Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Dave's LOCKS of the Week: October 8th

Well, when you're 6-13 after about six weeks, it's hard to really keep trying, but we're going to go after it anyway.  We'll have some fun with this week's edition of LOCKS.  This week we're going to approach the picks a little differently.

I got burned a week ago not acting on some very strong hunches I had... sometimes it's not about the stats or the matchups, and it's about the trends and the circumstances.  So!  Here are this weeks IGOTAFUNNYFEELINGABOUTTHISES of the week:

First, this HAD to happen... Washington State +17.5 at Stanford.   The Cougars have been very good at staying competitive with everyone in the Pac 12.  There is NO way a team that's struggling to score is going to cover that, even at home, and even against a bad defense.   Stanford hasn't even scored 17 points in a game since September 27th, and against the Pac 12, they scored more than that just once, in their win against Washington (20-17).  THAT game was also dicey!

So, even though the Cougs are 2-4 overall, that record is very misleading.  They were responsible for the huge 21 point comeback at Utah, AND they were one bad call and a few other bounces away from upsetting Oregon before Arizona did some weeks after.  I like the way they sling the ball, and I'm thinking they're good for at least one touchdown, but to be fair, Stanford represents the toughest defense they've played so far.  I repeat, I'm not predicting Washington State to win... but keeping the margin within 17 points, oh yeah.

Up next, Texas A&M -2 vs Ole Miss.   A&M looked downright abysmal last week at Mississippi State.  A&M is 4-22 against teams ranked 3 or higher all time.   A&M is has ALSO never beaten a ranked team at home since 2011... 2011!!!  That was against Baylor, pre-SEC era.  So WHY would LOCKS of the Week take the Aggies in a situation like this?

Well it's a hunch!  Selecting Ole Miss +2 seems so easy but just too good to be true.  Here are some other things to watch for -- first of all the obvious: Ole Miss is under the mother of all hangovers after defeating Bama the week before.   You can bet they won't be nearly as focused for a game against the theoretically overmatched Aggies.  Next, watch for Bo Wallace to finally commit some serious turnovers.  He had three turnovers in his opening week game against Boise State... since then he's been scott free.   It makes me wonder when the other shoe's going to drop.  Wallace is bound to make a lot of interceptions and it could happen as soon as this Saturday.   Interestingly enough, from the department of "no-context trivia", Texas A&M is 6-0 against Ole Miss, all time.

So while it seems like an easy choice to take a #3 team against a lesser SEC opponent with zero wins against ranked opponents in Coach Kevin Sumlin's career there, I like the Aggies.   Besides, when it comes to a close point spread like this, you often wind up doing better just taking the home team.   I could have been well served following my own advice a week ago when these Aggies went to Mississippi State, but what can you do?

My final two picks come from the NFL. First, Cowboys +8 at Seattle. Call me nuts, but I just think the Cowboys are playing better football lately with a great offensive line and the fact that they struggled against Houston was more about Houston's defense being the real deal.  The Texans have a great D-Line, some good linebackers, and in that group is NFL superstar J.J. Watt.  Jonathan Joseph does a pretty good job with pass coverage in the secondary.  but enough about the Texans, let's look at Dallas.  I can imagine so many people will jump on Seahawks +8 at home, and for me I wonder... won't the Seahawks have to lose a home game eventually?  Maybe they don't... but they haven't looked that great, underestimating team after team, including the Redskins where they needed some real heroics from Russell Wilson to put away the game.  If the Cowboys focus on running the ball more, it's something they're doing better lately, I think they'll be in this game for quite a while. 

Lastly, I'll go Patriots -3 at Buffalo.   The Chargers had no problem kicking around the Bills a few weeks ago at Ralph Wilson stadium.  I think things will go similarly for the Patriots.  The only issue is that with Kyle Orton quarterbacking, I'm curious as to whether that presents some issues for the Patriot defense.   But let's be honest here, when you have to go to Kyle Orton as your quarterback, just as the Bears and the Cowboys did, you hit rock bottom.   This line is basically saying "do you think the Patriots will win the game?" and yes, I do think that, even as bad as they looked from weeks 1-4, the Patriots WILL win this big divisional game against the Bills.  Bear in mind, people said that Rob Gronkowski had a slow start, but almost every game he's had a receiving touchdown.  In week 5, he finally broke out for a monster game.  I'd be hard pressed to see a poor defensive team like the Bills have much of an answer.

So! Four "hunches" this week:  Washington State +17.5, Texas A&M -2, Cowboys +8, and Patriots -3.   Maybe I'll get one right!  Enjoy all the games, folks.

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