Dave’s Free Play, Monday 9/15/14

The main task for any coach or manager, regardless of the sport, is simple enough. That is, put your team in the best position to win. Obviously, not every maneuver is going to pay off. But the idea is to make the correct decision and then let the chips fall where they may.

Joe Girardi made a bad decision on Sunday night and there’s a great chance he cost the Yankees a win they really needed in the process. The Yankees had taken a 2-1 lead in the top of the ninth inning on a Brian McCann home run. Girardi then called on closer David Robertson to preserve the lead. While the initial reaction might well be that there’s nothing to criticize Girardi about in making this move, I see evidence that indicates he totally deserves being called on the carpet.

David Robertson almost never pitches on three consecutive days. Going back to the start of his major league career, he’s only done so on three occasions,  twice this season and once last year. Robertson also had to throw 35 pitches on Friday evening,  and followed that up with 11 more on Saturday. Perhaps this isn’s a major workload for some relievers. But the mere fact that Robertson have done this so rarely certainly indicates it’s not an ideal scenario for him. And it’s worth noting that the last time he did so resulted in a blown save. Now he’s blown saves twice in a row under these conditions. Considering how rarely he throws in this scenario, along with the fact two of his four blown saves for the entire year were in this situation, it’s pretty clear this isn’t the optimum spot for Robertson.

Of course, if there were no other options, Girardi would be blameless. But there’s the rub. Dellin Betances had worked a very clean eighth inning, and he was fresh. Betances had worked just twice since September 6th, and wasn’t used on Saturday. Betances is also very used to pitching more than one inning, having done so 36 times this season.

This isn’t a second guess. I tweeted before Robertson threw even one pitch in the bottom of the ninth that Girardi was making the wrong move. Don’t get me wrong, it’s entirely possible Betances might have been defeated as well. But the bottom line is that Girardi did not put his team in the best position to win. And in the process, he likely put a finish to whatever faint playoff hopes the Yankees still maintained.

No one’s perfect. I prove that on a regular basis with my selections. When I make a poor decision that costs my clients money, I deserve any criticism that’s tossed my way. On the other hand, it doesn’t mean I’m lousy at my job just because not all the calls I make produce victories. Likewise, I’m not calling Joe Girardi  a bad manager. In fact, considering how hamstrung he’s been with this clunky Yankees roster, I would submit Girardi has done a heckuva good job keeping the team in the hunt this long. Nevertheless, he blew it on Sunday night by either ignoring the data or simply being unaware of it. Either way, it was a screwup and it proved very costly to his team.

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Split city on the Sunday football, so the weekend wound up at a nondescript 7-6 on the gridiron. There were no bad beats nor lucky winners, as none of my games were close on the number either way. So basically a wheel spinning weekend, but no damage done either.

I’ll be sending out early plays for the coming weekend over the next couple of days and then adding as warranted throughout the week. You can join me and receive all my plays by capitalizing on a solid six-week special I’m presently offering. Use the “buy now” feature on this page to get subscribed or email me directly at cokin@cox.net if you’d like more detailed information.

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The two NFL free plays split with the Bengals winning and the Vikings getting smoked. Tonight’s comp is on the diamond.

09/15 04:10 PM   MLB   (901) WASHINGTON NATIONALS  at  (902) ATLANTA BRAVES

Take: (902) ATLANTA BRAVES +110

Stephen Strasburg is one of the better pitchers in all of baseball. He’s got great control, pure swing and miss stuff and can be absolutely dominating when he’s got his best stuff. Yet, in spite of the fact the Nationals are going to win the NL East and might well be playing well into October, Strasburg is stuck at .500 with a flat 11-11 ledger. Being one who’s metrically inclined, that 11-11 is pretty misleading. But for whatever reason, Strasburg continues to be unlucky as far as the W/L record is concerned.

Part of Strasburg’s problem is his weird record against the Atlanta Braves. One would think this should be an ideal opponent for Strasburg. The Braves have a bunch of grip it and rip it players who have trouble making consistent contact. Strasburg is about as good as it gets when it comes to collecting K’s. But he just cannot beat this team, and in fact, his numbers against the Braves are pretty mediocre.

Strasburg has faced the Braves four times this year, and Nats are 0-4 in those games, with Strasburg absorbing three of the losses. Over the past two seasons, the Nats are 2-7 when Strasburg pitches against the Braves. The two wins didn’t involve Strasburg. He was ejected after one inning in one of those games, and pitched only two innings in the other Washington win. Make no mistake, the Braves are Strasburg’s main nemesis.

Ervin Santana goes for the Braves tonight, and this guy has been money in the bank at home. The Braves have won each of his last eight home starts with Santana standing 7-0 in that stretch.  His numbers against the Nats this season are not good at all, but that’s the only fly in Santana’s ointment right now.

This is do or die for the Braves. They’re not just one game over .500, and Atlanta is four games out of the wild card with only 13 opportunities for wins remaining. So make no mistake, tonight’s game is a must win for this squad. They’re off a wrong way sweep at Texas, which amounts to an unforgivable sin at this point. The Braves now play ten straight home games, and they’ve been a decent team in the host role. I think it’s realistic to offer that they need to win at least eight of these ten battles to have a chance at one of the two wild cards, so they’ve simply got to win tonight or it might be lights out.

Must win sure doesn’t mean will win. But the Braves have the right home pitcher going tonight in Santana, and for reasons I cannot figure out, Atlanta owns Strasburg. I’m going to try to coax the desperately needed win from the Braves tonight.

 

Dave’s Free Play, Sunday 9/14/14

Quick takes from several Saturday college games:

Pittsburgh came out flat at Florida International and the Panthers had to dig themselves out of a 16-0 hole. Pitt eventually gained control but never had a chance vs. the big number. Interesting to note there were three safeties in this game, two going the Pittsburgh way.

West Virginia coughed up a big lead at Maryland, but managed to escape with a late field goal for the win. The Mountaineers were fortunate to win in spite of a big yardage edge. Getting victories on the road in games where the visitor is also -3 net turnovers doesn’t happen all that often.

Indian’s inept defense made a star out of Bowling Green QB Jason Knapke. The inexperienced former Falcons backup had a monster game that included a clutch game-winning drive. Bowling Green was able to amass a whopping 41 first downs in the win.

East Carolina relinquished a 21-0 lead at Virginia Tech and sure looked like to be in trouble with the prospect of overtime looming. But the Hokies defense caved in at the finish as the Pirates quickly drove 65 yards to get the upset win.

Boise State had some trouble with a game UConn entry. The Broncos managed to win with a pair of fourth quarter scores in a game that was pretty much a wash on the stats. A fortunate winner for chalk players.

Georgia Tech gave up a huge lead against Georgia Southern, but the Yellow Jackets escaped thanks to a late drive. A big red flag for Tech is the fact their defense allowed a ridiculous 8.3 yards per rush against the Eagles.

UMass missed a 23 yard field goal at the finish of regulation that allowed Vanderbilt to sneak away with a less than impressive 34-31 lead. Back to back tough losses for the improving Minutemen.

Louisville fought back from a double digit fourth quarter deficit to lead at Virginia. But the Cardinals fumbled a punt and the Cavaliers took advantage by nailing a late FG for the win. An important victory for Mike London, who’s on the hot seat in Charlottesville.

Air Force had fourth quarter problems for the second straight week. The Falcons managed to hang on for the 48-38 win at Georgia State, but failed to cover a game that they appeared to have salted away from a wagering standpoint.

Iowa State rallied to top Iowa in a bug rivalry game. The Hawkeyes looked to be in control up doubles at the half but were substantially outplayed after that. Kirk Ferentz is getting ripped by Iowa fans for some ultra-conservative second half play calling, and I sure can’t disagree with that assessment.

Utah State got the win against Wake Forest, but Chuckie Keeton spent the second half on crutches, which could be a devastating blow for the Aggies. Wake got inside the number with a late field goal that cut the margin from 15 to 12. No clue why Wake kicked that three, which took the score from a two-possession game to… a two-possession game. Must be some new math I’m not up on. Definitely a bad beat for anyone who laid the earlier number with Utah State.

UNLV came roaring back from a substantial deficit to tie Northern Illinois at 34. The Huskies went back up seven, but the Rebels drove the field and appeared to be about to tie it up again. But a shaky decision by QB Decker resulted in an end zone pick. NIU then took it the length of the field for the covering TD. A fortunate winner for square players who were heavy on the Huskies.

Florida Atlantic got their starting QB back, and Jaquez Johnson had a big game as the Owls blasted Tulsa. The Owls look live to make some CUSA noise now that they’re healthy.

Western Kentucky lost a second straight heartbreaker, this time in 3OT at Middle Tennessee. This was a thriller from start to finish, but the youthful Hilltoppers now will have to find a way to put back to back very tough losses in the rear view mirror.

UTSA went flat off two huge games to start the season. The Roadrunners were also simply not athletic enough to stay with a very fast Oklahoma State squad.

USC jumped out to a 10-0 lead at Boston College, but it was all Eagles after that. This was not a fluke as BC dominated the proceedings after the slow start and completely outplayed the Trojans. Bad spot for USC and it showed.

UCLA got the ball to start both halves thanks to a coin flip screw up by Texas. That was critical as the Bruins scored on that extra possession to start the second half. Jerry Neuheisel then played hero with the game winning TD pass. Big win for the Bruins with Brett Hundley sidelined with a hyperextended elbow.

Navy was able to get out to a big lead as Texas State just buried itself with penalties. The Bobcats made it a little interesting in the second half but backup QB Tago Smith hit a big play through the air to put the game, and the spread as well, out of reach.

Arizona State struggled with Colorado, losing the stats but surviving thanks to +3 net turnovers. Sun Devils QB Taylor Kelly suffered a foot injury in this game, and it at least sounds as though it could be significant.

Penn State ‘s defense kept them in the game at Rutgers, and the offense finally came to life when it counted. Christian Hackenburg made some great throws in the game winning drive for the Nittany Lions. Gary Nova had a really bad game for the Scarlet Knights, getting picked five times.

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My colleges went 5-4 for the day, so it was hardly a bonanza but was at least a profit. Some frustration here with leaving a couple of winners off the card, but it’s always easy after the fact to think about what could have been. Regardless, it’s a +5.2 net start to the college campaign, so no real complaints. Note that I also went 0-1 in baseball on Saturday, so overall it was kind of wasted effort day, but no damage done.

I’ll likely be leaving that six-week special up the remainder of the month. Works out to only $100 weekly for that term, and includes all my plays. Sign up by using the “buy now” tab on this page or email me at cokin@cox.net for further information.

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I’ve already released one free play for the NFL this week, but it appears as though the Bengals won’t make my final card today. It’s definitely a close call, but after finalizing my numbers, I made -4 my ceiling on that game. Therefore, I’ll include another free NFL play here and this one is already on my card.

09/14 10:00 AM   NFL   (261) NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS  at  (262) MINNESOTA VIKINGS

Take: (262) MINNESOTA VIKINGS +5.5

No Adrian Peterson for the Vikings, and it’s Bill Belichick off a loss. Combine those two items and it’s sure not surprising that bettors are falling all over themselves betting the Patriots today. The fact there was a substantial adjustment in the betting line once the disturbing news on Peterson was released has not prevented the wagerers from firing on New England. I consulted with two solid sources yesterday to find out how the ticket count was running. One had it roughly 80/20 Pats, and the other a shade less than that, but still close to 70%.

Maybe the Pats take advantage of a distracted Vikings squad and end up romping to an easy road win. It’s certainly a possibility. New England still power rates as the better team and fading Belichick off a loss is not exactly a long term winner. But for someone who is very focused on garnering value, I think the Vikings are now the only way I can play.

There’s a really good early season angle that says to take the Vikings here. But I’m not much of an angle guy, to be honest. What has me roped in here is the Peterson adjustment. This line was altered by three points when the news broke that he was being deactivated for at least this game. I will state with complete certainty that there is no running back in the NFL, not even Peterson, who is worth three points on the betting line.

It’s actually a great job by the guys who put up the numbers. They overadjusted the number absolutely knowing what the overwhelming public reaction would be regarding the Peterson absence. That’s sound bookmaking, simple as that. And now, we’re going to get a duel between the pros and the joes, as the former are going to jump on what they believe to be value, and the latter blasting away with the chalk because they think they’re getting a steal with Peterson out.

I’m pretty consistent as far as this stuff goes. If it looks easy, it generally isn’t. I think the line is now too high and I have no problem taking advantage of what I now perceive as an overlay. The Vikings plus the points are the play for me.

 

 

 

Dave’s Free Play, Saturday 9/13/14

Quick takes from the two Friday night college games:

Underdog scores 27 straight points and still can’t cover the spread. That’s a little unusual, but that’s what happened to Toledo as they lost at Cincinnati. The Bearcats rolled to what seemed to be an insurmountable 41-7 lead, and that’s when the Rockets caught fire. Toledo got this game all the way down to 7 at the start of the fourth quarter before Cincinnati gathered its composure and pulled back away. The final Cincinnati score was a run it up touchdown pass, as Gunner Kiel finished the night with six TD throws. Toledo got a big game from QB Logan Woodside, who came on strong as the game progressed. But that shorthanded Rockets secondary is going to be an ongoing problem. As for Cincinnati, they could definitely be the team to beat in the AAC.

Baylor did pretty much what they were supposed to do against a game Buffalo squad. The Bulls had no chance against that Bears offense, but they never gave up and managed to put some nice drives together in the second half. Perhaps the most notable thing to happen in this game was on a Baylor fumble that was called wrong on the field. It would likely have been reversed by the replay official, but the call was never reviewed. The reason give by the replay official was basically that it wasn’t necessary due to the lopsided score.

This was a really bad decision by whoever made it, as it absolutely compromises the integrity of the game. This was an automatic review according to the rules, and that rule was intentionally ignored. I have no argument with anyone who might feel as though this official had a bet on Baylor. It’s probably not the case, but it’s not like there haven’t been officials who’ve bet on games. You’ll rarely see me with the old that guy needs to get fired reaction here….but that guy needs to get fired. This was extraordinarily poor judgment and cannot be tolerated, simple as that.

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Ok, here we go. I’m currently on nine college games today, as several playable spots showed up for me, and with a good start to the season last week, I didn’t go the fine tune route and simply let it fly. The NFL card on Sunday figures to be much shorter. All my plays are included with the purchase of any subscription, and the best deal right now is the six-week special for $600. Use the “buy now” feature on this page to sign up. Or, if you’ve got questions, please feel free to email me at cokin@cox.net.

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I’ve got two free college plays that were posted in previous blogs this week. Here’s one for Sunday in the NFL.

09/14 10:00 AM   NFL   (265) ATLANTA FALCONS  at  (266) CINCINNATI BENGALS

Take: (266) CINCINNATI BENGALS -5.5

The Falcons overcame an early deficit to pull out a thrilling overtime win against the Saints in Week One. That’s a terrific way to start the season for a team looking to put 2013 as far into the rear view mirror as possible. But I see Atlanta being up against it this week as they hit the road to take on the Bengals.

First off, while I won’t call a Week Two game a letdown spot, I’m still not a big fan of backing a team off a win like the ones the Falcons had when it also happened to take place against its most heated rival. It’s definitely a situation where a bounce would not be at all shocking.

I’m also still not at all enamored with the Atlanta defense. I have that unit as well below average, and that opinion wasn’t altered to any extent with what I saw last Sunday.

I also can see the Falcons having an offensive line issue. This team lost left tackle Sam Baker for the season when he blew out his patellar tendon in a pre-season game. That necessitated moving highly touted rookie Jake Matthews into Baker’s spot. But now Matthews is also injured, which in effect means Atlanta will now be down to its third option at this very crucial position. Skill position players get more attention from the betting public when they’re out, but underestimating the significance of injuries in the trenches can be a big mistake.

The Bengals are also off a very exciting rivalry win, as they finally managed to go into Baltimore and come away with a win. But I don’t see as much chance of a decline off that win for Cincinnati. It’s their home opener, and while they won that opener, no one on the offense seemed particularly overjoyed with the fact the Bengals had to settle for five field goals in the first half, while never denting the end zone. They did get the one big play they really needed to notch the win, but fixing the inefficiency of the offense has been a major point of emphasis in practice this week.

I don’t see this as a greta matchup to begin with from the Falcons standpoint. I don’t see the offense being anywhere near as potent as it was last week, and I believe the Bengals are going to successfully exploit the vulnerability at left tackle. The points are substantial enough to at least give pause, but in the end I expect Cincinnati to win by at least one TD. I’ll therefore side with the Bengals minus the points in this one.

Dave’s Free Play, Friday 9/12/14

Quick takeaways from the Thursday college doubleheader:

Louisiana Tech was very impressive in a blowout win at North Texas. The 42-21 final was misleading as the Mean Green scored a pair of late TD’s to make it more respectable. Cody Sokol was the star of the show for the Bulldogs. This team had a dream campaign in 2012, followed by a virtual nightmare last season. Arrow up on La Tech this time around.

BYU appeared en route to a lopsided win over Houston. They led 23-0 and were up 23-9 and ready to add on late first half. A good Houston return off a BYU turnover and a Hail Mary TD to end the half represented a 10-14 point swing. The home team was sloppy with the ball in the second half as well. BYU wins by only eight in the end, but it really could have been far easier.

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I’ve already taken a couple of Friday baseball stances, and the Saturday college card is now up to seven games. One of those will be the free play that’s here today. So it’s going to be a very busy weekend. To get everything else I’m on across the board, take advantage of my six-week special for $600. Use the “buy now” tab on this page to get subscribed or email me at cokin@cox.net for more detailed information.

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Great job again by Chris Sale as the White Sox delivered a free play winner on Thursday. I’ll use a Saturday college clash for today’s comp.

09/12 02:00 PM   CF   (165) WESTERN MICHIGAN  at  (166) IDAHO

Take: (166) IDAHO -3

The 21st century has not been kind to Idaho football, and that’s putting it mildly. The Vandals have enjoyed just one winning season since 1999, and their record over the past three seasons was a pathetic 4-32. So on the surface, it might seem silly to even consider laying any points at all with this football team.

But things are looking up for this long downtrodden program. Not that the Vandals are suddenly about to turn into a powerhouse, but the pre-season reports on this team were positive, and I was impressed with their effort last week at UL-Monroe. Paul Petrino doesn’t have the resume of his more high profile brother, but he seems to have already upgraded the talent and the Vandals could have a star in the making in redshirt freshman QB Matt Linehan.

Western Michigan will provide the opposition here, and the Broncos have their own problems. They won only once last season, and that was a 31-30 decision over a hapless UMass entry. WMU put up a good fight in its opener against Purdue and might well have won the game had it not been for some, let’s just say, peculiar play calling in the second quarter of that game. The Broncos have their own freshman sensation in RB Jarvion Franklin, and I thought soph QB Zach Terrell was decent in that opener once he settled in.

The bad news for WMU is that whatever positive impressions might have been made in the loss at Purdue were somewhat diminished by the horrendous Boilermakers showing last week. On the other hand, I thought Idaho performed admirably in what was its season debut at ULM, as the scheduled opener at Florida fell victim to some bad weather. It was still a second straight lengthy trip for the Vandals, and they ended up just missing overtime when the home team scored the game winner in the waning seconds.

I’ve got a decent info pipeline and I’m hearing some good things about Idaho’s preparation for this game. They aren’t hungover from the tough loss to open the season, and they seem to be very excited about this home opener and a legit chance to get a win. I’m also really iffy on the Western Michigan coaching. PJ Fleck has tremendous energy, and I can see why he’s recruiting at what looks to be a high level for a MAC team. But off what I’ve seen last season and in the opener with Purdue, I’m not sold on the game planning and the ability to adjust in-game.

This is probably a close game, but I see the situation favoring Idaho and I’m also inclined to believe this Vandals squad might be more improved than most thought they might be. They’re going to win some Sun Belt games this season and this is a great chance to rev up the locals with a home opening victory. As long as this is a FG or less, which is the case right now, Idaho is the play.

Dave’s Free Play, Thursday 9/11/14

Once upon a time, there was a small market big league baseball franchise that always seemed to be better than most anyone expected them to be. The roster was a patchwork of castoffs who had experienced mixed results elsewhere. But when assembled together, they reached new heights individually and outperformed most reasonable expectations. The formula worked, and the little engine called the Oakland Athletics not only climbed its hill with relative ease, they actually became a feared team with some real hopes of winning a World Series.

A couple of months ago the little engine went big time. I can’t knock Billy Beane and the A’s for deciding to go all-in with a couple of major deals that turned them from hard-working underdog into a team with major expectations. But in the process, the A’s might have lost their real identity.

This team is no longer the little engine that could. Now they’re a team that appears to be succumbing to the pressure of top of the chart expectations. Oakland is still in decent shape to snare one of the two AL Wild Card spots, but even that’s not a sure thing at this point. Even assuming they make it to the one game play-in against what would probably be the AL Central runner-up , they now look like a long shot to be sticking around for more than the first few days of October.

The lesson to be learned? Sometimes it’s not the best idea to mess with a formula that worked. As much improved as this team became on paper with the addition of the power arms, something got lost in the process. And with time running out in the regular season, it might just be too late for the A’s to get that winning mojo back.

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I played just one game on Wednesday and came out on the short end with the Cardinals. I’m liking the way my college football card for the weekend is shaping up, and with the season off to a very solid start, the confidence level is pretty high right now.

Subscribing to my six-week special gets every play I’ve got across the board. These plays are sent out via email (with analysis) as soon as I make up my mind, and I generally get all my plays out well in advance of game day. Sign up using the “buy now” feature on this page or email me directly at cokin@cox.net for more detailed info on how everything works.

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The Wednesday free play was on a Saturday college game, so we’ll have to wait a few days to grade that play.  Here’s one from the day’s baseball slate that looks playable.

09/11 11:10 AM   MLB   (913) OAKLAND ATHLETICS  at  (914) CHICAGO WHITE SOX

Take: (914) CHICAGO WHITE SOX -130

There aren’t manny good spots to take the White Sox these days. They’re limping to the finish line with another losing season locked up. But as written out in today’s commentary, the A’s are basically coming apart at the seams, and prospects for a quick turnaround today aren’t the best.

Chris Sale probably won’t get more than a handful of Cy Young votes, but he’s having another great season for the White Sox. Sale can dominate any lineup in the game when he’s right. But he’s also capable of hanging very tough even on his off days. I don’t believe I’ve made a bet against him all season, and I’m not about to start today.

On the flip side, Scott Kazmir’s effectiveness has waned as the innings have piled up. He’s been having some significant strike zone issues lately, and he’s also becoming prone to big innings. Kazmir won’t be facing the most potent offense on the planet today, but if he can’t locate and has free pass problems again, the home team is likely to register some runs.

The big key here beyond the pitchers is the Oakland mindset. This team has simply folded under the pressure of increased expectations and it seems to be getting worse with each passing day. Another blown late lead last night doesn’t bode well for today, especially with the immensely talented Sale working for the hosts.

The betting line is telltale here. There’s no bargain to be had, as the oddsmakers have adjusted smartly for the Oakland decline. But even as home chalk, I look at Sale as the only way I can play today. I’m going White Sox for today’s free selection.

 

Dave’s Free Play, Wednesday 9/10/14

It’s Wise Guy Wednesday, which reports on where the early sharp money is going for this week’s college football slate. My info is compiled via a variety of sources in Nevada as well as a few other key locales stateside, plus contacts offshore. This week’s report is a little shorter than the norm, so it’s likely that the biggest buys are yet to come.

103 Louisiana Tech was purchased quickly on Sunday at the open and indication are the sharper dollars continue to be on the Bulldogs for this Thursday night duel.

111 Indiana was hit right away on Sunday and the Hoosiers are still drawing action. The injury to Bowling Green QB Matt Johnson is undoubtedly a key to where the dollars are going on this game.

125 East Carolina is not yet getting bought to much extent, but two of my sources are convinced this will be a heavy sharp side later. I see the public being on the favored Virginia Tech side off the impressive win at Ohio State. Pros vs. joes potential here.

133 Georgia Southern is not getting a great deal of play, but the meaningful money that has shown so far is on the underdog Eagles.

135 Iowa State has gotten a steady stream of support and might not be done dropping. Doesn’t appear anyone wants anything to do with the Hawkeyes in this rivalry battle.

142 Virginia earned some credibility with the near miss vs. UCLA, and the Cavaliers are getting sharp play as home dogs.

152 South Carolina hosts Georgia on Saturday in one of the marquee games on the slate. Square/sharp duel looming here with the wise guys on the Gamecocks.

158 South Alabama has been a “sneaky” sharp side the last couple of days.

164 TCU is the biggest mover on the board from the opener, but that’s an injury adjustment with the Minnesota starting QB out of action.

167 Army has gotten some support as a huge underdog at Stanford.

174 Florida Atlantic is the pro choice as they host Tulsa. The squares will almost certainly be lined up on the visitors from Tulsa, thanks to the Owls having been basically beheaded in their first two games.

184 Texas State was hit with sharp dollars on Monday, and the Bobcats are now getting followed by the sheep, so this line might drop to single digits by game day.

197 Northern Illinois is getting played by both sharps and squares so far.

That’s it for this week so far. Have fun!

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2-1 with my Tuesday plays, with the Orioles and Astros getting there and the Rangers missing. Props to the Angels for winning three games in three days in three different cities. That’s not easy.

Take advantage of what I see as a solid intro offer. Six weeks for $600, which obviously works out to $100 per week. Everything I’m on myself in included and most of my plays go out early, as I’m intent on beating the market whenever I can. Subscribe using the “buy now” feature on this page, or fire off an email directly to me at cokin@cox.net. Note that all correspondence is 100% confidential, and your information will never be sold or traded.

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The Orioles got the jump on the Red Sox and made those runs stand up en route to the Tuesday free play winner. I only have one play as of now on the Wednesday MLB slate, so let’s look ahead to a Saturday college game for today’s free play.

09/13 05:00 PM   CF   (191) PENN STATE  at  (192) RUTGERS

Take: (192) RUTGERS +3

It’s the first ever Big 10 home game for Rutgers, and all indications are there’s loads of excitement in Scarlet Knights country with old rival Penn State. These two teams used to battle on a very frequent basis, but haven’t met since 1995. As one would expect given the levels of these programs back in that time frame, the Nittany Lions have dominated to the tune of 22-2 all-time. I’m not so sure getting to 23-2 is going to be automatic for Penn State.

There’s already some heat between these two teams, courtesy of new Penn State head coach James Franklin. He ruffled some feathers in North Jersey with his declaration that the Nittany Lions would dominate the recruiting scene in this area. That might not seem like much to those unfamiliar with the region. But New Jersey is a very fertile high school football area and with Rutgers now residing in what remains very much a high profile conference, the Scarlet Knights are intent on keeping more of the local talent at home.

As for the matchup, I see this as a tossup. Rutgers has been a good program recently, making it to three consecutive bowls and posting three nine-win seasons over the past five campaigns. Prospects for this year’s entry weren’t especially optimistic. But given the early results in the Big 10, the consensus that Rutgers would be the Eastern Division bottom feeder are starting to look a bit premature.

The key for Rutgers is QB Gary Nova, a signal caller with plenty of talent but one who has also been prone to untimely mistakes. Nova has looked good early, and it might well be that the senior has simply put that experience to use and is now making better decisions. Nova has some talent to work with. Paul James is a solid RB, the young receivers have some skill, and Rutgers is fielding a veteran offensive line that appears very cohesive.

Penn State has a potential star in the making in sophomore QB Christian Hackenberg. He’s got NFL potential and can make all the throws. But Hackenberg’s supporting cast appears to be somewhat limited. I haven’t been impressed with the offensive line play early and right now this is a one-dimensional attack that is succeeding through the air but barely getting anything done overland. The lack of a ground game is allowing opposing defenses to focus on the passing game, and Hackenberg has been picked four times in his games.

The Nittany Lions are 2-0 but barely hung on against Central Florida and were unimpressive against Akron. Penn State is also a troubling -5 in net turnovers through the first two games. That’s a major concern, particularly with this being their first true road game.

Rutgers did not play well last week in getting past Howard. I’m giving them a mulligan for that performance, as they were off an exciting road win at Washington State and there’s little question the anticipation was for this main event matchup with the Nittany Lions. Playing an FCS entry was a true sandwich spot and the Scarlet Knights were predictably flat.

I don’t see a great deal to separate these teams on paper. Penn State is the bigger name to be sure, and it looks to me like they’re being favored more on rep than reality. I believe this game is a tossup and I like the situational advantage for Rutgers. The only shocker to me is if it becomes a runaway in either direction. The call here is for a game that goes to the wire, and I’m going to back the fired up Rutgers side to spring the mild upset. Take the available points with the Scarlet Knights.

 

 

Dave’s Free Play, Tuesday 9/9/14

It’s the Tuesday college injury update. Note that this report centers on new injuries that will apply to this weekend’s games. Be sure to check around for the status of previously injured players.

Air Force senior LB Joey Nichol suffered a groin injury in the loss at Wyoming and is a question mark for the game at Georgia State. Nichol is a critical component on this defense, so his absence would be meaningful.

Terris Jones-Grigsby is questionable for Arizona this weekend. Nick Wilson is the lead RB for the Wildcats, but Jones-Grigsby had a big game against UNLV as well, so he’s a player that matters.

Arkansas State RB Michael Gordon is up in the air for Saturday’s game at Miami. Gordon is an explosive runner and would be a significant loss if his rib injury keeps him sidelined on Saturday.

No word yet on some key Baylor personnel. QB Bryce Petty, WR’s Antwan Goodley and Corey Coleman, along with RB Devin Chafin are each currently questionable.

Lots of problems for Bowling Green. QB Matt Johnson is done for the season. All-MAC LB DJ Lynch is nursing a knee injury and two other defensive starters are listed as question marks for Saturday’s game with Indiana.

BYU LB Bronson Kaufusi got nicked up in the Texas romp and his availability for the Houston game is unknown right now.

UCF should be have RB William Stanback in the lineup for the Missouri game on Saturday. With QB Justin Holman making his first start, Stanback’s return is important.

Central Michigan star wideout Titus Davis is questionable for the Syracuse game, as is Chippewas kicker Ron Coluzzi.

UConn will turn to senior QB Chandler Whitmer with Casey Cochran now done for the season. Whitmer has plenty of experience but this was a better team with Cochran under center.

Duke has several players nursing injuries but this is a depth issue for the most part. Nose guard Jamal Bruce is probably the most important of the banged up Blue Devils.

East Carolina got a handful of guys nicked in the loss at South Carolina, but any or all of the players could be in action, and none of the injuries are considered significant.

Eastern Michigan is down three players, including CB Darius Scott. The trio have legal problems stemming from an assault charge apparently stemming from beating the cousin of the man who shot and killed former teammate Demarius Reed last year.

Florida safety Marcus Maye is now probable to play this weekend against Kentucky.

Florida Atlantic should get starting QB Jaquez Johnson back for Saturday’s battle with Tulsa.

Georgia will still likely be without a pair of WR’s vs. South Carolina. Malcolm Mitchell is still sidelined with knee problems and as of now, Justin Scott-Wesley remains suspended.

Georgia Tech has a number of questionable players for there Georgia Southern game, but only one is listed as a starter.

Iowa State is down one OL with Jacob Gannon having left the team for personal reasons.

Kent State RB Trayion Durham is still doubtful for the Ohio State game, and the Golden Flashes have clearly missed his presence thus far.

Kentucky will probably have to do without WR Javess Blue this weekend against Florida.

Miami Florida QB Kevin Olsen has served his suspension and should be available for the Arkansas State game.

Michigan LB Desmond Morgan is questionable this weekend, as is DB Jabrill Peppers. But WR Devin Funchess is now listed as probable for the Miami Ohio game.

Minnesota starting QB Mitch Leidner has been downgraded to doubtful for the TCU game. Redshirt freshman Chris Streveler is the apparent starter.

Nebraska could be a bit thin at wideout for the Fresno State game with Jamal Turner and Kenny Bell each questionable. DE Randy Gregory is also battling a knee problem.

Ohio has several contributors questionable for Saturday against Marshall. The mist significant is probably LB Ben Russell who has a shoulder problem.

QB JW Walsh is out indefinitely for Oklahoma State and RB Desmond Roland has a rib injury and is questionable for UTSA this weekend.

Old Dominion should get OL Connor Mewbourne back for the EMU game.

Pittsburgh has possible OL problems. Artie Rowell is now done for the season and TJ Clemmings is a question mark for the FIU game.

South Alabama came out of the Kent State game with offensive line problems. Ucambre Williams is out vs. Mississippi State and Chris May is a question after absorbing a concussion. Punter Corliss Waitman is also an unknown for now with eligibility issues.

Syracuse QB Terrel Hunt is being listed as probable for Saturday’s Central Michigan game. Hunt was ejected in the Orange season opener for throwing a punch.

Tennessee will likely be without WR Von Pearson for the Oklahoma game. Pearson was off to a very good start this season for the Volunteers.

Big injury for Toledo with QB Phillip Ely now done for the season. Logan Woodside is an adequate replacement, but Rockets fans were rightfully very excited about Ely being under center all season.

Vanderbilt RB Jerrod Seymour has yet to see action and he’s still listed as questionable for the UMass game.

UTEP CB Ishmael Harrison has an arm injury that has his status unknown for Saturday.

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I split my NFL plays Monday, and for the first time in ages, got blanked in baseball going 0-2. I like my chances of a rapid rebound tonight and have already played three games, one of which is below as the Tuesday comp selection.

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The Chargers managed to melt away yet another fourth quarter lead, a carryover from last season. But they were winners the way we keep score here in Nevada. I’ll head back to the diamond for tonight’s free play.

09/09 4:10 PM   MLB   (921) BALTIMORE ORIOLES  at  (922) BOSTON RED SOX

Take: (921) BALTIMORE ORIOLES -126

I was really surprised to see the opening number where it was on tonight’s Orioles/Red Sox hookup. The Orioles just keep winning games, which the Red Sox most certainly are not doing, and it sure looks as through Baltimore has a significant edge on the mound tonight.

Chris Tillman was a candidate for metrics overachiever of the year at one point this season. He really wasn’t pitching especially well but kept finding ways to win. Tillman is still winning, but now those W’s are getting more legit. He’s still prone to the occasional lapses in command, but Tillman has been churning out lots of quality starts lately. That’s really all he’s required to do with the Orioles prolific attack there to lend support. Tillman has still yet to taste defeat on the road for the entire season, standing 7-0 on his decisions. The O’s are 10-4 in his road starts, and 21-9 overall, including victories the last eight times Tillman has taken the mound.

Anthony Ranaudo will throw for the Red Sox this evening. Ranaudo is a pretty good prospect, but he’s far from a finished product. The BB/K ratio is a bit discouraging, and I’d have to grade his 3-1 record as a bit deceiving. Ranaudo really needs to avoid issuing free passes against this opponent. The Orioles can turn those walks into crooked numbers in a hurry with their power and just their knack for being remarkably opportunistic.

The Red Sox had yet another game on Monday where they had chances and could not cash in with any timely hits. That’s been a problem all season and is really as big a reason as any as to why they’re a last place team. Yet for whatever reason, they have never been priced like one, and that looks to be the case again tonight. Better team, better pitcher and the Birds are right back on Momentum Street with the big comeback on Sunday and the shutout win on Monday. I have no problem laying what seems to be a moderate tag and I’ll be on the Orioles tonight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dave’s Free Play, Monday 9/8/14

Quick takes from Sunday’s Week One NFL results:

There were some awful beats on the Sunday slate, and the Jaguars failing to stay inside the doubles against the Eagles is certainly on that not so short list. Jacksonville won the first half 17-0, and then remarkably lost the second by a whopping 34-0 count. The Philly cover came on a Chad Henne fumble that got returned for a TD with just more than one minute remaining.  Undrafted rookie WR Allen Hurns was the surprise star for the Jaguars, while QB Nick Foles recovered from a terrible start to lead the Eagles rally.

The day’s best game was the rivalry shootout between the Saints and Falcons. New Orleans looked as though they might dominate early, but as is so often the case in this league, leaving points off the board ultimately kills. 13-0 instead of 21-0 kept the Falcons in the game, and Matt Ryan then proceeded to put together what might well have been the best game of his career as the Falcons rallied. Ryan flashed more mobility than I’ve seen from him in the past and his ability to avoid getting sacked turned out to be huge.

More OT in Chicago as the Bills upset the Bears. The home team won the overall yardage battle, but Buffalo was the better football team. The Bills dominated on the ground, threw effectively when they needed to and were far more opportunistic. The Bears defense is going to be a problem again this season, and their safeties are just plain lousy.

The Titans have new schemes on both offense and defense, and the early returns are a rousing success. Tennessee basically beat the snot out of the Chiefs, which is no small feat at Arrowhead. This was a rout for all intents and purposes. The Titans now have a chance to get off to a great start with Dallas heading to Nashville next week. The Chiefs are going to be in for along season if QB Alex Smith continues his less than stellar play.

The Vikings obliterated the Rams, so it’s fair to say that some really shaky decision making by St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher didn’t matter. In  this game, that’s a fact. But Fisher made some poor risk vs. reward maneuvers while this was still a game, and eliminated any shot hit team had in the process. On the flip side, high praise to the Vikings staff. They figured out early that the Rams were keying everything on Adrian Peterson, so Minnesota instead featured electrifying Cordarelle Patterson. Life in the rugged NFC West is looking to be very tough for what could be a really punchless Rams squad.

Bill Belichick has some work to do with the Patriots. The OL didn’t give Tom Brady any protection and the decision not to run much, even when ahead, tells me Belichick is worried about that unit. Big win for the Dolphins, rallying smartly from a 20-10 halftime deficit and dominating the rest of the way.

402-158 in yards, including 212-25 on the ground. When you see lopsided stats like that, it’s generally a blowout. Leave it to the Jets to find a way not to cover in their win against Oakland. The Raiders got a short field TD off a turnover and a garbage time drive for their points and looked seriously overmatched throughout. This was a game the Jets should have won in a romp. Their lack of efficiency will undoubtedly get them beat against more talented opposition.

The Steelers beat up the Browns for 30 minutes and then apparently forgot that the game lasts 60 minutes. I thought this was absolutely an ease up job by the Steelers, and that almost got them beat. Credit to Pittsburgh for finding a way to put together a drive for the late win, but Mike Tomlin needs to convince his guys that games are not clinched with one good half of football. Tough spread beat for Steelers backer.

I really thought the Bengals were going to absorb another defeat at Baltimore when they settled for five FG’s and no TD’s and then eventually lost the lead to the Ravens. AJ Green saved the day with a long catch and run for the winning TD, and Cincy gets a big mental boost with the win against a rival that has owned them at this site. I’m not very high on the Ravens this season. While they made a nice comeback following some good red zone stops that limited the Bengals to threes rather then sevens, my take on the Ravens definitely didn’t get altered.

Not a whole lot of offense between the Redskins and Texans. A blocked punt TD by Houston was the biggest play of the game. Not the desired debut for Jadeveon Clowney, who hurt his knee and will be out of action for an indeterminate amount of time. I thought the Redskins could have won this game, but they lost the third down conversion battle badly and had the huge special teams gaffe as well.

I’m not sure what to make of the 49ers win at Dallas. The Cowboys were beyond inept early and the 49ers were able to coast after amassing a 28-3 halftime lead. If I’m Jim Harbaugh, I’m not thrilled with the coast job past halftime. This team seemed to lack killer instinct last year and that issue is quite possibly yet to be resolved. Dallas is in dire straits and is clearly a bottom five team, at least as far as right now is concerned.

Derek Anderson stepped in for injured Cam Newton and played a terrific game as the Panthers ruined Lovie Smith’s debut with the Bucs. I thought Doug Martin was thoroughly awful for Tampa Bay. Nine carries for nine yards, and he sure didn’t make up for that with his pass blocking. Predictions of doom and gloom for Carolina appear to be premature. This team appeared to have chip on its shoulder and while the stats weren’t lopsided, the Panthers were the superior team for most of this game.

The Broncos looked like they might hang 50 on the Colts. Instead, Denver came perilously close to blowing a huge lead. Props to the Denver defense for what turned out to be two vital red zone stops. Indianapolis lost this game, but should return home with loads of confidence following their strong rally. The Broncos might have relaxed with the big lead, so this could also be a lesson learned for them.

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I did not have a good NFL day, losing all three of my plays. Yes, I should have won the Jets but the other two were bad reads with the proper result. The good news is that the bases continue to flourish with a 2-0 sweep, so I’ll live with the overall 2-3 day. I’m still +5.1 for the first week of September and that’s following three solid months with substantial profits.

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Sunday free plays were 1-2 as the two early plays in the NFL failed, while yesterday’s Rangers play worked out nicely. I’ll try the nightcap of the Monday NFL twinbill for tonight’s comp.

09/08 07:2o PM   NFL   (491) SAN DIEGO CHARGERS  at  (492) ARIZONA CARDINALS

Take: (491) SAN DIEGO CHARGERS +3

I’m sticking straight with my rankings on this game, and believe me when I say that I really blew it by not just going exclusively with my numbers yesterday. Live and learn.

I have the Chargers as one of the best offensive teams in the NFL entering the new season. I’m expecting what should be a well protected Philip Rivers to have a huge campaign, and basically don’t see much concern anywhere with this unit as long as the starters remain healthy. The bad news is that San Diego might well need to be outscoring their opponents, as I’m not nearly as bullish on their defense. But my overall pre-season power ratings have the Chargers as a team that will be playing in January, although I’ve still got them behind the Broncos in the AFC West.

I’m not as high on Arizona. The Cardinals should not be bad by any means. But when tabulating the overall results from my three sets of ratings (offense, defense and the frequently overlooked special teams) the bottom line calculated them as basically an average team. Obviously, these numbers aren’t chiseled in granite and it’s entirely possible I’ll just be dead wrong on some teams. But I thought the Cardinals might have enjoyed some good fortune at times last season, and I’ve got them well behind the two power teams in the NFC West and no better than middle of the pack overall.

It’s really as simple as that as far as tonight’s call is concerned. This game grades out virtually dead even when including the home field advantage, and that makes getting a field goal with the road team a rock solid value. I’m trusting the numbers and grabbing the Chargers with the points tonight.

 

 

Dave’s Free Play, Sunday 9/7/14

Quick takes from Saturday’s big college slate, with comments on selected games:

Kansas State somehow gave up 28 straight points to Iowa State but recovered to escape with a 32-28 win. I’d put more faith in K-State’s second half than their first, and while it’s not a misleading final, I won’t be significantly downgrading the Wildcats.

Toledo was a popular sharp play, but the Rockets were down a couple of cornerbacks and Maty Mauk made them pay as Missouri romped. This game was 35-7 before the teams just started trading, so it goes down as an impressive win for the Tigers.

Arkansas State gave Tennessee a decent game, but hurt themselves with penalties. This was not a great spot for the Vols, so the fact they won convincingly enough is a positive.

Penn Statev figured to perhaps be sloppy after the Ireland excursion, so the fact they got a test from an improving Akron squad was not surprising.

Huge win for Central Michigan, which looms as a MAC contender this season. Purdue went backwards off the Western Michigan win, and it’s tough to envision the Boilermakers avoiding another very rough campaign in conference.

Broken record time. If you throw the ball 80% of the time, you’re not that tough to defense unless the QB is sensational. SMU was absolutely terrible in a very embarrassing blowout loss to North Texas. The Mean Green racked up a ridiculous amount of penalty yards, meaning this could have been even uglier than it already was.

Army finished up with just an eight point win over Buffalo, but that was misleading as the visitors scored the final 22 points to make it respectable. The Cadets got sloppy with the big lead and actually had to play some defense late, but it’s still a good win for Army.

Western Kentucky was up six heading into the final stanza at Illinois. But a big play on offense and a pick-six turned the tide. Important win for beleaguered Illini coach Tim Beckman.

Navy held off a late charge and wild last play to escape with the win at Temple. The Midshipmen have had fourth quarter issues in each of their first two games. The Owls had some execution issues in this game and just weren’t sharp off the impressive win over Vanderbilt.

New Mexico State won a last team with the ball battle at Georgia State. Wins figure to be few and far between for both these entries.

Mississippi State got the win against UAB, but the Bulldogs got burned by three long distance scores in the process. UAB shouldn’t feel too bad about this loss, while Miss State knows it cannot afford to give up this many big plays if they want to win in the SEC.

Kent State made it interesting in the second half against South Alabama. But the Golden Flashes are not looking good offensively, and they need to tighten up the rush defense as well.

Colorado escaped with the win at UMass. But the fact the Buffaloes were down 11 midway through the third quarter against a pretty weak offense is alarming. Considering the offensive talent in the PAC-12, this cannot bode well for CU.

Maryland won despite being an incredible -5 in net turnovers. This was a bad offensive game for the Terrapins. Good thing South Florida has little to attack with, or this surely would have been an upset win for the Bulls.

Northern Illinois won with defense at Northwestern. They stuffed the Wildcats running game all day long. Rough start to the season for this Big 10 squad, but at least they’ve got plenty of company in that conference.

Jake Rudock came alive late as Iowa avoided getting stunned by Ball State. The Hawkeyes dominated the stats in this game and really shouldn’t have had as much trouble as they did here.

Stanford just gave away the game against USC. The Cardinal were at the USC 35 or better on every possession throughout the game and incredibly scored only 10 points. Credit the Trojans for finding a way to win this and feel free to criticize Stanford coach David Shaw for simply staying too conservative once again. Bad loss for Stanford.

Middle Tennessee got the cover at Minnesota, but the favorite was the much better squad when it mattered. David Cobb enjoyed a huge game for the Golden Gophers, who simply eased up in allowing the Blue Raiders to slip through the back door.

Georgia Tech got off to a very shaky start at Tulane, but the Yellow Jackets put it together in the second half on defense. Nevertheless, Georgia Tech looks even more one-dimensional than ever, and that’s going to get them beat when they face quality opposition.

NC State looks like the lousiest 2-0 team in the country. The Wolfpack had loads of trouble against a bottom tier team for the second straight week and if they win their next two against beatable opponents, they will simply then be the worst 4-0 team in the country. Old Dominion is not your typical first year FBS squad.

Michigan State had Oregon on the ropes for a good portion of the game, but the Ducks simply blew this open in the fourth quarter. The Ducks spread win was a bit fluky, but they’re a monster. Despite the loss, the Spartans look like the best team in the Big 10 right now.

Louisiana Tech romped as a double digit dog at UL Lafayette. The Bulldogs scored on a 99 yard run on the first play from scrimmage and this was worse than the final stats might indicate.

East Carolina threw a scare into South Carolina for awhile, but the Gamecocks eventually started shredding the Pirates in the trenches. That said, if not for a couple unforced errors on offense, ECU might have had a legit shot at the upset.

UL-Monroe looked like they’d coast up 21-7  but Idaho wouldn’t go away. The home team managed to escape with the win thanks to a last minute TD drive. This was a bit of a sandwich spot for Monroe and it showed.

Notre Dame closed out the long series with Michigan with its most lopsided result in the history of the rivalry. The Irish could not run the football at all, but it didn’t matter as the Wolverines were hopelessly inept on offense. Brady Hoke is officially on the hot seat in Ann Arbor.

BYU looks like a legit power this season, and the Cougars simply manhandled Texas for the second straight season. Not that David Ash is a great college QB, but there’s nothing behind him right now for the Longhorns.

Virginia Tech served notice they’re back on the national scene with a strong performance at Ohio State. The Buckeyes have a problem at QB and they’re actually a little fortunate to not be 0-2. The Hokies have a nice team and QB Brewer, while not particularly gifted physically, is a big upgrade from Logan Thomas.

San Diego State let one get away at Chapel Hill. The Aztecs outplayed North Carolina, but the Tar Heels proved to be opportunistic and perhaps a little lucky as well. SDSU can be a player in the MWC this season, but they need to cut down on the crucial turnovers.

UCLA is 2-0 and they’ve impressed exactly nobody with the narrow wins against Virginia and Memphis. The Bruins have a murderous schedule ahead of them and barring immediate improvement the losses are going to happen. Memphis might be  a better team than I assumed prior to the start of the season.

Air Force flat out blew the game at Wyoming. They lost a TD on a penalty, another huge gain on a penalty, missed a shortish FG, took a bad gamble on a fourth quarter 4th down and then fell apart on defense on the final Wyoming drive. Coach Troy Calhoun also wasted two time outs that he should have saved. Bad loss for the Falcons in a game they should have won.

Boise State crushed Colorado State in a game not nearly as competitive as the final score might indicate. The Rams have plenty of fight and made this interesting from a spread standpoint, but the game itself was no contest.

Oregon State was up big at Hawaii before the Rainbow Warriors rallied to get inside the number and actually within one possession. Hawaii did this a few times last season as well, so it’s clear this is a team that does not quit. Good game for the Beavers, who coasted with the 38-7 lead, and hopefully learned a bit of a lesson in the process.

UTEP barely missed the upset against Texas Tech, and if the Miners were just a little more accurate through the air, they’d have won this game. The Red Raiders had real issues stopping the run again this week, and this looms as a serious problem heading toward conference play.

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I went 4-2-1 on Saturday with the losses being Michigan State and Air Force, so I was that close to a monster win for the day. But if I’m going to take a tough beat or two, better it happens on a day when everything else wins. That removes the sting in a big way. Year to date bottom line continues to get better and better.

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The Saturday free plays were 1-0-1, with Arkansas State winning and the push occurring with the Rockies. That was a split ML/RL call, so the money line got there and the runs line didn’t, resulting in a push. I’ve already posted a couple of free NFL plays, so I’ll go with one on the diamond today.

09/07 12:05 PM   MLB   (925) SEATTLE MARINERS  at  (926) TEXAS RANGERS

Take: (926) TEXAS RANGERS +130

The Mariners are still contending for a playoff spot, the Rangers are simply playing for pride. But this is a strength vs. weakness spot and I see it as a game where the upset looms as a decent possibility.

No knocks on James Paxton. The Mariners rookie lefty has been rock solid and there’s no way it’s a cinch to try and beat him. But I was ultra impressed with Derek Holland as he finally got off the DL for Texas and he now gets to take on team he’s pretty well owned as a major leaguer.

Holland’s presence for the full season would obviously have meant quite a bit for Texas, and I can imagine no one feels worse about the goofy injury he incurred than the veteran southpaw. But he sure looked sharp in his first start back with the big club, and I’m of the opinion Holland wants to build some momentum that he can take into 2015.

The weakness for Seattle is its offense against lefties. That’s the strength for the Rangers, who in spite of all their problems this season, have still been able to bang around southpaws. Paxton is a cut above the norm to be sure, and the Rangers certainly aren’t hitting much against anyone right now with that patchwork lineup.

This is mainly a play on Holland. If he’s right, and off that last outing I’ve no reason to think he won’t be, then the Rangers are a solid value here at the current price tag. Not that the Mariners don’t rate being the chalk, but I can’t see it being quite this much. I’ll look to the Rangers as a live dog call today.

 

 

 

 

 

Dave’s Free Play, Saturday 9/6/14

Quick takes from the three Thursday and Friday college football games:

UT-San Antonio fell behind in a blink on Thursday night against Arizona, but the senior-laden Roadrunners sure didn’t panic. A short missed field goal might well have cost UTSA a chance to perhaps get to overtime and pull the upset. In any event, UTSA is no longer under the radar. Arizona looks vulnerable. Redshirt freshman Anu Solomon is going to have to get better in a hurry with his intermediate and long range passes or teams are simply going to start selling out to stop the Wildcats running game.

Boston College got a quick score against Pittsburgh, but the Panthers dominated after that. James Connor was way too much for the Eagles to handle, and the 30-20 final score was misleading. Pitt looks like they could be unbeaten for a while. BC might do better against teams that lack a power running game, but that type is going to give them worlds of trouble.

Mike Leach is strictly one-dimensional at Washington State. I’ll still maintain that badly imbalanced offenses are just not the way to go, unless there’s no alternative. The Cougars were also very inefficient in this loss. Nevada gets its best win since Brian Polian took over for the legendary Chris Ault. Cody Fajardo isn’t throwing it especially well, but if he warms up, the Wolf Pack could end up having a nice season.

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2-0 for me on Friday, as I passed the football but won with the Mets and Rockies. Things are going very well right now and I’m looking forward to a busy day on Saturday, with five college and two baseball plays already made.

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Tyler Matzek pitched a gem for the Rockies on Friday, notching his first complete game shutout in the process for a solid free play winner. I’ve already given out one college and two NFL free plays, so I’ll stay with the bases and a rare split play for the comp today.

09/06  05:40 PM   MLB   (911) SAN DIEGO PADRES  at  (912) COLORADO ROCKIES

Take: (912) COLORADO ROCKIES -152 AND -1.5 +145

I don’t play many big favorites in baseball. By and large, I get priced off heavy chalk and my general threshold is roughly -140. The preference here is small favorites and underdogs.

But I am not going to simply dismiss all big chalk if the numbers dictate a play, as is the case here. In instances such as this, I like to split my play between the money line and the runs line. In effect, I’m creating a -1 line.

That’s the formula here, as Jorge De La Rosa is on the mound for the Rockies. De La Rosa at Coors might well be the single best bet in baseball. The Colorado team record when the southpaw starts at home is insane. I don’t know if there’s a way to overstate how incredible this team is when De La Rosa is on the mound, as they’ve now won an incredible 46 of his last 55 Coors starts. No wonder the Rockies just spent a bundle to lock up De La Rosa for another two seasons rather than let him head to free agency. De La Rosa might be the only pitcher ever who admits that he absolutely loves to pitch at Coors. Based on that record, he’s not exaggerating.

Another plus here is that we have a first-time Coors starter in Joe Weiland. The Padres righty got a handful of starts back in 2012 prior to his getting injured, but none were in this ballpark. Fading pitchers making their Coors debuts has been a profitable venture and with De La Rosa the opponent for Weiland, the trend should be maintained today.

My strategy here is to split the bet between the money line and the runs line. Obviously, that’s no good if the Rockies lose the game and if they win by one run, it works out to a push. But with San Diego also not hitting at all lately, scoring three or fewer runs in what is now nine straight games, I see the ML/RL combo on the Rockies as the best way to play.