The NCAAF week 4
NFL week 3 selections
updated 9/17 10:00 pm et
4 for this weekend
MARSHALL (-9) over AKRON
Akron picked a bad time to be a host, because Marshall had its coming out party last week when they put up 700 yards of offense vs. Ohio, a team which beat Akron 43-3 last season. So Akron, after years of being terrible, put itself on the map last year after coming one play and millimeters away from beating Michigan on the road as a 30-point underdog. And with a season ending win over Toledo which was out of bowl contention anyway, garnered enough respect from oddsmakers to get a single digit spread when Marshall is powerful enough to be favored here by over two touchdowns. Akron was a 9.5-point and 11-point home dog vs Ball State and Toledo last season- two teams not as good as Marshall. Marshall has a chance to go undefeated, as Western Kentucky will be its toughest opponent and they get the Hilltoppers at home to end the season. And undefeated means a probable berth in a BCS bowl and big $$$ for the school. Marshall has put up over 35 points in each and every one of its last 10 regular season games. Akron has put up 35 points zero times in its last 19 FBS games. The only way to combat that is a strong running game to control time of possession. Problem is, their running game is very bleak (114th in the country) so don't expect them to have much luck playing keep-away from Marshall. The only ray of light was that their defense held Penn State to 21 points, but the Lions had three turnovers (zero for Akron). So, Akron was (+3) in TO margin and still lost the game 21-3.
Marshall is the "Baylor" of Conference USA. Akron is better than in years past, but they won't be able to keep up with Marshall's offense and simply put, you don't go against a team coming off a 700 yard performance when their next game is playing Akron as a single-digit favorite.
Marshall 44, Akron 24
Play on: MARSHALL
NORTH CAROLINA (+2.5) over EAST CAROLINA
The big thing here is UNC's 55-31 home loss to ECU last season. That's major revenge for the Pirates putting up 55 points in their home and stealing the state pride bragging rights for a year. QB Marquise Williams has gone 7-1 since taking over the starting role last season and didn't play in UNC's loss to ECU. Don't forget UNC scored 80 points vs. Old Dominion last season, a team that challenged Pitt and ECU for three quarters in 2013. Shane Carden has been tremendous at QB for ECU and shined in last week's big win at Virginia Tech, but RB Vintavious Cooper, who rushed for 186 yards and had 80 receiving yards at UNC last season, is gone. Both these teams can put up points, but Larry Fedora and all his players will not tolerate ECU putting up another 55 points like last season in Keenan Memorial Stadium while ECU might be a little high from the huge upset of Virginia Tech. ECU had an outside shot at an undefeated season had they not lost to South Carolina, but now a BCS bowl is unlikely so they don't have the major $$$ incentive that Marshall does.
ECU has won three straight games against ACC teams, but the train might be out of steam for a fourth. There's no question ECU is capable of winning here, but coming off the big win vs. Virginia Tech and already having a loss to prevent an undefeated season, the pride of North Carolina matchup this season has to go to the Tar Heels with revenge from a 24-point loss in 2013.
North Carolina 38, ECU 34
Play on: NORTH CAROLINA
EASTERN MICHIGAN (+45.5) over MICHIGAN STATE
The main idea here is adjustment, and Michigan State's history of not running up the score on non-conference weak opponents. Two weeks ago EMU was a 40-point dog at Florida and lost by 66. Had they lost by 20 points instead, maybe the spread would be 35 points and then you go with Michigan State. But instead the dog gets a five point bump in an in-state "rivalry" (well, not really) against a team which isn't known for piling on the points but rather hitting the skids with a big lead against small schools including Montana State, Youngstown State, Idaho and Jacksonville State whom they beat 45-7 in week one and didn't score in the fourth quarter with the subs in (they were up 38-0 at halftime too). EMU is coming off a shutout at Florida and scored three points at Old Dominion which is truly sad. Needless to say there's a decent chance they will be kept out of the end zone barring a fumble or INT return or something like that. Still, EMU will get higher for this in-state game than they did for Florida. Two years ago EMU lost 23-7 at Michigan State as a 31-point dog and get a two-touchdown bump up to 45 points for this game, mainly because their offense looked horrible the last two games. But keep in mind, they were (-5) in TO margin in the 66-0 loss to Florida. If the Eagles can get that number down to (-2) or so, this score will be much, much closer. Ypsilanti isn't too far from East Lansing, so although overmatched, these kids will be playing hard to impress friends, family and maybe some chicas who made the two hour trip.
The Eagles will only score single digit's against the Spartans' defense, but lets assume coach Dantonio stays classy against poor Eastern Michigan and does what they have always done in the last ten years: failed to score 50 points and win by 45 points in the same game all 23 times they played a Sun Belt, MAC, FCS or any non-BCS conference team.
Michigan State 45, EMU 6
Play on: EASTERN MICHIGAN
NY GIANTS (+2) over HOUSTON
Houston has already equaled its win total from all of last season, but the team surely remembers dropping 14 straight after winning its first two. That certainly won't happen again, but one must wonder how much gas Ryan Fitzpatrick will have in the tank to win a second consecutive road game. Nothing for a guy like Manning or Brady, but a lot for Fitzpatrick and especially against the Giants coming off a (-4) turnover game. On the flip side, the Texans got four turnovers from Oakland while committing none, so those opposite worlds are colliding in week three but the Giants are at home and an underdog to boot. Ryan Fitzpatrick must be happy to be at 2-0 with the Texans, but every time his team would get going throughout his career, he always tanked in the next game just when you thought they had momentum. The Giants are already (-6) in TO margin and Houston is (+5) for an incredible 11 possession difference through just two games. A reversal of roles would likely mean a reversal of records or at least a pair of 1-1 teams which would have the Giants favored by a field goal or more.
Coming off a 4-zero turnover game while Houston benefited from a zero-4 at Oakland, the recipe is very ripe for a Giant win against Ryan Fitzpatrick who has yet to win consecutive road games in his entire career (88 starts).
NY Giants 21, Houston 13
Play on: NY GIANTS
The Final 2013-2014 Selection was:
SAN FRANCISCO (PK) over CAROLINA
NEW ORLEANS (+8) over SEATTLE
Special Pay Pick
Tough is the only thing that comes to mind after watching Colin Kaepernick, and the entire 49ers team for that matter, win at Green Bay in temperatures so cold they couldn’t even sell out the game. What impressed me the most? Kaepernick went sleeveless the entire game, and in warmups! Not that one doesn’t realize it already, but the level of toughness displayed in this, considering wind chills were in the negative 10’s and 20’s, is incredible. He has tatoos all over his body to boot. Simply put, this is a man that literally doesn’t feel pain.
So you have him, fresh off a Super Bowl appearance, against unproven Cam Newton. You also have revenge because the Panthers came out to San Fran and won the game 10-9. The Panthers sacked Kaepernick six times, which really was the key to the game. The Niners also gained their fewest amount of yards since 2006. Don’t expect that to happen again, and don’t expect another six sacks.
The Panthers are a good defensive team and Cam Newton had a fine year, but the level of toughness shown by the 49ers right now is a level you can’t deny when they are favored by such small points at a quarterback which isn’t Brady, Brees, Rodgers or Peyton Manning. As of Wednesday morning the point spread is anywhere from Niners (+1) to Niners (+2), but it opened at Niners (-1) or (-2) through Tuesday night. Remember what happened when the Chiefs opened at +2.5 and went all the way to (-2)? They blew a 38-10 lead at Indy. So that line move meant nothing. If anything, the fact the line moved means the wise guys loaded up on the Panthers or teased Caronina up to a full touchdown, meaning certain other people need the Niners to win this game handily. The same thing happened in the 2010 Playoffs when the Cardinals went from (-2.5) at home in the wildcard to a (+2.5) to the Packers. Green Bay stormed back to force overtime, but opened up the extra period by getting a holding call against them, then fumbled a play later as Arizona took the fumble in the endzone for the win.
The Panthers beat three playoff teams this season by a total of eight points and were (+3) in turnover margin in those three games combined. In the game at San Fran, the Niners were without Crabtree at receiver and Aldon Smith on defense, both of whom are back now and better than ever.
Both teams have great linebackers and have shown toughness on defense all season, so this one is likely to come down to Kaepernick vs. Newton. In a fight, who would you take? I’ll take the guy with tatoos all over his body who is fearless and doesn’t feel pain.
Take San Fransisco over Carolina
New Orleans (+8) at Seattle
Adjustment, revenge, quarterbacks, and basics is what I’ll talk about here.
Adjustment: The Saints go from +6 at Seattle a few weeks ago, up and over the touchdown mountain to a +8. That’s when you go with the underdog. It favored Seattle at 6 points, but now it favors the Saints at 8 points.
Revenge: The Seahwaks handed the Saints their worst loss of the season, so the Saints have revenge in mind at Seattle this weekend. They also surely remember what happened three years ago in the wildcard game, when the Seahawks knocked them off as a 10-point underdog and with a 7-9 record in a game where everyone thought the Saints would win.
Quarterbacks: Drew Brees, Superbowl winner, and Sean Payton, Superbowl winner, are getting eight points at Russell Wilson. Sure Wilson has performed like a star and is eager to put himself among the elite, but until that happens, take the points with a quality, proven quarterback.
Basics: A quality, winning and proven team is getting more that a touchdown. They showed toughness by winning at Philly in cold weather, still throwing and catching the ball well while the Eagles were the ones that dropped passes. They have one of the best tight ends in the game in Jimmy Graham. They have played seven winning teams and lost just one by more than a touchdown, to Seattle, which ties in with the revenge and the spread is now adjusted for that. Seattle played seven winning teams, and won just three of them by more than a touchdown. Sean Payton is serious about winning, so much so that he painted a Seahawks logo in the Saints practice field this week. It might sould silly, but this team means business and is very competitive. This is a focused team right now in a game where Seattle should be about a four-point favorite. Anything over 6.5 points really favors the dog in this one. Additionally, would anyone really be surprised if the Saints win outright? And when a team which can win outright is getting eight points, don’t be afraid to jump in head first.
Take New Orelans plus the points
no current pay picks
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Pay picks are 27-11-a few ties for the life of the site. A summary of the last 25 pay picks, in order from most recent:
"NFL Playoff Selections 2014"
The tough 49ers were the weekend's top play over Cam Newton and the Panthers and come out with a decisive win. The Saints (+8) were the other selection at Seattle. Those who got in on gameday probably won the Saints, as the spread creeped up to nine points. Either way, the selections end up on the winning side.
"Thanksgiving with TFM 2013 including the 'Fab 5' "
Alabama and Rutgers started the day on a sour note by losing outright, and the Eagles, favored by 3 or 3.5, won by three. But the remaining selections for Saturday, five special college underdogs, all covered the spread and three won outright (Southern Miss, Iowa State and Temple). The Pay picks go 5-2-1 or 5-3.
"Rookies vs. Veterans"
It was Aaron Rodgers getting points and Matt Ryan favored by small points against two rookies, and I said both rookies would not come away with the win in the same weekend. I was right about that, except Atlanta missed the spread by a half point, making this double pay pick a very unfortunate loss.
"Third time a charm"
Mon tee Ball, James White and the rest of the seniors were playing in their third straight Rose Bowl and after losing the first two, Wisconsin (+6.5) was the top play for the bowls. Had to get the play in before New Years Eve though, as the spread went down during the final 24 hours.
"Thanksgiving with TFM 2012"
Four college selections. Marshall and Purdue had to win. Purdue won, Marshall covered. Colorado was getting 23 at home to 7-loss Utah, who was favored by way to many points for just losing a bowl berth. Illinois was the 4th pick and failed to cover, so the 2012 Thanksgiving selections go 3-1 after going 4-0 last Thanksgiving.
"Passion, Ego and Double Revenge"
Combining Bill Belichick's ego, Tom Brady's passion and the team's revenge, New England was the Super Bowl selection and although the defense did a decent job against the Giants for most of the game, a Wes Welker dropped pass likely prevented the spread cover as the Pats could not overcome the Giants in the trenches. The first Super Bowl pay pick loss.
"2012 Bowl Selections"
There were just two. Wisconsin (+6) was the first selection, with the thinking they were about equal to Oregon but getting a nice amount of points. They just missed the spread, but the second selection and top play, Alabama, was totally dominant over LSU for a split selection.
"Thanksgiving with TFM 2011"
The top play for the weekend was the Ravens (-3.5) vs. the Niners who wouldn't win their 5th east coast game in 11 tries, and the Packers (-6) weren't favored by nearly enough over Detroit. On Black Friday, 2 teams HAD to win to secure a possible BCS bowl and $$$, Houston (-3) and Louisville as an underdog. Favorable low spreads for a pair of must win teams. The selections went 4-0 for the best pay pick ever on this site so far.
"Saturday Knight Selection"
Boston College over UCF, the ACC team off a bowl game was getting points, but was 25-0 ATS against non-BCS conf teams setting a hypo of +7.5 like the spread was here, and UCF was 0-26. That streak came to an end when UCF won and covered with a 21 point 4th quarter.
"On the Road Again"
In NBA action this past winter in 2011, Golden State was coming off a win at Cleveland and was favored at New Jersey, but they never win 2 road games in a row. Nets were the pick, and won.
"No sense of Urgency"
Easy call with Oklahoma St. in the Big 12 second round game in NCAA basketball
that featured a team that didn't need to win (Kansas) favored by 14 points.
This was a dual selection for Saturday in the NCAAB conference tournaments. Kentucky didn't need to win over Alabama but they did and covered the spread as Bama was the pick. But the night cap and day's top selection was San Diego State over BYU as Jimmer wouldn't get 52 points again or beat the Aztecs 3x in a row, especially without their power forward. Selection Split.
"No sense of Urgency, Part II"
OSU didn't need to win but were favored by 10.5 points over Penn State in the Big 10 NCAAB conference tourney. They won by 11 points, but Penn State made the tournament anyway. Pay picks are 20-8 now for the life of the site, and 4 of the last 6 losses have come by a half of a point (including Akron +29.5 over Temple in October and TCU -2.5 over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl).
"A Heat-ed Revenge"
The Miami Heat (-4.5) over the Spurs in the rematch where Miami lost by 30 at San Antonio. This time they won by 30. I also said to take the UNDER, as the Spurs wouldn't hit 18 shots from 3-pt range again and that Miami would step up the defense at home after getting very embarrassed the first time, which also hit.
Round 1 NCAA Tourney Picks
Wofford and Wisconsin were the round 1 pay picks. BYU was a bit overrated without their leading rebounder and taking on a slew of seniors from Wofford, who covered by a half point. Belmont had 30 wins but none over a quality opponent, and 24 of their 30 wins came over teams void of a winning record. Wisconsin was the better team and not favored by enough. Both selections covered.
The 2010-11 Bowl selections:
There were 3 bowl selections for the end of 2010 as 1 package, with Tulsa and UTEP splitting. That left it all up to TCU, who I promised would beat Wisconsin, but they missed the spread by a point.
Thanksgiving with TFM 2010:
I did a teaser and guaranteed the open end (Alabama) would hit, which it did, barely. However, the Arizona Cardinals, the 2nd part of the teaser, laid an egg on Monday Night Football.
Akron was a +29.5 at Temple and coming off 2 consecutive MAC blowouts (28+ point losses) but MAC teams never lose 3 conference games in a row by that margin, until Akron lost by 30 at Temple. When my pay picks do lose, they are close, as this one was by a half point after a 6-0 halftime deficit.
"A SUPER letdown"
49ers (+5) over Saints
The Saints were coming in 1-0 ATS, but no SB winner had ever started 2-0 ATS except for one (including the 2008 Pats instead of the Giants). To compound the situation was the fact the Niners were a home dog coming off a blowout.
SF Giants over Wash Nationals You had to go back to the 60's to find the Giants perform worse than they did in a 3 game series at Oakland from May 21-23. Hosting the Nats, from the East Coast, as almost even money, they were a lock to win that game after scoring just 1 run over the 3 game series.
"Walking the Plank"
Pirates (+1.5) over Astros The Pirates were coming off losses of 8-1, 8-0 and 20-0 and were almost a shoe-in to get some hits/runs and cover 1.5 runs at Houston, which they did in a 4-3 loss on April 23rd.
"NBA Playoff Double Trouble"
Perhaps the greatest Pay Selection I've ever had. Up until this point, I hadn't seen a pair of games cross such good parameters as the Lakers (vs. OKC) and the Mavs (vs. Spurs) in game 5 for both teams. Lakers gave (literally) game 4 to OKC, and they were 17-0 at home in game 5's, and were coming off dual losses at OKC but were 9-0 at home off consec. losses (avg. win 10 pts) and 9-1 off a double digit loss with Gasol, and OKC hadn't beat a playoff team 3x in a row all season. The Mavs, playing earlier that night and losers or 3 straight to the Spurs coming home facing elimination, hadn't lost 4 consec games in 135 tries, playing the Spurs who hadn't beat a playoff team 4x in a row in 2 years. Selection won easily.
"Game 3 double trouble"
This selection did not win, but it was close. Real close. Utah missed a tip-in at the buzzer which would have given them the win, and the selection a split since Atlanta failed to cover the first game. I made a huge case of why both game 3 home teams would not lose- Atlanta ATS and Utah outright. I was an inch away from being right.
"In the spirit of good ole Tim Donoghy" Oregon St (+9) over Washington
A Tim D. themed selection in March 2009 where I detailed why the Beavers would cover the spread in their conf. tourney, detailed and listed how they got favorable calls all season compared to other Pac 10 teams (due to coach?) and how Wash didn't often win 3 consec games by double digits. Also, the Beavers didn't lose consec games by d.d. all season, and they were playing a team they just lost to by d.d, in the conference tourney, and keeping in mind they won the CBI the season before as Obama's brother in law became coach. Beavers lost the game, but covered.
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