Welcome to Breaking the Book, your guide to the upcoming weekend’s football action from a handicapper’s perspective. This season, Chat Sports is proud to welcome handicapper Jason Cellura as a guest columnist. Jason is CEO of BookDogger, a social betting startup, and has vowed to provide Chat Sports readers with his expert insight on the picks he is making each week.
Every Friday, we chat with Jason about the upcoming action and identify his top five plays of the week (pro or college). We’ll also include a rundown on the Blazing 5 picks made by everyone’s favorite talking head, Colin Cowherd, and compare Jason's and Colin's records each week to decide who the true superstar handicapper is.
Cellura’s Cover 5
As promised, our Cover 5 bounced back in strong fashion last week with a 4-1 record.
The Good: Louisville (-13) fending off a last second backdoor cover against Kentucky to win by 14. Iowa emerging victorious in a rivalry game against Iowa State, covering by 4.5. The Dolphins (+3) picking up a road victory at Indianapolis. The Raiders (-5.5) beating an abysmal Jaguars squad by nine.
The Bad: The Eagles (-7) had no answer for Philip Rivers in a 33-30 loss to the Chargers.
We’re looking to keep our good mojo rolling this week with three college picks and two NFL plays. On the college side, we're once again going with under-the-radar plays, choosing Army as a home dog coming off a solid showing against Stanford, Pitt to roll over a depleted Duke squad, and Missouri to represent the SEC in their showdown at Indiana. In the NFL, we like the Giants in a must-win toss-up against the Panthers and the Vikings to cover against a demoralized Browns team.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons (-3) at Army Black Knights
Army played about as well as one could expect last week in their 34-20 loss to Stanford. While it was a tough spot for the Cardinal (9am PT start, cross-country flight), the Black Knights have built some confidence coming into this weekend despite the loss. Wake Forest, on the other hand, comes in off two anemic offensive showings in losses to Boston College and Louisiana-Monroe (averaging 285 yards total offense and 14.5 points) with a date at Clemson on deck next week. Given the recent trends and Wake’s need to prepare for Army’s triple-option attack, there's a lot of value in the home dog.
Cellura’s Pick: Army +3
Pitt Panthers (-3.5) at Duke Blue Devils
The Panthers offense found a little rhythm last week against New Mexico, racking up 388 total yards by the half en route to a 35-6 lead before letting off the throttle. Pitt had two backs go over 100 yards in the same game for the first time since 2007, and looks to have recovered from their season opening thrashing at the hands of Florida State. Duke’s defense, meanwhile, was gashed by the Georgia Tech option for 344 yards rushing in their 38-14 home loss last weekend. The Blue Devils, playing without starting QB Anthony Boone, also struggled to move the ball on offense with only 254 yards on the day. Things don’t get easier this week as they match up against a Pitt defense that has talent and held the nation’s leading rusher to a mere 22 yards last week. To top things off, Duke has been hit by a virus this week, causing over 15 players to miss practice time due to illness. Look for Pitt to come out of this one with a double-digit road victory.
Cellura’s Pick: Pitt -3.5
Missouri Tigers (-1) at Indiana Hoosiers
This one has shootout written all over it. These two teams come in averaging a staggering 98 points per game combined. Missouri has shown some nice balance on offense, averaging 274 yards per game through the air and 265 yards on the ground. James Franklin is managing the offense much better than he did last year, and has a stable of skill athletes at his disposal. Indiana comes in off a 42-10 beat down of Bowling Green which saw Nate Sudfeld toss it for 335 yards and 2 TD’s against a veteran BG defense. In this spot, we like the team with more talent and an extra week to prepare. Look for Missouri to get a stop when it counts and ride out of Bloomington victorious.
Cellura’s Pick: Missouri -1
New York Giants (+1) at Carolina Panthers
The Giants have gotten off to a rough start this year due to their inability to run the ball and propensity to hand it over to the other team. In their first two games, the Giants have a staggering 10 turnovers while averaging a pee-wee-esque 36.5 yards rushing. Despite all this, the Giants won the yardage battle in week one against Dallas and nearly broke even last week versus the Broncos. The Panthers have had a much more difficult time on both sides of the ball, having been outgained by an average of 123 yards per contest this year. The Giants are the better team and can’t afford to start the season 0-3, so look for them to come through with their first W of the season.
Cellura’s Pick: Giants +1
Cleveland Browns (+6) at Minnesota Vikings
The Browns’ offense was flat-out bad to begin with, averaging 275 yards and eight points through their first two games. Factor in that they’ve traded their top running back and lost their (sub-par) signal caller in the span of one week, and things only get worse. Minnesota has struggled against two solid offenses in Detroit and Chicago, but the Browns are just what the doctor ordered. Look for this one to play close early on before the Vikings eventually break the Browns’ (fading) will. Take solace, fellow Browns fans, Willis McGahee is on the way!
Cellura’s Pick: Vikings -6
Colin Cowherd’s Blazing 5
Colin’s rough start to the 2013 season continued last week with his Blazing 5 picks going just 1-4. Colin correctly predicted the Cardinals victory over the Lions, but missed on the Rams, Giants, Bears and Eagles.
Colin tries to get back on track this week with three road dogs (Giants, Chargers and Rams), while laying the points with the Packers and Jets. To make up for his poor start, Colin has also thrown in a bonus pick with the Jaguars receiving a monster 19.5 points at Seattle.
New York Giants (+1) at Carolina Panthers
Colin’s take: Colin is sucker for pick’ems. With the Giants, we get a better coach and QB. The Giants offensive line has struggled, but Carolina’s line has been worse. The Giants bring in a real pass rush and have more weapons. The better team is desperate and getting a point in this one.
Colin’s Pick: Giants +1
San Diego Chargers (+3) at Tennessee Titans
Colin’s take: Tennessee has a very limited offense because they have a very limited QB in Jake Locker. Mike McCoy’s up-tempo offense has rejuvenated Philip Rivers overnight, with Rivers throwing for 8 touchdowns in 2 games. Despite missing Malcolm Floyd, San Diego has weapons with Antonio Gates, Eddie Royal and Keenan Allen. There’s concern with San Diego traveling east for the second week in a row, but Tennessee’s limitations are too much for them to overcome. Take the Chargers and the points.
Colin’s Pick: Chargers +3
St. Louis Rams (+4) at Dallas Cowboys
Colin’s take: St. Louis has a huge edge in the trenches. The Rams haven’t allowed a sack this year, and their defense has recorded six sacks to date after leading the league last year. Jeff Fisher is one of the best coaches in the league when getting points, going 11-4 against the spread in his last 15 games as a dog. Dallas is again relying too heavily on Tony Romo due to their inability to run the football. Look for the Rams to win this one outright on the road 26-23.
Colin’s Pick: Rams +4
Green Bay Packers (-2.5) at Cincinnati Bengals
Colin’s take: Colin’s favorite bet of the weekend. Cincinnati comes in on short rest after having beaten the Steelers on Monday Night Football. Green Bay finally has a running game, and it’s a difference-maker: the Packers are averaging 490 yards of offense. Nobody in the league burns you more on the blitz than Aaron Rodgers, and now that he has a running game, look out. Despite all the Bengals’ weapons, Andy Dalton is no Kaepernick or RG3 (who the Packers matched up against the first two weeks) and hasn’t thrown for over 300 yards since last October. Swallow the points and take the Packers on the road.
Colin’s Pick: Packers -2.5
Buffalo Bills (+2.5) at New York Jets
Colin’s take: The Bills and Jets look like mirror images, right? The difference is that Geno Smith benefits from the home crowd, a better defense, the return of Jeremy Kurley, and a little extra time to prepare. The Bills, a dreadful road team to begin with, are coming off a big victory last week and are primed for a letdown. The Bills will struggle to run the ball on the Jets, leaving it up to EJ Manuel to carry the offense. Colin will swallow the points and take the Jets, 24-17.
Colin’s Pick: Jets -2.5
Colin’s Bonus Pick: Jacksonville Jaguars (+19.5) at Seattle Seahawks
Colin’s take: We all know Seattle is better than Jacksonville, but the Seahawks are coming off a huge primetime win over their arch-rival. This is a classic sandwich game for the Seahawks, with the Texans on deck next week. Look for Seattle to rest guys after they build a lead, as Pete Carroll isn’t out to embarrass his former defensive coordinator (and current Jags head coach) Gus Bradley. Seattle wins 30-13, but fails to cover the monster spread.
Colin’s Pick: Jaguars +19.5
About Jason Cellura
Jason is founder & CEO of BookDogger (www.bookdogger.com).
BookDogger is a sports gaming website that delivers the sports betting experience with a social twist. BookDogger eliminates the risks of real money gambling and delivers legal sports betting competitions that can be enjoyed with friends, similar to fantasy sports. BookDogger’s first free-to-play contest is its' Leaderboard Contest, where players compete each month for a shot at $500 in cash. BookDogger is based in San Francisco, CA. Connect via Facebook or Twitter.Back to the NFL Newsfeed