Saturday was a perfect example of why you want to grab your line as soon as you feel good about it. In the Montana-Weber State game, the line when I wrote the piece and thus grabbed it was the Grizzlies by 1. By Saturday morning, the line was 3.5. And Montana won the game on a basket with a second left, earning me the cover but failing to cover on the later spread.
Saturday was also a perfect example of why you shouldn’t always be aggressive, as I threw away a win on Utah by backing the Utes on the moneyline instead of the +4 spread. Of course, I had no way to know Cam Rising would get concussed, but still, it backfired when a win was available to me.
Add it up, and we emerged with a 3-4 day where I cost myself with too much aggression. Oh well; it was worth the risk. Here are my plays for January 2.
COWBOYS, -6.5, -110
The sharps are suggesting that this is buy low time on Arizona. I disagree, because Kliff Kingsbury has shown himself to be a rotten second-half coach during his career. For his career, Kingsbury is 42-20-1 in the first seven games of the season. After Game 7, Kingsbury has a 16-43 mark, good for a .271 winning percentage. The Cardinals look tired and undisciplined, and Dallas is chasing the top seed. The Cowboys should keep rolling here.
PATRIOTS -17, -110
Bill Belichick vs. rookie quarterback almost always means Patriots rout. It’s a huge spread. I don’t love it. But Trevor Lawrence is highly unlikely to go into Foxboro and hang with a New England team that needs to have this game in January. This is one where you either tease it with something else or just suck it up and lay the points. I might do both.
DOLPHINS +3.5, -120
Pace is being a bit more aggressive and taking the Dolphins on the moneyline, and there’s reason to think that’s the way to play. After all, Miami has won seven straight, and Tennessee is clearly not the same team that it was at the start of the year. But when you look at Miami’s wins, they’ve come against Houston, Baltimore, the Jets, Carolina, the Giants, the Jets again and New Orleans. Do I really want to trust that straight up in Nashville when the Titans can win the AFC South? No, I don’t. I’ll play Miami to cover, but I need the hook.
RAMS -6, -110
I hate taking a road favorite, but Baltimore has been so ravaged by COVID that there’s really no way not to do it. Los Angeles has won four straight and appears to be getting better each week, and the defense should be able to control this game no matter who the Ravens have under center. This feels like the right move.
BRADLEY -2.5, -110
The Braves have the better defense, and the Sycamores didn’t get all of their practice days in this week because guys were recovering from getting the booster, per Todd Golden of the Tribune-Star in Terre Haute (pro tip: it pays to follow journalists on social media). The over looks a good bet here, too, as these teams like to play fast. I like Bradley to get the win here.
INDIANA -4, -110
Penn State is 1-5 ATS this year at the Bryce Jordan Center, with the lone win being Wagner. Indiana’s only got to cover four against a middling team that the Hoosiers will need to handle if they’re really going to be a threat to make the tournament this season. A slow tempo plays right into Indiana’s hands on defense, so I like the Hoosiers in University Park.
BEYOND THE SPREADS
These two don’t fit with my spread picks, but I can’t ignore them: Under on both the Bears-Giants (36.5) and Louisville-Georgia Tech (137.5). Chicago and New York have been offensively challenged all season, and the Giants’ offense is inept regardless of whether it’s Mike Glennon or Jake Fromm at quarterback. Louisville has a top 25 defense, but both the Cardinals and Yellow Jackets rank in the 100s in offense. Both games should be low scoring.