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 mybookie.ag 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!