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Litwin’s Locks: Pac-12 Week 2 and NFL Week 10

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Heather Newberry | The Daily Wildcat An Arizona player holds a football prior to the UA-ASU rivalry game on Nov. 25 at Sun Devil Stadium.

To the desperate few who have been relying on my picks, I am deeply sorry. As much as I would like to fire up the excuse train, I will, instead, hunker down and dig myself out of the hole I’ve created. One pick at a time. 

The first week of the 2020 Pac-12 season wasn’t kind to Litwin’s Locks, two games cancelled and the other four going 1-3 against the spread. I may start flipping a coin, but not just yet. On the National Football League side, I went 1-2, leaving me with an NFL record of 12-16-1 (Win-Lose-Push) against the spread.

For this week's betting tip, I am introducing the “moneyline.” As simple as it gets, the moneyline requires only that you bet a team to win the game. No complicated spread to cost you the win. Like spread betting, the minus (−) symbol before the team’s name represents the favorite and the plus (+) symbol represents the underdog. There is still risk since no gambling is without risk. Bet only what you can afford to lose. 

A moneyline is displayed as a three digit number following the plus or minus symbol. For example, if Team A is +155, it is the underdog. If you bet $100 on Team A it wins the game, you win $155. You now have $155, in addition to your original $100. If Team B is -130, they are the favorite. If you bet $100 on Team B and they win, you win $70. You now have $70, in addition to your original $100. In sports betting, a win always returns your initial bet. You might bet the moneyline because you think a team will win but not cover, or you want to bet on an underdog to win outright, which will garner a bigger payout than betting the spread.        

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Pac-12 (Odds according to ESPN Daily Lines on 11/11/2020)

No. 20 USC Trojans (-700) at Arizona Wildcats (+500) (Saturday)

Line: Trojans -14

Total: 67.5

The Wildcats had to wait another week to play their opener since last week's game against Utah was cancelled due to a COVID-19 outbreak on Utah’s football team. The Wildcats haven’t caught a break and won’t be catching many this week either. The Trojans are coming off a thriller against Arizona State University that saw the Trojans win on their final possession. Trojans’ quarterback Kedon Slovis threw for almost 400 yards against a Sun Devils defense that has more talent than the Wildcats. I envision a scenario in which Wildcats’ quarterback Grant Gunnell keeps the Wildcats in this game with his arm. With all the extenuating circumstances, however, I will play it safe and take the favorite. Pick: Trojans -14

(Moneyline Note: There is no value to betting on a heavy favorite like the Trojans. To win $100, you would have to bet $700. That’s a big risk for a minimal reward. A $100 bet on the Wildcats, on the other hand, would win you $500, if they pull off the upset. This is risky, but there is a huge upside.)

Colorado Buffaloes (+230) at Stanford Cardinal (-270) (Saturday)

Line: Stanford -6.5

Total: 54.5

Colorado got off to a nice start after beating UCLA last week in a shootout. Colorado running back Jarek Broussard had a standout performance toting the rock. Broussard racked up 187 yards and three touchdowns. This was a special game for Broussard due to the great stat line. It was also his first game back after a knee injury caused him to miss all of last season. Not surprisingly, the Cardinal was blown out by Oregon in Eugene, Oregon. The Cardinal’s defense had no answers for the Ducks’ high powered offense while the Cardinal’s offense struggled to move the ball. I will take Colorado and the points since I like how they play. Pick: Colorado +6.5

Nov. 11 Oregon Ducks (-360) at Washington State Cougars (+300) (Saturday)

Line: Ducks -10

Total: 57.5

This Ducks’ defense is good, especially defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux. Thibodeaux can rush the passer as well as anyone in the country. Look for him to be all over Cougars’ freshman quarterback Jayden de Laura. The freshman had a solid game against the Beavers, but this Oregon defense is on a different level. Oregon was my sole Pac-12 win last week and I will ride with them again. Pick: Ducks -10

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California Golden Bears (+160) at Arizona State Sun Devils (-180) (Saturday)

Line: ASU -4

Total: 47

Cal was another Pac-12 team whose week-one game was cancelled due to the virus. I thought the Sun Devils played a good game against a tough Trojans’ team last week. The Sun Devils had numerous opportunities to close the game out. However, their defense blew the game late. It comforts me to know a Marvin Lewis-led defense blew a late lead and it wasn’t just a Bengals thing. I think the Golden Bears will play a bruising style of football, but, until we see them play, who knows. I’m taking the relatively known commodity who themselves have played only one game this season. Pick: ASU Sun Devils -4

Utah Utes (-145) at UCLA Bruins (+125) (Saturday)

Line: Utes -3.5

Total: 59.5     

Utah didn’t play last week so I’m not sure what to expect from them. UCLA head coach Chip Kelly's seat is heating up. His offensive scheme is nothing new like it was when he was in Oregon. I will give UCLA one more chance solely because Utah has barely enough players to field a team. They have been hit hard by the virus and the game is still up in the air. That worries me enough to bet UCLA. Pick: UCLA Bruins +3.5

Oregon State Beavers (+425) at Washington Huskies (-550) (Saturday)

Line: Huskies -13.5

Total: 52.5

These games are so hard to pick that it’s essentially flipping a coin, which is exactly what I did. The coin landed on Oregon State. If the Beavers find a way to cover then maybe the coin flip strategy will continue. Pick Beavers +13.5

NFL (Odds according to ESPN Daily Lines on 11/11/2020)

Houston Texans (+150) at Cleveland Browns (-170) (Sunday)

Line: Browns -3

Total: 49

The Texans are a team with a bunch of aging talent and no draft picks. I feel bad for quarterback Deshaun Watson whose talent is being wasted. The Browns get star running back Nick Chubb back. They really need this game to stay in the AFC wildcard race. The Browns are good enough to beat up on bad teams. Luckily for the Browns, the Texans are a bad team. Pick: Browns -3

Lock of The Week

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-245) at Carolina Panthers (+205) (Sunday)

Line: Bucs -5.5

Total: 50.5

Oh, man, did the Bucs look bad Sunday night against the Saints. They were outclassed from the opening snap and played with zero energy. This will be a major bounce back game for TB12 and the Bucs. The Panthers gave the Chiefs a run last week, but they fell late after elite running back Christian McCaffrey, who came back last week from the IR, got hurt again. I predict the Bucs get back to winning football in a blowout win over their division rival. Pick: Bucs -5.5

Buffalo Bills (+105) at Arizona Cardinals (-125) (Sunday)

Line: Cardinals -2

Total: 56.5

This game may feature the biggest height difference in NFL quarterbacks in the history of the League. The Bills looked spectacular last week in their win over the Seahawks. Their defense is slowly getting healthier. This team could make a deep playoff run. The Cardinals are one of the most exciting teams in football. Watching them play offense is a treat and head coach Kliff Kingsbury is creative with his play calling. I think the Bills have the better defense and can get a few crucial stops. Pick: Bills +2

Cincinnati Bengals (+225) at Pittsburgh Steelers (-263) (Sunday)

Line: Steelers -7

Total: 46.5

Despite the COVID-19 issues the Steelers are suffering, Big Ben is going to play. Unless Big Ben is going under the knife, he finds a way to play. The Steelers eked out a win last week against the Cowboys to remain the NFL’s only unbeaten team. The Bengals are coming off a bye week and, fingers-crossed, the savior of Cincinnati, Joe Burrow, is ready for the Steelers’ defense. Big time players show up in big time games and Burrow is as big as they come. Bengals by a million. Pick: Bengals +7  


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