating fell to 86.5 (Rams went from 13-3 to 9-7). He's on pace to throw for around 4,400 yards in 2020 and his TD/INT ratio is 16-10 (QB rating of 92.7). The Rams said good-bye to RB Gurley and the running game has gone from averaging only 93.7 YPG (3.7 YPC) in 2019 to 124.6 YPG (ranks 9th) this season. Henderson (510 yards on 4.3 YPC with four TDs) and Brown (371 yards on 4.3 YPC and five TDs) have shared the workload. WRs Kupp (66 catches) and Woods (61) plus the TE duo of Higbee and Everett have combined for 56 catches and four TDs. Led by two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald, Los Angeles ranks fourth in scoring defense (19.5 PPG) and second in total defense (296.7 YPG).
Kyler Murray has thrown for 2,814 yards with 19 TDs and nine INTs. He's also run for 650 yards (6.7 YPC) with 10 TDs. RB Kenyan Drake is turning into a solid player, rushing for 719 yards (4.3 YPC) and seven TDs. Future HOF Fitzgerald may have 43 catches but he's averaging only 7.8 YPC without a TD. Hopkins is now the team's "go-to" WR with 77 catches, with Kirk catching 34 passes with six TDs.
However, here's the rub. The Cardinals have lost three of their last four games and are a successful Hail Mary pass from Kyler Murray to DeAndre Hopkins away from being on a four-game losing streak. Opponents have started to contain Murray's passing ability with blitzes and have stifled his running ability by focusing on him rather than the backs on handoff zone-reads. The Rams defense is surely capable of doing the same. Speaking of defense, when the Cards beat the 49ers back on Oct 25, they entered that game with their defense allowing just 18.7 PPG. However, including that 34-31 win in OT, the Arizona defense has allowed 29.2 PPG over its last five games.
Jared Goff lost a fumble in Sunday's defeat to the 49ers and threw TWO interceptions, one which was returned for a TD. After the game, head coach Sean McVay said his quarterback has to take better care of the football. As for Goff, he responded, "I'm a big boy," he said. "I can handle it." Goff shouldn't lack for confidence, as this series has clearly been one-sided over the last three years with the Rams going a perfect 6-0 SU and ATS. Why not a 'Lucky 7' in a row?
|12-06-20||Saints v. Falcons +3||21-16||Loss||-115||72 h 0 m||Show|
My 8* Las Vegas Insider is on the Atl Falcons at 1:00 ET.
The New Orleans Saints opened the 2020 season with a 34-23 home win over Tom Brady and the Bucs but then lost in Las Vegas to the Raiders and at home to the Packers to fall to 1-2. However, the Saints have won EIGHT in a row since, including the last two with Taysom Hill filling at QB for the injured Drew Brees. The Saints now own a 2 1/2-game lead over Tampa Bay atop the NFC South and a one-game lead over Green Bay atop the NFC. The Falcons opened the season 0-5, which led to the firing of head coach Dan Quinn. Raheem Morris has been named interim head coach and the Falcons have gone 4-2, after routing the Raiders 43-3 last Sunday.
|12-06-20||Colts -3 v. Texans||Top||26-20||Win||100||9 h 41 m||Show|
My 9* Situational Stunner is on the Ind Colts at 1:00 ET.
The Indianapolis Colts won a huge game 34-17 in Tennessee against the Titans back in Week 10 and followed in Week 11 with a 34-31 OT win at home over the Packers (trailed 28-14 at the half) but 'ran out of gas' last Sunday at home, when the Titans (behind Henry's 178 rushing yards and three TDs) crushed the Colt 45-26. The 7-4 Colts now trail the 8-3 Titans in the AFC South as they visit Houston to take on the Texans. The Texans entered the season having won FOUR of the previous five AFC titles but not much has gone right for Houston this season. The Texans crushed the sad-sack Lions 41-25 on Thanksgiving but Houston is just 4-7 on the season and the playoffs are hardly a serious likelihood.
The Colts signed QB Philip Rivers in the offseason as a FA and he's been solid. Rivers took over as the Chargers' starting QB in 2006 and over the next 14 seasons, started EVERY game, topping 3,000 passing yards in every one, including passing for over 4,000 yards 11 times (he's topped 4,000 in his last SEVEN seasons). He's on pace for another 4,000-yard season in 2020, as through 11 games he's got 2,978 yards. His completion rate of 67.3% is slightly above his career mark (64.8) and his QB rating of 93.9 is just below his career mark (95.0). Rookie RB Taylor (518 rushing yards / 3.8 YPC) has been a disappointment but fellow RB Hines leads the team with 44 catches. WRs Hilton (33 catches) and Pascal (32) are hardly special but the Indy defense, despite some recent issues, has been strong. The Colts are allowing 23.0 PPG (9th) and 311.8 YPG (5th).
Houston signed QB Deshaun Watson to a huge contract before the season and it's hard to blame the team's poor season on him. He's completing 68.9% for 3,2101 yards with 24 TDs and just five INTs. He enters this game without an interception in SIX straight games but the Texans are just 3-3 in those contests. No one really expected that Houston could play its way into the playoff picture but with WR Will Fuller V and cornerback Bradley Roby earning season-ending suspensions based on violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs, the Texan's slim hopes have 'left town!' Fuller was having the most productive season of his five-year career with 53 receptions, 879 yards and eight touchdowns. Replacing him will be all but impossible on the heels of the Texans losing WR Randall Cobb (38 catches / 3 TDs) to injury. The team's prospects are not helped by a defense allowing 27.0 PPG (23rd) on 409.5 YPG (30th).
These teams will meet again in Week 15 but I'm taking the Colts here, as they've covered SIX of their last seven matchups with the Texans, who have very little left to play for in 2020.
|12-05-20||Wyoming v. New Mexico OVER 51.5||16-17||Loss||-110||64 h 31 m||Show|
My 8* play is on Wyoming/New Mexico Over at 1):30 ET.
Full, detailed analysis by 8:00 ET Saturday morning.
|12-05-20||Fresno State v. Nevada -6.5||26-37||Win||100||18 h 23 m||Show|
My 8* play is on Nevada at 10:30 ET.
Jeff Tedford did a great job at Fresno St, taking over a program that had gone 1-11 in 2016 by going 10-4 and 12-2 in his first two seasons. However, the Bulldogs fell to 4-8 last season and Tedford resigned for health concerns. Getting his first head coaching job at the FBS level was Kalen DeBoer, who had a truly amazing run at NAIA school Sioux Falls. He left with a 67-3 five-year run of 67-3,, including going 56-1 over his last four years while winning THREE of four NAIA national championships. The Bulldogs opened the 2020 season by getting upset 34-19 at home by Hawaii but have since won THREE in a row SU and ATS. The offense is averaging 33.0 PPG (39th) on 467.3 YPG (23rd), and while the defense allows 417.3 YPG (72nd), it's holding opponents to 23.5 PPG (32nd)
Jay Norvell enters his fourth season in Reno and after going 3-9 in his first season, he's led the Wolf Pack to back-to-back winnings season and two bowl bids. Nevada opened the 2020 season 5-0 (4-1 ATS) but then lost 24-21 at Hawaii (ask Fresno about the Rainbow Warriors). Nevada's offense averages 30.3 PPG (58th) on 446.5 YPG (32nd) and its defense has been strong all season, allowing 21.2 PPG (21st) on 321.5 YPG (15th).
Fresno St has not played since Nov 14 (last two games have been canceled) and will catch an 'angry' Wolf Pack team which just had its 5-0 season spoiled last Saturday in 'paradise!' The difference in this game will be the play of Nevada QB Carson Strong (71.3% with 16 TDs and just two INTs) and WR Doubs, who averages 21.3 YPC with nine TD grabs in just six games. Lay the points.
|12-05-20||Colorado State v. San Diego State -7||Top||17-29||Win||100||26 h 53 m||Show|
My 9* play is on San Diego St at 7:00 ET.
Colorado St went to FIVE consecutive bowl games from 2013 through 2017 but back-to-back 39 and 4-8 seasons followed in 2018 and 2019. Calls for head coach Mike Bobo's firing gained steam throughout last season. Just over 12,000 people attended the final home game against Boise State, one of the Rams' worst home crowds since before Sonny Lubick's arrival with Bobo and CSU mutually agreeing to part ways just days later. Steve Addazio got the job, after being fired at BC. He did lead BC to SIX bowl appearances in his seven-year tenure but his teams never won more than seven games in a season and his career mark at the school ended at 44-44. The Rams have seen their last two games canceled and have played just THREE games to-date. Colorado St won 34-24 at home vs Wyoming but in two road games, has lost 38-17 at Fresno St and 52-21 at Boise St.
Brady Hoke is back coaching the Aztecs after Rocky Long retired after the 2019 season. He took over a program that had won 10-plus games in FOUR of the previous five years and has been to 10 consecutive bowl games! The Aztecs opened 3-1 but then lost 26-21 at Nevada on Nov 21. The team's game with Fresno St on Nov 27 was canceled early in the week and SDSU hastily arranged a game in Boulder against Colorado. The Buffs are a good team and the Aztecs lost 20-10. The defense was great last season, allowing 12.7 PPG on only 288.0 YPG and it hasn't been too far off those numbers in 2020 (16.2 PPG ranks 9th and 270.3 YPG ranks 3rd).
This marks SDSU's final home game of the season, as the Aztecs finish next Saturday at BYU (good luck in that one!). Lay the points here with the Aztecs.
|12-05-20||Florida Atlantic v. Georgia Southern -2||Top||3-20||Win||100||14 h 21 m||Show|
My 9* Situational Stunner is on Georgia Southern at 6:00 ET.
|12-05-20||BYU v. Coastal Carolina +10.5||Top||17-22||Win||100||30 h 56 m||Show|
My 9* Ultimate Underdog is on Coastal Carolina at 5:30 ET.
|12-05-20||Georgia Tech v. NC State -6.5||Top||13-23||Win||100||47 h 36 m||Show|
My 9* PERFECT STORM is on NC State at 4:00 ET.
7-3 North Carolina State (6-3 ACC) plays its final game of the season on Saturday against 3-5 Georgia Tech (3-4 ACC). NC State is still smarting from last year's 28-26 defeat to the Yellow Jackets in Atlanta, when an injury-depleted Wolfpack team fell behind 21-3 and saw their comeback fall short when a final two-point conversion failed. Surprisingly, NC State has not beaten Ga Tech in Raleigh since 2000!
Georgia Tech took the field last Saturday having not played since Oct 31 and ended a three-game losing streak with a 56-33 win over Duke. QB Sims set career highs for rushing yard (108) and TD passes (three) becoming the first freshman in the country to run for at least 100 yards and pass for at least three TDs in a game this season. That outstanding effort still leaves Sims with a modest 58.8% completion rate, just 1,492 passing yards and with as many INTs (11) as TD passes (11) on the season. He's added 385 rushing yards with four TDs. The Yellow Jackets average 193.6 YPG on the ground (39th) but the team's leading rusher (Gibbs) has just 460 yards. He also leads the team with 24 catches (12.6 YPC / 3 TDs). WR Camp has 22 catches for 14.5 YPC with three TDs and fellow wide-out Carter has 17 catches (14.4 YPC / 3 TDs). The Ga Tech defense is allowing 38.9 PPG which remains an issue.
Last year's starting QB Leary has been replaced by Bailey Hochman, who has thrown for 1,511 yards and 12 touchdowns in eight games. He passed for a career-high 313 yards and four TDs in the Wolfpack's most recent win, 36-29 at Syracuse. NC State has not run the ball as well as Ga Tech but does have two solid RBs in Knight (698 yards / 5.6 YPC / 8 TDs) and Person (576 yards / 4.6 YPC / 3 TDs). WRs Emezie and Thomas each have 36 catches, combining for 11 TDs. TE Angeline has 25 catches for 15.5 YPC with six TD catches. Like Ga Tech, the NC State defense is a negative, allowing 31.4 PPG.
NC State sits at 7-3, with ALL of its losses coming against ranked opponents. NC State has played FIVE ranked opponents in all, winning two of those games. NC State enters on a three-game winning streak with Hockman settling in at QB with seven TDs and three INTs during the streak. As for Ga Tech, let's note that all five of the team's losses have come by 17 or more points and here's a stat head coach Geoff Collins doesn't want you to hear. He was just 3-9 in his first season (2019) and has followed by going 3-5 in 2020. That's just SIX wins and following his first five wins (his sixth was last week vs Duke), Ga Tech has not just lost all FIVE but has also gone 0-5 ATS with an average margin of defeat of 30.4 PPG. Good enough for me!
|12-05-20||Boston College v. Virginia -4||Top||32-43||Win||100||28 h 15 m||Show|
My 10* Revenge Game of the Year is on Virginia at 3:30 ET.
Steve Addazio coached Boston College to SIX bowl appearances in his seven seasons but never won more than SEVEN games in any season. On December 1, 2019 following the conclusion of a 6-6 regular season, Boston College fired him (career record at BC was 44-44). Jeff Hafley was hired to be the co-defensive coordinator at Ohio State and quickly established himself as one of the best recruiters in the country and was hired to be the head coach at Boston College after the firing of Addazio. Boston College is 6-4 (5-4 in the ACC) in Hafley's first season and The Eagles will play their final regular season game of the year Saturday at Virginia.
Bronco Mendenhall spent 11 years as BYU head coach, leading the Cougars to 11 bowls during his tenure. He took the Virginia job in 2016 and flopped,' going 2-10 his first season. However, he righted the ship quickly, by following with THREE straight bowl berths. The 2019 season was special, as he led the Cavs to their first victory over Virginia Tech after fifteen consecutive losses in their rivalry, capping a 9–3 regular season and that secured the program's first Coastal Division title and a berth in the 2019 ACC Championship Game and 2019 Orange Bowl. It was the program's first Orange Bowl bid since turning down an invite 68 years earlier (for the 1952 Orange Bowl) and only the third New Year's Six appearance of any Coastal Division member. It was also the Cavaliers' most prestigious bowl appearance since George Welsh led the 1990 team to the Sugar Bowl.
Boston College is off a 34-27 victory at home over Louisville last Saturday, despite starting QB Phil Jurkovec (left knee) and No. 1 RB David Bailey (upper body) to injuries. Backup QB Dennis Grosel came on and threw two fourth-quarter TDs in the win. Jurkovec is a Notre Dame transfer and has completed 61 percent of his passes for 2,558 yards with 17 TDs and five INTs. As for Grosel, who started seven games in 2019, he said "It's kind of like riding a bike. I did it last year, so I hopped right on and held on for the ride." Bailey leads BC's running game with a modest 503 yards and the Eagles only average 112.6 YPG on the ground (113th), averaging a pathetic 3.3 YPC. WR Flowers has 48 catches with seven TDs and TE Long 49 catches with four TDs. The BC defense allows 26.9 PPG, just under what the team's offense scores (27.4.
Armstrong has taken over at QB for Virginia and has thrown 15 TDs and eight INTs, while also leading the team in rushing with 399 yards (4 TDs). The Cavs' running game is not bad, averaging 163.8 YPG (50 YPG more than BC) plus RB Kemp is the team's top receiver (52 catches). TE Poljan has 30 catches and five TDs plus WR Davis, who has played in just five games, averages 26.7 YPC on his 14 receptions with five TDs.
The Cavaliers are 0-6 all-time against the Eagles heading into Saturday's home finale in Charlottesville, including an 0-2 record at home and an 0-4 mark since Boston College joined the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2005. So why should UVa win here? Boston College has alternated wins and losses over its last nine games and is coming off a win last Saturday (see above). The status QB Jurkovec and RB Bailey is not clear but I'm 'ON' Virginia, regardless. Armstrong has led UVa to three straight wins, throwing eight TD passes and just two INTs (also added three rushing TDs plus 178 yards), as the Cavs have averaged 43.3 PPG. Virginia is 16-2 SU at Scott Stadium dating back to the start of the 2018 season. Revenge works well in this one!
|12-04-20||UL-Lafayette v. Appalachian State -2||Top||24-21||Loss||-110||55 h 36 m||Show|
My 10* Las Vegas Insider is on Appalachian St at 7:00 ET.
No. 20 ULL (8-1 / 6-1 SBC) visits Appalachian St (7-2, 5-1) on Friday night. Louisiana has already secured a spot in the conference championship game as the SBC-East champs, while Appalachian St's loss to Coastal Carolina (9-0 / 7-0) means it will not have a chance to defend its back-to-back SBC title game wins over ULL in 2018 and 2019.
Billy Napier accepted the head coaching job of the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns back on Dec 15, 2017, giving him his first job as a head coach of a college football team. His first season resulted with the Rajin' Cajuns winning the SBC-West and making a Cure Bowl appearance (lost to Tulane to finish 7-7). ULL won the West again last season and gave Appalachian St all it wanted in the SBC championship game (lost 45-38),before capping its season with a 27-17 bowl win over Miami-Ohio to finish 11-3. ULL opened the 2020 season by winning 31-14 at Iowa St as a two-TD underdog. That victory is arguably the biggest win in school history, as ULL beat a top-25 opponent on the road for the first time, having gone 0-26 against ranked foes away from home. ULL's only other win over a top-25 team was in 1996 at home against Texas A&M. ULL is fresh off last Saturday's 70-20 pounding of UL-Monroe, improving to 5-0 in road games.
Appalachian State will be forever-linked to its upset of Michigan back in 2007. There was no official pointspread on the game but App St's 34-32 win has been called the greatest upset in college football history. Appalachian State moved up to the FBS level in 2014 and has made quite an impression. Beginning in 2015, the Mountaineers have gone 54-12 (.818) and been to five straight bowls, winning all five. Scott Satterfield led App St through 2018 but then left for Louisville. Eliah Drinkwitz led the Mountaineers to a 12-1 record in 2019 and a second straight SBC championship but bolted to Missouri before the school's 31-17 win over UAB in the New Orleans Bowl. Shawn Clark coached App St in the bowl win and became the school's THIRD head coach in three seasons.
ULL has outstanding balance on offense, passing for 227.0 YPG and rushing for 217.3. QB Levi Lewis has thrown for 2,027 yards with 16 TDs and seven INTs, even though no player has more than 23 receptions. The running game is shared by Mitchell (656 yards / 6.0 YPC / 7 TDs) and Ragas (617 yards / 5.9 YPC / 7 TDs). The defense is solid, allowing 21.9 PPG (23rd) on 354.2 YPG (32nd). QB Zach Thomas is completing 66.7% for App St, throwing for 1,775 yards with 17 TDs and eight INTs, down from last year's numbers (2,718 yards with 28 TDs and six INTs). The Mountaineers are averaging 256.6 YPG on the ground (7th) on 5.6 YPC. Five players have more than 250 yards, led by Peoples (639 yards / 6.0 YPC / 6 TDs) and Harrington (595 yards / 5.6 YPC / 7 TDs). Like ULL, the team's receiving corps is very mediocre. However, the defense is VERY good, allowing just 18.0 PPG (15th) on 320.0 YPG (13th).
Here's the rub. ULL has had the better season but has already clinched a spot in the SBC championship game and will get a shot at Coastal Carolina, which is currently unbeaten. What's more, the Ragin' Cajuns are trying to avoid the distraction of Billy Napier's name surfacing as a potential candidate for higher-profile head coaching jobs. It's also impossible to ignore that as SBC foes, Appalachian St is 8-0 SU vs ULL. This marks Appalachian State's final home game of the season (has avoided COVID postponements) and would surely love to continue its domination of ULL. How about this? With ULL coming in as the AP's 20th-ranked team (No. 25 in the CFP), this marks the first time in school history that a top-25 team will come to Boone, North Carolina's Kidd Brewer Stadium. The Mountaineers are the small favorite and win "with room to spare!"
|11-29-20||49ers v. Rams -6.5||Top||23-20||Loss||-102||15 h 43 m||Show|
My 9* PERFECT STORM Game of the Month is on the LA Rams at 4:05 ET.
Entering Week 11, the Cards, Rams and Seahawks all were 6-3, tied atop the NFC West. Meanwhile, the defending NFC West champion 49ers (not to mention the defending NFC champs), were just 4-6 and 'enjoying' their bye week. Seattle won 28-21 at home over Arizona on Thursday, moving to 7-3 and dropping the Cards to 6-4. The Rams were in Tampa for MNF against the Bucs and needed a win to stay tied with Seattle and did just that with a 27-24 win. The 49ers travel to LA's SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Ca on Sunday, with the Rams hoping to avenge a 24-16 loss at San Francisco back in Week 6.
The 49ers have struggled all season with significant injuries and Nick Mullens (67.3% for 1,390 yards with six TDs and six INTs) will again get the start at QB with Jimmy G still sidelined. Garoppolo threw three TD passes in that Week 6 win, all to receivers who are currently injured (tight end George Kittle), trying to return from an injury (wide receiver Deebo Samuel), or attempting to get reinstated from the COVID-19 list (wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk). Garoppolo is currently on injured reserve himself, with a high-ankle sprain. RB Mostert (772 yards on 5.6 YPC with eight TDs) has played just four games (303 yards), leaving McKinnon as the "best of the rest" with 294 yards on 3.8 YPC but does have five TDs, The 49ers are averaging only 11.,0 YPG on the ground (averaged 141.0 LY) and I already noted the receiving woes. After averaging 29.9 PPG last season, the 49ers are averaging just 23.8 PPG (20th) in 2020.
Jared Goff led the Rams to a Super Bowl berth in the 2018 season by throwing for 4,688 yards with 32 TDs and just 12 INTs (191.1 QB rating) and while he threw for 4,638 last season, his TD/INT ratio was just 22-16 and his QB rating fell to 86.5 (Rams went from 13-3 to 9-7). He's on pace to throw for just over 4,500 yards in 2020 and his TD/INT ratio is 16-8 (QB rating of 95.5). The Rams said good-bye to RB Gurley and the running game has gone from averaging only 93.7 YPG (3.7 YPC) in 2019 to 124.5 YPG (4.2 YPC) this season. Henderson (491 yards on 4.5 YPC with four TDs) and Brown (367 yards on 4.4 YPC and five TDs) have shared the workload. Kupp had 11 catches vs Tampa (64 on the season) and Woods had 12 catches (54 on the season) plus the TE duo of Higbee and Everett have combined for 53 catches and four TDs. Led by two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald, Los Angeles ranks second in scoring defense (19.2 PPG) and 1st in total defense (291.9 YPG). Goff came up HUGE in outplaying Brady on MNF (376 passing yards with three TDs) and enters this contest with THREE consecutive 300-yard games. As for the Rams D, it recorded six sacks and two interceptions against Seattle's Russell Wilson, before limiting Tampa Bay's Tom Brady to just 216 passing yards with two interceptions. Hard to see them NOT containing Nick Mullens.
The Rams should be primed to break a three-game losing streak to the 49ers and why shouldn't they win here at SoFi Stadium, where they are 4-0 (3-1 ATS), while holding opponents to just 13.0 PPG.
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