Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, January 12

Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, January 12

DUNKEL INDEX

San Diego at Denver
The Chargers travel to Denver today to face a Broncos team that is 2-6 ATS in its last 8 playoff games. San Diego is the pick (+10) according to Dunkel, which has the Chargers favored by 2. Dunkel Pick: San Diego (+10)

Game 115-116: San Francisco at Carolina (1:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: San Francisco 139.663; Carolina 140.790
Dunkel Line: Carolina by 1; 46
Vegas Line: San Francisco by 2; 42
Dunkel Pick: Carolina (+2); Over

Game 117-118: San Diego at Denver (4:40 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: San Diego 142.848; Denver 140.518
Dunkel Line: San Diego by 2 1/2; 51
Vegas Line: Denver by 10; 55 1/2
Dunkel Pick: San Diego (+10); Under

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Minnesota at San Antonio
The Spurs host a Minnesota team tonight that is coming off a 119-92 win over Charlotte and is 3-10 ATS in its last 13 games following an ATS victory. San Antonio is the pick (-6) according to Dunkel, which has the Spurs favored by 8. Dunkel Pick: San Antonio (-6)

Game 801-802: Cleveland at Sacramento (6:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Cleveland 113.411; Sacramento 120.115
Dunkel Line & Total: Sacramento by 6 1/2; 202
Vegas Line & Total: Sacramento by 3 1/2; 206 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Sacramento (-3 1/2); Under

Game 803-804: Atlanta at Memphis (6:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Atlanta 116.965; Memphis 124.264
Dunkel Line & Total: Memphis by 7 1/2; 195
Vegas Line & Total: Memphis by 4 1/2; 192 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Memphis (-4 1/2); Over

Game 805-806: Minnesota at San Antonio (7:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Minnesota 120.831; San Antonio 128.946
Dunkel Line & Total: San Antonio by 8; 216
Vegas Line & Total: San Antonio by 6; 211 1/2
Dunkel Pick: San Antonio (-6); Over

NHL

Philadelphia at NY Rangers
The Flyers travel to New York to face a Rangers team that is 0-9 in its last 9 games against Metropolitan Division opponents. Philadelphia is the pick (+125) according to Dunkel, which has the Flyers favored by 1. Dunkel Pick: Philadelphia (+125)

Game 1-2: Buffalo at Washington (3:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Buffalo 9.879; Washington 11.435
Dunkel Line & Total: Washington by 1 1/2; 5
Vegas Line & Total: Washington (-210); 5 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Washington (-210); Under

Game 3-4: NY Islanders at Dallas (6:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: NY Islanders 12.213; Dallas 9.725
Dunkel Line & Total: NY Islanders by 2 1/2; 6
Vegas Line & Total: Dallas (-150); 5 1/2
Dunkel Pick: NY Islanders (+130); Over

Game 5-6: New Jersey at Toronto (7:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: New Jersey 10.061: Toronto 11.578
Dunkel Line & Total: Toronto by 1 1/2; 4
Vegas Line & Total: Toronto (-145); 5
Dunkel Pick: Toronto (-145); Under

Game 7-8: Philadelphia at NY Rangers (7:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Philadelphia 12.049; NY Rangers 10.933
Dunkel Line & Total: Philadelphia by 1; 6
Vegas Line & Total: NY Rangers (-145); 5
Dunkel Pick: Philadelphia (+125); Over

Game 9-10: Edmonton at Chicago (7:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Edmonton 11.773; Chicago 11.395
Dunkel Line & Total: Edmonton by 1/2; 6
Vegas Line & Total: Chicago (-280); 5 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Edmonton (+230); Over

Game 11-12: Minnesota at Nashville (8:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Minnesota 10.805; Nashville 12.422
Dunkel Line & Total: Nashville by 1 1/2; 4
Vegas Line & Total: Nashville (-135); 5
Dunkel Pick: Nashville (-135); Under

Game 13-14: Detroit at Anaheim (8:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Detroit 10.098; Anaheim 12.727
Dunkel Line & Total: Anaheim by 2 1/2; 5
Vegas Line & Total: Anaheim (-210); 5 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Anaheim (-210); Under

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DUNKEL INDEX

Maryland at Florida State
The Terps head to Tallahassee to face a Florida State team that is coming off a 56-41 win at Clemson and is 14-3-1 ATS in its last 18 games after allowing less than 50 points in their previous game. Florida State is the pick (-6 1/2) according to Dunkel, which has the Seminoles favored by 12 1/2. Dunkel Pick: Florida State (-6 1/2)

Game 807-808: Nebraska at Purdue (12:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Nebraska 58.342; Purdue 67.257
Dunkel Line: Purdue by 9
Vegas Line: Purdue by 6
Dunkel Pick: Purdue (-6)

Game 809-810: Iowa at Ohio State (1:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Iowa 73.008; Ohio State 78.309
Dunkel Line: Ohio State by 5 1/2
Vegas Line: Ohio State by 7 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Iowa (+7 1/2)

Game 811-812: Southern Mississippi at Tulsa (1:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Southern Mississippi 60.697; Tulsa 55.858
Dunkel Line: Southern Mississippi by 5
Vegas Line: Southern Mississippi by 2 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Southern Mississippi (-2 1/2)

Game 813-814: SMU at Louisville (1:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: SMU 65.137; Louisville 74.931
Dunkel Line: Louisville by 10
Vegas Line: Louisville by 13 1/2
Dunkel Pick: SMU (+13 1/2)

Game 815-816: WI-Green Bay at WI-Milwaukee (2:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: WI-Green Bay 62.687; WI-Milwaukee 54.627
Dunkel Line: WI-Green Bay by 8
Vegas Line: WI-Green Bay by 5 1/2
Dunkel Pick: WI-Green Bay (-5 1/2)

Game 817-818: LaSalle at Duquesne (2:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: LaSalle 57.140; Duquesne 56.686
Dunkel Line: Even
Vegas Line: LaSalle by 4
Dunkel Pick: Duquesne (+4)

Game 819-820: Xavier at Creighton (3:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Xavier 65.940; Creighton 76.104
Dunkel Line: Creighton by 10
Vegas Line: Creighton by 8
Dunkel Pick: Creighton (-8)

Game 821-822: Colorado at Washington (3:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Colorado 67.072; Washington 67.129
Dunkel Line: Even
Vegas Line: Colorado by 3
Dunkel Pick: Washington (+3)

Game 823-824: San Diego State at Air Force (1:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: San Diego State 67.404; Air Force 59.025
Dunkel Line: San Diego State by 8 1/2
Vegas Line: San Diego State by 11 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Air Force (+11 1/2)

Game 825-826: Northern Illinois at Bowling Green (4:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Northern Illinois 46.330; Bowling Green 57.284
Dunkel Line: Bowling Green by 11
Vegas Line: Bowling Green by 8 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Bowling Green (-8 1/2)

Game 827-828: Stanford at Oregon (5:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Stanford 62.909; Oregon 76.082
Dunkel Line: Oregon by 13
Vegas Line: Oregon by 6 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Oregon (-6 1/2)

Game 829-830: Akron at Ohio (6:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Akron 56.563; Ohio 58.656
Dunkel Line: Ohio by 2
Vegas Line: Ohio by 5
Dunkel Pick: Akron (+5)

Game 831-832: Illinois-Chicago at Wright State (7:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Illinois-Chicago 47.783; Wright State 61.871
Dunkel Line: Wright State by 14
Vegas Line: Wright State by 11
Dunkel Pick: Wright State (-11)

Game 833-834: Utah at Washington State (7:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Utah 63.421; Washington State 63.298
Dunkel Line: Even
Vegas Line: Utah by 3
Dunkel Pick: Washington State (+3)

Game 835-836: Illinois at Northwestern (7:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Illinois 63.416; Northwestern 60.965
Dunkel Line: Illinois by 2 1/2
Vegas Line: Illinois by 5 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Northwestern (+5 1/2)

Game 837-838: Maryland at Florida State (8:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Maryland 60.141; Florida State 72.843
Dunkel Line: Florida State by 12 1/2
Vegas Line: Florida State by 6 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Florida State (-6 1/2)

Game 839-840: Arizona at USC (9:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Arizona 73.983; USC 63.847
Dunkel Line: Arizona by 10
Vegas Line: Arizona by 12
Dunkel Pick: USC (+12)

Game 841-842: Arizona State at UCLA (10:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Arizona State 62.035; UCLA 73.695
Dunkel Line: UCLA by 11 1/2
Vegas Line: UCLA by 6
Dunkel Pick: UCLA (-6)

Game 843-844: Monmouth at Canisius (2:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Monmouth 47.348; Canisius 59.421
Dunkel Line: Canisius by 12
Vegas Line: Canisius by 10
Dunkel Pick: Canisius (-10)

Game 845-846: Rider at Niagara (2:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Rider 52.651; Niagara 50.586
Dunkel Line: Rider by 2
Vegas Line: Even
Dunkel Pick: Rider

Game 847-848: Marist at Manhattan (2:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Marist 54.087; Manhattan 61.667
Dunkel Line: Manhattan by 7 1/2
Vegas Line: Manhattan by 12
Dunkel Pick: Marist (+12)

Game 849-850: Iona at Siena (2:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Iona 56.258; Siena 50.173
Dunkel Line: Iona by 6
Vegas Line: Iona by 3
Dunkel Pick: Iona (-3)

Game 851-852: Quinnipiac at St. Peter's (2:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Quinnipiac 51.048; St. Peter's 50.604
Dunkel Line: Even
Vegas Line: Quinnipiac by 4 1/2
Dunkel Pick: St. Peter's (+4 1/2)

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San Francisco 49ers -1FOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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The Panthers were the surprise team of the NFC this season and not many people expected them to be one of the two teams with a bye week in the Wild Card round of the playoffs, but they are here. The Carolina offense is also a unit that struggled in the final few games of the regular season and I expect those struggles to continue in this game. Carolina went into San Francisco and beat the 49ers in the regular season, but San Francisco might be playing the best football of anyone in the playoffs now. The 49ers are also healthy on offense and I expect them to be able to score against a Panthers defense that is good, but overrated in my opinion. The San Francisco defense along with Seattle is one of the two best defenses in the league in my opinion and I expect them to shutdown the Carolina offense and frustrate Panther's quarterback Cam Newton for most of this game. Play on San Francisco.

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49ers vs. PanthersFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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These two played back on November 10th in San Fransisco, with Carolina winning by 1 point, 10-9, in a defensive battle. Both defenses dominated, as Carolina managed just 250 offensive yards while the 49ers gained only 151 offensive yards! The 49ers lead at home at the half, 9-7, but was shutout in the second half and lost even though they only allowed a second half field goal. Expect another defensive battle this Sunday as both teams will be more conservative offensively this time around in the Playoffs. This postseason meeting moves to Carolina, but the Panthers are home Dogs and we find them at 1-4 Over/Under as Dogs this season.

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San Diego Chargers vs. Denver BroncosFREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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The Chargers are not afraid to come into Denver and play Peyton Manning and the Broncos. They have the right formula to win, Running the ball and 3rd down conversions. I expect this game to be close through out, and 10 points is to much here.

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The San Francisco 49ers take on the Carolina Panthers in what is expected to be a defensive showdown this weekend. The 49ers battled in sub-zero temperatures last weekend at Green Bay in a back-and-forth affair with the Green Bay Packers before pulling away with a last-second field goal to advance them to this weekend's NFC Divisional Playoff against the Panthers. The 49ers are allowing opponents 17.2 points per game where the Panthers are only allowing opponents 15.1 points per game. These two teams met up earlier in the season in San Francisco, and Carolina was able to squeak out a 10-9 win in an all-defense affair, and I expect the same type of pace in this game this weekend. The under is 6-0 ATS the last six games Carolina has played against NFC competition, and I expect another defensive battle here this weekend. Take the under.

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Randall The HandleFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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49ers (13-4) at Panthers (12-4)FOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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There should be some helmet paint coming off in this one as two fine defensive teams do battle. The pointspread suggests it should be close, as does the first meeting between the Niners and Panthers when Carolina emerged with a 10-9 win. San Francisco was a 6-point favourite in that one.
I PITY YOUR SAD FUCKING LIFE VIKESFAG THE C&P QUEEN OF THE INTERNET
Both teams finished 12-4 during the regular season, with the Panthers winning 11 of their past 12 games. With Carolina winning that first go-round at San Fran and holding a 7-1 mark on this field (its only loss was the opener here to Seattle, a game Carolina should have won), isn't it somewhat curious that the home team is not favoured here?
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This is where the oddsmakers cater to the marketplace. They know the 49ers are a popular team, dating back to the Joe Montana/Steve Young/Jerry Rice days. Super Bowls and success were trademarks of this northern California squad, creating an immense fan base. The Panthers, well, they had Jake Delhomme. See the difference?
I PITY YOUR SAD FUCKING LIFE VIKESFAG THE C&P QUEEN OF THE INTERNET
This is a prime example of value in the sports wagering arena. We know the 49ers can win. They came down this path just a year ago and they were yards away from a championship. San Francisco employs a stellar group of defenders that ranked very highly in nearly every defensive category. Offensively, the Niners have a versatile quarterback who can elude you with his feet while throwing the ball with confidence to a savvy group of receivers.
I PITY YOUR SAD FUCKING LIFE VIKESFAG THE C&P QUEEN OF THE INTERNET
However, the Panthers can do the same. In fact, they outranked the Niners in most defensive categories, which include yards per game, passing yards per game, rushing yards per game and points-allowed per game. On the offensive side, Carolina has a similar type of quarterback as Cam Newton is an elusive runner with a gun for an arm and who can make necessary throws when needed. The two teams rank very closely offensively as well.
I PITY YOUR SAD FUCKING LIFE VIKESFAG THE C&P QUEEN OF THE INTERNET
Again, the Panthers are not favoured here because ... why? As if we needed more, there is the fatigue factor. The Niners travelled to the frozen tundra in Wisconsin last week, defeating the Packers on the last play of the game. After flying home after that exhausting effort, they'll fly all the way to the east coast to face this rested squad in an early start.
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This will be San Francisco's 35th game in two years. It takes its toll.
I PITY YOUR SAD FUCKING LIFE VIKESFAG THE C&P QUEEN OF THE INTERNET
Not only have the Panthers welcomed the extra week to prepare for obvious reasons, but Carolina was part of the first bye-week group way back in September. This was a much-needed and well-earned rest. In the end, Carolina's defence will be the difference. Linebackers Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis head up the best front seven in the league. The Panthers are a nasty bunch that should rattle San Fran's quarterback throughout the day (as they did in the first contest). We didn't have to make a pick here. The value spoke loud and clear. TAKING: PANTHERS Even
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Some good reasons are needed to fade the Broncos in this setting. One could make the argument that San Diego has already won here, just one month ago. They could also note the Chargers' tidy dismissal of the Bengals last week in Cincinnati. A case could be made for Philip Rivers' remarkable and resurgent season. All would have merit, but they would still fall short.
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Denver has averaged 39.5 points per game at home this season. It scored 606 points on the year, setting a league record, 161 more than the next best squad. To put that last stat into perspective, there was a 50-point differential between second and 13th place in scoring this season. Of course, QB Peyton Manning was largely responsible for the scoring outburst and he will now take his extraordinary season into the playoffs. Manning set league records this year by passing for the most yards in history and most touchdowns. With its superstar behind centre, the Broncos can strike fast, often and make it seem almost effortless.
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That prowess has allowed Denver to cover 11 of its past 14 regular season games at Sports Authority Field. However, we once again find the public being finicky. A week ago, they had no interest in these Chargers after they miraculously made the post-season with a 9-7 mark while struggling with Kansas City's "B" in the final week to qualify for the post-season.
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By upsetting the gutless Bengals, the Bolts have suddenly become sexy and the pointspread has dropped from its opening number of 10 down to its current nine. While we admire what the Bolts have accomplished to this point, there are just too many weak spots for them to upset the Broncos a second time on this field. San Diego's pass defence ranked 29th in the league, giving up better than 258 yards per game through the air.
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Teams like the Jaguars, Raiders and Redskins relinquished less. The Chargers caught the Broncos napping in their earlier meeting here, played on a short week with a Thursday game. San Diego controlled the clock and kept Manning and his prolific offence off the field. Such a strategy can work with the lead. We're not sure it can work a second time, especially if Denver gets to the front past the early stages.

It should also be noted that Denver was without receiver Wes Welker for that contest. Folks also forget that Denver won in San Diego by a 28-20 count when Manning threw for 330 yards and four touchdowns. Because of Denver's high-octane offence, the defence gets overlooked, but Rivers and his mates are going to have to pass the ball on this day to compete. That might be easier said than done as Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has been a shutdown corner for the better part of the season and having him cover rookie WR Keenan Allen might be all that is required to hold down this visitor. It may seem like a lot of points to give away, but when the dust settles, expect the Broncos to put on a show before next week's AFC Conference final. TAKING: BRONCOS -9

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49ers vs. PanthersFREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Earlier this season, these two teams played to a 10-9 Panthers victory. They rank 29th and 30th in the Passing game while Carolina is 11th and San Fran is 3rd on the ground. A lot of time will elapse running the ball here. The Panthers allow a mere 15.1 PPG and the 49ers give up just 17.0 PPG. The Panthers come in with 8 UNDERS in their L9 and the 49ers 7 of their L9. I lean towards the UNDER here.

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Chargers at BroncosFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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The first two clashes between these two teams finished with 47 and 48 combined points scored respectively but with the Total set in the 54 range, trust that the linesmaker knows something here. Denver has played 8 of their last 9 home games Over the Total against teams with a winning record on the road. The Broncos have also played 6 of their last 7 games in the month of January Over the Total. And in their last 8 opportunities to host the Chargers, the game finished Over the Total 6 times. With mild weather in the 40s, look for this game to go Over the Total.

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The Utes are 12-3 on the season and have some solid advantages here tonight against Washington. St. Utah has won al 6 times with 5 spread wins as a favorite this season and are 5-0 vs losing teams. In games after allowing 60 or less points they have covered 17 of 24 and all 3 this season in that role. They go to Washington St tonight to take on a Cougars team that has lost 7 of 9 vs winning teams an 14 of the last 18 in January games. In the 2nd half of the season long term they are 16-52 vs teams who average 77 or more points per game. Look for Utah to get the win and cover here tonight.


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The Rangers have won three of four and host a tired Philadelphia team Sunday night in the Garden. There is a lot of value on the puckline here, although we do advise you have an equal play on the moneyline as well to back it up. Look for the Rangers to win 4-2 here on Sunday night

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Everyone in the world is on the 49ers, which is reason enough to take Carolina. SF is in the rare spot of being a road favorite in back to back playoff games. Problem is, it is their 3rd straight road game and they have to travel cros country to face the Panthers, who are coming off a bye. 2 things I like about the Panthers: they are the better red zone team and they convert 3rd downs at 44%.

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SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS AT CAROLINA PANTHERSVlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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It’s all about trusting the data. I’m a numbers cruncher come NFL playoff time. The way I see it, I have a full season of real stats to break down, and if the appearance of value shows up on a game, I’m in action. This is, for me, a classic example of if it’s not broken, don’t try to fix it. And make no mistake, after banking on the metrics got me a pair of Saturday playoff winners, I’m sure not about to buck that system today.
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I can certainly see a good case being made for the 49ers. But the numbers I focus on at this time of year say otherwise. Carolina is right behind the 49ers on the offensive chart, the Panthers own the better defense on the metrics, and have a special teams advantage as well.
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The data I’m most focused on indicates that the Panthers should be a very small favorite if the game is being played on a neutral field. Obviously, that is not the case here, and with Carolina the home team, there’s now a really nice edge to be had here.
INSTEAD OF LEACHING OFF OTHERS WORK GO GET IT YOURSELF VIKESFAG
While it’s not a huge variable for me in any way, I can’t say I mind being opposite the betting public on this game. The 49ers are a much more popular betting team, and they’re on a pretty significant roll right now, so San Francisco will clearly command most of the ticket volume today. That’s not a decisive factor for me, but I certainly can’t say I mind going the other way.
INSTEAD OF LEACHING OFF OTHERS WORK GO GET IT YOURSELF VIKESFAG
For me, this is actually pretty simple. I’m getting the better team on the metrics at home and I’m even getting a little help from the guys who post the numbers. Put me down for a play on the Panthers in this game.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, January 12

Jesse Schule

Cleveland vs. Sacramento
Pick: Sacramento

Both the Cavs and the Kings have shaken things up with trades bringing in new star players. The Cavs won in Utah on Friday, and Luol Deng scored 10 points on 4-of-8 shooting in his debut for Cleveland.

The victory was just their third road win of the season, and they are now 3-15 overall on the road.

The Kings are coming off back to back wins over Orlando and Portland, and Rudy Gay has really made an impact in those wins. Gay is averaging 23.4 points per game, and the Kings have a winning record since his arrival.

DeMarcus Cousins though is still the man in Sacramento, and he's averaged 27 points and 13.6 rebounds over his last five games.

These teams met twice in 2013, and the Kings won and covered in both of those games. With Deng still nursing an Achilles injury, and Gay firing on all cylinders, you have to like the Kings as a small home favorite in this fixture.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, January 12

Larry Ness

Illinois vs. Northwestern
Pick: Illinois

Illinois lost its top-two scorers from last year, guards Paul (16.6-4.4) and Richardson (12.30. The Illini are led in scoring this year by Drake transfer, Rayvonte Rice at 18.8 PPG (also 6.0 RPG). Returning guards Abrams (12.6-4.0-3.2) and Bertrand (11.4-5.8) start alongside of Rice in a three-guard lineup, joined by 6-7 Illinois St transfer Ekey (8.1-5.9) and the 6-11 Egwu (7.7-5.6). That “iron-five” all average 27-plus MPG.

Illinois had been piling up wins but seemingly not getting any respect, failing to make the top-25 despite a 13-2 mark. The Illini hoped to gain some recognition with a road game against unbeaten Wisconsin, but a 25-point loss to the No. 5 Badgers certainly isn't going to help Illinois' reputation. Coach John Groce's squad needs to bounce back when it travels to face in-state rival Northwestern on Sunday.

The Wildcats were hoping the hiring of Chris Collins as coach would turn things around in conference play, but three straight losses by an average margin of 25.3 PPG wasn't quite the start Northwestern had hoped for. Offense has been a problem for the Wildcats, who are averaging only 55.6 PPG in league play, which is not a good omen as Illinois allows a modest 63.6 PPG.

Illinois head coach Groce was obviously unhappy about the loss to Wisconsin and in particular, was bothered by the way his team didn't respond to the early adversity against the Badgers. A 20-0 first-half run put the Illini down early and they were never able to make a run to make a game of it. “You've got to respond to adversity better than that,” Groce told the Champaign News-Gazette. “We have this season, but for some reason tonight, against a really good ball team that's as explosive as they are, you can't do that. It's very atypical of this team, something we take a lot of pride in. I didn't like our look and body language during that stretch.”

Northwestern is led by 65- swingman Drew Crawford (15.7-6.9) points per game), with guard JerShon Cobb (12.0-4.1) as the only other player on the team averaging in double figures. With so few point-scoring options, Collins has been trying to get his duo as many touches as possible early to try to get them both going and maybe spark the team's offense. “We really haven't had both of them going on the same night,” Collins told the Chicago Tribune. “For us, our margin of error is very small. We need good players to play really well.”

Off of a humbling 95-70 beat-down by unbeaten Wisconsin Wednesday night, expect Illinois to take out a bit of its frustrations on a struggling Northwestern team that has its fans wondering why the administration moved out Bill Carmody so longtime Coach K sidekick Chris Collins could cut his teeth as a head coach. So far it's not working out with Collins.

To make matters even worse for Northwestern, expect Groce to remind his players the Wildcats won at Champaign last year, as 10-point dogs. Lay the points with the road favorite.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, January 12

Jimmy Boyd

LaSalle -4

LaSalle is clearly the better team in this game, and I don't think they will have any problems covering such a small number against Duquesne. The Explorers are a very talented team defensively. They have held opponents to 66.5 points per game on the road this season. Their opponents overall scoring average is 72.6 points per game, so shutting down Duquesne should not be a difficult task to accomplish.

Duquesne has been horrible defensively. Their opponents average 69.5 points per game, but the Dukes have surrendered 74.9 points per game. I don't think the Dukes will be able to turn this game into a shootout against LaSalle's outstanding defense, and that puts them at a serious disadvantage. I also think Duquesne's statistics are a bit inflated due to their soft schedule. There recent non-conference opponents have come from the American East, Northeast, Western Athletic and Southern Conferences, so I don't put a lot of stock in their recent five game win streak.

The Dukes are 3-11 ATS when coming off a home win, and 3-12 ATS when coming off a game against a conference opponent. They are 7-16 ATS when playing as an underdog over the last two seasons. The Dukes are a team that relies heavily in their ability to force turnovers, and they won't have that luxury in this matchup with LaSalle. The Explorers are averaging just 10 turnovers per game, and Duquesne is 9-24 ATS against good ball handling teams that commit 14 or less turnovers per game.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, January 12

Jim Feist

Minnesota Timberwolves at San Antonio Spurs
Pick: Minnesota Timberwolves

The Minnesota Timberwolves sit fourth in the Northwest division of the Western Conference, nine games back of Portland. The Wolves are the 2nd ranked scoring team in the NBA (107.6 ppg), led by forward Kevin Love (25.9 ppg). Hopefully T'Wolves fans won't get too attached to Love as the free agent likely will move on to greener pastures next season. Minnesota has also covered six of their last nine games. Meanwhile, the San Antonio Spurs have the best record in the west at 28-8 and bring a 3-game winning streak into tonight's contest. The Spurs solid frontcourt took a bit of hit with the loss of center Tiago Splitter who is out with a shoulder injury. Manu Ginobili is also doubtful for today's contest with a hamstring injury. It's been hit and miss against the number for the Spurs who haven't covered two straight in 10 games. The Timberwolves have covered three straight against the Spurs including the one matchup this year in San Antonio. Love will provide plenty of offense for the Wolves as he looks to improve his lot in next year's free agency market. I look for the Wolves to come in under the number once again here on Sunday.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday, January 12

Art AronsonFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Edmonton vs. ChicagoFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
Pick: OverFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Four of the last five meetings between these teams have seen goal scoring totals of more six or more goals and I expect no different here. The Blackhawks are struggling uncharacteristically here with three straight losses and should be plenty thirty for a win here against a team it beat 5-1 on the road the last time these teams met.  The Blackhawks played just last night in Montreal and have had to travel a large distance across the country to play the game so you have to think the team will not be that sharp. The Oilers meanwhile are coming off an impressive come from behind win over Pittsburgh and should be able to put a nice fight here after having the day in between games while sitting at home. Note the higher number has hit in 10 of the last 11 Oilers games this season. Take close look at the “over” again here.

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Bruce MarshallFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Utah at Washington StFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
Pick: UtahFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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After its upset bid against Colorado fell short by a mere point in OT at Spokane on Wednesday, not sure how much Wazzu has left in its tank for incoming Utah, eager to avoid a Pacific Northwest sweep after its two-point loss at UW. Especially with high-scorer (17.7 ppg; also only DD scorer) G DaVonte Lacy still unlikely to see many, if any, minutes, as he recuperates from a recent appendectomy that has kept him out of three of the past four games. Utes have demonstrated a lot more offensive versatility than the Cougs, reflected in Utah's sparkling 52.4% shooting.

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