Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, October 3

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, October 3

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World Series Future - Tampa Bay Rays +500

This Rays teams has impressed us all year…they just find a way to win. Everyone is really high on the Red Sox right now in the AL but we think they clicked a little to early to make a serious run. The Rays are starting to put it all together and whats a better time to do it then now. This team doesn’t have all of those fancy names like you see on these big market teams, they do not go out and sign the highest priced free agent available and they certainly do not draw a lot of attention to them selves. I bet you can ask the average baseball fan to name a handful of players off this Rays team and they will give you 1-2 names, 3 if they are lucky. Time after time this team has proven to us that they can win…I mean come on they had their backs against the walls 2 times so far in this post season 1st against the Rangers and 2nd against a red hot Cleveland team who won 10 straight, so its no fluke that this team knows how to win. The front rotation of this team is a force not to be messing with and we saw it last night as Alex Cobb completely shut down the Tribe. Maddon always seems to pull the right strings and really has this team believing in themselves. The Rays have won 10 of 12 games overall and have tons of momentum right now. If they can get past the Red Sox which we think they can in a 5 game series things will get a lot easier. At this price we can not pass it up.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, October 3

NHL Predictions

New Jersey Devils +165

Pittsburgh was the best team in the East last year during the regular season with 72 points (9 ahead of the next team), while the Devils missed the playoffs the year after making it to the Cup Finals. It doesn't surprise me that the Penguins are big favorites, and I'm sure a big % of plays are going to be coming in on Pittsburgh. With that said, I like the price we're getting on the Devils as they should be a pretty solid team this year. Last season these two teams met 4 times, and the Devils won 3 of those 4 games including a 3-1 victory in Pittsburgh. New Jersey will start newly aqcuired goalie Cory Schneider in net, and I think he'll have a great season and take over the starting role from an aging Martin Brodeur this season. Schneider has looked great in preseason play going 4-0 with a brilliant .968 SV% (just 2 goals on 81 shots). On the other hand Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury had a .865 SV% during the preseason. I don't look to heavily into preseason play, but I could see Fleury have an off year this year with a loss of confidence after being the back up during their playoff run last year after posting a 3.52 GAA in the games he did play. At a big underdog price I'll take the Devils, as Schneider could easily steal one on the road.


Flames / Capitals Over 5.5

The Capitals head home for their home opener after a 6-4 loss in Chicago. The Caps looked solid offensively at times during that game, getting 4 goals past Corey Crawford, but they also had their struggles defensively allowing 34 shots against. Caps goalie Braden Holtby struggled letting in 5 goals including a weak one that really hurt Washington's chances of stealing a road game to open the year. This will be the Flames season opener, and they will be starting Finish goalie Karri Ramo. Ramo had great numbres in the KHL the past four season, but in his time in the NHL and American Hockey League (AHL) he never had a GAA under 3.00. He had an average presseason with a .897 SV%. Playing behind a team that let in 160 goals over 48 games last year (tied for last in the entire NHL) Ramo might have a tough time. Calgary did fine last year offensively averaging 2.67 goals per game (12th), while the Caps were 5th in the NHL averaging 3.04 gpg. Note the Caps gave up 2.71 gapg (18th) last year. Take the OVER.


Washington Capitals -1.5 +150

The Washington Capitals appeared to be on their way to spoiling the party in Chicago on Tuesday night. However, the Blackhawks rallied from 4-3 down to capture a 6-4 victory. The Capitals struggled mightily scoring goals early in the shortened NHL campaign last season, but quickly turned it around to finish in the top-5 for goals scored per game in the league. The team goes and falls with how Alexander Ovechkin performs, and they only turned it around after Ovechkin got things rolling last year. I expected the Capitals to keep the momentum going into this season offensively, and it appears they have, scoring 4 goals in their opener. Newcomer Mikhail Grabovski got off to a fast start with his new team, scoring 2 goals back-to-back. Ovechkin also chipped in with a goal. They couldn't hold the reigning Stanley Cup champs down though, allowing 5 goals on 34 shots. Goalie Braden Holtby should find life easier tonight against a Flames team that is in full rebuilding mode. Inexperience and young are two words to sum them up. The loss of Miikka Kiprusoff and Jerome Iginla will come full center this season, as they should struggle to make the playoffs for a fifth straight season. The Flames will start the 27-yard-old Finn, Karri Ramos, who hasn't been on an NHL roster since 2008-2009 with the Lightning. I expect the Capitals to make quick work of Ramos Thursday night en route to a comfortable win in their home opener.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, October 3

Harry Bondi

CLEVELAND (-3.5) over Buffalo

Everyone is talking about what a great job Bobby Hoyer has done at QB for Cleveland, and he has, but the real key for the Browns is their defense which has been, for the most part, outstanding. Bills were the recipients of 5 Baltimore turnovers last week and were awful in their only road game of the year a loss to the Jets. The good times continue to roll in Cleveland.

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Steve Behr

New Jersey Devils vs. Pittsburgh Penguins    
Play: Pittsburgh Penguins   

Penguins are hungry to get back into action of the 2013-14 season. I see them dominating New Jersey here on their home opener. I do not cap much hockey so I am leery to lay the puck line here, so small free play on the money line with Pittsburgh coming out fast in early October at Consol Energy Center.

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Mike O'Connor

CLEVELAND (-3.5) 22 Buffalo 18

The Bills won a big game as a home dog against the defending Super Bowl champions last week 23-20 as their defense sacked Joe Flacco 4 times and forced 5 interceptions. Overall on the season they have been about average from an adjusted yards per play perspective relative to their competition, while defensively they have not been good, giving up 5.45 yards per play to teams that average 5.05 YPPL. Their +5 turnover differential last week was a huge reason for the win and that brings them to +4 overall on the season. They now travel on a short week to play a Thursday night contest in Cleveland against a Browns team that has played well recently, winning their last two. Cleveland comes into this game off of a big home win as a dog 17-6 over divisional rival Cincinnati. They won the statistical battle overall with a 337 at 5.0 YPPL to 266 at 4.2 YPPL edge and have played much better on offense since Brian Hoyer has taken over as QB and WR Josh Gordon has come back from suspension. Their defense has played well through their first four games giving up just 292 total yards at 4.28 yards per play to a schedule of teams that gain 5.23 on average and this matchup appears to be strength versus strength as the Bills have a strong running game while the Browns are very good against the run. I don’t have any situations that apply to this game and my model favors the Browns here by around 4 points with a total of 40 so with not much difference and no strong opinion either way, I will let the final line dictate which side I’ll lean towards. BROWNS 22-18

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, October 3

Dr. Bob

Texas (-7) 33 IOWA STATE 31

Texas is not a good enough team to be favored by this many points on the road against a decent Iowa State squad. Texas has been 0.7 yppl better than average offensively this season but I rate the Longhorns at +0.5 yppl with Case McCoy at quarterback in place of injured David Ash. McCoy has averaged only 5.4 yards per pass play (against teams that would allow 5.5 yppp to an average quarterback) but I actually have him rated at 0.4 yppp better than average based on his career. Iowa State has been just average defensively in their 3 games, allowing 5.5 yppl to teams that would average 5.5 yppl against an average team, so Texas only has a 0.5 yppl advantage when they have the ball.

Iowa State also has an advantage when they have possession, as the Cyclones’ offense (5.2 yppl against teams that would allow 5.4 yppl to an average team) is better than a Texas defense that’s allowed 5.9 yppl to teams that would average 5.4 yppl. The Longhorns are under a new defensive coordinator starting in week 3 and did improve in their last game against Kansas State. Using those last two games under their new DC the Longhorns are still 0.5 yppp so we’ll have to wait and see if that improvement against Kansas State is real improvement or just variance. Regardless, Texas does not have much of an overall advantage from the line of scrimmage against Iowa State and my math model gives the Cyclones a 54.4% chance of covering at +7 points. I like ISU and the over in this one.

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