College and Pro Football: This Weekend's Best Bets
0-6 last week. Not much else needs to be said.
It was a trip down memory lane, as last weekend I reprised memories of 2013, a season in which I was historically awful at picking winners of football games against the spread. Now I'm totally freaked out, to where I look at the board and see literally no games I like, mainly because I think whatever I think is wrong.
And yet I'm not smart enough to go opposite my gut. Hopefully, all of you are. Let's get to the picks, but first a shout-out to Texans fan Natalie for the best football-related Halloween costume....
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) October 31, 2014
BAYLOR -35 1/2 over Kansas Last week, the Baylor Bears walked into Morgantown as an 8.5 point favorite and a somewhat tenuous undefeated, having stolen a win against TCU their last time out with 21 points in the final ten minutes of the game two weeks ago. Well, West Virginia put an emphatic end to the undefeated season with a physical (and penalty-filled) 41-27 win, dropping Baylor all the way down to 13th in the new College Football Playoff poll. So now Baylor is in "pile-on" mode. And you know when Baylor's at their best? When they're in "pile-on" mode! Art Briles's squad is 10-0 ATS in their last ten games as a favorite of four touchdowns or more. Kansas is about to get grease spotted.
TCU/WEST VIRGINIA OVER 70 Speaking of West Virginia, they turn right around after the win over Baylor and go into Stillwater and manhandle the Cowboys. In some ways, that win over Oklahoma State was just as impressive as the Baylor own, considering it was in a "let down" situation and that it was on the road. As improved as this Mountaineer defense is, I think this game is about pace. The total is at 70 in part because WVU is improved on defense, and in part because TCU has a defensive reputation. This will be a track meet, make no mistake.
Arizona +6.5 over UCLA Like Baylor, Arizona is another one-loss team that is trying desperately to hang onto the fringe of the playoff conversation, and for the Wildcats a road win in Pasadena would have at least a little equity. UCLA is more reputation than actuality this season, covering only one time all year (in a Thursday night rout against Arizona State where they had the stage to themselves). I'd buy this up to seven points, and count on Rich Rod being able to hang within one score.
Cardinals +4 over COWBOYS I'm taking the Cardinals here for three reasons:
1. They are cockroaches. They seriously cannot be killed. Last week's win late over the Eagles is further proof.
2. Dallas finally appears to be regressing to the mean a little bit. In the loss to Washington, there was just enough Swiss cheese defense and Jason Garrett brain farts to remind us that this is still a team with a suspect defense that is run by Jason Garrett.
3. I need to see a sequel from this guy....
and that only happens if Arizona wins.
PATRIOTS +3 over Broncos Didn't we just see this movie a few weeks ago? The one where the Patriots are still treated somewhat skeptically by the gambling community and are installed as a three-point underdog at home? The last time this happened, Tom Brady surgically dismantled the Bengals, 43-17. Now, the Broncos are not the Bengals, and Peyton Manning is not Andy Dalton, but the Patriots get to come into this game in the home underdog role for only the fifth time since 2002. The Pats are 26-2 straight up in their last 28 home games, and Brady is 10-5 straight up and 8-6-1 ATS versus Peyton Manning lifetime. Additionally, the Pats are honoring the 21 players and former players who were on all three Super Bowl championship teams at halftime. That's good karma. The Broncos are the consensus chalk to win it all right now, but in this season of parity, that's a title that will get passed around. The Patriots get to claim the belt for a few weeks starting on Sunday.
Colts -3 over GIANTS Quintessential "check which QB you're betting on before you hit SEND" pick. Tempting to take the home dog Giants...until you click on the two QBs and remember that would involve taking Eli Manning over Andrew Luck, something I can't do in good conscience. And won't.
Last week: 0-6 Season total: 23-31