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September 22, 2016

There are two picks tonight. Both were released a day in advance, yesterday.

Take Houston Texans -1 spread against New England Patriots for 3% of the bankroll.

If there is one matchup the Pats are likely to lose during Tom Brady's 4-game suspension, it would be this one. After all, Bill Belichick has a way of preparing his troops no matter what the circumstances but while division rivals, Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills are always going to get New England's full attention, the game sandwiched in between those two contests is this one against the visiting Texans.

Against what is a solid defense and an improved offense, this game against Houston was always going to be a tough battle anyway but with the mid-game injury to Tom Brady's backup, Jimmy Garoppolo, the dynamics have shifted even more. Rookie fringe QB, Jacoby Brissett will suddenly be forced into action and we don't see him faring too well against JJ Watt and company. Let's not forget that Garoppolo shouldn't be compared with Brissett. For one thing, Jimmy G had the entire preseason to work with the team knowing he was scheduled to start the opening 4 games of the season! His familiarity with his receivers was well established and paid great dividends for the Patriots in the first two games. You could see that the team also believes in him as he did a more than serviceable job for New England before dealing with this shoulder injury to his throwing arm.

Enter Jacoby Brissett, who will not only be making his first ever NFL start but doing so on national TV in a Thursday night game! While the crowd at Foxborough will try to get behind him, nerves will undoubtedly be a factor. The pressure to perform in front of home fans and the desire to impress them can backfire if he tries to do too much. Against a disruptive defense like the Texans, he and the O-line have their work cut out for them. Despite their statements, we expect the coaching staff to simplify the playbook and tone down the level of risky passes in this contest, as Brissett is certainly not as ready for this moment as Garoppolo was. Keep in mind that while Jimmy Garoppolo had rarely gotten on the field in previous years as Tom Brady's backup, he had been with the team as his understudy and learned a lot while watching him from the sideline. He also practiced with the team and had acquired some experience at this level, something that Brissett has simply not yet had time for.

This is also an opportunity for the Texans to make a real statement. If they want to prove that they are a legitimate contender, they have to win games such this. And while they're going up against a 3rd choice rookie QB, no one will take anything away from them if they leave Gillette Stadium with a victory. To start the season with a perfect 3-0 record which includes a 'W' at Foxborough is a huge motivating factor for DeAndre Hopkins and the rest of the gang! Look for them to take advantage of certain matchups, especially if the Pats give too much attention to Hopkins, leaving Will Fuller extra space. Lamar Miller has also looked capable as Arian Foster's replacement this season and gives the Houston offense some much needed balance. Let's also not forget that as a former co-ordinator for Bill Belichick, Texans coach, Bill O'Brien knows the Patriots very well and would love nothing more than to record a win against his former club! We believe Houston has enough about them to edge what should be a closely contested battle.

Take Georgia Tech +10 spread (buy half a point) against Clemson for 3% of the bankroll.

The Clemson Tigers narrowly fell short of the perfect season in the National Title game year ago and were one of the favorites this season to once again contend for a championship behind their Heisman hopeful candidate, DeShaun Watson. While Clemson sits at 3-0 and are currently the #5 team ranked in the country, they certainly haven’t exactly played up to the expectations and hype that surrounded them in the offseason. Despite a 59-0 rout of FCS competitor, South Carolina State, the Clemson offense has struggled out of the gate and have produced some underwhelming results, narrowly defeating Auburn in their season opener while also only coming away with a 6-point win over Troy two weeks ago. At times it seems that both the Clemson offense and defense have been out of sync and if that continues for this contest tonight as they take another step up in competition, Clemson will be fortunate to walk out of this matchup as the victors.

The Yellow Jackets defense has much improved from last season and stepped up big against Vanderbilt's rushing attack last week, holding Ralph Webb to just 85 yards rushing. Given the struggles on the ground by Clemson’s Wayne Gallman this season, if they can slow down the run, that will force DeShaun Watson to carry his team on his shoulders. While Watson is no stranger to being the leader of this team, he has somewhat struggled this season completing just 56.9% of his passes with 3 interceptions. Watson cannot afford to struggle in this contest as this is also a huge revenge game for Georgia Tech tonight as they fell 43-24 in Death Valley a year ago, in a game which saw them give up 201 yards on the ground and 336 yards through the air. We expect the fans to be rowdy and this GT team to be extremely motivated heading into this contest.

Georgia Tech is an incredibly tough team who runs one of the most complex and feared offenses in the country in the Triple Option. The Yellow Jacket’s running game is incredibly difficult to stop as it spread defenders out and forces them to play disciplined man to man defense. The confusing stunts and read-option of the QB means any number of backs could receive the ball. If a defender bites on the wrong player it will open up a huge hole that either results in a big gain, or worse, a touchdown. With only 3 days to prepare for this type of offense, Clemson could be a bit out of sorts, especially in the early quarters which would allow the Yellow Jackets an opportunity to not only keep this game close, but could put Clemson is an early deficit, forcing them to play from behind which would make covering this large number rather difficult.  

This will arguably be Georgia Tech's biggest test of the season and they are no strangers to rising to the occasion. Last year, this same Georgia Tech team knocked off #9 Florida State with a blocked FG returned for a TD and the year before, defeated the Georgia Bulldogs with a defensive interception to end the game. They will not be intimidated by having the No 5 team visit their home stadium and we expect, in fact, that they will give the Tigers all they can handle in this contest. Clemson is a national title contender and is a team that has shown their ability to pull out wins, albeit in ugly fashion. We don't necessarily believe Georgia Tech will pull off the outright upset as Clemson surely is the more talented team, however we do feel that this game will be much closer than expected, with the points coming into play.

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