In recapping last week's selections, our NFL picks were smoking hot coming in at 4 -1 against the Vegas number (Almost making the cut selections also went 2 - 1), however college selections disappointed as they were 2 - 4 - 1 versus the odds-makers. Still, all in all, the column has NOT had a losing week to date! Name one other FREE service with that track record so far that picks this number of games. Reminds one of an old saying, "If it is FREE, its me."
Overall records to date are NFL 10 - 5 for a stellar 66.7% and colleges at 17 - 12 - 2 58.6% which equates to 27 - 17 - 2 overall for a solid 61.3% and above our stated goal of 60%, Remember, it takes slightly above 54% to make money. Let's see if we can't keep the NFL picks above our stated goal and get the ship righted this week on our college selections.
Now on with the show...
Navy + 11 vs Memphis This is a vastly improved Naval Academy team as evidenced by their predicted blowout in this column over East Carolina earlier this year. Last year the Midshipmen controlled the ball for 40 minutes in upsetting the Tigers at home. Granted, they are at Memphis this year, but we look for good ball security and time of possession advantages once again versus the Tigers. Don't know if Navy can get the outright win but look for them to keep it closer than the experts think here. They are 4 - 0 ATS versus Memphis and a eye- popping 20 - 10 as a visiting underdog the past decade! Take Navy and the points.
Duke + 3 vs VPI From a statistical standpoint, this column likes the Blue Devils who are 24 - 12 ATS as an underdog with coach Cutcliffe at the helm. On the flip side, the Hokies are only 7 - 14 against the Vegas number the last 21 games on the board. We stated last week that Lane Stadium is no longer feared and "Enter The Sandman" will only carry the emotion so far for them here in Blacksburg. Look for 5th year senior QB Quentin Harris and the "Fighting Cutcliffs" to give VPI all they can handle and then some. Is the heat turned up another notch on coach Justin Fuente late Friday night? Take Duke and the points
Nevada - 2 over Hawaii The Rainbow Warriors have lost their last FIVE games in altitude on the mainland when visiting the Wolfpack at Mackay Stadium. The last three times have seen Nevada handle Hawaii easily. Small reasonable number here and we like the Pack to continue Hawaii's Reno frustrations one more year. Dual-threat QB Solano is back for the Wolfpack and they have already taken down Purdue earlier this year in Reno. Look for wind, 40° temps and altitude to impact the 80° sun loving island boys! Take Nevada
Virginia + 13 vs Notre Dame Last week our game of the month was an easy winner as Old Dominion plus the bushel of points were more than enough as they raced out to a 17 - 0 lead over the emotionally drained Cavaliers coming off FSU, and clearly looking ahead to Notre Dame this week. Likewise, did the Fighting Irish drain the emotional tank in an inspired effort against Georgia? If not, we still believe there is value here in this climbing point spread. Virginia is ‘sneaky good’ and a veteran team led by dual-threat QB Perkins and coach Bronco Mendenhall. The Cav's were 5 - 1 ATS last year as an underdog. While the nation is expecting a blowout win for the Golden Domer's placing them right back in the National Playoff conversation, we look for the WaHoo's to keep it closer than the experts think. Take Virginia and the points
Old Dominion - 2 1/2 over East Carolina As previously mentioned, our game of the month easily covered as the Monarchs might have stood a chance of winning outright. If not for a fourth down gamble deep in their own territory against Virginia last week that failed and thus cemented their defeat! Dual-threat QB Smartt has impressed tremendously versus the Power 5 defenses of VPI and Virginia, and now they get to face the poor traveling Pirates. Last season after ODU produced the biggest upset of the year over the Hokies, they then traveled the next week to ECU and only lost by a FG on the last play of the game. One only needs to look at this column's Navy vs ECU prediction to know where the lean is over the poor traveling and newly coached Pirates. Take Old Dominion and revenge
Almost making the cut... Florida State, Toledo, South Florida, Kansas State and Temple
New Orleans + 3 vs Dallas Rarely do we see the Saints as a home underdog, as they are a sparkling 6 - 1 in that role, with the only loss being to mighty New England during that span. Now the Cowboys come riding into town off three straight beat-downs... Whoa Nellie! Granted the Saints are without Hall of Famer Drew Brees, but just who did Dallas beat? A terrible Eli Manning led Giants team, a decimated by injuries Redskins and the worst team in recent NFL memory... the Dolphins. In fact, had the Dolphins not dropped a sure TD pass in the second quarter, they would have most likely led the Boys at the half. New Orleans did not suddenly throw in the towel post-Brees, as evidenced by their resounding road win over Seattle last week. Replacement QB Teddy Bridgewater can match Dallas at home in what figures to be a defensive slug fest in this column's opinion. No Drew Brees, NO Problem... Take New Orleans plus the points
Minnesota + 3 vs Chicago Who do you trust here, Mitch Trubisky or Kirk Cousins? This column likes Mike Zimmer's coaching and extra time to prepare over the short-week preparation of the Bears. Add in the revenge factor, as the Vikes were swept last year by Chicago, along with the aforementioned coaching edge and Minnesota is the pick here. The Vikings are trying to minimize Cousin's mistakes by going to a ground-based attack featuring a fully healthy Dalvin Cook this year. They gave Green Bay all they could handle on opening day and the Bear's ferocious D is almost matched by a underappreciated Vikings unit on that side of the ball as well. With Cousins throwing less, don't look for the plethora of turnovers the Bear's got on Monday Night Football against the Redskins. Revenge and the slight head start work here in a defensive war! Take Minnesota and the points
Tennessee + 4 vs Atlanta Could the Titans O-Line possibly be as bad as they looked in giving up NINE sacks vs Jacksonville? Rain, turnovers and an early deficit contributed to Tennessee being forced out of its running game-plan against Minshew Mania and the Jaguars. With that being said, the Falcons are a tough out at home AGAINST NFC opponents! They are 0 - 12 ATS versus AFC opponents. Add to this fact, the Falcon's D is giving up 4.5 yards a carry and the Titan's and Derrick Henry have to be licking their chops with extra time to prepare. This column respects all the Atlanta firepower on offense but look this week for a rebound by the Titan's running game less all the turnovers and sacks. The FG plus head start works here. Take Tennessee and the points
Indianapolis - 6 1/2 over Oakland Does the ghost of former NFL Commissioner Pete Roselle still haunt the Raiders thru the scheduling office? On the road last week with the dreaded 10 am body clock start, as predicted they were roasted by the Vikings! After one more 10 am start this week once again, Oakland has to hit the road with an International flight to London next week. In fact, they don't have another home game until NOVEMBER. Could the ghost of Pete Roselle still be trying to get back at old adversary Al Davis and the Raiders from beyond the grave still yet today? I digress, but Halloween tricks by the NFL is very unfair in the scheduling this year... this road gauntlet is certainly no treat! The Colts are not the Vikings, but they should have enough to handle the Raiders and their 2 - 14 ATS record on the road! Take Indy to win comfortably
Seattle - 4 1/2 over Arizona The Cardinals were the only NFL loser last week in this column. Clearly not ready for primetime against the Cam Newton-less Panthers. As a side note, here is some useless trivia for our readers. Panther QB Kyle Allen once again outdueled Cardinal QB Kyler Murray, just as he did when they were in college originally at Texas A & M. After winning the Aggie QB competition, Murray transferred to Oklahoma and won the Heisman, but Allen got the last word once again as he torched the Arizona secondary last week! Speaking of torching, Seahawk QB Russel Wilson has yet to throw an interception. Not only that, but the Cardinals have already allowed NINE TD Passes and NO INTERCEPTIONS. The Seahawks have not lost back-to-back games in 3 years, and it won't happen this week either! Pete Carrol can outcoach Kliff Kingsbury in his sleep. Take Seattle to win fairly easy
Cincinnati + 4 1/2 vs Pittsburgh The Bengals have quietly put together a 9 - 2 ATS record their past eleven road games. Mason Rudolph seems to be having trouble filling in for injured QB Big Ben Roethlisberger, and Cincy QB Andy Dalton seems to perform much better on the road away from all the home boo-birds! In this nasty rivalry, this column likes the Bengal over the Steelers with their FG plus head start. In a desperation game between two 0 - 3 clubs, take Cincinnati and the points.
Almost making the cut... Baltimore, Carolina, Detroit and Tampa Bay
Donald Michaels is a contributing columnist from Princeton, WV