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MHJ’s Tough Cover Column: College Football and NFL picks for the weekend of 11/19-11/20

No time for intros, let’s get to the picks!

College Football Picks

12 p.m.

Florida -13.5 @ Vanderbilt(6u)

  • I know that we’re all down on the Florida Gators, Billy Napier and especially Anthony Richardson. But why are we down on them? Because of losses to Georgia, LSU and Tennessee. This is probably unfair for a slightly above average Florida team that is being treated like an also-ran.
  • But the main reason that I like Florida here? Because Vanderbilt is no Georgia, LSU or Tennessee. This line is an overreaction to Vanderbilt beating a bad Kentucky team. I like Florida even more in this spot, with Vandy coming off of their biggest win in years.
  • Usually, I could understand wanting to bet a home dog, especially in a conference matchup. Funny enough, Florida is 3-0 ATS on the road while Vandy is 0-4 ATS at home. Ain’t nobody afraid to go to Nashville to face off with the Commodores. Especially the Florida Gators, who have won 15 straight at Vanderbilt.
  • Florida has also dominated Vandy in recent memory. Florida has won 8 straight against Vandy and have only lost 1 of the last 31 matchups to Vanderbilt. They have won(obviously) and covered 4 of their last 5 matchups, including covering a 39.5 point spread in a 42-0 win in The Swamp.
  • These are 2 teams trending in opposite directions, especially from a gambling standpoint. Vandy is 2-5 in their last 7 ATS while Florida has covered 3 straight, including a cover against the #1 team in the country Georgia. Florida blew South Carolina out last week by a score of 38-6. South Carolina is better than Vanderbilt and beat them by 11 just 2 weeks ago. I would lay up to 17 points comfortably here with the Gators.

UCONN +10.5 @ Army(5u)

  • This is not your father’s Army football team. The 3-6 Black Knights are even listed in Tom Fornelli’s Bottom 25.
  • On the other hand, the UCONN Huskies football program is quite familiar with Tom Fornelli’s Bottom 25 but they have gotten off the mat in tremendous fashion.
  • Last week, if you read the Tough Cover Column, I told you that UCONN would not only cover a +14 spread against Liberty but they would win and gain bowl elgibility for the first time since 2015. That’s exactly what they did. Jim Mora Jr. should be considered for Coach of the Year as well as any open coaching vacancies. This is one of the more impressive coaching jobs I’ve seen in recent memory.
  • UCONN is the 2nd most profitable team in the entire country at 9-2 ATS. They are one of the most profitable teams in the country as an underdog at 6-2 ATS. They are one of the most profitable teams in the country on the road at 4-1 ATS.
  • I’m buying all in on the UCONN Huskies here in their last regular season game. Just like last week, I don’t just think they’ll cover. I think they win the game. Play the Money Line at your own risk but hammer UConn +10.5.

4 p.m.

Iowa +3 @ Minnesota(4u)

  • Pretty simple stuff here: Give me the 3 point dog in a game with a total of 32 points. On top of that simple fact, Iowa really seems to have turned things around as of late. They are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games.
  • Iowa has won and covered their last 3 games with wins comfortable wins over Northwestern, Purdue and Wisconsin. Most importantly, their offense has aged out of the 1920’s. Iowa scored 98 points in their first 7 games, averaging 14 PPG. They’ve scored 81 points in their last 3 games, averaging 27 PPG. They’ve made massive strides to respectability and watchability on offense.
  • Minnesota, on the other hand, has taken a bit of a dive after a fast start. Minnesota is 2-4 ATS in their last 6 games after starting 4-0 ATS. These two teams are moving in opposite directions.
  • Minnesota’s QB Tanner Morgan(it feels like he has been in college for 20 years) is questionable and even if he plays, will be banged up. Minnesota also lost their best WR to a season-ending injury and have really struggled since to find consistent weapons in the passing game
  • Also, to reveal my bias, I have an Iowa Over 7.5 wins ticket that I would need Hawkeye wins here and against Nebraska to close out the season. Even after their horrible start to the season, Iowa has a legitimate chance to win the Big 10 West and play for a Big 10 Championship in Indianapolis.

Temple +17.5 vs Cincinnati(3u)

  • Copy/Paste my notes from a few weeks ago when Navy +17.5 was my favorite bet of the week. Cincy is just not last year’s Luke Fickell team and shouldn’t be treated as such.
  • Cincinnati has failed to cover their last 6 games, 5 of which as favorites. They are one of the least profitable teams to bet on across the entire country this season at 2-8 ATS. They’re 2-6 ATS in games they are favored and 0-5 ATS on the road.
  • Temple has covered 4 straight games under new QB EJ Warner, legendary Hall of Fame QB Kurt Warner’s son. In Warner’s last game, he threw for 486 yards and 3 touchdowns. The week before, he threw for 344 yards and 2 touchdowns. EJ Warner is not the type of QB that I’d like to lay 17 against.
  • Who would have known that a quarter-full Lincoln Financial Field would provide such a homefield advantage for the Temple Owls? They are 5-0 ATS at home this season and actually have a winning record outright at home at 3-2.
  • Cincy is 0-5 ATS on the road while Temple is 5-0 ATS at home? Sign me up.

10:30 p.m.

Utah -1.5 @ Oregon(1u)

  • This is a speculative play but it’s pretty simple. Kyle Whittingham and Utah own Oregon. Last year, Utah beat Oregon 38-7 and then beat them again in the Pac-12 Championship a few weeks later by a score of 38-10.
  • Utah is just far too physical for the flashy Oregon Ducks. Even with former Georgia DC Dan Lanning calling the shots, the Oregon defense has left much to be desired in terms of defending the pass and making 3rd down stops.
  • Tavion Thomas finally unlocked into the best version of himself against Stanford last week and I expect Utah to be able to attack Oregon’s defense on the ground and through the air while putting up a ton of points. That leads me to my next bet.

Utah TT Over 30.5 @ Oregon(2u)

  • Utah has scored 31+ in 9 of their last 10 games and scored 38 in both matchups with Oregon from last year.
  • Oregon also just gave up 37 to Washington, who can’t hold a candle to Utah’s offense.
  • Bo Nix might be the QB who is coming into this game with buzz but Cam Rising will be the one throwing the ball all over the field.
  • The Oregon defense is LAST in the country in 3rd down Defense which I expect to be the difference in this game and what allows Utah to hang 40+.


1 p.m.

Under 45.5 Lions-Giants

  • The Giants are 7-2 on the Under this season.
  • The Under is 16-1 in their last 17 home games at MetLife, going under the total by 8.6 PPG. The game that went over? A 23-16 Cowboyd win in MetLife that went over the total by .5 point.
  • Daniel Jones Home Unders are 18-6
  • The Detroit Lions are 27th in Offensive DVOA. After overs started 4-0 for the Lions, the under is 3-2 in Detroit’s last 5 games.

Patriots -3 vs Jets

  • The Pats were a 3 point favorite a few weeks ago on the road in MetLife. How are they only a 3 point favorite at home?
  • I guess the argument would be that the Jets beat the Bills and are now coming off of a bye. The last time Zach Wilson got extended rest? A 54-13 loss to Buffalo.
  • Death. Taxes. Bill Belichick owning the New York Jets. 36-11 outright and 26-19-2 ATS. The Patriots have beaten the Jets 13 times in a row dating back to 2015
  • Bill Belichick also owns the oddsmakers when it comes to games that are expected to be low-scoring. When the Total in a game is below 40, Belichick is 34-12-1 ATS.
  • Belichick has demolished young QB’s for his entire career and has embarrassed Zach Wilson on multiple occasions, includingjust 3 weeks ago.
  • On top of Belichick’s defensive wizardry, the Patriots have a DPOY candidate in Matthew Judon, who leads the league with 11.5 sacks. I expect Belichick and Judon to collectively make this a nightmare for the Jets offense. Zach Wilson will be “seeing ghosts” in New England just like his predecessor Sam Darnold.

Commanders -3 @ Texans

  • I thought that this Washington Commanders team could be dangerous and sneak their way into the playoffs. After a few weeks of watching Carson Wentz, I thought that I was an idiot. It turns out that all they needed was Taylor Heinicke. Heinicke is 4-0-1 ATS in his last five starts and 8-2-1 in his last 11 starts.
  • This line reminds me of a few weeks ago when the Titans were -1 in Houston and EVERYONE thought it was a trap line and bet Houston. Turns out this Texans team is too bad for a trap line. In fact, the Texans offense is so bad that it transcends Trap lines and Trap spots. There’s a reason that the Texans have lost 4 straight and has only 1 win this season.
  • The Texans are 9-32-1 since the start of 2020 while Davis Mills is 3-16-1 over his short career.
  • The Texans have also been even worse against the NFC. They have lost 9 straight to NFC teams and they are 6-13-1 ATS since 2018 against the NFC.

Eagles -6.5 @ Colts

  • Obviously, I’m a bit biased here as an Eagles fan. This is the ultimate “bounce back spot” for the Eagles while it is the ultimate “letdown” spot for the Colts. I don’t even have a ton of Eagles trends but I absolutely love this play.
  • I saw this line opened at 11 before MNF and I would have bet the Eagles -11. Every single thing that could have went wrong for the Eagles last week to lose happened.
  • The Colts needed full-on incompetence from Josh McDaniels and the Raiders to escape the bad graces of the NFL media for hiring Jeff Saturday. All of a sudden, the NFL media is falling over themselves to credit Saturday while acting like they’re about to go on a hot streak. Ultimately, I think the Colts played a really bad team with even lower spirits than them and had the classic “dead cat bounce” that teams often have after firing a coach. That luck is going to run out this week.
  • But the main reason that I love the Eagles here? Philly native Matt Ryan. Ryan is 68-83-1 over the last decade. He is 29-42-1 ATS over the last 5 years, which is the least profitable QB in the entire league in that span. He’s also terrible coming off of a win, where he is 3-10-1 ATS in that spot.
  • He is also TERRIBLE against good teams. He is 5-11-1 ATS vs. teams above .500 SU since 2020, 2nd-least profitable quarterback in the NFL in that time span. He is 2-7-1 in his last 10 starts against teams above .500. Make that 2-8-1 after the Eagles are done with them. Birds are gonna ROLL.

Eagles TT Over 25.5

  • Eagles have scored 26+ points in 4 of their last 6 games and in 5 of their 9 games this season.
  • Even with 4 turnovers and horrific officiating, the Eagles scored 21 points and had a chance to go down the field to score a TD and win the game. EVERYTHING went wrong for them and they were 5 points away from clearing their Team Total Over. It will not happen in back to back weeks.

Jalen Hurts Anytime TD(+100)

  • New week, same pick as always. It’s the easiest bet in sports and it hit on the Eagles first drive last week on a QB Sneak about 3 minutes into the game.
  • Jalen Hurts has 7 rushing TD’s in 9 games this year and has scored in 5 of his 9 games. He has 20 rushing TD’s in 28 starts. The implied probability of these stats tell me it’s foolish not to bet on Hurts to score a rushing TD in every game due to the implied probability telling you that he scores in more games than he does not.

4:25 p.m.

Cowboys -1.5 @ Vikings

  • Dallas is coming off of a massively disappointing loss to a reeling Packers team. The Vikings are coming off of an incredibly improbable comeback win against the class of the AFC in the Buffalo Bills. This feels like a tremendous gambling spot to bet on a Dallas bounceback and a Minnesota regression to the mean.
  • This isn’t exactly Primetime Kirk Cousins but it’s not 1:00 either. For those who don’t know, Cousins is great at 1:00 and bad at all other times. 46-34-2 ATS in games starting at 1 or earlier compared to 20-30 ATS in games starting at 4 or later.
  • The Vikings are 7-0 in 1-score games. The laws of regression would tell you that the Regression Monster is coming to steal a few wins from them in close games down the stretch.

You can follow Mark Henry Jr. on Twitter (@MarkHenryJr_) and listen to the Tough Cover Radio Show every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Fox Sports Radio The Gambler.

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