Thanksgiving is just around the corner, which is to say there’s a lot at stake in the penultimate week of the college season while the NFL playoff picture is starting to take shape. This is your Weekend Primer.
FIVE HOT TOPICS
1. Pats cash tickets: One of the great false narratives is that the Patriots offer minimal value as a bet-on team because their lines are almost always shaded. While the latter is true, the former is not: New England is 47-20 ATS in its last 67 games, and 44-17 in its last 61 at home. The Pats are 6.5-point home favorites against Dallas.
2. Turnover machine: Jameis Winston leads the NFL with 18 interceptions as he clings to life as the Bucs’ starter. Winston has had five multi-pick games this season and has fumbled in six straight. The combination of that and a high-powered offense is why Tampa Bay is 8-2 to the over in 2019.
3. Wild race in AFC: There are four teams within a game of the second AFC Wild Card spot, with Indianapolis, Oakland, Tennessee and Pittsburgh in the running. With the Colts (6-5) losing on Thursday night, the Raiders can assume pole position by handling business vs. the Jets as short road favorites.
4. Tide moving on from Tua: Tua Tagovailoa is done for the year and may have worn the Alabama crimson for the final time. That will have little bearing this week — Alabama is favored by 57 against Western Carolina — but could have significant ramifications for Bama’s playoff hopes.
5. Chuba chomping at bit: Oklahoma State tailback Chuba Hubbard is set to have a field day against West Virginia. The Mountaineers rank 74th in run defense this year while Hubbard leads the nation with 1,726 yards and 20 touchdowns in just 10 games.
Syracuse has seen some professional interest as 10-point dogs at Louisville (line down to 9.5), while sharp money also landed on USC -13 against UCLA. Sharp action on the NFL card includes the Eagles in a buy-low spot vs. the Seahawks, Tennessee -3 vs. Jacksonville (number up to 3.5) and the Rams as 3-point home dogs vs. the Ravens on Monday night.
Pittsburgh (+155) at Virginia Tech: Pitt, which has won six of its past seven games, is 7-3 straight up against Virginia Tech in the last 10 meetings between the two teams. This has also been a dog-dominant series in recent history, with the favorite covering just two of the past 12.
Buccaneers (+170) at Falcons: The Bucs have scored 23-plus points in seven of their past eight games, which is to say they have an offense that can cause Atlanta all kinds of trouble. Tampa Bay is also 9-2 ATS in its last 11 off a double-digit loss. The Falcons, meanwhile, have covered just two of their last 11 against teams with a losing record. This one should be there for the taking.
Saturday — Penn State (+18.5) at Ohio State: A Big Ten meeting with everything on the line, Penn State’s hopes of a playoff berth took a huge hit with a shocking loss to Minnesota. They can not only play spoiler to Ohio State but also open a path back into playoff contention. However, that could be a tall order on the road against a Buckeyes team that’s looked unstoppable.
Sunday — Packers (+3) at 49ers: It isn’t Favre vs. Young, but Rodgers vs. Jimmy G is nonetheless an intriguing matchup in this battle of traditional NFC powers once again duking it out for conference supremacy. The Niners have actually had the more high-powered offense this year, posting 28-plus points six times. Green Bay, meanwhile, is 2-0 straight up as road dogs in 2019.