Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, October 24

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, October 24

Bob Balfe

Boston Redsox -120

The Cardinals young pitcher has been great this year, but he has never played at a stage this big before and this Cardinals team really did not look like they were ready to play yesterday. I don’t think this series is over at all if Boston goes up 2-0. I just think home field really means a lot in this series and the Red Sox at home are tough to beat. Take Boston.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, October 24

NHL Predictions

Anaheim / Montreal Over 5.5

These two teams have played pretty wide open hockey so far this year. The Ducks are avearging 36.2 shots per game (2nd in the NHL) while the Canadiens are averaging 32.6 shots (6th). Anaheim is giving up 30 shots per game and Montreal is giving up 32.4. The Ducks sit 3rd in the NHL averaging 3.44 goals per game, while Montreal is 6th with 3.22 per game. These two teams don't meet often, but since 2010 in their three meetings we've seen totals of 7, 7 and 5. It has been rare for either of these teams not to score at least 3 goals in a game, as the Ducks have only not done that twice this year (once being their first game of the year when they had 36 shots on net and just one goal) and the Habs have only not done it twice as well. In games at the Bell Centre we've seen totlas of 7 5, 8, 3, and 7 so far this year. With the Ducks playing on the road we've seen totals of 7, 7, 5, and 6. The OVER is 5-2 in Montreal's last 7 vs a team with a winning % over .600. There's a good chance we see this game get over the total, and at a good price I will take the OVER 5.5.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, October 24

Charlie Sports

Phoenix Coyotes +145

The 6-2-1-1 Phoenix Coyotes of the NHL Western Conference Pacific divsion will take on the 6-4-0-0 Los Angeles Kings also of the Western Conference Pacific division in 2013 NHL action. Phoenix is 2-7 in the last 9 games between the teams in Los Angeles. The home team is 4-0 in the last 4 meetings. Phoenix gets the road win.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, October 24

Wunderdog

Marshall at Middle Tennessee State
Pick: Middle Tennessee State +10

The Marshall Thundering Herd comes into this Thursday Night contest with a 4-2 record, but more importantly, 2-0 in Conference USA play, leading C-USA East. The 4-2 record may look impressive, but the Herd has gotten their four wins vs. teams that have a combined record of 4-17. And, one other team, Gardner Webb, is not even in the FBS. Marshall is just 10-23 ATS in their last 33 road games when posted as a favorite. Middle Tennessee has played well at home. Their biggest test was a seven point loss to East Carolina. ECU is a better than Marshall and this line is similar, so there's value in this line. The Herd is just 2-9-2 ATS in their last 11 on the road vs. a losing team. The Blue Raiders enter off a bye, where they have gone 4-0 ATS in their last four. With the extra time to rest and prepare, play on Middle Tennessee.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, October 24

Jeff Scott Sports

3 UNIT PLAY

BOSTON -120 over St Louis: The Cardinals offense has struggled in the playoffs this year, while Boston offense has been a bit better. The Sox do not want to give up their home field advantage so I look for them to go all out here. The Cards could be missing Beltran and Wacha just can't keep up his torrid pace. He is a rookie and could have some jitters tonight. Look for Boston to take that 2-0 lead tonight, behind another solid outing from Lackey and their offense.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, October 24

Ross Benjamin

San Jose vs. Boston
Play: Under 5

The San Jose Sharks visit the TD Garden in Boston on Thursday to take on the Bruins with the opening faceoff at 7:05 PM ET. According to current NHL betting odds Boston is a -115 money line home favorite and the total is 5.0. The goaltenders scheduled for tonight are Tuukka Rask for Boston and Antti Niemi for San Jose. The road team has won 6 of the last 7-games played between these 2 teams. San Jose has won its last 4-games played in Boston.

Shark Fest

San Jose is off to a terrific 8-1 start to the season. Their only blemish came in an overtime shootout loss at Dallas 4-3. The Sharks last played on Monday and came away with a 1-0 overtime shootout win over Detroit. Antti Niemi earned his first shutout of the season stopping all 24 shots on goal. Niemi has started in all 9-games and has posted a stellar 1.64 GAA and a .930 save percentage. Despite being held to their lowest goal output of the season versus Detroit, the Sharks remain #1 in the NHL averaging 4.3 goals per game. San Jose has an incredible +2.6 goal per game differential this season. Dating back to last season San Jose is 18-6 in their last 24-games versus an opponent with a winning record.

Big Bad Bruins

The Bruins come off a decisive 5-2 road win at Buffalo last night that extended their win streak to 3-games. Backup goaltender Chad Johnson made his first start of the season in the win and stopped 14 of 16 Sabres shots on goal. Tuukka Rask will be back between the pipes for the Bruins this evening. Rask has been nothing short of spectacular in his 7-starts in 2013 posting an excellent 1.29 GAA, and a magnificent .954 save percentage. Boston has gone a very profitable 29-10 in their last 39 after scoring 5-goals or more in their previous game.

Final Analysis

Boston is #2 in the NHL while San Jose is #3 in goals allowed per game. Both #1 goaltenders will play tonight and have been extremely sharp to start the season. Since the start of the 1996-1997 year the specifics entering tonight favor a low scoring affair. Since that time any home team with a total of 5.0 or less that comes off a road win versus a division opponent, versus an opponent coming off a 1-goal win on the road has seen 26 of those 33-game go under the total. That’s a 78.8% winning rate favoring the under. My case is closed.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, October 24

Dave Price

Cardinals/Red Sox Under 7

Expect to see a low-scoring game with Lackey and Wacha set to get the ball. Lackey has been lights out this season at home where he has a 2.71 ERA in 14 starts. His tidy work at Fenway has resulted in a 10-3-1 unders record this season. It's also worth noting that the under is 12-2 all-time in Lackey's postseason starts. Wacha has been incredible with a 0.30 ERA over his last four starts. Three of those came in under the number easily. Also, keep in mind the under is 4-1 in Wacha's last 5 starts when the total is set at 7.0-8.5. Take the Under.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, October 24

Ray Monohan

San Jose Sharks -107

The Sharks are the only team in the league without a regulation loss this season, a streak they will continue on this trip to Boston. They get the advantage of getting the Bruins on the second leg of a back to back (with travel) and this team has had good recent success against Boston. San Jose has won 4 of the last 5 including three straight in Beantown. Everyone in Boston will be thinking Red Sox so the Sharks can breeze through town and collect another victory.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, October 24

Chris Jordan

My free play is in college football, as I like the Marshall Thundering Herd to get it done on the road at Middle Tennessee State in a Conference USA clash.

Rumor has it we're going to see the Herd's hurry-up offense, the same one Marshall led major college football (FBS) with an average of 90.6 offensive plays per game last season. Through six games last season, the average was 92.0 plays. This season, the Herd (4-2, 2-0) is at 80.7 plays per game – ranking 60th in the country in total snaps.

The indicator may have been its last time out, when Marshall needed two scores to win 24-23 at FAU. The Herd returned to their old selves, and tonight I'm hearing it'll be a heavy dose of fast-paced action.

Marshall is averaging 5.58 yards per play, down from 6.07 through six games last season. The Herd is 49-of-98 (50 percent) for the season on third-down conversions, tied for 14th nationally. The red-zone conversion figures are 26-for-29 (89.7 percent), tied for 19th. A little bit faster pace and those higher conversion rates could soar even higher.

I'll lay the points with the Herd in this one.

3♦ MARSHALL

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, October 24

Craig Davis

Free play of the day on the Kentucky Wildcats getting the points from the Mississippi State Bulldogs in Thursday night college football action.

If nothing else, I just don't believe the Bulldogs should be favored by double digits against many teams in college football, let alone a conference foe that can score points.

After losing to LSU, 59-26, two weeks ago, the Bulldogs stepped out of conference to hang on for a one-point win (21-20) over Bowling Green... from the MAC. Could they have possibly been looking ahead to this game? Possibly, but not likely.

Kentucky hasn't been much better this season and looked completely lost last week in their 48-7 loss at Alabama. But it was encouraging to watch them two weeks ago give South Carolina everything they wanted in a 35-28 loss.

While losing is never a good thing in college football, they did score 28 points against one of the best defenses in college football.

When all is said and done, I'd bet my money on the team getting the points in this game... and tonight it happens to be the road team Kentucky Wildcats.

Take Kentucky as your free play of the day.

1♦ KENTUCKY

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, October 24

Scott Delaney

Two of the better pitchers in the postseason toe the slab tonight, including Cardinals right-hander Michael Wacha, who has been absolutely lights out during the playoffs.

Wacha is 3-0 with a 0.43 ERA and was named the NLCS MVP after tossing 13-2/3 scoreless innings over two starts against the Dodgers. The 22-year-old rookie has allowed a total of one run on eight hits in 21 innings of work this postseason, while striking out 22 and issuing four walks. And while I know Wacha made both NLCS starts at home and posted a 4.34 ERA in five games - three starts - on the road during the regular season while going 3-2, I'm not picking him to win the game, I'm taking the Under here because I think he can pitch well.

As for Boston's John Lackey, he's been moved up to the No. 2 spot for the World Series after dominating the Detroit Tigers through 6-2/3 scoreless innings in the ALCS. The veteran northpaw fanned eight and didn't walk a batter in that turn to outduel Justin Verlander in a 1-0 victory.

I don't know who wins this one, and I don't really care. But I do know it'll stay low.

1♦ Cardinals/Red Sox UNDER

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, October 24

Brad Wilton

My free play release for Thursday is the Over in the Panthers-Buccaneers game from Ray James Stadium.

Very low total when you consider the numbers I am about to list...Let's start with the fact Carolina has been humming on offense, scoring 65 points in their last 2 games combined - both games going Over the total.

Tampa Bay has also been Over the total in their last pair of games, primarily because they have allowed 62 points to be scored against them.

Series numbers show 4 of the last 5 meetings between these division rivals having played Over the total, and a more telling stat is the Over is on a 7-2 run the last 9 series meetings in games played in Tampa between the teams.

When you consider Mike Glennon is making just his 4th career start and is likely to commit a few turnovers that could lead to some quick scores, I think you have to play this game Over the total.

Panthers-Buccaneers to make it an 8-2 Over run in games played in Tampa.

2♦ CAROLINA-TAMPA BAY OVER

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, October 24

Brett Atkins

My free play for Thursday night is on the Under in the Kentucky-Mississippi State game, as we're going to see a boring, physical SEC game that will play out more like an AFC North game in the NFL.

Neither team has done anything impressive, to be honest, and while Mississippi State figures to be the easy choice, I'm not so sure the Bulldogs will be up for this one. It's a weekday game against a weak-ass opponent.

Based on tonight's total, the last six meetings would have stayed under the posted number.

Kentucky's offense leaves a lot to be desired, as bad as it's played lately. And Mississippi State, well, I know it has an explosive offense, but again, against an uninspiring opponent, I don't know if it'll ever get into overdrive for this one. Besides, the Bulldogs use a rushing game to power things, and that'll just drain the clock.

Play this one low.

2♦ Mississippi State/Kentucky UNDER

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, October 24

LT Profits

Kentucky vs Mississippi St
Pick : Under 56

This seems like a high posted total in an SEC battle between the Kentucky Wildcats and the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Kentucky is 1-5 and it has scored 13 points or less on three of its last four games. The Wildcats are ranked 101st in the country in total offense at 353.3 yards per game and they are 105th in scoring at 20.3 points per contest. Kentucky may have trouble reaching even that modest average here, as if you take out Mississippi State’s 59-26 loss to LSU, the Bulldogs allowed 15.8 points per game in their other five contests. That means that Mississippi State should be doing most of the scoring, and the Bulldogs are good but not terrific offensively while averaging 30.5 points, an average that drop when you stake away 51 points vs. Alcorn State of the FCS. The ‘under’ is 26-10 in the last 36 Mississippi State games vs. teams with losing records.


St. Louis vs Boston
Pick : Over 7

The St. Louis Cardinals struggled vs. southpaw Jon Lester in an 8-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox in Game 1 of the World Series, but look for a bounce-back game offensively vs. righty John Lackey. The Cardinals are hitting .271 and averaging 5.20 runs per game vs. right-handers this year as opposed to .232 and averaging 3.72 runs vs. left-handers. Lackey was inconsistent while going 10-13 during the regular season, and that inconsistency has continued in the post-season as he had one great start vs. the Tigers but allowed four earned runs and 10 baserunners in 5.1 innings vs. the Rays. The Cardinals are starting NLCS MVP Michael Wacha, who has been dominating, but Boston is a step up offensively from the Pirates and Dodgers, and allowing two or three runs could be enough to push this ‘over’. The ‘over’ is 13-3-3 in the Red Sox last 19 post-season home games.

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