Wednesday, January 04, 2017
Playbook College & Pro Best Bets
Alabama over Clemson by 3
A rematch of last year’s title game in Glendale, Arizona which saw the Tigers score a late back-door cover (lost, 45-40, as 6.5-point dogs) shifts to Tampa but we don’t need any financial advisors telling us who to back tonight in Raymond James Stadium. Not when we have our all-knowing database reminding us that the dog is now a jaw-dropping 13-1 ATS in Clemson’s last 14 bowl games following the Tigers’ dominating win last week over Ohio State. In fact, that number tightens to 7-1 SU and 8-0 ATS since 2010. Thus, it should come as no surprise to learn that the striped ones are 5-0 ATS as bowl dogs versus SEC opposition. Speaking of the SEC, they’ll need a ‘Bama victory just to even this year’s bowl record (5-6 SUATS to date). Meanwhile, the ACC is 8-3 SU and 9-2 ATS this bowl season, including 2-0 versus the SEC (NC State over Vandy, Georgia Tech over Kentucky). Now, this is no knock against the Tide as they are for all intents and purposes in a ‘league of their own.’ (On a side note – if we manage to land Tom Hanks in the role of a drunk Steve Sarkisian, who in the world is going to play Nick Saban?) Getting back to reality, it will be fun to see how Sarkisian reacts (a few F-bombs, perhaps) after getting chewed out by Saban after the fi rst three-and-out! And in a matchup of Top 10 defenses, there will be more than a few of those. As for Saban, if he has one Achilles heel, it is this: a career 1-3 SU and 0-4 ATS mark in postseason games versus a foe off a SU underdog win. He is also a mortal-like 5-5 SU and 4-6 ATS as a post-season favorite of 6 or more points. In addition, teams with the better record are just 2-4 SU and 0-6 ATS in the last six BCS title games. Nonetheless, the Tide are still 44-5 SU under the ‘Nic-tator’ when they are ranked No. 1. That has us believing that Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney will improve to 7-1 ATS in his career as a dog against undefeated opposition – but still remaining win-less against Alabama since 1905 (0-13). Can you say overtime?
PITTSBURGH over Miami by 14
Talk about bad timing for the Dolphins. Way back in mid-October, 1-4 Miami played host to the 7-point road chalk Steelers. Thanks to a mistake-free outing by QB Ryan Tannehill and a 200-yard rushing outburst by RB Jay Ajayi, the Fish dominated Pittsburgh, 30-15. Now Miami must travel to Heinz Field with Matt Moore at QB instead of Tannehill, and while Moore may be a 9-year NFL veteran, he has never taken a snap in a playoff game. Enter Big Ben Roethlisberger, a Hallof-Famer for sure, who stands a perfect 4-0 SUATS in the playoffs when avenging a same-season loss from an earlier meeting. Even worse for the visitors and their No. 29-ranked defense, dual-threat RB Le’Veon Bell is healthy enough to make his playoff debut after being sidelined by injuries the previous two years. As for Miami’s Ajayi, expect the proud Pittsburgh rush defense to make serious amends for their no-show in October and shut down the Dolphins RB today. Still, laying doubles in an NFL playoff game is not for the faint of heart but our tireless database tells us not to worry here. Pittsburgh is 4-0 ATS in playoffs with revenge versus a foe off a SUATS loss and same-season revengers like the Steelers are a profi table 25-12-3 ATS when playing at home in Wild Card round showdowns. Meanwhile, Miami is just 1-7 SU and 2-6 ATS away in the postseason since 1991, and matches up poorly in terms of playoff experience. However, we’ve saved the best for last: the Dolphins are only 1-14 ATS in playoff games when they lose straight up. Another warmweather challenger goes belly up in the frigid west-Pennsylvania winter
Written by Marc Lawrence
can also be found at Playbook.com
- One Click Handicapping
Thursday, December 22, 2016
Marc Lawrence Best Bowl and NFL Upsets Dec. 23-26
ARMED FORCES BOWL Amon G. Carter Stadium • Fort Worth, TX
Navy over Louisiana Tech by 6
With the Bulldogs and Midshipmen each arriving on 2-game losing skids, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Janet Jackson singing “What Have You Done For Me Lately” prior to kickoff. In fact, we were all set to take a pass today in Fort Worth as both the Techsters and Middies fall into the same scenario that saw teams go 0-8 SUATS last bowl season – that being squads who lost their conference championship game. That was until the invaders from Ruston went to favorites in this Armed Forces Bowl. That’s just not right! More importantly, it now has Skippy (Holtz) laying points and Playbook vets know he is a lousy favorite as opposed to a terrific dog. Yes, the Midshipmen have put more guys under center than Chippendales but if they get their QB situation settled in time, we’ll look for Ken Niumatalolo’s club to reel off its fourth straight bowl win and cover. It also doesn’t hurt that Military bowlers are 4-0 ATS off a SU favorite loss while CUSA bowlers are 1-4 ATS off back-to-back losses. And remember, this Navy team was 9-2 before their recent slide, knocked off a Top 10 team this year for the first time since 1984 and punted ONE time during the entire month of November. And while we’re at it, we may as well hear from THE CLINCHER: Military teams are 29-13 ATS as bowlers, including 18-5 ATS if they average 300 or more rushing yards per game.
Colorado State over Idaho by 3
With each of these teams riding a 7-0 ATS win skein, the Rams and the Vandals hit the Potato Bowl loaded with carbs. The difference is the Fort Collins crew arrives off a 63-31 thrashing of San Diego State and that brings into play this little gem: teams who score 60 or more points in their previous game are a famine-like 1-6 SU and 0-7 ATS in bowl play since 2011. We realize that the Rams won’t hurt themselves (only 6 turnovers in their last 11 games) but we’re not comfortable laying double-digits with a team that is 8-16 ATS as road chalk of 7 or more points and 2-5 SUATS as bowlers since 2002, including 0-4 ATS versus a foe off a SU win. And remember, the Vandals are playing with house money as this was supposed to be their swan song in the FBS after the Sun Belt announced it wouldn’t renew its membership following this season. However, they got a one-year reprieve from the NCAA (Idaho will be returning to the FCS level in 2018) but still played every contest like they were on death row, winning more games this year (8) than they did in each of the four previous seasons combined (4). And if you can get your hands on that juicy money line (+400), we should also point out that since 2000 there have been a total of 27 double-digit underdogs that have won bowl games in SU fashion – with 2011 and 2015 being the only two seasons during that span when one of these big dogs didn’t bite. We see this as being a great opportunity for the in-state Vandals to add that to that number, especially after hearing from THE CLINCHER: Idaho is 5-0-1 ATS off a conference game when facing a foe off a SUATS win under head coach Paul Petrino
New Orleans over Tampa by 14
If ever a case were to made for never discarding a future Hall of Fame quarterback from your play list it was last week when New Orleans QB Drew Brees kept the Saints’ faint playoff hopes alive with a 48- 41 win at Arizona when he passed for 389 yards and 4 TDs. Yes, we understand the Saints are 3-8 SU and 4-7 ATS in final home games of the season the last eleven years but in none of them were they fighting to stay alive in a playoff race as they were either ‘in’ or eliminated in the postseason chase in those games. We realize they are clinging to an oxygen mask at the moment, but the bottom line is Brees is alive and breathing. Tampa checks into Bourbon Street sporting a lousy 1-6 SU and 0-7 ATS mark in its last seven games on Saturdays, while just 1-5 SUATS in this series when New Orleans is out looking to avenge a loss from the most recent meeting (the Bucs beat the Saints, 16-11, two weeks ago). And because the swashbucklers have covered the spread in each of their six straight games, the price on this affair is just what bargain hunters are looking for this time of the year. Finally, just in case you need more, here is THE CLINCHER: Brees is 22-12-2 ATS with division revenge in his NFL career, including 7-0 SU and 6-0-1 ATS at home after his team surrendered more than 31 points in its previous game.
Detroit over Dallas by 4
The Cowboys are making their FIFTH straight primetime appearance and since the first four weren’t prosperous from an ATS standpoint (3-1 SU, 0-4 ATS), we’re not going to try to fi x what looks like is starting to break down (the ‘Boys are 1-3 ‘ITS’ over that span). Not when we’re backing a Detroit team that is 5-1 ATS in its last six Monday affairs, 4-0 ‘ITS’ in its last four games and looking to fend off the Packers for the NFC North title while holding onto a Wildcard spot if necessary. And why should we? The carefree Cowboys are 2-11 ATS at home off a previous home game, including 1-7 ATS following a win, and 3-8 SUATS in LHGs the past 11 years. With the Lions in control of their playoff destiny, that makes these ‘primetime points’ a bonus, especially after hearing from THE CLINCHER: The Cowboys are 11-25 ATS as home favorites under HC Jason Garrett, including 1-12 ATS off an ATS loss.
Written by John Pricci
can also be found at Playbook.com
- One Click Handicapping
Wednesday, December 14, 2016
Best Bowl & NFL Upsets Dec. 16-18
AT Orlando, FL: Arkansas St over C Florida by 7
The Red Wolves hit the Sunshine State on a two-game bowl-losing skein, having been outscored 110-72 in the process. So why do we feel the wrong team is favored tonight in Orlando, especially with the nearby Knights only having to travel 16 miles to Camping World Stadium? For starters, UCF is 0-6 SU against fellow bowlers this season, losing the stat battle by an average of 93 YPG. And speaking of yardage, our MIDWEEK ALERT informs us that the Knights finished the year on a 0-8 ‘In The Stats’ run while the Wolves are 9-1 ‘ITS’ over their last 10 games. In addition, Arkansas State’s defense has improved by 45 YPG over last year’s edition, a ‘Cure’ needed to deliver a bowl win. We should probably also mention that the favorite has lost SU in four of the last six UCF bowl games (this is just one of hundreds of gems found in this year’s Playbook Bowl Stat Report which is available online this Wednesday). We could also point out, like Houston above, that AAC bowlers are 0-4 SUATS off a SUATS loss and that the Knights are 0-2-1 ATS of late against the Sun Belt.
NY JETS over Miami by 6
The 8-5 Dolphins were handed an early Christmas present Monday night when the Pats knocked off the Ravens, giving Miami some control of their playoff destiny (they’ll be, once again, rooting for their division mates this week in Denver). With Dean Martin crooning “Baby it’s cold outside” on the team airplane as the Fish prepare for their annual sojourn to the Big City, the question now becomes does Miami have ‘Moore’ than enough to hold onto their Wild Card spot should the Broncos falter as starting QB Ryan Tannehill will miss at least a couple of games with a sprained ACL and MCL. Another Playbook exclusive (read: our unique NFL QB Club) tells us that the Dolphins are in good hands as Matt Moore is 18-7 ATS as a starter in the NFL but a deeper search fi nds the majority of that success has come against .500 or better opposition (14-2 ATS) as Moore is just 4-5 SUATS when facing losing foes. Todd Bowles’ bunch definitely fi ts that bill but it won’t stop our database from ‘Jet’-setting tonight as New York is 4-1-1 ATS in their last fi ve Saturday showdowns while Miami is 0-8 SU and 1-7 ATS away on Saturdays. Our MIDWEEK ALERT is also along for the ride as it notes the Dolphins are just 2-4 ‘In The Stats’ in their last six games – and that was with Tannehill behind center. Even in their 27- 23 victory as 4-point home favorites earlier this season, the Fish were outyarded by the Flyboys. That put the Jets at both 5-0-1 ATS in the series of late and 5-0-1 ATS as division underdogs versus a foe off an ATS win. All this and we still haven’t mentioned that Todd Bowles is the answer to this week’s TRIVIA TEASER on page 2. Hopefully you saved room for THE CLINCHER: Miami is 1-15 ATS following a win versus an opponent coming off a SU underdog win.
CINCINNATI over Pitt by 8
For a team that was certified dead in the water, the Bengals have certainly done an about face. Currently on a 3-3-1 SU run – with the three losses by 10 combined points – Cincinnati still finds itself (barely) mathematically alive in the Wild Card chase. For openers, they can take care of business on their end as each of their fi nal three foes on the slate are all positioned to make the postseason. Granted, Pittsburgh has roughed up Cincinnati in this series going 16-5 SU and 15-6 ATS the last 21 meetings, including 9-2 SU and 8-3 ATS away. And they are currently cooking on 4-0 SUATS and 7-game ATS win skeins. But the resourceful black cats are 19-7-1 ATS following the Cleveland Browns, including 14-3 ATS when seeking revenge (lost at Pittsburgh in Week Two in a game in which they outstatted the Steel Curtain). Not to mention QB Andy Dalton’s dandy 16-8 SU and 16-7-1 ATS career mark in games during the month of December, and his 4-1 SU and 5-0 ATS career mark as an underdog seeking revenge following a double-digit win. And with it, another live division home dog – like the Giants last week – is ready to bark, according to THE CLINCHER: Cincinnati is 5-0 SUATS in its last fi ve regular season home underdog roles.
Carolina over Washington by 10
For all intents and purposes, it looks as if the Panthers are cooked. Last year’s Super Bowl loser, Carolina resides in the basement of the NFC South with only a prayer of recording a .500 season (should they win each of their fi nal three games) at its beck and call. This, however, is where these teams tend to be at their best. According to our allknowing database, Super Bowl losers are 30-17-1 ATS during the fi nal four games of the season when they are not favored, including 24- 10 ATS when squaring off against winning foes. (There’s nothing like good competition to bring the best out in a formerly good team). The Panthers are 3-0 SUATS the last three games in this series, and 4-0 ATS away all-time as underdogs in this series… not to mention 10-1 ATS off a SU underdog win during the fi nal four games of the season when facing non-division opponents. Washington checks in at 1-6 SU and 2-5 ATS in its last seven games following the Philadelphia Eagles, who they defeated by the skin of their teeth in an ‘inside-out’ stat win last Sunday. And lest we forget, there is THE CLINCHER: See this week’s INCREDIBLE STAT on page 2.
Written by Marc Lawrence
can also be found at Playbook.com
- One Click Handicapping