Best Bets for This Weekend's College and NFL Games

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Sunday was a bad day. Yeah, I went 2-1 on my NFL picks, but the one loss was yet another gut punch during the three-hour debacle that was the Texans' loss to the Vikings. That little "meaningless" touchdown from Brock Osweiler to Deandre Hopkins to make it 31-13? Yep, it killed the UNDER 40, and with it my consolation prize of a 3-0 NFL day, which I needed after a 1-2 college gambling day.

So now we dust ourselves off and try to expand on our positive season so far, but I can't settle for 19-17. That's not good enough. As Bill O'Brien says, that's not the bar around here! Let's go 6-0 and prove to the football world that we can beat elite teams!

(This is me channeling my inner Texan.)

Duke +35 over LOUISVILLE
This line bums me out, mostly because it means that my school (Notre Dame) lost at home three weeks ago to a team that is now a 35-point underdog. I don't care if Duke is playing the Dallas Cowboys; Notre Dame should never be losing to a team that is a 35-point underdog to anybody! So is part of this bet wrapped up in emotion? Maybe. But I do think that Duke has enough to get some garbage scores and keep the game within five touchdowns, especially with this being the first game for Louisville following their loss to Clemson. Speaking of Notre Dame...

Virginia Tech -19.5 over SYRACUSE
How bad is Syracuse? Well, they actually LOST to Notre Dame this season. (Yes, I'm basing both my college picks this week on how they did against Notre Dame. Sue me.)

CHARGERS +3.5 over Broncos
This time of year, there are 1-4 teams that you begin to just bet against every week because you know this early tailspin is permanent (looking at you, Miami!), and there are 1-4 teams that are 1-4 because they shoot themselves in the foot. Well, right now, the Chargers' collective foot looks like a giant, bloody hunk of Swiss cheese. If you're keeping track at home, you know this already, but here are the Chargers' four losses this season:

Week 1: Coughed up a 17-point lead to lose in OT at Kansas City.
Week 3: Lost two fumbles and allowed a fourth down conversion in the final minute against the Colts in Indy.
Week 4: Blew a 13-point lead in the last five minutes to the lowly Saints.
Week 5: Botched a game-tying field goal in the waning moments against the 4-1 Raiders.

The Chargers, at 1-4, actually have a better season-long point differential (+10) than the 4-1 Raiders (+5)! This week, they're catching 3.5 points at home against a Denver team that is without its head coach and has a banged-up quarterback making his fifth career start. San Diego will most assuredly find a way to screw it up, but I love that I am getting 3.5 points. The screw-up will be between a one- and a three-point screw-up.

Cowboys +4 over PACKERS
Two big quarterback stories in this game. First, there seems to be growing angst among NFL followers that we've seen the peak in Aaron Rodgers's game, so much so that silly memes like this one were making their way around the Internet a couple of days ago...

Look, I covered eight of those Hoyer starts baked into those numbers. There is no quarterback on Earth who has more deceptive statistics than one Brian Axel Hoyer. He sucks; I don't care what his numbers say. Beyond that, we all need to take a breath on the Rodgers regression talk.

Now, all of that said, the other QB story in this game is part of the most riveting storyline in the NFL. If Dak Prescott goes into Lambeau and upsets the Packers, who do the Cowboys come back with as their starter in Week 8 after their bye week? Between Prescott's game management skills (NO PICKS!) and the Cowboys's ability to control this game on the ground (EZEKIEL ELLIOTT!), I love catching four points here. I think the Cowboys win this game straight up. 

PATRIOTS -8 over Bengals
Speaking of the Cowboys, they did a great job this past weekend of taking A.J. Green out of the game in Jerry World on Sunday. If the Cowboys were able to do that so easily, and build a 21-0 lead in the process, what are Bill Belichick (the master of taking away the opposition's best player) and Tom Brady (the master of building 21-0 leads) going to do at Gillette Stadium this Sunday? Win by more than eight points, that's what.

Falcons +6 over SEAHAWKS
In WWE and gambling dork-out circles, we call this game a Wrestlemania III. If you recall, Wrestlemania III had, as its main event, Hulk Hogan versus Andre the Giant...relive the magic...

Point being — the IRRESISTIBLE FORCE meets the IMMOVABLE OBJECT. The number one OFFENSE on Football Outsiders DVOA (Atlanta) versus the number one DEFENSE (Seattle)! Atlanta's head coach, Dan Quinn, is the former defensive coordinator in Seattle. I'll ride his knowledge of the opponent and the current Atlanta momentum, and take the six points, gladly. 

Last Week: 3-3
Season Record: 19-17

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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