I learned something from my counterpart this week and let’s be honest, if you’re not taking the time to learn every day, I’m not exactly sure what you’re doing with your life. That is, after all, the point of this exercise: to track how we’re wagering, and more importantly, whether we should be wagering at all.
Despite me doing most of the heavy lifting this season (and by that I refer to the accurate picking of football games), I noticed that Kevin has been monitoring whether he’s been more successful wagering on college games or pro, a shrewd move by my nemesis.
As I’ve been hot to trot this season (24-15-1 ATS), I thought I’d follow suit by breaking down the last eight weeks and seeing how well, or poorly, I’ve been doing in both. My initial thought was that I’d been doing better with my NFL picks. With fewer games to watch, far more parity and simply because I watch more NFL than college, I’ve had a pretty good feel for the NFL this season.
After crunching the numbers, boy, was I right.
I am 7-10-1 picking college football games against the spread this season… but a whopping 17-5 picking NFL games!!!
I’m not sure I’ve ever been as hot.
So, what now? Cash out or continue to ride the hot hand? Well, normally, I’d recommend leaving the casino… but what fun is that? Besides, we have a contest that’s only half over.
This week, we invite Swoops who is one of our heavy hitters over the past two seasons. He is 8-2 against the spread which is as accurate as anyone who’s participated in this contest. This year, he’s submitted his usual well-thought-out winners on a bar napkin, as is tradition.
But first, let me have…
$50 on Buffalo Bills at Cincinnati Bengals (-2 ½)
Alright, I’ll bite. Remember back in Week Four when we all panicked about the Bengals? They started the season 1-3 and we wondered whether Joe Burrow’s calf injury would linger all season. He looks pretty good these days, leading his Bengals to three straight wins, their last and most impressive a convincing win in San Francisco. This week, they face another Super Bowl contender, this time a conference opponent, the Buffalo Bills. These are two of the best teams in the AFC and likely the best game of the weekend. The difference between these two teams is that the Bengals tend to win games they need to more often than the Buffalo Bills. This isn’t a game they need but I’m pretty sure the Bengals would like to remind the Bills where they stand. Cincy covers the 2 ½.
$40 on Colts/Panthers (over 43 ½)
Scoring is down and the sky is falling yelled the sixty-million-dollar-a-year commissioner. Just kidding. He said neither of those things as he ironed his freshly pressed thousand-dollar bills. Do they even have thousand-dollar bills asked the lowly bartender from Tampa, who irons only as needed. Fresh-pressed or not, scoring is down and that’s a fact. Odd considering the league likes to promote its offense. The NFL can promote its offense all it wants. When quarterbacks are dropping like flies, it’s far less common to see guys named Devito and Bagent tossing for three hundred yards. Since scoring is down, that means over/unders are also down. Take it from someone who has lost THREE weekly pick em pools to a tiebreak because my over/under totals were too high. But I found a number this week that I think is too low. Carolina and the Colts sits at a cool 43 ½. The Indianapolis Colts have placed the rest of their season in the occasionally capable hands of Gardner Minshew. The struggling Panthers finally got their rookie quarterback, Bryce Young, his first career win. I like these two teams, behind these two quarterbacks, to push the tempo in this game. It should not be overlooked that the Panthers and Colts are also the 30th and 32nd worst teams defensively when it comes to points allowed. Even though the NFL hasn’t seen many shootouts this season, this game has all the makings of one. Besides, I only need 44 points. The way these defenses are playing, just one of these teams might allow that many. I’ll take Colts/Panthers over 43 ½.
$30 on Minnesota Vikings at Atlanta Falcons (-2 ½)
The Atlanta Falcons are an extremely middle of the road football team. Aside from their 4-4 record, a closer look at their schedule shows they beat the teams they’re supposed to and similarly, lose to the teams they’re supposed to. This week, they’re facing a team they’re supposed to beat. If you’d asked me prior to this weekend, I’d suggest they lose handily to the hot Minnesota Vikings. Then Kirk Cousins snapped his Achilles and the franchise was left scrambling for a quarterback. They found one in Arizona whose name is Josh Dobbs. I like Josh Dobbs, even though he led the Cardinals to a 1-7 record in Kyler Murray’s absence. I could like Josh Dobbs until I’m blue in the face. That doesn’t change the fact that he has seven days to learn the Vikings playbook. While he has Jordan Addison to throw it to, the Vikings cannot run the football. They are second to last in the league in rushing. Minnesota will do its best to simplify its playbook for the new guy. Vets like Hockenson will try to bail the man out. But I just don’t see how the Vikings, despite their best efforts to pretend their season is over, will be able to go into Atlanta and beat a somewhat competitive Falcons team with a relatively stingy defense. The Vikes may rally but I doubt it. Atlanta covers the 2 ½.
$20 on Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+ 2 ½) at Houston Texans
I have a feeling the Baker Mayfield experiment in Tampa might be coming to an end. After a promising 3-1 start, it looked as if the gamey Mayfield might be a good fit to succeed Tom Brady. Then came three straight losses and another falling sky. Baker still relishes the contact but that changes not the fact that the Bucs can’t find the end zone. Their red zone defense is among the best in the league, their red zone offense ranks among the worst. This week, they travel to Houston where the Texans are starting to turn some heads, but this game is all about what the Bucs can and can’t do. There is no reason the Bucs should lose this one. If they do, I can’t see the decision-makers steering that pirate ship sailing any further into the ground. If Mayfield looks horrible against the Texans, which he hasn’t altogether so far this season… but if he does, I predict they turn the reins over to Kyle Trask. I’m not sure that’s the answer. Nor am I sure Mayfield’s season is over. Either way, they’re drafting a quarterback in the first round of next year’s draft. The Buccaneers are the better, more experienced team. They should be able to win in Houston. I’m getting 2 ½ points so I’ll take them. Bucs cover the 2 ½.
$10 on Notre Dame Fighting Irish (+4 ½) at Clemson Tigers
I know there’s a community of gamblers that look to lines as soon as they open. Or maybe they don’t but are whales who have people do it for them. When they see an opening line that doesn’t jibe with what they’ve anticipated, they jump on it and jump on it hard. I’ve never met one of these people but I’m quite certain they exist. We’ve seen opening lines sway quite a bit, especially in college football, due to several factors: injuries, suspensions, weather, etc. But this line makes no sense whatsoever. Notre Dame opened as an underdog against Clemson. For a while, until they lost a heartbreaker to Ohio State, Notre Dame was a legitimate championship contender. Clemson is 2-4 in conference and a shell of their former selves. I’m not saying they’ve given up on this season but theirs is a far cry from when Deshaun Watson and Trevor Lawrence were tossing the ball around the yard. Notre Dame has two tough losses, the loss to Ohio State and the beatdown they got in Louisville a few Saturday nights ago that all but ended their hopes for a final four bid. If you were shrewd enough to jump on the Irish money line when it opened, you’ll probably be happy with your scout. The line currently resides, as it should, with Notre Dame as a three-point favorite, in other words, a seven-point swing, leaving open quite a middle. While in many such cases, I like a team like Clemson, who is on a two-game losing streak, to topple the mighty Irish but I don’t see it. Notre Dame is the better team so if I can get them and the opening line of +4 ½, I’d be all over it, which I am. Notre Dame plus.
Swoops’ Picks for the Week (8-2, +$160)
The Wife Hates Sports’ Picks for the Week
$50: Auburn Tigers (-12.5) at Vanderbilt Commodores
Being the home team makes an impact in college football, but this Vandy team is really bad. How about a stat dump regarding the Commodores? Facing SEC opponents this season, Vanderbilt has lost by 17 points (three times), 24 points, and 26 points. The Commodores rank 124th in rushing offense, so don’t expect much clock control. Defensively, Vandy ranks 107th against the run and 117th in the country against the pass. Auburn certainly isn’t a juggernaut this season, but it’s a good bet that the Tigers have enough to take down the Commodores – and it won’t be close. Auburn covers on the road.
$40: Indianapolis Colts (-2.5) at Carolina Panthers
The Panthers are in the win column. We shall see if that leads to any momentum, especially with its rookie QB. Bryce Young completed 71% of his passes in last week’s 15-13 win over the Texans. This week, he faces an Indianapolis defense that ranks 25th against the pass. Opportunities will be available. However, it’s more the run game that concerns me. The Colts rank 9th in rushing offense (Carolina’s run defense ranks 29th). Jonathan Taylor is just getting going, too. On the flip side, the Panthers are 25th in rushing offense, leaving little offensive balance to help Bryce Young. I expect the Colts to come to Charlotte and win the battle in the trenches. Colts cover on the road.
$30: Washington Huskies at USC Trojans (UNDER 77 points)
Wow. I know the Pac-12 picks and chooses when to play defense, but 77 points? We could see TEN touchdowns and TWO field goals and it would still land under. In big games like this, there’s often more clock management and less airing it out. Of course, it’s the Pac-12, so let’s check a few numbers. First, the schedule. The Huskies (8-0) have only surpassed 77 total points in one game this season, a 59-32 win over Cal at home on September 23rd. Both teams rank poorly against the pass. Washington is 118th and USC is 107th, so there’s a reason for this line. I’m just banking on the flood gates not opening THIS much. Consider in-game strategy and clock management, and a game that’ll land somewhere in the 50’s or 60’s by the final whistle. Give me the under in this battle of ranked teams.
$20: Los Angeles Rams (+3) at Green Bay Packers
The biggest risk here is Matthew Stafford (thumb injury), who will be a game-time decision. The Rams already have multiple injuries in its run game. The lack of offensive firepower was clear during L.A.’s blowout loss to the Cowboys last week. Green Bay, however, isn’t much better. The Packers put up 62 total points in its first two games. Since, Green Bay has no more than 20 points in any of its last five. That includes games against the Raiders, Broncos, Vikings, and Saints. Jordan Love (11 TD, 8 INT, 43.4 QBR) isn’t exactly lighting up the stat sheets. Only seven teams rank below the Packers in total offense. Perhaps more disappointing is the run game, which also ranks near the bottom of the league (26th). You’d expect more when you have Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon. In the end, this game should be ugly and I have zero faith in Green Bay’s offense. Rams cover on the road.
$10: Miami Hurricanes at North Carolina Wolfpack (+6)
I had settled on three different NFL teams (Bucs, Ravens, and Bills) before making this pick. The NFL has done me dirty for a few weeks now, and the Wolfpack landed me a nice win when I took them at home facing Clemson last week. This week, it’s another ranked team traveling to Raleigh – the Miami Hurricanes. We’ve seen up and down moments from these Hurricanes all season, but what’s most notable to me is Miami’s schedule. The ‘Canes (6-2) have only been on the road twice this season: a 41-7 win at Temple (September 23) and a 41-31 loss to North Carolina a few weeks back. Half of N.C. State’s games this season have been one score games. Give me the Wolfpack and the points at home.