Beating Vegas: Vegas Is Getting Smarter

Beating Vegas has been ON FIRE with it’s college football picks!  So far this year we are 11 for 13 so let’s see if we can keep that luck going.  Safe to say everyone took a hit with the NFL last week as two big time favorites this year in Pittsburgh and Arizona looked flat out awful.  New week, new story – so keep checking for this column weekly and visit so you can beat the NCAA and NFL odds. . .

Tennessee Titans +6.5 at Houston Texans


At this point, some teams and players start shaping up into what they will be for the rest of the year.  For the Titans, this looks like a squad that is confused on the field and has a quarterback who is suffering from the sophomore jinx.  Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota appears to be thinking too much.  Usually thinking is a good thing, but he hasn’t been “reacting” to situations quick enough in the pocket – he’s somewhere between ‘trying to make the big play’ and ‘trying not to turn over the ball’ – and failing at both.  The Texans were just shut out on National television by a third string, rookie quarterback and are now playing in the comfort of their own home against a division rival they know well.  The Texans have beaten the Titans in eight of their last ten meetings, and they’ve done so by nearly twenty points per win.   This Titans team is far from making the jump to being competitive and they’ve got a quarterback who seems to be trying to drive this offense  from the back seat.  Take the better coach and better depth (even without J.J. Watt).

The Pick: Texans -6.5

Seattle Seahawks +2.5 at New York Jets


The big story here is that Russell Wilson suffered a sprain ACL in his left knee last week against the San Francisco 49ers.  The Seahawks are expecting Wilson to play, even if not at 100% which will work right into the Jets’ hands.  Wilson hasn’t been “killing it” this year anyhow.  In three games he has two touchdown passes, an interception and a lost fumble.  The Seahawks offense doesn’t know what it wants to be: “Smash-mouth”
, Aerial – or balanced.  Regardless of what they think they are – they’ve looked really sloppy so far this year.  Speaking of “sloppy” . . . The New York Jets were downright pitiful last week against the Kansas City Chiefs, losing 24-3.  Well at least their offense looked pitiful. . .Eh, Ryan Fitzpatrick looked pitiful.  Fitzy threw six interceptions and appeared to be confused with which jersey color he should’ve been throwing to the whole game.  The Jets will keep this game simple against a Seahawks defense that will feast on those floater passes Fitzy likes to throw.  This game will be ugly, but it will be in New York, meaning Seattle has to make that coast to coast travel that all teams dread.  The Jets will be looking to rebound against a wounded Russell Wilson.  The public will be riding the Seahawks on pure reputation against the Jets – the public is usually wrong.

The Pick: The Jets +2.5

Illinois +21 at Nebraska


Talk about two universities going in completely different directions. . . yikes.  Illinois is the bad side of the coin as it looks like head coach Lovie Smith may have taken on more than he can handle with this roster and it’s lack of talent.  On the heavier side of the coin is Nebraska, who is so far, undefeated and both sides of the ball seem to be in sync with each other.  Illinois has gotten shelved by UNC and Western Michigan and although quarterback Wes Lunt isn’t a bad player, it’s the lack of talent around him.  The offensive line isn’t impressive and outside of wide receiver Marcus Turner, they lack little to know play making ability.  Nebraska is led by quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. who has been a duel-threat nightmare for defenses so far this year averaging over 300 yards and three touchdowns a game.  The offense has two capable running backs and Nebraska is a team that can go four wide at the wide receiver position and depend on all of them.  The trend in Vegas is that Nebraska is 4-1 ATS in it’s last five games, while Illinois is 1-5 ATS in it’s last six games.  Expect that trend to continue, even with this big number – Illinois just can’t match up with Nebraska on the field.

The Pick: Nebraska -21

Western Michigan -3.5 at Central Michigan

You got to love the Mac Conference.  We won with Western Michigan earlier this year in an easy cover against Illinois (yes, the team that we’re going against this week as well) and this week they’re going against Central Michigan.  Both squads average about 41 points a game between them and defensively they allow on average about 23 points a game between them.  Last year the winner of this game was Western Michigan 41-39.  The over/under for this game is set at 55 and this is the kind of game where these two will be lighting each other up until late in the fourth quarter.

The Pick: The Over 55

If You Must: Take Wisconsin +10.5 against Michigan.  Don’t like riding a team two weeks in a row, but they were the underdogs last week and flat out won, this week, Wisconsin is the first true test for Michigan who has been playing cup cakes so far this season.  Michigan is playing a team now that will “punch back” and they haven’t faced that at all this year.  Michigan will most likely still come away with a win, but Wisconsin will hang around.  This might be a preview of the Big Ten Title game and both teams know it.


4 Game Tease of the Week: Dolphins +19, Browns +19.5, Raiders +15.5 and Stanford/Washington Under 57


Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: The Juke Move

About last week:  The Raiders were the one team that made us look bad here at Beating Vegas.  Some teams are just hard to read  and the Raiders look like they are one of them – at least for the moment.  We’re doing good things here at Beating Vegas, so keep checking for this column weekly and visit so you can beat the NCAA and NFL odds. . .

Baltimore Ravens -1 at  Jacksonville Jaguars


The San Diego Chargers made the Jaguars look like the Jaguars we’re more familiar with.  The Jags looked over-matched and over-whelmed for most of the contest.  It was over quickly and this Jaguars team that has wildcard hopes, looked awful.  The truth is, the Chargers have games like these during the year, where they look like world beaters, but then are sent back down to reality.  The Jags are not a franchise that knows how to handle expectations, but this familiar taste of being blown out will not sit well with this unit.  They are back home and playing the role of host to an underwhelming Ravens team that is 2-0.  The Ravens barely beat Buffalo and barely beat Cleveland.  Cleveland was actually up by twenty points until a questionable taunting call turned the tides of the game. . . Those are two below average teams and one can argue that their kicker Justin Tucker is probably their best weapon on offense.  The Jaguars are a legit wildcard team this year and smart folks love a home underdog after a road blow-out loss.

The Pick: Jaguars +1

Oakland Raiders +1 at Tennessee Titans


Ironically, these two teams were “locks” in last week’s “Beating Vegas” article.  The Titans covered fairly easily in their victory over Detroit, but as mentioned in the opening – the Raiders are just undependable at this point.  So why are the Raiders still featured here, if they are “undependable?”  Because, the Raiders defense looks awful.  The Saints and Falcons were able to ride up and down the field at ease against this re-vamped Raiders defense – and although we’re not knocking the abilities of those two offenses, it’s the fact that the defense looks lost.  There is an obvious lack of communication with some of the new pieces and this is something that won’t change overnight.  Marcus Mariota showed in the second half last week what this offense can look like.  His ability to escape pressure is key, because the Raiders will most likely blitz early – Detroit did that late last week and Mariota took what defenses were giving him.  The backfield of Murray and Henry hasn’t blown up yet, but they’ve been consistent.  The emergence of Tajae Sharpe at wide receiver has been a nice surprise too.  The Raiders should win this game, but we’re not worried about that for the most part.  Points will be scored, that’s for certain.

The Pick: The Over 46.5


Wisconsin +5.5 at Michigan State


Classic trap game.  Michigan State less than a touchdown favorite after a huge nationally televised game against the most recognizable name in college football Notre Dame.   Last week Wisconsin struggled against Georgia State but came through with an ugly 23-17 victory.  THAT’S the game that is fresh in everyone’s head, but let’s not forget how Michigan State struggled against Furman to open the season with a sloppy 28-13 victory.   Michigan State has been protecting their quarterback Tyler O’Conner for the most part and they don’t have him throw too much during games so it’s nice to see  him throw at a completion percentage of 73% but it doesn’t tell the whole story. . . Wisconsin’s offense is basic as well, but they are going to keep true to what they do.  They have three talented running backs running behind an above average offensive line.  The Wisconsin defense allows about seven less points a game than Michigan State does and with Michigan giving five and a half points in this game, it just seems like this one will be a blue collar game played at the line of scrimmage.

The Pick: Wisconsin +5.5


Air Force -3 at Utah State

The Air Force offense is picking up this year where it left off last year – one dimensional and nearly unstoppable.  They are on top of the college football world averaging 432 rushing yards a game.  Couple that with the fact that their defense allows only 17.5 points a game (best in the Mountain West) this is a team that should own most of their competition this year.  Utah State has a more balanced offensive attack and defensively aren’t terrible, but in their one true test this season against USC (if that’s even a “test” at this point anymore in college football) when they gave up an average of 4.8 yards a carry to USC’s best backs Aca’Cedric Ware and Justin Davis.   Sure Air Force hasn’t played much competition, but 400 plus yards a game against anyone is impressive – AND this is just what we’ve come to expect from the road favorite.


The Pick: Air Force -3


Houston -34.5 at Texas State

It may seem a bit foolish and even naive to pick Houston two weeks in a row, but THIS Houston defense against THIS Texas State offense – it’s kind of hard to ignore this.  Texas State allows five yards a rush and their defensive front just doesn’t have the talent to stay with Houston’s offensive line.  Houston’s defense is allowing only 13 points a game and don’t think they don’t see what Louisville is doing this year.  If Louisville doesn’t slip up next week against Clemson, then the November meeting between Houston and Clemson might decide a playoff birth.   Houston needs to make short work of teams like Texas State to prove a point.  The first half might be a smart wager here as well, but just like last week, don’t think too much about it.  Houston should win this win 49-13.   Yeah, of course you’ll have to sweat it out, that’s just the way it is.

The Pick: Houston -34.5

Four Game Tease of the Week: Dolphins +2.5; Western Kentucky +4.5; Michigan -7; Pitt +19


Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio


Beating Vegas: Let’s Not Over-React

About Last Week:  Oh Seattle. . . Russell Wilson seemed out of sorts last week and that Cincinnati / Purdue game made us sweat it out, but we got that “under.”  When it came to Louisville clearing sixteen at Syracuse – it really doesn’t get much easier than that. . . Seriously, keep checking this column and every week so you can beat the NCAA and NFL Lines. . .


Tennessee Titans +6.5 at Detroit Lions

After being up 21-3 and  then having to edge out a win 39-35 against the Colts, the Lions should be counting their blessings.  The Colts don’t have much depth, neither do the Lions, so on paper it should have been a close game anyway.  Vegas has the Lions as a one touchdown favorite against a team that should be making strides this season.  Minnesota’s offense didn’t do much against Tennessee’s defense (the Titans even held the unstoppable Adrian Peterson to an abysmal 1.9 yards a carry) as the offense had to settle for four Blair Walsh field goals.  Marcus Mariota’s costly two interceptions turned into defensive touchdowns which made the difference in the game.  This time around, Mariota plays against an easier defensive opponent and a team, in the Lions who never knows how to put anybody away.  Expect the Titans to mix in Derrick Henry a little more with Demarco Murray early to see if they can have the same amount of success that Frank Gore had last week (4.2 yards a carry) against Detroit.  They may want to ease Mariota into the game and keep an overly anxious Matt Stafford on the sidelines.

The Pick: Tennessee Titans +6.5


Atlanta Falcons +4.5 at Oakland Raiders


The Oakland Raiders gave us a gutsy and exciting game last week against the New Orleans Saints, but all was not to be celebrated.  The Raiders came into this season ranting and raving about a defense that was ready to take on the world, but Drew Brees and the Saints threw the ball all over the field on them, leaving it up to Derek Carr and the Raiders offense to carry the load.  The good news is, Carr looks totally in-sync with Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree – the chemistry from last year, just seems to have gotten better.  The Falcons have a top flight wide-out in Julio Jones there is no doubting that, and they even have two talented backs in Coleman and Freeman – but that offensive line is still an issue.  Matt Ryan has slid down to  be the fourth best quarterback in the NFC South (remember class there are only four teams in the division).   If the Oakland Raiders are truly back in the picture as a team that matters, beating an average at best team at home by a touchdown should be a requirement on their resume.

The Pick: The Raiders -4.5


Houston Cougars -9 at Cincinnati Bearcats


To be honest, there was some wavering on this one.  And the golden rule should be – if you’re not sure, stay away – but it’s a Thursday night game and we all can’t avoid a little college football action in the middle of the week. . .  The Bearcats have found a better look in their offense with Hayden Moore at quarterback but the competition has been way below average.  The Ohio-Valley Conference was represented by Tenn-Martin and the Bearcats struggled for a half and couldn’t stop the run.  Then they beat the worst team in the Big 10 by 18 points. . .  Meanwhile, Houston has showed off a tough defense in both of their wins, one of those wins was the season opener in which they were in control against Baker Mayfield and that Oklahoma Sooner offense.  In just two games, the Bearcats have three 100 yard rushers (and one 80 yard rusher) and will be able to eat the Bearcats offensive line all day.  History shows that in the last three years the winner of this game has been decided by 7 points or less, but this is a huge year for Houston and they are looking to make examples out of teams that are clearly not in their league.  This game has a lot of the Louisville / Syracuse feeling from last week and we saw what the better team did in that one. . .

The Pick: Houston -9

Western Mich  -3.5 at Illinois


Year in and year out, Western Michigan has an impressive and very un-noticed team.  Welcome to the glory of the MAC Conference.  Western Michigan comes complete in their passing attack and their ground game. Senior wide receiver Corey Davis is having a nice start to the season snatching seven catches a game and already racking up 220 yards in his two games.  This will prove to be a problem on the Illinois defense as Lovie Smith still hasn’t learned that the Cover-2 base defense just isn’t a good idea anymore.  Watching Illinois, they leave the middle of the field open all day long – this is what helped get Lovie fired as head coach of the Chicago Bears.  The Illini are giving up 440 passing yards a game and expect that trend to continue.

The Pick: Western Michigan -3.5

South Florida Bulls -14.5 at Syracuse Orange

Syracuse was just embarrassed on national television last week (as was predicted here on Beating Vegas) and now they are a double digit home dog.  The Regular-Joes will ride the favorite in this game because of what they saw.  But it’s all about what they don’t see.  South Florida was able to open the season to beat up on Towson and Northern Illinois, while Syracuse had one cup cake opponent and then a monster in Louisville.   Syracuse’s problem isn’t moving the ball, it’s finishing drives and they are going up against a defense that hasn’t been tested yet.  Syracuse has a fast paced offense led by quarterback Erik Dungey, who is flying under the radar now, but is one of the more exciting quarterbacks to watch play.  Syracuse may not win this game, but they definitely won’t get blown out either.  The Bulls may get winded early and have to muscle a win out of this one.

The Pick: Syracuse +14.5



If You Must: Take Memphis at home -20 against the visiting Kansas Jayhawks.  If this was basketball, Kansas would be  a road favorite by at least 7 or 8, but in the world of football, Kansas has won six road games since 2011 and haven’t really been trending upwards in the last two years.

Four Game Teaser: Saints/Giants Over 40.5;  Cardinals +5.5; Panthers -1.5 and Ohio State +10


Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: College Rolls, NFL Starts

Last week: Killed it with Tulane, killed it with the UNC/Georgia over, pushed on Boston College and even nailed the under on the Stanford / Kansas State game.  Seriously, keep checking this column out every week. . .


Cincinnati -6.5 at Purdue


Games like these are avoided by the casual college football watcher and for good reason.  Purdue might be the worst team in the Big Ten, while Cincinnati is better remembered as “the school Brian Kelly used to coach at.”  Purdue lacks a pass rush and has one of the weaker secondaries in the NCAA.  Cincy can answer for at least ONE of those weaknesses.  The Bearcats’ running game and offensive line is the back bone of this offensive attack.  Quarterback Gunner Kiel is one of those guys with the “physical” talents (and cool first name) that usually leaves fans unimpressed.  This year, Kiel will be working with a new crop of wide outs to test this weak Purdue secondary.  Purdue will try to run the ball but won’t have the speed to outrun Cincy on the outside.  The over / under is set at 64.5 because of the lack of defensive firepower but Vegas might be over-selling the value of these offenses.

The Pick: The Under at 64.5

Louisville -16 at Syracuse


This line keeps going up and for good reason.  If the nation was sleeping on Louisville before this season started, the Cardinals definitely woke up the dormant masses last week by trouncing Charlotte 70-14.  Yes, it was Charlotte, but make no mistake this Cardinals team is legit.  After being up 56-0 in the first half the Cardinals took their foot off the throats of Charlotte. Quarterback Lamar Jackson scored 8 total touchdowns last week and made it look as if he was playing on “easy-mode.”  On the other side of things Syracuse is a team that just won 33-7 verse Colgate, but looking deeper at the numbers there is cause for concern.  Two of their three touchdowns came on a 43 yard pass and a 49 yard run – Louisville’s defense might give up a play like that once a game. . . to a good team.  Syracuse also had to settle for field goals four times during the game because their offense was stopped by Colgate. . . Louisville may be at Syracuse, but they’re going to be those disrespectful house guests that put their dirty feet on your kitchen table and spit on the floor.

The Pick: Louisville -16

Miami Dolphins -10.5 at Seattle Seahawks


The NFL returns this week, and it does so with a very “bleh” opening weekend.  The Seahawks enter the season with high expectations as they should while the Dolphins tell themselves things will be different and they won’t be.   It’s becoming really easy to go “chalk” and take the Seahawks at home but how can you not when the Dolphins are traveling 3,300 miles to play a game against a team that got better on offense and is still a top five defense.  Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill is one of the more overrated starting quarterbacks in the league, who usually does his damage in “garbage time.”  Hopefully for him, when the game gets to that point, he’ll be already on the bench game planning for next week’s game.

The Pick: Seattle -10.5


Tulsa +29 at Ohio State


Logic would say, take Ohio State and don’t worry – history would say “not so fast.”  So which way do we lean?  The logical way or the way of the historian?  Ohio State likes to line up these out of conference games and try to make quick work of their opposition.  They did that last week with a sixty-seven point blow out against Bowling Green and are looking to do that against Tulsa this week. Last season, Ohio State beat Western Michigan by 26 points and squeezed by Northern Illinois with a seven point victory.  Tulsa on the other hand is a bad team that can put up points.  Last year against Houston and Oklahoma they put up 24 and 38 points respectively in those losses.  Expect Tulsa to keep their starters in this one for all four quarters, which will give way to the “back door” points late in the game – or just keep up with the great Buckeyes for more than the Ohio State faithful will care to see.

The Pick: Tulsa +29

If you must: Take Clemson first half against Troy.   Right now the first half line is non-existent but the total game line is set at -36.  Lets guess that the first half is at 22.5 — you still take it.

4 Game Teaser: Louisville -2, Iowa -3, Tampa Bay Bucs +15 and Seahawks +1.5


Good luck and wager wisely!


G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio