10 rated play on Tampa Bay
If Tampa Bay’s biggest problem last season was the ghastly 30 picks (30!) tossed by QB Jameis Winston (now with New Orleans, by the way!), the Bucs couldn’t have sought a better remedy than Tom Brady, who has made a career of avoiding the sort of errors that Winston constantly committed in 2019, adding another furrow in the brow of salty HC Bruce Arians. Brady, however, should be revived with a talented supporting cast, which he didn’t have at the end of his run with the Patriots. Arians enticed the GOAT QB with a big-play toy box featuring WRs Mike Evans and Chris Godwin (combined 153 catches and 17 TDs in 2019), not to mention convincing Gronk to resurface and reunite with Brady. The Saints remain flashy, though the loss of arm strength by Drew Brees was noticeable last year, and Sean Payton’s bunch has been routinely overvalued lately at the Superdome, where they’ve covered only 4 of their last 13.
10 rated play on Syracuse
They’re a little giddy in Chapel Hill after UNC reignited last season for new/old HC Mack Brown, culminating an eventful 2019 with a 55-13 romp past Temple in the Military Bowl. But this price is suggesting things pick up right where they left off for the Heels, when they closed with a rout of NC State and the bowl blowout. Mack, however, needed that win over the Wolfpack and Mercer the previous game just to get bowl-eligible, so we’re not quite ready to drink the Carolina Kool-Aid, even after QB Sam Howell tossed 38 TDP as a frosh. They’re not as excited at the ‘Cuse after missing a bowl last season, but Dino Babers has progressed the Orange to the point it is routinely competitive in the ACC, and QB Tommy DeVito is back after flashing plenty of upside running Dino’s Spread last year. Note that UNC hasn’t laid this sort of 3-TD price in an ACC game since 2005 against pre-David Cutcliffe Duke!
10 rated play on Coastal Carolina
Coastal Carolina HC Jamey Caldwell enters his 3 rd season as head coach (interim or otherwise) at CCU, welcoming back 8 offensive starters, including QBs Fred Payton and Bryce Carpenter who are battling along with RS frosh Grayson McCall for the starting job. Payton was in the lead until catching a minor Achilles injury, but Carpenter completed 66% of his throws LY and had an 8-2 TD-int. ratio, and word is McCall will be the eventual answer anyway. The return of star RB Marable and four OL starters is the key, as Marable ran for 148 yds. and scored both of Coastal’s TDs at Kansas in last year’s 12-7 Chanticleer upset at Lawrence. Have no problems taking points with CCU facing Jayhawk team that’s sunk like a rock as chalk, covering just 4 of last 15 chances as a favorite.
10 rated play on Texas
In anticipation of this rare visit to Austin, maybe UTEP was holding something back last week vs. Southland rep Stephen F Austin, struggling into the 4 th Q before finally putting away the FCS Lumberjacks. But after winning just two times the previous three seasons, UTEP is hardly in a position to overlook anybody, and having a hard time with an FCS entry that was 3-9 in 2019 is illuminating. Holdover QB Gavin Hardison made enough plays to get the Miners over the hump last week, but now he’s facing a hungry Horns’ D with 9 starters back from the platoon that thumped Utah in the Alamo Bowl and is reportedly flying around the field in practice for new d.c. Chris Ash, who once held the same position for Urban Meyer at Ohio State. Under some pressure to upgrade in 2020, Texas HC Tom Herman not likely to tap the brakes, and sr. QB Sam Ehlinger eager to gain rapport with a new group of wideouts.
10 rated play on South Alabama
Can’t help but be impressed with South Alabama’s effort in notching its first road win since 2017 in its opener at Southern Miss. QB Jeremiah Trotter overcame 2 early ints. and a couple of injuries to lead the victory, and if he’s limited, still have confidence in juco QB Chance Lovertich, who completed a 52-yard TD pass in his drive while Trotter stretched out what appeared to be a hamstring cramp. Certainly confident in RB Carlos “Swamper” Davis and WRs Jalen Tolbert and Jalen Wayne (combined 24 recs. for 126 yds.), and note the vet OL didn’t give up a sack. Tulane will be without its best returning rusher, as sr. RB Corey Dauphine will miss the season with an Achilles injury. The Green Wave doesn’t win a whole lot of road games (11-42 SU L9 years), so why not take the points with what looks like an improved USA squad?
9 Rated play on Baltimore (-8) OVER Cleveland
Hard to grasp why media remains in love with Baker Mayfield and the underachieving Browns, especially when Super Bowl-winning HC John Harbaugh and MVP Lamar Jackson are the opposition.
9 Rated play on Philadelphia (-6) OVER Washington
Eagles own big QB edge with Wentz vs. Haskins, and Philly has won 6 straight vs. the Football Team from Washington, covering 5 of those.
9 Rated play on Appalachian St (-17) OVER Charlotte
Mountaineers a big fish (more like an 800-pound gorilla) in the small pond that is the Sun Belt, and on alert after C-USA Charlotte kept 2019 tilt interesting.
9 Rated play on Florida State (-12) OVER Georgia Tech
Experienced (10 starters back), fast Seminole “D” should be dominant platoon on field Saturday in Tallahassee and experienced jr. QB Blackman (22 starts, 36 TDP) can make plays.
Houston @ Kansas City over 54
Look for explosive plays from both Mahomes and Watson and sluggish legs from defenders on both sides.
Indianapolis @ Jacksonville under 45
Ex-Charger now Colt QB Rivers looks like mirror image of Johnny Unitas circa 1973 (Colts to Chargers), and Jag QB Minshew’s receivers need rookie WRs Shenault and Johnson to be special in their first game in the pros, which usually doesn’t happen.
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