Wednesday, December 03, 2014
Marc Lawrence College & Pro Upsets Dec. 6 - Dec. 8
OHIO STATE over Wisconsin by 3
You gotta feel for the Buckeyes. Entering 2014 on a 24-2 SU run under HC Urban Meyer, Ohio State lost starting QB Braxton Miller for the season with a shoulder injury before playing its fi rst game. J.T. Barrett stepped in for Miller and led the the team to 10-1 record – before leaving with a broken ankle in last week’s bitter 42-28 win over archrival Michigan. Now Meyer has to turn to his third starting QB this season in what will be OSU’s biggest game of the season. It’s our contention that the team will rally around new quarterback Cardale Jones, a 6-5 250-lb product of the Cleveland Glenville pipeline and a 3-star recruit out of high school. However, Jones almost ‘Winstoned’ his way off the team earlier when he was guilty of tweeting: “Why should we have to go to class if we came here to play FOOTBALL, we ain’t come to play SCHOOL, classes are POINTLESS.” Open mouth, insert size 20 foot. Those hijinks almost landed Jones a one-way bus ticket home… to which Meyer now says, “He’s matured a lot. I think he’ll do a great job.” Maybe so but we’ll rely on this week’s INCREDIBLE STAT (page 3) and Meyer’s sterling 15-9 SU and 18-6 ATS career mark as a pick or dog – including 6-1 SU and 7-0 ATS since 2003. He’ll need all that and more to bring down a Wisconsin team on a 7-game win streak, thanks to RB Melvin Gordon’s exploits (8 yards per carry and 26 TD’s) and an under-appreciated defense that’s limited foes to just 260 yards and 16.8 PPG. The Badgers have not missed a beat since 2nd-year HC Gary Andersen took over for Bret Bielema and Andersen’s 18-8-1 ATS success against opponents with better records is certainly noteworthy. However, the well-oiled machine reminds us that since the inception of the Big 10 championship games, the favorite in these contests is a poor 1-2 SU and 0-3 ATS – and that the Buckeyes are the only FBS team to outgain every foe they’ve faced this season. Incredibly, a win here won’t guarantee a playoff appearance for Ohio State as the Selection Committee might react negatively to the loss of QB Barrett and choose another 1-loss team (like TCU) with a healthy starting contingent. Still, we think Meyer has too much talent and depth on hand to let this opportunity slip away. Take as many points as you can, roll up your sleeves and get ready for a 60-minute WAR.
CHICAGO over Dallas by 11
Playing on Thanksgiving Day in front of the entire USA when every football fanatic (plus the casual fans and quite a few others that could probably care less) sits down with family and watches most of the contest – a perk that the Cowboys and the Lions have enjoyed for decades. No doubt it was a big part of Dallas becoming known as ‘America’s Team’. But there is a downside: post-Turkey Day road teams in non-division games are just 9-27 SU and 10-25-1 ATS. In fact, the Cowboys are just2- 19 ATS as favorites against non-division foes from Game 13 out, not to mention just 1-7 ATS recently as chalk coming off a division home game. They are also a dome team (okay, a retractable roof team) favored outdoors in a cold weather site in December, and that’s a definite no-no according to our fan-friendly database as teams in this role are a measly 21-37-1 ATS since 1980. On the flip side, Da Bears don’t seem to suffer such a drastic ‘tryptophan hangover’ since they don’t play every year on the holiday, and they are actually 5-1 SUATS after performing on Thanksgiving Day. They have also covered against Dallas for three consecutive seasons and in three of the last four meetings of this series played at Soldier Field. And as poorly as he’s performed at home as a favorite, Bears QB Jay Cutler is 5-2 SUATS as a non-division home dog. So, our overwhelming choice here is Chicago, but if you are still on the fence, here’s The Clincher: Dallas QB Tony Romo is 4-16 ATS as a favorite during December in his NFL career, including 0-9 ATS in games with an Over/Under total of 47 or more points.
WASHINGTON over St. Louis by 6
OMG. A team who can’t get out of their own way is a Best Bet over a team off its largest win margin since they’ve called St. Louis home. You bet. And we can thank our sister newsletter, the MIDWEEK ALERT , for most of the fuel in this analysis. For openers, in Louie’s 52-point whitewash win over the Raiders last week, they managed a mere 348 yards of offense as a 5-0 turnover advantage absolutely killed any chance Oakland had of making it a game. Meanwhile, the win snapped a 7-game ‘In The Stats’ losing skein for Rams, a team that is losing the stats by an average of 41 YPG this season. On the other side of the coin, the down-and-out Redskins are actually outgaining opponents 28 YPG this campaign. The Hogs are also 7-0 ATS in games off an AFC tussle when taking on a foe off a SU win. Add to that the Rams’ 1-7 SUATS mark in its last eight head-to-head butts with the NFC East and suddenly it looks to us as if the wrong team is favored here. Finally, the last instruction: Note Washington QB Colt McCoy’s 113.5 QB Rating and ditch the clothespin. It won’t be needed today. The Clincher: The Rams are 1-12 ATS as road favorites versus opponents playing with revenge.
Written by John Pricci
can also be found at Playbook.com
- One Click Handicapping
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Marc Lawrence College & Pro Upsets Nov. 27- Dec. 1
Are You Ready for Some Football? HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
TEXAS over TCU by 6
We have a feeling that Condoleezza Rice and the other 12 NCAA Playoff Selection Committee members are hoping that the Longhorns feast on ‘Frog’ legs – and not turkey – this Thanksgiving. Otherwise, the verbal
attacks they’ll be getting from either the Fort Worth or Waco press on December 7 (Pearl Harbor Day) when they announce the four playoff teams will make that 1941 attack look like a water-balloon fight. The good news is the ‘Horns are rounding into shape (3-0 SUATS last three) and are 11-1 SU and 9-3 ATS with regular-season rest. The bad news is the Frogs are equally impressive when given extra time to prepare in
the regular season (10-1 SU and 11-0 ATS). However, the Horned Ones are a winless 0-5 ATS as conference road favorites since joining the Big 12 in 2012 and 1-5 ATS in their last six weekday tilts while Texas is
a satisfying 3-1 SUATS at home on Thanksgiving off back-to-back SU wins. In addition, the TCU stop-unit, after surrendering a total of 21 points in their first three games, has allowed an average of 27 PPG since.
That’s not a good sign against a Texas team that is 120-4 SU at home in games in which they score 27 or more points. Neither is the fact that Longhorns’ head coach Charlie Strong is a well-prepared 9-2 ATS as a
dog versus .750 or greater, including 3-0 SUATS when taking 7 or less points. With that, look for the Frogs to croak in a big way tonight in Austin – especially with our INCREDIBLE STAT OF THE WEEK supplying
THE CLINCHER: Since 1968, TCU is 2-29 SU versus Texas, having been favored only once – last year. They lost that contest, 30-7, as 3-point favorites.
NFL: Philadelphia over Dallas by 10
Battle of 1st place leaders in the NFC East finds the Eagles taking on the Cowboys at Jerry’s World on Thanksgiving Day where America’s team has hosted Turkey Day games each year since 1978. The Boys have thrived against losing opposition on Gobbler Day, winning 12 of the last 13 matchups. Not so when facing .500 or greater opponents, however, winning only 7 of the last 19 games on Thanksgiving against relevant opposition. Making matters worse, the Cowboys are only 1-10 ATS on Thanksgiving Day games after defeating the New York Giants the previous week. On the fl ip side, the Eagles are 4-1 SU all time on this day of thanks, including 2-0 SU and ATS of late. The key to this call is the play on the field of each team lately as Philly has outgained five of its last six opponents while Dallas as been out-yarded in three of its last four contests. Granted, Cowboys QB Tony Romo is 28-6 SU in November, but Dallas head coach Jason Garrett compounds matters with a 1-7 ATS mark in his NFL career as a division favorite in games where the Cowboys own a .500 or greater record. The larger half of the wishbone goes to the Eagles in this showdown. The Clincher: Philadelphia head coach Chip Kelly is 19-1 SU and 14-6 ATS on the road in NFL division and college conference games combined in his career as a head coach.
OLE Miss over Miss State by 11
Three losses in their last four games and the Rebels have gone from hosting College GameDay to being totally shunned by the media. Remember our joke that the SMART BOX was so smart it made Einstein look like Bo Wallace? Nobody’s laughing now, not after Wallace dinged his ankle in last week’s loss at Arkansas. But the time has come for Bo to tape up and get his game on. After all, what better way for Johnny Reb to bury the pain of recent setbacks than to derail rival Mississippi State – and knock them out of the national playoff picture? There is enormous pressure on the Bulldogs right now and not many 400-yard defenses (like MSU) hold up in these high-stakes situations. Not when their head coach, Dan Mullen, is just 10-25 SU versus a greater-than .700 opponent, including 1-5 SUATS when the foe is off a SU loss. Despite beating the Rebs as a 4-point home dog in last year’s meeting, Mullen has been outgained in both games against Hugh Freeze in this series, and the ATS archives suggest he’s in a bad spot here. Not only is the series host 5-1 ATS – and 8-3 SU and 8-2-1 ATS when playing with revenge off a SU loss – Mississippi also owns a timely 7-2 ATS mark when seeking SEC revenge. Toss in a Rebels’ defense that is 90 YPG better than the MSU stop-unit and you don’t have to smell magnolias to know where we’re headed. Bo restores his legend with the aid of The Clincher: Rebel head coach Hugh Freeze is 6-1 SU and 7-0 ATS in his career as a single-digit underdog.
Washington State over Washington by 10
We told you about Luke Falk last week and he promptly answered our question: it was real, not Memorex! He is definitely not a Star Wars character, but instead a freshman starting QB for the Cougars, lighting up the skies with one of those cool light sabres, even if his aim is sometimes a little off. FYI: he turned down an offer by Florida State, only to be cast aside in the recruiting wars, and eventually Idaho pulled an offer amongst a new coaching change (shame on you, Vandals). Now he’s a walk-on star with Mike Leach’s Cougars despite his inexperience, passing for 1,072 yards and 8 TD’s in his first two starts with WSU (both on the road while stepping in for injured starter Connor Halliday). The Cougars were able to engineer the upset over Oregon State three weeks ago, but last Saturday dropped a 52-31 decision to Arizona State as Washington State outgained ASU, 622-330(a 5-0 TO deficit did them in). Falk admitted to some bad reads, as he was picked off four times and fumbled once, but he obviously fits well into Leach’s Air Raid attack. Meanwhile, the Huskies have been sledding downhill after a 4-0 start, going 3-5 SU since then. This is the cheapest price in this series on the Huskies – for a reason – since they were taking points in 2006, but the underdog has covered in nine of the last 10 series matchups played in Pullman, so the low number doesn’t scare us at all. Washington is 2-5 ATS in conference road finales, but here is The Clincher: Cougars’ head coach Mike Leach is 11-1 SU in
Last Home Games, including 7-0 SU and 5-0-1 ATS when his team owns a win percentage of .600 or less.
NE over Green Bay by 6
A possible Super Bowl preview perhaps? It sure smells like it as both teams take the field playing their best ball of the season. After a disturbing 1-2 start, the Packers are now on a 7-1 run, including 3-0 since their bye week. On the flip side, the Patriots bring a 7-game win skein to Lambeau after a wobbly 2-2 September. Most impressive has been New England’s rush defense, one that has allowed 153 total rushing yards int the last three games – to teams that are currently 22-11 combined on the season. The history book agrees with our contention, noting the Pats are 9-2 ATS versus the NFC North, including 6-0 ATS away. They’re also a spot-on perfect 4-0 SU and ATS as underdogs this season. Given the fact that Green Bay has cashed in only six of 20 games when hosting teams from the AFC East since 1982, and has allowed more yards than they’ve gained, the points become the play here today. The Clincher: Patriots QB Tom Brady is 33-15-1 ATS as a dog in his NFL career, including 4-0 SUATS in games where New England owns a win percentage of .800 or more.
Written by John Pricci
can also be found at Playbook.com
- One Click Handicapping
Friday, November 21, 2014
Marc Lawrence College and Pro Upsets Nov. 22-Nov. 24
VIRGINIA over Miami Fla by 3
The Canes came up with a game effort against the ‘Noles, holding a 23-7 lead in the opening half over the defending national champs. But in the end, Miami didn’t have enough talent, discipline, experience or whatever it takes to pull off a watershed upset. In fact, FSU’s first lead of the game came with just 3:05 to play, and while Miami’s freshman QB Brad Kayaa had a great first half, his late 4th down interception ended Miami’s last-gasp attempt at the win. The question now is whether ‘The U’ can get back up off the mat in this tricky spot against a foe desperately in need of a pair of season-ending wins to earn a bowl ticket and save HC Mike London’s job. We believe if you ask Al Golden, he’ll tell you he just wants to get out of Charlottesville with a win. Good luck with that as the Canes’ 2-6 SUATS mark in their last eight road games makes this a dicey proposition. Our MIDWEEK ALERT also alerts us that Virginia has outyarded the Hurricanes in all three games where these two coaches have met, including last season when the Cavs held a 483-304 advantage in a 19-point loss. Finally, if you’re having difficulty stepping in front of this Hurricane, our well oiled machine suggests you remember The Clincher: Miami is 0-7 ATS as a favorite in games off a SU Florida State loss since 1996.
USC over UCLA by 11
Southern Californians are by nature laid-back folks, but this historic rivalry carries with it an epic passion. Now, add the fact that the Pac-12 South race has been thrown into chaos (five of six division teams rank in the Top 25) thanks to Arizona State’s loss to the Beavers late Saturday night, and there will be a crazy vibe at the Rose Bowl this weekend. USC actually leads the division by a half-game over the two Arizona teams and the Bruins, but all four schools have two conference losses right now, which makes this an elimination game of sorts, along with the one on Black Friday between the Cats and the Sun Devils. The Trojans have been able to exploit the Bruins’ defense when that stop unit is not up to snuff, evidenced by UCLA’s 0-7 SU record and 2-5 ATS mark when allowing 27.9 or more PPG on the season, which is right where their 78th-ranked defense sits right now. Southern Cal QB Cody Kessler ranks 12th in the country in passing yardage, while his favorite target, Nelson Agholor, ranks in the nation’s Top 10 in receptions, receiving yards and TD catches. Finally, the hard-working database has gone the extra mile for this marquee matchup, giving us not just one, but two punch-outs in honor of this double-revenge scenario: The Clinchers: The Bruins are 0-8 ATS as home favorites off a win of more than 10 points when facing a conference opponent seeking double revenge-exact, and the Trojans are 6-0-1 ATS off a SU win of 8 or more points when playing with double revenge-exact.
NY GIANTS over Dallas by 10
Uh oh. Here we go again. The shrinking Giants as a stinking best bet? We can hear the moans and groans all the way from New York City down to our offices in South Florida. Didn’t Eli Manning just toss 5 interceptions last week? And isn’t Tony Romo back behind center for the Cowboys? The answers are clear and simple: yes and yes. But the deeper we dig, the more we dig this play. For openers, Manning is 5-2 SU and 6-0-1 ATS
in his career in this series when Dallas arrives off a SU win with a win percentage of less than .750. On the flip side, Romo is 1-7 ATS in his NFL career in division games in which the opponent is off a pair of SU losses, including 0-2 ATS against the Giants. And then there is Dallas’ 0-6 SUATS mark in games when favored versus a division opponents playing with triple revenge-exact. Not to mention the fact that favorites off a win in London are 0-5 ATS all-time in division games upon their return to the mainland. And if you’re still not convinced, we offer up The Clinchers: The Giants are 8-1 SU and ATS on Sunday nights off a pair of SU losses, while the Cowboys are 1-4 SU and 0-5 ATS on Sunday nights versus an opponent off a pair of SU losses.
DETROIT over New England by 7
Leave it to the Brady bunch. Put them in a prime-time game, dress them up as underdogs and watch them put on a show. Such was the case last Sunday night when the Patriots pummeled the Colts, increasing their record to 4-0 SUATS as a dog this season. All good and well... until the next game, that is. That’s when the Patriots fall apart at the seams like a Salvation Army suit in games off a SU underdog and double-digit spread win when facing a .500 or greater opponent off a loss – where they are 1-10 SU and 0-11 ATS since 1980. Whew! In addition, the well-intentioned database informs us: 3-0 SUATS teams who beat the spread by 20 or more points in each win are 1-5 ATS in non-division games since 1980 when not favored by more than 7 points. Better yet, it also supplies The Clincher: NFL teams who scored 42 or more points in each of their last
two games are 0-8 ATS since 1980 when facing an opponent off a SU loss of 6 or more points.
CINCINNATI over Houston by 10
Houston QB Ryan Mallett’s debut with the Texans was impressive, for sure. He not only led his team to a 16-point win in the Dawg Pound, he put them one game back of the Colts for the AFC South lead. We’ll see how he responds in his second start today when he faces the rejuvenated Bengals. For openers, Houston is 1-6-2 ATS at home in games off one win exact. In addition, Mallett will need to overcome Houston’s lethargic 0-4 ATS record in home games off a SU away win. And speaking of SU away wins, the Bengals check in sporting a 6-0 SUATS record in non-division games off a road win. With QB Andy Dalton back on the beam, and the Bengals back atop the AFC North, Cincy will turn to the red-headed rifle’s sparkling 10-2 SUATS mark in his NFL career in games versus an opponent off a SU underdog win, including 8-1 SUATS in non-division contests. And then there is always The Clincher: Cincinnati is 18-3-1 SU and 17-4-1 ATS in its last 22 games off one win-exact, including 15-1-1 SUATS when the Bengals are off a SUATS win.
Written by Marc Lawrence
can also be found at Playbook.com
- One Click Handicapping