Saturday Service Plays

Saturday Service Plays

Mighty ! Quinn

Pitt + 2 BB

Wash +3

Rutgers -10


Jim Rich

Seattle under 40 1/2

Jags Over 38 1/2

best bet
Jags -2


Joey Gaffney.Hilton winner

Seattle Money Line

Jax money line

Under Pitt.Jax BB

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Dave Malinsky

GAME: Ball St. @ Rutgers Jan 5, 2008 12:00PMSPORT: College Football PicksPICK: Ball St.Offered at: 11 REASON FOR PICK: 4* BALL STATE over RUTGERS

The past couple of years we have used Notre Dame as Exhibit A as to how media perceptions can create false impressions about college football programs, to the point at which the betting markets also end up reacting improperly. Now we get a chance to go to work with Exhibit B, with Greg Schiano and Rutgers getting a lot of play in the major Northeast media centers in recent years that has created an entirely different impression than what is really happening. Part of that market influence can be seen in an opener of -9.5 that is now reaching -11 in some key precincts, and this favorite simply does not deserve that kind of respect.

It is more than just the betting markets, however. In recent weeks Schiano actually was contacted for the Michigan head coaching job, which shows how others have fallen into the trap. Yes, Rutgers is a better team now than when he took over. But the bottom line is still just a 37-46 record in his eight seasons, with the lone bowl win coming over a mediocre Kansas State team LY. That does not earn you a round-trip ticket to Ann Arbor or lunch at Zingermans. And instead of building off of LY’s bowl win to begin reaching a higher level, the Scarlet Knights actually regressed this season. An awful non-conference schedule gave them walk-overs vs. Norfolk State, Army and Buffalo, which means that they were under .500 in all other games. How about road games vs. bowl opponents, one of our usual starting points in bowl breakdowns? There was just one, an ugly 38-19 loss at Connecticut in which they allowed the Huskies to run for 256 yards, their second high for the season, at 6.6 per carry, their high. And we all saw where Connecticut is at this time with our 4* ticket on Wake Forest last Saturday. At home the Scarlet Knights lost to the likes of Maryland and Cincinnati and nearly fell to Pittsburgh as well, while in the biggest challenge of the season they were destroyed 31-3 vs. West Virginia. They only time they boarded a plane in 2007 (they did not even play a road game until October 13th), they lost outright at disappointing Louisville. You can not go 7-5 vs. that class of schedule and be laying double figures in a bowl game, but that is where the perceptions are.

While Rutgers has had a great deal of media attention, Ball State is about as far off of the radar as a program can get. But NFL scouts are already watching sophomore QB Nate Davis, who threw for 3,376 yards with a special ratio of 27 touchdowns passes vs. only six interceptions this year, and his preferred targets will also end up playing on Sunday’s – WR Dante Love caught 87 passes for 1,229 yards and nine TD’s, and TE Darius Hill caught 56 for 837, and also nine scores. They all return next season, so it is just the beginning for a program that has increased its win total for three straight seasons, and is showing real signs of progress.

Can Ball State play at this level? There is no question about that. The Cardinals have gone 5-1 ATS the past two seasons as road underdogs against teams from outside of the MAC, including 4-1 vs. bowl-bound opponents and there were some sparkling performances along the way – a near-upset of Michigan LY, an outright win at Navy this season, and a near-miss at Nebraska this past September back when the Cornhuskers were still trying. And they also bring one of the prime ingredients that has helped underdog in this price range to play with far more passion at bowl time – this game represents a real reward for them, while for Rutgers it is actually a step below where the Knights had hoped to be. A hungry underdog is in this one all the way, and even should Ball State fall behind the passing game creates outstanding back-door potential.

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Steven Budin

100 DIME MAX WAGER

JACKSONVILLE

A note from Steve Budin:

Guys, since we're up 880 dimes with these releases I want you to spend a little extra coin and buy down the 1/2 point. This line is floating between 2 1/2 and 3 depending on where you shop. So if you've got Jacksonville at -3 I want you to buy the Jaguars down to -2 1/2 so you still win if they prevail by a field goal. And if you get stuck with Jacksonville at -3 1/2, buy down to -3 so you get a push with a field goal. Naturally, do not buy down from 2 1/2; there is no need to.

Take it from a former bookmaker and the guy who fathered the offshore sportsbook industry that too many gamblers and handicappers needlessly buy half points on all types of numbers. But the ONLY number that matters from a bookmakers' perspective is 3 because of overtime and that's why its the only number they (bookmakers) charge the extra juice for. Once again, we're using the power of money - our profit of 880 dimes in the NFL - against the bookmaker in this case.

Why not buy a little extra insurance at a few cents on the dollar to protect your investment? As CEO of a multi-million dollar company I can tell you it's the right move, just like I knew it was the right move when as a bookmaker I saw smart players doing the same thing when the opportunity presented itself.

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Sportsinsigths

Jacksonville Jaguars vs Pittsburgh Steelers

By far the most lopsided bet game of the weekend is Jacksonville vs Pittsburgh. The Public is betting Jacksonville like they know the score! At the time of writing, almost 3 out of 4 bets placed are coming in on Jacksonville, even though they are on road. Public money has pushed Jax from a 1 pt Underdog to a 2.5pt Favorite. That’s 3.5pt swing! You very rarely see a home team Underdog in the playoffs. There is a tremendous “buy back” opportunity taking Pittsburg +2.5 at home.

Pittsburgh Steelers +3

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CTO

*CHICAGO over Sacramento (NBA)...Willing to take a lead with Chicago bunch that showed signs of turning season around after Scott Skiles was dismissed on Christmas Eve. Promoted assistant Jim Boylan immediately changed recipe, with G Ben Gordon now reprising his role as NBA Sixth Man of the Year from his rookie season of 2004-05. And in first two games after change, Gordon went for 31 & 25,respectively, in Bulls’ wins over Bucks & Knicks. Meanwhile, Sacto reeling ever since blowing late lead in deflating home loss vs. DenverDec. 23, and Kings really beginning to miss presence of injured Gs Martin & Bibby.
*CHICAGO 99 - Sacramento 85 RATING - 10

*CHARLOTTE over Maryland (Bobcats Arena in Charlotte; Day Game)...With Charlotte enjoying partisan support in nearby Bobcats Arena,favor 49ers, who now own depth at PG with recently-eligible 6-0 soph Gerrity (Pepperdine transfer) sharing time with speedy 5-9 soph Harris (nearly 4 apg). Maryland has already lost as many home games (2) as it did all of LY, and Terps own just one legit 3-pointer shooter in soph G Hayes. Charlotte’s star G Goldwire (20 ppg, 5 rpg) is most lethal weapon on court, and overvalued Maryland just 2-8 vs. number
TY. *CHARLOTTE 79 - Maryland 70 RATING - 10

*UTAH over Air Force (Day Game)...With Utah’s confidence level rising following upset at Cal in late December, ready to buck identityseeking AF having trouble replacing its top 4 scorers, while adjusting to its 4th different coach in last 5 seasons. In contrast, good-shooting Utes (51% FGs, 40% treys, 74% FTs) loving new HC Jim Boylen’s mixture of fast tempo & set plays, and undersized Falcons can’t cope with Utah’s mobile 6-11 C Nevill (14 ppg, 7 rpg). Utes settle a score following piercing 26-pt. setback in Colorado Springs LY.
*UTAH 78 - Air Force 58 RATING -10

NORTHERN IOWA over *Indiana State...Since Northern Iowa performing with confidence on road (4-1 away, including upset & Bradley),must buck ISU, which has a new HC Kevin McKenna (former Creighton assistant), but is beset with same old offensive issues (just 64 ppg,42% FGs, 30% treys). And doubt Sycamores find solutions vs. sticky NI defense (56 ppg, 36% FGs, 29% from arc) that’s allowed 68 points or fewer in every game this year. Watch Panthers productive high-low post tandem of 6-8 sr. F Coleman (12 ppg, 9 rpg) & emerging 7-1 soph Eglseder (12 ppg, 7 rpg; only 3.6 ppg LY) do damaging paint work vs. G-heavy host.
NORTHERN IOWA 73 - *Indiana State 63 RATING - 11

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Tom Stryker

NFL Wild Card Super System

Back in 1990, the NFL decided to change its playoff format by adding two teams to the mix (one per conference). That move changed the Wild Card round to what it is today and brought us - the wagering public - even more opportunity to prosper. Thanks to my powerful NFL database I've recorded all of the results in the new Wildcard round since '90 and come up with some incredible results. Take a look at what I've found.

Since the 1990-91 season, NFL home teams in the Wildcard round are a respectable 47-21 SU and 36-29-3 ATS for 55.3 percent. There's enough reason right there to take Seattle, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and San Diego and call it a day. However, within this record, there are certain parameters that can be added that make this technical situation even stronger.

For example, if our host owns a won/loss percentage of .625 or better and finds itself matched up against a foe that carries a won/loss percentage less than .750, this Wildcard system improves to 32-24-2 ATS for 57.1 percent. What I've simply done is taken any host with a 10-6 SU record or better and matched them up against a foe with a 11-5 SU mark or worse. Three home teams remain after this first parameter: Seattle, Pittsburgh and San Diego.

If our home team was fortunate enough NOT to face a division foe last, this post season situation explodes to a sparkling 19-10-1 ATS for 65.5 percent. Division games tend to be more physical and obviously more competitive. By eliminating this parameter, I've removed a 13-14-1 ATS mark from this system. Only one playoff host remains in this set: The Seahawks.

Finally, it is important that our host enters off a straight up loss or a reasonable win. Off a blowout victory, our "play on" home team could check in at an inflated price. For example, with our 19-10-1 ATS record in hand and our host off a pointspread loss or ATS win of LESS than 10 points, this system zips to a sterling 17-6-1 ATS for 73.9 percent! Seattle applies to this tightener.

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Larry Ness Wildcard GOY

Seattle Seahawks

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AAA


NCAAF: Ball State Cardinals at Rutgers Scarlet Knights - Over 59.5 Unit Value: 2

Note: This line has already started to rise since release and will probably continue to do so. This is best described as an Oddsmaker Blunder and a lot of reasons to like the OVER here. If you have never seen Ball State play then you are in for a treat. They have one of the best throwing QB's in the country and he not can throw, he knows when not to. His 27 TD's and just 6 Int's are about as good as it gets and a primary reason why the Cardinals have scored 32 points per contest. That does include 40 verses Nebraska so they can play with the big boys. Rutgers is a Big Boy and they too should have a field day against the Cardinal D that is just as bad as their offense is good. While the Scarlet Knights have a better than average D, the intensity level in this game is apt not to be that great as this game will be a break from the New Year's games and the big one coming up with Ohio State/LSU. Rutgers season has not been what they expected and they are coming to town to have some fun. They will, and will probably put a big hurt on the Cardinals as well. That will leave Ball State trailing much of the game, if not all of the same, and being in catchup mode is going to give us lot's of passing, a long clock and a few turnovers along the way leading to short fields. The Pass D of Ball State is atrocious, allowing over 220 yards per game and Rutgers recievers are just simply quicker and stronger than anything Ball State can throw at them. If I had to guess I would say that holding the Knights below 40 points is not likely to happen. The Cardinals have shown the ability to strike quick and they too will showcase a good recieving corp. That should allow them to make a few plays to give us what we need. This could easily be the highest scoring game of all the Bowl games and this line is a bargain.

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Wild Bill

Seattle -3 1/2 (1 unit) Seahawks +13 at home in margin, also won 20-10 last year vs Skins. Emotional high will wear off in 2nd half in this game for Skins. Seattle +12 in turnover margin and Skins -8, Collins has been tough for Skins, however his magic runs out on the road. Seattle 24 Washington 14.

Jaguars -1 (1 unit) Taylor & Jones-Drew will be factors in this game along with tall WR's for Jags vs banged up Steeler backfield. Jaguars have edge on turnovers and won 3 straight vs Pittsburgh. Jaguars 27 Steelers 20

Tampa -2 1/2 (1 unit) It's tough for me to back a Coughlin coached team and the Giants have been tough on the road, however they beat below 500 teams on the road and are coming off a hard fought 3 point defeat to the Patriots and Eli had the game of his life. Giants -8 on turnover margin will be a factor as Tampa is +12 in turnovers. Running game will be the key here and Buccaneers are tough vs the run though they gave up plenty of yards to Carolina last week. Home team gets the edge here along with Garcia who took the Giants out of the playoffs last year for the Eagles. Tampa 20 Giants 13.

San Diego -8 1/2 (1 unit) Like the Chargers here at home where they are 7-1 this year and have a 14 point ave margin edge. Also defense will give runners and Vince Young fits all day long. Rivers should hit his tall receivers and LT will break out. Bolts beat Tennessee last year 40-8 at home and won in OT in Nashville 23-17 after Tennessee had them down and out. Titans also off hard fought win vs Colts to get into the playoffs. Chargers too much here, SD 27 Tenn 17.

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EZ Winners

5 STAR: (503) BOSTON (+2) over Detroit


Phenom

Seattle

Jacksonville


Dave Malinsky

4* Seattle

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Ted Sevransky ( TEDDY COVERS)

Seattle Seahawks -3.5

The Redskins are a nice story, a team that has rallied around a backup quarterback following the death of one of their most talented and popular players, reeling off four straight wins and covers to earn a wild card berth. But legitimate questions persist about the Redskins ability to carry that momentum forward into the postseason. In fact, Washington faces extremely difficult matchups on both sides of the football as they travel to face the Seahawks on Saturday.

Make no mistake about it ? Seattle?s home field is one of the strongest in the NFL. The Seahawks went 7-1 SU, 6-2 ATS at home this year, the lone loss coming back in early October thanks to a handful of special teams breakdowns. And the crowd noise here is second to none, creating all kinds of problems for opposing offenses. An offense like the Redskins, with a backup QB behind center and a handful of key line injuries is a bad matchup against a Seahawks defense that sacked opposing quarterbacks 45 times this season, 4th in the NFL. We can expect pass rushing force Patrick Kerney (14 sacks this year) and blitzing machine Julian Peterson (10 sacks) to have success pressuring Todd Collins into mistakes.

On the other side of the football, the Seahawks match up very well with Washington. The Redskins lost pro bowl safety Sean Taylor last month, and former #1 pick Carlos Rogers won?t be playing in the secondary either. Mike Holmgren has been perfectly comfortable with the ?pass first? offense of Seattle, eschewing the running game repeatedly over the second half of the season. Matt Hasselbeck guided this team to the Super Bowl only two years ago, and his receiving corps is as healthy as they?ve been all season, with Bobby Engram, Nate Burleson and Deion Branch all at 100%. Look for the Redskins secondary to struggle against this elite level passing game, as Seattle cruises to victory. Take the Seahawks.

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Norm Hitzges

Bowls

Double Play—Rutgers –10.5 vs Ball St.

Bowling Green/Tulsa Over 76

LSU –3.5 vs Ohio St

LSU/Ohio St Under 48

NFL

Double Play—San Diego –10 vs Tennessee

Double Play—San Diego/Tennessee Under 39

Double Play—Jacksonville –2 vs Pittsburgh

Tampa Bay/NY Giants Under 39.5

Washington/Seattle Under 40.5

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HQ Newsletter Bowl Games

3* BALL ST (+) over RUTGERS


WILD BILL

Over 60 1/2 Ball State-Rutgers (1 unit)


EROCKMONEY

Pick: Rutgers by 12


VEGAS HOTSHEET

FREE PICK: OVER 60½


ANDY ISKOE COLLEGE BOWL SELECTIONS

2 Star Ball State over Rutger

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NORTHCOAST POWER SWEEPS: ( 23-6 !!!!!!!!!!)

These 2 teams have met just once before, a 31-31 tie in 1989. Rutgers is 9-2-1 SU but 5-6 ATS vs current MAC teams. RU was 2-0 as a DD AF TY while BSU was 3-1 as an AD. Ball St is 3-5-1 SU vs current BE teams but 6-1 ATS vs non-conf foes the L/2Y. BSU tallied 7 wins for the 1st time S/’96 when they played in their last bowl (18-15 loss, +6’ in LV Bowl). HC Hoke is one of 18 HC to coach at his alma-mater, prior to that he was an asst at Mich. The Knights are in their 3rd straight bowl & 4th in school history. They beat Kan St 37-10 in the ‘06 Texas Bowl. Prior to RU, Schiano had been an asst in 7 bowls most recently at Miami, Fl. RU played 7 bowl caliber teams (2-5 ATS) being outscored by an avg of 32-25 but outgaining them by 420-398 ypg.BSU played 4 bowl caliber teams (2-2 ATS) being outscored by an avg of 39-27 and outgained by 521-414.They had 2 common opponents, Buf & Navy (both 2-0 SU & ATS). RU outscored those two on avg 39-14 and outgained them by a 520-262 ypg margin. BSU outscored them by an avg of 42-23 and outgained them by 523-402 ypg but needed OT to beat Navy. RU had 12,500 fans LY in the trip to Texas and both schools are less than 500 miles from Toronto. The Cardinals only avg’d 13,085 fans for their 5 home games.After a Cinderella 10-2 ssn LY Rutgers finished with a very disappointing 7-5 record. They defeated #2 USF, but dropped 3 of 5 incl the 41-38 UL loss where they led by 18 in the 2H. The Knights have our #38 off ranking avg 31 ppg & 437 ypg. QB Teel suffered a thumb inj vs Norfolk St that affected his throws in 8 gms until the UL game. When he’s healthy this is a very balanced offense. RU is doing opposing defenses a favor if they don’t give AA RB Rice the ball as he’s the #3 rusher in NCAA. WR’s Britt & Underwood became just the 26th duo in the NCAA to crack 1,000 yds in the same ssn. The OL avg 6’5” 308, paving the way for 190 ypg (4.6) allowing just 10 sks (2.8%) which is 2nd fewest in NCAA.They are led by 3 seniors including OT Zuttah. Rutgers defense allowed 65 ypg more than LY & went from +11 to -6 in TO margin. They have our #43 ranking all’g 22 ppg, 317 ypg with 35 sks. The smallish DL avg’s 6’3” 259 all’g 156 rush yds (3.9) led by Sr DT Foster. The secondary has our #33 pass D eff all’g 161 ypg (51%) with an 11-9 ratio (#2 pass D in NCAA). RU has our #102 ST’s ranking led by K/PJeremy “Judge” Ito who holds the school record for career points scored.

The Cardinals exceeded expectations, winning a share of the MAC West crown with their only MAC losses to the two Div Champs. They got some national attention when they came up just short of upsetting a ranked Nebraska team after missing a game winning FG in the final seconds (41-40, +23). This will be Ball St’s first game in a dome since 1996 (Minny) but they did hold 5 practices in the RCA Dome (Colts), to get used to playing indoors. They are led by just 3 senior starters (all def) and 15 upperclassmen starters.Ball St has our #67 offense avg 32 ppg and 432 ypg. They do have our #22 passing offense led by QB Davis who had five 300+ gms including a career high 422 vs Nebraska and is also the team’s #5 rusher.Their rushing game took a hit when they lost RB Lewis after just 4 starts as he had two 100+ games and still finished as the team’s #2 rusher. WR Love is the team’s top receiver and is #7 in the NCAA in all-purp yds avg 197 ypg. The #2 receiver is Mackey Award semi-finalist TE Hill who is tied with Love in rec TD.The OL avg 6’4” 290 and has opened holes for 4.1 ypc and all’d just 20 sacks (4.6%).The Cardinals have our #81 def all’g 26 ppg & 419 ypg. The DL avg just 6’2” 252 and is ranked #99 in NCAA all’g 197 ypgrush (4.9) with 21 sacks. They are led by DE’s Booker and Crawford, who combined for 29 tfl. The top two tacklers are LB’s including WLB Haines who was the #6 tackler in the MAC. Ball St has our #89 pass eff defense all’g 222 ypg (64%) with an 18-18 ratio as the secondary starters combined for 14 int led by CB Hill. Ball St has our #52 ST’s ranking led by P Miller who finished #3 in the NCAA with a 45.8 avg.Ball State is thrilled to be making their first bowl appearance since 1996. They got some press early in the season after the Nebraska game but as we found out everyone scored on the Cornhuskers. They did finish getting outgained vs bowl eligible teams by 107 ypg. Rutgers finished their season losing 3 of 5 (1-4 ATS) and QB Teel was inconsistent with a thumb injury. Rutgers’ goal was clearly to make a BCS bowl and for the 2nd straight season they end up in a bottom tier post season game. The talent disparity is overwhelming on the defensive side and with a healthy QB the offense is potnet behind AA RB Rice.HC Schiano got his disappointed team focused in LY’s Texas Bowl (37-10 vs Kan St) and will motivate them again to finish the season off with a win.

FORECAST: RUTGERS 38 Ball St 21 RATING: 2*

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THE SPORTS MEMO

Rutgers vs. Ball State +10 O/U 60 Recommendation: Ball State

Rutgers had dreams of a BCS berth and potentially a shot at the National
Championship this year after an 11-win season and a bowl win
over Kansas State on ‘06. After all, the Knights brought back preseason
Heisman hopeful Ray Rice, who ran for nearly 1,800 yards
with 20 TDs. Quarterback Mike Teel, who had worked all offseason
to improve his mechanics and grasp of the offense, developed a solid
chemistry with a talented group of wide receivers like the explosive
Kenny Brit and Tiquan Underwood. They also boasted six returning
starters to a nasty defense that allowed just 14 points per game in
2006 while holding opponents to just 2.9 yards per carry. But after
a 3-0 start against JV-like opponents, Rutgers got a rude awakening,
losing after their bye week as a 17.5-point favorite at home to
Maryland. Though they rank 26th overall in total offense and 15th
overall in total defense, our Accu-Stats numbers paint the picture
of a decidedly average football team. They run for 4.80 yards per
carry but give up a disturbing 5.32 and rarely dominated the line
of scrimmage they seemed to own last year. This lack of a physical
prowess perhaps led them to their 1-4 SU and ATS record against
the Big East’s top five teams (UConn, South Florida, West Virginia,
Louisville and Cincinnati). Head coach Greg Schiano must be commended
for taking this perennial loser to three straight bowl games,
but with the talent and expectations in Piscataway, we can’t help
but feel this team is extremely disappointed to be here. Ball State,
however, is thrilled to be here in Toronto. They are making their first
appearance in the postseason in over a decade after securing their
first winning season in just as long. Quarterback Nate Davis is a
bit undersized at 6-2, 214 lbs., but he has NFL qualities. His arm
strength is phenomenal and his knack for making big plays in big
situations has caught the eyes of some scouts. The sophomore signal
caller has now thrown for 5,351 yards with 45 TDs against only
14 INTs in his career, despite becoming a full-time starter midway
through his freshman campaign. While the defense is clearly behind
the offense for the boys in Muncie, the one ringing endorsement
for the Cards has been the ability of Brady Hoke to “coach ‘em up”
against superior competition. In the past two seasons, Ball State has
faced Indiana (twice), Purdue, Nebraska, and Illinois -- all much bigger,
stronger and faster schools from BCS conferences. They have
covered four of those five games, nearly pulling the outright upset
against Indiana two seasons ago and at Nebraska this year. Rutgers
will no doubt hold the physical advantages, and on paper they
will hold virtually every statistical/fundamental edge as well. But as
mentioned before, Greg Schiano deserves a lot of credit for building
this program up to its current level and he is getting it...from Michigan.
While he vehemently denies it becoming one, it can’t help but
be a distraction for a team that has publicly stated it has not had
the type of season they had hoped for. We’ll take the scrappy Ball
State Cardinals to cover against yet another BCS conference school

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MARC LAWRENCE BOWL PREDICTIONS:

Rutgers by 8


Doc Sports

4 unit Wash +3.5

3 Unit Giants +3


Strikepoint Sports

4 unit Tulsa -5

3 unit Jags -2

5 unit Tampa -2.5


Vegas Sports Informer

5 unit Seattle -3
4 unit Jax/Pitt over 39
3 unit Rutgers -10
2 unit Tulsa -5
6 unit LSU -4


Robert Ferringo

4.5 unit LSU -4

4 unit Tampa -2.5

1.5 unit under 40 gaints/tampa

2.5 unit Pitt +3 -120

2 unit teaser SD-2 Under 47.5 Sea/Wash

1 unit under 39.5 Jax/pitt


Pointwise Phones

3* Jacksonville, Seattle


Jeff Benton

Steelers 15*


Matt Rivers

MONSTER 200,000* BURIAL Plus Bonus Lock

1. 200,000* Steelers

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Dr Bob

Saturday
SEATTLE (-3 ½) 23 Washington 21
My math model favors Seattle by only ½ a point at home the math would favor Washington by ½ a point if Deion Branch doesn’t play. With Washington’s offense better with Collins at quarterback and their defense not as good with a thin defensive backfield there is now some value in the over in this game. I’ll lean with Washington plus the points and I’ll lean with the Over.


PITTSBURGH 20 Jacksonville (-2 ½) 19
I’ll lean with Pittsburgh at +2 ½ or less, I’d consider Pittsburgh a Strong Opinion at +3 and I’d take the Steelers in a 2-Star Best Bet at +3 ½ or more.

DR BOB

Rutgers (-10) vs Ball State: Math favors Rutgers pretty significantly, but situations are strongly in favor of Ball State. At this point I’ll pick Rutgers by 10 and thus have no opinion.

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Globalwide Sports

NCAA Football Ball State vs. Rutgers

Pick: Ball State +11

We have all seen by now that the favorites aren't the way to go in the bowl games. The public hammers the favorites thinking that they are going to blow out the other teams. It just doesn't happen like this. When teams like Ball State come in to play, the public knows nothing about them and thinks they are going to get killed. Ball State has covered the spread 7 out of 11 games this year and continue to be a great bet. Rutgers has only won 5 out of 11, proving again that people love to bet on them. This isn't the Rutgers of last year. This is a Ball State team that only lost by 11 on the road to a much better Illinois team. Ball State can't blow teams out but they can stay in games. That's all we need.

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THE SPORTS MEMO

Washington +4 at Seattle O/U 40
Recommendation: Washington
It has been one hell of a run for the Washington Redskins after
being left for dead with a late season four-game losing streak.
They managed to rally, and it came from the unlikely source of
quarterback Todd Collins, who now looks like one of the top 15
signal callers in the league. And with Collins entering the picture,
we miraculously got a response out of running back Clinton Portis,
who is known for not showing up for weeks at a time. His surge
over the last three games suddenly makes the Redskins halfway
decent with the football, something they unfortunately lacked at
times with Jason Campbell under center. It certainly wasn’t all
Campbell’s fault, but Collins has produced not only great stats
and wins, but a confidence this team played much of the season
without. Seattle played not only in one of the weakest divisions in
the league, but their schedule was extremely easy. In 16 games,
they played two teams that made the playoffs and their last three
opponents finished the season a combined 16 games under .500.
In those last three games, the Seahawks went 1-2. And while we
recognize the lack of importance in some of those due to having
the NFC wrapped up weeks ago, we also feel it showcases Seattle
as no more than a slightly above average football team – certainly
similar to what they’ll face in Washington. To really break things
down we see Seattle playing just four games against teams with
a .500 record or better. They went 2-2 SU in those four, being
outscored by a combined total of 84-78. Washington on the other
hand played 10 teams that were .500 or better, going a respectable
4-6 SU and being outscored 222-200. The Redskins’ schedule
also ranked second in the league. As for strategy, Seattle has
really morphed into a pass-happy team with Shaun Alexander less
than 100% for most of the season. After ranking 18th in passing
and 10th in rushing attempts a year ago, that has now switched
to 6th in passing and 20th in rushing. Washington has been solid
against the pass, holding Brett Favre, Eli Manning and Tony Romo
to six TDs and six INTs in five games. Matt Hasselbeck put together
a monster season on paper with nearly 4,000 yards passing,
but it is hard to ignore he played 12 games against the bottom
half of the league in terms of yards per game passing allowed.
Washington’s current momentum is certainly acknowledged here,
but it is the balance on offense and continued production from the
defense that makes them the play. Throw in Seattle’s worth being
in serious question due to poor scheduling (32nd-ranked schedule)
and we see plenty of value with the battle tested Redskins.


Jacksonville -1 at Pittsburgh O/U 37.5
Recommendation: Jacksonville
This one has some ingredients for a little revenge factor after
Jacksonville waltzed into Heinz Field and statistically dominated
the Steelers en route to a 29-22 victory. That wasn’t even a month
ago, but things have changed dramatically for Pittsburgh after multiple
key and still lingering injuries. Jacksonville on the other hand,
continued pushing forward, looking more and more like a worthy
contestant of the Patriots if they do in fact reach that point. In fact,
the Jags are without a doubt, the sexiest team in the NFL right
now. And who could blame anyone for thinking that way? The move
to David Garrard seemed bold at the time, but the once defensiveminded,
20 points per game AFC middleweight, turned into having
one of the best and most efficient offenses in the league. Passing
the ball seems easy with Garrard, who makes few if any mistakes.
The two-headed running attack of Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-
Drew helped make Jacksonville the No. 2-ranked rush offense in
the league. And while everyone is drooling over the Jags’ offensive
explosion, few notice they still were ranked in the top 10 in almost
every defensive category. Pittsburgh just wasn’t the same team to
close out the year. Multiple injuries to key players exposed them as
no more than a slightly above average team. And injuries or not,
Jacksonville and New England both put up 421 yards of offense –
the Pats via the pass, and the Jaguars on the ground. In fact, Pittsburgh’s
weak schedule should be noted when analyzing the stout
defensive numbers they put up. Almost half of their schedule featured
teams that ranked in the bottom ten in the league in total offense.
Ben Roethlisberger and Garrard are very similar in that they
are highly efficient and never seem to try and do too much. This
style of play and the success it equaled was a clear result of being
able to run the football. Both teams rank second and third in rushing
attempts and near the bottom in passing attempts. Pittsburgh
will still run the ball and should have success with Najeh Davenport,
but us siding with Jacksonville has little to do with Parker not being
there. The Jaguars played in the better division, beat four playoff
teams -- two of which without Garrard -- and unlike Pittsburgh,
comes into this one on a roll and relatively healthy. Don’t get intimidated
with a January playoff game in Heinz Field or the revenge
angle, you’ll end up missing out on who is the clearly better team.

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Re: Saturday Service Plays

Brandon Lang
Saturday

20 Dime
JAGUARS

10 Dime
UCLA (college hoops)

5 Dime
OVER Jacksonville/Pittsburgh
WASHINGTON (college hoops)

20 Dime Jaguars - This team dominated here once before, this can dominate at Heinz Field once again. I have all the confidence in the world that Jacksonville will be moving along in the AFC Playoffs today, as it showed me the heart and dedication of a true road warrior when it came onto this very field just a few weeks back, and bullied the bully. The Jaguars ran the ball, defended the ball, hit the home team where it counted most and absolutely embarrassed the Steelers on their turf. And that was in the worst possible weather conditions.

Now it's for all the marbles. Win or you go home. And I like our chances with a football team that has two running backs who aren't afraid to shoulder the burden in case their 'green' quarterback folds under pressure in his first playoff start. We have, in my eyes, one of the league's best blocking backs (Jones-Drew) to hang in the pocket with David Garrard on pass plays, and we have a confident offensive line to protect the passing game. This offense isn't one of those of units that does its part and banks on the defense to make plays – it feeds off the stop unit to put points on the board and games out of reach.

And while the Jaguars needed an extra push to put the first game out of reach – a late surge, if you will – that game wasn't as close as the score indicated, and the fact they may have celebrated too early in that one, leads me to believe the Jags might have learned their lesson in that game. We cannot take a thing from the defense that is 10th in the NFL in points allowed at 19.0, and that finished the regular season with a plus-9 turnover differential.

I know all about Pittsburgh's No. 1 ranked defense, but this is a dinged-up football team that plummeted from darling-status under first-year coach Mike Tomlin, over the final third of the season. And without Willie Parker to tend to the time-clock management, and putting all the pressure on Ben Roethlisberger, I don't see much from this offense today.

Play the road chalk here.

5 Dime Over - These teams combined for 51 points and more than 600 yards when they faced off in Pittsburgh three weeks ago. And as you recall, that game was played in horrible conditions that included wind, snow, rain and frigid temperatures. So with the weather forecast calling for tame conditions on Saturday night, there’s no reason to think these two won’t light up the scoreboard again.

After all, just look at the numbers: Jacksonville scored 24 points or more in each of its final 10 games, including averaging 26.3 in six road contests. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh put up 22, 41 and 21 points in its last three outings and – if you take out that 3-0 final against Miami played in pig slop – the Steelers averaged 28.3 points at home. The Jags went over the total in each of their final six games and seven of eight on the road.

Meanwhile, the Steelers topped the total in their last three overall, and the over is an astounding 39-15-2 in Pittsburgh’s last 56 home games, including 4-0 in the playoffs. This is a license to print money here.

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