Wednesday, December 14, 2016
Best Bowl & NFL Upsets Dec. 16-18
AT Orlando, FL: Arkansas St over C Florida by 7
The Red Wolves hit the Sunshine State on a two-game bowl-losing skein, having been outscored 110-72 in the process. So why do we feel the wrong team is favored tonight in Orlando, especially with the nearby Knights only having to travel 16 miles to Camping World Stadium? For starters, UCF is 0-6 SU against fellow bowlers this season, losing the stat battle by an average of 93 YPG. And speaking of yardage, our MIDWEEK ALERT informs us that the Knights finished the year on a 0-8 ‘In The Stats’ run while the Wolves are 9-1 ‘ITS’ over their last 10 games. In addition, Arkansas State’s defense has improved by 45 YPG over last year’s edition, a ‘Cure’ needed to deliver a bowl win. We should probably also mention that the favorite has lost SU in four of the last six UCF bowl games (this is just one of hundreds of gems found in this year’s Playbook Bowl Stat Report which is available online this Wednesday). We could also point out, like Houston above, that AAC bowlers are 0-4 SUATS off a SUATS loss and that the Knights are 0-2-1 ATS of late against the Sun Belt.
NY JETS over Miami by 6
The 8-5 Dolphins were handed an early Christmas present Monday night when the Pats knocked off the Ravens, giving Miami some control of their playoff destiny (they’ll be, once again, rooting for their division mates this week in Denver). With Dean Martin crooning “Baby it’s cold outside” on the team airplane as the Fish prepare for their annual sojourn to the Big City, the question now becomes does Miami have ‘Moore’ than enough to hold onto their Wild Card spot should the Broncos falter as starting QB Ryan Tannehill will miss at least a couple of games with a sprained ACL and MCL. Another Playbook exclusive (read: our unique NFL QB Club) tells us that the Dolphins are in good hands as Matt Moore is 18-7 ATS as a starter in the NFL but a deeper search fi nds the majority of that success has come against .500 or better opposition (14-2 ATS) as Moore is just 4-5 SUATS when facing losing foes. Todd Bowles’ bunch definitely fi ts that bill but it won’t stop our database from ‘Jet’-setting tonight as New York is 4-1-1 ATS in their last fi ve Saturday showdowns while Miami is 0-8 SU and 1-7 ATS away on Saturdays. Our MIDWEEK ALERT is also along for the ride as it notes the Dolphins are just 2-4 ‘In The Stats’ in their last six games – and that was with Tannehill behind center. Even in their 27- 23 victory as 4-point home favorites earlier this season, the Fish were outyarded by the Flyboys. That put the Jets at both 5-0-1 ATS in the series of late and 5-0-1 ATS as division underdogs versus a foe off an ATS win. All this and we still haven’t mentioned that Todd Bowles is the answer to this week’s TRIVIA TEASER on page 2. Hopefully you saved room for THE CLINCHER: Miami is 1-15 ATS following a win versus an opponent coming off a SU underdog win.
CINCINNATI over Pitt by 8
For a team that was certified dead in the water, the Bengals have certainly done an about face. Currently on a 3-3-1 SU run – with the three losses by 10 combined points – Cincinnati still finds itself (barely) mathematically alive in the Wild Card chase. For openers, they can take care of business on their end as each of their fi nal three foes on the slate are all positioned to make the postseason. Granted, Pittsburgh has roughed up Cincinnati in this series going 16-5 SU and 15-6 ATS the last 21 meetings, including 9-2 SU and 8-3 ATS away. And they are currently cooking on 4-0 SUATS and 7-game ATS win skeins. But the resourceful black cats are 19-7-1 ATS following the Cleveland Browns, including 14-3 ATS when seeking revenge (lost at Pittsburgh in Week Two in a game in which they outstatted the Steel Curtain). Not to mention QB Andy Dalton’s dandy 16-8 SU and 16-7-1 ATS career mark in games during the month of December, and his 4-1 SU and 5-0 ATS career mark as an underdog seeking revenge following a double-digit win. And with it, another live division home dog – like the Giants last week – is ready to bark, according to THE CLINCHER: Cincinnati is 5-0 SUATS in its last fi ve regular season home underdog roles.
Carolina over Washington by 10
For all intents and purposes, it looks as if the Panthers are cooked. Last year’s Super Bowl loser, Carolina resides in the basement of the NFC South with only a prayer of recording a .500 season (should they win each of their fi nal three games) at its beck and call. This, however, is where these teams tend to be at their best. According to our allknowing database, Super Bowl losers are 30-17-1 ATS during the fi nal four games of the season when they are not favored, including 24- 10 ATS when squaring off against winning foes. (There’s nothing like good competition to bring the best out in a formerly good team). The Panthers are 3-0 SUATS the last three games in this series, and 4-0 ATS away all-time as underdogs in this series… not to mention 10-1 ATS off a SU underdog win during the fi nal four games of the season when facing non-division opponents. Washington checks in at 1-6 SU and 2-5 ATS in its last seven games following the Philadelphia Eagles, who they defeated by the skin of their teeth in an ‘inside-out’ stat win last Sunday. And lest we forget, there is THE CLINCHER: See this week’s INCREDIBLE STAT on page 2.
Marc Lawrence can also be found at Playbook.com - One Click Handicapping