Football! This Weekend's Best Bets
The Flacco Factor: Always keep it in mind
It's the first weekend of football in November. In college football, this means we get into nut-cutting time, weekends that completely weed out the real championship contenders. This weekend includes a quasi-final four in the SEC with the huge LSU- Alabama tilt and the Arkansas-South Carolina game (brilliantly scheduled at the exact same time thanks to TV).
In the NFL, we're at the halfway point, so we start to learn if some of these surprise teams are for real. You'll notice in my picks this week, no sign of the Bills, Bengals, Texans, Titans, Chiefs, Lions, or 49ers. All teams where we're kinda waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Last week I was 5-1, let's see if we can keep it going, shall we?
Texas Tech +14 over TEXAS So which team is the real Texas Tech? Is it the team that knocked off Oklahoma in Norman at night two weeks ago, or is it the sad crew that followed that win with a 41-7 loss at home to Iowa State? I think the Iowa State game is an outlier, that Tech is a team that probably had no idea how to handle success. Either way, the oddsmakers have been kind enough to post a number where it may not matter what kind of team this really is. Tech can stay within two touchdowns of Texas.
Stanford -21 over OREGON STATE There are a handful of "name your score" teams at the BCS level in college football. Basically a "name your score" team is a team that can hang almost any number they want on a bad team, regardless of where the game is played. Wisconsin, Oklahoma State, Oregon, and Stanford are the Mount Rushmore of "name your score." And Oregon State is a bad team. Taking Stanford.
LSU +5 over ALABAMA Oftentimes, on "Game of the Century" type games, I waver back and forth, listen to way too many opinions, and wind up throwing a dart at a board. Not on this one. I think both teams will have similar success (read: not much) running the ball against the other. I think the difference will be quarterback play and I think Jarrett Lee and Reuben Randle have more plays in them than Alabama's passing game. Also, it cannot be understated how ballsy LSU has been in their scheduling. They play in the better division of the perennially toughest conference in America, and still went out of conference and scheduled Oregon and a game at West Virginia. I just think that has to matter at some point, whether it's an experience thing or just a karma thing. Anyway, I'll take all five points and may take LSU on the money line.
Packers -6 over CHARGERS The Chargers are coming off one of the worst losses in the history of Monday Night Football, an overtime loss to the Chiefs where a Philip Rivers fumbled snap in the final minute scuttled a chance at a game-winning field goal. The Chiefs went on to win in overtime and seize the division lead. Now, on a short week, the Chargers have to come back and pay the defending Super Bowl champions who are coming off a bye week, in a game where the quarterback battle looks like a spelling bee between a home-schooled kid and Ralph Wiggum. I'll lay the six points, thank you.
Broncos/RAIDERS under 42-1/2 The danger with this pick is that Tim Tebow and Carson Palmer are so bad and so careless with the football that both teams are on short fields all night and they score a ton of garbage points (or pick-sixes). Then again, the safety in this pick is the fact that Tim Tebow and Carson Palmer are involved in the first place.
STEELERS -3 over Ravens This one comes down to a few simple things. The Steelers were embarrassed in the opening game of the season by the Ravens, they're playing their best football, the Ravens are playing their worst football (second-half comeback against a putrid Cardinal team notwithstanding), and Joe Flacco's blank stare is prominently involved. I feel an ass kicking coming on.
Last week: 5-1 Season record: 30-24
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game and Yahoo Sports Radio weekdays noon to 3 p.m., and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCalinasian.
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