NAVY at HOUSTON (Friday)
We can see a similar scenario here to what Memphis faced with the Middies, in that Navy is new to the American Athletic Conference, and therefore Houston hasn’t seen their option. So far, so good for Navy’s first experience in conference competition, as they can put themselves into the AAC title with a win. Will it be difficult for the Cougars to slow down Keenan Reynolds? You bet it will; Reynolds is not only the NCAA’s all-time leader in rushing touchdowns (with 18 this year), but the Midshipmen are averaging 348 yards on the ground. Navy, which is a consistent road warrior (25-13 ATS last 38 as a visitor), is also 8-2 against the number this season and has 27 natives of Texas on the roster. As a pure passer, we’re not sure Houston’s Greg Ward is really a preferable alternative to backup Kyle Postma, who had to stand in for him last week. Go NAVY!
OHIO STATE at MICHIGAN (Saturday)
Oh boy – here is the dicey psychological situation for Ohio State, which had its hopes for a national title repeat dashed last week against Michigan State, as they lost a home game against a team playing second and third-string QB’s. Maybe that gives us more value in the number here, IF they can bounce back. And should that be a problem in this most heated rivalry, where by the way, the Buckeyes have won ten of the last eleven meetings? Remember that Michigan had a pretty good defensive unit last year too, and JT Barrett burned them for 265 passing yards as OSU scored 42 points. Michigan gave up just 38 points in the first six games; over the last five they have surrendered 126. Over that same period, against, for the most part, similar opposition, OSU has allowed just 51 points. Interesting…..Let’s look for the Buckeyes to slow down Jake Rudock, who’s had over 1000 passing yards in the last three games, and make it eleven out of 12 in this border war.
GEORGIA at GEORGIA TECH (Saturday)
Nice to see that Georgia coach Mark Richt got his wits about him and went back to Greyson Lambert (just two INT’s in 211 throws) at quarterback. The graduate transfer bombed out a bit for Virginia against Georgia Tech last season, so he gets another crack at the Yellow Jackets here. Remember that the Bulldogs strategically scheduled Georgia Southern last week so that they could have some extra time prepping for the option. That counts for something. So does the fact that Paul Johnson’s team is 1-8 both SU and ATS in the last nine; that Georgia has won the last seven games played in Atlanta, and that the visitor has reigned supreme against the number (14-2-1 ATS last 17 meetings). It is GEORGIA’s day.
SAN DIEGO at JACKSONVILLE
Who would have thought at the beginning of the season that Jacksonville would wind up favored by more than a field goal in this one, and that the JAGS would be the team in contention for a playoff spot? Well, that is exactly the way things are, and at last Blake Bortles is finding a useful connection with a pair of wide receivers (Allen Burns and Allen Robinson) with some upside in the person of Julius Thomas. Philip Rivers has a nicked-up offensive line and wide receiver attrition with Keenan Allen out for the year and Malcom Floyd (torn labrum) just coming back to practice. J-Ville is tops in the NFL against the run, allowing just 3.4 yards per carry, with means Philip Rivers will likely have to heave it up a million times again. But are the Chargers quitting? Last week’s 33-3 loss to Kansas City would seem to indicate that. We’re laying the points with the Jags.
OAKLAND at TENNESSEE
The Oakland offense, which has been showing some real promise, has been slowed down considerably the last couple of weeks by Minnesota and Detroit. So yes, the Raiders are somewhat unpredictable. And they have been traveling a lot. But Tennessee wins so infrequently; the Titans’ only two victories have come against a Tampa Bay team with a first-time starter at quarterback (Jameis Winston) and a New Orleans defense that sprung so many leaks that it looked like Hurricane Katrina had returned. Under these circumstances, we prefer the Oakland weaponry, especially as Derek Carr is more capable of handling Dick LeBeau’s defensive looks than he would have been at this time last season. Take note that Tennessee has scored 13 points or less in six of its last seven games. We’re on OAKLAND.
NEW ENGLAND at DENVER
Can you deal with the proposition that Tom Brady is not going to carve up this defense like he has some others? It is probable that this Broncos’ unit is the best in the NFL; they are best as far as yards per attempt is concerned (5.6) and second best against the run (3.5 ypc). This is where the loss of Dion Lewis and Julian Edelman, two legitimate offensive weapons, may come back to bite the undefeated Pats. By the same token, we’re not like a lot of the media, running wild with the notion that Brock Osweiler is about to swipe the Denver quarterback job away from Peyton Manning. He is adequate, but he’d have to show us more. And we’re not sure he’s going to do an awful lot of business against whatever defensive schemes Bill Belichick and his staff cook up. We’ll go UNDER the total here.
(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/)