WEST VIRGINIA over Baylor by 6
–We like the steady turnaround Neal Brown is working on in Morgantown these days. While the Mountaineers’ home fi eld advantage has worn out its welcome mat – WVU lost all four Big 12 match-ups on its home turf last year – we can’t help but feel that’s about to take a turn for the good behind Brown, who is 20-10 SU at home in his CFB head coaching career, including 13-4 with a .500 or greater record. West Virginia gave Oklahoma State all it could handle last Saturday, outgaining the Cowboys in a 27-13 loss (it took a 23- yard TD run by Chuba Hubbard with 1:17 remaining to nail down the victory). After weeks of cancellations and postponements, Baylor enjoyed a winning debut under Dave Aranda last Saturday when the Bears rolled over Kansas, 42-14. Despite the lopsided score, though, BU outgained the Jayhawks just 352-328 on the day.
Thus, we’re not sure these young cubs are ready to lay wood on the conference road just yet, especially since they bring a paltry 6-11 SU make on the Big 12 road into this contest. West Virginia will need to improve on its poor rushing stats versus OSU (68 total yards on only 1.6 yard per carry) if they hope to trade points with the Bears. We think they can, so we’ll close the book with this from our Coaches Database – THE CLINCHER: New CFB head coaches are 36-120 SU and 68-88 ATS in road openers in Game Two of the season, including 3-18 SU and 6-15 ATS the past three-plus seasons.
Minnesota over Houston by 8
–Vikings star RB Dalvin Cook had a career day with 181 rushing yards on 22 carries, only to have Minnesota come up a point short in last week’s loss to the Titans. As a result, the Vikes fell to 0-3 for the first time under Mike Zimmer and you just know he is seething. His troops enter today’s game knowing Minny is 12-6 ATS all-time in AFC South skirmishes, including 9-3 SU and 10-2 ATS from Game Four out. In addition, QB Kirk Cousins is 7-1 SU and 8-0 ATS of late when his team is coming off consecutive losses. Then there is the equally stumbling and bumbling Texans, who are 0-3 SUATS and ITS this season after Bill O’Brien’s infamous DeAndre Hopkins faux pas.
With it, Texans checks in just 9-17-2 ATS in games against NFC opponents that are coming off a loss. And speaking of coming off a loss, not only is Zimmer the answer to this week’s TRIVIA TEASER on page 2, he also partakes in THE CLINCHER: Minnesota is 20-4-1 ATS in non-division games when coming off a loss under Zimmer, including 9-0 ATS when coming off a loss of fewer than 6 points.
Chicago over Indianapolis by 8
–It’s safe to say that Chicago is the ricketiest 3-0 team in recent memory. And the loss of star RB Tarik Cohen to a season-ending knee injury is unsettling, for sure. The real question here is why did Matt Nagy switch quarterbacks with his undefeated Bears? Simply put, Mitch Tribusky was misreading zone defenses and put Chicago into a 14-point hole against Atlanta.
Enter Nick Foles who went 16-of-29 for 188 yards and three TDs and just like that the Bears are one of seven 3-0 teams entering Week Four. From our NFL QB database: Foles is 12-5 SU with teams with a win percentage greater than .700, including 5-2 ATS as a dog. Nevertheless, in the Colts’ 36-7 win against the Jets last week they mustered only 353 total yards of offense as the defense accounted for 16 points. The Indy stop-unit is ranked No. 1 overall in the league, but it’s worth noting they faced three opponents who are 1-8 combined overall. And we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the Colts’ 3-8 SU and 4-6-1 ATS mark away against non-division foes under Frank Reich.
It fits like a custom suit next to the fact that the Horseshoes are 0-8 ATS in non-division contests when coming off consecutive wins and it forces us to back this week’s Ugly Betty Bears. That along with support from THE CLINCHER: 3-0 NFL home teams are 25-4 ATS in Game Four non-division tilts when not favored by 7 or more points.