Best Bets for This Weekend's College and NFL Games

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You don't really believe it until you see it in writing, and it's not really official until someone sends out a press release confirming it, but unfortunately, both of those things happened yesterday morning with respect to the J.J. Watt trip to Injured Reserve-ville...


So now what do we do? Well, I tell you what we do...we pull ourselves up by our bootstraps (Do boots still have straps?) and we GAMBLE, that's what we do!  But we don't JUST gamble — we gamble like it's our last day on earth, BY GAWD! We scour the games for bargains, and then we lay it ALL on the line...why?

Because J.J. Watt would want it that way, that's why! Yeah, you heard me. This week, we are doing this for J.J.! Undefeated for number 99! Let's make it happen!

MICHIGAN -10.5 over Wisconsin
Wow, this is kind of an awkward way to start out a "win one for the Watt-er" version of the Best Bets, by picking against his alma mater, a team on which his brother T.J. is a starting linebacker...yeesh, wow...um, sorry, J.J. Don't blame me; blame the Big Ten schedule makers, who somehow thought it would be a fantastic idea to send Wisconsin on the road to play Michigan State and Michigan in back-to-back weeks. It doesn't help from a handicapping standpoint that Wisconsin had its best performance of the season last week either, as they've already shown, despite being undefeated, a propensity to be a little up and down (see: Georgia State squeaker at home). Meanwhile, Harbaugh and company play their FIFTH straight game at home to start the season. Has any team ever played five straight at home to start off a season before? Crazy. Anyway, Wisconsin is battle tested, but I just think Michigan is better and five weeks into a successful weekly routine. 

Memphis/OLE MISS OVER 67
Last season Memphis's signature win came in a victory over Ole Miss, and I have to believe this is a game in which Hugh Freeze is going to want to show the Tigers who is boss, even if both the Memphis head coach (Justin Fuente) and quarterback (Paxton Lynch) are now gone. The spread is 14.5, and while Ole Miss is probably the best 2-2 team in the country, in a game where there are going to be lots of points scored and in which Ole Miss is coming off a shellacking of Georgia (and could be in for a letdown), I'll bet against both defenses here. 

Tennessee -3.5 over GEORGIA
Oh, about Georgia... last week I said this about them: 

With a 33-24 win (and late cover) against North Carolina, a 26-24 win over FCS foe Nicholls State and a 27-21 win over Missouri, Georgia is the least impressive undefeated team in the Top 25, and the worst 11th-ranked team in recent memory. 

Now, I think the 25th-ranked Bulldogs are the least impressive 3-1 team in the Top 25, and the worst 25th-ranked team in recent memory, so much so that I am trusting Butch Jones in a prime letdown spot, coming off a comeback win against Florida.

An Oregon defense that just gave up 41 points to a first-time starting QB at Colorado against a Mike Leach-coached team at home? Oh, yes... please. Lots and lots of points. 

RAVENS -3 over Raiders
Of the five undefeated 3-0 teams so far this season — Patriots, Vikings, Broncos, Eagles, Ravens — the Ravens have been, by far, the least impressive. Put differently, if the NFL determined a four-team playoff the way college football does, the Ravens would be the odd man out, left whining about their strength of schedule being factored in too heavily. Indeed, so far, John Harbaugh's crew has managed to squeak past the Bills, Browns and Jaguars in three one-score games, the last two needing second-half comebacks. Ironically, the Ravens are infringing on the "just win, baby!" gimmick of their opponents this week, the Oakland Raiders, whom the schedule makers forced to play a game in Nashville last weekend and now a game in the Eastern Time Zone at 1 p.m., a time zone in which the Raiders are 1-16 since the start of the 2010 season. The Ravens keep their magical ride going (by more than three points) here against a sleepy Raiders bunch. 

CARDINALS -7.5 over Rams
This is my favorite game of the weekend, by far. For starters, you have the simple rule that the performances of both teams on the field simply belie their records. The Rams are one of the most rickety 2-1 teams you'll ever see, with the NFL's worst starting QB, statistically (and one with really no upside; this is who Case Keenum is, bless his heart). The Cardinals are 1-2, but one loss was on a missed field goal against the Patriots, and the other one was a three-time-zones-over game in which Carson Palmer threw four picks. This feels a little like last week's 49ers-Seahawks, where it's clear who the much, much better team is, and in this particular game, you're a half point-buy away from having them as just a touchdown favorite. The Cardinals get well in a big way here. 

Last Week: 3-3
Season Record: 14-10

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.  

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