Thursday

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.



COLLEGE PICKS

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.


PRO PICKS

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.