How to Fix NFL Officiating

It was on this missed field goal attempt that officials blew an obvious call and it changed the playoffs for several teams.

I really don’t like what I’m going to propose because it pretty much flies in the face of everything I currently despise about professional sports and especially the National Football League. Why such a radical change is needed is not a secret. Officiating in the NFL has gradually gotten worse and worse over the last few years.

I’ve heard some suggest it might be due to complacency. After replacement refs botched things that a Pee Wee official would get right in 2012, the league caved and brought back the ‘regular’ officials quite hastily. Perhaps with a new contract the officials have lost their edge. The calls officials are missing of late are not your garden-variety holding call here and there.

They are missing glaring and obvious calls (see Kansas City field goal attempt) that even average fans are picking up on as they are happening. The very thing that was supposed to support and/or correct their calls, instant replay, has proven to be as up and down as they are and that’s where my solution has to begin.

NFL Refs
These guys are under fire as the playoffs begin.

First, you must know that I hate instant replay. I hate that a game that is played by human beings and officiated by human beings can be decided by technology especially when that technology doesn’t always work. Another reason I dislike replay is that it often isn’t allowed to be used when it needs to be the most. In week 16, the Steelers blocked a Packers’ field goal attempt. A Steeler clearly picked up the ball and possessed it before lateraling it to a teammate who dropped it. The ball was eventually illegally batted by a Pittsburgh player.

Officials ruled the team never possessed the ball although ‘replay’ clearly showed they did. When Mike Tomlin challenged the call, he was told he couldn’t because this particular play wasn’t reviewable. The obvious question is “Why not?”

What I suggest is to actually use instant replay on every play. That hurts for me to even suggest it but it has to happen. The League is already discussing the possibility of having a ‘central office’ that would oversee all replay challenges so why not take it a step further?

If each network can have a former official on hand for every single questionable call then why can’t the NFL? What the NFL needs is an operations center with a specific number of retired officials who must monitor games that are being played. If they see officiating errors being made then the on-field official is immediately notified.

Obviously this would not apply to most ‘missed calls’ like holding or pass interference because this would slow an already slowing game. These officials in the control center would be able to spot things like what was missed in San Diego or what was ‘unreviewable’ in Green Bay.

Frankly, I don’t really like my idea because of my hatred of the whole replay system period, but if something has to be done to save these inept officials from themselves then let’s do it.

In some ways, I really don’t know that Roger Goodell wants to do much about the officiating because he knows it creates talking points and makes his league even more relevant than it already is. The problem though is still credibility and the NFL is lacking in it more and more with each passing week. If Goodell would attack this problem with the same gusto he has with ‘player safety’ then maybe something positive would get done.

I’d be OK if they just dumped replay altogether but I’m not a complete idiot. If I were, that would make me an NFL official right?

Early Lines for Wild-Card Round in NFL

This weekend the first round of the NFL postseason kicks off with the wildcard round. These are the early lines that can be found online at Bovada,, topbet and betonline.

Saturday January 4.

New Orleans Saints at Philadelphia Eagles (-2.5) Total: 55.5

The Eagles were 7-1 SU over their last eight games of the regular season. Philadelphia ended the season 10-6 SU and 8-7-1 ATS. New Orleans has a great offense and plenty of experience in the postseason. The Saints finished the season 11-5 SU and 8-7-1 ATS.

However, on the road the Saints have struggled all season winning only 3 of their 8 road games. In those eight road games, the Saints were a dismal 1-7 ATS.

The last time the teams played was in the regular season in 2012 with New Orleans (-2.5) winning and covering 28-13.

Kansas City Chiefs at Indianapolis Colts (-2.5) Total: 46.5

These teams played head to head on December 22 with the Colts defeating the Chiefs in Kansas City 20-7. The Colts are 11-5 SU and 10-6 ATS, while the Chiefs are 11-5 SU and 9-7 ATS. Now only two weeks later, Indianapolis is favored after being the underdog by 7.5 points in the first matchup.

Indianapolis outgained Kansas City by 367 to 287 in that game and the Chiefs had four turnovers, nearly 25% of their total turnovers for the season.

Kansas City gave most of its starters the day off on Sunday versus San Diego, which was a good decision by Coach Andy Reid since they play Saturday and would have had one less day to rest.

Sunday January 5

San Diego Chargers at Cincinnati Bengals (-6.5) Total: 46.5

San Diego snuck into the playoffs thanks to a missed field goal by Kansas City that sent the game to overtime where they prevailed. The Chargers are 9-7 SU and 9-6-1 ATS and lost to the Bengals on December 1 of this year 17-10. The Bengals, who are 11-5 SU and 10-5-1 ATS, were 1.5 point favorites in that game at San Diego.

The Bengals are 8-0 SU and ATS at home this season and are 7-4 ATS when the favorite. San Diego as an underdog is 6-3-1 ATS this season.

San Diego has not been victories in the postseason since 2008, while the winless drought in the postseason for Cincinnati dates back to January of 1991.

San Francisco 49ers (-2.5) at Green Bay Packer Total: 49

The 49ers are the only team in the four games to be favored on the road this weekend. San Francisco is 12-4 SU and 10-5-1 ATS and is riding a six game winning streak. The line opened with the 49ers as a one-point favorite and already has jumped 1.5 points to a current 2.5.

The 49ers have dominated the Packers winning four straight head-to-head games versus Green Bay. The Packers, who are 8-7-1 SU and 7-9 ATS, won on a last minute touchdown pass by Aaron Rodgers to Randall Cobb on Sunday over Chicago.

San Francisco has 1,073 total yards and 79 points over their last two games against Green Bay.

Rodgers came back after missing seven games to play well in the second half after being rusty in the early going on Sunday.

Opening Lines for Wild-Card Weekend are Out

Can Foles carry the Eagles past the Saints in their Wild-Card match-up?

After a crazy week 17 in the National Football League the 2013 playoffs are finally set. Denver and New England have the week off in the AFC while Seattle and Carolina will enjoy the extra rest in the NFC. The Broncos and Seahawks have home-field advantage in their respective conferences. Without further ado, here’s a look at the opening lines for this coming weekend’s Wild-Card games.

Kansas City (+2.5) at Indianapolis – A couple of weeks back, the Colts went into Kansas City and thumped the Chiefs 23-7. They sacked Alex Smith five times and disrupted his passing all day. The Colts held the ball for 38 minutes while Donald Brown and Trent Richardson combined for 140 yards rushing. Now the scene shifts to Indianapolis where the Chiefs have to be thinking about the importance of getting out early to take the crowd out of the game.

KC was impressive in their loss to San Diego yesterday despite playing almost all reserves. Will the rest benefit the starters or will they be rusty? For the Colts the gameplan will be simple; run the ball and set up Andrew Luck with play-action. Defensively, it will continue to be about disrupting Alex Smith. Right now, I like the Colts to cover.

New Orleans (+2.5) at Philadelphia – The Eagles did what many thought they would do in defeating the Cowboys last night to claim the NFC East crown. I have to think most thought it would be a little easier than 22-20 though with Tony Romo not playing. Not surprisingly, the Saints took care of business at home over Tampa Bay to claim the final wild-card spot and now will travel to Philly.

This might be the most interesting game of the weekend because we already know Drew Brees is not nearly the same quarterback outside that he is inside. The real match-up however could be Rob Ryan’s attacking defense against Nick Foles. Can the young signal-caller make the right adjustments to beat the blitz? The X-factor in this one will probably be LeSean McCoy though who I expect to have a big game. Take the Eagles to cover.

Can Dalton keep his hot streak at home going against San Diego?

San Diego (+7) at Cincinnati – On paper, this one looks all too easy doesn’t it? The Chargers will travel across the country to play a 10am Pacific Time game against a Bengals’ team that hasn’t lost at home and averages about 40 points per game in Paul Brown Stadium. The Chargers did show some resiliency yesterday in coming back from ten points down in the fourth quarter albeit against reserves of the Chiefs.

Back on December first, these two played a very competitive game in San Diego that saw the Bengals win 17-10. Cincy rode the running of BenJarvus Green-Ellis and an n opportunistic defense in the victory. At first thought, I expect things to be similar yet it’s hard to argue with what the Bengals do at home. Right now I expect the Bengals to cover.

San Francisco (-2.5) at Green Bay – These two hook up again in the playoffs but this time the scene shifts to Lambeau Field in Green Bay. The two teams opened the 2013 season at San Francisco where the Niners won a 34-28 game that was back and forth throughout. The Packers’ defense surrendered almost 500 yards of offense including over 400 yards passing to Colin Kaepernick.

Despite the shift in locale, what doesn’t change is a weak Packers’ defense. I’m not at all surprised that San Francisco enters as the only road favorite of the playoffs. Aaron Rodgers will have to carry the Packers to a shootout win if they have any chance but right now I like the Niners giving the 2.5 points.

Public takes the Books to the Cleaners in Week 17

Week 17 ended the NFL regular season and gave bookmakers their biggest loss of this season, with parlays involving the favorite teams for the public doing serious monetary damage on Sunday.

Bettors had won only one week of the first 16 in the regular season and were ready to throw in the towel prior to Week 17. However, the full slate of NFL games on Sunday rewarded the public’s patience, as they hit gold making it the most profitable and entertaining week of the regular season for the public bettor.

Many books such as Bovada and topbet were able to win just two games early with the New York Jets +7 against Miami and Atlanta Falcons +6 against Carolina. However, the books lost all seven of the late afternoon games.

Many books like betonline and did win some sharp money, but those wins could not make up for the parlays that the public hit. One book had a 10-team parlay for $100 hit that cost them $80,000, while another rang up the register for $60,000.

The public has waited all season for each of their favorite teams to cover in the same week and Week 17 did not disappoint them.

Heading into the weekend, books were cautious about Week 17. There are some many variables that take place such as playoff teams resting starters, as did Kansas City did the entire game and Denver in the second half after leading by 31 at halftime.

The public started the day behind Pittsburgh pushing the opening line of -6 up to as high as -9 prior to kickoff. The Steelers did not disappoint the public winning 20-7 and covering against Cleveland.

However, the biggest damage came in the late games when the league’s most popular teams for betting over the past two years all covered. The Saints, Seahawks, 49ers, Patriots, Broncos and Packers all covered their numbers and helped give the public a late Christmas present by linking together a number of parlays.

Bettors had their doubts about Aaron Rodgers coming back after seven weeks on the sidelines, but could not stay away from laying just -3 with Green Bay who has owned the Bears and their quarterback Jay Cutler of late.

Public bettors love to stick with their favorites and that was not any more evident than in the New Orleans 42-17 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Although the Saints had not covered in four of their past five games and had remained UNDER in the point total over their past six games, the public was strong on the OVER and the Saints parlay combination.

The regular season had ended, but three weeks of playoffs and then the Super Bowl are to follow and that makes the public even more excited especially after enjoying such a lucrative end to the regular season.

Random Thoughts in the Sports World for Sunday

Silva's career may have come to an end last night in UFC 168.

There’s nothing quite like waking up on a Sunday morning, grabbing a cup of joe and sitting down to write with a virtual smorgasbord of sports topics to discuss. Today is one such Sunday morning and I’ll try to be brief on each and every topic. Sometimes I find myself ranting a bit too much on certain topics thus missing a chance to discuss more stuff. See? I’m doing it already…

Last night may have proven to be the end of one of the great careers in sports. MMA legend Anderson Silva was defeated again by Chris Wiedman in UFC 168 by TKO in the most gruesome of manners. To say Silva suffered a broken leg would be nice. Most reports are that he shattered his lower leg. Coming back from such an injury is not impossible but should Silva even bother?

He really has nothing left to prove and will always be one of the all-time greats of mixed martial arts. Don’t be surprised to see him back though.

In light of this and other gruesome injuries MMA offers on many occasions, I can’t help but wonder why people aren’t as outraged by this as they are about injuries in the National Football League. Trust me, I know the millions or billions of reasons why but if Roger Goodell would just admit ‘player safety’ is a sham and it’s all about money then I’d sleep just slightly better.

Players at Penn State should be able to leave just as freely as their head coach should he take the Texans' job.

Discussion has ramped up significantly in the last 24 hours about Penn State Head Football Coach Bill O’Brien becoming the next football coach of the Houston Texans. This would be a great ‘get’ for Texans’ owner Bob McNair as O’Brien has long been thought of as a potentially good NFL head coach. My question relates to not Houston but to Penn State. What happens to those kids who committed to play at Penn State for a coach that’s no longer there?

This is not a normal ‘coach takes another job’ situation either. You’ll recall that Penn State is in the midst of a four-year ban on playing for the Big Ten title and they may not go to any bowls in that period as well. If you really understand college football and recruiting then you know how tough it is to recruit top athletes with them knowing they won’t play for championships of any kind.

We all know the NCAA is a complete joke in almost every way and this is yet another, but something must be done to allow these players to have the same freedom their coach has.

If yesterday was in fact Teddy Bridgewater’s last collegiate game then he went out quite well. The Louisville signal-caller threw for over 400 yards and three scores in the Cardinals’ 36-9 rout of Miami. I think Bridgewater’s decision is an easy one and will be made even easier if his head coach, Charlie Strong, takes the top job at Texas as some think he will.

In my opinion, Bridgewater is the top QB that would be coming out this year. His accuracy is outstanding and his decision-making is very good as well. While I’m not sure if his overall game equates to being the number one guy on a team’s draft board, that doesn’t matter. Houston has the number one pick and a need at quarterback. Stay tuned.

Did anyone else find the NBA’s t-shirt style jerseys on Christmas Day to be as horrendous as I did? I felt like I was watching a European handball match rather than an NBA game. Selling gear is a top priority for any league but if you show up at the courts wearing one of those be prepared to be laughed back to the bench.

Unique Scenarios for Bookmakers in NFL Week 17

The last week of the NFL regular season brings with it tough betting challenges for bookmakers. This week there is only one isolated NFL game, when usually there are three that take place on Thursday, Sunday and Monday Nights.

Some good patterns have come into play for bookmakers the past few weeks, but being the last week of the season, other factors come into play. One such factor is motivation. Some games in the minds of players are meaningless as neither team will make the playoffs. In others, a coach might be resting players for the postseason.

Bettors usually are good at getting that sort of information by going online to certain sites and finding out.

At times, the information comes late just prior to kickoff, but online sites such as Bovada, topbet, and betonline have the latest information and will take bets up to kickoff time.

Each of the 32 teams plays on Sunday, which will decrease the handle in comparison to other prior weeks since only the Eagles vs. Dallas  is playing alone. During the 15 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm ET games, all the bettors will be spread across the board.

Due to this, there will be more three to eight team parlays than the winnable parlays of two teams in the isolated games. For bookmakers that can be both a good thing and a bad thing.

However, odds are it is a better percentage for the house. A parlay of two teams is one of the few non-traditional wagers that is quite fair to bettors.

The final week of the regular season also has a few games such as Chicago vs. Green Bay and Philadelphia vs. Dallas that have huge divisional title and playoff implications.

The NFL even changed starting times for some of the games so that teams competing for playoff spots in the same conference played at the same time.

However, one team that will be watching the television prior to their game will be the San Diego Chargers. The Lightning Bolts need both Baltimore and Miami to lose and then they need to defeat Kansas City to get a playoff spot.

The Chiefs on Bovada are getting 10-points playing at San Diego, which is nearly unheard of, but Kansas City has little or nothing to play for. That of course does not mean the Chiefs will lose, but it gives San Diego a better chance of winning.

The final week of the season offers from winner takes all games to meaningless, but it does not stop the public or sharp money from stepping up and wagering on whom they feel will cover.

Four Bowl Games on Tap for Today

Tonight could be the last time Teddy Bridgewater throws a pass in college.

The 2013 College Football Bowl seaosn is in full swing and there are four big games on the slate today so let’s get to them!

Rutgers vs. Notre Dame (-14) – The New Era Pinstripe bowl features one team many think should be in the Big Ten and one who is headed there. Notre Dame and Rutgers meet in this one and you can expect a large Irish contingent in the Bronx. In fact, you’ll probably see more gold than you will scarlet despite the close proximity of Rutgers.

Rutgers finished just 6-6 on the season while Notre Dame had a respectable 8-4 consdering the change at quarterback and the loss of numerous players from last season’s BCS Title Game Team. The one area the Knights could find some success is running the ball. With Louis Nix III out for the season, the Irish run defense failed miserably in his absence and wasn’t much better when he was in there. Because of that issue I like the Knights and the 14 points.

Cincinnati (+3) vs. North Carolina – The Bearcats and Tar Heels meet in the Belk Bowl in a match-up of the AAC and the ACC. Don’t read that too fast or you could get confused as I did. I have to believe the over/under (57) is going to get the way of the over with both teams averaging over 32 points per game. Neither team plays great defense either so expect a shootout.

The oddsmakers like the Heels based on level of competition but I’m not biting here. I like Cincinnati and the three points.

Morris would like his final game for the 'U' to end in a 'W.'

Louisville (-4) vs. Miami – The Russell Athletic Bowl has been getting a decent amount of attention as speculation swirls around the futures of Teddy Bridgewater and Charlie Strong. For Bridgewater, he will announce after the game whether or not he has chosen to turn pro with most thinking he will head to the NFL.

Meanwhile, Strong has been considered a ‘strong’ candidate to replace Mack Brown at Texas. Whether or not that comes to fruition is a moot point right now because like Bridgewater, he is focusing on the Hurricanes at the moment. That isn’t the only drama in this one though because the Cardinals will be joining the ACC next year and will see the ‘Canes much more often. Oh, and don’t forget that Bridgewater orginially committed to Miami as well.

With so many things going on, they’ll still need to play a football game and without Duke Johnson at running back I think the Canes could be in trouble. Stephen Morris is a capable QB but he will force throws and commit turnovers. Miami is 1-6 against the spread in their last seven games while the Cards are just 2-6 ATS in their last eight. Take the Cards to cover tonight.

Michigan vs. Kansas State (-6) – These two teams from the midwest head west to the desert where the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl awaits. Both teams enter at 7-5 on the season but had very different endings. K-State won five of their last six games while Michigan started 5-0 and then struggled down the stretch. Despite a heroic 42-41 loss to Ohio State, Michigan is still not where it wants to be in terms of bowl games.

Regardless, they will move forward without quarterback Devin Gardner who broke his foot in the loss to the Buckeyes. That means Michigan will start freshman Shane Morris who gets his first collegiate start in the bowl game. The Wildcats will actually use two quarterbacks, Jake Waters and Daniel Sams, and both will attempt to get the ball into the hands of play-making wideout Tyler Lockett.

I expect a valiant effort by Michigan but I fear the pressure will be too much for the freshman signal-caller. I like the Wildcats to cover.

NFL Week 17 Injuries Move Lines in Key Games

Week 17 of the NFL has arrived with a number of playoff spots still open. Injuries have played a role each week in the NFL and this final week of the regular season is no exception.

There is no shortage of top name players on this week’s injury report. An elite defender, one of the league’s top quarterbacks and arguably the best wide receiver and running back will unlikely play for their respective teams in the final week of the regular season.

Some important players could see action, but limited or none at all. The biggest news on the injury report this week is over two quarterbacks whose teams are in winner take all matchups this week.


Tony Romo will miss the rest of the season for Dallas including the team’s winner takes all game on Sunday against Philadelphia. Romo underwent back surgery on Friday and that has now made Dallas a considerable underdog for Sunday’s game.

Romo has been criticized for some blunders he made late in games, but is one of the league’s top quarterbacks and will be greatly missed by the Cowboys offense. Kyle Orton will take his place and Jon Kitna, at 41 was re-signed as insurance.

Wide receiver Calvin Johnson for Detroit will likely sit out his team’s last game of the regular season. Megatron is easily the league’s best wide receiver and his loss make things very difficult for the Lions offense.

Dallas not only has its best offensive player out injured, but its best defender as well. Sean Lee, the team’s middle linebacker will sit out Sunday’s game thanks to a sore neck. His loss will be greatly felt by the Dallas defense against both the run and the pass. Dallas’ defense is one of the league’s worst and without Lee, the Cowboys will have difficulty stopping the Eagles.

Green Bay also plays in a do or die game on Sunday versus Chicago and will be without the services of Clay Matthews their talented linebacker. He re-fractured a thumb and will not play making the Packers defense even worse than it is against the run and pass.

Adrian Peterson was injured back in Week 15, but his team scored 47 points that week against Philadelphia. His value is high for the Vikings, but the running back position is an easy position to find a quality backup for injured players.

The Vikings take on the Lions this week and Peterson’s injury does not drastically change the chances the Vikings have against Detroit, nor does it affect the point spread with odds makers like Bovada,, topbet or betonline.

Huge Return

The return to action of Aaron Rodgers is huge for Green Bay. Rodgers broke his collarbone in early November and his team was 2-5-1 without him under center. In the seven games he played prior to his injury, the Packers were 5-2. Green Bay plays in a winner take all NFC North matchup on Sunday and Rodgers’ return makes them the favorite to win and enter the playoffs.

Who Will Be Looking for Work in 2014 in the NFL?

I expect Jim Schwartz to be one of the first coaching casualties on December 30th.

Week 17 in the National Football League always brings with it some great divisional games with playoffs on the line and it also brings something else as well. This year that date will December 30th. If you still have too much wrapping paper in your face, that’s the Monday following the last Sunday of the season. It’s also a day that sees many head coaches and coordinators sent packing and looking for new jobs.

If you’re asking me who I think gets the axe on that fateful Monday I have a pretty good idea. I fully expect Jim Schwarz to be relieved of his duties in Detroit. It won’t be an easy decision because Schwartz has brought the Lions back to some semblance of respectability, but with that have come problems.

This is a team that had everything set up perfectly for it. The Bears were without Jay Cutler and the Packers were without Aaron Rodgers for good portions of the season. Detroit had very winnable games down the stretch but their lack of discipline and sloppy play cost them a playoff spot. There is a good nucleus in Detroit with Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson but Stafford has to better with the ball and not be so reckless. His poor play may have been the final nail in Schwartz’s coffin.

Frazier has fielded a competitive team each week but it won't be enough to save his job.

Within the same division, Minnesota’s Leslie Frazier is also likely to be released. A constant quarterback carousel and sloppy defense at crunch time are the key reasons why he’ll be fired. To his credit, the team always played extremely hard and was seemingly in every game, but the 0-3 start was too much to overcome.

Frazier is much respected in the NFL and should land a defensive coordinator position during the offseason. What the Vikings need to decide is where are they going at quarterback? Has Christian Ponder been worthy of his first round pick status? Is Matt Cassel a long-term answer or a career back-up? And lastly, do they give the keys to the car to a healthy Josh Freeman in 2014.

Don’t be surprised if all three are no longer part of the plans under a new regime in Minnesota.

Vince Lombardi was once quoted saying that a coach can stay too long in one place. The message gets old and the players no longer listen. I have to believe this is what is happening in New York with Tom Coughlin. It’s been a highly disappointing season for the G-Men and Eli Manning especially and Coughlin’s ouster will be the result.

This will more than likely be Coughlin’s last job, but who knows? He has earned the Giants two Super Bowl trophies and has made the Giants and their fans proud but the time has come. Job number one for a predecessor is to get Manning to take better care of the ball, establish a running game and rebuild the defense.

Other potential firings… Greg Schiano in Tampa Bay would seem likely but the team has shown improvement under rookie quarterback Mike Glennon and has looked much more enthusiastic with Josh Freeman gone. It may not be enough though to save Schiano’s job… I’ll be shocked if Mike Shanahan isn’t fired in Washington. There is a clear problem between him and Robert Griffin III and that’s not acceptable for Daniel Snyder… With Gary Kubiak already out in Houston, the top candidate has to be Lovie Smith. He will come in and bring immediate stability and toughness to both sides of the ball. Big question? What do the Texans do with their number one pick in May?

Louisville Laying a Field Goal versus Miami in Citrus Bowl

The Russell Athletic Bowl kicks off on Saturday December 28 from the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida. This season’s matchup features the Louisville Cardinals versus the Miami Hurricanes.

Miami will be the best team the Cardinals will have played the entire season, but that is not saying a whole lot.

The schedule for Louisville was No. 105 in the ratings. The Cardinals have not beaten any team of note this season, yet odds makers like Bovada and topbet have Louisville listed as a favorite in this bowl game.

Both teams have NFL quality quarterbacks leading their offenses. Teddy Bridgewater is the Louisville quarterback that leads an offense averaging over 35 points per game. The only blemish on Louisville’s 11-1 SU record came during midseason at the hands of Central Florida 38-35.

For Miami, quarterback Stephen Morris has been the glue that has kept the offense together following the loss of Duke Johnson the star running back who went down with an ankle injury early in November. Against strong offenses, the Miami defense has not played well, giving up 42 points to Virginia Tech for example.

The latest line on betonline has Louisville favored by 3.5 points with the point total sitting on 57. The line on has fluctuated between its open of -3 for Louisville to -3.5.

Against bowl teams this season, Louisville was 2-3 ATS, while Miami was 2-4 ATS against the same category of opponents. Under Charlie Strong their head coach, the Cardinals have a record of 2-1 ATS in three bowl games. Last season the Cardinals upset the Florida Gators in the Sugar Bowl.

Over their past seven games as an underdog, the Hurricanes have gone 6-1 ATS.

When the Hurricanes lost Johnson, they went on a three game losing streak including allowing Duke to score 48 points. However, the Hurricanes rebounded to end the season with two straight wins scoring over 40 points against Pittsburgh and Virginia.

Morris has not been consistent this season. However, over his past four games of the season he had 9 touchdown passes and only 2 interceptions.

Louisville has been strong on both sides of the ball. For the season, the Cardinals are No. 3 in the country in defense points allowed. However, they have had a very weak schedule with the four bowl teams on their schedule being Ohio, Rutgers, Cincinnati and Houston.

Bridgewater nevertheless is an elite talent at the college level. His favorite target DeVante Parker is also expected to play in the NFL. Bridgewater is just a junior but many expect he will declare for the May 2014 NFL Draft, but the quarterback has been silent about his future.

Since Louisville has not faced much competition, it is hard to say how they will fare against Miami. The game should be tight. I like Louisville SU and Miami ATS.