McPhil’s Week 9 CFB Spread Picks

College picks ATS: 0-3

Nebraska, previously 0-4-1 ATS, has gone 2-0 since I picked against them in back-to-back weeks. Such is life, and I’ve learned my lesson to stay away from the Cornhuskers- for now. NC State didn’t do us any favors against Clemson, coming out looking utterly terrified and shell-shocked. The offense struggled to move the ball and Ryan Finley looked more like a true freshman than the best quarterback in the ACC he had been through the season. As such, we fall to 0-3 on the season for our college picks against the spread and look to bounce back this week.

Georgia @ Florida, Georgia covers (-6.5)

Simply put, Georgia got got against LSU in Death Valley, which can happen to the best of teams. Don’t forget that the Bulldogs were far-and-away the favorites to meet Alabama in the SEC Championship, and also, the CFB Playoffs. With a week off to fine-tune the mistakes that were exposed during their loss and mull over the embarrassment they suffered, I fully expect these Bulldogs to come out swinging. Both Georgia’s and Florida’s defenses have played well this season, with Georgia having a slight edge. The real difference maker is the offensive line for Georgia, which is arguably the best in the SEC and possibly the country, and should be able to clear the way for their potent running attack while giving Fromm time to throw. I expect the Georgia defense to take away the run, generate pressure and force Franks off his spot and make them try to win with the passing offense. I think Georgia’s offense will come out humming as well, considering the way Kentucky’s offense was able to come into the swamp and absolutely bully Florida on the ground and also allow them to throw for two touchdowns and 150 yards. The same Kentucky team struggled to pass the ball on Vanderbilt to the tune of 18 total passing yards. Give me the Bulldogs at -6.5.

Final score prediction: Georgia wins, 30-17

Central Michigan @ Akron, Akron covers (-5)

This is less about Akron being good and more about them matching up with Central Michigan, who has been that bad. Central Michigan is 1-7 on the season, with their only win coming against Maine. They have never scored more than 24 points this season but have allowed 30 in five of eight games. They’ve lost by 10 or more points in five of their seven losses. Looking at their quarterback situation, Tommy Lazzaro has been awful, throwing five touchdowns to 10 interceptions. Yikes. Central Michigan is also allowing 211 rushing yards per game on average. I’m counting on a Lazzaro interception to give Akron a decent lead, with which they will likely be able to hold on to by relying on their run game and attacking CM where they are weakest. If Lazzaro has to play from behind and force the issue, this game could get ugly for the visiting team.

Final score prediction: Akron wins, 27-21

McPhil’s Week 8 NFL Picks

NFL picks ATS: 2-1

The Chargers weren’t able to cover the spread due to some dropped balls and last-minute heroics by the Titans. Fortunately, the Chiefs remain undefeated against the spread on the season with their obliteration of the Bengals in prime-time. We’re 2-1 on the season for NFL spread picks and look to continue our success this week.

Redskins @ Giants, Washington wins (PK)

The New York Giants have been selling off assets left and right, including Damon “Snacks” Harrison who has been the league’s best run-stopper for the last four or five seasons, and Eli Apple, who was honestly their best corner this season, if that tells you anything about the state of the Giants’ secondary. Janoris Jenkins is no longer the shut-down “jack-rabbit” and finds his name tossed around in trade talks. With chemistry and continuity for the team already struggling prior to the trade and losing two of their best five defenders on defense, I expect the Giants to struggle. Surprising, right?

To say the Giants have struggled on offense would be an understatement. Eli is looking to check down almost every play, is hesitating to let the ball go (see: Shurmur on the sideline mouthing “throw it”, along with everyone else in the nation who was watching, as Eli held the ball with OBJ open in the end zone) and just falling to the ground, and I mean literally just crumbling and falling over, under pressure. Meanwhile, the Redskins are coming off a hard-fought win against the Cowboys. Their defense is playing better than many give it credit for because of the game against the Saints. They’ve held four of their other five opponents under 20 points and are looking to ride their strong offensive line and an age-less Adrian Peterson right up through the Giants’ defense where Snacks used to be. With the Giants struggling and the Redskins able to ride their strong defense and stout run-game in this contest, I like the Redskins to pull out the victory.

Final score prediction: Redskins win, 20-17

Colts @ Raiders, Colts cover (-3)

I ripped the Raiders pretty hard in my Seahawks prediction from a couple weeks ago, so I’ll simply say that the situation hasn’t gotten any better, it’s only gotten worse. Cooper has been shipped out, seemingly anyone on the Raiders is available and I believe that coming out and saying Cooper won’t be traded right before he got traded has alienated this team even more. The offensive line is still hurt and awful, and now the only thing that was working for the Raiders (Marshawn Lynch) is on IR while Doug Martin, one of the least-efficient running backs in the NFL since after his impressive rookie season, takes over instead. The Colt’s defense has some young studs Darius Leonard and Malik Hooker to go along with veterans like Mike Mitchell and Margus Hunt that should be able to slow the Raiders’ taped-together offense. The Colts ride Marlon Mack, Nyheim Hines, T.Y. Hilton and Andrew Luck to an easy victory in this one. The Raiders are in full tank-mode, so take advantage before everyone else catches on.

Final score prediction: 24-17 Colts

McPhil’s Week 8 College Picks

Thanks to some poor ball security and offensive struggles, Northwestern fell short of covering the spread against Nebraska by just a point leaving me at 0-1 against the spread for college. From here on out I will be giving two picks for college weekly. Without further adieu, let’s get to the picks.

College picks ATS: 0-1

NC State @ Clemson, NC State covers the spread (+16.5)

Clemson will very likely win this game, but I think this spread is absurdly large and that people are severely underrating how good the Wolfpack was last season, and how good they’ve continued to be this season. Clemson is a good team with a young, inexperienced quarterback that has performed well from a clean pocket but has been spotty under pressure. Clemson would like to rely on their star running back Etienne and take as much pressure off Lawrence as possible, but I expect N.C. State’s stout run-defense to prove more difficult than previous opponents the Tigers have faced.

Not only is N.C. State’s defense one of the better units in the country, but their receiving core is one of the more talented and deep units in college football currently. Add that to the stellar performance of Ryan Finley this season and a narrow loss to Clemson last year, and I firmly believe this spread is just way too high. According to Pro Football Focus, “[Finley] hasn’t let pressure affect him much, fielding the ACC’s top passer rating under duress at 99.2. Ryan Finley has been the highest-graded on a per-snap basis, with an impressive 40.3% of his passes earning a positive grade from us, and his team generating 0.42 expected points each time he drops back to throw. Clemson has been absolutely dominant against the run on early downs, allowing just a 21.51% success rate, but have not been as dominant against the pass (41.07%)”. I expect the pass-happy Wolfpack to force the Tigers into some uncomfortable situations and ultimately lose the game, albeit by less than 16.5 points. Depending on where you bet, you may even be able to get them at 17.5.

Final score prediction: 34-21, Clemson

Minnesota @ Nebraska, Minnesota covers the spread (+4)

Northwestern did everything they possibly could to hand the game to the Cornhuskers last week and still Nebraska found a way to lose. This week, I’m going back at the Cornhuskers who are 1-4-1 against the spread this season and are for some reason FAVORED going into a game with Minnesota. While Minnesota is not a team of world-beaters or college stars, they’re a solid enough team to cover a +4 spread against a truly awful Nebraska team. ESPN has Minnesota’s chances of winning this game outright at 57.8%. A four-point spread is just a gift from God should Nebraska come close to sniffing the win again, but I think Nebraska played as well as they could last week and still fell short. Minnesota actually played Ohio State pretty close last week for a while, though the Buckeyes were clearly in control. I’m confident the Golden Gophers cover this spread against the inept Cornhuskers.

Final score prediction: 23-20, Minnesota

McPhil’s NFL Week 7 Picks

NFL picks ATS: 1-0

The Seahawks put down the beating I expected on the Raiders in London last week and were able to cover the spread very easily. From here on out I will be giving two picks for the NFL weekly. Without further delay, let’s get in to the picks.

Chargers vs. Titans Chargers cover (-7)

We had good luck in London last week with the Seahawks, and to London we return. This week the Chargers take on the struggling Tennessee Titans. Bettors likely have nightmares when it comes to the Chargers, as they have blown leads, lost games and failed to cover spreads in a variety of hilarious fashions. I won’t tell you this is a new Chargers team, but I will tell you they are absolutely rolling right now. They suffered two early losses at the hands of the Rams and the Chiefs, which at this point I can’t seriously fault them for. Phillips Rivers has been playing like an MVP candidate, and is top ten in the NFL in a myriad of metrics.  He is top-ten in play action differential for comp % and YPA, top-ten in PFF grade, first in passer rating under pressure, top-ten in adjusted completion % and finally, passer rating when clean. The offense has been rolling behind Rivers’ performance and Melvin Gordon’s dominance both running and catching the ball.

Turning to the Titans who were just thrashed at home by the Ravens, the only advantages I can find are in the offensive line. Their secondary and defense as a whole have been slightly above average, and I expect the offensive line to give the Chargers a little bit of trouble considering their run-defense isn’t the best and Bosa is still out. If analytics has taught me anything over the last two years, it’s that the most important aspects of the game are stopping the pass and being able to pass. In both of these the Chargers have a clear advantage while Mariota struggles to get healthy and the passing and run game both look lethargic for the Titans. As we’ve seen in the last year, and even last week, the best team in London tends to win, and tends to win big. I’d like it better if you could get it at 6.5, but I’m more than willing to take the chance on -7.

Final score prediction: 28-16, Chargers

Bengals @ Chiefs Chiefs cover (-6.5)

Look, I won’t belabor the point, but the Bengals are historically awful in prime-time games. They are missing their best coverage linebacker in Nick Vigil and already struggle to cover tight ends. Ebron got in the end zone for the Colts. Baltimore nearly came all the way back by shredding the Bengals with short routes by the tight ends. The Falcons used their backup tight end to shred the Bengals up the seam in the red zone for a touchdown. Vance McDonald seemed to truck a defender every time he touched the ball. If we’re being honest, the Bengals are one bad play in the Falcons game and one forced fumble away in the Colts game from being 2-4 instead of 4-2. The defense struggled to find ways to slow down the Steelers, Falcons and Panthers, and now they’re about to play the scorching hot Kansas City Chiefs coming off of a narrow loss to the Patriots on the road.

Can I take the Chiefs twice?

Honestly, the Bengals offense has been surprising this year and even more surprisingly the defense has struggled to slow opposing offenses down. Even with the Chiefs’ sub-par defense, I fully expect them to be able to stop the Bengals at home more frequently than the Bengals are able to stop the Chiefs. Tyreek Hill will give the defense fits over the top if they ever try to play single-high and Travis Kelce will punish them over the middle. Add Kareem Hunt and Mahomes to the mix and suddenly, winning but a touchdown seems very realistic. Kansas City is 6-0 against the spread this season. Keep riding the red-hot Chiefs.

Final score prediction: 34-24, Chiefs.