Friday, 9/22 Quick Hitters: My Weekend Picks Rationale + Best Bets

Hey Rich Rodriguez and Todd Graham…you know how to singlehandedly change the momentum of your programs? How to re-energize the fanbase? How to possibly save your jobs?

Win this weekend. On your home fields. Over top 25 ranked opponents.


In case you missed it: Wednesday’s predictions column.

-As I mentioned on Wednesday, Rich Rodriguez surprisingly won his first four meetings against Utah’s Kyle Whittingham before losing in Salt Lake City last year. Whittingham might be the most under-appreciated coach in the nation and rarely do you see his teams underachieve.

-I believe Utah will sell out to stop Arizona’s ground attack and therefore make Brandon Dawkins beat them through the air. I expect a close game throughout with Arizona’s final drive coming up short as it did two weeks ago against Houston.

-One more thing to point out – the projected total points in this game have dropped from 61 to 55. That’s HUGE line movement. Take the under.

-Here’s a key for ASU this weekend…score early. I’m interested to see how Oregon handles being in a close game early as their first three in 2017 have not been. While I think the Ducks pull away late, I would hardly be surprised to see the Sun Devils keep this a very close game for three quarters at least.

-One key for ASU: the offensive line. BLOCK SOMEONE! You have two very good running backs in Kalen Ballage (pictured below) and Demario Richard…now get them some holes!

Texas Tech v Arizona State

-This Houston-Texas Tech game intrigues me early on Saturday morning. An outstanding offense (TT) against a superior defense (HOU). Also isn’t it interesting that both played the Arizona teams in the last two weeks?

-USC has looked outright mediocre thus far while Cal has been the surprise team of the Pac-12. Something has to give this weekend. The Trojans aren’t nearly as lackluster as they’ve played while Cal isn’t nearly as good as it has played.

-TCU vs. Oklahoma State is the game of the weekend in my opinion. But why are so many people, including the oddsmakers, selling the Horned Frogs short? They’re really good. Oklahoma State’s offense looks unstoppable…but then again let’s see when they play a real defense and TCU does fall into that category.

-Purdue has played very well for new coach Jeff Brohm thus far…they’re much improved from last season. But they haven’t faced a defense nearly as good as Michigan’s…

-The most stunning CFB result of the season in my opinion was the 37-7 dismantling of LSU last Saturday by Mississippi State. Now the Aggies have to go to Georgia and Auburn in consecutive weekends. Brutal. QB Nick Fitzgerald might be among the most underrated players in the country though. I’m sticking with the home team and it’s very good defense led by coach Kirby Smart.

Nick Fitzgerald

-Penn State RB Saquon Barkley gets his first true chance to shine in 2017 on the national stage. A road game at Iowa on ABC’s Saturday Night Football against a defense that got butchered by Iowa State two weeks ago might propel his Heisman Trophy campaign.

-One game I reluctantly didn’t include in our Wednesday picks, Michigan State hosting Notre Dame. Weird things usually happen when these two play…and both coaches, Brian Kelly and Mark Dantonio need this for job security purposes. I’ll roll with Notre Dame 27-24 on a last second field goal.

-Colorado got torched by Washington in last year’s Pac-12 Championship Game with a better offense and defense than it currently boasts. So the game is in Boulder this time…do you really think it will make that much of a difference?

-How Stanford has fared against UCLA in Coach David Shaw’s tenure.
2011: 45-19
2012: 35-17, 27-24 (Pac-12 Championship Game)
2013: 24-10
2014: 31-10
2015: 56-35
2016: 22-13
I tend to believe that history is the most accurate predictor of the future. At least in this case it is. The Cardinal roll on Saturday night.

David Shaw has never lost to Jim Mora as a head coach. Why should Saturday night’s result be any different?

College Football Week 4 Best Bets

Last Week: 2-3
Overall: 10-9-1
Arizona / Utah Under 55.5 total points
Baylor +27.5 vs. Oklahoma
Stanford -7.5 vs. UCLA
Texas Tech / Houston Under 71 total points
Wyoming -6.5 vs. Hawaii

Along those same lines, here are my five favorite NFL plays this week:

NFL Week 3 Best Bets
Last Week: 3-2
Overall: 5-4-1
Cardinals +3 vs. Cowboys
Jaguars / Ravens Under 39.5 total points
Steelers / Bears Over 44 total points
Colts Pick’em vs. Browns
Packers -8.5 vs. Bengals

-The Cowboys are overrated, the Cardinals are playing at home, on Monday Night Football, in front of a raucous crowd. David Johnson or no David Johnson…I expect the Cards defense to make plays and please the majority of fans in attendance.

-I expect Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson’s performance against Cowboys star WR Dez Bryant to show you why he’s the best at his position in the league. Basically what I mean is: don’t expect much from Bryant on Monday Night.


Last week I went 12-4 straight up and against the spread with my NFL picks. Pretty darn good. But it was a week full of favorites covering. In Week 3, I’m picking several underdogs to win outright: San Francisco, Buffalo, Indianapolis, LA Chargers, Arizona. If I go 12-4 again and you follow my picks, we’ll all be rich.

–Tough week ahead for survivor football picks this week…but it’s early in the season and I recommend keeping it safe:
New England (vs. Houston)
Green Bay (vs. Cincinnati)
Miami (at NY Jets)
I can almost assure you that none of those three teams is losing in Week 3.

-From last week’s blog:

I know they looked pitiful last Sunday night, but why are the Giants only 3 point favorites against the Lions on Monday Night Football? That’s play of the year material right there!

Play of the year material? Really? With an offensive line that doesn’t block and a coach that calls literally the worst plays over and over. Sorry about that one, folks!

-Week 3’s fantasy football portion of the column:
PPR HERO (an underrated player who will finish in the top-10 at his position this week): 
Week 1: Pierre Garcon (WR, 49ers) (LOSS)
Week 2: Jacquizz Rodgers (RB, Bucs) (LOSS)
Week 3: Chris Thompson (RB, Redskins)
PPR ZERO (a top-15 player who will finish outside of the top-20 at his position this week): 
Week 1: Marshawn Lynch (RB, Raiders) (WIN)
Week 2: Jordan Howard (RB, Bears) (WIN)
Week 3: Dez Bryant (WR, Cowboys)
KICK IT TO WIN IT (A likely waiver wire kicker who will end up in the top-10):
Week 1: Younghoe Koo (Chargers) (LOSS)
Week 2: Graham Gano (Panthers) (LOSS – finished T11)
Week 3: Jake Elliott (Eagles)
PUNT OF THE WEEK (the team I think will punt most frequently therefore upgrading the other team’s fantasy defense):
Week 1: Indianapolis Colts (vs. Los Angeles Rams) (WIN)
Week 2: Cleveland Browns (vs. Baltimore Ravens) (WIN-but not on # of punts)
Week 3: Jacksonville Jaguars (vs. Baltimore Ravens)

-The Thursday night game between NFC West rivals, the Rams and 49ers was pure insanity! For what it’s worth, neither offense is nearly as good as the 41-39 final score would indicate. It looks as though I was wrong about both teams’ running backs, Todd Gurley and Carlos Hyde who are fantasy RB1s thus far this season. Keep an eye on both teams’ schedules however; both might be ideal sell high candidates.

Enjoy a another fun football weekend starting (for all intents and purposes) on Friday night in Tucson!


To read previous entries of my blog, click here. Also make sure to follow me on Twitter @eacohen83.


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