Locks and Keys
Last week was a rocky start at best on the books. Succumbing to a losing record after a few bad breaks does not a season make, however. This week I'm looking for a bounce back, hopefully moving me back over .500.
I typically feature a majority of college games, just having so many more games leaves more opportunity, and it's usually easier to find the lines you love when your picking from 100 games versus just 16 in the NFL, 15 if you don't count Thursday, which I don't.
This week is a bit different as I'm going to feature three NFL games and two college contests. Can't wait to see if it pays off. Let's get to it! Prediction: Colorado -3.5 vs. Air Force. I'm slowly turning into a big fan of this Colorado team. Coming off a very impressive come back win last week against Nebraska, they should be full of confidence hosting Air Force this week. Led by Quarterback Steven Montez and likely first round pick Laviska Shenault Jr. at the wide out spot, look for the Buffaloes to make this game a track meet against an inferior air force secondary.
Very much on the flip side, it's likely Air Force doesn't put the ball in the air the entire game. The Falcons absolutely gashed Colgate last week, and it's always impressive to see a team find consistent success on the ground when the opposing defense knows what's coming.
That being sad, I just don't think Air Force will be able to keep up with a high powered offense on the road. Colorado should be able to get enough stops to pull away and win this game by double digits. Prediction: Buffalo -6 @ Liberty The Bulls were impressive all last year, but after losing quarterback Tyree Jackson to the NFL, many thought they would really drop off in 2019. Watching them against Penn State last week has me thinking another winning season is in store. Looking at the final score in that game doesn't tell the whole story. Not even close. The Bulls were ahead 10-7 in Happy Valley last week at the half before the wheels fell off in the third quarter. Even being able to hang with a powerhouse like PSU for 30 minutes was enough proof for me to confidently believe they can really poor it on against a winless Liberty team.
Liberty hasn't shown us anything yet this year to make me think they could win this game. Losing 28-0 against Syracuse at the time didn't shock a ton of people, but after watching what Maryland did to the Orange, the scoreless loss looks a little worse. They then lost 35-14 to LA-Lafayette on the road last week. It wouldn't shock me to see the Bulls beat both of those teams, and I think they win this one big on the road. Something to the tune of 38-17.
Prediction: Bengals -1 vs. 49ers. A lot of people are going to be surprised to see Cincinnati favored in this one, but I think this is going to be a bit of a statement game for the Bengals, a team that nobody has high hopes for in 2019. They looked pretty solid last week, even in a losing effort.
They went on the road across country, held the Seahawks to under three yards-per-carry, and lost by one point while Andy Dalton had 400 yards and 2 touchdowns and no turnovers. I still don't expect Cincinnati to get out of the AFC North basement, but six-or-seven wins seems reasonable if they can keep that level of inspired play up.
Glancing back at what San Fran did last week, they were also road underdogs going across country, except they came out with a pretty decisive win down in Tampa. The reason I'm leaning toward the orange and black this week is more so my concern with Garoppolo. He looked hesitant and unsure of his game against one of the perceived worst defenses in the NFL, and frankly, that game was more lost by Jameis Winston than won by any member of the 49ers. I'm looking for Cincinnati to win their home opener this week 24-20. Prediction: Colts +3.5 @ Titans I believe this line would look a lot different if it wasn't for such a dominating performance by Tennessee against the new "Americas Team" in Cleveland. Here's to thinking that was more about Cleveland buckling under high expectations in Week 1 than Tennessee being the powerhouse they looked to be. I still think the Titans will be their perennial 9-7 selves, but I like the visitors this week.
Indianapolis was of course shocked by the surprise retirement of Andrew Luck right before the season. But if it was going to happen to any team, the Colts might have been the most prepared team in the NFL for that to happen, possessing probably the best back-up quarterback in the league in Jacoby Brissett.
They fell short last week on the road against the Chargers, but it was overall a promising performance. Brissett played mistake free ball, while Marlon Mack looked like a potential break out star. I expect Indy to win the turnover battle, forcing a few mistakes from Mariota, and squeaking out a big division win on the road, 20-17.
Prediction: Cardinals +13 @ Ravens Thirteen is a lot of points in the NFL. Yes Baltimore is home, yes Arizona was the worst team in the league last year, yes Baltimore won in very convincing fashion in Week 1 on the road against the lowly Dolphins, but I like the underdogs to cover this one on the performance of their quarterback.
I'm not a huge Kyler Murray believer, and I still think height matters at the quarterback position. But the kid showed me enough last week against a good Lions team that I don't see a blowout coming Sunday. I think Arizona is a much more inspired team than Miami, and the defense wont roll over for Lamar Jackson. I think they play smart defense, and Murray makes just enough explosive plays to keep this one close. Ravens win, 31-25.
***Bonus Prediction*** One line that really popped off the page this week was Maryland -7 @ Temple. After watching Maryland go for 60+ 2 weeks in a row against Howard and Syracuse, why is this a one-story spread? I expect well over 80% of the money to be on the Terps, and I expect this line to sneak closer to 10 before kickoff.
Now Temple is home, and they're an experienced team, but they shouldn't be in this game on paper. But try telling them that. This is a prime opportunity for the Owls to pull a big upset in front of their home crowd, taking down the nation's hottest team. This game very well could be a trap for Maryland. I expect Maryland to barely escape with a win in this one, leading a two-minute drill to win on a last second score after trailing the majority of this game, once the shell shock wears off. Pun intended. (Turtles have shells). Maryland escapes 38-35.