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.