Colorado State vs. Utah
Betting Prediction: Utah -2 (December 20th 2014)
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Wild Card in this analysis is the response of Colorado St. to the defection of HC McElwain to Florida after guiding his team to a 10-2 SU, 8-4 ATS mark. That completes a turnaround that has seen the Ram fortunes move in a positive direction. Colorado St. is now 18-8 SU L2Y after going 13-35 SU the previous 4 years. They are now on a 20-9 ATS run. Offensive fortunes have improved to 36 PPG and 498 YPG on 7.2 OFF YP play, behind QB Grayson (32/6) and RB Hart. Among their pointspread feathers are records of 8-3 ATS as dog and 9-0 ATS vs. non-conference foes. But without knowing the response of Ram players to the loss of McElwain, I will side with Utah in this matchup. Replacement QB Wilson (17/4) and RB Wilson have kept this team competitive in rugged PAC 12 play. Against the vigorous competition of that league, Utah saw 7/9 conference games decided by 6 or less points. In going 8-4 SU ATS this season, the Utes recorded 5 road wins. A negative is a 0-5 ATS record as road or neutral favorite. But, under HC Whittingham, this team is 8-2 ATS in Bowls, indicating his ability to motivate his team for these games and make them a priority. Final positive indicator for the Utes is their 52 defensive sacks, a number that leads the nation and will make life miserable for QB Grayson.
Utah State vs. UTEP
Bowl Prediction: UTEP +10 -110 odds (December 20th 2014)
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New Mexico Bowl game between UTEP and Utah State. Normally I would back Utah State a team that in years past has been dominating on defense but right now there is just something missing as their defense gave up 900 yards rushing and 8 TD’s over their last 4 games combined. UTEP’s Aaron Jones has the play making ability and I don’t view Conference USA that far behind the Mountain West. In fact I rank the Mountain West 6th, and C-USA 8th. UTEP had the tougher non-conference schedule facing Texas Tech, Kansas State and no FCS team while Utah State faced Tennesse and Wake Forest + FCS team. Each team had one common opponent which was New Mexico. New Mexico is another team that runs first and UTEP went on the road and beat them 31-24 while Utah State won at home 28-21. I just think there is too much value here with UTEP who is very excited to be in this bowl game.
The total in this game is also dropping like crazy and is now down at 44 which makes this 10 points all the more valuable. UTEP is 2nd in the nation in time of possession, they have only turned the ball over 11 times, and they are among the best in fewest penalties ranking 23rd while Utah State comes in at 103. If that’s not enough for you, UTEP starts a senior QB and an experienced secondary while Utah State is starting a freshmen in Kent Myers. Sure Kent Myers is 4-1 as a starter but the pass defenses he has had to go up against are some of the worst in the nation in Hawaii, Wyoming, New Mexico etc. UTEP is ranked 10th in passing defense efficiency. UTEP is also better on third down offense and defense and again I still don’t think they are in a far worse conference.
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Kansas City Chiefs vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
NFL Over-Under Pick: Over 46.5 (December 21st 2014)
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This isn’t your Pittsburgh Steelers of the glory days. They relied on running the ball and a great D. This team scores a ton of points and the defense is far from the Steel Curtain, over the last three games in Pittsburgh, there has been a total of 218 points scored, or an average of 73 a game. Le’Veon Bell has emerged as one of the top backs in the league. He has been getting the job done and making big plays as both a runner and a receiver while Big Ben and Antonio Brown continue to make big plays in the passing game. The Steelers have allowed 20+ points in 12 of their 14 games played this season
The Chiefs have played Oakland and Arizona the last two weeks. Three weeks ago they played Denver which would be better comparison to the Steelers offense rather than Oakland or Arizona. Against the Broncos, they allowed 29 points. The Chiefs have some playmakers on offense themselves and should be able to put up points on this porous Steelers defense.
Play on the OVER.
Minnesota Vikings vs. Miami Dolphins
NFL Pick: Minnesota +7 (December 21st 2014)
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Only once in their last eight games have the Vikings lost by more than seven points and that was an eight-point loss.
The Dolphins are beat up physically and in a bad place mentally with their playoff hopes realistically dashed and third-year head coach Joe Philbin almost certainly out after missing the postseason once again.
Miami has been outscored by 56 points during the past seven quarters. The Vikings, on the other hand, are an improving team showing spunk under defensive whiz Mike Zimmer. He has greatly improved Minnesota’s defense. Teddy Bridgewater is showing better command of the offense. The Dolphins’ pass rush has ground to a near halt recording just two sacks during the last two games, while facing 69 pass attempts.
The Dolphins are averaging just 3.3 yards per carry during their last 31 rushing attempts. They are not a big-play passing team either. So this is too high of a spread for them to cover.
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