VSiN managing editor
Cashin’ tickets is what it’s all about! With football back at full steam, here are two for Saturday and three for Sunday to get you back to the windows.
Mississippi State (–9) at Kansas State (o/u 53)
Saturday, noon ET
Ordinarily, I don’t recommend betting against Bill Snyder as a home underdog. However, new head coach Joe Moorhead welcomes QB Nick Fitzgerald back from suspension for Mississippi State. In his last two years Fitz has thrown for 36 touchdowns. Moorhead did a superb job as the OC at Penn State. Under his guidance the Nittany Lions offense improved from 342 to 447 yards and from 22 to 39½ points per game. The Bulldogs also have one of the better defensive lines in the SEC, so this is a team that can go on the road. This game is sandwiched between two cupcakes – Stephen F. Austin and Louisiana Lafayette – so the Bulldog coaches could have been pointing for the Wildcats all along. The fact that Kansas State had to scramble to beat South Dakota in its opener makes this all the more attractive to take Mississippi State and lay the points.
USC (o/u 56½) at Stanford (–5)
Saturday, 8:30 p.m. ET
Don’t be fooled into thinking that Stanford is simply the Bryce Love show. The Cardinal proved that in last week’s win over San Diego State, showcasing quarterback K.J. Costello. Meanwhile, USC has a true freshman quarterback in JT Daniels who is going to be a great player – but not this weekend. David Shaw is one of my favorite coaches. In his eighth year at Stanford he is 55-37-2 ATS, and he gets this huge Pac-12 game at home. When they gave up 21 points last week and failed to cover against UNLV, the Trojans might have been peeking ahead. But it says here that a young team will not win on The Farm on Saturday night. Running behind an offensive line that has everyone back from last year, Love should have a big day against the Trojan defense. Anything less than a seven is a go on the favorite.
Jacksonville (–3) at New York Giants (o/u 43½)
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
This is the win-one-for-the-Coughlin game as the former Giants coach comes back to his old haunt in his front-office role for the Jaguars. A year ago Jacksonville went into Houston under first-year coach Doug Marrone and lit up the Texans 29-7. It was the first step in a journey that took the Jags all the way to a fourth-quarter lead over the Patriots in the AFC Championship game before they fell 24-20. I understand that it’s sometimes difficult to back Blake Bortles, but he may be better than that perception. While the Giants gave Odell Beckham Jr. the highest salary ever for a wide receiver, the Jaguars feature the best pair of corners in pro football with Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye. Will either of them make like Josh Norman and get into OBJ’s head? I liked the Giants early this summer, but Ramsey and Bouye are big reasons that I am convinced now to take the Jags.
Cincinnati (48½) at Indianapolis (–3)
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
We think they’ve got the wrong favorite in this game. It’s great that Andrew Luck is back; he is one of the best in the game. But this line is an overreaction, because the Colts still have to stop somebody. Andy Dalton still has his wingman A.J. Green, running back Joe Mixon can catch passes, and tight end Tyler Eifert is looking to get back to his old self. A year ago the Bengals beat the luckless Colts 24-23 as a 10½-point favorite. I don’t see this game having a 13-point swing. Marvin Lewis may be one of the short prices to be the first NFL coach fired, but he redid his staff, and he has the benefit of facing an Indianapolis defense that was the third-worst in the league in both yardage and scoring last year, blowing five double-digit leads. That's all you need to know about why the Bengals won’t just cover but are worth 140 on the money line to win outright.
Chicago (o/u 47½) at Green Bay (–7½)
Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET
Here is a game where that hook means everything. Aaron Rodgers has been lethal against the Bears, going 15-4 against the Packers’ biggest rival. But the Bears defense will keep them in a lot of games, especially with the addition of Khalil Mack. If the team is right about Mitch Trubisky’s up side, and with a reloaded receiving corps and decent running backs, to me it’s all about grabbing an attractive number. The Bears should be able to hang in there, and the hook on the seven makes it very appealing to take the points.