Louisville over W VIRGINIA by 1
Their record may only be 4-4 but our MIDWEEK ALERT feels that Charlie Strong’s Cardinals might be the best-kept secret in college football this season. The Redbirds have held three of their last four foes to season-low yards and they also own 50 YPG the better stats over West Virginia in games against common conference opponents (Rutgers, Syracuse). Our PLAYBOOK.com database also feels that this 13-point line is out of range considering that in the 21 games under Strong, Louisville has lost only ONE game by double digits (a 20-3 setback at Pitt last season). In addition, our database notes that the Stump Jumpers are 0-5-1 ATS all-time as favorites of 7 or more points versus a Big East conference opponent off back-to-back SU wins.Yes, the Hillbillies rallied in Rutgers last week and, like the Cardinals, remain a half-game behind conference-leading Cincinnati. However, with Louisville squarely on the bowl bubble, there’ll be no second half comeback today in Morgantown. Not only does the series visitor improve to 5-0 ATS, but we’re calling for the outright win as Louie, with star RB Victor Anderson back in the starting lineup, and the mob strong-arm the host Mountaineers. After all, it’s in the Cards (as well as the Midweek).
Recently we made the statement that this year’s edition of the Hawkeyes is not one of the best in recent memory. They certainly supported that observation when they went into Minneapolis as 15-point chalk last week and detonated a 22-21 stink bomb of a loss to woeful Minnesota – the second straight year the Gophers have claimed ownership of the Floyd of Rosedale Trophy. Can Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz regroup this gang of misfi ts in time to challenge No. 15 Michigan and its 441 YPG offense? We were somewhat skeptical but after we quizzed our friendly database, all doubts were removed. If you’re going to risk your cash on the Hawkeyes, you’ll want to do it when they’re playing at Kinnick Stadium. Not only is the black-and-gold a stout 6-1-1 ATS as home dogs of 3 or more points, they’re also an incredible 22-4 SU in their last 26 home games – with only ONE loss coming by more than 5 points. If you saw the Wolverines plow through Purdue for 535 yards in last Saturday’s win, you’re probably shaking in your boots at the prospect of Iowa’s front four matching up with Michigan’s potent ground attack. Save the energy: the Wolves are a money burning 2-8 ATS away from Ann Arbor against better than .500 conference opponents, including 0-4 ATS as chalk. And with Michigan being the subject matter of this week’s INCREDIBLE STAT on page 3 – and coach Ferentz providing the answer to our TRIVIA TEASER (page 2) – you should empty your mind of all worries behind this potent combo. Hawkeyes improve to 4-1 ATS at home this season and go shopping for their bowling shoes after today’s upset win. Down goes Michigan!
Baylor over Missouri by 14
You can say ‘I told you so’ after the Tigers beat us as a 4* Best Bet fade on these pages last week but the truth is overtime winners that were outstatted in victory are poor pointspread plays if they take to the road the following week. That’s bad new for Mizzou who, if the number stays where it is, will basically have to win outright to get the money. It may not happen: the Tigers are just 1-5 SU away off a SU road win since 1980 and 15-68-1 SU on the road versus winning opposition. Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel doesn’t do his team any favors in today’s role, either, burning up money in big piles with his 0-7 SU and ATS mark off a SU dog win versus a conference foe with at least one SU loss. Meanwhile, the Bears make their backers much happier when the play in Waco – they’re 4-0 SU and 3-0 ATS at home but 0-3 SU and ATS away this year. Throw an impressive 6- ‘In The Stats’ effort into the mix with a team that’s just salivating to rip someone’s head off (outscored 114-52 in losses to Texas A&M and Oklahoma State) and this looks like one of the season’s best opportunities to ring the register with Baylor. Sure, they gave up big yards in last week’s loss to the Cowboys but QB Robert Griffin III led the Bears to a whopping 622 yards of offense that was largely overlooked due to the lopsided 59-24 score. With a prolifi c attack like that to lean on, we really like the looks of coach Briles’ 6-0 ATS log when playing off consecutive losses versus a .750 or less Big 12 foe. Okay, now close your eyes… we’re thinking of a number… a number between three and five…
Troy over NAVY by 1
Trying to fi gure out these Trojans is tougher than solving a Rubik’s Cube in the middle of a house fi re. For example: Troy’s offense gained more than 420 YPG in each of its fi rst four games of the season – against the likes of Clemson and Arkansas – yet has managed just 422 yards combined in its last two contests – versus La-Monroe and Florida International. Perhaps even more puzzling is the fact that the Trojans and Midshipmen have combined to win 41 and 44 games, respectively, over the previous fi ve seasons… yet they own only TWO wins each in 2011. Brain teasers aside, the Middies need to check the engine room pronto as they are ‘leaking oil’ badly, losing the stats in their last four straight games. In fact, both teams are stuck in reverse: Navy is fl oundering under the weight of a six-game losing streak (2-4 ATS) while Troy hasn’t won since October 1st, a three-game string of defeats. The visitors are at least keeping their heads above water as road dogs this year, covering two of three opportunities. But after a Game Two blowout of Western Kentucky as 9-point chalk, Navy has sputtered to a 0-3 SU and ATS mark as favorites. Middies switched to a 4-3 defense against Notre Dame last week following a rash of injuries at linebacker but the experiment resulted in a 56-14 thrashing by the Irish, Navy’s worst loss in the series since 2000. Bottom line is the Mids can’t be trusted in this condition, especially with starting QB Kriss Proctor likely still sidelined with a dislocated elbow. Points, please.
Utah St over HAWAII by 3
Hard-luck 2-5 Utah State could easily be 5-2, dropping fi ve games by a total of just 25 points, and need a win here to keep its faint post-season hopes alive. Fortunately for Gary Andersen and company, the Aggies fit this week’s ‘Puttin’ On The Stats’ SMART BOX angle – and you know we’re big fans of the four-cornered brain machine. Despite falling short in so many close calls, USU is still winning the stats by 123 net YPG, no fluke when you consider that the Aggies held Louisiana Tech to a season-low 232 yards in last week’s 7-point home loss. Complacency could be the Warriors’ biggest hurdle as they could likely look past the visitors to next week’s battle with Nevada for the top spot in the WAC. No such problem for Utah State, who will be looking for some payback after last year’s embarrassing 45-7 loss to Hawaii on the mainland. Yes, the islanders had better bring their ‘A’ game here or the upcoming game versus the Reno Wolves will NOT be for conference honors. Aggies’ outstanding 10-2 ATS mark taking points on the road puts the finishing touch on this solid take.
MIAMI over Kansas City by 4
It’s not often we will ‘Best Bet’ a winless team in the NFL, yet we feel the Dolphins are an exception to the rule this week. For openers, despite their 0-7 start, the Fish are not giving off the foul odor of a team left out to dry. Only two of the losses have been by more than double-digit margins (to division rivals) and they have held leads late in each of their last two games. We all know of Miami’s success under Tony Sparano at this stage of the season where he stands 13-4 ATS as a road dog from Game Four out, including 8-3 SU and 11-1 ATS when facing a .600 or less opponent. Meanwhile, the Chiefs return to the teepee off Monday night’s dramatic overtime win over the Chargers knowing they play down to the level of opposition when off back-to-back wins and facing a sub .500 opponent, going 3-7 SU and 1-9 ATS in these games. Toss in KC’s dismal 3-10 ATS mark of late as home chalk (losing eight of the games in straight-up fashion) and we have all the makings of Miami fi nally entering the winner’s circle this 2011 season. Long live Sparano!
DENVER OVER OAKLAND by 10
When the Raiders upset the Broncos in the season opener for both teams earlier this year there was nary a ‘Tebowing’ sighting to be found in Denver – it was back when Kyle Orton was at the controls. Since then, following a 1-4 SU and ATS start to the season, Orton now carries the clipboard as Tim Tebow leads the team in prayer, having taken over the starting reins. And while it remains to be seen whether his holiness will pan out as a legitimate starting signal caller in this league, he is certainly anxious to make amends for last week’s dull effort against the Lions. Mightily aiding Denver’s cause is Oakland’s putrid 0-8 SU and ATS mark in games when playing with rest and its 2-12 SU and 1-11 ATS record as favorites in games against sub .500 opposition. The Broncos’ 8-3 SU and 9-2 ATS mark as dogs of 3 or more points in games against opponents off a SU favorite loss clinches it. In the name of the Father, the Son and the avenging dog.
CINCINNATI over Tennessee by 10
The hottest moneymaking team in the NFL (9-1 ATS last 10 regular season games) is also 7-3 SU in that span and there’s no reason to believe that the Bengals will slow down anytime soon – except for the fact that Pittsburgh and Baltimore dot the next two games. Okay, there’s no reason to believe that Marvin’s Cats will get stopped this week in the Music City. They’re 14-1 ATS as non-division dogs in November off a non-division affair and Lewis, himself, is 6-1 ATS as a non-division dog versus sub .700 opposition. That should be more than enough this week as the striped ones are taking on a team in Tennessee that is ‘leaking oil’ (0-4 ‘ITS’ last four) worse than the Edmund Fitzgerald. This November opener also has the makings of a WTF (Wrong Team favored) as the Titans are 0-7-1 ATS as favorites off a double-digit win versus a .700 or greater conference foe off back-to-back SU wins and 2-7-1 ATS as favorites when taking on greater than .500 opposition. Good numbers to support Cincy, indeed, but the info that makes this our NFL 5* BEST BET OF THE WEEK comes courtesy of our MIDWEEK ALERT: we like dogs with both the better offense and superior defense. Grab the points but you won’t need ‘em as every man knew – and the PLAYBOOK did, too – that the dogs of November come stealin’.
SAN DIEGO over Green Bay by 3
We mentioned in an earlier issue that we liked the Chargers to represent the AFC in this year’s Super Bowl and that prediction looked good after an unusually fast 4-1 start. Well, with back-to-back road losses, the Norvs (though he can’t be blamed for Monday’s fiasco) have resorted back to their typical early-season woes and now find themselves in a three-way fight in the AFC West. However, the Bolts have yet to lose at home and our database has an inkling it might stay that way after the dust settles this afternoon in Qualcomm Stadium. Yes, the Pack is a mighty 8-0 SU and ATS versus the AFC West since 2003 but our database reminds us that: defending Super Bowl champs are 40-65 ATS as non division favorites, including 7-19 ATS when the champs are unbeaten – which tightens to 0-5 ATS if the foe arrives off a SU favorite loss. Toss in SD’s 5-0 SU and ATS log as home dogs since early 2004 and you can see why we’ll back the dog with nearly 100 YPG the better defense – and a home dog, no less. And then there were none… unbeatens, that is. Chaaaaargers, outright.