The Chargers are the better team but I like the home favorite Buffalo Bills to win and cover the spread on Sunday. The scheduling situation is a big reason I like the Bills. The Chargers are traveling across the country for an early start time on Sunday. San Diego is also coming off a big win against the Super Bowl champions. Teams that play the Seahawks struggle the week after because Seattle is a physical team.
As I wrote about on my Thursday night preview, I’m reevaluating some of my preseason predictions. I was down on the Bills this season because of their quarterback play. I’m not sure E.J. Manuel is the solution in Buffalo but the rest of the roster has talent at almost every position especially running back and defensive line. It feels odd to think the Bills can be 3-0 by Sunday afternoon but I think that will happen.
Pick: Bills (-1) over Chargers
I picked Kanas State (+9.5) as part of a pool play on Thursday. I wasn’t confident enough to make it an official pick. I thought both teams played sloppy. Auburn could’ve won by a lot more and Kansas State could’ve won straight up if they made their field goals or didn’t throw a goal line interception. Moving on the this weekend, I had trouble with these games so I have one pick that I am very confident about. The teams I have the strongest leans towards against the spread are North Carolina, Mississippi State, Northern Illinois and Miami. Here’s my one pick this Saturday along with the other pool plays:
Under 51 in Florida vs Alabama
Mississippi State (+9.5) over LSU
South Carolina (-21) over Vanderbilt
Oregon (-23.5) over Washington State
My only college football pick of the week will also be the first over/under pick I have made this season. I like the Florida-Alabama game to go under the total of 51. The SEC has seen a lot of high scoring games this season involving Texas A&M, South Carolina and Georgia. However, Florida and Alabama are two on the best defensive teams in the conference and both teams have question marks on offense.
Florida may have been looking ahead to this game when they came out flat against Kentucky and need triple overtime to beat the Wildcats. Florida ran and threw the ball well but Jeff Driskel will need to play much better against Alabama than he did against Kentucky. Teams that can run a spread offense have given trouble to Alabama and Florida doesn’t have a spread offense where they open up the playbook.
Alabama quarterback Blake Sims hasn’t had to be spectacular this season. The senior has relied on wide receiver Amari Cooper who already has 33 receptions in three games. If there is one team that can neutralize Cooper, it’s Florida with star cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III. That will be the matchup to watch on Saturday and I think Hargreaves III can contain Cooper.
Florida and coach Will Muschamp know they need this game so I think they will bring their best defensive effort. I also think Alabama will be the dominant Alabama from the past with their defense. Driskel and Sims aren’t quarterbacks I expect to lead their teams on many scoring drives. That’s why I like the under in this SEC game.
Pick: Under 51 in Florida vs Alabama
I mentioned in my Thursday night college football preview that I have struggled figuring out the games I want to pick this week. I picked a lot of games early last week and finished with a 4-1 record. There’s a few tricky lines this week and I want to wait until some lines move. I’ll likely make 3-5 picks but some picks might be posted as late as Saturday night.
I don’t have a feel for the Thursday night game. I liked Tampa Bay in the preseason and wasn’t a fan of Atlanta before the season. I’m still not sold on the Falcons but the Buccaneers cause for real concern and I have reevaluated my stance on Lovie Smith’s team. Tampa Bay lost to Derek Anderson and Austin Davis so I think Matt Ryan can cause even more trouble for the Tampa Bay defense. Offensively, Josh McCown has been below average and may have just been a product of a system for less than half a season in Chicago.
The argument for Tampa Bay is they are likely getting Doug Martin back, and maybe they will flourish in a more familiar underdog role away from home. I wouldn’t pick the Falcons giving a touchdown if I didn’t have too. For the sake of a contest pick I would lean towards the home team.
Pick: Pass (Contest: Falcons)
I’ll start off by saying that I have had trouble this week researching college games to pick. I have tried to post picks as early as possible the last three weeks but there isn’t anything I love right now. I hope to post a few picks later in the week but I want to be very selective.
This is one game I was tempted to pick. Auburn makes a rare trip to Big 12 country to play Kansas State on a Thursday night. I would lean to the home team here who are a +9.5 underdog. I was high on Kansas State at the beginning of the season and didn’t expect Auburn to have another magical year. Bill Snyder is one of the best coaches in the country but so is Gus Malzahn and his offensive system that can seem unstoppable.
The Tigers have covered 12 straight games dating back to Week 3 of 2012. I’m going to pass picking against a team that is on that type of streak. I would pick Kansas State as a pool play, and also predict a high scoring game in Manhattan.
I started the week 0-1 after picking the Steelers in the Thursday night game. I’m now 2-3 on the season and 6-11 overall in contest picks. I’m picking four more game this weekend including an over/under. Hyperlinks for analysis are provided below. For the other games I’ll provide a brief sentence or two on the side I would take in a contest.
Lions at Panthers (-3)
My line: Panthers -1.5
Analysis: It looks like Newton will play but he hasn’t spent much time with his receivers in the preseason. Lions are coming off a Monday night game playing at home so I wouldn’t pick them with confidence.
Pick: Pass (Contest: Lions)
Dolphins (-1) at Bills
My line: Bills -1.5
Click for analysis
Hard to pick against the Seahawks right now but I’m going to do it against a Chargers team I trust to bounce back. The Seahawks convincingly won at home in their regular season opener against the Packers. Now they go on the road, where the Seahawks are a much different team compared to at home.
The Chargers defense stood tall for three quarters on Monday night in Arizona. Then they tired out as the offense failed to sustain long fourth quarter drives. I think the defense turns in another strong performance at home on Sunday.
There is value on the Chargers as I think the Seahawks should only be a field goal favorite. Also the Seahawks might be looking ahead to a Week 3 home date against Denver in a Super Bowl rematch. The line might be higher than I expected because of the shorter rest for San Diego. However, the Chargers played on Week 1 Monday night last season and then crossed three time zones to beat Philadelphia on the road six days later.
Pick: Chargers (+6) over Seahawks