Thursday Night Offers You Some Potential Action

Thomas and Virginia Tech survived a scare last week but can they win at Georgia Tech?

College football and the National Football League are both offering some action for Thursday night and all three games could give you some opportunities to make amends for a rough weekend. Check out the three games below.

Virginia Tech (+7) at Georgia Tech – The 3-1 Hokies are struggling despite their only loss coming to top-ranked Alabama. Last week, Marshall took them into overtime before the Hokies finally emerged victorious. Quarterback Logan Thomas entered this season with hopes he would be in the running for the Heisman Trophy. Instead he has thrown six interceptions to just four touchdowns.

The Yellow Jackets meanwhile are scoring a boat load of points. Georgia Tech is scoring 45 points per game but the number is a bit inflated by the 70-0 win over Elon in the opener. The running game is its’ usual tremendous self. The Jackets are fourth in the country at over 345 yards per game.

This one may be decided by the defenses however. Georgia Tech is giving up just over 11 points per game while the Hokies are giving up about 17 per game. The Hokies are 0-5 ATS in their last five road games. Georgia Tech is 1-5 in their last six games with Va Tech. I think this one will be tight so I love the Hokies getting seven.

Iowa State (+3) at Tulsa – The Cyclones are coming off a bye week which followed a tough loss to rival Iowa. Their other loss is to in-state Northern Iowa in the opener. ISU doesn’t do anything offensively ‘great’ and that’s part of the problem. The running game is 99th in the country and the passing attack is 50th. Pair that with a defense that is giving up 28 points per game and there’s your 0-2 record.

The Golden Hurricane aren’t sitting much better though. They rank in the bottom half of FBS schools in both rushing and passing and defensively they are giving up over 37 points per game. Over their last seven games, Iowa State is just 1-6 against the spread while Tulsa is 2-4 over the same span.

This is the type of game where I really think the stats speak for themselves. Take the Cyclones and those three points in this one.

Kaepernick needs to return to his late-season form of a year ago if the Niners plan to win in St. Louis.


San Francisco (-3.5) at St. Louis – For the first time in the tenure of Head Coach Jim Harbaugh, the San Francisco 49ers are coming off back-to-back losses. His team entered last Sunday’s home contest with Indianapolis 8-0 in games following losses or ties under Harbaugh but that stat was crushed by the Colts’ defense.

Now the Niners must travel to St. Louis to play a Rams team that gave them fits last year. The only good news for San Francisco is that the Rams are coming off a horrible loss in Dallas where they were never in the game from the outset. With both teams at 1-2 and Seattle firmly in command of the NFC West at 3-0, this game takes on huge significance.

The 49ers are 1-4 against the spread in their last five games in St. Louis. Straight up, the Niners are 4-2 in their last six in the show-me state. Over their last 25 games at home against San Francisco, the Rams are 7-16-2 against the spread. This game should depend most heavily on who can run the football.

The Rams are 28th in the league while the 49ers defense is a shocking 29th in the NFL against the run. Something will have to give here to be sure. Colin Kaepernick has struggled in the last two weeks and he’ll need to get off to a good start. Relying on Frank Gore early could help that situation. I really like the 49ers giving the 3.5 in this one.

Gators lose Driskel, Mariota Leads Heisman Watch

Week four in college football did not have many intriguing matchups or the hype that week two and three had.

The Florida Gators created the biggest news of the weekend when Jeff Driskel their starting quarterback broke his tibia and was lost for the season. Last season he led Florida to 11 wins and berth in the Sugar Bowl.

Tyler Murphy, a junior will now start for the Gators. He played well when he replaced Driskel on Saturday against Tennessee. He had 134 yards in the air with one touchdown pass and 84 yards rushing with one touchdown on 10 carries.

He showed a strong arm, a great deal of poise, quickness scrambling and a knack for rushing. After seeing Murphy last Saturday, the Gators should not miss a beat without Driskel.

Thursday Game

This week the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets host the Virginia Tech Hokies. GT is favored on most books by 4.5 points, but on others such as Bovada and the spread has been up and down between 4-5 points.

The Hokies have won three straight since losing on opening day to Alabama. The game should be close with the Hokies strong defense, if they can slow the rushing attack of the Yellow Jackets. Take the Hokies and the points.

Top Three Heisman Watch

At the top of the list is Marcus Mariota who is 5 to 1 on most books such as topbet and betonline. He did not play last week due to an open date for the team. Oregon should crush California this weekend. Thus far, he has seven touchdown passes, four touchdowns rushing and no interceptions.

Johnny Manziel has lowered his odds to win the Heisman to 6 to 1 from 10 to 1. He has helped his Texas A&M team to an average of over 50 points per game. He is completing nearly 70% of his passes and has already accumulated over 1,200 yards in the air with 12 touchdown passes and 4 interceptions. He has rushed for 255 yards with three touchdowns.

Third is Teddy Bridgewater the quarterback at Louisville. His odds are now at 7 to 1. He has 14 touchdown passes, which is second in the country and has only one interception.


Paul James the Rutgers running back has 573 yards on the ground and is second in the nation, but will miss the next two games due to an injury and Rutgers must face Louisville during his time out.

Ole Miss during Hugh Freeze’s time as head coach has played eight way games compiling a record of 7-1 ATS. They are underdogs this week by 16.5 points at Alabama. They might be a good road ‘dog pick for the week.

Super Bowl Futures change after Week 3

The results of games this past weekend in the NFL caused odds makers to shake up the Super Bowl odds. One of the many surprises to start the NFL season is the unimpressive start of the San Francisco 49ers. After three weeks, the NFC defending Champions are 1-2.

Colin Kaepernick has not impressed like he did last season and the 49ers have a short week this week with a game against division rival the St. Louis Rams on Thursday.

After just three weeks teams not many would think would be undefeated are. The Bears, Chiefs, Dolphins and Saints are all 3-0. New Orleans is starting to gain respect from the online sportsbooks such as Bovada and topbet on the futures for the Super Bowl.

The Saints have jumped up to 10-1 odds and into fourth place. Chicago, after defeating Pittsburgh, moved up to 12-1 from 20-1. Kansas City defeated Philadelphia in Philly and has moved to 20-1 from 25-1 on topbet, and other online sporstbooks. Miami, even though they remained undefeated by defeating the Falcons last week, saw their odds lengthened for the Super Bowl.

In Texas, the Houston Texans and Dallas Cowboys are each 2-1, but the Cowboys have played much better than the Texans have. Dallas defeated a woeful New York Giants in week one. They defeated the Rams in week 3, while losing by just a point to the Chiefs.

Meanwhile, the Texans should be considered lucky to have a record of 2-1 and their weaknesses on both sides of the ball were exposed Sunday in their loss to Baltimore.

Both Dallas and Houston are listed on the Super Bowl futures at 20-1, but Dallas is slowing moving up, while Houston’s odds have doubled over the past week.

The top three NFC teams from last season – Atlanta, Green Bay and San Francisco – have started the season on a bad note all are 1-2. The most surprising is the Niners, who have scored just 10 points combined in the last two games.

Pittsburgh, New York (Giants) and Washington are now all 100-1 for the Super Bowl as they are a combined 0-9.

As it stands now these are the top five in for the Super Bowl Futures.

  1. Broncos – 7-2
  2. Seahawks – 7-2
  3. Patriots – 8-1
  4. 49ers – 10-1
  5. Saints – 10-1

Betting the NFL Just Gets Tougher and Tougher

Was Aldon Smith's off-field issue a big problem for the Niners on Sunday?

Every National Football League season I find myself at some point writing an article just like this one. This is the one where I long for the day of the 1970’s when teams like the Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers, Miami Dolphins and Oakland Raiders were basically favorites every single week. I long for the days of the 1980’s when you knew the Denver Broncos, Washington Redskins, New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers were the dominant teams week in and week out.

As the 1990’s drifted along, it became clear that free agency and salary cap issues were starting to eliminate the ‘sure thing’ each Sunday when it came to placing a wager. Yes, there were the Cowboys of the early ’90’s and then the New England Patriots over the last 10 years but never in my lifetime I have seen each week so difficult to find good, safe bets.

Did he just say “good, safe bets?” Believe it or not I did and there really was a day when all you had to worry about was whether or not a team would cover. Winning was almost a guarantee.

Sunday’s NFL action offered a perfect example of how quickly things can change. The Indianapolis Colts traveled west to play the San Francisco 49ers in Candlestick Park and the Niners were heavy favorites. Some sports books even had them listed as high as 10 point favorites. There was a reason for that huge spread though.

Every trend pointed to a big win for San Fran. Under Head Coach Jim Harbaugh, the 49ers were 8-0 following a loss or in one case, a tie. What that also meant was that the team under Harbaugh had never lost two games in a row. Factor in also the fact the 49ers were coming off an embarrassing loss to division-rival Seattle and this game just had all the makings of a big 49ers win.

Some would argue that the off-field issues surrounding Aldon Smith’s drunk-driving arrest may have factored in and that’s possible but was it enough to suggest the 49ers weren’t going to play well across the board offensively and defensively? I don’t think so.

Hoyer was a surprise starter this week for the Browns and he delivered.

Also on Sunday you saw a Cleveland Browns’ team just days before traded away its’ best player when they sent Trent Richardson to Indianapolis for a first round draft pick. Oh, and they were without starting quarterback Brandon Weeden who was out with a thumb injury. That meant veteran Jason Campbell, who relieved Weeden against Baltimore the prior week would get the start right? Ummm, wrong.

The Browns decided to go with Brian Hoyer who had one previous start during his career which has been spent largely as Tom Brady’s back-up. Facing a Minnesota team that had lost two tough games on the road in their home opener seemed too large of a task for the depleted Browns team. The front office of the Browns made no bones about the fact that they were playing for next year and even offered that they may not be done dealing players in an effort to stockpile draft picks.

So it came as no surprise that the Browns went into Minnesota as big underdogs and won right? Yup. That’s exactly what they did and have again left me scratching my head.

The bottom line of what I’m getting at is that in today’s NFL, you must do far more than just look at records and trends. You have to dig much deeper in order to find success when wagering games. You also have to consider the new rules which greatly increase the offense’s ability to score too.

I may wish for the good old days, but they aren’t happening any time soon.

College Football Moves on to Week Five But Questions Remain

The Buckeyes haven't missed a beat with Guiton in for the injured Miller at quarterback.

Week four of the college football season is over and there are some trends starting to emerge and things that need to be discussed and I happen to be the man to do just that. I have a number of questions rattling around in my head so what better place to roll them out than right here?

1. Should We Just Pencil in Alabama and Ohio State? It was thought to be one of the most likely match-ups for the title at the beginning of the season but should we just go ahead and pair them up now based on what we’ve seen? Not just yet in my opinion. While the Tide has dispatched their toughest conference foe to date, the Buckeyes will begin Big Ten play next week and it won’t be easy with Wisconsin coming to Columbus.

The Buckeyes usually play down to at least one conference opponent each year so we should expect that and keep in mind too that OSU needs its’ conference members to keep winning because if a one-loss Texas A&M, Georgia or maybe Stanford is sitting there and/or an unbeaten Oregon team then the Buckeyes could be in trouble.

As for Alabama, they were in sleep-walk mode in defeating Colorado State 31-6 Saturday and that was to be expected following the game at College Station. It would be difficult not to mention the rumors surrounding Nick Saban and Texas as well. These are still young people at Alabama and they see and hear the rumors too, but I expect it to be a non-factor from here on out.

Hoke's Wolverines are living on the edge the last two weeks.

Just How Good is Michigan? The Wolverines scored a ton of points against Notre Dame and then in the two weeks following they have struggled to put away two of the worst teams in the NCAA in Akron and UConn. Against the Zips, Michigan needed a goal line stand in the final seconds to win and then Saturday night at UConn, they trailed 21-7 in the third quarter.

Michigan survived with two late touchdowns and a field goal but this Huskies’ team was 0-2 with losses to Maryland and Towson State. Most point the finger at quarterback Devin Gardner who continues to turn the ball over at a ridiculous rate and his passing is no better than his predecessor Denard Robinson. Accuracy was supposed to be his strong-suit.

The offensive line is struggling too however. The running game was very sluggish until the second half and protecting Gardner was not exactly easy either. The Wolverines will get a much-needed bye week before starting conference play. For their sake, they better get things together during that time.

Can We Do Anything About These Blowouts? Ohio State beat Florida A&M 76-0 while to the south, Louisville defeated Florida International 72-0. In Miami, the Hurricanes actually were beating Savannah State so badly that the two coaches agreed to shorten the fourth quarter. These games really don’t do anything for anyone do they?

Oh sure, the schools on the receiving ends of these butt-kickings will make around $300,000 to $500,000 depending upon the deal, but if the NCAA really wants to get involved with something worthwhile, then how about getting some of these match-ups off the schedule? They can’t be any fun for fans and probably cause coaches more heartache than anything.

There are occasionally upsets and close games but those are few and far between.

Good games this week… #6 LSU at #9 Georgia…. #14 Oklahoma at #22 Notre Dame…. #21 Ole Miss at #1 Alabama…. #23 Wisconsin at #4 Ohio State.

Denver laying double-digits but will Cover

Tonight two old rivals hook up in the Mile High City when the Oakland Raiders visit the Denver Broncos. This rivalry used to be one of the fiercest in the NFL during the 1980s and 90s but has lost some of its importance since the Raiders have struggled for much of the past decade.

Denver entered this season as the overwhelming favorite to win the AFC West as they ran away with it last season. At this point, the Broncos have the second shortest odds on many sportsbooks such as topbet, to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.

Over the first two weeks of the season, the Broncos have played as they have been expected and have covered the favorite spreads.

The division seems to be more competitive this season and that makes it even more important the Broncos continue winning.

New Head Coach Andy Reid has brought stability to the Kansas City Chiefs and their defense has played nothing short of spectacular in the first three games of the season.

Even Oakland, who has been considered doormats in the league of late, is showing new life with a 1-1 SU and 2-0 ATS start. They had a chance to beat Indianapolis in week 1 before defeating Jacksonville in week 2.

The Broncos on most sportsbook like Bovada, betonline or are favored by 15 with an over under point total of 50 in tonight’s matchup.

Over a week ago, the game opened with lines of 14.5 to 15 and has stayed in that area since.

Oakland has a dual threat at quarterback in Terrell Pryor who has 162 rushing yards on 22 carries. Talented running back Darren McFadden has 177 yards in two games and that has helped keep opposing defenses wondering who will run the ball.

The Raiders are second in the league behind just Philadelphia in rushing yards per carry and per game, and the Eagles have played 3 games to the Raiders 2. The Raiders have run the ball more than 50% of the time thus far after two games.

Pryor has also passed well with 343 years in two games and one touchdown. However, the Raiders will face a tough secondary for Denver and a talented defensive line.

Oakland must have long time consuming drives that end in touchdowns and hope their defense can at least slow Peyton Manning down.

Oakland, since 2003, has covered as a double digit underdog three times, with two of the covers being outright victories. Both were in Denver in 2004 and in 2009.

Nevertheless, this season Manning has the Broncos running on all cylinders. I like Denver less the 15 and the OVER to cash out.

I Like Some Underdogs in Week Three

Rivers and his Chargers have had great success against the Titans recently.

Last Week 2-2

This week offers four games that have really interesting trends and stories behind them. I love a couple of road dogs this week and a home one as well. Check them out and see if you agree.

San Diego (+3) at Tennessee – Since 2007, the Chargers have defeated the Titans in seven straight games. Many of those were games that weren’t really that close either. San Diego is also 5-0 straight up against the Titans in the last five meetings and Tennessee is 0-5 against the spread in the last five meetings with the Bolts as well.

Both teams could make arguments that they should each be 2-0 on the young season with disappointing, late-game losses to go with their wins. The Chargers came east last week and beat the Philadelphia Eagles in a 1pm start and they’ll face a similar situation today. Therefore, don’t expect any excuses. I love the Chargers getting three here.

Indianapolis at San Francisco (-10) – The 49ers are 8-0 under Jim Harbaugh following a loss or tie and that’s exactly what they face in this spot. The common theme in those rebounds has been great defense and wins that have average margins of 17 points. San Francisco has had to deal with the arrest of Aldon Smith on drunk driving and marijuana possession charges, but Harbaugh has said he will play and let the league handle the discipline.

The Colts were of course in the news last week acquiring Trent Richardson from the Browns for a first-round pick next spring. While Indy possess plenty of weapons, this is the perfect situation for a bounce-back victory for the Niners following their butt-whipping in Seattle. I really do like the 49ers here.

Can Smith lead the Jets to a win at home over the Bills?

Buffalo (+3) at NY Jets – These two AFC East foes enter at 1-1 and both have reason to believe they could easily be 2-0. Both of those losses came to division rival New England and both the Jets and Bills had opportunities to knock off the Pats. This will be rookie E.J. Manuel’s first game on the road so I expect a little anxiety at the beginning.

The Jets are Geno Smith’s team now with Mark Sanchez on the injured reserve list. While he hasn’t been brilliant, he has done plenty of good things too. New York is 2-5 against the spread in their last seven meetings with the Bills at home. While the Jets’ defense will pose problems, I can see the pass rush of Buffalo doing the same to the Jets offense. I expect a close game and like the Bills getting the three.

Chicago at Pittsburgh (+3) – It’s hard to call the third game of the season a ‘must-win’ game but it really is a ‘must-win’ for the Pittsburgh Steelers. At 0-2, the Steelers have scored a grand total of 19 points in two games and have not forced a turnover on defense. Chicago enters at 2-0 with two wins by a combined margin of four points. Jay Cutler said this week he knows his team could just as easily be 0-2 like the Steelers.

I have to believe the Steelers will find a way to muster up some points despite the aggressive Bears’ defense. The Steelers have been an impressive 15-5 straight up in their last 20 games at home. On the flip side, they are just 2-4 against the spread in their last six games against Chicago. With that said, I’ll be shocked if the Steelers don’t give a great effort. Take the points and go with Pittsburgh.

Cowboys Laying Points, but are Dismal at Home ATS

Today the Dallas Cowboys take on the upstart St. Louis Rams at home in Arlington, Texas. The Cowboys are awful against the spread when playing at home.

Both the Cowboys and Rams lost tough games on the road last week. The Cowboys are 1-1 SU and 2-0 ATS this season, but lost to the upstart Kansas City Chiefs last week 17-16. The Rams are 1-1 SU and 0-2 ATS and lost to Atlanta last week.

The Cowboys are laying 4 points in this matchup on Bovada and other online sportsbooks such as topbet, betonline and Dallas is 12-21 ATS at home since Cowboys stadium was built four seasons ago.

The line opened with Dallas favored by 3.5 on most books such as betonline, but has gone up to 4 points where it has stayed. The over under total points has ranged on sites, such as and topbet, between 47 and 47.5.

The last time the two clubs met was in 2011 and DeMarco Murray had 253 yards rushing against the Rams to break the single-game Cowboys rushing record.

However, the Rams defense this year is much better than two seasons ago and is currently ranked sixth in the league in yards allowed on the ground.

St. Louis has done well against the spread. The Rams are 6-1 ATS in their past seven games on the road. However, Dallas has been dreadful at home against the spread and is a woeful 2-10 ATS over their past 12.

Sam Bradford has matured at quarterback for the Rams in his fourth campaign running the offense. After two games, Bradford has 651 yards passing, 5 touchdown passes and just 2 interceptions.

The Rams have Chris Givens as their deep threat and Jared Cook a strong tight end makes for a good target over the middle.

The Rams defensive secondary leaves something to be desired as they have given up huge chucks of yards in their first two games versus Arizona and Atlanta. However, Robert Quinn their defensive end has 4 sacks after two games.

The Cowboys running attack has been practically nothing thus far. Murray had only 25 yards on the ground against KC last week. Dallas did not have a rushing attempt in the last quarter against the Chiefs.

Quarterback Tony Romo has 91 passing attempts after just two games. Dez Bryant had a strong receiving game against Kansas City and should be able to have a strong game against a weak Rams’ secondary.

Dallas is a hard call this season. They have started out 2-0 ATS, but have not covered in 10 of their past 12 home games.

This game will be full of offense, with the OVER as a solid choice. If you must take a winner, I like the Rams and the 4 points.

Week Three Injuries in the NFL

Week three of the NFL season is already here and as is always the case, injuries are playing a big part of how teams prepare for their games this weekend.

Each week players go down with injuries. Teams have back up players to fill in but those backups do not compare talent wise much of the time to the player who was lost.

For instance, Ryan Clady was lost for the season when he injured his foot. He played left tackle and was the most important pass protector for Peyton Manning on the Denver Broncos. His injury caused sportsbooks to readjust their futures lines for the AFC Championship and the Super Bowl.

Lost to Injury

Left tackle Duane Brown of the Houston Texans has turf toe and is likely to sit out of this week’s Houston game against the Baltimore Ravens. Brown is one of the best left tackles in football. His absence will affect Matt Schaub’s confidence in the pocket in Sunday’s game.

The same goes for the left tackle of the Seattle Seahawks Russell Okung. He has helped to anchor one of the league’s best rushing attacks. He tore a ligament in one of his toes and will be out of action in week 3. His absence is as hard as or worse on the Seahawks than Brown’s with Houston.

Clady as mentioned previously sustained a Lisfranc injury and is out for the remainder of the season.

Danny Amendola a wide receiver for the New England Patriots will miss this week’s game due to a nagging groin injury. Amendola missed week 2 and his absence was noteworthy, as Tom Brady had lost his security blanket against the Jets. New England was lucky that the Jets made too many mistakes or the Patriots could have lost that game.

Returning Players

Tight End Rob Gronkowski may return to the New England lineup for the first time this season. His return is not 100% certain and will be decided on game day. His presence will make life easier for Brady, as he will have one more great target to go to and the tight end is a very good blocker.

Tight End Heath Miller is not a flashy player for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but he is one of Ben Roethlisberger’s go to guys in crucial situations like third downs. He practiced all week and it appears he will return from a knee injury.

Four Games in College Football That Caught My Eye

I like Manziel and the Aggies to bounce back in a big way against the Mustangs.

Season Record 4-9, Last Week 2-2

I say a little improvement last week and had all four winners correct but a flat performance by Notre Dame and an iffy one by Northern Illinois cost me a perfect record against the spread. Let’s hope this week works out better.

SMU (+28) at Texas A&M – Everyone is expecting the Aggies to have a let down following their tough loss to Alabama last week. I’m not buying it. The Aggies discovered they could play with the Tide once again and will be fueled by the fact that a BCS Title game re-match could happen if they win out.

SMU comes in with a fantastic passing game but a poor running attack. Not the combination you want against an Aggies’ defense that gives up a lot of yards on the ground. The Mustangs are 3-7 ATS in their last ten road games and that number could be a signal to look for the Aggies to win back and I think they will behind Johnny Manziel who looks better than he did last year.

Michigan (-19.5) at UConn – Last week, Michigan avoided one of the worst upsets since…. well, since they were beaten at home by Appalachian State and then Toledo. Akron had three shots at the end zone from with the five yard line but couldn’t complete the deal and the Wolverines survived.

There is no way that Brady Hoke’s Wolverines didn’t get the message this week in practice about their poor performance against the Zips and I believe that will propel them in their first road game of the 2013 season. UConn has lost games to Maryland and Towson State. Yes, I said “Towson State.” The Huskies boast a 1-4 record at home ATS in their five and have one of the worst running attacks in college football. I don’t see how this spread isn’t higher. Take the Wolverines and run.

Can Butch Jones and the Vols bounce back against rival Florida?

Tennessee (+16) at Florida – The Gators enter the classic match-up with Tennessee off a bye week in which they had plenty of time to sulk over a tough loss to Miami in South Florida. Tennessee spent last week getting taken to the woodshed by Oregon early and often. The Vols bring a record of 1-3-2 into the Swamp against the spread in their last six games against the Gators.

Tennessee runs the ball very well at a clip of over 240 yards per game, but now they face their stiffest test with the Florida defense. The Gators will force Tennessee to throw the ball much more than they want to and with a passing attack ranked 114th in the country who could blame them? I think the Gators cover at home in Gainesville.

Arizona State (+6.5) at Stanford – Both teams enter this pivotal Pac-12 showdown at 2-0 but something will have to give. The Sun Devils are in the top ten in the nation in passing while Stanford is among the top 25 in defense. The biggest question for ASU is are they ready to win a big game? Yes, they defeated Wisconsin last week in Tempe, but are they ready to go on the road and win?

The Cardinal have been very matter of fact in wins over San Jose State and Army. They scored 34 points in both games and had very good balance offensively. Two numbers stick out in this contest however. ASU is 4-7-1 ATS in their last 12 games against the Cardinal and the Sun Devils are 1-5 ATS in their last six trips to Palo Alto. I’m going with Stanford to win by at least a touchdown.