NFL Betting: Suspensions Savage Seattle Seahawks Secondary

hi-res-151646116_crop_650x440The Seattle Seahawks have the best record in the NFL right now, but are they the best team in the league? Maybe not, following the recent suspensions of two of their cornerbacks. The New Orleans Saints hope to take advantage when they visit CenturyLink Field for Monday Night Football. The NFL lines have New Orleans getting six points (–115) with a total of 47 for the primetime showdown.

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The Seahawks (10-1 SU, 7-4 ATS, over 6-5) announced on Tuesday that CB Walter Thurmond was given a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. In addition, CB Brandon Browner is reportedly facing a one-year suspension for violating said policy. Browner is expected to appeal, but is already uncertain to return this season due to a groin injury suffered in Week 10.

Seattle has the top-ranked defense in the league in terms of efficiency, but the Saints (9-2 SU, 6-5 ATS, under 6-5) hope their No. 3-ranked offense can take advantage of the weakened Seahawks secondary. A win on Monday night (8:30 PM ET, ESPN) would put New Orleans in position to take down the top playoff seed in the NFC, and home-field advantage all the way up to Super Bowl XLVIII.

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3 Things That Have To Happen For The Broncos To Win The Super Bowl

hi-res-158875180_crop_650x440As one of the NFL’s most dominant teams this season, the Broncos are a clear favorite to win the Super Bowl.

In fact, many oddsmakers have them as the number one pick to go all the way.

That’s not surprising given the presence of all-world quarterback Peyton Manning, who played most of his remarkable career with the Indianapolis Colts before moving on to the Broncos. His presence alone gives your team a chance to take a run at a championship, but the Colts aren’t a one trick pony, pun intended.

With a 9-1 record, the Broncos would be running away with the AFC West if not for the equally remarkable Kansas City Chiefs. But the Broncos are all but guaranteed a spot in the playoffs and whether they earn home field advantage or not, they’re a team that nobody is going to want to face in the post season.

Odds To Win Championship: 3/1

Key #1: The usual from Peyton Manning

When people discuss the very best quarterbacks in the NFL, they’re bound to mention the name Peyton Manning. He stands alongside Tom Brady as the best quarterback of his generation, and has proven it in both the regular season and in the Super Bowl. The Broncos have not been back to the big game since they won it in 1998, and they are looking to Manning to help change that.

With a proven track record of winning, the Broncos knew exactly what they were getting when they brought in Manning as a free agent in 2012. He was solid for the team in his first season, though they were stunned by the eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens in the second round of the playoffs.

This year Manning hopes to take his new team all the way, and there’s no reason to believe he can’t do it. He’s putting up his usual great numbers on offense, and making the Broncos tough to beat in every game.

Key #2: Fiery offense

With Manning at the line of scrimmage, you’re essentially guaranteed a powerful offence, but the Broncos have provided him with plenty of offensive options.

With running back Knowshon Moreno absolutely burning up the field with 600 yards, Manning could theoretically just keep dishing to him and watch the points pile up. But he’s got other options, like Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman, who are also racking up big yardage.

The Broncos are an offensive machine that’ll set any defensive line back on its heels, and they have done so all season long.

Key #3:Handle the pressure

When you’re the team everyone is chasing, you’ve got a target on your back. The Broncos are favorites for a reason, but they won’t be sneaking up on anybody and every team wants to make a name for themselves by knocking them out.

Manning’s championship experience should help calm nerves in the Broncos dressing room when the going gets tough.

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College Basketball Betting: 3 Reasons Why Oklahoma State Can Win The March Madness

1384646268000-USP-NCAA-Football-Oklahoma-State-at-Texas-001They may have missed out on landing the projected first-overall pick for next year’s NBA Draft in top prospect Andrew Wiggins, but that doesn’t mean the Oklahoma State Cowboys won’t contend for a national title with a deep run through the March Madness this season. The Cowboys have enough talent, experience, and good enough coaching to make a legitimate run this March, with three notable reasons why they can compete.

2014 March Madness Odds

Notable Reason #1: Smart Leads Dominant Group Of Scorers

Unlike Wiggins, Marcus Smart has already established his self as a dominant scorer and one of the best pure shooters in the country with a full year of experience under his belt. Smart has averaged 21 points, four rebounds, and four assists through the first five games of the season, and just as impressive is that he has averaged four steals while logging close to 28 minutes a game. Oklahoma State has one of the most impressive groups of perimeter scorers in the country led by Smart, with senior guard Markel Brown and sophomore guard Phil Forte putting up some big numbers in support. Brown is the veteran leader that leads the team in assists and has also pitched in with 18.2 points per game, while Forte has really impressed with an average of 14.8 points per game in an average of just 19 minutes early on.

Notable Reason #2: Cobbins, Murphy Will Develop in To The Front Court Presence They Need

Cobbins was a very productive sophomore averaging 6.9 points and 6.1 rebounds per game a year ago, and he held his own at the defensive end with an average of 1.5 blocks. The best part about those numbers is that Cobbins played at such a high level, and has the potential to be even better with another year of experienced under his belt. Fellow sophomore Kamari Murphy also has realistic size and a monster wingspan, and if he can grow in to his lanky frame he could develop in to a dominant player at both ends of the floor. Smart, Brown, and Forte are talented enough to carry the load early on, and the hope is that both Cobbins and Murphy will arrive by the time March rolls around.

Notable Reason #3: Wiggins, Jayhawks Will Provide Motivation To Be Better

Almost every year there is a handful of teams projected to win the NCAA tournament, but it’s usually one of a second tier of teams that ends up making the deep run. That could very well happen this year as Wiggins and Kansas command a ton of attention in the Big 12, and that could take away some of the pressure that this Cowboys’ team will face. Oklahoma State will have plenty of motivation to improve as the season goes on, and they should be ready to peak by the time that the March Madness rolls around.

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NCAAF Betting: Texas Tech Takes on Texas in Turkey Day Tussle

NCAA Football: Texas Christian at Texas TechIt’s been five years since the Texas Tech Red Raiders beat the Texas Longhorns. They’ll have a hard time preventing Texas from making it six. The ‘Horns are favored by 4.5 points for their Thanksgiving Day matchup at 7:30 PM ET at DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium. But college football betting fans also want to know if Texas Tech can drive the over to the pay window for the eighth time in a row.

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The Raiders (7-4 SU, 5-6 ATS, over 9-2) have the right mix to blow out those college football totals. Their offense is No. 1 in the nation in raw passing yards at 400.2 per game, and Texas Tech is No. 23 in scoring at 37.5 points per game. The Tech defenders, however, rank No. 102 of the 125 FBS teams in efficiency at Football Outsiders. The Raiders are allowing 30.3 points per game this season, or No. 83 overall.

Texas (7-3 SU, 5-5 ATS, over 5-5) has tightened up somewhat after a poor start to the season, paying off the under in four of the past five games. But the ‘Horns have allowed a combined 78 points in their last two outings, putting Thursday’s expected total of 66.5 points within reach.

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NFL Betting: Suspensions Savage Seattle Seahawks Secondary

Michael RobinsonThe Seattle Seahawks have the best record in the NFL right now, but are they the best team in the league? Maybe not, following the recent suspensions of two of their cornerbacks. The New Orleans Saints hope to take advantage when they visit CenturyLink Field for Monday Night Football. The NFL lines have New Orleans getting six points (–115) with a total of 47 for the primetime showdown.

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The Seahawks (10-1 SU, 7-4 ATS, over 6-5) announced on Tuesday that CB Walter Thurmond was given a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. In addition, CB Brandon Browner is reportedly facing a one-year suspension for violating said policy. Browner is expected to appeal, but is already uncertain to return this season due to a groin injury suffered in Week 10.

Seattle has the top-ranked defense in the league in terms of efficiency, but the Saints (9-2 SU, 6-5 ATS, under 6-5) hope their No. 3-ranked offense can take advantage of the weakened Seahawks secondary. A win on Monday night (8:30 PM ET, ESPN) would put New Orleans in position to take down the top playoff seed in the NFC, and home-field advantage all the way up to Super Bowl XLVIII.

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Best NFL Matchups Of The Week: December 1

BroncosChiefsJA3_8645The week 13 schedule in the NFL will offer a few supreme showdowns, a number of important divisional battles, and a smaller Sunday schedule due to the Thanksgiving tripleheader.

Denver Broncos @ Kansas City Chiefs

This game is going to be a battle between two teams that both suffered a number of injuries in week 12. Denver and Kansas City both got banged up this past weekend on both sides of the ball, but especially on defense. The Broncos lost multiple bodies in their secondary, while the Chiefs lost a pair of defensive linemen. The injury status for these various players is unknown, casting a cloud over this AFC West blockbuster. The winner of this game will take the lead in the division, and if the Broncos win, they’ll own the head-to-head tiebreaker over Kansas City with four games left to play, highly increasing the odds that they will be able to win the division and get a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs.

Tennessee Titans @ Indianapolis Colts

This is a game in which Tennessee has no margin for error. The Titans, by winning in Oakland this past weekend against the Raiders, have moved back to 5-6 in the AFC, which puts them very much in the running for the conference’s sixth and final playoff seed. The Titans are playing a banged-up Indianapolis team that did not put up much of a fight against the Arizona Cardinals in week 12. This is an opportunity for the Titans to change the course of their season, while Indianapolis has to find a way to address its emergent weaknesses.

New York Giants @ Washington Redskins

This game is a rare Sunday Night Football contest that doesn’t pack much of a wallop. These teams are playing for pride at this point, so the obvious question centers around the motivation levels for both the Giants and Redskins. Losing seasons are bad, but giving up on the season against a division rival is even worse.

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NFL Monday

hi-res-131656180-vernon-davis-of-the-san-francisco-49ers-runs-with-a_crop_northSAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (6-4) at WASHINGTON REDSKINS (3-7) Line & Total: San Francisco -6 & 47.5
Opening Line & Total: 49ers -4.5 & 48

The 49ers look to get back on track with a road win over the lowly Redskins on Monday night.

Both San Francisco and Washington have lost two straight games. The most recent defeat for the 49ers was against the Saints on the road where they fell 23-20, but covered as 3.5-point underdogs. Washington, on the other hand, has two straight SU and ATS losses, dropping road games to the Vikings and Eagles. The last time these two teams met was in November of 2011 when San Francisco prevailed 19-11 on the road as a 4.5-point favorite. Since 1992, the 49ers are 4-1 SU against the Redskins in Washington, but are just 3-2 ATS in those games. As the coach of San Francisco, Jim Harbaugh is 14-3 ATS versus poor defensive teams that allow more than 5.65 yards per play. However, teams such as Washington after a game where it forced no turnovers, against an opponent after a game where it forced 3+ turnovers, are 138-79 ATS (64%) over the past 10 seasons. Although Redskins starting WR Leonard Hankerson will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury and starting TE Jordan Reed (concussion) is questionable, top WR Pierre Garcon (ankle) is listed as probable. The 49ers will likely be without CB Tarell Brown (ribs) and G Mike Iupati (knee), but there’s a slight chance that they could be getting back top WR Michael Crabtree, who has missed the whole season recovering from a torn Achilles.

The 49ers have lost two straight games and their offense has really struggled in those defeats with a paltry 14.5 PPG and 173.5 total YPG. Against the Saints last week, the 49ers rushed for a season-low 81 yards on 22 carries (3.7 YPC). San Francisco ranks last in the NFL in passing offense with a paltry 168.0 YPG and QB Colin Kaepernick must play better if the 49ers are going to get back to the playoffs. After tallying a 98.3 passer rating in 2012, that number has dipped to 81.8 this season as he has completed just 56.7% of his passes for 1,802 yards (7.2 YPA), 11 TD and 7 INT. He has also lost four fumbles. Despite last week’s struggles, the Niners are still a great running team with 141.0 rushing YPG (5th in NFL). RB Frank Gore has led the way this season, rushing for 748 yards with seven touchdowns, and before being held to 48 yards last week, he had compiled at least 70 rushing yards in each of his previous seven contests. Kaepernick has contributed a lot to the running game too with 335 yards (6.0 YPC) and three touchdowns on the ground. San Francisco’s offense is much better when TE Vernon Davis is healthy. Davis has been slowed by numerous injuries but still has 34 receptions for 553 yards and a team-high eight touchdowns this season. WR Anquan Boldin has been the top target with 630 receiving yards, but the possible return of Michael Crabtree (1,105 rec. yards, 9 TD last year) could really add another element to this offense. San Francisco’s defense has been solid this year allowing just 323.8 total YPG (7th in NFL). This includes 220.0 YPG through the air (10th in NFL) and 103.8 YPG on the ground (T-12th in NFL) The Niners rank fourth in the league in scoring defense (17.8 PPG allowed) and sixth in defending third downs (35.0%). This has also been a very opportunistic unit with multiple takeaways in six of their past seven games, forcing 18 turnovers during this stretch.

After surprising many with a playoff berth last season, Washington has had a very disappointing 2013 campaign. The Redskins offense has moved the ball very well this season with 412.1 total YPG (6th in NFL), which includes 256.9 YPG through the air (11th in league) and an NFL-best 155.2 YPG on the ground. The problem, however, is that the Redskins are getting these yards after falling behind early and that their defense can’t stop anybody. Washington’s defense is allowing 389.9 total YPG (28th in NFL), including 274.9 YPG through the air (26th in league) and 115.0 YPG on the ground (19th in NFL). The Redskins have also been terrible in the red zone (68% efficiency, 2nd-worst in NFL), which has led to 31.1 PPG allowed (3rd-worst in league). This is despite being on the field for just 28:36 (6th-fewest in NFL) because of how well the Washington ground game has been. RB Alfred Morris has been one of the few bright spots for Washington as he has rushed for 918 yards (5.1 YPC) and five touchdowns on the season. The Redskins offense would be better off giving him the ball more often than letting QB Robert Griffin III continue to turn the ball over. Griffin has really struggled this season as he continues to recover from a torn ACL, throwing for 14 touchdowns and 10 interceptions this season. That is twice as many picks as he threw in 15 games in his rookie year, when he finished with 20 TD and 5 INT. And after rushing for 815 yards (6.8 YPC) and 7 TD in 2012, Griffin has just 345 rushing yards (5.2 YPC) and zero touchdowns this season.

Pacquiao vs. Rios Preview

Pacquiao_Rios_MacauPC_130727_001aManny Pacquiao (54-5-2) vs. Brandon Rios (31-1-1)

Vacant WBO International Welterweight title Line: Pacquiao -450, Rios +350
Manny Pacquiao looks for his first win in over two years on Saturday night when he squares off with Brandon Rios in Macao, China.
Throughout his career, Pacquiao has usually fought twice in the same year. However, this is one of the longest layoffs, having not fought since Dec. 8, 2012. He is also coming off two straight losses, with the first one being the controversial split-decision defeat to Timothy Bradley on June 9, 2012, a bout many experts believe Pacquiao should have won. The most recent defeat though, cannot be debated as Juan Manuel Marquez delivered one of the most vicious punches in recent memory, knocking Pacquiao out at the end of the sixth round. Even in that fight, he was dominating for the most part, landing 87 strikes to Marquez’s head, compared to Marquez’s 39 shots. It won’t be easy to snap the losing skid though, as the 27-year-old Rios has the opportunity of a lifetime, and will also be looking to bounce back from a loss. On March 3, he lost the interim WBO light welterweight belt to Mike Alvarado, a guy he had beaten in the previous match five months earlier by way of TKO.
Before losing his two most recent bouts, Pacquiao had won 15 consecutive fights. Of his 54 career victories, 38 of them have come by way of knockout, with the other 16 by decision. His last victory was against Juan Manuel Marquez on November 12, 2011, a fight that he won by majority decision, while his last win by knockout came seven fights ago on Nov. 14, 2009 against Miguel Cotto. When it comes to Pacquiao, his biggest strength is his quickness. Very few fighters have ever possessed the ability to strike as quickly as “Pac Man,” and this will be a big advantage for him in this fight as well. The 34-year-old southpaw’s conditioning is also top notch, but in the loss to Marquez, he got caught trying to predict the fight. Pacquiao thought that Marquez was going for a punch in the side, leaving his face open for the knockout punch. If he comes out and is focused the entire bout, he should be in good shape. However, if he gets caught trying to guess Rios’ move, he could be in trouble as Rios also has the ability to land major shots.
Rios has 31 victories in his career, with 23 of them coming by knockout. However, 17 of those have been by way of TKO, showing that he may not have the most devastating knockout power, but the repeated shots wear down his opponents. Like Pacquiao, “Bam Bam” Rios is coming off a loss to a fighter that he had previously defeated. Rios, who holds a 1.5-inch height advantage and 1-inch reach advantage over his opponent, is definitely a brawler, in the sense that he is ready to both throw and take punches. He is always ready for a fight, and that is key against an established boxer like Pacquiao. Rios’ biggest weakness is that he is all offense. He is always pushing the tempo of the fight, and can leave himself open to a punch.

College Football Saturday

hi-res-7879106_crop_650x440BAYLOR BEARS (9-0) at OKLAHOMA STATE COWBOYS (9-1) Line & Total: Baylor -9.5 & 79.5
Opening Line & Total: Bears -10 & 80

Unbeaten No. 3 Baylor looks to remain in the national title race Saturday night as it travels to Stillwater to take on No. 11 Oklahoma State in a game with huge implications for the Big 12 title.

In their matchup last season, the Bears were able to pull out a tough victory, defeating the Cowboys 41-34. However, this is a very different Baylor offense. In at quarterback is Bryce Petty, who has thrown for 2,992 yards and 24 touchdowns, while only tossing one interception all season. Petty is the leader of a Bears offense that has 34 scoring plays of at least 25 yards. In last Saturday’s 63-34 victory over Texas Tech, freshman RB Shock Linwood filled in for Lache Seastrunk (groin injury, doubtful to play Saturday), and had a terrific game with 187 rushing yards and one touchdown, showcasing electric speed. The Bears offense has been a juggernaut this season, leading the nation with 61.2 PPG and scoring at least 35 points in every game. However, they haven’t won in Stillwater since 1939 and will be going up against an Oklahoma State team that is very confident after a big 38-13 road victory in Austin last week. Quarterback Clint Chelf was huge in the win over Texas, finishing the game with 292 total yards (197 passing) and four touchdowns. His touchdown pass to Tracy Moore put the Cowboys up 21-10 with a minute to go in the first half, and then cornerback Justin Gilbert took an interception 43 yards for a touchdown to give the Cowboys a commanding 18-point lead at halftime. The Bears are 8-0 ATS in the past two seasons versus teams averaging at least 34.0 PPG, but OSU is 9-1 ATS coming off a Big 12 win in this same timeframe.

Baylor not only leads FBS in scoring (61.2 PPG), but also ranks third in passing offense (384.4 YPG) and ninth in rushing offense (300.3 YPG). Junior QB Bryce Petty has been the man all season, throwing at least two touchdown passes in every game. His favorite target is WR Antwan Goodley (48 catches, 1,075 yards, 11 TD). While he is not the tallest pass catcher at 5-foot-10, he is a strong receiver at 220 pounds and has game-breaking ability with one catch of at least 25 yards in every single game this season. Senior WR Tevin Reese is out due to a season-ending wrist injury, but Goodley has continued to play well while seeing more double teams. Under head coach Art Briles, the Bears have produced one of the best offenses in all of the country, but now they have a defense that is able to hold up its end of the bargain. The Bears rank 7th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 17.4 PPG. They have been led by S Ahmad Dixon, but CB K.J. Morton has also become a key player on defense. The senior had his first interception of the season last week against Texas Tech, but is huge against the run, tallying 41 tackles this year. The Bears defense, which has forced 20 turnovers this year, will face its toughest test of the season, as OSU QB Clint Chelf has continued to improve throughout the season.

Chelf has thrown for 1,222 yards, 11 TD and 5 INT, but he could be without top WR Josh Stewart (40 catches, 510 yards, 2 TD) who has missed the past two games with an ankle injury. Chelf has also rushed for 325 yards and five touchdowns this year, and has been especially effective on the ground recently, rushing for at least 85 yards in three of the past four games. RB Desmond Roland (565 rush yards, 10 TD) has been the Cowboys’ leading rusher this season, but has struggled in the past two games with just 103 yards on 35 carries (2.9 YPC). Roland must have a great game rushing the ball to help the defense out in stopping the Bears’ potent offense. Oklahoma State’s defense has been very opportunistic this season with 26 takeaways, and CB Justin Gilbert (2 INT last week) is the key. He will mostly be covering Goodley in what should be an entertaining matchup. Both of these offenses are able to put up serious points, but look for Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy to really emphasize the rushing attack, trying to chew up clock and keep Petty and the Bears offense off the field.

TEXAS A&M AGGIES (8-2) at LSU TIGERS (7-3) Line & Total: LSU -4.5 & 74
Opening Line & Total: Tigers -3.5 & 73

No. 9 Texas A&M looks to stay in contention for a potential BCS bowl game as it travels to Baton Rouge to take on No. 18 LSU on Saturday night.

Last season, these two teams squared off in College Station as LSU held on for the 24-19 victory. The Tigers did a great job of slowing down Aggies star QB Johnny Manziel, intercepting him three times while forcing five total turnovers. The Aggies were up in that game 12-0, before the LSU defense got rolling and RB Jeremy Hill started dominating the game, finishing with 127 yards. For Texas A&M, they will need to get another great game out of Manziel, who has been even better this season than in his Heisman campaign as a freshman. Manziel (3,313 pass yards, 31 TD) has become a much better pocket passer, and has continued to have better command of the offense this season under coach Kevin Sumlin. While the offense has been terrific, the defense has really struggled this season, allowing 30.9 PPG (88th in FBS). Sumlin is 22-6 Over (79%) coming off a home win, and that streak should continue as the Tigers’ offense is much better this season. There may be no more improved quarterback in the country than QB Zach Mettenberger (2,733 pass yards, 20 TD, 7 INT). Mettenberger is your prototypical quarterback, standing at 6-foot-5, 230 pounds. He has always had a big arm, but has become much more accurate, seeing his percentage go from 58.8 percent last season, to 65.7 percent this year. The mad scientist Les Miles, has had a lot of great moments at LSU, but hasn’t had great success when playing at home as a favorite by less than seven points (1-9 ATS). But Texas A&M is 0-7 ATS in the past three seasons on the road where the total is at least 63 points. If the Tigers are going to avoid their first four-loss regular season since 2008, the defense is going to have to play well.

Texas A&M comes into the game ranked 5th in the nation in scoring (49.2 PPG) and 6th in passing yards (379.2 YPG). QB Johnny Manziel has been great all season, but the emergence of sophomore WR Mike Evans (57 catches, 1,263 yards, 12 TD) has helped take the Aggies to the next level. At 6-foot-5, Evans has the ability to go up and catch the ball in traffic, something he has done multiple times this season for Manziel. He is a very good route runner as well, and is an absolute nightmare to cover, forcing defenses to double and sometimes triple-team him. This has helped senior RB Ben Malena (98 carries, 476 yards, 9 TD) have the opportunities to be the home-run threat that he is. Head coach Kevin Sumlin can’t be upset with the performance of his offense, but the defense has been a big reason why the Aggies are just 2-4 in conference play. In SEC action, the unit has surrendered 38.3 PPG and 502.2 total YPG, and it gave up 94 total points in losses to Auburn and Alabama. The best player on the unit is junior DB Howard Matthews, who has 73 tackles and three interceptions. Matthews will play a big role in this game, as he is going to be matched up against one of the best receiving duos in the country.

LSU WRs Odell Beckham (51 catches, 1,051 yards, 8 TD) and Jarvis Landry (63 catches, 972 yards, 8 TD) have both had huge seasons. The junior Beckham has five games with at least 100 receiving yards, and has the speed to get behind the defense, making him a threat to take it the distance anytime he touches the ball. The Tigers have been known for terrific defense, but their offense ranks 21st in the country this season with 38.0 PPG. With the vaunted passing attack of the Tigers, this has opened up things on the ground for RB Jeremy Hill. On the season, Hill has rushed for 964 yards and 13 touchdowns, while averaging 6.8 yards per carry. He is a power back that has the ability to run the defender over, while also possessing good enough speed to run away from the defense. The LSU defense gives up an average of 23.5 PPG, which ranks 38th in the nation. The unit has had some struggles this season, but appears to have found a new star in the secondary in freshman CB Tre’Davious White, who has 41 tackles on the season. He has the ability to run with any receiver, but he will also make plays against the run. White teams up with Jalen Mills to form a secondary with big potential, but not a lot of size. The Tigers are going to have problems stopping Evans, and will have to double-team him with safeties over the top.

MISSOURI TIGERS (9-1) at OLE MISS REBELS (7-3) Line & Total: Missouri -2.5 & 58.5
Opening Line & Total: Tigers -3 & 58

No. 8 Missouri faces a tough road test in its quest to reach the SEC title game as it visits No. 24 Ole Miss on Saturday night.

The Tigers get a welcome addition to their offense this week as QB James Franklin looks like he’ll return after missing the past four games with a shoulder injury. Officially listed as questionable, he’s expected to start. Missouri’s only loss came without him to South Carolina, though they rebounded with dominant SU and ATS wins against Tennessee and Kentucky. Overall, the Tigers are 8-2 ATS this season and a perfect 4-0 (SU and ATS) on the road. Since a three-point loss to Texas A&M, the Rebels have reeled off four straight wins (3-1 ATS). They are 6-4 ATS this season with a 4-2 ATS mark at home. Last weekend, they covered a 28-point spread with a 51-21 win against Troy. These two teams have met only twice in recent memory, in 2006 and 2007. Missouri won both games SU and ATS. The Tigers are 19-9 ATS (68%) on the road coming off a double-digit conference win under head coach Gary Pinkel, but Ole Miss is 14-4 ATS (78%) in games played on turf in the past two seasons.

Missouri QB James Franklin was amid a tremendous season before he got hurt, completing 67.7% of his passes for 14 TD and only 3 INT. In three games before getting hurt, he threw eight touchdowns and no picks. Franklin also brings a great deal of athleticism to the table, running for 290 yards (4.5 YPC) and 3 TD. The Tigers receiving corps is deep as three players—L’Damian Washington, Dorial Green-Beckham and Marcus Lucas—all have more than 500 receiving yards. Washington and Green-Beckham are the most dangerous of the three, each corralling nine touchdowns through the air. RB Henry Josey is Missouri’s main weapon on the ground, averaging 6.1 YPC for 760 yards and a whopping 10 TD. But don’t forget about RBs Russell Hansbrough and Marcus Murphy, who have 544 and 485 rushing yards, respectively. Murphy has seven rushing touchdowns as part of this high-power offense that averages 41.3 PPG thanks to scoring 26 touchdowns on the ground thus far. The defense isn’t too shabby either, yielding 20.2 PPG, led by a fierce front seven that gives up a pithy 3.3 YPC.

Rebels QB Bo Wallace has been among the most productive throwers in the nation this year, completing 64.7% of his passes for 2,664 yards and 17 TD while only tossing five picks. He’s completed more than 70% of his passes over his past three games, throwing for 8 TD and 2 INT. Wallace is less of a threat on the ground, averaging only 2.3 YPC, but he does have four rushing scores. RB Jeff Scott (488 rush yards, 7.6 YPC, 2 TD), I’Tavius Mathers (429 rush yards, 6.3 YPC, 2 TD) and Jaylen Walton (391 rush yards, 5.1 YPC, 6 TD) take care of most of the work on the ground. Wallace’s favorite target has been WR Donte Montcrief, who has 44 catches for 686 yards and five touchdowns this year. He’s talented, but inconsistent. In his past six games, he has gained more than 100 yards three times, but fewer than 40 yards three times. The Ole Miss defense is giving up only 25.0 PPG this season, with opponents rushing for 4.1 YPC and completing 64.2% of their passes, which could mean an easy transition back to action for Franklin.

ARIZONA STATE SUN DEVILS (8-2) at UCLA BRUINS (8-2) Line & Total: Arizona -1.5 & 62.5
Opening Line & Total: Sun Devils -3 & 62

With a Pac-12 title game berth on the line, No. 19 Arizona State will travel to the Rose Bowl to take on No. 14 UCLA Saturday night.

The Sun Devils are 8-2 and have dropped only one game in the conference, to powerhouse Stanford. They have wins against USC and Washington already, so the Bruins are their final tough test as they have gone 5-5 ATS this year and 4-3 ATS in the Pac-12. Arizona State has lost two in a row ATS however, barely beating Utah 20-19 and just missing out on covering a 13.5-point spread with a 30-17 win against Oregon State last weekend. Since 1992, Arizona State is 8-21 ATS (28%) when playing a team with a winning percentage of higher than 75% like the Bruins. UCLA, meanwhile, has already lost to both Stanford and Oregon, and faces a tough end to the season with the Sun Devils and USC remaining on the schedule. The Bruins are an impressive 7-3 ATS this season, going 4-3 ATS in league action. They have covered twice in a row with an upset win against Arizona and then a 41-31 win against Washington last Friday. With these two offenses averaging nearly 80 PPG combined, a shootout appears likely and could be reminiscent of last season, when the Bruins (6.5-point underdogs) eked out a 45-43 victory on the road on a last-second field goal. UCLA won and covered the last meeting in L.A., winning by one point as an 8.5-point home underdog in 2011.
Arizona State QB Taylor Kelly is a workhorse under center, completing 236-of-378 (62.4%) of his passes this season for 2,838 yards, 24 TD and 10 INT. He was brilliant in last year’s loss to the Bruins, throwing for 315 yards, 4 TD and just 1 INT. His top target is Jaelen Strong (59 catches, 834 yards, 5 TD), though he has a deep arsenal of options with D.J. Foster (523 rec. yards, 3 TD), Chris Coyle (370 rec. yards, 4 TD) and RB Marion Grice, who leads the team with 6 TD receptions. Grice has also been a menace on the ground, rumbling for 901 yards (5.2 YPC) and 14 rushing TD. Kelly can also carry the ball himself, rushing for 312 yards and 7 TD so far this year. Last year though, Grice and Kelly were both limited to less than 4.0 YPC by the Bruins defense. The Arizona State defense is yielding only 3.7 YPC this year, while the secondary has limited opponents to a 53.3% completion rate.

UCLA QB Brett Hundley is an NFL prospect for good reason, completing 68% of his passes this year for 2,384 yards, 20 TD and 8 INT. He was similar to Kelly in last year’s meeting, throwing for 274 yards, 4 TD and 1 INT. He is even more of a threat than Kelly on the ground though, rushing for a team-high 502 yards and seven touchdowns this season. Joining Hundley on the ground is a deep stable of ball carriers, as four other Bruins have at least three rushing touchdowns and 175 yards on the ground. Paul Perkins and Jordon James lead that crew with 476 and 471 rushing yards, respectively, while Myles Jack—who is also a linebacker—is a dangerous red zone threat, scoring four touchdowns last week versus Washington. The biggest weapon in UCLA’s receiving corps is WR Shaquelle Evans, who leads the team with 524 receiving yards on an impressive 14.6 yards per catch, hauling in a team-high seven touchdowns. The Bruins pass defense has struggled this season, allowing foes to complete 62.0% of their passes, while the line has been better, giving up a pedestrian 3.9 YPC.

NFL Sunday

New England Patriots v Denver BroncosDENVER BRONCOS (9-1) at NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (7-3) Line & Total: Denver -2.5 & 54.5

Opening Line & Total: Broncos -3 & 56

The Patriots try to shake off their controversial Monday night loss when they host the 9-1 Broncos on Sunday night.

New England lost to Carolina 24-20 on Monday, but on the game’s final play, TE Rob Gronkowski was clearly held in the end zone but the referees deemed the ball uncatchable. Denver, on the other hand, took down the undefeated Chiefs 27-17 to win their third straight game (SU and ATS). This game features a pair of future Hall of Fame quarterbacks with Tom Brady going 9-4 in his career when facing a Peyton Manning-led team. These two franchises last met in October of last year, when Brady threw for 223 yards and scored two touchdowns (1 passing, 1 rushing) in leading his team to a 31-7 cushion late in the third quarter before Manning threw two of his three touchdowns to make the final score 31-21. This marked the Patriots’ third straight double-digit home win over the Broncos. But since 1992, Denver holds the 10-7 advantage (SU and ATS) in this series. In the same span, New England is 20-8 ATS (71%) as a home underdog. The Patriots are also 6-0 ATS against AFC West division opponents over the past three seasons. However, in the past two years, Denver is 16-5 ATS (76%) as a favorite and 9-1 ATS in the second half of the season. The Broncos have two key injuries on offense with WR Wes Welker (concussion) and TE Julius Thomas (knee), but both are expected to play on Sunday night. But S Rahim Moore (leg) is out indefinitely and top CB Champ Bailey (foot) is questionable. New England has even more major concerns in the secondary though, with CB Aqib Talib (hip) questionable and both CB Alfonzo Dennard (knee) and S Steve Gregory (thumb) out.

Denver came away with a big victory over the Chiefs last game despite tallying its lowest point total of the year (27 points). But the Broncos have now won three straight despite QB Peyton Manning (ankles) not being 100 percent healthy. Manning threw for 323 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions against a strong K.C. defense, and continues to the lead the NFL in both passing yards (3,572) and passing touchdowns (34) while ranking second to Nick Foles in passer rating (118.3). He’s thrown just six picks all year. Including playoffs, Manning is just 5-9 in his career versus New England, but has still put up strong numbers with 291 passing YPG, 29 TD and 19 INT in these 14 meetings. With two of his top receivers, WR Wes Welker (concussion) and TE Julius Thomas (knee) slowed by injuries, he will lean heavily on WR Demaryius Thomas, who has 304 receiving yards and 4 TD over the past three games to give him 914 yards and nine scores on the year. With the Patriots secondary banged-up, Thomas should have another huge game like he has in the previous two meetings in this series, racking up 296 receiving yards on 16 catches. The Broncos passing game is outstanding, but they rank 28th in the NFL in rushing yards per carry (3.6). However, rookie RB Montee Ball rushed for two touchdowns last week, and top RB Knowshon Moreno has eight rushing touchdowns this year, which is a big reason with Denver leads the NFL in red zone efficiency (79%). The Broncos boast a run defense that has allowed just 92.7 yards per game (4th in NFL) and 3.7 yards per carry (5th in league) this season. They do, however, struggle against the pass, surrendering 279.1 yards per game (28th in NFL). Especially if CB Champ Bailey (foot) can’t play, Denver will have its work cut out for them going against Tom Brady and the Patriots offense.

The Patriots have gotten their passing game going over the past two games with QB Tom Brady throwing for 728 yards and five touchdowns in those weeks. In the past two home meetings with Denver, Brady has completed 75.4% of his passes for 586 yards, 7 TD and only 1 INT. A big part of the Patriots sudden passing success is the return of TE Rob Gronkowski. Since returning from back and forearm injuries, Gronkowski has 343 receiving yards in four games and a touchdown in each of the past two weeks. The healthy return of RB Shane Vereen (wrist) last week was also a boost to the passing game, as Vereen led the Patriots in targets (11), catches (8) and receiving yards (65) in the loss to Carolina. RB Stevan Ridley has also gotten himself going for New England as of late. Despite a costly lost fumble against the Panthers last week, Ridley has rushed for 414 yards and seven touchdowns over the past five games. The Patriots defense has been decimated by injuries all season, and could really miss top CB Aqib Talib (hip) in this one. New England allows just 229.2 passing YPG (12th in NFL), and they will need to continue to defend the pass well facing Peyton Manning’s offense. The Patriots have really struggled against the run (125.7 rushing YPG allowed, 27th in NFL), but a solid red zone efficiency (52%, 11th in NFL) has led to just 19.9 PPG allowed (7th in NFL). Turnovers have also saved this defense, as they have tallied 19 takeaways this season.

CAROLINA PANTHERS (7-3) at MIAMI DOLPHINS (5-5) Line & Total: Carolina -4.5 & 41.5

Opening Line & Total: Panthers -4 & 41.4

The sizzling-hot Panthers put their six-game winning streak (SU and ATS) on the line when they pay the Dolphins a visit Sunday.

Carolina held on to beat the Patriots 24-20 on Monday night behind 3 TD passes from Cam Newton, while Miami gave up 435 yards to the Chargers last week, but still won 20-16. The Panthers have outscored opponents 154 to 88 during their win streak, and have not turned the ball over in four of those wins. The Dolphins have a weak 26:40 time of possession at home this year, where they are 3-2 (SU and ATS), but are a perfect 4-0 (SU and ATS) all-time versus Carolina, which includes a 24-17 victory in the most recent matchup in 2009. However, Panthers head coach Ron Rivera is 21-11 ATS (66%) in games played on a grass field, and has led his team to an 8-1 ATS mark (89%) in the past two seasons versus teams allowing 350+ total YPG, outscoring them by 10.7 PPG. Miami is 6-0 ATS at home after having lost 4 or 5 out of their last six games over the past three seasons, and all NFL underdogs (or pick) in a game involving two teams with +/- 0.4 yards per play after 8+ games, after allowing 400+ yards in their previous game are 108-64 ATS (63%) since 1983. Miami’s offensive line is decimated with OT Jonathan Martin on personal leave, OG Richie Incognito suspended, C Mike Pouncey (kidney) doubtful and OT Will Yeatman out for the season with a torn ACL. Carolina is mostly healthy, but DE Charles Johnson (knee) is doubtful to suit up on Sunday.

Carolina QB Cam Newton is having his best season of his career, tallying a 91.8 passer rating with a 63.2% completion rate, 2,179 yards (7.3 YPA), 16 TD and only 8 INT. During the current six-game win streak, he has completed 67.4% of his throws for 1,294 yards (7.5 YPA), 10 TD and 3 INT. Although this offense ranks 22nd in the league in total yards (321.2 YPG), Newton has orchestrated the NFL’s best third-down offense (48.4% conversions) while chewing up more clock than any other offense in the league with a hefty 33:20 time of possession. Newton has helped to achieve these statistics by rushing for 328 yards on 4.7 YPC and 4 TD. The Panthers also have three other capable running backs in DeAngelo Williams (579 rush yards, 4.1 YPC, 2 TD), Jonathan Stewart (94 rush yards, 3.6 YPC) and Mike Tolbert (230 rush yards, 3.5 YPC, 4 TD), giving them the 10th-best rushing offense in the league at 125.3 YPG. As strong as Carolina has been on the ground, the club has been even tougher defending the run, allowing only 84.5 rushing YPG (3rd in NFL) on 3.8 YPC (8th in league). Teams have struggled to throw on the Panthers as well, gaining just 209.5 YPG through the air (5th in NFL). This equates to the league’s third-best total defense (294 YPG allowed) and the NFL’s top scoring defense (13.5 PPG allowed). Carolina has a strong pass rush (31 sacks, T-9th in NFL), and has been incredibly stingy both on third downs (35.2% conversions, 7th in league) and in the red zone (37.5% efficiency, 3rd in NFL). The Panthers have also done a great job creating mistakes, totaling 23 takeaways with at least one forced turnover in all 10 games.

Miami’s offense has been terrible this season, compiling the second-fewest yards in the league (308 YPG) and ranking 23rd in scoring offense with 21.3 PPG. Both the passing game (219.1 YPG, 20th in NFL) and rushing game (88.7 YPG, 24th in league) have been subpar, and a lot of that has to do with the poor play from the offensive line. The Dolphins have taken an NFL-high 41 sacks this year, with QB Ryan Tannehill hitting the turf at least two times in all 10 games, including 21 sacks absorbed in five home games. Tannehill has still been able to improve from his rookie season though, increasing his passer rating from 76.1 to 81.5 with a 61.2% completion rate, 2,474 passing yards (6.8 YPA), 14 TD and 11 INT. However, he has really struggled in the fourth quarter of games, compiling a woeful 60.2 passer rating (2 TD and 5 INT). The Dolphins have no receivers with even 600 yards this year, and TE Charles Clay (4 TD) is the only healthy Miami player with more than two receiving touchdowns this season. The running game has been a bit inconsistent, but it does have 100+ yards in four of the past five contests. However, both RBs Lamar Miller (467 rush yards, 4.5 YPC, 2 TD) and Daniel Thomas (271 rush yards, 3.7 YPC, 3 TD) will have a difficult time gaining yards on this stout Panthers run defense. Speaking of defense, Miami’s stop-unit has been below average this year both in rushing defense (122.6 YPG, 25th in NFL) and passing defense (242.3 YPG, 19th in league). But a strong red zone defense (50%, T-8th in NFL) has led to a quality scoring defense (22.5 PPG, 12th in league). And despite being average in third down defense (37.6% conversions, T-24th in NFL), Miami’s defense has logged 32:38 per game, the fourth-most of any NFL defense. But on the positive side, the Dolphins have been able to force at least one turnover in every game, totaling 17 takeaways this season.

DALLAS COWBOYS (5-5) at NEW YORK GIANTS (4-6) Line & Total: Giants -2.5 & 45.5

Opening Line & Total: Giants -2 & 47.5

The sizzling-hot Giants seek their fifth straight win on Sunday when the rival Cowboys pay a visit.

Dallas was humiliated 49-17 in New Orleans before last week’s bye, dropping the team to 1-4 SU (but 3-2 ATS) on the road. New York has allowed just 11.8 PPG with 11 takeaways during its four-game win surge. When these teams met in Week 1, the Giants outgained the Cowboys 478 to 331, but committed six turnovers and lost 36-31. New York is 8-4 (SU and ATS) in this series since 2008 behind QB Eli Manning’s 279 passing YPG and 25 TD in this span. But Dallas QB Tony Romo has 323 passing YPG and 12 TD in the past six meetings in this series. Both clubs have both positive and negative betting trends. The Cowboys are 15-4 ATS (79%) on the road after allowing 35 points or less in their last game since 1992, but are 0-7 ATS versus poor rushing teams (90 rush YPG or less) in the past three seasons. New York is 14-4 ATS (78%) off two straight home wins since 1992, but is just 30-54 ATS (36%) in November games in this same timeframe. Although Dallas star LB Sean Lee remains out with an injured hamstring, DE DeMarcus Ware (quad) and WR Miles Austin (hamstring) are both ready to return to action. The Giants are relatively injury-free, and expect both WR Hakeem Nicks and CB Corey Webster, who are listed as questionable with groin injuries, to suit up on Sunday.

Dallas QB Tony Romo has the second-best passer rating of his career at 98.3, as he has completed 65% of his passes for 2,681 yards (7.2 YPA), 21 TD and just 6 INT. In the season-opening win over New York, he threw for only 5.4 YPA (263 yards on 49 attempts) with 2 TD and 1 INT. WR Miles Austin led the team that game with 10 catches, but he has totaled just five receptions since then, missing five of the past seven games with a bad hammy. WR Terrance Williams has been able to step up in Austin’s absence, gaining 438 yards on 18.3 yards per catch and 5 TD in his past seven contests. But the go-to wideout remains WR Dez Bryant (749 rec. yards, 8 TD), who has been facing double and triple teams recently, catching just one pass at New Orleans in the last game. His career numbers versus the Giants are strong (495 rec. yards, 4 TD in seven games), but he has been held scoreless for four straight meetings, and managed only 22 yards in the Week 1 matchup. Dallas ranks 13th in the NFL in passing offense with 250.8 YPG, but is tied for 28th in rushing offense (77.0 YPG). RB DeMarco Murray has 56% of his team’s carries this year, and has been very efficient, rushing for 548 yards on 4.9 YPC with 4 TD. He has also dominated the Giants the last two times he has faced them, piling up 265 total yards in these pair of wins. Defensively, the Cowboys have the NFL’s worst total defense, allowing an eye-popping 439.8 total YPG. This includes a league-worst 313.0 passing YPG and 126.8 rushing YPG (4th-worst in NFL) on 4.9 yards per carry (2nd-worst in league). Dallas is allowing 25.8 PPG (25th in NFL) due largely to a porous red zone defense (62%, 27th in league) and a subpar third-down defense (41%, 24th in NFL). The one positive for this defense is that it has forced multiple turnovers in a game six different times this season, including six in that Week 1 win over the Giants.

New York has evolved into a much different team since that Sept. 8 loss in Dallas. After committing 3+ turnovers in each of their first six games, they have a total of six giveaways during their four-game win streak. The ground game has also come to life since RB Andre Brown has returned from a broken leg, as he has piled up 181 yards (3.8 YPC) and a touchdown in his two games. Establishing the run has been a key because QB Eli Manning has his lowest quarterback rating since his rookie year at 70.8. He has thrown just 12 TD and 17 INT over 10 games, while absorbing 26 sacks, just four shy of his career high. But despite his three picks in Week 1, Manning still dropped 450 yards and four touchdowns in Dallas, and will look to air it out again versus this generous Cowboys defense. WR Victor Cruz (824 rec. yards, 4 TD) is still his top receiver, but WR Rueben Randle is having a great second NFL season with 460 receiving yards and six touchdowns which have all come in the past six games. Randle’s emergence has lessened Hakeem Nicks’ role on the team, as Nicks has averaged a paltry 44.5 receiving YPG during the four-game win streak, and has yet to score a touchdown this season. But Nicks has had some big games in this series, piling up 627 yards and 3 TD in the past seven meetings with Dallas. New York’s defense has played exceptionally well during the win streak, allowing just 253.3 total YPG. This includes 60.0 rushing YPG on 3.1 YPC in the four victories. The Giants’ pass rush is also improving, amassing eight sacks over the past three weeks, and this pressure has led to multiple takeaways in each of the four wins.