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Boxing Picks 2021- Canelo Alvarez vs Billy Joe Saunders (May 8th)

There have been some solid cards over the last several months, but the largely absent fans has been a big miss for Boxing as much as other s...

Thursday, 29 November 2018

NFL Week 13 Picks 2018 (November 29-December 2)

I am away this week but I have been able to write out a few thoughts about the NFL Week 13 games and Picks which can be read below.

With the way this week is going, I might only have the Picks from Sunday and Monday selections, but it all depends on how long I have to add the thoughts I have written down.

In Week 14 I will have the season updates.

New Orleans Saints @ Dallas Cowboys Pick: The Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints are both leading individual Divisions in the NFC, but there still looks to be a big gap between these teams. The Saints are dominating the NFC South and will be disappointed if they are not able to secure a top Seed in the Conference, while the Cowboys look like the best of a pretty poor bunch in the NFC East.

I think both teams are going to be in the Play Offs with the Saints closer to securing a post-season berth and they could take a big step towards that at the end of this Thursday Night Football game.

Both teams are off big Thanksgiving Day games and so both should be well prepared for this one too.

However it is going to be a big challenge for the Cowboys to slow down Drew Brees and the New Orleans Offensive unit who have been blowing opponents away since a Week 1 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The best hope Dallas has is by stiffening up on the line of scrimmage and containing Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram and hope they can put Brees in third and long and get after him with a strong pass rush.

It is difficult to see that happening with Dallas giving up 4.3 yards per carry in their last three games and both Kamara and Ingram could be a pass catching threat coming out of the backfield. The Cowboys Secondary has really not played up to the level that makes me believe they won't be able to slow the passing game of the Saints and Brees throws the ball so quickly that any pass rush could be negated by a strong Offensive Line.

This all adds up to pressure being on Dak Prescott to keep the points coming for the Dallas Cowboys who have scored at least 22 points in each of three games since the surprising defeat to the Tennessee Titans at home. Prescott has managed to force the ball through to Amari Cooper to get the passing game looking like it is returning to form and that has opened things up for Ezekiel Elliot.

Elliot has been running the ball pretty well, but the Saints have been proud of stopping the run in recent games. There has also been an improvement in the play of the younger players in the Secondary and that has seen New Orleans step up and make some big stops that has given their Offensive unit a chance to take complete control of games.

The Saints have not been as strong on the road, but they are 20-7 against the spread in their last twenty-seven away from the SuperDome. They are also facing a Cowboys team who are 5-11 against the spread in their last sixteen against a team with a winning record, while they are also 2-7 against the spread in their last nine hosting a team with a winning record on the road.

New Orleans are 8-3 against the spread in their last eleven of this series and I think this is a team who has too much firepower for the Dallas Cowboys. If the Saints go two scores up it will quickly mean Dallas move away from the game plan and I think that is when New Orleans will make some big Defensive plays to give their Offense a chance to pull away in this one.

MY PICKS: New Orleans Saints - 7 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Green Bay Packers - 13.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (2 Units)
Carolina Panthers - 3 Points @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Indianapolis Colts - 3.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Denver Broncos - 4.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Cleveland Browns + 5.5 Points @ 1.91 Boyle Sports (2 Units)
Seattle Seahawks - 9.5 Points @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
New England Patriots - 4.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Pittsburgh Steelers - 3 Points @ 1.91 Boyle Sports (2 Units)

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Midweek Football Picks 2018 (November 27-29)

Match Day 5 of the Champions League and Europa League Group Stage takes place this week and we should have a number of clubs booking their places in the Knock Out Rounds of the competition.

With an incredibly busy festive period kicking off, teams will want to put their European commitments to the back of the mind until next February as soon as possible. That is especially true for those playing in the English Premier League which has the heaviest of the Christmas schedules compared to the other top European Leagues and three of the four teams involved in the Champions League will likely be through to the Last 16 if they are able to win on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Tottenham Hotspur have the most work to do, while Liverpool will need to upset Paris Saint-Germain in the French capital, but both Manchester clubs look in a very strong position. Manchester City are through to the Last 16 for all intents and purposes, but a win on Tuesday would secure top spot, while Manchester United will go through if they beat Young Boys at home and Valencia fail to match the United win in Turin.

In the Europa League things are much more simpler with both Arsenal and Chelsea already through to the Last 32 of the competition. The race for the top four back in the Premier League is going to be a real battle with the way things have developed in the first three months of the season, so having the second avenue back into the Champions League through Europa League success is something that won't be ignored by the two new managers of those London clubs.

Unai Emery in particular has had notable success in the Europa League and has admitted he would rather get back into the Champions League by winning that trophy instead of a top four finish.

Juventus v Valencia Pick: The pressure has shifted to Valencia after seeing their main rivals for a place in the Last 16 win in Turin earlier this month.

The Manchester United come from behind win over Juventus means they are 2 points clear of Valencia and with a winnable home game to come on Match Day 5. It simply adds up to Valencia needing to head to Turin and most likely win if they are going to remain alive on Match Day 6 for a place in the Last 16 of the Champions League.

Valencia have only won 1 of their last 6 away games in European competition and they are facing a Juventus team who will be looking to return this Stadium into the fortress it had been in European Football. Some of the aura has been lost during a run of 1 win from 5 home Champions League games and Juventus have lost 2 of their last 3 here, but fans will recognise the unfortunate manner of the loss to Manchester United.

A similar performance will make Juventus very difficult to beat and they look to be a little healthier in forward areas going into Match Day 5 as they look to maintain control of this Group. The 1-2 home loss to Manchester United does mean the head to head has been lost to the Premier League club so Juventus can't really afford a slip if Manchester United are somehow able to win their last 2 Champions League games.

Juventus have been very strong at home with 9 wins from their last 11 games here in all competitions. The situation should be one that works to their advantage with Valencia likely having to take chances at some point as they chase the win they are more likely going to need to have a chance to make the Last 16 of the Champions League.

That should mean spaces open up for a Juventus team who are looking to win the Group and I will back the Italian Champions to win well on Tuesday.

Lyon v Manchester City Pick: After being beaten on Match Day 1 at home, Pep Guardiola and Manchester City would have signed up being in a position where a revenge win over Lyon would be enough to take them through to the Champions League Last 16 as Group Winners.

Even a draw would mean Manchester City are firmly in control of the Group, but Guardiola doesn't really play for draws and his team are in such strong form that you can't imagine anyone connected with the club settling for it.

They were surprised by Lyon back in September as the French side countered with speed and energy against a lacklustre Manchester City. The defeat should be motivation enough for Manchester City to try and turn things around and they have won 12 of 13 games in all competitions since the home loss to Lyon.

Lyon won't be a pushover, as they have already proved in this Group with the win at the Etihad Stadium, but they have struggled defensively since then. The side have conceded at least twice in each of their 3 Champions League games since the win over Manchester City including in back to back 2-2 draws at home.

They have come from behind to earn draws with Hoffenheim and Shakhtar Donetsk in this Group, but that won't be easy to do against Manchester City who look to be taking as strong a squad as possible to France for this game. Manchester City will have a few days to rest after this game before being back in Premier League action and I think their strong away record in the Champions League over the last fifteen months can't be ignored.

I have to respect a Lyon team who have scored plenty of goals in the Champions League this season, but Manchester City are in stunning form at the moment. This feels like the kind of game where Manchester City can make a statement to the rest of the teams in the Champions League that they are ready to challenge for the trophy come May.

The home team should be able to play their part in this one, but I think Manchester City might be too strong for them on current form. I will back the English Champions to win this one by a couple of goals on the day as they are able to really twist the screw if they go ahead like Hoffenheim and Shakhtar Donetsk have been able to do in games against Lyon in this Group.

Manchester United v Young Boys Pick: It is hard to really trust Manchester United to win any game of football at the moment and it is no different on Tuesday when they face what should be an overmatched opponent in Young Boys.

The confidence of the squad looks to be fragile at best and Jose Mourinho continues to point the fingers at almost anybody but himself. Some of the tactics have been questionable though and the perseverance with Nemanja Matic in the middle of the park is frustration as was the recall for Romelu Lukaku on Saturday despite Manchester United looking more fluid without him.

That is down to the manager and ultimately he is going to fall on his own sword if Manchester United can't find some consistent results sooner rather than later.

This is a game that should be one Manchester United can dominate as they face a Young Boys team who have struggled with the step up to the Champions League level. Young Boys have already been beaten comfortably at Juventus and Valencia in this Group and they were beaten 0-3 by Manchester United at home as the defensive strength was exposed at this level of competition.

Manchester United have to start better than they have been to take away any confidence Young Boys may have. It isn't easy to trust that is going to happen, but I have to believe there will be some reaction to Saturday and knowing a win should be enough to progress through to the Last 16 has to be motivation for the players to produce a big performance.

I am finding it hard to trust Manchester United considering the form shown for several months now, but it would be the lowest point for the club if they can't win this one. After beating Juventus in Turin it would be a real waste if Manchester United can't back that up and win this fixture.

The fans at Old Trafford are going to be restless so a fast start is imperative for Manchester United. I think they are going to be too strong for Young Boys considering the gap in quality of the two squads and I do believe Manchester United can match the margin of wins both Juventus and Valencia have had over the Swiss Champions in the previous 2 away games played by Young Boys.

Paris Saint-Germain v Liverpool Pick: This is a massive Champions League game for both Paris Saint-Germain and Liverpool who would have both been popular picks to challenge for the trophy this season.

Neither one of these teams can be happy about dropping into the Europa League, but the losing team on Wednesday could be in big trouble if Napoli win as expected when they host Crvena Zvezda.

There is more pressure on Paris Saint-Germain who know a defeat would likely mean they are exiting the tournament. Even a draw may not be good enough and they are hoping Kylian Mbappe and Neymar will be passed fit for this fixture having picked up knocks during the last international break.

With that situation in mind, you would think Liverpool could cause some big problems on the counter attack, but this team have produced their two worst performances in the 2018/19 season in their two away Champions League games. Don't be fooled by the late 1-0 loss in Naples as Liverpool were very fortunate not to have lost by a much wider margin and they followed that up with a lacklustre 2-0 defeat in Belgrade to Crvena Zvezda.

A similar performance to those two would put Liverpool on the back foot in this one and Paris Saint-Germain have been very good at home in the Champions League.

I won't deny that Paris Saint-Germain have tended to disappoint me when they have played and they needed a late goal to earn a home draw with Napoli. They were beaten 1-2 by Real Madrid and defensively Liverpool will feel there are some holes to exploit which makes them dangerous.

However Liverpool have lost 3 straight away games in the Champions League and they have not been as strong as they would have liked so far in the competition. I think that gives Paris Saint-Germain the slight edge in this one and I will back them on the Asian Handicap to secure a vital three points and leave Liverpool in a must win situation on Match Day 6 against Napoli at Anfield.

PSV Eindhoven v Barcelona Pick: Playing away from home has been a difficult task for Barcelona in recent Champions League games, but they are facing a PSV Eindhoven team who have struggled to reach the required standards to compete in the Champions League this season.

In both home games PSV Eindhoven have conceded twice to Inter Milan and Tottenham Hotspur and the situation is a difficult one for the Dutch Champions.

They will need at least a point to have a chance of making it through to the Europa League Last 32 and that means perhaps taking more risks than they would want to against Barcelona.

PSV Eindhoven do have some energy in the forward areas which caused Barcelona some problems when these two teams met at the Nou Camp. That means they deserve some respect, especially in front of their own fans, and Barcelona could be missing some key players that most definitely weakens them.

Even with that in mind it is hard to see PSV Eindhoven being able to contain the threat of Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi and I think the situation means they will leave spaces to be exploited in the second half. That should give Barcelona enough of an advantage to win here and I think they can put PSV Eindhoven away with a killer goal late in the game.

A win will secure top spot in the Group for Barcelona and they can achieve that with a good looking win in the Netherlands.

Tottenham Hotspur v Inter Milan Pick: There are some big, important Champions League games being played this week as we have reached Match Day 5 of the Group games and one of those comes from Wembley Stadium as Tottenham Hotspur look to take another step towards the great escape.

After earning one point from their first 3 Champions League games, Tottenham Hotspur really needed to win their last 3 games in the Group to have a chance to progress. They managed the first by coming from behind to beat PSV Eindhoven, but Inter Milan's draw with Barcelona has just complicated things a little bit.

It now means Tottenham Hotspur have to win this game 1-0 or by two or more clear goals so they have the head to head advantage over Inter Milan who are 3 points clear of Spurs going into this round of fixtures. A draw would be good enough for Inter Milan to make it through to the Last 16 before Match Day 6 and it should be a tense game for both teams.

However the Tottenham Hotspur performance in their 3-1 win over Chelsea on Saturday will provide a huge boost of confidence and I do think Inter Milan have overachieved in this Group. The Italian side have lost 2 of their last 3 away games including a crushing 4-1 defeat at Atalanta last time out, while they have lost 5 of their last 6 away games in European competition.

There is pressure on Tottenham Hotspur to win by a margin that gives them the head to head advantage over Inter Milan, but I do think the home team can get the better of their visitors. The return of Jan Vertonghen could be huge for Tottenham Hotspur who look healthier in the forward areas and that can give them the edge in this one.

I think Tottenham Hotspur will win this one and I will back them to win a game that features two or more goals as they head into Match Day 6 with every chance of scraping into the Last 16 after a poor start to the Group.

MY PICKS: Ajax & Over 1.5 Goals @ 1.83 Bet Fred (2 Units)
CSKA Moscow & Over 1.5 Goals @ 2.15 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Hoffenheim & Over 1.5 Goals @ 1.83 Boyle Sports (2 Units)
Roma + 0.5 Asian Handicap @ 1.85 Bet365 (2 Units)
Bayern Munich - 1.5 Asian Handicap @ 1.90 Bet365 (2 Units)
Juventus - 1.25 Asian Handicap @ 1.95 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Manchester United - 1.5 Asian Handicap @ 1.80 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Manchester City - 1.25 Asian Handicap @ 1.95 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Borussia Dortmund - 1.5 Asian Handicap @ 1.85 Bet365 (2 Units)
Porto & Over 1.5 Goals @ 2.35 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Napoli - 2 Asian Handicap @ 1.83 Bet365 (2 Units)
Paris Saint-Germain - 0.25 Asian Handicap @ 1.85 Bet365 (2 Units)
Barcelona - 1.25 Asian Handicap @ 2.10 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Tottenham Hotspur & Over 1.5 Goals @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)

Saturday, 24 November 2018

Weekend Football Picks 2018 (November 24-26)

The international breaks are usually a real pain in the backside to deal with for fans as well as managers in the top European Leagues, but I will admit the introduction of the new UEFA Nations League was a real success in the first running of the competition.

The competition will come to a conclusion next June, but it did make the three international breaks in September, October and November more interesting than the usual rubbish the Qualifiers serve up. Those Qualifiers are now condensed into a nine month period beginning in March through to November 2019, and I am sure we will all be bored of some of the mismatches that are presented in those games.

That is where the Nations League made things more even and I thought it was a very positive start to what is going to be a feature on the calendar for the years ahead.

In saying all that, I know I am not the only one who is going to be glad to get the Premier League back as we get set to enter the grind of the festive period. This may not be a fun time for the players, but for the fans the football comes thick and fast through to the second week of January and it is a time for Fantasy Players to begin second guessing managers and the rotations they are set to use.

Making Picks from matches can become a little more haphazard at this time of the season with the short turnarounds between games, but everyone watching and playing has to adapt to the situations with vital points to play for.

With the weekend here, below you can see my Picks from the Premier League fixtures to be played from Saturday through to Monday and I also have my top Fantasy player, and Alternative, from those games.

Brighton v Leicester City Pick: Time can heal all wounds but you have to believe the Leicester City players are still not quite back to normal after the tragic events that saw owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha lose his life..

Claude Puel has been speaking to the press and making it clear the players have to try and focus on their jobs and making sure they honour the late owner as best they can. To be fair to the players they have actually played far better than could be expected in the 2 games since the helicopter accident that was witnessed by many of them and Leicester City are unfortunate not to have 2 wins from 2 played.

Last time out Leicester City did everything but score against Burnley as they dominated their visitors on an emotional day at the King Power Stadium. That came a week after winning at Cardiff City and I think Leicester City can edge out a Brighton team who have perhaps been a little lucky to have won back to back games at the Amex Stadium.

On pure chances being created Brighton were perhaps fortunate to beat West Ham United and Wolves without conceding a goal and they are going to be challenged by this Leicester City team.

The home form has to be respected for Brighton, but Leicester City had a solid win here last season and they are certainly good enough to win here again. If they continue to create the chances they have in their last 3 games it will be very difficult to beat Leicester City and I am not convinced this Brighton team are good enough at both ends of the field to do that.

Brighton have earned 10 points from a possible 15 at home this season, but Leicester City have shown they can win away games and I will back The Foxes on the Asian Handicap which will return the stake in the event of a draw.

Fantasy Star: James Maddison- he is back from an injury and is a key player from set pieces while also a potential penalty taker.

Alternative: Ben Chilwell- potential assists from a defender can't be ignored and Leicester City have had back to back clean sheets too.

Everton v Cardiff City Pick: You just know Neil Warnock would have loved to have had another Premier League fixture between the Brighton win and the international break just to see if his side could build on the momentum that comes from a late winner.

Two weeks later the euphoria would have died down and Cardiff City players will know they are back into the hard work needed to compete at the Premier League level.

This weekend they travel to Everton who have been performing very well at home with numerous chances being created and the goals have not been too far away. The absence of Gylfi Sigurdsson could be a potential blow to Everton with the Icelandic player being a real key under Marco Silva, but Everton do have enough about them to put Cardiff City under some pressure.

Cardiff City simply have not defended as well as they would have liked at this level and that has seen them exposed to some heavy losses already. Those have come against the very best teams in the Division though and Warnock will be reminding his players that Everton are not up there with Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City.

In saying that there is still a definite edge with the home team who have beaten teams like Fulham, Crystal Palace and Brighton at Goodison Park in the last few weeks. All of those clubs are of similar stature to Cardiff City and it has the feeling of being a tough afternoon for the visitors against an Everton team who have scored two or more goals in 3 straight home League games.

If they score two here I would imagine they would have too much for Cardiff City and I do think Everton are capable of doing that. Even without Sigurdsson, who is a doubt having missed the Iceland games during the two week international break, Everton have some quality players in the final third and I will back the home team to come out of the break and enter the festive period with a strong home win behind them.

Fantasy Star: Richarlison- plays in the Number 9 for Everton these days and scored for Brazil in a friendly last week.

Alternative: Gylfi Sigurdsson- a two week break will be important for the Icelandic midfielder and he has been very strong in Marco Silva's system while also a threat from set pieces.

Fulham v Southampton Pick: The media are going to be loving the appointment made by Fulham now they get to hear from Claudio Ranieri every week, but the Italian is not coming into an easy situation. He will have had some time to work with the players in the squad, but many have been away with their international teams and there doesn't look to be a quick fix at Fulham.

At the moment the club are struggling at both ends of the field and Ranieri's first task will be to make sure they are defensively much sounder than they have been.

That does take time though and even if title winning Leicester City team needed around four months to get used to the defensive schemes Ranieri had put together. Fulham simply don't have that time after a poor start to the season and this game on Saturday is a huge one for their chances of avoiding the drop even though we are in November.

Failure to beat Southampton ahead of fixtures against Chelsea, Leicester City and Manchester United could see Fulham lose touch with the teams above them very quickly and there is pressure on them to perform.

The same pressure applies to Mark Hughes and his Southampton team who feel they were robbed of three vital points when drawing 1-1 with Watford two weeks ago. A controversial goal was disallowed on the day that would have seen Southampton go 2-0 ahead, but the performance was enough to give Hughes a little more time to try and get things turned around.

A lack of goals is a real concern for a team who could be without Danny Ings and Shane Long this weekend, but Southampton have actually played better than the results would suggest. They are creating enough chances to win games, but poor composure in the final third has really let them down.

I expect Southampton can create more opportunities when they visit Craven Cottage on Saturday, although my enthusiasm for an away win is reduced significantly by the potential impact a new manager can have for Fulham. This is still a team who look like they have the quality to be operating higher up the Premier League table and Ranieri could get an immediate reaction which would be a worry for Southampton fans and backers.

However I do think the chances being created by Southampton have been ignored by the poor finishing. If they had even taken half of the opportunities they have been creating they would have a few more goals than the 8 they have totalled so far this season and I do think Fulham will present them with chances in this one before Claudio Ranieri can really work on the defensive shape.

Backing Southampton on the Asian Handicap at least returns the stake in the event of a draw and I like them as the slight underdog at Craven Cottage where they beat Fulham in the FA Cup back in January.

Fantasy Star: Charlie Austin- will be leading the line for Southampton and has a decent finish on him. Can make headlines for a differing reason than two weeks ago.

Alternative: Aleksandr Mitrovic- scored for Serbia on international duty and will be Claudio Ranieri's focal point for the Fulham attack. Always a threat from set pieces.

Manchester United v Crystal Palace Pick: A difficult period of fixtures are now behind Manchester United and it is time for the team to start picking up some consistency and putting the wins together if Jose Mourinho is going to be proved right about where the club are going to stand ahead of the opening of the January transfer window.

A couple of weeks ago Mourinho insisted Manchester United can get into the top four of the Premier League, but there is a 7 point gap to trim in the weeks ahead. The fixture list certainly looks a kinder one for Manchester United in the weeks ahead with a number of games to be played against teams in the bottom half of the table, but they have to take advantage of that.

So far Manchester United have been far from convincing and injuries have not been helping the situation. You can't question the heart of the players or the determination to play for the manager having seen Manchester United come from behind to wins games against Newcastle United, Bournemouth and Juventus while also securing a draw with Chelsea in a game they trailed.

The fans will be hoping they can get on the front foot out of the international break with two big games at Old Trafford to come this week before the trip to Southampton.

First up is a Crystal Palace team who have lost 6 of their last 7 games in all competitions and who have been beaten in their last 4 away games. A defensive injury crisis has just reared up at the wrong time for Roy Hodgson although the majority of those players could be back in action next weekend if they cannot be involved at Old Trafford.

It will make it difficult to get a result on a ground where Crystal Palace have lost their last 5 visits and I do think Manchester United will prove too strong for The Eagles this weekend too.

Manchester United have been scoring plenty of goals in recent weeks and that should see them have success against what could be a makeshift backline for Crystal Palace. If Wilfried Zaha cannot make the trip to the North West it will even more difficult for Crystal Palace to offer a counter attacking threat and I think Manchester United can get this week off to a good, positive start with what could be the most comfortable home win of the season so far.

Fantasy Star: Anthony Martial- his 'expected goals' stats suggest this run of strong form won't be sustained, but the Frenchman is well rested and is a potential penalty taker.

Alternative: Victor Lindelof- Manchester United's lack of clean sheets are well documented, but this is the start of a decent stretch of games for them and the Swede has looked more and more assured at the heart of the defence.

Watford v Liverpool Pick: At this stage of the season there really isn't a priority for teams in the Premier League and Champions League as they are trying to progress in both. With that in mind I do think the looming away tie at Paris Saint-Germain is going to be a potential distraction for the Liverpool players as they could potentially be left needing to beat Napoli by a wide margin to progress in the event of a loss in the French capital.

However Jurgen Klopp will know they can't take their eyes off the ball in the Premier League where Manchester City look like a team that are not going to be dropping too many points through the course of the campaign. With 2 points between Liverpool and the leaders, The Reds can't afford to drop points at Vicarage Road if they are going to genuinely compete for the title.

That may sound harsh considering Tottenham Hotspur have lost here already, but both Manchester United and Bournemouth won and Manchester City will be expected to do the same when they visit in a couple of weeks time. It means there are not excuses for Liverpool, but they have not found it easy in this part of Hertfordshire in recent seasons and Watford are playing with a confidence that makes them dangerous.

As much as Liverpool have improved defensively, they have only kept 2 clean sheets in 8 away games in all competitions this season. Both have come in the Premier League, but even in those games Liverpool have had to ride their luck at times and I do think Watford have enough in the final third to really cause some problems for their visitors.

While Liverpool have not been as threatening at the other end of the field as they seemingly were last season, this is still a team who create and score goals on their travels so it is hard to see Watford keeping them out.

Both teams look like they could score here although matching the 3-3 last season is going to be a tough task. I do think there will be chances at both ends though and backing both teams to score once looks a decent enough price considering how things have gone for both Watford and Liverpool at home/away respectively so far and in recent weeks.

Fantasy Star: Mohamed Salah- might not be hitting the heights of last season, but still scoring plenty of goals and scored both at home and away against Watford last season.

Alternative: Roberto Pereyra- if Watford are going to cause problems for Liverpool this is the player most likely to create or score for The Hornets.

West Ham United v Manchester City Pick: About the only thing that could be seen as a negative for Manchester City approaching the festive period is the number of injuries they have suffered with Kevin De Bruyne basically missing the majority of the campaign. Bernardo Silva's knock picked up on international duty is a blow, but this is a squad that is capable of picking up the slack for missing members and I don't foresee either potential absence from slowing down Pep Guardiola's men.

The comfortable win over Manchester United two weeks ago means Manchester City are clear at the top of the Premier League table but still being pushed by Liverpool and Chelsea. The next six weeks will be seen as a chance to really take control of the title race as Manchester City face both those teams before the FA Cup Third Round in early January.

Focus has been key for the players as they have not really overlooked any opponent they have faced and I expect that to be the case on Saturday.

On their day West Ham United can be a handful as Manchester United and Chelsea have found out at the London Stadium already this season, but this is a team that hasn't matched up well with Manchester City.

Since moving into the London Stadium West Ham United have lost 0-5, 0-4 and 1-4 against Manchester City and the only positive is that they have reduced the margin each time.

Manuel Pellegrini will have some insight of some of the players at his former club, and his new team should be motivated to perform for the manager, but it is a tall task for West Ham United. They look like a team who could be really susceptible to the pace Manchester City have in the forward areas and there is enough quality in the away team even without De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva to find cracks in a defence that has conceded three goals to Burnley and Huddersfield Town in their last couple of League games.

West Ham United have beaten Manchester United and drawn with Chelsea here, but Tottenham Hotspur won twice at the London Stadium in the Premier League and League Cup. While the home team will produce a big effort to try and knock Manchester City out of their stride or to catch them cold out of the international break, I think the mental demons of recent heavy home losses to this opponent won't be easy to shake.

Injuries are hurting the home team too and I don't think they will be able to contain a Manchester City team who could have Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling, Riyad Mahrez, David Silva and Sergio Aguero all involved. I will back the defending Champions to keep their strong run going and I will back them to win by two or more goals on the day.

Fantasy Star: David Silva- with both Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva out, David Silva's hot form is going to be important to Manchester City. Didn't play here last season, but has scored in his previous three games against West Ham United including on two visits to the London Stadium.

Alternative: Leroy Sane- with Benjamin Mendy ruled out for three months, Leroy Sane's position in the starting eleven could have re-opened and he has a stellar record against 'weaker' Premier League opponents.

Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea Pick: The biggest game of the Premier League weekend comes from Wembley Stadium as Tottenham Hotspur host rivals Chelsea with just one point separating these two teams and both chasing leaders Manchester City.

The playing surface at Wembley Stadium is far from in ideal condition, but it didn't play too badly when England hosted Croatia there last Sunday and I don't think the pitch is half as cut up as when the NFL hosted a game there a day before Tottenham Hotspur hosted Manchester City.

Neither team will be able to use a poor playing surface as an excuse and matches between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea have been very closely contested in recent years. Last season both teams were able to beat the other once, but surprisingly that happened in the away game for both Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur.

Spurs have lost their last 4 games against Chelsea that have been played at Wembley Stadium including last season and they have not played as well at this ground this time around as they did in the 2017/18 campaign. Barcelona, Liverpool and Manchester City have all beaten Tottenham Hotspur here already over the last couple of months and Chelsea's away form has been strong.

However I do think Tottenham Hotspur's come from behind win over PSV Eindhoven will have given the players renewed confidence when playing at Wembley Stadium. They will need to take that into this game and pressure Chelsea, but the defensive injuries have just left the home team looking a little vulnerable at times.

Chelsea are certainly playing with enough belief to expose those issues and I think this will be a decent game of football on Saturday afternoon. The chances Chelsea have been creating makes them dangerous, but they have yet to truly convince defensively and Tottenham Hotspur look as healthy in the final third as they have at any time this season.

5 of the last 6 games between these two London rivals have ended with at least three goals shared out and I think that will be the outcome of this one too.

Fantasy Star: Dele Alli- it hasn't been a great season for Dele Alli thanks to injury, but he is back fit and healthy and has a strong record against Chelsea.

Alternative: Eden Hazard- boring selection but Eden Hazard remains a vital part of the Chelsea attack and could have chances in what is expected to be a game featuring goals.

Bournemouth v Arsenal Pick: The first of the live offerings from the Premier League on Sunday comes from the Vitality Stadium where Bournemouth host Arsenal in a battle between two of the current top six.

It is a real testimony to the work being done by Eddie Howe that Bournemouth are as high as they are in a season where so many had tipped them for relegation. Back to back League defeats has just slowed down some of the momentum that had been built up, but Howe will have had two weeks to get his tactics right for this home League game.

In the last couple of years Bournemouth have proved to be a thorn in the Arsenal side with a draw and a win over them at the Vitality Stadium. Even in the drawn game Bournemouth were leading 3-0 before collapsing and they are certainly playing well enough going forward to challenge an Arsenal defence that has looked vulnerable throughout the season.

Wins can disguise the defensive frailties and that was certainly the case a month ago, but 4 draws in 5 games in all competitions has just underlined the point. Two weeks ago they needed a very late goal to earn a draw with Wolves at the Emirates Stadium, but Arsenal have shown they have plenty of goals in the side and that has seen them produce clinical performances in front of goal.

This weekend they could be without Alexandre Lacazette though and Arsenal may just be short of options in the final third. It is a concern until the January transfer window opens up and I think they look plenty short to win this game at a ground where Manchester United needed a very late goal to produce the victory.

With the problems at the back Bournemouth could certainly take advantage in what promises to be a decent game of football. Both teams will feel they are better going forward than defending and I think an attacking game could develop with at least four goals shared out between the teams.

Arsenal have played 5 away Premier League games this season and four or more goals have been shared out 4 times. There hasn't been as many goals in Bournemouth games at the Vitality Stadium, but the 6 League games have averaged three goals per game and that has included a goalless draw with Southampton.

An early goal could really get things going and backing four or more goals to be shared out at odds against is the selection.

Fantasy Star: Callum Wilson- scored for England in an international friendly and should have some great chances against this Arsenal defence.

Alternative: Alexandre Lacazette- was given a chance to recover from injury over the last two weeks and was in good goal-scoring form for a team that will create chances at the Vitality Stadium.

Wolves v Huddersfield Town Pick: The second live televised game on Sunday afternoon in the Premier League looks to be one that Huddersfield Town have to be targeting if they have serious ambitions of wanting to avoid the drop.

After back to back games where they have produced a positive result, Huddersfield Town should come out of the international break with some momentum. They have also tended to be pretty tough away from home, Manchester City aside, but Huddersfield Town were disappointing in their 3-0 defeat at Watford.

However they have not lost back to back away games in the Premier League since the end of March and that has to give David Wagner some belief his team can earn a result here.

Wolves have been in a poor patch of form but they have continued to play some good football and you would say that only the home loss to Watford was a disappointing all around day for the team. Other defeats at Brighton and at home to Tottenham Hotspur saw Wolves play really well and they were very unfortunate to lose both of those games, while they could, and perhaps should, have won at Arsenal two weeks ago.

It can be difficult for newly promoted teams to get out of a spin once they hit one in the Premier League, but Nuno Espirito Santo has to believe Wolves will win more games than they lose if they can continue to perform like they have been. The injuries to the two wing backs is a blow and losing both would hurt, but Wolves have shown they have enough in the attacking third to create chances and give Huddersfield Town missing two of their defenders a tough time.

The poor home record against Huddersfield Town is a concern for Wolves who have lost 5 of the last 6 against them at Molineux including when they last met two seasons ago. However the exception was a 3-0 win for Wolves in the 2015/16 season so I don't expect a new look team to be overly concerned by the record against Huddersfield Town and I will back the home team to win by a comfortable margin in this one.

Fantasy Star: Matt Doherty- I can't move away from a defender who has a high chance for a clean sheet, but also offers an attacking threat that rivals Marcos Alonso's at Chelsea in recent seasons.

Alternative: Raul Jimenez- if you like strikers who want to assist rather than score, or so it feels, then the Mexican is your man and he does knit things together for Wolves in the final third.

Burnley v Newcastle United Pick: There is much to play for on Monday Night Football when Burnley face Newcastle United.

Both teams are looking for a vital three points to move clear of the relegation battle that is developing and that should mean there is a real intensity to this fixture.

It is hard to really know how this game is going to go- Newcastle United had some real momentum behind them going into the international break as they managed to ride their fortune to some positive results. They will need to be a little better defensively if they are going to avoid the drop, but the same can absolutely be said for Burnley who have been giving up far too many chances for teams this season.

However both attacks have not really flourished as the managers would have hoped and so chances may not be as frequent in this game as they have been in recent Burnley and Newcastle United fixtures.

The Magpies have been really tight away from home with a total of eight goals scored in their 5 away games in the Premier League. Newcastle United have a poor recent record at Turf Moor and they don't score a lot of goals which should give Burnley every chance of earning the win.

However Burnley have been far from consistent this season and they have already failed to beat the likes of Watford and Huddersfield Town here. It has been a real battle for them defensively and Burnley are missing some key players in that unit which can be exposed, even by a limited attacking outfit like Newcastle United.

Going forward Burnley should have some success too and I think the layers are perhaps underestimating the chance of seeing both teams score in this one. As poor as these two teams have been when it comes to the attacking side of things, they are facing two defences who have really been struggling and that includes a Newcastle United team who have 2 clean sheets in their last 3 away games.

Both of those games at Crystal Palace and Southampton saw the home team miss some absolute sitters and Burnley have scored in 3 of their 5 home games this season in the Premier League.

I think both of these teams should have chances in this one and the 1-1 final score is a real player. I will be looking for both teams to score here against defences who have given up big chances to opponents and that looks an intriguing price.

Fantasy Star: Joe Hart- urgh, this is a tough game to pick someone from because it really could be anyone and no one stands out. However Burnley have been struggling defensively and Joe Hart will have to be a key performer to secure a result here.

Alternative: Solomon Rondon- two quality goals two weeks ago will have given Rondon confidence and Burnley have been vulnerable at the back while missing key centre halves.

MY PICKS: Leicester City 0 Asian Handicap @ 1.91 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Everton - 1.25 Asian Handicap @ 2.00 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Southampton 0 Asian Handicap @ 1.95 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Manchester United - 1.25 Asian Handicap @ 2.10 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Watford-Liverpool Both Teams to Score @ 1.72 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Manchester City - 1.5 Asian Handicap @ 1.80 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Tottenham Hotspur-Chelsea Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.72 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Bournemouth-Arsenal Over 3.5 Goals @ 2.25 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Wolves - 1 Asian Handicap @ 1.85 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Burnley-Newcastle United Both Teams to Score @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)

November Update: 14-22, - 16.86 Units (72 Units Staked, - 23.42% Yield)

Friday, 23 November 2018

College Football Week 13 Picks 2018 (November 23-24)

I really can't believe we have reached the end of the regular season in the 2018 College Football season and that means it is rivalry week.

This is the final chance for teams to chase the best Bowl Game they can, while others will just be glad to put an end to the campaign with seniors moving on from College and younger players ready to use their experiences of 2018 for better things in 2019.

The Championship Games are played next week so the final College Football Play Off positions won't be decided for another ten days, but there is the feeling of Play Off Football all around in Week 13.

For the likes of the Alabama Crimson Tide and Notre Dame Fighting Irish it does feel like one more win would ensure they are playing in the Play Offs, especially for the latter who are not involved in a Conference and are looking to put the final touch on an unbeaten season.

In the Pac-12 and Big 12 the leading teams, Washington State Cougars and Oklahoma Sooners, are both playing big games knowing a loss will not only potentially take them out of the Conference Championship Game, but will almost certainly mean they are out of Play Off contention.

The Big Ten has a huge 'win or go home' game too with the Michigan Wolverines heading to the Ohio State Buckeyes and the winner will move onto the Big Ten Championship Game and likely be favoured to make up part of the quartet that will meet in the Play Offs.

It is a big week which is spread over a few days- as this is a holiday weekend in the United States, the majority of games are split over Friday and Saturday.

With the games spread as they are I have a few more Picks than usual this week and I am going to have a gap between the Friday and Saturday selections in the 'MY PICKS' section below for ease of reading.

I have also put down my thoughts for a few of those games on both days and added the remaining selections as I have decided to do all season. One more strong week would put the season totals in a decent position going into the Championship Weekend and then the Bowl Season.

Nebraska Cornhuskers @ Iowa Hawkeyes Pick: There is a strong positive history with the Nebraska Cornhuskers so it isn't going to be easy for the fanbase to be watching a third losing season in the last four years. Scott Frost will be given time to turn things around for the Cornhuskers as he gets set to complete his first year as Head Coach, but Nebraska have been able to match the win total of 2017 by winning four of their last five games.

Unfortunately for the Cornhuskers even a win on Friday won't be enough to end up with Bowl eligibility but the performances in recent weeks will have pleased Coach Frost who was a key reason the UCF Knights were able to turn their programme around.

It was almost an expected difficult season for Nebraska, but the Iowa Hawkeyes may be much more disappointed with how 2018 has gone for them. They have already ensured a sixth straight winning season and Iowa have a chance to better the eight wins they have reach in each of the last two seasons, but the feeling is that this team should have been good enough to win the Big Ten West Division.

Instead they are just 4-4 in Conference play this season and they needed to end a three game losing run last week when they crushed the Illinois Fighting Illini.

The Hawkeyes will be motivated in a rivalry game and they are finishing up the season at home which is always a big occasion for College Football teams up and down the nation.

Iowa will look to put themselves in a position to win this game by running the ball effectively and they should have a chance to do that. While last week was the first time in 2018 that Iowa had produced a player with 100 yards on the ground, they can back that up against the Nebraska Defensive Line who have had difficulties stopping the run all season and who have looked to have been worn down over their last three games.

Being able to run the ball with at least some success will make things that much easier for Nate Stanley at Quarter Back in what has been a good season for him. It definitely feels like a game in which Iowa are able to move the chains efficiently and put up the points that the Defensive unit will feel they can look after.

The key battle for these teams on that side of the ball is going to be in the trenches as Nebraska try to establish the run against a Hawkeyes Defensive Line who have been very strong at clamping down on Running Backs. The Cornhuskers have been able to run the ball effectively, but the Hawkeyes have shown they can shut down most of the opponents they have faced and they will put the pressure on Adrian Martinez to make plays from Quarter Back.

Martinez has played well with the support of the running game during the run of four wins from five games for Nebraska, but he could be put in a tough spot if Iowa are able to stop the run. That will give the Hawkeyes pass rush the chance to get after Martinez and force him to throw into a Secondary which has been able to turn the ball over.

I like Iowa to have a little too much on both sides of the ball for this improving Nebraska team who should be much better in twelve months time. They can extend their 5-1 record against the spread from the last six games against Nebraska and I think the Hawkeyes will be the team who can run the ball and stop the run best in this game which will give them every chance to win and cover a big number.

Both teams have been good to back at home/on the road respectively but Nebraska are just 2-10-2 against the spread in their last fourteen games following a cover the week before. It is a big number, but I will back the Hawkeyes to close their regular season with another dominant performance against Nebraska.

Houston Cougars @ Memphis Tigers Pick: The American Athletic West Division is on the line on Friday as the Memphis Tigers and Houston Cougars renew their rivalry. The edge is currently with the Houston Cougars in terms of their record in the Division, but this is a 'winner takes all' game and both teams will believe they have the advantage.

The Houston Cougars may be more inclined to give off that feeling to boost the confidence of a team that has lost some key players to injury. Houston maintained their lead in the Division by snapping a two game losing run, but it came at a price with D'Eriq King going down with a season ending injury at Quarter Back.

King has been huge for Houston this season and it is going to be a big test for Clayton Tune to come in and replace him with the freshman expected to get the start for the Cougars.

Things could be made much tougher for Tune if the Cougars are not able to establish the run and it would not be a surprise if Houston struggle to run the ball as well as they have for much of the season. King was a big part of that ability, but they also wouldn't have faced too many Defensive Lines like the one Memphis have and I fully expect them to dare Tune to beat them.

Tune could have success though as he has shown what he can when coming in as a relief Quarter Back already this season. He is also throwing into a Memphis Secondary who have given up some big yards through the air, although Tune could find the pass rush something very difficult to deal with if Houston are in third and long and in other obvious passing downs.

It may also be up to Tune to lead the Cougars into a shoot out with the Tigers who look like they have the kind of balance Offensively to give Houston plenty to think about. Memphis are one of the stronger running teams in the American Athletic Conference and they have been churning out huge yards in recent games while now going up against a Houston Defensive Line that has allowed 241 yards per game on the ground over their last three games.

Both Darrell Henderson and Patrick Taylor Jr figure to have very big games for the Cougars, but the balance is given to them by Brady White who has taken advantage of the passing lanes that have opened up. White should not really feel a lot of pressure in this one when he drops back to throw and that should give him time to have success against the Houston Secondary and I do like the Memphis Tigers to win and cover in this game.

The underdog has had success in recent games in this series, but Houston look too banged up to compete with the Tigers this time around. The Cougars are 4-10 against the spread in their last fourteen road games and i think it will be tough to stay with Memphis in what looks like being a shoot out with the injuries they have on both sides of the ball.

No one will deny this is a pretty big number for Memphis to cover against a rival, but they look to have all the edges to do that.

Oklahoma Sooners @ West Virginia Mountaineers Pick: The Big 12 Championship Game will be played next week but we are still not sure which two teams will be competing for the Championship. Things will likely be much clearer by the time this game kicks off as the Texas Longhorns can take one of the two berths available in the Championship Game by beating the Kansas Jayhawks on the road.

Assuming that has happened for the 15 point favourites, the Oklahoma Sooners and West Virginia Mountaineers will know this is a 'winner takes all' game for the two teams. The Big 12's chances of sending a team to the Play Offs will also rest on this game as the feeling is that only Oklahoma have a chance of being picked in the top four and that will only happen if they win out.

It is a huge game for both teams and the Sooners may have the slight mental edge having beaten the Mountaineers the last six times they have played one another. The Sooners have been an Offensive powerhouse this season and it is very difficult to see how the Mountaineers can slow them down as the Sooners have a very strong balance on the Offensive side of the ball.

West Virginia have actually played the run pretty well and Oklahoma could be missing leading rusher Trey Simon, but this is a strong Offensive Line and the next man up for the Sooners should still have success.

The Sooners are helped by having a Quarter Back like Kyler Murray who could still become the first player to ever average 300 passing yards and 60 rushing yards per game. Murray could have a huge game against the West Virginia Secondary which has been attacked with success by teams in recent games and one of the leading contenders for the Heisman Trophy can underline his status.

The Mountaineers have a strong Quarter Back of their own in what is expected to be a shoot out and Will Grier is another who could be a Heisman Trophy contender. Grier figures to have a very big game against a Sooners Defensive unit which has struggled mightily all season.

Grier should find plenty of time in the pocket to make his plays through the air and the Oklahoma Sooners have not been able to at least turn the ball over to give themselves extra possessions. The Quarter Back is likely going to be helped by an Offensive Line which has paved the way for some huge gains on the ground too and I fully expect any of the Running Backs West Virginia use to have a very good game.

You can't ignore the fact the Mountaineers have yet to beat Oklahoma since moving to the Big 12 and the strong road record the Sooners have has to be respected. However I do think the Mountaineers could have a little more balance Offensively which can give them the edge in this one if their own Defensive Line can at least clamp down on the run a little bit.

Both teams should have their moments and score plenty of points, but I think Will Grier may just out-duel Kyler Murray with the latter perhaps throwing the back breaking Interception at some point. It is going to be a fun game but having the points with the home underdog looks a good position to be in and I will back West Virginia to finally break their duck against Oklahoma in Big 12 play.

Washington Huskies @ Washington State Cougars Pick: The Washington State Cougars may be the best bet for the Pac-12 to send a team to the College Football Play Off, but no one will be looking beyond this big rivalry game. It has been six years since the Cougars were able to beat the Washington Huskies and the motivation is plenty high with the visitors knowing they can win and steal the Division and the place in the Pac-12 Championship Game.

As much of a surprising season this has been for Washington State, the Washington Huskies have to be extremely disappointed they are not in contention to reach the College Football Play Offs. The team have very much underachieved compared to expectations back in August, but getting into the Pac-12 Championship Game will at least give the fans something to smile about.

They will have to snap Washington State's seven game winning run to have the bragging rights in this rivalry game as well as spoiling the Cougars season.

There will definitely be a respect from the Washington sidelines towards Washington State and what Mike Leach has achieved through to this point of the regular season. The Cougars may be most noted for the high-octane Offensive plays, but the Defensive unit have played better than advertised and they can make it difficult for the Huskies to get ahead of steam.

The Cougars Defensive Line has been strong and in recent games they have shown it is not easy to establish the run against them which means it could be a tougher night for Myles Gaskin than some would believe. Gaskin is a very good Running Back that can break things open, but he won't have consistent success and that means there is likely going to be more pressure on Jake Browning at Quarter Back.

Browning has not had a vintage season and he hasn't been helped by a lack of protection from the Offensive Line when dropping back to throw. That Line is going to be tested by the pass rush Washington State have generated in their last three games as they have been able to pin back their ears and get after the opposition Quarter Back.

Washington can't really be dragged into a shoot out with the Cougars considering the inconsistent Offensive play generated. Instead the Huskies will look to the Defensive unit to give them a chance to stay in the game and there are some positives that Washington can fall back upon to believe they can do that.

They have shown they can stop the run and force Washington State to become one-dimensional, although I don't think Mike Leach will mind with his 'Air Raid' Offense producing big numbers. Gardner Minshew II has shown some serious talent at the Quarter Back spot and there have been some holes in the Washington Secondary in their recent games which he will look to exploit.

Minshew's numbers are very impressive this season and I do think he will have success in this game and I am finding it hard to jump off the Washington State bandwagon. They don't have great numbers against the Washington Huskies, but this may be the best Cougars team since they last beat their rivals back in 2012.

Washington State have gone 17-5 against the spread in their last twenty-two games and they are 6-1 against the spread in their last seven facing a team with a winning record. The Huskies have not covered in their last seven Conference games and they are 1-7 against the spread in their last eight on the road.

I do think this one may go down to the wire with the tension that will be in the Stadium, but I do like the Cougars here and will back them.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets @ Georgia Bulldogs Pick: It would be easy to think the Georgia Bulldogs would be overlooking this rivalry game and instead focusing on the upcoming SEC Championship Game against the Alabama Crimson Tide. That would be a mistake from the Bulldogs if that turns out to be true because they are playing a decent team and another home loss to the Yellow Jackets would likely mean they are not invited to the College Football Play Off even if they were to win the SEC Championship Game.

I have no doubt some would disagree and believe a win over Alabama would warrant Georgia being invited in, but I can't see them being placed over any one loss Conference Champion nor the currently unbeaten Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Clemson Tigers.

Their opponents in the SEC Championship Game will likely know they are going to the Play Off if they enter that game unbeaten so there is pressure on Georgia to beat the Yellow Jackets and also snap a run of back to back home defeats to Georgia Tech.

It is a difficult game to prepare for because teams are simply not used to facing the triple option Offense the Yellow Jackets will run. This has already been a year of overachievement for Georgia Tech having finished with a losing record in two of the last three seasons, and they head to Samson Stadium with four straight wins behind them and they have won on their last two visits here for the first time in over sixty years.

TaQuon Marshall is back at Quarter Back and that means Georgia Tech should be confident running the triple option even against a strong SEC Defensive Line. They have shown in their last two visits to Georgia that they can break through the lines and give the Bulldogs all they can handle and more and there is simply no way you can really expect to completely shut down any Offensive unit like the one the Yellow Jackets.

What you can do is stall some drives and the Bulldogs have played the run well enough to think they can do that in this game. Forcing Marshall to have to throw the ball to move the chains will be seen as a big win for the Georgia Bulldogs and really swing the pendulum in their favour.

Running the ball should be something the Bulldogs are able to do with success in this game too and in recent games Georgia have been pounding the ball with huge efficiency. Last week Georgia were able to give their starting Running Backs a real rest as they blew out Massachusetts at home and that should mean the Bulldogs are ready to pound the rock in this one against a Georgia Tech Defensive Line which has not been able to stop the run as well as they would like.

The real difference between the teams is that Georgia are also very confident they can move the chains if they have to throw the ball with Jake Fromm likely going to play the majority of snaps in this one having also been given some time to rest last week. Fromm has not really played right up to the level that many hoped for him, but he has been good enough and the Bulldogs running the ball effectively will just open up the passing lanes for him.

This is a big spread on paper, but I do like Georgia to cover as they look to snap a two game home losing run to the Yellow Jackets. The motivation to do that can't be ignored and I think the Bulldogs will be the team who will make the bigger plays throughout this game which will allow them to pull clear.

The road team has been the team to back in this series over the years, but the favourite has moved to 5-2 against the spread in the last seven including a 31 point win for the Georgia Bulldogs on the road last season. Both teams have produced some strong numbers against the spread that have to be respected, but I think the home team have been in fine form over the last few weeks and can get the better of the talented, but one-dimensional Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.

Stanford Cardinal @ UCLA Bruins Pick: This may be Rivalry Week in College Football, but the UCLA Bruins will feel they have had their big moment when knocking off the USC Trojans at home in Week 12. Chip Kelly may not have had the immediate impact with the UCLA Bruins the fans would have hoped, but they have produced a 3-5 record in the Pac-12 after a really difficult start to the 2018 season and there is some momentum to take into the 2019 season.

The Bruins conclude the 2018 season on Saturday in Week 13 when they host the Stanford Cardinal who have had two weeks to prepare for this one. It was an unexpected Bye Week for the Cardinal whose game with the California Golden Bears was postponed until Week 14 due to the wildfires in California.

One more win for the Stanford Cardinal will guarantee a tenth consecutive winning season for the school and they will have three chances to do that with two regular season games and one Bowl Game to come. However the fewest number of games they have won in that time is eight and at the moment the Cardinal are just 6-4 in what has been an underwhelming season.

It might be off the back of a big game against the USC Trojans, but the UCLA Bruins have motivation as a defeat would leave them with their fewest wins in a season since 1989. They have already secured a third straight losing record for the first time since the mid-1960s, but the system is going to take time to take hold under Chip Kelly who had considerable success in the Pac-12 during his time as Head Coach of the Oregon Ducks before a couple of poor spells in the NFL.

There is a real reason to like both teams and their chances of moving the chains in this one with both the Cardinal and Bruins finding strong running behind their Offensive Lines. Neither is playing against a Defensive Line that have been able to clamp down on the run and that has become a problem for the Secondary of both teams with stops being hard to come by.

However if you were going to pick one of the Defensive units to step up you would have to favour the Stanford Cardinal. They have limited three of their last four opponents to 27 points or fewer and two of those teams failed to even break 20 points against the Cardinal while the UCLA Bruins have allowed at least 27 points in six straight games.

Having the effective Bye Week in Week 12 means the Cardinal are perhaps healthier than they would have been coming into Week 13 and the UCLA players have to pick themselves up from an emotional Fourth Quarter comeback to beat rivals USC last week while Stanford were resting.

Dealing with wins and not allowing that to get to your head is the next step Chip Kelly will want to take with UCLA. The Bruins are a very poor 5-16 against the spread in their last twenty-one games following a win and they are 2-6 against the spread in their last eight at home.

Stanford have some very positive trends in their favour including going 19-6-1 against the spread in their last twenty-six games when playing a team with a losing record. They have also dominated the Bruins in recent years and Stanford have covered in their last four visits to the Rose Bowl and I think the Cardinal can make one or two key stops that allows them to win this game by a Touchdown on the day.

South Carolina Gamecocks @ Clemson Tigers Pick: The situation is very clear for the Clemson Tigers and winning their final two games in the regular season would put them in the College Football Play Offs. First up is the Rivalry Game with the South Carolina Gamecocks before Clemson go into the ACC Championship Game in Week 14 and maintaining their unbeaten record would surely mean they are one of the four selections by the Play Off Committee.

Dropping one of their remaining two games would leave Clemson at risk of being left out, but they have looked like one of the best teams in the College Football ranks. The Tigers have been in dominant form ever since they scraped by the Syracuse Orange and they have won the six games since that one by at least 20 points per game.

They will be plenty motivated to take on the Gamecocks against whom Clemson are finishing the regular season for the first time since 2014. This is definitely a test to see where the Tigers stand against an SEC opponent who have suffered some very close losses to the likes of Florida Gators and Texas A&M Aggies in Conference play.

The most telling loss for the Gamecocks may be the one against the Georgia Bulldogs who beat South Carolina by 24 points in Columbia and that is the marker that most will have set for the Tigers. The layers expect even more with the huge number Clemson have been saddled with, but I do think the unbeaten ACC team can do enough to cover.

Travis Etienne figures to have another huge game running the ball for the Tigers and the balance on the Offensive side of the ball makes it very hard to stop the Clemson team moving the chains. Etienne has helped the Tigers produce over 350 rushing yards per game over their last three games and they have been able to rip off some large chunks on the ground which won't be something South Carolina want to hear with their Defensive Line struggling to stop the run in recent games.

I fully expect the Tigers to be able to move the ball on the ground and that should open things up for Trevor Lawrence at Quarter Back against the Gamecocks Secondary. It has been difficult enough for South Carolina to stop the pass, but that becomes all the tougher if Clemson are running the ball like they can and there won't be too many drives that end in Punts or Field Goals for the home team.

There has to be pressure on South Carolina to respond, but they are up against one of the better Defensive units in the College Football ranks. The Gamecocks have found some life from the passing game as Jake Bentley is playing with some real confidence, but it isn't going to be easy to do that against Clemson who have been able to clamp down on the run and force teams to throw the ball against them.

When opponents have begun to chase the game, Clemson have unleashed a fierce pass rush which has managed to bring down the opponent Quarter Back repeatedly and it will be a tough for Bentley to make the plays he has been.

South Carolina have lost four in a row in the series with this rival and it would be a huge upset if that sequence doesn't reach five games in Week 13. The home team and the favourite are now 4-1 against the spread in the last five between South Carolina and Clemson and the Tigers are playing with a real fire which has seen them blow out opponents in the last few weeks.

Asking them to cover this kind of number against a SEC team is a big challenge, but the Clemson Tigers have beaten South Carolina by 49 points when they last hosted them and they were 24 point winners on the road last season. They are playing with a point to prove at the moment and I don't think the Gamecocks will be able to match the scoring power of their hosts who can put a statement win on the board by surpassing the margin of win the Georgia Bulldogs had over the Gamecocks back in September.

Kentucky Wildcats @ Louisville Cardinals Pick: The first thing you have to acknowledge about College Football and the major difference between the College game and the Pro game is that a poor season isn't going to be costing players jobs. If you have a poor year in College Football it may affect your Draft position, but it is hard to motivate players who are not being paid to perform as it can be to motivate those in the NFL who are constantly playing for their jobs.

With that in mind it can be very difficult for a College Football team to turn things around when on a downward spiral, at least within that season. It has been the situation for the Louisville Cardinals who have not only dropped eight games in a row but have been blown out a number of times.

Bobby Petrino was fired as Head Coach before Week 12, but the Cardinals were beaten by 42 points last week against the NC State Wolf Pack. Louisville have lost their eight games but the last six have come by least 18 points per time and this Rivalry Week game gives the Kentucky Wildcats every chance of snapping their poor recent run against the Cardinals which has seen them lose six of seven to this school.

The Cardinals are going to putting up their first losing season since 2009, but Kentucky won't be feeling any sympathy for them as they round out the regular season. Head Coach Mark Stoops has turned around the school and Kentucky have had some big wins this season in the SEC even if they have fallen short of the Championship Game and they have already secured their third winning season in a row.

Kentucky are one win away from having their most wins in a single season since 1984 and they would love to put that on the board when they visit Cardinal Stadium. They have perhaps not been as strong Offensively as they would have liked once they headed into the SEC play, but Kentucky should be able to get uncorked in this one against the struggling Cardinals Defensive unit.

Benny Snell may be playing his last game for the Kentucky Wildcats in the regular season with suggestions he could leave before his final year of eligibility and enter the NFL Draft. Snell has every chance of producing a huge game for the Wildcats against the Cardinals Defensive Line which has given up 333 yards per game on the ground in their last three games and those have come at an eye-watering 7.9 yards per carry.

It was Snell who provided most of the Offense for the Wildcats in the loss to the Cardinals last season and he looks set to surpass Kentucky's all-time rushing record held by Sonny Collins. If it is as good a day as it could be, Snell may actually do that here even though he needs over 200 yards on the ground to do that and it underlines how poor the Cardinals have been that it could happen in this game.

With the ground game struggling as it has been, teams have not needed to throw the ball against the Louisville Secondary and it is part of the reason their numbers are not so bad against the pass. The Wildcats may not need to throw the ball either, but play-action could see them make some plays downfield in this one if the Cardinals begin to load the box.

Louisville are likely going to be counting down to the end of the 2018 season which has been terrible all around. Malik Cunningham has been restored at Quarter Back and he could have some success running the ball against the Kentucky Defensive Line which has not been clamping down on the run in their last three games as they have for much of the season.

In saying that, the Wildcats are a very good Defensive unit and can be thankful to that side of the ball for the helping them reach eight wins already in the 2018 season. With Josh Allen finishing up his time with the Wildcats in the regular season before inevitably going to the NFL, the Wildcats will be motivated for one more huge game on that side of the ball and they should be able to slow down Louisville if they can force them into obvious passing situations.

The Kentucky pass rush figures to be the difference maker in this game and I think the motivation and energy is all on the Kentucky sidelines in this game which can help them cover a big number.

Too many times this season the Cardinals have fallen apart in games and there is every chance that could happen here as Allen leads the Kentucky Defense into making some big plays to turn the momentum in their favour.

It is not a familiar position for Kentucky to be favoured in Rivalry Week and that could play a part in this one. The Wildcats have some poor trends against non-Conference opponents, but the Cardinals have been pretty horrific when coming off big losses and they are 2-14 against the spread in their last sixteen when playing a team with a winning record.

I won't deny this has felt a big number when you think of the Offensive problems Kentucky have had, but the Louisville players have looked to have given up on the season for some time and that has led to a number of blow outs. The Wildcats may make some big Defensive plays to get into a position to hand out another one and I will back them to cover here.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish @ USC Trojans Pick: After twelve weeks of the regular season have been put in the books, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish know they are one win away from having their place punched into the College Football Play Offs for the first time. An unbeaten Fighting Irish would be tough to ignore by the Committee who have had them Ranked in the top four since the first release of the Play Off Rankings.

Some have suggested the lack of a Conference Championship would hurt Notre Dame, but I think that is only the case if they have one loss. In this case a defeat to the USC Trojans, who have a losing record, would likely mean they are knocked out of contention for the Play Offs and that means there is some pressure on the Fighting Irish as they head to California.

There should be motivation on the USC Trojans sideline to first off knock out a rival searching for a big season, but the Trojans are also looking for one more win which would earn them a Bowl Game. Last week they blew a Fourth Quarter lead against the UCLA Bruins who had won just two games through the regular season which suggests the Trojans are not interested in keeping Head Coach Clay Helton in his job nor wanting to play in a Bowl Game that won't have the same national interest as those USC aim for every season.

If the Trojans are beaten in Week 13 they are going to have their first losing season since 2000 and I don't think Helton is going to survive as Head Coach if that happens. After the performance against rivals UCLA in Week 12, it is hard to see how the Trojans are able to turn things around to beat the Notre Dame Fighting Irish who have a Defensive unit that deserves a lot of respect.

Last week they shut down the powerful Syracuse Offense at Yankee Stadium, although Notre Dame were perhaps aided by the injury to Eric Dungey, the Orange Quarter Back. Even then it can't be ignored that none of the last seven teams faced by the Fighting Irish have not been able to score more than 23 points.

The Trojans can't really rely on any aspect of their Offensive unit to believe they are going to become the first to surpass that number of points since the end of September. The Fighting Irish are able to clamp down on the run and they then force teams to try and throw against a strong Secondary while dealing with the pass rush Notre Dame are able to generate.

It looks to be a big ask for JT Daniels who had a critical Fourth Quarter Interception in the loss to the Bruins in Week 12, a play that turned things against the Trojans. He is not going to be able to make plays any easier against one of the best Secondaries he would have seen in 2018 and Notre Dame will believe the Defensive unit puts them in a position to win this game.

The Defense gets plenty of attention for Notre Dame, but it may have been the decision to make Ian Book the starting Quarter Back which has really sparked this team. Book returned from an injury to have a strong game against Syracuse last week and he has been playing at a very high level while being backed up with a strong running game that has allowed the Fighting Irish to find balance Offensively and move the chains efficiently.

After seeing some of the lacklustre play from the Trojans last week against UCLA, I do think Notre Dame will be able to move the chains efficiently and the edge on both sides of the ball makes it difficult to oppose them.

USC have blown out Notre Dame the last two times they have hosted them, but this current version of the Trojans don't look up to the task. The favourite is 6-0 against the spread in the last six in this series and the Trojans have some really poor trends against the spread as they have dropped to 6-19-1 against the spread in their last twenty-six games overall.

The Fighting Irish have shown they can back up big wins by going 7-2-1 against the spread in their last ten games following a win by 20 points or more. They have everything on the line in this game at the Los Angeles Coliseum and I expect Notre Dame to show why they should be one of the Play Off teams with a very big win on the road.

MY PICKS: Iowa Hawkeyes - 8 Points @ 1.95 Betfair Sportsbook (1 Unit)
Memphis Tigers - 7 Points @ 1.85 Bet365 (1 Unit)
Texas Longhorns - 15 Points @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Missouri Tigers - 23 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Oregon Ducks - 18 Points @ 1.91 Betfair Sportsbook (1 Unit)
UCF Knights - 14 Points @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
West Virginia Mountaineers + 3.5 Points @ 1.85 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
Washington State Cougars - 2.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (1 Unit)

Ohio State Buckeyes + 5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Georgia Bulldogs - 17 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Stanford Cardinal - 6.5 Points @ 1.85 William Hill (1 Unit)
Penn State Nittany Lions - 13.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Northwestern Wildcats - 16.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Alabama Crimson Tide - 24.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Clemson Tigers - 26 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
Kentucky Wildcats - 16.5 Points @ 1.85 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Kansas State Wildcats + 12.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
LSU Tigers + 3.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Notre Dame Fighting Irish - 10.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Fred (1 Unit)