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FREE PLAYS FOR SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 16
2-1 with free plays on Saturday as I scored with North Texas and Creighton and lost with Colorado State. And College Best Bet Winner # 16 of 21 on Baylor. Life is good, other than the horrific migraine that's keeping me from shooting a Video Report today. But I like these two games and wanted to get you the selections.
MINNESOTA (-5) vs. Iowa
If you've followed the Big Ten this season you know how profitable it's been to simply bet the home teams - with the exceptions of Northwestern and Nebraska.
Minnesota is 5-1 SU at home in conference play with victories by 18 over Wisconsin, 6 over Penn State, 8 over Michigan, 9 over Northwestern and 13 over Ohio State. The lone loss came versus Michigan State.
Iowa, meanwhile, is 1-6 on the Big Ten highway with its lone win coming at lowly Northwestern. The Hawkeyes have allowed 86.4 points in those seven games with their opponents hitting 40% of their three-pointers in that stretch. They've lost by 12 at Michigan, 3 at Penn State, 6 at Nebraska, 10 at Maryland, 36 at Purdue and most recently by 12 at Indiana to a Hoosiers' team that entered in the throes of a four-game losing streak.
That loss to Indiana, despite Luka Garza's 38-point outburst, was doubly costly as sharpshooter C.J. Fredrick, the team's third-leading scorer (10.7 ppg) and the Big Ten's best three-point shooter (46.7 percent), suffered an ankle sprain that has him doubtful to play today.
Revenge spot for the Gophers, who suffered their most lopsided loss of the season when they got drilled 72-52 in the first meeting December 9.
MICHIGAN (-8) vs. Indiana
Michigan is 11-4 with its leading scorer, Isaiah Livers (13.4 ppg) in the lineup this season. Not a volume scorer certainly, but on a team with five double-figure scorers he's the glue that keeps the Wolverines together. Look no further than the past week when he returned for victories against Michigan State (77-68) at home and Northwestern (79-54) on the road. Despite a nagging groin injury that's hampered him all season, Livers had 14 points and four rebounds against the Spartans and 17 and five in 30 minutes versus the Wildcats.
The Wolverines enter this game on a 4-1 overall roll, a stretch where their much-maligned defense has tightened as foes are shooting just 36 percent.
Indiana is coming off an 89-77 home win over Iowa that snapped a four-game skid. But remember the Hoosiers were dropped by Purdue, 74-62, at home in their previous outing.
Archie Miller's team, like all others in the Big Ten, struggles on the conference road. The Hoosiers are 1-5 outside Bloomington with losses by 20 at Wisconsin, 16 at Maryland, 9 at Rutgers, 11 at Ohio State and 15 at Penn State.
Michigan has won six straight in the series.
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- and here's what I told all my clients -
San Francisco's defense was dominant against Minnesota in its playoff opener fresh off a bye three weeks ago. No ifs, ands or buts about it. Then again, we're talking about a Vikings' offense helmed by Kirk Cousins, a guy who historically no-shows in the biggest of games. Versus Green Bay a week later the defense was stout in the first half against an opponent it punished earlier in the season. But make no mistake, Aaron Rodgers (31-of-39, 326 yards) was moving the chains after intermission.
In backing the 49ers two Sundays ago I noted Green Bay had just three offensive weapons in Rodgers, Aaron Jones (12 carries, 56 yards) and Davante Adams (9 catches, 138 yards). That's not the case against the younger, more explosive Chiefs with Patrick Mahomes throwing to Travis Kelce inside or Tyreek Hill or Sammy Watkins outside.
Easy to forget this was the same San Francisco defense that yielded 46 points at New Orleans on December 6....that allowed Atlanta to score in the waning seconds of a 29-22 loss a week later...that gave up 31 in a shootout with the Rams the following week....that barely contained Russell Wilson in the second half off a season-ending 26-21 win in Seattle despite the Seahawks playing with a banged up offensive line and no real running backs.
The 49ers will undoubtedly put pressure on Mahomes, but as you saw in the playoff games against Houston and Tennessee he's 100% healthy and has the wheels to escape the pocket and isn't afraid to take off. He ran for 53 yards against the Texans and Titans on seven and eight carries, respectively.
Kansas City will put points on the board and the Chiefs defense will give up their share as well, although the return of their top pass rusher, Chris Jones, who missed the Houston game and saw limited action against Tennessee, will certainly help. Question is will San Francisco be able to return fire?
You know the 49ers are going to want to establish the run, chewing up the clock to keep Mahomes and KC's offense on the sideline as much as possible. Tennessee had the same idea. How did that work out? The Chiefs surprisingly held Derrick Henry to a pedestrian 69 yards on 19 carries despite trailing early in the game.
Fair question to ask is whether the 49ers can open up their offense enough if the ground game is contained to match points with KC. After all, Jimmy Garoppolo only threw the ball eight times versus Green Bay and 19 against Minnesota. True, he wasn't needed that much and he did deliver when called on in the New Orleans shootout (26-of-35, 349 yards, 4 TDs), but this is a guy who only threw for more than two touchdowns four times all season long.
2-0 NFC Championship Sweep
- Packers & a Green Bay/Kansas City Teaser -
- and here's what I told all my clients -
San Francisco crushed Green Bay 37-8 at home back on November 24.
Aaron Rodgers was 20-of-33 for 104 yards and sacked five times with no completion of more than 15 yards. His offense managed a total of 198 yards and went 1-for-15 on third downs with 11 of them third-and-eight or longer situations against the league's No. 1 pass defense.
Aaron Jones, who has rushed for 501 yards and seven touchdowns the past five games, was limited to 38 yards on 13 carries.
What has changed that would make anyone expect a different result this time around?
The 49ers took advantage of that hard-earned bye and looked pretty damn fresh in a dominant defensive performance against Minnesota last Saturday as they held the Vikings to seven first downs and 147 total yards. They sacked Kirk Cousins six times, held Minnesota to 2-of-12 on third downs and limited Dalvin Cook to 18 yards on nine carries.
Now they're home again, with an extra day's rest, and they got the services of Kwon Alexander, Dee Ford and Jaquiski Tartt back last week versus Minnesota.
That's scary for a defense that allowed only 19.4 ppg this season.
Minnesota can play a little defense, too, but the Niners just ran right through the Vikings, controlling the clock (38:27) with a ground game that garnered 186 yards on 47 carries. They're going to do the same against the Packers, keeping Rogers off the field just as they did in the first meeting when they ran for 112 to supplement Jimmy Garoppolo's 14-for-20, 253-yard, two-touchdown performance.
The Packers have just three offensive weapons in Rodgers, Jones and Davante Adams. Rodgers and Jones are going to have their hands full with San Francisco's defensive line and Adams is going to be challenged by a Richard Sherman-led secondary that kept the Vikings' receivers in check last Saturday. Adams was targeted 12 times in the season's first go-round but managed just 43 yards on seven receptions. No surprise considering the 49ers allowed a league-low 55 yards per game to opponents' No. 1 receivers this season.
As for my teaser play, here's the simple breakdown: the 49ers and Chiefs are going to win these games at home. I've got them at near pick-em. Sure, two road teams (Patriots and Rams) won outright last year, but home teams were a perfect 10-0 in this round the previous five seasons and they're 66-32 overall since the NFL/AFL merger back in 1970. I like my odds at near pick'em.
I was the ONLY everyday analyst in this company
to give you LSU over Clemson in the
National Championship Game
- and here's what I told all my clients -
You might have noticed I'm the ONLY everyday analyst (and one of three guys in all with Sean Michaels and Steve Budin's Cali-Cartel being the others) on LSU. To be honest, I'm shocked because the Clemson team playing tonight is NOT the Clemson team we saw a year ago.
Don't let a great comeback against Ohio State convince you Clemson is a great team. Damn good certainly. But the Buckeyes were a so-so athletic team from the plodding Big Ten who jumped on the Tigers early. Clemson never should have been put in the position of needing such a big comeback and a miracle endzone interception to stave off Ohio State.
And naysayers be damned, but the truth of the matter is Clemson played NO ONE this year other than Ohio State. Now it's true you can only beat who is on your schedule and that didn't penalize these Tigers last year, but again, Dabo's team was MUCH BETTER last season.
Forget about all those stats you read at ESPN and other sites about how they enter with the No 1 defense in this and that category. First, those numbers were compiled against a weak ACC schedule. Second, this team lost so much talent to the NFL a year ago it was never going to be as good defensively this season. Good? Yes. Great? Nope.
Nothing wrong with Trevor Lawrence's offense as we've seen all season, but LSU's is more explosive with Joe Burrow at the helm. And now that running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire says he's 100 percent and feeling the best he has all season, the Baton Rouge Bengals are going to test Clemson's defense like no one else has this year.
I hated the fact that this game was delayed a week, but LSU faithful loved it since it gave their running back an extra week to recover from a hamstring injury that limited him to two carries against Oklahoma in the Peach Bowl blowout. But Edwards-Helaire was playing his best ball of the season prior to getting hurt in the SEC Championship win against Georgia with 743 yards (6.9 ypc) and nine touchdowns in the previous six games and he enters this one with 1,304 yards (6.6 ypc) and 16 scores on the year.
Edwards-Helaire is also Burrow's safety valve out of the backfield with 50 catches. When Clemson drops 7 or 8 into coverage hoping to get consistent pressure without blitzing, Burrows has the ideal option to pick up easy yards.
Defensively LSU isn't Clemson's equal, but I love how Coach O's team played their best defense down the stretch holding Texas A&M, Georgia and Oklahoma to a combined 46 points.
In terms of intangibles certainly you've got to give the edge to Clemson's experience. But let's not discount the fact that LSU went into Atlanta and beat Georgia in its own backyard and the Bulldogs are better than Clemson defensively. Now they're practically playing a home game tonight in New Orleans. And while Clemson has feasted on a nothing-ACC schedule of victims all season, LSU is battle-tested team that's survived or thrived against the likes of Florida, Auburn, Alabama, Georgia in SEC play and Texas and Oklahoma out of it.
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Al DeMarco's Rating System
Over the 25 years I've been doing this, one of the biggest misconceptions I've encountered from customers is their belief that winningpercentageactually matters in this business. Bottom line is that a straight-up winning percentage means absolutely nothing when your handicapper - such as myself - releases rated selections. Read further and you'll understand why.
I use the "dime" rating system, going in 5 dime increments, generally keeping those plays between 5 and 50 dimes. Yes, that's a wide range, but truth be told, I usually max out around 30 dimes, rarely venturing into the rarefied air toward 50 dimes unless I've built a substantial bankroll. Doing anything different would be irresponsible bankroll management on my part and a total disservice toward you, my clients.
I like to keep it simple from a money-management system so my customers can always know exactly how they should beallocatingtheir bankroll in proportion to the rating I assign to a selection.
Obviously, a 50 Dime play is five times stronger than a 10 Dime release and twice as strong as a 25 Dime pick.
And each day when you see my compiling or mentioning my NET profit figures, keep in mind I've computing them based on the following formula:
Net Profit = Wins - Losses- Vig
Of course let's not forget my golden rule of gambling: Never bet more than you can afford to lose. No rating system - including mine - is effective unless you pay attention to that rule. By heeding my advice you can never fall into a financial abyss from which there is no escape.
A question gamblers always pose is "How much should I be playing?" Obviously, there is no set, firm answer, but my advice would be to follow my money management system and base the size of your wagers on a percentage of your total bankroll.
Let me explain further...
Take your total bankroll - the amount you can afford to lose in an absolute worst case scenario on a single day. Let's say it's $400 on a college football Saturday. And on that Saturday I release a 50 Dime play and two 20 Dime picks.
Let's do some quick math...I've got atotalof 90 dimes of action on the table (one 50 dime play and two 20 dimers). You've got amaximum one-day bankrollof $400. Simply divide the $400 by the 90 dimes and you've got a per dime wager of $4.44.
Now it's time for some simple multiplication. If a dime is worth $4.44, my 50 Dime rated release equals approximately a $222 wager on your part. And my two 20 Dime rates picks equal approximately $88.88 wagers each. Add everything back up and you've got your initial $400 bankroll all over again.
This obviously all applies to a single wagering day. It's up to you to figure out how to allocate your bankroll over the course of a week or month.
Now, back to how inconsequential winning percentages can be: Let's say I have a 50 Dime play and three 10 Dime releases on an NFL Sunday. If I win the 50 Dime play and go 0-3 with the 10 Dime releases, my overall record is a dismal 1-3 but my net profit is a healthy 17 dimes. Conversely, let's say I lose the 50 Dime play and go 3-0 with the 10 Dime releases. My overall record is an impressive 3-1, but my net profit is a negative -25 dimes.
Which would you prefer, the losing record and winning day, or the winning record or losing day?
Believe what you want, but I'm telling you the truth: Winning percentage means nothing in this business as the above illustration will prove time and time again. Of course, crafty salesmen masquerading as handicappers can spin gold using the second scenario, but I feel it's my job to educate you about what is the TRUTH in this business - whether you become my customer or not.
Who is Al DeMarco?
Been there, done that, seen it all.
That pretty much sums up my 25+ years in this business!
25 years in a business that most guys are lucky to make it 25 months.
The secret to my success? To be honest, there is no one "secret," no magic elixir, but rather a commitment to winning which means a commitment to working 365 days a year.
Being a handicapper is not a part-time job. Now, those of you reading this, the gamblers of this world, I understand that you are not professional gamblers and obviously you do this on recreational basis and cannot devote your life to wagering. But that's what I'm here for; that's what you pay me for.
There are two types of handicappers in this business: The first are great salesmen who excel at separating you from the money in your wallet and could care less about picking winners. The second are guys who know how to make clients money by winning consistently over the long haul through effective money-management techniques and an intuitive sense of knowing when to press and go for the jugular with big plays - especially when your playing with your bookmaker's money.
Listen, in my 25 years in this business I've seen more scam artists and con men than you can believe. A few of these relics - the dinosaurs from the 800 phone room age - are still around trying to make a buck online. You know the type; they tell you something is "absolutely free" with the same conviction that makes you look twice when they claim the sky is blue.
Rest assured, what you see here at my site is what you get. My plays are ONLY available online. And these are the ONLY plays I've got each day. There is no "better" package available at a higher cost like so many other guys offer at their sites or by phone. What you see is what you get; end of story.
No one - and I mean NO ONE - wins every day in this business, and anyone who claims to is a LIAR. As I always tell my clients, I will go on streaks, both good and bad, just like the players and teams I analyze daily. But the key for me - and my customers - is that I expect to turn a net profit for them over the long term. And making money over the course of season or a year, etc., is what matters most.
A little bit more about me....
- I'm currently the COO and General Manager for the industry's largest group of subscriber-based information websites
- I hosted The Football Insiders NFL Pregame Show on FoxSports.com from 2007-14
- I was the featured NFL & College Football Analyst on Comcast SportsNet Chicago and SNY-New York in 2008-10 and on Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia in 2010-11
- I was a featured contributor at MSNBC.com
- I created, hosted and syndicated the national sports talk show The Friday Night Quarterback in 1990-91
- I created, published and edited the weekly football newsletter The Players Preference Playbook from 1991-96
- I was a Contributing Editor at the Sports and Gaming Newswire from 1991-96
- I was Managing Editor and News Director for the Sports Network Wire Service from 1984-89 where I coordinated the coverage of two Olympic games
Nice resume - and there's a lot more - but the past doesn't count in this business and that's why I laugh when I hear or read about a handicapper bragging about some contest they won 13 years ago. Who cares?
Enough about me because all that really matters is whether I can win more than I lose over the long haul. I'm not here to sell you anything; I'm here to make you money and no one is putting a gun to your head. The decision to let me help you is yours and yours alone.