Circa Friday Football Invitational: Week 1 NFL and college football picks

By Bill Adee  ( 

September 8, 2023 11:00 PM

The Circa Friday Football Invitational kicked off Friday as 16 handicappers submitted their seven selections for Week 1. The selections were revealed on VSiN Tonight with Matt Youmans (11 p.m.-midnight ET).

Here are contestants' designated best bets:

Frank Betti/Mattress Mack McIngvale: Texas +7

"Stanford" Steve Coughlin: Texas A&M -3.5

Chuck Edel: Western Mich-Syracuse Over 56.5

Chris Fallica: Texas A&M -3.5

Tony Gordon: Buccaneers +5

Doug Kezirian: Wisconsin-Washington St Over 57.5

Randy McKay: 49ers-Steelers Under 41.5

Jeff Petch: Browns +1.5

Chris Piper: Oregon-Texas Tech Over 68

Brad Powers: Texas State-UTSA Over 66

Scott Pritchard: Troy-Kansas State Under 51

James Salinas: Rams-Seahawks Under 46

Kelly Stewart: Colts +5

Paul Stone: Colorado -2.5

Weston Stradtman: Falcons -3.5

Kenny White: Cincinnati-Pittsburgh Over 45

Auxiliary contestants' best bets:

Ricky Gold: SMU +16

Matt Youmans: Giants +3.5

Mike Palm: Raiders-Broncos Over 43

Wes Reynolds: Titans +3

>>FULL LIST OF 140 PICKS SORTED BY CONTESTANT AND BY GAME (available to VSiN Pro subscribers)

The game with the most plays was Oregon at Texas Tech with six contestants on Texas Tech +6, three on Over 68 and one on the Under.

One storyline to watch this season: Gold, the co-founder of Juice Reel, is using his company's AI Bot to make the picks.

The bot’s selections, in addition to SMU +16:

Wake Forest -10

Iowa State +4

Browns +1.5

Steelers +2

Seahawks -4.5

Giants +3.5

>Watch the show

>Listen to the replay

Rules for Circa Friday Football Invitational 2023

Sixteen handicappers compete — with no entry fee required — in a season-long contest with $25,000 in prizes awarded.

When: Friday, September 8 through Friday, January 5, 2024 (18 weeks)

Where: VSIN studio in the Circa sportsbook

Contest plays: Seven plays, college and NFL sides and totals (no props, team totals or first-half plays) with one designated as the Best Bet (BB). Contestants are limited to four college football totals per week.

—Plays will be graded as one point for a win and a half-point for a push. If a game is canceled or postponed, it’s graded to be worth a half-point; a postponed game must be played by the following Thursday or it’s graded to be worth a half-point.

—The Best Bet (BB) point total will be used as a tiebreaker if needed.

Use the Circa Sports lines posted at 12 p.m. (PT; 12:00:00) Fridays. (All contestants are using the same lines.) Send the Circa numbers posted with your plays and submit by email or text message. Plays can be submitted only once, no changes allowed, and use the proper line. Any contestant failing to designate a Best Bet (BB) will get a zero for the Best Bet record that week.

—Seven plays must be submitted to Matt Youmans no later than 3 p.m. (PT) each Friday.

Prize structure: Circa owner Derek Stevens is awarding $25,000 in total prize money: $15,000 for the winner, $7,000 for second place and $3,000 for third place. The winner also receives a trophy and a green jacket designed by Stevens.

Contest field/format: The contest begins Friday, September 8 and continues each Friday through January, 5, 2024.

—In December during the college bowl season, any games scheduled through the following Thursday can be used in the contest (and any games must be scored as final on that Thursday to count). For the final week, only games scheduled through Monday, January 8 can be used in the contest (and any game must be scored as final on that Monday to count).

Elimination rounds: At the conclusion of Week 9 of the NFL schedule (the Friday, November 3 contest week), the contestant with the lowest point total will be cut.

The same elimination process will continue each week for the following seven weeks through Week 16 of the NFL schedule (the Friday, December 22 contest week).

—If there is a tie for last place in any elimination week, the Best Bet (BB) point total for the two or more contestants will be used as a tiebreaker to cut one contestant; if there still is a tie, the most recent week’s Best Bet (BB) result will be the tiebreaker, and that process of grading Best Bets continues in reverse order until the tie is broken.

—At the conclusion of NFL Week 16, the eight remaining contestants compete to the end.

Media participation: All contestants are invited to join the show in studio or by phone/video from 6-9 p.m. (PT) throughout the season. The contest will be broadcast on VSIN and contest plays will be published on

Derek Stevens has the authority to make a final ruling on any contest rules disputes.

Circa Friday Football Invitational 16-handicapper field

(Six contestants return from 2022, in order of finish)

Chris "The Bear" Fallica, Fox Sports analyst @chrisfallica

Chuck "The Iceman" Edel, Las Vegas professional bettor @chuckedel

James Salinas, 2015 Westgate SuperContest champion @roundingagain

Paul Stone, Texas football handicapper @paulstonesports

Doug Kezirian, former ESPN betting analyst @DougESPN

Randy McKay, North Dakota professional gambler @RR39

(Ten new contestants this season)

Frank Betti, pro bettor, and "Mattress Mack" Jim McIngvale @MattressMack

“Stanford” Steve Coughlin, ESPN betting analyst, SportsCenter producer @StanfordSteve82

Tony Gordon, 2021 Circa Millions champion @durbify

Jeff Petch, 2021 Circa Millions runner-up @MadRussianNFL

Chris Piper, 2021 Circa Survivor co-champion @wagolfer69

Brad Powers, Las Vegas professional bettor @BradPowers7

Scott Pritchard, Las Vegas professional bettor @pritchardwins

Kelly Stewart, WagerTalk handicapper @kellyinvegas

Weston Stradtman, VSiN fan, Realtor from Nashville, Tenn. @guyincornfields

Kenny White, Las Vegas handicapper, oddsmaker @KWhiteyVegas

Auxiliary contestants:

(Playing the contest but not officially competing for prize money)

Ricky Gold, Founder & CEO of Juice Reel (AI)

Mike Palm, VP of Operations for Circa, The D @MikePalmCirca

Wes Reynolds, VSiN host @WesReynolds1

Matt Youmans, VSiN host @mattyoumans24

back to news

Live On Air

Streaming Now: Live Bet Saturday

play Watch Live radio Listen Live


A Numbers Game: Be careful betting baseball games right now, if they don’t involve teams still trying to make the playoffs. Teams that have clinched or teams that are completely out of it will be approaching games far differently. View more tips.

Ian Cameron: USC at Colorado - OVER (73.5). View more picks.