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
Thursday, November 21, 2013
Marc Lawrence College & Pro Upsets Nov. 22-24
WAKE FOREST over Duke by 3
Before you guffaw over the possibility of an outright upset by the Demon Deacons, let us ask you this: is the idea of Wake winning at home over the Blue Devils any more unlikely than Duke beating both Virginia Tech AND Miami Florida in the same season? Not when the pressure in this Tobacco Road rivalry is all on Duke, who takes to the road in the rare role of a favorite (2-5 ATS last seven as chalk). Recent series history solves nothing since the Blue Devils are 5-1-1 ATS in the last seven meetings (4-0-1 ATS in Winston-Salem) but Wake Forest has won 12 of the last 13 games on the scoreboard versus the Dukies. Bad scheduling spot for the visitors as they’re off a monster win over the Hurricanes and a potential battle for the ACC Coastal title with arch-rival North Carolina closes out the regular season next weekend. Yes, David Cutcliffe’s Blue Man Group is riding an attention-getting 5-0 SUATS streak but they’ve been outyarded in their last three victories – and that’s a no-no in our handicapping book. Duke is also a ‘TIMES THEY ARE A CHANGIN’ fade from Marc’s 2011 Black Book, which demands we fade teams who were 6-7 last year when they take to the road off a SU win. Wake HC Jim Grobe suffered his first loss in fi ve games against Cutcliffe last year and he brings a strong 17-6-2 ATS mark as a home dog of 10 or fewer points with revenge into today’s fray. With the Deacons holding Florida State to a season-low 296 yards two Saturday’s ago, we’ll side with the home team in this ‘devils versus demons’ special. And down goes Duke! The Clincher: Cutcliffe is 1-7 SU and 0-7-1 ATS in his career in games off a double-digit conference win in which his team beat the spread by 17 or more points.
TEXAS A&M over LSU by 10
When the Tigers take the field in Baton Rouge today, not only will they be trying to erase the memories of a brutal second half against Alabama when a third-quarter deadlock quickly turned in a “Roll Tide” of epic proportions, but they’ll also be attempting to extend their winning skein to three over Texas A&M. The Bama loss knocked LSU completely out of the BCS picture, but Les Miles has had an off-week to adjust and it’s nothing that a win over their new SEC rivals can’t cure. Aggie HC Kevin Sumlin was not the man in charge when the Tigers tattooed Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl following the 2010 season, but he certainly will be looking for payback from the 24-19 defeat last season that snapped a 5-game winning streak (LSU forced 5 Aggie turnovers and responded to an early A&M 12-point lead with 24 unanswered points). Sumlin’s team has been a perfect 10-0 away from Kyle Field since he took over from Mike Sherman, but surprisingly, this is only their third road trip of the season. A quick look at the stats reveals that in games against the three common
opponents they’ve faced this season (Alabama, Mississippi State and Ole Miss), the Aggies won the stats by +166 yards while the Tigers lost the stats by -127 yards, giving Johnny Football a 98 YPG net differential advantage. A&M is also coming off a bye week, and Miles is just 2-7 ATS as a home favorite against a rested opponent. The Clincher: Aggie coach Kevin Sumlin is 13-3 SUATS in games when his teams are seeking revenge, including 7-0 SUATS versus foes off a SUATS loss.
SAN DIEGO over Kansas City by 10
Every square from Albany to Zanesville was lined up on the Broncos in their battle against the undefeated Chiefs last week. The contention was that Kansas City had not beaten a winning team, and that Denver was anxious to even the standings in the AFC West with a win over the Featherheads. And to their credit, they were correct. Today, however, the Chiefs are forced to pay for their former winning ways in a ‘bubble-burst’ role that not many teams have been able to avoid. That’s confirmed by our high-intelligence database as it reports that 4-0 or greater NFL teams, favored by 4 or more points off an initial loss of the season, are just 3-13 ATS when facing a .400 or greater opponent also off a loss. Couple that with KC’s crummy 2-10 SU and 1-11 ATS mark as division favorites since 2007, including 0-8 ATS against an opponent off a loss, and the smoke
signals emanating from Arrowhead are a distress signal. The Chiefs’ 0-9 SU mark in games off their first loss of the season also tells us there is not enough war paint in the teepee to warrant a fair fight. With Bolts’ QB Philip Rivers an electrifying 4-0-1 ATS as a division road dog in this NFL career, we’re plugged into this live division dog. The Clincher: NFL road teams who are 0-3 SUATS in their three games immediately off a Bye Week are 10-2-1 ATS if the last loss was by 4 or more points.
DALLAS over NY Giants by 7
Let’s get this off our chest immediately… we do not like rewarding teams with the worst defense in the league ‘Best Bet’ status on these pages. Okay, now that we’ve made that confession, it’s time to break a cardinal rule. In doing so, we are asking divine assistance from Tony Romo, the league’s 6th-ranked starting quarterback with a 98.3 rating, on 21 TDs and 6 INTs this season. Romo enters with a week of rest off the worst loss of his NFL career knowing he is 9-0 SU and 8-1 ATS in games after Dallas surrendered 35 or more points the previous game. He is also 10-3 ATS as a road dog before Game Fifteen of the season, including 5-0 ATS when facing a foe off a double-digit win. His counterpart, Eli Manning, sports the league’s 2nd worst QB rating at 70.8 for starting signal callers this season, no thanks to 17 INTs and 12 TDs this season. And lastly, we submit to temptation with this psalm from the holy database: thou shalt ‘play against’ any NFL home team off back-to-back home wins when facing an opponent who lost its last game. That’s because home teams in this role are just 16-37 ATS since 1980. And with that we ask for forgiveness Father, for we have sinned… using the Cowboys as a Best Bet today. The Clincher: Dallas is 7-0 ATS as a dog behind Jason Garrett in games in
which the Over/Under total is 47 or fewer points.
Written by Marc Lawrence
can also be found at Playbook.com
- One Click Handicapping
Friday, November 15, 2013
Marc Lawrence College & Pro Upsets Nov. 16-17
NORTH CAROLINA over Pitt by 11
The Tar Heels are one of the ‘feel-good’ stories of 2013, having now won three straight after opening the campaign 1-5. We talked last week about how we thought Larry Fedora’s team could run the table if QB Bryn Renner stayed healthy… oops! A re-evaluation of Renner’s shoulder separation later in the week showed the injury to be much more serious than anticipated, and Renner is now out for the year. No problem, though. Sophomore Marquise Williams, who had seen plenty of action this season as a dual-threat alternative to Renner and was making his second start, threw for a pair of TDs, ran for another and cashed the trifecta by catching a 29-yard TD pass from Quinshad Davis on a razzle-dazzle play. Williams actually wore Renner’s No. 2 jersey instead of his usual No. 12 to honor his fallen teammate, and showed great confi dence and poise while leading his team to a 45-14 thrashing of Virginia. The Heels have covered three of the last four games in this series against the Panthers and Fedora is 12-3 SU and 11-4 ATS off back-to-back wins, including 8-1 SUATS versus sub .666 opposition. Pitt is now 5-4 after the upset of the Fighting Irish, thanks in large part to two 4th-quarter interceptions by DB Ray Vinopal (also forced a fumble earlier). The win was sweet revenge for Pitt HC Paul Chryst after his Panthers blew a 14-point lead last year over the Irish and lost in triple overtime. Unfortunately, the Panthers fall into the ‘Post-Irish’ fade mode here as they are just 2-11 ATS versus sub .750 opponents after facing Notre Dame. The Clincher: Teams who defeat Notre Dame SU as an underdog in their last game are just 4-17-1 ATS in their next game if they are facing a sub .600 opponent.
Michigan over NORTHWESTERN by 7
Not sure what the oddsmakers were thinking when they brought the Wildcats in as favorites despite the home field advantage – after all, Northwestern has lost fi ve straight games, failing to cover in four of them. Making matters worse, RB/WR Venric Mark is now out for the season with a broken ankle. After rushing for over 1,300 yards last season and garnering All-American honors, Mark played in only three games this year and ran for just 97 yards. It’s not that Northwestern hasn’t been competitive – they battled Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska down to the wire in their last three games – but this just came across our desk from the MIDWEEK ALERT: the Cats are losing the stats by an average of 78 YPG since October began. Not that Michigan has been much better. We’re trying to figure out what happened to the offensive juggernaut that piled up 751 yards on Indiana, then posted a mere 175 and 168 yards in the last two games. In fact, the running game has been in the minus column for two straight weeks and the last-minute loss to Nebraska was their fi rst at the Big House in 20 games under Brady Hoke (you’d have to go back to 2010 to fi nd at Wolverine defeat at Michigan Stadium). Still, Hoke is 4-0 SU and 3-0 ATS coming off a SU favorite loss if his win percentage is .500 or better. Michigan is still going to a bowl game with its current record of 6-3, but a loss here brings back the possibility of a 5-0 start turning into a losing season – and the powers-that-be in Ann Arbor might consider going in another direction if that happens. But until the Purple Cats learn to step up in a ‘step-up game’, we’ll continue to fade them in these uncharted waters. The Clincher: Our INCREDIBLE STAT on page 3 puts us on another DIA DIA play (dogs in action, doing it again).
TEXAS over Oklahoma State by 8
This one couldn’t have set up any better for us. Thanks to a could-have-gone-either-way OT win over West Virginia, the Longhorns lost a big chunk of support with the betting public. Meanwhile, after getting by TCU four weeks ago, Okie State has smashed three straight Big 12 foes (two on the road) by margins of 31, 18 and 36 points. The result is the Cowboys open as the chalk in this game– and we don’t think it’s warranted. On the OSU side, the visitors arrive with a weak 1-3 SU and 0-4 ATS road favorite mark versus a foe off a win, and a miserable 1-8-1 ATS failure in the team’s final road game of the season. Head coach Mike Gundy doesn’t aid the cause with his mediocre 8-17 ATS record off a win versus a greater than .800 opponent. On the other hand, Ol’ Mackie owns a Texas-sized 54-4 SU mark at home when his team has a winning record and they’re taking on an avenging foe. The Horns have also cashed four straight tickets when wearing the dog collar in Austin off a SU win. Only the revenge status from last year’s cruel loss by the Cowboys (Horns scored with 38 seconds remaining to cap a wild 4Q comeback win) keeps this from being elevated to a higher-rated play. With 6-0 Texas now atop the Big 12, and 5-0 Baylor and 5-1 OSU breathing down their neck, playing in front of a re-energized fan base is just the edge Bevo needs to keep the cattle drive alive. And with memories of the early-season ‘Brown Must Go’ campaign still in his mind, Mackie knows another stumble puts him right back
on the burner. The Clincher: College football home dogs off an OT win are 20-3-1 ATS when facing an opponent off a win of 8 or more points that allows more than 19 PPG on the season since the inception of overtime games in 1996.
WASHINGTON over Philly by 10
It appears Nick Foles is fast becoming the catalyst behind the ‘remember Michael Vick’ saga evolving in Philly these days. After sitting behind the dog-killer to start his career, Foles has risen to prominence in a starting role this season as he brings an eyepopping 132.5 QB Rating into this contest, tossing 16 TDs while yet to throw a pick. Through it all, the Eagles return home off a pair of road wins knowing they’ve been burying their backers at the ‘Linc’, going 0-10 SUATS in their last ten home games. Adding to the insult, Philadelphia has failed miserably when hosting an avenging bunch of Redskins, going 3-12-1 ATS of late, including 1-11-1 ATS
in games where the Eagles own a win percentage of .750 or less on the season. With Washington out to avenge a 33-27 season opening loss to Philly, and the Hogs an outstanding 10-0 ATS as division road dogs of less than 7 points with revenge since 2000, it’s RG3’s turn to shine today. In another ‘killing games’ special, the high-flying Eagles get shot down once again at home. The Clincher: Washington head coach Mike Shanahan is 19-6-1 ATS In his NFL career with revenge in division games versus .500 or greater opponents, including 10-1 ATS as a dog of less than 7 points.
Baltimore over CHICAGO by 3
It was now-or-never time for the Ravens last week and they managed to escape with an overtime win over the Bengals, keeping their chance of capturing the AFC North alive. Today’s mission is to get out of the Windy
City alive and according to our history book, Baltimore’s prospects look good. That’s because the Black Birds are 6-1 ATS against teams from the NFC North and 8-2 ATS in games after meeting the Bengals, including 4-0 ATS away. The Bears check in with a 1-10-1 ATS record as home favorites off a home game, which goes hand-in-hand with Jay Cutler’s (check status) crummy 14-12 SU and 6-19-1 ATS NFL career mark as a non-division home favorite. Our well-oiled database confirms these notions with this beauty: NFL defending Super Bowl champions who are underdogs with a losing record from Game Five out are 16-4-1 ATS since 1980. You know what to do.
PITTSBURGH over Detroit by 3
Big Ben sounded the bell and the Steelers answered the call in last week’s 13-point win here over the Bills. Demanding his teammates step up or he’d bolt, Pittsburgh held Buffalo to a season-low 227 yards as the Steel Curtain defense came out of hibernation after having been torched for 55 points a week earlier against New England. For it all, Pittsburgh still resides in the AFC North cellar, but only two games behind division-leading Cincinnati. A 7-2-1 ATS record in its last ten tries as a home dog holds promise, as does a 13-4 SU and 12-4-1 ATS mark at home off a home win from Game Ten out. The Lions arrive off a down-to-the wire victory over division rival Chicago sporting a lousy 1-8 ATS log as road favorites of less than 6 points off a win. As home dog lovers, it all chimes with our way of thinking.
Written by John Pricci
can also be found at Playbook.com
- One Click Handicapping