This has been a crazy week for me in terms of gambling. Despite going 5-5 in my inaugural Gambling Lines column last week, I lost quite a bit of my earnings from the early games betting on the Michigan-Notre Dame over/under. Despite that, I made back a small amount of cash on Sunday’s NFL games.
I had two bets on Monday Night Football, my bigger one getting decided on the final play. One of those bets was a seven-point teaser: Seahawks +10.5 and Under 53 (-130). That bet was over by halftime, but the other bet, Seahawks +3.5 was a much larger bet, and one that I profited on because of much-maligned refereeing incompetence. Honestly, I’m glad I profited, but I’m much happier that the regular referees are coming back. I’m furious with the owners for allowing this to drag on as long as it did. Anybody with half a brain knew that it would come down to someone getting cost a game (I knew it in preseason). For this to have dragged on as long as it did screams malpractice and incompetence of the highest order, and I found Jim Irsay’s tweets on Wednesday to be incredibly insulting to my intelligence.
Anyway, let’s get on to some selections. We’re going to introduce some NFL picks into the mix this week in addition to the NCAA picks. I think I’ve got some good ones this week, but nothing’s a sure thing when it comes to Vegas.
Note: Unless otherwise noted, all picks will be against the spread, and all odds are -110 (or 10/11). That means you need to bet $110 to win $100, and the ratio stays the same for however much you bet.
Thursday Night Special:
NFL + NCAA Parlay: Baltimore (-12) v Cleveland and Stanford (-7) at Washington (odds: +$273)
Stanford has had Washington’s number over the years, and in spite of Washington starting off well at home this season and having a primetime game on national television against the #8 team in the country, Stanford should be able to pull this out. As far as the NFL game is concerned, 0-3 Cleveland is traveling on short rest to face a Baltimore team riding high after sneaking away with a win on Sunday Night Football against New England. Cleveland may have a trend of playing well in primetime games, but don’t over think this one. Lay the points for both favorites tonight.
#25 Baylor at #9 West Virginia Under 81.5
This one was too big to turn down. Yes, both teams are very good offensively, with Baylor averaging 51.3 PPG and West Virginia 47.3. But look at the teams they’ve faced: West Virginia played Marshall, James Madison and Maryland, while Baylor played SMU, Sam Houston State and Louisiana-Monroe. Best team of those six is Maryland, and West Virginia was held to 31 points in that game last week. Yes, this one is bound to be a shoot-out, but 82 points is a bit too high for my liking.
UConn (-16) v Buffalo
Okay, I know Connecticut is coming off a loss against Western Michigan, and yes, they’re two wins against Maryland and UMass are nothing to write home about, but come on. Buffalo lost to Kent State 23-7 at home last week, with their only TD coming courtesy of a Hail Mary at the end of the half with a catch that the receiver couldn’t make again if he got another 50 chances at it. To only be favored by 16 is a blessing in my eyes. Lay the points.
Saturday’s Big Money picks:
**Seven-point teaser #1**: #14 Ohio State (+9.5) at #20 Michigan State under 49 (-130)
This game could go either way. That being said, Michigan State’s offense has struggled in three of their first four games, and they’ve given up an average of 11.8 points per game. On the other side of the ball, Ohio State has been able to score points this year, but they haven’t really had a big test yet. Having watched Ohio State in all four games this season, I’ll say this: the offense is not as good as Urban Meyer would like it to be, and Braxton Miller is not a legitimate Heisman Candidate this year. Last year, Ohio State lost 10-7 at home to Michigan State and struggled to move the ball. Six of their seven losses last year were by a TD or less. They brought in Urban Meyer because he is one of the best coaches in the country, but the biggest thing that he’s been able to do wherever he’s gone is win games. Sounds pretty simple, no? If they’re going to be in close games this year, they will be able to win them. I think they’ll be able to leave East Lansing with a win, but just to be safe, do a teaser and give yourself a bit of a handicap.
**Seven-point teaser #2**: #22 Nebraska (-4.5) v Wisconsin under 58.5 (-130)
Nebraska’s first ever Big Ten game last year was away to Wisconsin, where the Badgers welcomed them with a 48-17 ass-whooping at Camp Randall. This year, Nebraska’s got revenge on their mind, and this would be the perfect scenario for them to get one over the Badgers. While Wisconsin’s loss to Oregon State doesn’t look as bad as it did a few weeks ago, they haven’t really impressed in their first few games. Their most impressive win was last week when they won by 11 against UTEP. If Utah State makes a field goal at the end of the game in Week 3, we’re talking about a 2-2 Wisconsin team here that was supposed to coast into the Big Ten Championship Game. While they’re probably going to represent the Leaders Division in Indianapolis, it’s clear that something isn’t quite right in Madison, and they’re going to suffer for it against Nebraska.
San Francisco 49ers -3.5 at New York Jets
The line here is lower than it should be with the 49ers are coming off a loss in Minnesota, while the Jets are coming off an OT win in Miami. When you factor in that the Jets have lost Revis for the season, and that their offense is a disaster going up against a defense that made a habit last season out of trying to kill QBs, it’s fair to say that the bookies made it easy for bettors here. [Editor’s note: the house always wins in the long-run, Greg!]
Miami Dolphins at Arizona Cardinals Under 40
The Cardinals, much to everyone’s surprise, are 3-0 going into this game against Miami. While the offense has been consistent, putting up an average of 22.33 PPG, their defense has been the driving point, and they made a huge statement against the Eagles on Sunday. As a huge Giants fan, it’s given me a massive amount of joy to get the opportunity to see Michael Vick get popped repeatedly on television in two of the first three weeks of the season, and the Cardinals were being more vicious than a dog who just managed to survive getting electrocuted to death. They forced a number of turnovers and have been able to contain both Tom Brady and Vick the last two weeks. Miami, on the other hand, has been very efficient at stopping the run so far this season, and while they’ve given up quite a few points in the first three weeks, they should be able to do well against Arizona’s offense.
Denver Broncos -6 v Oakland Raiders
Despite getting beaten handily the first two weeks, Oakland is coming off a big win against Pittsburgh, while the Broncos have (not so surprisingly) lost two straight with Peyton at the helm. It’s fair to say that the Raiders were facing an injury-depleted Steelers lineup last week, while the Broncos have had a rather difficult start to the schedule going up against three playoff teams from last year. Even with this being a divisional game, the Broncos haven’t looked bad by any means in their first three games. I expect them to cover here against Oakland.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers -3 v Washington Redskins
As much as I hate to say it, Tampa Bay looks like a legitimate team right now. Schiano is coaching this team very well and has them fighting until the end against the teams they’ve played these first three weeks. While Washington has looked like a very good team as well in these last few weeks, I can’t help but feel as though this is one of those games where we’ll get to see a team have all of the pieces come together. I think the Bucs will pull it out here.
St. Louis Rams +3 v Seattle Seahawks
The NFC West has had a trend over the years of divisional games typically being won by the home team. This one should be no different. In spite of how horrible St. Louis looked last week, they should be able to do much better this week against Seattle. Yes, the Seahawks were impressive in their win on Monday night (even if they were handed the game by the refs at the end), but Seattle is a different team when they play at home. Seattle also loves playing on Monday night (they have the highest winning percentage in the history of MNF). However, they have not been as good on the road. I’ll take the points and expect St. Louis to win outright.
Alright, there’s my picks for the 29th and 30th of September. Enjoy, and remember: if you’re dumb enough to bet your house on one of these recommendations, then you deserve what happens to you.
Follow Greg on Twitter @njny