4 Unit Play. Take #228 Fresno St +2.5 over Houston (8:30p.m., Sunday December 24 ESPN – Hawaii Bowl)
Fresno St has already played on the main island this year and stole a victory over Hawaii 31-21 and on Christmas Eve evening in Aloha Stadium in Hawaii I see the Bulldogs winning again. Not only did the Bulldogs win 8 out of their last 10 games but ended the season with a 10-2-1 ATS and I see their momentum carrying over in this bowl matchup between Houston. The Houston Cougars split their last 6 games and I was not sold on Houston in their last road game against Tulane and if they play like they did in that game the Bulldogs easily win this game. A bit shocked that this game was not a ‘Pick’ as I believe the Fresno St Bulldogs taking control of this game in the second half and they continue to cover football games. Fresno St is 11-1 ATS against a team with a winning record and the Houston Cougars are 2-5 ATs against Mountain West teams.
The Legion of Boom is dead. It doesn’t exist without Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor. Injuries, attribution and low morale have turned Seattle’s dominant defense into a mediocre unit vulnerable to a great running back. During its last two games, Seattle has given up a combined 72 points to the Jaguars and Rams. Leonard Fournette rushed for 101 yards against Seattle and Todd Gurley ran for 152 yards and three touchdowns this past Sunday versus the Seahawks. Now Seattle draws maybe the best running back in football, Ezekiel Elliott. Elliott is going to be fresh returning from a six-game suspension. Elliott’s presence transforms Dallas’ entire offense especially Dak Presoctt, making him far more dangerous with play-action and targeting downfield receivers. The Cowboys averaged 31.6 points a game during Elliott’s past six games never once falling below 28 points in this span. The desperate Seahawks are going to put up their share of points, too. Russell Wilson is having his finest season one worthy of league MVP status. The Cowboys have defensive injuries, too, particularly in the secondary and at linebacker. The Cowboys have recorded only five sacks in their last six games, lowest in the league during this time frame. So Seattle’s below average offensive line isn’t going to be as exposed as normal.
There’s line inflation here because of the Rams trampling the Seahawks, 42-7, and the Titans losing to the 49ers after also falling to the Cardinals two weeks ago. The Rams are in a tough situational spot now and the Titans finally are back home where they play much better. Tennessee has won nine of its last 10 home games. Marcus Mariota has had four of his five highest rated passing games at home this season with the other one coming against San Francisco this past Sunday. The Rams have a banged-up secondary. Just two weeks ago, they surrendered four touchdown passes to the Eagles. The lookahead line for this game last week before Sunday’s action was Rams minus three. So the line has more than doubled. The Rams were impressive against the Seahawks. But Seattle also played terrible, by far its worst game of the season. Still, that was the Rams’ biggest victory in more than a decade and all but clinched the NFC West Division title for them. The Rams have a lot of youth, including their head coach. They have to travel cross-country in an obvious letdown spot right before Christmas. They’re going to encounter a desperate and physical Titans team. Tennessee has the ability to control clock, taking advantage of LA’s 24th-ranked run defense with one of the better running back tandems in the league with DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry. A hidden key to the Rams’ success is their special teams. Now those special teams took a monster hit with Greg Zuerlein out for the season with a herniated disc in his back. He was having one of the best kicking seasons in NFL history leading the league in scoring while making 38 of 40 field goals. So the Rams go from having the best kicker in football to going with unknown Sam Ficken.
The bar is not set very high here for Denver to cover, plus I have to believe the veteran Broncos show up knowing Vance Joseph isn’t likely to be fired and the roster will be retooled during the off-season. This is an important showcase game for the Broncos especially quarterbacks Brock Osweiler and Paxton Lynch. Both could see action. I don’t like either player, although Osweiler is coming off a rare splendid performance. Keep in mind, though, Washington ranks 29th in scoring defense and will be without Zach Brown, the top tackler in the league. The Redskins defense had to defend 80 plays last week, a monster number made worse by this being so late in the season. So they could easily wilt. The Broncos will be the much fresher team since they played last Thursday. I do like the Broncos’ defense very much. This is a defense that carried them to a Super Bowl victory just two seasons ago and still retains dominant pass rushers and lock down defensive backs. Denver has been playing its best defense during the past two weeks holding the Jets and Colts to a combined 13 points and less than 350 yards. The Broncos defense can dominate weak offenses and Washington’s offense is sputtering done in by a cluster injury problem in the offensive line and its top weapons out. The Redskins permitted 23 sacks last season. They’ve allowed 38 already this season and will be minus their best offensive lineman with left tackle Trent Williams out with a knee injury. The Redskins could have another new offensive line combination this week depending on injuries. Kirk Cousins can’t generate much offense anymore because of his makeshift offensive line and down his top receiver, Jordan Reed, and best running back, Chris Thompson. Washington has weak special teams, too, so its offense doesn’t often get good starting field position. I’m expecting the crowd count to be way down with this game rendered meaningless so the Redskins’ home field advantage is reduced.
In what has been another stellar NFL campaign it is noteworhty to state that I have not backed Cleveland at any point this season. And it has been a successful strategy so far. The Browns are 2-11 ATS over their last 13 games and winless in 2017.
Count on two variables being critical to this game for the Browns. First, they close their season at Pittsburgh next week. And this is their one true opportunity to not be an 0-16 club. Expect nothing but all-out effort by a Browns club that will be much more motivated than their counterpoint on Sunday.
In a nutshell the Brownies are better equiped to score points when comparing the personnel of both teams. The Bears are as vanilla and pedestrian as any team in the league, more so in truth, and while their rookie quarterback has been growing in his role they are no worthy of the handicap they are offering this week.
The playerswill not give their all out effort for soon to be fired coach John Fox, The Bears defense doesn’t do anything special to create turnovers and defense that ranks in the bottom half in takeaways. And while it is easy to laugh at the Brownies the same can be said about Chicago.
Getting a touchdown in this event with inconsistent DeShone Kizer and his integrated wide out Josh Gordon – in combination Corey Coleman and tailback Isaiah Crowell make this arguably the strongest play of Week #16.
The Bears are simply not a club you can support carrying a touchdown handicap. They are not equited nor do they have the DNMA to cover a number like this Sunday’s spread.
5% Detroit Lions -3.0 (+100)
There isn’t a lot to analyize in this Non-Conference event between the alive Lions and the lame-duck Bengals. There a handful of NFL team that can claim disappointment over the last decade-plus but few as significant as the Bengals. Cincy missed their window with Dalton two years back and the talented and smart signal caller deserved more than he was offered by his coaching staff and front office. However, now it is time to dismantle this team and the first player out should be Dalton. He isn’t close to who he was three to four season ago.
HC Marvin Lewis is on his way out, as is his staff, and the front office is already planning how they will approach next season, their current roster and gthe draft.
You won’t hear or see just how injury riddled this club is on ESPN because they are not a team that will be in this year’s postseason and they don’t have a revelant player that will be a free agent. It isn’t a stretch to not only cliam this team is done in 2017 but are utterly depleted.
Not just injury plagued but the team as a whole are disinterested. Additionally they have seven starters from their decent defense that is on the shelf. This inlcudes their three best linebackers.
It isn’t typically profitable to play against teams that have nothing to play for. In this case they typcially have nothing to lose, either. But this play is more about what the Lions have to play for and the advantages they have in this event. Detroit’s weaknesses are also the Bengals soft spots.
The Lions can actually run the football on Sunday against the injury plagued Cats. Also there is plenty of evidence that Detroit is the master of teams with losing records. Detroit is 6-0 SU and 5-0-1 ATS versus this category. Looking at the Lions wins and covers this season you will find they have defeated Arizona, the Giants, the Brownies and the Bucs… and the Bears twice. This is the category that Cincy resides in.
Detroit is in a must win situation and when you have a quarterback with a QB rating of 100 against a defense like the Bengals sport it is double-digit victory makings.
The Bengals have no answwer for Stafford to Golden Tate and Marvin Jones — their seclondary is in shambles — and that alone makes Detroit a 10=plus point winner in this event.