Early Bowl Handicapping and NFL Notes
The College Football Bowl Games have been announced - there's 40 of 'em in all even before we get to the National Championship Game from Santa Clara on the evening of Jan. 7, 2019 - and there's surely no shortage of handicapping angles as we approach these post-season bashes.
So, let's spend some time skipping around to a batch of bowl games with just some of the "handicappable" items that we'll be applying this bowl season:
SATURDAY, DEC. 15 - LAS VEGAS BOWL
Arizona State vs. Fresno State - One of the key angles we like to check out at bowl time is going against first-year coaches and, in this case, Arizona State's Herm Edwards is a "newbie" to the bowl wars. Many times it takes a head coach and his staff two or three bowl games together to work out proper practice schedules, etc. leading up to the game but generally speaking we like to go against first-timers who are laying points. Not the case here as the ASU Sun Devils are at press time a 4.5-point underdog. Let's see where we can find first-time bowl coaches at minus a price (see Oregon in the Dec. 31st San Francisco Bowl) ... but one thing worth checking here is non-Power 5 squad Fresno State is laying points to a power conference crew and that usually has us siding with the dog in those cases. In that regard, look out for Wake Forest plus the points against Memphis in the Dec. 22nd Birmingham Bowl.
THURSDAY, DEC. 20 - GASPARILLA BOWL
Marshall at USF - We see this two, three or even four times a bowl season and that's a team playing on their own home field: The USF Bulls call Raymond James Stadium in Tampa their home in the regular season (note Hawaii is the home team for the Hawaii Bowl on Dec. 22nd) and you could argue whether that helps or not - note the visiting team usually takes it as a slight that it has to play a bowl game on the road and here Marshall is a 1.5-point road fav against a fast-fading bunch of Bulls that have lost five in a row SU (straight up). Still, gotta give USF 3 or 3.5 points in the number to represent home field here and not sure we're seeing that in this current price tag.
FRIDAY, DEC. 21 - POTATO BOWL
BYU vs. Western Michigan - One of the most popular bowl handicapping angles over the years is to go on or against a team that finished up regular-season play with a showdown against an archrival. Take the case of BYU here: The Cougars were beaten 35-27 by nemesis Utah back on Nov. 24th (a game BYU led by 27 points!) and so you generally get a well-focused bowl team when coming off a rivalry loss but the question here is do you wish to be laying 12.5 points? Likely we will find a more desirable bowl team coming off a rivalry loss - one that's either laying a tiny price or else taking points.
NFL NEWS & NOTES
Let's get you folks up to speed with the year-long wagering records following Philadelphia's 28-13 win/cover against the absolutely battered Washington Redskins on Monday Night Football:
NFL Betting Favorites registered a 7-9 ATS (against the spread) mark in NFL Week 13 play and so the chalk sides are a subpar 85-96-7 ATS with 4 Pick 'Em games this season (that's a .470 winning rate). Meanwhile, NFL "over" players just got dunked in Week 13 as they finished 5-11 spreadwise and so for the 2018 season the "overs" are 93-98-1 (that's a .487 winning rate).
Off the big board, the talk in/around the NFL continues to swirl regarding head coaches that either are out (see Green Bay's Mike McCarthy) or gonna be out at year's end (see Cincinnati's Marvin Lewis, Cleveland's interim Gregg Williams, the New York Jets' Todd Bowles and Tampa Bay's Dirk Koetter).
If we wanted to play mix-and-match here, this is an early-bird prediction for the soon-to-be vacancies:
Cincinnati - Gus Bradley, DC, Los Angeles Chargers
Cleveland - John Fassel, special teams, Los Angeles Rams
Green Bay - Matt LaFleur, OC, Tennessee Titans
New York Jets - Bruce Arians, former head coach, Arizona Cardinals
Tampa Bay - Mike McCarthy, former head coach, Green Bay Packers