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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


By Marc LawrenceCure Bowl-December 26 —- Liberty over Coastal Carolina by 6

How appropriate that this bowl provides the ‘cure’ for a Saturday card populated by seemingly ho-hum matchups. Although this pairing wouldn’t have raised a single eyebrow at the beginning of the season, these two teams combined to go 19-1 SU in 2020, with the Flames’ only loss coming by a mere point at NC State a month ago. And if you want to talk about a dead-even situation, then try pairing a .900 or greater bowler with one loss on the season against an undefeated opponent. It’s where you’ll fi nd the favorite has gone 16-18-1 SU and 17-18 ATS since 1980, including 5-14-1 SU and 10-10 ATS of late. Even so, these are numbers the Chanticleers – ranked No. 9 in the latest AP poll – would gladly take in their quest to go undefeated, especially knowing there have been only four unbeaten bowl teams who won 5 or fewer games the previous season. The problem for CCU here is that those squads went 1-2- 1 SU, averaging 14.25 PPG, with none of them scoring more than 17 points. Yes, the Roosters beat two ranked opponents this year (BYU and UL-Lafayette) and managed to win four games SU up as underdogs. But while they outgained foes by a solid 108 YPG, Liberty won the stats over its opponents by a whopping 183 YPG.

Remember, too, that Flames head coach Hugh Freeze boasts a 10-5 SU and 12-3 ATS mark as a dog of 8 or fewer points, including 7-2 SU and 8-1 ATS when his team is coming off a win. Tonight’s 7:30 showdown is a ‘rematch’ of an earlier meeting between Liberty and CCU scheduled for December 5 that was canceled due to COVID related issues affecting the Flames. And with both head coaches getting contract extensions thanks to their success in 2020, this game will not be overshadowed by concerns that either Liberty’s Freeze or Coastal Carolina’s Jamey Chadwell will be bolting for greener pastures anytime soon. That being said, the bulk of the pressure here will undoubtedly be weighing on the Chanticleers, whose fate looks to be sealed by THE CLINCHER: Entering the 2020 bowl season, Sun Belt Conference Bowl favorites who won 8 or fewer games last season are 2-12 ATS all-time, including 0-7 ATS if they are facing a foe that allows fewer than 28 PPG.

Cheez-It Bowl-December 29

Miami Florida over Oklahoma St by 10

A big factor in evaluating bowl games is the motivation behind each team, and here we seem to have an OSU team that couldn’t care less about making this trip facing off with a Miami squad that’s counting the minutes until kick-off time. In fact, the redfaced Hurricanes have two traumatic experiences to make amends for this evening in Orlando. First is this year’s season-ending 62- 26 annihilation at the hands of North Carolina, where Miami’s prideful defense was battered, shattered, creamed and reamed by a Tar Heel offense that finished with an incredible 554 yards rushing. Then there’s the giant egg the ‘U’ laid against Louisiana Tech in last season’s 14-0 loss in the Independence Bowl as 6.5-point favorites – the only Power 5 team to ever be shut out by a Group of 5 opponent in bowl game history.

Folks, if that’s not enough motivation to catch a team’s fancy, then there isn’t any. Oklahoma State got off to a strong 4-0 start this season but lost traction to finish 3-3 SU in its final six games, including the Cowboys’ annual failure to get past rival OU. Miami is 7-3 SUATS versus the Big 12 since 1997, including 5-0 SUATS when not coming off an ATS win, and 2-0 SUATS in bowl games – by an average win 20 PPG. Unlike the Canes’ 36-point beat-down at UNC to wrap up regular season play, head coach Mike Gundy and his Pokes destroyed Baylor at Waco, 42-3. We mention that score because college bowl favorites coming off a spread win of 30-plus points are 8-16-1 ATS since 1999, including 5-13 ATS versus .600 or greater opponents. Then there’s Gundy’s 2-10 ATS failure off a SUATS win in which the Cowboys beat the spread by 25 or more points (0-5-1 ATS the last six, as well as 1-8-1 ATS as a favorite).

Look for Miami head coach Manny Diaz to wipe some hard-stained egg off his face here in this matchup of divergent ATS blowouts in each of their last games (UM -39 ATS points; OSU +32.5 ATS points). And right on time, the well-oiled machine supplies THE CLINCHER: Bowl dogs off one loss-exact as favorites are 25-9 ATS versus foes coming off a win of 17 or more points, including 6-0 ATS when coming off an ATS loss of more than 32 points.

LA Rams over SEATTLE by 11

Go figure. The Rams did not allow a second-half touchdown all season until the juggernaut known as the Jets finally found the end zone en route to the most stunning upset in the NFL this season. With the loss, the Rams fall a game behind Seattle in the NFC West, meaning for all intents and purposes this game is for the cheese for the horned visitors (they beat Seattle, 23-165, six weeks ago). Knowing that, Los Angeles enters with a glittery 6-1 ATS mark in its last seven division away games. They are also 5-0 ATS between the sixes (+6 to -6) in this series with a .500 or greater record when coming off a SU favorite loss. Meanwhile, Seattle enters 2-7 ATS in the first of first consecutive division games. In addition, the Seahawks are just 1-4 SU and 0-5 ATS Last Home Games the past five seasons. And lest we forget, NFL teams who lose SU as a favorite of -14 or more points are 7-3-1 ATS the following game since 1989, including 5-1-1 ATS if they won 9 or more games last season. And FYI: There has been only one team in the NFL since 1980 that was installed as a dog after having been favored by 17 or more points the previous game – the Oakland Raiders in 2001, who won the game straight-up, 23-18. With that, we proceed directly to THE CLINCHER: NFL teams coming off a SU loss to a 0-8 or worse opponent are 7-0 ATS the following game when facing a .444 or greater foe coming off consecutive wins.

NEW ENGLAND over Buffalo by 6

This is not going to sit well for members of Bills Mafia. And it will probably even be a hard swallow for die-hard Patriots backers. After all, the king has fallen and the new successor to the throne invades the palace on Monday Night. But before folding the tent, you best be aware of the cast of players set to perform tonight. For openers, the Pats are 10-1 ATS last eleven as home dogs. They are also 4-1-2 ATS on Mondays. And then there is Bill Belichick’s 16-2 ATS record with New England in games as a dog off a loss when his troops sports do not own a winning record. With that, we usher in the new AFC East champion Bills (for the first time since 1995) and their 5-12 SU and 3-13-1 ATS log off consecutive wins when facing sub .750 AFC opponents, including 0-5-1 ATS in division games. And for what it’s worth, they are also 2-6 ATS division road favorites. So not only did New England’s skein of 11 straight playoff appearances go down the drain last week, so did its run of 17 consecutive seasons with double-digit wins. Expect them to be in a surly mood tonight. And with it we’re snapping the rubber band knowing THE CLINCHER: New England is 16-3 SUATS at home when looking to avenge a same-season division loss under Bill Belichick, including 16-0 SU and 15-1 ATS the last sixteen games.

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7 Responses

  1. One thing that it is being overlooked about those long time ATS stats, especially in the case of the Patriots who had the winning Brady-Belichick combo for many winning yrs, is the fact that teams change, both personnel on the field and off it. Belichick’s numbers without Brady have not been something to brag about, and now that Brady and Brink in a smaller way is not his MVP QB. Thus I remain skeptical about the present Patriots esp. without a high caliber QB or receivers, running backs. tight end and a suspect D. Belichick is not a magician, or is he? We shall see versus this present Buffalo team that should win and cover. Relying on recent stats, figures Seems to make more sense, just like horse handicapping, Back Class can only be respected up to a smaller point. It’s not like there was a positive coaching/training change x the Pats, but there is x the Bills…according to my humble logic. Playball, and be safe !!

  2. JG, Technical handicapping, which is how sports handicappers refer to making use of trends, has more to do with organization than players. It’s no accident, say, that the Steelers, though slumping presently, are competitive most every year. That has to do with the culture, established in the front office and on the sidelines.

    Of course you need the players, but Belichick puts together players and teams that mesh, that fit his coaching program, often other team’s castoffs. You don’t achieve a winning record for almost two decades without a “winning culture.”

    But even with all that, football, both college and pro, are emotional games, and emotion has to do with attitude and effort. It also takes in the human factor.

    A football team on a winning streak that gets lots of favorable courage in the local press tend to get complacent, or will say things that wind up as locker room inspiration for the other side.

    Back in the day, football wise guys would cry, crudely, “give me the cripple,” meaning a squad that loses a key player on either side of the ball finds that the team rally around each other, give that extra effort especially the weak after a key injury.

    And the team that wins the line of scrimmage usually goes to the squad with something to prove on gameday.

  3. Culture,you mean what the Jets haven-t had since Joe Willie Namath,even if x one year ( although it was a magical one x New York sports with the Miracle Mets,Jets and Knicks winning in their sports? Was it a dream ?) . Let us admit that, not withstanding today-s beating of the paper Lions,Belichick -s record ,and the Patriots- won’t be the same without the Brady touch,presence,leadership and command of the offense. No offense but i-m not a Pats fan just because I survived the longest winter of my life a few miles west of Boston,,,while rooting x the Mets and Giants beating the Boston Sox and the Patriots- in 1986. Ps,Hanover Street is Not Neither Mulberry street,NYC nor 18 the Ave ,Brooklyn. Any comment on today-s opening of Santa Anita-s New Turf ?? Best current New York professional sports team ? From the Real Windy City of Buffalo !!!

  4. Last night it was proven again that this is not Brady -s Patriots. Never mind Belichick-s record because this team does not have players but bench warmers,esp. at the QB position without receivers,Tight ends ,defensive line,etc. all of which goes back to Belichick being without TB and other players no longer there..One strange thing about today-s football is that the KC Chiefs,champs and favorites to repeat and still winning , have not been generous to their betting fans since they did not cash in in Any of their last SEVEN victories,0-6 ATS and a -push- !!Go figure..

    1. JG, with respect to Chiefs, have you never encountered an over-bet favorite? As far as their performance, perhaps, like heavy racetrack favorites, they’re not fully cranked, awaiting playoffs, something like that? Maybe some of the Mahomes Mystique–don’t get me wrong; great player–is wearing off or competition catching up a little. Either way, a trend with noting…

      1. When an over-bet horse wins seven races in a row the bettors may not win much BUT ,at least they keep their own money in their pockets and Not Lose it as they would and did betting on the current Champs ! 🤔

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