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The NCAAF week 9

NFL week 8 selections


updated 10/22 930 pm et


4 selections for this weekend


OREGON (-18) over CAL

First of all: Oregon goes for, and almost always converts a two-point conversion to start the game, so this spread is more like Oregon is favored by 17 points.  With the new playoff system, its OK this year for the country's top teams to have a loss.  But after that its time to get down to business.  Oregon's key offensive lineman Jake Fisher was out in the loss to Arizona but he's back and the Ducks are poised to cover the number after being demoted down from a 38-point favorite last season and a 31-point dog the season before.  Now that Mariota is a senior, they are favored by half of what they were last season.  And running back Royce Freeman is gaining strength and confidence as the season goes on.  Its true Cal is at home, where they lost by 24 points to Washington, but they will be hard pressed to control the clock considering they gained 1.8 yards per carry vs. UCLA and 1.9 yards per carry vs. Washington.  And that was on 33 attempts.  So don't expect them to be able to run the ball.  QB Jeff Goff can throw, but the key for Cal is the loss of their leading tackler to injury last week.  Not exactly what you want when you are about to play Oregon. That injury was the tipping point for this selection. Last season after Oregon lost to Stanford, they rebounded with a big 23-point win over Utah and it looked like they were on their way back to form.  But in the next game, as an 18-point favorite like they are here, they lost outright at Arizona.  They were (-3) in TO margin that game, their worst turnover margin of their season.  Expect that to be on the minds of Mark Helfrich and his entire team.

A one-loss SEC team can win-out by one point each, but Pac-12 teams need to dominate a little more, which is why you can expect Oregon to take no prisoners in this stand alone National TV game.

Oregon 45, Cal 24

Play on:  OREGON




Much had been said of the Cardinals' defense for 2014.  Then they gave up almost 600 yards to the Broncos.  After games against easy Washington and easier Oakland, the Cardinals sit up top with a 5-1 record like the Eagles but Philly is (-5) in TO margin while Arizona is (+7).  So the Eagles are doing it with a 12 possession handicap.  After dominating the Giants in every phase, Darren Sproles is set to return.  And they had a bye week to prepare, which is right up Chip Kelly's alley although this is the first time his team is an underdog in that role (Oregon and Philadelphia).  With the Eagles coming off a 200-yard rushing game and now the offensive unit charged up for dual threat at any time, the bye-week will be a huge advantage for this disciplined team to study film on the predictable Carson Palmer, as well as work on their offense.  Carson Palmer is one of those QBs who has been around forever but can never, ever get over the hump. Last season these two teams faced each other in Philadelphia with the Eagles off a bye and the home team was one of my special Thanksgiving selections, and they topped it off with a three point win.  A year later, this 7-3 road team (since the start of 2013) gets points. 

With the better team getting points and off the bye week, look for Chip Kelly to move to 12-0 because he's already 11-0 (7-3-1 ATS) with more than the standard week to prepare.

Philadelphia 28, Arizona 24




Last week the Lions held off the Saints without Calvin Johnson but his return will be the exact opposite of what's going on with Atlanta's offense.  Their offensive line is mess, as all five starters are not playing.  The center is the key ingredient, and Atlanta's will be making his first ever start as a third stringer.  They haven't been able to protect Matt Ryan.  And Stephen Jackson can't do anything.  A big game for him is 50 yards, and that's usually one run for like 12 yards, and 19 or 20 runs for 2 yards each.  He stinks!  One trend with these London games has been the better team winning.  The team with the losing record and little playoff potential has a much harder psychological task at hand to fly halfway around the world and then get focused on a game which probably won't mean much anyway.  On the other hand, the Lions are starving for a playoff appearance so expect them to be all business in Europe with a 5-2 record behind the leadership of their top ranked defense.  The good news for the Falcons is that they will be heading into a bye week after this game.  The bad news is they play Tampa Bay next, which will be out for major revenge after their 56-14 destruction a few weeks ago where they were down 56-0 after three quarters.

Five new offensive line starters, including a third string undrafted rookie center making his first start, will be going up against the league's number one defense, while the NFL's best receiver is going up against the league's 30th ranked defense. And all for less than a touchdown.

Detroit 27, Atlanta 13




Consider this:  Dallas is pretty good.  And the Seahawks were favored by 10 points against them.  Now they get the points cut in half against a team half as good.  Should have been the other way around.   Sunday at St Louis wasn't a good spot for Seattle.  Aside from being the day's most popular play, Percy Harvin had just been traded and Russell Wilson had just filed for divorce.  Whether positive, negative or neutral, that had to be on his mind.  Through all that, Wilson made history at St Louis, becoming the first QB to pass for 300 and rush for 100 in the same game.  But that got hushed because of three huge special teams plays from the Rams.  Seattle was also called for 10 penalties, which is always a great way to get a team to lose which almost doubles up the winning team in yardage.  So the refs will "owe" Pete Carroll a call or two this week.  Wilson had more passing yards alone than the Rams gained all day.  This week the Seahawks will be super sharp and ready for any and all surprises, so that won't work for Carolina.  The Panthers offense isn't the same without Steve Smith, and the defense isn't the same with the departure of Mike Mitchell and Greg Hardy injured.  The unit as a whole is missing tackles and not playing hard (self admitted).  In the last ten years, six times the Super Bowl winner has suffered a two-game losing streak.  They weren't 6-0 in the next game, but 4-2 with the four wins by three, six, 10 and 28 points.  But Pete Carroll is 8-2 off a loss with the Seahawks, with the eight wins by an average of 12 points. 

The best time to take a good team is coming off a pair of losses, and the best time to take them ATS is when they are the lowest of the three games, as the Hawks go from 10 to seven to five.  So with those two worlds colliding, lets assume the SB champs, who were made to look silly by Rams' trick plays, hit harder this week and get back on track in lieu of heading back to Seattle with a losing record. 

Seattle 31, Carolina 17


















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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.

"Saturday Selections"

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.   

"Sleeping Giants"

  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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