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Hedge your bets with Scott: Football picks of the week

Getting 50% on an exam is not great, but getting 50% of your gambling picks for the week correct is a high like no other because it likely means you didn’t lose any money.

I went 2-2 last week, which is a stark improvement from week one’s 1-3 record. The Scott Nies gambling column — or cult, or perhaps revolution — has an overall record of three wins and five losses over two weeks.

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The biggest dark spot of last week’s picks was the Green Bay Packers crumbling before my very eyes as they lost by 28 points to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. However, I am pretty sure that Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was a little more angry at this loss than I was after my $5 loss. 

Resiliency is key as I seek the elusive 4-0 week and we dive into this week’s picks. 

Sports betting has provided me with added levels of entertainment but only because I bet within my means. If you feel you need help, call the National Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-522-4700.

“Good teams win, but great teams cover.”

College Football

North Carolina State University Wolfpack vs. University of North Carolina Tar Heels

Spread: NC State +17.5 points, UNC -17.5 points
Money Line: NC State +525, UNC -910
Over/Under: 60.5 points

“Good teams win, but great teams cover (the spread)” is a gambling phrase as old as time, and the Wolfpack did just that last week. They were down 17-7 to Duke University at one point but ended up winning 31-20 and covered the -4.5 point spread. So if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it — and I think the Wolfpack covers the spread again this week.

NC State is a 4-1 team, and they are listed as a 17.5 point underdog, which does not make sense to me. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely see the Tar Heels winning this game. However, the Tar Heels’ margin of victory this year has been an average of 13.3 points, largely due to their 25-point victory over a struggling Syracuse team.

The Wolfpack offense is also averaging 33.6 points a game this year, and the Tar Heel defense has been giving up an average of 26 points a game this year. Even if the Tar Heels are scoring frequently, their defense will have to consistently stop a firing NC State to cover that huge point spread, which I don’t see happening.

Verdict: NC State +17.5 points. I just don’t see this game being a blowout, and I think the stats outlined above support that.

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Utah State University Aggies vs. Boise State University Broncos

Spread: Utah State +16.5 points, Boise State -16.5 points
Money Line: Utah State +525, Boise State -770
Over/Under: 53.5 points

This should have been a pick for the University of New Mexico vs. Colorado State University game, but since that game got canceled, we will look toward another Mountain West game. 

Boise is supposed to have some pretty brutal weather for their home opener; according to weather.com, the high is supposed to be 51 degrees with a 30% chance of rain. Rusty play is to be expected on any season opener, but this weather is only going to make it worse. 

Last season, Boise State averaged 34.71 points a game and Utah State averaged 29.23 points a game. While this initially looks like it lends itself to betting the over on this game, it must be noted that Utah State will be starting a transfer quarterback, Jason Shelley, after losing Jordan Love, the Aggies’ 2019 quarterback, to the Green Bay Packers after he was drafted in the first round. 

Shelley only had six passing completions for 43 yards and one touchdown in 2019. He is coming into a new program and starting in some rough weather, which on paper is not super indicative of a lot of points. 

Verdict: Under 53.5 points. I think there are too many moving parts here for consistent scoring throughout the game.

NFL Sunday

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Denver Broncos

Spread: KC -9 points, Broncos +9 points
Money Line: KC -375, Broncos +310
Over/Under: 48 points 

Last week the Broncos beat the New England Patriots by the grace of some excellent pass rush defense and the Broncos’ new offensive juggernaut, kicker Brandon McManus, who scored every one of the team’s 18 points. However, quarterback Drew Lock looked very shaky in his first start since week two after a shoulder injury.

For the Broncos to compete in this game, Lock needs to be on his game, but unfortunately for him, the Chiefs are no easy team to do that against. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes looks to have returned to his MVP-caliber self after throwing for two touchdowns and getting the win against the Buffalo Bills last week. 

The Broncos need to show that they have offensive life in them, and Lock needs to use this game as an opportunity to do so. Similarly, Mahomes needs to show that the Chiefs’ loss to the Las Vegas Raiders two weeks ago was a fluke as he looks to build on his performance against the Bills. 

Verdict: Over 48 points. My gut tells me this game will see a lot of points as Mahomes and Lock look to duel it out in an important conference game, or perhaps McManus kicks a bunch of field goals again. Regardless, I think there will be scoring, and it will be often. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Las Vegas Raiders

Spread: Tampa Bay -2.5 points, Las Vegas +2.5
Money Line: Tampa Bay -152, Las Vegas +133 
Over/Under: 53.5 points

In the spirit of journalistic honesty, I am a Raiders fan. In the spirit of gambling honesty, they have also cost me a lot of money over the last couple of years because they aren’t the best team (shocking, I know). 

Unfortunately for the Raiders, the Bucs have one of the best defenses in the league right now. They are holding teams to just 386 rushing yards per game, which is bad news for a Raiders team that relies heavily on running back Josh Jacobs. That being said, the Raiders played one of their best games in recent memory after putting 40 points on the then undefeated Chiefs. The Raiders are the most injury-free they have been this season, and if their offensive line can live up to its hype, they may provide a significant obstacle to Tampa Bay’s strong defense. 

This game really boils down to me wanting my team to win, so much so that I will put my highly touted 3-5 record on the line for it. 

Verdict: Raiders +133. The Raiders are home underdogs, and that is good enough for me to bet with the autumn wind

Scott Nies can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @scott_nies98.

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