Last week was a good week for me. In addition to continuing my hot streak in NCAA football betting, I found my way back into the win column in baseball and got my first win in the NFL this season! The final tally from last week’s column was 2-1 in college football (8-4 overall), 1-0 in MLB (6-12-1) and 1-2 in the NFL (1-8).
This week’s column marks the final inclusion of the Philadelphia Phillies until 2013. Depending on the lines, I may include some MLB postseason analysis, but no guarantees there.
The Background: Mistakes and sloppy play finally caught up with the Eagles last week, a 27-6 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. The Birds turned the ball over 3 more times last Sunday and looked totally dominated on the field, despite outgaining the Cardinals 307 yards to 292 yards. They hobble into this week’s big Sunday night primetime game against the New York Giants, a team that has had a week and a half off since its last game against the Carolina Panthers (a 36-7 win) on Thursday, September 20.
The Line: Eagles -1; O/U 47.5
My Take: As the line points out, this game really does look like a toss up on paper. Will the Eagles finally put it together on offense, start running the ball more, and then torch the Giants secondary? Will Giants QB Eli Manning continue slinging the ball all across the field? This game is hotly contested each year, which makes coming away with an angle very difficult – especially with the 1-point line. I’m taking a pass on that, for sure.
I do have a good feeling on the Over/Under line, however. Yes, these two offenses have the potential to score some points. The Giants rank third in the league in yards per game (426) and the Eagles rank fifth (416.3). The Giants are also tied for second in points per game (31.3), while the Eagles surprisingly rank tied for dead last (15.7).
Recent history says that, while the potential has always been there for high scoring games between these two teams, it normally stays below the 47.5 O/U line that this game has. Only once in the last four regular season contests between these two teams has the final score been above 47.5 points (a 38-31 game in 2010). If you take out that one game, which seems to be the aberration, the average total in the remaining three Giants-Eagles games has been 38.67 points per game. I expect another tightly contested matchup on Sunday night that will stay under this total.
NFL QUICK HITTERS
• Minnesota Vikings +4.5 @ Detroit Lions: Don’t look now, but the Minnesota Vikings are 2-1, and the Detroit Lions are 1-2. OK, OK. It’s only three weeks into the season, but still – who woulda thunk it? The Vikings are off a big upset of the San Francisco 49ers, while the Lions are off a disappointing loss to the Tennessee Titans. The Lions get the benefit of playing at home, but QB Matthew Stafford (hip) is dinged up. I expect the Vikings to be able to run the ball successfully against the Lions’ middle-of-the-road rush defense, which should keep this game close. Take the points.
• Carolina Panthers +7 @ Atlanta Falcons: The Panthers are one of my least favorite teams to bet on, because you never know what you’re going to get. They have the personnel and ability to run the ball down team’s throats, but at times, they just refuse to commit to that type of offense. If they commit to the run this week, they’ll have a chance to win this game outright. While the Falcons are arguably the best team in the NFC right now, their rush defense is bad, allowing 128.7 yards per game (ranking 24th).
• Ball State -2.5 @ Kent State: If only I had written this column a few days ago, you all could have gotten a better line. Overnight, this line moved from Ball State -1 to -2.5. It’s not ideal, but it’s still under the key number of 3, so I’m sticking with it. Last week, I played Ball State +8 against South Florida and they won straight up, 31-27. Still, it seems like there’s line value betting on Ball State. Kent State is no slouch in the MAC, but Ball State is the better team here.
• Missouri +2.5 @ Central Florida: This line was at +3 earlier in the week, which would have been nice, but I still like it at +2.5. Missouri is 2-2 on the season, but both losses have been to Top 10 teams (#5 Georgia and #6 South Carolina). They also beat Arizona State, which is getting votes in the Top 25 poll. Central Florida is no slouch; they’re the favorites to win Conference USA. But I like the Tigers in this one.
• Texas -2.5 @ Oklahoma State: Three road teams I’m betting on this week – that’s not like me. But I go with value when I see it, and this game fits into that category. Despite losing QB Brandon Weeden to the NFL, and getting blown out by Arizona 59-38 a few weeks ago, Oklahoma State still has a lot of talent. They have a QB rotation of two freshmen, though, and that isn’t good news going up against Texas’ defense, even if they do get the benefit of playing at home. I like the Longhorns here.
The Background: Six games remain for the Phillies, and all that’s left to play for is a .500 record. Currently, they sit right on that mark, at 78-78. They completed their last homestand of the season last night with a 7-3 loss to the Washington Nationals. They’ll conclude the season with three games in Miami against the Marlins starting tonight, and three games against those same Nationals in Washington starting Monday. The projected pitching matchups for the weekend series are Cliff Lee vs. Mark Buehrle, Roy Halladay vs. Ricky Nolasco, and Cole Hamels vs. Nate Eovaldi.
The Line: Phillies -150; Marlins +135; O/U 7
My Take: Normally, I wouldn’t recommend laying the type of juice that you’ll have to if you want to bet the Phillies tonight, but I’m going to do it here anyway. The Marlins have been caught in a downward spiral for most of the second half of the season. They’ve lost 7 games in a row and are playing uninspired baseball. The Phillies have also lost 2 in a row, but they’re throwing their big boys on the mound this weekend. I’m going to do something different for once and lay the -150 line to play the Phillies.