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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Inside The Points - Week 12
Fritz Schlottman
November 26, 2004

Well, everyone out there should have had a wining week last Sunday as the favorites went 11-4-1 in what the sports books are calling Black Sunday. If you’ve been backing the Steelers, Colts, Chargers, and Eagles every week, you’re still making money hand over fist as the gap between the NFL’s haves and have-nots seems to be widening as the season goes on. The Sports Gods have done their best to chase down the front runners, but to no avail. It seems they can’t put a number high enough to get the NFL’s minnows to cover on their home fields against the league’s best.

Over the last week or so, more teams are signaling the end of their season. Running out the back-up quarterback is more or less the same as sending up the white flag, unless you’re the Steelers. Arizona, Dallas, Washington, N.Y. Giants, Cleveland, and Miami all benched their starting quarterback for some or all of last week’s game giving the betting public the sign that the end is near. I would expect more capitulations in the weeks ahead as the bottom-feeders of the NFL begin to set up their draft boards for next spring. The time has arrived to start fading the never-do-wells (especially on the road) as they make their early travel plans.

BALTIMORE AT NEW ENGLAND

Vegas Line

NE -7 TOTAL 36

Predicted Outcome

NE 20 BAL 17

Records

BAL

SU (7-3-0)

ATS (8-2-0), ATS AWAY (4-1-0)

OVER/UNDER (5-5-0), O/U AWAY (1-4-0)

NE

SU (9-1-0)

ATS (7-1-2), ATS HOME (3-0-2)

OVER/UNDER (5-4-1), O/U HOME (2-2-1)

Recent Meetings

NO RECENT MEETINGS

Commentary

I don’t like laying a touchdown on the road against Baltimore when the Ravens are 4-1 straight-up and 4-1 ATS on the road this season. The Ravens defense is a tough enough nut to crack straight-up, giving a team that’s 4-1 ATS on the road and 8-2 ATS overall a touchdown seems a bit out of a stretch.

The Ravens have found a spark on offense. In their last three games they scored 27 points at home against the Browns, 20 points on the road against the Jets, and 30 points at home against the Cowboys. Of Baltimore’s ten games this season, they’ve scored 20 or more points seven times and thirty or more points twice. Not bad for a limited offense. The Patriots defense has survived against some of the better NFL offenses. In their last four games, they’ve given up 34 points to Pittsburgh, 22 points to St. Louis, and 19 points to the Chiefs, and only six points to the Bills. ‘Decent numbers against some pretty good opposition. Given those figures, I would expect the Ravens to score around 17-20 points in this contest.

The Patriots offense has also had its best run of the season. In New England’s last four games they’ve scored 20 points at Pittsburgh, 40 points at St. Louis, 29 points at Buffalo, and 27 points at Kansas City. However, in those same four weeks, the Ravens defense has shut down the opposition. Baltimore’s defenders limited the Eagles to 15 points, the Browns to 13, the Jets to 17, and the Cowboys to 10.

So, what to do? Baltimore’s defense is playing too well to lay a touchdown here. When no offense has scored more than two touchdowns and a field goal over the last month against them, I get a little heartburn laying a touchdown against this Baltimore defense. If I was going to play the game, I’d bet New England in the first half. The Ravens are only averaging 5.4 points scored in the first half of their away games while giving up 7.2. The Patriots are scoring 16.6 points in the first half of their home games while giving up 7.4. That makes a little more sense to me.

PHILADELPHIA AT N.Y. GIANTS

Vegas Line

PHI -7 TOTAL 37.5

Predicted Outcome

PHI 31 NYG 10

Records

PHI

SU (9-1-0)

ATS (7-3-0), ATS AWAY (3-2-0)

OVER/UNDER (3-7-0), O/U AWAY (2-3-0)

NYG

SU (5-5-0)

ATS (5-5-0), ATS HOME (2-3-0)

OVER/UNDER (3-7-0), O/U HOME (2-3-0)

Recent Meetings

        PHI     NYG  
Date Away Home TOTAL RUSH PASS TOTAL RUSH PASS
9/12/2004 NYG 17 PHI 31 454 141 313 413 170 243
11/16/2003 NYG 10 PHI 28 376 62 314 361 109 252
10/19/2003 PHI 14 NYG 10 134 87 47 339 180 159
12/28/2002 PHI 7 NYG 10 209 65 144 461 213 248
10/28/2002 NYG 3 PHI 17 422 299 123 342 103 239
12/30/2001 NYG 21 PHI 24 354 113 241 408 119 289
10/22/2001 PHI 10 NYG 9 215 96 119 238 96 142

Commentary

The Eagles have won the last three games in this series by two touchdowns or more, and I see no reason not to lay a touchdown against a Giants team with a rookie quarterback making his second NFL start in this game. Yes, he’s a Manning, but Eli is making only his second start and I don’t expect that he’s going to be able to make all the reads this early in his career.

Philadelphia only blitzes more than 30% already. I suspect that number will edge up a notch after this week as the Eagles will send rushers from all over the field after Eli Manning and that shaky New York offensive line. To make matters worse, the Giants have serious injury issues on their offensive line with C Shaun O’Hara and T Marques Sullivan questionable with ankle injuries. They join two other offensive linemen that are out for the season. Against the Falcons, Manning threw two interceptions, one touchdown, and went just 17-37 for 162 passing yards. That’s just not enough to keep this game close against the high-powered Eagles offense.

The Eagles, with a win over their next closest divisional foe, can pretty much wrap up their NFC title. ‘It’s not like beating their divisional foes has been a problem. Philadelphia is 15-2 against the NFC East in their last 17 games, so don’t run out and bet on the Giants’ money-line in this game. This contest should be well in hand by the end of the third quarter.

WASHINGTON AT PITTSBURGH

Vegas Line

PIT -11 Total 36.5

Predicted Outcome

PIT 28 WAS 10

Records

WAS

SU (3-7-0)

ATS (3-7-0), ATS AWAY (2-3-0)

OVER/UNDER (2-8-0), O/U AWAY (0-5-0)

PIT

SU (9-1-0)

ATS (7-2-1), ATS HOME (4-1-0)

OVER/UNDER (6-4-0), O/U HOME (4-1-0)

Recent Meetings

NO RECENT MEETINGS

Commentary

Eleven points is a whole lot of lumber to lay, but looking at the Steelers recent run, I know where the Sports Gods are coming from. In Pittsburgh’s last four home games they beaten Cincinnati 28-17 (11 points), Cleveland 34-23 (11 points), New England 34-20 (14 points), and Philadelphia 27-3 (24 points) so you’d have to guess that the books would make the Redskins at least double-digit road dogs. Do I think Pittsburgh can cover this big number, the answer is probably yes.

The Redskins haven’t played many good teams this season. The only two would be Green Bay and Philadelphia. The Packers beat the Redskins 14-28 in D.C. and the Eagles beat them 28-6 last week in the city of brotherly love. The Redskins only two wins of the season have come against the Lions and the Bears, and if you watched football on Thanksgiving, you know that’s no great achievement. The Steelers defense is only giving up 65 yards on the ground, and if Washington can’t run, it’s game over. Besides that, I just don’t know if the Redskins haven’t already decided to mail in the rest of the season already.

This isn’t a great spot for Pittsburgh, but that Steelers defense should dominate a Redskins squad that’s scored 13, 10, 13, 14, 17, 10, and 6 points in its last seven games. I’ll lay the lumber here, give me Pittsburgh.

CLEVELAND AT CINCINNATI

Vegas Line

CIN -4 TOTAL 39.5

Predicted Outcome

CIN 21 CLE 17

Records

CLE

SU (3-7-0)

ATS (4-6-0), ATS AWAY (0-4-0)

OVER/UNDER (4-6-0), O/U AWAY (2-2-0)

CIN

SU (4-6-0)

ATS (3-6-1), ATS HOME (2-2-1)

OVER/UNDER (4-6-0), O/U HOME (0-5-0)

Recent Meetings

        CLE     CIN  
Date Away Home TOTAL RUSH PASS TOTAL RUSH PASS
10/17/2004 CIN 17 CLE 34 449 139 310 189 58 131
12/28/2003 CLE 22 CIN 14 379 264 115 271 115 156
9/28/2003 CIN 21 CLE 14 339 69 270 295 80 215
11/17/2002 CLE 27 CIN 20 382 140 242 350 102 248
9/15/2002 CIN 7 CLE 20 265 75 190 357 156 201
11/25/2001 CIN 0 CLE 18 249 78 171 191 84 107
10/14/2001 CLE 14 CIN 24 211 34 177 400 199 201

Commentary

I think the line is pretty good in this game and I probably won’t take a position one either a side or total unless I get a better number with the Bengals.

The Browns are having some rough times. Cleveland’s offense has only scored 30 points in their last three games and the Browns have lost the last four straight SU and ATS (PHI 31-34, BAL 13-27, PIT 10-24, and NYJ 7-10). On the other hand, the Browns have fared well against the Bengals winning five of the last six contests, and that’s enough to keep me off Cincinnati.

This is a rivalry series where team records and statistics don’t seem to matter as much as emotion. My reading is that the Bengals aren’t pleased to be 4-6 SU but given the acrimony between Jeff Garcia, the coaching staff, the offensive line, and every other part of the Browns organization, I think the Bengals are in a better state of mind for this match-up. Not a game I want to get involved with as there are better opportunities this week. But if I were to take a position right now, I’d be on the under.

JACKSONVILLE AT MINNESOTA

Vegas Line

MIN -7 Total 44

Predicted Outcome

MIN 27 JAX 20

Records

MIN

SU (6-4-0)

ATS (6-4-0), ATS AWAY (3-2-0)

OVER/UNDER (3-7-0), O/U AWAY (2-3-0)

JAX

SU (6-4-0)

ATS (6-4-0), ATS HOME (2-3-0)

OVER/UNDER (6-4-0), O/U HOME (2-3-0)

Recent Meetings

NO RECENT MEETINGS

Commentary

The Vikings finally pulled out of their three game nose dive with a home victory over the struggling Lions last week. That victory may have saved HC Mike Tice’s job for the moment, but this is another week after all.

Tice’s and the Viking’s fate in this contest may come down to the health of Randy Moss. If Randy can play at 80% or so, then the Vikings have the firepower to finish off the Jaguars at home and cover this number. Moss has missed four games with a hamstring injury and three of those games have been losses. Minnesota is still scoring points (28 vs. IND, 31 vs. GB, and 22 vs. DET) but their defense has played so poorly, giving up 34 to NYG, 31 to IND, 34 to GB, and 19 to DET, that the Vikings would have to score at least 28 points against a tough Jaguars defense to cover this number. I don’t see them being able to do that without Moss.

I will probably wait until more news becomes available before playing this game. Knowing what I know right now, a touchdown is just too many points.

TAMPA BAY AT CAROLINA

Vegas Line

TB -1.5 TOTAL 40

Predicted Outcome

TB 17 CAR 16

Records

TB

SU (4-6-0)

ATS (4-4-2), ATS AWAY (1-3-1)

OVER/UNDER (3-7-0), O/U AWAY (2-3-0)

CAR

SU (3-7-0)

ATS (5-5-0), ATS HOME (1-4-0)

OVER/UNDER (4-5-1), O/U HOME (2-3-0)

Recent Meetings

        TB     CAR  
Date Away Home TOTAL RUSH PASS TOTAL RUSH PASS
11/9/2003 TB 24 CAR 27 347 89 258 341 78 263
9/14/2003 CAR 12 TB 9 397 60 337 258 171 87
11/17/2002 CAR 10 TB 23 314 67 247 231 63 168
10/27/2002 TB 12 CAR 9 226 71 155 130 110 20

Commentary

Just when I was ready to pronounce the Panthers dead and buried for ’04 Carolina’s offense has sprung to life. After losing six straight SU and losing seven of their first eight games the Panthers got it together and started looking like NFC champions. Carolina’s offense scored 24 against Oakland in a losing effort, 37 against San Francisco, and then 35 against Arizona last week. Nuts. I had wanted to ride the resurgent ‘Bucs for the rest of the season but I wasn’t counting on them running into a hot Panther’s team at home.

I wouldn’t have blamed anyone for writing off Tampa Bay earlier this season. In the middle of October this team was 1-5 SU and looking dead and buried. But the switch to Griese at QB and getting Pittman back at running back has sparked this team. Since that time, Tampa Bay has won three of their last four games and scored over 30 points twice in that period.

Not a game I want to gamble on as both teams are playing well and the series has split over the past four games. If anything, I lean towards the under here in what should be a hard-fought game.

SAN DIEGO AT KANSAS CITY

Vegas Line

PK TOTAL 54

Predicted Outcome

SD 31 KC 21

Records

SD

SU (7-3-0)

ATS (8-1-1), ATS AWAY (4-0-1)

OVER/UNDER (6-4-0), O/U AWAY (1-4-0)

KC

SU (3-7-0)

ATS (3-7-0), ATS HOME (2-3-0)

OVER/UNDER (5-5-0), O/U HOME (2-3-0)

Recent Meetings

        SD     KC  
Date Away Home TOTAL RUSH PASS TOTAL RUSH PASS
11/30/2003 KC 28 SD 24 370 159 211 335 194 141
9/7/2003 SD 14 KC 27 232 64 168 390 131 259
12/22/2002 SD 22 KC 24 383 148 235 376 53 323
10/13/2002 KC 34 SD 35 465 153 312 319 88 231
12/23/2001 SD 17 KC 20 329 165 164 323 120 203
11/4/2001 KC 25 SD 20 324 65 259 378 208 170

Commentary

Kansas City has lost three straight while San Diego has won four straight, ‘pretty easy so see who has the momentum here. I hate betting against the Chiefs at Arrowhead, but here we go again.

The Chiefs have lost because 1)their defense gives up over 400 yards per game and can’t keep opponents out of the end zone and 2) because the KC offense gains over 400 yards and can’t score. Go figure. I see know reason why the Chargers aren’t going to be as efficient or as effective as the Tampa Bay offense or the New Orleans offense who smoked this defense for 34 and 27 points. In fact, the Chargers right now are a better offensive team that either of these squads and they’ve certainly been better on defense, holding their last four opponents to 6, 14, 17, and 17 points.

It’s a bad spot for the Chargers as it’s their second game on the road against divisional opponents but, stick a fork in them, I think the Chiefs are done for the year. Give me the Chargers.

TENNESSEE AT HOUSTON

Vegas Line

TEN -1 TOTAL 44

Predicted Outcome

HOU 21 TEN 20

Records

TEN

SU (4-6-0)

ATS (4-6-0), ATS AWAY (3-2-0)

OVER/UNDER (5-5-0), O/U AWAY (2-3-0)

HOU

SU (4-6-0)

ATS (5-5-0), ATS HOME (3-2-0)

OVER/UNDER (5-4-1), O/U HOME (3-2-0)

Recent Meetings

        TEN     HOU  
Date Away Home TOTAL RUSH PASS TOTAL RUSH PASS
10/17/2004 HOU 20 TEN 10 305 101 204 345 98 247
12/21/2003 TEN 27 HOU 24 450 182 268 326 91 235
10/12/2003 HOU 17 TEN 38 535 114 421 458 91 367
12/29/2002 TEN 13 HOU 3 277 140 137 224 28 196
11/10/2002 HOU 10 TEN 17 251 142 109 233 68 165

Commentary

I look towards the under as both team have struggled on offense in recent games. Since the Green Bay blow-out the Titans have scored 10 points vs. HOU, 3 vs. MIN, 27 vs. CIN, 17 vs. CHI, and 18 points vs. JAX. ‘Not exactly lighting up the old scoreboard. Houston hasn’t been much better scoring 13 vs. DEN, 14 vs. IND, and 13 vs. GB in the last three weeks. So we have two struggling offenses and a total of 44. Sure, looks like an under play to me.

Not much difference between the teams statistically. Both teams give up about as much rushing and passing yards as they gain. Tennessee gains 325 yards per contest and gives up 310 while the Texans gain 342 while giving up 366 so a slight edge to Tennessee, but most of that positive yardage was gained while McNair and the rest of the Titans’ backfield was healthy.

I’m not comfortable laying points on the road with this Titans team in the condition it’s in and I don’t trust the Texans to score right now, so I’ll have to stick with the under.

NEW ORLEANS AT ATLANTA

Vegas Line

ATL -10 TOTAL 46.5

Predicted Outcome

ATL 27 NO 20

Records

NO

SU (4-6-0)

ATS (3-7-0), ATS AWAY (2-2-0)

OVER/UNDER (6-4-0), O/U AWAY (4-0-0)

ATL

SU (8-2-0)

ATS (5-5-0), ATS HOME (2-3-0)

OVER/UNDER (3-7-0), O/U HOME (1-4-0)

Recent Meetings

        NO     ATL  
Date Away Home TOTAL RUSH PASS TOTAL RUSH PASS
11/16/2003 ATL 20 NO 23 403 210 193 244 168 76
10/19/2003 NO 45 ATL 17 507 165 342 238 130 108
11/17/2002 NO 17 ATL 24 343 80 263 292 155 137
10/27/2002 ATL 37 NO 35 351 159 192 446 260 186
12/9/2001 NO 28 ATL 10 379 114 265 230 50 180
10/21/2001 ATL 20 NO 13 276 63 213 297 124 173

Commentary

There’s no way I’m laying double digits with the Falcons unless I know which Michael Vick is going to show up. Is he the Vick that looked like an all-pro while leading his team to a 14-0 halftime lead against the Giants last week, or is he they guy that looked like a dear in the headlights in the final 30 minutes of that game? Sometimes Vick looks like he’s in command of this West Coast offense and sometimes he looks clue-less and that’s a big concern when you’re laying this kind of lumber.

I know this, the Saints can score. In their ten games, New Orleans has scored 30 or more points three times and 20 or more points five times. The Saints are 4-6 SU because they can’t stop anyone. Four teams have scored more than 30 points on their defense and all ten opponents have scored more than 20 points. So is Atlanta a 20 point team or a 30 point team? I think as inconsistent as the Falcons offense has been, 24-28 points is just about right meaning Atlanta would have to hold New Orleans to 14-17 points to cover, and that’s not going to happen.

As much as I hate backing New Orleans, it’s just too many points. Give me the Saints.

N.Y. JETS AT ARIZONA

Vegas Line

NYJ -3 Total 37.5

Predicted Outcome

NYJ 17 ARI 14

Records

NYJ

SU (7-3-0)

ATS (5-4-1), ATS AWAY (3-1-1)

OVER/UNDER (5-5-0), O/U AWAY (2-3-0)

ARI

SU (4-6-0)

ATS (6-4-0), ATS HOME (3-1-0)

OVER/UNDER (6-4-0), O/U HOME (2-2-0)

Recent Meetings

NO RECENT MEETINGS

Commentary

I’m not at all sure why the Cardinals benched QB Josh McCown. He had a bad game against the Giants where he threw for 90 yards, but the Cardinals game against the Panthers was a disaster, and it started with QB Shaun King who threw three interceptions and fumbled the ball four times in his first start in two years. As badly as King played, he’s the starter in this game. Go figure. The Cardinals were in the thick of the NFC West divisional race and only one game behind the leaders and now you have to wonder if Arizona has thrown in the towel on what looked to be a promising season.

The Jets have had their own problems lately. QB Quincy Carter and his 105 yards of passing isn’t going to make New Yorkers forget Woolly Joe any time soon and neither will the Jets 17 points against the Bills, 17 against Baltimore, and 10 vs. Cleveland under Carter’s leadership. Hmm. Spells like another under to me as I’d rather burn my money than bet on either of these quarterbacks to win a game.

BUFFALO AT SEATTLE

Vegas Line

SEA -4.5 Total 37.5

Predicted Outcome

SEA 21 BUF 13

Records

BUF

SU (4-6-0)

ATS (6-4-0), ATS AWAY (2-2-0)

OVER/UNDER (5-5-0), O/U AWAY (0-4-0)

SEA

SU (6-4-0)

ATS (4-6-0), ATS HOME (1-3-0)

OVER/UNDER (6-4-0), O/U HOME (3-1-0)

Recent Meetings

NO RECENT MEETINGS

Commentary

Nope. I’m not touching the Bills on the road not even against a Ray Rhodes defense. Somehow, someway, I know QB Drew Bledsoe’s gets sacked six times and the Bills will end up scoring 10 points. The evidences supports this conclusion as Buffalo has scored 10 points at Oakland, 14 points vs. NYJ, 6 points at Baltimore, and 6 points at New England on the road this season.

Is the Bills offense strong enough to keep the game inside the point-spread? Possibly, but not likely. Three teams have held the Seahawks to under 20 points: the Rams, the Buc’s, and the Cardinals so there’s no rhyme or reason to their madness. If Seattle can get their act together and quit dropping the football, they win and cover this number. Give me the Seahawks at home.

MIAMI AT SAN FRANCISCO

Vegas Line

SF -1 Total 38

Predicted Outcome

SF 0 MIA 3

Records

MIA

SU (1-9-0)

ATS (3-7-0), ATS AWAY (2-3-0)

OVER/UNDER (0-0-0), O/U AWAY (3-1-1)

SF

SU (1-9-0)

ATS (4-6-0), ATS HOME (2-3-0)

OVER/UNDER (0-0-0), O/U HOME (3-2-0)

Recent Meetings

NO RECENT MEETINGS

Commentary

After watching the Lions, Bears, and Cowboys I’ve had enough turkey this weekend. I want no part of this gobbler. Get the game over with and burn the game film when your done.

OAKLAND AT DENVER

Vegas Line

DEN -10 Total 45

Predicted Outcome

DEN 31 OAK 10

Records

OAK

SU (3-7-0)

ATS (3-7-0), ATS AWAY (2-3-0)

OVER/UNDER (6-4-0), O/U AWAY (4-1-0)

DEN

SU (7-3-0)

ATS (4-4-2), ATS HOME (2-2-1)

OVER/UNDER (2-6-2), O/U HOME (2-1-2)

Recent Meetings

        OAK     DEN  
Date Away Home TOTAL RUSH PASS TOTAL RUSH PASS
10/17/2004 DEN 31 OAK 3 145 31 114 444 254 190
11/30/2003 DEN 22 OAK 8 262 120 142 287 193 94
9/22/2003 OAK 10 DEN 31 195 39 156 383 190 193
12/22/2002 DEN 16 OAK 28 322 136 186 324 81 243
11/11/2002 OAK 34 DEN 10 374 27 347 342 77 265
12/30/2001 OAK 17 DEN 23 334 51 283 231 106 125
11/5/2001 DEN 28 OAK 38 356 114 242 366 119 247

Commentary

This game shouldn’t be close. The Broncos do what they should do: beat up on weaker teams, especially at home and the Raiders qualify as a week team. The last three games in this series have been DEN 31 OAK 10, DEN 22 OAK 8, and DEN 31 OAK 3. I’m pretty happy to be laying only 10 points here all things considered.

Denver hasn’t really proven themselves this year against stiff opposition as the victories have come against some poor opposition. The only team with a winning record the Broncos have beaten is San Diego, and if the Raider were a .500 team that may be a concern, but they’re not. The Raiders have three wins: Carolina, Tampa Bay, and Buffalo…oh joy. When Oakland has faced tough opposition, the Silver and Black have gotten smoked. Indy beat them 35-14, San Diego has beaten Oakland 42-14 and 23-17. Does Oakland have a chance, nope…forget about it. Give me the Broncos all the way.

ST LOUIS AT GREEN BAY

Vegas Line

GB -6 TOTAL 53

Predicted Outcome

GB 27 STL 17

Records

STL

SU (5-5-0)

ATS (3-6-1), ATS AWAY (2-3-0)

OVER/UNDER (7-3-0), O/U AWAY (4-1-0)

GB

SU (6-4-0)

ATS (4-6-0), ATS HOME (1-4-0)

OVER/UNDER (6-4-0), O/U HOME (3-2-0)

Recent Meetings

        STL     GB  
Date Away Home TOTAL RUSH PASS TOTAL RUSH PASS
10/19/2003 GB 24 STL 34 370 131 239 372 116 256
1/20/2002 GB 17 STL 45 292 91 201 383 118 265

Commentary

Well, you got a preview of this game last week. The Rams went out doors to play in balmy Buffalo and got smoked 37-17. Now they go back on the road to play the Packers for a night game late in November (and the weatherman’s predicting snow) on the frozen tundra where it should be warm enough to walk from your car to the mall without getting frostbite if you take the right precautions.

St. Louis has shown year after year they can’t play their game in bad conditions and catching a frozen football on an icy field with the snow blowing in your face qualifies as bad conditions. The Packers have won four straight and year after year they dominate in the last quarter of the season when the weather turns bad. At less than a touchdown, this is a no-brainer. It’s Packers all the way.

College Thoughts
MISSISSIPPI STATE +6
NEVADA +25
BOSTON COLLEGE -12
LOUISVILLE -17.5
OKLAHOMA STATE +4.5