Dave’s Free Play, Friday 10/24/14

Quick takes on the week’s three completed college games:

UL Lafayette built a big early lead and then held off a late charge by Arkansas State that made it a little interesting. The Ragin’ Cajuns struggled in non-league play, but this very experienced entry has found its legs the last few weeks. Some peculiar early decision making by first year Arkansas State coach Blake Anderson proved costly.

Gallant effort by Connecticut in a 31-21 loss to heavily favored East Carolina. The Pirates jumped out to a 14-0 lead and it looked like the rout might be on. But the Huskies fought back to tie it at 21 and were in this game until the last couple minutes. ECU is battling Marshall for a possible major bowl berth and they really didn’t do themselves any favors with this lackluster performance.

Virginia Tech got massacred by Miami. The Hokies were totally inept on offense in the first half, and then turned it over three straight times to start the second half. Miami lost its shutout bid late on a fourth and long conversion by Virginia Tech, but this was a really impressive win for the Hurricanes. Did Virginia Tech actually beat Ohio State or was I hallucinating that day?

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Bad, bad call on Virginia Tech. But that was more than happily offset with two +150 dogs on the ice, with the Islanders and Blue Jackets each delivering the upset. So a +1.9 net gain and what has been an outstanding October continues. Subscribe to any of my available packages using the “buy now” tab on this page, and note there’s a +5 net unit guarantee with the monthly. If you’re playing for bigger bucks and prefer a performance based fee, ask about my net winners package by emailing me at cokin@cox.net.

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Here comes a free play on one of the Sunday NFL games. It’s the ultra-early duel overseas between the Lions and Falcons.

10/26 6:30 AM   NFL   (251) DETROIT LIONS  vs.  (252) ATLANTA FALCONS  (London, England)

Take: (251) DETROIT LIONS -3.5

The bad news is this game starts at a ridiculous hour for those of us on the left coast. The worse news is it’s not on the day the clocks get turned back one hour, so we don’t even get the extra hour of shuteye. That’s next Sunday.

The Lions should arrive in London in a cheery frame of mind. They’re off a terrific comeback win over the Saints and have set themselves up to make a serious run at a playoff berth and perhaps even a division title.

The Falcons are the home team in this skirmish, and considering the way they’re going right now, it’s probably just as well this home game is an ocean away from Atlanta. The Dirty Birds are really struggling and the sand in Mike Smith’s hourglass as this team’s coach is running out fast.

I’ve consistently made the point over the years that I like playing against lame duck coaches, or more specifically, those that are still working but that I consider to be lame ducks. Smith surely fits that bill at this point. Clearly, he can get off the hot seat if the Falcons can turn things around and mount a playoff run. In fact, that’s not as outlandish as it sounds as there are zero +.500 teams in the NFC South right now. But the reality is that this Falcons team is looking really raggedy, and I don’t see where the defensive improvement is going to come from.

It’s an admittedly simplistic approach on my part, but this looks like two squads heading in opposite directions right now. The Lions have won two straight and the victory against New Orleans had to be very encouraging. Atlanta has gone from 2-1 to 2-5 and they are starting to take on the look of a team that’s always waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop. I believe that ties in with the status of the coach. The players know the score and it’s difficult to envision Smith being around beyond the end of this season, barring an unforeseen surge.

I made this number Lions -5 and that’s basically on the math. Factor in some intangibles and I think a case can be made that this is closer to -7. Unless the Lions shoot themselves in the foot or come out flat this Sunday, it’s a game they figure to win, and the number shouldn’t get in the way. Lions minus the points is my choice.

Dave’s Free Play, Thursday 10/23/14

Another college hoop conference preview on tap today, with the West Coast Conference in the spotlight this time. It’s a conference with what amounts to one cinch NCAA team and a couple others who figure as bubble candidates. Not many surprises in this outfit the way I see it.

1. Gonzaga… About the only issue for this team as far as conference play is concerned is complacency. Gonzaga is loaded. Pangos and Bell comprise a terrific backcourt, the bigs are good, and the recruiting class could be tremendous. I can’t wait to see freshman Domantas Sabonis in action.  You might remember his dad?

2. BYU… As Tyler Haws goes, so go the Cougars. Veteran team, ample depth, solid coach. The big question is where the points come from in the paint. If BYU solves that issue, they’re Big Dance bound.

3. Saint Mary’s… Randy Bennett scored with the graduate transfer rule when he latched onto ex-Stanford star Aaron Bright. Of course, that’a assuming Bright relocates his 2012 form. The Gaels had some intensity issues at times last year. A repair of that tendency has this team back in the tournament convo come February.

4. Portland… This should be the best Pilots entry in some time. Kevin Bailey is terrific and Eric Reveno appears to have some good newcomers to supplement a very veteran cast of starters. Portland looks to be a solid fourth place entry.

5. San Francisco… I see quite a bit of separation from the top four to the rest of this league. The Dons are probably the best of the rest thanks to their ability to get some points inside but the backcourt is shaky.

6. San Diego… The Dee/Anderson backcourt is very good. But there’s little to be excited about among the bigs and I can’t see the Toreros being any better than .500.

7. Loyola Marymount… Mike Dunlap takes over the reigns from Max Good. The Lions were a very lazy team at times last season. So in spite of losing some good players, particularly Anthony Ireland, I think you’ll see this team improve this year.

8. Pepperdine… Losing Malcolm Banks was a big blow. Stacy Davis will be outstanding, and I’ve been impressed with the improvement the program has shown under Marty Wilson. But there’s just not enough talent on hand for more than mediocrity.

9. Santa Clara… Another good guard tandem with Brownridge and Clark. That’s pretty much it. Kerry Keating’s team had little inside power last year, and that problem still appears to be unresolved.

10. Pacific… A rough go of it in store for the Tigers this season. TJ Wallace and David Taylor are the only returnees with any real experience. The most interesting newcomer is mini-guard Dulani Robinson. Ron Verlin did a nice job with Pacific last season, but prospects for this year are bleak.

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I finally had a clunker last night, missing with the Giants as well as a rare NBAx play. First losing night in some time, but I expect to bounce right back tonight. Even with the 0-2, it’s still a 25-8 run the last nine days. Sign up for my weekly or guaranteed monthly package by utilizing the “buy now” feature on this page, or contact me via email at cokin@cox.net. That’s also the best way to get info on my net winners program.

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Today’s free play is on a Saturday college game. This one is not yet on my personal card, but I’ll say it’s at least a favorite to eventually make the cut. In any event, it’s a game I’m eager to watch and hopefully I’ve got the right side.

10/25 04:00 PM   CF   (175) USC  at  (176) UTAH

Take: (175) USC -1

I see USC/Utah as one of the most intriguing matchups on the Saturday college slate. I don’t think either team is a true Top 20 entry, but each side is knocking on that door and this game is huge as far as the PAC-12 South race is concerned.

The Trojans have the athletes to give Utah fits in this game, and I think that’s one of the two big keys to this game. USC needs to do whatever it takes to speed things upland get Utah out of its comfort zone. The more wide open, the better from USC’s vantage point.

Utah, on the other hand, would prefer trench warfare. The Utes are in good shape if they can get first down stops. That would likely enable their outstanding pass rush to at least contain Trojans QB Cody Kessler.

Kessler is having a great year for USC. He’s accurate with his throws and I’ve been really impressed with his willingness to not force bad throws that lead to turnovers. But that could change if Utah is able to exert its usual pressure. To accomplish that, the Utes must find a way to limit Javorius Allen, who’s rumbling for more than six yards per pop.

Utah needs to establish its running game to sustain some productive drives against USC. I think that’s something they can do, as Devontae Booker is running ball very well. QB Travis Wilson can manage the offense effectively in reasonable yardage situations.

So it’s a guessing game of sorts as to how this plays out in terms of each team accomplishing its main objectives. My take is that in the end, the athletic superiority of the Trojans will be the difference. My greatest concern is Kyle Whittingham. The Utah coach is a terrific game planner and he successfully overcame the speed disadvantage in an impressive win at UCLA. But the Bruins were undisciplined with their assignments throughout that game, and I thought they lost the game more than Utah won it.

With the game being lined where it is, it’s probably a good assumption that this one could go right to the wire. But I’m siding with the view that Allen can produce enough on the ground to enable the very talented Kessler to carve up the Utah secondary and lessen the impact of that Utah pass rush. I’ll opt to side with USC as the winner in what should be one of the day’s best games.

 

 

Dave’s Free Play, Wednesday 10/22/14

Here’s this week’s Wise Guy Wednesday report for college football. Note that these are not my plays, just information gathered from various sources. Some of those are in Nevada, as well as in various locales both stateside and offshore.

107 Miami Florida got pounded on Monday as the ‘Canes moved from dog to chalk. Substantial buy back is not anticipated.

118 Auburn has gotten some early attention from the pros. South Carolina is getting most of its support from the joes thus far.

Most of the tickets are on Mississippi State, but sharp dollars are starting to show on 122 Kentucky.

The number on 129 Central Michigan continues to climb, with the Chippewas getting wise guy cash early and the public following.

Syndicates playing both ways on this one, but more of the sharp early action seems to be on 140 Pittsburgh as they host Georgia Tech.

The public is laying the wood with Wisconsin, but two of my sources agreed that they expect sharp buyback later in the week on 141 Maryland.

The Utah State QB injury situation is being ignored by the masses, but there has been a trickle of pro dough on 147 UNLV.

Big move on 150 Toledo that was apparently service-influenced, but the consensus is this number has peaked and will decline between now and game day.

The play on 165 Alabama has been mostly square, but it doesn’t appear the sharps are eager to be on the other side.

174 Washington State is going to be the apparent sharp side in a pros/joes battleground game against Arizona.

One sided action on 177 Georgia Southern so far, and this is another game where there might not be any sharp buys to bring the number back.

Nothing much happening yet on 193 Texas, but the general belief seems to be that sharps will buy the Longhorns at some point.

200 Hawaii is drawing some pro play as they play host to Nevada.

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2-0 here on Tuesday with the Giants as well as an NHL call on the Stars. The current heater still going, 25-6 over the last eight days. Obviously, it’s therefore a very good time to be playing my sides. My subscribers get every play, sent via email with analysis as soon as the decision is reached. There are no more expensive levels for supposedly stronger plays. Purchase either the weekly or monthly package using the “buy now” tab on this page, and note there’s a minimum +5 net unit guarantee with the monthly. For info on longer term or my net winners program, contact me directly via email at cokin@cox.net.

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No sweat with the Giants as the Tuesday free play. I have very little to choose from today. The baseball game will be be a personal play, but that’s for subscribers. I don’t see anything that stands out yet in the NHL for this evening. So I decided to go with my best NBA O/U win prop for the upcoming season.

ATLANTA HAWKS UNDER 42 WINS

I don’t play many futures for a variety of reasons. But when I see a situation where there are intangibles that I feel could produce either a positive or negative impact, I’m willing to tie up some dollars long term in hopes of realizing a profit. This mindset will generally produce Under plays, as bad news seems easier for me to spot in terms of speculating on a particular team’s prospects.

I don’t see things going well for the Hawks this season. They’re okay from a personnel standpoint, at least from a strictly Eastern Conference perspective.  Atlanta plays in a Southeast Division that can generously be described as wide open. On paper, they’re probably good enough to win half their games, so from that vantage point, the O/U is about where it’s supposed to be.

But there are all kinds of off the court issues already in place with this franchise. I’ve always believed in the domino principle, and when things are a mess at the top, there will be an impact throughout the organization. That’s the crux of my observations on the Hawks.

There’s uncertainty as to who’s going to own this franchise, thanks to Bruce Levenson sending out a racist email that he knew wasn’t going to go undiscovered. Danny Ferry is still the General Manager, but he’s taking a leave of absence follow his own inane comments regarding Luol Deng.

The Ferry situation is ridiculous. I don’t see any possibility he’s going to be retained by whatever individual or group assumes ownership of this outfit. So the “leave of absence” is highly unlikely to be anything other than permanent in the long run.

I realize there might be some who will disagree with me, but I don’t see how this mess at the top doesn’t filter through the entire organization, and that certainly includes the coaching staff and players. Once everything gets cleared up, maybe it creates a huge positive vibe that shows up on the court. But the current in limbo status is very likely to create a negative ripple effect.

The Hawks are not a franchise blessed with a great fan base. That’s not exactly a revelation, as it’s been that way for years with the team never really contending for anything. The ongoing off the court fiascos are doing nothing to endear this team to the locals and I can’t see how this team can enjoy a major home court edge with the way things are. Add in a middle of the pack roster and it’s a thoroughly bleak looking situation.

I don’t see Atlanta winning half its games, all things considered. More likely, they finish somewhere in the mid-30’s as far as total wins are concerned. That’s well under the posted O/U, so Under 42 is the play.

Dave’s Free Play, Tuesday 10/21/14

I’m going to be dropping in some college basketball conference previews over the next few weeks, as the start of the season is remarkably just around the corner. I ran through my MWC picks a few days back, today it’s a rundown on the PAC-12.

1. Arizona… Losing players like Aaron Gordon and Nick Johnson might normally be considered a huge blow, but not here. Arizona is loaded, and if they don’t win this league, it’s a monster upset. There are four potential first-round NBA draft picks on this team. I see Arizona playing on the final weekend of March Madness, so this is a pretty easy choice.

2. Colorado… Tad Boyle has done a really nice job with this program. Everyone is back except for Spencer Dinwiddie, and the Buffs learned to live without him when he got hurt last season. Asia Booker is a star, even if he shoots a little too much and Josh Scott can dominate in the paint.

3. Utah…Welcome to the Delon Wright Show. It’s amazing how quickly Larry Krystkowiak has rebuilt the Utes, and I think they’re going to make the Big Dance this season.

4. Washington… My guess is I’ve got the Huskies higher than almost anyone. Lorenzo Romar’s teams are always a little erratic, but I really like this team’s backcourt. The situation with the bigs is far more uncertain, but if massive Robert Upshaw taps his potential, the Huskies could be a major surprise team.

5. Stanford… Three starters are back from a team that got it together at tournament time and rolled to the Sweet 16. But Dwight Powell and Josh Huestis will be missed. Chosen Randle and Anthony Brown are outstanding, Stefan Nastic has a chance to improve and they have some interesting newcomers. I’m still not a big Dawkins guy, though, and my sense is that late last season was a fluke.

6. UCLA… The freshman class is loaded and the Bruins could be live late in the season. But they’re going to be vulnerable early with Jonah Bolden ineligible and Jon Octeus not getting admitted. Steve Alford has to replace three NBA first round picks as well. Lots of talent still on hand, but I don’t see this as a banner season in Westwood.

7. California… Adios, Mike Montgomery and welcome aboard, Cuonzo Martin. I thought the Bears underachieved last season and should improve somewhat this year. The energy level sure figures to be higher, but they lost two key guys and the roster is no better than mid-pack.

8. Arizona State… No more Jordan Bachynski, no more Jermaine Marshall, no more Jahii Carson. Veteran coach Herb Sendek says he likes his team’s versatility and perhaps minus the overly aggressive Carson they can create more balance. But I just don’t see the talent being that good.

9. Oregon… Joseph Young is a stud and Dana Altman can still coach. But off the court issues did a number on this team and they’re now unexpectedly stuck in rebuild mode.

10. USC… Andy Enfield has a very young team that’s sorely lacking in experience. It’s all about how quickly the freshmen adapt to big time college basketball. My bet is that this team is at least one year away from making a move.

11. Washington State… The Cougars should be more fun to watch with Ernie Kent back in the coaching box, and they’ve still got DaVonte Lacy. But they don’t have much else. A long season in Pullman seems certain.

12. Oregon State… Deadsville. Craig Robinson left new coach Wayne Tinkle with next to nothing. The Beavers could well be the underdog in every conference game they play, and with corresponding results.

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No action for me on Monday, so I’ll look to pick up where I left off last week, which was one with exceptional results. I’m now on pace to exceed my annual goal of at least +52 net units. Get a subscription to everything I’m on myself by utilizing the “buy now” feature that’s on this page. Or for those interested in paying only on performance-based results, feel free to email me for details on my exclusive net winners program. That address is cokin@cox.net.

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Today’s free play is an early selection on a Saturday college game. My sense is that getting this game now might garner the best value, and I’ll explain why in the analysis.

10/25 12:30 PM   CF   (121) MISSISSIPPI STATE  at  (122) KENTUCKY

Take: (122) KENTUCKY +13.5

Let’s leave no doubt that I think Mississippi State is completely legit and the Bulldogs definitely have a realistic chance of making the inaugural four-team playoff this season. But even the best teams have bad scheduling spots and I consider this to be exactly that for Dan Mullen’s red hot entry.

This isn’t an opinion, it’s a fact. About the worst thing that can happen for an unbeaten team once the midway point of the season has been reached is a bye week. That might not seem logical on the surface, but the numbers don’t lie, and unbeaten road teams with rest have a tendency to struggle.

I think there’s a rationale for this taking place. First, the bye week can be a momentum breaker for a red hot team. It’s also an opportunity for the players to enjoy a heavy dose of hero worship on campus, while also dreaming about that pot of gold that’s waiting at the end of the proverbial rainbow. Don’t discount pressclippingitis as a potential distraction as well.

The aforementioned potholes have gotten the best of teams far more used to the spotlight than Mississippi State. This is a great story unfolding in Starkville, but it’s also very unexpected and brand new. So my sense is that as dominant as the Bulldogs have been, they could be ultra-vulnerable to having their collective heads in the clouds.

Kentucky got absolutely crushed last Saturday. The Wildcats are now being looked upon as little more than a formality win for Mississippi State by virtually all of the TV talking heads. I see that making Kentucky more dangerous. The no respect angle will be in play in Lexington all week in practice and off the disaster at Baton Rouge, this is also a redemption game for the Wildcats.

I can’t see Kentucky being quite good enough to pull the upset here. But I do think they’re good enough to make this a very scary Saturday for the heavy favorite. The Wildcats are 5-0 at home, including a nice win against South Carolina, and I believe that should eliminate the intimidation factor. The home team needs to get last week’s misfire out of its heads in a hurry, so a good start here is important. If Kentucky falls down early they could get rolled by the Bulldogs.

But the bottom line for me is that there’s a clear and irrefutable track record of big favorites failing in this specific scenario, and I feel that could well take place here. Kentucky in the plus two-TD neighborhood is very playable.

 

Dave’s Free Play, Monday 10/20/14

Only two games on tap tonight, one in the NFL and one on the ice. I’m not going to be involved with either one, so it’s the ultimate rarity here…a day off.

The just completed week was ridiculously good. 23-6, +16.75 overall. Both the weekly and monthly packages include all my plays across the board, sent out via email as I play them myself. There’s a minimum five net unit guarantee with the monthly offer. I’ve also got a net winners program for those who prefer to pay exclusively omn performance. Contact me via email at cokin@cox.net for all the details.

That’s it. Back Tuesday with the usual routine, including a free play. Enjoy your Monday!

Dave’s Free Play, Sunday 10/19/14

Here’s the quick take rundown from selected Saturday college games:

Kansas State outlasted Oklahoma thanks to three unexpected gaffes by the Sooners kicker. A brutal loss for Oklahoma, as they won the stats by a pretty good margin and really should have won the game.

Maryland earned its first ever Big Ten home win as they rallied from an early 14-0 deficit to kayo Iowa. The big play was a William Likely pick six early in the fourth quarter that stretched the Terrapins lead to ten and they never looked back.

Minnesota is now 3-0 in league play as the Gophers won a thriller against improving Purdue. David Cobb had a big game on the ground for Minnesota and Ryan Santoso was the hero with his 52-yard FG serving as the game winner.

West Virginia dealt Baylor’s playoff hopes a critical blow with a 41-127 upset. Mountaineers QB Clit Trickett outplayed Bears signal caller Bryce Petty and was tremendous at crunch time in what is a very big win for the WVU program.

Big comeback by Florida Atlantic. The Owls were down to Western Kentucky 31-14 at halftime, but QB Jaquez Johnson had a great second half and hit a 61-yard TD pass with less than two minutes remaining for the win.

South Florida was trailing Tulsa 30-14 midway through the third quarter but Bulls QB Mike White got hot and the Golden Hurricane defense collapsed yet again.

Virginia won the stats against Duke, but the Blue Devils made the more important plays on both sides of the ball and eked out a 20-13 win over the Cavaliers.

Clemson played great defense and got just enough production from its banged up offense to get past Boston College. Tigers QB Cole Stoudt hung tough in spite of hurting his shoulder in a gritty win.

Central Michigan flattened out off a very big win at Northern Illinois and the Chippewas got knocked off by Ball State. Clear case of a team not used to winning much recently bouncing off a significant road victory.

California has been in one crazy game after another and the Bears were on the wrong side of the latest one as they dropped a 36-34 duel with UCLA. Brett Hundley had a monster game for the Bruins, who ended a  long streak of futility at Berkley.

Alabama was awesome in a complete demolition of Texas A&M. This was the slaughter of the say, with the stats every bit as dominating as the 59-0 tally might indicate. No one played better than the Tide on this Saturday.

San Jose State manaaged to overcome some ill-time blunders and survived regulation when Wyoming missed a fairly long FG at the finish. The Spartans then got it together on OT and got a nice road win at Laramie.

No Gurley, no problem for Georgia. Nick Chubb exploded for 204 yards on the ground as the bulldogs won 45-32. The final was misleading as this clash was never in any doubt.

There didn’t figure to be much defense between Georgia Tech and North Carolina, and the game lived up to billing. Last team with the ball wins type of shootout and the Tar Heels got the deciding TD with just 20 seconds remaining.

Florida bottomed out in a disastrous outing against Missouri. The Tigers had 42 points despite only 119 yards of total offense, a ratio I’m quite sure I’ve never seen. The Gators had six turnovers in what can only be described as a total humiliation.

Colorado State kicked two long FG’s inside the last two minutes to come from behind against Utah State. This was a huge win for the Rams, who had their first sellout since 2004 and the crowd rushed the field after Jared Roberts kicked the game winner.

Those expecting an Ole Miss letdown got surprised as the Rebels bombed Tennessee. The Volunteers were -4 in turnovers and that eliminated any chance they could compete here.

Nebraska at Northwestern was a tossup at the half, but the Cornhuskers romped down the stretch. Ameer Abdullah did his usual damage on the ground and Tommy Armstrong Jr. did a good job managing the game for Nebraska.

LSU put together its strongest game of there season as they crushed Kentucky. The Tigers probably could have won this even bigger than the 4-13 final, but this game could well be the buy signal for the Bayou Bengals.

Iowa State always competes hard and the Cyclones took Texas to the wire in a shootout. The Longhorns escaped with the 48-45 win on a late drive and short FG by Nick Rose.

BYU put up some big offensive numbers, but they killed themselves with turnovers and Nevada’s Cody Fajardo took full advantage. The Wolf Pack are now 3-3 off the 42-35 upset and are continuing to show some nice improvement from last year’s squad.

Arizona State was very impressive in a rather one-sided win over Stanford. Mike Bercovici had another good game under center for the Sun Devils and the Stanford offense malfunctioned moist of the night.

Finally, an absolute corker between Notre Dame and Florida State. The Seminoles were extremely fortunate to win when a late Notre Dame TD was wiped out on an offensive pass interference penalty. I thought the Irish deserved to win this game, but credit the ‘Noles for finding a way to preserve their perfect record.

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My big run continued with a 9-3 Saturday. 7-3 on the college gridiron and two more winners in the NHL. I’m sitting at 21-4 for the week and the calendar year bottom line is starting to look very attractive. I’ll be on three NFL games on Sunday plus one more play on the ice. There’s always the possibility of late adds based on breaking info, but I’d say it’s unlikely here.

The weekly and monthly packages can be purchased using the “buy now” tab on this page and note there’s a minimum five net units of profit guarantee with the monthly deal. My net winners program is obviously producing some pretty healthy profits for subscribers and details on how that works are available by emailing me at cokin@cox.net.

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Good results on the free plays yesterday with Boston College and the Tampa Bay Lightning both getting there. I’ve already posted a free NFL play, so today’s comp will be a lookahead to Game One of the World Series.

10/21 5:05 PM   MLB   (901) SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS  at  (902) KANSAS CITY ROYALS

Take: (901) SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS -107

Regardless of which side I’m on in this World Series opener, I’m going to be fading an entry that has massive positive momentum. That’s pretty much the case in every Fall Classic, and the way these two teams have been winning their games, it’s definitely a major factor here. But determining which team is hotter is pretty tough. The Royals are perfect, eight wins in eight tries. The Giants have a ridiculous October record when factoring in the championships in both 2010 and 2012.

So this is a tough choice, no doubt about it. Depending on what each bettor focuses on the most in making a decision, there’s no bad choice here, at least not before the game gate played. I decided to opt for the starting pitching as my ultimate choice, as there’s one big aspect of what these teams like to do that comes into play based on this matchup.

Madison Bumgarner is obviously a stud. But in breaking down what opponents have done against him, one set of numbers really stood out to me. Bumgarner has become extremely difficult to run on. For the season, opposing base stealers were able to swipe a base just seven times in 17 tries against MadBum. Perhaps even more importantly, he’s been getting even better in preventing SB’s as the campaign has progressed.

In Bumgarner’s last 29 starts, including the four in the current playoffs, the opposition has been successful on just two of ten steal attempts. That’s what I feel is a very big stat as far as this game is concerned, as swiping bases is a big part of what the Royals want to do in order to make their small ball philosophy work. If Bumgarner is able to take away that aspect of the Kansas City game, it’s going to certainly lessen the likelihood of much damage being done.

I give Bumgarner an edge over James Shields, and while the Royals bullpen is absolutely second to none, I’d still rather have the edge for six innings rather than three, and I feel I’ve got that with the Giants ace.

The home field advantage is definitely in play. But I don’t think it’s as significant here as it was in the two Royals series we just witnessed. In each instance, the Royals were already in great shape following road sweeps against the Angels and Orioles. The Giants won’t be bothered by the big dimensions at KC, and this is a veteran playoff team with a great track record of success in these games.

It’s clearly not a snap decision, and I certainly can respect any case that’s made for the Royals in Game One and/or in the Series. But I see the potential negating of the Royals speed game being of substantial importance and with that as my key, I’m backing the Giants to win Game One.

 

Dave’s Free Play, Saturday 10/18/14

Quick takes from the two Friday night college games:

Boise State won the stats by a comfortable margin in the Milk Can rivalry game with Fresno State. But the Bulldogs hung tough and this game was in doubt till the late stages. The Broncos ultimately toughened up defensively in the final quarter and got the win, but I liked the way Fresno State hung in.

Rough night for Temple as the Owls got drilled at Houston. The Owls had problems throughout with turnovers, and they had no answer at all for Cougars QB Greg Ward, Jr. It certainly appears as though Houston is a much better team with the QB change taking place and they were overwhelmingly superior in this romp. Sharp money laughed all the way to the bank in this game.

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I only played one game on Friday, but the result was a good one as the Panthers blanked the Sabres on the ice. That’s a current 12-1 run, so things are very good right now. I’ve already taken one side on the Saturday NHL slate and have ten college selections, so lots of action all day long in store.

Subscribers to any of my packages receive all my plays. No gimmicks or extra fees for supposedly higher level plays, one size fits all as far as the selections are concerned. Use the “buy now” feature on this page to get signed up, and note there’s a guarantee of a minimum five unit net profit with the monthly deal. I’ve also got a powerful net winners program with a great guarantee and details on that are available via email. Get in touch with me at cokin@cox.net.
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I’ve already posted one free play for college and one for the NFL, and I’m expecting good results with those. Here’s a Saturday night NHL spot that looks pretty attractive.

10/18 07:05PM   NHL   (21) TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING  at  (22) VANCOUVER CANUCKS

Take: (21) TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING +115

The Canucks are off to a sharp 3-0 start, but I’m taking that with a large grain of salt. Fact is, anything less than a perfect spot would have been a disappointment considering the competition. The Canucks have feasted on a menu of Calgary, Edmonton and Edmonton again. Tonight’s challenge is considerably more difficult as the Lightning make the trip west.

Tampa Bay comes into the season with high expectations, and the early returns have been okay, if not spectacular. The Lightning have only won two of their first four games, but they’ve looked better than that record might indicate.

The big difference between last year’s TampaBay entry and the current edition is that they’re going to be more physical. I really liked the acquisition of defenseman Jason Garrett. The former Canuck is a great fit with a Lightning team that’s determined to play with more of a defensive mindset. Garrett figures to be revved up for his return to Vancouver tonight, particularly since his being asked to waive his no-trade clause this summer was not especially well received when it happened.

I see one of the keys tonight resting with this being the second of back to backs for the Canucks. Vancouver had a tough time in this scenario last season and I believe they’re going to be vulnerable to the fresher and faster Lightning legs tonight.

Several of my early season plays are based on my pre-season perceptions of various teams. I’m not especially high on this Canucks squad, and feel the 3-0 start against soft opposition is a mirage. Tampa Bay represents a significant step up in competition, and with the Canucks being unrested, I don’t see them being up to the task at hand tonight. I’ve certainly got no problem with the price tag since the visitors are getting underdog odds right now. I’ll side with the Lightning to get the road win tonight.

Dave’s Free Play, Friday 10/17/14

Quick takes from the three early college games played so far this week:

Ul Lafayette appears to be getting it together. The Ragin’ Cajuns obliterated Texas State on Tuesday, and got a complete game from both the offense and defense for the first time this season. Texas State has done a nice job competing in several games, but the Bobcats were overmatched here and the game was never in doubt.

Pittsburgh got the jump on a beat up Virginia Tech squad and made it stand up. There some anxious moments late for the Panthers, but a late Hokies drive fell short and Pitt earned a much needed win. Chad Voytik flashed some running ability, and while his ceiling certainly seems limited, he’s likely to be a better QB when he uses his legs. The Virginia Tech upset at Ohio State seems more far fetched now than ever.

Utah rode the legs of Devontae Booker to a thrilling double OT win at Oregon State. This game was a close yawner for the first three quarters, but it blew up in the fourth frame and ended up being very exciting at the finish. The Utah QB situation remains in flux, but this team can obviously run the ball and the Utes are playing tough defense. Tough loss for the Beavers, and it’s the type that’s often the toughest to rally from.

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The 10-0 run ended with a shootout loss on my San Jose NHL play. It was a tough beat in that the Sharks had the lead in the shootout and let it get away. But at the same time, they were very fortunate to have even made it to overtime after getting thoroughly outplayed throughout regulation by the Islanders. I won my Giants play on the diamond, so it’s now 11-1 over the last four days.

My college card now consists of nine games on Saturday, one of which was the free play posted earlier this week. All subscribers to any of my packages get all the plays, and that’s right across the entire board. There’s a solid guarantee that is being offered with my current monthly package, and I don’t know if there’s anyone else that works a better net winners program than I do. Sign up using the “buy now” feature that can be found on this page, or contact me via email at cokin@cox.net.

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I’m going to take a look at one of Sunday’s NFL games for the free play today.

10/19 10:00 AM   NFL   (467) NEW ORLEANS SAINTS  at  (468) DETROIT LIONS

Take: (468) DETROIT LIONS -2.5

At some point, one has to just start believing what they’re seeing. That’s the case for me as far as the Detroit Lions are concerned. I’m now convinced that it’s not a mirage, and that the Lions are totally legit on defense. It’s an impressive group, and they’re just plain dominant on that side of the football right now. That cannot bode well for the visiting New Orleans Saints this Sunday.

The Saints are more reputation than reality. You can make the case they’re fortunate to be 2-3, as that win prior to the bye against the Lowly Buccaneers was anything but easy. Maybe things change, but the data complied through the first five games strongly suggests that this is simply not a good New Orleans team. The offense is still productive, but they’re not good at all at virtually everything else. I can’t say there’s no shot the Saints can turn it around, but the indicators for this happening just aren’t there.

The Lions have shortcomings on offense. It’s really starting to look as though QB Matthew Stafford is as good as he’s ever going to be. I think the Lions brass is starting to reach that same conclusion. What we’re starting to see is more game management play calling rather than the wide open Lions attack we’ve gotten used to seeing.

There are certainly other considerations as to why the Lions are getting more conservative on offense. Chiefly, it’s the staunch defense. The Lions are at the point where the offense’s job is to just not lose the game, and if that’s accomplished the defense can do the winning. There have also been some injuries to the offense, and it looks very much like Calvin Johnson will be sitting again this Sunday.

This is really coming down to what I feel is an at least mildly underrated host against what sure looks to be an overrated visitor. My personal rankings have the Lions as the #8 team in the NFL. The Saints have fallen into the 20’s, so I see them as no more than a slightly below average entry at this juncture.  Therefore, I see this number being on the cheap side. I don’t think the market has caught up with just how far the Saints have slid. That means that for the time being, this is a team that will be a fade consideration until the general perception changes. I won’t forecast a blowout, as I absolutely can see this being competitive. But laying a field goal or less with the Lions looks attractive to me.

 

Dave’s Free Play, Thursday 10/16/14

The Mountain West Conference conducted its annual media poll earlier this week. I don’t have an official vote, so I’ll cast my ballot right here. Quick comments included with each team.

1. San Diego State… The pre-season top pick in the annual media poll has frequently failed to get there, but it’s tough to see the Aztecs not winning the league this season. SDSU loses a couple of key guys, particularly Xavier Thames. But it’s a loaded roster. Winston Shepard should be a contender for Conference POY, expect Dwayne Polee to improve and by the time league play rolls around, freshman Trey Kell will be likely to contribute. I’m not sure this is another Sweet 16 team, but San Diego State is the clear favorite in this league.

2. UNLV… Okay, maybe there’s a little bias here. Maybe not. Zero returning starters might mean some early struggles, but I really feel as though it’s addition by subtraction. The Runnin’ Rebels have a roster that’s pretty well suited to what Dave Rice wants to run, as for once this is a lineup with some really good outside shooters. Big season for this coaching staff, as the locals have gotten more than restless. Expectations in the media are mixed at best, but I think UNLV gets better and earns a Big Dance invite.

3. Wyoming… Larry Shyatt’s Cowboys were ruined by an epidemic of injuries last season. If they stay healthy this season, watch out. Larry Nance, Jr is the star on what is clearly Shyatt’s best roster in some time. He’s also a master tactician and Laramie can be a real hellhole for visitors when the Cowboys are good. The Adams/Grabau backcourt is very underrated and there are some good role players who fit Shyatt’s style on this roster.

4. Boise State… Most are picking the Broncos higher than this, and on paper they probably ought to be. But I am going to have to be shown that this squad can finish a game. Boise State was definitely not Poise State at crunch time last season. Derrick Marks has loads of talent, Anthony Drmic is a candidate to lead the conference in scoring and I definitely like Mikey Thompson. The Broncos could have some problems with physical opponents, and they have to hope that all the experience on this roster delivers.

5. Fresno State…Rodney Terry clearly has the Bulldogs on the rise. This program was in sorry shape when he arrived, but not anymore. Cezar Guerrero is a really talented guard, Paul Watson was the Freshman of the Year and Terry is recruiting like crazy. I think this team is still maybe one year away from battling for an NCAA invite, but the days of Fresno State being a pushover are finished. If the newcomers contribute quickly, they could exceed even my expectations.

6. New Mexico… The Lobos figure to take a tumble in the MWC standing this season. It’s pretty clearly a transition year, as the powerhouse trio of Williams/ Bairstow/Neal have all moved on. Hugh Greenwood is now the go to guy here, and Cullen Neal will be the long range bomber that his head coach dad will need to perform well. Jordan Goodman is one of the league’s newcomers of note. But this is no longer a star studded Lobos entry and I’m not sold on their depth.

7. Colorado State… Larry Eustachy is a solid coach and he’ll coax what he can out of his Rams. But the roster just isn’t anything special, and the departure of Jon Octeus to UCLA was a crusher. Daniel Bejerano had a very good sophomore season and he could be an All_MWC candidate. But it looks to me like a second straight rebuilding season for Colorado State.

8. Utah State… Not much optimism for this edition of the Aggies. The entire starting lineup from last season has departed, and while they weren’t the most cohesive group around, that’s still a ton of experience no longer on the scene. Jalen Moore figures  to lead this team following his impressive freshman campaign, and some of the newcomers appear to be legit MWC talents. But Stew Morrill will have to work some of his magic to keep the Aggies out of the depths in this tear’s conference race.

9. Nevada… I can’t see this being a good year for the Wolf Pack. But perhaps things get better now that they’re not totally reliant on one player. Deonte Burton was amazing for this team, and at times it seemed as if his teammates were spectators than participants as they simply counted on Burton to keep them in games. Marqueze Coleman takes over the point guard duties, and if he can raise his level of play, perhaps the Wolf Pack can hang in. But matching last year’s 10-8 league record seems like a pipe dream to me.

10. Air Force… The Falcons have lots of experience, and I think Dave Pilipovich is a good coach, so maybe I’m a little low here. But with Tre’ Coggins having wrapped up his career, the only known scoring quantity on hand are Max Yon and Kamryn Williams. I think it’s just a case where Air Force doesn’t have enough MWC-level talent and as usual, depth and a profound lack of size will be an issue.

11. San Jose State… The Spartans have been awful and while there’s no place to go but up, there’s no ladder on hand right now. San Jose obviously needs to upgrade the talent, but they also need to show a little more discipline. They have no chance of success playing the tempo utilized last season and I’m not seeing anything to indicate that will change this year. SJSU figures at the bottom of the heap, and will again be an albatross around the MWC’s RPI neck.

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2-0 Wednesday as I was on the two MLB winners. That’s a 10-0 surge over the last three days, so I’m obviously in a positive frame of mind right now. Two offers available. One is the guaranteed month. That’s a full 31 days of all my plays in all sports and a guaranteed profit of at least five net units, or the service is on the house until that minimum figure is attained. Use the “buy now” feature on this page to subscribe, or email me at cokin@cox.net for further info. Also feel free to email me for details on my net winners program.

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Good results in the NHL so far, and a potentially nice slate tonight. Here’s a look at one of the games I like on the ice.

10/16 04:05 PM  NHL   (1) SAN JOSE SHARKS  at  (2) NEW YORK ISLANDERS

Take: (1) SAN JOSE SHARKS -115

It’s the final season for the Islanders at ancient Nassau County Coliseum. The Isles head to Brooklyn next year. But in the meantime, this improving NHL squad will probably suffer thanks to having to play half its games in the town dump.

Make no mistake, I absolutely feel some of the Islanders problems over the years have been directly related to the surroundings. If you think that’s a stretch, think again. To me, the job is immaterial. If the employees have to go to work in a craphole, it’s going to have an impact on production. This isn’t even debatable to me. There’s an absolute correlation between environment and attitude, and the Coliseum is without a doubt the worst facility in the NHL.

(I’m going off on a brief tangent here. This is the crux of the argument I have with too many people on the UNLV football program. I consistently get hammered when I factor in the substandard stadium and facilities as a big part of the reason the program has remained steeped in mediocrity. It’s not the only reason, but if you don’t think it matters, you’re just plain wrong. Go do some research. There are countless studies that prove beyond any doubt that the work environment has a substantial impact on employee production. So for those who want to argue this with me, either all the research is wrong or you are. Period. Now back to our regular programming.)

The Islanders are risng, and I can see them perhaps squeezing into the playoffs this season. I think they’re really going to take off next year when they move to Brooklyn. But I’m not convinced that the sizzling start is a sign that they’ve arrived. No question the goaltending got a big upgrade with the arrival of Jaroslav Halak. John Tavares is a legit star and the supporting cast is definitely better than it has been.

But the better team here is the visitor. San Jose might be the ultimate playoff clunker but from October through mid-April, this team will again be one of the best in the NHL. It’s a veteran cast with plenty of cohesiveness, and the Sharks can still be very explosive.

One thing that hasn’t apparently changed this season is that the West is still better than the East. Sure enough, Western Conference road teams are already off to a great start when visiting Eastern Conference locales.

I was surprised at the opening number on this game, which had the Islanders favored. That’s not the case anymore. San Jose has moved to the chalk in this game, and given the way they’ve started the season, I think that’s totally justified. The Islanders are getting better, but their success last year cam mostly on the road. They’ve been dismal at home with only nine wins it their last 30 games as hosts. Make it nine for 31. I’ll side with the Sharks to come away with the win tonight.

 

 

 

Dave’s Free Play, Wednesday 10/15/14

It’s time for this week’s Wise Guy Wednesday report. As always, a note that these aren’t my plays or opinions. The comments are based on information received from a variety of sources on the accounting end of the game, in Nevada, as well as other locales stateside and offshore.  This week’s report is thinner than the norm. So it’s either a quieter than normal week for the sharps, or more likely, the big moves are just going to show up a little later this usual.

306 Pittsburgh took some serious action on Tuesday from the pros. Note that’s a Thursday night game as the Panthers host Virginia Tech.

312 Houston is a wise guy side and that’s in conflict with the public, which his backing underdog Temple somewhat heavily. Note that this is a Friday night contest.

317 Miami Ohio is getting sharp play as they visit Northern Illinois. It’s the second straight week the pros have taken an anti-Huskies stance.

335 Western Michigan is getting pro dough, although it hasn’t yet shown up in the betting line. One of my contacts told me he expects he expects a flood of Broncos cash and predicted this game might close at pick ‘em by game day.

343 New Mexico burned the sharps last week but they’re coming right back with the Lobos in the underdog role against Air Force. The Falcons also frustrated the smarts last time out.

355 Nevada is drawing action as they take on BYU, but the consensus is that it’s not true sharp money and that the number could go back up between now and game day.

Two of my sources are convinced the downward movement on the 370 Alabama game is phony, and that the sharps are going to hammer the Tide come Saturday.

Big bump on favored 383 Western Kentucky on Tuesday, but no one seemed to believe this was pro money to much extent.

Finally, while it’s not a flood, there’s at least a trickle of sharp money showing on 405 Hawaii as they visit San Diego State while the public is preferring the Aztecs.

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Huge night here on Tuesday, with a 5-0 sweep that included three NHL winners plus both baseball victors. That’s actually 8-0 the last two nights, so whatever was ailing me over the weekend is now a fast fading memory. The surge over the past couple nights now has me at my high water mark for the current calendar year, so the challenge now is to keep building on that already solid bottom line.

The monthly special currently running includes a guaranteed profit of at least five net units. That’s based on nearly all plays being one unit each, and the juice is factored in as well. Subscribe using the “buy now” feature on this page. You can also email me directly at cokin@cox.net for more info, or for details on my unique net winners program.

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No sweat with the Tuesday free play on UL Lafayette as the Ragin’ Cajuns trampled Texas State. I’ll go with the first Saturday college free play today.

10/18 12:30 PM  CF   (375) CLEMSON  at  (376) BOSTON COLLEGE

Take: (376) BOSTON COLLEGE +5

This opinion certainly can’t be classified as a value play, as the line has already been hit thanks to the Clemson injury information. But I’m still of the belief Boston College is worth taking a long look at in this battle at Chestnut Hill.

BC is making some real noise in Steve Addazio’s second year the helm of the Eagles. This is definitely a program that’s back on the rise. Addazio, who previously did some good work at Temple, is starting to earn some notice nationally thanks to the recent play of the Eagles, and a win here would be huge for Boston College.

BC has not yet mastered the art of consistency, but I think it’s now a virtual given that they can play. No doubt the Eagles would love a couple of mulligans for the losses to Pittsburgh and Colorado State. But that hammering of USC was mighty impressive and the Eagles absolutely crushed North Carolina State last week. The one thing that was really noticeable in each of those wins was the physicality of this football team. They have not shown any tendency to pull back when they get a lead. Make no mistake, I’m very biased when it comes to the style of play we get from Boston College. I like teams that pound it on the ground and won’t allow their opponents to do the same. BC’s whole mindset is to win in the trenches, and that formula is working very well for them so far this season.

Clemson is likely going to be determined to show they can function at a high level without injured QB Deshaun Watson. But I’ve got substantial doubts that’s possible, as there’s a major difference in the talent level between Watson and Cole Stoudt. I can see the latter as a reasonable game manager, but he’s simply not nearly as explosive as Watson.

The key to this game is likely going to be the Clemson defense. The Tigers got run over by Georgis in the season opener, but have since really toughened up against the run. If they can force Boston College QB Tyler Murphy to throw the ball more often than is desired, the Tigers will be in great shape here. But if that BC overland attack gets cranked up, Clemson’s offense will be spending more time than they want on the sidelines.

Clemson is saying all the right things as they approach this battle. But I’m not sold that’s really the case. It’s not that the Tigers have nothing to play for, but it’s also true that there’s now a ceiling on what they can accomplish this season, particularly with Watson now merely a spectator.

Don’t overlook the revenge motive here. A much stronger Clemson entry was given fits last season by a considerably lesser BC squad. The Tigers came perilously close to getting stunned by the Eagles in Death Valley last year, with BC actually leading onto the fourth quarter of that affair. Clemson eventually prevailed on a fairly short drive followed by a fumble return for six that put the game away. But Boston College have what at the time was the $3 rated team in the polls a huge scare and the Eagles will not be short on confidence here.

This game appeals to me on some key stats as well as what I believe will be the mental aspect of the game. The betting line is no longer ideal, but it’s not terrible either. I’ll opt for Boston College to give the Tigers all they want and more, and I’ll side with the Eagles in  the home dog role.