Despite the supposedly foolproof plan to avoid controversy in determining a champion, college football is in the midst of doing just that once again.
When it comes to football the reality is that our nations universities sold their souls in a quest for the almighty dollar long ago. The idea that it is all about kids getting an education is an insult to our intelligence. And that is before the absurd topic of player safety.
Colleges wanted to get away from six and eight team leagues, and form 12 and 14 team mega conferences. One of the benefits to doing so was a huge influx of cash for a championship game. This was made possible by having enough teams in a conference to create two divisions. The two division winners meet after the season is over and voilà, another big pay day for everyone except for those actually playing the game.
If that is the way you want to set this sport up, then fine. Have your mega-conference championship games, and then the winners of those games can meet in a mini-playoff series to determine the nation’s number one team. But thanks to our everyone-gets-a-trophy mentality, that’s not good enough. Gee whiz, what if a good team gets excluded?
Colleges and their boosters want it both ways. They want to financially benefit from conference championship games. But then they want to be able to send whatever team is actually the best one from their group to a national championship game – even if they did not win, or even play in their league’s title game.
Sorry it doesn’t – or at least should not work that way. How can anyone justify a team winning their conference and then tell them sorry, but another team that did not win your league is going to the playoffs for the national title? If you are going to do that then you need to eliminate conference championship games, because you just made them meaningless.
Want more happy thoughts? Consider this with Black Friday and Cyber Monday are now thankfully in the rear view mirror. More people in the United States shopped during that short time period than voted in the presidential election.
NFL Week 13 Early Games on CBS
★★ 7-4 Denver Broncos at 2-9 Jacksonville Jaguars
Sunday December 4 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS; Spero Dedes, Solomon Wilcots.
Broncos -3½ . . . . over/under 39½ . . . . DEN -180, JAC +160
Broadcast in Tucson AZ, San Diego CA, Colorado, Jacksonville FL, Idaho (except Boise), New Mexico, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.
Denver has cooled off after beginning the season 4-0. Since then the Broncos are 3-4 with only one quality win, back in week seven against Houston. NFL teams have fared poorly the week after an overtime game, and Denver lost in OT last week. Now the Donkeys have to travel 1800 miles and leave the best home field advantage in the league behind – with a backup QB under center.
Normally that would be a recipe for disaster, but the Broncos are playing a moribund Jacksonville squad. The Jaguars own the league’s worst worst turnover differential at minus-15, which helps explain their record. Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware pose a huge mismatch for Jag tackles Kelvin Beachum and Jermy Parnell. Denver has had trouble stopping the run (4.3 yards per carry; 120 yards per game) but the Jacksonville line can’t open up lanes, and their running backs are pedestrian. The dropoff from Siemian to Paxton Lynch is at quarterback is minimal for Denver and a non-issue.
Prediction: Broncos 24, Jaguars 17
Broncos -3½ (two units) . . . . . under 39½ . . . . . Denver -180
Final Score: Broncos 20, Jaguars 10 ✓
Broncos -3½ ✓✓ . . . . . under 39½ ✓ . . . . . Broncos -180 ✓
★★★★★ 8-3 Kansas City Chiefs at 7-4 Atlanta Falcons
Sunday December 4 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS; Greg Gumbel, Trent Green, Jamie Erdahl.
Falcons -5½ . . . . over/under 49 . . . . ATL -240, KAN +200
Broadcast in Alabama (except Mobile), Arkansas, Tallahassee FL, Tampa FL, Georgia, western Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana (except Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Shreveport), Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina and western Virginia.
Similar to Denver, the Chiefs face the challenge of going on the road after playing five full quarters of football last week. Unlike the Broncos, KC has the polar opposite in strength of opposition. While Denver and now Oakland receive far more publicity, the Chiefs have quietly won 18 of their last 21 regular season games. An already good KC defense received a boost with the return of OLB Justin Houston from a knee injury.
The media has focused on Derek Carr’s injured finger, but Kansas City is another AFC West club with injury problems. NT Dontari Poe was unable to practice all week, so it is unlikely he’ll play. CB Marcus Peters will play, but even with a fully healthy hip he will have his hands full covering Julio Jones.
Prediction: Falcons 27, Chiefs 24
Chiefs +5½ . . . . . over 49 . . . . . Atlanta -240
Final Score: Chiefs 29, Falcons 28 x
Chiefs +5½ ✓ . . . . . over 49 ✓ . . . . . Falcons -240 x
★★★★ 6-5 Houston Texans at 5-6 Green Bay Packers
Sunday December 4 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS; Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Tracy Wolfson.
Green Bay -6½ . . . . over/under 44½ . . . . GNB -270, HOU +230
Broadcast in Alaska, Arizona (except Tucson), Connecticut, Hawaii, Boise ID, Illinois (except Chicago), Indiana, Kentucky, Shreveport LA, Michigan (except Detroit and Flint), Minnesota, Las Vegas NV, New York City, North Dakota, Tennessee, Texas (except El Paso), Washington and Wisconsin.
Houston turned the ball over six times in the last two weeks, dropping to 6-5. Aaron Rodgers at home or Brock Osweiler on the road? Green Bay’s pass defense is poor, but they are very efficient against the run (3.8 yards per carry). Houston wants to run the ball behind Lamar Miller. If the Texans are unable to do so, Osweiler cannot keep pace with Rodgers in a shootout. There is a chance of snow, which would definitely benefit the Packers as well.
Prediction: Packers 24, Texans 13
Packers -6½ (two units) . . . . . under 44½ (one unit) . . . . . Green Bay -270
Final Score: Packers 21, Texans 13 ✓
Packers -6½ ✓✓ . . . . . under 44½ ✓ . . . . . Packers -270 ✓
★★★★ 7-4 Miami Dolphins at 6-5 Baltimore Ravens
Sunday December 4 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS; Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon, Chris Fischer.
Ravens -3½ . . . . over/under 41 . . . . BAL -180, MIA +160
Broadcast in Mobile AL, DC, Florida (except Jacksonville, Panama City and Tampa), Maryland, Ohio (except Cincinnati), Pennsylvania (except Philadelphia), eastern Virginia and West Virginia.
Branden Albert and Laremy Tunsil return to the Miami offensive line this week, though Mike Pouncey is still out. Baltimore also gets some good news on the injury front with the return of guard Marshal Yanda. The Ravens have rebounded from a four game losing streak punctuated with a loss to the Jets, winning three of their last four. Miami is even hotter, winning six straight after a 1-4 start to the season. Ryan Tannehill and Jay Ajayi have played very well during that streak. Tannehill has thrown nine touchdown passes versus just one pick and Ajayi is averaging 122 rushing yards per game while finding the end zone five times in that winning span.
Prediction: Dolphins 23, Ravens 20
Dolphins +3½ . . . . . over 41 . . . . . Miami +160
Final Score: Ravens 38, Dolphins 6 x
Dolphins +3½ x . . . . . over 41 ✓ . . . . . Dolphins +160 x
NFL Week 13 Early Games on FOX
★★★ 5-6 Philadelphia Eagles at 3-7-1 Cincinnati Bengals
Sunday December 4 at 1:00 pm ET on FOX; Thom Brennaman, Charles Davis, Peter Schrager.
Bengals -1½ . . . . over/under 41½ . . . . CIN -125, PHI +105
Broadcast in DC, Salisbury MD, eastern Kentucky, Ohio (except Toledo), North Dakota, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
After starting the season 3-0 Philly’s season has gone down the toilet with six losses in their last eight games. The Eagles cannot win the division and would need to leap frog five teams to make the playoffs as a six seed. Cincinnati is headed in the same direction. The Bengals have lost three in a row and are showing no signs of interest in the post-season. Philly has lost five straight road games, with their only victory away coming against the Bears. Even without AJ Green I’ll give a very slight edge to Cincinnati here.
Prediction: Bengals 17, Eagles 16
Eagles +1½ . . . . . under 41½ . . . . . Cincinnati -125
Final Score: Bengals 32, Eagles 14 ✓
Eagles +1½ x . . . . . under 41½ x . . . . . Bengals -125 ✓
★★★★ 7-4 Detroit Lions at 5-6 New Orleans Saints
Sunday December 4 at 1:00 pm ET on FOX; Chris Myers, Ronde Barber, Jennifer Hale.
Saints -6 . . . . over/under 52½ . . . . NOR -260, DET +220
Broadcast in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida (except Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Miami and West Palm Beach), Georgia (except Atlanta), Wichita KS, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Toledo OH, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin (except Green Bay).
Matthew Stafford should have a field day against a New Orleans defense that is allowing 28 points per game. Other than last week’s blowout over the Rams, the Saints have not been rather average at home. Even if New Orleans wins it is more likely going to be by three or four points than by more than a touchdown.
Prediction: Lions 34, Saints 31
Lions +6 (two units) . . . . . over 52½ (two units) . . . . . Detroit +220
Final Score: Lions 28, Saints 13 ✓
Lions +6 ✓✓ . . . . . over 52½ xx . . . . . Lions +220 ✓
★ 1-10 San Francisco 49ers at 2-9 Chicago Bears
Sunday December 4 at 1:00 pm ET on FOX; Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Laura Okmin.
Niners -2 . . . . over/under 43 . . . . SFO -130, CHI +110
Broadcast in northern California, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Reno NV and Medford OR.
Who did Kenny Albert piss off to be assigned to cover this dumpster fire? The weather could play a factor in this game. With rain and/or snow in the forecast sloppy playing conditions could lead to turnovers and a low scoring game.
Prediction: Niners 20, Bears 14
Niners -2 . . . . . under 43 (one unit) . . . . . San Francisco -130
Final Score: Bears 26, Forty Niners 6 x
Niners -2 x . . . . . under 43 ✓ . . . . . Niners -130 x
★★★★ 4-7 Los Angeles Rams at 9-2 New England Patriots
Sunday December 4 at 1:00 pm ET on FOX; Kevin Burkhardt, John Lynch, Pam Oliver.
Patriots -13½ . . . . over/under 44½ . . . . NWE -900, LAR +600
Broadcast in New England, Arizona, southern California, Colorado, south Florida (Fort Myers, Miami, West Palm Beach), Hawaii, Idaho, southern Illinois, Kansas (except Wichita), Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New York, Las Vegas NV, Oregon (except Medford), Tennessee (except Memphis), Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
Bill Belichick game plans to limit the opposition’s primary threat. That means stopping running back Todd Gurley. Opponents have been successful with that same tactic all season, resulting in the Rams averaging an NFL-worst 15.5 points per game.
Robert Quinn did not practice all week due to a concussion. He is listed as questionable, but I don’t see how he can play in this game. Center Tim Barnes and LG Rodger Saffold are also questionable for the Rams; the Patriots are not the only team here with an injury concern. Despite the most recent Belichick-Jeff Fisher games (45-7 and 59-0 Pats victories), I’m inclined to believe that the LA defense bounces back from last week’s debacle in New Orleans. The Patriots will win but this is not going to be an easy cakewalk.
Prediction: Patriots 27, Rams 17
Rams +13½ . . . . . under 44½ . . . . . New England -900
Final Score: Patriots 26, Rams 10 ✓
Rams +13½ x . . . . . under 44½ ✓ . . . . . Patriots -900 ✓
NFL Week 13 Late Games
★★★★ 6-5 Buffalo Bills at 9-2 Oakland Raiders
Sunday December 4 at 4:05 pm ET on CBS; Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts, Evan Washburn.
Raiders -3 . . . . over/under 48½ . . . . OAK -165, BUF +145
Broadcast in New England (except Hartford), Yuma AZ, California (except San Diego), Chicago IL, Baton Rouge LA, New Orleans LA, Detroit MI, Flint MI, Reno NV, New York (except New York City), Cincinnati OH, Oregon, Philadelphia PA and El Paso TX.
Buffalo enters the game with the NFL’s best rushing attack. The Bills are averaging 5.3 yards per carry, 157 rushing yards per game and 20 rushing touchdowns – all best in the league. That is bad news for an Oakland defense allowing a 30th-ranked 4.6 yards per carry. With Derek Carr dealing with two dislocated fingers the Raiders could be in trouble here.
Prediction: Bills 27, Raiders 24
Bills +3 . . . . . over 48½ . . . . . Buffalo +145
Final Score: Raiders 38, Bills 24 x
Bills +3 x . . . . . over 48½ ✓ . . . . . Bills +145 x
★★★ 6-5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 5-6 San Diego Chargers
Sunday December 4 at 4:25 pm ET on FOX; Sam Rosen, David Diehl, Holly Sonders.
Chargers -3½ . . . . over/under 48½ . . . . SDG -185, TAM +165
Broadcast in San Diego CA and Florida (except Jacksonville, Miami and West Palm Beach).
The Bucs have somehow worked their way into the playoff race. However their secondary is still bad, and Philip Rivers should be able to exploit that deficiency. Tampa Bay won’t be able to cover Travis Benjamin and Tyrell Williams. Melvin Gordon will be able to gain big chunks of yardage on the ground with the focus on the passing game, but Tampa will keep it close. The Chargers have no answer for WR Mike Evans, and Jameis Winston has been making good decisions with the ball.
Prediction: Chargers 28, Buccaneers 24
Chargers -3½ . . . . . over 48½ . . . . . San Diego -185
Final Score: Buccaneers 28, Chargers 21 x
Chargers -3½ x . . . . . over 48½ ✓ . . . . . Chargers -185 x
★★★ 6-4-1 Washington Redskins at 4-6-1 Arizona Cardinals
Sunday December 4 at 4:25 pm ET on FOX; Dick Stockton, Chris Spielman, Kristina Pink.
Cardinals -2½ . . . . over/under 48½ . . . . ARI -135, WAS +115
Broadcast in Arizona, DC, North Carolina and Virginia.
Running back David Johnson has not been utilized enough by Arizona. If Bruce Arians gets his head out of his butt and figures that out then the Cardinals should win. Washington is surrendering 4.7 yards per carry and doesn’t have the personnel to handle him on screen passes out of the backfield.
Prediction: Cardinals 24, Redskins 23
Redskins +2½ . . . . . under 48½ . . . . . Arizona -135
Final Score: Cardinals 31, Redskins 23 ✓
Redskins +2½ x . . . . . under 48½ x . . . . . Cardinals -135 ✓
★★★★ 8-3 New York Giants at 6-5 Pittsburgh Steelers
Sunday December 4 at 4:25 pm ET on FOX; Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews.
Steelers -6 . . . . over/under 48½ . . . . PIT -260, NYG +220
Broadcast in all markets except for those airing the Bucs-Chargers or Skins-Cardinals games above. Also not televised in San Francisco due to NFL broadcast rules, as the Raiders are playing at home at the same time.
The New York defense has received plenty of platitudes during their winning streak. However much of that can be attributed to facing inferior offenses led by mediocre quarterbacks. I like Pittsburgh here but a line of six points leaves me hesitant to place a wager on this game.
Prediction: Steelers 31, Giants 24
Steelers -6 . . . . . over 48½ . . . . . Pittsburgh -260
Final Score: Steelers 24, Giants 14 ✓
Steelers -6 ✓ . . . . . over 48½ x . . . . . Steelers -260 ✓
NFL Week 13 Prime Time Games
★★★★ 4-7 Carolina Panthers at 7-3-1 Seattle Seahawks
Sunday December 4 at 8:30 pm ET on NBC; Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya.
Seahawks -7 . . . . over/under 44 . . . . SEA -350, CAR +290
Seattle was in a difficult spot last week, making a long road trip with injuries to key players. The Seahawks are back home and are also healthy again.
Prediction: Seahawks 24, Panthers 13
Seahawks -7 (two units) . . . . . under 44 . . . . . Seattle -350
Final Score: Seahawks 40, Panthers 7 ✓
Seahawks -7 ✓✓ . . . . . under 44 x . . . . . Seahawks -350 ✓
★★ 5-6 Indianapolis Colts at 3-8 New York Jets
Monday December 5 at 8:30 pm ET on BSPN; Sean McDonough, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters.
Colts -1½ . . . . over/under 48½ . . . . IND -125, NYJ +105
The Jets had their Super Bowl last week. Expect that to be followed by the inevitable letdown, if that is possible for a three-win team.
Prediction: Colts 20, Jets 17
Colts -1½ (one unit) . . . . . under 48½ (two units) . . . . . Indianapolis -125
Final Score: Colts 41, Jets 10 ✓
Colts -1½ ✓ . . . . . under 48½ xx . . . . . Colts -125 ✓
★★★★ 10-1 Dallas Cowboys at 6-5 Minnesota Vikings
Thursday December 1 at 8:30 pm ET on NBC; Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya.
Cowboys -3 . . . . over/under 43½ . . . . DAL -160, MIN +130
Along with most of the nation I did not expect this to be as close as it was. On one hand Dallas keeps finding ways to win, but on the other I can’t help but wonder if Ezekiel Elliott is hitting the rookie wall. Is it possible that the Cowboys peaked too soon and are running out of gas?
Prediction: Cowboys 24, Vikings 13
Cowboys -3 (two units) . . . . . under 43½ . . . . . Dallas -160
Final Score: Cowboys 17, Vikings 15 ✓
Cowboys -3 xx . . . . . under 43½ ✓ . . . . . Cowboys -160 ✓
NFL Week 13 Parlays and Teasers
3-Game Parlay (one unit): x
Lions at Saints over 52½ x
Panthers at Seahawks -7 ✓
Jets vs Colts -1½ ✓
5-Team 6-Point Teaser (two units): xx
Lions at Saints over 46½ x
Panthers at Seahawks -1 ✓
Jets vs Colts +4½ ✓
Ravens vs Dolphins +9½ x
Saints vs Lions +12 ✓
Tale of the Tape
Last week the total of the Packers at Eagles game killed me. The final score was 27-13 and I took over 47½ based primarily on Green Bay’s defense in recent weeks. I lost two units on the over, and also two units on a parlay and another two units on a teaser. That was a 5-game teaser that would have paid out 410 x 2. On paper the outcome cost me six units but in reality it was much more. Had the game gone over the delta between what I would have been up versus what I was down was a net 2450 (1790-660)! That one game wiped out the positive of hitting on my second largest play of the season, a four unit wager on Atlanta-Arizona.
Week 12 Results:
11-5 Straight Up
7-8-1 Against the Spread
4-unit plays: 1-0, +400
2-unit plays: 3-3-1, -80
1-unit plays: 2-4, -240
3-Game Parlay: 2u, -220
5-Game Teaser: 2u, -220
28 units invested
6-9-1, -360 on $3080 risk.
Year to Date Results:
104-71-2 Straight Up
94-77-5 Against the Spread
5-unit plays: 1-0, +500
4-unit plays: 1-0, +400
3-unit plays: 6-5-1, +120
2-unit plays: 32-16-1, +2910
1-unit plays: 36-26-1, +730
Parlays: 3-7, +1520
Teasers: 6-4, +2830
85-58-3, +9010 on original $2310 risk.
390.0% ROI on original $2310 bankroll.
34.4% ROI on $26,180 (238 units) of total weekly investments.
6-9-1, -360 on 28 units (-11.7%) in Week 11.
4-9, -510 on 18 units (-25.8%) in Week 10.
7-4, +850 on 17 units (+45.5%) in Week 9.
11-2, +3470 on 27 units (+116.8%) in Week 8.
3-6, -480 on 12 units (-36.4%) in Week 7.
9-3-1, +1300 on 17 units (+69.5%) in Week 6.
7-7, +50 on 22 units (+2.1%) in Week 5.
9-2, +1910 on 18 units (+96.5%) in Week 4.
3-9-1, -1280 on 22 units (-58.2%) in Week 3.
9-3, +950 on 20 units (+43.2%) in Week 2.
9-2, +840 on 21 units (+36.4%) in Week 1.
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