During the first two weeks of the football season, you’d have thought my NFL picks were co-sponsored by the Oakland Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars: I hit just three of my first eight selections, going 0-for-2 with my Best Bets. However, on the college gridiron, it looked like Nick Saban and the ghost of Bear Bryant had coached me up, as I went 5-1. Given those results, I logically decided last week to tip the scales by going to the college game for four of my seven recommendations. What happened? I went 1-3 in college and 3-0 in the NFL.
In other words, after Roger Goodell, I’m probably the last guy who should be giving any lessons on consistency right now. Then again, everything I know about arrogance I learned from the embattled NFL commish. So as we close the book on the first month of the season, here are a handful of consistencies (and inconsistencies) in both college and the NFL that you should chew on before taking your next stroll up to the betting window:
Either Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly is the greatest halftime speaker in coaching history, or his training staff is lacing the Gatorade bottles with jet fuel … or both. How else to explain the fact the Eagles have been outscored 54-27 in the first half, but have turned the tables to the tune of 74-24 in the final two quarters (leading to a 3-0 start)? On the flip side, the San Francisco 49ers have thrashed their opponents 59-16 in the first half, only to get trucked 52-3 after halftime (leading to a 1-2 start). And lookie here: The Eagles and 49ers square off this week in San Francisco. Perhaps a wager on the Niners in the first half and against the Niners in the second half would be a wise investment?
The San Diego Chargers are two points away from being 3-0. The Jaguars are … hold on, let me do the math here … 78 points away from being 3-0, with losses by 17, 31 and 27 points. Now is a good time to mention that A) Jacksonville this week travels to San Diego; B) the Chargers are 3-0 against the spread, while the Jags are 0-3 ATS; C) San Diego has won the last three meetings (two of which were in Florida) by a combined score of 100-33; and D) Jags rookie QB Blake Bortles is getting his first career start, against a defense that’s allowed just five more points (49) than Jacksonville has scored (44). Lay the big number.
The Detroit Lions, who made Aaron Rodgers look like Mr. Rogers in Week 3, own one of the top defenses (yes, defenses) in the league, allowing just 15 points and 244.3 yards per game. This week, the Lions travel to face the Jets and Geno Smith, he of the four interceptions (tied for most in the NFL) and 77.0 QB rating (which ranks 27th). Detroit is barely favored.
Pac-12 brothers Oregon, Oregon State, Washington, Arizona and Arizona State are a combined 18-0 on the field … yet 5-13 vs. the number.
The SEC East is 11-13 ATS. The SEC West is 18-8 ATS (with Alabama responsible for three of those non-covers).
Georgia Southern (yes, that’s a school; yes, the Eagles play Division I-A football, as of this season) is 4-0 ATS, having covered twice as a double-digit underdog, once as a 1-point favorite and once as a 39½-point chalk.
UNLV, which has been outscored by an average of 41.2-18.5 (and that includes a 13-12 victory), is 0-4 ATS. This week, the Rebels are 16½-point underdogs at San Diego State … a team that scored a single touchdown last week … a team the Rebels crushed 45-19 just 10 months ago … a team that hasn’t won a Division I-A regular-season game by more than 14 points since November 2012. Somebody pour UNLV coach Bobby Hauck a drink. Make it a double.
Last Week: 4-3 (3-0 NFL; 1-3 college; 1-0 Best Bet).
Season Record: 12-9 (6-5 NFL; 6-4 college; 1-2 Best Bets).
Matt Jacob appears at 10 a.m. Fridays on “First Preview” on ESPN Radio 1100-AM and 98.9-FM.