October 17, 2021

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The Education Specialists

Weekend wagers: Placing Super Bowl, College Football Playoff futures and more

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Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson looks to pass against the Houston Texans on November 17, 2019.

Saturday sunk us; Sunday saved us.

That’s the story of last week’s weekend wagers column, as a winless Saturday preceded an undefeated Sunday. Total profit from last week’s six plays: $2.91.

Hey, it’s better than losing.

Today, I’m wading slowly back into this column’s go-to — football. Handicappers who haven’t started preparing for the upcoming NFL and college football seasons are behind.

Heck, I’ve started and still feel far behind. The clock is ticking because the best values won’t be available for long. I’ve found a pair of futures — one in college, one in pro — that are worth firing on immediately.

Balances are back to $0 with the start of the new seasons, so these are officially the first two football bets of the year.

Find them below along with the rest of this week’s column. Records are attached individually by sport, with the cumulative at the bottom of the page. The monetary figure is calculated by the assumption of a bettor placing a $100 wager on each pick. Any picks outside of the column will be linked and included in the record total. Odds are the best currently available in Las Vegas at publication time.

PGA Tour (14-8, $429.03): Collin Morikawa -110 vs. Louis Oosthuizen in third round of The Open Championship (William Hill)

Royal St. George’s is rewarding strong iron play, and Morikawa is the best irons player in the world right now. Based on the first two days of the final major of the year, you may think it’s Oosthuizen who deserves that tag. The former Open champion has been near perfect to get to 11-under par, holding a two-stroke lead over Morikawa going into the weekend. I just don’t think it’s going to last. Oosthuizen will stay in contention, for sure, but he’s playing to the top end of his range through 36 holes. Morikawa still has another level to reach. Morikawa would have, or at least should have, been a minor favor in this matchup going into the tournament. Two rounds of play, as impressive as they may have been, shouldn’t be enough to push it to a pick’em. 

NBA (16-10, $924.28): Jrue Holiday over 18 points -115 in Game 5 of NBA Finals (Circa Sports)

Holiday has averaged more than 17 field-goal attempts per game this series. And, yes, while he may have missed the vast majority of them, that short sample size is not predictive going forward. Holiday’s volume is more telling. It shows that the Bucks want, no, need him to be a big part of their offense to beat the Suns. For the most part, he hasn’t been up to the task yet, but Holiday is a much more efficient player than his 34.8% field-goal percentage in the Finals indicates. Some of the shots are going to start falling, and when they do, he’ll easily eclipse this number.

UFC (11-17, -$369.07): Islam Makhachev vs. Thiago Moises under 4.5 rounds +130 (William Hill)

Click to enlarge photo

Lightweight contender Islam Makhachev shows off for the crowd during UFC187 weigh ins at the MGM Grand Ballroom on Friday, May 22, 2015.

If the Khabib Nurmagomedov protégé Makhachev is all he’s cracked up to be, he should be able to finish Moises via either ground-and-pound strikes or submission. If Makhachev isn’t the finished product some are claiming going into tonight’s card on ESPN, he risks falling victim to a surprise knockout against Moises. Either way, this fight shouldn’t go the distance. The smaller cage will be back in effect at the UFC’s Apex facility to force the action between these two dangerous lightweights. Counting on them both to last more than 22:30 of fight time seems far-fetched.

NASCAR (15-16, $8.88): Joey Logano +105 vs. Brad Keselowski head-to-head in Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)

NASCAR returns to its 750-horsepower package this weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, the 750-horsepower package Logano has dominated with this season. There’s a case to be made that Logano shouldn’t be available at a plus-price against anyone in this scenario, let alone his Penske teammate. Keselowski’s impending offseason move from Team Penske to Roush Fenway Racing is the worst-kept secret in motorsports. It appears the upcoming shift has affected Keselowski’s performance, which would make sense. Why would Penske sink extra resources into a driver it knows is on the way out? The organization’s full force, on the other hand, should be behind Logano, who’s had the team’s best car this year anyway. Look for Logano to start making a strong push ahead of the playoffs on Sunday.  

College football (0-0, $0): Georgia 10-to-1 to win the College Football Playoff (SuperBook)

The three most talented rosters in college football from top to bottom belong to Alabama, Clemson and Georgia. It’s outrageous that one of them is available at this high of a price in the futures market. The Bulldogs won’t be for long, so run to the Westgate or log into the app as soon as possible to take advantage of this off-market price. While I wouldn’t go as far as to say Georgia is better than Alabama or Clemson, it very much looks more proven on an individual level. The Bulldogs return nearly everyone at the skill positions including quarterback J.T. Daniels, who threw for more than 10 yards per attempt in four games last year, and also have an embarrassment of riches on defense. They open with a neutral-site game against the Tigers and wouldn’t have to play the Crimson Tide until a potential SEC Championship Game. If Georgia upsets Clemson in Charlotte — it’s currently a 4-point underdog — then this price will be more than chopped in half. Even if the Bulldogs lose, they have a relatively forgiving schedule the rest of the way and control their own destiny to reach the playoff. As long as Georgia doesn’t get blown out against Clemson, which appears unlikely, this price represents gigantic value. There are no better odds in town on any team to start a college football futures portfolio with.  

NFL (0-0, $0): Baltimore Ravens 20-to-1 to win the Super Bowl (Circa)

No team in the NFL has been more efficient over the past two seasons combined than the Ravens — not even the Kansas City Chiefs. There’s no reason to believe they’re in for any drop-off this season. Baltimore shored up some weaknesses in the offseason — particularly at wide receiver by signing Sammy Watkins and drafting Rashod Bateman – and should still be considered the class of the AFC North. They’ll be sitting in a good position heading into the playoffs much like the last three seasons. Sure, they flamed out in each of those instances, but those one-off poor performances shouldn’t carry more weight than seasons’ worth of data. Based on this price, that’s exactly what’s happening. Give me the team with the rare combination of no weaknesses, a terrific coach (John Harbaugh) and an electric quarterback (Lamar Jackson) at this price any time. There are no better odds in town on any team to start an NFL futures portfolio with.

Weekend wagers all-time: 157-149, $3,316.33

Previous pending wagers: Milwaukee Bucks to win NBA Finals +745; Texas 50-to-1 to win 2022 NCAA Tournament;

Case Keefer can be reached at 702-948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.