How’s your gambling account doing, boys and girls? Off to a slow start? According to my records, you must be.
Without tooting my own horn, yours truly has been on fire. I’m not sure why that is. I have been taking time to scour lines selectively to find some good value. I guess it has paid off.
To date, I am, officially, 19-10-1 against the spread. Oh, have I got your attention now?
Through three years of this contest, through Week Six, only two of you are in positive money and only one of you comfortably. Remind me to leave you, and Kevin, at home the next time I hit the casino.
Here are our standings to date. This week, we’re relying on Coach to get you out of the quicksand.
SportsChump: 19-10-1 +$370
The Wife Hates Sports: 16-14 $20
Celebrity Guests: 15-15 $60
Week Seven brings another tricky slate of NFL games, which Vegas likes to be low scoring. Only three games have O/U’s 45 or over. Not only that but Darren Sharp recently reported that the NFL hasn’t seen scoring this scarce since 2009. So… what’s that tell us? In a league designed to protect its quarterbacks, to promote higher scoring, where officials are given the whistle green light, are defenses that much better or are offenses that much worse?
Wherever you stand on that issue, a new week of gambling lines is ready to smack you in square in the face, with all of us trying to avoid that quicksand that’s all too eager to take your money.
Let’s get to toe-tapping around that quicksand, shall we?
$50 on Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+1)
For some bizarre reason, this line opened with the Bucs as a home underdog, then quickly jumped to the Bucs favored by just under a field goal. I’ll obviously take the opening line, and point, but I do think they cover both numbers. The Bucs looked horrible last week. That’s because they hosted the Lions, a team clearly better than them. The Lions exposed flaws we feared we might see from this Bucs team, a good defense surrounded by an inefficient, or at least inconsistent, offense. The Bucs aren’t that bad. With the Saints losing on Thursday, the Falcons look to wrestle away sole possession of first place in the NFC South, but like the Bucs, they have also struggled against teams better than them. They’ve beaten the Packers, Panthers and Texans but have lost to the Jags, Lions and Commanders. In other words, the Falcons are just as inconsistent as Tampa when it comes to putting points on the board. This promises to be another ugly, physical football game that should become a battle of field position, and attrition. The Bucs’ only two losses are to playoff teams; the Falcons have yet to tally a road win. Bucs are pound-for-pound, position-by-position the better football team. That’s why I’m taking Tampa at home plus the point to handle their business. Fire the cannons!
$40 on Green Bay Packers at Denver Broncos (+1 ½)
You’d have to be insane to bet on the Denver Broncos. By several accounts, they are the worst team in football, at least defensively. They allow more yards, and more points, per game than any other NFL team. Nathanial Hackett might not have said aloud that Sean Payton’s job coaching these Broncos is the worst in NFL history, but he sure thought it. We all have. This week, Payton’s unmerry band of dysfunction hosts the Green Bay Packers, who probably aren’t as good as you think they are. After beating the Bears handily in Week One – and let’s be honest, if you’re not beating the Bears handily, you might as well give it up – the Packers have struggled. They’ve lost three of their last four and haven’t found any sort of offensive identity. It hasn’t helped matters that Aaron Jones is banged up and no wide receiver has lit up the stat sheet. Since that win in Chicago, the Packers have yet to win on the road, squeaking out losses. The Broncos have played better teams, with losses to Kansas City, that nasty Jets defense and the historic blowout to Miami which skewed their season numbers. The Broncos can finally exhale against a team they should beat. They will. They’re getting a point and a half. I’ll take it. Most people like the Pack in this game. I don’t. I’ll take Denver and the point-and-a-half at home.
$30 on Washington State Cougars at Oregon Ducks (-20)
Oregon is mad. They’ve lost two straight games to Washington. Not only that but they still have Utah, USC, and Oregon State left to play. With eight undefeated, ranked teams ahead of them, they can ill afford to drop another game if they want to sniff the Final Four. In other words, Oregon is going to need some help. They’ll get that help this weekend as Washington State rolls into town on a two-game losing streak. The Cougars just got embarrassed at home by Arizona and lost on the road in L.A. While they’ll be eager to get off the snide, I’m not sure they’re capable of doing so against an Oregon team that also just suffered a tough loss. The Cougars are not a good defensive team. In fact, the Oregon punter might not break a sweat after warmups. Washington State will have a tough time keeping up with the Ducks offensively, especially if the Ducks decide to clamp down. Twenty points for an Oregon team looking to take out some aggression isn’t that much. I like Oregon to cover the twenty at home.
$20 on Minnesota Golden Gophers at Iowa Hawkeyes (-3 ½)
Remember when I said I was going to leave Iowa alone for the rest of the season? I lied. The Hawkeyes are back to their same old tricks, unwatchable football. After an embarrassing loss at Penn State, the Hawkeyes have won three straight games and been rather stingy on defense, allowing 36 combined points in those three games. This weekend, they host Minnesota, who aren’t exactly known for their offense. But their defense has been even worse. In fact, the Golden Gophers defense is so bad, even Iowa should be able to score on them. This spread should be closer to a touchdown; it’s only three-and-a-half. The weather is nice, no snow yet, but Vegas still likes this game to go low. This game has 17-14 written all over so the hook concerns me, but Iowa is in first place in the Big Ten West for a reason. A win here puts them in control of that division. They’ll get it by covering the three-and-a-half at home.
$10 on Tennessee Volunteers (+9 ½) at Alabama Crimson Tide
Let’s have a little fun with some SEC football, shall we? I think we can all agree that Alabama is not the Alabama we’ve grown accustomed to. They lost at home to Texas then followed that up with a miserable performance in Tampa where they nearly lost to USF. Their last two wins against Texas A&M and Arkansas were squeakers. This week, they play their rival Tennessee and are giving nine-and-a-half points. If you take away their early gaffe to Florida, the Vols defense has been stingy, only allowing around two touchdowns a game. I fully expect them to keep heat on Alabama’s offense all afternoon, thus keeping this one close. Remember last year when UT broke their streak of fifteen straight losses to Bama and carried their goalposts throughout town? UT wants to prove that the celebration was no fluke. Vegas likes this to be relatively low scoring with an over/under of 48. That leads me to believe this game will be close. Tennessee will not lie down, and Alabama is not good enough to blow them out, despite the revenge factor. I’m inclined to take UT and the nine-and-a-half as they make Bama continue to sweat out the season. Tennessee covers.
Coach’s Picks for the Week (Career 6-4, +$40)
$50 Bucs -2.5 Absolutely! They bounce back hard!!! Defense sacks Riddler at least four times.
$40 Bills -8 Just because the Patriots are that bad lol.
$30 Green Bay -1 Jordan Love gets back on track and the defense shuts down an already bad offense.
$20 Browns – 2 ½ I believe that team is finding out how really good they are defensively.
$10 Phins +2 ½ They go into Philly and show them up offensively.
KP’s Picks: The Wife Hates Sports
$50: Buffalo Bills (-8.5) at New England Patriots
The Patriots are a mess. Living in Boston for over a decade during the New England dynasty, well… it remains fun to type – and to read out loud excessively until I’m completely out of breath. The Pats stink. The Pats suck. After all, that’s what they said to me about my team for years and years. I don’t care about the inconsistency of the Bills. This is more about the anemic New England offense, where it doesn’t seem to matter if they play at home or not. In the month of October, the Patriots are 0-3 and have been outscored 93-20. The one home game was a 34-0 loss to the Saints. So I don’t need to go stat hunting. I just need to have the confidence that Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, and the Bills will find a way to post a big win – and they will. Bills cover on the road.
$40: Ole Miss Rebels (-6.5) at Auburn Tigers
Auburn isn’t to the point talentwise where the home field makes a significant enough difference. When we look at the ranked Rebels and Lane Kiffin, this is a solid team with plenty of balance offensively. Ole Miss ranks 17th in passing offense (306.0 ypg), adding 14 passing TD and just 2 INT. The Ole Miss rushing offense ranks 39th (183.33 ypg) with 15 TD on the ground. Over the last two weeks, Auburn has faced two ranked teams, Georgia (27-20 loss at home) and a 48-18 loss on the road at LSU. Ole Miss has the offensive balance to keep the rebuilding Tigers in check. Ole Miss covers on the road.
$30: Penn State Nittany Lions at Ohio State Buckeyes (-4.5)
This is what I’d like to call reverse psychology. My picks haven’t been great the last few weeks. If reading, you’d already know that. Also, I’m a Penn State grad. PSU’s recent streak (or lack thereof) against the Buckeyes has been painful at best. Multiple one-point losses and fourth quarter chokes. Heinous play calling and opportunities blown. This season, the Penn State defense ranks 3rd against the run (72.5 ypg) and 1st against the pass ( 121.2 ypg). While that’s incredibly impressive, we must remember that this includes games against Iowa’s floundering offense, Delaware, and Massachusetts. Drew Allar has been mostly mistake free and has an impressive arm, but I don’t trust the consistency of Penn State’s receivers or O-line. I also have a hard time going with the Nittany Lions considering James Franklin’s record against top teams. Just give me OSU and let’s hope the reverse psychology works. Buckeyes cover at home.
$20: Green Bay Packers (-1) at Denver Broncos
The Packers had the bye week to get healthier and while the injury report still features a lot of names, there is a good chance that we will see more impact players on the field. Aaron Jones is likely to return, providing more depth in the run game. The same appears true for Jaire Alexander and Quay Walker on defense. Jordan Love has been up and down this season, but has shown flashes – and Christian Watson seems healthier and poised to post his best game of the season. Neither team pops statistically, but the Broncos are last in the NFL in total defense (440.3 ypg allowed). Yes, the Miami blowout skews those numbers, but there’s enough data there to think the Packers find a way. Packers cover on the road.
$10: Duke Blue Devils (+14.5) at Florida State Seminoles For the second time this season, I’m picking a game with Duke football. While that could take a while to process, I’ll simply move forward and state that the Devils have beaten the teams they should beat, while hanging with (or topping the tougher squads). That includes a 28-7 win over Clemson and a 21-14 loss to Notre Dame. Both those games were at home, which explains the line. What will be most intriguing in this game is the performance of each team’s pass defense. Duke is 8th in the nation (164.7 ypg allowed), with 5 INT and just 3 TD allowed through the air. Florida State is 64th in yards allowed, but also has more INT as a unit (4) than TD allowed (3). These facts alone push me to a tighter, lower scoring game. Therefore, give me Duke and the points on the roa