Beating Vegas: L.A. Non-Consequential

Pittsburgh Steelers -3 at Baltimore Ravens

Forget about the actual spread, and lets take a look at the over/under number of 42.  This match up is typically a grudge match and here is how the numbers look since 2010:  Three games have gone completely over, two of those games have been right at 42 and three of those games have gone to 43 points (one of those meetings needed overtime to do so). That leaves the other 7 meetings to obviously go under our “magic number.”  This year the Steelers look “un-even” and Baltimore looked like they had the best defense in the league until (excuse me as I double check the stats) Blake Bortles threw for 244 yards and 4 touchdowns against them – yeah, I know. . . The Steelers lost to a Chicago Bears team who’s offense is as one dimensional as one can get and had to squeak by a Cleveland Browns team, that is ___________ (you can fill in the blank).  Bottom line is, Joe Flacco and the Baltimore offense is probably just as hard to watch as the Panthers are now-a-days and it seems that “Big Ben” Roethlisburger may have finally lost a step.  Expect a 13-10 thriller, and it doesn’t matter who wins.  We all lose if we watch this game.

The Pick: The Under at 42 points

Philadelphia Eagles +1.5 at the Los Angeles Chargers

We’re taking a look at this game because of the optics.  Both teams got worked by Kansas City, but if not for two botched field goals, the Chargers would be sitting at 2-1 much like the Eagles.  Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers has gotten off to a slow start this season averaging less than 7 yards a pass, with 4 touchdowns mirroring 4 interceptions.  The public is riding high on the Eagles this week with 68% of the money going that way, which isn’t surprising because the national and local public pay no mind to the Chargers anyway.  The Eagles escaped with a win against New York, as the Giants realized too late that the Eagles have no secondary.  The Chargers, when compared to the Giants have a formidable group of wide-outs, a better offensive line and yes, a better quarterback.  On top of all that you got a team coming off a win against a division rival traveling 3000 miles to the team football forgot.  Great time for the home team to pick up their first win of the season.

The Pick: The Chargers -1.5

Here at Beating Vegas, we’re feeling good about those two picks.  The rest of the match-ups don’t look to pleasant but for the sake of writing down a third “lock” as we always do, here we go. . .

Cincinnati Bengals -3 at Cleveland Browns

Last week told us two things, the Browns aren’t good enough to beat the Colts and the Bengals should be almost good enough to beat the Packers.  It might sound crazy, but that tells a lot.  The Colts possess one of the worst rosters in the NFL this season (and last season) so for the  Browns to put up the “L” against them is atrocious.  The Bengals, came out the gates looking like the NFL’s only punchline.  A firing of an offensive coordinator and the discovery of using Joe Mixon, gave the offense some life though.  The Bengals actually DO have a good roster – that’s never been the problem, it’s been coaching – eh, yeah and sometimes it’s Andy Dalton as well. . . Bottom line is people keep looking for the Browns to turn the corner and for the Bengals to stump their big toe on the curb – truth is, neither of that will happen.  At least not this year.

The Pick: The Bengals -3

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: Trust the Better Quarterback

Kurt Cobain once uttered the lyrics “all apologies.”  And those same words are the ones I repeat to all of our loyal “Beating Vegas” faithful.  Last week’s mishaps will not happen again.  Let’s get it.

USC -3.5 at Washington State

Hmmmm. . . An undefeated, ranked home dog going up against a team that the public loves, that may be a “little” bit over-rated.  Interesting.  The number ten ranked Washington State Cougars are sixth in the nation in passing yards per game, airing it out at 432.5 yards per contest.  They are 4-0 so far this year and have been an offensive juggernaut thanks to their pass attack.  Quarterback Luke Falk is throwing at a 77% completion rate and has 14 touchdown passes to one interception.  All of this sounds great until you see who they have played this year:  Montana State, Oregon State, Nevada and Boise State – who they only beat by 3 points.  They are starting their Pac-12 conference play against a team that the masses either love to hate, or hate to see underachieve: The USC Trojans. The Trojans are ranked sixth nationally and have accumulated a 4-0 record as well but against better competition, and that’s not even up for debate (Western Michigan, Stanford, Cal and Texas).  While the whole world is in love with quarterback Sam Darnold, the two running backs of Southern Cal, Ronald Jones and Stephen Carr are who defenses should be wary of.  Jones is averaging 5.5 yards a carry, with Carr averaging 6.3.  The Cougars run defense has “held” opponents to 3.5 yards a carry – but once again – look at who they’ve played. A “number stat” to pay attention to is this: Washington State is just 1-8 SU and 3-6 ATS in its last nine games as a home underdog (according to OddsShark).   The half point, is something I’d buy an entire point with, but that’s just me.

The Pick: USC -3.5

Northwestern +14.5 at Wisconsin

Wisconsin has made short work of their early season competition as expected, even destroying BYU last week 40-6.  Wisconsin is a team that many expect little to no slip ups during the season, which should get them to the Big 10 Championship game, but now, they start conference play.  The Northwestern Wildcats are 2-1 including a beat-down they received courtesy of Duke, and pulling out 14 points in the fourth to beat the lowly Nevada Wolfpack.  The Wisconsin Badgers have always been able to run the ball, and that doesn’t change this year with running back Jonathan Taylor averaging 8.3 yards a carry, but a steady leadership from quarterback Alex Hornibrook has been an unexpected surprise.  Hornibrook has completed 70% of his passes and is averaging 10 yards a pass.   Northwestern’s defense is already allowing over 400 yards a game and on the ground they are allowing 4.1 yards a carry.  When using the Beating Vegas “Clash Average” – Wisconsin has an advantage at getting 4.85 yards per carry against Northwestern, which should give Hornibrook more than enough to work with. When looking at the numbers Northwestern is a passing attack yielding very few results (102 pass attempts, 5 touchdown passes).  Wisconsin may start out slow, but by the second half the Badgers assert their authority.

The Pick: Wisconsin -14.5

Oklahoma State -9.5 at Texas Tech

This is a rivalry that goes back to 1935, and they have consistently played each other every seasons since 1996.  Who’s been fairing the best you ask?  Well, in their last 8 meetings, the Oklahoma State Cowboys have found themselves getting the better of the Texas Tech Red Raiders by an average score of 49 to 28 (the spread is 9.5 so I’m sure you can guess where I’m leaning. . .).   The over/under for this game is set at 81 total points and the average over the last eight games has been 77.75 points.  This is going to be a long game with a lot of big plays, but it’s all about who will make the defensive stops when needed.  The answer to that question is almost never Texas Tech.  Quarterback Nic Shimonek has filled in well at the quarterback spot for the Red Raiders, but he is still no Pat Mahomes.  The Cowboys on the other hand have Mason Rudolf who is not only trying to get his team into the Big 12 title game, but he is also building himself up quite the draft profile when it’s his time to go pro.  The big difference here lies in the pass defense, where the Cowboys hold  opposing quarterbacks to a completion percentage of 58.5% while the Red Raiders allow a completion percentage of 63.6%.  That may seem like splitting hairs, but that’s the difference of extending a drive, getting the extra yard for a first and keeping your defense rested.  The Cowboys goals of winning the Big 12 and making the college football playoff are still alive and well.  After losing last week to TCU, expect this Cowboys team to cover this spread but keep you on your toes while they achieve that.

The Pick: Oklahoma State -9.5

Four Game Teaser of the Week: NC State PK, Wisconsin -2.5; SMU-5 and Oregon -1.5


Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: Tennessee Turn Up?

Last week Beating Vegas went 50/50 on College and NFL picks. That’s just not going to cut it here, so let’s knock out these NFL picks!

Seattle Seahawks +3 at Tennessee Titans

In two weeks, the Seattle Seahawks have put up a whopping 21 points.  The offensive line isn’t what it used to be and quiet as kept. . .neither is Russell Wilson.  Wilson’s completion percentage is 56% and he’s averaging 5.4 yards a pass.  Those are pretty below average numbers for a guy who’s held in such high regard today.  It’s not all his fault though, the pass protection isn’t great and his receivers – if we’re being honest – they’re a pretty overrated group (sorry Doug Baldwin fans. . . all four of you).  Tennessee is a team, on the other hand that NEEDS to piece this thing together.  Quarterback, Marcus Mariota is putting up better numbers than Wilson – but  not by much, but unlike Seattle, he has weapons.  Running back Derrick Henry just may have taken over the reigns last week when Demarco Murray went down with a hamstring injury (day-to-day) and the young receiving core has talent with Corey Davis, Taywan Taylor and Rishard Matthews.  They’re just a young team that is finding ways to put it all together – at least one would hope.  The Titans need a signature win and this is their opportunity, to hit a heavy weight while it’s tending to it’s wounds.

The Pick: The Titans -3

Houston Texans +13.5 at New England Patriots

While Texans coach Bill O’Brien is muddling through the early goings of this 2017 season (blowout loss to the Jaguars and barely beating the Bengals) he has to take his team, led by rookie quarterback Deshawn Watson to go against his former boss, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots.  O’Brien was awarded stripes while being the offensive coordinator at New England, than won people over by accepting the job at Penn State during it’s darkest times and eventually becoming head coach of the Texans.  It’s been rough though, as this once heralded “quarterback guru” has been shuffling through mediocrity under center since he arrived.  Now a rookie quarterback enters New England, where under Belichick rookie quarterbacks have gone 0-8.  Add to the fact that Watson is averaging less than 5 yards a pass and his second leading target is his under achieving running back Lamar Miller – things can get crazy.  This Texans defense is “supposed” to be one of the better ones in the league, but in two games they’ve netted three sacks and zero interceptions. New England on the other hand shook off their week one cobwebs and got their swagger back against New Orleans last week 36-20 (game wasn’t even that close – Brees through a garbage time TD with about 5 minutes left).  Houston is going to struggle to score and there will be more than a few three and outs. This will benefit the New England offense who by the second half will wear down this defense.

The Pick: Patriots -13.5

Miami Dolphins -6 at New York Jets

It’s easy to pick against the Jets because. . .it’s the Jets.  When a team is noticeably tanking, you take that into consideration, but this is a rivalry game and coach Todd Bowles is coaching for his life right now.  On the other hand, the Miami Dolphins are only looking up, as they bring to New York one of the more complete rosters in the NFL.   Miami went to L.A. and squeezed out a win against a gritty Chargers team that has a knack for blowing close games and now come back to the east coast to play their rivals in New York.  Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler looked like he didn’t forget a step in the Adam Gase offense and looked calm and in control throughout the game.  Cutler throwing over 70% completion rate, which is pretty much what the Jets allow at about 11.4 yards a pass.  Josh McCown is doing what he can on offense but with no real running game to help him out and only one real target in Jermaine Kearse, the frustration settles in quick.

The Pick: Miami -6

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: “Go Tigers! No, Not You – Them”

Last week Beating Vegas went 50/50 on College and NFL picks.  That’s just not going to cut it here, so let’s knock out these College Football picks first.  It’s usually around this time that the football programs start to show their true colors.

Auburn -19.5 at Missouri

It’s the Auburn Tigers playing the Missouri Tigers.  Auburn confuses this match-up even more by having the “War Eagle” cry and having a bald eagle summoned on and off their home field.  Why couldn’t they be the Auburn War-Eagles?  That would’ve been ridiculous. . .but anyway. Auburn is a team, I projected to go over their pre-season over/under total of eight wins. They are so far, 2-1 and I’m liking my chances still, and I’m holding onto my prediction of them making the SEC title game as well. Last week’s 24-10 win was more of a self-inflicted comedy of errors on their part, rather than Mercer keeping up with Auburn, but none-the-less it showed that the offense is still a work in progress. Quarterback Jarrett Stidham seems to look good in the pocket but hasn’t “wow’ed” anybody yet. He’s throwing at a 70% completion rate but has two touchdown, two interceptions and is averaging below 8 yards a pass. The team is predicated on it’s run game led by Kamryn Pettway but he has even started off slow, averaging less than 4 yards a carry after averaging at least 6 yards per carry last year.  He should get off to a good start against Missouri though who has allowed the most rushing touchdowns in the SEC so far this season (9). Interesting stat though recorded last year:  In the last five years, Missouri post a record of 22-8 at home.  This isn’t a “blow your mind” type of stat but it’s worth noting especially since Auburn in the last five years is 10-11 playing as visitors.   Missouri just got embarrassed by Purdue and got handled by South Carolina but the truth is, those are two programs under a lot of peoples radar at the moment and they probably DID catch Missouri off guard.  This Missouri team has the ability to spread the ball around and they will take chances.  The spread has moved up a point in this game and public currently is all over Auburn.  Take the home underdog in a Prime Time game.

The Pick: Missouri +19.5

Arkansas State +5.5 at SMU

Arkansas State is a team that isn’t scared of much.  They don’t care that they are in the Sun Belt and choose to schedule Auburn (last year) or Nebraska (this year).  They feel they have a team that can swing with the heavy weights every year.  SMU has shown that they struggle against the pass, when tested – as was displayed in their loss to TCU and their win against North Texas.  Arkansas State will look at 6000 empty seats during this SMU game and not feel intimidated by the home crowd.  This number may go up so it’s worth waiting another day or two, but even at 5.5 its too much to pass up.  SMU has a defensive front that’s inexperienced and that’ll go well for the work-in-progress offensive line Arkansas State brings to the table as their aggressive offense will be pushing the ball all day against the Mustangs.

The Pick: Arkansas State +5.5

Rutgers +11 at Nebraska

Both teams enter this contest with a 1-2 record.  But one of them is Rutgers.  Sure Rutgers put up a “decent” fight in the 30-14 loss against Washington, but lets be honest.  Washington flew cross country to play a team the entire nation has good reason to take lightly.  Afterwards they lost to Eastern Michigan and blew out Morgan State.  Morgan State sounds more like a financial firm than a college that has a football team so do what you want with that.  Nebraska has gone up against pretty impressive offensive attacks in Arkansas State (see above), Oregon and Northern Illinois – losing the last two respectively.  Some may see the Northern Illinois game as an “upset” but when Northern Illinois plays any team in a power five conference, the opposition is automatically put on “upset alert.”  This is a game where Nebraska can gain control early in front of their home town and focus on what needs to be done. The spread has gone from 13 to 11 which is bizarre considering most of the action is going Nebraska’s way.  Expect a big game from Nebraska running back Trey Bryant, who is averaging 6.1 yards a carry so far this season.

The Pick: Nebraska -11

Only if you must: The over is 71 in the TCU at Oklahoma State game.  Both defenses either lose interest or get burned out, and both offenses can get hot quick.  This is the Big 12, it’s shoot out city.  The spread itself has Oklahoma State as a -13.5 point favorite.  This is a game to watch for future reference.  If OK State blows out TCU, they might become what Baylor was a few years back – a team to ride 17-22 point first half covers throughout the year.

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: Will The Pats Start 0-2?

New England Patriots -6 at New Orleans Saints

Last week’s 42-27 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs left Patriots fans feeling empty and it gave Vegas fat(ter) pockets.  Last week’s season opener was one of the biggest wins the wise-guys had on an opening day game.  The Patriots made losers out of anybody who took them straight up, second half, teasers, parlays etc. . . More so, the Patriots defense could not get their pass rush going and the offense seemed lack-luster.  Could this be the end of Tom Brady?  Most likely not.  Super Heroes go out as winners, usually.  Now, the public has to decide if the Pats reign over the NFL is coming to an end, or if the Pats will rectify this embarrassing loss.  The Saints on the other hand,  weren’t embarrassed by the Vikings last week, but they were definitely kept in check for all four quarters.  The Saints showed that their defense is still “bleh” and they also showed that the signing of running back Adrian Peterson is going to be a headache for most of the year.  Peterson is the least valuable back out of the three-man-rotation in the Saints backfield and that isn’t going to sit well with the future hall of famer.  Aside from that drama though, Drew Brees still completed 73% of his passes against a good pass rush, so just imagine what he’ll accomplish against this Patriots defense.  The Patriots are still winning the division, they can probably even win this game – but the Saints have the upper hand playing at home to avoid the 0-2 start.

The Pick: Saints +6

Minnesota Vikings +4.5 at Pittsburgh Steelers

Weren’t we just discussing the Vikings?  Yes, we were.  Quarterback Sam Bradford looked amazing carving up the Saints defense, and rookie running back Dalvin Cook, proved to be worth the first round pick running for 127 yards in his first game.  The Steelers opened as a 10 point favorite last week against AFC North doormat, the Cleveland Browns, but had to hold on tight for the entire ride to come out on top 21-18.  Really wasn’t an impressive win for the Steelers who people expect to have an almost unstoppable offense this year. Pats Pulpit on SB Nation wrote up a piece going in detail about how Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is a completely different player at home than he is on the road.  In the last three years he’s thrown 62 touchdowns at home compared to 24 on the road and has a quarterback rating of 109.5 compared to a traveling QB rate of 85.3.  This is another case of the public seeing Minnesota look great on national television and getting the points against a veteran team who struggled against the lowly Browns.  Don’t fall for the trap.

The Pick: Steelers -4.5

Arizona Cardinals -7 at the Indianapolis Colts

I’ve got issues with both of these teams.  First, the Colts. . . Chuck Pagano is the worst coach in the NFL.  And has been for years.  Why is he still the coach of the Colts?  Oh, because the Colts are one of the more poorly run franchises in the NFL.  They have failed to give Andrew Luck a competent coach or a decent team; and now it seems their medical staff may have failed Andrew Luck who is still sidelined.  Colts quarterback Scott Tolzien looked awful against the Rams last week and even if newly acquired Jacoby Brissett doesn’t know the playbook yet, he’s the better option.  Jacoby Brissett is a “Beating Vegas” favorite because he was the reason money was put on N.C. State when he was the one under center.  With that being said, the Colts are awful. . . And that leaves us with the Cardinals.  The most disappointing, under achieving team in the NFL.  Unlike the Colts’ Pagano, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians is actually a great coach – but something just isn’t clicking on this team.  Where it needs to click the most is the quarterback position but folks, remember you heard it hear first (said it last year too) – Carson Palmer is done.  He has nothing behind his throws and reminds me of the Cap Rooney character Dennis Quaid played in the movie “Any Given Sunday.”  This will be one of the most toughest games to watch this year.

The Pick: The Under at 44

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: Wake Up, Gator Down

Utah State +13.5 at Wake Forest

Wake Forest has been a team I’ve picked on for the last few years.  And, why not? Outside of Tim Duncan, you’ll struggle to name a talent out of Wake Forest who has been athletically dominant.  Redshirt freshman wide out Greg Dortch may change that way of thinking though. In his first two games Dortch has 10 catches for 111 yards and 3 touchdowns. For a Wake Forest team that has recently been known for having above average defense and below average offense, this is a player that helps tilt things in their favor. Wake is a team that will predominantly run the ball with their quarterback Kendall Hinton and their running backs Cade Carney and John Wolford.  This ground game will pose the biggest problem for Utah State, who’s secondary might be looking forward to the challenge of covering Dortch, but their defensive line will get pummeled by Wakes offensive front.  Even though they beat up on cup-cake Idaho State, they still gave up 100 yards on the ground to tailback Ty Flanagan, and although Wisconsin is “next-level-good” they couldn’t do much to stop the ground attack or  the passing attack led by Alex Hornibrook, who nearly everyone has questions about as QB of the Badgers.  It may seem like a lot of points but Utah State won’t be able to move the ball against a Demon Deacons squad that has a pretty impressive defense and an improved offense.

The Pick: Wake Forest -13.5


Appalachian State -23 at Texas State

Twenty-three  points is a big number.  Although we did pick UCLA last week and we saw them easily cover that number to rout Hawaii, so who knows. . . App State and Texas State have played a similar schedule: Both lost to a good school from a power-five conference and both won against their scheduled “cup-cake” opponents.  The only difference is, App State dismantled Savannah State 54-7 while Texas State limped passed Houston Baptist 20-11.  The stats between Baptist and Texas were pretty similar, Baptist just didn’t have what it took to finish drives.  Appalachian State knows how to finish drives and put opponents away.  Last year they won this match-up 35-10 and with not much improvement coming on the side of Texas State offensively or defensively in the last year, it’s easy to see where this one is going. . . Last season this Texas State defense was terrible against the run allowing 4.9 yards a rush and allowing 2663 yards on the ground.  Expect App State to take advantage of this and watch as the highly accurate quarterback Taylor Lamb has all day in the pocket.

The Pick: Appalachian State -23

Tennessee +4.5 at Florida

This line opened at eight points and has plummeting ever since.  Does that mean something?  Yes, one of two things.  1) Bookmakers just want even betting on the side so they are begging people to take Florida OR 2) Bookmakers realized something that the majority of the nation refuses to believe: Florida is just not that good.  It’s true.  Sorry folks, no more Urban Meyer, Tim Tebow – hell, I’m sure people are still wishing Percy Harvin will suit up for the Gators – nope, not happening.  The Gators have been able to recruit great athletes on the defensive side of the ball but have been stagnant on offense for – forever it seems. The addition of former Notre Dame quarterback Malik Zaire proved to be in vain as he struggled to throw over 100 yards against Michigan.  Tennessee beat the Gators last season, although they DID have Dobbs at quarterback but this team is already 2-0 and showing no signs in slowing down offensively.  It would’ve been better to get them at 8, but the Vols are just the better team, familiar with this enemy territory and should pull off the victory outright.

The Pick: Tennessee +4.5

Four Game Teaser of the Week: Boise State -2, UConn +22, Oklahoma State -1.5 and Wake Forest -1.


Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio


Beating Vegas: NFL Week 1

The “sharps” at Vegas play the NFL lines differently from the college lines.  A lot of what is determined is based off what the “public” leans towards.  Don’t fall for the “sucker-bets” and the “traps” – just beat, Vegas.

Arizona Cardinals -1.5 at Detroit Lions

Last season was a disappointing one for the Cardinals who finished 7-8-1 (yes and ONE).  Coach Bruce Arians is still regarded as one of the best in the NFL but his team as a whole just didn’t seem to max out their potential. In what may be a “make it or break it season” for veteran quarterback Carson Palmer, opening weekend means a lot.  Detroit on the other hand, surprised the masses last season.  As well as over-achieved.  .  . They rewarded their quarterback Matthew Stafford with a five year $135 million contract.  It’s been brought to the light that Stafford has a record of 5-46 when playing against teams with a winning record, and although I’m not big on putting wins and losses on a QB, that stat is just mind blowing.  Lucky for him it’s the first game of the season and the Cardinals are 0-0.  Even then, the Lions (since dating back to 2006) have lost six straight to the Arizona Cardinals.  The public will jump on the Lions being a playoff team home dog to the Cardinals, but the Cardinals have weapons on offense, including the best player in the NFL, David Johnson and a healthy defense that can cause trouble for Detroit.


The Pick: Cardinals +1.5

Los Angeles Chargers +3 at Denver Broncos

Let’s just call it for what it is when it comes to the Broncos: Good defense that picks up the slack for an average vanilla offense.  John Elway really thought he could sway a QB to come here, or at least expect last year’s first round pick Paxton Lynch to step up and assume the starting position, but nope – we’re here once again to see another season of Trevor Siemian.  Not that Siemian is “terrible” – 18 touchdowns, 10 interceptions and 3400 yards passing last year – but he won’t “wow” you either.  On the other side of the field, the Chargers have one of the more underappreciated starting quarterbacks in NFL history in Philip Rivers.  Rivers, was average at best in two games against the Broncos defense last year but running back Melvin Gordon was able to run for 111 and 94 yards in both games.  An added bonus for the Chargers this time around is that they have a healthy receiving core (minus rookie Mike Williams) which includes Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams and Travis Benjamin.  The Chargers defense is one of my “sleepers” this year and against this very limited and predictable offense, the Chargers win this one in a low scoring affair.

The Pick: Chargers +3

Oakland Raiders +1.5 at Tennessee Titans

The Raiders won five games last year by 5 or less points.  Sure that’s a result of good coaching and focus by the players – but lets not kid ourselves – you need a lot of LUCK for that to happen as well.   Quarterback Derek Carr is the leader of Raider Nation and he enters the home of a Titans defense that finished third worst against the pass last year letting up 7.2 yards an attempt.   One could easily say that number was that high because teams were forced to throw against a defense that was stingy against the run last year ( allowing 4 yards a rush).  The Raiders allowed 4.5 yards on the ground and even more yards per pass last year than the Titans at 7.9.  Bottom line is, the Raiders can’t get “lucky” with this bad play by their defense.  That line should actually be 6 or 7 in favor of the Titans.

The Pick: Titans -3

New York Giants +4 at Dallas Cowboys

Two rules that I have when it comes to sports wagering:  1) Never bet on or against your favorite team and 2) Never bet on or against the team you despise.  The Giants are the team I despise, while the rest of the world either hates the Cowboys, or can’t get enough of them.  Last season the Giants beat the Cowboys in both meetings 20-19 and 10-7 respectively. This is a rivalry in which both teams know each other well and with another tight race expected in the NFC East this season, the importance of this rivalry is multiplied by fifty.  The Cowboys have their running back Ezekiel Elliot (at least for week one)  who had a 50 and 100 yard game against the G-Men defense last season which was only allowing an impressive 3.6 yards a rush.  The Cowboys defense was just as impressive against the run last year but it was their pass defense that was gross allowing quarterbacks to complete 67.1% of their passes last year (second worse behind Detroit).  Although Eli Manning isn’t the most accurate of passers in the NFL, his receiving options are plentiful.  As long as Eli can get rid of the ball quickly, the Giants should not only cover the spread but win outright over the Cowboys. So much for my “rules.”

The Pick: Giants +4

Only if you must: Pittsburgh Steelers are a 9 point favorite in Cleveland against the Browns.

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: Oregon’s Gettin’ Corny

Buffalo +16.5 at Army

Last week Buffalo lost to Minnesota in what was probably the most boring game of the week, with a final score of 17-7.  The Bulls just could not push forward against Minnesota in the trenches and it showed. Army is one of those one dimensional teams who’s one dimension is legit, but after getting punched in the mouth a few times last week, Buffalo should be up to the challenge.  The Bulls have legit talent on their defense such as middle linebacker Khalil Hodge and safety Ryan Williamson.  Last week Buffalo didn’t know what to expect from the Gophers quarterback, and it was too late to realize they should’ve just stacked eight-in-the-box.  This week they know Army will toss the ball maybe 4 times all game and they have the athletes to go up against this triple-option attack.  Last season Buffalo won this match-up against Army at home by 3 points, so the +16.5 looks beyond fishy.   I love salmon myself.

The Pick: Buffalo +16.5



Nebraska +14 at Oregon

Early in the season, Vegas likes to put lines up to fool the public because there really isn’t much to go on but the optics.  Oregon went out of the real college football world to beat up on FCS opponent Southern Utah to the ring of 77-21.  “Vanilla-Optics” folks see this as a return of the dominant Oregon teams we’ve been used to seeing in recent memory.  Keeping that in mind, Nebraska went out and had a high scoring nail-biter against the FBS bred  Arkansas State.   Seems like a “bad-win” for those that don’t know Arkansas State but this a team that won 8 games last year and is used to testing themselves early in the season (last year lost to Auburn in week two).  On paper Nebraska is just plain bigger on the offensive side of the ball when compared to Oregon defensive front and Nebraska’s 3-4 defensive scheme enhances the play of their talented linebackers Weber and Young – but the way to beat Oregon (and it always has been the way to beat Oregon) is by attacking them up the middle.  Nebraska nose-tackle Mick Stoltenberg is a beast in the making and should put pressure on the Ducks early.  Even if the Ducks score early and quick, the Cornhuskers will wear down and frustrate Oregon for the length of this game.  14 is just way too many points.

The Pick: Nebraska +14

Hawaii +23.5 at UCLA

Josh Rosen might’ve had the game we’ve all been waiting for him to have last week as the young man’s confidence matched his play.  Rosen led UCLA to a remarkable fourth quarter comeback against Texas A&M where he threw 4 touchdown passes to beat A&M 45-44.  Sure, we at “Beating Vegas” took the “L” against the spread but we like UCLA this year and it’s because of games like these. . .Hawaii has been busy this season with already 2 games (and with that 2 wins) under their belts.  Sure the wins come against UMass and Western Carolina but hey – you play the games that are on your schedule.  This week though, UCLA’s defense will prove to be too much – more so the UCLA secondary.  UCLA’s defensive front should have their way with Hawaii’s offensive line as well.  Rosen will continue to ride high after this win as well.

The Pick: UCLA -23.5

Four Game Teaser of the Week (ALL NFL): Rams +8; Cardinals +10.5, Chargers +15.5 and the over in the Titans/Raiders game at 38.5

Only If You Must: Sometimes you pick games because of  a “feeling.”  This week N’Western as a road favorite over Duke just seems like it’ll happen.  27-20 final score.  N’western has been recruiting great athletes the last few years and are the better coached team. Just do it: N’western -3.

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio