“The Sooners needed all of their 662 yards (323 passing, 339 rushing) having to come back from a 28-7 first-quarter deficit. The Sooners are 4-2 OVER the total (a no-sweat winner I had with the Sooners/Longhorns OVER)…”
Ram Tough: Preseason means nothing. The Rams lost all three preseason games, then stormed out of the gate at 4-1 SU, 3-2 ATS. They whipped defending champion Tampa Bay, 34-24, and come off a 26-17 win at Seattle (another prime time Thursday night cover for myself and my clients along with a Sunday Night Game of the Month on the Bills, 38-20).
College Football Close Shaves, MLB Playoff Betting
As Marie Antoinette said, “Let them eat chalk!” Texas A&M knocked off No. 1 Alabama in a thriller, 41-38. It happened to be Aggie coach Jimbo Fisher’s birthday and while he was eating birthday cake bettors were eating chalk pushing ‘Bama from a 16-point favorite to -18 and -19. Bettors padded parlay tickets with ‘Bama on the MoneyLine at -1000 figuring it was a sure thing, but you can’t get rich with big favorites. Texas A&M at +700 ended up cashing as the college football Top 10 got turned upside down. A lot was made about A&M not being ranked, but before the season started the Aggies were in the Top 10 after going 9-1 last year. Money moved Nebraska from +3.5 to +2.5 around the key number of 3 and it made all the difference in the wagering world as Michigan pulled out a 32-29 win and cover…depending on what number you got. Line-shopping was important in the Penn State/Iowa showdown, too, with the Hawkeyes anywhere from -2 to -3. Iowa outscored Penn State 10-0 in the fourth quarter for a 23-20 win, cover, or push! With Alabama’s 19-game winning streak now gone, Iowa has won 12 in a row. Underdog Arkansas covered in a wild 52-21 loss to Ole Miss, but the defense is suddenly a major concern. After losing 37-0 to Georgia surrendering 273 yards rushing, Ole Miss gouged them for 324 rushing yards (6.6 ypc). The Razorbacks lost despite 326 yards passing, 350 yards rushing on offense. How much better offensive balance can you have and still lose? The Ole Miss defense ‘D’ didn’t show up until the final play, pressuring Arkansas QB K.J. Jefferson on a 2-point conversion pass that failed. It took a while for Oklahoma’s point-a-minute offense to get going but it’s clicking in October after beating Kansas State 37-31 and Saturday’s 55-48 thriller with Texas. The Sooners needed all of their 662 yards (323 passing, 339 rushing) having to come back from a 28-7 first-quarter deficit. The Sooners are 4-2 OVER the total (a no-sweat winner I had with the Sooners/Longhorns OVER). If you want to bet their remaining games OVER you may want to do it early in the week to get the best number. Especially with games coming up against Kansas (43.8 ppg allowed), Texas Tech (34.3 ppg allowed), and TCU (28 ppg given up).
Ram Tough: Preseason means nothing. The Rams lost all three preseason games, then stormed out of the gate at 4-1 SU, 3-2 ATS. They whipped defending champion Tampa Bay, 34-24, and come off a 26-17 win at Seattle (another prime time Thursday night cover for myself and my clients along with a Sunday Night Game of the Month on the Bills, 38-20). The Los Angeles defense turned a corner holding Seattle to 3.7 yards per carry forcing 2 turnovers. And the offense rolled up 476 yards, clearly comfortable with new QB Matt Stafford (12 TDs, 3 INTs). They’re also 4-1 OVER the total with an offense that is Top 6 in the league in yards, passing yards, and points (28.2 pg). With games against the Giants, Lions, and Texans coming up, Los Angeles is likely to be 7-1 at the halfway mark thumping its chest as the team to beat in the NFC.
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Big NFL Line Move Losers: Interesting that the two big-money moves in the NFL were on the home underdog Jaguars and the road favorite Patriots. Jacksonville made significant strides the previous week losing 24-21 to Cincinnati as a +7.5 dog. They had extra days to prepare and went from +7 to +4 at home to the Titans but got blasted anyway, 37-19. I pointed out last week that 2-2 Tennessee would be fine after ironing out a few early weak areas. The offensive line allowed 3 more sacks to the Jaguars, but the ground game was outstanding again with 184 yards, 130 by Derrick Henry, his fourth straight 100+ game. Underdog bettors were counting on Urban Meyer’s ground attack to control the ball and the clock…and they did, rushing for 198 yards, 6.4 ypc. But they lost the turnover battle 2-0 and lack the offensive weapons with a rookie QB to overcome a 24-13 halftime deficit. The Patriots moved from -6.5 to -9 but were fortunate to even win, 25-22, with a fourth-quarter comeback. What bettors didn’t expect was the Patriots to be so sloppy in the first half, fumbling away a TD at the goal line, losing the TO battle 2-1, and allowing Houston QB David Mills to throw for 290 yards, 3 TDs, no INTs. One other factor is that Bill Belichick is now 23-6 against rookie QBs. Belichick got the ‘W’, but the team never came close to covering…Minnesota was a big home favorite bet up to -10 but squeaked by winless Detroit, 19-17, on a 54-yard field goal as time expired. The Lions still looked inept with 2 turnovers, 288 total yards, 3-of-11 on third down. Anyone out there bet the Vikings on the money-line at minus-450? If you did, that’s winning $22.50 the hard way.
NFC Betting Notes: In the Eagles/Saints matchup, who has the better QB: Jalen Hurts or Sam Darnold? Philadelphia went from a +4 dog to +2.5 and got the money in a 21-18 victory. Neither team did much offensively, but in the all-important QB battle Hurts ran for 2 TDs while Darnold threw 3 interceptions…Tampa Bay was an 11-point favorite over Miami and rolled, 45-17. Some might not have noticed that it was 24-17 in the fourth quarter. QB Tom Brady threw for 400+ yards with five TDs (no picks) in the same game for the first time in his 22-year career. It’s worth repeating: In the 2001 NFL draft, QBs Chad Pennington, Giovanni Carmazzi, Chris Redman, Tee Martin, Marc Bulger, and Spergon Wynn were all drafted ahead of Brady. Those six threw 179 interceptions in their NFL careers, while Brady alone has thrown fewer (173) picks.
Baseball Playoff Wagering: The baseball playoff game that got a lot of highlights was Boston’s Game 2 comeback at Tampa Bay, a 14-6 home run slugfest. But for sharp-eyed bettors, what stood out was the number of low-scoring games. The Dodgers shut down the Cardinals, 3-1, then the Giants blanked those same Dodgers 4-0 in Game 1. The Brewers topped the Braves, 2-1, and the Rays and Giants threw shutouts in their Game 1s. This isn’t surprising, either, as managers go with their best arms in October with so much at stake. During the regular season, if a game is out of reach managers go with their worst bullpen arms to save the better relievers for the next game. That’s less so during the playoffs, all of which makes for more low-scoring games. The UNDERs started 6-3. Another factor that will come into play as the month goes along is the cooler weather, particularly for night games in northern parks such as Milwaukee, Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco. Colder weather makes it tougher on batters. So don’t be surprised if you keep seeing low-scoring tilts.
Colts at Ravens (Monday): Indianapolis ends a three-game road trek after winning at Miami, 27-17. This is a tough matchup for the Colts up front. Indy is down two offensive linemen, the O-line has struggled all year, and QB Carson Wentz (5 TDs, 1 INT) has been dinged up getting sacked 10 times in four games. The Colts are ranked #23 on third down, in the middle of the pack in total yards. The Ravens have played only one home game, topping Kansas City, 36-35, as an underdog. QB Lamar Jackson (4 TDs, 3 INTs) leads the third-best rushing attack while the defense has allowed 24 points the last two games. The Ravens are 20-36 ATS after a two-game trip. The Colts have covered 10 of the last 12 meetings with the Ravens, while the UNDER is 12-1.