Two teams clinging onto playoff hopes square off as the 6-7 Broncos host the 5-7-1 Browns. The Browns have surged late in the season with wins in 3 of their last 4 and are coming off a 26-20 win against Carolina last week. The Broncos lost in disappointing fashion to the 49ers last week as they fell behind 20-0 at halftime and a 2nd half rally came up short in a 20-14 loss. G Austin Corbett and CB Denzel Ward have both been ruled out for the visitors and C JC Tretter, DT Larry Ogunjobi and CB Phillip Gaines are listed as questionable. For the hosts, CB Chris Harris, CB Isaac Yiadom and LB Shaquil Barrett have all been ruiled out and DE Derek Wolfe is listed as questionable. We've liked the progress QB Baker Mayfield and the Browns have made this season but they have not played well on the road and Mile High is typically one of the more difficult places to play due to the elevation. The Broncos' offense has struggled all season but RB Phillip Lindsay has been a bright spot and matches up well against a Browns' run defense that ranks 26th out of 30 teams by efficiency metrics. The Broncos are thin in the secondary but still have a formidable pass rush and we believe with the altitude, conditions will be tough for Mayfield to succeed in such a hostile environment. We have to back the hosts under a field goal!
The Texans saw their 9 game winning streak come to an end last week in a 24-21 loss to the Colts but still have a comfortable lead in the AFC South Division at 9-4. It's been another disappointing year for the Jets as they enter this matchup at 4-9 but did manage a hard fought 27-23 victory over the Bills on Sunday. WR Keke Coutee did not travel with the Texans and has been ruled out for this game. G Zach Fulton and S Andre Hal are listed as questionable. For the hosts, RB Isaiah Crowell, LB Jerry Attaochu and WR Quincy Enunwa have all been ruled out for this game. RB Trenton Cannon, LB Jordan Jenkins, CB Trumaine Johnson and LB Kevin Pierre-Louis are listed as questionable. The Jets have no playoff aspirations but coach Todd Bowles generally gets good effort from his players and even moreso now that Bowles is on the hot seat and likely on his way out with another loss. The Texans showed some complacency last week and we don't have too much faith in coach Bill O'Brien to have his team fully prepared on a short week. The Texans own the advantage in all 3 phases of the game but covering a touchdown on the road is a bit much in our opinion!
The Spurs have been inconsistent at best this season but it's hardly shown in this recent homestand as they won their 4th in a row Thursday night in a 125-87 drubbing of the Clippers. The Bulls miserable season continued overseas in Mexico as they dropped their game Thursday against the Magic 97-91. The Spurs appear to be a completely different team at home but they are still much too inconsistent in our opinion and it's hard for us to expect 49% or better shooting as they've done their last 4, even against a dismal Bulls team. We expect a defensive battle with newly minted Bulls coach Jim Boylen facing his former mentor, not to mention the Bulls could still be feeling the effects of a tough game played at elevation. Zach LaVine is doubtful for the visitors with an ankle injury and takes away the Bulls' top scoring threat as well. Boylen has also announced that Jabari Parker will take a much more limited role with the team which can only help our bet as Parker is a complete liability on the defensive end!
The Hornets saw their modest 3 game winning streak come to an end yesterday as they lost to the Knicks in overtime 126-124 despite leading by 19 points at halftime. The Lakers lost their showdown with the Rockets on Thursday but still enter this matchup with 6 wins in their last 8 games. The Hornets generally play at their best when facing LeBron James and we believe this game will be no different despite James changing teams in the offseason. In fact, we would say it's likely the Hornets were even looking ahead to this game! The Lakers, despite being much improved, do not match up well with the Hornets here who prefer to run and use their big men to create space as opposed to playing the interior. The Hornets have more depth and we believe James will have to have a superhuman game to come out on top here despite having a significant rest advantage as the Hornets are playing on no rest and their 3rd game in 4 nights.
Two teams trending in opposite directions face off as the 13-13 Pistons host the 18-10 Celtics. The Pistons lost their 6th in a row on Wednesday in heartbreaking fashion to the Hornets by a score of 108-107 on a buzzer beater by Jeremy Lamb. The Celtics, meanwhile, easily dispatched of the Hawks last night 129-108 for their 8th win in a row. Zaza Pachulia, Henry Ellenson, Glenn Robinson III and Ish Smith are all out for the hosts though Reggie Bullock is expected back after a 5 game absence. Guerschon Yabusele is out for the visitors and Al Horford is doubtful. It's desperation time for the Pistons but they do catch a break with Horford's likely absence as his defensive prowess will certainly be missed by the Celtics against the Pistons' big men. Bullock's return should also provide a boost offensively and the Celtics should have minimal fatigue issues as their reserves played most of the 2nd half in last night's blowout.
The Magic got a much needed win on Thursday as they defeated the Chicago Bulls 97-91 to break a 3 game slide. Neither side played particularly well, likely due to the difficult conditions playing in Mexico City, but the Magic prevailed in the down the stretch and turned a tie game with 30 seconds left into a 6 point win. The Jazz have endured a tough schedule of late but were able to right the ship against Miami at home on Wednesday in an easy 111-84 win. The altitude was a factor in the Magic's first game but as they've now been here 5 days, the early fatigue shouldn't be an issue. On the other side, the Jazz shouldn't have too much trouble adapting since they already play their home games at elevation in Salt Lake City. The Jazz players have hinted that they want to put on a show for their international fans and the Magic should oblige! This number looks a touch too low!
In the New Orleans Bowl, Appalachian St takes on Middle Tennessee St at the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Mountaineers had another successful year under Scott Satterfield as they went 10-2 and won the inaugural Sun belt Conference Championship Game over Louisiana-Lafayette 30-19. However, Satterfield would leave three days later to take over at Louisville leaving defensive line coach Mark Ivey to serve as interim head coach for this game. The Blue raiders finishd the year 8-5 under head coach Rick Stockstill's 13th year at the school and this will be the eighth postseason appearance during his tenure. The Mountaineers bring one of the highest rated defenses to this game but it bears mentioning that they've hardly been tested this season outside of a Penn St team that was likely caught off guard. Aside from Nittany Lions QB Trace McSorley, Blue Raiders QB Brent Stockstill will be a class above any other quarterback the Mountaineers have faced all season. Playing in a dome will only help the Blue Raiders' passing attack and we believe Stockstill's final game coaching his son coupled with the Mountaineers' missing of their leader Satterfield should be enough to keep this game within a touchdown in our opinion!
In the Camellia Bowl, Georgia Southern takes on Eastern Michigan at Crampton Bowl in Montgomery, Alabama. Eastern Michigan capped the season on a 3 game winning streak to finish the year 7-5 and secure a bowl berth for the 2nd time in 3 years. On the other side, Georgia Southern finished 9-3 under new coach Chad Lunsford and improved its win total by seven games from 2017. The Georgia Southern Eagles run the option offense that befuddled the Eastern Michigan Eagles back in late October when they faced Army, losing by a score of 37-22. Nevertheless, we believe it's a different handicap when given extra time to prepare and we have faith in Eastern Michigan coach Chris Creighton to use that game to great effect here. We also believe motivation is a factor as Creighton's team narrowly missed out on playing in the MAC Title game and he has approached this bowl game as a redemption game of sorts. Whereas, Lunsford has already succeeded with his turnaround and his comments indicate a more relaxed and accomplished tone. At any rate, we believe the Eastern Michigan Eagles' defense should be able to handle the one-dimensional rushing attack and keep this within a field goal!
In the Las Vegas Bowl, Fresno St takes on Arizona St at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada. Fresno State's turnaround under head coach Jeff Tedford was nothing short of remarkable as he has now led the Bulldogs to back to back 11 win seasons and claimed the Mountain West title on the road at Boise State this year. For Arizona St, Herm Edwards led the Sun Devils to a 7-5 campaign that had its moments and finished with 4 wins in their last 5 games. The major absence for the Sun Devils, however, will be NFL prospect N'Keal Harry, whose 73 catches for 1,088 yards will surely be missed. We expect the Sun Devils to rely on their ground game with Eno Benjamin who rushed for 1,524 yards with 12 touchdowns. On the other side, the Bulldogs' defense was extremely stout with a top 20 unit against both the run and pass by efficiency metrics. Both sides should be heavily motivated with Edwards looking to prove he's still a capable coach and Tedford looking to put a stamp on their season but we expect this game to be played in the trenches with points hard to come by!
In the New Mexico Bowl, Utah St takes on North Texas at Dreamstyle Stadium in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The Aggies had a terrific campaign under Matt Wells as they finished the regular season 10-2 and narrowly missed out on playing in the MWC Championship Game when they lost their final game to Boise St. Wells was named the MWC Coach of the Year but after taking the vacant head coaching position at Texas Tech, will not be on the sidelines for this game. On the other side, North Texas won 9 games in back to back season for just the 2nd time in school history under coach Seth Littrell and is appearing in their third straight bowl game. Wells' absence for the Aggies certainly isn't ideal but we believe interim coach Frank Maile has his team prepared and looking to put an exclamation point on their successful year. The Mean Green will also be in unfamiliar territory as they will be playing at altitude for the first time for many of their players while the Aggies have plenty of experience in that regard playing in the Mountain West. We're also not sure of Mean Green QB Mason Fine's durability here and he will be under heavy pressure in our opinion behind a shaky OL against a dangerous Aggies pass rush. The Aggies had one of the most explosive offenses in the country and we believe this will be one way traffic all the way!
Have this one on us - too generous i know and we can’t keep doing this for FREE ——— These odds appear biased when we consider Charleroi are a strong home team. In fact, the Zebra’s won their last six league games at the Stade du Pays, and one of the teams they beat was reigning champions Club Brugge (2-1). In the last round, Felice Mazzu’s side scored a late penalty to equalise with Anderlecht. Ten points from their last 4 games have taken the hosts into a closing seventh, just one place behind todays visitor Gent! Following the appointment of Jess Thorup, their were signs that the Buffalos were about to get there act together. In fact, Thorup’s reign started with an impressive 0-4 win in Oostende, and they followed with a 2-1 against todays opponent. Since then Gent have not been has good (2-2-2), and even last weeks win over lowly Eupen (2-0) was hard work. We say that because the visitors played against ten men for the whole second half, and they still didn’t dominate. Bare in mind Gent were pre match odds 1.37, so against a team with one player less it should have been much easier! The other thing which stands out to us is the hosts took 18 points at home, that compares to 11 away for the visitor. Charleroi boss Mazzu won’t have suspended Iliamaharitra, and Gholizadeh has been added to the injured list. Defenders Martos and Willems remain sidelined. Two big misses for Gent are suspended pair Asare and Verstreate! We would have the host has marginal favs here, thus these odds have to be taken!
Have this one on us — How can the h’capper justify a three pound rise for EARLY RETIREMENT. The six year old had the run of the race at Southwell, and he didn’t exactly look keen. SAMUEL JACKSON has a touch of class, and the fact is he won a p2p and two hurdles from his 9 runs to date. While top weight and a mark of 136 is less than ideal, their should be a lot more to come from this likeable sort.