Football betting: Top five contest picks of the weekend

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With the rise in popularity of football betting contests, the Yahoo Sportsbook staff is offering its top football picks for this weekend’s slate. And much like those contests, these lines locked as of Thursday night, so they won’t reflect subsequent movement.

All lines from BetMGM.

Nick Bromberg

Last week: 1-4

Nevada (-1) at Kansas State

The line has shrunk by a point since I first made this pick, and I’m happy to give one fewer point than I was. K-State is missing QB Skylar Thompson and Nevada’s Carson Strong is the QB name to watch outside of the Power Five conferences.

USC (-8.5) at Washington State

It’s time to see if the interim coach bounce is real for USC. I think it is — Washington State is a mess. The Cougars lost at home to Utah State, and it’s fair to wonder just how much of a distraction Nick Rolovich’s vaccine hesitancy has been.

South Carolina (+31.5) at Georgia

This is the largest spread of any college football game not involving UConn. And there’s some fascinating familiarity here. South Carolina coach Shane Beamer is a former Georgia assistant. He was hired to replace Will Muschamp — he’s now a defensive analyst at Georgia. Georgia is simply giving too many points here, especially if JT Daniels is out again.

Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins (Over 47)

It wouldn’t surprise me if the Bills fall to 0-2 and Miami goes to 2-0. I’m not confident in picking a winner in this game, however, so I’m going to roll with the total. I think Buffalo’s offense plays a lot better than it did in Week 1.

Denver Broncos at Jacksonville Jaguars (Under 45)

It’s hard to see how Jacksonville’s offense will get going against a Denver defense that is much better than Houston’s. And while Denver put up 27 against the Giants, a lot of that came in the second half, thanks to the Giants’ mistakes. That game still hit the under too. I’m going with that here.

Sam Cooper

Last week: 4-1

Boston College (-14.5) at Temple

Boston College QB Phil Jurkovec might miss the rest of the season with a wrist injury, but backup Dennis Grosel is a good player who has seen plenty of action during his BC career. Temple is just not a good team. BC should cover pretty easily.

Minnesota at Colorado (Under 49)

Two teams that run the ball a ton, don’t have good passing attacks and play with slow tempo in a game that starts at 11 a.m. local time sounds like the recipe for an under to me.

Ball State at Wyoming (Under 53)

Ball State got beat up by Penn State last week and now has to travel to Laramie, where the winds will be howling on Saturday. I usually wait until the temperature drops to get in on Wyoming home unders, but I think the Cowboys will be buttoned up defensively after nearly blowing a big lead at Northern Illinois last week.

Oklahoma State at Boise State (-3.5)

Oklahoma State’s offense has been quite bad for the past two seasons and Boise State rarely gets Power Five opponents to visit the blue turf. I think the Broncos win by at least a touchdown.

Los Angeles Rams (-3.5) at Indianapolis Colts

I am fading Carson Wentz until he proves otherwise, especially with T.Y. Hilton out. Wentz doesn’t see the field well, locks onto his first option, holds the ball too long and takes too many chances. Aaron Donald and the Rams will roll.

Frank Schwab

Last week: 1-4

Tennessee Titans (+6) over Seattle Seahawks

The good news is that it can’t get worse than last week. (Though how did I not hit that Tennessee-Arizona over?) You’ll see a theme from me: I’m going to be backing a lot of teams that didn’t look good in Week 1, but I still trust … for one more week anyway. The Titans did absolutely everything wrong last week, and Seattle is no easy road trip. But I don’t think Tennessee is going to be terrible this season. It feels like this is too many points.

Indianapolis Colts (+3.5) over Los Angeles Rams

The Rams are darlings after Week 1, and the Colts lost by double digits at home. But the Colts aren’t a bad team and I believe in Frank Reich. Indianapolis can’t afford to go 0-2 with their upcoming schedule, and I like them at the very least to keep it within four points.

Carolina Panthers (+3.5) over New Orleans Saints

The Saints looked great in Week 1. They might be great all season for all we know. But I do think it was an emotional high, rallying after being faced with the adversity of having to play in Jacksonville due to damage from Hurricane Ida. It might be hard for them to get up like that again. And the Panthers have plenty of playmakers and an exciting defense. I think they can keep it within a field goal and perhaps win.

Los Angeles Chargers (-3) over Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys injuries to DeMarcus Lawrence and Michael Gallup pushed me to the Chargers’ side. The Chargers might be a really good team. Justin Herbert is clearly the real deal. It wouldn’t shock me if Dak Prescott carries the Cowboys to a win, but I’ll ride with the Chargers.

Buffalo Bills (-3.5) over Miami Dolphins

I picked the Bills to win the Super Bowl; I can’t give up on them after one bad game. I hate the hook, and this line probably is a little too high, but I’m having faith in the Bills to be angry and figure things out after a bad Week 1 showing against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Greg Brainos

Last week: 1-4

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-12) vs. Atlanta Falcons

I’m not afraid to lay double digits. This is a division rivalry like Cain vs. Abel was a sibling rivalry. The Eagles were able to consistently get pressure on Matt Ryan with just a four-man rush, and Tampa blitzed at the third-highest rate in Week 1. Tom Brady is going to pad his MVP resume in this one.

Cincinnati Bengals (+2.5) at Chicago Bears

The Bengals looked kind of decent! There’s a lot to potentially like about this offense. I have the exact opposite feeling about Andy Dalton, who should do the honorable thing for Bears fans and bench himself since Matt Nagy is too dumb/stubborn to do it.

Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Chargers (Over 55)

The Cowboys ranked first in neutral pass rate and 10th in neutral offensive pace in Week 1. The Chargers ranked 11th and 9th, respectively. The points are going to fly in the City of Angels (OK, fine, in the city of Inglewood).

Philadelphia Eagles (+3) vs. San Francisco 49ers

This is a classic “West Coast team traveling to the East Coast for an early kickoff, and it just lost its top cornerback for the season and also one of its stud linebackers for at least a month and the coach is negging players like he’s a pickup artist” games.

Kansas City Chiefs (-3.5) at Baltimore Ravens

Ravens left tackle Ronnie Stanley sounds like he won’t be ready to suit up this week, left guard Tyre Phillips is on injured reserve after being carted off the field Monday night, cornerback Chris Westry tore his meniscus, and Marquise Brown is sidelined with an injury again (drink). This is officially the 2021 Murphy’s Law team. And now they get to face the Chiefs.

Pete Truszkowski 

Last week: 0-5

West Virginia -2.5 vs. Virginia Tech

Still looking for my first win of the year in this contest, so I’ll go to Morgantown and back the home team giving less than a field goal. Under Neal Brown, the Mountaineers have been a completely different team at home compared to on the road.

Nebraska vs. Oklahoma (Over 62)

I expect Oklahoma to be able to pick their score here, in terms of offensive output. I easily expect the Sooners to get into the 40s. From there, you just need 20 or so points from Nebraska against this unimpressive Sooners defense.

Boise St -4.5 vs Oklahoma State

The blue turf is always a factor, especially anytime Boise welcomes a Power Five team. This is not a typical Mike Gundy Oklahoma State offense.

Alabama -14.5 vs Florida

These two teams played last year, and Florida kind of hung with Alabama. However, Alabama still scored 52 points. Florida scored 46, but Kyle Trask, Kyle Pitts and Kadarius Toney are now in the NFL. I don’t think this version of the Florida offense can hang with Alabama’s.

Tennessee Titans +6 vs Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee’s offense is predicated on establishing the run and then efficiently moving the ball with play-action. It’s hard to do those things when you’re down 17-0. I don’t believe Tennessee is even close to as bad as it looked in Week 1. Six points feels like a lot.

Joe Garza

Last week: 1-4

Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Chargers (Over 55)

Two things I’ll always do: have another IPA and bet Cowboys overs.

Minnesota Vikings at Arizona Cardinals (Over 50.5)

This feels like it should be 54 or 55, which is how old I felt last week after getting cooked.

Denver Broncos (-6) at Jacksonville Jaguars

Until the Jags are double-digit dogs, I will continue to fade them. Bonus: In a Jacksonville bar last Sunday for the Saints’ win over the Packers, a bartender told me, “So this is what it’s like when people care about football.”

Los Angeles Rams (-3.5) at Indianapolis Colts

I am worried about the Colts’ skill players. There’s just not a lot there. Kinda like my hairline.

Tennessee Titans (+6) at Seattle Seahawks

This has the feel of one of those games in which Pete Carroll goes maximum donkey.

Cody Brunner 

(Last week: 2-3)

Arkansas State (+17.5) at Washington Huskies

The Huskies will eventually figure out that they're a Power Five team. My hope is that it isn't this week. 

Alabama (-14.5) at Florida

I will bet on Alabama until the Tide convinces me otherwise. Roll damn. 

Michigan State (+6.5) vs. Miami

The Spartans have at least shown themselves to be capable. The 'Canes got blitzed in Week 1 against 'Bama and then eked out a win against Appalachian State. I never like betting Sparty, but this seems easy. 

Connecticut-Army Under 48.5

Connecticut sucks. Army doesn't, but runs. I'm taking the under.

New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers Over 44.5

The Saints scored a bunch of points in Week 1 against a team that I will not mention here out of anger. The Panthers also looked functional offensively. 

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