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
Thursday, November 07, 2013
Marc Lawrence College & Pro Upsets Week 11
STANFORD over Oregon by 1 [Thursday night]
After Florida State leapfrogged Oregon into the No. 2 spot in the BCS rankings following Saturday night’s demolition of previously unbeaten Miami, the Ducks get a chance to strut their stuff before a national TV audience – and perhaps recapture the coveted poll position. Oregon certainly brings plenty of good numbers into this fray, going 6-0 ATS of late when playing with Pac-12 revenge and 13-1 ATS away from Eugene when playing with a week’s rest. There’s also a mega-revenge motive involved as the Cardinal beat the Ducks in overtime at Autzen Stadium last year and ruined Oregon’s perfect 10-0 season (ultimately denying OU a shot at the BCS championship game). The problem for the webfeet is Marc’s ‘TAKE IT TO THE LIMIT’ angle from his 2013 Black Book which commands that we ‘play against’ 5-0 or greater college road teams in the game following a week of rest. In contrast, Stanford (like Oklahoma in the Baylor game) is a ‘LAY LADY LAY’ go-with play from Marc’s 2011 Black Book. Best of all, though, is Cardinal head coach David Shaw’s ATS history in tonight’s role. He’s 4-0 ATS as anunderdog (2-0 SUATS if +9.5 or more), and an outstanding 12-3 SU and 11-3-1 ATS versus an .800 or greater opponent – including 10-1-1 ATS if that foe allows 15 or more PPG on the season. Yes, the ducklings may have covered four of the last five in this series on the road but they’re just 1-2 SUATS here when undefeated and 1-3 ATS in Weekday road trips. Oregon QB Marcus Mariota’s magical run will end against the most well-coached and physical defense he’s faced all season. Another one bites the dust! The Clincher: Stan protects The Farm like a pack of junkyard dogs, going 33-3 SU the last six years, including 5-1 SU and 6-0 ATS as an underdog.
VIRGINIA TECH over Miami by 10
Frank Beamer was like money in the bank when playing the Hurricanes during the Larry Coker/Randy Shannon years, going 8-1 ATS, but Al Golden has covered two straight against the Beamster since taking over at Miami in 2011. However, if the Noles didn’t expose every Miami weakness in that ‘Bubble Bursting’ loss on Saturday night, the Canes have certainly been diminished by the loss of star RB Duke Johnson to a broken ankle. The Hokies have plenty of weaknesses themselves, most recently at QB as Logan Thomas has tossed 6 interceptions en route to back-to-back losses against Duke and BC, bringing a 6-game winning streak to an abrupt halt. Still, this becomes an extremely important game for Tech, as an upset would put them in the driver’s seat for the ACC championship game, equaling Miami at 4-2 in the conference while owning the tie-breaker against both the Canes and Georgia Tech. Also, the Gobblers fall squarely into the SMART BOX this week, a good thing for November considering they have outstatted all but one of their opponents this season. This looks promising for Beamer as Miami has now allowed over 500 yards in consecutive weeks. Our well-oiled machine adds its two cents: ACC conference favorites are just 3-9 ATS after facing Jimbo Fisher’s Seminoles, including 0-5 ATS when facing a .400 or greater opponent.
KANSAS STATE over TEXAS Tech by 8
Despite the disparity of the W-L records, this is a very even matchup. The Red Raiders have dropped back-to-back games after a 7-0 start and their wobbly defense has allowed foes season high – or 2nd high – yards in their last three games. Tech is also 0-3-1 ATS as favorites in the first of back-to-back home games and 2-6 ATS as conference home chalk of 7 or less points. On the flip side, will veteran Bill Snyder now rivals Steve Spurrier with a spread record of 106-64-1 in conference games, including 26-9 as a pick or dog of 7 or less points. Snyder’s Wildcats currently stand 6-1 ATS as conference road dogs of 7 points or less while also sporting a 9-1 ATS mark in road tilts following back-to-back home games. In addition, KSU is starting to hit on all defensive cylinders now, having held its last four foes to season low – or 2nd low – yardage marks. With Marc’s ‘ONLY THE GOOD DIE YOUNG’ angle from the 2009 Black Book also at work here, it makes Grandpa’s work that much easier. The Clincher: The Red Raiders are in a ‘Double Bubble Burst’ role and 94% angles definitely tend to pique our interest.
Penn St over MINNESOTA by 6
The Nittany Lions have come up with a couple of big-play offensive stars to go along with freshman QB Christian Hackenberg. Wide receiver Allen Robinson is starting to remind us of O.J. McDuffie (averaging 10 catches for 150 yards in his last four games) while RB Bill Belton carried the rock for over 200 yards against Illinois – the first Penn State player to do that since Larry Johnson in 2002. Meanwhile, the Gophers have met every challenge, scoring SU victories in their last three games as more-than-a-TD underdogs, despite the fact that HC Jerry Kill has been forced to avoid the sidelines on game day due to epileptic seizures. But make no mistake, Kill is the architect of this impressive 7-2 season, led by a QB rotation of Phillip Nelson and Mitch Leidner, and emerging RB David Cobb, who has rushed for over 100 yards in three straight games. As normally is the case, the oddsmakers have finally caught up to the situation, and the Gophers will find themselves as small favorites this week. According to our all-knowing database, that’s a no-no as teams in this role are just 8-21 ATS since 1980 laying points off three SU underdog wins, including 5-21 ATS when playing off a win of less than 30 points. Finally, Penn State is 4-1 ATS in the last five games of this series, and you can expect Bill O’Brien to have his troops ready for battle coming off the emotional OT victory against the Fighting Illini.
CAROLINA over San Francisco by 6
Our initial observation was that this opening line looked low. Fishy low, if you get our drift. After all, the mighty Niners own the hottest hand in the NFC, entering on a 5-0 SUATS run – albeit against foes who are 13-28 collectively this season. However, the same can be said of the 5-3 Panthers, who have reeled off four wins in a row, while scoring 30 or more points in each game. Granted, Carolina’s five victims this season are all losing squads, sporting a combined 7-33 record season to date. What really bothers us, though, is San Fran’s 2-5 ITS (In The Stats) mark in its last seven games. That and the fact that favorites returning from London have NEVER beat the spread in these ‘sea legs’ games, going 0-5 ATS. Compounding matters, the Panthers have been practically an annuity in this series, going 11-1 ATS, including 3-0 SUATS the last three games Holy mackerel, it all makes sense to us now. The Clincher: The Panthers are 4-1 SU and 5-0 ATS in games versus opponents off a double-digit spread win the last two seasons.
TAMPA BAY over Miami by 7
Yes, it’s hard asking a virgin to suddenly become a vixen but when you’re living in the mess the Dolphins are these days, it’s all systems go. For openers, 0-5 or worse NFL dogs of 3 or less points are 13-5 SU and 13-3-2 ATS when playing with revenge. The Bucs’ 5-1 SU and 6-0 ATS mark as Monday night home dogs fits like a glove next to their 4-0 ATS mark in this series. Enter the dazed and discombobulated Dolphins who are 1-10 SU and 0-9-2 ATS away on Mondays off a win, and 0-4 SUATS in their last four Monday night appearances – not to mention 1-8 ATS as favorites in games off a SU underdog win. No bullying here. With Miami as distracted as a team can be these days, look for Tampa to shed its chastity belt tonight. The Clincher: NFL Monday night home teams off an ATS away win in which they scored 24 or more points are 13-3 SU and 13-2-1 ATS when facing a non-division foe off a home game.
Written by Marc Lawrence
can also be found at Playbook.com
- One Click Handicapping