NBA Free Pick: Cleveland Cavaliers at Philadelphia 76ers

National Basketball Association Pick: Bucks at 76ers

Dwayne Bryant’s Free NBA Pick to Click comes to you via Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on Sunday night when the Cleveland Cavaliers aim to extend their six-game winning streak against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Cleveland Cavaliers (-16, 205) at Philadelphia 76ers
Time: 6:00 PM ET, Sunday, January 10, 2016
Venue: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The Cavaliers averaged 122.7 points and 54.1% shooting (47.2% from 3-point range) in their last three contests. I’m a firm believer in “what goes up, must come down,” but I can’t see the Cavs’ shooting coming down too much against one of the NBA’s worst defensive clubs. I can’t lay 15 points or so on the NBA road, but the OVER looks like a solid play. During this hot-shooting 3-game stretch,

Cleveland has allowed their opponents to shoot 50% from the field, including a ridiculous 49.2% from long range. The 76ers have also been shooting well as of late, hitting 49.8% from the field in their last three tilts.

The OVER is worth a look here.

NBA FREE PICK:
TOTAL OVER 205

 

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Read moreNBA Free Pick: Cleveland Cavaliers at Philadelphia 76ers

Hawaii Bowl Free Pick: San Diego State Aztecs vs. Cincinnati Bearcats

Cincinnati Bearcats vs. Tulsa Golden Hurricane

The Cincinnati Bearcats and San Diego State Aztecs will be celebrating Christmas Eve in Hawaii, as these two square off in the Hawaii Bowl at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu. Game time is set for 8:00 PM ET, and the game will be televised on ESPN.

How They Got Here: Cincinnati brings a 7-5 record into this matchup, with all five losses coming against bowl teams. San Diego State started the season 1-3 in non-conference play. The Aztecs then proceeded to run the table in Mountain West Conference play, going 8-0 and then beating Air Force in the MWC Championship game.

Cincinnati offense vs. San Diego State defense: The Bearcats bring the nation’s #5 offense into this contest. Cincinnati’s attack is led by QB Gunner Kiel, who completed 65.2% of his pass attempts this season. However, Kiel is not making the trip to Hawaii with his teammates, as he is dealing with a personal issue. That leaves the keys to the offense in the hands of Hayden Moore. Moore started two games this season, completing 58.8% of his passes, including nine TD’s. Moore’s eight interceptions in just 194 attempts is cause for concern. The Bearcats employ the “running back by committee” approach, utilizing the talents of Hosey Williams (725 rushing yards, four TD’s, 5.6 yards per carry), Mike Boone (717 rushing yards, eight TD’s, 7.5 yards per carry), and Tion Green (697 rushing yards, eight TD’s, 4.9 yards per carry).

If Cincinnati chooses to rely on the run in Kiel’s absence, they will be running into the nation’s #6 run defense. The Aztecs allowed just 3.2 yards per carry this season, and 111.2 rushing yards per game. Moore won’t find the sledding any easier through the air, as San Diego State also owns the nation’s #13 pass defense, allowing just 176.8 passing yards per game. The Aztecs are also #6 in the country with 20 interceptions this season (three returned for touchdowns), so Moore will definitely have to take better care of the football. The Aztecs 3-3-5 defense puts an extra DB on the field and will try to confuse Moore by mixing up their blitzes. To make matters worse for the Bearcats, the Aztecs rank #5 in the nation in third down conversion defense, allowing just 27.8% conversions.

San Diego State offense vs. Cincinnati defense: San Diego State operates one of the run-heaviest offenses in college football. The Aztecs have run the football on 71.6% of their plays this season. The Aztecs ground attack is led by RB Donnel Pumphrey, the MWC Offensive Player of the Year. Humphrey ran for 1,554 yards (5.5 yards per carry) and 16 TD’s. Humphrey will be running at a Bearcats defense that has allowed 190.3 rushing yards per game on five yards per carry this season. The Aztecs have the potential to control this game on the ground against that vulnerable Bearcats run defense.

San Diego State QB Maxwell Smith had tossed 13 TD’s and just two INT’s in 200 pass attempts before an ACL injury against Nevada seemingly ended his season. Smith is listed as “questionable” for this game, as he is determined to play. “He says he’s going to try to play in the bowl game,” Aztecs head coach Rocky Long said. “He’s going to try to rehab and put it in a brace and see if he can play with the brace and then he’s going to get operated on after the bowl game. That’s his plan right now. That’s what he wants to do.” If Smith doesn’t play, the offense gets turned over to Christian Chapman. Chapman led the Aztecs in their 27-24 win over Air Force in the MWC title game.

Special Teams: The Aztecs rank #7 in the nation with a 26.9-yard average on kickoff returns. The Bearcats rank 116th in kickoff return coverage, allowing 24.9 yards per return. The Aztecs also rank #43 in punt return average, while Cincinnati is ranked #84 in punt return coverage. The two teams are about even in regards to Cincinnati returns and Aztecs coverage. So it would seem the return game advantage goes to San Diego State. The two kickers, Cincinnati’s Andrew Gantz and San Diego State’s Donny Hageman, have performed evenly.

Intangibles: Both teams are in the bottom half of the FBS in penalty yardage, but no real edge for either side. Where the Aztecs do have a solid edge is in turnover margin. San Diego State is the #1 team in the nation, sporting a +19 turnover margin this season. Cincinnati ranks #124 out of 127 teams in that category, with a -16 turnover margin on the season.

Outlook: It comes down to the passing attack of Cincinnati against the defense and running game of San Diego State. The Aztecs figure to have success on the ground. The key may very well be, as it is in many games, turnovers. That’s where the Aztecs have a huge edge. Having the better defense, better turnover team, and better ground game is about as much as we can ask for in a football game. Sprinkle in an edge in the return game, and San Diego State looks like a solid play.

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Read moreHawaii Bowl Free Pick: San Diego State Aztecs vs. Cincinnati Bearcats

Free NFL Picks: Dallas Cowboys at Green Bay Packers

NFL Pick: Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears

This is a huge revenge game for Dallas.  The Cowboys went into Lambeau in January’s playoffs and lost, 26-21.  This was also the game in which Dez Bryant’s controversial “no catch” ruling possibly cost the Cowboys a win.  I’m certain none of the players have forgotten.  Think Bryant will be motivated for this one?  Yeah, me too.  Most everyone is down on Matt Cassel.  Sure, he’s no Pro Bowl QB.  But people forget Cassel was brought in via a mid-season trade.  It takes time for any QB to learn a new NFL playbook.  As Cassel becomes more familiar with the system, his reads will be quicker and he will take more shots downfield instead of constantly dumping it off to his safety valves.  I started to see that in Monday’s Dallas win over the Redskins.
If not for the improbable Hail Mary at the end of the Lions game, the Packers would be 1-5 in their last six games.  The offense is not even close to clicking like the Packers offenses we’ve grown used to seeing in recent years.  A less talented Dallas defense did a solid job against a much more efficient Green Bay offense in January’s playoff game.  With playoff revenge surrounded in controversy, and fighting for a division title in the NFC East, I expect the Cowboys to come out strong in this one.

Free NFL Pick: Whether they can stay strong for the full 60 minutes is questionable, but I have a strong opinion on Dallas +4 in the first half.

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Free NBA Pick: Los Angeles Lakers at Houston Rockets

NBA Game of the Day Preview: Los Angeles Lakers at Golden State Warrior at WagerTalk

The Lakers are off a beatdown by the Spurs, while the Rockets are off an upset win at Washington.  LA is clearly a terrible team, but even they should have enough pride to muster up the required motivation to hang within this large number.  Houston is a very poor defensive team, and asking poor defensive teams to lay double digits in the NBA is asking for trouble.  Houston is just 2-9 ATS as home chalk this season, although the two wins came in their last two in that role.  The Rockets also have a double-revenge game against Denver on deck.  With that in mind, and coming off an upset win, it’s not a stretch to think Houston will be a little flat for this one.  My line on this game is Houston -6, which seems rather low.  But my numbers have led to a 75% season so far, so I’m not about to question them.

Free NBA Pick: Strong opinion on the Lakers plus the boatload of points. (click here for latest NBA odds)

Read moreFree NBA Pick: Los Angeles Lakers at Houston Rockets

Free NBA Pick: New York Knicks at Sacramento Kings

I have the Knicks as one point better than the Kings on a neutral court.  Adding three points for home court edge, I get a line of Kings -2 for this one.  So I’m seeing four points of value here.  Not that the Knicks are a great defensive team, but they rate far better than the Kings in the defensive efficiency category.  Getting two full possessions with the better defensive team will always get my attention.  New York is 6-3-1 ATS as a road dog this season.  But they have failed to cover their last three in this role, and they have lost three of four this season when playing without rest.  But based on my line and the better defense getting points, still a strong opinion on the Knicks plus the six tonight.

Free NBA Pick: New York Knicks 6.0 (-110) (click here for latest Vegas odds on this game)

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Read moreFree NBA Pick: New York Knicks at Sacramento Kings

Free NFL Pick: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Seattle Seahawks

2017 NFL Games of the Year: Roethlisberger vs. Smith
Who: Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4) vs. Seattle Seahawks (5-5)
Where: CenturyLink Field, Seattle, WA
When: 4:25 PM ET
Betting Line: Seattle -3.5, Total = 46
 
BOTTOM LINE: Seattle is living off their reputation and performances of the last few seasons.  They are clearly not the same dominant team this season, but the betting line has not reflected it.  This is evident by Seattle’s 3-6-1 spread record this season, with two of those covers coming against the lowly 49ers.  Seattle QB Russell Wilson has been sacked 35 times this season, due in large part to their struggling offensive line.  Seattle also has to go without injured RB Marshawn Lynch.  Pittsburgh is coming off their bye, so they’ve had two weeks to heal and prepare for this contest.  “Big Ben” Roethlisberger should have success through the air against a Seattle defense that is clearly not at the same level as previous seasons.  I’ll take “Big Ben” and the Steelers catching more than a FG almost every time. 
Free NFL Pick: I recommend a 4% wager on PITTSBURGH +3.5 in this one. (click here for latest odds)

Free NFL Pick from Dwayne Bryant: Kansas City Chiefs vs. Denver Broncos

Free NFL Pick: Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos at WagerTalk

Who: Kansas City Chiefs (3-5) vs. Denver Broncos (7-1)
Where: Sports Authority Field at Mile High – Denver, CO
When: 4:25 PM ET

These AFC West rivals clashed back in Week 2 on a Thursday night in Arrowhead. The posted total for that contest was 42. 55 points were scored, yet the posted total for this rematch is pretty much the same. Here’s why: That Week 2 game was 24-17 Chiefs with less than a minute to play, but the Broncos scored two TDs in nine seconds to snatch the victory. One of those TDs was a 21-yard fumble return TD by Bradley Roby with 27 seconds left on the clock. The Chiefs also scored a second quarter TD on a 55-yard interception return by Marcus Peters. So there were really only 41 offensive points scored in that one. There were only a combined total of 613 offensive yards in that matchup (KC 314, Denver 299). Not exactly the high total you would expect from a game where 55 points were scored.

Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles was also a major producer in that contest, rushing for 125 yards and a TD. Charles is on the shelf with an injury, and Denver’s excellent run defense (allowing 3.5 yards per carry) will not let themselves be run over again by these Chiefs. The Broncos can also get after the QB. KC QB Alex Smith is more of a game manager who should struggle against this tough Denver D. The Chiefs can also pressure the QB, and Peyton Manning is clearly showing signs of age and injury. The Broncos offense is no longer explosive as a result of Manning’s decline. The Chiefs have had two weeks to heal up and prepare for this revenge game, so I expect a solid defensive effort.

Fee NFL Pick: My projection is for 37 total points to be scored, making the Under a solid play.

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Read moreFree NFL Pick from Dwayne Bryant: Kansas City Chiefs vs. Denver Broncos

Free NFL Pick from Dwayne Bryant: San Francisco 49ers vs. St. Louis Rams

William Hill of the US NFL Week 7 Line Report

Who: San Francisco 49ers vs. St. Louis Rams
Where: Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, MO
When: Sunday, November 1st, 2015 at 1:00 pm ET

Yes, the Rams are the better team right now, but the point spread is the great equalizer. This is just too many points for the Rams to be laying, especially in a divisional matchup.

The public tends to put too much emphasis on last week’s results. Last week, the Rams pounded the Browns at home (24-6), in large part due to a +3 turnover margin. Cleveland lost four fumbles in that game, and fumbles tend to be random. So I don’t think we can expect the Rams to get that much help again this week. Also last week, the 49ers got thrashed at home by Seattle on Thursday night (20-3). That Thursday night game gives the 49ers extra prep time for this one, and the beating they endured should add some motivation for them in this one.

49ers QB Colin Kaepernick’s struggles are well documented, but he actually has a better Passer Rating and QBR than Rams QB Nick Foles. Granted, the Rams have the better pass defense, but the run defenses look to be about even. St. Louis also ranks 31st in the league in third-down conversion percentage (28.8%). The Rams are only averaging 18 points and under 300 yards of total offense per game — not exactly a team with which you want to lay more than a TD.

The Rams are also dealing with the distraction of the possible move to Los Angeles. I’m just not buying the Rams as a more-than-TD favorite, especially in a division game.

Free NFL Pick: I’m grabbing the points with SAN FRANCISCO.

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Read moreFree NFL Pick from Dwayne Bryant: San Francisco 49ers vs. St. Louis Rams