Sean Pendergast

College Football, Week 13 and NFL, Week 12 — This Weekend's Best Bets

Three Thanksgiving Day bets await you!
Three Thanksgiving Day bets await you! Phto by Jack Gorman
Well, I promised you that I would get back on track last weekend, just in time for holiday shopping to begin, and I came through with a 67 percent winning percentage week, going 4-2, with a tidy 2-1 ATS record in both college and NFL selections. Now, here comes the greatest football watching weekend on the calendar all year, Thanksgiving weekend, and it just so happens my there favorite NFL games all take place today!

SO RUN TO YOUR BOOKIE NOW, and get down on these before it's too late....

LIONS +3.5 over Bears
The Bears were one of my Best Bets last weekend, largely because I knew that Kirk Cousins would spit the bit in a big prime time divisional game (it's what he does). I went on to say, last week, that I would be fading the Bears on Thanksgiving Day in Detroit, in large part because this is the shortest turnaround for a team to play a game in the history of the NFL, going from a Sunday Night game to playing on the road at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday. Yikes! Add in that Detroit is 4-1 SU and ATS in their last five Thanksgiving Day games, and I love that we are getting a field goal or more here.

Redskins +8 over COWBOYS
So two weeks ago, the Cowboys were pooping the bed in a Monday night game at home against the Tennessee Titans, and the topic the next day on EVERY talk show was "Who will replace Jason Garrett when he is fired in a few weeks?" Now, two weeks later, the Cowboys are 5-5 and could move into first place in the division with a win. So has it changed THAT much to where we now trust the Cowboys with a spread of over a touchdown against a team that isn't terrible? This line is inflated some because (a) the Cowboys are a very public team, and (b) Colt McCoy will be starting for the brutally injured Alex Smith at QB for Washington. I personally don't think it's a big enough drop-off at QB to warrant a spread of more than one score. Gladly taking the eight points here. (NOTE: The Cowboys are 4-16 ATS in the last 20 games in which they have been favored by over a touchdown.)

Falcons +13.5 over SAINTS
I know this one sounds crazy — betting against the white hot Saints (8-2 ATS this season) by backing the Falcons (3-7 ATS this season) on the road in prime time. The Saints have won their last three games in memorable fashion — 45-35 in a cover against the Rams, 51-14 in a road destruction of Cincinnati, and last week's 48-7 annihilation of the Eagles at home. I think those outcomes have inflated this line by at least three  or four points. Atlanta can still score, and these games between these two teams are usually shootouts. I'm comfortable that, worst case, Atlanta can get a backdoor cover in the fourth quarter, even if they're down by three scores. The Falcons have covered the spread both times in Matt Ryan's career that they've been a 13 point (or more) dog.

UCF -14 over USF
When South Florida was ranked 21st in the country, undefeated, and getting ready to face the University of Houston, I told all of you that the Charlie Strong's team was terrible. Well, Houston went out and destroyed them by 21 points. Since then, USF has lost three more games by double digits, and their season is done. Meanwhile, UCF moved up to ninth in the College Football Playoff rankings this week, and while their chances at a playoff berth are tiny, at best, they still need to play this out, and that means impressing the committee with utter destruction of teams like USF. UCF rolls South Florida by at least four touchdowns.

Michigan -4 over OHIO STATE
So I went and watched Creed II a couple nights ago (highly, HIGHLY recommend), and at one point — I'll try to do this in a way where it spoils nothing about the movie — ONE OF THE FIGHTERS (there are several fights in the movie, so it could be any number of fighters) barely staggers up to his feet at an eight count. It happens a couple times in a row. My thought in watching that, believe it or not, was "THAT is Ohio State!" They get taken to the brink by a mediocre Nebraska team, they survive on a missed two point conversion against a very average Maryland team, and yet here they sit, with one loss, still barely standing. Unfortunately, for Urban Meyer (who looks like he's aged 50 years in the last two months), Jim Harbaugh comes in and upper cuts these guys into the third row on Saturday morning.

Notre Dame -11 over USC
One of my losses last week was my selection of Syracuse to cover against Notre Dame. I could not have been more wrong (and more happy being wrong — ND, Class of '91, yo!). This Notre Dame team is not your older brother's Notre Dame team. Unlike the last five seasons, Brian Kelly has got November figured out this season. Now, they travel cross country to face a USC team that is coming off of a loss to 3-8 UCLA, and whose coach is about to be canned. The Trojans are 5-6 on the season, so some will argue there is motivation there for USC to make bowl game. Honestly, that feels like the last thing USC wants to be doing, playing another game under Clay Helton or an interim head coach. The Irish will steamroll USC to secure a spot in the College Football Playoff.

Last Week: 4-2
Season Record: 39-31-2 (55.7 percent)

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at and like him on Facebook at
KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast