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Sean Higgs

Washington Nationals vs. Atlanta Braves
Play: Washington Nationals   

Tonight, Sean Higgs will back the Washington Nationals over the Atlanta Braves. Streaking Nats are 8-1 their last 9 and have won 5 straight over the Braves. Braves are 0-8 in Reyes' last 8 starts. 

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Larry Ness

MIN (-105) vs  TOR

The Twins are stumbling as they get ready to play the final game of their 14-game road trip tonight in Toronto. The Twins had lost six in a row to the Jays as they began the series on Tuesday. Minnesota let a 5-1 lead slip away in that game (lost 7-5) and then last night, after scoring to take a 5-4 lead in the top of the ninth, closer Joe Nathan couldn't hold the lead, suffering his sixth blown save (Twins lost 6-5 in 11 innings). The Twins have now dropped EIGHT of their last 11 games but luckily, remain just one game back of the White Six in the AL Central. Meanwhile, Toronto will attempt to make it NINE straight wins over the Twins, going back to last year. Jesse Litsch (9-8, 4.01 ERA) gets the call for Toronto and he was not sharp in his most recent outing (last Thursday), allowing 10 hits but only three ERs in a 3-2 loss at Tampa. That game followed two strong outings from Litsch, since his return from the minors in mid-August. Litsch had been demoted after a three-start stretch (spanning the All Star game) in which he had allowed 22 hits and 15 ERs over 12.2 innings (10.66 ERA). Litsch had pitched 13 innings without allowing a single ER in games against Detroit and Boston, prior to that shaky outing against the Rays. While the Twins are definitely reeling, they do have Kevin Slowey on the mound, who will enter this game 4-0 with a 2.32 ERA over his last five starts (team is 4-1). Slowey's made two previous starts on Minnesota's never-ending road trip, going 1-0 (team is 2-0) with a 2.92 ERA (15 Ks and just four walks). I may be "spitting into the wind" here, but I'll back Slowey and the Twins.

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Jorge Gonzalez

LA ANGELS

The Angels finally came back down to earth in last nights 9-6 loss to the Detroit. Despite the loss, the Angels are by far the best team in baseball from this season with a record of 41-26. Don’t expect much of a let down by the Angels. I like them to bounce back here in this spot and win this series against the Tigers. The Angels will send Ervin Santana (14-5, 3.31) to the mound to face veteran Kenny Rogers (9-12, 5.28). Santana has been sensational over his last six starts striking out 48 batters while walking only six on his way to four victories. On the other hand Rogers has been getting cranked over his last three outings with an ERA of 7.50. The Tigers have won just one of Rogers last six starts. Take the Angels here to take the runner game in this series.

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Tom Freese

NY YANKEES

New York has won 6 straight road games and they are 39-13 in Game 3 of a series. The Yankees are 21-11 after a win by 4 or more runs. Tampa Bay is 3-7 their last 10 home games vs. the Yankees. The Ray's ace starter Scott Kazmir has not pitched past the sixth in 13 of his last 14 starts.

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Scott Delaney

PIRATES / REDS OVER

Matinee total may be going early, but for me it’s well worth the play with these two pitchers going at it. Tom Gorzelanny is 1-7 on the road with a 9.50 ERA, and all eight of his starts on the highway have soared past the number. He also comes in after losing two straight since returning to the rotation, as Milwaukee drilled him twice (Aug. 23 and 29), giving up nine earned runs over 12 innings of work. And when he did face the Reds back on May 28, he lasted just one inning after giving up six earned runs. On the other hand, we have Josh Fogg, who is 1-3 at home in six home starts this season, and has a 9.00 ERA to go along with it. He too has been horrendous lately, as he’s given up nine earned runs in his last three starts, spanning 15 innings. He just lost to the Pirates on Aug. 13, when the Bucs got a hold of him for four earned runs over five innings. Four of his home starts have gone over, and given the rather generous number in this one, I see this one going high as well.

3♦ OVER

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Bryan Leonard

Minnesota Twins @ Toronto Blue Jays
PICK: Under

Kevin Slowey has been the best pitcher in baseball that nobody is talking about. Like the Twins pitching staff in general he throws strikes and doesn't allow free passes. The defense is always alert and performs better when they know a short inning is in the works. Slowey battled injuries early on but since he has regained his health he has been dominant. In his last five starts he has allowed seven earned runs in 31 innings of work. He has been so dominant that his strikeout to walk ratio is 42 to 3 in his last seven outings. Jesse Litsch has been on a terrific run himself. In his last three starts he has yielded just three earned runs in 19.2 innings of work. He owns a 3.18 ERA on the season pitching at home as he has allowed a miniscule .297 opponent on base percentage in this building. With both bullpens in pretty good shape right now along with the September call-ups on the roster we can see a very low scoring affair tonight in Toronto.

PLAY UNDER

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Nick "BookieKiller" Parsons

Triple-Dime Bet

Vanderbilt / South Carolina Over 41.0

The Gamecocks come into this game with revenge on their minds. Last season they were upset by Vanderbilt in a frustrating 17 to 6 defeat. South Carolina Coach Steve Spurrier was a perfect 14-0 in his career against the Commodores before that loss. Also, South Carolina had won seven straight in the series before that loss. With revenge on their minds, the Gamecocks will come in looking to explode on offense. With the uncertainty at QB coming into this season, we felt sure it would take a little time for South Carolina's offense to get comfortable. As expected, they did struggle in the first half against NC State last week. However, the Gamecocks opened things up (and poured it on) in the second half of that game and ending up winning big in a 34-0 final. The offense showed good balance with the running game and passing attack and we expect less turnovers this week after the offense turned to backup QB Chris Smelley to get rolling in that game. As for the Gamecocks defense, they also impressed last week. However, this week they must go up against a Vanderbilt team that went on the road last week and looked quite impressive in putting up 34 points on the scoreboard against a solid Miami of Ohio defense. The rushing attack of the Commodores was the key in that win (thanks to the QB spot too more on that below). They'll be ready to produce again this week as they enjoy the comforts of home after last week?s road opener. Vanderbilt did produce well last week against the Redhawks despite having just nine starters back from last season?s team. Their defense was able to get the job done against a weaker Redhawks offense but they?ll be put to the test by the Gamecocks offense this week after South Carolina got rolling in the second half of their week one victory. This gives the Gamecocks a lot of momentum heading into this week's game. Again, with the revenge motive this is a very strong spot for South Carolina but we have to respect what Vandy's offense did on the road last week. QB Chris Nickson is a dual threat and he got the job done on the ground against Miami of Ohio last week and that kept a good defense off balance. He can do that again here and this one turns into a back and forth high scoring affair as a result.

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Gamblers World

TIP OF THE DAY

Washington Redskins vs. New York Giants

Prediction: New York Giants

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Priceless Picks

1 Unit on Washington Nationals +123

The Nationals are 5-0 in the last 5 meetings, 8-1 in their last 9 overall, 4-0 in their last 4 during game 1 of a series, 6-0 in their last 6 vs. a team with a losing record, and 8-0 in their last 8 games vs. a starter with a WHIP greater than 1.30.  The Braves are 0-8 in Reyes' last 8 starts, 5-14 in their last 19 home games, and 7-20 in their last 27 vs. the National League East.  Take the red hot Nats.

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Dr Bob Analysis

NY GIANTS (-4.0) 21 Washington 17

Washington rallied down the stretch last season to win their final 4 regular season games with backup quarterback Todd Collins in charge of the attack. Collins struggled in the playoff loss to Seattle, Joe Gibbs retired again and the Redskins have a new coach in Jim Zorn. Zorn brings with him a West Coast style offense that will probably suit quarterback Jason Campbell, who completed 70% of his passes as a senior at Auburn in a similar system. The West Coast offense requires accuracy and Campbell has that quality. Campbell only averaged 5.8 yards per pass play last season (excluding a 54 yard hail mary pass that was completed – and random as far as I’m concerned), but he faced a teams that would allow only 5.8 yppp to an average quarterback. Campbell, while average on a yards per pass play basis, only threw 11 interceptions and he is more likely to limit his mistakes with more short passes in the playbook. It’s tough to say how Campbell will perform with a new offense to run, but I’ll call for numbers similar to last season. The rushing attack was hurt last season by two early season injuries to linemen RT Jon Jansen in week 1 and to RG Randy Thomas the very next week. With those two back healthy I expect Clinton Portis (1262 yards at only 3.9 ypr) and Ladell Betts (335 yards at just 3.6 ypr) to rebound with much better numbers this season. Washington was an average offensive team last season (although worse than average until Collins’ late season heroics) and the Redskins should be about average offensively this season – although they could struggle early on with the new offense (they’ve been inconsistent in the preseason).

Washington’s defense was among the best in the league in the first half of 2007, allowing just 4.7 yards per play through week 8 against teams that would combine to allow 5.6 yppl to an average team. Top cornerback Carlos Rogers was lost to injury and a couple of weeks later All-Pro free safety Sean Taylor was murdered. The Redskins started to get burned deep without Rogers and Taylor, but things turned back around the final 4 games when gifted young strong safety LaRon Landry played mostly as the last line of defense at free safety, which is the position he’ll play this season. Rogers has returned from his knee injury and has reportedly looked strong in camp, so I expect the Redskins’ pass defense to be pretty strong with Rogers, Shawn Springs (coming off another very good season), and Landry all being All-Pro caliber players. The Redskins defended the run well all season, yielding just 3.9 ypr to teams that would combine to average 4.3 ypr against an average team.

Washington grades out as a better than average team, but a lot of that depends on how quickly the players get comfortable with the new schemes on both sides of the ball.

The Giants were the most improbable Super Bowl champs ever and their 4 game post-season run could lead to them being an overrated team this season. Eli Manning is not suddenly a poised, mistake free quarterback just because he had just 1 interception in 4 playoff games. Just before his good performance in week 17 against the Patriots Manning was playing the worst football of his career, which is pretty bad given how bad his career was up to that point. Manning threw 20 interceptions in 16 regular season games and finished the season averaging 5.8 yards per pass play (including the playoff games) against teams that would allow 5.9 yppp to an average quarterback. While Manning has a below average quarterback in every season of his career thus far I actually think he’ll be better than average this season in both yppp and in interception percentage, as last year’ magical run is likely to give him more confidence and give his teammates more confidence in him. New York already has a great rushing attack that averaged 4.5 ypr last season (against teams that would allow 4.0 ypr to an average team) and they should be good running the ball again this season.

New York struggled defensively in a 35-45 opening day loss at Dallas, but star DE Michael Strahan and CB Sam Madison didn’t start in that game and the Giants’ defense was much better starting in week 2 with those two players in the lineup. The Giants rated at 0.7 yards per play better than average defensively from week 2 through the Super Bowl, allowing 4.8 yppl to teams that would average 5.5 yppl against an average team. The Giants aren’t likely to be as strong this season with Michael Strahan retired and star DE Osi Umenyiora out for the season due to a recent knee injury. Those two ends combined for 21 sacks and 28 quarterback hurries last season and they’ll be impossible to replace. New York should still be better than average rushing the passer, but they won’t come close to the 3.1 sacks per game that they average in 2007. Less pressure on the quarterback from the defensive line will make it tougher for mediocre secondary to cover opposing receivers and the Giants could go from very good against the pass to average this season. The run defense should remain good with LB Antonio Pierce roaming the middle of the field (although he’s questionable for this game).

The Giants are probably going to be better on offense and not as good on defense this season, and they are certainly not that much better than an average team overall. The Giants look like they’ll be fighting for a wild card spot in the playoffs once again in what should be an 8-8 or 9-7 season.

My ratings favor New York by 3 ½ points with a total of 40 ½ points, which is pretty close to the line, but the Giants apply to a 41-21 game 1 angle.

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Robert Ferringo

2-Unit Play. Take Over 8.5 New York Yankees at Tampa Bay
1-Unit Play. Take Minnesota (+100) over Toronto
1-Unit Play. Take Tampa Bay (-160) over New York Yankees

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3Daily Winners

Washington Redskins vs. New York Giants 
Play:New York Giants -4.5

Its opening night of a new season and Roger the Commish and his minions give us an old-fashioned NFC East rivalry to kick-off a new 17-week regular season. The Giants start under the leadership of Eli Manning, no longer challenged if he can be The Man in New York. The Giants do have problems coming into the season with injuries, free agency and retirement taking away many of the aspects that contributed to spectacular late season run. This is not to say the cupboard is bare on defense for the G-Men, rather signals defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo will have to meet the challenge with new personnel. Last year the Giants were 6-0 ATS when they held teams between 15 and 21 points. Washington has given unproven Jim Zorn the keys to the Redskins present and future, with plenty of doubt surrounding the environment. While quarterback Jason Campbell strives to learn yet another offensive system, how the running game works will determine early season success or failure of Washington. The offensive line brought back a couple of old faces that were injured last season, but essentially the group is the same, meaning Clinton Portis will have to use his vision and shiftiness to find holes. The Giants will try to clog running lanes; to stifle Skins attack and make Campbell hit many of his new receivers. Washington arrives in New Jersey 13-5-1 ATS against NFC East opponents. The Giants are 10-6 and 9-7 ATS hosting Washington since 1992, with the visitor having covered three in a row. Serious football bettors will want to watch how Redskins T Stephen Heyer handles DE Justin Tuck. Heyer is descent player who gives good effort. Tuck has high motor and quickness off the ball. Whoever wins this battle will help team immeasurably. Another battle is Plaxico Burress vs. Shawn Springs. When Plax plays like he did in the postseason, he is unstoppable in all the various pass routes. Springs is intelligent defender, and will try to jam Burress to throw off timing routes of which Manning is extremely comfortable throwing. Lastly, will Manning be able to have TE Kevin Boss as reliable bailout? Boss looked uncertain in preseason. This could cause teams to double Burress if they don’t fear Boss or any other Giants tight ends. Washington is 5-5 and 2-6-2 ATS in first game of the season and 6-10 ATS on the road the last two seasons. New York is also .500 in first tilt, with exact same spread record at 5.5. Keep in mind the Super Bowl champs are 6-0-1 ATS in first game the next season. Add it up and New York is the play, unless it goes to -5 points, than pass.

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Joseph D'Amico

LAA Angels vs. Detroit Tigers 
Play: LAA Angels

After a great openeing weekend in football,we won't rest on our laurel's. We have the winner in tonight's Giant's/redskin's matchup . We will also have up all of our weekend winner's by this afternoon. Hello my name is Joseph D'Amico. Today's Free Winner is the Los Angeles Angel's over the Detroit Tiger's. The Angel's continue to prove that they are one of the best teams in baseball at 84-54 and are literally runnung away with the division as they are 16 1/2 games ahead of the 2nd place Texas Ranger's. Los Angeles is the only team in baseball with 40+ wins on the road at 41-26 away from home. Detroit struggles at 67-72 and 11 games out of first in the A.L. Central. The Tiger's have lost 7 of their last 10 games at home. These two teams have played 8 times this season with L.A. winning 5 of those games. As a matter of fact, the Angel's own the Tiger's winning a whopping 42 of their last 56 meetings with Detroit. For Los Angeles today Santana is on the mound. he is 9-2 on the road with an ERA of 3.30. The right-hander is 2-0 against the tiger's this season in 15.1 innings pitched and an ERA of just 2.93. for Detroit ,Rogers gets the start. he is 3-5 with an ERA of 4.79 at home this season. In the left-handers last three starts ,he is 1-2 with an ERA of 7.50. Los Angeles would certainly like home field throughout the playoffs. The only way to do that is to win as many games as possible over the next month. This means beating up on lesser tems like the Tiger's.

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Vegas Sports Experts

10* Redskins

3* South Carolina

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Wunderdog

Washington at Atlanta
Pick: Atlanta -1.5 +147

The Washington Nationals made a big run at home winning eight of nine, but now they must face the road. The Nationals haven't matched that win total in their last 29, as they are on a 7-22 road disaster in their last 29. I don't think starting a rookie that has no more than AA experience is the answer to the Nats' road woes. Shairon Martis worked just 74 innings with a four ERA on that level. Jo Jo Reyes has been awful on the road where the Braves are just 2-8 in his 10 starts. Reyes has allowed four runs or less in seven of his nine home starts. I expect the Braves to have a bit of an attitude having been swept by the Nats on the road last week, and will tee off on the AA starter, and the Nats' pen will allow even more. I will go with the Braves and the runline here.

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Tony Karpinski

New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays 
Play: New York Yankees 

The Yankees are still alive and hoping for a miracle. The Yankees are coming off their second straight victory over the American league East Division leading Rays. The Yankees have been one of the few teams that have a winning record against the Rays this season. The Yankees have won the last four straight games and nine of the last 14 meetings between these two teams. The Yankees have won five of their last seven games and seeming to be playing better on the road without the NY Pressure.
The Yankees will send Darrell Rasner (5-9, 5.08) to face Tampa Bays Scott Kazmir (10-6, 3.13). Kazmir has struggled since the All-Star Break and I expect the Yankees to get the sweep!

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Cajun-Sports

2 STAR SELECTION

VANDERBILT +10 over South Carolina

Now a Top 25 team, the Gamecocks hit the road to do battle with the Commodores in the SEC opener for both teams on Thursday.

South Carolina was completely dominant in a 34-0 romp over NC State to open the season, and a national television audience likely came away impressed by the effort of Steve Spurrier's squad.

As for Vanderbilt, they opened the new season on the road with a 34-13 surprisingly easy romp over Miami-Ohio.

The Gamecocks first-time starting quarterback Tommy Beecher threw four interceptions against the Wolfpack. Chris Smelley came in after Beecher sustained an injury, was much more effective, and has been named the starter for this clash with Vandy.

It is hard to imagine South Carolina playing any better defensively than it did in the opener, although the shutout was pitched against a North Carolina State team that really struggled on offense a year ago, and doesn’t appear to have improved much.

The Commodores got a tremendous performance from quarterback Chris Nickson in the season-opening victory over Miami-Ohio, as he ran for 166 yards and two touchdowns on 20 rushing attempts. As a passer, Nickson completed 9-of-16 passes for 91 yards and a score, and was named the SEC Offensive Player of the Week.

Defensively, Vanderbilt held the RedHawks to 340 total yards. The run defense was superb, holding Miami, Ohio to 96 yards. Equally impressive was the fact that the 'Dores came up with three interceptions and permitted fewer than half of the passes that Miami attempted to be completed.

One of our handicapping strategies is to: Play AGAINST a team off a nationally televised blowout win.

As an old handicapper proverb states, “a team is never as good or as bad as its last game”. Blowouts do happen, and when they occur on a national stage, they can leave a lasting impression on viewers. The public regards the winning team as invincible and will think they are a “sure thing” the following week. The oddsmakers know this and adjust the pointspread accordingly, so there is no line value with this team.

Some may point to a revenge angle here, as Vanderbilt knocked off the Gamecocks on the road last year; however, South Carolina is 0-5 ATS as a favorite playing with revenge for a SU loss last season.

We also have a strong NCAA Football POWER SYSTEM demonstrating that non-Saturday teams looking to avenge a home favorite loss in which their offense could not get untracked have had a very hard time exacting their revenge. Specifically, it states:

Play AGAINST a non-Saturday conference team seeking revenge for a home SU loss as a favorite of 3+ points scoring less than 14 points last season.

Since at least 1980, this system is a perfect 10-0 ATS, crushing the spread by more than 16 ppg on average!

We also note that the Gamecocks are an ugly 0-8 ATS (-16.5 ppg) as a road favorite of more than 7 points with less than 13 days rest.

If nothing else, last Thursday night's season-opening 34-13 non-conference victory at Miami shows why Chris Nickson gives Vanderbilt its best chance to win.

The senior quarterback, who wasn't named the Commodores' starter over Mackenzi Adams until 2 days before the game, merely ran for a career-high in yards and two touchdowns while throwing for a third TD.

"Chris Nickson is back, and it is going to give us a lot more confidence going into next week playing South Carolina," senior linebacker Reshard Langford said.

Indeed, after an upset win, teams back in the role of underdog have been quite strong at home in non-Saturday games under the conditions described by this NCAA Football POWER SYSTEM:

In Games 2-11, play ON a non-Saturday home underdog of 23 points or less off an underdog SU win in its last game vs. an opponent not off a conference favorite SU & ATS win.

Since 1997, these teams an amazing 9-0 SU & ATS. That’s right, they have WON every qualifying game outright, beating the spread by more than 16 ppg on average.

While we aren’t calling for an outright Commodores victory, they should certainly be able to keep this within a touchdown for the pointspread cover.

PROJECTED FINAL SCORE: SOUTH CAROLINA 21 VANDERBILT 14


Washington Redskins vs. New York Giants
Prediction: 2* New York Giants -3.5

Washington travels to the Big Apple to face the defending Super Bowl Champions on Thursday night. New York lost to these Skins last season when hosting them in New York in fact they suffered a 16.5 point ATS loss when the Skins won the game 22 to 10.

As with every new season questions abound on both teams as the Giants lost two outstanding defensive players before the season even started. One to retirement and the other to a knee injury during a preseason game.

Strahan and Umenyiora will be missed on the defensive front for the G-Men and that is an area without much depth. Those two accounted for 22 of last season’s 53 sacks by Giant defenders. The Giants have lost 5 starters from last season’s defensive unit that ranked eighth in the league.

The Skins open this campaign with a new head coach in Jim Zorn. Although the Skins have talent at the wide receiver position there are still consistency questions with their signal caller, QB Jason Campbell.

Campbell is learning his third offensive system in four years and that has shown in his inconsistency. The offensive scheme he is required to play in now, the West Coast offense requires its QB to be extremely accurate and also able to make the necessary changes at the line of scrimmage. These are the things he has struggled with since he took over the starting job in DC.

The Giants are not getting the type of respect from the oddsmaker that a Super Bowl Champion should get especially facing a team with so many questions and a new head coach. Could it be because defending Super Bowl Champs are 0-6 ATS in season openers when facing a division opponent?

We hope not because that the last seven Super Bowl Champs have opened the next campaign by going 7-0 SU and 6-0-1 ATS. We also note that the G-Men have won and covered three of the last four at Giants Stadium versus the Skins and outscored them 85 to 39 in the process.

We also note that the Skins are 5-5 and 2-6-2 ATS in first game of the season and 6-10 ATS on the road the last two seasons. One final note the league is 13-0 ATS in Week One of the NFL season as a division home favorite of 4 or less points if they won at least eight games in the previous season.

The Skins have too many questions and the Giants know they need to get out of the gate with a solid performance in Game One of the season. The latest information we have received out of the Giants camp is they are ready and willing to carry that “mark” of a champion in the 2008 season.

GRADED PREDICTION: 2* NEW YORK GIANTS -3.5

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Steam On-Line Guaranteed Selections

5000* LATE STEAM BASEBALL AFTERNOON WINNER
908 LA Angels w/Santana -154 

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The Miller Group

5* CFB ESPN Game of the Month

The Gamecocks have the advantage in virtually every department in this matchup, plus they have revenge on their mind after suffering a 17-6 home loss against the Commodores last year. We backed South Carolina last Thursday and were rewarded with a 34-0 wire-to-wire victory. There's no reason to back off of the Gamecocks this week.

South Carolina is much better equipped to face an offense like Vanderbilt's this season. The Commodores are lead by a very mobile QB in Chris Nickson. He's exactly the type of guy, and this is exactly the type of offense that gave the 'Cocks defense fits a year ago. Not so this season, as South Carolina is now employing a 4-2-5 defensive scheme. Not only that, but they're at full strength. The return of Jasper Brinkley means the world to this defense. Even in last year's meeting, the Gamecocks held their own defensively, allowing only 17 points. Their offense was a no show. That won't happen this time around.

Chris Smelley will get the nod over Tommy Beecher at QB this week. Beecher was knocked out of last week's game, and it turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Spurrier and company. Smelley stepped in and moved the offense up and down the field, with a little help from RB Mike Davis, who ran for over 100 yards in the win. This is a talented group, one that is finally coming into its own under the guidance of Spurrier. Vandy's defense is inexperienced up front, and that should make all the difference for a Gamecocks offensive line that is poised for a breakout season.

Make no mistake, Vandy will get some love from the betting public this week. They dominated Miami-Ohio last Thursday, and the majority of bettors were on the Redhawks in that one. This line may look a little steep at first glance, but upon further review, we feel that South Carolina is the only way to go.

Take South Carolina (5*).

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