Thursday, October 23, 2014

Dave's LOCKS of the Week: October 23rd

And now time for a big edition of our LOCKS (boink) of the Week!

I promised it a few days ago... this week we have a lot of games, and when I say a lot of games, I mean "we have a lot of games."   Let's start:

First from the Pros, we have the Chargers +8 at Denver.   This is a matchup the Chargers used well to their advantage last year, albeit later in the season.  They were also getting over a touchdown in points at Mile High and the Bolts won outright.  I also think it's odd to think of the Broncos winning a divisional game against another good QB by so many points.   On the other hand, it feels like a trap.   Nonetheless, the movement of the line from 7.5 points earlier in the week to 8 suggests many people want to take the Broncos.  That makes me feel pretty confident about this one.  Rivers should be ready to go after an off game against KC.   You may see some big plays from Malcolm Floyd this time around, and while the Broncos have a great run defense, it won't affect this game as the Chargers don't run the ball that much to begin with.

Next!  We have the Packers visiting the Saints.  The Packers are the better team here, but I also think they're due for a minor let down after a monster performance against Carolina.  The Saints had a tough loss at Detroit, and they are now 2-5.  Something has to give, and the Saints are bound to have a big game at home.   Brees hasn't been completely awful of late, and I think he'll spread the ball around much like the Packers do.  I haven't seen anyone really take advantage of GB's secondary, but that will change at the Superdome.   Saints -1 in a virtual pick'em vs Green Bay.

Lastly from the pros, we have a goofy pick: I like the Redskins +10 at Dallas.  This really makes no sense at all.  The Redskins are one of the worst offensive teams in the NFL and they have struggled  defensively against good or even mediocre quarterbacks.   Their QB situation itself is brutal.   They went from RG3 (hurt) to Kirk Cousins (ineffective) to Colt McCoy.   A perennial NFL backup retread against the league's hottest team, I don't like that matchup for Washington.   HOWEVER -- it remains that the Cowboys consistently don't cover at home when favored by ten or more points.  There's no other real reason to take the Redskins, other than the usual nonsense about what a big "rivalry game" it is.   Over time, I've found the games to be pretty close anyway.  Much closer than we'd expect in some years.  There were years where the Redskins had no right to compete that year, yet, you had a game within a touchdown in the fourth quarter.   All the value will be on D.C.'s side, Redskins +10 at Dallas.

Now to College Football.   I enjoy my Saturdays a little more when I have that 9am game to watch with a little juice involved.   This time around, that game is Maryland at Wisconsin.   Once again, the Badgers scheduled 5 tomato cans in a row, seemingly all at home, to give people a fake undefeated record, then played the real teams and fell short.   It's happening again this year, and after losing to Northwestern, Wisconsin isn't really a serious contender.   In a twist -- the Badgers had LSU on the ropes, only to *lose* late in the fourth quarter.  Then, we came to find out, LSU really isn't that good this year, but they have been getting better since that early September game.  Wisconsin, on the other hand, looks pretty weak of late.  This week, they play Maryland, a pretty good offensive team with a full head of steam.  Maryland isn't really the kind of team that can hold a lead, but they are usually pretty good at scoring points.    I like Maryland and their quick paced offense because they played a team similar to Wisconsin earlier in the year: Indiana.   Back then, the Hoosiers sported Tevin Coleman, a terrific running back and a big part of their offense, and it wasn't nearly enough in a 37-15 home loss.   The Badgers also are big on running, their star is Melvin Gordon and he too is the real deal, but that's just it.  The Badgers have had a tradition of running the ball but there's not much else to work with.   Passing from Wisconsin is so-so, and eventually I think the Terps will catch up with them in this game.   Maryland's done a fine job so far fitting in with the Big Ten.  Here's to a good game - Maryland +11 at Wisconsin

Next in College, two big favorites I couldn't resist.   We'll start with Michigan State -17.5 vs Michigan.  No one has been more dominant at home against weak teams than Michigan State.  With that said, they looked pretty shaky against Nebraska, but perhaps the Huskers are better than we imagined.   This time, the Spartans take on the reeling Michigan Wolverines who can't score to save their lives most of the time.   My only hesitation was on the line getting lower, but it didn't happen.  Nevertheless, we'll go Michigan State, coming off a blowout of Indiana on the road.

Finally, I have Mississippi State -14.5 at Kentucky.  I was waiting all week for the line to come down, but instead it actually went *up* to -14.5 from -14.  Very disappointing, but we'll take the game anyway.   Kentucky is 5-2, but none of those wins were against quality opponents.   They also had a terrible outcome against LSU, where they lose 41-3 at Baton Rouge.   While UK is at home, they're also playing the best defense/QB combination they faced so far.   It took me a while to buy into Dak Prescott's offense, but they locked down Auburn and embarrassed LSU on their field.  What more could you want?  The only thing keeping them back is either an unprepared-ness for the Wildcats' Air Raid offense, or a simple action of playing down to their opponent.   Usually in college, the best defense can circumvent or limit the "let down game."   It's hard to say though, that's why the SEC is so tough!   We'll take our chances.  Mississippi State to give the points.

Quick update:  I also have selected UConn +28.5 at ECU.  This isn't a LOCK of the Week, but it does seem like an awful lot of points to be getting against ECU.  ECU beat UNC 70-41, but nonetheless I figure the score will be just a point or two lower than 29 this time out.

So!  On this busy football weekend we have six picks:

Chargers +8
Saints -1
Redskins +10
Maryland +11
Michigan State -17.5
Mississippi State -14.5

Incredibly disappointing that the Bulldogs line isn't lower.   It seems to me that they will win by right around 13, 14, or 15 points.  We'll have to see!   Here's to a good weekend in football.

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