Thursday NFL Preview and Heisman Watch
We're now beyond the halfway point of this 2018 NFL season and - among other pointspread-related items - we've learned that Betting Favorites are slightly below the break-even mark at 61-68-2 ATS (against the spread) for a .473 winning rate (there's been a pair of "pushes" and 3 Pick 'Em games too).
We've also learned that anyone that's backed the Kansas City Chiefs on a weekly basis finds themselves way ahead of the game (cha-ching!) - the Chiefs are a league-best 8-1 against the odds -- while the Oakland Raiders are a league-worst 2-6 versus Mr. Vig. Not surprised, are you?
There are some teams who are sinking fast - see the Baltimore Ravens - and other teams that are just getting revved up - hello, Atlanta Falcons - and right here in this NFL Week 10 there's two scorching-hot sides ready to collide on this Thursday night:
Tonight, it's ... CAROLINA (6-2) at PITTSBURGH (5-2-1) - 8:20 p.m. ET, Fox
Hey, who cares about these silly tweets by one-time Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell - he's not a part of this Pittsburgh team that roars into play this evening with four consecutive SU (straight-up) wins and the real stories here for Mike Tomlin's team is a re-born defense (allowed 18 ppg during this four-game run) and that "other" RB James Conner (706 yards rushing with 9 TDs) ... if Conner can bang out another 100-plus yard ground game and that defense can suffocate Carolina QB Cam Newton (1,893 yards passing with 15 TDs and 4 INTs) in the red zone, then the home team will be the ones hanging onto first place in the gritty AFC North for at least one mo' week.
Spread Notes - Pittsburgh rides a four-game ATS winning streak into tonight's prime-time game and note the Steelers are 5-2 spreadwise in their last seven tilts against NFC competition. On the flip side, Carolina has covered its last three in a row (versus Philadelphia, Baltimore and Tampa Bay) since Oct. 21 and the Panthers are 10-4 versus the vig as underdogs the past couple of years.
Heisman Trophy Watch
TUA TAGOVAILOA, QB, Alabama - The overwhelming betting favorite to cop this year's Heisman Trophy, this lefty slinger currently is priced at 1-to-10 and he only bolstered his chances with last week's showing in the 29-0 win against LSU: Tagovailoa threw for 295 yards and two TDs and scampered 44 yards for another score in the blowout victory and so the updated numbers now include 2,361 passing yards with 27 TDs and just 1 INT to go along with 172 yards rushing (a 5.9 ypc average) with three TDs. Oh, yes, 'Bama is also 9-0 and #1 in the land.
KYLER MURRAY, QB, Oklahoma - Okay, so we've moved up the Sooners' superstar to #2 on our hit list (he was third in our Watch List last week) after his electric showing in last Saturday's 51-46 non-cover win at two-TD underdog Texas Tech: Murray - after throwing a couple of early-game picks -- threw for 360 yards and 3 TDs against the TT Red Raiders and overall his numbers now include 2,689 passing yards with 31 TDs and 5 INTs and don't sleep on his 574 yards rushing / 7 rushing TDs (and 7.0 ypc average).
GARDNER MINSHEW, QB, Washington State - True, Wazzu scored just 19 points in last weekend's down-to-the-wire non-cover win against 7.5-point pup California but it was a 10-yard scoring strike thrown by this 6-foot-2 junior with just :32 left that won it. Overall, the mustachioed Minshew has thrown for 3,517 yards with 27 TDs and 7 INTs and he's completed an eye-popping 70.8percent of his throws. P.S., Washington State's #9 in the current College Football Playoff rankings.
WILL GRIER, QB, West Virginia - Now, that was a gutsy Big 12 triumph last weekend for the WVU Mountaineers as the 42-41 come-back triumph at 1-point underdog Texas featured one of the great finishes this season as Grier aired a 33-yard TD with just :16 left and then came the two-point conversion play that won it. Grier's up-to-date numbers include 2,618 yards passing with 28 TDs and 7 INTs and a dazzling 69.7 percent completion rate. Take me home, country roads!