Best Bets for This Weekend's College and NFL Games
For the first time in a month, we need a bounce-back week.
Joel Kramer via Flickr creative commons
What goes up, must come down...the immutable law of gravity? No, the immutable law of GAMBLING. We all learned this the hard way last weekend.
I've been giving out six weekly picks every Thursday or Friday during football season for seven seasons now here in this space, and until last weekend, I'd never had a hotter streak. For four weeks covering nearly all of October and the first week of November, perhaps you'd heard (if you follow me on Twitter, you heard about once every 15 minutes for roughly a week) — my picks went 21-3 against the spread!
Not only was it great for me, but for the first time since I had been doling out these picks here, people were publicly thanking me and showing me screen caps of their winning tickets at the pay window in Vegas. I finally felt like somebody! Hell, I think I was this close to the mayor's declaring an NFL Sunday "Sean Pendergast Day" at some point!
Well, after a 2-4 ATS weekend last week, I doubt that day is coming anytime soon. A few rough beats — damn you, Will Muschamp....damn you, Saints extra point unit.... — will do that. But we have no choice. We must dust ourselves off and get right back in the mix.
So without further ado, here is our recovery week. 6-0, here we come!
Ohio State -21.5 over MICHIGAN STATE
After what, for Urban Meyer, amounts to a severe rough patch — an overtime win over Wisconsin, a fluky loss at Penn State and some generally uneven play amidst a few victories — the Buckeyes seem to be back on track, with back-to-back 62-3 wins over Nebraska and Maryland. Yes, you heard me, Ohio State won two games over Big Ten teams in consecutive weeks by identical 62-3 scores. Now, the Buckeyes sit at No. 2 in the College Football Playoff rankings, but in the likely spot of not even playing in the Big Ten title game because of that loss to Penn State. The Buckeyes need style points more than any team in the playoff hunt. Prediction? Yes, you guessed it...Ohio State 62, Michigan State 3.
SMU +13.5 over South Florida
Admittedly, in my mind, when I see myself celebrating victory with this selection, I am watching the SMU thumping of Houston a month or so ago, when the Mustangs announced their return to "possibly bowl-eligible" with authority in beating the Coogs by 22 points in Dallas. Now, at 5-5, they can go grab that brass ring of bowl eligibility by the throat against South Florida! Do I think they will? I'm not sure, but I do know that 13.5 points are too many points to give a team that can score a little bit against a USF team that will happily play in shootouts. Take the points.
LIONS -6.5 over Jaguars
Maybe this is a recency bias from having just watched Blake Bortles last weekend, but here's the thing — Blake Bortles is just terrible, like worse-than-Osweiler terrible. I outlined the anti-Bortles evidence for you in a follow-up post on Tuesday, but let me say that there is ZERO chance Bortles takes the Jags on the road and pulls an upset here. If you need further statistical backup to take this plunge with me, just know that the Jags are 2-12 SU and ATS against NFC teams since 2013, and 2-10 SU in their last 12 road games. The Jags are also at the top of the "can of quit" list for teams ready to give up on their head coach, and the Lions, who saved Jim Caldwell's job with a stellar second half last season, all of a sudden are atop the NFC North!
GIANTS -6 over Bears
While the Lions sit, for now, atop the NFC North, if we move our eyes to the bottom of the standings in that division, we find the Chicago Bears, who sit at 2-7 on the season with John Fox and Jay Cutler as their head coach and quarterback, respectively. This is like treading water all alone in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and having as your only available flotation devices a barbell and a cinder block. Meanwhile, the Giants appear to be Texan-ing their way to a decent record at 6-3 and coming off a 21-20 win on Monday night against the Bengals. (NOTE: "Texan-ing" is the verb for "compiling an overall record that leads people to ask, 'How the hell are they [whatever your record is]?'") The Bears on the road this season are 0-5 SU and ATS, including the season opener against the Texans, so when it comes to helping teams that are "Texan-ing," the Bears are very accommodating!
Patriots -14 over 49ERS
The Patriots are coming off a nationally televised loss to the Seahawks. The 49ers are the Cleveland Browns of the NFC. Hey, Niner fans, take cover. There's a Brady air raid coming...so let's lighten up the mood with Tom Brady's self-deprecating Foot Locker commercial, shall we?
SEAHAWKS -4.5 over Eagles
The Seahawks appear to have found themselves, after going into New England and beating the Patriots last weekend. More important, they found a new weapon in rookie running back C.J. Prosise, who was a factor in both rushing and catching the football, so much so that the Seahawks cut their leading rusher, Christine Michael, this week. (There is no truth to the rumor that they cut him because you can't have a leading rusher with a girl's name. None whatsoever.) I'll bet on Carson Wentz's looking a whole helluva lot like a rookie in an environment where the 'Hawks are 31-5 SU since Russell Wilson was drafted in 2012.
Last Week: 2-4
Season Record: 42-24
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.