Hi. Here are the guesses for conference championship weekend in college football and our first week of NFL tilts in 2019 with the Bengals going into a game owning an actual win.
College games of investing interest....
We start with the college matches because we always lead the list of college games with the Bearcats, and since the Bearcats are playing in a game that's more significant than the one the Bengals will be playing in Cleveland, the Bearcats go first.
Cincinnati (+9.5) over Memphis. I'm rooting against myself. In the first BOFG of the season, I laid out a series of college football props and futures I'd be investing in. Some hit, others did not, but a couple remain in play, including Georgia at +275 to win the SEC, and a few decent College Football Playoff futures that looked tantalizing at the time, and could make for a very good weekend if things go my way.
One of the bets was Memphis +250 to win the AAC.
I hope that's not a bet that gets paid.
The 2019 AAC title tilt is UC's biggest football game in ten years, with a chance at the school's first outright league title since 2009 AND a berth in the Cotton Bowl at stake. As much as we've come to devalue conference championships in college football, I think the Bearcats winning the AAC and securing their best-possible bowl bid would be a huge deal, and would represent the best feel-good Cincinnati sports story of 2019.
A big part of me likes their chances. I'll trust Marcus Freeman and Luke Fickell to make adjustments to the speed Memphis brings on offense, I'll trust that the Bearcats do not give up a kickoff return for a score, and I'll trust that with a game against the Tigers under their belts, I'll trust that UC's secondary is up to the task of keeping the game within reach for the offense.
I go back and forth on the Desmond Ridder v. Ben Bryant debate, but if Desmond is the guy, I'll put a degree of faith in him not being as mistake-prone as Bryant was last week, and I'll also trust that with Bryant making just enough quality throws to give the Cats a chance last week, the leash on Ridder is shorter than it was against Temple and USF.
I'll take the 9.5 points, and if the Bearcats can get out of their own way this time in Memphis, I'll see you in Dallas the weekend after Christmas.
Oregon (+6.5) over Utah and the under (46). We have two very good defenses (both top 6 in finishing drives on D, both top 15 in pass explosiveness against), two bad offenses, and crappy weather. In a low-scoring game played in the slop, I'll take the team that's getting close to a touchdown.
Miami (+6.5) over Central Michigan. The Chippewas are giving up a lot of points for a team that either lost to or just barely beat the best teams on its schedule.
Wisconsin (+16.5) over Ohio State. The Buckeyes aren't losing, but their last two Big Ten title game wins have been way closer than expected, and Lucas Oil Stadium does have a backdoor, so....
Georgia (+7) over LSU. Taking a leap of faith in Kirby Smart and hopefully and healthy-ish and active D'Andre Swift.
Professional football games of investing interest.
Cleveland (-7) over Cincinnati. Yeah, I know the Bengals won last week. I know Andy Dalton is back. I know the Browns are a mess. I know Zac Taylor is a better coach than Freddie Kitchens. I know Baker Mayfield has a hand that's hurting.
I also know the Browns have Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt going up against the Bengals' linebackers. I'll lay the points, and I'll share this tweet with you.
Browns 27 Bengals 17
New England (-3) over Kansas City. I know we're all supposed to bury the Pats, but the Chiefs are brutally against opposing running back and New England's backfield is productive enough to cover in a spot they've been really good in (30-11 ATS at home after a loss since 2003).
Atlanta (-3) over Carolina. Two bad teams, one with a run defense that's far worse than the other.
Baltimore (-5.5) over Buffalo. I'll bet the Bills are a trendy pick from folks who ignore the fact that their best win came against Marcus Mariota. Give me Lamar Jackson and Company against a team with the 24th-best graded run defense.
Minnesota (-13) over Detroit. I got yelled at two and a half years ago when I suggested that Dalvin Cook could be a really good NFL player. He's feasted on the Lions once. He'll do it again on Sunday.
Miami/Jets under 45. Taking the under in December divisional games has paid off 54% of the time since 2004. These are two very slow-moving offenses. I just gave you a reason to pay attention to late-season Jets/Dolphins game. My work here is done.
NFL Mark in 2019: 41-27
College Mark in 2019: 39-33-1
Have a pleasant weekend.