If you're reading this on Thursday morning, I realize that all of you have far more important things to do than read a long preamble to my gambling picks for this weekend, especially because I have a Thanksgiving Day pick on one of the NFL games below, so let's get right to this.
(And yes, I consider gorging on turkey, stuffing, pasta, wine, and whatever else you put into your system more important than reading a few paragraphs of lead-in from me. I respect the gluttony of his great day!)
Ok, let's go....
OKLAHOMA -21 over West Virginia
The only question surrounding this game is “How harsh will the discipline be for Baker Mayfield?” The Sooners announced this week that the prohibitive Heisman favorite would not start the game after he was caught on the sidelines grabbing his genitals in a gesture toward some Kansas players last week. Even with Mayfield missing a portion of the game, this should be a walk-over for Oklahoma. The Sooner defense has been better the last two games against TCU and Kansas, and the Mountaineers are going to be without starting QB Will Grier. The Sooners want to make one more big statement before the Big XII title game and this is it.
HOUSTON -4.5 over Navy
After last week’s loss to Tulane, Cougars head coach Major Applewhite really needs a strong finish to the season to keep the natives from getting more restless than they already are. He needs a win here, and a big bowl game win. This game actually sets up nicely for the Coogs, who saw Tulane’s option attack last weekend and should be ready — or as ready as you can be — for Navy’s triple option. Also, Navy is coming off last week’s hard fought loss in South Bend to Notre Dame (which is like Navy’s bowl game) and now has to go back on the road to the state of Texas after playing a super physical game on Saturday. I’ll roll with the home team here.
LIONS PICK EM over Vikings
I am picking against the Vikings for the same reason I picked against the Saints (an ATS winner!) last week — the Vikings’ 24-7 win over the Rams has everyone talking about how they might be the first team to host a Super Bowl that they actually play in! Yay! That’s all well and good, but human nature is for people to lose focus when they get universal praise. Also, the Lions have been MONEY on Thanksgiving, with a 4-1 SU and 5-0 ATS record since 2012. The Lions are undefeated in the division this season as well, both SU and ATS.
COLTS +3.5 over Titans
The Colts are not a good football team, let me just preface what I’m about to say with that. HOWEVER, the Colts have been sneaky good at covering spreads this year (6-4 ATS this season), and they do play hard for Chuck Pagano. Also, Jacoby Brissett is not absolutely terrible as a backup quarterback. (I’d take him backing up Deshaun Watson in a heartbeat.) The Titans seem to be loved more on spec than actual ability to cover the spread, as they are a disappointing 3-6-1 ATS this season, and should not be trusted as a road favorite of more than a field goal.
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RAIDERS -5 over Broncos
Like the Colts, the Broncos are 3-7, but this is why you need to look at the NFL in small pockets sometimes. The Broncos have lost six in a row and will give Paxton Lynch the start at quarterback. They also fired their offensive coordinator, are 2-7-1 ATS this season, and John Elway just called the whole team “soft” publicly. The Raiders, who just fired their DEFENSIVE coordinator, are a mess, but the Broncos are a bigger mess.
Jaguars -4 over CARDINALS
The Jaguars defense is for real, and on a weekly basis, they are scoring points and/or setting the Jags’ offense up with great field position. The mere presence of Blake Bortles is what keeps these Jags road spreads so low, so I am trusting Bortles to not screw it up on Sunday. The Jags are 4-1 ATS on the road, and six of their seven overall wins are by double digits. In other words, when they win, they usually win big.
LAST WEEK: 4-2
SEASON RECORD: 42-28-2 (60.0 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.