Written By Vegas Matty
With the four-team College Football Playoff field set, the betting public has already made an early statement regarding who they think will be playing in the National Championship Game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Monday, January 8, 2018. Will it be the fourth-seeded Alabama Crimson Tide against the third-seeded Georgia Bulldogs in an all-SEC title game? Bettors certainly seem to think so.
After BetOnline.AG opened the Crimson Tide as 1.5-point favorites against the top-seeded Clemson Tigers in the second national semifinal game, the line quickly dropped to a Pick’em before progressively moving back up to -2 in favor of Alabama. The Tide may have been a controversial choice of the committee as the last team in the CFP, but oddsmakers still have them pegged as the favorite to win it all. Alabama has now made the CFP in all four years of its existence, and this is the third consecutive year Clemson will be the team’s opponent (and the first time they will not be playing for the championship).
In the first national semifinal game, the second-seeded Oklahoma Sooners opened 3-point chalk at BetOnline.AG before bettors started showing their support for the third-seeded Georgia Bulldogs. The Sooners are led by heavy Heisman Trophy favorite Baker Mayfield, and their biggest win of the season came on the road versus the Ohio State Buckeyes. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs rolled over the Auburn Tigers in the SEC Championship Game to avenge their lone loss at the same site of the CFP National Championship Game. Georgia was briefly -1 against Oklahoma and currently stands at Pick’em. The winner of this matchup will be underdogs in the title game no matter who they end up playing.
Three other bowl games of note:
- Ohio State’s consolation for not becoming the first two-loss team in the CFP is a Cotton Bowl matchup with the USC Trojans on December 29th at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The Big Ten champion Buckeyes opened 6-point faves at BetOnline.AG, and they are up slightly to -7 against the Pac-12 champion Trojans, who edged the Stanford Cardinal for the title. Ohio State handed the Wisconsin Badgers their first loss in the Big Ten Championship Game, but that was still not enough to overcome a 31-point loss to the Iowa Hawkeyes in conference play.
- The Badgers will also get to participate in a consolation game of their own in the Orange Bowl on December 30th versus the loser of the ACC Championship Game – the Miami Hurricanes. Wisconsin opened 6-point favorites at BetOnline.AG and was bet down to -5 before coming back up to -6.5. Miami should have a slight home-field advantage at Hard Rock Stadium.
- The Auburn Tigers were headed to the CFP if they could beat Georgia twice, but instead they will try to become the first team to defeat the Central Florida Knights in the Peach Bowl in Atlanta on January 1. Auburn opened 8.5-point chalk and is up to -9.5 against a Central Florida team that will see Scott Frost coach his last game there before leaving for the head job with the Nebraska Cornhuskers. The Knights will be attempting to become the only unbeaten team this season.
In the NFL, there will not be a bigger Thursday Night Football game this season than the one that kicks off Week 14 between the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints. The Falcons opened 1-point favorites at BetOnline.AG and desperately need a win after suffering a 14-9 home loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday that has them in danger of missing the playoffs. The defending NFC champs play New Orleans twice in the next three weeks and still have an outside shot of winning the division for the second year in a row. The Saints rebounded nicely from their first loss in nine games by sweeping the Carolina Panthers.
Following are a couple more intriguing Week 14 NFL matchups to keep an eye on:
- The aforementioned Vikings take their road show to Charlotte next for a meeting with the Panthers in another tough test. Minnesota has covered the spread in seven straight games after winning at Atlanta as an underdog — and the Vikings find themselves a 2.5-point favorites at Carolina.
- On Sunday Night Football, the Pittsburgh Steelers will play in prime-time for the third consecutive week when they host the Baltimore Ravens as 7-point chalk in an AFC North clash after visiting the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday. Pittsburgh won 26-9 at Baltimore in Week 4, the first time the team covered in six meetings. The Ravens routed the Detroit Lions 44-20 on Sunday.
College Football Spreads of Note:
Navy -3½ vs. Army (Total 47½)
Ohio State -6½ vs. USC
Penn State -3 vs. Washington
Wisconsin -6½ vs. Miami
Michigan -8 vs. South Carolina
Auburn -9½ vs. Central Florida
LSU -2½ vs. Notre Dame
Georgia PICK’em vs. Oklahoma
Alabama -2 vs. Clemson
NFL Week 14 Opening Lines:
Atlanta -1½ vs. New Orleans
Detroit @ Tampa Bay (N/A – Matthew Stafford – Hand)
Cincinnati -6½ vs. Chicago
Indianapolis @ Buffalo (N/A – Tyrod Taylor – Knee)
Kansas City -4 vs. Oakland
Minnesota -2½ @ Carolina
Green Bay -3½ @ Cleveland
Houston -1½ vs. San Francisco
L.A. Chargers 6½ @ Washington
Denver PICK’em vs. New York Jets
Tennessee -3 @ Arizona
Philadelphia -2½ @ L.A. Rams
Dallas -6 @ New York Giants
Pittsburgh -7 vs. Baltimore
New England -12 @ Miami