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NFL Wk5 Close Calls

NFL Close Calls – Week 5

10/07/2019

Glancing at the scoreboard won’t tell you the whole story in most games. Here are some of the games that went down to the wire relative to the spread or total in the fourth quarter last week in Week 5 of the NFL regular season.

Seattle Seahawks (-1½) 30, Los Angeles Rams 29 (48½): The Thursday night NFC West clash lived up to its billing with a back-and-forth contest. The Seahawks led by one at halftime, briefly opening as a slight underdog but listed commonly a slight favorite at -1½ most of the week. The Rams had two 75-yard touchdown drives in the third quarter surrounding a short-field Seattle score but Los Angeles missed on a two-point conversion attempt to lead by just five. Early in the fourth quarter field goals were exchanged before Russell Wilson led a lengthy drive for the Seahawks and found the end zone on 4th-and-goal with 2:28 to go. The two-point conversion try loomed large on the spread result but DK Metcalf was unable to haul it in, leaving Seattle up by just one. The Rams had plenty of time to get into field goal range but Seattle challenged an incomplete pass and it was ruled that it was narrowly a wild interception from Tedric Thompson, a deflected pass that was juggled several times but was kept off the turf. Seattle was not able to pick up a first down to finish off the game however and it appeared that the Rams would sneak away with the win, reaching field goal range only to have Greg Zuerlein miss from 44 yards.

Baltimore Ravens (-3) 26, Pittsburgh Steelers 23 (44): The Ravens jumped out to an early 10-point lead but Pittsburgh took advantage of two interceptions to add a six points before the break to trail by four, getting close to the home underdog spread that mostly fluctuated between +3 and +3½. Pittsburgh scored first after halftime after another Lamar Jackson interception but Baltimore quickly answered with a field goal to knot the game at 20-20. Mason Rudolph was injured in the third quarter as the Steelers were down to undrafted rookie Devlin Hodges at quarterback. He did enough to lead Pittsburgh to another field goal with 2:37 remaining but Baltimore answered as Justin Tucker was good from 48 to force overtime, a kick that also sealed the ‘over’. The Ravens were forced to punt starting the extra session and Pittsburgh appeared to be on the move but JuJu Smith-Schuster lost the ball after a solid gain, with Baltimore narrowly recovering the fumble in bounds, effectively already in field goal range. A conservative approach followed as the Ravens picked up only six yards and Tucker hit from 46 for the win, though for many on the Ravens it wasn’t quite enough.

Oakland Raiders (+7) 24, Chicago Bears 21 (40): After a scoreless opening quarter in London the Raiders delivered 17 points in the second quarter for a commanding underdog edge on a line that climbed back up dramatically by Sunday, opening at -6 before falling as low as -4½ and rising all the back to -6½ and -7 by kickoff. The Bears suddenly also climbed back into the game in the third quarter taking advantage of good field position to score three touchdowns, going in front 21-17. The Raiders were on the doorstep to go back in front but Chicago got a fumble recovery near the goal line and the Bears were able to work their way out of danger into Oakland territory. Points weren’t added however but then it was the Raiders who were then pinned deep. A running into the kicker penalty gave Oakland a retry on a punt that would have left the Bears near midfield. Now facing 4th-and-1, the fake punt was on and Eddie Harris picked up the first down but appeared to fumble. On review the Raiders kept the ball and Derek Carr would go on to complete the 97-yard scoring drive to put Oakland back in front. Chicago crossed midfield on a late possession, but Chase Daniel wound up intercepted as Oakland moved to 3-2.

Arizona Cardinals (+3) 26, Cincinnati Bengals 23 (46½): These winless squads kicked a lot of field goals early on as Arizona held a 13-9 lead through three quarters and the ‘under’ sat in good shape. The Cardinals added three more to lead by seven and seemed to put the game away with a 37-yard touchdown run with about seven minutes remaining for a 14-point lead. Andy Dalton led a 79-yard scoring drive around the four-minute mark to get the Bengals back within seven and the Cardinals weren’t able to gain a first down while only running off 27 seconds. Dalton hit Tajh Boyd for two big plays and suddenly Cincinnati was in the end zone. The Bengals opted to kick for the tie rather than go for the win with the touchdown right at the two-minute warning, a score that was also extremely relevant for those on a total that hovered in-between 46 and 47. There was too much time left for the Cardinals as Kyler Murray led his first NFL game-winning drive using his arm and his legs to set-up Zane Gonzalez for another field goal for the win.

Carolina Panthers (-3) 34, Jacksonville Jaguars 27 (41): The Panthers took a 28-17 lead early in the third quarter but the Jaguars would fight back adding a touchdown to trail by just four heading into the final frame on a spread that was commonly +3 or +3½. The Panthers weren’t able to put the game away despite two chances to add points, missing a field goal and then getting stopped on 4th-and-1 at the 5-yard-line. Jacksonville settled for a field goal to trail by one with about six minutes remaining but the Panthers seemed to close the door with a 59-yard touchdown run. Incredibly the extra-point went right however as the margin stayed at seven. Jacksonville fumbled near midfield ahead of the two-minute warning but still wound up getting another shot, eventually reaching the Carolina 24-yard-line before running out of time.

Buffalo Bills (+3½) 14, Tennessee Titans 7 (39): Tied 7-7 through three the Bills turned in a 77-yard touchdown drive early in the fourth quarter surrounded by the third and fourth missed field goals of the day from Titans kicker Cairo Santos. The Titans would get a late possession but punted with about four minutes to go and didn’t get another chance as the Bills escaped with a win in a matchup that could loom large late in the season in the AFC wild card picture.

Denver Broncos (+4½) 20, Los Angeles Chargers 13 (46): A 14-0 first quarter lead offered great promise for the underdog Broncos and that edge was pushed to 17-0 with a field goal following up a missed field goal from the Chargers. Los Angeles also fumbled for a touchback on 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard-line in the final play before halftime. Most of the third quarter went by harmlessly but winless teams often find ways to give their opponents a shot. Joe Flacco wound up intercepted at his own 7-yard-line to seemingly put the Chargers right back in the game but Philip Rivers returned the favor with another red zone turnover. Denver’s defense wouldn’t get a shot to prevent the next score however with Desmond King returning a punt 68 yards for a Chargers touchdown near the end of the third quarter. Joe Flacco took a costly 3rd down sack on the next Broncos drive to push the field goal attempt back and Brandon McManus would miss. A few plays later the Chargers added three to wind up within one score. The Broncos were eventually able to hit a field goal late in the fourth to finally put the game away for win #1.

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Eliminator Week 4 Picks

Each handicapper submits two selections each week, a single 1-point play and a double 2-point play in the 2019 Nelly’s Eliminator Contest. Each contestant is awarded points for losses and eliminated at 10 points.

The 2019 ELIMINATOR CONTEST IS UNDERWAY WITH WEEK 4 SELECTIONS FOR GAMES OCT. 5-7

CLICK HERE for the Week 4 Contest Single Plays

The Double Plays can be purchased for just $9 each week, or for $50 for the duration of the contest

DOUBLE PLAYS WENT 15-5 IN WEEK 2 OF THE CONTEST & 13-7 IN WEEK 3 FOR 70% 2-WEEK RUN!

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NFL Close Calls Week 3

NFL Close Calls – Week 3

09/24/2019

Glancing at the scoreboard won’t tell you the whole story in most games. Here are some of the games that went down to the wire relative to the spread or total in the fourth quarter last week in Week 3 of the NFL regular season.

Green Bay Packers (-7) 27, Denver Broncos 16 (41½): Denver looked poised to go into halftime tied 10-10 in Green Bay with the ball back just ahead of the two-minute-warning. Joe Flacco was sacked however, and his fumble was recovered at the 5-yard-line. The Packers scored two plays later to take a 17-10 edge into the break, even with the closing spread that was a half-point higher earlier in the week. The second half also started with a Denver fumble and Green Bay scored quickly on the short field to suddenly lead 24-10. Denver would eventually answer in the third quarter, but the extra-point attempt hit the upright as Bronco backers could not catch a break in a game that was even statistically. Later in the third a 59-yard drive for the Broncos ended in an interception that was granted on replay review. Green Bay eventually added a field goal halfway through the fourth to seal win as well as getting the total just ‘over’.

Kansas City Chiefs (-4) 33, Baltimore Ravens 28 (52): Results wound up varying on the big AFC showdown between 2-0 squads as a line that was as high as -7 eventually landed at -4 with numbers in-between certainly possibilities depending on the timing and location. The Chiefs dominated the first half with a 23-6 edge and the margin didn’t change in the third quarter with both teams adding touchdowns. Baltimore made a run in the fourth however adding 10 points in succession to climb within a single score, down by eight. The Chiefs were able to add a field goal with about four minutes remaining, but Baltimore was able to add a late touchdown just ahead of the two-minute warning to get within five. The two-point conversion try loomed large for many and Baltimore was not able to convert.

Buffalo Bills (-6) 21, Cincinnati Bengals 17 (43½): The Bills dominated the turnover-prone Bengals early in this game getting to 14-0 unconventionally with eight points on an early touchdown and on short field drives Cincinnati stayed in the game by holding the Bills to two second quarter field goals (plus another missed field goal try). The Bengals finally got on the board with about six minutes to go in the third quarter after swapping interceptions, suddenly only down seven despite a big disparity in production. The Bengals forced a punt and turned in their best drive of the day going 82 yards in 11 plays to tie the game early in the fourth quarter. Another defensive stop and a field goal put the Bengals in the lead for an improbable comeback, but Buffalo was able to respond with a Frank Gore touchdown inside of the two-minute warning. Cincinnati was a threat for the outright win on its last drive, reaching the Buffalo 28 in the final seconds before an Andy Dalton interception.

Indianapolis Colts (-1) 27, Atlanta Falcons 24 (48): The Colts were in charge up 20-3 at halftime but Atlanta scored two touchdowns consecutively around only one Colts possession to climb within three early in the fourth quarter, with the second score on a 16-play drive that took nearly 10 minutes of game clock. The Colts converted several drives to get back on the board halfway through the fourth with a 10-point edge. Atlanta would add a late touchdown to get within three, a touchdown that cleared the ‘over’ in the final five minutes, but the Colts wouldn’t surrender the ball back and held on for the narrow win.

New England Patriots (-20½) 30, New York Jets 14 (43): Those brave enough to lay three touchdowns with the defending Super Bowl champions were rewarded with a dominant showing that led to a 30-0 lead late in the third quarter. A muffed punt would put the Jets on the board late in the third quarter and then in the fourth quarter with rookie Jarrett Stidham in the game, a pick-six put the Jets back within the spread, hitting the ‘over’ in the process as well. The Jets defense posted 14 points while the offense had only 105 yards but the 16-point margin left the underdog with a win despite the mismatch.

Dallas Cowboys (-22½) 31, Miami Dolphins 6 (46½): With a 10-0 early lead a Dallas rout seemed to be underway, but Miami would manage a pair of field goals and turned in a few defensive stops as a respectable 10-6 deficit was the halftime score. Dallas scored a touchdown coming out of halftime to regain control of the game and added another seven late in the third to lead by 18. One more touchdown would put Dallas ahead of the historic spread, but Dallas had to settle for a field goal attempt which they missed. Miami was able to cross midfield on a late drive but failed on 4th down and with fewer than four minutes remaining Dallas added the critical touchdown for those on the heavy favorite. Miami reached the Dallas 40-yard-line looking to play spoiler but only got a yard on a 4th-and-2 rush.

New York Giants (+5) 32, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31 (48): The Buccaneers took a commanding 28-10 lead with 16 points in the final eight minutes of the second quarter but in settling for three field goals on those four scores they kept the door open for the Giants. On the first play from scrimmage in the second half the Giants connected for 75 yards on the first touchdown pass for Daniel Jones, who earlier in the game ran in for a score in his first NFL start. The New York defense was ignited and turned in three straight punts and an interception with New York able to climb within three with another touchdown drive. A Jones fumble with about 10-minutes to go seemed to halt the momentum but Tampa Bay only got another field goal to lead by six, where the spread was commonly sitting before falling to -5. After swapping punts, the Giants had the ball back with just over three minutes to go and quickly reached the red zone. The drive stalled from there facing 4th-and-5 from the 7-yard-line with Jones eventually calling his own number for the tying score, with the extra-point putting New York in position for win #1. Tampa Bay went 59 yards in the final minute but kicker Matt Gay, who had made four field goals but also missed two extra-points in an eventful day, missed the game-winner from only 34 yards.

Houston Texans (+3) 27, Los Angeles Chargers 20 (49): The Chargers led 17-7 at halftime but Houston scored a pair of touchdowns around a Philip Rivers fumble to take a 21-17 lead. The Texans extended that advantage to 27-17 in the fourth quarter before a Chargers field goal brought the margin back to seven. Overtime looked like a possibility as Rivers led the Chargers down to the Houston 24-yard-line in the final minute before a penalty and a pair of incomplete passes ended the threat.

San Francisco 49ers (-6) 24, Pittsburgh Steelers 20 (44½): The 49ers did their best not to go 3-0 with turnovers on four of their first five possessions but Pittsburgh managed only two field goals behind Mason Rudolph despite the extra chance and good field position. San Francisco was able to get on the board with a field goal before halftime to trail only 6-3 in what ordinarily would be much worse circumstances given that many mistakes. Fortunes changed after halftime and San Francisco scored a short field touchdown after a Rudolph interception. Both teams added touchdowns to keep the 49ers up by four on a spread that was commonly -6½ after Ben Roethlisberger was ruled out. A mostly stagnant Pittsburgh offense was able to go 81 yards in just a minute early in the fourth with a 32-yard pass interference call a big factor. Next a promising San Francisco response ended in another fumble in the red zone as Pittsburgh appeared poised to get its first win. The Steelers would fumble just three plays into the next drive on a 1st down rush and needing only 24 yards the 49ers went back in front, though they didn’t get past the spread despite an edge of nearly 200 yards in the game. The final touchdown put the scoring at 44, past early week totals around 43 though by Sunday most books had the price at 44 or higher.

Los Angeles Rams (-4) 20, Cleveland Browns 13 (48½): The underdog Browns led 6-3 at halftime Sunday night with the Rams missing a field goal and having a fumble in the first half. Both teams scored on their opening possessions of the second half and Cleveland was granted a golden opportunity to pull further in front with a Jared Goff interception near midfield. Cleveland managed two yards and punted and then the Rams scored a touchdown to take the lead a few minutes into the fourth quarter. That touchdown put Los Angeles up by four to match the closing spread though the Rams were commonly -3 before a late rise. The infamous 4th-and-9 draw from Freddie Kitchens followed as the Browns came up empty on the next possession and the Rams were able to add three more to lead by seven. On 3rd-and-3 with fewer than three minutes to go Goff inexplicably threw deep into coverage for an interception to give the Browns an unexpected late opportunity. Baker Mayfield led an uneven drive down to the Los Angeles 4-yard-line, aided greatly by a roughing the passer call and an earlier illegal contact call that wiped out a sack. Three incomplete passes followed before a game-ending interception in the endzone on 4th down.

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Eliminator Contest Week 1

The 2019 Eliminator Contest is starting this week with an update Thursday and the picks for games September 14-16.

20 national handicappers are in the field led by 2018 champion Weekly Wizard, who wound up 14-6-2 last season for his third Eliminator title!

Check out the field and the Week 1 Contest Selections for FREE, posted every Thursday afternoon.

The Double Plays can be purchased for just $9 each week, or for $50 for the duration of the contest

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NFL Close Calls Week 1

NFL Close Calls – Week 1

09/10/2018

Glancing at the scoreboard won’t tell you the whole story in most games. Here are some of the games that went down to the wire relative to the spread in the fourth quarter last week in Week 1 of the NFL regular season.

Philadelphia Eagles (-10) 32, Washington Redskins 27 (44): Case Keenum hit several big plays early in his Washington debut as the Redskins stunned the Eagles with a 17-0 lead 20 minutes into the game and held on to a 20-7 edge at halftime. Philadelphia erased that lead in a three-minute span in the third quarter with back-to-back scores to lead by one heading into the fourth. The Eagles kept the momentum with an early fourth quarter touchdown and then a field goal with about three minutes remaining put the Eagles past the heavy home favorite spread for the first time in the game leading by 12. Having punted on its first three possessions of the second half with a total of five yards gained, Washington put together a 16-play, 75-yard drive that ended with an underdog cover saving touchdown with six seconds on the clock.

Buffalo Bills (+2½) 17, New York Jets 16 (41): The Jets took the lead early on an interception return touchdown but missed the PAT and that was the only scoring of the first half with Josh Allen having four turnovers for the Bills. The Jets led 8-0 after a safety on Buffalo’s first offensive snap of the third quarter and with good field position they added a touchdown to lead 16-0. Buffalo finally answered with a field goal and then in the fourth quarter produced an impressive touchdown drive to trail by only six with about 10 minutes to go. The Jets picked up a first down but opted to punt short of midfield rather than risk going for it on 4th-and-2. Allen led an 8-play, 80-yard touchdown in just three minutes as the Bills took a 17-16 lead with about three minutes to go. The Jets got close to midfield on its next drive but couldn’t convert for a one-point loss in a game where new kicker Kaare Vedvik missed two kicks.

Tennessee Titan (+5½) 43, Cleveland Browns 13 (44): The Browns crept back in this game with a touchdown to trail by only two late in the third quarter but a 75-yard touchdown followed to put the Titans in commanding position leading 22-13 through three quarters. Those on the ‘under’ still had some room to work with but back-to-back Baker Mayfield interceptions handed the Titans short fields and Tennessee scored quickly on drives of only 35 and 34 yards to push the total ‘over’, eventually adding a Malcolm Butler pick-6 later in the game for good measure to create the blowout 30-point final margin.

Arizona Cardinals (+3) 27, Detroit Lions 27 (48½): Laying just a few points against 2018’s worst NFL team seemed too good to be true but the Lions got out to a 17-0 edge in the second quarter and after the defense held Arizona to a pair of field goals, wound up in front 24-6 early in the fourth quarter. Zane Gonzalez added a field goal to trim the margin to 15 points and Detroit had a 3-and-out. Kyler Murray then led his first NFL touchdown drive with David Johnson going in from 27 yards and the Cardinals were within a single score with six minutes to go. Detroit should have been able to put the game away, but Arizona exhausted its timeouts and ultimately the Lions had to punt from midfield, with a poor effort going only 11 yards. With a short field Arizona was able to work its way down the field and Murray again delivered a touchdown as well as a two-point conversion to tie the game. Arizona went first in overtime and reached the Detroit 8-yard-line but had to settle for a short field goal. The Lions likewise couldn’t get through to the end zone and tied the game at 27-27. Arizona faced a dilemma on 4th-and-7 from the Detroit 46 with the risky options to try an extremely long field goal or go for the 1st down both likely to hand the game to the Lions if they failed. The Cardinals played for the tie and punted to the Detroit 5-yard-line where the Lions didn’t offer much of a threat to deliver a miracle late score.  

Los Angeles Chargers (-6½) 30, Indianapolis Colts 24 (44½): Side and total results faced a dramatic finish in the battle of 2018 AFC playoff teams. The Chargers had a 17-6 lead at halftime after Adam Vinatieri missed a PAT and a field goal to cost the Colts. He hit for three on the first drive of the third quarter, but the Chargers answered with a touchdown to lead by 15. In two plays the Colts answered back to get back within a single score down eight, just short of a spread that bounced between 7 and 6½ before even sliding to just 6 at some outlets by kickoff. The Colts got the break they needed late in the third quarter with a muffed punt return catch but Vinatieri would miss again from just 29 yards early in the fourth to keep the margin at eight. The Chargers moved to 1st-and-goal with a chance to put the game away but an interception in the end zone gave the Colts new life. 16 plays later the Colts found the end zone while converting a 4th down along the way. The two-point conversion with less than a minute on the clock could have ended the spread uncertainty but Marlon Mack got through and tied the game to force overtime. The Chargers got the ball first and hit a big early play that withstood review. On 3rd-and-1 the Colts needed a stop to stay in the game but the Chargers converted and ran into the end zone on the next play. With no PAT needed in OT most on the Colts still covered while the late Indianapolis touchdown secured the ‘over’ as well.

New Orleans Saints (-6½) 30, Houston Texans 28 (51½): With a 14-3 halftime lead the Texans underdog cover appeared on track on a line that dipped from +7 to +6½. New Orleans scored quickly out of halftime, but the Texans were able to answer to maintain an 11-point lead. A late third quarter touchdown put the Saints down by four and a few plays later Deshaun Watson was intercepted giving the Saints the ball back near midfield. On the first play of the fourth quarter the Saints took their first lead by three. Both teams had to punt before Houston appeared to climb into scoring range reaching the New Orleans 44. Watson took an 11-yard sack and Houston had to punt. Pinned deep the Saints got 41 yards on a huge 3rd-and-2 play and eventually had a new set of downs on the 33-yard-line of Houston, with those on the Saints and the ‘over’ eagerly awaiting a score. Houston’s defense held leaving the Saints to kick a field goal with 50 seconds left, leading by only six. Watson needed only two plays to find the end zone with completions for 48 and 37 yards as the Texans stunned the Superdome crowd. The game was tied ahead of the PAT which Ka’imi Fairbarin incredibly missed right, a controversial flag came out as Fairbairn was contacted well after his kicking leg came back down and on the retry Houston went up by one to take overtime out of the picture and confirm the underdog cover. New Orleans would use the final 37 seconds to go 35 yards and Will Lutz came through with a 58-yard field goal for a dramatic win for the Saints.

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College Win Totals

We posted these college win total selections for our Green Sheet subscribers in our August 9 issue of the newsletter. Check out our NFL win totals plus weekly predictions for the college football season in our 32-page Football Annual as we open our 30th football season!

The Green Sheet is our weekly football newsletter that covers every single game of the pro and college football season with predictions and analysis. Email us at nelly@nellysports.com and we’ll plan to send you a free issue at some point this season. Check out our Annual magazine on the link below to learn more about the Green Sheet and our service as well as to see some 2019 predictions.

Nelly’s 2019 Football Annual – CLICK HERE

             

  MISSED THE BOAT                  

There is no margin of error when dealing with win totals on a 12-game season, if you’ve lost a half win on the number, you pass. These are win total plays where we agree with the line movement but can no longer recommend at the current market prices. Sometimes if there is a big move it can come back the other way so keep an eye on these numbers.

OREGON DUCKS – UNDER 9 (NOW 8½): The Ducks have a very good team that can be a national threat in some scenarios led by a high profile quarterback. The five games away from home this season are very difficult facing Auburn (in Arlington TX) along with Pac-12 road games at Stanford, Washington, USC, and Arizona State. Oregon is currently +3 in that opener and they could be dogged in all four of those conference road tests. Going perfect at home isn’t a given either with California, Washington State, and Arizona visiting Eugene. In a 5-4 Pac-12 season last year Oregon had an OT win over Washington and a two-point win over Arizona State at home while the non-conference schedule is dramatically more difficult this season compared to last season’s sweep of Bowling Green, Portland State, and San Jose State. 9-3 is a tough ask for this slate and should the Ducks fall out of the Pac-12 and national races early it wouldn’t be a shock if Justin Herbert hung it up to preserve his potential top NFL draft pick status.

VIRGINIA CAVALIERS – OVER 6 (NOW 7½): We pegged Virginia to win the ACC Coastal and we are not alone in anticipating a good season for Bronco Mendenhall in his fourth season with the program. Bryce Perkins is one of the top returning quarterbacks in the ACC and Virginia draws teams from the Atlantic side that combined to 3-13 in league play last season. Three non-conference games should be sure-wins while an upset at Notre Dame isn’t out of the question. The task at 7½ is far different than at 6 or even 6½ however as the Cavaliers have not been able to finish off Virginia Tech in recent years and the team does have to play at Pittsburgh and at Miami in big division road games. Catching Florida State early in the season could be beneficial and ultimately the Cavaliers look likely to be a winning team.

BAYLOR BEARS – OVER 6½ (NOW 7): Big XII teams only play three non-conference games but the Bears are highly likely to start 3-0 facing a FCS squad as well as UTSA and Rice. Baylor then has five of nine Big XII games at home including getting to host the top four teams in the 2018 conference standings as at least one upset looks very possible from this Bears group that is among the most experienced teams in the conference on both sides of the ball. Baylor was just 6-6 last season but with a non-conference loss and two one-score losses in Big XII play. Baylor did win some close games last season but by-and-large the depth in the Big XII looks much weaker than the 2018 season as Baylor is a threat to move into the top half and better its 4-5 league record. The schedule is back-loaded facing the two Big XII favorites in November and a 6-2 or 7-1 start to the season isn’t impossible for a Big XII sleeper.

         STEADY CONSIDERATIONS        

TEXAS A&M AGGIES – UNDER 7½ (STILL 7½): The argument for Texas A&M as a top 15-20 caliber squad is valid but when the schedule includes road games at Clemson, at Georgia, and at LSU while also featuring home dates with Auburn and Alabama it will be a great challenge to finish above .500. The road game at Clemson in the second week of the season will go a long way towards determining the season trajectory for this group as a loss could devastate a team that will still have several difficult early season contests. Home games with Mississippi State and South Carolina can’t be assumed wins and last year’s 8-4 regular season record included two OT wins at home in SEC play plus two other one-score wins as this team wasn’t far from a 1-7 conference season. 1,700-yard rusher Trayveon Williams was the offense last season and he is now in the NFL and Jimbo Fisher’s squad ranks in the bottom five of experience in the SEC on both sides of the ball.

Send us an email with your contact information to join our email or text lists with the opportunity to receive free picks and free issues of the Green Sheet periodically throughout the season.

HAWAI’I WARRIORS – OVER 5½ (STILL 5½): After winning eight games last season the Warriors felt fortunate and in reality they got there with a pair of overtime wins and a few other narrow victories, mostly against marginal competition. Hawai’i as usual has a 13-game schedule to reach this mark and while opening with three Pac-12 teams is a challenge, the games with Arizona and Oregon State are at home. Hawai’i could conceivable start 1-5 as two difficult road games open the Mountain West season but the back half of the schedule is favorable including five of the final seven being at home. Cole McDonald is one the nation’s most productive returning quarterbacks and Hawai’i has the most returning defensive personnel in the conference. Fresno State’s roster was gutted while Nevada has a number of step-back indicators for 2019 as the West division won’t be nearly as strong as last season and another bowl bid looks very possible for Nick Rolovich. Hawai’i’s win over Arizona last Saturday certainly provides a boost to this proposition, that now must be lumped into the ‘MISSED THE BOAT’ list.

KENT STATE FLASHES – OVER 4 (STILL 4): Ultimately a push at 4 is very possible for this play as Kent State looks certain to lose three non-conference games with heavyweight opposition playing at Arizona State, at Auburn, and at Wisconsin. The Flashes will be worth a look ATS in the MAC season as an undervalued team and if they don’t suffer key injuries in those early physical battles this squad could post a winning MAC record in what looks like a wide open East division. Kent State finished 2-10 last season with first-year head coach Sean Lewis but a lot of experience is back and the Flashes have several winnable home games in league play. This team lost by one vs. Ohio last season while suffering three other single-score defeats and reaching three wins before November looks very possible. The four-game path in November isn’t an easy one but beating Buffalo or Ball State at home is realistic while a finale win at Eastern Michigan wouldn’t take a major upset.

              CONTRARIAN CHOICES          

As mentioned earlier a move of half a win is no small consideration in a 12-game season. The below teams received enough action to have oddsmakers adjusting but the opportunity may be to go against the grain on the below selections now with more favorable numbers than the opening prices.

ARMY BLACK KNIGHTS – UNDER 10 (OPENED 8½): Blindly playing against all moves of 1½ games or more would probably net a profit most seasons. Army went 10-2 last season and one of the losses came in overtime at Oklahoma as this team was relentless with the option attack and kept opposing defenses on the field by frequently going for it and succeeding on fourth downs. Teams will be better prepared for that approach this season and Army also had four single-score wins last season for some good fortune through one of the nation’s weakest schedules. Army plays at Michigan in Week 2 as a price of 10 is basically saying Army will go 10-1 or better in the rest of the schedule. Tulane, Western Kentucky, Georgia State, Air Force, Hawai’i, and Navy are all teams that are likely to be single-digit underdogs (if not favorites) vs. Army as it isn’t going to take colossal upsets to beat the Black Knights. Army lost several prominent defensive players from last season and it has been a decade since one of the service academies won the Commander-in-Chief Trophy three years in a row which Army will be trying to do this season against improved Air Force and Navy teams.

GEORGIA STATE PANTHERS – OVER 3½ (OPENED 4½): Troy and Appalachian State were dominant teams in the Sun Belt East last season but both teams are in coaching changes as the division race could open up. A seven-win team in 2017 the Panthers slipped to 2-10 last season but they were outscored by single-digits on average in going 1-7 in Sun Belt play while playing three best Sun Belt teams on the road last season. Georgia State has three winnable games in September and avoids last season’s West champion in the Sun Belt draw. Dan Ellington had efficient numbers at quarterback last season and it will likely only take one upset to get this group to four wins. Georgia State lost last season’s OC to West Virginia but Brad Glen previously worked with Shawn Elliott at Appalachian State and led an explosive FCS offense at Western Carolina the past few seasons.

MARSHALL THUNDERING HERD – UNDER 7½ (OPENED 6): Doc Holliday has a great record with this program and shouldn’t be underestimated as a Conference USA title isn’t out of the question. Three of four non-conference games are of the very difficult variety however as a 2-2 September for the Herd would be a good showing. Road games at Middle Tennessee State and at Florida Atlantic means that two of the toughest division games will be away from Huntington’s great home field edge and there is reason to believe home tests vs. Western Kentucky, Louisiana Tech, and Florida International will be difficult to sweep with all of those teams potentially improved squads in 2019. Marshall will have one of the least experienced defenses in Conference USA as allowing around 18 points per game in conference play as they did last season will be a difficult mark to match. Isaiah Green is a talented QB but was just a 56 percent passer with double-digit interceptions last season and the backfield has some question marks.

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Green Sheet Issue #2

Our second Green Sheet issue dives into the 2019 NFL schedule with nearly 3,000 words of analysis plus schedule numbers and rankings in seven categories for all 32 NFL teams.

Find out great nuggets from the schedule analysis: One team has a 30-44 S/U since 2000 scenario on the schedule and that squad is likely to be a favorite in that game. Three teams fall into a win total valuation situation that is 4-1 the past two years including pegging major collapses from the Jaguars and 49ers last season – teams that fell short of the summer win total numbers by 4.5 games! There is one team that fits a scheduling role that has produced teams combining to go 56-39-1 the past two years. Another simple schedule formula has produced the ‘over’ in five of six win totals the past two seasons and four squads apply in 2019. Find out those teams and more in Green Sheet Issue #2.

This is just a four-page issue and as such is only $6 instead of the regular $12 price – sign up right here!

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2019-20 Green Sheet #1

We have released a short off-season issue of the Green Sheet that includes the 2019 NFL Schedule Grid plus a coaching reference sheet to hang on to for the upcoming NFL season.

If you are not already signed up for the Green Sheet now is a great time to get on board as we plan to have several more off-season issues before the weekly subscription begins in late July.

Check out the first issue here – and save $10 on the full season subscription if you sign-up by May 10 using the COUPON CODE: MAY10

A $150 savings on the Nelly’s Full Season Phone Service for the 2019-20 football season expires on May 1 and a $100 discount will expire on June 1 – the phone service includes the full Green Sheet subscription as well.

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Free NFL Pick Sunday

#309/310 OVER 41.5 Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins 3:25 PM CT

It is easy to buy into the Nick Foles storyline with the Eagles posting a pair of huge wins the last two weeks to climb back to the edge of the NFC Playoffs. Philadelphia needs Minnesota to lose at home this week vs. a mildly interested Bears team that will likely have to host the Vikings next week as the chances for the Eagles aren’t favorable. Philadelphia has also been out-gained by a combined total of more than 400 yards over the past six weeks despite somehow being 4-2 in that span as the defense has been deteriorated with injuries and hasn’t come close to matching the results of last season’s championship unit.

One of the wins came hosting Washington on Monday night in Week 13 but that 15-point win was very misleading as it was a one-point game in the fourth quarter and Washington had to play most of the contest with a woefully ineffective Mark Sanchez. Washington’s playoff hopes were extinguished last week but under Josh Johnson the Redskins played two very competitive road games vs. tough defenses, out-gaining both Jacksonville and Tennessee for some success against quality defenses.

Washington beat the Jaguars and were right in last week’s game with a Titans team that had a lot on the line. Washington should continue to give a good effort as a divisional home underdog. Both teams have arguably made quarterback upgrades since the meeting four weeks ago and yet this total is even lower than that game and is set to the be the lowest total in this series since 2009.

Nelly’s is on a 20-11 run in NFL action since Week 7 and we have a huge NFL play Sunday with our 3* NFL Game of the Year – get the pick for $50 pay after you win or get it as part of our NFL 2/3 for $55.

Nelly’s won our bowl selection yesterday and went 3-0 in basketball for a third straight Saturday. We have won 15 of our last 16 NBA picks and have turned in a huge December with a 27-11 record with two days to go. Check out Sunday’s Basketball Offer or join us for all picks through Jan. 31 for only $199!

Big E is 10-2 in bowl picks and his 25* Bowl Game of the Year is available for Monday’s schedule – get it for $49.94 pay after you win with the Big E winning his 25* Bowl GOY five straight seasons!

Point Train has a Sunday Night NFL Pick in the Colts/Titans game to build on strong season profits – win for just $19.97!

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Dalton’s NFL Picks are coming soon and the Big Dog expects Bowl 15* plays Monday and Tuesday! He is plus nearly 30* in bowl action so far!

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NFL Close Calls – Week 14

NFL Close Calls – Week 14

Glancing at the scoreboard won’t tell you the whole story in most games. Here are some of the games that went down to the wire relative to the spread and total in the fourth quarter in Week 14 of the NFL regular season with one of the wilder NFL Sundays in recent memory.

Kansas City Chiefs (-6½) 27, Baltimore Ravens 24 (49): The AFC-leading Chiefs led by seven at halftime with a spread that slipped from -7½ to -6 or -6½ by kickoff. Baltimore tied the game late in the third quarter following a Patrick Mahomes interception. A big punt return put the Ravens in position for the upset and with just over four minutes to go Lamar Jackson found John Brown to give the underdog Ravens a seven-point edge. Mahomes cemented his MVP case with a great drive that included a pair of 4th down conversions, the second of which resulted in the game-tying touchdown in the final minute. That score also put the scoring at 48 on a total that reached as high as 53 before settling at 51 and dropping to 49 by kickoff. The Ravens had some time on the clock but disaster struck as a sack led to a fumble and the Chiefs had the ball in field goal range. Harrison Butker would miss from 43 yards at time expired however. Kansas City had the ball first and survived a fumble inside the red zone, ultimately giving Butker another opportunity and he was good from 35 yards. Baltimore crossed midfield but went backwards with a penalty and a sack that saw Jackson exit the game. Robert Griffin III entered and made a good throw on 4th-and-22 but Willie Snead couldn’t come up with it to extend the game. Baltimore still cashed underdog tickets and there were likely mixed results on the total.

Cleveland Browns (+1) 26, Carolina Panthers 20 (48): The scoring pace in this game was hot early with a 17-17 halftime score as the Panthers and Browns traded scores. Cleveland fumbled on its first play of the second half but Carolina didn’t take advantage of the field position to add points and only later in the frame added a field goal to lead by three as slight road favorite entering the fourth quarter. Early in the fourth Nick Chubb put the Browns in front but the PAT was missed for just a three-point edge. Cleveland added a field goal a few minutes later but up by just six, all results were still in play. Carolina reached 1st-and-goal with about four minutes remaining but Cam Newton’s eventual 4th down throw sailed high. The Panthers would get another shot but Newton threw an interception on 1st down with a minute to go as the Browns and the ‘under’ held on.

Green Bay Packers (-4) 34, Atlanta Falcons 20 (50½): Despite only managing 300 total yards in the game the Packers pulled away with a 34-7 lead late in the third quarter. Atlanta scored early in the fourth to put the total scoring at 48, just below the closing total. The Falcons reached the Green Bay 8-yard-line with about seven minutes remaining but a fumble kept points off the board. In the final minutes Atlanta kept a meaningless drive going with a 4th down conversion and then with 14 seconds to go hit a 19-yard touchdown pass on another 4th down play to bail out those on the ‘over’.

New Orleans Saints (-9½) 28, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 14 (55½): The Buccaneers led 14-3 at the half as they looked to sweep the season series with the Saints. The game seemed to swing on a blocked punt late in the third quarter as New Orleans got back in the game with a short-field touchdown. Early in the fourth New Orleans scored on 4th-and-goal with a Drew Brees reach to put New Orleans up by four and suddenly the hefty underdog cover was in danger for the home team. Another 3-and-out gave the Saints the ball back in good field position and New Orleans again scored to make the margin 11 points. The Buccaneers again had to punt and the Saints added a field goal to lead by 14 with just over a minute to go. A touchdown would still put the Buccaneers in position to cover however and Tampa Bay reached the New Orleans 26-yard-line in the final seconds before a holding call and an eventual interception in the end zone.

New York Jets (+4½) 27, Buffalo Bills 23 (37): The Bills led 20-13 early in the third quarter after a short field goal after the Jets fumbled on the halftime kickoff. The Bills didn’t add points after another Jets turnover and then early in the fourth New York managed to tie the game. Buffalo missed a field goal on its next possession but after forcing a quick punt managed three points after a 62-yard drive, leading by three with just over two minutes to go on a spread that sat at -3½ before reaching -4 or -4½. Sam Darnold led a great late drive with the Jets rushing into the end zone on 4th-and-goal to take the lead for the first time in the game. Josh Allen would get intercepted to end the game for the Bills.

Miami Dolphins (+9) 34, New England Patriots 33 (50½): The Patriots led 30-28 late in the fourth quarter but couldn’t quite burn off the remaining clock and didn’t find the end zone, ultimately kicking a 22-yard field goal with 16 seconds remaining to lead by five when a touchdown could have put New England by nine on a spread that bounced around between -7 and -9. The Dolphins returned the kickoff to the 31 and had one play left, it turned out to be a play that will be remembered for a long time as a two laterals after a Ryan Tannehill completion left Kenyan Drake with room to maneuver, eventually going the distance for a 69-yard game-winning score.

Los Angeles Chargers (-16½) 26, Cincinnati Bengals 21 (48): The Bengals were never out of position to cover the massive underdog spread in this game but their late bid to tie the game had a huge impact on the total. The ‘under’ felt safe with just 32 points into the fourth quarter and matching field goals didn’t change that trajectory. Cincinnati would complete a touchdown drive just after the two-minute warning and lined up for a two-point conversion that would have tied the game. The attempt was not a success as the Chargers led 23-21 and the total sat just ‘under’. After holding the on-side kick attempt the Chargers added a late field goal to secure the win and put the scoring at 46, just below the closing figure of 48 after an opener at 47.

Dallas Cowboys (-3) 29, Philadelphia Eagles 23 (45): Eagles backers had a right to be fuming early in Sunday’s big afternoon showcase game in the NFC East with a Dallas fumble on the opening kickoff handed back to the Cowboys on a simply unimaginable replay review decision. From there just 15 points were scored through three quarters and the underdog Eagles tied the game at just 9-9 early in the fourth quarter. These rivals scored four touchdowns in the final eight minutes for a 23-23 tie to incredibly hit the ‘over’ when the ‘under’ appeared to be in a very safe position most of the way. Dallas was in position to have a game-winning field goal attempt at the end of regulation but had a fumble and then a sack to cost the team 15 yards. In overtime Dallas again appeared to stall in field goal range but opted to go for it on 4th-and-1 from the 19-yard-line rather than kicking a relatively sure field goal. The Cowboys got the conversion and then on 3rd-and-8 connected for a game-winning and spread-covering touchdown on a lucky bounce as a deflected pass wound up in Amari Cooper’s hands.

Oakland Raiders (+10) 24, Pittsburgh Steelers 21 (51): The heavy underdog Raiders came to play in this old rivalry as the double-digit underdog was in position to cover the entire way. The ‘under’ also seemed safe with a 14-10 score through three quarters which held until the Raiders took the lead 17-14 with a touchdown with just over five minutes remaining in the game. Both teams would score again for a 24-21 Oakland edge in the final seconds. The Steelers picked up a huge gain on a lateral play to set-up a game-tying field goal that would have put those on the ‘over’ miraculously back in play but Chris Boswell’s plant foot slipped and his 40-yard attempt failed as the ‘under’ held on.

Seattle Seahawks (-3) 21, Minnesota Vikings 7 (45½): Both defenses were tough in this Monday NFC showdown with a 3-0 lead for Seattle through three quarters after Minnesota failed going for it on 4th-and-1 across midfield. In good field position Seattle got the biggest play of the game to that point with a 31-yard pass interference call on the first play of the 4th quarter, a play with minimal contact on a debatably catchable pass. That put Seattle at 1st-and-goal and Seattle got past the home favorite spread with a field goal to lead 6-0. Minnesota would go right down the field on its next possession but stalled inside the 2-yard-line and threw incomplete on 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard-line. Minnesota’s defense forced a 3-and-out and returned to Seattle territory, opting for a 47-yard field goal try. Bobby Wagner blocked the kick but was flagged for pushing off teammates to leap over a gap, a new rule emphasized this season. Without explanation the flag was picked up as for the second time in the game a clear 15-yard penalty on Wagner was missed after he got away with a facemask in the 1st quarter. With the block Seattle took over downs near midfield when the penalty would have given Minnesota 1st down at the Seattle 14-yard-line in an egregious officiating mistake that created a huge swing in the potential result of the game. A big Russell Wilson scramble put the game away for the Seahawks who would also add a late score on defense before Minnesota avoided the shutout with a garbage-time touchdown for a very misleading final score.