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?
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.