The Vigorish: still slightly better than flipping a coin.
Matt: My back feels a little lighter this week—I finally lost on a Saturday and have been given a brief reprieve from having to single-handedly carry the college football side of The Vigorish like Atlas beneath the globe. Andy is more like Sisyphus.
I didn’t love any of the lines this week, which is the opposite problem I usually have on the CFB side. I ultimately settled on the over when Oklahoma heads to Baylor because their combined points per game is over 79 points and neither team is known for having a particularly stellar defense. Now, that being said, “them bastards in the desert” (h/t Andy) setting the O/U at 62 feels very much like a trap, but for the life of me I don’t see the spikes. The Sooners haven’t scored less than 35 since September and the Bears have put up at least 28 the last four weeks. Add those up and you get 63, which is still a win for us.
I will stipulate that Oklahoma had some unexpected problems at Kansas a couple of weeks ago, and that’s part of why I like the over more than the Sooners laying 5.5 here. Baylor, too, is coming off a loss at a very mediocre TCU team. The outcome of the game itself could go in unexpected directions, but the offenses are still putting up points, and on top of that each team is gaining an average of over 450 yards a game while giving up more than 360. This isn’t a big rivalry game, either, where one or both of the teams could feel the pressure and come out tight. How could there not be fireworks?
Matt’s Saturday pick: Over 62, Oklahoma at Baylor
Andy: You can skip to my Sunday pick, if you’d like. No hard feelings.
Still here? Join me in laying 20 points against the Tennessee Volunteers. Georgia is very good, and at this point I’d just like to experience the thrill of betting on a team I know is good.
Tennessee has not been bad by any means this year, basically the definition of a puncher’s chance team cursed to play a murderous schedule. But in between trading haymakers with Kentucky last week and falling to Ole Miss in a close one, they lost to Alabama by nearly 30. They lost to Florida by 34 earlier in the year.
They’ve been much better at home – where their fans rained golf balls on Lane Kiffin and Ole Miss – but they’re 4-5 against the spread on the season and there’s nothing in their resume that makes me especially scared about their ability to keep it within three touchdowns.
That’s largely because of what Georgia has done this year. They’re 6-3 ATS despite laying big numbers every week.
Andy’s Saturday pick: Georgia (-20) over TENNESSEE
Matt: Last week I violated one of my own rules (no betting on divisional games), again—and paid for it, again. This week I like yet another rule-violating game with Chiefs-Raiders but I’m going to leave it alone. That’s what you call progress.
Recently, The Vigorish has made a habit of picking against the Eagles, the WFT, or both. It’s worked out pretty well for us! Not coincidentally, this time around I narrowed my picks down to either the Bucs laying 9.5 at WFT or the Broncos giving 2.5 at home against the Eagles, and choosing between two favorites brings up something a reader asked me recently: do I consider myself a sharp? The immediate answer is no, of course, because betting on sports is not something I do for a living (or at all, since it is currently illegal in California, thumbs-up emoji). More than that, though, I also don’t bet the way a sharp bets—with very few exceptions, I’ve been picking favorites and laying points all year.
This has a few ramifications. When it comes to the NFL I only bet dogs if I think they’ll win outright and I hate big lines, so I’m usually limiting myself to favorites giving less than 6 points. That takes a lot of options off the board. Further, if you’re a regular here you know I try (emphasis on try) to operate on the NFL side under certain other imperatives, like my “no divisional games” rule. This, too, takes possibilities off the board. Check each week and you’ll see that there aren’t a ton of games where the favorite in a non-divisional game is laying less than six and isn’t the Jets, but that’s usually all I’m working with if I’m abiding by my guardrails (and if I don’t I usually get my ass kicked like I did last week). All of that to say, sharps have a lot more tools in their toolbox than I do.
Now back to the pick: I said I was looking at Bucs -9.5 and Broncos -2.5. My guardrails tell me to avoid the big line. That’s fine because Denver looked downright inspired last week beating the Cowboys by two touchdowns in Dallas. Accordingly, we’re going with the Broncos (and mulling a new “when in doubt bet against Philly or Washington” rule for the rest of 2021).
Matt’s Sunday pick: BRONCOS (-2.5) over Eagles
Andy: The Packers-Seahawks line is tempting. If Aaron Rodgers plays, laying 3.5 at home against the Seahawks is an easy call. But this puts me in the position of rooting for Aaron Rodgers to play, and to play well, and in that I have no interest.
I’m taking the Chargers in a matchup between two teams who only know how to play weird games. Week after week the Vikings offense looks great through their scripted series then goes to sleep until they’re in a must-score situation, when they again look like a team with Pro Bowlers at the skill positions and a highly paid QB.
The Chargers aren’t the team anyone wanted them to be, but after two bad games Herbert got right against a bad Eagles defense, as we expected. The Vikings play the good version of the Eagles defensive scheme, but that still leaves them as a mediocre unit.
A home win here, where they need to cover just three, and the Chargers will begin to remind everyone why they were NFL Twitter’s favorite team back in September.
Andy’s Sunday pick: CHARGERS (-3) over Vikings
What do you think of the picks? Leave a comment.