It's strange territory for me this season now, having gone two straight weeks without making money on these picks, with a 3-3 week last week. At least I had a better week than the Green Bay Packers, though, who lost Aaron Rodgers for the season with a broken collarbone, which set up one of the more interesting gambling wrinkles in recent memory.
In forward betting, before the Rodgers injury, the Packers were six-point favorites over the New Orleans Saints in Week 7. After the Rodgers injury, the line moved all the way to the Saints now being a six-point favorite at Lambeau Field. That's a remarkable 12-POINT swing! I can't imagine a player being worth more on the betting front. Hell, give Aaron Rodgers the MVP Award based on the mere definition of "valuable" alone!
I say all that to say while the Packers are dead in the water, I can actually recover this week and move forward. Let's give it a go, shall we?
PENN STATE -10 over Michigan
The Nittany Lions have become one of the most reliable betting properties in the country, notching a 4-1-1 ATS record, while moving all the way up to No. 2 in the country in the AP poll. The Wolverines have covered the past three seasons against Penn State, but the desire to maintain pole position in the College Football Playoff race should be motivation enough for the Nittany Lions. The Wolverines have looked sluggish in their past two games, a loss to Michigan State at home and an overtime win against Indiana last weekend. This will be the game that exposes how much work Jim Harbaugh still has left to do.
NOTRE DAME -3.5 over USC
Last season, Notre Dame lost eight games, seven of them by one score or less. The one game in which they were blown out was their season finale in Los Angeles against the Trojans, a 45-27 thrashing that wasn't as close as the score would indicate. Now, Notre Dame is a covering machine (5-1 SU, 5-1 ATS) and USC can't cover to save their lives (1-6 ATS). This is a de facto elimination game for the College Football Playoff, as both teams have one loss on the season. We will go with Notre Dame and their mammoth offensive line over USC and Sam Darnold's turnover party.
Central Florida -7 over NAVY
It's hard to believe that UCF was 0-12 just two seasons ago, but Scott Frost has done an amazing job picking up the pieces from the tail end of the George O'Leary Era. Navy poked its head into the Top 25 two weeks ago, but lost to Memphis last week by three points. UCF isn't just covering (5-0 SU, 5-0 ATS), but they are POUNDING teams by an average of 24 points per game. We will take them to cover here.
Chiefs -3 over RAIDERS
Remember when the Texans were running roughshod over the AFC South, winning 11 straight before losing to the Titans in last season's finale? Well, that's what the Chiefs are doing to the AFC West, having won 12 in a row in what's been one of the NFL's better divisions. In fact, going back to the beginning of 2016, the Chiefs are 7-0 SU and 6-1 ATS in the division. The Raiders have lost four in a row since starting 2-0 and appear to be fulfilling the regression expectations many predicted after they rode several close wins to a 12-4 record last season. The Chiefs are coming off a loss to the Steelers and should be focused — focused enough to win by a field goal.
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Rams -3 over Cardinals (in London)
The Cardinals screwed me last week by showing up against the Bucs — who knew Adrain Peterson chugged deer antler spray all week? (Not true, but it sure felt like it, as he rumbled for 152 yards on the ground for the Cards.) I continue to maintain that the Cardinals are one of the ten worst teams in the league. Carson Palmer stinks. If Jared Goff is even average, the Rams might be one of the ten or 12 best teams in the league.
VIKINGS -5 over Ravens
The Vikings are 10-3 ATS against the AFC since Mike Zimmer took over as head coach in 2014, and Joe Flacco is going against one of the best defenses in football on the road in a raucous environment. I've seen that Flacco, and that's a Flacco I will bet against every time.
LAST WEEK: 3-3
SEASON RECORD: 24-17-1 (58.5 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.