Detroit Lions @ Minnesota Vikings Week 3 NFL Free Pick: The Lions got unbelievably close to knocking off the Philadelphia Eagles last week, and probably making it so Kevin Kolb re-took over his position as the Guls’ starting quarterback. But they couldn’t, and their last minute touchdown wasn’t enough, and Mike Vick gets the job – oh, and they are 0-2 after two very close contests. Sad, sad.
Here’s what’s funny about this game, the public percentage keeps going up in Detroit’s favor. The “experts” keep riding with the Lions (6-0 on covers) but the line at your favorite sports betting hot spot keeps getting heavier toward the side of the Vikings – yes, they keep giving the Lions more and more points. Interesting, right? I know. It’s because the “smart” people are taking the Vikings, and that’s what moves the lines. At least that’s what I think. Now, I don’t think I’m some football genius, no, if I made millions of dollars betting football every year I’d probably just sit down with my direcTV football package and watch the jackpot hit week in and week out – but sometimes I know what I’m talking about, and sometimes I just happen to be on the right side of games like this. Not always, but sometimes.
Minnesota can’t possibly play as bad as they have the first two games of the season – I take that back, they haven’t, as a group, played all that bad. Offensively, they’ve had a solid rushing attack, even – and have moved the ball better than either of the two teams they’ve lost to in the Weeks 1 and 2. Yes, I watched the season opener, and they moved the ball better than New Orleans – they just couldn’t get that TD play. And they finished with 100 more passing yards and even more rushing yards than Miami, but they couldn’t score the football.
This week they do score the football, and their defense continues to be dominant. The Lions, they’ll get fewer big plays, and the teams’ yardage totals will look more realistic than they have been. Shaun Hill, watch out sir, Jared Allen is coming for you.
Tennessee Titans VS New York Giants Pick & Preview: Vince Young is back this week, and while I’m not sure he’ll be psychologically ready to dominate (he might go out there trying hard not to make any mistakes, which is project fail in just about any competitive thing ever) but I think he’ll be solid against the Giants. New York likes to send their defensive linemen in quarterback rush-fest, but that will open up lanes for Vince to use his legs. If Young can go back to running the football in Week 3, I think the Titans walk away with this game easily.
But I’m not betting my biscuit on that – I’m rolling with the Titans defense and their ability to slow down Peyton’s little brother, Eli. (After getting throttled by the Colts and looking like a scout team quarterback without a red-jersey on during last week’s brother-showdown, I’m pretty sure I’ll just refer to Eli as Peyton’s little brother for much of the season).
The Giants like to pass a lot because they have a Manning at the helm, and I can understand where that would be confusing, but when in doubt, check the birth certificate. This Manning’s resume says, “needs running game to set up passing game, can’t be responsible to set up running game with good passing – not good enough.” The Giants never read the fine print, and since they’re paying Eli all those dollar bills to be a Top 3 QB in the NFL, they think he should play like one. Unfortunately, he’s just an average guy in the league, and despite some nice receiving options (Nicks, Steve Smith, Mario Manningham) Peyton’s little brother can’t win games with his arm.
With New York’s offensive line obviously struggling, and getting run around by pass rushers, I just don’t see them beating a better team, even at home. Take the Titans and the points, because they’re going to win out-right.
Cleveland Browns VS Baltimore Ravens Week 3 NFL Pick: The Cleveland Browns are better than people are giving them credit for and thus the sportsbook has to give them more points than they should be getting. It’s as if “they” aren’t paying any attention to the last handful of games the Browns have played. Sure, Cleveland beats themselves on a normal basis, either because of mistakes, “Ahem, Jake Delhomme”, or piss play calling, but they don’t beat themselves by 11.
And what is all this love for Baltimore about? I know I went out on a limb and said that I expect Dallas to turn things around, or “even things out”, but they’ve at least showed some ability offensively. The Ravens have scored 10 points per game and looked like a mistake prone team without the ability to consistently get 10 yards in 3 downs – at best. I really like the Ravens, think they’ll win a lot of games this year, and probably turn into a pretty good offense, but expecting a team that hasn’t scored but two touchdowns in two games to cover an 11 point spread is tough for me to buy. So I’m selling.
The Browns have been much better defensively this year, and with an influx in talent and some health, that’s makes sense. They also possess a pretty solid offensive line, something that a team needs to even compete with the Ravens defense. What they haven’t had is good play calling, electing to run much less than they’ve passed despite having a perfectly good running back in Jerome Harrison, and perfectly mediocre quarterbacks in Delhomme and Seneca Wallace. What ever are they thinking?
If they run more than they pass in Baltimore, they might even win this game. But they surely cover. Cleveland has 2 losses this season by a total of 5 points, and they won a lot of games down the stretch last season behind solid run defense and a run-heavy offense. I think they’re tough enough to stick with Baltimore.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Carolina Panthers NFL Week 3 Pick: The Panthers are throwing a rookie quarterback at one of the best turn-over causing, run-stuffing, tricksy defenses in the NFL. The porous Panthers defense has to go up against a Bengals team with so many weapons that Carson Palmer hasn’t figured out a way to use them all, yet. That might just happen this weekend.
The only thing Carolina has on their side, I’m sorry, the only thing(S) Carolina has on their side is a game plan that will surely rely on the run more than the pass, because they will try to make things easier for Jimmy Clausen. And a running game that has shown the ability to run on any kind of defense. This will be a good test, because I’m sure everyone besides Steve Smith will be single covered, and that will leave 7-8 guys in the box on every down. The linebackers in Cincinnati are pretty good, it should be a fun match-up to watch.
In researching this game I noticed that the Bengals had a nice little history of doing well against teams without much of a passing game to worry about. They lost a couple key games to big running teams (a couple in a row to the Jets for example) but for the most part, they were good against “run-first” teams. I like my chances for that trend to keep keeping on.
Oregon Ducks @ Arizona State Sundevils Free Football Pick: The Ducks haven’t played anybody (sorry Tennessee fans, it’s true, that program isn’t a respectable opponent right now, and there’s nothing you can say to move me off my high horse) – but they have looked good in their scrimmage test opening 3 weeks.
New Mexico didn’t stand much of a chance, and I’m not even sure they showed up, as it’s tough to score 72 points against actual defenses. Were they running the annexation of Puerto Rico or what? Dirty.
As if that wasn’t enough, they embarrassed the Tennessee Volunteers 48-13 in Tennessee to show that Week 1 wasn’t just a flukey offensive performance against a bad team (though Tennessee still isn’t’ good).
Last week they scheduled a game against a sub-division team, something that hasn’t been working out for most big schools – and it worked out like a charm. (I took them to cover a 52 point spread) They ended up winning 69-0 – and needless to say, they’ve been moving up the charts.
Now, Arizona State will be a little bit tougher a test than they’ve had thus far, but I still don’t think this Sun Devils team can put up enough points to stun the Ducks.
The Ducks have out-passed and out-rushed each of their opponents through 3 weeks of college football. They’ve hammered the little schools like they should, and beat up on the only big school they’ve seen. They can score points with ease, and I think they win by 20 at ASU.
#5 Oregon Ducks (-10.5) @ Arizona State Sundevils
West Virginia Mountaineers @ LSU Tigers Pick & Preview: I just don’t believe in the West Virginia Mountaineers. Since Steve Slaton and Pate White took off for their respective pro football teams (which they’ve both struggled with), they just haven’t been the same. I know the Mounties have faired better through the air this season, as Geno Smith is completing 70% of his passes with 7 touchdowns to just 1 interception through 3 games. Plus, they are running it as well. But they’ve played Maryland, Marshall, and Coastal Carolina – I can’t take any of their statistics seriously. Not only have they played a powder puff schedule early, but they needed overtime to sneak by Marshall – not a ringing endorsement for a season full of success. I am almost positive they will be a one loss team and out of the Top 25 after LSU tramples them this weekend on the field and at the sportsbook.
And that’s saying a lot because I didn’t expect all that much from the Tigers this year. Now, I expected more than most polls, as I just didn’t see a drop off in talent that would list this team out of the Top 25. They struggled last season, sure, but they still are loaded with great young players.
Well, they are proving their worth early on. They got some help from some agents (not in that way, don’t worry) and beat a tough Carolina team on the road in Week 1. They gave up nothing to Vanderbilt and won 27-3 on the road in Week 2, and then slammed Mississippi State last week, 29-7, and the Bulldogs are solid.
The Tigers are just good. Don’t wait a couple more weeks to find out for sure, just take them to dismantle a Mountaineers team that isn’t as good as everyone is making them out to be. They can run it a little, and throw it if there’s not much pressure – but LSU will make it really tough to do either.
#22 West Virginia Mountaineers @ LSU Tigers (-9)
Oregon State Beavers VS Boise State Broncos College Pick: This is a tough one for me because nobody believes in the Boise State Broncos more than I do. I truly believe they can beat any team in the nation on any night, just like the rest of the elite programs in the country. They aren’t your normal small school that beats you with smoke and mirrors – what they do is recruit one hell of a group of guys, and they come after you on both sides of the ball with some of the quickest athletes on the field. You can bet your lunch money than Oregon State will have a tough time running despite possessing one of the best young running backs in college football, Jacquizz Rodgers. That’s the thing about Boise State, they are unbelievably quick defensively, from the line to the secondary, and that quickness always seems to surprise their opponents.
I just feel like it’s their time to have a close one. The Beavers don’t pose a great scare with their defense, so they’re going to have to put up points on the Broncos defense. With the Rodgers brothers, that’s certainly possible. But they have to come in ready to fight, because the Broncos have shut down plenty of big time rushing games. Ask Oregon last season, as Virginia Tech this season. That quickness up front causes problems.
The Beavers played TCU tough, and the Horned Frogs are close to as good a team as the Broncos – not quite, but close. But the Beavers need to run the ball better if they want to win, or even cover. They can’t give up because of some early yardage loss plays, and I don’t think they will. I am not claiming the upset, but I like my chances with 17 points on my side.
Oregon State Beavers (+17) @ #3 Boise State Broncos
South Carolina Gamecocks @ Auburn Tigers NCAA Free Pick: I actually love the Gamecocks, they are a defensive football team and they really attack you on that side of the ball. They make a whole new meaning to having a defensive mindset. They don’t come out to slow you down, or even stop you, they come out to destroy you – and it’s fun to watch. On the other side of the ball, their running game does the same thing. Freshman running back, Marcus Lattimore run’s mean. He’s averaging over 100 yards per game for the Gamecocks, and he really sets a tone with his running style.
But I still like Auburn at home. They’ve played a couple close games, and fought them out for tough wins. I don’t know if their competition was tops, but learning how to win in tough circumstances ain’t easy, and it’s invaluable.
The Tigers beat Mississippi State on the road, then went to overtime to beat the Clemson Tigers at home last week. That’s two close ones in a row, and I think that pays off at home against South Carolina this week.
South Carolina will almost certainly be without their tackle, Hutch Eckerson, and that could be a big hit on the offensive line. He’s a senior and has been a big part of the Gamecock’s offensive turnaround this season. Auburn can’t keep playing tight games and win all season long, but I still like their experience so far this season, as knowing you can win those close ones is a good start.
#15 South Carolina Gamecocks @ #14 Auburn Tigers (-2.5)
Kentucky Wildcats VS Florida Gators Week 4 Free Pick: The Gators haven’t really impressed me and the Wildcats, surprisingly, have. Florida’s offensive attack looks to me as though they rely on tricks to be successful, and even with the athletes and speed advantages they have on just about everyone, that eventually gets shut down and the tricksters get tricked.
John Brantley hasn’t impressed me. He has all the opportunity to move the ball, wide open receivers, and he’s only completed 62% of his passes for 452 yards against sub-par opponents. He has 5 touchdowns and no interceptions, but that’s because the Gators stacked their post-Tebow schedule with teams like South Florida and Miami of Ohio to start the season. This Gator team has 3 wins, but they’ve barely outplayed the lackluster competition. The Gators needed 49 carries to accrue 150 rushing yards last week – that’s a hair over 3 yards per carry if math eludes you. 3… against a Vols team that lost 48-13 against Oregon the week before.
Kentucky is better than any team the Gators have played. They started out the season slow, barely getting past the Lousiville Cardinals, but they’ve come on strong against lesser competition the last two weeks, and I don’t think they’re scared one bit of the mighty Gators. I expect a battle in Florida, and that 14 spot should come in handy.
Kentucky Wildcats (+14) @ #9 Florida Gators
Georgia Bulldogs @ Mississippi State Bulldogs Free Pick: It’s a Bulldog fest, and both sets of droopy jawed slobbery beasts is looking to even up their record on the season, and keep their hopes alive for conference relevance.
Georgia has played tough but lost 2 big time early-season games against the likes of South Carolina and Arkansas – both teams have shown they are ready to compete for an SEC title. Georgia? Well, after two conference losses they are pretty much out of it. But they are still a good football team, good enough to hold South Carolina to just 17 points and good enough to make Ryan Mallet and Arkansas score a touchdown in the final minute to beat them.
Mississippi State also lost a very tough game to Auburn, 14-17, and took a 29-7 beating from LSU where they just couldn’t’ move the ball offensively. I don’t know if they’ll have that same problem against Georgia but I don’t think they can hang with the other Bulldogs. But that’s just what I see.
Neither team is that impressive offensively, as both have struggled passing the ball efficiently and consistently. But Georgia can really run, they didn’t show it against South Carolina’s stout defense, but they did some good things against Arkansas to out-rush them by 86 yards.
I think Georgia has more to offer offensively and that pushes them to a road victory in this one.
Georgia Bulldogs (+1) @ Mississippi State Bulldogs