Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, October 11

Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, October 11

DUNKEL INDEX

NCAAF

Temple at Cincinnati
The Bearcats look to bounce back from their 26-20 loss at South Florida last week and build on their 5-0 ATS record in their last 5 games following a SU defeat. Cincinnati is the pick (-20 1/2) according to Dunkel, which has the Bearcats favored by 27. Dunkel Pick: Cincinnati (-20 1/2)

Game 109-110: Temple at Cincinnati (8:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Temple 66.851; Cincinnati 93.626
Dunkel Line: Cincinnati by 27; 58
Vegas Line: Cincinnati by 20 1/2; 51 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Cincinnati (-20 1/2); Over

CFL

BC at Calgary
The Lions look to bounce back from their 31-17 loss to Saskatchewan last week and build on their 9-3 ATS record in their last 12 games following a SU defeat. BC is the pick (+7) according to Dunkel, which has the Stampeders favored by only 2. Dunkel Pick: BC (+7)

Game 291-292: BC at Calgary (9:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: BC 118.782; Calgary 120.544
Dunkel Line: Calgary by 2; 49
Vegas Line: Calgary by 7; 53
Dunkel Pick: BC (+7); Under

MLB

LA Dodgers at St. Louis
The Dodgers open the NLCS in St. Louis and look to build on their 9-2 record in Zack Greinke's last 11 starts on the road. LA is the pick (-120) according to Dunkel, which has the Dodgers favored by 1 1/2. Dunkel Pick: LA Dodgers (-120)

Game 901-902: LA Dodgers at St. Louis (8:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: LA Dodgers (Greinke) 16.488; St. Louis (Kelly) 15.084
Dunkel Line: LA Dodgers by 1 1/2; 8
Vegas Line: LA Dodgers (-120); 7
Dunkel Pick: LA Dodgers (-120); Over

NHL

New Jersey at Calgary
The Devils look to take advantage of a Calgary team that is coming off a 3-2 win over Montreal on Wednesday and is 3-7 in its last 10 games following a victory. New Jersey is the pick (-115) according to Dunkel, which has the Devils favored by 1 1/2. Dunkel Pick: New Jersey (-115)

Game 1-2: Phoenix at Philadelphia (7:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Phoenix 11.303; Philadelphia 10.479
Dunkel Line & Total: Phoenix by 1; 5
Vegas Line & Total: No Line
Dunkel Pick: N/A

Game 3-4: Los Angeles at Carolina (7:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Los Angeles 12.382; Carolina 10.864
Dunkel Line & Total: Los Angeles by 1 1/2; 6
Vegas Line & Total: Los Angeles (-125); 5 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Los Angeles (-125); Over

Game 5-6: Pittsburgh at Florida (7:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Pittsburgh 12.650; Florida 9.869
Dunkel Line & Total: Pittsburgh by 2 1/2; 6
Vegas Line & Total: Pittsburgh (-180); 5 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Pittsburgh (-180); Over

Game 7-8: NY Islanders at Chicago (8:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: NY Islanders 11.966; Chicago 10.871
Dunkel Line & Total: NY Islanders by 1; 5
Vegas Line & Total: Chicago (-180); 5 1/2
Dunkel Pick: NY Islanders (+160); Under

Game 9-10: Dallas at Winnipeg (8:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Dallas 11.863; Winnipeg 10.828
Dunkel Line & Total: Dallas by 1; 5
Vegas Line & Total: No Line
Dunkel Pick: N/A

Game 11-12: New Jersey at Calgary (9:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: New Jersey 11.842; Calgary 10.431
Dunkel Line & Total: New Jersey by 1 1/2; 6
Vegas Line & Total: New Jersey (-115); 5 1/2
Dunkel Pick: New Jersey (-115); Over

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Ross Benjamin

Temple vs. Cincinnati    
Play: Cincinnati -20½

Cincinnati will be in a very sour mood after losing last week as a 10.5-point road favorite versus a winless South Florida team. One positive is they won’t take the upcoming game versus a 0-5 Temple team lightly. The Bearcats are a perfect 5-0 SU&ATS in their last 5-games as a home favorite of 10.0 or more following a straight up loss. Cincinnati won those 5 contests by an average of 38.4 points per game.

Bearcats Giveaways Killing Them

In last week’s 26-20 loss to South Florida the Bearcats were plagued by 4 turnovers, and had a field goal attempt blocked then returned 75-yards for a touchdown by the Bulls. Cincinnati outgained South Florida in the game by 350 to 241. With the exception of the Illinois game the Cincinnati defense has been absolutely terrific. As a matter of fact the defense has held 4 of 5 opponents to 241 yards or less. In 3 of their 5-games this season Cincinnati has allowed 9-points or less. The Bearcats are 4th nationally in total defense allowing an average of 251 yards per game. The number is a bit askew by the 518 yards they allowed to Illinois back in early September. Senior quarterback Brendon Kay has done a decent job of replacing the injured starter Munchie Legaux who is out for the season with a knee injury. Kay has thrown for 668 yards and 7 touchdowns versus 4-interceptions in 3 games as a starter. The Bearcats offense has been their own worst enemy over the last 2 games committing 7 turnovers.

Owls aren’t worth a Hoot

Temple enters this contest seeking its first win of the season. The Owls fell twice as a favorite this season versus Fordham 30-29 and Idaho 26-24. Those are 2-games that Temple fans had penciled in as wins before the season started. The Temple defense has been abused this season allowing 478 yards or more in each of their 5 games, including 519 or more in 4 of the 5. The Owls have only forced 2 turnovers in 5 games and haven’t created a turnover in their last 3-games. Although the points they’ve allowed per game doesn’t indicate it, statistically this is one of the worst defenses in the country. The offense isn’t much better and at best is a shade above anemic.

“Figures don’t lie, and liars don’t figure”

Any college football home favorite of 19.0 or more that comes off an away favorite of 10.0 or more straight up loss, and they have a winning percentage of less than .750, versus an opponent with a losing record is 13-0 SU&ATS since the start of the 1987 season. The home favorite won those 13-games by a whopping 36.8 points per game.

Final Analysis:

The Temple defense won’t be able to stop the Bearcats balanced offensive attack. The Bearcats turnovers in the last 2-games don’t figure to be a factor on Saturday versus a defense that’s inept at creating giveaways. The worst thing that could’ve happened to Temple pertaining to this matchup was the fact that Cincinnati lost at hapless South Florida last week. This one has all the earmarks of a rout and it will play true to form. Lay the points with the Cincinnati Bearcats!

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Jim Feist

Temple vs. Cincinnati    
Play: Over 51

Don't be fooled by Louisville "only" getting 30 points on Temple last week. They scored 24 in the first half and ended up with 525 yards (177 rushing, 348 passing). This is a bad defense and the over is 5-2 in the Owls last 7 games following a double-digit loss at home. The weather in Cincinnati for this game is great for offenses and Cincy is loaded, averaging 31.8 points and over 200 yards rushing and passing. The offense is off a bad game at South Florida, a loss, but will get back on track again here and the over is 4-1 in Bearcats last 5 home games vs. a team with a losing road record. Play Temple/Cincinnati over the total.

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Alex Smart

NY Islanders vs. Chicago Blackhawks    
Play: NY Islanders +164

The Isles’ defense is far from the finished product, and they are maybe one player away on the blue line from a Stanley Cup run. The Isles offense is however, surprisingly and remarkably deep.This attack makes a dizzying array of passes, they posses excellent puck-movement and also own a smooth transition game with amazing speed. It kind of reminds me of watching the Russian national teams of the 70s and 80s. It beautiful to watch a true work of hockey art. At 40/1 futures odds, the Islanders behind rising super star John Tavares are a real value bet , and more importantly tonight they are a viable wagering option against the champs.

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Jimmy Boyd

St. Louis Cardinals +111

The Cardinals have played extremely well at home this season. They have posted a 56-28 record at home, with a .274 batting average and scoring 5.1 runs per game. Lance Lynn will get the start for the Cardinals today and they are 12-5 in his 17 home starts. Lynn has a 3.13 ERA in those games. He has faced the Dodgers three times in his career, posting a 2-0 record and a 2.50 ERA. The Cardinals are also 11-0 in their last 11 games when playing at home and coming off a day off this season.

The Dodgers are averaging almost one full run per game less than the Cardinals on offense. They will have Zach Greinke getting the start today. Greinke has lost two of his last three starts, and has been known to struggle at times on the road. His 3.20 road ERA is slightly worse than Lance Lynn's. While this game may be close early on, I expect the Cardinals to pull away late in the game. The Dodgers are 3-13 with a tired bullpen that has thrown nine or more innings over the last two games.

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Doug Upstone

Penguins vs. Panthers
Play: Under 5½

On Friday, Play UNDER the total on teams like Pittsburgh, off three or more consecutive home wins, with a winning record on the season, playing against a losing team. In the past two years this system is remarkable 24-8, 75 percent.

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Carlos Salazar

St Louis Cardinals vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
Play: Los Angeles Dodgers -115

Game 1 of the National League Championship series takes us to St. Louis as the Dodgers and Cardinals faces off in the best of seven series. The Dodgers will have the early advantage in pitching as the Cardinals used their ace to advance in the NLDS. Look for the Dodgers to grab game one and take back home field advantage.

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Fairway JayFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Cincinnati -20.5FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Lay the lumber bettors who like blowouts will enjoy this Bearcats beating of the Owls Friday in American Athletic Conference play. Temple is 0-5 SU under first-year coach Matt Rhule, who left the position of OL coach of the NY Giants. Both the Giants and the Owls are struggling mightily up front with blocking and protection issues. Temple’s losses include two creampuffs including 26-24 at Idaho; the nation’s second worst defense in total yards allow 546 ypg.  Temple managed 410 yards against the Vandals. In losses to solid defensive teams Louisville and Notre Dame, the Owls scored 7 and 6 points.
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Now Temple travels to take on Cincinnati and their #4 statistical defense nationally allowing 251 ypg.  Following their upset loss to So. Florida 26-20 last week as 10’-point favorite (4 turnovers, letdown spot), the Bearcats will be ready to claw a weak opponent on national TV. Cincinnati has held three similar weak opponents under 10 points each.  Cincinnati’s strength is their OL and LBs, and the Bearcats offense is solid and balanced averaging 200 rushing ypg and 253 passing ypg.  Senior QB Brandon Kay made his starting debut at Temple last year and passed for 244 yards and 2 TD’s in victory. He’ll enjoy padding his stats against a Temple defense allowing 518 ypg to rank #120 (out of 123 FBS teams nationally), including 190 rushing ypg at 4.9 ypr. The Bearcats allow just 98 rushing ypg and 3.0 ypr to shut down the Owls at the point of attack and set up a large net ypr differential. Cincinnati beat Temple 34-10 last year with a very balanced attack and nearly 480 yards offense while holding Temple to 267. Only project at least that advantage in this season’s Bearcats beating.

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Bryan LeonardFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Dodgers / Cardinals Over 7FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Two pitchers with great traditional numbers and signs of regression in the advanced metrics square off in St. Louis for Game 1 of the NLCS. Zack Greinke will get the ball for the Dodgers. Greinke posted a 2.63 ERA, but a 3.23 FIP and a 3.45 xFIP. A drop in strikeouts led to a 3.67 SIERA. Greinke had the third-best ERA of all pitchers in the second half, but also stranded 87% of his baserunners. That's unsustainable for a starting pitcher, especially one with an above average, but not elite, strikeout rate. Only Yu Darvish had a highest LOB% in the second half, but he also strikes out four more batters per nine innings than Greinke. Greinke's .276 BABIP with 29 points better than his career average and falls outside the average range of .290-.310. His above average strikeout rate is not enough to fill this gap, which means that a little bit of luck played a factor.
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Where regression is evident, but not staring you in the face with Greinke, it's brightly-colored, loud, and jumping up and down for Joe Kelly. Kelly has very pedestrian stuff. Only Jeremy Guthrie had a lower swing-and-miss percentage in the second half, as opposing batters swung and missed just 5.4% of the time against Kelly. The reason that the second half is relevant is because 12 of Kelly's 15 starts came in that span. His arsenal of pitches is not deep. Kelly posted a 2.69 ERA, a 4.01 FIP, a 4.19 xFIP, and a 4.31 SIERA in his time as a starter and reliever. Kelly had the league's second-worst SIERA in the second half, again, spending most of that span as a starter. He had the fourth-highest zone-contact percentage in the second half and one of the lowest chase rates. Balls in play can always hurt you, but they're especially magnified in the playoffs where every pitch takes on greater significance.
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There could certainly be some offense in this game. We've been waiting for Kelly's fortuitous season to balance out for some time now and no better time than in the pressure-packed environment of the playoffs. Greinke has a 5.56 ERA in the postseason over four starts, so the pressure may get to him as well.  We definitely think some runs will be scored in today's Game 1.

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LT ProfitsFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Temple vs CincinnatiFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Pick : Temple +21FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The Temple Owls are 0-5 this season, but we still like them to stay inside of three touchdowns vs. the Cincinnati Bearcats, who are 3-2 but have faced the easiest schedule in the American Athletic Conference. Cincinnati is ranked 152nd in the country in SOS, easily the lowest in the AAC, and yet the Bearcats lost to lowly South Florida last week and have 11 turnovers in five games vs. a soft slate. The Owls may be winless, but at least they covered vs. Louisville and Notre Dame and rank a much more respectable 60th in SOS. Temple has a decent enough running game to shorten this game, averaging 137.6 rushing yards on 4.0 yards per carry, and quarterback P.J. Walker averaged 9.6 yards per attempt vs. the fourth ranked Louisville pass defense last week. Temple is 20-7 ATS in its last 27 games after gaining less than 275 total yards in its previous game.
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Dodgers vs CardinalsFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Pick : Over 7FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The NLCS opens Friday with two of the best hitting teams in the National League in the St. Louis Cardinals and the Los Angeles Dodgers. St. Louis finished second in the National League in batting at .269, just one percentage point behind Colorado, and the Cardinals led the NL in scoring. The Dodgers were third on the year at .264, and they led the league in scoring from June 1st onward. Granted this game features two fine pitchers in young Joe Kelly for the Cards and veteran Zack Greinke for LA, but Kelly lost his post-season debut in Pittsburgh and he is facing a Dodger lineup batting .284 vs. right-handers the last 10 games. Greinke meanwhile has always had severe home/away splits because of an anxiety disorder and St. Louis hit .273 vs. righties for the entire season. The ‘over’ is 7-0 in the Dodgers’ last seven games vs. teams with winning records.

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MLB Predictions

Dodgers / Cardinals Over 7

These two teams have met 7 times this season with totals of 7, 8, 8, 5, 6, 17, and 6. Although most of those games featured some great pitchers, we saw an average total of just over 8 as both teams have great offenses. During the regular season the St Louis Cardinals were 4th in the Majors in team batting average, and 10th in OPS. The Dodgers got off to a slow start, but still finished 6th in team batting average and 13th in OPS. In the divisional series' the Dodgers were by far the best hitting team vs the Braves as they had a team batting average of .333, .390 OBP, and .962 OPS. The Cardinals faced some tough pitchers, and didn't fare as well offensively - although they did hit much better at home with a team .730 OPS. Zack Greinke will get the ball in game 1 for the Dodgers. He was 15-4 this year with a 2.63 ERA, .234 OBa and 1.11 WHIP, but his numbers were much different at home than on the road. At home he had a 2.11 ERA and .207 OBA, but on the road he had a 3.21 ERA and .263 OBA. The last time he faced the Cardinals he gave up 8 hits in 6.1 innings, although he did only allow 2 runs. He has a career 3.10 ERA vs the Cardinals. Joe Kelly will go for St Louis after pitching 5.1 innings allowing 5 hits and 3 runs (2 earned) in his DS start. During the regular season he was 10-5 with a 2.69 ERA, but his numbers at home weren't as good as they were on the road. At home he was 5-4 with a 3.29 ERA, .279 OBA and 1.44 WHIP (compared to 2.07 ERA, .237 OBA and 1.26 WHIP on the road). Note that the OVER was 4-0 in the Dodgers NLDS series, and 5-0 in their last 5 road games vs a team with a winning record. The OVER is 6-1 in the Cardinals last 7 playoff games, 3-0-1 in their last 4 as a home underdog, and 8-0 in their last 8 playoff games as an underdog. The OVER is also 5-0-1 in Kelly's last 6 starts overall and 4-0 when he's going on 4 days rest. The OVER is also 9-3-1 in Kelly's last 13 home starts. Take the OVER tonight for 2 units, and lets keep it going.

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Dave Cokin

New Jersey vs Calgary
Take: New Jersey

I’m not crazy about the NHL rule that gives an OT or shootout loser one point for being tied at the end of regulation. It’s confusing as hell for casual fans, and beyond that, I have trouble grasping the concept of a team being rewarded in a sense for losing a game. That’s just my two cents. But the flip side is that I think it might help me get a winner tonight.

New Jersey has yet to win a game, but the Devils are at least sneaking away from losses with one point in those games. That takes some of the sting out of their blowing leads, particularly in the last two outings. The Devils are off games where they blew 3-0 and then 2-0 leads. Had they skated away with nothing in those matchups, they could be a demoralized team right now. Instead, they sound really upbeat and focused on getting the deuce tonight at Calgary.

In a weird kind of way, I think it works to New Jersey’s benefit tonight to be off the two blown leads at Edmonton and Vancouver. There’s no shot they take the Flames lightly, particularly with Calgary being the biggest early season surprise in the NHL.

The Flames have earned at least one point in every one of their games to date. Not bad for a team widely regarded as the weakest entry in the league this season. They’re playing with a great deal of energy and quite frankly, they’ve appeared to outhustle at least a couple of opponents so far.

But I look upon the early success the Flames are enjoying as a fluke. The roster is pretty barren, and it’s just a matter of time before this team hits what should be a major skid. My view is that Calgary is going to have a rough time against almost any team that’s approaching them really seriously. That should be the case tonight as the Devils come calling.

From a line perspective, the respective starts for these two teams has influenced the number to a point where I see New Jersey being a bargain tonight. I’ll look for the Devils to capture their first victory tonight.

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Joe Gavazzi

St. Louis +110

Greinke clearly has the greater experience and has pitched well the entire season with the Dodgers winning 22 /28 of his starts.  Though Puig is given credit for keying the 42-8 mid-season surge, that record also correlates to the time at which Greinke returned from a brief stint on the DL.  Before you get too excited about the team with the $220,000,000 payroll, consider that when not playing at an .840 clip during that streak, the Dodgers were 54-63.  That includes 23-21 since the end of that blitz.  Kelly was a pleasant surprise when inserted in the rotation at mid-season.  St. Louis won 11 of his 15 starts.  The St. Louis home field has been strong all season with a record of 56-28.  But that was even more true down the stretch when the Cards went 22-4 on this field.  St. Louis has also saved their best baseball for the end of the season as they enter today on current runs of 31-15 and 19-7.  A value based opinion on St. Louis as underdog.

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Brass Balls Picks

FREE PICK RECORD BEGINNING   9/1/13:     

29 wins - 12 losses

10/11/13  PICK:  CINNCINNATI - 20 1/2

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Kevin - MLBPredictions

2 UNIT = Los Angeles Dodgers @ St Louis Cardinals - OVER 7 RUNS (-109)

Listed Pitchers: Greinke vs Kelly

(Note: I'm risking 2.00 units to win 1.83 units)

These two teams have met 7 times this season with totals of 7, 8, 8, 5, 6, 17, and 6. Although most of those games featured some great pitchers, we saw an average total of just over 8 as both teams have great offenses. During the regular season the St Louis Cardinals were 4th in the Majors in team batting average, and 10th in OPS. The Dodgers got off to a slow start, but still finished 6th in team batting average and 13th in OPS. In the divisional series' the Dodgers were by far the best hitting team vs the Braves as they had a team batting average of .333, .390 OBP, and .962 OPS. The Cardinals faced some tough pitchers, and didn't fare as well offensively - although they did hit much better at home with a team .730 OPS. Zack Greinke will get the ball in game 1 for the Dodgers. He was 15-4 this year with a 2.63 ERA, .234 OBa and 1.11 WHIP, but his numbers were much different at home than on the road. At home he had a 2.11 ERA and .207 OBA, but on the road he had a 3.21 ERA and .263 OBA. The last time he faced the Cardinals he gave up 8 hits in 6.1 innings, although he did only allow 2 runs. He has a career 3.10 ERA vs the Cardinals. Joe Kelly will go for St Louis after pitching 5.1 innings allowing 5 hits and 3 runs (2 earned) in his DS start. During the regular season he was 10-5 with a 2.69 ERA, but his numbers at home weren't as good as they were on the road. At home he was 5-4 with a 3.29 ERA, .279 OBA and 1.44 WHIP (compared to 2.07 ERA, .237 OBA and 1.26 WHIP on the road). Note that the OVER was 4-0 in the Dodgers NLDS series, and 5-0 in their last 5 road games vs a team with a winning record. The OVER is 6-1 in the Cardinals last 7 playoff games, 3-0-1 in their last 4 as a home underdog, and 8-0 in their last 8 playoff games as an underdog. The OVER is also 5-0-1 in Kelly's last 6 starts overall and 4-0 when he's going on 4 days rest. The OVER is also 9-3-1 in Kelly's last 13 home starts. Take the OVER tonight for 2 units, and lets keep it going.

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Bruce Marshall

Temple at Cincinnati
Pick: Over

Home cooking has worked thus far for Cincinnati, which is scoring 54 ppg at Nippert Stadium this season. And believe re-focused Bearcats bounce back for American home opener following sluggish 26-20 loss at previously-winless South Florida last Saturday. Watch Bearcats' productive 6th-year sr. QB Brendon Kay (67%, 7 TDs; 244 YP vs. Temple LY) dissect (again) a soft-covering Owl secondary (only 3 picks since last season; 0 in 2013!). Just a little help from the Temple offense pushes this one "over" tonight.

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SPORTS WAGERS


Series - ST. LOUIS +120 over Los Angeles

Game 1 - ST. LOUIS +116 over Los Angeles

Yes indeed the Dodgers have Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw as their 1-2 but after that things get a little shaky with Hyun-Jin Ryu, Ricky Nolasco and Edinson Volquez. Ryu was whacked by the Braves in his only post-season appearance so far, Nolasco was scratched from his start because Don Mattingly didn’t like what he saw in the bullpen session hours before game time and Volquez is far too erratic to trust in a playoff game. Nolasco also labored down the stretch, allowing 24 hits and 20 runs in his final 13 innings of work over four appearances. Grienke starts the opener in St. Louis and he’s been far from gold on the road with a pedestrian xERA of 4.68. Batters hit .263 off Greinke on the road and current Cardinals have 34 hits in 113 AB’s off him for a BA of .301. The Cardinals had the second best home record in the majors by going 54-27 and they get home field advantage for this series.

The Cardinals open with Joe Kelly who saw action against Pittsburgh and was the losing pitcher in Game 3 of the NLDS. Kelly was still effective with just five hits allowed in 5.1 frames. Kelly entered the year as the Cardinals' seventh or eighth best option at starting pitcher. Heading into September, he was not only locked into the rotation, he was the Cards most effective starter. In August, Kelly had won 4 straight starts, all quality starts, by inducing tons of ground balls and getting some help from his defense. He features a two-seam fastball that sits at 95 mph and his groundball rate this season was an elite 51%. Over his last six starts, his groundball rate was 56%. Win or not, Kelly at least gives the Cards a shot in Game 1 but after that, St. Louis has three outstanding starters in Michael Wacha, Adam Wainwright and Lance Lynn. Wacha has allowed two hits over his last two starts, one in each game. Wacha has been dazzling at every level and he’s now found that dominating form at this level too. Adam Wainwright is a true ace in every sense. He’s the NL’s version of Justin Verlander only better because he rarely walks a batter and dominates line-ups. From a starting pitching standpoint, we give a big edge to the Cardinals because of four outstanding and reliable starters while the Dodgers, after Clayton Kershaw, does not have any sure quality starts. We like the Cardinals bats and experience and they also have the best catcher in the world that calls the games and makes a huge difference in the outcome of most. Great series but the value here is on the Cardinals, a team with home field, a better manager (Mattingly has already made some questionable decisions that didn’t hurt his team against Atlanta), and a much better pitching staff (hell, we didn’t even mention Shelby Miller, a guy that was between Felix Hernandez and Chris Sale in the MLB ERA race).

We’re going to play the Cardinals for the series and we’re also playing them in Game 1 tonight and in Game 2 tomorrow. Imagine, St. Louis a pooch at home in both games to open the series. That’s just wrong.

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SPORTS WAGERS

N.Y. Islanders/CHICAGO Over 6

The Blackhawks are coming off back-to-back losses but they ran into a couple of hot goaltenders in Ben Bishop and Jaroslav Halak. The same fate likely does not await them here. The Blackhawks scored six times in their opener against Washington’s weak defense and although Evgeni Nabokov has looked decent at times this season, it’s only a matter of time before he and that Islanders defense blows up. Nabokov is probably among the NHL’s worst starting goalies. Nabokov’s last regular season, while passable, towered over the .842 save percentage he pitched in the playoffs. He’s a year older and slower in a season the league has opted to make the gear smaller. That’s great news for over bettors because he’s all of about 5′11″ so he doesn’t need big gear or anything. But no, it probably won’t be a problem for the Isles, because he’ll be playing in front of names like Brian Strait (not Streit), Travis Hamonic (he’s a d-man?), and Thomas Hickey (the guy Crosby casually roasted for one of last year’s highlight goals. Toews and Kane figure to do a little roasting of their own here.

The Islanders are young and fast and have the horses to score goals. They’ve scored 12 times already in their first three games and that includes six on a defensive minded Coyotes squad in their last game. The Islanders figure to score at least a couple tonight because the Blackhawks have chosen to give Corey Crawford the night off in favor of Nikolai Khabibulin. Khabibulin played in 12 games last season. He’s 40 years old and hasn’t played a period this year. Over his last three seasons, he has a W/L record of 26-58 with a .908 save percentage. That’s weak and for a guy with more rust than any starting goaltender in the NHL and so he’s not a good bet to thrive tonight. What we have here is two prolific offenses going head-to-head against two of the worst goalies in the league.


Dallas +114 over WINNIPEG

OT included. The Jets are coming off back-to-back losses to Anaheim and Minnesota in which they mustered just 17 and 15 shots on net respectively. The numbers in 2013 were ugly for the Jets. They had an abomination of a powerplay (dead last in league, 13.8%), a poor penalty kill (below 80%, 24th), a crappy 5-on-5 goals for/against ratio (0.90, better than only seven bad teams: Florida, Calgary, Colorado, New Jersey, Carolina, Philly and Minnesota) and they gave up 2.94 goals against (25th in league). Winnipeg’s top forwards are Blake Wheeler, Evander Kane and Bryan Little so it should come as no surprise that they’re firing away less shots a game than the Sharks accomplish in one period. Oh, and Winnipeg didn’t get better over the summer. As a pooch in certain situations, the Jets may offer up some value but as the chalk against quality opposition they offer up none.

Dallas has played just two games so far and has not played since October 5th. Some may see that has a hindrance but we see it as a positive, as it allowed this talented group to practice together after watching films of their first two games. The Stars easily took the biggest stride in the off-season. First, Jim Nill took over the GM duties and he was the mastermind of the Red Wings’ great teams over the past 20 years. They added intelligent disciplinarian Lindy Ruff as their bench boss to take control of a group with a ton of potential. All of a sudden they’re loaded down the middle, which is a big change. They traded for budding superstar Tyler Seguin, who is on the verge of a huge year. They got him just in time to suck the maximum value out of him after Boston spent a few years teaching him to play all 200 feet. They just named Jamie Benn their new captain, a huge body with a massive shot who’s nearly impossible to contain. They added Shawn Horcoff to their list of underrated players to go along with their other new center, Rich Peverly. They’ve got proven offensive talent in Ray Whitey and Erik Cole to go along with one of the Calder Trophy front-runners in Valeri Nichushkin. That kid is going to be a legit star in this league and immediately makes them better. All that talent plays in front of one of the league’s best goalies in Kari Lehtonen, who has the luxury of playing behind breakout experts Sergei Gonchar and Alex Goligoski. That kind of skill means less turnovers and less time in your own zone. This team has a flashy new set of duds, a new attitude, and the talent to change the balance of power in the West. With six days to prepare and raring to get back to work, the Stars are hugely undervalued in in this game.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, October 11

Jeff Benton

Your Friday freebie is the Under in Temple and Cincinnati.

This one is real simple, Temple is giving a true-freshman his first collegiate start, and on the road at that! That is how desperate things are for the Owls who come into the Queen City winless on the campaign, and scoring an average of just 12 points per game.

Doubtful Temple gets too many scoring opportunities tonight, and my only fear is that Cincinnati takes this one right up to the posted total all by themselves, but I will shade against that happening.

The Bearcats have scored 20 points or less in 3 of their 5 games this season, and last year's meeting between the teams saw just 44 combined points scored.

Have to back the Under tonight in Temple-Cincinnati.

2♦ TEMPLE-CINCINNATI UNDER

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, October 11

Craig Davis

Your Friday free play winner is Under the total in the Temple-Cincinnati college football contest.

Cincinnati needs to get its act together or they will likely be scrambling for a Bowl game before the end of the season gets here.

Granted, they are clearly better than the 0-5 Temple Owls, but I have been less-than-impressed with the Bearcats through five games of the season despite their 3-2 record.

Over their last three games, Cincy got whipped by Illinois, barely beat Miami, Oh., and gave South Florida their first win of the season. Embarrassing!!

What will keep this game low scoring is the Owl defense, which didn't allow more than 30 points against Notre Dame, Houston and Louisville! And after watching Cincy's offensive line just get whipped up front by South Florida... and Cincy's offensive line was supposed to be the strength of their team.

The Temple offense is putrid, and now being led by a true freshman. Granted, the kid is a potential stud, but he's still a freshman. I don't see them scoring a lot of points tonight.

Take the UNDER in tonight's Temple/Cincy game as your free play of the day.

2♦ TEMPLE-CINCINNATI UNDER

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