We had kind of an unusual split-out last week, going 3-0 in the college ranks but 0-3 with the pros. Here we go again….
INDIANA at MARYLAND
Yes, it is true that the Hoosiers have lost six games in a row. But if this time wants to go bowling, it is now or never, as Kevin Wilson’s team has to notch road wins against Maryland and Purdue to get there. As we mentioned last week, we have appreciated how IU has been able to make a game of it against superior Big ten foes (Ohio State, Iowa, Michigan), although allowing Jake Rudock his career high in passing yards last week was a path to defeat. Maryland not so explosive on the offensive side, where passers struggle to hit half their throws. Indiana has the best QB on the field in Nate Sudfeld, and more importantly, the top running back in Jordan Howard (1199 yards, 6.2 ypc). Taking the points with the better team here – INDIANA.
NORTH CAROLINA at VIRGINIA TECH
Clearly there are certain fundamental reasons to go with the Tar Heels, who have won nine straight games after losing their opener. But there are some intangibles going for the Hokies that can’t be denied. First and foremost is that Frank Beamer is coaching his final home game before retirement, so you know you are going to see a balls-out effort. UNC quarterback Marquise Williams has problems reading defenses, and Virginia Tech (48% completions allowed) had him flustered in last year’s meeting. There has been some progress made on the Tar Heel stop unit since the hiring of Gene Chizik, although it would be hard not to take steps forward. They have allowed just 176 passing yards a game, but they also yield 4.7 yards per rush, and VT offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler is intimately acquainted with the way Chizik does things; after all, he worked under him at Auburn. Taking the points with the HOKIES.
NOTRE DAME at BOSTON COLLEGE (at Fenway Park)
This game is being played at Fenway Park, and the running joke is that BC may tally less than an average Red Sox score here. Makes sense, as hitting one over the Green Monster doesn’t count for much. Since a 73-0 win over Howard, the Eagles have scored just 73 points in eight games (which constitutes the entirely of their action against FBS foes). But do we see their very capable, top-ranked defense tiring against an Irish squad that rested running back CJ Prosise last week? That’s a different question, as they have slowed most opponents to a crawl (2.1 ypc allowed, for example). Here they have a freshman QB to go against (DeShone Kizer) and a history of getting up emotionally for this opponent. All this translates, for our purposes, into an UNDER.
OAKLAND at DETROIT
There is some reason to believe that the Lions, after their shuffling of the coaching staff, used the bye week to get things together, with the result being the first win at Green Bay since 1991. Yes, that’s impressive, but let’s remember that this is a bad team, and bad teams do things like getting caught reading their press clippings after big emotional wins. The Raiders, off an extremely disappointing home loss to Minnesota, may not have had what it took to slow down Adrian Peterson, but they can probably deal with under-achieving rookie Ameer Abdullah. Stopping the pass is another situation altogether. Oakland’s Derek Carr, with his 21 TD-six INT ratio, as well as his standout pair of receivers. (Michael Crabtree, Amari Cooper), would seem fully prepared to get into a shootout, win or lose. We are OVER 48.5 in this one.
GREEN BAY at MINNESOTA
When the Packers lost to the Lions, after beating them repeatedly at Lambeau since 1991, it was a sure sign that something was wrong. You can’t ignore that. Maybe it’s a matter of the injury to Jordy Nelson catching up to this team, as Davante Adams none too explosive (10.1 yards per catch) in the “third receiver” role. It is true that Aaron Rodgers has superior numbers to Teddy Bridgewater, but right now a lot of the pistons are pumping in Minneapolis, with Adrian Peterson on a huge comeback campaign (961 yards – topped 200 vs. Oakland last week), and Stefon Diggs (507 receiving yards) surprising many as a rookie sleeper. Vikings are improved on the stop end, yielding just 32% on third down, and they have now covered eight games in a row. We’ll be with the MINNESOTA side.
SAN FRANCISCO at SEATTLE
The recent history indicates rough sledding for the Niners, who have scored 13 points and put together 38 first downs and 286 passing yards against the Seattle defense over the past three games COMBINED. With Blaine Gabbert having “earned” a second start based on the defense-driven win over Atlanta two weeks ago, San Francisco’s troubles may be magnified. The Seahawks should have a pumped-up intensity level as they are back below the .500 mark, but we’re not sure we are going to get a heck of a lot out of their running game. Can Frisco get on the board, with Gabbert or Colin Kaepernick, who may see some relief time? We’re looking UNDER in this one.
(Charles Jay is a gaming professional, content specialist and sports handicapper. He offers his special commentary in the 2015 Sports Betting Guide –http://2015sportsbettingguide.com/)