By Marc Lawrence for Playbook.com — College —
MICHIGAN over Wisconsin by 6
You think you are having a bad year? How about walking a mile in the shoes of Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh? Now in his 6th year with the Wolverines, Harbaugh has been set upon by the sports media this past week like greedy children after a piñata. We all know how he can’t beat Ohio State or Michigan State, but now he can’t even handle chumps like Indiana, so the pundits have pronounced that weary Michigan fans are doomed to live through another season of failed expectations. Hey, the last time we looked, Paul Finebaum wasn’t wearing a helmet and pads, so don’t go shoveling dirt on the Wolverines just yet. Not when Michigan is 36-4 SU in Game Four of the season (23-1 at home), including 5-0 SUATS under Harbaugh. Don’t get too excited about Wisconsin’s 45-7 whipping of Illinois to start the season as the Illini are very close to replacing Rutgers as the official Big 10 punching bag. Most important, we think, is that the Badgers have had their last two games cancelled by COVID, and any continuity they may have had after beating Illinois is in their rear view mirror. And with Michigan looking to get even for last year’s 35-14 loss at Madison, we are inclined to side with the Wolves’ 5-1 ATS record when playing with single conference revenge instead of Wisky’s 1-4 ATS failure on the road versus single conference revenge. Yes, Michigan has underachieved, and their mettle will be tested today, but we fully expect them to rise to the occasion. So says THE CLINCHER: Michigan is 4-0 ATS since 1988 as a home dog versus opponents coming off a win of more than 25 points.
Seattle over LA RAMS by 8
After opening the 2010 season on a 4-0 SUATS run, Seattle then showed a chink in its armor when they won but failed to cover in Game Five against the Vikings. Then, in their last three games since its Bye week, the Seahawks have allowed 108 points and 1290 yards. Hardly the sort of numbers one would expect from a team that would be the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs if the season were to begin this week. Today, though, they dress up as underdogs for the first time this season. According to NFL.com, the key number for the Seattle defense this season is six. That’s the number of quarterbacks who have thrown for 300-plus yards against the Seattle defense. As NFL.com put it, the Seahawks threw their defensive spaghetti at the wall Sunday, and the only noodles that even somewhat stuck were the blitzing ones. However, the Rams are just 4-15 ATS as single-digit division home favorites, including 0-6 ATS versus foes arriving off a loss of 16 or fewer points. Couple the Seahawks’ 8-1 ATS mark away versus .600 or greater division foes – and QB Russell Wilson’s sterling 26- 12-2 ATS career record as a dog in his NFL career, along with his jaw-dropping 13-1 SU and 10-1-3 ATS record coming off a loss and seeking revenge (5-0-1 ATS in division duels) – and it’s hard not to go on the take in this showdown.
Buffalo over ARIZONA by 3
So why the sudden spark in the Bills’ offense? For openers, offensive coordinator Brian Daboll is having a career year with his expertly designed play calling, and with Josh Allen’s ability to improvise added into the mix, Buffalo’s offense is humming. Our QB database informs us that Allen is 7-3-1 ATS as a road dog in the NFL, including 3-1 SUATS versus NFC opposition. On the other side of the fi eld, Arizona QB Kyler Murray shined once again as a dangerous dual-threat last week (albeit in a losing cause), leading the Cardinals with 11 rushing attempts for 106 yards and a TD to go along with his 283 passing yards and three additional scores. He’s been a ‘good dog / bad favorite’ in this league though, going 12-5-1 ATS when taking points and 2-4 ATS when laying them. He’s also 1-5 SU and 2-4 ATS at home when Zona is coming off a loss. Our call goes to Sparky the dog.