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Matchup Selection W/L
NBA  |  Oct 24, 2021
Celtics vs. Rockets
Celtics
-5 -115
  at  LINEPROS
started

My free play is on the Bos Celtics at 7:10 ET.

The Boston Celtics made the Eastern Conference Finals in THREE of four seasons, before going just 36-36 and losing in the playoffs' first round last season. Head coaching 'savior' Brad Stevens is now in the front office and the Celtics have a new head coach in Ime Udoka. Houston was a Western Conference-worst 17-55 last year, as  the Rockets initiated a full rebuild following the early-season trade of James Harden and opened the new season with an exciting, albeit overwhelmingly youthful, roster. Boston opened its season with 138-134 double-OT loss at the Knicks and appeared to run out of gas in the second half of their home opener against the Toronto Raptors on Friday. Boston was outscored 64-36 after the intermission in their 115-83 loss to the Raptors, a defeat in which the Celtics were booed by their home crowd, and first-year coach Ime Udoka described his team as being "punked" and "outplayed" by the Raptors. Houston was 'spanked' 124-106 in its opener at Minnesota but then routed OKC 124-91 back in Houston.

One positive for the Celtics in their loss to the Raptors was the return of veteran Al Horford, who missed the opener against the Knicks following a positive COVID-19 test. Horford added 11 points and 11 rebounds plus added four blocked shots in just over 24 minutes. He felt fine," Udoka said. "He actually wanted to play longer. We wanted to keep him around that 25-minute (restriction), so when his time was done in the fourth, we pulled him there. Brown (27.5 & 6.5) and Tatum (19.0 & 8.5) give Boston two OUTSTANDING players and the team has excellent depth.

Before the Rockets traded James Harden to Brooklyn and initiated their rebuild, Houston signed free agent forward/center Christian Wood with the intent of showcasing his offensive versatility. Wood averaged 21.0 PPG and 9.6 RPG in 41 games before getting hurt last season and opened this season with a clean bill of health. Wood scored 31 points and grabbed 14 rebounds in the Rockets' 124-91 victory over the Thunder on Friday, after getting 16 & 9 in the Wednesday loss at Minnesota. Veteran guard Gordon is still around and he's second on the team by averaging 18.5 PPG. The Rockets had a great haul in the recent draft with SG Jalen Green (No. 2 overall pick bypassed college to play in last year's G-League) plus the 6-10 Alperen Sengun (Turkey), the 6-8 Usman Garuba (Spain), and guard Josh Christopher (ASU). 2nd-year head coach Stephen Silas needs to blend that youth with veterans like Wall (?), Gordon, Augustin and Theis.

The Rockets should be seeing a light at the end of the tunnel by season's end but for tonight, I'm backing the Celtics to NOT fall to 0-3 and will lay the points.

Good luck...Larry

YESTERDAY'S PLAYS
Matchup Selection W/L
MLB  |  Oct 23, 2021
Dodgers vs Braves
Dodgers
-145 at Caesars
Lost
$145.0
Play Type: Top Premium

My 10* Late-Breaker is on the LA Dodgers at 8:08 ET.

Attention: It sure looks as if Buehler will start for LA but I'm taking no chances. This is an "action" play.

The Braves fought through injuries all season, most notably losing Acuna (24 HRs in 82 games) for the entire season right before the All Star break and starter Mike Soroka (13-4, 2.68 ERA in 2019), who hasn't pitched since early 2020 because of Achilles surgery. Atlanta captured its fourth straight NL East title in 2021 and then eliminated the Brewers 3-1 in the NLDS. Waiting for the Braves in the NLCS was the LA Dodgers, who saw their eight-year run of winning the NL West end when they fell ONE game short of the Giants. The Dodgers survived a 3-1 win over the Cards in the NL wild card game (2-run walk-off HR in the 9ath) and then overcame a 2-1 deficit against the Giants to win Games 4 and 5 to advance to the NLCS.

The first two games of this series were in Atlanta and the Braves won 3-2 and 6-5, each in walk off fashion. As the series moved to Dodger Stadium, the Braves were in good shape but surely remembered that they led the Dodgers 3-1 in the 2020 NLCS (neutral-site series, played in Arlington, Texas) but saw the Dodgers rally by taking the final three games and then go on to capture their first World Series title since 1988. The Braves entered the 8th inning up 5-2 in Game 3 but lost when the Dodgers made a miraculous comeback. Heading into Game 4, the thought could have been, "Here we go again!" However, the Braves hit four HRs and jumped out to a 5-0 lead and won 9-2!

The Game 5 set up was the following. The Braves sent Max Fried to the mound. He went 17-6 in 2019, despite a 4.02 ERA if they can push the series that far. In 2020's COVID season, he made 11 starts, going 7-0 with a 2.25 ERA, as the Braves won 10 of those 11 starts. Fried made 28 starts in 2021, going 14-7 with a 3.04 ERA, as the team went 18-10. Looking a little closer, the Braves won 10 of his last 11 regular season starts and had now won BOTH of his postseason starts (1.50 ERA). Doing the math is easy, Fried took the mound Thursday with the Braves having won 12 of his last 13 starts, while the Dodgers went with a bullpen game, hoping to get Max Scherzer for a Game 6 on Saturday in Atlanta.

The Dodgers 'lit up' Fried in Game 5 (4.2 IP / 8 hits / 5 ERs), in an 11-2 win. LA pounded out 11 hits, including three HRs by Chris Taylor, the hero of LA's wild card win. As for LA's "bullpen game," NINE pitchers allowed just two runs on five hits with nine Ks and not a single walk. The victory sent the series back to Atlanta where Max Scherzer was supposed to start for LA. Ah, the best laid plans.

Scherzer will not make his scheduled start in Game 6. "I would just say my arm was dead," Scherzer, a free agent at season's end, said after that start. "I could tell when I was warming up that it was still tired. Scherzer's replacement for the Dodgers is Walker Buehler, who will square off against Ian Anderson. Buehler taking the ball requires him starting on short rest for the second time in his career, after previously doing so in Game 4 of the NLDS against the San Francisco Giants. Starting anyone outside of Buehler would have morphed Game 6 into a bullpen game for Los Angeles, made more difficult because the Dodgers also staged a bullpen game in Thursday's Game 5.

Buehler's 2.47 ERA in the regular season was the third-best ERA in all of baseball (also owned a 0.97 WHIP and .199 BAA during the regular season). Buehler lasted 6.1 innings in Game 1 and allowed three ERs in a 4-0 loss. The Dodgers then brought Buehler back on short rest in Game 4 (down 2-1), for the first time in his career. He delivered 4.1 innings and allowed just one run. The Dodgers would win 7-2 and then beat the Giants 2-1 in Game 5. Buehler started Game 3 in LA and lasted just 3.2 innings, allowing four runs (just two earned).

Ian Anderson starred for Atlanta in last year's playoffs and after a 9-5 season in 2021 (3.58 ERA and 1.24 WHIP) in 24 starts (team was just 13-11), the Braves have won both of his postseason starts. However, he lasted a total of just eight innings (two ERs allowed for a 2.25 ERA). Is Anderson up to the task on the 'BIG stage?' Just the facts, as Joe Friday used to say (I'm really dating myself now). For a FIFTH time in two seasons, the Atlanta Braves will take the field knowing that one victory will launch them into their first World Series in over two decades. Braves fans know all too well that they are 0-4 in their first four tries.

As for the Dodgers, they will take the field having won SEVEN consecutive playoff elimination games (four coming against Atlanta), going back to last year's NLCS. Since the last weekend of the regular season, they have lost Clayton Kershaw, Max Muncy and Justin Turner to injury, yet they keep surviving. As I pointed out in taking LA in Game 5, LA pitchers owned MLB's lowest ERA (3.01) and WHIP (1.10) during the regular season and LA won 106 games to Atlanta's 88. LA led all of MLB in run differential (plus-269 runs), while the Braves owned a differential of plus-134. The Dodgers ARE the better team. The Braves are at home but can they rise to the challenge? Sure they CAN but WILL they? My bet is on the Dodgers and will re-evaluate Sunday for Game 7. See you then.

Once again a reminder. This is an "action" play.

Good luck...Larry

Matchup Selection W/L
NCAA-F  |  Oct 23, 2021
Nevada vs Fresno State
Nevada
+3½ -106 at pinnacle
Won
$100
Play Type: Free

My free play is on Nevada at 7;00 ET.

The 5-2 Fresno State Bulldogs  (2-1 in conference) host the 5-1 Nevada Wolf Pack (2-0 in conference) on Saturday in an important MWC showdown. Bothe schools have outstanding QBs, as Nevada is led by Carson Strong and Fresno St by Jake Haener. Strong is completing 67.9% for 1,990 yards with 16 TDs and just three INTs. TE Turner leads with 34 catches (four TDs and despite the Wolf Pack losing outstanding WR Cooks after just three games (he had 13 catches and 4TDs), Strong still has a strong cast of WRs. The running game doesn't help much (Taua leads with 391 yards on 6.0 YPC and 4 TDs) but Nevada is averaging 36.3 PPG (21st). The defense allows 23.5 PPG, good enough with the team's strong offense. Fresno St QB Haener is completing 67.8% for 2,326 yards with 20 TDs and just six INTs. His running game is slightly more helpful with Rivers rushing for 493 yards on 4.4 YPC with 3 TDs plus adding 25 receptions. His top target is WR Cropper, who has 48 catches and 10 TDs. Kelly adds 30 catches plus Wheatfall and Pope have 18 and 15 catches, respectively, while averaging impressive averages of 18.1 and 19.5 YPC. The Bulldogs' D allows only 19.3 PPG (24th) on 312.3 YPG (22nd).

The teams are pretty evenly matched but it's hard to ignore that the home team is just 2-8 ATS the last 10 meetings or that the Wolf Pack are on a 7-0 ATS run as an underdog in regular season games. Take the points!

Good luck...Larry

Matchup Selection W/L
NBA  |  Oct 23, 2021
Grizzlies vs Clippers
Grizzlies
+4½ -103 at pinnacle
Won
$100
Play Type: Top Premium

My 10* Situational Stunner is on the Memphis Grizzlies at 10:40 ET.

The Los Angeles Clippers will look to bounce back in the team's first home contest of the season Saturday against the visiting Memphis Grizzlies, after opening the campaign with a 115-113 road loss against the Golden State Warriors (Curry had 45 points). The Memphis Grizzlies are the opponent, coming in off a 132-121 home win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday.

Jaren Jackson Jr. came into the league when Memphis made him the No. 4 pick in 2018. The former Michigan State star has averaged 15.4 points in his first three seasons. Jackson missed the Grizzlies' first 56 games last year while rehabbing a knee injury suffered the previous season. He wound up taking the court just 16 times, the last two of which being arguably his best, when he averaged 18.0 points in losses to Utah in Games 4 and 5 of their first-round playoff series Jackson contributed 13 & 6 in the win but the star was none other than PG Ja Morant (19.1 & 7.4 APG last season), who scored 37 points and handed out six assists. Bane (22 points) and Melton (20) were surprise contributors, while Kyle Anderson added 10-7-4 and the team's new center, Steven Adams looked very good (eight points and 14 rebounds). Memphis shot 53.0% as a team, including 14 of 33 on threes!

Paul George finished with 29 points, 11 rebounds and six assists in a losing effort against Golden St but said his team will work to put the loss behind them and get a home victory against a tough Memphis team. "It was a good test for us in Game 1," George told reporters. "We know what we have to do going forward against these fast-paced teams. It doesn't get better than them (Golden State) in terms of how fast they play, and how much that ball is hopping around. All are aware that the Clippers are playing without superstar Kawhi Leonard, who suffered a partially torn ACL in his right knee during the playoffs last season and had surgery in July (he could miss the entire season). PG Jackson played excellently down the stretch and throughout the postseason last year but finished with just 11 points on 4-of-19 shooting in a loss. Some good news was that the Clippers got 22 points from new edition Eric Bledsoe. All five starters scored in double digits but it was not enough to overcome Steph's 45 points.

The Grizzlies' game against the Clippers is the start of a four-game Western trip for Memphis that includes games against the Lakers, the Trail Blazers and the Warriors. Memphis sur won't want to start off that trip with a loss. Meanwhile, the Clippers will play three straight at home, as after Memphis, they have games with Portland and Cleveland. My feeling is that the Clippers are going to need some time to develop a chemistry, while Memphis seems MUCH more settled. I know the Grizzlies' win came against the Cavs (not a real test) but the 'old and now' parts blend well. I'm taking the points.

Good luck...Larry

Matchup Selection W/L
NBA  |  Oct 23, 2021
Mavs vs Raptors
Raptors
+4 -110 at Caesars
Lost
$110.0
Play Type: Top Premium

My 9* Las Vegas Insider is on the Tor Raptors at 7:35 ET.

The Toronto Raptors flopped in their season-opening game Wednesday, falling 98-83 at home to the Wizards. However, Toronto rebounded last night with an impressive 115-83 upset victory at Boston. The Raptors travel tonight to Dallas to play the Mavericks, who got served in their season-opener 113-87 in Atlanta. Normally I avoid "playing on" teams in the second game of a back-to-back, but this is different. It's the start of the season, so fatigue simply is not an issue at this point of the campaign. Plus, this is a difficult travel spot for the Mavericks, as they make a rare trip "North of the Border." Let's take a closer look.

Lowry's gone for Toronto and it's playing without All Star Pascal Siakam (21.4 & 7.2 LY), who is recovering from Shoulder surgery. However, Toronto received an impressive performance Friday from rookie Scottie Barnes (fourth overall pick in the recent draft!), who scored 25 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in 35 minutes. The cupboard is hardly bare, with PG VanVleet (19.6-4.2-6.3 LY), SF Anunoby (15.9-5.5 LY) and PF Boucher (13.6 & 6.7 LY) all returning. Trent was a late season pick-up from Portland last season and has averaged 13.0 PPG in two games plus PF Achiuwa came from Miami (as did veteran PG Dragic) and has averaged 10.5 & 11.0 in his two games. Gary Trent Jr. replaced Goran Dragic in the starting lineup against Boston, adding 20 points and four steals for the Raptors last night, while Precious Achiuwa had 15 points and 15 rebounds.

Luka Doncic has established himself as an elite player is just three short years but new head coach Jason Kidd would like to reduce Doncic's workload this season as the primary ball-handler to keep defenses off balance and to keep him fresher for late in games. Doncic was involved in 27.6 percent of the Mavericks' plays when on the court Thursday, which was lower than all but four of his 73 games last season, when he ranked second in the NBA at 35 percent. However, Doncic shot poorly (6-17) and his 18 points were a team-high (not a good stat!). Dallas big man Kristaps Porzingis had just 11 points and shot worse than Doncic, making only 4 of 13 shots. Overall, Dallas shot 33.3% as a team, including an 'ugly' 13 of 43 on threes.

Jason Kidd will now seek his first win with his new team, laying points in Toronto, a team that is coming off an impressive win in Boston. What's more, Toronto's loss to Washington was the franchise's first game in front of its home crowd, after playing all of last year's 'home' game in Tampa (due to COVID travel restrictions). A now-confident Raptors team gets a second chance to play in front of a packed house and in my opinion, Toronto is being underestimated by the bookmakers. Raptors head coach Nick Nurse is a better game coach on his WORST day, than Kidd is on his BEST. Take the home dog!

Good luck...Larry

Matchup Selection W/L
NCAA-F  |  Oct 23, 2021
UTSA vs Louisiana Tech
Louisiana Tech
+6½ -110 at Caesars
Lost
$110.0
Play Type: Premium

The 2nd play of my STP is an 8* on La Tech at 7:00 ET.

Clemson (No. 3), Iowa St (No. 7) and North Carolina (No. 10) were all ranked in the AP's preseason top-10 but are all currently unranked (and own a combined SEVEN loses), yet UTSA has opened 7-0 (3-0 in C-USA) and with road wins at Illinois and Memphis, Roadrunners are ranked for the first time in program history, at No. 24. Can't make this stuff up! The question UTSA must answer Saturday night when the Roadrunners visit Ruston, La., for a C-USA matchup with Louisiana Tech is, "can they handle success?". UTSA surely had no problem with Rice last Saturday, blanking the Owls 45-0. Second-year coach Jeff Traylor called it the team's most complete game. "It was by far the best game we have played in all three phases," he said. "This was a big game with a lot of pressure on those kids. Those kids understand the pressure. They came out and played as good as I have seen them play." This is the 11th year of the Roadrunners' program, which was started in 2011 under former Miami coach Larry Coker. He went 26-32 in five years and was replaced by Frank Wilson, who posted a 19-29 mark from 2016 to 2019 and took the school to its first bowl game. Traylor came aboard in December 2019 after serving as running backs coach at Arkansas and posted a 7-5 mark last year, guiding the program to its second bowl appearance. A third bowl game is all but assured now.

Louisiana Tech is just 2-4 (1-1 in C-USA), after a 19-3 conference loss last week at surprising UTEP. The Roadrunners are the second ranked team Louisiana Tech has played in 2021, In that one, the Bulldogs could have forced overtime at N.C. State before a final-snap interception allowed the Wolfpack to close out a 34-27 win in Raleigh back on Oct 2. "It doesn't get any easier," Louisiana Tech head coach Skip Holtz said. "It's going to be a great challenge for us. I'm glad we have the opportunity to come back home." Holtz knows more than a little bit about winning, as he led La Tech to SIX consecutive bowl wins from 2014-2019, before losing 38-3 to Ga Southern in last year's New Orleans Bowl.

UTSA's offense is led by QB  Frank Harris, who has completed 69.2 percent of his passes for 1,600 yards, with a 14-3 touchdown-interception ratio. RB McCormick has rushed for 778 yards on 4.7 YPC with six TDs (team averages 18.0 YPG on the ground to rank 48th). A trio of WRs, Joshua Cephus, Zakhari Franklin and De'Corian Clark, have combined for 113 receptions and accounted for 14 TDs. UTSA's defense is allowing just 19.1 PPG (22nd) on 323.3 YPG (31st) and is greatly helped by having forced 14 turnovers.

La Tech averages 28.3 PPG, led by QB Austin Kendall, who has thrown for 1,342 yards and 10 TDs in five games, with eight INTs (he's completing 59.5%). He has a mediocre receiving corps and the Bulldogs' running game averages only 123.8 YPG (98th).The La Tech defense is allowing 31.0 PPG (99th) on a whopping 457.3 YPG (118th).

Clearly, La Tech does NOT match up well on paper but we all know games are NOT played on paper. The Bulldogs, particularly under Skip Holtz own a fairly impressive history. Look how close La Tech came to NC St on the road (see above). This marks the Bulldogs first home game since a 24-17 conference victory over North Texas back on Sep 25. Note that last season, that UTSA was only able to eke out a 27-26 victory in San Antonio and that Louisiana Tech owns a 7-2 lead in the all-time series, First-ever game as a ranked team and the Roadrunners draw a La Tech team that is 5-0 when hosting UTSA, winning by a margin of 19 PPG! 'Bow Wow!' Take the points. Upset Alert? Just maybe.

Good luck...Larry

Matchup Selection W/L
NCAA-F  |  Oct 23, 2021
Clemson vs Pittsburgh
Clemson
+3½ -110 at Caesars
Lost
$110.0
Play Type: Premium

The first play of my STP is an 8* on Clemson at 3:30 ET.

Clemson began the season ranked No. 3 in the AP's preseason poll but opened with a 10-3 loss to then-No. 5 Georgia. The way the Bulldogs have played here in 2021 (now a unanimous No. 1), that loss is nothing to be ashamed of. However, when the Tigers visit  Pittsburgh for the first time in program history on Saturday, Clemson will come in 4-2 and unranked, while the Panthers are 5-1 and ranked 23rd in the latest AP poll. The last time Pitt won 10 games was back in 2009, while Clemson came into the current season having won 10-plus games in every season since going 6-7 in 2010.

That said, Panthers head coach Pat Narduzzi isn't buying the perception that the Tigers are a mere shell of their former self. "They're obviously a great football team," Narduzzi said. "I know they're not tops in the country right now, but they are talented. They're one of the top scoring defenses in the country." Narduzzi is correct on that count, as the Tigers are allowing 12.5 PPG (2nd) and have allowed only two rushing TDs this season. However, Clemson's offense is quite another story, as after averaging 44.3, 43.9 and 43.5 PPG behind Trevor Lawrence the previous three seasons, Clemson QB Uiagalelei has NOT been ready for primetime. Clemson is averaging just 20.5 PPG, ranking 113th in the nation. Say it Ain't so, DJ!

The QB of note in this game will be Pitt's Kenny Pickett, who is completing 69.8% for 1,934 yards with 21 TDs and just one INT. WR Addison has 34 catches (17.2 YPC / 9 TDs) plus TE Krull checks with just 17 receptions but five TDs. Pitt's defense is not quite in Clemson's class but the Panthers are allowing just 20.0 PPG (34th) on 319.3 YPG (26th). That's nothing to shake a stick at, as my grandfather used to say.

Clemson will enter this game as an underdog in an Atlantic Coast Conference game for the first time since 2016 and that should add plenty of motivation (the good old chip on the shoulder kind). It's also worthy of noting that Pittsburgh beat the Tigers in Clemson 43-42 midway through the 2016 season, a year in which the Tigers went on to win the national championship that season. Clemson has won 31 straight home games since that loss and has dominated both meetings against Pitt since, winning 42-10 in the 2018 ACC Championship Game and 52-17 last season at Clemson.

Clemson is 0-6 ATS and Pittsburgh is 5-1. Something tells me those trends reverse here. Take the points.

Good luck...Larry

Matchup Selection W/L
NCAA-F  |  Oct 23, 2021
Georgia Tech vs Virginia
Georgia Tech
+7 -125 at BetVegas
Lost
$125.0
Play Type: Premium

The 3rd play of my STP is an 8* on Ga Tech at 7:30 ET.

The Cavaliers (5-2, 3-2 ACC) scored on all six first-half possessions and cruised to a 48-0 blowout of the Blue Devils last Saturday, while the Yellow Jackets (3-3, 2-2) seized the lead with 51 seconds left in a 31-27 win against Duke in their most recent game (Oct. 9). Virginia lost 59-39 to North Carolina and then 37-17 to Wake Forest but has ripped off three straight wins since, nail-biters over Mia-Fl (30-28) and 34-33 over Louisville, prior to the beatdown of Duke. Ga Tech gave then-No. 6 Clemson all it wanted in a 14-8 loss, before shocking then-No. 21 North Carolina, 45-22. Ga Tech is off a bye week

The Yellow Jackets have lost their last three games on Cavaliers' home field, and 12 of 14 since 1992. However, head coach Geoff Collins hopes that is about to change. Back on Oct 9 against Duke, QB Jeff Sims led a clutch six-play, 88-yard drive in the final two minutes, capped by a 36-yard TD pass. Sims finished with 297 yards on 12-of-25 passing with three scores and two interceptions. He has accounted for 10 TDs (six passing, four rushing) in his last three games and is now the clear starter at QB. "Jeff's a big-time player," Collins said. "Obviously, we want to eliminate those early turnovers moving forward, but he's a big-time player. ... The guys have faith in him." Ga Tech has a trio of quality RBs and the team averages 169.0 YPG (61st)

UVA's offense is centered around QB Brennan Armstrong, who has completed 63.8% for 2,824 yards with 19 TDs and six INTs. WR Kemp has 48 catches but averages inluy9.9 YPC (he does have four TDs). Fellow WR Wicks has 32 catches and averages 21.2 YC with six TDs while TE Woods has 23 catches and five TDs. The running game offers little help, averaging 119.9 YPG (10st). UVA's defense allows 24.4 PPG (to Ga Tech's 25.7 PPG) but is giving up way too many yards (413.1, which ranks 94th). UVA has the better QB but as Ga Tech coach Collins points out, Sims is making his mark and his confidence (and the team's) is growing.

Ga Tech is more than capable of sneaking up on UVA, which has a trip to BYU up next for the Cavaliers (note: UVA head coach Bronco Mendenhall left BYU for UVA after the 2015 season, having taken the Cougars to 11 bowls in his 11 seasons at Provo). Take the points.

Good luck...Larry

Matchup Selection W/L
NCAA-F  |  Oct 23, 2021
USC vs Notre Dame
USC
+7 -110 at Caesars
Lost
$110.0
Play Type: Top Premium

My 10* CFB Game of the Month is on USC at 7:30 ET.

USC/Notre Dame is the greatest intersectional rivalry in CFB history. The schools had met in every season since World War II before this long standing rivalry took a one-season break due to the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. "It's baaack!" in 2021, as No. 13 Notre Dame (5-1) hosts an underachieving USC team that opened 15th in the AP's preseason poll but is currently unranked with a 3-3 record. Notre Dame leads the all-time series 47-36-5, as after after winning SEVEN straight in the series, the Trojans have lost SEVEN of the last 10, including four straight in South Bend.

USC is no longer referred to as "Tailback U," as the Trojans are averaging a modest 129.8 YPG on the ground (93rd), although RB Ingram (419 yards on 5.7 YPC) is a solid player. QB Kedon Slovis was often mentioned as a Heisman hopeful coming into the season but has NOT played like one. He's completing 64.0% for 1,519 yards but has a modest 9-5 TD/INT ratio. He does own an outstanding WR in Drake London, who can make a case for being the best WR in the nation. He has 64 catches for 832 yards and five TDs.  His reception total ranks second nationally and the yardage ranks fourth. The USC defense is pretty mediocre, allowing 27.3 PPG (79th) on 382.2 YPG (69th).

Notre Dame's lone blemish this season came in a 24-13 home loss to then-No. 7 Cincinnati on Oct 2 (Bearcats are now No. 2 in the nation!). Notre Dame is off a bye (so is USC), eking out a 32-29 win at Virginia Tech 32-29 in its most recent game  Head coach Brian Kelly said that Jack Coan (62.1%  for 1,208 yards with 10 TDs and three INTs) would be the starting QB against USC but that Tyler Buchner also would see action. Coan began the season with 366 yards and four TDs against Florida State but has seen his yardage drop in all of the ensuing games. He threw for 108 yards against Virginia Tech while splitting time with Buchner (113 yards). Notre Dame's running game is worse than USC's, averaging only 96.2 YPG (119th) on a pathetic 2.9 YPC. The Irish do have some quality receivers in TE Meyer (32 catches / 3 TDs) plus WRs Austin and Davis, who each have 18 receptions while both are averaging over 17.0 YPC with a combined five TD catches. Notre Dame's defense is not bad (24.3 PPG and 360.7 YPG allowed) but it's clearly NOT in the class of a defense that allowed 19.7, 17.9 and 18.2 PPG the previous three seasons.

USC could surely use a big victory during a season that has been overshadowed by the firing of Clay Helton after a loss to Stanford in Week 2. Donte Williams is serving as interim coach while athletic director Mike Bohn works on making a hire to lead the program. Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly reacted by saying, "USC is going through a coaching change. We understand that, but this team plays extremely well against Notre Dame. It's a rivalry game, and they've played very well on the road. I'm sure that's because they can get away from the distractions that they're dealing with on a day-to-day basis. So, we expect to get the best version of USC, which will be a very good football team."

I agree with Kelly (never thought I'd say that!). USC has lost all three Pac-12 home games but has won 45-14 at Washington St and 37-14 at Colorado. Those teams are NOT Notre Dame but note that THREE of Notre Dame's five wins have come by three points plus its wins over Purdue and Wisconsin were VERY deceiving final scores (if you don't believe, look it up!). The Irish are just 2-5 ATS as a home favorite since the start of 2020, while USC has played well coming off a loss for quite a while now, going 38-17-1 ATS in its last 56 following a SU loss. This game always means a lot to both schools but I HAVE to believe this one "means more" to USC.

Trojans running back Vavae Malepeai (who?) made it clear his team plans to go into South Bend and come out with a victory. "There's a lot of history behind this game," Malepeai said. "We're putting it on our shoulders to make sure we get that job done." Hell, earlier I agreed with Brian Kelly (who I can't stand), so I may as well agree with someone I never heard of. Take the points. "Fight On!"

Good luck...Larry

Matchup Selection W/L
NCAA-F  |  Oct 23, 2021
Kansas State vs Texas Tech
Kansas State
+1 -117 at pinnacle
Won
$100
Play Type: Top Premium

My 9* Eye Opener is on Kansas St at 12:00 ET.

Chris Kleiman led Kansas St to an 8-5 season in his first year at Kansas St but fell to 4-6 last year. Kansas St opened the 2021 season 3-0, including solid wins over Stanford 24-7 at a neutral site) and 38-17 at Nevada. However, the Wildcats have opened Big 12 play 0-3, allowing 101 points (33.7 PPG) , in losing to Oklahoma St, Oklahoma and Iowa St. Texas Tech began with a 38-21 over Houston (neutral site) and was 3-0 when it got pounded 70-35 by Texas. The Red Raiders rebounded with a 23-20 win at West Va but then lost 52-31 at home to TCU, before beating Big 12 'punching bag' Kansas, 41-14. Head coach Matt Wells is in his third season in Lubbock, after leading Utah St to bowls in five of his six seasons. The Red Raiders have gone 4-8 and 4-6 in his first two seasons but this year's team is 5-2.

Wildcats QB Skylar Thompson is 44 of 64 for 526 yards with five touchdowns and one interception in two games since returning from a knee injury. For him to be effective, he needs balance and the running has shown promise (162.5 YPG ranks 69th), with RB Deuce Vaughn rushing for 543 rushing yards on 5.0 YPC and 5 TDs (he's also the team's leading receiver with 23 catches, adding two more TDs). The defense is allowing 24.7 PPG (60th) on 355.2 YPG (52nd), despite struggling against big 12 opponents. The Red Raiders average 168.6 YPG on the ground (63rd) with Thompson (314 yards on 5.0 YPC and 6 TDs) plus Brooks (284 yards on 8.1 YPC with 4 TDs). QB Tyler Shough averaged 218 passing yards per game before breaking his collarbone in the Sept 25 loss to Texas but backup Henry Colombi has stepped right in, averaging 264.5 YPG over the past four games. The Texas Tech defense is allowing 31.4 PPG (102nd) on 386.4 YPG (75th).

Kansas St is on a three-game slide but note Oklahoma St and Oklahoma are both unbeaten, while Iowa St was ranked No. 7 in the preseason (pretty tough three-game stretch). For one, Texas Tech head coach Matt Wells is not buying the fact that Kansas State is struggling. "K-State has beat us (five) years in a row," Wells said. "They're tough; they're physical. I have a lot of respect for Chris Kleiman. I think Skylar Thompson is gritty and tough. He has a lot of moxie. Deuce Vaughn is one of the best in the country, and they've got some guys in the special teams that keep you up at night."

Great situation for Kansas St to get back in the win column after a rough three-game stretch. Kansas St has gone 9-1 SU and 8-2 ATS against Texas Tech since 2011. What changes here? Nothing.

Good luck...Larry

Matchup Selection W/L
NCAA-F  |  Oct 23, 2021
BYU vs Washington State
BYU
-4 -110 at Caesars
Lost
$110.0
Play Type: Top Premium

My 9* Las Vegas Insider is on BYU at 3:30 ET.

BYU surprised all by going 11-1 (9-3 ATS) in 2020 (finished 11th in the final coaches' poll) and opened 5-0 in 2021, including notable wins 26-17 over then-No. 21 Utah (ending a 9-game losing streak in "The Holy War") and 27-17 over then-No. 21 Arizona St. However, the Cougars come to Pullman off back-to-back losses, 26-17 at home to Boise St and 38-24 at Baylor. Washington St  played just four games in 2020's COVID season, winning its opener and then going 0-3 SU and ATS, while allowing 42.0 PPG. It was Nick Rolovich's first season at Washington St, after he led his alma mater (Hawaii) to a 28-27 record in four years but with three Hawaii Bowl berths (2-1). Rolovich is a former QB, well-liked and the Cougars expected him to revive the program. Wash St opened just 1-3 but then beat Cal (21-16), Oregon St (31-24) and Stanford (34-31) to reach 4-3 (is on a 4-0 ATS streak0. However, as all have to know by now, he was dismissed from his head coaching position, along with four assistants (more later).

BYU averaged 43.5 PPG last season (down to 26.7 in 2021), while allowing only 15.3 PPG (up to 23.0 in 2021). QB Jaren Hall got hurt and Baylor Romney filled in nicely (80.0% with 5 TDs and zero INTs) but Hall is back and it's hard to blame him for the two losses, as he threw for 302 and 342 yards. He's completing 62.6% for 1,476 yards with 15 TDs and just 5 INTs, plus has run for 188 yards on 6.3 YPC. RB Allgeier is a tough inside runner and has 675 yards on 5.0 YPC and nine TDs. BYU always has receivers and this year's team in no different with Pau'u (31 catches / 4 TDs), Gunner Romney (26 catches / 17.4 YPC / 3 TDs) and Nacua (20 catches on 22.62 YPC).

Washington St QB deLaura has completed 62.6% for 1,476 yards with 15 TDs and 5 INTs. He also has some 'sweet' WRs in Harris (44 catches / 5 TDs), Jackson (37 catches / 4 TDs) and Stribling (24 catches / 4 TDs). However, the Washington St running game averages just 111.7 YPG (114th) on 3.7 YPC with the lone notable contributor being Borghi (421 yards on 5.1 YPC / 5 TDs). The Cougars are scoring 25.7 PPG and allowing 25.7 PPG.

Teams respond in one of two ways after a coaching change. They either rally and dig deep for a victory, or they fall flat on their face. Nick Rolovich was loved by his players but he took a public stance against being vaccinated for COVID-19, in spite of a state mandate that applies to public education workers. He's no longer a state employee. Do the players feel abandoned by Rolovich? Are they upset with the school? I guess we'll find out. BYU has played the tougher schedule and knows a loss here (off back-to-back losses) and the team's season would be in a severe downward spiral (plenty of motivation here for the Cougars). I'm a big fan of BYU head coach Kelani Sitake and right now, Washington St is basically coach-less. I'm laying the short price.

Good luck...Larry

PICKS IN PROGRESS
Matchup Selection W/L
NBA  |  Oct 24, 2021
Magic vs Knicks
UNDER 215½ -107
Play Type: Top Premium

My NBA 10* O/U Game of the Week is on Orl/NYK Under at 7:10 ET.

Orlando went 48-34 in the 2017-18 season (lost in conference semis) but the last three years, has played .416 basketball without even 'sniffing' a playoff berth. Orlando is in full rebuild mode this season and new head coach in Jamahl Mosley, who doesn't have a lot to work with. Meanwhile, the Knicks ended a seven-year postseason drought last year by going 41-31. New York lost in the first round to the Atlanta Hawks, who made it all the way to the East Conference Finals.

Orlando opened its season by allowing 123 points at San Antonio and then 121 points at home to the Knicks, to open 0-2. It could (will be) a L-O-N-G first season for the Magic and Mosley. The Knicks preceded their win over the Magic by topping the Celtics 138-134 in two OTs in their season opener. The Two teams now play a quick turnaround game Sunday night at MSG.

It's really hard to know what to make with Orlando. The Magic's inexperience has been exposed during an 0-2 start. In their season opener Wednesday at San Antonio, the Magic led for much of the first quarter and remained within a possession of the lead well into the second quarter but fell 123-.97  Against the Knicks on Friday at home, Orlando fell behind for good fewer than four minutes into the game. The Magic went 0-for-8 from the floor while being outscored 16-0 over the final 4:34 of the first quarter and trailed 36-16. Final score; 121-96. The Magic's starters in the first two games, Cole Anthony, Mo Bamba, Wendell Carter Jr., Jalen Suggs and Franz Wagner, are all 23 years of age or younger. Plus all FIVE are first-round draft picks

Randle (35-8-9) and Fournier (32 points) led the way in the 138-134 win over Boston, as New York shot 48.6% from the floor, including 17 of 45 on threes. Friday night in Atlanta, Randle had more modest totals of 21-10-7 and Fournier added "just" 18 points. However, the team shot 500.% overall, including 24 of 54 on threes. What's going on with ALL the threes, has the defensive-minded Tom Thibodeau turned into Paul Westwood?

The bottom line is, I can't see the Knicks pushing the pace in this one from the opening tip until the final horn, with Philadelphia coming to town next. New York has also seen the total go under the number in SEVEN of its last nine after a SU/ATS road win in which it scored 120 or more points in. Play under.

Good luck...Larry

Matchup Selection W/L
NFL  |  Oct 24, 2021
Colts vs 49ers
49ers
-4 -101 at pinnacle
Play Type: Top Premium

My 10* SNF Magic Game of the Month is on the SF 49ers at 8:20 ET.

Week 7's SNF features two teams badly in need of a win. Indianapolis is 2-4 but plays in the weak AFC South. Tennessee leads at 4-2 but has to host the Chiefs on Sunday, off its MNF thriller over the Bills. In contrast, San Francisco is 2-3 and is stuck in the NFC West, which features the NFL's only unbeaten team (Arizona at 6-0) and the LA Rams, who are 5-1. That said, the team that loses here will see its playoff chances headed for 'life support,' even though the season has yet to reach its midpoint. The Colts have been consistently inconsistent this season but they're off a big 31-3 win over lowly Houston at home. The 49ers are hoping to bounce back after they lost 17-10 at Arizona in their latest matchup. That came two weeks ago, so they're now fully rested after their bye week, which really came at an opportune time early in the season.

Carson Wentz, the former Philadelphia Eagles QB was acquired in the offseason that reunited him with Frank Reich, who was Philadelphia's offensive coordinator for Wentz's first two NFL seasons (2016-17). Wentz looked like he was headed to stardom when he threw a career-high 33 touchdowns against seven interceptions in 2017 but his production went down after Reich departed to become the Colts' head coach. Wentz had just 16 TD passes and a career-worst 15 interceptions in 2020, losing his starting job to Jalen Hurts. However, reunited with Reich has worked out well, with Wentz completing 64.2% for 1,545 yards with nine TDs and just one INT (102.4 QB rating. In fact, Wentz is looking to throw multiple TD passes for the FOURTH straight game Sunday night. RB Taylor started poorly but has averaged 99.3 YPG over his last three, after rushing for 145 yards with two TDs vs Houston. WR Pittman leads with 31 catches but the bad news is that TY Hilton, who returned from a neck injury with four catches for 80 yards in his 2021 debut, has been ruled out. The Indy defense is solid, allowing 21.8 PPG (11th).

San Francisco was on the verge of a QB controversy but Trey Lance, who started against Arizona, sprained his left knee in that game and was ruled out Friday. Jimmy Garoppolo will be the starting QB, as he returns from a calf injury that caused him to miss the Week 5 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. "During the bye week, we made great strides," Garoppolo said Wednesday. "It will get better every day. Right now, it feels great." Jimmy G has completed 66.1% for 925 yards with five TD sand two INTs. Is he San Francisco's QB of the future? Not sure! The team's running game has been devastated by injuries but has still managed to average 122.0 YPG (12th). It won't help Jimmy G that George Kittle, the best TE outside of Kelce, remains out but WR WR Deebo Samuel had 71 yards from scrimmage and his fourth career TD run in Week 5 loss to Arizona, plus has at least five catches in four of five games this season (31 catches / 17.7 YPC / 3 TDs). The Nick Bosa-led defense (Bosa has five sacks, the most through five games for the franchise since Bryant Young had six in 2005) is allowing a modest 329.8 YPG (6th) but 23.8 YPG (16th)?

Here's two contrasting trends. The 49ers are a horrific 0-9 their last nine as a home favorite (aren't they due?) but 11-5 ATS in non-conference games. Sometimes, when a team is rolling and on a win streak, a "bye week" can throw a proverbial "monkey wrench" into their well-oiled chemistry, but in this case, the bye came at a great time for a San Francisco team that opened 2-0 but has now lost THREE straight. "We could easily be sitting at 5-0 right now," 49ers left tackle Trent Williams said. "Obviously, we're not. We're 2-3 but we go back and revisit every loss, you can find some good in that. There were some things where we could have won some games but we didn't take advantage of the situations." He may be exaggerating a little but the 49ers are NOT a sub-.500 team. Lay the short price as San Francisco moves to 3-3.

Good luck...Larry

Matchup Selection W/L
NFL  |  Oct 24, 2021
Falcons vs Dolphins
Dolphins
+2½ -110 at Caesars
Won
$100
Play Type: Top Premium

My 9* Losers Day Out play is on the Mia Dolphins at 1:00 ET.

Atlanta joined the NFL in 1966, the same year Miami entered the AFL. The Falcons have been to just ONE Super Bowl (2016) and blew a 28-3 lead. The Dolphins won back-to-back Super Bowls ('72 & '73) and have NOT won one since. 2-4 Atlanta is at 1-5 Miami on Sunday in what I'm dubbing a "Losers Day Out" play. The Falcons are 2-3 but note that the wins have come over the Giants and Jets, who are a combined 2-9. Miami won at New England in Week 1 but has since lost FIVE in a row (1-4) The Falcons have played the Dolphins just three times in Matt Ryan's career (Atlanta is 1-2) but note that in each meeting, Miami's had a different QB lead them. That trend will continue Sunday, as Tua Tagovailoa has never faced Atlanta. Previous Miami QBs that Ryan has gone up against are Chad Pennington (2009), Ryan Tannehill (2013) and Jay Cutler (2017).


Let's start with Ryan. and one of the silliest nicknames anyone has ever given someone who has NEVER won anything, "Matty Ice." Are you kidding me? Yes, Ryan has thrown for better than 4,000 yards in 10 straight seasons but the ONLY time he led his team to a Super Bowl was in the 2016 season, when the Falcons lost in OT after leading 28-3 in the third quarter. Ryan is completing 69.1% for 1,332 yards with 10 TDs and three INTs but his receiving corps is not what it used to be. Rookie TE Pitts (24 catches) could be a future star but WR Patterson (25 catches / 11.8 YPC / 4 TDs) is NO Julio Jones. As for the running game, Atlanta averages just 3.7 YPC on 91.0 YPG (24th). The offense is averaging only 21.0 PPG, which does NOT bode well with a defense allowing 29.6 PPG (30th).


OK, the Dolphins can match Atlanta's ineptitude both offensively AND defensively. Miami is averaging only 16.5 PPG (29th), while allowing 29.5 PPG (29th). Yes, the Dolphins were beaten by Jacksonville 23-20 in London Last Sunday, allowing the Jags to snap a 20-game losing streak. However, Tua returned against the Jaguars and did some good things, completing 33 of 47 passes for 329 yards and two TDs, as the Dolphins converted on 9 of 17 third-down plays.  It doesn't help that Miami ranks dead-last in rushing at 71.5 YPG (3.7 YPC). Miami's top playmakers right now are TE Mike Gesicki and rookie WR Jaylen Waddle. Gesicki has 30 catches for a team-high 342 yards and one TD, while Waddle has a team-high 37 catches for 301 yards and three TDs (note: his 8.1 YPC is FAR below what was expected.


Miami does have the disadvantage of coming home from London WITHOUT a week off and Atlanta does come in off a bye but that won't deter me from playing the Dolphins in this one. Let me note that Atlanta was a horrific 1-11 ATS vs non-conference opponents from 2017-19 and has done better in 2020 and the early part of 2021 (4-1 ATS), but I want NO part of them laying points here. Miami was 10-6 SU last season and ended the year going 5-1 SU and 6-0 ATS in its final six home games. Of course, the Dolphins are clearly NOT the same team they were in 2020 but a loss here and one can 'put a fork' in Miami's 2021 season. I won't beat a dead horse." This is my last try on Miami.


Good luck...Larry 

Matchup Selection W/L
NFL  |  Oct 24, 2021
Chiefs vs Titans
Titans
+4½ -110 at Caesars
Won
$100
Play Type: Top Premium

My 9* PERFECT STORM is on the Ten Titans at 1:00 ET.

The KC Chiefs have won the AFC West each of the last FIVE seasons but here in Week 7, find themselves 3-3 and tied for last-place in the division they've recently dominated. Good news is that the Chargers and Raiders are just 4-2 and the 2021 season features 17 games. The Titans opened the season losing 38-10 at home to the Cardinals and the loss was a bit of a shocker. SIX weeks later, Arizona is the NFL's lone unbeaten at 6-0 (5-1 ATS). Tennessee has won four of five since, losing only 27-24 in OT at the Jets (now that REMAINS a head-scratcher!). KC is off 31-13 win at Washington, while Tennessee is off an impressive 34-31 home win Monday night over the Bills.

Patrick Mahomes is completing 69.0% for 1,887 yards with 18 TDs and eight INTs. Those are impressive numbers but let me point out that his eight INTs in six games (242 attempts) compares VERY poorly to his total of just 11 INTs the last two seasons combined (1,072 attempts). KC's running game took a hit with Edwards-Helaire (304 yards of 4.7 YPC) missing last week and now being placed on IR. Mahomes still has the best WR/TE combo in the league in Hill (46 catches / 5 TDs) and Kelce (38 catches / 4 TDs). KC's defense is struggling, ranking 28th in both scoring D (29.3 PPG) and total D (410.5 YPG).

Tennessee QB Tannehill (63.4% for 1,467 yards) has just six TDs and four INTs. His two-best WRs (Jones and Brown) are both hurting and their status will become available no sooner than Saturday. However, RB Henry continues to prove he can 'carry' Tennessee's offense. He had just 58 yards (on 3.4 YPC) in the Week 1 loss to Arizona but he's run for 100-plus yards in FIVE straight (averaging 145.0 YPG). He has three TDs in the last two games, giving him 10 on the season. Defensively, the Titans are only slightly better than the Chiefs, ranking 24th in allowing 26.8 PPG on 384.0 YPG.

Here we go. A combination of turnovers (Kansas City leads the NFL in giveaways with14) and shoddy defense from Kansas City has contributed to the Chiefs being just 3-3. An interesting note is that Kansas City has gone "over" its projected season win total seven years straight coming into the 2021 season, so to keep that streak alive it'll now have to "run the table." More notably, going back to the middle part of the 2020 season, Kansas City's win and cover still makes them just  3-11 ATS its last 14 games (79% "go-against").

Until Kansas City can show any type of consistency from week to week, I have a hard time trusting the Chiefs, especially on the road against Tennessee (which is NO Washington). Take the points.

Good luck...Larry

Matchup Selection W/L
NFL  |  Oct 24, 2021
Lions vs Rams
OVER 50 -118 Lost
$118.0
Play Type: Top Premium

My 9* NFL "Featured" O/U is Det/LAR Over at 4:05 ET.

The 0-6 Detroit Lions will be in Los Angeles on Sunday to take on the  5-1 LA Rams. QB Jared Goff, who the Rams made the overall No. 1 pick of the 206 Draft will be back in LA to face his former team for the first time since the Rams engineered a trade last offseason that brought QB Matthew Stafford to the Rams from the Lions. The move to secure Stafford has gone well, as the Rams sit at 5-1,  just below the 6-0 Arizona Cardinals in the NFC West. As for Goff's move to Detroit? Not so much! The same cannot be said for the Lions. Detroit is 0-6 and still looking for its first win under first-year head coach Dan Campbell. Speaking honestly (rare for any coach or manager these days), Rams head coach Sean McVay said the handling of Goff's departure wasn't exactly a smooth process. "I wish there was better, clearer communication," McVay said. "To say that it was perfectly handled on my end, I wouldn't be totally accurate in that. I'll never claim to be perfect, but I will try to learn from some things that I can do better, and I think that was one of them without a doubt."

Goff is completing 66.8% for 1,505 yards with seven TDs and four TDs. He doesn't have much to work with as the running game averages 91.8 YPG (23rd). RB Swift is the team's leading receiver (34) and TE Hockenson checks in with 32. Neither player averages as much a 10.0 YPC! The Detroit defense gave up 76 points in its first two games but then held opponents to just 20.7 over its next three. However, Joe Burrow  and the Bengals scored 34 points against them last Sunday and now the Lions face ex-teammate Stafford, who could easily wind up with a career season.

That's saying something, as Stafford had thrown for more than 4,000 yards in EIGHT different seasons. However, he's completing 69.5% through six games for 1,838 yards (that puts him on pace for about 5,200 yards in this 17-game season) and he's thrown 16 TDs against just four INTs. His QB rating of 116.6 is almost 16 points higher than his career average of 90.8. The Rams running game is no bargain (103.5 YPG ranks 21st) but Stafford has a pair of excellent veteran WRs in Kupp (46 catches / 7 TDs) and Woods (29 catches / 3 TDs), a second-year WR in Jefferson who has 17 catches (had just 19 in his rookie season) and a quality TE in Higbee (22 catches and two TDs). The LA defense is allowing 21.2 PPG (10th) and won't feel threatened against a Detroit offense averaging only 18.2 PPG.

Then again, I'm predicting that Goff has his best of the season here, against the team that "done him wrong!" Goff is going to have his hands full with this aggressive Rams pass rush, but I don't think he'll go down without putting up a fight. That said, Stafford appears to be "a man on a mission" this year (finally on a team with a real chance to make some 'noise' in the postseason) and I have a hard time seeing the Lions slowing him down on his own field. With these two highly motivated QBs going head-to-head, all signs point to this total blasting past the posted number sooner, rather than later. It's Goin' Over. BE THERE!

Good luck...Larry

Matchup Selection W/L
NFL  |  Oct 24, 2021
Bengals vs Ravens
Bengals
+6½ -112 at pinnacle
Won
$100
Play Type: Top Premium

My 9* Las Vegas Insider is on the Cin Bengals at 1:00 ET.

It's Week 7 and Sunday's game between the 4-2 Bengals and 5-1 Ravens at Baltimore means a win by Cincy ties the two teams atop the AFC Central (with Cincy owning the tiebreaker) but a win by Baltimore moves the Ravens two games ahead of the Bengals. The Bengals have looked good so far but they will have to overcome recent history that reveals that since Lamar Jackson became the starting QB midway through 2018, the Ravens are 5-0 against the Bengals. That said, Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh is taking nothing for granted. "The (Bengals') whole team is one of the best teams in the National Football League right now," Harbaugh told reporters. "There's no question about it -- just watch them play. ... We've got our hands full."

I couldn't agree more with Harbaugh. Joe Burrow, who actually made LSU's Ed Orgeron look like a 'real' head coach, went 19-for-29 for 271 passing yards, with three TDs and an interception last week to guide the Bengals past winless Detroit. In doing so, he became the second first- or second-year QB ever to throw for multiple TDs in each of the first six games of a season, joining Dan Marino (not bad company!). Burrow is completing 70.7% for 1,540 yards with 14 TDs and seven INTs. He has the best RB on the field Sunday in Joe Mixon (480 yards on 4.3 YPC with 3 TDs) plus owns a good receiving corps. WR Chase has 27 catches, averaging 20.5 YPC with five TDs. Boyd and Higgins are solid possession receivers and TE Uzomah has 14 catches (11.8 YPC / 3 TDs). Cincy's real improvement is on defense, as the Bengals are allowing 18.5 PPG (5th) on just 331.0 YPG (8th). The Bengals ranked 26th in total defense and 22nd in scoring defense last season.

Baltimore lost RBs Dobbins and Edwards before the season started but Baltimore still averages 155.2 YPG on the ground (4th). That's because Lamar Jackson has run for 392 yards on 6.1 YPC with five TDs, Jackson is having an excellent season throwing the ball as well, completing 67.5% for 1.686 yards with nine TDs and five INTs. TE Andrews (34 catches / 13.8 YPC / 3 TDs) leads the team in receptions but WR Brown has 32 catches (15.2 YPC / 5 TDs). The defense is not quite as dominating as years past but is allowing a modest 20.7 PPG (7th) in 359.3 YPG (18th).

Yes, this is Baltimore's third straight home game but this is a different Cincy team than the Ravens have faced in recent years. Joe Burrow is "special" and the defense is GREATLY improved. Baltimore crushed the Chargers last Sunday but back in Week 5 (MNF), Baltimore needed a 16-3 4th quarter to get into OT vs the Colts, before winning with a TD in OT. This is a "statement" game for Cincy. Are the Bengals real or are they 'Memorex?' Take the points.

Good luck...Larry

SERVICE BIO

Age: 67 (turns 68 in November).

Years in handicapping: Larry entered his 38th year as a professional handicapper in September of 2021.

Achievements in handicapping: 1985 Castaway’s Pro Football Challenge Champion, then the most prestigious handicapping contest in Las Vegas; 1999 Stardust Invitational semi-finalist.

A member of the original cast of Proline (began in 1985), the nation’s longest running pre-game handicapping show on the USA-TV network (also hosted Sports Desk on the same network from 1996-98). In then joined the panel of The Winning Edge in the early 2000s. Although well-known on TV for his expert game analysis and no-nonsense handicapping style, Larry may be best known for his radio work. He hosted his own syndicated call-in radio show, Sports Central. It aired live from Bally's Casino in Las Vegas in the early to mid-90s and at one time was heard in more than 100 markets.

Systems used for handicapping a game: Fundamental and statistical analysis. "I'm not typically a trend and system kind of guy," Ness says. "I look at team strengths and weaknesses and compare them. It’s an all-encompassing thing and over 35-plus years, you get good at it."

Star Ratings: 9 and 10*s are considered "Best Bets." All other plays are rated between 6 and 8*s, depending on strength and/or price.

Release Times: Larry releases "daily sports" (MLB, NBA, NCAAB and NHL) on the day of the game. His full card is almost always available by 10:00 ET (save Late-Breaking games). In the FB season, Larry begins releasing plays as early as Tuesday. His full CFB card is typically complete by Thursday (on Friday, at the latest) and his full NFL card will be mostly complete by Friday (definitely by Saturday at 3:00 ET).

38-Club Play: It represents Larry's 38 years in the business and gets his highest star rating (10*s). Expect no more than one of these plays per month, per sport during the regular season.

LEGEND Play: Larry's often been referred to as a Las Vegas legend and he's 'borrowed' the title for his other "signature play.". Larry's LEGEND Plays were previously available to only a select group of private clients but they are now available to all, via the internet. Like his 36-Club plays, expect no more than one play per month, per sport (rated 10*s).

Game of the Month and Game of the Year Plays: Always rated 10*s. Las Vegas Insider: Throughout his 36 years "in the business," Larry has become known as "the ultimate Las Vegas insider." The contacts he's developed over more than three decades (on both sides of the 'counter'), are arguably "unmatched!" He confers daily with 'his 'friends' and when "all the stars align on the same game," Larry releases an exclusive Las Vegas Insider (rated between 7 and 10*s).

Oddsmaker's Error Plays: Larry uses this term with "great respect" (and not very often), as he counts among his very closest friends many of Las Vegas' most famous and respected Sport Book directors (past and present). However, when Larry feels "the line is significantly off," he'll release one of these "not to be missed" plays (rated 9 or 10*s).

Situational Stunners: Larry's a fundamental handicapper at heart but he does pay attention to team and situational trends (especially in MLB). When his fundamental handicapping and a strong trend or situation match up, he releases a Situational Stunner. He began releasing these plays in MLB '09 and he's expanded them since,to all sports (rated from 7-10*s, based on strength and/or price for moneyline sports).

PERFECT STORM: Larry just added these plays the last few years and his accompanying expert analysis makes these popular plays self-explanatory (typically rated 9 or 10*s but moneyline sports may be rated 7 or 8*s due to price).

Weekly and Weekend Wipeout Winners: Larry added this self-explanatory moniker just a few years ago. They've become immensely popular and why not? Who wouldn't want a game that has "blowout written all over it," supported by Larry's expert analysis (rated between 7 and 10*s, depending on strength and price).

Superstar Triple Play: Over the years, many of Larry's regular clients have clamored for more three-game reports. You asked for it and Larry's responded. Back in the late 1980s and into the mid 1990s, 900-numbers became "the rage." While a panel member of Proline (see above), Larry created the Superstar Triple Play. One call got you three Superstar Triple Plays (in a particular sport). For almost a decade, anywhere from 1,500 to 3,500 callers responded each weekend, when Larry offered his famous "Superstar Triple Play" pitch on Proline. Starting in 2009, Larry began going "Back to the Future!" Look for 3-game reports this FB season on Saturday (college) and Sunday (NFL). Get three plays on a single report from Larry (many will be TV games), the originator of the "Superstar Triple Play!".

Late-Breaking Plays: Larry will always go back and take a "second look" at each day's card, after posting all his games. When he finds something he missed the first time around, he'll release a Late-Breaking Play. These plays are more prevalent in sports like baseball and basketball than football (typically rated at 8 or 9*s).

Quote: "No one works any harder and my work-product speaks for itself," Ness says. "I have a no-nonsense style and my logic is easy to follow. Anyone buying my plays will know exactly what I was thinking when I made the selection. After 34 years, the Larry Ness brand is instantly recognizable and my analysis ranks with the best in the industry."