I was 3-2 last week, bringing my season record to 49-41.
This week, I will list the remainder of the college bowl games along with my power ratings for the teams, and my projected point spreads vs. the official betting lines.
Here they are:
Because a number of the bowl games during the next two weeks are at sites that can be cold, windy and rainy, I try to obtain information concerning the weather for each game as early as I can.
For example, last week, a blizzard was forecast for Denver on Sunday. I bet the "under" on the game, which was 48 1/2 points at the time I bet it. By Sunday, the under had come down to 45.
Unfortunately for me, the weather was chilly -- but no snow -- and the winds were moderate. I lost my bet as the
Nevertheless, I continue to believe that weather affects how a game will be played. Heavy rain almost always results in reduced scoring because the quarterbacks cannot grip the ball well enough to throw it crisply. The
game last Sunday illustrated the point. Needless to say, a forecast of heavy rain favors the under in a game and may help the underdog cover a large point spread, particularly if the favorite is a passing-oriented team.
I have not yet wagered on either of the college bowl games being held this week,
. I view the point spreads and totals on each game as being correct, and find no edges to exploit. However, I continue to monitor the weather and read newspapers in each of the teams' home cities to determine if I can gain an edge.
While I will discuss the reasons for these selections in my next two columns, I have made wagers on the following games, which are listed in my order of preference:
getting 4 1/2 points over
giving 3 over
getting 6 over
giving 6 over
getting 15 over
getting 6 over
North Carolina State
getting 4 over
This Week's NFL Picks
Minnesota Vikings (minus 7 1/2) over Green Bay Packers
The Packers' defense has been hurt by injuries and the Vikings are the most prolific offense in the NFC, averaging more than 380 yards per game. Minnesota is coming off a loss to the Rams and needs to get back on track. Without Santana Dotson on defense, Green Bay has been vulnerable to the run, and Minnesota can exploit that weakness with Robert Smith, who should be the starting running back for the NFC in the Pro Bowl.
The Packers' defensive backs are sure to be penalized while covering Randy Moss and Cris Carter, and I foresee a number of big plays being made by the Vikings. Minnesota is 7-1 straight up and 6-1-1 against the spread in its final home game in the last eight seasons, and has also won its last 14 games at home. Finally, Minnesota has revenge in mind because the Packers won by 26-20 in overtime on Monday night a few weeks ago on a miraculous catch by Antonio Freeman.
This will be a high-scoring game, but I don't believe Brett Favre will be able to match points with a motivated Viking team.
Kansas City Chiefs-Denver Broncos (over 47 points)
It will be unseasonably warm in Kansas City on Sunday, and both of these teams have stellar offenses and less-than-stellar defenses. The Chiefs average 352 yards per game while the Broncos lead the league with 422. On defense, Denver is giving up 352 yards, while Kansas City gives up 337.
While watching the Denver-Seattle game last week, it struck me as unusual that Broncos coach Mike Shanahan had his team passing while leading by 18 points with less than seven minutes left in the third quarter. Shanahan's reasoning became more apparent, however, when Seattle scored 21 points in the last 17 minutes and ended up covering the point spread in a seven-point loss. Both of these teams will score at least 24 points, and I see this game easily exceeding the posted total so long as the weather cooperates.
Miami Dolphins (minus 2 1/2) over Indianapolis Colts
This is an important game for both teams. The Dolphins' defense is solid and played as well as Tampa Bay's in defeat last week. The Colts struggled in the first half on Monday night, but came back to beat the Bills. Indianapolis plays well at home, but is lousy on the road. There is a logical reason for the disparity, however, because the Colts' speed at wide receiver is compromised on a natural grass surface.
The Dolphins' pass defense is the best in the league. In the first meeting between the teams two weeks ago, the Colts could not stop the Dolphins on their final drive, which resulted in a winning touchdown for Miami. One question mark is the status of Miami starting quarterback Jay Fiedler, who has a small tear in the rotator cuff of his nonthrowing shoulder. I will take the Dolphins to cover this spread.
St. Louis Rams (minus 1) over Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last week I won by taking Tampa Bay, and I still respect its defense. But the disparity between Kurt Warner and Shaun King is so great that I am compelled to lay the points with the defending Super Bowl champions.
The Bucs rarely blitz because their front four usually does a good job getting to the passer. But Warner has the quickest release among NFL quarterbacks, and generally makes good decisions. The Bucs' defense eschews man-to-man coverage and plays a zone. The Rams are excellent at running their speedy wide receivers on crossing patterns and trying to get the big play by having the receivers gain yards after the catch. Tampa Bay has hard-hitting but slow safeties who do not match up well with the speed of the Rams. I acknowledge that the grass surface will slow the Rams, but it looks to me like the team is getting ready for a playoff run.
This will probably be a high-scoring game with the Rams carrying the day. Tampa is a conservative team and will not be able to match points with St. Louis in a rematch of last year's low-scoring championship game.
Minnesota Vikings (minus 1 1/2) over Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers (pick) over Chicago Bears
San Francisco's offense has been among the most potent in the league, while the Bears' offense has been silent. Chicago gets quarterback Cade McNown back this week, but I don't believe that is necessarily a plus.
The Bears have averaged seven points per game in their last three road games. I look for the 49ers to put in a big effort in Jerry Rice's final home game. The Bears will not be able to match points with the 49ers, and the 49ers' defense has allowed only 16 points per game in their last four games. I like the 49ers only having to win straight up as the other half of my teaser bet. The Minnesota game was previously discussed.
Which professional sport has the most consistent officiating?
Barry Lieberman was a litigator with the U.S. Department of Justice for nine years and is currently the general counsel for a company that operates four hotel/casinos in Las Vegas. He has been an amateur gambler for more than 20 years and successfully concluded last football season by winning on 55% of his college and pro selections posted on TheStreet.com. He welcomes your feedback at