So here is our weekly disclaimer: Keep in mind these are opinions. And they are free. We’re not selling you picks, and you can’t move on these games as if they have already been played. If you want to learn the methodology, pick up a copy of the awesome audio book An Introduction to Sports Betting: Blitz Style. I will let you know which games I am actually playing, and also provide some opinions on other games.
Also, a reminder that one tool I use is a computer program devised by a really smart gambler I knew that uses the Sagarin Ratings, a scaled home field database (Ohio State’s home edge is worth more than Rice’s, for instance) and an injury/cluster injury rating. When lines are 6-8 points off what it spills out, it hits at roughly 60 percent. When the lines are 10 or more off, it is about 88 percent. I mention it because you will see me refer to my “computer ratings” on occasion. Like anything, they are just an extra tool. You can devise your own using Sagarin ratings. It’s just an additional tool I use along with common sense handicapping, the eye test and opinions I have developed on certain teams.
Please use these as confirmations of your own plays or reasons to reconsider. Last week we were 1-1 on big bets, 4-3-1 overall, but one of the three was a computer play we told you not to bet. So technically 4-2-1. Not great but not awful. We have been much better on colleges than the NFL so far.
Also, if I did not include a game here, I have no opinion on it. I get a lot of “what do you think of so and so -20 vs. so and so” questions. The answer in advance is no opinion either way.
OK, enough disclaiming. Here we go:
This is going to be a light week. No prime plays, just a few small ones. There are no big computer swings this week and not a lot of really attractive plays.
But there are a few:
Tonight: Utah -3 at home against USC. The computer actually likes USC, but a QB change and the fact that the Utes keep getting ignored has me on the other side of this one. Not a big play at all but worth a little action.
UMass plus 21.5 at home vs. Mississippi State: Not sure I am going to play this one, but this is the classic trap game for Miss. State coming off a tough loss to LSU and Auburn looming next week. UMass has lost to Florida and BC so it’s not like the Minutemen are garbage. Possible play.
Central Florida -6.5 at Florida International: FIU might be the worst FBS team. UCF isn’t good, but they are learning a new system and improving slowly. They should whack FIU pretty badly and as long as the number is inside a touchdown we’re in for a decent play.
Nebraska -8.5 at Northwestern: Northwestern pulled off a nice win over Duke last week, but the Wildcats just aren’t very good. Nebraska looks like a much better team this year. Has the potential to get ugly. Small play.
Texas State plus 34.5 vs. Houston. I never bet on UH games, but I can see Texas State covering this. Tom Herman doesn’t run up the score, the Bobcats are an OK team and the Cougars will likely take their foot off the gas when it gets out of line. Not for me but passing it along.
Keep an eye on: Louisville-Marshall. Right now, Louisville is minus 27.5. If it gets to 28 or more, it might be worth a play on Marshall. The Herd is not good, but this is the classic sandwich game for Louisville, coming off the monster win over Florida State, and next week going to Clemson. Louisville is going to win and win big, but Marshall might keep it inside the number…East Carolina plus 12.5 at Virginia Tech. ECU is an ACC killer.
Miami -10 vs. Cleveland: I rarely lay double digits in the NFL, especially with a team as bad as the Dolphins. But the Browns will be starting a rookie QB, have multiple key injuries and are the worst team in the league even without all of that. The Dolphins are capable of big efforts against weak teams and this week I think they feast. Small play.
Saints-Falcons over 53.5: Yes, the Saints hosed us last week. But their offense is much better at home, and the Falcons can light it up as well. We will take one more ride on the Saints over pony and hope we don’t get bucked off again. Small play.
Three-team over/under teaser: Steelers/Eagles over, 49ers-Seahawks under, Tampa-Rams under.
Saskatchewan +5 vs. Hamilton: The Ti-Cats crushed the Riders 53-7 earlier in the season. But the Riders are slowly playing better football (yeah they are 2-10 on the season, but are 2-1-1 vs. the spread over their last four). The new coaching staff has been a disaster, but they might finally be finding the right moves. Small play, and a smaller play on the under-52.