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Free NFL Pick Sunday

#259 Oakland Raiders +6.5 over Indianapolis Colts 12:00 PM CT

This is game two of an outrageous stretch of five consecutive away games for the Raiders. While no one is laughing at the handling of the Antonio Brown situation anymore a promising season debut has turned to 1-2 for Oakland. The Colts pieced together a second straight win but every game has been tight. These teams look awfully similar statistically despite the Raiders having to play Kansas City and Minnesota already. Indianapolis was out-gained last week hosting Atlanta, while worse than foes in yards per carry and yards per attempt despite being 2-1. NFL home favorites of four or more points are 6-15-1 ATS this season as the points are appealing though with this number sliding below 7 it stands as just a free pick.

Nelly’s is 5-1 the past two weeks in the NFL and 6-0 in 2* side plays in pro football – Get two 2* picks in our 2/3 offer today for $25.

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4Q Covers Week 5

4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 5


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 the fifth big weekend of the college football season to close September. Each week there are several teams that cover despite not necessarily deserving it, as well as other teams that played much better than the final score shows.

Memphis (-11) 35, Navy 23: Navy wound up a with a pronounced production edge Thursday night against Memphis and the Midshipmen led 20-7 about halfway through the second quarter. Memphis returned the next kickoff 99 yards to get within six by halftime and in the third quarter the Tigers added 14 points including a 73-yard strike to put Memphis up 28-20. Navy added a field goal early in the fourth to boost the chances for the underdog but Memphis answered quickly to reach its greatest lead of the game up by 12. Navy had two late possessions but wasn’t much of a threat to add points.

Air Force (-19½) 41, San Jose State 24: San Jose State scored on its opening drive looking to back up last week’s win over Arkansas. The Spartans were also stopped on downs in Air Force territory on the next two possessions as they had an opportunity for an even better start. Air Force scored touchdowns on three of its first four possessions but had a costly fumble in the red zone just before halftime to lead by only 11 on spread that climbed upward Friday evening. Air Force scored 13 points five minutes into the second half helped by what turned into an accidental wind-aided on-side kick recovery to take a commanding 34-10 edge. After both teams botched scoring opportunities late in the third quarter a lengthy Air Force drive ended in a touchdown to put the Falcons up by 31 about halfway through the fourth quarter. With backup quarterback Nick Nash in the game, the Spartans connected for a 30-yard touchdown pass with fewer than four minutes remaining. Air Force then wound up going for it on 4th-and-short from its own 22 with a 24-point lead and fell short. Handed great field position, Nash put the Spartans into the end zone inside of two minutes to steal the underdog cover.

Arizona State (+4½) 24, California 17: After losing quarterback Chase Garbers just before halftime California managed to take a three-point lead early in the fourth quarter taking advantage of great field position after Jayden Daniels fumbled on a sack. Leaning on the running game Arizona State responded with a lengthy drive to get in front 21-17 with about five minutes to go. Cal failed going for it on 4th down on its next possession but Arizona State only added three to keep the game in play. Devon Modster and the Bears were not able to put together much on a late chance to keep its perfect season going, ultimately winding up with only 245 yards for the game. 

Wisconsin (-23) 24, Northwestern 15: The heavy underdog Wildcats hung around vs. Wisconsin but a 68-yard interception return in the fourth quarter suddenly put Wisconsin up by 21 despite the game being just 7-3 late in the third quarter. Northwestern had a 3-and-out to hand the Badgers the ball back with a chance to get past the favorite spread but the punt wasn’t handled as the Wildcats managed to recover the muff and with good field position found the end zone to secure the underdog cover. Northwestern actually adding another touchdown later in the fourth and had a two-point conversion attempt to get back within seven that came up short. It was another cover for the Wildcats in the series, while actually out-gaining Wisconsin and featuring a 21-13 edge in 1st downs but with two Wisconsin defensive scores allowed.

Wake Forest (-4½) 27, Boston College 24: Wake Forest and Boston College were knotted at 17-17 at the break but Wake Forest added a late third quarter field goal and an early fourth quarter touchdown to lead by 10. In that stretch the Demon Deacons survived an interception with a 4th down stop on defense. Boston College climbed back in the game with a touchdown completed from running back David Bailey throwing to get within three and within the underdog spread with just over six minutes to go. Wake Forest used up significant clock on a 12-play drive but couldn’t run it all out as Boston College had a late chance, eventually reaching the midfield on the final play.

Western Michigan (-15½) 31, Central Michigan 15: The spread on this game dipped from as high as -17½ to just -15½ at some outlets by kickoff. With a 24-0 edge through three quarters it didn’t appear to matter but Central Michigan put up a fourth quarter fight with nine early points. A Western Michigan touchdown with about five minutes to go put the Broncos back past the number but the Chippewas quickly answered with a 34-yard strike to score. Down 16 Central Michigan went for two and came up empty in a critical play for those that waited to play the Saturday prices.

Toledo (+2½) 28, BYU 21: BYU broke a 14-14 tie with a touchdown on a short field following a muffed punt to lead by seven as a slight road favorite. Toledo would answer less than a minute into the fourth quarter to tie the game before the teams traded punts and then empty possessions with BYU stopped on downs and Toledo having a fumble at the BYU 20-yard-line. The momentum swung back quickly as BYU quarterback Zach Wilson was intercepted on 1st down with a return all the way down to the 2-yard-line. Toledo punched in the touchdown on the next play and the defense was able to hold off a drive to the Toledo 32 in the final seconds behind BYU back-up quarterback Jaren Hall after Wilson injured his hand on the decisive interception.

Vanderbilt (-7½) 24, Northern Illinois 18: The Commodores jumped out to a 14-0 lead only about six minutes into the game and that score held through halftime. Northern Illinois managed a field goal and a touchdown early in the second half but Vanderbilt seemed to put the game away with a 38-yard touchdown pass late in third quarter. Another score was on the way early in the fourth but in settling for a short field goal, Vanderbilt kept the door open for the underdog. Northern Illinois would score just two minutes later and down eight opted to go for two, successfully trimming the margin to six points in an unexpected play with huge ramifications relative to the spread that was commonly at 6½ before rising to 7½. The six-point margin held with neither side offering much of a scoring threat in the final 10 minutes.

Oklahoma (-27½) 55, Texas Tech 16: Oklahoma’s victory was never in doubt, but the heavy underdog Red Raiders rushed for nearly 200 yards and were in position to cover with the ball back down 32. A fumble near midfield sealed their fate with about nine minutes to go and the Red Raiders came up empty in two late drives that reached well into Oklahoma territory while Oklahoma added one more touchdown to win by 39.

Notre Dame (-10½) 35, Virginia 20: Virginia led 17-14 at halftime and had a significant production edge at that point. In the third quarter the Irish ran 11 plays and the only 1st down they picked up was via a penalty but they wound up with an 11-point lead thanks to three Virginia fumbles, one of which was returned to the two-yard-line and another was brought to the end zone for a defensive score. That margin was right in-between a spread that hit as high as +13 but dropped on game day down to as low as +10. Virginia had two interceptions in the fourth quarter looking to climb back in the game while Notre Dame broke a 30-yard run for a touchdown. Down 18 Virginia opted for a 27-yard field goal with six minutes to go that was of no help to the underdog supporters.

Washington (-12) 28, USC 14: Washington led by 10 at the half and by 14 through three quarters after Michael Pittman had a 44 touchdown to bring USC back in the game. Washington fumbled near midfield to hand USC an opportunity in the fourth quarter but an exchange of punts followed. USC looked likely to earn the underdog cover late reaching 1st-and-goal from the Washington 5-yard-line but the Trojans weren’t able to get in. On its final possession Matt Fink brought USC across midfield and pass interference converted a 4th-and-10 play. The next throw was intercepted however as the Huskies escaped still up 14 after a scoreless final frame.

UCF (-42½) 56, Connecticut 21: The Knights nearly eclipsed this massive spread by halftime with a 42-0 advantage and with nearly six minutes left in the third quarter it was 56-0. The Huskies would score late in the third quarter for the first time and then again in the fourth to get the margin back to 42 and within the hefty underdog number. On its next possession UCF fumbled at the UConn 21-yard-line and then with two minutes remaining the Knights went for it on 4th-and-9 rather than attempting a long field goal. A sack on that play gave the Huskies good field position and Steven Krajewski fired away, getting the Huskies into the end zone with 19 seconds to go to secure the underdog win.

Stanford (-3½) 31, Oregon State 28: Davis Mills led Stanford to an early 21-0 edge but Oregon State made a late charge getting to 21-14 early in the fourth quarter. Stanford would answer to lead by 14 with nine minutes remaining but the Beavers kept the momentum on offense with a six-play touchdown drive to get back within seven with seven minutes to go. Oregon State’s defense forced a 3-and-out and the Beavers went 77 yards to tie the game with fewer than two minutes remaining. It was however enough time for Mills and the Stanford offense thanks to a 43-yard kickoff return as the Cardinal gained 29 more yards and connected from 39 yards for the game-winning field goal, though for many, the Beavers still collected.

Appalachian State (-14½) 56, Coastal Carolina 37: After the big win over North Carolina, Appalachian State found itself in a back-and-forth game with a 21-21 tie late in the second quarter. The Mountaineers managed two touchdowns in the final two minutes before the break to suddenly lead by 14 however. Appalachian State scored first in the second half but by the start of the fourth quarter the 21-point edge had been shrunk to 12. An interception return touchdown put Appalachian State up by 19 and they added another touchdown on a short field with about four minutes remaining. A late Coastal Carolina touchdown wasn’t enough to get back within the number in a game that was much closer in the box score than the scoreboard suggests.

Liberty (-7½) 17, New Mexico 10: Liberty led 17-3 through three quarters and had a significant yardage edge. With a common number of -7 the line did hit -7½ by kickoff and late Flames backers had reason for worry. An interception bailed out Liberty following a missed field goal and the defense again got a big stop as New Mexico went for it on 4th-and-8 early in the fourth quarter. The Lobos would not be denied on their final possession however, converting a big third down with 53 seconds to go and then hitting the end zone with 43 seconds to go to climb within seven for the final margin.

UL-Monroe (-14½) 30, South Alabama 17: The Warhawks led by just seven heading into the fourth quarter but back-to-back touchdown drives pushed the margin to 20 points with about seven minutes to go. South Alabama would go 75 yards in the next four minutes however to get back within the number and UL-Monroe did not make a push to add points late.

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Nelly’s Free NCAA Pick

#182 Liberty -7 over New Mexico 5:00 PM CT

Liberty is 6-2 S/U at home since the start of last season as the young FBS program hasn’t been content to just be invited to the stage. They beat 2018 MAC Champion Buffalo earlier this season and the 24-0 loss to Syracuse was a much more competitive game statistically than the numbers suggest. As a young Independent squad Liberty will need seven wins to be considered for a bowl game as they play two FCS games and this is the stretch of the schedule where they need to compile wins as there are a few difficult late season games on the path for a squad sitting at 2-2.

New Mexico has faced Notre Dame and rival New Mexico State in the past two games, hanging on narrowly last week 55-52 to hold off a late comeback to reach 2-1 on the season. Bob Davie is expected back on the sidelines this week after missing the past two games with a health situation and this year’s team is much more balanced than the past rush-heavy Lobos squads. Tevaka Tuioti has thrown for nearly 500 yards but on just 54 percent completions however for the Lobos. Normally underdogs with a potential rushing edge are appealing play-on teams but New Mexico is facing cross-country travel for his contest and last season they lost at home 52-43 in this matchup despite a 211-96 edge on the ground.

New Mexico has had the rushing edge in all three games this season but is just 1-2 ATS with the lone win narrowly covering while getting out-gained overall by a FCS squad. Liberty has put up big passing numbers behind senior QB Stephen Calvert with 8.9 yards per pass attempt and the New Mexico defense ranks 127th out of 130 teams nationally in allowing 10.4 yards per pass attempt, while allowing 7.2 yards per play on the season as the Lobos aren’t catching enough points with one of the nation’s worst defenses, playing far from home after two of the bigger games of the season on the schedule.

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Thursday Night NCAA

Thursday Night College Football – Navy at Memphis

After an exciting finish last Thursday in the AAC West, the division will be in the spotlight again this week to open up the final college football weekend of September. Memphis and Navy played to a one-point game last season before divergent paths the rest of the way and this will be a big division test between still undefeated teams.

Match-up: Navy Midshipmen at Memphis Tigers

Venue: At Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tennessee

Time/TV: Thursday, September 26, 8:00 PM ET ESPN

Line: Memphis -10½, Over/Under 54

Last Meeting: 2018, at Navy (+6½) 22, Memphis 21

With a run of six straight bowl seasons heading into the 2018 season there was little reason to expect that Navy wouldn’t bounce back from an opening week loss at Hawai’i, falling 59-41 last September in the run vs. pass non-conference test. Navy did just that with a 22-21 escape hosting Memphis but that would be the highlight of a stunning 3-10 season for the Midshipmen.

Ken Niumatalolo is 89-58 in his career at Navy since taking over Navy for the 2007 bowl game and since moving to AAC play the squad is 21-12 in conference games including 1-0 this season with a 42-10 win over East Carolina on September 14. Climbing back to the postseason looks realistic for Navy though there are not many soft spots in a deep American Athletic Conference path while non-conference games with Air Force, Notre Dame, and Army remain.

Senior quarterback Malcolm Perry has led the offense in both passing and rushing with 254 passing yards in two games for more than is usually expected from the option attack. Perry saw the field significantly in most games last season and he was the primary quarterback in the Memphis game with 36 rushes for 166 yards as well as a pair of completions. At 5’9” he is certainly among the smallest FBS quarterbacks in the nation.

Memphis started last season 4-4 coming off a 10-win season in 2017. The Tigers would rally for four straight November wins in conference play to claim a second consecutive AAC West title (shared with Tulane and Houston last season), where they lost for a second straight season to UCF in the championship game in Orlando. The Tigers are 29-14 under Mike Norvell who started in 2016, including a 3-0 start this season, but Memphis has not yet won a bowl game in his tenure.

Norvell was a discussed coaching candidate for some major conference openings last off-season and starting this season he notched his first win over Mississippi for the Tigers with a 15-10 opening result. That win will help keep the Tigers in the top Group of 5 bid conversation if they remain perfect even if a banner year for Ole Miss doesn’t look likely. Memphis won’t have to play UCF in the regular season this year but the East draw is difficult with a road game ahead at Temple plus games at South Florida and home against Cincinnati in the season finale as Navy ironically is in the ‘West’ division despite being among the easternmost programs in the nation.

Memphis has a chance for a great season with junior quarterback Brady White back and off to a productive start while the Tigers have 681 rushing yards in three games. The difference this season for Memphis could be on defense with great returning experience and so far positive early returns with only 40 points allowed in three games. Last year Memphis allowed more than 27 points per game in conference play and nearly 32 points per game overall.

Navy has outrushed foes by nearly 600 yards so far this season but Memphis is one of the few teams that can keep pace with the Midshipmen on the ground with Navy only having a 264-233 edge in rushing in last season’s meeting  with Henderson’s big runs leading to 9.7 yards per attempt for the Tigers in that game. Memphis has had at least 177 rushing yards in all three games including putting up 312 in the last contest vs. South Alabama.

Last season: Navy led 9-7 at halftime getting a touchdown with seven seconds remaining in the half but failing going for two. Memphis took over in the third quarter with a pair of long runs from Darrell Henderson who went for 78 and 59 for scores as the Tigers led 21-9. Perry added his second touchdown run early in the fourth quarter as Navy climbed within five on a short-field score after a fumble. The Navy defense forced a 3-and-out and the Midshipmen turned in a 13-play 56-yard touchdown drive to take the lead with just over two minutes to go. After Navy missed again on the two-point try, Memphis only needed a late field goal and White led the Tigers to the Navy 34-yard-line before the drive stalled and the Tigers came up short on 4th down. Memphis had a 378-316 edge in yards but a 4-1 deficit in turnovers.

Historical Trends: Navy is 3-1 S/U and 4-0 ATS in this series as division opponents since 2015. Historically few teams have been as good as Navy in the road underdog role with an amazing 84-42-1 ATS mark since 1980 including a 56-23 ATS record since 1994 and a 23-12 ATS mark under Niumatalolo. When getting 10 or more points as a road underdog Navy is 30-11 ATS since 1994 (9-4 under Niumatalolo since 2008), though splitting last season in that role. Under Norvell, Memphis is 20-4 S/U and 14-10 ATS at home including going 6-1 S/U and ATS at home last season. Since 2004 Memphis has performed well as heavy chalk with a 27-14 ATS record when laying 10 or more points with only two S/U upset losses at that high of a price, one of which was the 2015 home meeting with Navy.

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Eliminator Contest Week 3

In our Annual Eliminator Contest each of 20 handicappers submits two selections each week, a single 1-point play and a double 2-point play. Each contestant is awarded points for losses and eliminated at 10 points.

The 2019 ELIMINATOR CONTEST IS UNDERWAY WITH WEEK 3 SELECTIONS FOR GAMES SEPTEMBER 28-30. Bobby Dalton and Rocketman Sports are still perfect at 4-0 through two weeks!

CLICK HERE for the Week 3 Contest Single Plays

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 3

NFL Close Calls – Week 3


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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4Q Covers NCAA Week 4

4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 4


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 the fourth big weekend of the college football season. Each week there are several teams that cover despite not necessarily deserving it, as well as other teams that played much better than the final score shows.

Tulane (-4½) 38, Houston 31: The Thursday night underdog certainly looked promising in AAC action as D’Eriq King sparked Houston to a 28-7 edge just a few minutes into the second quarter. Tulane answered to get within 14 where the margin held past halftime. Tulane hit a 48-yard pass play to close to within seven early in the third quarter and then early in the fourth the Green Wave tied the game by completing a 93-yard drive while Houston had a pair of punts and the team’s second missed field goal of the game to start the second half. Tulane added three with about six minutes remaining to take the lead while Houston put together a lengthy drive looking for the win in regulation. The Cougars reached the Tulane 4-yard-line with 30 seconds remaining but ultimately had to settle for a short tying field goal with 21 seconds remaining. A fake kneel-down from Tulane led to an 18-yard gain to give the Wave a chance for a late score and Jalen McClesky made a catch in traffic around the 25-yard-line and scampered into the end zone in the final seconds as Tulane improbably won the game and slid past the favorite spread in a dramatic finish.

Louisiana Tech (-7) 43, Florida International 31: With James Morgan back in action Florida International’s offense finally clicked and this game turned into a shootout in the second half after a 13-10 Bulldogs lead at the break. Louisiana Tech still led by just three heading into the fourth quarter after these squads traded leads in the third quarter. Florida International’s defense held Louisiana Tech to three consecutive field goals to fall behind by 12 but they didn’t add points of its own until the final minute, scoring what looked like the underdog covering score with 51 seconds to go for a five-point margin. The ensuing on-side kick attempt went array however as it was caught and returned for a short kickoff return touchdown for the Bulldogs to give the favorite the cover right back.

Syracuse (-3½) 52, Western Michigan 33: The production in this game wound up nearly even and the score was close to that as well late in third quarter as back-to-back Western Michigan scores turned a 38-19 Orange edge into a 38-33 margin heading into the fourth quarter. The Broncos forced an early fourth quarter punt and had the ball approaching midfield before a huge swing as they were stopped going for it on 4th-and-1 from the their own 41. Syracuse needed only a few plays to find the end zone inheriting great field position, pushing the lead to 12. The Broncos reached Syracuse territory on the next possession but failed on 4th-and-10 from the Syracuse 28. Syracuse added another touchdown with about three minutes remaining in the game to pad the final score.

New Mexico (-4) 55, New Mexico State 52: These rivals were tied at 31-31 at halftime but New Mexico took charge in the third quarter with three scoring drives to lead by 10 heading into the final frame, a lead the Lobos extended to 17 early in the fourth quarter. The Aggies didn’t mail it in however scoring a touchdown halfway through the fourth and then getting back in the game with an interception. New Mexico State added a quick touchdown to trail by only three in the final minutes, a score that shifted the spread outcome. New Mexico had to covert a 4th down to close out the game before eventually taking knee inside the New Mexico State 10-yard-line.

California (+3) 28, Mississippi 20: Pac-12 officials added another chapter to their infamous legacy in this non-conference game at Ole Miss. The Bears were in control and had a 28-13 edge well into the fourth quarter despite a big yardage edge for the Rebels. Mississippi made a late charge with an 88-yard touchdown drive to get within a single score with 4:29 remaining. Cal opted to punt on 4th-and-1 near midfield as the Rebels had the ball back with an opportunity to tie. Without timeouts John Rhys Plumlee engineered a great drive and the pivotal play occurred on 3rd-and-goal from the Cal 3-yard-line. Plumlee hit Elijah Moore who turned to the ball with his feet in the end zone before being tackled. The official spotted the ball short of the end zone and there was not a stoppage for a review on what certainly looked like a potential touchdown. With only seconds on the clock Mississippi scrambled to the line to run a play and a disorganized 4th down sneak was stuffed as time expired and the Bears held on the for the win, avoiding the possibility of overtime.

Alabama (-36½) 49, Southern Miss 7: If Nick Saban wants fans to stay all four quarters of Alabama games, he just needs to make sure they have action on the spread as another Tide game featured a very late spread-result shifting score. Southern Miss trailed just 28-7 at the half but Alabama pushed the margin to 42-7 by the fourth quarter, not quite enough on the heavy favorite number. Southern Miss burned substantial clock on a fourth quarter drive but facing 4th-and-14 near midfield they simply opted to punt. Alabama didn’t seem likely to go the length of the field in that situation, but Jaylen Waddle returned the punt 41 yards to put the Tide in great field position with still seven minutes remaining. Alabama opted to go for it on 4th-and-5 and Taulia (not Tua) Tagovailoa hit a 20-yard pass for the first down and a few plays later Jerome Ford rushed into the end zone to flip the spread result inside of two minutes.

West Virginia (-5) 29, Kansas 24: The Mountaineers led by only three heading into the fourth quarter but managed to pull away with a pair of long drives, though resulting in only nine points with a short field goal and a touchdown but with a missed two-point try. That 12-point margin loomed large on the potential spread outcome on a line that landed right at -5. Kansas would indeed get a touchdown with about two minutes remaining to hit that five-point margin and the Jayhawks defense forced a punt to at least get the ball back though with only 32 seconds and no timeouts. Kansas picked up two modest gains and on the final play delivered a lateral play that for a moment had a chance, ultimately reaching the West Virginia 12-yard-line before the Mountaineers were able to clinch the win.

Florida State (-6½) 35, Louisville 24: Florida State jumped out to a 21-0 lead in this contest, but early leads have consistently melted away for the Seminoles this season. Louisville would score the next 24 points to lead by three as an underdog early in the fourth quarter. With Wisconsin-transfer Alex Hornibrook in the game the Seminoles struck a 60-yard pass play for the go-ahead score halfway through the final frame. The Florida State defenses steeped up with a three-and-out and a 15-yard penalty helped the cause to give Florida State great field position. Florida State eventually opted to kick a field goal from 4th-and-1 but a roughing the kicker call gave the Seminoles 1st-and-goal at the one and a potential 6-point lead became an 11-point margin. On its last possession, Louisville’s offense reached the Florida State 39 before running out of time.

Clemson (-41) 52, Charlotte 10: Charlotte’s numbers vs. Clemson were certainly better than some have posted vs. the Tigers but the 49ers still trailed 31-0 before the halfway point of the second quarter Down 45-3 in the third Charlotte got a muffed punt to get the ball at the Clemson 12 and they cashed in, bringing the margin to 35 points. Clemson backup quarterback Taisum Phommachanh was picked off on the next drive to end a scoring threat as the 49ers had a chance to hold on to the cover but late in the game a Phommachanh pass got 15-yards added to it with a penalty and Michel Dukes broke free for a 24-yard touchdown run to inch past the spread.

Texas State (-3) 37, Georgia State 34: Texas State broke a 17-17 tie with a field goal late in the third quarter before an exciting finish in this Sun Belt opener. Georgia State had a 13-play touchdown drive to take the lead with about eight minutes to go but Texas State answered with a touchdown drive completed on a 20-yard rush to go back up by three. Georgia State had a shot to win in regulation reaching 1st-and-goal form the 2-yard-line but an untimely false start pushed the team back. Pass interference on Texas State gave that yardage back but cost time and ultimately that proved to be the issue as the Panthers had to settle for the tying kick. After matching touchdowns in the first overtime, both teams would miss mid-40s field goals in the second overtime and Georgia State would do it again to start the third round. Despite a combined -20 yards from both teams in the second and third overtimes, Texas State kicker Joshua Rowland finally nailed the fourth field goal attempt of overtime from 35-yards as Texas State got its first win and the game finished on the number.

Oregon (-12½) 21, Stanford 6: Oregon’s high scoring offense was held in check in this game, but they took a 14-3 lead into halftime after getting a touchdown on a drive with two 3rd-and-long conversions while a Stanford drive into Oregon territory ended empty before halftime. The Ducks went ahead 21-3 in the fourth quarter following an interception while Stanford only answered with a field goal to trail by 15, not quite enough on the double-digit underdog spread. The Ducks had a bad snap on a field goal attempt to cost the team three points but on two late possessions Stanford was unable to spoil the cover despite holding Ducks to minimal production and having a nearly 2-to-1 edge on the ground.

Texas (-7) 36, Oklahoma State 30: Texas appeared to have a 21-13 edge heading into halftime but the Longhorns muffed a punt return with 45 seconds to go ultimately handing the Cowboys a touchdown to get within one. The lead for Texas was five through three quarters but early in the fourth the Longhorns took control with a touchdown drive and a successful two-point conversion for a 13-point edge. That should have been the final margin but again Texas fumbled on a punt reception and with fewer than four minutes remaining Oklahoma State was handed great field position. Oklahoma State converted a 3rd-and-10 for 33 yards on a scramble from freshman quarterback Spencer Sanders and the Cowboys got the spread-stealing score with 1:37 remaining. Texas was in danger of having to give the ball back after barely recovering the on-side kick attempt and needed a Sam Ehlinger bootleg scramble to pick up the win-sealing 3rd down.

Nevada (-13½) 37, UTEP 21: Nevada and UTEP were tied 21-21 late in the third quarter before a field goal put the Wolf Pack ahead by three heading into the fourth quarter. Nevada added two fourth quarter scores to slip past the hefty road favorite number with the first score coming on a short field off an interception.

Toledo (-5½) 41, Colorado State 35: Following a missed Colorado State field goal, Toledo extended an eight-point lead to 11 points with a fourth quarter field goal with only about six minutes remaining in the game. Colorado State answered going 71 yards in fewer than two minutes and with a successful two-point conversion the Rams only trailed by three. Facing 4th-and-1 from its own 45-yard-line Toledo broke a 35-yard-run and a penalty was tacked on to hand the Rockets 1st-and-goal. Colorado State still had a timeout as Toledo wasn’t able to drain all of the remaining time and ultimately wound up kicking a short field goal to lead by six with 31 seconds to go. On 1st down Colorado State went 29 yards and spiked the ball to give themselves a shot, on the final play of the game Rams receiver EJ Scott was stopped at the 2-yard-line as Toledo held on.

UCLA (+18) 67, Washington State 63: Only a 100-yard kickoff return touchdown hallway through the second quarter slowed the bleeding for UCLA trailing 35-17 at halftime and then watching the Cougars score a pair of touchdowns to lead by 32 with fewer than 22 minutes remaining in the game. Headed for a 0-4 start the Bruins didn’t fold and took advantage of a fumble to add back-to-back touchdowns to bring the margin back to 18. After holding Washington State to its first of only two punts on the night, UCLA went 94 yards on 1st down to trim the deficit to 11 points. Washington State fumbled again and Bruins scored in four plays to close to within three. After trading touchdowns, the second punt of Washington State’s night went 69 yards for a return touchdown as the Bruins had the lead. Washington State quarterback Anthony Gordon then connected for his ninth touchdown of the game to put the Cougars back in front and the Washington State defense got a stop on 4th down in the red zone with just over two minutes remaining. Incredibly on 1st down a 14-yard gain for Washington State resulted in another fumble and UCLA used the short field to take the lead back with just over a minute remaining. A sack on 1st down led to another Cougars fumble for the sixth turnover of the day helping to propel the astonishing Bruins comeback.

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Free NCAA Pick Saturday

#365 Appalachian State +2.5 over North Carolina 2:30 PM CT

The Tar Heels weren’t far from a third straight underdog comeback win as they rallied from a 21-0 deficit and had the ball late down six last week in prime time vs. Wake Forest. That was following stunning wins over South Carolina and Miami in the first two weeks. The Tar Heels could continue a run of competitive exciting games with a suspect defense and an erratic young offense but laying points may be discouraged with Mack Brown’s squad.

Appalachian State has impressed on offense with 98 points in two weeks as Eliah Drinkwitz is living up to his billing as a great offensive coach in the making. Getting a chance to face the Tar Heels for the first time in many years will be alluring, especially off a bye week. This was a circled game for us several weeks ago but the projected spread of +8.5 did not become reality and the oddsmakers clearly marked their ground on this game with an opener of only +4.5. Now down to only +2.5 the Mountaineers are still certainly the preference but not more than a Free Play recommendation.

Nelly’s had a huge weekend last week going 3-0-1 Saturday and 3-0 Sunday for huge gains. It has been a great September so far and this week we have our first 3* Top Play of the season plus college and pro 2/3 offers.

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Eliminator Contest Week 2

Four contestants are off to a perfect 2-0 start – the Week 2 picks are ready for games Sep. 21-23!

CLICK HERE for the Week 2 Contest Single Plays

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 2

NFL Close Calls – Week 2


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 2 of the NFL regular season.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+6½) 20, Carolina Panthers 14 (48): The Thursday night game featured a weather delay and a slow early scoring pace as Joey Slye hit four field goals to give the Panthers a brief 12-10 lead halfway through the third quarter. Tampa Bay answered with a 75-yard touchdown drive as the road underdog took a 17-12 lead heading into the fourth quarter on a Peyton Barber score. After a Carolina fumble and a missed Tampa Bay field goal, Barber would be the victim of a safety early in the fourth as the Panthers climbed within three points to keep overtime in the range of possibility. Getting good field position after the defensive score the Panthers were stopped on 4th-and-short just past midfield but a pair of punts followed before the Buccaneers extended the lead to six points. Cam Newton and the Panthers got the ball back with just over two minutes remaining needing a touchdown drive and they eventually reached the Tampa Bay 11-yard-line with a new set of downs. Short gains and a penalty left the Panthers facing 4th-and-1 from the 2-yard-line and a direct snap to Christian McCaffrey was sniffed out as the Buccaneers were the NFC South squad to avoid the 0-2 start.

Indianapolis Colts (+3) 19, Tennessee Titans 17 (43½): The Colts had two first half touchdowns but led only 13-7 with another missed PAT from Adam Vinatieri. The Titans scored on a short field after the break to lead 14-13 and then after a Jacoby Brissett fumble, Tennessee added a field goal despite only picking up 14 yards. The Titans forced a punt and had the momentum to put the game away after pass interference call converted a big 3rd down. A few plays later Marcus Mariota was sacked on the subsequent 3rd down and the Titans settled for a kick to go up seven, only this time Cairo Santos missed. The Colts didn’t take advantage on its next possession but getting the ball back with just under seven minutes remaining the Colts were able to hit a big play with a 55-yard-run and got the eventual touchdown to take the lead. Vinatieri would again miss the PAT however to leave the lead in jeopardy. The Titans had an opportunity crossing midfield in the final minute but ultimately couldn’t get the job done as the Colts played a second-straight down-to-the-wire game, this time winning.

Detroit Lions (+1) 13, Los Angeles Chargers 10 (47): The Lions missed a field goal six minutes before halftime and allowed the Chargers to add three before the break to trail 10-6. Matthew Stafford had an interception on the first drive of the second half but the Lions were bailed out with the defense forcing a fumble of Austin Ekeler on 1st-and-goal. More mistakes followed as the Chargers missed two field goals surrounding another Stafford interception before Detroit broke through in the fourth quarter with a big play to Kenny Golladay, leading 13-10. The Chargers reached the red zone late in the fourth quarter but went backwards and Philip Rivers wound up intercepted on 3rd-and-19 before the Chargers had a chance to struggle with the decision to try for the tying field goal from punter Ty Long who was serving as the kicker with Michael Badgley injured.

Dallas Cowboys (-6) 31, Washington Redskins 21 (46): After a scoreless first quarter Washington took a 7-0 lead in the second quarter that held until Dallas hit a 51-yard touchdown with about six minutes remaining. Dallas also managed to find the end zone just before halftime to suddenly take a 14-7 lead. The Cowboys kept the momentum with another touchdown out of the break to lead 21-7 but Washington answered to sit a point short of the underdog number down 21-14. Dallas had a touchdown brought back on a penalty and Washington’s defense was able to hold for a field goal, sitting just one touchdown away from covering the number into the fourth quarter. A promising drive stalled just past midfield and with still more than 11 minutes on the clock Washington went for it on 4th-and-3 and came up empty. Dallas put the game away with another touchdown on the short field. Washington would climb back within 10 with a touchdown just ahead of the two-minute warning to clear the ‘over’ but they couldn’t get a stop to get the ball back.

Houston Texans (-7) 13, Jacksonville Jaguars 12 (43½): Houston led just 6-3 through three quarters after a scoreless third quarter but the first touchdown of the game came from Deshaun Watson with just over 11 minutes remaining. That touchdown put the Texans past the favorite spread for the first time in the game. Gardner Minshew led the Jaguars down the field for a field goal to trim the margin to seven, with a spread that closed right at +7 from as high as +9½. The Jaguars held on defense to get the ball back and Jacksonville converted two fourth downs on the way to the red zone. With 30 seconds left Minshew connected with DJ Clark and down by one the Jaguars opted to go for the win but came up short on a Leonard Fournette rush attempt.

Green Bay Packers (-3) 21, Minnesota Vikings 16 (43): After a win in Week 1 but limited offensive production for the Packers in Matt Lafleur’s debut, Green Bay came out firing in the home opener. The Packers scored just over two minutes into the game and eventually went up 21-0 early in the second quarter. Dalvin Cook broke a 75-yard run to break the momentum for the Packers and after missing an early field goal Dan Bailey added three before halftime to put the Vikings back in the game down 21-10 after the Packers opted not to kick on 4th-and-1 from the Minnesota 25. The Vikings thought they added seven on that drive with a three-yard score to Stefon Diggs questionably overturned via replay to call offensive pass interference under the new challengeable rules. Green Bay would fumble on its first possession of the second half and the Vikings added a short field touchdown to climb within five, with Bailey’s PAT blocked. Five straight punts followed as neither offense could get anything going and ‘over’ backers moaned after supposedly sitting pretty with the hot scoring start. The Vikings were poised to take the lead with about five minutes remaining reaching the Green Bay 8-yard-line with a new set of downs but Kirk Cousins made an ill-advised throw to the corner of the end zone that was intercepted on 1st down. Green Bay was able to run out most of the remaining clock to hold on despite the offense disappearing, while the ‘under’ also held on.

Chicago Bears (-3) 16, Denver Broncos 14 (40½): The spread on this game fluctuated a lot after quickly rising from even to the Bears as a slight favorite. A common number was -2 for the Bears much of the weekend but on Sunday afternoon the Bears hit -2½ and eventually -3. Chicago didn’t impress early in the game but managed a 13-3 edge through three quarter to sit comfortably ahead of the number. In the fourth the Broncos completed a lengthy drive to add three points and were poised to tie the game with 1st-and-goal from the 4-yard-line. Joe Flacco eventually was intercepted but pinned deep Chicago punted a few plays later to give the Broncos another shot. This time Flacco delivered including two 4th down conversions and after the touchdown with 31 seconds left Flacco delivered what looked like the game-winning two-point conversion in a huge bold play from Vic Fangio against his old team. It was not to be as a borderline 1st down roughing the passer call gave the Bears a big boost and Mitchell Trubisky struck for 25 yards on 4th-and-15 in the final seconds. Chicago still had a timeout and new kicker Eddy Pineiro became a hero hitting from 53 yards.

Atlanta Falcons (+1) 24, Philadelphia Eagles 20 (53½): The Falcons had a 17-6 edge in the third quarter of this game but Matt Ryan had an interception deep in his own territory to get the Eagles back in the game. Philadelphia appeared to add the two-point conversion as well but Carson Wentz was ruled down just short of the line as Atlanta held a five-point lead. Ryan would be intercepted in the end zone on the next possession when a field goal could have put the margin to eight points. After swapping punts Philadelphia delivered a tremendous 13-play drive to burn well over eight minutes to take the lead. Up by one the two-point conversion try loomed large on a spread that was commonly +2 before sliding to +1 and the Eagles hit Zach Ertz to lead by three. Atlanta stalled near midfield facing 4th-and-3 at its own 46 when a short pass to Julio Jones to get past the sticks turned into a 54-yard score. Up four Atlanta’s defense still had a lot of work ahead with the Eagles converting an epic 4th-and-14 for 43 yards and getting a free timeout as an Atlanta player was injured on the play. With still a minute to go, an Eagles score seemed inevitable but the Eagles picked up just two yards in the next three plays and faced 4th-and-8. Wentz hit Ertz again incredibly close to the line but he was ruled just short with that spot holding on review as Atlanta escaped with the win.