Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Marc Lawrence College & Pro Upsets DEC. 21-24
Colorado St over Washington St by 6
As ESPN likes to say, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” – and it certainly will be if this year’s 35-game bowl schedule gets off to as rollicking a start as what we witnessed in last season’s New Mexico Bowl.
Arizona edged Nevada, 49-48, in a shootout that saw both teams combine for 1,234 yards of total offense. The Wildcats trailed 45-28 in the 4th quarter before pulling within 6 points with just 46 seconds to play. Then,
after UA recovered an onside kick, QB Matt Scott engineered a 3-play, 51-yard touchdown drive for the game-winning score. Could we see another thriller in Albuquerque today? Considering Washington State’s
aerial attack ranks 4th in the nation (364.5 YPG) and Colorado State averages over 200 YPG both rushing and passing, we say YES. We’ll resist embarking on our annual rant about 6-6 teams getting bowl invitations
and instead congratulate the Cougars on making it to the postseason after suffering 9 straight losing campaigns. WSU’s 2nd-year HC Mike Leach continues to make strides in Pullman, doubling his 3-win total from
2012 as he fi ghts to keep the Cougs competitive in the loaded Pac-12.Colorado State’s Jim McElwain, also in his second year as a head coach, worked similar wonders with his Rams, improving to 7-6 after a 4-8 debut
in 2012. McElwain’s squad is the only team in the nation to boast a 3,000-yard passer in Garrett Grayson and a 1,500-yard runner in Kapri Bibbs (led the nation with 28 rushing TDs). CSU fi nished the regular season on
a strong note, going 5-2 SUATS and ITS (needed 7 wins to get bowling shirts with its 13-game schedule). Even more impressive, the Rams won the stats by +129 net YPG from Game Seven out – while the Cougars lost
the stats by -98 net YPG over the same span. Wazzu QB Connor Halliday is no slouch himself but our reliable database informs us that 6-6 bowlers who allow 31.2 or more PPG are a Grinch-like 1-6 SUATS. The
favorite is also just 2-6 ATS in the Cougars’ last eight bowl games, and Leach himself owns an identical 2-6 ATS mark as bowl chalk. The boys from Fort Collins currently stand 3-0 SUATS as bowlers off a SUATS win
but we can’t ignore the fact that the Rams have not fared well against Pac-12 opposition, going just 2-8 SUATS in their last 10. Despite that lone negative, we still prefer backing an elated underdog with both the
better ‘O’ and ‘D’ against a WSU team that may be content just to be here. Toss in CSU’s familiarity with the venue (Rams play annual series with New Mexico) and it looks like today’s result might be a bit ‘upsetting’ for
Leach and this Cougar cubs. In the fi rst meeting ever between these schools, Colorado State comes out on top. The Clincher from our well-oiled machine: bowl favorites off at least 3 ATS wins with a win percentage of
less than .750 that won 6 or fewer games last season are 2-14 ATS since 1985.
WASHINGTON over DALLAS by 11
This just in… The Dallas Cowboys have changed the name on the back of their starting quarterback’s uniform from ROMO to OH NO! And how could you blame them after watching last week’s 2nd-half meltdown against the Packers? A 26-3 lead at the half went up in smoke in an improbable 37-36 comeback win by Green Bay and with it Dallas’ chances of making the playoffs. Displaying a flair for the catastrophic, Romo was picked late in the game with the lead, gifting the Packers a victory. Even head coach Jason Garret jumped off the Romo bandwagon when he said, “The idea was to run the ball and make them use the clock. Run it, and then if we have to throw it, throw high-percentage passes to keep the clock going and make them use their timeouts.” Ouch. As a result, Dallas is currently the No. 10 seed in the playoff picture. Plus, they are being outgained -106 YPG (the worst in the league) in games during the second half of the season. Adding to their woes is a 1-6 ATS mark of late in this series, including 0-3 ATS the last three games at FedEx Field. The Redskins’ switch to QB Kirk Cousins nearly paid off in a 27-26 loss at Atlanta last week when Mike Shanahan opted to go for two points and the win at the end, a game in which Washington dominated in the stats, 476-
243. We like the move and the fact that the Skins are 5-2 SU and 6-1 ATS in division games when playing off a 1-point exact loss. All of which means no mo Romo for us until the New Year arrives.
Tampa Bay over St. Louis by 4
We learned, and got burned, trying to lay points into Jeff Fisher last week. No siree, the best underdog coach in the loop would have none of it when his Rams knocked off New Orleans as 7-point home dogs. Looking deeper inside the numbers, though, we note that as good as the Fisher King is taking points (90-60-1 ATS), he’s rather lousy laying them (67-74-2 ATS). And to top it off, Fisher is 1-8 ATS in his NFL career as a home favorite of more than 5 points off a SU underdog win. Meanwhile, the Bucs enter looking to avenge a 28-13 loss suffered to St. Louis as 3-point home chalk last season, a game in which the Pirates won the stats, 429-285. And speaking of stat losses, the MIDWEEK ALERT informs us the Rams were outyarded, 454-302, in last week’s surprise win over the Saints. Toss in the Tampa’s tempting 7-1 ATS mark in non-division games after fighting the 49ers and this looks like an ideal spot for Louie to lay an egg. The Clincher: the Rams are 0-17 ATS as favorites versus opponents seeking revenge.
NEW England over Baltimore by 10
To see Tom Brady fail to deliver another patented last-second comeback win last week was almost science fiction. Like reading a comic book throughout his Hall of Fame career, Captain Marvel has come through like no other quarterback in the league in big games. And rest assured, this is a big game. If the playoffs were to start this week, the Pats would have a Bye while the Ravens would be at Cincinnati in a Wild Card game. So a lot is on the line as far as playoff positioning goes for both teams. Meanwhile, the Ravens enter off Monday night’s dramatic win at Detroit thanks to a 61-yard climactic field goal by Justin Tucker (one of 6) to win the game. The Black Crows’ 3-10 ATS mark at home in games after playing under the Monday night-lights does not help their chances. Nor does New England’s 8-0 SU and 7-1 ATS record in road finales. With the MIDWEEK ALERT informing us this is a ‘double-insideout’ affair – the Pats off a stat-win loss and the Ravens off a stat-loss win – coupled with the fact that Baltimore is ‘leaking oil’, having been outgained in each of its last three games (all wins), the points
Written by John Pricci
can also be found at Playbook.com
- One Click Handicapping
Wednesday, December 04, 2013
Marc Lawrence College & Pro Upsets DEC. 5-8
Thursday, December 5
CINCINNATI over Louisville by 3
When we get to these early December contests, teams are either playing for all the marbles or there is very little on the line; rarely does the importance of the contest fall anywhere in between. For the Cardinals, it’s basically option #2. While QB Teddy Bridgewater’s name comes up occasionally in Heisman discussions since Johnny Manziel, Marcus Mariota, and Bryce Petty imploded down the stretch, the invitations to the trophy ceremony will have been distributed by kickoff; thus, even a huge performance tonight will not get him to the party. As for his Cards, they have no shot at the first-ever AAC crown – the loss to Central Florida basically took care of that. Still, an 11-1 mark and a finish in the Top 20 are strong accomplishments, and a win over a rival school less than 100 miles away can do wonders during the approaching recruiting season. Unfortunately for Charlie Strong, his offense is in serious decline since the UCF loss, averaging just 348 YPG in the last three contests (down over 100 YPG from their 455 YPG season average). Meanwhile, the Bearcats are one of the hotter teams in college football and have plenty to play for – they’ve won six straight contests (making that early October loss to South Florida a real headscratcher). and since they didn’t play UCF this season, they still have a slim chance of winning the conference title if the Knights lose to SMU. This will also be an interesting matchup between two of the nation’s top defensive units (Louisville is #2 while Cincy is #10) and while the Bearcats are 11-3 ATS as an underdog with rest, the Cards are just 1-4 ATS coming off a bye. Also, while Louisville has not covered in any of their three weekday games this season, Cincinnati is 4-1-1 ATS versus the number with the extra zzz’s recently. The most important call of all comes from the tag-team of the SMART BOX (‘Puttin’ On The Stats’ from Issue 12) and the AWESOME ANGLE (on page 2), who put their heads together and come up with a no-doubt call on the Bearcats.
Bowling Green over No Illinois by 4
You know by now that we love the MAC – some interesting alternative jerseys, an occasional star player headed for the NFL, and best of all, an extra night of football on Tuesdays in the second half of the season – so you can be sure we’ll be sitting back in the recliner with an adult beverage to watch this title tilt. With plenty of experience playing on weekdays, Bowling Green has made the most of it, going 7-0 SUATS when avoiding
the weekend schedule during the regular season. In addition, the Falcons have not won the MAC championship since back-to-back titles in 1991 and 1992, so they’re definitely thirsty for this trophy. On the flip side, only an upset here can keep the Huskies out of a second consecutive BCS bowl game, and they believe they’ve come too far to be denied. This game, which will be played at Ford Field in Detroit, will feature two Top 25 teams that are killing it in the stats during the 2nd half of the season (BG +199 YPG; Huskies +214 YPG) and the BeeGees have won seven of their last nine games (the two losses by a FG or less). The Falcon
defense has shut down any “Jive Talkin” from their opponents in the last four games, allowing just 175 YPG while holding their last 3 foes to season-low yards. Of course, Bowling Green’s 9-3 SU mark pales in comparison with the Huskies’ 24-game regular season winning streak (just one loss in their last 33 regular season contests), but we want you to keep in mind this tasty morsel from the all-knowing database: MAC title game favorites off back-to-back wins are just 1-8-2 ATS in conference history. With Northern Illinois encapsulated in the best of this week’s SMART BOX fade, we’re pouring a cold one and calling for the upset. The Clincher: the Falcons are 8-0 SUATS in their last eight MAC contests away from home.
Georgia Dome - Atlanta, GA
Missouri over Auburn by 3
After winning seven BCS titles in a row, the all-powerful SEC is in danger of being shut out of the Championship game on January 6. That prospect does not sit well with Auburn AD Jay Jacobs: immediately after his Tigers upset No. 1 Alabama to move into the 3rd spot behind unbeaten Florida State and Ohio State, Jacobs declared “it would be a disservice to the nation” if Auburn were to win tonight’s SEC title match against No. 5 Missouri and still be denied a chance to play for the national championship at the Rose Bowl. “This is inarguable,” Jacobs said Sunday. “I think it would be, quite frankly, un-American for us not to get a chance to go to Pasadena.” WTF??? This coming from a man whose team would be 9-3 and totally missing from the conversation if not for back-to-back miracle finishes – the ‘Immaculate Deflection’ that resulted in Auburn’s 43-38 defeat of Georgia (Tigers blew a 27-7 lead in that one) and last week’s dramatic ‘Return to Ender’ TD runback following a missed Alabama FG. In fact, THREE of Aubbie’s wins this season came on the game’s final play, not the style of football that would persuade us to vote them into the title contest over an undefeated team like the Seminoles or Buckeyes. The Tigers’ stunning 34-28 takedown of the Tide may actually prove costly here as our database notes that teams who beat the defending national champion are 1-4 SU and 0-5 ATS in their next game since 1990 if they are not undefeated and they allow 20 or more PPG on the season. Missouri was
a ‘Mission Team’ this season after going 5-7 in 2012 (Auburn won only 3 games) and Gary Pinkel’s Tigers have certainly played like it. Besides outscoring foes by almost 20 PPG, our MIDWEEK ALERT reports that
in games against 5 common opponents this year, Missouri won the net stats over Auburn by an average of 47 YPG. Gus Malzahn’s squad can claim a perfect 6-0 ATS mark of late as chalk of 5 or fewer points – and
the Tigers do have that ‘team of destiny’ look about them – but Auburn has cashed only one of six tickets after beating Bama and squaring off with a greater-than .800 opponent in the next contest, while Mizzou’s
only setback was a 3-point overtime loss to South Carolina. We’ll stick with the ‘Tigerdog’ here, a Missouri team that has turned the ball over only 7 times in its last nine games, and is 3-0 SUATS as a pick or dog this season. The Georgia Dome venue favors Auburn but we think the superior Mizzou ‘D’ will be the deciding factor tonight. Don’t know if we’ll hear any lobbying from HC Pinkel afterward but we like Missouri to score its 5th conference road win of the season – and don the 2013 SEC crown.
Washington Over Kansas City by 6
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Both the Chiefs and the Redskins find themselves in danger of losing valuable territorial ground, in more ways than one, in this non-conference clash with these two squads riding a collective 0-7 SUATS losing skein. Since being the only team in NFL history to open the season 9-0 after going 2-14 the previous year, Kansas City has been barbecued after its Bye Week. Now riding an 0-3 SUATS skid, the Chiefs are in the middle of a 5-foot-long division sandwich, off three straight AFC West battles with two of their three remaining games also division affairs. Making matters worse, KC is also 4-8 SU and 2-10 ATS as non-conference road chalk. On the flip side, the struggling Skins benefi t knowing that NFL teams in the 3rd of a 3-game home stand, off back-to-back losses, are 15-5 SU and 16-4 ATS since 2000, including 6-1 SU and 7-0 ATS when taking 4 or more points. Toss in the Chiefs’ 0-10 SU and 1-8-1 ATS mark at NFC East sites from Game Seven out and we’re gobbling up the points in this Subway special. The Clincher: Washington head coach Mike Shanahan is 12-1 ATS in his NFL career as a dog of 2 or more points off back-to-back losses when facing an opponent off a loss.
NY Giants over SAN DIEGO by 3
Given up for dead in mid-October, the Giants have come back to life like the Pink Floyd tune, wondering, “Where were you when I was burned and broken?” Like San Diego at 5-7 this season, the G-Men must overcome no less than fi ve other teams in order to achieve a Wild Card spot, meaning this game is critical for both teams’ chances in this year’s playoff picture. Life on the road is what suits New York best with the Giants bringing a 15-3 ATS away record into today’s game when playing off an away win. In addition, Eli Manning’s sterling 10-3 ATS career mark as a non-division dog in games from December out, including 5-0 ATS when off a win, jumps off the page. The Chargers’ non-electrifying 1-6 ATS record as favorites off a loss of 7 or more points, and their 1-9-1 ATS mark when laying points after taking points the previous week, pulls the plug on their chances. In a lights-out effort from Eli, Big Blue takes out powder blue as Diego lays another brick in its stonewall season.
Written by John Pricci
can also be found at Playbook.com
- One Click Handicapping
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Marc Lawrence College & Pro Upsets Nov. 28-31
BALTIMORE over Pittsburgh by 14
Don’t look now but both the Ravens and Steelers are main players in the AFC Wild Card chase. Thanks to a 5-2 rebound from a devastating 0-4 start, Pittsburgh has pulled even with Baltimore to join three other teams at 5-6. With it, this North division battle suddenly looms large for both squads and accordingly our mean machine reports a troublesome spot for Big Ben as sub .600 NFL road dogs off a SU division road dog win are a measly 10-32 SU and 14-27-1 ATS since 1980 when facing a foe off a SUATS win. Adding to Pitt’s dilemma is the fact that the Steelers themselves are 1-5 ATS in games off a SU road dog division victory. In addition, the MIDWEEK ALERT does not like the fact that the Steelers were outstatted in each of their last two games, both SU underdog wins. Enter the Black Birds, knowing that defending Super Bowl champions with a losing record during the 2nd half of the season are a glitzy 14-3 ATS when not favored by more than 3 points since 1988. Add to that the Ravens ‘D’ is once again beginning to assert itself (held Jets to season low 220 yards last week and the Bears to a 2nd-low 319 yards two games ago). Revenge rears its ugly head here tonight when Baltimore improves to 5-0 SU and 4-1 ATS home under Joe Flacco in double revenge-exact division
games. Toss in the Turkey Day home favorite stat outlined above in the Lions contest and it appears the Steelers’ goose is cooked here tonight. The Clincher: The Ravens are 7-0 SUATS at home with a losing record under John Harbaugh.
TCU over Baylor by 1
Oh boy. If ever there was a textbook example of a Bubble Burst, Part One unfolded last week in Stillwater when the underdog Cowboys destroyed unbeaten Baylor by an unthinkable 49-17 score (thank you OSU for the early 10* College GOY Christmas gift!). With the 9-1 Bears sliding to No. 9 in the BCS rankings and America no longer enamored with an offense that scores a mere 57 PPG instead of 70, Bubble Burst Part Two is set to unfold in Fort Worth this afternoon. It’s been a down-and-disappointing season for the Horned Frogs but they bring some quality numbers to this scrum. TCU has pocketed the cash in fi ve of the last six series meetings, plus the Froggies are 8-0 ATS with rest and 4-0 ATS as double-digit home dogs. And if you think Baylor can’t stumble into a 2nd straight loss, think again: the Bears are just 2-22 SU in the second of consecutive away games – and 1-16 SU in road fi nales – not the baggage you want to shoulder when backing a 2-TD favorite. Only a series of miracles on a Biblical scale could maneuver Art Briles’ team back into a national title shot,
and we think the loss of those dreams will take a big toll here. In what will still be perceived as a seismic upset, TCU’s Gary Patterson closes out a season of struggle by keeping the Bears nailed to the mat. The Clincher: College football conference home dogs of 13 or more points in their final game of the season who allow 25.6 or fewer PPG are 9-0 ATS since 1980 if they were a bowl team last season.
PITTSBURGH over Miami Fla by 7
The Hurricanes are living largely on name and reputation these days as they’ve been outgained in four of their last five games, including a 179-yard walloping in their 19-point win over Virginia last week. The main caveat is that a win today clinches 2nd place in the Coastal but the chant “We’re No. 2” has never been very meaningful for this once proud program. Meanwhile, the Panthers will be looking to capture a 7th win and possibly a 3rd place fi nish in the Coastal with a win today, and they are 7-1 ATS as conference home dogs coming off a win versus a team who won last time out. The ACC apparently will have 10 teams in the post-season, and possibly 11 if Syracuse beats Boston College this weekend. However, if it comes down to a choice, the Panthers should be bowling thanks to their marquee win over the Fighting Irish. Defensively, Pitt is led by DT Aaron Donald, playing in his final regular season college game before heading to the NFL. Donald has 28.5 career sacks, including 10 this year, and has 26 tackles-for-loss this season among his 51 tackles (just for perspective, Ndomakong Suh had 20.5 TFL’s and 12 sacks in his entire 14-game senior season in 2009). Miami has moved the football this season, but could have trouble against a tough Pitt defense with RB Duke
Johnson and others still out with injuries. The Clincher: UM coach Al Golden is 1-6 ATS as a conference favorite versus a winning opponent coming off a victory.
New Orleans over Seattle by 6
Talk about a heavyweight slugfest! A football game guaranteed to keep you up late Monday night kicks off in Seattle this week where Russell Wilson and the Seahawks host Drew Brees and the Saints at the Link in a possible NFC playoff preview. The tale of the tape looks fairly even with New Orleans sporting a 9-game win streak on Mondays, including 5-0 SUATS the last five, while Seattle counters with seven straight Monday night victories, going 6-1 ATS in the process. The numbers begin to separate, however, with the Saints on a 6-1 SUATS streak off a win in games versus non-division foes riding a 3+ game win steak while the Seahawks have been rocked against .500 or greater opponents when favored by 3 or more points after a win of 14 or more, going just 1-8 ATS. New Orleans also delivers a standing 8-count with Marc’s ‘WAKE UP CALL’ from the Best of the Black Book at work tonight, noting that NFL teams from Game Ten out off back-to-back wins but ATS losses in each game are 19-5 SU and 20-4 ATS since 1980 when facing a non-division opponent off a SU win. Seattle’s sleepy 2-15 SU and 1-15-1 ATS record with rest in games off a SUATS win cements it. And down goes Wilson! The Clincher: NFL Monday night home teams with rest are 1-6 SUATS since 1980 when facing an opponent off back-to-back wins with at least one loss on the season.
Miami over NY JETS by 3
The Fish were fried late by the surging Panthers last week in a contest in which Miami outyarded Carolina, 332-295. In the process, Miami snuck away with the money by the scantest of margins, which sets the table for
today’s fray as the database notes the Dolphins are an outstanding 8-0 ATS as road dogs off an ATS win when facing a .600 or less opponent. Miami is also a nifty 11-3 ATS in games after knocking heads with the NFC.
On the fl ip side, the low-fl ying Jets are 1-4 SUATS the last fi ve as a host in this series and have now been outstatted in each of their last four games, making them another ‘leaking oil’ favorite. No GPS needed here. We’re flying out of LaGuardia this Sunday with more money than we had when we arrived.
Written by John Pricci
can also be found at Playbook.com
- One Click Handicapping