Daily Bet: Pitt (+5) at Cincinnati

OK, I’m starting to think that Snooki is going to be win “Mother of the Year” honors before I’ll win another NFL bet. After whiffing on all four of my preseason selections, I came out yesterday with a well-reasoned argument for backing the New York Giants—part of that argument being that the defending Super Bowl champ had won eight straight season openers, all in prime-time midweek home games—and of course the Giants lost outright to the Cowboys. You’d think I would’ve followed my own advice, seeing that last month in Vegas Seven I recommended betting the Cowboys “over” and Giants “under” their season win totals.

So what am I doing for an encore, you ask? Backing a team that’s playing a conference rival on the road tonight– a week after losing 31-17 — at home to Youngstown State as an 18½-point favorite. No, I haven’t been partying with Prince Harry all week. Here’s my logic: While getting blown out by Youngstown State was inexcusable, Pitt was without six suspended players, including a key running back (some of those players are expected to be reinstated and play tonight). It was also the first game under new coach Paul Cryst. Following the old adage that football teams make their biggest improvements from Week 1 to Week 2, I expect the Panthers to be a lot sharper against Cincinnati (which has yet to play a game).

A few additional pluses for Pitt: It has an experienced quarterback in Tino Sunseri (who passed for 239 yards with one TD and no INTs last week), while Cincinnati does not; the Panthers have been a strong bounce-back team recently (going 12-2 ATS after a loss the last three seasons); and even though the Bearcats have won three of the last four meetings, those victories were by a total of 11 points. In fact, Pitt has covered in six of the last seven meetings in this rivalry, including the last three in a row. Finally, in Big East play, the Panthers on a 20-7 ATS roll, while Cincinnati has failed to cover in 12 of its last 17.

Rating:★ ★ ☆ ☆

Wednesday’s Result: Giants -3½ vs. Cowboys (Loss)

Record: 41-35