November 8, 2015 (11:00 AM ET)
There are two picks today.
SPS is now 13-5 in its last 18 football picks after celebrating what was its 9th winning Saturday of the college football season!
1) Take Minnesota Vikings at -1 spread against St. Louis Rams for 3% of the bankroll.
The St Louis Rams are coming off back to back blowout wins having held their last two opponents to just a combined 12 points. That has no doubt gained the attention of the betting public and while it is certainly difficult to hold teams to single digit points in this day and age, the teams that they faced haven't exactly been considered "tough" competition. The San Francisco 49er and Cleveland Browns have a combined 4-13 record this season and both have issues at the QB position. Josh McCown has been a career backup and Colin Kaepernick was just recently benched in favor of Blain Gabbert. Teddy Bridgewater is a QB on the rise and will no doubt pose a much different threat to the Rams defense in this contest.
While Minnesota is still a run-first team behind Adrian Peterson, it's important to note that Bridgewater is completing 64.5 percent of his passes this season. He's thrown for 1,526 yards with six TDs. Bridgewater possesses the intangibles to make it at this level and that was never more evident than in the closing moments of last week’s game. The Vikings had lost their last 7 straight visits to Solider Field and down 20-13 late in the 4th quarter, Bridgewater took control of the game, completing 6 of his 7 passes and posting a perfect passer rating (158.3) in the final 4 minutes of the game, to lead his team to victory. Minnesota has a work horse in Peterson, but to know that they have a QB that can take charge of the moment and make big plays when needed, makes them a very dangerous team.
Just like the Vikings, St Louis apparently has found their workhorse in rookie Todd Gurley. Gurley has been a big reason for the recent success of the Rams having rushed for no less than 128 yards in each of his 4 games this season. Nick Foles however is not the quarterback that Bridgewater is. Foles has struggled in his new system and has only passed for 200 yards just once this season. The Rams also rank dead last in the league in third down conversions. Rams are 0-6 on the road over the last 3 seasons when the total is set between 38.5 and 42.5 points! This is a team that has won some big games at home but in hostile territory, just doesn't have enough to keep up with most offenses. If Vikings can avoid special teams touchdowns or gadget plays, we see them finding a way to win this game as they have their previous ones. Mike Zimmer's squad has more experience in 'closing out' tight games this season and that may well give them the confidence to do so again.
Both of these teams are very similar. Both have solid ground game with dynamic running backs, both play solid defense, but the edge at quarterback has to go with the Vikings. We also believe that home field will play a role in this contest. The Rams have had the luxury of playing two bottom tiered opponents on their home turf and have not had to travel since 10/11. Meanwhile the Vikings are coming off back to back road wins against divisional opponents and now find themselves back in the comforts of TCF Bank Stadium. The Vikings have managed to win their last 6 home games and with this spread being where it is at, our interests align with both the team and coaching staff as we will all just be looking to win the game.
2) Take Pittsburgh Steelers at -6 spread against Oakland Raiders for 3% of the bankroll.
The current perception of these two teams couldn't be more different at the moment. The Raiders are coming of a complete destruction of the New York Jets in their last contest when listed as 3 point home underdogs. Meanwhile the Pittsburgh Steelers are coming off a loss to their division rivals, the Cincinnati Bengals and lost their marquee running back in the process. Le'Veon Bell is a dynamic player and has been a huge part of this Steelers offense. Ben Roethlisberger is also coming back from injury and looked less than impressive in his last contest, which obviously has the betting public salivating to once again back the Oakland Raiders as underdogs. We're not taking the bait.
Let's not forget that Le'Veon Bell was suspended for the first two game of the season and backup RB DeAngelo Williams performed masterfully, having rushed for 310 yards and 3 touchdowns this season in replacement of Bell. When given the opportunity he has looked like the RB that once led the league in touchdowns a number of seasons ago and should do fine in Bell's place. The Steelers also aren't without other weapons as they have numerous playmakers in the passing game with both Martavais Bryant and Antonio Brown on the edges, while the veteran Heath Miller occupies the middle.
Ben Roethlisberger is also back from injury which is a huge boost to this offense. He looked a bit tentative and rusty in his first game back against the Bengals, which was not much of a surprise and we took advantage. We had mentioned that Big Ben has historically struggled in his first game back from injury, but now with another week under his belt, we expect a much better performance in this contest against a very suspect Raiders secondary. Even though the Steelers are likely out of the running for the AFC North title this season, their only chance of potentially making the playoffs is to secure a Wildcard spot. It's interesting that their opponents this afternoon have the same goal as the Raiders will find it tough to overtake Denver in their division. Both of these teams are in direct competition for the very same spot so the winner of this contest could hold the tiebreaker at the end of the season.
As we had said previously, the perception of both of these teams is somewhat skewed. The Raiders are coming off two impressive wins, while the Steelers have suffered two disappointing losses. Oakland should come into this contest confident in how they have played recently, putting up over 30 points in each of their last 2 games, however they may be a bit over-confident heading into this contest. The Pittsburgh Steelers are motivated and hungry for a win and will certainly not overlook the Raiders in this contest as other teams may have done. They have the Steelers full attention and Mike Tomlin will no doubt have come up with a gameplan to slow down Derek Carr. Shazier, Truitt and company should have a solid showing in cooling down what had previously been a red-hot Raiders offense.
The Raiders had to travel across country in order to play this 1:00pm EST time. That's 10:00am PST which is incredibly early for West Coast teams and we have seen teams from the West struggle in the past with these early start time. The Steelers arguably need this win much more than the Raiders and we believe they get it and cover the spread in the process. The value is with the home team in this one.
Other notable facts to consider:
- Steelers are 8-0 ATS after having lost 2 out of their last 3 games!
- Raiders are 4-18 ATS off an upset win as a home underdog!
- Steelers are 10-3 ATS when playing against a team with a winning record.
- Steelers are 4-1 ATS in games with a total set between 42.5 and 49 points!
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