2 Star Selection
**JACKSONVILLE (-6.5) 27 Tennessee 13
10:00 AM Pacific, 09-Sep-07
Jacksonville was a much better team last season than their 8-8 record would indicate, as the Jags averaged 5.6 yards per play and allowed just 4.7 yppl while out-scoring their opponents by an average of 23.2 to 17.1. Jacksonville was 2-7 in games decided by 7 points or less and more of those close games are destined to go their way this season and I’m expecting 10 or 11 wins from the Jags. Jaguars’ coach Jack Del Rio has chosen David Garrard to be the starting quarterback, which seems like a good decision given that Garrard has performed better than Bryon Leftwich over the last couple of seasons. Garrard stepped in for an injured Leftwich last season in week 8 and the Jaguars offense averaged 6.0 yards per play in their final 10 games against teams that would combine to allow 5.3 yppl to an average attack. Garrard has been about average as a passer in his career (6.2 yards per pass play last season against teams that would allow 6.1 yppp to an average QB), but his running ability is a plus and the team seems to rally around Garrard more than they did for Leftwich. The rushing attack is what carried the Jaguars’ offense last season as Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew combined for 2087 yards at 5.3 ypr. I don’t expect those two to run for that high of an average again this season, but the rushing attack will still be among the NFL’s best and I rate the offense at 0.2 yppl better than average overall. Jacksonville is a good team because of their defense, which yielded just 4.7 yppl last season to teams that would combine to average 5.3 yppl against an average defensive team. Jacksonville should be a bit better than that this season, as the run defense was 0.4 ypr better in the 11 games with DT Marcus Stroud available to play than they were in the 5 games he missed. Stroud teams with John Henderson to give the Jaguars the league’s best set of run-stuffing defensive tackles (although Minnesota’s pair of Williams were damn good last year) and the defensive backfield is also good, allowing just 5.5 yppp last season to teams that would average a combined 6.2 yppp against an average defensive team. Jacksonville is one of the best teams in the league and I’m playing them Over 9 wins.
Tennessee was a good story last year, going 8-5 with Vince Young as the starting quarterback after an 0-3 start. Don’t be fooled by that record, as the Titans were not a better than average team with Young at quarterback. Tennessee was 8-1 in games decided by 7 points or less with Young at quarterback and that sort of good fortune is not likely to repeat itself. Tennessee was slightly better than average offensively last season with Young starting (5.3 yards per play against teams that would allow 5.2 yppl to an average attack), but the defense was 0.2 yppl worse than average and the special teams were good. Overall, the Titans were an average team with Young at quarterback but that will not be the case this season after losing starting running back Travis Henry (1211 yards at 4.5 ypr), their top two wideouts in Drew Bennett and Bobby Wade and Pac- Man Jones. Young will have one of the league’s worst receiving corps and the rushing attack will not be nearly as good without Henry. The Titans did get a good replacement for Jones in the secondary when they picked up former Colts’ CB Nick Harper, but Jones was also a weapon as a punt returner and his contributions on special teams will be missed. Overall, I rate the Titans 0.1 yppl worse than average on offense and 0.3 yppl worse than average on defense with better than average special teams. Tennessee is in a tough division so it looks like 6 or 7 wins tops for the Titans this year.
My ratings favor Jacksonville by 11 points and the Jaguars apply to a very good 30-11 ATS game 1 indicator. I’ll take Jacksonville in a 2-Star Best Bet at -7 points or less.
NY JETS 20 New England (-6.5) 21
10:00 AM Pacific, 09-Sep-07
The Patriots had an off year offensively in 2006, averaging just 5.2 yards per play (against teams that would combine to allow 5.2 yppl to an average team), but adding receivers Donte Stallworth, Randy Moss, and Wes Welker will provide a major upgrade for Tom Brady to throw to and I expect Brady to return to the high yards per pass play numbers he had registered in 2004 and 2005. The rushing attack looks like it will be solid with Laurence Maroney taking over full-time duties and running behind a very good offensive line and I rate the Patriots’ attack at 0.6 yppl better than average this season with potential to be even better if Randy Moss comes close to his old Minnesota Vikings form. The Pats’ defense was solid last season, rating at 0.2 ypr and 0.3 yppp better than average, but they should be even better with the addition of LB Adalius Thomas. New England is also among the best in the league on special teams and I rate the Patriots as one of my top 3 teams going into 2007.
New York was an average team last season and they were lucky to finish 10-6 and to make the playoffs. The Jets were 0.2 yards per play worse than average on offense (5.0 yppl against teams that would allow 5.2 yppl to an average attack) and 0.2 yppl worse than average defensively (5.3 yppl allowed to teams that would average 5.1 yppl against an average defensive unit) and 1 point better than average on special teams. The Jets should be better offensively, as the addition of RB Thomas Jones from Chicago (1210 yards at 4.1 ypr) gives them a decent rushing attack after averaging just 3.7 ypr in 2006 and quarterback Chad Pennington should have another better than average season. Pennington averaged 6.2 yards per pass play last season against teams that would allow just 5.8 yppp to an average QB and that was right in line with his career rating of +0.4 yppp. While New York will probably be slightly better than average this season on offense it appears as if their defense will be slightly worse than average until they can prove that they can stop the run (allowed 4.7 ypr last season to teams that would average 4.2 ypr against an average team). The Jets are likely going to be a better team overall this season but it’s doubtful that they’ll reach 10 wins and the playoffs given their tough schedule and mediocre talent.
My ratings only favor New England by 3 ½ points in this game, so it appears as if the Patriots were a bit over-hyped in the off-season. The Patriots also apply to a negative 11-25-1 ATS game 1 indicator that plays against road teams that were 12-4 or better the previous season. I’ll consider New York a Strong Opinion at +6 points or more and I’d take New York in a 2-Star Best Bet at +7 or more.
Tampa Bay 20 SEATTLE (-6.0) 21
01:15 PM Pacific, 09-Sep-07
The addition of Jeff Garcia to play quarterback will ensure that the Buccaneers will rebound from last year’s 4-12 record. Garcia is not going to put up the numbers he did in Philadelphia last season (6.5 yards per pass play), as the Eagles had better receivers than the Bucs do this year, but he should be around the 5.9 yppp average that he’s produced over the last 3 years with Cleveland, Detroit, and Philly. A decent pass attack will be a huge improvement over last year, when Tampa had to rely on rookie Bruce Gradkowski and the Bucs finished the season averaging an NFC low 5.0 yppp. Tampa’s rushing attack suffered as teams stacked the line with little fear of the pass, but the Buccaneers should be closer to average running the ball this season after rating at 0.4 ypr worse than average in 2006. Overall, I peg Tampa Bay to be 0.2 yards per play worse than average offensively after being 0.7 yppl worse than average last season. Tampa’s defense is getting older, but the Bucs should still be a mediocre unit after finishing a bit better than average defensively last season (5.3 yppl allowed to teams that would average 5.4 yppl against an average defense). Tampa Bay plays a pretty easy schedule this season and they look like an 7 to 9 win team to me.
Seattle was a bad team last season but made the playoffs anyway by playing a bad schedule of teams. The Seahawks were out-scored 20.9 to 21.3 points per game and they were out-gained 4.8 yard per play to 5.4 yppl and had worse than average special teams. The offense was hurt last year by a less talented offensive line and an injury to top back Shaun Alexander. Alexander averaged just 3.6 ypr and while he’s likely to top that number this season he won’t come close to his lifetime average of 4.4 ypr, which was helped by a great offensive line. Only left tackle Walter Jones is an above average linemen now that All-Pro C Robbie Tobeck has retired, so Alexander’s days of topping 4.0 ypr are likely over. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck had far less time to throw the ball last season and suffered too many sacks. The results was a horrible 5.5 yards per pass play. I expect the pass attack to rebound this season to an above average level, but not to the Pro Bowl level Hasselbeck was at a few years ago. The Seahawks’ defense also fell off sharply last season, as an injury to run-stuffing DT Marcel Tubbs greatly affected the run defense. Seattle allowed just 3.8 ypr in the 5 games Tubbs played in and 4.8 ypr in the 11 games in which Tubbs was out. The bad news is that Tubbs suffered another injury and will not play this season, leaving only untested rookie Brandon Mebane as a legitimate run stuffer. DE Patrick Kearny was added to help the pass rush and to CB Marcus Trufant should rebound from a bad year, so the pass defense should be better than average after struggling last season. The defense looks just average overall unless the Seahawks can find an adequate replacement for Tubbs. Seattle is a better team this season, but they’re just average overall and will struggle to get back to the playoffs. My ratings favor Seattle by just 4 points and Tampa Bay applies to an 89-56-3 ATS game 1 indicator, so I’ll consider Tampa Bay a Strong Opinion at +6 points or more.
OAKLAND (-2.0) 23 Detroit 16
01:15 PM Pacific, 09-Sep-07
Lions fans are dreaming big this season thanks to a potential potent offense now loaded with good receivers after drafting WR Calvin Johnson with the #2 overall pick. Detroit should have a much better pass attack with Johnson joining Roy Williams and Mike Furrey, as the Lions lacked a good 3rd receiver last season. However, the offensive line is the league’s worst and quarterback Jon Kitna was sacked 63 times last season, so the line will have to get better before the Lions truly blossom offensively. Bringing running back Tatum Bell over from Denver isn’t going to add anything to the ground game since Bell’s 4.4 ypr was produced running behind Denver’s good offense line and he won’t have nearly that much success without holes to run through. Detroit was 0.1 yards per play worse than average last season (5.2 yppl against teams that would allow 5.3 yppl to an average team) despite throwing the ball nearly 70% of the time, but I rate the Lions’ attack at 0.3 yppl better than average this season. The offense will have to be even better than that to make up for a defense that was 0.4 yppl worse than average in 2006. That defense will get better against the run with DT Shaun Rogers back after he missed most of last season, but the pass defense will still be bad after losing their best cornerback Dre’ Bly to Denver in the trade for Bell. Detroit is still going to be worse than average defensively and worse than average overall this season, but they can greatly improve their 3-13 record if they can just win a few close games after gong 1-8 last season in games decided by 7 points or less.
I knew I would have the Raiders rated higher coming into this season than they were at the end of last season, but I’m surprised by how much the Silver and Black will be improved. Oakland had a very good defense last year, rating at 0.4 yards per play better than average (4.8 yppl allowed to teams that would combine to average 5.2 yppl against an average team), but their offense was so horrible that that defense was constantly put on the field with their backs against their own goal line. Raiders’ coach Art Shell made a HUGE mistake in hiring his old offensive coordinator from the 90’s despite his having been out of football for a decade. The results were horrendous, as the offense was constantly confused and had no belief in the plays that they were running – plays that simply didn’t work against modern defenses. Oakland has no good system for picking up blitzes and the Raiders’ quarterbacks were sacked a combined 72 times while Oakland averaged a pathetic 4.2 yppl (against teams that would allow 5.4 yppl to an average team) while turning the ball over 46 times. The Raiders new head coach Lane Kiffen was smart enough to retain defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and the defense should be just as good as it was last season with all 11 starters returning. The offense will be much better too in Kiffin’s sophisticated offense and offensive line coach Tom Cable is installing a zone blocking scheme that suits the personnel much better. The Raiders’ linemen haven’t lived up to their massive potential because they haven’t been coached up at all. That has changed this year and the Raiders only allowed 7 sacks in 4 games with the quarterbacks no longer taking 7 step drops. The run blocking has also looked better and the Raiders should be a bit closer to average running the ball than they were last year. Oakland’s pass attack will be the major beneficiary of the coaching changes, as both Josh McCown and Daunte Culpepper have proven to be serviceable quarterbacks and the receiving corps is not really too bad at all with Ronald Curry posting an impressive 8.2 yards per pass thrown to him last season and Jerry Porter returning after spending last season in Shell’s doghouse. The Raiders have averaged 5.7 yppp in the pre-season with McCown and Culpepper combining to average a solid 6.4 yppp. I realize that some of those numbers came against second string defensive units, but McCown averaged 5.5 yards per pass play as a starter in 2004 and 2005 in Arizona and Culpepper has averaged 5.4 yppp in his last two seasons, so the Raiders should be somewhere in that neighborhood throwing the ball this year (which is still much worse than the league average of 6.1 yppp). If that is the case then I rate the Raiders at 0.5 yppl worse than average offensively, which makes them a pretty decent team if their defense is once again at 0.4 yppl better than average. That’s actually not that far fetched considering that the Raiders were only 0.2 yppl worse than average two years ago with Kerry Collins at quarterback. If the offensive improvement is as much as I think it’s going to be then the Raiders could be looking at a 7-9 or 8-8 season this year.
My ratings favor the Raiders by 6 ½ points and the Raiders apply to an 89-56-3 ATS game 1 indicator. I’ll consider Oakland a Strong Opinion in this game at -3 points or less.
Re: Service Plays?
Michael Cannon Money Train
30 Dime –
Take the points with the Saints tonight on the road against the Colts.
You could make a good argument for both teams in this one, but the fact that the Saints are a dome team and have an offense that can match the Colts point-for-point makes them the play here.
While the Colts have lost several key players from last season, particularly on defense, the Saints return virtually everyone and have added cornerback Jason David (a former Colt) and linebacker Brian Simmons through free agency.
New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees was great in the preseason, completing 36 of 45 attempts, including 35 of his last 39! His ability to check off to his running backs out of the backfield will keep an already shaky Indy defense on their heels. This will open up the running game for Deuce McAllister and the always dynamic Reggie Bush.
Peyton Manning will be able to move the ball and put points on the board as usual, but the loss of slot-receiver Brandon Stokley and left tackle Tarik Glenn may take some getting used to. Rookies Anthony Gonzalez and Tony Ugoh will take over respectively, so don’t be surprised to see some growing pains from those two positions.
The Saints were 7-1 ATS on the road last year and Brees has a 19-4-2 ATS record as a starter in the NFL.
The Colts will have to buck some negative history in this one, as defending Super Bowl champs are just 3-11-1 ATS in Game One if they won 16 or more games the previous season. That number shrinks to a 1-10-1 ATS mark if they are matched against an opponent who won 6 or more games the previous year.
The Saints will play with a chip on their shoulder as they look to make amends for last year’s meltdown in the NFC Championship game, while the Colts may suffer the effects from a Super Bowl hangover.
Take the points as the Saints keep this one close and don’t be surprised if a last-possession field goal decides it either way.
10 Dime –
Lay the huge number with Louisville tonight when they host Middle Tennessee State.
As if having far superior talent isn’t enough, Louisville will enjoy other advantages tonight which will allow them to roll easily.
First of all, they are playing on an entire week’s rest, after dismantling division 1-AA Murray State last Thursday, 73-10. Second, and perhaps most important, is the fact this game is being played in their backyard at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.
Louisville is on spread runs of 19-7 at home and 7-2 in their last nine games against teams with losing records.
Middle Tennessee State is on a short week after losing 27-14 at Florida International on Saturday. They managed just 217 total yards and gave up 411 on defense. The Blue Raiders are 0-5 SUATS in their last five games, including a 31-14 blowout loss to Central Michigan in last year’s Motor City Bowl.
There’s no way they’re going to hold Brian Brohm and the Cardinals down tonight on the road.
In Louisville’s last four lined games versus current SBC teams, the Cardinals are 4-0 while outscoring their opponents 201-41.
Middle Tennessee is 0-12 SU and 1-11 ATS when allowing more than 31 points in a game.
I think it’s safe to assume Louisville will put up more than 31 points tonight.
Lay the big number with Louisville as they win and cover easily.
Re: Service Plays?
Sports Gambling Hotline
Oregon State at CINCINNATI (+3')
While we don't put too much stock into Cincinnati's opening week 59-3 home laugher over SE Missouri State, we are convinced new coach Brian Kelly has a good handle on this Bearcats' team.
Kelly has a boatload of returning talent, as 15 starters are back from last year's team, including all 4 on the defensive line, and he does have a transfer quarterback in Mauk who came over from Wake Forest looking pretty sharp under center already.
Oregon State did a fine job winning their home opener over a tough Utah team, but we are not convinced Coach Riley's 2-man QB rotation of Canfield and Moevao is going to do business on the road, under the lights in a hostile environment.
This is a huge game for the Bearcats who did go 4-2-1 against the spread last year when installed as the underdog.
We say take the points and look for the Bearcats to give the Beavers all they can handle.
Play on Cincy.
Re: Service Plays?
Larry Ness' 15* Getaway Day Game of the Week (26-7 since Aug 7 / 109-37 this season!)
My 15* play is on the Chi Cubs at 2:20 ET. The Dodgers play their final game of the season against a non-NL West opponent on Thursday when they complete a four-game set against the NL Central-leading Cubs at Wrigley Field. Los Angeles (73-66) trails first-place Arizona by four games in the West and San Diego by three for the wild card. After Thursday's game, the Dodgers will play exclusively within their division, which means 16 of their final 22 games are against teams with winning records. It's possible that Chicago (71-67) may not play another winning team after Thursday. The Cubs have completed their season series with second-place Milwaukee but have five left against third-place St. Louis, which is currently at .500. Every other team on Chicago's remaining schedule has a losing record! After losing the first two games of this series, the Cubs bounced back with an 8-2 win last night. Today's pitching matchup features Derek Lowe (11-12, 3.80 ERA) and Jason Marquis (11-8, 4.20 ERA). Lowe has been streaky this year. He pitched poorly at San Diego last Saturday (4.1 IP / 6 ERs) in a 7-0 loss but entered that game on a three-game winning streak (3.15 ERA). That streak was preceded by a four-start stretch in which he had gone 0-3 (team was 0-4) with an 8.00 ERA. I think it would surprise most that the Cubs are 18-10 (plus-$851) when Marquis starts, which ranks him 11th of 293 pitchers in '07 vs the moneyline. Marquis is 8-3 with a 4.12 ERA at Wrirley , as the Cubs have won 12 of his 15 starts. The Cubs have received a quiet series to this point from sluggers Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez. Lee is 2-for-11 in the first three games and Ramirez is 2-for-9, although he had a two-run homer in the third inning on Wednesday. Expect those two to break out here and for the Cubs to ride Marquis to a win. Getaway Day Game of the Week 15* Chi Cubs.
Re: Service Plays?
2000♦ NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
The Saints have outright won five of the last six match-ups with the Colts. Now, as underdogs in this first game of the 2007 season, they want to come out strong to make up for their embarrassing performance against the Bears in last year’s NFC championship game. They have a great shot to do just that, as the Colts have not covered the spread four of the last five meetings with the Saints. Add to this the fact that Indy has lost too many key defensive players, and the choice is clear. Side with the Saints in this one.
Re: Service Plays?
Ferringo Baseball - Small Card
2-Unit Play. Take #910 Los Angeles Angels (-150) over Cleveland (10 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 6)
Kelvim Escobar has been touched for five or more runs just five times in 26 starts this year, including his last outing against the Rangers. In his next start after getting roughed up Escobar is 4-0 with a 1.05 ERA. He hurled an average of eight runs in each of those outings and I expect more of the same tonight. The Angels are 10-3 in Escobar's last 13 home games and the Indians are 2-10 behind Paul Byrd as an underdog of +110 to +150.
1-Unit Play. Take 'Under' 9.0 Los Angeles Angels over Cleveland (10 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 6)
The 'under' is 5-0 in the last five meetings and I expect a tightly played, playoff-type game. Both pitchers are gamers and I look for them to each have their best stuff. The 'under' is 36-16-2 in Escobar's last 54 starts and is 23-11-1 in Cleveland's last 35 overall. Further, the Indians are like the Red Sox - they are a dead 'under' bet against teams with a winning record. The high-powered offense comes out against the weaklings, but against the big boys they are closely contested grinders. That's what I'm looking for this evening - a 4-2 Angels win.
That's it for today. Good luck.
Re: Service Plays?
Ron Raymond is 73-37-1 with his 5* CFL picks since the year 2000, and after starting slow out of the gate last year, Ron finished on a 9-1 run with his 5* CFL BEST BETS to finish 10-6 on the year! Ron is going for 8 winning seasons in a row, as Ron's 5* CFL picks have brought people to the winners circle 7 years in a row
Ron Raymond’s Week 11 CFL Picks
Calgary -2.5 vs. Edmonton 56.0
Pick: UNDER 56.0
Ron’s Comment: Edmonton had control of the Labour Day classic game vs. Calgary for 2 quarters this past Monday, but second half injuries forced Edmonton to make some adjustment in their secondary and Henri Burris took advantage of the situation and made the Eskimos secondary look like a high school unit. To make matters worst, these two teams have to play on 3 days rest and there’s no way the Eskimos could have enough time to heal those wounds and it gets worst again for Edmonton this Friday night.
Forecast: Calgary 28 Edmonton 15
Hamilton (N/A) vs. Toronto (N/A)
Pick: No line on this game.
Ron’s Comment: Not to sound like a broken record, but eventually the word will get out to the Hamilton brass they are in dire need of real wide receivers in Steel town and since there’s no line on this game, why waste my breath. Toronto in another route! It’s too bad really, as I feel this Tiger Cats defense is just as good as any other defense in the league, but they are worn down after their offense keeps going 2 and out.
Forecast: Toronto 45 Hamilton 9
B.C. 50.5 vs. Montreal PK
Pick: B.C. PK
Ron’s Comment: It took the Lions the 1st quarter to figure out the Alouettes can’t stop the run and once Joe Smith got into a groove, it was lights out. I’m sure the Alouettes have practice on stopping the run this week in practice, so look for the Lions to run more play action pass this weekend. Montreal is not in the same league as the Lions who haven’t done well SU in Montreal, but own an 80% winning percentage against the line. Look for the Lions to be a -3.0 point favorite by kickoff.
ATSDatabase Tip: When BRITISH COLUMBIA played as Road Team- Vs MONTREAL; The Lions are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 road games.
Forecast: B.C.29 Montreal 24
Saskatchewan 51.0 vs. Winnipeg -3.0
Pick: UNDER 51.0 (5* BEST BET)
Ron’s Comment: No doubt the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Winnipeg Blue Bombers played the best entertaining game of the week and look for the same thrills this Saturday. I was very impress with Kevin Glenn’s ability to spread the ball around to different receivers and the Blue Bombers defense did a respectable job in containing the Roughriders offense. In fact, the Riders and Bombers must have changed lead about 6 times during their game, but QB Kerry Joseph was the difference in the end. The game shifts back to Winnipeg and you never know how the wind will play a factor in the kicking game and that’s why I’m going to go under the 51.0 point total this Saturday. Plus, I’m a law of average type handicapper and I’m looking for the total to go the other way this weekend.
ATSDatabase Tip: When ANY CFL Team played as a Road team -During the month of September -Before a division game -Playing on Sunday - Coming off a game scored 31 points or more - Allowed scored 27 points or less against - Coming off a Home win as a Favorite; The UNDER is 11-3-0 for the Road Team in this spot.
Forecast: Saskatchewan 27 Winnipeg 22
Re: Service Plays?
Dr Bob college 3 Star Selection
***CINCINNATI 25 Oregon St. (-3.5) 19
04:45 PM Pacific, 06-Sep-07
Cincinnati coasted to an easy 59-3 win over lowly SE Missouri State last week and that cupcake of a first opponent should serve them well in this game, as I’m sure coach Brian Kelly spent plenty of time the last few weeks preparing for Oregon State rather than SE Missouri State. The Bearcats were a solid team last season, rating at 0.1 yards per play worse than average on offense and 0.5 yards per play better than average defensively and they’ll probably be about the same this season under Kelly. That Bearcats defense should be able to adequately defend an Oregon State attack that proved last week against Utah that they simply can’t throw the football. New quarterbacks Canfield and Moevao were both horrible last week against a sub-par Utah secondary, combining to go 12 for 30 passing for an average of only 3.9 yards per pass play and 2 picks. Oregon State’s top play maker WR Sammy Stroughter missed most of summer camp and did not play last week, but he is expected to play this week. I’m not sure either quarterback can get him the ball if he is open and it’s doubtful that the timing with between Stroughter and the quarterbacks will be right given how much time he’s missed. Running back Yvenson Bernard had a great game against the Utes, running for 165 yards at 5.7 ypr, but Bernard has averaged only 4.4 ypr in each of the last two seasons, so I doubt he’ll keep up that pace. The Beavers’ defense played well last week, allowing only 196 yards at 2.9 yards per play, but Utah was hindered in the second half after star quarterback Brian Johnson separated his shoulder late in the first half. Johnson had thrown for 119 yards on just 13 pass attempts before getting hurt (9.2 ypa), but backup Tommy Grady averaged just 2.5 ypa on his 24 pass attempts, so Oregon State’s defensive numbers are misleading. Oregon State did allow just 130 yards on 31 plays with Johnson in the game (4.2 yppl) which is still very good and the Beavers do have a good defense, but the Bearcats should muster enough offense to win this game given that they apply to a very strong 47-8-1 ATS subset of a 141-62-3 ATS home momentum situation and a 69-19-1 ATS non-conference home underdog situation. Oregon State, meanwhile, applies to a negative 30-80-2 ATS 1st road game situation. My ratings favor Oregon State by just 1 ½ points, so the line is more than fair and I’ll take Cincinnati in a 3-Star Best Bet at +3 points or more and for 2- Stars from +2 ½ points down to +1.
2 Star Selection
**Navy 23 RUTGERS (-16.5) 30
04:00 PM Pacific, 07-Sep-07
Rutgers dominated a pretty good Navy team last season, winning 34-0 as a 2 point do in Annapolis. However, that was the game in which Navy starting quarterback Brian Hampton was injured and inexperienced Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada was forced into action running the option against a very good Scarlet Knights defense. Navy was held to negative passing yards after Hampton went out and the option was stopped dead in its tracks. Kaheaku-Enhada rebounded from that game and ended the season in fine fashion, so expect different results this year from the Middies’ offense. Navy ran for 5.8 yards per rushing play at Rutgers in 2005 against a good Scarlet Knights’ defense, so the option can work against Greg Schiano’s defense. Rutgers’ offense should also work well as the Knights’ good all-around attack should move the ball at a good rate against a mediocre Navy stop unit. However, my ratings only favor Rutgers by 14 points and the line on this game has gone up considerably from the opening number of 12 ½ points. The line value is nice, but the reason for the play is an 82-31 ATS game 2 situation and a 49-17-2 ATS game 2 situation that both apply to Navy. I certainly don’t mind going with a Navy squad that is 73-33-1 ATS in regular season games away from home, including 23-9 ATS under coach Johnson and 45-18 ATS as an underdog of more than 7 points. I’ll take Navy in a 2-Star Best Bet at +14 points or more and for 3-Stars at +17 points or more.
2 Star Selection
**Oregon 31 MICHIGAN (-8.0) 30
12:30 PM Pacific, 08-Sep-07
First off, Michigan’s loss to Appalachian State was not nearly the biggest upset ever – not even close. Appalachian State has won the Division 1AA Championship in each of the last two years and they rated at just better than an average Division 1A team last season. I would have made Michigan a 17 ½ point favorite last week and it’s not all that unlikely to have a 17 ½ point favorite lose straight up. I was a little upset about the upset loss since I was looking forward to playing against the overrated Wolverines. I had Michigan rated 19th in my ratings to start the season, so I knew there was going to be some value playing against them early on. The loss last week took away a lot of that value, which is too bad. However, there are still reasons to play against Michigan this week. Oregon, like Appalachian State, has a quick quarterback that can pass and run equally well in Dennis Dixon, and the Ducks have plenty of speed at the skill positions on offense too. That sort of speed gave Michigan trouble last week and it will probably give the Wolverines trouble again this week. However, Michigan’s offense looked as good as I figured it would look last week and they’ll be able to run the ball pretty easily against an Oregon defense that was 0.4 yards per rushing play worse than average last season and allowed 326 rushing yards at 6.8 yprp to Houston last week. That figure is actually not all that horrible given that Houston running back Anthony Alridge, who ran for 205 yards on 22 carries, has now run for 1161 yards on just 117 carries (9.9 ypr!!!) since last season and Houston has averaged 6.5 yprp since game 8 of last season when Alridge was moved from receiver to tailback. In other words, allowing 6.8 yprp to a team that has averaged 6.5 yprp over their last 8 games is not all that bad. Still, Michigan should run for about 6 ypr in this game. The good news for Ducks’ fans is that their pass defense has been 1.3 yards per pass play better than average in each of the last two seasons and should be just as good this year. More good news comes from the fact that Oregon’s offense, which I rate as better than Michigan’s offense, should move the ball well against an inexperienced Michigan defense that was shredded for 5.9 yppl last week. My ratings favor Michigan by 5 points in this game and Oregon applies to a solid 82-31 ATS game 2 non-conference underdog angle. People seem to might think that Michigan is due to bounce back strong after last week’s embarrassing loss (the line has gone up from -7 to -8), but you should think otherwise. Teams that lose their opening game at home as a favorite or in a game in which there was no line (most likely would have been favored in such games since no lined games are generally against Division 1AA teams) are just 20-39 ATS as a favorite in game 2. Also, teams that lose a game in which there was no line (once again, these are mostly against lesser teams) are only 30-62-2 ATS as a favorite or as a dog of 2 points or less the next week, including 8-38 ATS in the first 4 games of the season (1-22 ATS in early season non-conference games). I’ll take Oregon in a 2-Star Best Bet at +7 points or more and a Strong Opinion at +5 to +6 ½ points.
2 Star Selection
**South Carolina 27 GEORGIA (-4.0) 24
02:45 PM Pacific, 08-Sep-07
My preseason ratings had South Carolina a few points better than Georgia, but the Bulldogs impressed me with their 35-14 win over a potent Oklahoma State team and it appears their inexperienced defense (just 3 returning starters) is just as good as last year’s strong unit (1.1 yards per play better than average). I had already figured that sophomore quarterback Matthew Stafford would be significantly better than he was as a freshman starter and he was as sharp as expected. Georgia’s rushing attack, however, took a major hit when last year’s leading rusher Kregg Lumpkin was injured after just 3 carries. The Bulldogs struggled to run the ball against a mediocre Oklahoma State run defense, averaging just 3.5 yards per rushing play on 45 runs. South Carolina’s weakness defensively is defending the run, which Georgia may not be able to take advantage of. The Gamecocks are solid defending the pass, but Georgia has an edge through the air and should move the ball pretty well in this game. South Carolina should also move the ball well with quarterback Blake Mitchell back from his one game suspension. Mitchell came back from an ankle injury late last season and it became obvious that he had finally learned the nuances of coach Steve Spurrier’s system. Mitchell averaged 8.3 yards per pass ply on 211 pass plays against a schedule of teams that would combine to allow just 5.6 yppp to an average quarterback. I don’t expect numbers quite that good without Sydney Rice to throw to this season, but Mitchell should be one of the best quarterbacks in the nation. My ratings favor Georgia by just 3 points and the South Carolina applies to a 95-43-1 ATS revenge situation and a solid 49-17-2 ATS game 2 situation. The Gamecocks were in look-ahead mode last week against lowly UL Lafayette, but they’ll bring the ‘A’ game today and I’ll take South Carolina in a 2-Star Best Bet at +4 points or more (a Strong Opinion at +3 ½ or +3).
2 Star Selection
**TULANE 24 Mississippi St. (-6.5) 23
04:00 PM Pacific, 08-Sep-07
Last week’s 0-45 home loss to LSU is not a good omen for Mississippi State this week. I know that Tulane is not LSU, but laying points on the road is a lot to ask of a team that was shutout in their opener and also lost at home as an 11 point favorite to the Green Wave last season. Mississippi State applies to a negative 3-20 ATS subset of a 30- 80-3 ATS game 2 situation while Tulane applies to a 69-19-1 ATS situation. Some people think that having a game under your belt is an advantage, but that just isn’t the case. Mississippi State has no film on Tulane’s new offensive and defensive schemes, while Bob Toledo and company have film to study. Supporting my claim is the fact that teams that lose their opening game are just 49-75-1 ATS in their next game against a team playing their first game of the season, including just 2-15 ATS as a road favorite. My ratings favor Miss State by 6 points, so the line is fair, and the situation is strongly in favor to Tulane. I’ll take Tulane in a 2-Star Best Bet at +6 points or more and for 3- Stars at +7 or more (Strong Opinion from +4 to +5 ½ points).
2 Star Selection
**Virginia Tech 17 LSU (-12.5) 20
06:15 PM Pacific, 08-Sep-07
It appears as if the week 1 results have influenced the line way to much in this game, as LSU probably would have been about a 6 or 7 point favorite prior to last week’s games being played. LSU started off the season on Thursday night and destroyed Mississippi State 45-0 on the road while Virginia Tech struggled at home against East Carolina before winning 17-7. LSU’s win was not all that impressive given that their offense only averaged 4.8 yards per play. The Tigers’ defense was certainly great, allowing just 2.6 yppl, but they’re not going to be +7 in turnover margin every week and the +2.2 yppl differential was about what was expected. Virginia Tech only out-gained ECU 4.3 yppl to 4.0 yppl but the emotions surrounding that game could have taken some of the Hokies’ focus away from their opponent. Virginia Tech’s offense struggled, but East Carolina has a good defense and we know that Virginia Tech’s offense isn’t any worse than last year’s mediocre unit given their 8 returning starters (including the quarterback and leading rusher). We also know that Virginia Tech’s defense was the best in the nation last year and is one of the top 3 units this season (along with USC and LSU). LSU’s offense struggled last week and new starting quarterback Matt Flynn is likely to struggle even more against Virginia Tech’s strong stop unit just as the Hokies are likely to struggle against LSU’s defense. In a battle between two great defensive teams taking the points looks like the way to go. My ratings only favor LSU by 8 ½ points after making adjustments based on last week’s games and taking strong defensive teams getting more than a touchdown is generally a good bet. Virginia Tech is 7-1 ATS as an underdog the last 6 seasons and 62% over 20 years while the Hokies are also 20-3 ATS in their last 23 regular season non-conference games when not favored by 25 points or more. In addition to the line value and team trends Virginia Tech also applies to a 41-12-2 ATS game 2 situation and I’ll take Virginia Tech in a 2-Star Best Bet at +10 points or more.