Over the past couple of weeks, Kevin Wheeler and I have developed a healthy rivalry on air.
Coined “Quarter Bets,” by him and I during our crossovers on 101 ESPN, Wheeler and I have picked against each other in three separate games this football season: Panthers vs. Broncos (I won when Denver won outright as a 3-point underdog), Alabama vs. Ole Miss (I won again when the Rebels produced a back-door cover as an 11-point dog), and Jets vs. Bills (Wheels won when he smartly chose to bet against Rex Ryan).
After exchanging text messages this week, Kevin and I decided to take the competition to the website. Each week, I’ll pick six games against the spread that I disagree with from his weekly football picks (three college, three pro), and we’ll see who emerges as champion by the end of the football season.
We’ll re-set the score at 0-0. Loser buys dinner at a cheap restaurant.
NFL Week 3 Picks
Cardinals @ Bills
Wheeler took the Cardinals, and with good reason. They have more talent, they have better coaching, and their front office isn’t asking players to decide the fate of coordinators.
That said, this has “trap” written all over it.
The Bills opened as a 6-point underdog and now the line is down to Buffalo +4. That makes no sense, especially with Sammy Watkins likely to miss the game due to a foot injury and the public lining up to lay the four points on Arizona.
This a letdown spot for the Cardinals, who take on a Bills team that just allowed 37 points to the Jets last week. That said, Arizona is flying cross-country, Buffalo is coming off extra rest, and Ryan is coaching for his job. The Bills might not win, but I like them to cover.
Wheeler: Cardinals -4
Stalter: Bills +4
Redskins @ Giants
The Giants are off to a 2-0 start, not because their high-powered offense is firing on all cylinders, but because their defense looks like one of the most improved units in the NFL. Wait until Eli Manning and that crop of receivers start to get into a rhythm – the Giants will roll to a NFC East crown.
The Redskins, meanwhile, have issues at quarterback where Kirk Cousins has completed just 5-of-17 passes for 34 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions in the red-zone this season. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk also reported that Redskins players have begun to complain about Cousins due to his erratic play. Uh-oh.
The Giants are 5-1 against the spread in their last six games versus the Redskins, who are 3-8-1 ATS in their last 12 road games versus New York. I’m laying the points on the G-Men.
Wheeler: Redskins +4.5
Stalter: Giants -4.5
Ravens @ Jaguars
The Ravens are the least impressive 2-0 team in the league. They rank 23rd in the NFL in rushing yards per game, as Justin Forsett and Terrance West have combined for 152 yards on 47 carries with no scores. Baltimore also has issues in its secondary after the Browns had receptions of 47 and 28 yards attacking cornerback Shareece Wright.
The Ravens surrendered 387 yards of total offense last week to a Cleveland team that has 16 rookies on its roster. The Ravens are also 1-4 against the spread in their last five games versus the Jaguars, while the home team is 5-2-1 ATS in the last eight meetings between these two teams.
I wasn’t one buying in on the Jaguars this offseason. Blake Bortles put up a lot of numbers in garbage time last season and despite Gus Bradley’s background as Seattle’s former defensive coordinator, the Jags’ defense continues to lack an identity under his watch. Still, I’m willing to bet the Jags earn their first win on Sunday.
Wheeler: Ravens -1
Stalter: Jaguars +1
College Football Week 4 Picks
Georgia @ Ole Miss
The Bulldogs have won their past 10 meetings with the Rebels dating back to 1996, are 4-1 against the spread in their last five road games versus Ole Miss and are 6-2 ATS in their last eight games overall versus Mississippi.
Missouri was one play away from pulling off the upset versus Georgia last Saturday and if the Bulldogs want to put together a better performance, they better improve their pass defense (376 passing yards allowed last week). Nick Chubb also ranks 13th nationally at 121.7 yards per game but rushed for only 63 yards against Mizzou, so he needs to get on track as well.
With all that said, I’m not going to lay 7 points on an Ole Miss team that ranks last in the SEC in turnover margin at -5. This is not a fundamentally sound Rebels team and I’m sure after they get off to a fast start on Saturday afternoon in The Grove, they’ll find themselves in a tight game in the second half.
Wheeler: Ole Miss -7
Stalter: Georgia +7
LSU @ Auburn
Nothing has changed about LSU since the start of the season: Leonard Fournette is a beast, the defense is outstanding, and the quarterback position keeps the team in games that should be blow outs.
Be it Brandon Harris or Danny Etling under center, the Tigers have no passing game. They nearly let Mississippi State come from multiple scores back in the fourth quarter to win last week in Baton Rouge and they seem teetering on another soul-crushing loss despite being hailed as pre-season national title contenders.
The home team is 6-1 against the spread in the last seven meetings between these two teams. My pick here is less about Auburn and more about LSU, which I flat out don’t trust.
Wheeler: LSU -3.5
Stalter: Auburn +3.5
Oklahoma State at Baylor
The Big 12 will likely be left on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoffs this season. The one true hope they have? Baylor.
After switching to the 3-4 this season under acting head coach Jim Grobe, the Bears are allowing just 249.3 yards per game, which ranks seventh nationally. They also lead the nation in pass efficiency defense (58.6) and are third in passing yards allowed per game (97.0).
I have no way of proving this but I firmly believe that had there not been a lighting delay at Boone Pickens Stadium last week, Pittsburgh would have handed Oklahoma State its second loss in consecutive weeks. (The Cowboys wound up beating the Panthers, 45-38). Baylor has the nation’s best home record since 2011 at 31-3 and I’ll lay the points on the Bears in this spot.
Wheeler: Oklahoma State +9
Stalter: Baylor -9
Wheeler: Your Friday College and NFL Fix and Picks (Vacation Edition!)