We are finally getting down to the nitty gritty in college football.
While Georgia and Michigan are sitting pretty at one and two and can probably even afford a loss in their championship games, third and fourth-seeded TCU and USC have some challenging matchups ahead against ranked opponents before they cash their golden tickets. All the while Ohio State and Alabama fans sit idly by, with their popcorn ready and fingers crossed, waiting for one of these teams to falter.
I’m here to tell you… they won’t, but more on that in a bit.
A college football playoff without both Ohio State and Alabama is like Christmas without eggnog or worse yet, eggnog without whiskey. If all four favorites win, the chalkboard will have been officially erased and Georgia and Michigan will be listed as the heavy front runners.
Our contest plods along with our readers doing an admirable job (36-23-1 ATS). Let’s see what Brother Bill has in store for us this week. But first…
$50 on New York Jets at Minnesota Vikings (-3)
This one seems like a no-brainer. The Vikings are at home laying three points to the visiting Jets. If they had played this game a month ago, the Vikings would be over a touchdown favorites. Enter the benching of Zach Wilson, the reemergence of Mike White and the struggles of Kirk Cousins and we have a tighter game than we once thought. But three points? I had to log on to see which Vikings were listed on the injury report. Nope, they’re all clear and ready to boogie. What a difference a 40-3 loss to the Cowboys makes. The Vikes are 5-1 at home. Their only two losses on the season are to the Eagles and the Cowboys and with all due respect to Mike White, the Jets are neither the Eagles nor the Cowboys. I love what Robert Saleh has done with this team, changing a losing culture that’s existed in that locker room since the days of Mark Sanchez, but I just don’t see this team going into Minnesota and stealing one. Vikes cover the three.
$40 on Buffalo Bills (- 3 ½) at New England Patriots
Following that very same logic, this was the other line I had way off. I get that the Bills are struggling, that they no longer seem the invincible team we once thought, but they’re still pretty good. My good friend Croshere (brother of Brother Bill, this week’s guest contributor) notified me that the Bills are one of four teams in the NFL that don’t yet have a divisional win. Of course, that’s partially because they’ve only played two divisional games, both losses at Miami and New York. They haven’t played the Patriots yet. They travel to Foxboro Thursday and will close their season at home against the Pats as well. I’m still a believer in Buffalo. Sure, they’re flawed but what team in the NFL not named the Chiefs isn’t? New England is 6-5 but sit at the bottom of the AFC East, a division where all four teams are under .500. After dropping consecutive games, the Bills got back on track although they’re still not looking very Bills-like. I have a feeling that changes Thursday night. I’ll take Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs over Mac Jones and Jacobi Myers ten out of ten times and most definitely this Thursday. Most Thursday games have been snooze-fests, but we tune in anyway meaning Jeff Bezos is laughing all the way to the bank. He’ll make a return trip to the teller if he takes Buffalo and lays the points, which is exactly what I’m going to do. Bills cover.
$30 on Kansas State at TCU Horned Frogs (-2 ½)
This is it, TCU’s big chance. The chance to prove they belong with the big boys. Of course, by virtue of beating Kansas State and winning the Big 12, they’ll earn the right to play both Michigan and Georgia. That’s not something I’d wish for but hey, it’s about time programs like this prove their ready to compete with the top tier teams in the SEC and Big Ten. A victory over Kansas State would give TCU their first outright Big 12 title, all this under first year coach Sonny Dykes. Someone please to hand this guy coach of the year honors right now. When these two teams met earlier in the season, TCU won by ten. K State got off to a healthy first half lead but got shut out in the second half. Even if Kansas State gets a lead, they’ll know in the back of their minds that TCU can strike back. Similarly, TCU knows they’re perfectly capable of doing what they did in late October. This game will be played in the Jerry Dome in front of what one would think would be a pro-TCU crowd. Who in their right mind wouldn’t want to see this school get a shot at the big time? Only the Wildcats stand in their way. I like TCU’s chances. The over/under of 62 tells us we’re in for a shoot-out, meaning whoever has the ball last may very well win. That should bode well for Heisman hopeful Max Duggan. Since TCU played the better second half last time they played, since they have considerably more to lose and more to play for, much to the chagrin of both Bama and Ohio State fans, TCU wins, covers and finds their way into the Final Four, where they get manhandled by Michigan.
$20 on Utah Utes at USC Trojans (-2 ½)
Along the same lines, USC is one step away from being where they were when Reggie Bush was running roughshod all over the Pac-10, or Pac-12, or however many schools are in that conference these days. Utah has had a solid season… but I can’t get past the fact that they lost to Florida. I know that was in the first week of the season, but Florida’s been consistently bad for most of it. A top-five Utah team had no business losing to the Gators. Utah has also lost to UCLA and Oregon. That resume doesn’t exactly strike me as world-beaters. USC’s only loss this season was at Utah by a single point in a game they probably should have won. With probably more Bama and Buckeye fans watching this game than Utes, I’m leaning USC. Trojan quarterback Caleb Williams is your Heisman front-runner. A well-controlled game means the award is all his. He’s already tossed for 34 touchdowns and only 3 picks. A clean game wins him a shot in the Final Four. He’ll get it. USC covers the three in Vegas.
$10 on USMNT to upset the Netherlands
I’ve been known to take a few liberties with my final picks. It’s become a trend that everyone on the internet is talking about and by everyone, I mean no one. I chose the under 32 ½ in that ridiculous Iowa-Minnesota game, and it hit. Because I’m a red-blooded American, and as such only watch soccer every four years, I’m taking Team USA to upset the Netherlands. I jokingly Tweeted last week that the only good things the Dutch ever gave us was New York City, Vincent Van Gogh and the Van Halen brothers, only to be corrected by the literal police, with repliers telling me the Dutch were also responsible for the submarine, the telescope, the compact disc, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Santa Claus. Who knew? Regardless of who invented what, Team USA is on a roll. Their momentum carries into their next game against the Netherlands with a shocking victory as the Americans advance.
THE WIFE HATES SPORTS WEEK THIRTEEN
$50: Seattle Seahawks (-7) at Los Angeles Rams
The Rams are so depleted with injuries. Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, and Allen Robinson are missing on offense. Aaron Donald will miss the game. The talented backs on each team are likely to be the focus here, but Seattle has the better overall situation considering L.A.’s depth at receiver. Trust Seattle’s balance between Kenneth Walker, Tyler Lockett, and DK Metcalf. Finally, that L.A. home crowd frequently is a melting pot of fans and not much of an advantage. All in all, this feels like the best bet of the week to me. Seahawks cover on the road.
$40: Clemson Tigers at North Carolina Tar Heels (+7.5)
Here we are with yet another ACC Championship berth for Dabo and the Tigers. Although, while a top ten team, this Clemson squad is not as dominant as in recent years. Just look at the schedule versus stronger opponents: 6 point wins over Florida State, Wake Forest and Syracuse, plus losses to Notre Dame and South Carolina. Meanwhile, North Carolina QB Drake Maye (35 TD, 5 INT) has been outstanding for the Tar Heels, and will for sure pose a major challenge for Clemson’s pass defense that ranks 74th in College Football (228.7 ypg allowed, 18 TD, 11 INT). This should be an entertaining and hard fought game under the lights. Give me North Carolina and the points.
$30: Los Angeles Chargers (+2) at Las Vegas Raiders
Josh Jacobs is coming off a monster week against Seattle, but is questionable with a calf injury. That will be key to this game, considering the Chargers rank 28th against the run (similar to Seattle). If Jacobs plays and is 100%, that will be L.A.’s primary focus. Meanwhile, these Chargers continue to be disrespected by Vegas (the lines, not the team). L.A. hung with the Niners and Chiefs in back-to-back weeks and survived adversity to take down the Cardinals in OT last week. With top notch talent on both sides, I like the Chargers to take down the Raiders in a high scoring game. Chargers cover on the road.
$20: Tennessee Titans (+4.5) at Philadelphia Eagles
With Derrick Henry, Jalen Hurts, and Miles Sanders on the field, the focus will be on the run game. There’s also the AJ Brown revenge game sequence now that he’s with the Eagles. All in all, the focus is on the run. The Eagles are 3rd in rushing offense and the Titans are 12th. As for rushing defense, The Titans rank 3rd against the run, while the Eagles are 18th. Titans WR Treylon Burks is starting to take off. With Gardner-Johnson now out for the Eagles, this could open up some opportunities for Burks and Tennessee. This should be one of the better games of the week. Give me the Titans and the points.
$10: Washington Commanders (-2) at New York Giants
Washington has won two straight in this series (after losing the previous five). The Commanders are also on quite a run since Taylor Heinicke took over the offense. The Giants again have issues with injuries, especially at the Wide Receiver position. That provides a hit to offensive balance, allowing Washington to focus even more on Saquon Barkley and the New York running game. The Commanders rank 8th against the run and may get Chase Young back this week. In a pivotal divisional matchup, I’m sticking with the hot team in a close game. Commanders cover on the road.
CELEBRITY GUEST WEEK THIRTEEN: BROTHER BILL (Last season’s record: 2-3, -$10)
$50 – Minnesota Vikings (-3) vs. New York Jets – The Jets and QB Mike White had a nice home win against Chicago and QB Trevor Siemian last week. They have a much tougher matchup this week at Minnesota. I’ll take the Vikings minus 3.
$40 – TCU (-2.5) vs. Kansas State – Horned Frogs get it done and move on to the playoffs. Give me TCU minus 2.5.
$30 – USC (-2.5) vs. Utah – Trojans avenge their only loss and move on to the playoffs. Give me USC minus 2.5.
$20 – New York Giants (+2.5) vs. Washington Commanders – In a weird scheduling quirk the Commanders schedule for the next 3 weeks reads “at Giants, bye, vs Giants”. I’m thinking that they will split the games with New York. I’ll take the Giants plus 2.5 at home.
$10 – Atlanta Falcons (+1) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers – On Monday night the Steelers gave up 225 yards on 5 kick returns, now they get to kick the ball to Cordarrelle Patterson. Give me the Falcons plus 1 at home.