|Date||Match Up||Rating||Score||Result||Profit||Lead Time||Analysis|
|12-28-13||Michigan v. Kansas State -5.5||Top||14-31||Win||100||14 h 17 m||Show|
I'm playing on KANSAS STATE. Its true that Bill Snyder hasn't had much success in the bowls of late. I expect that to finally change tonight.
With five wins in their final six games, the Wildcats are playing with confidence.
Needless to say, Snyder desperately wants to break the bowl drought. His players desperately want to do it for him.
They'll be catching a Michigan team which will be playing without its starting QB. Freshman Shane Morris will be making his first career start. Considering that starting QB Devin Gardner threw for 451 yards and four touchdowns last game out, that's a big deal.
While a first time starter would normally like to rely on a solid ground game to help him out, Michigan isn't strong in that department. The Wolverines average 3.2 yards per carry, 112th in the country and their worst mark this millennium.
While the Wolverines would prefer to be in a bigger bowl, this is a big deal to the Wildcats.
Junior linebacker Jonathan Truman noted: "Nobody on our team has won a bowl game, with the exception of the coaches. We need it. We want it really bad."
I look for the healthier, hungrier team to win this one, picking up the cover along the way. 10*
|12-28-13||Alabama +8.5 v. UCLA||Top||67-75||Win||100||12 h 37 m||Show|
I'm playing on ALABAMA. The Tide have lost quite a few games already, probably more than they would have cared for. In fairness, its been a pretty tough schedule. Those losses should provide them with some extra urgency. A win here would be just what the doctor ordered. While that won't be easy, I expect them to go all out.
A closer look at the Alabama losses shows that they have come by 3, 5, 2, 2, 10, and 9 points. (The 10-point loss was against Duke.) That's an average of only five points per loss, meaning they could potentially have a better record and also that they don't get "blown out" easily.
UCLA has been an underdog twice. It lost both those games. The Bruins were beaten by 17 by Duke and by nine by Missouri. They'd been double-digit favorites for every other game, with the exception of their opening game vs. Drexel. Laying -7.5 points in that game, they won by five. I expect them to have their hands full once again here. 10*
|12-28-13||Denver Nuggets v. Memphis Grizzlies -2.5||Top||99-120||Win||100||12 h 59 m||Show|
I'm playing on MEMPHIS. While they blew the cover last game, I like the way that the Grizzlies have started to play. They led Houston much of the way last game out, before eventually losing by eight. If you read the post-game comments, you'll see the Grizzlies felt they were treated unfairly by the refs. (Randolf got fined $25K over his comments.) They were happy with their effort though. Before that, they'd won and covered back-to-back games.
On the other hand, with last night's loss at New Orleans, the Nuggets are 0-5 SU/ATS their last five. They played well to start the season but the offseason losses have seemingly started to catch up with them a little.
At least, that's been evident when the Nuggets have played the second of back-to-back games; they're 1-4 SU/ATS in that situation so far this season. The lone win was against the 76'ers; all four losses came by double-digits.
While some of the faces are now different, its worth noting that the Grizzlies have had success as a host in this series recently. They're won four of the last five meetings here, covering three of them. They were laying -6 and -7 points for last season's games here; we're getting a much better line to work with this evening.
A look ahead at the schedule shows that these teams will meet again, at Denver, on 1/3. For that game, Memphis will be in a back-to-back situation while the Nuggets will be rested.
Well aware of next week's schedule and knowing that tonight offers them a much better opportunity for the victory, I expect the Grizzlies to take care of business here. 10*
|12-26-13||Memphis Grizzlies +8 v. Houston Rockets||Top||92-100||Push||0||12 h 7 m||Show|
I'm playing on MEMPHIS. I like how this one sets up for the visitors. The Grizzlies are well-rested, having had the last couple of days off. They also come in with some positive momentum. They followed up with an 8-point win at NY with a 10-point win over Utah. The Grizzlies, who play with revenge from an earlier loss at Memphis, have played the Rockets tough recently and I look for them to do so again here.
True, the Rockets looked good yesterday. However, that was a big win over an instate rival, on National TV. Throw in the fact that it was Christmas and it figures to have been an especially emotional time/win for some of the players. I feel its a good spot for a letdown, mentally and/or physically. In addition to the back-to-back spot, note that Houston will be playing its third game in the past four days and its fifth game in the past seven nights.
While they lost (by seven points) at Memphis last month, the Grizzlies had previously beaten the Rockets twice in a row. They won their last game here by a score of 82-78.
A look at the last five games in the series shows Memphis with three wins. Only one of those games resulted in a Houston win of greater than seven points.
Off the win over the Jazz, note that the Grizzlies are 31-18-3 ATS (37-15 SU) the past few seasons, when coming off a double-digit victory. During that stretch, they've won 18 of 27, when playing with two day's rest in between games.
The Rockets played last Christmas Day. The next day they were in a battle, winning by three vs. Minnesota. While they were able to grind out the win, afterwards Harden noted the following: ''We were kind of sluggish throughout the game. We stuck with it for four quarters. Every game we're not going to score the ball, we're not going to make shots every single game. In different games you have to grind it out and try to force a win.'' I expect them to have their hands full the entire way here. 10*
|12-25-13||Los Angeles Clippers v. Golden State Warriors -2.5||Top||103-105||Loss||-103||14 h 10 m||Show|
I'm playing on GOLDEN STATE. I successfully backed the Clippers when these teams faced each other on Halloween. That was at LA though. With tonight's rematch being played at Golden State, I expect a much different result.
Off five straight wins, the Clippers are certainly playing well. (Note that four of those were at home and the other was at Washington.) They failed to cover last time out though, dropping them to 2-5 ATS the last seven times that they were off three or more consecutive SU victories. Tonight's venue is a tough one.
The Warriors outscore teams by a 104.8 to 97.8 margin at home. The Clippers score only 98.7 ppg on the road, giving up 97.2
Not only do the Warriors score a lot of points, they're also better defensively than many realize. They allow 97.8 ppg at home, but hold visiting teams to just 42.4% from the field. Recently, the Warriors have stepped up their defense, too. Over the last five games, opposing teams have hit less than 40% of their shots, the Warriors holding them to 93.4 points.
Over their last two games, the Warriors have allowed 83 and 81 points. Their opponents (Lakers and Nuggets) shot 32.5% and 38.3% respectively.
They're 12-6-1 ATS (14-5 SU) the past couple of seasons, when playing a home game with an O/U line in the 205 to 209.5 range.
The Warriors are also 3-0 SU/ATS the last three times they were a host in this series, 6-1 SU/ATS the last seven. I'm expecting more of the same tonight. 10*
|12-25-13||Iowa State v. Boise St +4.5||Top||70-66||Win||100||13 h 27 m||Show|
I'm playing on BOISE STATE. With the football team getting whipped yesterday, the Broncos' basketball team may feel it has a chance to finally gain a little recognition. Beating a nationally ranked opponent like Iowa State would certainly help. While the Cyclones certainly deserve respect, I believe the Broncos have what it takes the score the Christmas Day upset, in the Championship Game of the Diamond Head Classic.
While they don't have a national ranking and while most of their wins have admittedly come against weak teams, I believe that the Broncos will again prove to be one of the better teams in their conference. That's saying something as the Mountain West is tough; the league sent five teams to the NCAA Tournament last season.
Boise was one of those five MWC teams to make the tournament last season, finishing with 21 wins. The Broncos returned all five starters from that team, along with four other lettermen. A closer look at the stats shows the Broncs returned more than 92 percent of last season's scoring, nearly 97 percent of their assists, 98 percent of their starts and 90 percent of their total minutes.
While the Cyclones are undefeated, the Broncos are a solid 10-2. The losses came at Kentucky (no shame in that) and vs. St. Mary's - the game immediately following the Kentucky loss. They've since responded with back-to-back wins, most recently a 80-54 destruction of South Carolina. Hawaii has seemingly been treating them well.
This year's Broncos are averaging 83.8 points per game, 19th best in the country. While the Cyclones shut down Akron last game, they'd given up an average of 77.0 points per game on 46.4 percent shooting over their previous three games.
When facing quality teams, the Cyclones have had some close games. Their games against Michigan, Iowa, Northern Iowa and BYU were all decided by single digits. Two of those were decided by three or less. With a 1-point win over Hawaii a few days ago, the Broncos, who's only double-digit loss came at Lexington, have now seen two of their games decided by two points or less.
Speaking of close games, I backed an underdog from the Mountain West (San Diego State) in the final of this tournament last season. The Aztecs were getting five points (vs. Arizona) and they ended up losing by one, 68-67. (The Wildcats blocked a layup in final secs. to hang on for the win.)
I won't be surprised to see this one also come down to the wire and am grabbing the points with the underdog from the Mountain West. 10*
|12-23-13||Atlanta Falcons +13 v. San Francisco 49ers||Top||24-34||Win||100||108 h 12 m||Show|
I'm playing on ATLANTA. Needless to say, the 49'ers have had a much better season than the Falcons. That doesn't mean that the Falcons aren't offering value here though.
At this time of the years, when a team (like Atlanta) is out of playoff race, one has to try and determine if the game actually means anything. In this case, I believe that the game does mean a lot to the Falcons.
For starters, the Falcons believe that they are much better than their record indicates. Playing a nationally televised game against a quality opponent, this is a final chance to prove that to the world. Winning what may be the final game at Candlestick would be all the more sweet.
Additionally, you may recall that these teams met in the playoffs. The 49'ers overcame a double-digit halftime deficit to win that game by a score of 28-24. That figures to provide the Falcons with further motivation, as that game was essentially the start of their "demise."
Naturally, the 49'ers will also really want to close out the Candlestick era with a victory. While I certainly respect their team, I feel that winning by two touchdowns or more is asking a lot.
True, yesterday's win by Arizona (at Seattle) changed the dynamics of this game, significantly. The 49'ers now have a little more pressure on them, than most were expecting. (I personally didn't play the Seattle/Arizona game but admit that I thought the Hawks were likely to win "SU.") Note that the 49'ers play at Arizona next week too. So, this game became a lot more important to them, when the Cards scored the upset.
That makes it even bigger for the Falcons too, in my opinion. Now, they get a chance to potentially do some spoliing. (They'd surely feel more love for the Cardinals than the 49'ers, the team which killed last year's dreams.) While the 49'ers could now be feeling some pressure, the Falcons have none. I believe that makes them dangerous.
The Falcons have won two of three, each of those three games decided by a field goal or less. Going back further shows that each of their last five games has been decided by 13 or fewer points. I look for this one to prove much closer than most will be expecting and am grabbing all the points I can get. 10*
|12-22-13||Cleveland Browns v. NY Jets -2||Top||13-24||Win||100||25 h 6 m||Show|
I'm playing on the NEW YORK JETS. With last week's loss at Carolina and with Baltimore's subsequent win at Detroit, the Jets are officially eliminated from postseason contention. I don't expect them to pack it in though.
The Jets, who may well be playing for Ryan's job, have indeed struggled on the road. However, they've been very tough here at home. In fact, they've won five of seven home games, most recently a double-digit win over the Raiders.
The combination of this being their home finale and that they're potentially playing for Ryan's job, figures to provide plenty of motivation.
QB Geno Smith had this to say about playing hard for Ryan and about his feelings for the Jets' coach. "We're going out there and playing for Rex because he's our head coach and we want to play hard for him and we want to win games for him. He coaches us hard, he puts the time and effort in and he deserves for our team to go out and that's what we do every single week. I love Rex. And despite what decision is made, my feelings toward him will never change."
While the Jets have won five of seven here, the Browns have just one win in six road tries. Having already played their home finale and with a revenge game against Pittsburgh on deck, I'm not sure that they'll be quite as hungry as the Jets.
Even if they are "motivated," the Browns simply aren't playing very well right now. They've lost five straight, giving up an average of 33 points in those losses. Over the last two weeks, they've given up 658 passing yards and more than 900 overall.
All teams are dealing with injuries at this time of the year and the Jets and Browns are no exception. The Browns' injury list is arguably bigger than the Jets' list though.
While the Browns are 1-4 SU/ATS the last five times that they played a game with a line ranging from -3 to +3, the Jets are 2-0 SU/ATS when listed as home favorites of three or less.
All things considered, I feel this line could easily be higher. 10*
|12-21-13||Los Angeles Lakers v. Golden State Warriors -13||Top||83-102||Win||100||28 h 39 m||Show|
I'm playing on GOLDEN STATE. I believe the Lakers are in the wrong place at the wrong time here.
While the Lakers hosted the T-Wolves last night, the Warriors had Friday off. They figure to be in a foul mood too, after blowing a game against the Spurs on Thursday, a game in which the Spurs played without their "Big 3."
Note that the Warriors are an outstanding 16-9 ATS (17-8 SU) the last 25 times that they were off an "upset" loss.
While they've won a couple in that situation recently, playing back-to-back games doesn't figure to help the depleted Lakers. Not against a Golden State team which averages more than 105 points per game here and more than 108 in divisional games. Note that LA gives up 106 ppg on the road.
One might think that they'd fare well as large underdogs but the Lakers are only 3-5 ATS (1-7 SU) the last eight times that they were road underdogs of greater than a dozen points. During that time, they're also only 3-9 ATS when playing a road game with an O/U line in the 205 to 209.5 range.
These teams have already met twice this season. The home team won both games. The Warriors won the game here at Oakland by a score of 125-94, a 31-point destruction. I expect another lopsided result here. 10*
|12-21-13||Buffalo +1 v. San Diego State||Top||24-49||Loss||-112||75 h 58 m||Show|
I'm playing on Buffalo. Motivation typically plays an important role in who covers in bowl games. In this case, I believe that Buffalo will be the more motivated team.
The Bulls have had a nice season despite losing two of three down the stretch and getting mauled by Ohio State and Baylor in their first two games. In between, Buffalo went on a run of seven straight wins to lock up the second bowl appearance in school history and first since the 2008 Turner Gill led team.
The Aztecs had a similar season to Buffalo, starting the year 0-3 including a loss to I-AA Eastern Illinois before winning seven of eight and finally getting crushed at UNLV in their finale. SDSU goes bowling for the fourth straight year, staying home twice and playing in New Orleans. That said, one has to wonder how excited the Aztecs are to be in frigid Boise.
I think the difference in this bowl will be the physicality of the MAC team. San Diego State hasn't fared well against big imposing outfits and that's exactly what the find here with the Bulls. The Buffalo defense was staunch against its own kind holding the opponents in their seven game run to just 73 total points. They are led by stud linebacker Khalil Mack who will be playing on Sundays. On offense, UB is unspectacular but still averages almost 31 ppg led by the school's all-time leading rusher Oliver and deep threat at wide out ..... Alex Neutz.
The Aztecs do some things well with walk-on QB Quinn Kaehler and 2X 1000-yard rusher Adam Meuma but both players production waned towards the end of the year and both were no-shows vs UNLV in a game that the Aztecs really needed to have. Not only can SDSU be bullied around, the Aztecs' special teams are an abomination. San Diego States' PK's are 8-15 kicking FGs and have missed six extra points. The return and cover
units are below average as well. costing SDSU key field position.
While neither of these two mid-majors are particularly special, I expect the more physical, more fundamentally sound and more highly motivated Buffalo team to win its first bowl. 10*
|12-21-13||Massachusetts v. Florida State -1||Top||55-60||Win||100||19 h 10 m||Show|
I'm playing on FLORIDA STATE. I successfully played against the Seminoles a few games ago, when they lost by 10 at Minnesota. This afternoon, however, I believe that the value is on the other foot.
Admittedly, the Minutemen have been playing well. They've also been money at the betting window. I believe that's worked in our favor though, helping to keep this line close to being a pick 'em.
Since the loss against the Gophers, the Noles have responded with back-to-back double-digit wins, giving them plenty of positive momentum here. A 77-53 blowout of Jacksonville was followed by an impressive 106-62 destruction of Charlotte. That 44-point victory was their biggest of the season.
While this is technically a neutral court game, it will be played at Sunrise, Fla. That figures to favor the Noles. Note that FSU hammered Tulsa (82-63) in this even last season. Also, note that the Minutemen are an ugly 1-8 ATS the last nine times that they were a neutral court underdog (or pick 'em) of three or fewer points.
After the big win over Charlotte, coach Leonard Hamilton said this of the Noles: "...I just think our guys played exceptionally well. We shot the ball exceptionally well. We made extra passes. We took care of the ball. Our rebounding effort was good. I think that this team (Charlotte) brought the best out of us."
While wins against Top 25 opponents have been hard to come by for FSU in recent seasons, the Noles have already knocked off (then) #10 VCU this season and they also played both Michigan and Florida very tough. The Noles beat the Minutemen in 2011 (and 2006) and I look for them to emerge victorious once again. 10*
|12-20-13||Charlotte Bobcats v. Detroit Pistons -6||Top||116-106||Loss||-101||12 h 35 m||Show|
I'm playing on DETROIT. The Bobcats have been a profitable road team this season. I expect them to run into some trouble this evening though.
After rallying from a 21 point deficit last time out, the Pistons have quietly won seven of their last 11 games.
The Pistons average a whopping 51.6 ppg in the paint, most in the league. With Jennings, who had five 3-pointers last time out, heating up from beyond the arc, that makes them very dangerous. Over his last eight games, Jennings had hit 20 (of 49) 3's, averaging 20.8 ppg overall.
While Wednesday's upset win at Toronto was impressive, note that the Bobcats are a dismal 7-23 ATS the last 30 times that they were off a SU win, when listed as an underdog.
After scoring 107 points last time out, the Pistons have now hit triple digits in five straight games. While the Bobcats scored 104 last time out, they'd managed 95 or less in each of their previous four games. They only average 90.8 ppg on the road.
The Pistons are 7-3 ATS the last 10 times that they scored 105 or more in their previous game. They hammered the Bobcats by 20 in the most recent meeting and I look for another big win here. 10*
|12-19-13||San Antonio Spurs v. Golden State Warriors -3.5||Top||104-102||Loss||-105||14 h 6 m||Show|
|12-19-13||Clemson v. Auburn +6.5||Top||64-66||Win||100||11 h 21 m||Show|
|12-17-13||Cal-Irvine +14 v. Oregon||Top||63-91||Loss||-110||15 h 8 m||Show|
I'm playing on UC-IRVINE. Admittedly, the Ducks have played very well to start the season. Their 9-0 record is particularly impressive, given that they've been playing without Dominic Artis and Ben Carter, a pair of projected starters who were both suspended through the first nine games. I believe that this will prove to be a very tough spot for the Ducks though and I expect them to have their hands full the entire way.
The popular opinion is likely that Artis and Carter will make this team even better. I won't disagree with that. However, they may not make them better 'immediately." This group had already been so successful without those players that adding them to the mix may result in some short-term "chemistry" issues.
Even if there aren't any chemistry problems, don't expect either player to start tonight. Coach Dana Altman had this to say: "We're not going to start them right away. We're going to work them in."
I'm not playing against the Ducks due to the returning players though. Rather, I believe that their record has caused them to be over-valued at the betting window, that their opponent is more dangerous than many likely realize AND that this is a difficult scheduling spot.
I suggest that this is a tough spot on the schedule as the Ducks are off a hard-fought win (at Portland) over a scrappy Illinois team AND as they've got a huge rivalry showdown vs. BYU on deck. (The Cougars hammered the Ducks in the last meeting, even more reason to look ahead.)
Prior to the game vs. the Illini, the Ducks had won an OT game against an SEC (Ole Miss) opponent. Off those big games and with another big one on deck, I feel it may be easy for them to look past "lowly" UC-Irvine. I believe that could prove very costly though, as the Anteaters are a dangerous team.
Indeed, UC Irvine has already won at Washington this season. The Anteaters were getting 9.5 points in that one and they won outright by 14.
While they're only 6-5 overall, note that four of the Anteaters' five losses came by six points or less.
The Anteaters, who have a massive front court, are shooting 48.3% from the field and they've got four players averaging in double-figures.
The Anteaters already possessed a very good inside game last season, as they ranked second in the Big West in rebounding and blocked shots,
Last year's roster included 7-0, 268-pound center Conor Clifford. This year, the team added another pair of "giants." Mamadou Ndiaye, a four-star, Top 100 recruit is 7-foot-5, taller than any player in the NBA. (He was pursued by Georgetown.) Meanwhile, 7-2 center Giannis Dimakopoulos played for Greece's U18 national team.
In addition to those new big guys, the Anteaters also have 6-10 John Ryan, 6-10 Mike Best and 6-8 Will Davis II. That gives them one of the biggest teams in the entire country. Add in a trio of guards (McNealy, Nelson, Alex Young) that are averaging 11.5 points or more per game and this team is indeed a dangerous one.
Note that Davis earned the Big West defensive player of the year award last season. All he did was block league-best 88 shots last season, smashing the school record of 55 he set the previous season. Davis' shot-blocking was a big part of The threat of Davis at the back end played a major role in last year's Anteaters' team limiting opponents to 38.7 percent shooting, best in the Big West and No. 15 nationally.
The last meeting between these teams (2008) was decided by just seven points. I won't be surprised to see another close one and am grabbing all the points I can get. 10*
|12-16-13||San Antonio Spurs v. Los Angeles Clippers +2.5||Top||92-115||Win||100||15 h 2 m||Show|
I'm playing on the LA CLIPPERS. Naturally, I have a lot of respect for the Spurs. They're very well coached and they generally play both smart and well. That said, I feel they're going to get upset tonight.
Both teams are playing well right now. The Spurs are 4-0 SU and 3-1 ATS their last four games. The Clippers are 3-1 SU/ATS their last four. (The lone loss came when playing the second of b2b emotional road games.)
The Spurs have only lost twice on the road. The Clippers have only lost twice at home.
While the Spurs have been a long-time nemesis, the Clippers are "growing up" and now have a big-time coach of their own.
There are a few key things I like about how this one sets up for the Clippers though.
I like the fact that Chris Paul, who is the "straw that stirs the drink" in LA, is off a monster game. He had 38 points and 12 assists last time out.
I also like that the Clippers were 26 of 31 from the free throw stripe in that game.
While they're off a long road trip, I like the fact that the Clippers were able to sleep in their own beds last night. While its admittedly a small sample size, note that the Clippers are undefeated (SU) on the season, when returning home after playing two or more games on the road.
While both teams had yesterday off, the Spurs had previously played four games in the past five days. This will still be their fifth game in the past seven days, all five games at different venues. That stretch began in Toronto, several thousand miles from where they're playing tonight.
Note that the Clippers average 111.2 points per game on this floor (103.7 overall) and that the Spurs are only 31-42-1 ATS the past 2+ seasons, when facing a team which scores 99 or more points per game.
The Clippers are 7-4 ATS the last 11 times that they were home underdogs of three or fewer points, winning six of those outright. They've also quietly covered four of their last five against the Spurs. I expect them to rise to the occasion here. 10*
|12-15-13||Cincinnati Bengals v. Pittsburgh Steelers +3||Top||20-30||Win||100||104 h 32 m||Show|
I'm playing on PITTSBURGH. The Bengals have enjoyed a much better season and enter as the hotter team. I like how this one sets up for the Steelers though.
Its true that the playoffs are now extremely unlikely for Pittsburgh. This is not a team which will go through the motions or plan for next year though. This is a team with great pride, that plays to win. The recent gaffes - along with a chance to beat a hated rival on National TV - should provide plenty of motivation.
Despite coming up short last week, the Steelers have still won three of their last four home games. They've still got a 4-1 ATS record their last five games.
While the Bengals are still trying to lock up a playoff spot, they'll still be in good position to do so, even with a loss here.
Having lost at Cincinnati and off back-to-back losses, the Steelers should be highly motivated.
As Jerricho Cotchery noted: "We didn't win the first game against these guys. We are going to be up for the challenge. Guys are going to be ready to play."
Le'Veon Bell added: "We know what's at stake. Guys just have to be ready. We have to be ready for it."
While Dalton is getting more headlines, Rothlisberger is also playing well. Much better than he was when the teams met previously. In fact, he's thrown 11 TDs over his last four games, completing 63% of his passes, without throwng a single interception. Even with the earlier loss, Rothlisberger is still 14-6 for his career against Cincinnati.
The Steelers are (relatively) healthy, hungry and getting points at home. They're 3-1 ATS in divisional games and I expect them to be at their best here. 10*
|12-15-13||Arizona Cardinals v. Tennessee Titans +3||Top||37-34||Push||0||25 h 45 m||Show|
I'm playing on TENNESSEE. I'm happy to be getting points with the Titans here as I expect them to win outright.
While the Cardinals have admittedly been playing well in recent weeks, they're still only 2-4 away from Arizona this season. The two road wins came at Tampa and at Jacksonville, a pair of teams in the state of Florida.
The Cards won't be seeing any "Florida-like weather" here though. With the wind chill, it figures to be pretty nasty.
While Arizona certainly "needs" this game, off a divisional win and with a huge showdown with Seattle on deck, I feel that this will be a tough spot.
While Tennessee has missed Locker, note that Arizona has a larger number of injuries overall. That includes Tyrann Mathieu, the second leading tackler on the team, who went down last week. Mathieu had done a lot for this defense and I expect him to be missed.
The Cards are 0-2 ATS as road favorites of three or fewer points the past couple of seasons. Both ATS losses were also SU losses.
With Jacksonville and Houston on deck, the Titans figure they can still salvage a .500 season. I look for and expect them to go all out in taking the first step towards that goal this afternoon. 10*
|12-15-13||Buffalo Bills -2 v. Jacksonville Jaguars||Top||27-20||Win||100||21 h 23 m||Show|
I'm playing on BUFFALO. One could easily make a case for the Jaguars here. After all, they've caught fire in recent weeks while the Bills are off a blowout loss. I believe that Buffalo is favored for good reason though.
Both teams are 4-9 on the season. However, a closer look reveals that the Bills score more points AND they allow less.
Buffalo averages 21 points and 327.8 yards on offense. Jacksonville, on the other hand, manages a mere 15.8 points per game, just 285.2 yards per game. (At home, the Jags' numbers dip to 10.4 ppg and 258.2 ypg!)
On the other side of the ball, the Jags are allowing 28.6 ppg and 382.9 ypg. Meanwhile, the Bills are permitting 25.7 ppg and 345.8 ypg.
The Bills are 8-6 ATS the past couple of seasons, when off two or more consecutive losses.
During the same stretch, the Jags are only 1-5 ATS when off a divisional victory. Note that the Jags are currently dealing with a few key injuries. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jonathan Cyrpien and Cecil Shorts are all banged-up. If any/all of them play, they may be at less than 100%.
The Bills were six point favorites when these teams met last December. They won by a score of 34-18, dominating the time of possession and holding a commanding 232-50 advantage on the ground. I expect another win and cover on Sunday afternoon. 10*
|12-13-13||Arkansas-Little Rock +23.5 v. Memphis||Top||59-73||Win||100||15 h 41 m||Show|
I'm playing on ARKANSAS LITTLE ROCK. Obviously, Memphis hails from the much better conference. The Tigers are good, too. That said, I feel that they're laying too many points here.
Yes, Memphis brings a lot pure talent to the table. Admittedly, the Tigers have an excellent guard rotation. They're not as strong in the front court though. Rebounding and scoring in the paint figure to be a challenge for them this season.
It should be noted that the Tigers have a huge game vs. Florida, at MSG, on deck. I believe that it will be easy for them to get caught looking ahead to that matchup.
Speaking of Florida, the Trojans played at Florida and were getting less points than they are here.
The well-coached Trojans brought back four starters from last season's team. One of those is 6-10 senior Will Neighbour. Neighbour, who figures to become the first in the program to become a 3-time All Conference selection, is averaging 18.7 points per game and 7.6 rebounds. He had a big game at Florida (21 points) and I expect him to do so again here.
Prior to the season, coach Steve Shields said that strength coach John Barron had Neighbour and co "in unprecedentedly good condition."
While the Trojans lost by 14 at Tulsa last time out, they were leading that game by two points at half-time. Prior to that loss, they'd scored 88, 81, 90 and 85 points, in their previous four games.
The Tigers put up an impressive 96 points last time out. They also allowed lowly Northwestern State to score 76 though. I believe that the Trojans bring more to the table that NW. State.
Despite failing to cover this season, the Trojans are 19-13 ATS in lined games the past few seasons against teams with a winning record. They've lost their last two games against Memphis (2008 and 2009) by an average of "only" 10 points, covering the spread in both games. (They lost by 12 and 8.) I feel that the line is generous and I look for them to play the Tigers tougher than most will be expecting again tonight. 10*
|12-12-13||Los Angeles Clippers v. Brooklyn Nets +3||Top||93-102||Win||100||14 h 44 m||Show|
I'm playing on BROOKLYN. I won with the Nets in their last game. Deron Williams returned and had a big game and the Nets beat Boston. The Clippers are off a win over those same Celtics. However, that came last night, while the Nets were resting. I believe that sets things up nicely for Brooklyn again tonight.
Last night's win for the Clippers was both "hard fought" and "emotional." It was hard fought as the Clippers had to erase a 9-point deficit and as the lead changed five times in the third quarter. They were still up only two points with three minutes remaining. It was emotional as it marked Doc Rivers' first game back in Boston.
While this is another big "reunion" game for Rivers, I believe his team may be a little worn out. This will mark LA's third game in four nights and its sixth game in the past nine nights. All six of those games came in a different city, too.
Conversely, this will just be Brooklyn's fourth game, during the same stretch. Not only did the Nets have last night off, they also had two days off, prior to Tuesday's win over Boston.
The Nets played the Clippers tough at LA last month, losing by seven. That was a game without Garnett, Pierce, Williams or Lopez. All those players are now back. Note that Williams' teams are 14-5 against Paul's teams, when the two former first round picks have gone head-to-head.
While they covered the last time that they were in that situation, the Clippers remain a poor 7-15-1 ATS (10-13 SU) the past 2+ seasons, when listed as road favorites of three or fewer points. I'll grab the points but am expecting an upset. 10*
|12-10-13||Idaho State +16 v. Utah||Top||66-74||Win||100||13 h 53 m||Show|
I'm playing on IDAHO STATE. Admittedly, the Utes are off to an excellent start. I feel that they're laying a few too many points here though.
This has been one of Utah's worst roles over the years. Indeed, the Utes are an ugly 4-15 ATS the last 19 times that they were favored at home, in the 15.5 to 18 point range.
These teams have met here each of the last two seasons. Utah was favored by only 2.5 points in 2011, winning by 12. Last year, the Utes were favored by 8.5 and won by 11.
A closer look at last year's game shows that the Bengals actually held a 29-22 halftime lead.
Last year's Idaho State team, which had a 1st year coach, had real trouble scoring. They finished the season averaging only 57 ppg, only 336th in the country. That led to a poor 6-24 record.
This year's team has their coach back, along with three of last season's most productive players. They're averaging 79.6 points, hitting 46.6% of their shots.
Meanwhile, while they did get several new junior college transfers, the Utes brought back only one full-time starter.
While the Bengals did get blown out at Arizona State, they won outright on the road vs. a solid San Francisco team.
Including that victory, the Bengals are 3-1 ATS the last four times that they were road underdogs in the 15.5 to 18 point range.
It should be noted that Utah has a big game vs. rival BYU on deck. Considering that the Cougars have beaten them three seasons in a row and by three last year, that could be cause for some "looking ahead."
Either way, I look for this one to be closer than most will be expecting. 10*
|12-10-13||Boston Celtics v. Brooklyn Nets -2||Top||96-104||Win||100||12 h 30 m||Show|
I'm playing on BROOKLYN. The Celtics check in as the hotter team and with the better overall record. However, I feel that the Nets are favored for good reason.
As you very likely are aware, these teams made a huge trade with each other in the offseason. Garnett, Pierce and Jason Terry all came over from Boston. So far, that trade hasn't worked out too well for the Nets. They've struggled while the Celtics are on top of the division. Needless to say, both teams will really want this one.
The Nets are expected to see the return of Deron Williams and perhaps Pierce, as well. While its true that it may take some time for everyone to get used to each other, I do expect Williams' return to provide an immediate boost.
Note that the Celtics, who are 0-3 ATS their last three off a double-digit win, remain without Rondo.
Also, note that the Celts have had one day off in between games while the Nets have had two days off. Additionally, while the Nets have tomorrow off, the Celtics will be playing a big game against their former coach's (Doc Rivers) new team.
The Nets are off an 8-point win, one which saw Lopez put up 32 points. I believe they bring more to the table and I expect them to come away with the win and cover. 10*
|12-08-13||Carolina Panthers v. New Orleans Saints -4||Top||13-31||Win||102||131 h 20 m||Show|
I'm playing on NEW ORLEANS. The Panthers are rolling right now and they certainly looked better than the Saints last week. Admittedly, the Panthers' defense is very good. I believe that the Saints have the better coach, the better QB and the better offense though. Combine all that with the fact they're playing at home and I expect them to overcome the fact that they're playing on a short week and for them to finish on top.
True, the Saints looked pretty bad at Seattle last week. Its important not to over-react to a single game though. Its also important to remember that last week's game was played up in the Pacific Northwest, where the Seahawks have been unbeatable.
This game, however, is being played at New Orleans, where its been the Saints who are unbeatable. Big difference.
In six games here, the Saints are 6-0 SU and 5-1 ATS. They've outscored opposing teams by an average score of 33.2 to 15.8 here, out gaining them by an average margin of 450.8 to 270.2, in terms of total yards.
Brees, who will be highly motivated to bounce back from last week's subpar effort, has topped 300 passing yards in all six home games this season. He's thrown 19 touchdowns against just three interceptions here. He's got a 122.2 home passer rating.
The Panthers have been solid on the road but not dominant like New Orleans has been at home.
The Saints haven't lost consecutive games in a single regular season under Payton since 2009. While they may have more trouble at Carolina in a couple of weeks, I expect the Saints to make a statement Sunday night. 10*
|12-08-13||Oregon v. Ole Miss -1||Top||115-105||Loss||-110||22 h 16 m||Show|
I'm playing on OLE MISS. The Ducks have gotten off to an impressive start and bring a top 15 ranking into today's game. I expect them to suffer their first loss here though.
Give the Ducks credit for beating Georgetown (at South Korea) in their opener. However, since that victory, they've been double-digit home favorites for every subsequent game. In other words, the competition has been pretty weak.
That changes here, as they'll take on an Ole Miss team which finished with 27 wins last season, advancing to the third round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Rebels' chances for success this season improved a lot when Marshall Henderson was allowed to return to the team with only a very light punishment. Henderson will be suspended for the team's first two SEC games but he'll be around for today's contest. Given that he led the league in scoring last season and that he was the MVP of the SEC Tournament, which the Rebels won, having him in the lineup is certainly significant.
Henderson didn't shoot well from beyond the arc last game and the Rebels lost by three at K-State. He was 4 for 9 (44.4%) from 3-point range in the Rebels' last home game though, en route to scoring 19 points. Back home, I expect Marshall to bounce back with an improved effort.
Speaking of suspensions, the Ducks have a pair of players who will miss their first nine games, guard Dominic Artis and forward Ben Carter. Throw in the fact that they have seven transfers new to the program - and I believe that the Ducks are definitely beatable.
The K-State and Oregon games are two big non-conf. contests for the Rebels. Having lost to the Wildcats, the Rebels should be extremely motivated for a win here.
The Rebels have won 23 straight home games against non-conference opponents. Going back further finds them at 62-2 under coach Kennedy in such games. I expect them to keep that impressive streak in tact here. 10*
|12-08-13||Seattle Seahawks v. San Francisco 49ers -2.5||Top||17-19||Loss||-118||127 h 14 m||Show|
I'm playing on SAN FRANCISCO. Admittedly, the Seahawks looked very impressive last week. Admittedly, its going to be tough to beat them up in the Pacific Northwest. They're not at home here though and they're up against another very talented team - one which is also playing very well - and one which is determined to deliver some payback, for an earlier loss at Seattle.
The 49'ers, who are off back-to-back double-digit wins, are 8-2 ATS as favorites this season and they're 2-0 ATS when playing a game with a line in the +3 to -3 range.
The 49'ers, who were embarrassed (29-3) at Seattle in September, are also 7-3 ATS the last 10 times that they attempted to avenge an earlier loss.
In addition to the revenge factor, the 49'ers arguably have more to play for. Seattle has already clinched a playoff spot, while they have not.
While the 49'ers are playing on a "normal" week, the Seahawks are playing on a short week, due to having played on Monday.
As they did this year, the Seahawks hammered the 49'ers at Seattle last season. However, the 49'ers won by seven when the teams met here at SF. In fact, they've outscored the Hawks by a 109-54 margin the last four meetings here.
While I won with the "under" when these teams first met, I believe the value now lies with the revenge-minded home team. 10*
|12-08-13||Oakland Raiders v. NY Jets -2.5||Top||27-37||Win||100||124 h 52 m||Show|
I'm playing on the NEW YORK JETS. While the Jets made me look pretty bad last week, I really like them in this spot.
Lets not forget that the Raiders, who are playing out the string, are a West Coast based team, playing an early game in the Eastern Time Zone. Lets also keep in mind that its expected to be very cold, something the Jets are more accustomed to than their guests from California.
Even after last week, the Jets aren't out of the playoff picture quite yet. They will be if they lose there though. Note that three of their final four opponents (incl. Oakland) are currently .500 or worse.
Offensive tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson noted: "There's definitely a sense of urgency now. You recognize there are four games left and we recognize the challenge that's before us, but all we can do is just keep our heads down and grind right now and focus on our work."
The Raiders like to rely on the ground game, which helps out McGloin. However, they're banged up at the running back position and they'll be facing a Jets' defense which is the best in the entire league against the run.
The Raiders are a dismal 37-69-5 over the years, when playing with a line in the -3 to +3 range. That includes an 0-2 SU/ATS mark in that situation, since the start of November.
While its true that he hasn't performed at an elite level, I like that Ryan is sticking with Smith at QB. I believe he gives them the best chance to win here.
While I've already acknowledged that they didn't play well last week, the Jets are still a solid 4-2 SU/ATS here at home. Prior to the Miami loss, they'd beaten the Saints in the previous game.
With more to play for and the venue/weather/start time in their favor, I like the Jets to bounce back with their best effort, en route to a much needed win and cover. 10*
|12-07-13||Ohio State -5 v. Michigan State||Top||24-34||Loss||-110||15 h 18 m||Show|
I'm playing on OHIO STATE. Despite their perfect record, a lot of people don't seem to believe in the Buckeyes. That sentiment has kept this line lower than it otherwise could have been. I believe its also helped us by providing excellent value.
Needless to say, the stakes are very high for both teams. While both ultimately just want to win, it should be noted that an "impressive" win by the Buckeyes would potentially go along way in helping to fend off a one-loss SEC champion in the BCS standings.
True, the Buckeyes only beat the Wolverines by a point last week and are now 0-3 ATS their last three. However, last week's game was at Michigan and the previous two games were still blowout wins, as they won by 28 and 25 points.
Even with last week's nail biter, which should actually serve them well here, the Buckeyes are still outscoring teams by an average of 28 points per game. They score an average of 48.2 ppg (50 on the road) and allow 20.2.
While also impressive, Michigan State arguably hasn't been as dominant. The Spartans score 29.4 (30.4 on the road) and allow 11.7 (13.6 on the road.)
While we have to go back a bit, note that Michigan State is 4-6 SU/ATS its last 10 in a dome while Ohio State is 8-4 ATS (10-2 SU) in domes, during the same time.
Don't forget that Ohio State has now won 24 straight games. Urban Meyer had this to say: ''I feel very strongly about my team. I would take this team anywhere with me. A team that knows how to win and refuses to lose is a special team and this is a very special team.''
Ultimately, I look for Ohio State's superior offense to be too much for the Spartans. I expect the Buckeyes to keep the winning streak in tact and look for them to cover the small number along the way. 10*
|12-06-13||Los Angeles Lakers v. Sacramento Kings -3.5||Top||106-100||Loss||-105||14 h 41 m||Show|
I'm playing on SACRAMENTO. With Kobe soon set to return, we may not see the Kings favored over the Lakers again for awhile. Kobe isn't expected to be back quite yet though - and I believe the Kings are favored for good reason tonight.
While the Kings haven't been getting the "W's" to show for it, they have been playing well of late. I backed them last game and they nearly came back to beat OKC, losing by only two. In fact, three of the Kings' last five losses came by a combined five points and another came in OT.
The only "bad" loss during that stretch came against these same Lakers. However, that was at LA and the Kings were off a 1-point heartbreaker vs. the Clippers the previous night.
This time, they're at home and well-rested. They're 3-1 SU/ATS the last four times that they hosted the Lakers and I look for them to get some payback tonight. 10*
|12-05-13||Houston Texans -2.5 v. Jacksonville Jaguars||Top||20-27||Loss||-125||59 h 18 m||Show|
I'm playing on HOUSTON. These teams both have bad records. For the Jaguars, that was expected. It wasn't supposed to be like that for the Texans though, as they were anticipating a big year. One of the low-points of the Houston season was when the Jags beat them. Now, they get a chance to avenge that loss on National TV - a chance to show the country that they're a much better team than their record indicates. I expect them to rise to the occasion, making the most of that opportunity.
Andre Johnson called the loss to the Jags the "lowest point" of his 11-year NFL career.
While the Jags have actually won two in a row, both came on the road. They're 0-4 SU/ATS when listed as the home team, getting outscored by a 29 to 6.2 average. In fact, they've lost seven straight home games, dating back to last season.
While the Jags are being out gained by an average margin of 381 to 285.6 (394.5 to 252.5 at Jax!) the Texans are out gaining teams by an average of 365.2 to 303.9, in terms of total yards per game.
The Texans are 3-0-1 ATS the last four times that they were favored by three or fewer points on the road. They're also 7-3 ATS the last 10 times that they attempted to avenge an earlier loss.
Off the tough loss vs. the Pats and on an extended losing streak, some of the Texan players may not be thrilled about the short turn-around in between games. I don't think its a bad thing though.
Houston offensive lineman Duane Brown said this of playing on the short week: "That
|12-04-13||Denver Nuggets v. Cleveland Cavaliers +4.5||Top||88-98||Win||100||10 h 7 m||Show|
I'm playing on CLEVELAND. Off seven straight wins, the Nuggets enter as the hotter team. However, the Cavaliers are off a victory of their own and they've also got both the venue and the schedule in their favor. I feel that they're providing us with excellent value here.
The Nuggets got a remarkable 72 points from their bench last night. So, its true that none of the starers logged heavy minutes. They still had to play though and will now be playing their third road game in the past four days.
Note that the Nuggets are 0-2 SU/ATS this season, when playing the second of back-to-back games. They lost both by double-digits, 122-111 at Houston and 114-103 at Phoenix.
Even with last night's cover, the Nuggets are still only 3-4 as favorites this season. They're also still just 5-7 ATS the last dozen times that they were listed as road favorites in the 3.5 to 6 range.
The Cavs got back on track with a much-needed win last time out, taking down Chicago in the process. They've since had plenty of rest in between games, probably a good thing for Bynum and the team in general.
Yes, Andrew Bynum is still around. In fact, the 7-foot center is off a monster game. He had 20 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks - his best effort in recent memory.
Bynum figures to carry the momentum into this evening; he's averaging 24.8 points and 11.8 rebounds his last four games against Denver. He scored 30 the last time he faced the Nuggets.
You may recall that Bynum blocked 10 shots in a game against the Nuggets that season too, 11% of their shots.
At the time, Kobe Byrant said this of Bynum's performance: "His timing was impeccable today. He really understood the rhythm of their offensive players. He was just there at the exact moment, either to change or block the shot."
Kyrie Irving, who has averaged 24 points and 7.3 assists in three career games vs. Denver, is certainly pleased to see Bynum playing well. He said this of the Cavs' big man: "When you have someone you can throw it down to, you know he can get his shot when he wants. He draws so much attention. It opens up a lot of opportunities for all of us."
I'll take the points but I look for the Cavs to put together back-to-back wins for the first time, snapping Denver's winning streak in the process. 10*
|12-02-13||New Orleans Pelicans v. Chicago Bulls -6.5||Top||131-128||Loss||-100||11 h 6 m||Show|
I'm playing on CHICAGO. I believe the Pelicans are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Off a 1-5 road trip, the Bulls figure to be seeing red here. They've been a MUCH better team at home though, unbeatable in fact. With the schedule in their favor, I expect them to bounce back with a big win.
Speaking of "bouncing back," the Bulls have been excellent at doing just that, after getting upset in their previous game. In fact, they're 22-10-1 ATS (27-6 SU) the last 33 times that they lost, when favored, their previous game. The last time that they were in that situation, they responded with a 20-pooint win.
While the Bulls had yesterday off, the Pelicans were busy upsetting the Knicks, at MSG. In addition to the back-to-back spot, they'll be playing their third game in the past four nights.
Of course, losing Anthony Davis last night didn't help matters. Davis, who hurt his hand in the first half yesterday, averages 19.6 points, 10.6 rebounds (both best on the team) AND he leads the league in blocked shots.
While the Pelicans were able to overcome Davis' injury last night, it figures to catch up with them here.
Without Davis, the Pelicans will be forced to rely more on Ryan Anderson. However, he's only shot 28.6%, including 20.6% from 3-point range, his last five against the Bulls.
While the Bulls are 2-8 on the road, they're 5-0 at home. They're outscoring teams by an average of greater than 12 points per game here. Given the situation, I expect another double-digit win. 10*
|12-01-13||Minnesota Timberwolves v. Oklahoma City Thunder -8.5||Top||103-113||Win||100||9 h 13 m||Show|
I'm playing on OKC. This one sets up nicely for the home team. While the Thunder had last night off, the T-Wolves were busy beating the Mavs, at Dallas.
The Wolves are 0-2 SU/ATS the last two times that they played the second of b2b games, most recently losing by double-digits against Houston.
Off six straight wins, the Thunder are rolling. While they only won by one last time out, the previous three wins had come by an average of 14 points.
The T-Wolves should have OKC's full attention. That's because they hammered the Thunder back on 11/1, at Minnesota.
The Thunder are 34-24 ATS the past 2+ seasons, when attempting to avenge an earlier loss. They beat the Wolves by 16 last time the teams met here and by 22 the previous meeting here. Overall, they're 22-13-1 ATS (27-9 SU) the last 36 meetings, when listed as the home team. With the schedule in their favor, I expect them to continue that dominance this evening. 10*
|12-01-13||Denver Broncos v. Kansas City Chiefs +6.5||Top||35-28||Loss||-110||9 h 56 m||Show|
I'm playing on KC. I won with the Broncos when these teams met at Denver. However, with the rematch being played at Arrowhead, I'm expecting a much different result.
I successfully played against KC last week. Favored vs. the Chargers and perhaps looking ahead to this game, the Chiefs lost outright. Keep in mind that they only lost by three points though and also that it was their first home loss of the entire season.
True, the KC defense was shredded by the Chargers. However, the offense also put up huge (38) points and even elite defenses are capable of having an off-day.
Safety Eric Berry said this of the KC defense. "It's not the end of the world. But we do have a sense of urgency this week to get the things corrected that we see on tape."
The Chiefs do have a couple of key injuries. The same is true of Denver though.
Even with last week's loss here, the Chiefs are still outscoring teams by an average score of 25 to 17.3 here.
Meanwhile, the Broncos have shown that they can be vulnerable. They blew the big lead at New England last week, Manning compiling a 70.4 passer rating.
With that loss, the Broncos are only 2-2 their last four road games. All four of those games were close, each decided by eight or less. Overall, Denver scored 143 points, allowing 141.
Speaking of close games, the Chiefs last three home games have all been decided by six or fewer points. I won't be surprised to see this one also come down to the wire and with the line having climbed from its opener, I believe we're getting excellent value with what should be a highly motivated home underdog. 10*
|12-01-13||Miami Dolphins v. NY Jets -1||Top||23-3||Loss||-120||31 h 37 m||Show|
I'm playing on the NY JETS. The road team took both meetings in last year's season series. However, this Sunday afternoon, I look for the home team to finish on top.
The Jets have NOT played well on the road. Last week, they lost 19-3 at Baltimore. The previous week, they were blown out 37-14 by Buffalo. Their previous road game before that? A 49-9 loss at Cincinnati.
Games at NY have been much different though. The Jets beat the Saints in their most recent game here and they beat the Patriots in their previous home game. Needless to say, those are a pair of pretty good teams.
Overall, the Jets are 4-1 SU/ATS at home. That's considerably better than Miami's 2-3 SU/ATS mark on the road. The Dolphins have dropped three straight on the road overall.
One of Miami's big problems recently has been an inability to run the football. After managing a mere two rushing yards vs. TB, a franchise low, the Dolphins only gained 52 rushing yards vs. Carolina last week.
Offensive coordinator Mike Sherman noted: "You have to be able to run the ball to be effective. We just have to find a way to get the balance that we so desperately need. We don't have that balance right now."
The Jets are already 1-0 SU/ATS as home favorites of three or fewer points, beating Buffalo by seven here, as a 2.5 point favorite. While both teams have some "issues," playing on their homefield, I believe it will be the Jets who bounce back with a very important victory. 10*
|12-01-13||New England Patriots v. Houston Texans +9||Top||34-31||Win||100||6 h 30 m||Show|
I'm playing on HOUSTON. I've had some success playing on/against the Patriots. Most recently, I backed them in last week's win over Denver. I feel that they're laying too many points this week though and am now going against them.
The Pats, who may be ripe for a letdown after last week, haven't been the same team away from Foxboro. In fact, they've lost three straight on the road, falling at Carolina, NY and Cincinnati.
The Texans have not been good to me this season. In fact, they've proven downright costly. They're getting more points than they usually do here though. If they'd been getting this many points every week, they'd be 8-3 ATS. Only three of their losses have been by greater than a TD - none of their last five.
The Pats average a respectable 362.4 yards per game on the road. The Texans average 407.2 ypg here at Houston though. While New England gains an average of 5.4 yards per play on the road, the Texans average 5.8 ypp here at home.
On defense, the Texans allow a mere 287 yards per game at Houston, compared to the 353.4 average that the Pats allow per game on the road.
Brady said this of the Texans: "They have a lot of the same guys they had last year. We're not even concerned about the record. You look at what they can do defensively and the kind of playmakers they have. ... They have probably the best front we've faced all season."
The fact that the Pats knocked them out of the playoffs last season should provide the Texans with some added motivation here. They've been at their best off a division loss in recent seasons and I expect them to bounce back with their best effort here. 10*
|11-30-13||Texas A&M +5 v. Missouri||Top||21-28||Loss||-105||51 h 18 m||Show|
I'm playing on TEXAS [email protected] While the Tigers have had a much better season, I won't be surprised if the Aggies score the upset here. At the least, I expect them to give the Tigers all they can handle. That makes the points an attractive option.
True, the Aggies got blown out at LSU last week. However, they'd won their previous three games by a combined score of 164-72.
For the season, Manziel and the Aggies are averaging 45.6 ppg, good for sixth best in the country.
While the Aggies 356.1 passing yards per game is among the nation's best, Manziel can also beat teams with his legs. Josh Dobbs and Jalen Whitlow (Tennessee & Kentucky) both had some success in picking up chunks on the ground against the Tigers - and Manziel is more dangerous runner than either of those QBs.
Yes, the Aggies have a few losses. However, Missouri hasn't had to face any of the three teams (Alabama, Auburns, LSU) that defeated Texas [email protected]
While Missouri won by 14 at Ole Miss last week, the game could have easily been much closer. Keep in mind that the Tigers are still only a month removed from losing to South Carolina. So, they aren't unbeatable.
The Aggies are 6-3 SU/ATS their last nine off a conference loss. The last time that they were in that situation, they hammered Vanderbilt by a score of 56-24. I expect them to bounce back with another big effort here, en route to AT LEAST a cover. 10*
|11-30-13||Alabama -10 v. Auburn||Top||28-34||Loss||-110||47 h 60 m||Show|
I'm playing on ALABAMA. While the Tide are fairly heavy favorites, there seems to be quite a lot of talk about Auburn scoring an upset here. I'm not buying it.
The Tide have been dominant on both sides of the ball. They began the season with a 35-10 win over V-Tech. That was followed by a 7-point win at Texas [email protected] Since then, the Tide have defeated all nine opponents by double-digits. Only one of those opponents scored more than 10 points. That was LSU, which got 17. Alabama still won by 21.
Both teams have put up big points on offense. Auburn is averaging 39 ppg. Alabama average 39.7. Auburn has averaged 7.1 yards per play. Alabama is averaging 7 yards per play.
Its on the defensive side of the ball where Bama really has the edge. The Tide are allowing an average of 9.3 points and 263.9 yards per game. The Tigers, on the other hand, are allowing 22 ppg and 406.9 ypg.
While opposing teams are managing only 4.6 yards per play against the Tide, they average 5.7 ypp vs. the Tigers.
Alabama has outscored conference opponents by a 39.6 to 11.9 average., out gaining them by nearly 200 yards per game. On the other hand, Auburn has outscored them by a 36.1 to 28 margin, out gaining them by an average of 18 yards per game.
While Auburn certainly deserves a lot of credit for an excellent season, the Tigers could easily have a few more losses. I believe that their magic runs out here.
Alabama won last year's game by a score of 49-0. The year before, playing at Auburn, the Tide won by a 42-14 score. The Tigers again have homefield advantage and they've had an extra week to prepare. In the end, I don't think it will be enough. I expect another double-digit win for Saban and the Tide. 10*
|11-29-13||Fresno State v. San Jose State +8||Top||52-62||Win||100||23 h 16 m||Show|
I'm playing on SAN JOSE STATE. This game is very important for both teams. The Bulldogs are looking to remain perfect, hoping to get to a BCS bowl game. The Spartans are looking to ruin that dream while becoming bowl eligible themselves.
Its true that Fresno State has a big time passing attack, led by Derek Carr. San Jose State's QB (Fales) is no slouch either though, arguably the best QB that Fresno will have faced.
While Fales has thrown a few too many (13) interceptions this season, the fifth-year senior has also completed 62.2% of his passes for 3,642 yards and 27 TDs. Note that the Spartans' offense that has put up 600 or more yards in three games for the first time in school history.
While the Spartans have dropped back-to-back games here, both losses came by six or fewer points. Prior to the recent skid, they'd won four straight.
While they've blown out their last few opponents, the Bulldogs have still seen four games decided by seven or fewer points this season. Note that I'm not necessarily sold on their special teams' unit.
The Spartans, who have had one more day of rest and preparation time than the Bulldogs, are an excellent 13-4 ATS as underdogs the past couple of seasons. With so much on the line, I expect Fales and co. to bring their A-Game and for the Spartans to rise to the occasion with at least another cover. 10*
|11-28-13||Pittsburgh Steelers v. Baltimore Ravens -2.5||Top||20-22||Loss||-126||58 h 48 m||Show|
I'm playing on BALTIMORE. This is a pivotal game for both teams. The winner will be very much alive in the playoff race - although still far from a lock - the loser will be nearly out of the hunt. Playing at home, I like the defending champs to rise to the occasion.
The Steelers did look impressive in beating the Browns last week, at Cleveland. They're only 1-6 ATS the last seven times that they were off a divisional win though and they're still a dismal 7-15 ATS the last 22 times that they played on the road overall.
Even with last week's win, the Steelers are still getting outscored by a 24.5 to 22 average margin on the road this season, getting outgained by an average of 387.2 to 349.5, in terms of total yards.
On the other hand, despite not putting up many yards, the Ravens are outscoring teams by a fairly commanding 20 to 10.8 average margin here at Baltimore. Not surprisingly, they're 4-1 SU and 4-0-1 ATS here. The lone loss came against the Packers, with Rodgers. Needless to say, the defense has been excellent in front of the home fans.
While both teams figure to be desperate, having already lost at Pittsburgh, the Ravens may be even more so.
The Ravens are 4-2 ATS the last six times that they were home favorites of three or less. While this series has historically been close, I expect the Ravens to come out on top and believe they'll do enough to cover the small number. 10*
|11-25-13||San Francisco 49ers v. Washington Redskins +6.5||Top||27-6||Loss||-110||81 h 1 m||Show|
I'm playing on WASHINGTON. While the 49'ers have had a better overall season, both teams are off back-to-back losses. Both teams badly need a victory. Playing at home and getting more than a field goal, I believe the Redskins are offering excellent value.
After back-to-back road losses, the Redskins figure to be happy to return home. They've averaged better than 30 points per game here this season, putting up better than 450 yards per game.
In their last two games here, the Skins defeated the Chargers and the Bears.
While the 49'ers are probably stronger than either of those teams, they haven't been able to score many points recently.
While SF has totaled just 29 combined points its last two games, Washington has managed a total of 75 in its last two here at home.
After playing in SF two weeks ago and in a dome last week, the west-coast based 49'ers may not enjoy the cold weather here. Note that this is the first time all season that they played back-to-back "true" road games. (They did play a neutral game vs. the Jags, after playing a road game.) The last time that they were in that situation was last December and they lost the second of those games (at Seattle on 12/23/12) by a score of 43-12. The previous time that they were in that situation, they lost outright at St. Louis, when laying -7.5 points. That loss happened to be immediately following a game vs. the Saints, at New Orleans.
Even with a 3-7 record, given the poor records of the other NFC East teams, the Skins aren't completely out of the race. At the very least, tonight's game offers a chance to show the world that they're better than the record indicates.
Looking at the last couple of years and we find that the 49'ers are 3-5 ATS when playing a team with a losing record during the second half of the season. Meanwhile, during the same period, the Skins are 5-2-1 ATS when facing a team with a winning record, during the second half of the season. I expect them to step up with AT LEAST a cover. 10*
|11-25-13||Houston Rockets v. Memphis Grizzlies +2||Top||93-86||Loss||-108||13 h 53 m||Show|
I'm playing on MEMPHIS. Both teams are expected to be without a key player. The Rockets will likely be without Harden. The Grizzlies will be without Gasol. Playing at home, I believe the Grizzlies will be the team best able to overcome that loss.
The Grizzlies didn't fare too well last time out, getting blown out by the Spurs. The Spurs are very tough though and that was the first game back home from a road trip, which can sometimes be a tough spot. The Grizzlies have that first game back out of the way now and the Rockets aren't quite yet in that class as the Spurs, at least not without Harden.
True, the Rockets fared well with without Harden last time out. However, they were at home and facing a Minnesota team which was playing its fourth game in the past five days. This time, they're on the road against a rested opponent. Note that Houston's only road game without Harden resulted in an outright loss at Philadelphia.
Prior to the loss vs. the Spurs, the Grizzlies had won four straight, including road wins vs. the Clippers and Warriors. So, they'd really started to play well. They've also been solid at bouncing back from a bad loss so far this season.
While the Rockets are 2-3 SU off a win by 10 or more points this season, the Grizzlies are 3-1 SU when off a loss by 10 or more. I expect them to respond with their best effort, en route to a win and cover. 10*
|11-24-13||Denver Broncos v. New England Patriots +2.5||Top||31-34||Win||100||57 h 52 m||Show|
I'm playing on NEW ENGLAND. I successfully backed the Broncos vs. the Chiefs last week. However, I believe the value lies the other way here.
Last week's win was at home. Sunday's game is on the road, at hostile New England. Big difference.
The Broncos haven't exactly been dominant on the road in recent weeks. They won by eight at San Diego in their last game. However, their two previous road games resulted in a 6-point loss and a 3-point win. Their only "big" road win was against the Giants, way back in Week 2.
That "big road win" was back in September. Back when Manning was still healthy. That's no longer the case here.
Manning is now playing at less than 100% health. Playing at home, he still had enough to outduel Alex Smith and the conservative Chiefs. Now, he's on the road though - and now he's up against an opponent which is typically capable of putting up more points on the board than the Chiefs.
The Patriots have long been outstanding in the underdog role. They're 79-46-4 the last 129 times that they were getting points. That includes a 9-3-1 ATS mark as home underdogs of three or fewer points.
Lets not forget that the Patriots last three games here have all resulted in victories. They showed an ability to come from behind, in beating a very good New Orleans team. Next, they beat a division rival (Miami) by double-digits. That was followed by a 55-31 destruction of Pittsburgh, in their most recent game here.
Going back further finds the Pats at 5-0 here, outscoring teams by an average of 12 points. That's better than Denver's 3-1 road record. Some might be surprised that the Pats' margin of victory on the road it much better than the Broncos, who are outscoring teams by an average of 5.7 points per road game.
Manning may break Brady's record of TDs in a season but Brady is still 9-4 in head-to-head meetings. Overall, including the playoffs, Manning is just 2-9 on the road against the Pats, 2-7 when facing Brady here. Playing at home, I like Brady and co. to make a statement, that they're still a force in the AFC, one that should not be forgotten about. 10*
|11-24-13||Carolina Panthers v. Miami Dolphins +5||Top||20-16||Win||100||49 h 22 m||Show|
I'm playing on MIAMI. Not many are giving the Dolphins much of a chance here. After all, they're up against Carolina, a red hot team which just beat New England - a team which defeated the Dolphins by double-digits less than a month ago. While I respect the Panthers, I see it differently and believe that anit-Miami sentiment is actually helping to provide us with excellent value.
While many may be down on the Dolphins, keep in mind that they beat San Diego here last week. In their previous home game, they defeated Cincinnati. They've only lost twice here all season and both those setbacks both came by three or fewer points.
Also, lets not forget that the Dolphins are still very much alive in the AFC playoff race. At 5-5, they're still only two games behind the Patriots, who are 7-3. The Dolphins know that if they can win today, there's a chance that the Pats will lose, as they're facing Denver. Either way, the Dolphins know that they get to host the Pats in a few weeks - their next home game after this one - and that there will be a lot more meaning to that game, if they can win here.
Even if catching the Pats is unrealistic, as it likely is, the Dolphins are still alive in the Wildcard race - IF they can win this week. As Miami tackle Tyson Clabo commented: "We're fighting through this. Someone's got to get that last wild-card spot. Why not us?"
While playing without a team's starting center (Pouncey is doubtful as of this writing) is never a good thing, keep in mind that the Dolphins won without Pouncey last week. Remember, Carolina isn't entirely healthy either.
Yes, its a big game for the Panthers. Off an emotional/controversial Monday night win, which was preceded by a win on the West Coast (at SF) I believe that they could easily be caught patting themselves on the back a little here.
The Panthers have seen each of their last two games decided by four points or less, a 4-point win and a 1-point win. They've played four games which were decided by four or fewer points.
Meanwhile, Miami has seen its last three games all decided by four points or less. That makes it six straight Dolphin games which were decided by 10 or fewer points with five of those decided by four or less. I'm grabbing the generous points with what I expect to be a highly motivated home underdog. 10*
|11-23-13||USC v. Colorado +23.5||Top||47-29||Win||100||15 h 29 m||Show|
I'm playing on COLORADO. As indicated by the pointspread of greater than three touchdowns, the visitors have had a much better season. That said, I really like how this one sets up for the home team.
The Buffaloes are playing their final home game of the season. While its been a tough year, they're off a rare win, beating up on Cal by a score of 41-24. That should provide some confidence here.
I believe that the Trojans could easily be ripe for a "letdown." They're off a huge win and have just gotten back into the top 25. They've also got rival UCLA on deck. Given those circumstances, it may not be easy to "get up" for lowly Colorado.
Including an ATS loss at Hawaii to start the season, the Trojans are 0-3 ATS the last three times that they ere listed as favorites in the 21.5 to 31 range. During that time, they're 3-6 ATS as road favorites, overall. I believe they'll find the going tougher than expected tonight. 10*
|11-23-13||Wisc-Milwaukee v. Tennessee Tech +1.5||Top||70-63||Loss||-106||10 h 44 m||Show|
I'm playing on TENNESSEE TECH. These teams met at Milwaukee last season. The Golden Eagles were 2.5 point underdogs but won by double-digits. I believe this year's team, which returned four starters, is stronger. Even better, this year, they get to face the Panthers at home. I expect an "upset."
Tennessee Tech coach Steve Payne said this before the season:
|11-23-13||Missouri v. Ole Miss +3||Top||24-10||Loss||-115||74 h 12 m||Show|
I'm playing on MISSISSIPPI. The Tigers come in with the higher ranking and as the favorite. While they deserve respect for an excellent season, I'm expecting to see an upset.
The Rebels have only lost one game here all season. That was against Texas A&M and the loss came by only three points. They lost by eight at Auburn. Their only other loss - and their only loss by more than eight points - came at Alabama.
The Tigers have been tough against the run, but not so much against the pass, I believe that the Rebels have the passing game to take advantage of that weakness. Missouri gives up 274.9 yards per game through the air. Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace averages 266.4 passing yards per game.
The Tigers get their starting QB (Franklin) back in the starting lineup. Franklin was having an excellent season before he got hurt in the Georgia game, throwing for better than 1500 yards with 14 TD passes against only three INTs. That said, Franklin hasn't started in four games and now he's on the road in what figures to be a very hostile environment. While Pinkel says he "looks great," I won't be surprised to see some effects from the layoff.
It should be noted that even if Franklin plays at his best, there can sometimes be a little bit of a letdown from the rest of the team - when a "star" returns. Its not always the "boost" that most assume. Often, players give a little bit extra when the star (or #1 QB) is out, to try and help out the replacement and do their best to win without him. Then, when the star returns, the other players (subconsciously) will "relax," if only slightly.
While the Rebels may not be an "upper tier" SEC team, they're still good enough to be ranked in the top 25 in the country overall. In fact, the Rebels have won four straight including a win over LSU - the Tigers were ranked #6 at the time.
Last week, the Rebels racked up 751 yards, en route to a 51-21 rout of Troy. While the Trojans admittedly aren't very good, that type of blowout should give the Rebels plenty of confidence here.
I'll gladly take whatever points are being offered but as stated earlier, I expect an upset. 10*
|11-23-13||Vanderbilt v. Tennessee -2.5||Top||14-10||Loss||-110||73 h 29 m||Show|
I'm playing on TENNESSEE. The Commodores come in as the hotter team. They're also off a big win in last year's game. However, that was at Vanderbilt. The Vols, who are back at home now, have still dominated the rivalry over the years.
While any game in this rivalry is big for both teams, I believe this game will mean more to the Vols.
Yes, the Vols have a poor record and are off some bad losses. However, lets keep in mind that this team has played a killer schedule. They've taken on the likes of Oregon, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Missouri and Auburn. Lets also remember that the Vols beat South Carolina and nearly (should have) beat Georgia.
While the Commodores are no slouches, I still believe they represent a step down in class from the recent teams that the Vols have faced. A win here - and a win next week at Kentucky - and the Vols can still become bowl eligible. The Vols should be refreshed, having had last week off.
Yes, the Commodores deserve some credit for being Florida. However, lets also keep in mind that they got outgained by a 344-183 margin in that game.
This is the final home game for the Vols' senior class. They've had a rough time but can change their history by going out by winning their last two games and becoming bowl eligible.
The only previous time that the Vols played with two week's rest in between games this season was when they beat South Carolina. I successfully backed the Vols in that game and I expect Jones to have them ready to go once again. 10*
|11-22-13||Morgan State v. La Salle -9.5||Top||59-78||Win||100||14 h 49 m||Show|
I'm playing on LA SALLE. The Explorers have yet to cover a spread. They should have a significant advantage over tonight's opponent though and I expect a double-digit blowout.
Morgan State is 0-4, getting outscored by an average score of 79-62. While the Bears are an experienced bunch, they've been suffering from the loss of DeWayne Jackson, a 2-time All Conference selection.
The Explorers are also an experienced team, one from a much better conference, one which returned four starters from last season's 24-win team.
The Explorers are 18-2 SU their last 20 games against teams with a losing record, 10-3 ATS in the ones which had lines. During that time, they're 3-1 SU/ATS after three or more consecutive ATS losses.
The Explorers can't afford to drop this game. They didn't come all this way (to Virgin Islands) to lose to the likes of Morgan State and I expect them to flex their muscles with a big win. 10*
|11-21-13||Rice v. UAB +19.5||Top||37-34||Win||100||49 h 27 m||Show|
I'm playing on UAB. Recent results have created a very large number for this one. While I respect the Owls, I believe this line is a little too high.
Rice is off a blowout win. However, that was at home. The Owls' last road game resulted in a 28-16 loss.
UAB is off back-to-back blowout losses. However, those were both on the road. The Blazers did also lose their last home game. But, that loss came by only a field goal. Their only other home loss came by just 14 points.
Rice is 3-3 when playing away from home. Only one of those victories came by greater than six points though.
I believe the short turn-around will favor the home team. When asked about playing on a short week, UAB coach Garrick McGee noted: "You lose a couple of days of preparation. In the offseason we spent some time on Rice, using last year
|11-20-13||Houston Rockets v. Dallas Mavericks -3||Top||120-123||Push||0||15 h 4 m||Show|
I'm playing on DALLAS. The Rockets looked pretty dominant last night, showing the type of potential that they have. That was at home against a weak Boston squad though. Tonight, they're on the road against an instate rival, one which has revenge on its mind and one which is currently playing very well on its home floor.
While they lost at Houston a couple of weeks ago, the Mavericks are a perfect 5-0 at home. They've outscored teams by an average of 110.8 to 100.2 here.
On the other hand, the Rockets are giving up 112 points per game on the road, scoring 112.8 themselves. Overall, they're allowing 106.2 per game.
Note that the Mavs are 28-17 ATS (29-16 SU) their last 45 against teams allowing greater than 99 points per game.
The Mavs have dominated the Rockets here in recent seasons and I expect them to finish on top again tonight. 10*
|11-20-13||Northern Illinois v. Toledo +3||Top||35-17||Loss||-115||26 h 8 m||Show|
I'm playing on TOLEDO. As you're likely aware, this is a very big game for both of these teams. With a victory, Northern Illinois can clinch at least a share of the Mid-American Conference West Division title. If the Rockets win, however, there would be a 3-way tie, with Ball State.
While the Huskies have dominated this conference in recent years, I believe that Toledo's homefield advantage will prove significant this evening.
Northern Illinois coach Carey had this to say of the Glass Bowl: "It's going to be a hostile environment. It's going to be Wednesday. It's going to be a night game. It's an 8:00 p.m. kickoff, so it's going to be cold. I'm sure it's going to be windy
|11-17-13||Kansas City Chiefs v. Denver Broncos -7.5||Top||17-27||Win||100||38 h 36 m||Show|
Analysis before 7am PST Sunday.
|11-17-13||Oakland Raiders v. Houston Texans -7||Top||28-23||Loss||-115||102 h 43 m||Show|
I'm playing on HOUSTON. I'll admit that the Texans have broken my heart (cost me money) this season. That said, I feel this will be a great spot for them to finally "get healthy" with a big win.
Coach Kubiak will be back. When Kubiak was last seen, the Texans were seemingly in good shape for a win against the Colts. After he collapsed, the team did too. They also went on to lose vs. Arizona last week. While he'll be calling plays from the press box, I expect Kubiak's return to provide an emotional boost.
Keenum is expected to again get the start. I've liked what I've seen from Keenum and I feel this will be a favorable matchup for him. While the Raiders fared better defensively in last week's loss, the previous week saw them give up 49 points and 414 yards through the air, with Nick Foles throwing for seven TDs. That was the third time the Raiders gave up more than 370 yards through the air this season.
The Raiders are winless on the road. They've been outscored by an average of 26.5 to 16.2. Keep in mind that they're a West Coast based team which will be playing an early game in the Eastern Time Zone here. This will be the first time this season that they'll have played back-to-back road games. Last week, they managed a measly 213 total yards.
With a banged-up Pryor, rookie Matt McGloin has been getting the snaps in practice and is expected to get the start. I'm not necessarily opposed to playing on a rookie QB making his first start but I'm not yet convinced about McGloin.
He's not big and he doesn't have a particularly strong arm. He was only "ok" in college, not good/big enough to get drafted. When he came in against the Eagles, he was just 7/15 for 87 yards.
Whether its a banged-up Pryor or McGloin making his first start, the Raiders will be up against a Houston pass defense which allows only 166.6 passing yards per game. That just happens to be the best mark in the entire NFL. (No other AFC team allows less than 200.)
In fact, the 280 total yards that the Texans are allowing also ranks #1 in the NFL. On offense, they average 376.2 yards.
At home, the Texans are out gaining visiting teams by a commanding 457.7 to 262 margin. They average 6.2 yards per play here, allowing an average of 5.0.
Speaking of having a yardage advantage, the Texans dominated the Raiders statistically when these teams met here in 2011. Houston had a 21-11 edge in first downs, a 34:25 to 25:35 edge in time of possession and a 473-278 edge in total yards. Despite also committing nearly twice as many penalties (11/89 vs. 6/50) the Raiders still found a way to win.
I don't expect Oakland to be nearly fortunate this time, as I feel the Texans are ready to explode and take their frustrations out on someone. Having blown too many leads, I look for the Texans to keep the pedal to the metal the entire way here, en route to a double-digit win. 10*
|11-16-13||Houston v. Louisville -15||Top||13-20||Loss||-105||30 h 27 m||Show|
I'm playing on LOUISVILLE. Both these teams were handed a loss by UCF. In both cases, I was on the Knights. I went against Louisville when the Knights upset them 38-35. I also went against Houston when the Knights defeated them last week. Unfortunately, UCF won but didn't do enough to cover the spread in that one.
In my opinion, one significant difference in the two UCF losses, is that Houston's loss came last week while Louisville has had ample time to "recover."
The Cardinals have won their last two games by a combined score of 65-13.
While neither team has faced a difficult non-conference schedule, I believe the Cardinals are better on both sides of the ball.
Houston averages 38.1 points per game and 470.3 yards. The Cougars average 6.3 yards per play. On the road, the number of points dips to 35.
Louisville averages 38.4 ppg and 481.2 ypg. The Cardinals average 7.3 yards per play. At home, all the numbers improve with the points per game improving to an impressive 44.8.
Its on the defensive side of the ball where the Cards really have the the advantage though.
Houston allows 22 points and 426.7 yards per game. Louisville, on the other hand, allows 10.6 points per game and 244 yards.
I expect the Cards, who have had an extra day's rest, to make a statement. 10*
|11-16-13||Georgia +4 v. Auburn||Top||38-43||Loss||-115||33 h 5 m||Show|
I'm playing on GEORGIA. This is the oldest rivalry in the south and after all the years (116) of playing each other, the series is tied 54-54-8. There's no denying that Auburn has been much better against the point spread than Georgia this season. The Tigers also have a better SU record than the Bulldogs. That said, I'm not convinced that they're the better squad.
While the Bulldogs went through a bit of a tough spell in October, they're back on track now. They've dealt with some major injuries this season, something that has been an ongoing issue. Still, they're starting to get a few guys back and they're still loaded. Last week's 45-6 blowout of Appalachian State figures to have them full of confidence.
True, Auburn handled Tennessee more easily than Georgia did. However, lets not forget that Georgia defeated LSU, a team which handed Auburn its lone loss.
While both offenses have proven to be potent, I believe the Bulldogs have been a little better defensively. They're allowing 367 yards per game, compared to Auburn's 394.4 per game. Georgia holds opponents to 5.2 yards per play, just 4.2 its last three games. Auburn allows 5.5 yards per play.
While the differences may not seem all that significant, keep in mind that Georgia has had to face Clemson, South Carolina, Missouri, Vanderbilt and Florida. Auburn has had to face Texas [email protected] and Ole Miss. (As noted, both also faced LSU and Tennessee.) So, the Bulldogs have arguably faced a greater number of high quality opponents.
The Tigers have admittedly been an excellent running team. The Bulldogs have been tough against the rush though. Only South Carolina gained more than 200 yards against them on the ground. Overall, they rank 4th in the SEC against the run. I believe the Tigers will be forced to throw more often than they normally like to and that may lead to some mistakes.
The Bulldogs, who have won 11 straight November games, have played five games which were decided by four or fewer points, four of those decided by a field goal. I believe that all the Bulldogs' "big" and "close" game experience will serve them well here. I'll take the points but I look for Georgia to score the "upset," killing any thoughts Auburn fans may have had about beating Alabama and sneaking into the title game. *10
|11-15-13||Charlotte Bobcats v. Cleveland Cavaliers -6||Top||86-80||Loss||-108||9 h 48 m||Show|
I'm playing on CLEVELAND. The Cavaliers haven't gotten off to a very good start at the betting window. However, this should be a great spot to get back on track with a big win.
The Cavs are 0-6 on the road, including a loss at Charlotte. However, they're a perfect 3-0 here at Cleveland. True, all three wins were "close." However, that figures to change against a Charlotte squad which averages only 89.5 points per game on the road, while shooting just 38.5% from the field.
Even with the earlier loss at Charlotte, the Cavs are still a profitable 22-12 ATS their last 34 against Southeast division teams. That includes a 122-95 destruction of the Bobcats the last time the teams met here, a game in which the Cavs were laying six points.
Including that destruction, the Cavs are 4-0 SU/ATS the last four times that they were a host in the series. All four of those victories came by double-digits. Looking to avenge the earlier loss, I expect the Cavs to put it all together en route to another blowout tonight. 9*
|11-14-13||Indianapolis Colts v. Tennessee Titans +3||Top||30-27||Push||0||37 h 10 m||Show|
I'm playing on TENNESSEE. Both teams are off embarrassing performances last week. The Colts were destroyed by St. Louis. The Titans lost to the previously winless Jaguars, a team some had been calling the worst ever. Needless to say, both will be looking to bounce back with a much better performance. While I'm aware that Luck has a pretty impressive track record off a loss, I feel it will be the Titans which wind up with the money Thursday.
True, the Titans are without Locker. However, Fitzpatrick has some starts under his belt and the fact that he'll be starting here isn't coming as a surprise. He knows this is his chance and I expect him to be ready to go. I also expect the rest of the team to rally around him.
As tight end Delanie Walker noted of Fitzpatrick. "He's going to be the starting quarterback from now on because Jake is out for the year, so Ryan has no choice but to play (well). I feel like he did a great job against the Jaguars. This is his opportunity to be the man now."
While the Colts swept last season's meetings, the game here went to OT, while the game at Indianapolis was decided by four points, the Colts erasing a double-digit lead. In other words, both games could have easily gone either way.
The Titans know that, after this, they only play one more home game between now and Christmas. And that doesn't come until 12/15. Their next three come on the road, one of them at Indianapolis. Knowing all that - and that a loss here essentially kills any hope of the playoffs - makes taking care of business on Thursday that much more imperative.
Obviously the Colts also want to bounce back with a win. However, they don't "need" to in the same way that the Titans do.
While Locker's absence will grab all the headlines, the Colts' injury list is much longer than the Titans' list, headed by star receiver Reggie Wayne.
Playing arguably their biggest game of the entire season, I look for the Titans to rise to the occasion and score the upset. 10*
|11-13-13||Ball State +7.5 v. Northern Illinois||Top||27-48||Loss||-105||13 h 42 m||Show|
I'm playing on BALL STATE. There have been some big games in the MAC Conference recently but this is arguably the biggest of the bunch. Northern Illinois is undefeated, ranked nationally, looking to take complete command of the MAC, and make a return to a BCS bowl game. Ball State is 9-1 on the season, 7-0 its last seven, looking to spoil the Huskies' dreams and win the MAC.
The game is so big that Michigan coach Brady Hoke and ESPN writer Jason Whitlock, both of whom attended Ball State, kicked in $10,000 to help bus Cardinals' students to attend.
Boasting the longest home winning streak in the nation and led by a star QB, the Huskies are certainly worthy of respect. That said, the Cardinals have also proven to be worthy of respect. Indeed, they've won 15 of their last 16 regular season games.
While they deserve some credit for beating a pair of Big Ten teams at the beginning of the season, keep in mind that those two teams (Iowa and Purdue) are currently a combined 7-12, 3-8 in Big-Ten play. So, it wasn't like they beat an "elite" Big-Ten team. Beating Eastern Illinois could be considered an "accomplishment" but keep in mind that the Huskies did so by only four points.
Ball State has beaten a solid Toledo team, arguably a more impressive "conference" win than Northern Illinois has to its credit. The Cardinals also visited Virginia and hammered the Cavaliers by a 48-27 score. True, the Cavs are having a bad year - and are at the bottom of the ACC. Still, they're comparable to Purdue, a team in the same situation in the Big-Ten, that NIU beat by a similar score.
While the Huskies have had some extra time to prepare, they're only 2-3 ATS their last five off a bye. Arguably this season's worst performance, an 8-point win against Idaho as a huge favorite, came when they played with extra rest.
On the other hand, Ball State is 12-3 ATS its last 15 off a conference win.
Last night's two MAC contests were both out of hand by halftime. I look for this one to be far more closely contested and am grabbing the generous points. 10*
|11-11-13||Miami Dolphins v. Tampa Bay Buccaneers +3||Top||19-22||Win||100||156 h 11 m||Show|
I'm playing on TAMPA BAY. I won with the Dolphins last week. However, I'm going against them here.
I expect the Bucs to be both desperate and extremely motivated. They desperately want their first victory of the season - and a chance to do so on Monday night should provide them with added incentive to give it everything they've got.
The Bucs ultimately came up short but they played a great game at Seattle last week. They've been very competitive, nearly every week - and this game provides them with an excellent shot to finally break through with a win.
Lets not forget that the Dolphins are still 1-4 their last five games, the lone win coming by two points, on a safety. They've lost their last two on the road by a combined score of 65-34.
Obviously, Miami badly wants a win too. Monday night games are big for every team, regardless of the situation. Plus, at 4-4, the Dolphins aren't out of the playoff race yet.
That said, the Dolphins have some wins under their belts and are on the road. They may not have the same level of desperation as their hosts.
While the Dolphins are trying to use it as an "us against the world" rallying cry, I do believe that the Incognito issue could easily prove to be a distraction. Either way, I look for homefield to prove the difference, as the Bucs finally find a way. 10*
|11-11-13||Rutgers v. UAB -4||Top||76-79||Loss||-108||12 h 14 m||Show|
I'm playing on UAB. These teams met at Rutgers last December. The Knights, who hit 15 of their first 16 shots, jumped out to a big halftime lead and finished with a 88-79 victory. Playing on their home floor, I expect an improved Blazers team to return the favor.
Last year's Blazers had a new coach and they started out the season poorly. Road wins were few and far between and they'd finish at just 16-17 overall. However, a closer look reveals that they actually won six of nine to close out the regular season, then knocking off SMU in the first rd of their conference tournament.
As coach Jered Hasse, a former North Carolina assistant who played at Kansas and Cal noted:
|11-10-13||Dallas Cowboys v. New Orleans Saints -6.5||Top||17-49||Win||100||155 h 52 m||Show|
I'm playing on the NEW ORLEANS SAINTS. Long-time regulars will recall that I rode the Saints pretty hard during the year that they won the Super Bowl. Not only did I go 2-0 in the big game, hitting side and total, I backed them in every one of their playoff covers. While I obviously didn't play on them every week during the regular season, I was perfect in their 'prime-time" games. (If memory serves me correctly, they hammered the Giants, Patriots and Falcons all on National TV that reg. season.) That year's team had a real tendency to elevate its play on the "big stage." While I won't hand them the SB title quite yet, I believe this year's team has the same "feeling" to it. I believe that they'll be "extra motivated" for this game and that they'll prove too much for the Cowboys to handle.
I noted the same thing (about their tendency to elevate in big games and comparing this year's team to the SB team) when I backed the Saints in their Monday night game against Miami. They won that one with ease.
Before I continue singing the Saints' praises, note that I will play against them (or any team) when the situation warrants doing so. I successfully played against the Saints when the Bucs nearly upset them earlier this season. However, that was on the road and there were a number of reasons why I thought they'd struggle. They're an entirely different team at home.
Indeed, in four home games the Saints are a perfect 4-0 SU/ATS, outscoring opponents by an average of 31.7 to 14.5. They've averaged 423.2 yards per game here, 6.6 yards per play. Visiting teams are only averaging 311 yards. Going back further finds the Saints at a commanding 16-4 SU/ATS their last 20 games here.
I like and respect the Cowboys and believe that they've a very capable team. While I did successfully play against them last week, I've also won with them on more than one occasion this season, successfully backing them vs. both the Manning brothers. Those games were both at Dallas though, while this one's at New Orleans.
Not only are the Saints extremely tough to beat here, but the Cowboys have only one road win in four tries this season. They're getting out gained by an average of 430 yards to 317.7 in those four road games. They give up 6.2 yards per play on the road, averaging only 5.3 themselves. Note that the Cowboys were out gained by a 623-268 margin at Detroit, the last time they played in a dome. They earned a fortunate cover in that one - but are up against a more dangerous opponent here.
Brees remains one of the very best quarterbacks in the game. He's got a tight-end (Jimmy Graham) who's practically unstoppable. After finding the end zone twice last week, Graham now has 10 TDs on the season. Overall, he caught nine passes for better than 100 yards. Note that Brees threw for 446 yards and three TDs the last time he faced the Cowboys.
That game, which was played at Dallas last December and when Sean Payton wasn't the coach, was close. New Orleans, which was the underdog, won by a score of 34-31 in OT. A closer look at the stats shows that the Saints actually had a major edge on the ground (116-40) and that they had a 33-18 advantage in first downs, to go along with a whopping 41:59 to 22.28 edge in time of possession.
Speaking of the Saints' coach, I believe that Payton, who was with Dallas before coming here, is among the very best in the game. I believe he gives the Saints an edge over Jason Garrett.
Payton's defensive coordinator, Rob Ryan, isn't doing too shabby a job either. Indeed, Ryan has helped transform the Saints into one of the league's better defenses. As noted, they're allowing a mere 14.5 points per game here. While Romo had a big game vs. the Saints at Dallas last season, Ryan's unit is much better against the pass this year than last. The Saints rank fifth in the league against the pass, giving up 211 yards per game through the air.
Note that Ryan figures to take this game personally. He was fired by the Cowboys last January, Garrett informing him of the decision by phone.
Saints cornerback Keenan Lewis said this of Ryan: ''Any time a guy gets fired from a spot he's at and he has an opportunity to play them, he wants to prove a point.'' I expect the Saints entire team to be extra "fired up" to help Ryan "prove his point."
The Saints, who have scored 20 or more points in seven of eight games, have allowed 18 points or less six times on the season. They've beaten the Cowboys seven of the last eight meetings and they're 9-1 ATS the last 10 times that they were home favorites in the 3.5 to 7 range. I expect them to make a statement. 10*
|11-10-13||Philadelphia Eagles v. Green Bay Packers -1||Top||27-13||Loss||-110||99 h 8 m||Show|
I'm playing on GREEN BAY. As you're likely aware, Rodgers is out. That's obviously significant; Rodgers is one of the best QBs in the game, arguably the most valuable. Naturally, its been reflected in the line. With Rodgers in the game, the Packers are fairly heavy favorites here. Without him, that's not the case. In fact, without him, many aren't giving the Packers much of a chance at all. While I also think Rodgers is great, I believe that sentiment is providing us with plenty of value on the Pack.
While I'd never want anyone to get hurt, I benefitted from Rodgers' injury last week, as I had the Bears. Like others that watched the game, I saw that Seneca Wallace did not perform well. In fact, he wasn't very good at all.
Since that performance, I've heard a lot of talk about how Wallace doesn't deserve to be an NFL QB and how the Packers have no chance with him in there. I've followed Wallace's career though and I expect him to be much better this week. While his career stats are not good, he's had some tough situations. He's had a week to prepare and is no longer coming in cold. He's also heard all the talk about how terrible he is and figures to be extremely motivated to prove otherwise. I look for him to do so.
The Packers are a very well-coached team. I expect McCarthy and co. to find ways to help make Wallace effective.
Of course, having a potent rushing attack, as the Packers have had, figures to help Wallace. Lacey and co. will be up against a Philadelphia defense which surrendered 210 rushing yards, on 33 carries, vs. Oakland last week.
Foles is coming off a rather incredible performance. However, just as I won't over-react to Wallace's sub-par performance, I'm not about to immediately call Foles "elite."
On the defensive side of the ball, keep in mind that the Packers allow 17.2 points and 341 yards per game at home, the Eagles allow 28 points and 429.6 yards per game on the road.
Lets not forget that the Packers have won 29 of their last 31 regular-season games here at Lambeau. Or, that they're 16-4 all-time vs. the Eagles here. Don't be shocked when McCarthy and co. to find a way to continue that dominance Sunday afternoon. 10*
|11-09-13||Philadelphia 76ers v. Cleveland Cavaliers -7.5||Top||125-127||Loss||-105||12 h 28 m||Show|
I'm playing on CLEVELAND. As you may be aware, these teams faced each that at Philadelphia last night. The Cavaliers got off to a quick start but the 76'ers fought back and finished with a comfortable 94-79 win. Back on their home floor, I expect the revenge-minded Cavs to return the favor.
While the 76'ers may have won their lone road game, road wins are still likely going to be hard to come by for them this season. I'm still not sold on this team, one which lost back-to-back games by double-digits before last night.
The Cavs are 2-0 at home and they've held opposing teams to 93 points on 38.1% shooting here. The teams they beat (Brooklyn and Minnesota) were both arguably far more talented than the one they'll face tonight.
The 76'ers are just 6-13 ATS the past couple of seasons, as road underdogs in the 6.5 to 9 range. During that span, the Cavs are 2-1 ATS as home favorites in the 6.5 to 9 range.
With a pair of road games on deck, I believe the Cavs could really benefit from a one-sided win - and that's exactly what I expect them to get. 10*
|11-09-13||Tulane v. Texas San Antonio -7.5||Top||7-10||Loss||-108||124 h 23 m||Show|
I'm playing on TEXAS SAN ANTONIO. Tulane comes in with the superior record. However, I believe that UTSA is favored for good reason.
The Roadrunners have hit their stride in recent weeks. Last time out, they went on the road and hammered Tulsa by a 34-15 score. In their previous game, they beat UAB by a score of 52-31.
On the other hand, after a number of consecutive upsets, the Green Wave came back down to earth last week, a 34-17 loss at FAU.
Give the Green Wave credit. They've already exceeded expectations. However, lets keep in mind that they average less than 300 yards of offense per game, surrendering nearly 400.
Conversely, after the last two weeks, the Roadrunners are now out gaining opponents on the season, albeit not by a much. They're averaging 418.4 yards of offense per game and that number climbs all the way to 488.5 at home.
While the Green Wave average 4.2 yards per play on the road, the Roadrunners average 6.4 yards per play at home.
UTSA's Eric Soza, a senior, does an excellent job of spreading the ball around and ranks among the top QBs in the conference. He's already thrown for 1991 yards and 11 TDs, completing better than 63% of his passes. Running back David Glasco II is off a big game, giving him 494 yards and two TDs on the season. Meanwhile, the defense is off arguably its best game of the season.
The Roadrunners haven't been around that long, so they haven't been favored that often. They are 5-1 ATS the past few seasons when laying points though. This is a big game for them and I believe their superior offense will ultimately lead to a double-digit win. 10*
|11-08-13||Sacramento Kings v. Portland Trail Blazers -7||Top||91-104||Win||100||14 h 8 m||Show|
I'm playing on PORTLAND. This is the front end of a home and home series between these teams. Playing on their home court, I expect the Blazers to hold serve this evening.
This is a step down in class for the Blazers. So far, they've played two games on the road and their two home games have come against San Antonio and Houston. Sacramento isn't in the same class as either of those clubs. While the Kings did eke out a home win on opening night, they've lost all three games since.
The Kings lone road game resulted in a double-digit loss. They had a 34.5% field goal percentage while allowing their opponent (GS) to connect on better their 51% of theirs.
The Blazers are 3-1 SU/ATS as a host in the series the past couple of seasons. All wins came by double-digits, most recently an 18-point blowout here last December. While the Kings could give them a good battle tomorrow, I expect homecourt to prove significant tonight. 10*
|11-07-13||Oregon v. Stanford +10.5||Top||20-26||Win||100||87 h 9 m||Show|
I'm playing on STANFORD. Needless to say, this is a huge game. The Ducks, who are looking to avenge last year's 17-14 loss, are 8-0 on the season. They've got the Pac-12 Championship and a spot in the BCS title game in mind. Don't think that Stanford players want it any less though.
How big is this game? The winner of this matchup has won the Pac-12 title each of the past three years. The loser was handed its only regular-season loss. Had those games gone the other way, the loser would have likely played in the BCS championship game.
Yes, the Ducks are again a scary team. However, et's not forget that Stanford has won 13 straight home games since losing 53-30 (to Oregon) in 2011.
When talking about this game earlier in the week to a couple of long-time friends, I compared the Ducks to Mike Tyson. I noted that most fighters were so intimidated by Tyson that they'd lost before they even stepped in the ring. But, that as dangerous/dominant a fighter as he was, if someone (like Holyfield) wasn't afraid of him - and was actually willing to bully him back - that he was potentially beatable. (Both have been friends long enough to remember/know that, although I was still young, I bet Holyfield in both Tyson fights - so the analogy had a personal connection.)
Anyway, as much as I respect Oregon, I have a feeling that Stanford is its Holyfield. The Cardinal aren't intimidated. Unlike other Oregon opponents, the Cardinal actually believe that they're going to win this game. True, they haven't necessarily been as dominant against their opponents as Oregon has. (That was also true of Holyfield.) However, the lone loss came on the road (by only six) and I believe that some of the close games they've played will serve the Cardinal well here.
While the Cardinal did lose defensive end Ben Gardner last game, this is still another very solid Stanford defense, one which is rounding into form. The Cardinal allowed just 10 and 12 points their last two games.
While the Ducks are admittedly also very good as favorites, note that Stanford is a perfect 4-0 ATS as an underdog the past couple of seasons. Two outright wins and two losses by a touchdown or less. Going back further shows that they're 7-1 ATS as underdogs, dating back to an upset of the Ducks here in 2009. Last year's game went to OT. I expect another close one and am grabbing all the points I can get. 10*
|11-07-13||Oklahoma +14.5 v. Baylor||Top||12-41||Loss||-110||86 h 38 m||Show|
I'm playing on OKLAHOMA. I've successfully played against both these teams this season. In fact, I did so on the same day. I went against the Bears when they failed to cover vs. K-State. And, I went against the Sooners when they got whipped by Texas. In both cases, I felt the line was too high. I feel the same way here.
Baylor has indeed been good. Scary good. With the exception of the K-State game, they're dominated every other time they've taken the field. However, lets keep in mind that the schedule has been very weak. This is by far the Bears' toughest opponent yet.
The Bears did beat the Sooners here in 2011. However, that win came by only seven points and it was the only time that Baylor has won in this series in recent memory.
The Bears' schedule gets a lot tougher, starting here. Even coach Briles noted that as far as he was concerned, the season was just getting started. He was quoted saying: "We are anxious to get into the grind time." While I respect the Bears, I believe Briles needs to be careful what he wishes for - and am grabbing all those generous points. 10*
|11-07-13||Los Angeles Clippers v. Miami Heat -5||Top||97-102||Push||0||23 h 51 m||Show|
I'm playing on MIAMI. I played on the Clippers last Thursday. However, I'm going against them here.
Last Thursday, the Clippers were playing at home. They'd had the previous night off. And, they were facing a team (Golden St) which had played the previous night. Tonight, the shoe is on the other foot. The Clippers lost at Orlando last night. They're on the road. And, they're facing a Miami team which had last night off.
The Clippers are now 1-2 on the road, getting outscored by an average of 105-101.
The champs have had their wake-up call. Since dropping a pair of early road games, they've won back-to-back games, each win coming by a minimum of nine points. Now, playing a National TV game against a team they could potentially meet in the Finals, I look for the Heat to be fully focused and to be at their best.
The Heat are in one of their better roles here. They're 7-2 ATS (8-1 SU) their last nine as home favorites in the 3.5 to 6 range. During the same stretch, the Clippers are 10-12-1 ATS as road underdogs in the 3.5 to 6 range.
The Clippers beat the Heat 107-100 at LA last season. However, the game here at Miami resulted in a 111-89 victory for the Heat. I expect home court to again prove important, the Heat holding serve with a solid win and cover. 10*
|11-06-13||Washington Wizards -2 v. Philadelphia 76ers||Top||116-102||Win||100||10 h 27 m||Show|
I'm playing on WASHINGTON. The 76'ers got off to a terrific 3-0 start, surprising nearly everyone. That included a victory over these same Wizards, at Washington. The 76'ers came back down to earth in a big way in their last game though, as the Warriors came in here and hammered them. Facing a Wizards team determined to avenge last week's loss, I expect the 76'ers to stumble once again.
Philadelphia's Spencer Hawes had this to say about the 76'ers last game: "There's no beating around the bush, they beat the heck out of us."
Not only should the Wizards be motivated by "revenge," they should desperate just to win a game. They're off to a disappointing 0-3 start and they've got some far more difficult games on the horizon. Their next one comes against an improved Brooklyn team. After that, they play road games at OKC, Dallas and San Antonio. Needless to say, none of those games will be easy. That makes taking care of business tonight all the more urgent.
Philadelphia coach Brett Brown knows the Wizards are going to come out a determined bunch. He had this to say: "They're going to want to make amends, we're going to have a much more difficult game."
Although they came up short, the Wizards are off arguably their best performance of the season. They fought hard against Miami, trimming a 23-point lead to seven.
Washington coach Randy Wittman noted: "This is how we've got to play. Nobody wants to lose but I thought we took a good step in the right direction."
This has been one of the Wizards' best roles the past couple of seasons, as we find them at 30-16 ATS the last 46 times that they attempted to avenge an earlier home loss. I believe that they bring a little more to the table and I expect them to improve on those stats in convincing fashion. 10*
|11-05-13||Los Angeles Lakers v. Dallas Mavericks -8.5||Top||104-123||Win||100||15 h 37 m||Show|
I'm playing on DALLAS. The Lakers have gotten a couple of wins without Kobe. However, they got hammered by 31 points in their lone game away from LA and I expect them to struggle again tonight.
The Mavs also lost their lone road game. However, they're 2-0 here at Dallas, winning by nine and 12 points. The 12-point win came in their most recent game, a 111-99 victory over Memphis.
Now, the Mavs get to face an LA team which has long given them trouble. I don't expect them to show the Lakers any sympathy/mercy because Kobe isn't in the lineup. They'd like nothing better than to kick the Lakers while they're down.
Note that the Lakers are an awful 15-33 ATS the past couple of seasons, after scoring 105 or more points in their previous game.
The Mavs are in one of their better roles. Indeed, they're 13-4 ATS (16-1 SU) the past couple of seasons as home favorites in the 6.5 to 9 range.
During the same stretch , the Lakers are 3-10 ATS (1-12 SU) as road underdogs in the 6.5 to 9 range. During that stretch, they're an ugly 28-54-1 ATS on the road overall, 23-38 ATS as underdogs overall. I expect a double-digit win for the well-rested home team. 10*
|11-04-13||Chicago Bears +11 v. Green Bay Packers||Top||27-20||Win||100||36 h 30 m||Show|
I'm playing on CHICAGO. Without Cutler, not many are giving the Bears much of a chance against the mighty Packers. I also respect Green Bay. The Packers are very well-coached and have an outstanding quarterback. That doesn't mean that they can't be beaten though - or at least seriously challenged. Facing a desperate Chicago team, I expect the Packers to have their hands full Monday night.
Obviously, playing without Cutler is not ideal. However, McCown is a veteran and I expect him to give everything he's got.. He's been with the team for some time.. He's been here before, throwing for 242 years at Lambeau on Christmas Day 2011. He's off an impressive "relief" performance, hitting 70% (14 of 20) of his passes at Washington, for better than 200 yards with a TD, while also running for 33 more. McCown will have benefitted from the bye week, getting extra time to work with the first team. He's got plenty of weapons, with the likes of Forte, Marshall, Jeffery and Bennett. He knows this is his chance - and I expect him to do everything he can to make the most of it.
Cutler said this of his backup: "Josh is going to do the job. We've got a good game plan coming in. Josh fared well against Washington. He'll play well again this week."
Its also true that the Bears defense is banged-up, arguably a bigger concern than the QB situation. The defense should have also benefitted from the extra week off though. The defensive players too know this is their opportunity and that the team badly needs them to elevate their play.
Lets not forget that the Packers have significant injury issues of their own.
Lets also not forget that the Bears haven't lost a game by more than eight points this entire season or that the Packers have seen five of seven games decided by 13 or less.
Chicago coach Marc Trestman had this to say: "We really have to play together more than ever now. And I think that's something that we're capable of doing."
While the Packers have generally finished on top, the Bears almost always play them tough. Eight of the past 10 meetings have been decided by 10 point or less and all 10 of those games were decided by 14 or less. I expect that to be the case again and am grabbing all the points I can get. 10*
|11-04-13||Golden State Warriors -7 v. Philadelphia 76ers||Top||110-90||Win||100||9 h 29 m||Show|
I'm playing on GOLDEN STATE. At first glance, it might seem a bit funny to see the undefeated 76'ers catching this many points on their home floor. However, while the 76'ers have certainly off to a great start, I believe the visiting Warriors are favored by this many for good reason.
I successfully played against the Warriors in their only road game this season. However, that was vs. the Clippers and the Warriors were off a game the previous night. That's not the case here. The 76'ers aren't nearly as talented as the Clippers, nor are the Warriors playing the second of back-to-back games. Even including the Halloween loss at LA, the Warriors are still a lucrative 46-34-1 ATS on the road, the past 2+ seasons.
With the Warriors averaging 112.7 points and the 76'ers averaging 110, we're seeing a very high O/U line. While every season is obviously different, that hasn't been a good situation for the 76'ers over the years. Indeed, they're just 5-17-1 ATS the last 23 times that they played a home game with an O/U line of 210 or more, going 15-33-1 ATS their last 49 with an O/U line of 210 or more overall.
While the 76'ers are 13-20 ATS (9-24 SU) against teams which average 99 or more points, the Warriors are 29-18 SU/ATS the past couple of seasons, when facing a team which allows 99 or more points per game. Facing their first Western Conference foe of the season, I expect the 76'ers to get a dose of reality. 10*
|11-03-13||Indianapolis Colts v. Houston Texans +1.5||Top||27-24||Loss||-110||152 h 30 m||Show|
I'm playing on HOUSTON. I've had success playing both on and against the Colts this season. I feel that this will be a good spot to go against them.
While they couldn't quite manage the outright victory, the Texans broke through with a cover last time out, losing by a single point at KC, vs. the undefeated Chiefs.
The Texans know they basically need to win every game the rest of the way, if they want any shot at making the playoffs. Even if they don't believe that's really possible, I believe that they'll be treating this game very seriously, doing everything possible to earn a win. After all, this is a divisional game on National TV. It offers a chance to show the world that they're a lot better than their record indicates.
With victories over the Broncos and also at San Francisco, the Colts have proven that they can beat any team in the league. However, they did lose their last road game (19-9 at SD) and I believe that this will be a tough venue. Not having Reggie Wayne doesn't figure to help matters.
For all this season's troubles, the Texans are still outgaining opposing teams by an average margin of 449.3 to 244.7 in their three games here at Houston. (Somehow, they only managed to win one of those, covering none.)
Note that the home team won both meetings by double-digits in this series last season. The Colts beat the Texans 28-16 at Indianapolis. However, the Texans beat the Colts 29-17 in the game here at Houston.
Keenum is expected to get the call and his performance seemed to light a spark for the team, particularly in terms of the deep passing game. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Keenum completed three of five pass attempts longer than 20 yards. In the previous four weeks, the Texans had attempted only six such passes total. Keenum finished with a passer rating of 110.6, completing 15 of 25 passes for 271 yards and a touchdown. Keep in mind that those numbers came against the Chiefs, arguably this season's best defensive team through the first half of the season.
With the calendar having flipped, note that the Texans are a perfect 7-0 SU (5-1-1 ATS) in the month of November, the past coupe of seasons. I expect their best effort, en route to another ATS win. 10*
|11-02-13||Auburn v. Arkansas +8||Top||35-17||Loss||-110||28 h 18 m||Show|
I'm playing on ARKANSAS. I've only played on the Razorbacks once this season. That was when they covered vs. Texas A&M back on 9/28. Its a good thing that I've avoided them in their other games, as that cover has been sandwiched by six straight ATS losses, three on either side. I believe that those poor ATS results, combined with Auburn's really good recent ATS stats, have worked in our favor here - and that we're getting very fair line value.
As mentioned, the Razorbacks are reeling a little., having failed to cover three straight. However, those three games came against the likes of Florida, South Carolina and Alabama - and two of the three came on the road. (Note that this is their Razorbacks 5th straight game against a ranked opponent, the longest stretch of an SEC team in more than 20 years.) They've since had a bye, allowing extra preparation time for this game and time to lick their wounds and regroup in time for the final stretch. I believe that the bye came at the perfect time and I expect to see a refreshed and re-energized team.
Arkansas head coach Brett Bielema said this of today's game: "It's obviously a big game for us. There's a lot that goes into it. They're a team that's ranked, a team that's done some good things. Obviously an opportunity to be here at home on what should be close to a sell-out crowd, an evening game that everyone should be jacked up for. It will be a tremendous environment."
The Tigers are indeed on quite a roll. While they definitely deserve credit for beating Texas A&M, lets keep in mind that they won that one by only four points. (Not enough to cover here.) Their other wins have largely come against mediocre or weak opposition. I believe that they're a good team - but probably not as good as their lofty national ranking suggests. Note that the Tigers' starting QB is expected to play, but that he's a bit "sore" and banged-up.
Their only other road game was a double-digit loss. Even with the win over the Aggies, the Tigers are still only 2-9 SU and 4-7 ATS on the road the past couple of seasons. They were 2-5 ATS the past two Novembers and they're 0-2 ATS the past two times that they were favored in the 3.5 to 10 range.
The Razorbacks won by 17 at Auburn last season and they beat the Tigers by 24 here the previous season. I expect them to come in both confident and motivated and I expect at least a cover. 10*
|11-02-13||Wake Forest v. Syracuse -3||Top||0-13||Win||100||120 h 34 m||Show|
I'm playing on SYRACUSE. I won with the Demon Deacons a few weeks back. Listed as underdogs, they upset NC State. That was the start of three straight ATS victories. This week, however, I feel that the value has shifted the other way.
Syracuse is 2-1 at home. The Orange have outscored teams by a 40 to 22 average margin here, outgaining them by an average of 465.7 to 347. While the victories did come again weak opposition, this can still be a difficult place to play.
Wake Forest is 1-3 on the road. The Deacons are getting outscored by an average of 28.7 to 15.7 in those four games, outgained by a 408.7 to 297.2 margin.
Going back a bit further finds that Wake Forest is only 4-10 (SU) its last 14 road games while Syracuse is 10-5 its last 15 home.
The Orange were embarrassed last time out, losing 56-0 at Georgia Tech. That debacle should provide them with some added motivation here. Note that they've since had an extra week off to recover and prepare.
The Deacons were much more competitive in losing their last game. In fact, they lost by only three points at Miami. Give them credit for playing the Hurricanes tough. However, after leaving everything on the field at Miami and losing in the final minute, they're now playing their second road game in two weeks. The previous time that they were in that situation (2nd of b2b road games) this season, they lost by a score of 56-7. While the Deacons will be trying to get coach Grobe his school record 78th victory, I believe last week's loss while have a lingering effect.
These teams last met in 2011. The Orange won that meeting by seven points. The Orange know that if they want to make it to a bowl game, this is a game they desperately need. I expect another win and cover. 10*
|10-30-13||Denver Nuggets v. Sacramento Kings +1||Top||88-90||Win||100||35 h 28 m||Show|
I'm playing on SACRAMENTO. Many are going to see this matchup and automatically assume a victory for the Nuggets. I don't think we should be so quick to that though.
True, the Nuggets made the playoffs again last season. However, they also lost in the first round, again. That led to some major offseason changes. When the smoke cleared, the Nuggets lost both George Karl (the reigning Coach of the Year) and general manager Masai Ujiri, the Executive of the Year. Even Ujiri's assistant, Pete D'Alessandro, left.
Introduced as the new general manager, Tim Connelly immediately stated this his first priority was re-signing star player Andre Iguodala. That didn't happen though, as A.I. left for Golden State.
Brian Shaw was a hot commodity and was probably a good hire at coach. However, he's got an entirely different philosophy from Karl. So, we can't necessarily expect immediate success.
In addition to losing Iguodala, the Nuggets also start the season without Danilo Gallinari, another of the team's top scorers. While Kenneth Faried (hamstring) is probable, Ty Lawson (groin) is currently questionable.
The Kings also have seen some offseason changes. However, while I believe the Nuggets are likely going to take a step back this season, I like the moves in Sacramento.
I like Malone's attitude at coach. I like that he ripped the team after a poor practice on Monday, letting them know they need to get serious. Immediately.
Lets not forget that the Kings' home record was actually better than the Nuggets' road record last season. I expect them to tip things off with a win and cover. 10*
|10-28-13||Seattle Seahawks v. St Louis Rams +12||Top||14-9||Win||100||56 h 1 m||Show|
I'm playing on ST. LOUIS. Without starting QB Sam Bradford, not many are giving the Rams much of a chance here. I believe that they're offering us excellent value.
Keep in mind that the Seahawks have only won one of their four road games by more than five points. They beat Arizona by 12 last time out. However, before that, they'd lost by six at Indianapolis, won by three at Houston and won by five at Carolina.
Bradford had been playing well of late. So, losing him certainly wasn't a "good" thing. However, I'm not as down on Clemens as many others seem to be. Clemens, who worked with offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer during his tenure with the Jets, knows this is his big opportunity. He's been Bradford's backup for a couple of years and has been in the league a lot longer than that.
Clemens noted: "...I'll go out there and do the best job I can and try to help this team win some games."
As impressive as Wilson's career has been, he didn't fare well here last season. In fact, he was picked off three times here, only one of two times that he's been intercepted more than once in the same game. Note that he'll still be without Percy Harvin here, as Carroll has indicated the star receiver won't play. St. Louis won that game by a score of 19-13, while losing the game at Seattle by seven points.
The Rams are 2-0 ATS the past couple of seasons, when listed as home underdogs in the 10.5 to 14 range. They've won two of their last three and I expect their very best effort on Monday night. 10*
|10-27-13||Green Bay Packers v. Minnesota Vikings +10||Top||44-31||Loss||-110||123 h 8 m||Show|
I'm playing on MINNESOTA. Off a poor performance on National TV last week, not many bettors are going to want to back the Vikings here. Not against the mighty Packers. I feel that sentiment is providing us with excellent value with the home underdog.
The Packers are 0-2-1 ATS away from Lambeau this season. They lost two of those games outright while winning the other by just two points.
While they've admittedly struggled the last two weeks, the Vikings first four games were all decided by 10 or fewer points; three losses by 10 or less and a win by seven.
With the playoffs no longer even worth dreaming about, a home game on National TV, vs. a division rival, is about as big as it gets for the Vikings. I expect them to treat it like a "very important game."
On the other hand, the Packers have many bigger games still to play, including a big one next week vs. arch-rival Chicago, a team they're fighting with the for the division lead.
The Vikings are 25-14-1 ATS (31-9 SU) the last 40 times that they played a home game with an O/U line in the 45.5 to 49 range, 3-1 ATS the last couple of seasons. During that time, the Packers are 1-5-1 ATS when playing a road game with an O/U line in that range.
While they lost by 14 at Lambeau in January, the Vikings won last year's game here at Minnesota by three points, losing by nine at Lambeau.
The Vikings are 14-9-2 ATS the last 25 times that they were getting points. During that time, they're 7-4 ATS off two or more consecutive losses. I expect their best effort to lead to at least another cover on Sunday night. 10*
|10-26-13||Texas v. TCU -2||Top||30-7||Loss||-110||29 h 50 m||Show|
I'm playing on TCU. I backed the Longhorns in their win over Oklahoma. However, I'm going against them here.
Although the Frogs have had some trouble on the road, they're 3-0 at home. They've outscored visiting teams by an average score of 37.7 to 17.
The well-coached Frogs are 5-2 SU the last seven times that they were off a conference loss, covering the spread in four of those. During that time, Texas is only 4-7 ATS off a conference win.
While they've had some time off, I believe the Longhorns may still be patting themselves on the back for finally beating the Sooners. Even Mack Brown admitted that his Longhorns were feeling "..really full of themselves."
Both teams can run the ball. However, TCU is better at stopping the run. (The Frogs lead the Big 12 in rushing defense, allowing opponents to average just 115.3 yards on the ground.)
In last year's game at Texas, the Frogs had a 217-86 edge on the ground, en route to a 20-13 win. I look for them to have the advantage once again. 10*
|10-26-13||Utah v. USC -6.5||Top||3-19||Win||100||25 h 21 m||Show|
I'm playing on USC. The Trojans are 2-0 against the Utes since Utah joined the Pac-12. Going back further finds USC at 8-3 all-time in this series. I expect the Trojans to continue that dominance Saturday afternoon.
Its true that the Trojans are dealing with some injury issues and that they're off a loss. Keep in mind this team is still 3-0 its last three home games though, beating Arizona, Utah State and Boston College by a combined score of 90-52.
The Utes, who were hit hard by personnel losses in the offseason, are also dealing with some injuries. They're off a double-digit loss at Arizona and playing the second of back-to-back road games for the first time this season. QB Wilson is expected to start but may still be at less than 100%.
The Trojans won by 10 at Utah last season and they beat the Utes by nine the previous season. Even with all their current issues, I still believe that they're the strong team and I look for them to win by more than a TD once again. 10*
|10-26-13||Houston v. Rutgers -6.5||Top||49-14||Loss||-110||21 h 23 m||Show|
I'm playing on RUTGERS. I successfully played on the "under" the last time that the Knights took the field, a 24-10 loss at Lousville a couple of weeks back. In their previous game, I successfully played against the Knights, a 3-pt win vs. SMU. This week, however, I feel that the Knights have the situation in their favor.
Houston has been a spread-covering machine this season. However, the Cougars saw their dreams of an undefeated season go up in smoke last week, losing by a single point (47-46) vs. BYU. That figures to be a tough pill to swallow; I won't be surprised if they're a little deflated here.
Rutgers is 5-1 SU (4-1 ATS) its last six off a bye. During that stretch, the Knights are 5-2 ATS as home favorites in the 3.5 to 10 range.
While the Cougars can certainly put points on the board, I believe the Knights have a little more overall talent. Throw in the home field and situational advantages and I expect the Knights to pull away with a double-digit win. 10*
|10-24-13||Carolina Panthers v. Tampa Bay Buccaneers +7||Top||31-13||Loss||-130||51 h 4 m||Show|
I'm playing on TAMPA BAY. With an 0-6 record not too many people are going to want to back the Bucs here. I believe that sentiment is providing us with very fair value on what I expect to be a highly determined home underdog.
I believe that the Bucs will really want this game. Coach Schiano had this to say: ''I want to be clear on this because I don't take lightly 0-6. I've never been 0-6. But we do our best. We're trying our hardest. Our guys are working ... and I have found when you have good people and they work hard and they work smart it'll turn. That's what I believe."
Last year's games between these two clubs were both decided by six points. The Bucs won 16-10 at Tampa in September and then they won 27-21 at Carolina in November.
This year's Tampa games have also been close, for the most part. An eight-point loss at Atlanta last time out was their fourth loss of eight or fewer points, three of those coming by three or less.
While they're 0-3 at home, the Bucs have actually been leading their home games by an average score of 11.3 to 8.0 at halftime. Overall, they're being outscored by an average of 5.3 points per game here.
Carolina linebacker Thomas Davis correctly stated: "In this league anything is possible and we know what Tampa Bay is capable of. If you look at their games this year they've pretty much been in all of those games. It just came down to executing in the fourth quarter and they could have a much different record. We know that."
The Panthers are 0-2 ATS the past couple of seasons as road favorites in the 3.5 to 7 range. I expect them to have their hands full the entire way and am grabbing all the points I can get. 9*
|10-24-13||Kentucky +10.5 v. Mississippi State||Top||22-28||Win||100||50 h 5 m||Show|
I'm playing on KENTUCKY. The Wildcats were blown out in their last game. However, that was vs. Alabama and it was the only time that it was their fourth straight very difficult game in a row. Prior to facing Alabama, they'd faced Louisville, Florida and South Carolina. They were mostly competitive in each of those games, including losing by just seven at South Carolina. I successfully backed the Cats in their cover at South Carolina and I look for them to again be far more competitive than most will be expecting.
The Bulldogs have beaten Kentucky four straight times, defeating them in Rich Brooks' last season and each of Joker Phillips' three. The Cats have a new coach (Stoops) now though and I do believe that they're an improved team. Note that these teams have played each other every year during that time and that neither team has won more than three straight in the series since 1990.
The Bulldogs are 3-3 on the season. The did blow out Troy and Alcorn State but when facing quality teams have come up short. Against Bowling Green, their most recent game, they won by only one.
While the Bulldogs certainly aren't slouches, they aren't quite as good as some of the teams which Kentucky has encountered recently. I believe all those games against elite opponents will serve the Cats well here, as they step down in class. I expect them to serve notice that they're no longer going to be push-overs in this rivalry, going all out for their first SEC win and earning AT LEAST a cover along the way. 10*
|10-21-13||Minnesota Vikings +3.5 v. NY Giants||Top||7-23||Loss||-105||13 h 43 m||Show|
I'm playing on MINNESOTA. Needless to say, this wasn't the season that either of these teams had hoped for. Nor was it the matchup that ESPN envisioned. However, its still an interesting storyline, one which I believe is offering us excellent value.
When teams underachieve the way these ones have, homefield can often be less advantageous than normal. The crowd can be a little less into it from the onset and it can be quick to turn on the home team, if/when things don't go as planned.
Even though the chances of making the playoffs are now extremely remote for both teams, there should be no shortage of motivation. Both teams have pride, both want to get things turned around. Both would love to show the national audience that they're better than their record indicates. The QBs, in particular, both figure to have much to prove. While he obviously didn't fare too well in Tampa, I believe Freeman will provide a boost for the Vikings.
The Giants may have looked a little better than the Vikings in their most recent game but overall, the Vikings have been far more competitive.
The Vikings are being outscored on the road, but only by a 30.7 to 29.3 average margin. On the other hand, the Giants are being outscored by a 38.5 to 22.2 average margin at home.
The Giants 9-13 ATS as favorites the past couple of seasons are 1-2 ATS on Monday nights the past couple of seasons.
The Vikings are 2-1 ATS as underdogs this season, 14-8-2 ATS as underdogs the past couple of seasons. I'm taking the points. 10*
|10-20-13||Denver Broncos v. Indianapolis Colts +7||Top||33-39||Win||100||108 h 27 m||Show|
I'm playing on INDIANAPOLIS. Some will surely believe that I need to have my head checked for going against Manning in his return to Indianapolis. That's OK. They thought that each of the past two weeks when I went against the Broncos too.. Denver failed to cover in either of those games. Once again. I feel that the value lies in going against the Broncos.
I've had pretty good success in picking my spots to play on/against the Colts. Last week, I successfully played against them, when they lost at San Diego. Included in my reasons for playing against them was the fact that they were on the road and that they might be caught looking ahead to this week's big game.
Prior to that, I'd also successfully played against the Colts in their opening week ATS loss vs. Oakland. And, I successfully played ON the Colts when they crushed the 49'ers, a result that shows they can beat elite teams.
Keep in mind that prior to last week's loss, the Colts had won three straight. After their previous loss, they won their next two games by a combined score of 64-10.
While Mannning will obviously want to play his best and to win, the Colts should be every bit as determined to avoid letting that happen.
While he admittedly seems to have ice water in his veins at times, it still figures to be an emotional homecoming for Peyton and its only natural to be at least a little nervous. Note that he was somewhat mortal in the game against Jacksonville, too. (Threw for less than 300 yards, had passer rating of less than 100, got picked off etc.) It should also be noted that Manning is without All Pro left tackle Ryan Clady and that right tackle Orlando Franklin got banged-up in the Jacksonville. Even if he plays, he may be at less than 100%.
The Colts, who allow just 16.3 points per game, are 4-1 ATS the last five times that they were listed as home underdogs in the 3.5 to 7 range. This is a huge game for them and I expect their best effort, en route to AT LEAST another cover. 10*
|10-20-13||San Francisco 49ers v. Tennessee Titans +4.5||Top||31-17||Loss||-110||104 h 60 m||Show|
I'm playing on TENNESSEE. While I certainly respect the 49'ers, I like how this sets up for the Titans.
For starters, the Titans are expected to have Locker back at QB. That figures to help, as the offense had really struggled under Fitzpatrick the past couple of seasons.
Off three straight double-digit wins, I believe that the 49'ers could easily get caught patting themselves on the back a little here. It should be easy to take a struggling non-conf. opponent like Tennessee lightly, particularly with a trip to London on deck.
Keep in mind that the Titans still have a winning record at home, where they're outgaining opposing teams by a 371-320 margin.
While every game is certainly important to the 49ers, who are batting with Seattle for the division lead, the 49'ers do have some very winnable games on deck and even if they didn't ultimately beat Seattle, they'd still be in a solid spot for the Wildcard, even if they lost here. I would argue its a bigger game for the Titans, who would fall below .500 with a loss.
The Titans, who have a long history of ATS success vs. NFC teams, are already 3-1 ATS as underdogs this season. I expect at least another cover. 10*
|10-19-13||Oregon State v. California +10.5||Top||49-17||Loss||-110||125 h 6 m||Show|
I'm playing on CALIFORNIA. Its definitely been a tough start to the season for the Bears. In fact, they've only got one SU win and have yet to cover the spread. I feel that they're offering excellent value here though and that this will be the week that they finally break through with at least a cover.
In addition to playing on the road for the second straight week, this will be the fourth time, in their past five games, that the Beavers have played away from home. They've got a huge game vs. Stanford on deck next week. I feel that it will be easy to look past lowly Cal here.
That will prove costly as the Bears haven't forgotten that the Beavers embarrassed them last season, a 62-14 drubbing at Oregon State. They've had more success against the Beavers here at home though, most recently a 23-8 win in 2011.
While the Beavers have been explosive offensively, the defense has been suspect. The Beavers are allowing more than 30 points and 400 yards per game. On the road, the Beavers are allowing 34 points and 415 yards. That make covering double-digits tough.
While the Bears have admittedly had defensive issues of their own, Cal can also move the ball. Indeed, the Bears are averaging a whopping 563 yards in their four games. While that's translated to "only" 30.7 points per game, it easily could have been more.
The Bears are 6-3 the last nine times that they were listed as home underdogs in the 10.5 to 14 range. During that time, the Beavers were 1-2 ATS as road favorites in the 10.5 to 14 range. I believe the Bears are going to play with a chip on their shoulder and I expect them to score enough points to earn AT LEAST the cover. 10*
|10-19-13||Florida State v. Clemson +3||Top||51-14||Loss||-110||123 h 8 m||Show|
I'm playing on CLEMSON. Needless to say, this is a huge game for both teams. With it being played at Death Valley, I favor the home underdog.
I successfully played against the Tigers at Boston College last week. They needed to rally to win the game. I believe that result has worked in our favor here. The Tigers got their wake-up call last week - lets not forget that Boston College also gave the Seminoles a bit of a scare. (I also had BC in that one.) The fact that they were able to rally for the win should give them confidence and momentum here, while also some valuable close game experience. Additionally, as the perception is that they barely won last week - while FSU had a bye preceded by a 63-0 win - we're getting the Tigers as an underdog.
Clemson defensive end Vic Beasley, who already has nine sacks, had this to say: ''Last year they got us, but I feel like we should have won. We're looking for payback.''
The Tigers, who beat FSU here in 2011 and who have long had ATS success as a host in this series, have been excellent in conference play the past few seasons, going a profitable 15-5-1 ATS. I'll take the points, but expect them to rise to the occasion with the outright win. 10*
|10-19-13||Wisconsin v. Illinois +10.5||Top||56-32||Loss||-110||123 h 34 m||Show|
I'm playing on ILLINOIS. I won with the Badgers in their last game, a 35-6 blowout of Northwestern. I also won by going against the Illini in their last game, a 39-19 loss against Nebraska, two weeks ago. This time, however, I feel the value lies with the Illini, particularly after some line movement in their favor.
The Illini were on the road when they lost to Nebraska. They're back home now and they've had an extra week to prepare and recover. Note that the Illini are 3-0 in true home games, outscoring visiting teams by a 45.7 to 21.7 margin. The Nebraska loss notwithstanding, this is a much improved team from the one which lost by 17 AT Wisconsin last year, while listed as 14.5 point underdogs.
Also, note that the Illini are already 1-0 SU/ATS off a bye this season. While the competition (obviously) wasn't nearly what they'll face here, the Illini were outstanding that game, beating Miami Ohio by a 50-14 margin. I backed the Illini in that game and they rewarded me by putting up more than 600 yards of offense, limiting the RedHawks to 250.
While they've faced a pair of tough opponents - and while they didn't get any help from the refs out West - the Badgers are still 0-2 SU on the road. Now, they're being asked to lay double-digits away from home. Note that the Badgers, who were underdogs for each of their first two games, are 2-5 ATS the last seven times that they were listed as road favorites.
While the Badgers are indeed tough to stop, note the Illini are expected to get 6-foot-3, 290-pound defensive tackle Teko Powell back. As defensive coordinator Tim Banks mentioned, he's athletic enough (and big enough) to help against the pass and the run.
I expect the Illini to score points, enough of them to earn AT LEAST the cover. 10*
|10-19-13||UCLA v. Stanford -4||Top||10-24||Win||100||104 h 1 m||Show|
I'm playing on STANFORD. The Bruins check with the better record and the higher overall ranking. However, I believe that the Cardinal are favored for good reason.
The Cardinal appeared headed for a showdown with Oregon, thinking if they could win that game that they'd have the inside track for the National Championship game. Those plans took a major hit with last week's loss vs. Utah. Still, I believe that Stanford can and will handle its disappointment and bounce back with a much needed victory.
With a game vs. Oregon on deck, its now UCLA which is starting to entertain National Title dreams.
The Cardinal have won all three meetings the past couple of seasons, covering the spread in two of those.
The Cardinal are in one of their better roles here. They're 3-0 ATS the last three times that they were listed as home favorites in the 3.5 to 7 range.
If UCLA can beat Utah and Utah can beat Stanford, then UCLA must be able to beat Stanford. Right? Not in my opinion. I still believe the Cardinal are the stronger team and I look for them to show it on Saturday afternoon. 10*
|10-18-13||Central Florida +14.5 v. Louisville||Top||38-35||Win||100||13 h 39 m||Show|
I'm playing on CENTRAL FLORIDA. This line has climbed considerably from its opener. While I already really liked the Knights, I now believe that we're also getting very good line value.
Louisville is indeed a very strong team, on both sides of the ball. The Cardinals check in with a perfect 6-0 record. They've defeated every opponent by a minimum of 14 points and are winning their games by an average score of 41 to 7.3. While those are certainly impressive numbers, I believe that Central Florida is by far the best team that the Cards will have faced.
The Knights are 4-1 on the season, including a victory at Penn State. That 34-31 victory, part of their 3-0 road record, was arguably more impressive than anything Louisville has yet to accomplish. The Knights lone loss on the season came at home - and by only a field goal - against a talented South Carolina team.
In going 3-0 on the road, the Knights have outscored their hosts by an average score of 32-16.
For the season, UCF is averaging 414 yards per game, 6.5 yards per play. The defense is permitting just 16.6 ppg, 353 ypg. The Nittany Lions were the only team to score more than 30 points against them - and they got just 31.
Bridgewater has proven to be a very capable QB for the Cards. However, he wasn't all that sharp last time out. While not nearly as well known, UCF has a capable QB of its own. Blake Bortles has completed nearly 65 percent of his passes for 1,334 yards and nine touchdowns.
While the Knights are off a bye, the Cards are playing their third game in the past 13 days. The Knights have been excellent as road underdogs in this range over the years and I look for them to prove a much tougher test for the Cards than many will be expecting. 10*
|10-17-13||Miami (Florida) v. North Carolina +9.5||Top||27-23||Win||100||12 h 31 m||Show|
I'm playing on NORTH CAROLINA. I've liked UNC all week, liking the Tar Heels at +7 or better. However, I waited until Wednesday to release the play, as I'd hoped the number might climb all the way to (or past) +10. When it looked like it wouldn't get there, II decided to jump in at +9.5. Frankly, I won't be shocked if UNC scores the outright win.
Back in the top 10 for the first time in a few years and facing a struggling UNC squad, I believe that the Hurricanes could easily get caught patting themselves on the back.
While the Hurricanes are always loaded with talent and very athletic, I'm not convinced that this year's team has done enough (yet) to deserve its lofty ranking. Sure, they beat G-Tech last game. That was at home though - and they had to overcome a 10-point deficit. The Canes win over Florida, while impressive, also came at home - and it came by only five points. The Canes only road game was at South Florida. So, not only were they within their own state, they were also facing a Bulls team which has been terrible this season.
Granted, the Tar Heels haven't been too good either. In fairness, however, three of their five games have been on the road - and those games were at South Carolina, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech - none of them easy venues. They had one disappointing home loss (ECU) but won their other home game (MTSU) by double-digits.
While its been a tough start, a win here would change everything for the Heels. Not only would they gain respect from the National TV audience, they'd put themselves back in position to reach a bowl. (After this, the schedule gets considerably easier.)
The Heels upset the Canes last season, at Miami. That should give them some confidence here that they can do it again. Miami QB Morris struggled, going 12 of 26 for 155 yards with two INTs, before exiting late due to an ankle injury.
The Canes won here in 2011 but it was only by six points. Prior to that, the Heels had beaten them four straight here.
UNC's coach Larry Fedora said this, when asked if the season was salvageable: "There is no doubt in my mind that it is and it starts today, or yesterday or whenever you want it to start, it starts now
|10-14-13||Indianapolis Colts v. San Diego Chargers +2||Top||9-19||Win||100||38 h 14 m||Show|
I'm playing on SAN DIEGO. I successfully played against the Chargers last week. However, that was on the road and they were laying a handful of points. That's not the case here. They're at home and aren't being asked to win by any extra margin. I feel that they're providing us with fair value.
Give the Colts credit for a big win over the Seahawks last week. However, that was at home. Now, they're out West, thousands of miles away. They've also got a Sunday night showdown vs. Peyton Manning, their former leader, on deck. If there's ever a game to get caught looking ahead to, that figures to be it. (*The Chargers have Jacksonville on deck, so no reason for them to look ahead.) The Colts could easily be caught patting themselves on the back a little, too.
Note that this is the Colts third road game in the past four weeks - the second time that they've had to come out West, during that span.
The Chargers did lose at Oakland last week. However, they had a 423-299 edge in total yards. On the other hand, the Colts were out gained by more than 100 yards in their win.
The Chargers, who have had remarkable success vs. AFC South teams over the years, are 8-2 SU/ATS the last 10 times that they played a home game with an O/U line of greater than 49. I look for home field to prove significant, the Chargers emerging victorious. 10*
|10-13-13||Washington Redskins +6 v. Dallas Cowboys||Top||16-31||Loss||-105||84 h 7 m||Show|
I'm playing on WASHINGTON. I've successfully played on the Cowboys a couple of times already, most recently last week at Denver. I've also successfully played against the Skins a couple of times, most recently choosing to go against them in their loss against the Packers. However, every team has good "play on" and "play against" times. In this case, I feel its now the Skins which are in the "play on" spot, while the opposite is true of the Cowboys.
The Skins come in with some positive momentum. They got back on track with a win at Oakland in their last game. They've also had extra rest, having received a bye last week.
Dallas, which doesn't have the luxury of coming off a bye, just went toe to toe with mighty Denver. The Cowboys left it all on the field and came up short. That figures to be a tough pill to swallow.
Obviously, any division game is a huge one for both teams, particularly one on national TV when the division is so up for grabs. This one is arguably more important for the Skins though. They've still only got one win - none in divisional play - while the Cowboys have a divisional win under their belts, one of two victories.
Griffin, who had this best game of the season in the win over the Raiders, had this to say: "The start of the season didn't go the way we wanted to, but we got the win before the bye, and that's what we've got to keep doing. We know we can still go out and win this division. We've got to take it one week at a time, and it starts with the Cowboys."
While I did back the Cowboys over the Giants, they're still only 3-10 ATS in divisional play the past couple of seasons.
While I did play against the Skins in their loss to the Eagles, they're still 10-3 ATS in divisional play the past couple of seasons.
The Cowboys are just 7-15-1 ATS as favorites the past couple of seasons, 2-4 ATS as home favorites in the 3.5 to 7 range.
The Skins are 11-6 ATS on the road the past couple of seasons. The beat the Cowboys in both games last season and the previous year they lost both games by a combined five points. I expect them to be at their best here. 10*
|10-13-13||Jacksonville Jaguars +27 v. Denver Broncos||Top||19-35||Win||100||128 h 18 m||Show|
I'm playing on JACKSONVILLE. OK. I admit that picking Jacksonville against Denver isn't exactly "fun," nor will it make me very popular. That said, I'm not looking for fun or to win any popularity contests. I simply feel that this line is too big - even for a game with the mighty Broncos taking on the hapless Jags.
Obviously, Denver has been MUCH better than Jacksonville. The Broncos are off a hard-fought and emotional win (Dallas) though and they've got a big Sunday night showdown at Indianapolis (Peyton's old team) on deck. I believe it will be very easy for them to go through the motions a little here.
Coach Fox noted: "One thing I've learned is if you fall asleep at the wheel, you wreck. Sometimes dealing with prosperity is more difficult than the adversity
|10-13-13||Philadelphia Eagles v. Tampa Bay Buccaneers +3||Top||31-20||Loss||-120||19 h 36 m||Show|
I'm playing on TAMPA BAY. Foles is expected to get the start for the Eagles here. However, whether it was Vick, perhaps at less than 100%, or Foles (1-5 as a starter last season) at QB for the visitors, I like the Bucs in this matchup.
Naturally, with zero wins on the season, the Bucs aren't getting much respect. However, kets keep in mind that three of their losses came by six combined points. (They lost by 1 at NY, by 2 vs. NO and by 3 vs. Arizona.) Indeed, this team could easily have had at least one victory - and with a few breaks could have been sitting at 3-1 right now. The only time that they lost a game by more than a field goal this season was at New England. No other team has played the Saints as tough - on the scoreboard at least - as Tampa.
Speaking of close games, the Eagles beat the Bucs by two points here last season, a 23-21 win. The Bucs were laying a touchdown in that game. Now, we're getting points with them.
The Eagles offense has certainly had some impressive moments and can indeed be explosive. However, the defense has been brutal. The Eagles rank 30th in points allowed (31.8) and 31st in total defense (434.0).
I expect Tampa's run game to get back on track here. Note that Doug Martin ran for 128 and a touchdown on 28 carries when these teams met last year. Overall, the Bucs had a 136-29 edge on the ground in that one.
Philadelphia's DeSean Jackson can be a real load for teams without someone to cover him. However, the Bucs have Darrelle Revis, still considered one of the elite players in the league. Revis figures to be fired up after listening to Jackson state the following: "I don't think he can run with me. I don't think he's as fast as me
|10-12-13||Georgia Tech +7 v. BYU||Top||20-38||Loss||-110||79 h 49 m||Show|
I'm playing on GEORGIA TECH. Many people are currently pretty down on the Yellow Jackets. They're off back-to-back losses and going on the road to face a team that pounded them last season. Meanwhile, BYU is off a big win over a good team, their second straight blowout win. That has many people jumping on the BYU bandwagon. I believe that combination of pro-BYU and anti-GT sentiment is helping to provide us with excellent value on what I expect to be a highly determined visitor.
True, the Jackets are off back-to-back losses. I played against them in the first of those losses though (vs. V-Tech) so that didn't come as a real shock to me. Last week's game was at Miami. The Jackets weren't getting as many points in that game, as they are here - yet, I feel they match up better against the Cougars than they did against the Hurricanes.
Keep in mind that G-Tech won its first three games by a combined score of 136-34.
True, BYU looked very impressive in beating Texas, back in early December. Give the Cougars props for that win. However, last week's win at Utah State needs a bit of an asterisk beside it, as the Aggies lost their star QB early on in that one. Not that BYU lost by three at Virgnia and that it was beaten by seven here by Utah.
Including the loss vs. the Utes, the Cougars are an ugly 1-6 ATS the last seven times that they were favored in the 3.5 to 10 range. During the same stretch, the Jackets were 4-2 ATS as underdogs in the 3.5 to 10 range.
G-Tech comes in with payback on its mind. The Cougars embarrassed the Jackets last season. Many of those same GT players are back and they haven't forgotten. I don't believe that the BYU defensive line is as good as the one that the GT offense struggled against last year - and I look for the Jackets to have considerably more success in putting pts on the board. Ultimately, I expect AT LEAST a cover. 10*
|10-12-13||Northwestern v. Wisconsin -10||Top||6-35||Win||100||126 h 49 m||Show|
I'm playing on WISCONSIN. Northwestern checks in with a top 20 ranking. However, I feel that the unranked Badgers are laying this many points for good reason.
Give the Wildcats credit for playing a great game last week. They very nearly defeated Ohio State. They didn't though and the tough loss figures to take a toll on them here.
The Badgers are also off a tough loss vs. those same Buckeyes. However, they've had an extra week off in between games.
Note that Melvin Gordon, Jacob Pedersen and Kenzel Doe all figure to play for the Badgers, the bye allowing each some extra time to recover.
Homefield advantage has to be considered.The Badgers have beaten the Wildcats three straight times here, winning the last two here by 79 combined points. This season, they're 3-0 SU/ATS here, outscoring teams by a 47.3 to 3.3 margin, out gaining them by a 583.3 to 168.3 average, in terms of total yards.
The Badgers are 8-4 ATS their last 12 as home favorites in the 7.5 to 10 range, going 9-3 ATS the last 12 times that they played a home game where the O/U line ranged from 56.5 to 63. That includes a 4-0 SU/ATS mark their last four in that situation. I expect them to pull away for a double-digit win. 10*
|10-06-13||San Diego Chargers v. Oakland Raiders +5||Top||17-27||Win||100||112 h 8 m||Show|
I'm playing on OAKLAND. The Chargers are on a nice roll and deserve credit for beating the Cowboys. Lets not get carried away though. They're still only 2-2. Three of their four games, including both those on the road, were decided by a field goal. Yet, here they are on the road, laying more than that. I believe that's asking too much.
The Chargers are giving up 432.2 yards per game, including a whopping 481.5 on the road.
Despite facing two of the top 10 scoring teams in the league (Denver, Indianapolis) the Raiders are giving up considerably fewer yards (349) and points (22.7) than the Chargers. In their two home games, the Raiders are allowing an average of only 293.5 points and 16.5 yards.
While the Raiders offense struggled last game, they're expecting to get Pryor back here, which I feel will make a big difference. As noted, the defense has been very stingy here.
The last meeting in the series was decided by a field goal. I won't be surprised if this one also comes down to the wire and am grabbing all the points I can get. 10*