I’ve long believed that soccer gets it right by not only allowing games to end in ties but awarding a point to each team. It should be worth something to not win but also not lose. It’s just a happy coincidence that the system puts Weekend Predictions is in a better light.
My picks against the spread were 6-6 last weekend. That’s my second break-even week of the season against two wins and a loss. I’m not meeting my high standards, but I’m safe from relegation to a lower level, which for me would be picking games straight-up. That’s so boring.
Falcons (+9) at Buccaneers
Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen reportedly have hired divorce attorneys. Brady has played just OK by his standards. His professional and personal lives are not going well, so you know what that means. Brady is poised to stick it to the Falcons in the most unbearable way possible. The divorce will just guarantee he stays in Tampa Bay, doing so until he’s 50 years old or referees stop helping him, whichever comes first.
The Falcons are 1-2-1 against the spread as road underdogs of eight points or more under coach Arthur Smith. They lost 31-27 at the Rams in Week 2 as 10-point ‘dogs. Since then, they’ve won back-to-back games for the first time since weeks 8 and 9 of the 2020 season. The Falcons were the only NFL team to cover the spread in every game through four weeks. They won’t win in Tampa Bay, but they’ll cover again.
Auburn (+30) at No. 2 Georgia
Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett is promoting onions in a commercial. He knows better than anyone how many tears will flow if the Bulldogs try to cut corners in their title defense. There are many layers to Georgia’s struggles, but sinking your teeth into them will leave a bad taste in your mouth. I still think the Bulldogs can’t be stopped if they don’t turn the ball over, just like there’s no stopping me from making lame jokes.
Auburn is playing its first road game of the season in Week 6. Coach Bryan Harsin told reporters it’s hard to win on the road: “That’s why most places would like to believe they have a home-field advantage. But, when you get out on the field, it’s just football.” Harsin’s team proved his point by losing to Penn State and LSU at Jordan-Hare Stadium. I like the Tigers to cover with another good defensive effort.
Duke (-3½) at Georgia Tech
Per the Odds Shark database, the Blue Devils haven’t been favored on the road against a Power 5 opponent since Nov. 28, 2020. On that day Duke, favored by 2½ points, lost 56-33 to Georgia Tech. It was the first of many noncompetitive efforts to come for coach David Cutcliffe’s team. He was replaced after last season by Mike Elko, who has guided Duke (4-1, 1-0 ACC) to its best start since 2018.
While watching the Yellow Jackets (2-3, 1-1) win at Pittsburgh on Saturday night, I tried to keep in mind one lesson from my college intro-to-stats class. Just because the Jackets ended an eight-game losing streak against Power 5 opponents after interim coach Brent Key took over from Geoff Collins, it doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the reason why it happened. However, I choose to believe it’s that simple because it gives me another reason to take Tech to cover the spread in a loss.
Georgia Southern (+2½) at Georgia State
Georgia Southern leads the Sun Belt in passes per game. The people of Statesboro don’t seem to be revolting against the abandonment of their sacred triple-option. It probably helps that first-year coach Clay Helton, formerly of USC, won at Nebraska in his second game. The Eagles lose this game by at least a field goal as Georgia State’s revived running game keeps rolling.
No. 8 Tennessee (-3) at No. 25 LSU
LSU coach Brian Kelly went on the “Paul Finebaum Show” and said (via On3.com) that his takeaways from life in the SEC include the “fast and physical” players, the talent at the skill positions and defensive line depth. Did Kelly already forget the two postseason beatdowns Alabama put on his Notre Dame teams? The people who didn’t want to see the Fighting Irish in those games sure remember. I’m taking LSU and the points.
Texas Tech (+9½) at No. 7 Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State (5-0) is playing so well that people might forget that coach Mike Gundy advocated for bringing football players back to campus at the start of the pandemic because the school needed to “run money through the state of Oklahoma.” Somebody please beat the Cowboys so we can go back to ignoring their clown coach. Texas Tech is capable. The Red Raiders already own a victory over Texas, but unfortunately, I see Oklahoma State covering.
No. 11 Utah (-3½) at No. 18 UCLA
After flopping with the Eagles and 49ers, UCLA coach Chip Kelly has found his niche at a college program that cares enough about football to pay him a $4.6 million salary, but not so much that it will fire him for mediocre results. UCLA (5-0) has scored a lot of points. That ends against Utah (4-1), which plays better defense than any team the Bruins have faced. Utes cover.
No. 17 TCU (-6½) at No. 19 Kansas
ESPN’s “College Gameday” makes its first trip to Lawrence for the only FBS game of the weekend that features two undefeated teams. Lance Leipold parlayed a successful stint as Buffalo’s head coach into a job with Kansas. It barely seemed like a promotion to take over a program where Les Miles couldn’t meet the rock-bottom expectations. But after finishing 2-10 last season, the Jayhawks have ended the longest drought in the rankings among Power 5 teams (Oct. 24, 2009). TCU is better than any team KU has faced, and the Jayhawks scored only 14 points last weekend against Iowa State. TCU covers.
Arkansas (+9½) at No. 23 Mississippi State
Back-to-back losses to Texas A&M and Alabama have the Razorbacks facing the harsh reality that they haven’t been a top-5 team since selling their souls for Bobby Petrino. If Arkansas is willing to do so again, I’m sure Petrino is ready to be saved from his exile at Missouri State. Mike Leach’s Bulldogs are playing some good defense this year, but I like Arkansas to cover.
Other NFL games of interest
Seahawks (+5½) at Saints
Jameis Winston (back) sat out last week’s game against the Vikings, and Andy Dalton was “pretty good” in relief, coach Dennis Allen told reporters. However, Allen said that Winston will be the starter if he’s healthy. I guess Taysom Hill really isn’t the QB of the future in New Orleans. Good thing the Saints traded their first-round pick in the quarterback-rich 2023 draft. Seahawks cover.
49ers (-6½) at Panthers
Carolina’s Matt Rhule is the latest purported genius college coach to be exposed as lacking when the other coach usually has as many talented players as he does. ESPN reports the Panthers “possibly” could fire Rhule “if things don’t pick up soon.” It’s smart to wait, just in case Rhule’s 11-26 record isn’t enough of a sample to judge him. San Francisco covers.
Last week: 6-6 (25-23 season)