Bye Weeks, Bills/Titans, NFL Major Money Move$
  The NFL bye weeks just began. Ideally, a team would like a bye either at the halfway point of the season or later especially with the new 17-game schedule. This gives potential playoff teams or divisional leaders a chance to heal and catch a breather, a nice plus in November or December. However, having the byes this earlier is more of a burden. The last place Jets and Falcons just had their bye week and think how they feel knowing they have to play 12 straight weeks with no break. The Falcons have a losing spread mark (2-3 ATS) and have already played three home games, so seven of their remaining 12 at on the road.

The defense is fifth-worst in points allowed (29.6 per game) giving up 32 to the Eagles, 34 to Washington, and 48 to Tampa Bay. That bad ‘D’ will probably get worn down and having the bye this early won’t help.   A pair of college teams off of bye weeks are Michigan and Wake Forest, meaning both are still undefeated. Michigan was 2-4 last season including ugly losses to Indiana (38-21) and Wisconsin (49-11). They have Indiana coming up and have already exacted revenge on the Badgers, 38-17.

What’s happened is that their strength coming into the season, the offensive line, has been a huge rock that has led the way. This is why returning experience in college athletics can be so important. Four starters on the O-line returned for a Wolverines line that led the Big Ten with the fewest tackles for loss allowed in 2020, along with three of their top wide receivers. This season the ground game is averaging 5.5 yards per carry, a staple for both Harbaugh brothers.   

On defense, first-year coordinator Mike Macdonald (from the Baltimore Ravens) brought in a new scheme featuring more zone coverage and the results have been outstanding allowing 15.5 ppg. They get big tests with games on deck against Northwestern, Penn State, and rivals Michigan State/Ohio State.   After going 4-5 last year, Wake Forest has had an eye-opening campaign.

Sophomore QB Sam Hartman (14 TDs, 3 INTs) has been the glue that keeps this offense humming scoring 35 or more points in every game. But there are some areas of concern. The defense just allowed 514 yards to Syracuse (including 354 yards rushing) in a 40-37 thriller. The Demon Deacons also don’t run the football very well (4.0 ypc), something that could hurt as the weather gets cooler and windier. And the schedule gets tougher with games against North Carolina, NC State, and Clemson on deck. North Carolina hung 59 on Wake last season, Clemson won 37-13, plus Wisconsin clobbered them in a bowl, 42-28. 

Bills at Titans (Monday): A potential NFL playoff preview between two teams likely to win their divisions. Buffalo (13-3 spread run) is a beast outscoring opponents by a league-leading 108 points. QB Josh Allen (12 TDs, 2 INTs) has only been sacked five times while the defense has pitched two shutouts. Buffalo comes off a 38-20 thrashing of Kansas City as a dog and is 14-5-1 OVER the total after a victory. Tennessee is rounding into form, winning three of four (3-1 ATS). A weak spot is the offensive line with QB Ryan Tannehill getting sacked 20 times already…and the Bills defense is fifth in sacks (2.8 per game). The underdog has covered six straight when these teams clash including a 42-16 Tennessee rout a year ago in Nashville.

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Big 12 Betting Notes: Oklahoma Sooners QB Spencer Rattler opened as the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy earlier this year. You can burn those future tickets as freshman QB Caleb Williams got his first start Saturday and was outstanding in a 52-31 win over TCU. The offense rolled up 521 yards and moved into the Top 20 in total yards and points (37.2 pg). It’s the third straight game that Oklahoma went OVER the total by double-digits, now 6-2 OVER…Home underdog Texas got the money but unbeaten Oklahoma State got the win and cover, 32-24, after trailing 24-13. Bettors were right on the total, which went from 65 to 61. Ok-State is 4-2 UNDER the total with a strong defense and committed to running the football even when they trailed Texas 17-3…Baylor got all the money, opening as a home underdog but closing as the favorite. The Bears really dominated No. 19 BYU rolling up 303 yards on the ground (6.4 ypc) along with 534 total yards. It was not only homecoming for Baylor, but offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes had been the OC at BYU the previous three years.

Everybody Loves Cincinnati! It’s no secret: Both the Vegas wise guys and the betting public keep backing the Cincinnati Bearcats. The line jumped from 16 to 21 and the unbeaten Bearcats still covered in a 56-21 rout of Central Florida. They led 35-7 at the half and finished with 336 yards rushing. It must have been extra sweet for coach Luke Fickell. Fickell was hired in 2016 and had to sit through losses to Central Florida of 51-23 (2017) and 38-13 (2018), the latter when Cincy had an 11-2 season. Cincinnati has covered every game (5-0 ATS) this season, so oddsmakers may have to anticipate inflating the line.

NFL Major Money Move$: The Chargers 47-42 win over the Browns helped to unleash a slew of money for the OVER on the Chargers/Ravens showdown Sunday, pushing it from 48 to 51. The argument for it would be a bad matchup for the Chargers’ defense, last in the league versus the run while the Ravens are one of the best. The argument against would be the Baltimore defense is outstanding, Top 10 in points allowed, against the run, and on third down. That defense led the way in a 34-6 beatdown of the Chargers and OVER bettors. Los Angeles had just 208 total yards and went 3-of-12 on third down.

The Chargers are now 5-1 UNDER the total.  The total on the Cardinals/Browns total plummetted from 53 to 48 fueled by windy conditions in Cleveland Sunday. It was a sound wagering angle…until the game started as Arizona led 23-14 at the half. Amazing Arizona is 6-0 SU, 5-1 ATS despite playing four road games. Cleveland’s heralded defense has been a bust of late, giving up 47 to the Chargers and now the Cardinals ripping them for 37 points while going 8-of-15 on third down. That’s been a weak spot all season for the Browns, in the bottom 10 defensively on third down.

And Arizona is in the Top 3 after holding Cleveland to 3-of-10 on third down.  With Jon Gruden stepping down in Vegas, sportsbooks moved the number on the Broncos a bit. They didn’t have to as the Raiders rolled, 34-24. Denver QB Teddy Bridgewater had his worst game of the season with three interceptions. The sportsbooks were rooting for the Patriots to cover as money poured in on the Dallas Cowboys all week. New England came oh-so-close to winning in a thriller and helping the books. Instead, an overtime TD pass by Dak Prescott had the betting public doing cartwheels while bookmakers were taking aspirin and phoning the accounting department. Such is life in the world of eleven-to-ten!

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