NFL - Week 10

NFL Sunday Picks

Matchup: Detroit at Minnesota
Time: 1:00 PM EDT (Sun)
Play: Detroit (-2)

Minnesota’s win over the Lions in week 4 put the Vikings at 3-1 and looking like a serious threat in the NFC. It was a fluky win for the Vikings however as the opening kickoff was returned for a touchdown by Percy Harvin and then Minnesota put the game away with a punt return touchdown in the 3rd quarter. Despite those obstacles the Lions were in position to tie the game late in a 20-13 loss in which they had 114 more yards. The Vikings have gone a on a free fall with losses in three of the last four games and catching breaks in the one win over Arizona, a game they were out-gained by 147 yards in. Christian Ponder has taken a big step back after an encouraging first month with pathetic production while throwing an interception in five straight games and taking 14 sacks in the last three games. Harvin is unlikely to play this week for the Vikings and the lone deep threat on the roster Jerome Simpson has been playing hurt. Tight End Kyle Rudolph has disappeared in recent weeks leaving Adrian Peterson as the only viable threat on the offense. Detroit had an ugly start to the season but now at 4-4 this is a team with some momentum. Despite the mediocre record the Lions have out-gained foes in seven of eight games this season and the penalties, turnovers, and special team issues that plagued the team in the first few weeks appear to be fading. Detroit has been a much better defensive team that anyone realizes, allowing just 320 yards per game with great numbers against the run, as opponents are rushing for just 106 yards per game. Detroit has allowed just 18.8 points per game in the last five contests after giving up 44 against Tennessee and in this revenge spot the Lions will be ready to play as Minnesota looks to just get to next week’s bye week. Teams heading into the bye week have done very poorly ATS this season and this is a sinking Vikings team that is just 5-10-2 ATS in the last 17 home games.

Matchup: N.Y. Jets at Seattle
Time: 4:05 PM EDT (Sun)
Play: N.Y. Jets (+6.5)

Seattle owns the best home field edge in the league and the numbers are impressive at home. This is a team that is playing close games just about every week however as the underdog has covered in seven of nine Seahawks games this season and three of Seattle’s wins have come by four or fewer points. Seattle probably deserved to lose in two of its home games and this is a team that has been out-gained in three of the last four games. The Jets have not been playing well but they did out-gain each of the last three opponents despite going 1-2 in those games. They took New England to overtime in the last road game and while they lost badly in the last game before the bye week, the Jets out-gained Miami by 127 yards and suffered some big plays against them in the letdown spot. Off the bye week this should be a highly motivated 3-5 team that still has eyes on the playoffs in a watered down AFC. New York’s offense has taken a lot of heat but the numbers for the Jets in terms of yardage and scoring are superior to the Seahawks on offense. The defense has had a couple of bad games they have also played five teams that would be in the playoff picture right now and the blowout loss to San Francisco accounts for a great deal of the disparity. Both of the two ugly losses for the Jets this season came off overtime division games and this is a team that has played well in big games, hanging with Houston and New England this season. Seattle’s defense has been out-gained on the ground three of the last four weeks and last week a struggling Vikings team had huge rushing numbers against the Seahawks in Seattle. Seattle is now reaching overvaluation after a win last week by 10 points, but that was a game that was very close most of the way, as have been most Seattle games. New York will have a great plan on offense off the bye week and while Rex Ryan has had an inconsistent track record of late he is capable of giving young quarterbacks problems and Russell Wilson’s great home numbers have been a bit fluky this season.

Matchup: Oakland at Baltimore
Time: 1:00 PM EDT (Sun)
Play: Oakland (+8)

The Ravens are a very suspect 6-2 team as they have gone just 1-5 ATS in the last six games and easily could have lost last week despite covering. Baltimore has been out-gained in four consecutive games and this could be a flat spot after back-to-back big road games and facing Pittsburgh for the first time next week. Baltimore has been out-rushed in five of eight games this season despite featuring Ray Rice in the backfield and Joe Flacco continues to look like a very mediocre quarterback. The Raiders are a shaky 3-5 as two wins came against Jacksonville and Kansas City but this team did beat Pittsburgh and gave Atlanta and Tampa Bay very tough games in recent weeks. The Raiders lost Darren McFadden last week but this is a team that has often abandoned the running game and relied on Carson Palmer in the air. Oakland is passing for 281 yards per game this season and they will go against a Baltimore defense with marginal numbers, allowing 386 yards per game. Going back the last decade Baltimore has been an outstanding home favorite but Baltimore is 1-6 ATS in the last seven instances including winning but failing to cover in the last three home games. Oakland meanwhile is 11-6 ATS in the last 17 games as an underdog of seven or more and statistically Oakland has been better yardage numbers on both sides of the ball in this match-up.

Matchup: Detroit at Minnesota
Time: 1:00 PM EDT (Sun)
Play: Under (46.5)

Both teams had trouble moving the ball in the first meeting between these teams as Minnesota won in Detroit 20-13. The Lions posted 341 yards in the game but a lot of that yardage came late as the Detroit attempted to dig out of a deficit. The Vikings scored 20 points but both touchdowns came on special teams. After allowing 44 points in an overtime loss against Tennessee and starting the season 1-3 the Lions have shown great improvement on defense, allowing less than 19 points per game on average. Detroit has posted 59 points in the last two weeks as it appears that the offense is getting on track but Detroit has 24 points in the 4th quarter the last two weeks and last week there was some fluky scoring early in the game off turnovers and keep in mind the Lions were going against an awful Jacksonville team that has not been able to sustain drives. Detroit is scoring 24 points per game this season but they will face a still solid Minnesota defense that is allowing just 334 yards per game with surprisingly strong numbers against the pass. The winning for the Lions has come with the absence of turnovers that were common early in the year and Detroit is running a more conservative offense finally finding a running game with Mikel Leshoure. Both teams will need to keep it on the ground in this match-up with the potential for mistakes from the quarterback position and with receiving corps that are banged up. Calvin Johnson is not 100 percent and Percy Harvin is likely to miss this game, which could take two of the biggest playmakers off the field. Secondary receivers Titus Young and Jerome Simpson are also battling nagging injuries and these offenses will be limited in the passing game. The ‘under’ has hit in seven of the last nine meetings between these teams with both exceptions coming last season when Detroit had an explosive offense with a terrible defense and the Vikings were 3-13 with great issues on defense. Minnesota is the 30th ranked passing offense in the league this season and this is a team with two return touchdowns and two defensive touchdowns making for misleading scoring numbers. While the Vikings are not able to create big plays they are able to get first downs with a solid running game and that will potentially keep them in this game and able to burn clock in a lower scoring affair. The Lions are not as productive on offense as the numbers suggest as they posted big statistics in a few early season games when they were forced to try to rally from behind after early mistakes. This game will play out on the ground with lower numbers for both sides. This is also the highest total in a Vikings game since these teams played and combined for just 33 points with two special team touchdowns. The ‘under’ is 7-3 in the last 10 meetings between these teams with a total of higher than 45.

NFL - Week 9

Pittsburgh Steelers at New York Giants (-3.5, 48) TV: 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS.

Two playoff contenders clash Sunday afternoon when the resurgent Pittsburgh Steelers travel to New York to face the defending Super Bowl champion Giants. The Giants are in complete control of the NFC East after holding on to beat Dallas despite blowing a 23-point lead last week, but they have to make up some ground on undefeated Atlanta to work their way into position for the NFC's top seed.

The Steelers have won two straight by getting back to playing smash-mouth football. They've averaged 148.5 rushing yards the past two weeks and allowed just 220 total yards per game during that span. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger might mix things up and try to exploit a Giants defense that allowed 415 passing yards to Dallas last week. New York has won four of the past six meetings, including a 21-14 victory in the most recent clash in 2008.

WEATHER: Forecasts are calling for temperatures in the mid-40s and sunny skies. Winds will blow out of the north at 8 mph.

ABOUT THE STEELERS (4-3): The rise of Pittsburgh's run game has come on the shoulders of Jonathan Dwyer, who started the season as the third-string back but has taken over the featured role with injuries to Rashard Mendenhall (Achilles) and Isaac Redman (ankle). Ironically, Dwyer (quad) has been limited in practice this week and is listed as doubtful - as is Mendenhall - but Redman is on track to play.

ABOUT THE GIANTS (6-2): New York's offense has been balanced and effective with Eli Manning leading the passing game and Ahmad Bradshaw and Andre Brown heading the ground game. The defense has given up big chunks of yardage but has done a solid job of keeping opponents out of the end zone thanks to 24 turnovers.

TRENDS:

* Steelers are 1-7 ATS in their last eight road games.
* Giants are 9-1-1 ATS in their last 11 games vs. a team with a winning record.
* Over is 4-1 in Steelers’ last five road games.
* Under is 6-0 in Giants’ last six games following an ATS win.

EXTRA POINTS:

1. The Steelers have allowed only one team to top 100 yards rushing (Oakland, 119) and have not allowed an opponent to pass for 300 yards.

2. The Giants are 10-0 when Bradshaw tops 100 rushing yards. He has averaged 102 yards in his past four games against AFC teams.

3. Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin is in position to earn his 60th career victory.

Take the GIANTS

WASHINGTON 34 - Carolina 24—Perhaps it’s too soon to completely dismiss Carolina, which came within seconds of a big upset at Chicago last week. The Panthers actually haven’t been routed since losing at home vs. the Giants in September. But Carolina is also spacing out its best efforts, failing to cover two straight all season. RGIII already seems to have a better feel for his surroundings than the moody Cam Newton, who ought to be glad he’s not still at Auburn. Cam, however, can test the injury-depleted Washington defense with some deep vertical shots. Note Shan’s Skins “over” 6-1 their last 7 at FedEx Field.
Take the OVER

SEATTLE 26 - Minnesota 12—Seattle is 3-0 SU at home, all as an underdog, with one victory thanks to the infamous replacement officials. But, after two road losses, the Seahawks are happy to be back at CenturyLink Field, where the fans are deafening, the defense is fierce, and the turf is often wet. Those latter three elements figure to be problems for suddenly-struggling Viking QB Christian Ponder, who has 7 ints. his last 4 games. Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell held the same position for five years until joining the Hawks last year. Host has the aggressive DB cover types to blanket Percy Harvin, allowing the front seven to focus on Adrian Peterson and on keeping Ponder dancing.
Take the HAWKS

Tampa Bay 29 - OAKLAND 20—T.B. coach Greg Schiano has the Bucs’ offense percolating (34 ppg last three). Rookie RB Doug Martin (543 YR)providing quickness and power on the ground, while quality acquisitions WR Vincent Jackson & TE Dallas Clark are giving QB Josh Freeman reliable targets to go with holdover Mike Williams. And, although the T.B. pass rush needs work, the back seven has three standouts in venerable CB Ronde Barber, intimidating MLB Mason Foster, and aggressive rookie S Mark Barron. The Raider pass defense (allowing 68% going into the K.C. game) is still a unit in transition. Oakland 6-1 “over" last 7 home.
Take the BUCS

College Football - Oct 27 edition!

Florida at Georgia (6.5, 46.5) TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS.

The last big test for No. 3 Florida and the obstacle standing in the way of a spot in the SEC Championship Game comes this weekend with No. 11 Georgia. The annual cocktail party in Jacksonville, Florida, takes place on Saturday afternoon. The Bulldogs are the only team in the SEC East with a chance to steal the Gators’ spot in the SEC title game but will need to win out to make it happen. If Florida gets by Georgia, it will have clinched a spot in the big game thanks to head-to-head wins over South Carolina and the Bulldogs. Any remaining doubts about the Gators’ legitimacy were wiped away with that 44-11 drubbing of the Gamecocks last weekend, and quarterback Jeff Driskel has emerged as a threat in both the passing and running game. The Bulldogs have been less impressive, getting drilled by South Carolina and barely scraping by Tennessee and Kentucky in the last three games.

WEATHER: Forecasts are calling for temperatures in the mid-70s with a 33 percent chance of showers. Winds will be strong out of the north at 21 mph.

ABOUT FLORIDA (7-0, 6-0 SEC): The Gators have one game left in a brutal four-game stretch that included LSU and South Carolina. Florida struggled on both sides of the ball at times during its 7-6 campaign in 2011 but has tightened things up in 2012, especially on the defensive end. The Gators are fourth nationally in scoring defense, surrendering just 12.1 points, and held the Gamecocks to 36 rushing yards last Saturday. Driskel, who rushed for 177 yards in a win at Vanderbilt and passed for 219 at Tennessee, was efficient in the red zone against South Carolina with four touchdown passes. The sophomore has been asked to manage the game more than carry the offense and has responded with a 9-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio for an offense averaging better than 30 points.

ABOUT GEORGIA (6-1, 4-1): The Bulldogs put up at least 48 points in each of their first three conference games but had their defense exposed in a 51-44 win over the Volunteers on Sept. 29. Including that contest, Georgia has allowed 34.3 points over its last three games. That has put more pressure on quarterback Aaron Murray, who matched Driskel with a four-TD, no-interception performance in a 29-24 win at Kentucky last weekend. Murray became the school’s all-time leader in touchdown passes with that effort while putting up 427 yards through the air. But the only top-20 defense Murray has faced in 2012 was South Carolina, which forced him into a season-worst 11-for-31 passing performance with no touchdowns. Murray was 15-for-34 for 169 yards, two touchdowns and one interception last season against Florida but converted a pair of fourth downs for scores to help pull out a 24-20 victory.

TRENDS:
* Favorite is 4-0 ATS in their last four meetings.
* Over is 4-1 in the last five meetings.
* Gators are 6-0 ATS in their last six games overall.
* Bulldogs are 1-4 ATS in their last five games overall.

EXTRA POINTS:

1. Second-year Florida coach Will Muschamp played at Georgia from 1991-94 and was defensive captain as a safety his senior year.

2. The Bulldogs’ victory last season snapped a three-game losing streak in the series. Georgia leads the series overall at 48-40-2.

3. Bulldogs DE Abry Jones (ankle) won't play, but OLB Jarvis Jones (ankle), who missed the Kentucky game, is expected to return.

The play is the GATORS -6'

others...

Texas Tech at Kansas State
Time: 3:30 PM EDT (Sat)
Play: Kansas State -7

Kansas St. is on a serious roll behind the spectacular play of senior quarterback Collin Klein, who has a 10/2 touchdown-to-interception ratio and has run for 551 yards and 14 TDs. The Wildcats have been nasty in four home games, going 3-1 against the spread with wins over Missouri St. (51-9), Miami (52-13), North Texas (35-21) and Kansas (56-16). Texas Tech is much improved and playing well but it has to travel for a second straight weekend and remember, the Red Raiders played a draining three-overtime slugfest last week before emerging with a 56-53 win at TCU. I think K-St. pulls away in the second half to win by double digits.

Mississippi St at Alabama
Time: 8:30 PM EDT (Sat)
Play: Over 46

Alabama is 14th in the nation in scoring offense, averaging 41.0 points per game. The Crimson Tide has one of the country's premier quarterbacks in A.J. McCarron, who has 16 touchdown passes compared to zero interceptions. Mississippi St. hasn't faced a defense in the same league as Alabama's, but it has plenty of playmakers and averages 36.7 PPG. The Bulldogs are getting improved play at the QB position from Tyler Russell, who has a 15/1 TD-INT ratio. I made this total 52. Give me the 'over' with this low number.

Mississippi at Arkansas
Time: 12:20 PM EDT (Sat)
Play: Arkansas -5.5

I like what Hugh Freeze is doing at Ole Miss, but this is a tough spot for the Rebels. I made Arkansas a 10.5-point favorite in this game and the Hogs are feeling much better about themselves after dealing out woodshed treatment at Auburn and vs. Kentucky. Granted, those are two piss-poor teams, but the Hogs are back into the season from a mental standpoint after a September that couldn't possibly have been scripted any worse. Arkansas still has one of the nation's top QBs in Tyler Wilson and one of the SEC's best WRs in Cobi Hamilton. Now it gets Chris Gragg back from an injury after the open date and the Hogs are finally giving more touches to RB Dennis Johnson who had a pair of outstanding performances against AU and UK. I think this line will get up to at least seven later in the week. I like the single-digit home favorite.

NFL - Week 7

New York Jets at New England Patriots (-10.5, 47) TV: 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS.

Despite all of the "Sky is Falling" talk, Rex Ryan's New York Jets find themselves in a four-way tie atop the AFC East as they renew their rivalry with Tom Brady and the shellshocked New England Patriots on Sunday in Foxborough. The Jets ended a two-game skid by returning to their ground-and-pound ways against the overmatched Indianapolis Colts last week as Shonn Greene ran for a career-best 161 yards and three touchdowns in a 35-9 win.

That strategy has quieted some of the Mark Sanchez-Tim Tebow controversy for the moment, but the Jets will likely have to throw the ball more than 18 times to keep up with the Patriots’ top-ranked offense. Especially since Brady and company are fuming after blowing a 13-point fourth-quarter lead in a stunning 24-23 defeat to Seattle – a loss that sent them to their worst start in seven years. History says Brady's bunch will bounce back against the Jets. The Patriots have won two straight and 15 of the last 20 meetings, including the last three regular-season meetings by a combined score of 112-40. Brady threw for 329 yards and three touchdowns – two to All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski - in a 37-16 romp in New Jersey last season.

LINE: Patriots -10.5, O/U 47.

WEATHER: Forecasts are calling for temperatures in the high-50s under partly cloudy skies. Winds will be light out of the west.

ABOUT THE JETS (3-3): Ryan is trash-talking once again after the Jets bludgeoned the rebuilding Colts. He said of the Patriots: “I want them to know, and they know, that I think we’re going to beat them.” In order to back up Ryan’s words, the Jets need another big game from Greene, who had been averaging 2.7 yards over the previous four contests. And with Bilal Powell (shoulder) and Joe McKnight (high ankle sprain) both out, he’ll be the workhorse against the NFL’s sixth-ranked rush defense (82.7 ypg). Sanchez will have to throw for more than 82 yards. The embattled fourth-year quarterback has the worst completion percentage (49.7) in the league, which has led to some cameo appearances from Tebow.

ABOUT THE PATRIOTS (3-3): The 3,000-plus mile plane ride back from Seattle must have felt longer than the line at Starbucks after the Patriots let a 23-10 lead slip away in the final 7:31. The defense, which let Sidney Rice get behind it for the winning 46-yard touchdown, is largely to blame, but Brady was not absolved of guilt. He threw two touchdowns but was intercepted twice – once in the end zone – and also had a costly intentional-grounding penalty in the red zone at the end of the first half. Brady finished 36-of-58 (a career high in attempts) for 395 yards. He was forced to throw an inordinate amount because the Patriots, who entered third in the league averaging 165.4 rushing yards, were held to 87 yards on the ground. New England, which welcomed back TE Aaron Hernandez from a month-long absence last week, is still averaging a league-best 31.3 points and 445.3 yards.

TRENDS:
* Over is 5-0-1 in the last six meetings.
* Home team is 5-2 ATS in their last seven meetings.
* Patriots are 6-0-1 ATS in their last seven Week 7 games.
* Jets are 4-0 ATS in their last four October games.

EXTRA POINTS:

1. Since 2009, the Patriots have lost seven games in which they led with less than five minutes remaining in regulation - tied for third most in the NFL.

2. The Jets’ defense, which is ranked 30th in third-down conversion rate (46.0), will face its toughest test since star CB Darrelle Revis (torn ACL) went down three weeks ago.

3. The Patriots announced on Twitter that the team will wear the popular throwback red uniforms, circa 1992, featuring the helmet logo of “Patriot Pat” snapping a football.

The Play is the PATS -10'

others...
Rams +5
Panthers under 45
Raiders -6

NCAA Week 7 - OCT 20

Florida will beat South Carolina by double digits
There are many reasons why I think Florida will win this easier than expected. Let's start by looking at the schedules these two have played to date.
In the past three weeks Florida has had a bye, a home game against LSU and a road trip to Vanderbilt. South Carolina, on the other hand, after beating Georgia at home, had to travel to Baton Rouge last week to take on LSU and this week has to travel again, this time to Florida. Coaches often say it is tough getting their players up to play top-level opponents week after week, and after expending a lot of energy the past couple of games, the Gamecocks might not have much left in the tank despite the fact that everything is on the line.
If you flash back to last week, Florida was clearly in a letdown spot coming off a big win against LSU with a huge game against South Carolina on deck. Despite missing three starters on the offensive line, the Gators still managed 326 rushing yards, led by quarterback Jeff Driskel's 177, which broke Tim Tebow's Florida quarterback single-game rushing yards record.
The Gators' 31-17 win over the Commodores was even more impressive considering they also left a starting defensive lineman at home and three key players left the game with injury and did not return. This week, those players should play, which makes them the healthiest Florida has been since the start of the Texas A&M game in Week 2.
One thing I like to do when evaluating a game is to take a look at common opponents, and Florida easily wins the battle here. Two weeks ago, the Gators clearly controlled the line of scrimmage against LSU in their 14-6 win by outrushing the Tigers 176 yards to 42. While a lot of analysts said that had more to do with LSU's offensive line being beat up than great play by the Florida defense, last week that same maligned Tigers O-line mauled the Gamecocks to the tune of 258 rushing yards, while the LSU defense held Marcus Lattimore and the vaunted South Carolina ground game to just 34. For the game, LSU outgained South Carolina 406 yards to 211. Had the Tigers not settled for a couple of short field goals in the red zone (including a miss), allowed a 70-yard interception return to set up a cheap Gamecocks touchdown or allowed a late fourth-and-12 conversion that set up another South Carolina touchdown, LSU would have won the game by at least three scores.
When you add up the schedule, the injuries, the matchup at the line of scrimmage and, don't forget, the home-field edge, it is clear that the Gators will move to 7-0 and seize control of the SEC East.

Southern Miss will notch its first win of the season by beating Marshall in this week's toss-up game
On Tuesday, I gave you some teams that could turn around their seasons in the second half, and the winless Golden Eagles were one of them. While they are off to their worst start since 1976, they have played one of the tougher schedules of all the non-AQ teams to date. Now they'll face 2-4 Marshall at home, followed by five games against C-USA teams that currently have losing records.
In the past three weeks, Southern Miss has lost to Louisville by four, outgained Boise State 424 yards to 310 and lost to Central Florida in double overtime on the road. Those three teams all rank in the NCAA's top 40 in total defense, and now Southern Miss takes on a Marshall defense that ranks 107th in the nation in total D, allowing 470 yards per game.
Southern Miss is finally starting to get some better play at the quarterback spot, and I will call for the Golden Eagles to not only win the game but also have their best offensive performance of the season.

Nebraska will handily beat Northwestern
One of the things I like to look at when analyzing games this time of year is which team has the fresher legs. This week, the Cornhuskers come in off a bye after being humiliated by Ohio State 63-38 two weeks ago, while the Wildcats are playing their eighth consecutive game after achieving bowl eligibility last week by beating Minnesota on the road 21-13.
After averaging 467 yards in the first five games, the Wildcats' offense has slowed the past two weeks with just 247 and 275 yards. Nebraska's offense, on the other hand, is averaging 507 yards per game, and its defense has allowed fewer than 300 yards in four of six games.
Last year, a week after Nebraska had its biggest win of the season (24-3 over ninth-ranked Michigan State), Northwestern came into Lincoln and upset the Huskers 28-25. You have to think coach Bo Pelini has talked about that loss each day in practice for the past two weeks.
Nebraska fans travel really well, so do not be surprised if the crowd is split in this one. The rested Huskers, who are angry coming off a loss, will beat the Wildcats by at least two touchdowns.

Texas' defense will hold Baylor's high-powered offense to around 400 yards
There might not be a coach and team in the country that has taken more heat this week than Mack Brown and the Texas Longhorns, in particular their defense after last week's embarrassing 63-21 loss to Oklahoma. The Texas defense has allowed 571 yards and 49 points per game in the past three, and it does not get any easier this week, taking on a Baylor offense that is averaging 568 yards (No. 2 in the NCAA) and 48 points per game. Making matters worse for the Longhorns was the announcement that All-Big 12 defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat would miss the rest of the season with a pectoral muscle tear.
Given all these factors, it wouldn't be much of a surprise if Baylor put up about 49 points and 570 yards this week, but I am going in the opposite direction. I still believe in the coaching and talent that Texas has on defense, and remember, the Longhorns are playing with double revenge after back-to-back losses to Baylor the past two seasons. I expect a spirited effort from the Longhorns and will call for them to hold the Bears to around 400 yards in what should be a relatively easy Texas win.

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