Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The NFL Blog: 2010 Week 8 Betting Lines

Last Week: Vs. Spread (4-10); Straight Up: (8-6)

Season: Vs. Spread (41-60-3); Straight Up: (56-48)

Week 7 Review: Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Week 8 Preview: I think I’m due for a huge week.

Sunday’s Early Games

Buffalo (+7.5) @ Kansas City
Pick: Chiefs cover
Comment: Poor Buffalo. The Bills are now the only remaining winless team in the NFL. They are 0-6 overall (2-4 against the spread), 0-3 on the road, and they have been outscored by 12.8 points a game. Last week they took the Ravens into OT on the road, only to lose again. They are well on their way to a 6th straight losing season.

At the other end of things, if the Chiefs win on Sunday they will have already won more games this season than in any year since 2006. The Chiefs are 4-2 overall and 5-1 ATS. They are 3-0 at home (3-0 ATS). This will actually be the 3rd straight season that the Bills play the Chiefs at Arrowhead, and the Bills will be going for a 3rd straight win. Last year Matt Cassel had all kinds of problems against the Bills, firing 4 picks in the loss. However, the Bills have allowed at least 34 points in their last 5 games, while the Chiefs have scored at least 31 points in 3 of their last 4 games.

Jacksonville (+6.5) @ Dallas
Pick: Cowboys cover
Comment: We’ve gotten used to the Cowboys underachieving (or at least not living up to the hype), but things haven’t been this bad in Big D since the Dave Campo era (Remember this: Dave Campo was once handed the head coaching position of the Dallas Cowboys. That’s how they started this millennium. In fact, he held the position for 3 full seasons. For all the good that Jerry Jones has done as owner of this proud franchise, remember that he allowed Dave Campo to coach the team for 3 seasons, with the Boys going 5-11 each year). The Boys are 1-5 (1-5 ATS), 0-3 at home, and now they have lost Tony Romo.

The amount of talent in Dallas can be overstated at times, but they are clearly among the most talented teams in the NFC, yet they are tied for last in the entire conference. This bad start is all about a lack of leadership and an abundance of ineptitude. All 5 of their losses have come by 7 points or less. Now they have Jon Kitna under center. They will have to go on a highly improbable run in order to avoid their first losing season since 2004.

The Jags are hanging around as usual. They are 3-4, despite a -11.3 average scoring differential. All 4 of Jax’s losses have come by at least 22 points. They’ve been perilously thin at QB recently, but both David Garrard and Trent Edwards should be healthy enough for this game.

Carolina (+3) @ St. Louis
Pick: Rams cover
Comment: The Panthers got off the schnide last week, defeating the Niners for their first victory of the year. While it seems unlikely, we shouldn’t be too shocked if the Panthers turn things around. They have won at least 7 games every year since the disastrous 2001 season when they went 1-15. Again, however, it seems unlikely that the Panthers will be able to keep that streak going, as they have been outscored by an average of 9.2 points a game. They are 2-4 ATS. The Panthers got Steve Smith back recently and they should have Thomas Davis back this week.

The St. Louis Rams are 3-4 (5-2 ATS) and 3-1 at home. If they win on Sunday they will surpass the total number of wins collected in any of their last 3 seasons. 3 of the Rams’ 4 losses have come by a total of 7 points.

Miami (+1) @ Cincinnati
Pick: Dolphins pull off the upset
Comment: While these two teams were not the favorites in the AFC, both came into the year with hopes of competing for the playoffs. They are both in trouble in that regard heading into week 8. The Bengals are 2-4 and have a pair of 5-1 teams ahead of them in the AFC North. The Dolphins are 3-3 and they also have a pair of 5-1 teams ahead of them in their division. The Fins have lost 3 of 4, and all of their wins this season have come by 5 points or less. They are 4-2 ATS, and inexplicably they are 0-3 at home and 3-0 on the road. One number that is hard to ignore is that the Dolphins are 13-3 ATS in their last 16 games as a road underdog. I don’t know what that means but you don’t often see a split like that.

The Bengals have lost 3 straight, all by 7 points or less. They are just 2-4 ATS. The Marvin Lewis era has been dynastic compared to the Bungles of the 90’s and early 2000’s. Still, while the Bengals have grasped consistent mediocrity and occasionally have been better than that, they have not put together back to back winning seasons since 1981-1982.

Washington (+2.5) @ Detroit
Pick: Lions cover
Comment: It’s still hard to say what kind of a year the Skins are going to end up having. They are 4-3, but they have a negative scoring differential, and all 4 of their wins have come by 6 points or less. The Skins have already equaled their number of wins from last season, and they are 2-1 on the road this year, but they will be without Clinton Portis again this Sunday.

Detroit has to be off to the most positive 1-5 start in NFL history. They are 5-1 ATS, and the Lions actually have a positive scoring differential this season. The Lions will be coming off a bye this week and they should have Matthew Stafford back. With a win, Detroit would equal their total number of wins over the previous 2 seasons. They are still just 3-36 in their last 39 games. However, one of those wins came against the Skins at home last season, as Detroit won 19-14 in week 3 to snap a 19 game losing streak.

Denver (+1) vs. San Francisco (London)
Pick: Niners cover
Comment: Troy Smith is the starting quarterback in London this Sunday. No, the European League hasn’t been resurrected. Smith will be starting for the 49ers, who play the Broncos this week in this year’s version of the annual NFL game in England. At least the NFL tried to give the Brits a decent matchup this season. They failed, but at least they tried.

That’s more than you can say for the Broncos. I’m not sure how Josh McDaniels still has his job. Last Sunday’s loss to Oakland was one of the worst performances in franchise history. It was Denver’s 3 straight loss but it should have counted for at least 2 losses. They are now 2-5. Denver’s last 10-loss season came in 1999 (the first year without John Elway) and they have had only 1 losing season since (2007), but they appear headed for at least 10 defeats this season. I hope they don’t win another game.

Mike Singletary’s first (and perhaps only) head coaching tenure has been a roller coaster ride. I’m still not sure how it’s going to end. It started out shakily; then it went bad; then it got better; then it got a bit weird; then the entire process repeated itself; then it looked like things were actually going to work out; now it looks like a death row inmate appealing to the supreme court to reverse a lower court’s ruling to uphold a guilty verdict delivered by a jury.

The Niners were favored by most to win the NFC West, but they are now 1-6. From 1981 through 2002, the Niners had 19 winning seasons (at least 10 wins in all 19 of those seasons) in 22 years. Since 2003, the Niners have had 6 losing seasons, 0 winning seasons, and 1 season at .500. Things were really looking up heading into this year, but it’s all gone to hell.

Green Bay (+6) @ New York Jets
Pick: Jets win but Packers beat the spread
Comment: The Packers don’t seem to get many breaks. They have had horrible injury luck again this season, and their schedule never seems to let up. At least this week they should get Al Harris and Atari Bigby back, but of course there are many other guys who they will still be without. While the Packers are tied for 1st, it still feels like the NFC North is theirs to lose, as the Bears have a dumpster fire for an offense, and the Vikings are in dire straits. But the Pack are just 1-4 in their last 5 ATS.

The Jets are also tied for 1st and they will be coming off of a bye. They have won 5 straight (5-0 ATS in that stretch) since losing by a point in week 1. The Jets have outscored their opponents by an average of 9.7 points per game this season.

Sunday’s Late Games

Tennessee (+3.5) @ San Diego
Pick: Chargers win but Titans beat the spread
Comment: The Chargers are favored in this one, as they have been in each and every one of their games this season, but unfortunately for them they are just 2-5. They are 2-5, despite having outscored their opponents by an average of 4.0 points per game. They are still without Vincent Jackson, Nate Kaeding, Malcolm Floyd, and Shawne Merriman. San Diego has lost 3 straight, including last week’s loss at home to New England.

Meanwhile, the Titans have won 3 straight and are now 5-2 on the year and 3-0 on the road. Tennessee has outscored opponents by 11.7 points a game this year. They have won 6 of their last 7 on the road going back to last year.

There are a few things going against the Titans in this matchup. For one, while the Chargers are doing their best to throw away the season, they are still a capable team that rarely loses at home. They have also owned the Titans in recent years. Including the playoffs, the Chargers are 5-0 against Tennessee since 2004 (5-0 ATS), winning by an average score of 32-13, and holding Tennessee to 17 points or less in each game. Perhaps most importantly, Vince Young and Justin Gage are questionable this week due to injuries.

Tampa Bay (+3) @ Arizona
Pick: Cardinals cover
Comment: Raheem Morris. I still don’t know about him. I have my doubts. For his part, Morris is convinced that the Bucs are the best team in the NFC. He might be right. Who knows? But I don’t think so. Tampa is 4-2 overall and 2-0 on the road, yet they have a -5.0 average scoring differential. They have a 3-point home win over Cleveland, a 1-point home win over St. Louis, and a road victory over the Panthers. They’ve also lost by 25 points at home twice in their last 4 games.

There’s no question that Tampa fans should be enthused by their team’s start to the season. The Bucs have already equaled their number of wins from last season, and they’ve now won 4 straight road games going back to last year. This game actually could show us something about Tampa. Arizona isn’t any good but it’s a long road trip to the desert for the Bucs. If they are the best team in the NFC they should win this game.

Arizona could really use a win in this game. The Cards have been outscored by 10.4 points a game this year. Arizona is 3-3 overall and just 2-4 ATS, but the Cards are 2-0 at home. They should have Max Hall and Steve Breaston for Sunday’s game.

The Cardinals are hanging around in a weak division, but their recent run of success may come to an end this year. We criticized the Cards over the last few years for their habit of taking games off and taking advantage of their position in the NFC West, but the last 3 years have been the high point of Arizona Cardinals history. From 1985 through 2006, the Cardinals (in Arizona from 1988 on) had losing seasons in 20 of 22 years, with only 1 winning season and 1 season at .500 mixed in. In the last 3 years, the Cardinals put together 3 consecutive non-losing seasons, and they had consecutive winning seasons in the last 2 years. From 1976 through 2007 the Cards made only 2 playoff appearances in 32 years. They made the playoffs in each of the last 2 seasons. The Cardinals have never reached the playoffs in 3 straight seasons.

Minnesota (+5.5) @ New England
Pick: Patriots win but Vikings beat the spread
Comment: While it might be annoying to some (many?), this game will have more focus on it than any other in week 8, as it appears likely that Brett Favre will be unable to go due to an ankle injury. If he doesn’t play it will be a major story because it will be the end of his streak of consecutive games. If he does play it will be another dramatic moment in Favre’s long and colorful career.

The Vikings’ season is teetering on the brink at this point. They are 2-4 with an injured QB and an overmatched and ill-suited head coach. It could get ugly if things don’t turn around soon. Unfortunately for the Vikes, they have to play the Patriots in New England this week. Minnesota is 2-4 overall (2-4 ATS) and 0-3 on the road. Including the playoffs, the Vikings have lost 7 straight on the road. Trouble winning on the road is nothing new for the Vikes. Since 1999 (the year after their 15-1 season), including the playoffs, the Vikings are 66-29 at home, and just 34-62 on the road.

The Pats are 5-1 (3-2-1 ATS) and 3-0 at home. They have won 4 straight and have outscored opponents by an average of 6.8 points a game this season. Not including last year’s loss to the Ravens in the playoffs, the Patriots have won 12 straight at home. Somehow the Patriots remain among the elite teams in the NFL, despite all of the changes they have gone through in recent years. They have finished with a winning record in 13 of the last 16 seasons.

The Patriots are much healthier than Minnesota, but they will be without safety Patrick Chung on Sunday. Chung is the guy that almost single handedly got Miami’s special teams coach fired a few weeks ago after his performance on Monday Night Football. Speaking of that game, this will be Randy Moss’ first game in Foxboro since that night, only now he will be wearing purple. In almost any other case that would be the lead story, but whenever Favre is involved he tends to be the lead story.

Seattle (+2.5) @ Oakland
Pick: Raiders cover
Comment: This is a matchup of former AFC West rivals. The Seahawks are 4-2 (4-2 ATS) so far under Pete Carroll and they are in 1st place in the NFC West. With a win this week the Seahawks will match their win total of last year and surpass their win total of 2008. While the Seahawks did win their last road game (at Chicago), they were 1-10 in their last 11 road contests prior to that.

The Raiders are coming off of their shocking 59-14 win over the Broncos last Sunday. After scoring 35 points in a game just once in 78 games, the Raiders have put up 35 or more in 2 of their last 3 games. They are 3-4 on the year (4-3 ATS) and have won 3 straight ATS. The Raiders are 2-1 at home. Amazingly, if the Raiders win this Sunday they will end a streak of 5 straight seasons going 2-6 at home.

Sunday Night’s Game

Pittsburgh (+1) @ New Orleans
Pick: Steelers pull off the upset
Comment: This should be an interesting game, as the defending champs host a team that many feel has been the best in the NFL so far this year. The Saints are just 4-3 and they are in 3rd place in the NFC South. They are just 2-2 at home and 1-5 ATS in their last 6. Reggie Bush will not be back this week and Pierre Thomas remains questionable. One thing to remember in all of the hoopla over the Saints is that they still have not managed back to back winning seasons since 1991-1992.

The Steelers are now 5-1 (4-2 ATS) and 3-0 on the road. They have a +9.1 average scoring differential. Maybe this generation of Steelers will be the Spurs of the NFL, winning several championships over the course of 7 to 10 years, but never winning back to back titles.

Monday Night’s Game

Houston (+5.5) @ Indianapolis
Pick: Colts cover
Comment: A rematch of week 1 and the only divisional game on the slate this week. These 2 teams are tied for 2nd in the AFC South behind Tennessee. The Texans got just their 2nd win in 17 tries against the Colts in week 1, winning 34-24 at home. It will be more difficult in Indianapolis, where the Texans are 0-8 all-time. However, last year’s game was a close one, with a long field goal try by Houston coming up short as time expired to give the Colts a 20-17 win. Houston is 4-2 (3-3 ATS) and 2-0 on the road this season, but they actually have a -2.3 average scoring differential. They are just 1-3 ATS in their last 4. They will also be without LB DeMeco Ryans this week.

The Colts are 4-2 (3-2-1 ATS) and 2-0 at home. They have outscored opponents by an average of 6.4 points per game. However, the Colts are banged up pretty bad right now, with major injuries in the secondary and the receiving corps. Bob Sanders, Dallas Clark, and Austin Collie will be missing this week, among others. Still, including the playoffs, the Colts have won 17 straight at home when actually trying to win (this excludes the loss to the Jets in week 16 last year).

The College Football Blog: 2010 Week 9 Betting Lines

Last Week’s Record

Biggest 10 Games (Straight up: 7-3; Vs. Spread: 6-4)

Overall (Straight up: 40-10; Vs. Spread: 27-23; Moneyline Upsets: 1-0)

Season Record

Biggest 10 Games (Straight up: 58-22; Vs. Spread: 37-38-5)

Overall (Straight up: 306-89; Vs. Spread: 197-192-6; Moneyline Upsets: 9-19)

Week 8 Review: I’ll take it! Especially in a crazy week.

Week 9 Preview: There’s no singularly huge game this week but there is a slew of big games. I’m looking to avoid a setback after a few solid weeks in a row. I’m not off to a great start, as I couldn’t get these picks out in time to include the Boise State-Louisiana Tech game. I’m down 0-1, and I have to ask, when they planned this game, thinking that it would be a great night for attention because there was no baseball game, didn’t they realize that it was opening night in the NBA? It seems like this game could have just as easily been played at a somewhat more normal time and received as much, if not more, attention. Not to mention the fact that a 45-20 win over Louisiana Tech at home isn’t going to impress anybody all that much. The one thing I’m concerned about this week is the large number of road teams I am picking, particularly heavy favorites on the road.


Game 1: Florida State (-3.5) @ NC State
Pick: Florida State covers
Comment: Maybe it’s just me but it seems like there haven’t been as many interesting/meaningful midweek games this year. The biggest reason for this in my opinion has been the utter inconsequence of the Big East this season.

Anyway, while this may not be the most interesting matchup or one that carries a lot of national importance, it is a meaningful game in the ACC and it should be a good game. North Carolina State played a big part in the demise of the Florida State dynasty during the 2000’s. Chuck Amato, one of Bobby Bowden’s long time minions, left FSU to become head coach of NC State in 2000. Amato would eventually become a bit of a joke by the time his tenure in Raleigh ended after the 2006 season, but he inflicted plenty of pain on his former team during his years at NC State. From 2001-2006, Amato’s Wolfpack won 4 out of 6 games against the Seminoles.

Tom O’Brien took over in 2007 and FSU has since won 3 straight. Many people expected (reasonably) big things from O’Brien, but going into this season (his 4th in Raleigh) it had not yet happened. Not many people were expecting it to happen this year, but the Wolfpack got off to a surprising 5-1 start. The party train was derailed in NC State’s last game, an overtime loss at East Carolina. They were idle last week and they have to be looking at this game as a chance to negate the loss to the Pirates and keep hope of a truly great season alive. This is a big game in the ACC Atlantic Division, which Florida State sits atop of at 4-0. This is a big game for the Seminoles too. Jimbo Fisher’s first season has gone quite well so far, and a 10-win season—something that was once an automatic in Tallahassee—is within reach. Both teams will go into this game on 12 days of rest.


Game 2: Oklahoma State (-5.5) @ Kansas State
Pick: Kansas State beats the spread
Comment: Some of this game’s appeal was lost when Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon—leading the universe in receiving yards per game and receiving TD’s—was arrested Tuesday morning for a DUI. Incidentally, Blackmon was arrested in a Dallas suburb, doing 92 in a 60, and is not of legal age. Looks like another talented receiver with some baggage. Great. We really needed another one. Can we get another ex-head coach in the broadcasting booth as well while we’re at it? How about another remake of a movie made within the last 2 decades?

Anyway, Oklahoma State was exposed last week by Nebraska, losing a shootout at home for their first defeat of the season. However, the Big XII South title is still very much in play for the Cowboys. The home team has won the last 4 in this series. Oklahoma State has won 2 of the last 3, but prior to that they had lost 9 straight to the Wildcats. Bill Snyder is 9-2 vs. Oklahoma State and 5-0 against them in Manhattan.

Game 3: Missouri (+7.5) @ Nebraska
Pick: Missouri beats the spread
Comment: Obviously this game has major national implications, as Mizzu comes into the game undefeated. This game would have been enormous if Nebraska had not slipped up against Texas at home a couple of weeks ago. It’s still a huge game as far as the Big XII North is concerned. Both teams are coming off of huge wins over Big XII South powers (Mizzu over Oklahoma at home, Nebraska over Okie State on the road). That’s one of the interesting things about this season. Right now at least, it looks as though the Big XII North may be stronger than the Big XII South for the first time in years.

Last year’s game was a standalone Thursday night contest on ESPN. Both teams came into the game 4-0 but still looking to prove their legitimacy. Nebraska was a 3-point road favorite but the rain-soaked Tiger fans were ecstatic through 3 quarters, as Missouri led 12-0. Nebraska had 0 points and 109 yards through 3 quarters. But then Nebraska scored 3 TD’s in 11 plays over just 3 minutes and 22 seconds. The Cornhuskers gained 154 yards in the 4th quarter alone, scoring 27 unanswered points to win 27-12. The visiting team has won the last 2 in this series after losing the previous 6. Missouri won at Nebraska in 2008, but prior to that they had lost 15 straight in Lincoln. Both teams have continued to win this season despite injuries.

Game 4: Florida (+2.5) vs. Georgia (Jacksonville)
Pick: Georgia covers
Comment: It’s hard to exaggerate the pessimism that Georgia fans now feel towards this matchup, which the Bulldogs once dominated. At the close of the 1980’s, Georgia led the series with the Gators 43-22-2. Vince Dooley had gone 17-7-1 against the Gators during his 25 years in Athens, and Ray Goff had beaten Florida in his first season as head coach of the Dawgs in 1989. In 1990 Steve Spurrier took over as the head ball coach at his alma mater. Ray Goff never beat the Gators again. Steve Spurrier went 11-1 against Goff, Jim Donnan, and Mark Richt. The Gators did not hold onto their status as a national power during Ron Zook’s 3 years in Gainesville, but even the Zooker went 2-1 against Georgia. Urban Meyer took over in 2005 and has gone 4-1 against the Dawgs, while taking the Gators to 2 national championships. Richt is 2-7 against Florida in his 9 years as Georgia’s head coach. Under many different coaches, in Jacksonville or elsewhere, regardless of which team was favored, the Florida Gators have dominated this great rivalry over the last 2 decades. Florida has won 17 of 20 and 10 of the last 12.

This year’s game will be a rarity, as both teams are having down seasons. I am not certain of this, but I believe that this will be the first time that neither team comes into the game ranked since 1989 (the first year after Dooley, the last year before Spurrier). Obviously this is a huge game for both teams. It’s big for Florida, who suffered a stunning loss at Mississippi State their last time out for their 3rd straight defeat and their 2nd straight loss at home. The Gators have never lost more than 4 games in any season under Urban Meyer, and if they win this week they will have a decent shot at keeping that streak intact. If they lose this week they will have to beat South Carolina at home, win at Florida State, and win a bowl game in order to avoid losing 5 games for the first time since 2003. While losing 4 straight would be rough for Gator Nation, this is a much bigger game for Georgia. At 4-4, the Bulldogs are looking much better than they did at 1-4, but they are still perilously close to having an absolutely awful season. If they lose on Saturday, the Dawgs will be 5-5 (assumed win over Idaho State) with a road game at Auburn and a home game against Georgia Tech left on the schedule. That would make a 5-7 season a possibility and a 6-6 season a probability.

While the Gators have lost 3 in a row, the Dawgs come into the game having won 3 straight. However, in recent years the bye week has seemingly had a major impact on this game. It’s been tough for the Dawgs to win without a week off before the game, and it’s been very tough to beat Urban Meyer’s Gators when they’ve had more than a week to prepare. Meyer’s teams (Bowling Green, Utah, and Florida) are 19-2 when he’s had more than a week to prepare, and the Gators are 12-1 under Meyer with more than a week to prepare (only loss to Michigan in the 2007 Capital One Bowl). The Dawgs have looked overmatched against Florida in each of the last 2 meetings, losing by a combined score of 90-27. However, much of the damage has been self inflicted, as the Dawgs have only been out-gained by an average of 63 yards in those last 2 meetings. One thing that could come into play in this game is the health of Florida kicker Caleb Sturgis, who has not been healthy this season.

Game 5: Michigan State (+6.5) @ Iowa
Pick: Michigan State beats the spread
Comment: This game has obvious national implications, as Michigan State is one of 7 remaining unbeaten teams in the country. In addition, everything is still up for grabs in the Big Ten between MSU, Iowa, Ohio State, and Wisconsin, with Michigan State undefeated in the conference and the other 3 teams with only 1 conference loss apiece. It will be interesting to see if Iowa can recover from a heartbreaking 1-point loss to Wisconsin at home last week. This will be their 4th straight big game (vs. Penn State, at Michigan, vs. Wisconsin). If Michigan State can get past Iowa this week, a perfect regular season will be very much within reach, as they have a manageable schedule following this game (although beating Penn State in Happy Valley is not something the Spartans have done very often). This will certainly be Michigan State’s biggest test so far this season.

The Spartans have lost 6 straight in Iowa City, with their last win coming in 1989. The home team had won 9 straight in this series prior to Iowa’s win in East Lansing last season. Iowa held Michigan State to season lows in yards and points in last year’s contest, but the Spartans still came inches away from a huge victory. Iowa was undefeated and ranked 7th in the country going into the game, but the Hawkeyes needed an amazing play on 4th and goal from the 7 to get past MSU, 15-13, on the final play of the game. Over the last 3 years this game has been very close. Michigan State lost 34-27 in double overtime at Iowa in 2007, won 16-13 at home in 2008, and lost 15-13 at home last year. Interestingly enough, this will be the first time in the last 4 years that the Spartans will be underdogs in this game. MSU is down a starting corner back, as senior Chris Rucker is still suspended following a DUI arrest.

Game 6: Auburn (-7) @ Mississippi
Pick: Auburn covers
Comment: Obviously this is a big game because of Auburn. The visitor has lost 3 in a row in this series. Auburn is 23-4 in their last 27 games against Mississippi, and the Tigers have won 14 of 17 in the series since they began playing every season in 1992. Auburn has won 8 of the last 10 and they have out-gained the Traitors in each of the last 10.

Game 7: Stanford (-7) @ Washington
Pick: Stanford covers
Comment: This isn’t the biggest game but it should be a solid matchup. Stanford had lost 15 of 16 to Washington prior to the 2004 season, but they have since won 4 of 5, including 2 straight in Seattle.

Game 8: Utah (-7) @ Air Force
Pick: Utah covers
Comment: One of the silly things about all of the hemming and hawing over whether the non-BCS conference teams are getting a fair shot, is the fact that nothing—and I mean absolutely zero—is being said about Utah. The Utes are undefeated and they haven’t even been challenged since beating Pitt in OT in the season opener. Air Force will again be missing some of their most important players, and the Falcons were no match for TCU last week. However, this game will be in Colorado Springs, where the Falcons are 9-1 in their last 10 games. Utah has won 6 of 7 in this series, but their last 4 wins have come by an average of less than 4 points, and each of those 4 wins has come by 7 points or less. Regardless of the winner, this game is usually a tight battle. 16 of the last 19 in this series have been decided by 10 points or less.

Game 9: Oregon (-6.5) @ USC
Pick: Oregon covers
Comment: From October of 2001 through October of 2009, USC went 47-1 at home (the only defeat coming by 1-point to Stanford in 2007, the most impossible upset that I have every witnessed). Since November 14th of 2009 the Trojans are just 3-3 at home. Oregon looks close to unstoppable at the moment, but they have a lot of work left to do this season, beginning with this Saturday at the Coliseum. Oregon has not won in LA since 2000 (the year before Pete Carroll arrived), but they have only played there twice since then. Admittedly, Oregon’s 2 games at USC since that last victory have not gone well (lost 35-10 in 2006, 44-10 in 2008). Last year in Eugene, Oregon put up 613 yards of offense on the Trojans (391 rushing) in a 47-20 shellacking. It was USC’s first loss by more than 7 points since 2001 (a 27-16 loss to Notre Dame in Carroll’s first year). Oregon’s previous high score against USC had been 34 points in a game in 1987. The Ducks will be playing on 9 days rest. USC will have had a full 14 days off going into this one.

Game 10: Michigan (-3) @ Penn State
Pick: Penn State pulls off the upset
Comment: This isn’t as big a game as it has often been since Penn State joined the Big Ten, but it is always big because of the historical stature of both teams. The Nittany Lions had lost 9 straight to Michigan by an average of 12 points per game prior to winning the last 2 games by an average of 27 points. Last season Michigan managed just 10 points and 250 yards in a 35-10 defeat at home. Michigan has lost their last 2 games but they will go into this one on 14 days of rest. This is a huge game for both teams who are trying to make something out of this season.

Other Games


West Virginia (-6.5) @ Connecticut (West Virginia covers)


Northwestern (-3) @ Indiana (Northwestern covers)

Clemson (-6.5) @ Boston College (Clemson covers)

Louisville (+9.5) @ Pittsburgh (Louisville beats the spread)

Miami (-14.5) @ Virginia (Miami covers)

Purdue (+17) @ Illinois (Purdue beats the spread)

Northern Illinois (-8) @ Western Michigan (NIU covers)

Syracuse (+10.5) @ Cincinnati (Syracuse beats the spread)

UAB (+10) @ Southern Mississippi (UAB beats the spread)

Tennessee (+17.5) @ South Carolina (South Carolina covers)

Akron (+29.5) @ Temple (Temple covers)

Louisiana-Lafayette (+14.5) @ Ohio (Ohio covers)

Kansas (+19) @ Iowa State (Iowa State covers)

San Diego State (-10) @ Wyoming (Wyoming beats the spread)

Tulsa (+8.5) @ Notre Dame (Tulsa beats the spread)

North Texas (+5.5) @ Western Kentucky (NT beats the spread)

UTEP (+2.5) @ Marshall (Marshall covers)

Texas Tech (+7) @ Texas A&M (Texas Tech beats the spread)

Ball State (+10.5) @ Kent State (BSU beats the spread)

Troy (-16.5) @ Louisiana-Monroe (ULM beats the spread)

Miami (OH) (-2.5) @ Buffalo (Miami (OH) beats the spread)

East Carolina (+7.5) @ Central Florida (East Carolina beats the spread)

Bowling Green (+11.5) @ Central Michigan (CM covers)

Arizona (-9) @ UCLA (Arizona covers)

California (+2.5) @ Oregon State (Oregon State covers)

Wake Forest (+5.5) @ Maryland (Maryland covers)

SMU (-8) @ Tulane (Tulane beats the spread)

Duke (+13.5) @ Navy (Navy covers)

Toledo (-10) @ Eastern Michigan (Toledo covers)

Florida International (-4) @ Florida Atlantic (FAU beats the spread)

San Jose State (-3) @ New Mexico State (NMS pulls off the upset)

New Mexico (+16) @ Colorado State (CSU covers)

Vanderbilt (+20) @ Arkansas (Arkansas covers)

Washington State (+21) @ Arizona State (Washington State beats the spread)

Baylor (+7) @ Texas (Texas covers)

Houston (-14) @ Memphis (Houston covers)

Kentucky (+6.5) @ Mississippi State (Mississippi State covers)

Ohio State (-25) @ Minnesota (Ohio State covers)

Colorado (+23.5) @ Oklahoma (Oklahoma covers)

Utah State (+26) @ Nevada (Nevada covers)

TCU (-34.5) @ UNLV (TCU covers)

Idaho (+14.5) @ Hawaii (Hawaii covers)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The NFL Blog: 2010 Power Rankings (After Week 7)

Power Rankings After Week 7

1. Pittsburgh 5-1 (2nd)
2. New York Jets 5-1 (3rd)
3. Baltimore 5-2 (1st)
4. New England 5-1 (4th)
5. Indianapolis 4-2 (5th)
6. Kansas City 4-2 (7th)
7. Philadelphia 4-3 (6th)
8. Atlanta 5-2 (8th)
9. Washington 4-3 (9th)
10. New York Giants 5-2 (10th)
11. Green Bay 4-3 (11th)
12. Houston 4-2 (13th)
13. Miami 3-3 (15th)
14. Tennessee 5-3 (16th)
15. New Orleans 4-3 (12th)
16. Minnesota 2-4 (14th)
17. Tampa Bay 4-2 (17th)
18. Cincinnati 2-4 (19th)
19. St. Louis 3-4 (20th)
20. Detroit 1-5 (23rd)
21. Seattle 4-2 (26th)
22. Chicago 4-3 (18th)
23. Dallas 1-5 (21st)
24. San Diego 2-5 (22nd)
25. Oakland 3-4 (29th)
26. Cleveland 2-5 (30th)
27. Arizona 3-3 (24th)
28. San Francisco 1-6 (27th)
29. Jacksonville 3-4 (28th)
30. Carolina 1-5 (31st)
31. Buffalo 0-6 (32nd)
32. Denver 2-5 (25th)

-Previous week’s rankings in parenthesis;

A New Number One. The Baltimore Ravens won on Sunday to improve to 5-2, but they were very fortunate to come away with an overtime win over the winless Buffalo Bills at home. The Ravens have played a tough schedule and you knew a letdown was possible, but it was still a disappointing effort. Pittsburgh was also very lucky to win last Sunday, but they were playing on the road against a feisty Miami team. Pittsburgh’s only loss came to the Ravens, but that was before Ben Roethlisberger had rejoined the team. I moved the Steelers up a spot from 2nd to 1st this week. I also moved the idle Jets up a spot from 3rd to 2nd. The Jets lost to the Ravens by a point in week 1, but since then they have been the best team in football. I dropped the Ravens down 2 spots from 1st to 3rd.

Seahawks Continue to Climb. Seattle made the biggest move up my rankings this week, jumping 5 spots from 26th to 21st. The Seahawks have made their climb in my rankings these last few weeks simply by not sucking, when so many other teams in the lower half of the rankings have. They have risen from 29th to 21st over the last 2 weeks, beating Chicago on the road and the Cardinals at home in the process.

I Hate the Broncos. Denver took the biggest slide in my rankings this week, plummeting 7 spots from 25th all the way to dead last at #32. Now it might seem like an overreaction, but they lost at home to the Raiders 59-14 to fall to 2-5, so I think it’s absolutely fair to have them ranked as the worst team in the NFL at this point. I picked the Broncos in my Eliminator league last week. I was already pissed that I had to root for them, and then they lost by 44 at home to Oakland. They ruined my whole year, as I had been 6-0 going into last week. I hate them.

The College Football Blog: 2010 Season Résumé Rankings (After Week 8)

Season Résumé Rankings after Week 8

1. Auburn 8-0 (1st)
2. Michigan State 8-0 (3rd)
3. TCU 8-0 (4th)
4. Oregon 7-0 (6th)
5. Missouri 7-0 (10th)
6. Utah 7-0 (8th)
7. Boise State 6-0 (7th)
8. Alabama 7-1 (NR)
9. LSU 7-1 (2nd)
10. Wisconsin 7-1 (NR)

Out: Oklahoma (5th); Oklahoma State (9th).

Explanation: Now these rankings are going to get interesting. This was the first week that these rankings included teams that weren’t undefeated. LSU became the first team this season to stay in the rankings despite losing. Another weird aspect of this week’s rankings was that undefeated Boise State had less wins than several 1-loss teams.

I started off this week by taking the 3 teams with records of 8-0 and ranking them 1-3. Auburn stayed at #1 obviously after they beat previously unbeaten LSU. Auburn is the only team in the country that is 8-0 against FBS competition. They are also the only team that is 6-0 against teams from BCS conferences. Michigan State moved up a spot from 3rd to 2nd after they defeated Iowa on the road to get to 8-0. The Spartans are 7-0 against the FBS and 5-0 against BCS teams. TCU also moved up a spot this week from 4th to 3rd. The Horned Frogs crushed Air Force last week to move to 8-0. They are 7-0 against FBS teams but just 2-0 against teams from BCS conferences.

After ranking the top 3, I moved on to ranking the 3 teams with 7-0 records. Oregon moved up 2 spots in the rankings this week from 6th to 4th after running over UCLA at home last Thursday. The Ducks are 6-0 vs. FBS teams and 5-0 against teams from BCS conferences. Missouri made the biggest leap in these rankings this week, vaulting 5 spots from 10th to 5th after their stunning win over previously unbeaten Oklahoma. The Tigers are 6-0 against FBS teams and 4-0 vs. teams from BCS conferences. Utah humiliated Colorado State last Saturday to get to 7-0 and remain the quietest unbeaten team in the country. The Utes moved up 2 spots in these rankings from 8th to 6th. They are 7-0 against FBS teams but just 2-0 vs. BCS teams. Boise State was off last week and they remained 7th in these rankings. They are 6-0 (all wins coming against FBS opponents) but just 2-0 vs. teams from BCS conferences.

After ranking the 7 undefeated teams, I had to come up with the 3 best 1-loss squads. I knew this was going to be difficult. To make things easier, I decided to separate the 7-1 teams from the 6-1 teams. There were 4 teams with 7-1 records (Alabama, Ohio State, Wisconsin, and LSU). Alabama jumped back into the rankings at #8 this week after beating Tennessee on the road to move to 7-1 (all games against FBS competition). Their best win is at Arkansas, and they are 6-1 against BCS teams. Their only loss is at South Carolina. LSU fell 7 spots in these rankings this week from 2nd to 9th, but they remained in the top 10. They are 6-1 against FBS competition and 6-1 against teams from BCS conferences. Their only loss is at undefeated Auburn. Wisconsin jumped into the rankings this week at #10 following their 1-point win over Iowa on the road. The Badgers are 6-1 against FBS teams but just 4-1 against BCS teams. Their only loss is at undefeated Michigan State, and they have wins over Ohio State and at Iowa.

Both of the Oklahoma teams fell out of the rankings this week. Oklahoma dropped out of the rankings from 5th after a 9-point road loss to Missouri that dropped them from the ranks of the unbeaten. Previously #9 Oklahoma State suffered their first loss of the year on Saturday, losing at home to Nebraska by 10, and the Cowboys dropped out of these rankings this week.

The College Football Blog: 2010 Power Rankings (After Week 8)

Power Rankings after Week 8

1. Oregon 7-0 (1st)
2. Alabama 7-1 (2nd)
3. Ohio State 7-1 (4th)
4. Boise State 6-0 (5th)
5. TCU 8-0 (6th)
6. Auburn 8-0 (7th)
7. Michigan State 8-0 (9th)
8. Oklahoma 6-1 (3rd)
9. South Carolina 5-2 (10th)
10. Arkansas 5-2 (11th)
11. Wisconsin 7-1 (13th)
12. Nebraska 6-1 (15th)
13. Missouri 7-0 (NR)
14. LSU 7-1 (14th)
15. Iowa 5-2 (8th)

Out: Stanford (12th).

Explanation: Is it just me or are there significantly more candidates for the top 15 than normal at this point in the season?

Oregon remained in the #1 spot, destroying UCLA in an impressive performance on national TV last Thursday to go to 7-0. ESPN tried hard to make this seem like a legit test for Oregon, but the Ducks just wouldn’t play along. They led 32-3 at the half and 60-6 before the Bruins scored a garbage TD to make the final score 60-13. I really never thought that I’d have an offensive minded Pac-10 team from Oregon firmly atop my power rankings, but that’s where we are at this point. They look to be the top team right now and it’s not that close. I start to say to myself, “but wait, what about defense…” and then I realize that nobody plays defense. And maybe that’s where the game has gone. With all the restrictions and all of the increased focus on safety, maybe even the best defenses are bound to give up yards and points. Maybe having a great defense isn’t an absolute must anymore.

Bama pulled away from Tennessee last Saturday to go to 7-1 and the Tide are fairly secure at #2 for me. When the two teams went to halftime with the score just 13-10 Bama, I was thinking that perhaps I had given the Tide way too much credit based on last year’s team. But then they outscored UT 28-0 in the second half. I still don’t think Alabama is quite as good as I thought, but they are one of the only teams in the country that I trust from week to week, at home or on the road, against any type of opponent.

Ohio State shutout Purdue 49-0 to go to 7-1, moving up 1 spot in my rankings from 4th to 3rd. It was good to see the Buckeyes rebound from their first loss of the season and bludgeon a crippled Purdue team. Boise State was off last week but I moved the Broncos up a spot from 5th to 4th. TCU whipped Air Force to move to 8-0. They faced an Air Force squad that was missing some of its key components last Saturday. Never the less, the Horned Frogs absolutely demolished the Falcons by a 38-7 score that made things seem a lot closer than they were. TCU out-gained AF 562-231 and had a 30-13 edge in 1st downs. TCU moved up 1 spot in my rankings from 6th to 5th.

Auburn had one of the biggest wins of any team in the country last week, outlasting their fellow unbeaten SEC West Tigers from LSU to get to 8-0. It’s obvious at this point that Auburn and Cam Newton are for real. LSU may have been lucky to enter this game undefeated, but the Bayou Bengals have a legit defense, and Auburn put up 526 yards on them. Auburn out-gained LSU by283 yards, and yet they only won by 7 points. Perhaps it is Auburn’s style of winning games that is keeping me from vaulting them into my top 5 and beyond. I only moved Auburn up 1 spot in my rankings this week from 7th to 6th.

Michigan State pulled out a win over Northwestern on the road in a definitite trap game to get to 8-0 last week. I moved the surprise Spartans up 2 spots in my rankings from 9th to 7th. MSU fell down 17-0 and trailed by 10 heading to the 4th quarter, but they outscored the Wildcats 21-3 over the final period to win 35-27. This may not have been the most impressive win, but it was a game that many a surprise contender would have allowed to slip away. In its own way, this actually was an impressive win.

Oklahoma came up small last Saturday night in a battle of unbeatens, losing on the road at Missouri, 36-27. It was reminiscent of Ohio State’s stumble in Wisconsin, as the Tigers returned the opening kick for a touchdown. The Sooners took a 1-point lead to the 4th, but with less than 7 minutes to play they found themselves trailing 36-21. With all of the scoring going on across the nation, the fact that Oklahoma scored only 27 points in a game like this was amazing. When the game ended I was pretty disgusted with the Sooners. I figured that they would take a major tumble in my rankings. However, when I sat down to do my power rankings, I realized that I would still take Oklahoma over all but 7 teams in a head to head matchup on a neutral field. Perhaps this is just another case of me refusing to make the correction when I have overrated a traditional power, but we will see. I did move Oklahoma down 5 spots in my rankings from 3rd to 8th, but that’s probably not as big of a drop as most would expect.

Closing out my top 10 this week is a pair of 2-loss SEC teams. South Carolina moved up 1 spot in my rankings this week from 10th to 9th, while Arkansas moved up 1 spot from 11th to 10th. A lot of people would wonder what the hell these two teams are still doing so high up in my rankings, and maybe it is the SEC bias in me coming out. However, I tend to trust SEC teams more than others, and with good reason. And these teams haven’t proven me wrong yet. South Carolina struggled to put away Vandy again last week, but their 21-7 win was more convincing than the final score implied. They scored the final 21 points in the game, out-gaining Vandy 484-250. The Gamecocks had a 25-11 edge in 1st downs. Most importantly, South Carolina played the entire game without freshman running back Marcus Lattimore. They are merely a decent team without Lattimore. With Lattimore they are very dangerous. Arkansas also struggled to put away Mississippi at home last Saturday, jumping ahead 21-0 and eventually winning 38-24. They were actually out-gained in the game, but they led it from start to finish, despite more health problems for QB Ryan Mallett.

Wisconsin has to be one of the “hottest teams in the country.” Last Saturday the Badgers got their 2nd straight huge win, taking a back and forth battle over Iowa on the road by 1-point. Wisconsin moved up 2 spots in my rankings from 13th to 11th. Nebraska made the biggest climb in my rankings this week, jumping up 3 spots from 15th to 12th, after they rebounded from a stunning loss at home to Texas to defeat previously unbeaten Oklahoma State by 10 on the road. This was a total shootout, but the Cornhuskers can play that sort of game these days, and they led by 17 before the Cowboys scored a meaningless TD with 1:24 to go.

Missouri is the only new team in my top 15 this week, as the 7-0 Tigers debut at #13. Now some people would freak out that I only have the Tigers 13th, and 5 spots behind the Sooners, but remember that they were playing at home, and remember that it was really their first substantial win of the season. Having said that, I was very impressed with the job they did against Oklahoma’s offense, particularly in holding down the Sooner running game. I want to see how Mizzu plays against Nebraska this week before making a more drastic conclusion.

LSU lost to Auburn last week, finally dropping from the ranks of the unbeaten. However, I was actually more impressed with LSU’s performance against Auburn than I have been with several of their wins this season. You can’t quite figure out how or why, but somehow the Tigers just end up staying in every game, and they always have a shot to win. Despite losing, LSU stayed ranked 14th in my power rankings this week.

Iowa took the biggest fall in my rankings this week, dropping 7 spots from 8th to 15th after they lost for the 2nd time this season on Saturday. They only lost by a point, and they lost to a very good team in Wisconsin, but they were at home and they had plenty of chances to win. They just couldn’t hang on. These Hawkeyes do not seem to be as good as last year’s team. However, I still think they are one of the better teams around and they could end the year on a run.

Perhaps the most controversial aspect of my rankings this week is Stanford’s ousting from the top 15 all together. The Cardinal won last week to get to 6-1 on the season, and their only loss this year was on the road at Oregon. However, when I looked at it, I just didn’t favor them over teams at the end of my rankings like Iowa, Mizzu, and LSU. Plus, I was not impressed by Stanford’s 10-point win at home over Washington State Saturday night. They were coming off of a bye and going up against one of the worst BCS conference teams in the country, yet they only managed a 38-28 win. True, Washington State scored a couple of garbage TD’s at the end of the game, but the Cougars still amassed 388 yards of offense against Stanford. Anyway, Stanford fell all the way out of my power rankings from 12th this week. They were the only team to drop out of my power 15 this week.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The NBA Blog: 2010-2011 Season Predictions

2010-2011 NBA Season Predictions

Playoff teams are in bold.

(#)- denotes projected finish in conference standings. Remember, a division winner can be seeded no worse than 4th, although home court advantage is always determined by record. Yeah, the NBA playoff procedures are not user friendly.

{#}- denotes where team ranks on my list of 1-30 teams in the Association.

Eastern Conference


1. Boston 54-28 (2) {2}
2. New York 36-46 (10) {23}
3. Philadelphia 28-54 (12) {25}
4. New Jersey 24-58 (13) {27}
5. Toronto 15-67 (15) {29}


1. Chicago 49-33 (4) {12}
2. Milwaukee 48-34 (6) {13}
3. Detroit 38-44 (8) {20}
4. Indiana 32-50 (11) {24}
5. Cleveland 16-66 (14) {28}


1. Miami 60-22 (1) {1}
2. Orlando 53-29 (3) {4}
3. Atlanta 50-32 (5) {9}
4. Charlotte 42-40 (7) {19}
5. Washington 37-45 (9) {21}

Western Conference


1. Oklahoma City 53-29 (4) {7}
2. Portland 52-30 (5) {8}
3. Denver 51-31 (6) {10}
4. Utah 50-32 (7) {11}
5. Minnesota 14-68 (15) {30}


1. Los Angeles Lakers 56-26 (1) {3}
2. Phoenix 44-38 (9) {15}
3. Los Angeles Clippers 40-42 (12) {18}
4. Golden State 25-57 (13) {22}
5. Sacramento 24-58 (14) {26}


1. San Antonio 55-27 (2) {5}
2. Dallas 54-28 (3) {6}
3. Houston 45-37 (8) {14}
4. New Orleans 43-39 (10) {16}
5. Memphis 42-40 (11) {17}

Eastern Conference Playoffs

First Round

#1 Miami over #8 Detroit (4-0)
#2 Boston over #7 Charlotte (4-1)
#3 Orlando over #6 Milwaukee (4-2)
#5 Atlanta over #4 Chicago (4-3)


#1 Miami over #5 Atlanta (4-0)
#2 Boston over #3 Orlando (4-3)


#1 Miami over #2 Boston (4-2)

Western Conference Playoffs

First Round

#1 Los Angeles Lakers over #8 Houston (4-1)
#2 San Antonio over #7 Utah (4-2)
#3 Dallas over #6 Denver (4-2)
#4 Oklahoma City over #5 Portland (4-3)


#1 Los Angeles Lakers over #4 Oklahoma City (4-3)
#2 San Antonio over #3 Dallas (4-3)


#1 Los Angeles Lakers over #2 San Antonio (4-2)

NBA Finals

#1 Los Angeles Lakers over #1 Miami (4-3)

NBA MVP: Kevin Durant
Finals MVP: Kobe Bryant
Defensive Player of the Year: Dwight Howard
Sixth Man of the Year: Jason Terry
Most Improved Player: Greg Oden
Rookie of the Year: Blake Griffin
Coach of the Year: Vinny Del Negro
Executive of the Year: Pat Riley

1st Team All NBA

Kobe Bryant
Dwayne Wade
Kevin Durant
LeBron James
Dwight Howard

2nd Team All NBA

Chris Paul
Deron Williams
Dirk Nowitzki
Pau Gasol
Amar'e Stoudemire

3rd Team All NBA

Steve Nash
Brandon Roy
Carmelo Anthony
Chris Bosh
Andrew Bogut

1st Team All Defense

Dwight Howard
Kobe Bryant
LeBron James
Rajon Rondo
Chris Paul

2nd Team All Defense

Dwayne Wade
Josh Smith
Tim Duncan
Kevin Garnett
Marcus Camby

1st Team All Rookie

Blake Griffin
John Wall
Derrick Favors
DeMarcus Cousins
Wesley Johnson

2nd Team All Rookie

Evan Turner
Greg Monroe
Patrick Patterson
Xavier Henry
Cole Aldrich

Scoring Leader: Kevin Durant
Assist Leader: Chris Paul
Rebound Leader: Dwight Howard
Field Goal Percentage Leader: Dwight Howard
3-PT Field Goal Percentage Leader: Kyle Korver
Free Throw Percentage Leader: Steve Nash
Steals Leader: Rajon Rondo
Blocks Leader: Dwight Howard

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The NFL Blog: 2010 Week 7 Betting Lines

Last Week: Vs. Spread (6-6-2); Straight Up: (10-4)

Season: Vs. Spread (37-50-3); Straight Up: (48-42)

Week 6 Review: I haven’t been doing quite as badly the last couple of weeks, but I’ve still got a long way to go to reach respectability. I really need a super week ATS to jump start my comeback. Right now I’m just treading water.

Week 7 Preview: This should be another interesting week, although the early part of this Sunday may end up being fairly tame. Week 7 gets very interesting towards the end, beginning with the New England-San Diego game during the late portion of Sunday’s schedule. Then that night we get the Vikings at the Packers. And on Monday the Giants visit the desperate Cowboys. All 3 of those games are going to be huge. As for my picks, you might think that I’d be gaining in confidence, having gone .500 ATS in each of the last 2 weeks. But it’s actually just the opposite. I feel like I’m due for another miserable week.

Sunday’s Early Games

Cleveland (+13) @ New Orleans
Pick: Saints cover
Comment: The Browns began the year on a not so surprising losing skid, but they were actually competitive in each of their first 3 games, losing by 3 at Tampa Bay, by 2 against the Chiefs, and by 7 in Baltimore. Then the Browns knocked off the Bengals. However, they’ve lost ATS in each of their last 2 games, losing by 10 to the Falcons at home, and by 18 in Pittsburgh. They’ve scored 14 points or less in 4 of 6 games this season. They are just 1-5 on the year and 2-4 ATS.

The Saints finally looked more like a defending Super Bowl champ last week, ending a 4 game losing streak ATS with a 31-6 win at Tampa. The Saints may get Pierre Thomas back this week, but if he is still not ready to go, Christopher Ivory looked pretty good last week, rushing for 158 yards on just 15 carries. Cleveland will likely be without both Joshua Cribbs and Mohamed Massaquoi, and they may go with Colt McCoy again as the starting quarterback. New Orleans is 4-2 overall but just 2-4 ATS. The Browns are 0-3 on the road so far this season.

Jacksonville (+4) @ Kansas City
Pick: Chiefs cover
Comment: Ugh, I hate the Jags! I knew I shouldn’t have picked them to win that Monday night game. It was a totally impulsive move, and one that I started regretting more and more as the week went on. By the time Monday rolled around I knew that the outcome of the game would determine whether I had a winning record against the spread or finished at .500. At the very least, I thought this would give me a reason to be interested in one of the worst MNF matchups in recent memory. Even that proved to be a fleeting illusion, as the Jaguars didn’t even bother to show up. They fell behind early and killed any hopes of a comeback by fumbling inside the red zone just before halftime. Comeback hopes were already on life support before the fumble, as Trent Edwards was running the offense after an injury to David Garrard.

I think I’ve finally figured out who the Jaguars are. Over the last 3 seasons the Jags have easily been the worst mediocre team in the NFL. That title should make them automatically banned from standalone nationally televised games, when you want either great teams or total train wrecks. The Chiefs have now lost 2 games in a row after a 3-0 start, but they haven’t lost at home yet this season. The Jags are 1-1 on the road this season (the win at Buffalo) but they are just 3-10 in their last 13 road games going back to late in the 2008 season. Jax will also be playing this game on a short week. Among other things, that will give Garrard one less day to recover from his so-called concussion. If he is unable to play, Trent Edwards (who suffered serious concussions in each of the last 2 seasons while playing for Buffalo) will be under center.

Philadelphia (+3) @ Tennessee
Pick: Titans win but Eagles beat the spread
Comment: These two teams are similar in a number of ways. Both teams have long tenured head coaches (Jeff Fisher is in his 16th year, Andy Reid is in his 12th). Both teams are known for being stout on the defensive side, but they both experienced drop-offs in that department last year following the departure of long time defensive coordinators (Jim Schwartz left to become the head coach of the Lions, Jim Johnson succumbed to cancer during the early part of last season). Both teams have one athletic QB and one stationary QB. Both teams seem to play at about the same level regardless of which QB plays. This season, both teams are 4-2 overall, 1-2 at home, and 3-0 on the road.

In my opinion, the jury is still out on both of these teams as to whether they are truly contenders or pretenders. The Eagles are 3-3 ATS, while the Titans are 4-2. The Titans have won 3 of their last 4 games, while the Eagles have won 4 of 5. It looks like Philly will be without DeSean Jackson this week, and it appears that Kevin Kolb will get the start at QB over Michael Vick. It is unclear at this point whether Vince Young or Kerry Collins will start for Tennessee, but Collins has taken over for Young in each of the last 2 games.

Cincinnati (+3.5) @ Atlanta
Pick: Falcons win but Bengals beat the spread
Comment: While I expected the Falcons to lose in Philly last week, I must say that I was still disappointed with their performance. They were really not very competitive. I still can’t tell if they are just a decent team that has been fortunate to win as many games as they have so far, or if they are really a team that can contend for the title. As a Falcons fan, I’ll be more than happy with either of those scenarios, but obviously I’d prefer the latter.

The Falcons played without rookie LB Sean Witherspoon last week and they will likely be without him again this Sunday. Dunta Robinson may be missing as well. Cincinnati is coming off of a bye, and they hope to have rookie receiver Jordan Shipley back for this game, as well as safety Roy Williams. The Bengals have lost their last 2 games and they are 1-2 on the road this season, while the Falcons are 2-0 at home. Cinci has lost 6 of 7 on the road going back to last year, while the Falcons have gone 15-3 at the Georgia Dome under Mike Smith.

Washington (+3) @ Chicago
Pick: Redskins pull off the upset
Comment: The Bears engaged in self mutilation again last week, losing at home to Seattle, and they’ve now lost 2 of 3 after starting off the season 3-0. The Redskins’ win at Philly a few weeks ago was just their 2nd victory in their last 13 on the road. The Skins are also dealing with a slew of injuries.

Pittsburgh (-3) @ Miami
Pick: Steelers cover
Comment: The Steelers have gotten Big Ben Roethlisberger’s suspension and return out of the way, and they are in pretty good shape at this point. They are 4-1 (4-1 ATS), 2-0 on the road, and they have outscored opponents by an average score of 22.8 to 12.0. The Dolphins won at Green Bay last week, but they were off of a bye week and playing a battered bunch of Packers. They had to play into overtime, and they could struggle to hang around in what figures to be a very physical contest with Pittsburgh this Sunday. The Dolphins are 3-2 overall (3-2 ATS), but they are 0-2 at home, and they have actually been outscored by their opponents (17.8 to 22.4). In case you are wondering, the Fins’ record ATS as a home underdog in recent years is nothing special.

St. Louis (+2.5) @ Tampa Bay
Pick: Bucs cover
Comment: Both of these teams have won more games than the Cowboys, Chargers, Vikings, and Bengals. The Rams stunned the Chargers last week to get to .500 at 3-3 (4-2 ATS). The Bucs were soundly beaten at home last week for the 2nd time in their last 3 games, and they are just 1-2 at home this season, but they are still 3-2 overall (3-2 ATS). The Rams are 0-2 on the road, and they have lost 18 of their last 20 away from home going back to the latter part of the 2007 season (and one of those two road wins was against Detroit). The Rams have lost 13 of their last 14 on the road and 5 straight.

Buffalo (+13) @ Baltimore
Pick: Ravens cover
Comment: This is a battle of the teams ranked first and last in my power rankings. The Bills are 0-5 (1-4 ATS), 0-2 on the road, and have been outscored 17.4 to 32.2 on average. Baltimore is 4-2 (3-2-1 ATS) and 2-0 at home. They have outscored their opponents by an average score of 18.7 to 15.8. The Ravens have played a very tough schedule and they played an overtime game against the Patriots last week, so they could struggle to find the appropriate level of energy for this game. The Bills are coming off of a bye week. Buffalo had won 4 straight games following a bye week until last season when they came back from a week off and lost 41-17 to the Titans.

San Francisco (-2) @ Carolina
Pick: Niners cover
Comment: These two teams have a combined record of 1-10. The Niners got their first win of the season last week to get to 1-5 (2-4 ATS), but they are 0-3 on the road this year. The Panthers were off last week and thus remained 0-5 (1-4 ATS). They are 0-3 at home. The Panthers have decided to go back to Matt Moore at quarterback. Unfortunately he probably won’t have Steve Smith at his disposal, as their star wideout is still dealing with a leg injury. The Panthers have won 4 of their last 5 games the week after a bye (in the regular season).

Sunday’s Late Games

Arizona (+5.5) @ Seattle
Pick: Seahawks cover
Comment: Much to my annoyance, the Seahawks keep coming up with surprise victories to counter the bad losses that I expected. They started the season with a surprising 31-6 blowout win over the Niners at home. They lost by 17 to Denver the next week, but then they beat the Chargers in week 3. After that they got beat 20-3 by the Rams, but following a bye week they went on the road and beat the Bears 23-20. It’s still hard to know what to make of them. The Cardinals will be coming off of a bye, and in their last game they beat the defending champs by 10 points. The Cards are 3-2 overall and 1-2 on the road. Despite a winning record, Arizona has been outscored 17.6 to 27.6 on average. Seattle is 3-2 and 2-0 at home. The Cards have swept the Seahawks in each of the last 2 years. They have won 6 of the last 7 meetings between these two teams, including the last 2 in Seattle.

Oakland (+6.5) @ Denver
Pick: Broncos cover
Comment: The Broncos are 2-4 (2-4 ATS) and just 1-2 at home. I hate the Broncos, but I have to admit they have still been a much more competitive team than I expected. They have played a tough schedule. The Broncos haven’t been that tough in Denver recently, losing 4 of their last 5 at home. In fact, the Raiders have actually won 2 in a row at Mile High (I know it’s called Invesco Field but that name sucks). In 8 games vs. the Broncos since 2006, the Raiders have gone 6-2 ATS. They have won 3 of the last 5 games in the series, including the last 2 in Denver, and they could easily be going into this one riding a 3 game win streak in Denver, as they very nearly won there in 2007 as well.

You may recall, that was the game that Mike Shanahan first used the delayed icing the kicker tactic that quickly spread around the league. Sebastian Janikowski hit a FG in overtime that appeared to be the game winning kick. Both teams began to move off the sidelines and the announcers said that the Raiders had won the game. But then the refs got everyone’s attention and said that a timeout had been called. In a turn of events typical of his career, the former 1st round draft pick kicker then missed his 2nd attempt. Denver then went down and kicked a game winning field goal. One thing I remember clearly about that moment is feeling so bad for the Raiders coach who thought he had won his first game in the NFL. It’s funny now. Do you remember who that coach was? It was Lane Kiffin; a guy that I wouldn’t feel sorry for today if I saw him running from a lion while engulfed in flames.

New England (+3) @ San Diego
Pick: Chargers win but Patriots beat the spread
Comment: This was one of the best rivalries of the 2000’s and definitely one of my favorites. It won’t be the same now that LT and Shawne Merriman are gone from the Chargers and Mike Vrabel, Tedy Bruschi, and Randy Moss are gone from the Patriots, but it will still be good. The Chargers are desperate (or at least they should be), as they come into this game 2-4 (2-4 ATS) despite having outscored opponents by an average of 26.2 to 21.0. The Patriots are 4-1 (2-2-1 ATS) and have outscored their opponents 30.8 to 23.2 on average. However, the Chargers are 2-0 at home, while the Pats are 1-1 on the road. The Chargers were already without Merriman and Vincent Jackson, and now Malcolm Floyd and kicker Nate Kaeding are battling injuries.

Sunday Night’s Game

Minnesota (+2.5) @ Green Bay
Pick: Vikings pull off the upset
Comment: Unless some new developments arise in the Brett Favre picture-of-penis-in-text scandal, it appears that he will return to Lambeau Field again this Sunday night. This is a huge game for both teams. The Packers are the most banged up team in the NFL by a mile, and they have lost 3 of their last 4 (0-4 ATS during that stretch), including last week’s game at home against the Dolphins. GB is 3-3 overall (2-4 ATS) and 2-1 at home. Minnesota has now won 2 of their last 3 to get to 2-3 on the season (2-3 ATS) but the Vikings are 0-2 on the road. The Vikes snapped a 3 game losing streak at Green Bay last season, as they swept the season series with the Packers for the first time since 2005.

Monday Night’s Game

New York Giants (+3) @ Dallas
Pick: Cowboys cover
Comment: The Cowboys lost last week’s desperation battle against the Vikings to fall to 1-4 on the season (1-4 ATS). The Boys are 0-2 at home. The Giants are now 4-2 overall (3-3 ATS) and 1-1 on the road. Last year the G-Men swept the season series with the Cowboys for the first time since 2004. Including the 2007 Divisional Playoff game, the Giants have gone 3-2 in their last 5 games in Dallas.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The NFL Blog: 2010 Power Rankings (After Week 6)

Power Rankings After Week 6

1. Baltimore 4-2 (1st)
2. Pittsburgh 4-1 (2nd)
3. New York Jets 5-1 (3rd)
4. New England 4-1 (4th)
5. Indianapolis 4-2 (5th)
6. Philadelphia 4-2 (8th)
7. Kansas City 3-2 (6th)
8. Atlanta 4-2 (7th)
9. Washington 3-3 (9th)
10. New York Giants 4-2 (10th)
11. Green Bay 3-3 (11th)
12. New Orleans 4-2 (12th)
13. Houston 4-2 (13th)
14. Minnesota 2-3 (14th)
15. Miami 3-2 (16th)
16. Tennessee 4-2 (18th)
17. Tampa Bay 3-2 (15th)
18. Chicago 4-2 (17th)
19. Cincinnati 2-3 (19th)
20. St. Louis 3-3 (24th)
21. Dallas 1-4 (20th)
22. San Diego 2-4 (21st)
23. Detroit 1-5 (22nd)
24. Arizona 3-2 (25th)
25. Denver 2-4 (27th)
26. Seattle 3-2 (29th)
27. San Francisco 1-5 (30th)
28. Jacksonville 3-3 (23rd)
29. Oakland 2-4 (26th)
30. Cleveland 1-5 (28th)
31. Carolina 0-5 (31st)
32. Buffalo 0-5 (32nd)

-Previous week’s rankings in parenthesis;

Minimal Change. After 5 weeks of constant movement up and down the rankings, things were very still in my power rankings this week. There were a lot of teams who either had a loss that wasn’t that bad or a win that was basically expected. 14 of the 32 spots in my rankings remained the same this week, and only a few teams made more than a minor move up or down.

Ravens Lose but they Don’t Drop. I kept the Ravens as my #1 team even though they lost to the Patriots because they lost by 3 in OT at Foxboro . Also, the Ravens had played a very tough 5 game schedule, while the Patriots were coming off of a bye.

Rising and Falling. The Rams made the biggest climb in my rankings this week, rising 4 spots from 24th to 20th after they beat the Chargers to get back to .500 at 3-3. Jacksonville took the biggest fall in my rankings this week. Now part of this could be that it was the last game we saw. The fact that I picked them to win and they didn’t even show up (and it made me 6-6-2 against the spread this week instead of 7-5-2) on national TV at home probably has a lot to do with it as well. They fell 5 spots in my rankings this week from 23rd to 28th.

The College Football Blog: 2010 Week 8 Betting Lines

Last Week’s Record

Biggest 10 Games (Straight up: 5-5; Vs. Spread: 8-2)

Overall (Straight up: 40-14; Vs. Spread: 34-19-1; Moneyline Upsets: 2-3)

Season Record

Biggest 10 Games (Straight up: 51-19; Vs. Spread: 31-34-5)

Overall (Straight up: 266-79; Vs. Spread: 170-169-6; Moneyline Upsets: 8-19)

Week 7 Review: Gotta be honest people. I did not think I would get my overall record against the spread over .500 again this season. I have to be happy with last week’s results, although I’d like to be better than 5-5 picking the winners of the biggest 10 games.

Week 8 Preview: This week is a bit strange, in that there are a few huge matchups and not much else. Although as we learned again last week, you never know which games or which weeks will really be the most interesting. As for my picks, I have a bad feeling about this week.


Game 1: Notre Dame (-7) vs. Navy
Pick: Navy beats the spread
Comment: This game used to be a source of continual annoyance, as it was another automatic win for Notre Dame that they could use to pad their win-loss record (while still somehow claiming to play a tough schedule). In recent years, however, this game has been one of the most enjoyable of the season, as Navy has either won—dealing painful blows to the Irish fans—or very nearly won—which is almost as good because it still makes ND look like a joke. Notre Dame had won 43 straight over Navy through the 2006 season, but the Midshipmen have won 2 of the last 3. Both of those wins came at Notre Dame. In 2008 Navy made a furious comeback and nearly shocked the Irish again before falling 27-21. The last 3 games have been decided by a total of 10 points. This game will be played at the new stadium in East Rutherford. Both teams are banged up going into this one, but the Irish have won their last 3 games.

Game 2: Wisconsin (+6) @ Iowa
Pick: Wisconsin beats the spread
Comment: This game gained a lot in significance when the Badgers knocked off Ohio State last week. The Big Ten race is still a long way from being decided. One thing we do know is that Iowa is going to play a major role in deciding who ends up winning the conference title. Iowa, whose only loss so far this season came out of conference, plays 1-loss Wisconsin this week, undefeated Michigan State next week, and 1-loss Ohio State on November 20th. All 3 games will be played in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes have played very well against Wisconsin in recent years. They have won 2 straight over the Badgers and 6 of their last 8. Wisconsin benefited greatly from playing at home last week, and they will have to go on the road this week. They won’t have much time to get their huge win over the Buckeyes out of their system before they have to play perhaps an even tougher game, considering that they won’t have the home field advantage this time.

Game 3: Oklahoma (-3) @ Missouri
Pick: Oklahoma covers
Comment: This is one of two matchups of undefeated teams from power conferences this Saturday. Missouri has already lost their starting safety for the season and they really need defensive end Aldon Smith to play through a leg injury this week. It may not even matter. Oklahoma is 7-0 against the Tigers under Bob Stoops and they have won 20 of the last 21 games between these two teams. However, Oklahoma was just 1-3 on the road last season and the Sooners struggled on the road against Cincinnati earlier this season.

Game 4: LSU (+6) @ Auburn
Pick: Auburn covers
Comment: This game is usually big and almost always interesting. This year it will be huge, as this is the other matchup of undefeated teams this weekend. The home team has come out on top in 9 of the last 10 in this series, but LSU won the last time here in 2008, and the Bayou Bengals have won 3 straight over Auburn. LSU won 31-10 last year and that was a major change, as the previous 5 games had been decided by a total of 19 points. I still have some questions about how good Auburn really is, mainly concerning the defense. However, I have many more questions about how good LSU actually is. I think at some point LSU’s mistakes and weaknesses are going to catch up with them. But if they win this game it will be hard to deny them legitimacy.

Game 5: Air Force (+18.5) @ TCU
Pick: TCU covers
Comment: Heading into last week this game was within shouting distance of being almost interesting. Then Air Force had a very bad night in San Diego late Saturday. Things had been going so well for the Falcons. Earlier this season they finally beat BYU, winning 35-14 over a team that had beaten them by at least 14 points in each of the last 6 years. They lost at Oklahoma the next week but the real story was that the final score was 27-24. Two weeks later the Falcons won 14-6 over rival Navy, snapping a 7 game losing streak to the Midshipmen. They were 5-1 heading into last week’s game, but they fell behind 7-0 to the Aztecs midway through the 2nd quarter and they were chasing the rest of the night. They went for 2 twice and failed both times, including once with 2:08 on the clock in the 4th when it was initially ruled that they had tied the game at 20-20, but the play was overturned on replay, and they ruled that the ball carrier did not break the plane before his knee touched. They would go one to lose 27-25. Making matters worse, fullback Jared Tew, a key player at a key position for the Falcons, broke his fibula early in the game and will miss the rest of the season. Air Force has now lost 2 starting defensive linemen, a starting defensive back, a starting fullback, and a handful of backups to serious injuries. TCU probably would have blown out a healthy AF team, but at least there would be some chance of TCU getting knocked off. I expect TCU to win easily. Air Force won 20-17 in OT in 2007, and last year they lost by a score of just 20-17, but both of those games were in Colorado Springs. In their last trip to Fort Worth, the Falcons got hammered 44-10. TCU has won 18 home games in a row, and the Horned Frogs have now won their last 20 regular season games.

Game 6: Michigan State (-5) @ Northwestern
Pick: Michigan State covers
Comment: This could have easily been a third battle of unbeaten teams had the Wildcats not fallen at home to Purdue their last time out. The Cats had the bye week to regroup, but they’ve now lost 3 straight against the spread. Michigan State just keeps on rolling. The Spartans have won 4 straight against the spread, and they’ve also won 3 of the last 4 in this series. The home team had lost 4 straight in this series until the Spartans won in East Lansing last year.

Game 7: Nebraska (-6) @ Oklahoma State
Pick: Oklahoma State beats the spread
Comment: This could also have easily been a battle of unbeaten teams, but Nebraska shit themselves at home against the Longhorns last week. The Cornhuskers are banged up to be sure, and Texas was coming off of a bye, but Nebraska also just played badly in many ways. Their freshman QB was shutdown and benched, and they dropped what seemed like a dozen passes, some of which would have gone for big plays or scores. Now the Cornhuskers have to go on the road, but they have won 7 of their last 8 road games. Oklahoma State has won 14 of their last 17 home games. The Cowboys are just 5-36-1 all-time against Nebraska, but they have won 2 in a row and 3 of the last 4. Oklahoma State has won 4 in a row against the spread.

Game 8: Alabama (-16.5) @ Tennessee
Pick: Alabama covers
Comment: The dynamics of this rivalry have changed over the last 5 or 6 years. Bama has regained its place among the elite programs in college football, while Tennessee has fallen to a depth it hasn’t seen since the late 70’s. The Vols are coming off of a bye but they are just 1-4 in their last 5 games against the spread. Alabama is just 1-3 ATS in their last 4 game, but the Tide has won 3 straight and 4 of 5 over the Vols. The home team has won this game in 5 of the last 6 meetings.

Game 9: North Carolina (+6.5) @ Miami
Pick: North Carolina beats the spread
Comment: During the offseason I looked at this game and thought it could be the biggest of the season in the ACC. Now it’s barley of any consequence, as the Tar Heels have been compromised by all of the eligibility problems, and the Canes have been leveled by injuries. UNC has shown some heart, winning their last 4 games (4-0 ATS), while Miami has been humbled a few times this season and struggled against Duke last week. UNC has been the underdog in this matchup each of the last 3 seasons, but the Heels have won 3 in a row over Miami, including their last time here in 2008.

Game 10: Washington (+6) @ Arizona
Pick: Washington beats the spread
Comment: This isn’t a very meaningful or exciting game, but there weren’t many other options. It’s also the final game of week 8, one of only two games that starts after 9:00 PM next week, and one of only 4 games to start after 8:00 PM. So if you like to stay up and watch football late into the night the way I do it will be a bit of a downer this week. I’m slightly surprised that this spread isn’t smaller considering that Arizona QB Nick Folk will miss the game, and Washington won their last road game at USC. That win ended a 13 game losing skid on the road for the Huskies. They are just 2-4 against the spread this season, but the Wildcats have lost 3 in a row against the spread. Also, in their last 2 home games, Arizona has lost to Oregon State and beaten Cal, 10-9. The Huskies just beat Oregon State in overtime last Saturday night. However, Washington has yet to win back to back games this season.

Earlier I was talking about staying up late and watching the west coast games long after midnight, and one of the reasons that I really enjoy doing that is that you often see games and plays that most other people don’t. Last year’s Arizona-Washington game was certainly worth staying up for, and the ending was one of my favorite moments of last season. Arizona controlled the game throughout and they appeared to have the game won, but Washington made a miraculous comeback that had to be one of the best moments any Washington fan had experienced at Husky Stadium in quite a while. The play that changed everything was a ridiculous pick-six on a ball that bounced off an Arizona receiver’s shoe and into the arms of a Washington defensive back who took it to the house. Watching it live it was one of the most insane plays I’ve ever seen. Nobody else seems to share my high opinion of the play, but I think maybe you had to be watching the game and understanding what was going on to truly realize how crazy it was. And I still maintain, that if it happened in a high profile game it would be recognized as one of the most memorable plays ever. If you can find the play online or something you should check it out.

Other Games


UCLA (+21.5) @ Oregon (Oregon covers)


South Florida (+7.5) @ Cincinnati (Cinci covers)


Penn State (-9.5) @ Minnesota (Minnesota beats the spread)

Purdue (+23) @ Ohio State (Ohio State covers)

Rutgers (+13) @ Pittsburgh (Rutgers beats the spread)

Iowa State (+21) @ Texas (Texas covers)

Duke (+26) @ Virginia Tech (VT covers)

Syracuse (+14.5) @ West Virginia (WV covers)

Temple (-7) @ Buffalo (Temple covers)

Indiana (+14) @ Illinois (Indiana beats the spread)

Mississippi (Pick) @ Arkansas (Arkansas covers)

Maryland (+3.5) @ Boston College (Maryland beats the spread)

Florida Atlantic (+8.5) @ Arkansas State (Ark St. covers)

Ohio (-3) @ Miami (Ohio) (Miami (OH) beats the spread)

Kansas State (+6) @ Baylor (KSU beats the spread)

Wyoming (+10.5) @ BYU (BYU covers)

Houston (+7.5) @ SMU (SMU covers)

Louisiana Tech (+6) @ Clemson (Clemson covers)

Western Michigan (-7.5) @ Akron (WM covers)

Rice (+22) @ Central Florida (CF covers)

Kent State (-2.5) @ Bowling Green (Kent State covers)

Connecticut (-2) @ Louisville (Louisville pulls off the upset)

Arizona State (+3) @ California (Cal covers)

Texas Tech (-2.5) @ Colorado (Texas Tech covers)

Central Michigan (+9.5) @ Northern Illinois (NIU covers)

Marshall (+12.5) @ East Carolina (ECU covers)

Louisiana-Monroe (+11.5) @ Middle Tennessee State (ULM beats the spread)

Washington State (+34.5) @ Stanford (Stanford covers)

New Mexico State (+24) @ Idaho (Idaho covers)

Western Kentucky (+6.5) @ Louisiana-Lafayette (WK beats the spread)

Hawaii (-3.5) @ Utah State (Utah State beats the spread)

Colorado State (+30.5) @ Utah (Utah covers)

Eastern Michigan (+24.5) @ Virginia (UVA covers)

UAB (+19.5) @ Mississippi State (Mississippi State covers)

South Carolina (-12) @ Vanderbilt (Vandy beats the spread)

Texas A&M (-13.5) @ Kansas (A&M covers)

Ball State (+12) @ Toledo (Toledo covers)

Georgia (-3.5) @ Kentucky (Kentucky beats the spread)

Tulane (+10) @ UTEP (UTEP covers)

San Diego State (-23) @ New Mexico (San Diego State covers)

The College Football Blog: 2010 Season Résumé Rankings (After Week 7)

Season Résumé Rankings after Week 7

1. Auburn 7-0 (2nd)
2. LSU 7-0 (1st)
3. Michigan State 7-0 (5th)
4. TCU 7-0 (6th)
5. Oklahoma 6-0 (7th)
6. Oregon 6-0 (4th)
7. Boise State 6-0 (9th)
8. Utah 6-0 (10th)
9. Oklahoma State 6-0 (NR)
10. Missouri 6-0 (NR)

Out: Ohio State (3rd); Nevada (8th).

Explanation: Only 10 undefeated teams remain in college football. After this weekend, at the most there will be just 8 undefeated teams left, meaning this will be the last set of these rankings without a 1-loss team. It’s very possible that there will be 3 teams with a loss in the next set of rankings, as Oklahoma State is an underdog at home against Nebraska this week.

It has been a surprise to me that we are this far along into the season and for many teams it is still difficult to judge the strength of their opponents. Of course the biggest weakness inherent in these résumé rankings is that I still have to use some sort of judgment based on my “beliefs” in order to do them. The power rankings are based on my belief in which team is the strongest. These rankings are supposed to be based on the evidence presented on the field this season, but you still end up trying to figure out how good the opponents are. It’s frustrating because so many of these teams have few (if any) truly impressive wins, and it’s still hard to figure out what is and what is not an impressive win.

For example, LSU blows out Florida at the Swamp. Florida was coming off a blowout loss to Bama, but a win over Florida at the Swamp is still quite impressive. Or is it? Mississippi State did it last Saturday. Another example was Virginia Tech, which lost at home to James Madison, making Boise State’s clear impressive win over the Hokies look very different. There are a million other examples. Hopefully things will get clearer as we go forward. However, I’m starting to think that just the opposite will occur.

With things still very cloudy, I stuck to a formula I’ve used for most of this season. There are 4 teams in the country that are 7-0. I separated these 4 teams from the rest and then ranked them. Auburn moved up a spot from 2nd to 1st after beating Arkansas at home by 22 points. The final score was a Pac-10 like 65-43. If someone had resurrected Bear Bryant and taken him to that game he would have gone home and hanged himself.

I dropped LSU down to 2nd because they played their first FCS opponent last Saturday (and won by an unimpressive score of 32-10). Auburn is the only team in the country that is 7-0 against FBS teams. However, LSU was still a clear #2 team, as they remain the only team in the country that is 6-0 against teams from BCS conferences.

Michigan State got past Illinois last week to go to 7-0 and the Spartans moved up 2 spots in my rankings from 5th to 3rd. MSU is 6-0 against FBS teams and 4-0 against BCS teams. They have only 1 road win, but their win at Michigan is one of the most solid road wins of any of the undefeated teams.

My #4 team this week is TCU, who got to 7-0 with a 31-3 win over BYU. The Horned Frogs jumped 2 spots in my rankings from 6th to 4th. I have a more difficult time ranking the non-BCS teams. For obvious reasons, these teams do not play as many teams from BCS conferences, so my instinct is to rank them lower than teams who have played more BCS teams. The issue is made less clear in certain cases, however, as some BCS opponents are less note worthy than others (for example, Washington State). The Horned Frogs are 6-0 against FBS teams but just 2-0 against BCS teams. I kept the Horned Frogs ahead of all of the 6-0 teams, because while an additional win over an FCS team is not all that significant, it was another opportunity for them to lose (plus it made it easier for me to do these rankings).

After ranking the 4 teams at 7-0, I ranked the 6 teams who are 6-0. My #5 team this week is Oklahoma, who destroyed Iowa State and jumped 2 spots in my rankings from 7th. The Sooners are 6-0 against FBS teams and 3-0 against BCS teams. However, they have played only 1 true road game.

Oregon dropped 2 spots in my rankings this week from 4th to 6th, as they were idle and stayed at 6-0. The Ducks are also 1 of only 2 of the undefeated teams to be just 5-0 against FBS teams. However, they are 4-0 against BCS opponents and 3-0 on the road. The Ducks also have a very solid win over Stanford.

Both Boise State and Utah moved up 2 spots in my rankings this week after humbling lesser opponents to get to 6-0. The Broncos shutout San Jose State 48-0 and moved from 9th to 7th in these rankings. They are 6-0 against FBS teams and 3-0 on the road, but they are only 2-0 against BCS teams. Also, they really don’t have a huge win (and that means they probably won’t have one at all in the regular season unless Virginia Tech wins out or does something close to that). Utah whipped Wyoming 30-6 and moved up 2 spots from 10th to 8th in these rankings. The Utes do not have as good a win as Boise State’s victories over Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh. They are also just 2-0 against BCS teams. However, they are 6-0 against FBS teams and 3-0 on the road. More importantly in the long run, they will have several more opportunities to get quality and semi-quality wins the rest of the way.

Two new teams occupied the 9th and 10th spots in these rankings again this week. Both teams come from the Big XII. Oklahoma State is my #9 team this week. The Cowboys got a fairly impressive 34-17 win over Texas Tech on the road last week. They are 6-0 against FBS teams and 3-0 against BCS teams. They are 2-0 on the road, but their other road win came at Louisiana-Lafayette, and one of their wins over BCS teams was at home against Washington State. Missouri was the new #10 team this week. The Tigers hammered Texas A&M 30-9 last week. They are only 5-0 against FBS teams and just 1-0 on the road, though they are 3-0 against BCS teams and their road victory over A&M is at least somewhat significant (I think…).

Two teams dropped out of these rankings this week, and it doesn’t take a MENSA member to figure out why. Ohio State lost for the first time on Saturday night (at Wisconsin), while Nevada lost for the first time early Sunday morning (at Hawaii). The Buckeyes fell from 3rd all the way out of the rankings, but I would be surprised if they didn’t make another appearance in these rankings this season. Nevada dropped from 8th to out of the rankings, and it’s highly unlikely (and that’s probably putting it way too lightly) that the Wolf Pack will be included in these rankings again.

The College Football Blog: 2010 Power Rankings (After Week 7)

Power Rankings after Week 7

1. Oregon 6-0 (1st)
2. Alabama 6-1 (3rd)
3. Oklahoma 6-0 (4th)
4. Ohio State 6-1 (2nd)
5. Boise State 6-0 (5th)
6. TCU 7-0 (6th)
7. Auburn 7-0 (8th)
8. Iowa 5-1 (11th)
9. Michigan State 7-0 (13th)
10. South Carolina 4-2 (9th)
11. Arkansas 4-2 (10th)
12. Stanford 5-1 (12th)
13. Wisconsin 6-1 (NR)
14. LSU 7-0 (14th)
15. Nebraska 5-1 (7th)

Out: Florida (15th).

Explanation: It’s getting harder to do these rankings. This week there was movement throughout my power rankings. Two teams with 2 losses are included in my rankings this week ahead of several undefeated and 1-loss teams. But the goal of these rankings was not to be overly swayed by wins and losses. This might seem like an absurd goal to some, but I actually think it makes at least as much sense as ranking teams on a conveyor belt, moving them up when they win and down when they lose, regardless of opponent. That’s basically the way that the traditional polls work (AP, Coaches, Harris) and it’s pretty mindless.

This week was a good example of the way that voters often seem to put little to no serious thought into their rankings. It’s as if they’re filling these things out between courses at dinner, scribbling them out on a napkin smudged with Caesar dressing. Missouri came into last weekend ranked 21st in the AP poll, while Arkansas and was ranked 12th. Mizzu won on the road over Texas A&M, a team that Arkansas had beaten on a neutral field the week before and a team who had won by only 7 points at home over FIU earlier this season. Arkansas lost on the road to Auburn (a team ranked 4th in the AP this week) after leading in the 2nd half, and playing the entire 2nd half without their Heisman candidate quarterback. This new information wouldn’t seem to warrant a major shift in the view of either Missouri or Arkansas. However, Arkansas dropped 11 spots from 12th to 23rd, while Missouri climbed 10 spots from 21st to 11th. It’s understandable that someone would tend to want to place a 6-0 team ahead of a 4-2 team, but it shouldn’t be automatic. If Auburn is the 4th best team in the country (which the AP says it is), than is losing a shootout to the Tigers on the road without their star quarterback really grounds for moving the Hogs 11 spaces back (behind Kansas State!). Of course there are a million examples like this in every poll, every week of the year. That’s why I make an effort in my power rankings not to be swayed too much by win-loss record and by the most recent events.

Oregon was off last week and thus the Ducks remained #1 in my rankings. Ohio State had been #2 but they lost by 13 points at Wisconsin, and I decided to move them down 2 spots to 4th. Most people probably moved the Buckeyes down farther. I will admit that I expected Ohio State to win, but losing a night game against Wisconsin is not the end of the world. I do think that the Buckeyes need to work on kickoff coverage.

I was actually not very impressed by Alabama’s 23-10 win over Mississippi at home, but I moved them up a spot in my rankings from 3rd to 2nd. It’s possible that Bama’s drop-off from last year has been greater than I thought. They could easily have lost to Arkansas and their wins over Florida and Penn State do not look as good as they did at the time. Their loss to South Carolina doesn’t look quite as respectable as it did at the time either. But for now I’m going to wait and see how things progress.

Oklahoma demolished Iowa State and moved up a spot in my rankings from 4th to 3rd. We should learn more about the Sooners this week when they face Missouri. Some of their wins have been shakier than expected, but they have shown some signs of being the dominant team that I thought they would be this year.

I’m sure I would be crushed by the section of sports fans who are obsessed with the idea of teams from the WAC and the Mountain West playing for the National Championship. I kept Boise State 5th and TCU 6th this week. I’m sorry, but I just didn’t learn anything new about those two teams last week. Boise State ran over San Jose State, a team that also lost at home to UC Davis and only beat Southern Utah at home 16-11. TCU won 31-3 over BYU, and ordinarily that would be really impressive, but this season BYU lost to Utah State by 15 and lost at home to Nevada by 14. I actually think that TCU and Boise State are 2 of the best teams in the country, which is why I have them ranked ahead of 2 different 7-0 SEC teams, but I haven’t seen anything to make me think that they would beat any of my top 4 teams on a neutral field.

As stated above, Auburn won 65-43 over Arkansas last week to get to 7-0, and I moved the Tigers up a spot from 8th to 7th in my rankings. Auburn certainly has an offense that is very tough to stop, as they scored 65 points on a team that had allowed a total of 65 points to Georgia, Alabama, and Texas A&M. However, they also gave up 43 points, to a team that only scored 31 against ULM and played most of the game without their quarterback.

Two Big Ten teams made significant moves in my rankings this week. Iowa won by 10 over Michigan on the road and I moved them up 3 spots from 11th to 8th. Michigan State beat Illinois to improve to 7-0, moving up 4 spots in my rankings from 13th to 9th. I moved those teams ahead of South Carolina and Arkansas, who both lost competitive games on the road in the SEC. I only moved South Carolina down 1 spot from 9th to 10, even though their loss to Kentucky was a disappointment (not to me personally, but in terms of how good I thought they were). There were several reasons why I didn’t drop them farther down. First of all, losing on the road in the SEC (to any team other than Vandy) is not like losing at home to James Madison. They also played the entire 2nd half without their best player (RB Marcus Lattimore) which is the main reason that they blew an 18 point lead and lost. Plus, they threw a pass into the end zone with 11 seconds left that could easily have been a game winning touchdown, but it was tipped and caught by a Kentucky player for an interception that kept South Carolina from trying a game tying FG. And it’s just not easy to play high intensity games week after week. South Carolina was coming off of a win over Alabama at home, and they weren’t able to get past Kentucky last week. I also moved Arkansas down a spot from 10th to 11th. I know that Arkansas has now lost twice and does not really have a big win, but their 2 losses have come to Alabama by 4 and to Auburn on the road without their QB. And they led late in both games.

Stanford was idle and stayed at #12. The only new team in my rankings this week is Wisconsin, who returns at #13. The Badgers got a huge win over Ohio State last week, and their lone loss at Michigan State is looking better all the time. LSU was unimpressive (again) in their home win over McNeese State and they remained 14th in my rankings.

Nebraska took the biggest tumble in my power rankings this week, dropping 8 spots from 7th to 15th after their home loss to Texas. Texas was coming off of a bye, and Nebraska was crushed by a slew of dropped passes, but the Longhorns basically exposed NU’s offense. Taylor Martinez began the game as a Heisman candidate (the front runner to some) and began (and ended) the 2nd half on the bench.

Florida was the only team to fall out of my power rankings this week. The Gators had been 15th in my rankings but they lost their 3rd straight game on Saturday, falling at home to Mississippi State. I was all wrong about Florida this season. My biggest concern for them going into the season was on defense, where they lost almost everyone (including their great defensive coordinator). However, it was their offense that I badly misjudged. This is by far the least effective offense the Gators have had under Urban Meyer. Going into this season, the Gators had scored at least 13 points in 56 of their 57 games with Meyer as head coach. They’ve been held to 7 points or less in 2 of their last 3 games.