You know it's been a solid month of picks when my bad weeks are 3-3, and that's what last week was — a 3-3 week that still keeps us a healthy 16-8 ATS over the last four weeks. My apologies to all of you on one thing — a couple of the losses were absurdly embarrassing. Florida got blown out at home by Missouri (we were on the Gators -6.5) and the Washington Redskins similarly blown out at home by the Atlanta Falcons (we were on the Skins -2).
But a loss is a loss, so thankfully we don't have pay extra for missing a pick by a BLEEP-ton of points. So let's get off the .500 track, and back on the winning track this week. Here we go....
MICHIGAN STATE +3.5 over Ohio State
You may not be able to tell from the rankings — Ohio State is still 10th in the playoff rankings, while Sparty is 18th — but these are two teams headed in opposite directions, and have been for some time. Starting with their win over Penn State a month ago, Michigan State has a loss to Michigan (no shame there), and wins over Purdue and Maryland. They gave up 13 points to the same Purdue team that scored 49 on Ohio State the week before. Michigan State is "arrow up." Meanwhile, the Buckeyes were blown out by Purdue a few weeks ago, and their last few wins have been unimpressive, including a tight five-point win at home over 2-7 Nebraska last week. Buckeyes are "arrow down." Michigan State will win an ugly game outright here.
ALABAMA -24 over Mississippi State
Feels like a totally square play, but I think Mississippi State is going to struggle to score — like, score AT ALL — on the road against the Crimson Tide. I'll ride the Tu'a wave for a week. Taking the Tide here, and for sure, taking them in a first half bet, too.
HOUSTON -4.5 over Temple
For the second time in three years, Houston had their season kicked sideways by SMU in Dallas. That was a weird game last week, maybe a classic letdown spot after the blowout of South Florida the week before. Temple has been a plucky squad this season, 5-4 SU with a win over Cincinnati and a solid battle against undefeated UCF being the most impressive performances. Even with the loss to SMU, the Coogs still control their own destiny for the conference championship, so the motivation should be high. 4.5 points just doesn't feel like much for an offense that, behind D'Eriq King, should get moving in the right direction again.
BENGALS +5.5 over Saints
This is one where I have to take a swig of whiskey before giving it out, but I really do like the Bengals to cover, and maybe win outright here. It's a purely situational play — the Saints are going on the road to play a capable, motivated team (outside in November, by the way) in a game that is sandwiched in between last week's "in-season NFC title game"-style win over the undefeated Rams and a home game next week against defending Super Bowl champion Philly. There are only so many times in a stretch of games like this — New Orleans has the Falcons at home the week after the Eagles game — where you can bring maximum energy. With the Bengals being an AFC team, I don't see this Sunday being one of those spots for New Orleans.
Patriots -6.5 over TITANS
The Patriots are coming off of two wins, SU and ATS, in prime time games, and back to a friendly Sunday afternoon affair. This game will have a definite "teacher vs student" vibe to it, as Titans head coach Mike Vrabel spent a handful of years playing for Bill Belichick. (NOTE: Contrary to popular belief, Vrabel never coached for him.) The Patriots are a great bet when they're favored by six or more points, 8-2 SU and ATS in their last ten games with a spread of six or more. The Titans are coming off a short week, having played a road game on Monday night, a 28-14 win over the Cowboys. The Cowboys did everything they could to make the Titans look much better than they really are, and if we just need the Pats by under a touchdown, I'll take them.
COLTS -2.5 over Jaguars
This won't be the last time I say this, but if there is one team that concerns me in the AFC South, as pertains to the Texans' chances of winning the division, it's the Indianapolis Colts. They've won two in a row, and the offensive line has played well, helping feed the further concern that Andrew Luck may very well be all the way back. Meanwhile, the Jags' season has been sliding into the toilet, as they've gone 1-5 SU and ATS in their last six games. The Colts as a favorite of under a field goal feels like the oddsmakers are hanging onto the last thread of 2017 glory with the Jags.
Last Week: 3-3
Season Record: 34-25-1 (57.6 percent)
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.