College and Pro Football: This Weekend's Best Bets
A 5-1 week of prognosticating is like an elite quarterback in the NFL. It can cover up a lot of future mistakes.
Two weeks ago, I put up a nice 5-1 week, and began feeling pretty good about myself, like maybe I was turning the corner and shaking a slump that had gone back to the end of the 2012 season. I actually finished last weekend, thanks to said 5-1 mark, with a 13-11 mark for the 2014 season thus far.
Nothing to go pitching my own handicapping show with, but an overall positive winning percentage, making money even after backing out the juice.
So naturally, I stifled my own momentum worse than Blaine Gabbert facing a six man blitz package, going 2-4 last weekend. Still, I sit at 15-15 overall on the season. Yes, thanks to the masking agent that was 5-1 the week before, 2-4 didn't totally snow me under on the year.
I'm still at .500. And now I need a pep talk this week, something edgier than Apollos Hester's "believe in yourself" smile factory from last week.
Instead, let's burn some boats!!!
That's Royals pitcher Mark Guthrie after the Royals' 9-8 win over the Oakland A's in the wild card playoff game. I have no idea what his "boat burning" metaphor means, and he has no idea what a cross is shaped like, but dammit, I'M PUMPED!!
Let's go win some bets!!!!
EAST CAROLINA -40.5 over SMU Every few years, a team comes along that is a sure fire lock to get their asses kicked every Saturday, to the extent that the spread on their games are so big that it's more a matter of the favorite racing against time to cover the spread more than it is the favorite trying to overcome the actual people on the other side of the line of scrimmage. The race is against the clock, not against the defense. This year, SMU is that team. The spread on this game is 40.5 and the total is 59, which means if you bet the underdog and the over, SMU would have to score less than 10 points for you to possibly not at least split. And yet, I could totally see this thing finishing 55-3. What kind of odds would you have gotten 25 years ago, when SMU was returning from the death penalty, that the Mustangs would be worse at football 25 years later?
TENNESSEE -3 over Florida I watched almost all of the Tennessee-Georgia game last weekend, and considering this is a program just two years removed from the Derek Dooley Era (and before that the one year Lane Kiffin Affair), I liked what I saw, some spunk in a 35-32 loss. After playing their last two games on the road in Athens and in Norman, playing at home against this Florida team, the Vols will feel like they just turned the difficulty of the game from All-Madden down to high school. Simple case of one team in the upward "WE BELIEVE" part of their program's trajectory versus a team in the downward "Coach is getting fired" part of their program's trajectory.
Baylor -15.5 over TEXAS Baylor is perhaps the smoothest, most surefire execution machine that I've seen in my college football watching lifetime. Against bad to mediocre teams, you can chalk up at least 45 points, even on a relatively bad day for the Bears. So we start there. Also, this past week, Texas wide receiver John Harris dropped this gem...
Texas WR John Harris: "They're still Baylor. Just because they started playing better, that's good for them. We're still Texas."
— Mike Finger (@mikefinger) September 29, 2014
I'm gonna guess Art Briles doesn't take too kindly to that.
Browns +2.5 over TITANS So of the top four quarterbacks taken in last May's NFL Draft, Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater, and Derek Carr have all broken their starter's cherry. The only one still chained to the bench is Cleveland's Johnny Manziel. And if Brian Hoyer's performance thus far is any indication of what's to come, Manziel can set up a recliner on the sidelines. Hoyer has been rock solid thus far in 2014, with a near top ten passer rating (97.5) and no interceptions thrown. Despite their 1-2 record, the Browns show signs of being highly improved, such as a third place ranking in offensive DVOA. The Titans, on the other hand, after winning their opener, have gone 0-3 and lost by an average of 22 points in each of those games. Their record with Jake Locker starting is actually worse than their record without him since taking him in 2011, and happily (for us), Locker returns this week. There's a chance here that we're catching points against one of the bottom three teams in the league. Yes, please.
BRONCOS -7 over Cardinals This feels like great value at -7, which means it will almost assuredly go to -7.5 before Sunday. Arizona is undefeated, and they've done it somewhat impressively, knocking off San Diego, the Giants in New York, and San Francisco. They have one of the better pass defenses in football, however Denver can score on anybody at home. I feel like this is one of those games where Denver hits its stride for a quarter or two and the Cardinals just won't be able to keep up.
Ravens +3.5 over COLTS This flies in the face of one of my top gambling corollaries -- just before you hit SEND, look at the quarterbacks and ask yourself "Are you sure you want to do this?" Andrew Luck has been a statistical monster this season, leading the NFL in completions, yards, and touchdown passes. Joe Flacco has been better this season with Gary Kubiak as his coordinator, but it's hard not to be better than Flacco was last season. A blind monkey on meth wearing a Flacco jersey would be better than Flacco was last season. So the Colts win the QB battle in a landslide. The thing is this -- Baltimore is significantly better everywhere else, offense, defense, and special teams. Also, add in the fact that Pep Hamilton, Indy's OC, will find a way to fuck this up if the game is close, and I'll happily take the field goal and hook that Vegas is giving us.
Last week: 2-4 Season total: 15-15