Pick 6: Best bets for 1st full weekend of football
All things considered, the opening week of the football season went pretty well.
In the first edition of this blog, I missed horribly on my best bet. I even missed on my long shot. So you might be wondering why you even read this blog, and that is a fair question. But I bounced back in a big way.
There was no sweating out my fade the noise pick last week, when I recommended taking the under of the Ole Miss/Memphis game when most people were expecting a shootout. My Big 12 player to watch was Jalen Hurts, in which I admitted that I had a 12/1 future on him winning the Heisman trophy. He was pretty good in his debut with the Sooners.
Most importantly, though, I went 5-1 against the spread to take a commanding lead over the rest of the KU sports staff. At the beginning of each week, I pick out six games and have the sports staff give their picks against the spread. I then come up with six additional tips on top of that.
Over the course of the season, this blog will feature plenty of wins and losses. The goal is to have fun while doing so, and at least understanding the process of certain picks. With that, let’s dive into this week’s tips for the first full weekend of football:
Best bet: California (+14) at Washington
I’m surprised that this line hasn’t moved much. After opening at 13.5, it has actually moved up. California won this game by a 12-10 margin last fall, and I would guess that this year’s Pac 12 opener is closer than a two-touchdown game.
California is one of the best defenses in the nation after allowing 20.4 points per game last year. According to SP+, created by Bill Connelly of ESPN, the Golden Bears have the fifth-best defense in the country. I’m choosing to believe that defense will keep this game within single digits.
Long shot: Tulane (+17.5) at Auburn
As a person who had serious money on Auburn -3.5, I’m very thankful that true freshman quarterback Bo Nix somehow pulled that one out from his you-know-what. But let’s not get carried away, Nix went 13-for-31 through the air in the 27-21 win over Oregon.
This also has an opportunity to be a letdown game after an exciting Week 1 win. Tulane, which is coming off a 42-14 win over Florida International, has won six of its last seven games. The Green Wave, who are coached by Willie Fritz, even notched their first bowl win since 2002 last December.
Fade the noise: Bet the over in Baltimore/Miami
The only thing I know for a fact about the NFL is that it is unpredictable. Unless, of course, you just want to put a bet down on the Patriots making it to the AFC Championship game. The over/under for this riveting Week 1 matchup is currently at 38.5. It is by far the lowest point total of the opening week.
But this is all based on the perception that the Dolphins are bad and the Ravens will run the ball 100 times per game. Maybe that is the case, but I’m not convinced we know that for certain before a single snap of 2019.
Crazy things happen, especially in Week 1. Last season, Baltimore ran the ball 34 times in the season opener and rolled to a 47-3 win over Buffalo. We just don’t know what will happen in the NFL, and we pretend we do every single year.
College DFS play: Justin McMillan, Tulane QB
Looks like I’m doubling down on the Green Wave. McMillan completed 14 of 18 passes for 199 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s win. On the ground, he racked up 51 yards on nine carries. The transfer from LSU will have to do even better than that if Tulane wants to keep this game close.
NFL DFS play: Matt Breida, San Francisco RB
As someone who has Breida in most season-long leagues, allow me a minute to talk my guy up. Breida, who was actually listed as the 49ers starting RB, piled up 106 rushing yards and 34 receiving yards on 17 total touches against Tampa Bay last year.
Last season, the Buccaneers ranked 31st in Football Outsiders' run defense DVOA in 2018. It is a prime matchup, and I don’t believe Tevin Coleman is going to be the team’s top running back this season. That could start in Week 1.
Big 12 player to watch: Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State RB
What a start to the 2019 season for Hubbard, who ran for 221 yards and three scores on 26 carries against Oregon State.
Hubbard now leads the nation in rushing yards and all-purpose yards after the opening week. He’s No. 2 in rushing touchdowns, however. Slacker. After that showing, Hubbard has at least 100 yards in four of his past five games. McNeese State will certainly have its hands full this weekend.
KU sports staff picks against the spread
— Lines via FanDuel as of Tuesday afternoon
Kansas (-8) vs. Coastal Carolina
Matt Tait: Kansas
Benton Smith: Kansas
Braden Shaw: Kansas
Shane Jackson: Kansas
LSU (-5.5) at Texas
Matt Tait: Texas
Benton Smith: Texas
Braden Shaw: Texas
Shane Jackson: LSU
Texas A&M at Clemson (-17.5)
Matt Tait: Clemson
Benton Smith: Clemson
Braden Shaw: Clemson
Shane Jackson: Texas A&M
Army at Michigan (-22.5)
Matt Tait: Michigan
Benton Smith: Army
Braden Shaw: Michigan
Shane Jackson: Michigan
Kansas City Chiefs (-3.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars
Matt Tait: Jaguars
Benton Smith: Chiefs
Braden Shaw: Chiefs
Shane Jackson: Jaguars
Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots (-5.5)
Matt Tait: Steelers
Benton Smith: Patriots
Braden Shaw: Patriots
Shane Jackson: Patriots
Shane Jackson: 5-1
Matt Tait: 4-2
Benton Smith: 3-3
Braden Shaw: 2-4