Jan 7, 2023; Jacksonville, Florida, USA;  Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) hands off to running back Travis Etienne Jr. (1) against the Tennessee Titans in the first quarter at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Wild Card Weekend: Chargers-Jaguars Preview, Props, Prediction

Two of the marquee young quarterbacks in the NFL will be on display in primetime on Saturday night when the Los Angeles Chargers visit the Jacksonville Jaguars in the second wild-card game of the day.

The Chargers’ Justin Herbert and the Jaguars’ Trevor Lawrence will also be making their first career postseason starts.

Lawrence got the better of the regular-season meeting, throwing for 262 yards and three touchdowns in a 38-10 win at Los Angeles in Week 3.

However, it’s the wild-card Chargers (10-7) who are 2.5-point road favorites in the rematch against the AFC South champion Jaguars (9-8).

The line has held steady all week at BetMGM, where Los Angeles has been backed by 62 percent of the spread-line bets and 61 percent of the handle, while the Chargers’ -145 moneyline has drawn 74 percent of the money.

They have also been the more popular play at DraftKings, where the Chargers have been supported by 59 percent of the spread-line bets and 63 percent of the money. However, the Jaguars’ +120 moneyline has drawn 56 and 61 percent of the action, respectively.

Lawrence, the No. 1 overall pick in the ’21 draft, made big strides this season while passing for 4,113 yards, 25 touchdowns and eight interceptions. And suddenly, the Jaguars are a hot club entering the postseason for just the second time in the past 15 years.

“Now Trevor gets his opportunity,” Jaguars coach Doug Pederson said. “It just goes to show how important that position is, as we know. We’re just fortunate and blessed to have Trevor as our guy leading this football team.”

The Chargers are hoping it is Herbert who takes that huge step forward.

Herbert, the sixth overall selection in 2020, passed for 4,739 yards, 25 touchdowns and 10 interceptions during his third straight solid campaign.

“He has always played his best when the stage is the biggest,” Chargers coach Brandon Staley said. “That is how his career has been in the NFL. In primetime, the big games he has had for the first three years, he has always risen to the occasion because that is the type of competitor that he is.”

PROP PICKS
Chargers WR Josh Palmer Over 4.5 Receptions (+130 at BetMGM/DraftKings): With Mike Williams ruled out Friday, Palmer is once again asked to step into a prominent role in the Chargers’ passing game. He actually led the Chargers’ wideouts with 72 catches on 107 targets during the regular season. He caught at least five passes in seven of 16 games played, with five of those coming during a six-game midseason stretch when Williams and Keenan Allen were battling injuries. His role tailed off the final month of the season, but Palmer will be called upon opposite Allen again on Saturday.

Jaguars RB Travis Etienne Over 76.5 Rushing Yards (-112 at BetRivers): The potential payout is slightly lower at -115 at the other two sportsbooks. Etienne’s rushing production has been extremely sporadic — seven games under 50 yards to go with five games topping 100 yards. The bottom line is, when Etienne gets enough touches, he typically produces. In Lawrence’s first playoff game while coming off a mediocre Week 18 outing, Pederson would be wise to lean heavily on Etienne against a Chargers defense that ranked 28th in allowing 145.8 yards per game on the ground.

Chargers RB Austin Ekeler Anytime TD (-165 at DraftKings): This has been the second-most bet player prop of the weekend at the sportsbook after opening at -155. Ekeler reached the end zone at least once in 11 of the Chargers’ final 14 regular-season games and averaged 17.2 touches over the final six. For those seeking a bigger payout, Ekeler is being offered at +550 to be the first touchdown scorer.

INJURY REPORT
Chargers: WR Mike Williams (back) was ruled out Friday, while pass rusher Joey Bosa (groin) was a full participant all week and is set to play.

Jaguars: Five players were as questionable, including Lawrence (toe), who was a limited practice participant all week. The other questionable Jaguars are WR Jamal Agnew (shoulder), LS Ross Matiscik (back), OG Brandon Scherff (abdomen) and WR Kendric Pryor (shoulder).

PREDICTION
Experience matters, and not just at the quarterback position. Staley has come under fire for playing his starters deep into last weekend’s game that had no bearing on the Chargers’ playoff position, and Los Angeles likely lost Williams for the rest of the season as a result. Both coaches are known for being aggressive in crucial situations, but Pederson has a Super Bowl on his resume and we trust his ability to have the young Jaguars well-prepared.

–Jaguars 24, Chargers 23

–Field Level Media

Dec 15, 2022; Seattle, Washington, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (13) scrambles away from Seattle Seahawks linebacker Uchenna Nwosu (10) during the fourth quarter at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Wild Card Weekend: Seahawks-49ers Preview, Props, Prediction

The Seattle Seahawks travel to San Francisco to take on the 49ers on Saturday in the first of three division-rival games on Wild Card Weekend.

The Seahawks reached the playoffs for the 10th time in coach Pete Carroll’s 13 seasons despite losing five of their final six games to close out the calendar year 2022. Seattle rebounded with wins over the Jets and Rams to finish the regular season, squeaking into the playoffs courtesy of Green Bay’s loss on Sunday night.

The 49ers have won 10 consecutive games and dominated the regular-season meetings, winning 27-7 in Week 2 in Santa Clara and 21-13 on a Thursday night in Seattle in mid-December.

San Francisco is a consensus 9.5-point home favorite at home, where the forecast is calling for temperatures in the high-50s and the potential for significant rain during the game.

The line has held steady at 9.5 all week at BetMGM, where the 49ers have been backed by 78 percent of the spread-line bets and 88 percent of the money — the most among wild-card games at the sportsbook this week. Meanwhile, San Francisco’s -200 moneyline had shifted to -500 by Friday, with San Francisco drawing 76 percent of the money.

The action has been similarly lopsided at DraftKings. The 49ers have garnered 67 percent of the spread-line bets and 74 percent of the money, while their -460 moneyline has been backed by 85 percent of both the bets and money.

Meanwhile, San Francisco’s spread line has drawn 92 percent of the money at BetRivers while its -500 moneyline has been backed by 95 percent.

49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said his team is peaking at the right time but cautioned against looking too far ahead.

“I think you need to be doing that, especially to have a chance to get through these games, but nothing really matters how you’re doing going into it,” Shanahan said of peaking heading into the playoffs. “It’s how you do that first game. And if there is a first game and you play like you’re capable, then you get the privilege for a second game.

“But this season can end fast and that’s why these playoffs are such a big deal and that’s why they’re so fun to watch for everybody because it’s just one game.”

PROP PICKS
Seahawks RB Kenneth Walker Under 60.5 Rushing Yards (-110 at DraftKings): The potential payout here is slightly better than the -115 odds at BetMGM. Walker recovered from an ankle injury to close the regular season with three consecutive 100-yard rushing games. However, he was limited to 47 yards on 3.92 yards per carry in the second meeting with the 49ers, who led the league in allowing only 76.9 rushing yards per game. Seattle wants to be a run-first offense, but Walker also has a tendency to dance behind the line waiting for the home-run hole to open up, which won’t work against San Francisco’s ferocious front seven.

49ers RB Christian McCaffrey Over 73.5 Rushing Yards (-115 at BetMGM): This has been the most-bet player prop at the sportsbook among all games this weekend, and there is a slew of data to back it up. The Seahawks ranked 30th in stopping the run, allowing an average of 150.2 yards per game during the regular season. That included McCaffrey rumbling for 108 yards on 26 carries in Seattle last month. It’s going to be cold, it’s going to be wet and the 49ers are starting a rookie quarterback — all signs point toward hammering a poor run defense minus its best linebacker (Jordyn Brooks).

Under 42.0 Total Points (-110 at BetRivers, BetMGM, DraftKings): This Under has drawn 60 percent of the bets at BetMGM, the highest percentage among all games this weekend. While the Over has drawn slightly more total bets at the other two sportsbooks, the Under has also been backed by 58 percent of the money at BetRivers. It’s a good play for many of the same reasons as McCaffrey’s rushing total. And the teams combined to average 34 points during their two regular-season meetings.

INJURY REPORT
Seahawks: OG Phil Haynes (ankle), RB DeeJay Dallas (ankle, quadriceps), TE Noah Fant (knee) and DE Shelby Harris (knee) are listed as questionable, although each is expected to have a good chance to play.

49ers: QB Jimmy Garoppolo (foot) and CB Ambry Thomas (ankle) are out.

PREDICTION
For all the plaudits rightfully being directed towards Geno Smith, he was more error-prone down the stretch, throwing seven of his 11 interceptions in the final seven games. And the 49ers held him to a single touchdown pass in two meetings. San Francisco’s smothering defense will help the 49ers build and early lead and steadily grind the Seahawks down with a heavy dose of McCaffrey and high-percentage passes from Purdy to the likes of George Kittle, who has seven TDs in his past four games.

–49ers 30, Seahawks 17

–Field Level Media

Jan 9, 2023; Inglewood, CA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart looks on before the CFP national championship game against the TCU Horned Frogs at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia opens as big favorite for CFP three-peat

Georgia coach Kirby Smart discussed the culture in and around the program that has set the Bulldogs up for long-term success competing at the top of the college football world.

That was last week, before Georgia went out and waxed TCU 65-7 on Monday night to claim its second consecutive College Football Playoff title.

“We’ve had a saying around our place for a long time that probability is not reality,” Smart said in the lead-up to the TCU game. “So, we don’t control what people say and probability. Reality is what happens on the field in between those lines. That’s what takes a lot more courage than just putting out probability.”

The reality is Georgia is now considered the class of the college football world. Accordingly, the Bulldogs have already been installed as the +275 favorite by DraftKings and the +300 favorite by FanDuel to three-peat next season.

How the pecking order falls after that differs, however.

DraftKings had SEC rival Alabama at +500 followed by Ohio State at +800, Michigan at +1000, and Clemson and Southern California tying for the fifth spot at +1400. Meanwhile, Ohio State joined Alabama at +700 at Alabama, followed by Michigan at +800 and USC at +1200 on FanDuel.

TCU, which fell one win short of completing its Cinderella story, opened at +5000 at both sportsbooks.

2023-24 CFP Title Odds (DraftKings)
Georgia (+275)
Alabama (+500)
Michigan (+800)
Ohio State (+800)
Clemson (+1200)
USC (+1500)
Tennessee (+2000)
Florida State (+2000)
Texas (+2200)
LSU (+2500)
Penn State (+2800)
Notre Dame (+3000)
Oregon (+3000)
Utah (+4000)
Washington (+4000)
Texas A&M (+5000)
Oklahoma (+5000)
TCU (+5000)

–Field Level Media

Nov 26, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Southern California Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams (13)  throws the ball against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the first half at United Airlines Field at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Heisman History? Caleb Williams heavy favorite to equal Archie Griffin

The reigning Heisman Trophy winner has been installed as the favorite to repeat the feat.

However, unlike Alabama’s Bryce Young last year, Southern California’s Caleb Williams doesn’t have other star quarterbacks nipping at his heels just yet.

Young was installed as the favorite to repeat shortly after being named the 2021 winner, but Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud was just behind him, and Williams joined the preseason picture after following coach Lincoln Riley from Oklahoma to USC.

Young enjoyed a stellar junior year but finished only sixth in the Heisman trophy race won by Williams last month.

It was a prime example of why it has been nearly a quarter century since Archie Griffin became the only two-time Heisman winner in history (1974-75).

Despite an excellent season, Young was passed during the season by the likes of TCU’s Max Duggan and Georgia’s Stetson Bennett, who squared off in the College Football Playoff championship game.

Williams kick-starts the 2023 race with a huge cushion among oddsmakers ahead of his junior season. That includes being the +400 favorite at FanDuel, where his closest competition at the outset is North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye.

Maye is coming off a breakout freshman season and decided to stay in Chapel Hill despite heavy interest from other programs hoping that he would enter the transfer portal.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is Michael Penix Jr., who will return to Washington for a sixth year of college football. He redshirted at Indiana after tearing his ACL three games into his freshman season in 2018. Penix transferred to Washington after three injury-plagued and one COVID-shortened season and started all 13 games for the Huskies in 2022.

Penix decided to return to Washington after completing 65.3 percent of his passes for 4,641 yards, 31 touchdowns and only eight interceptions. He is the third betting favorite at FanDuel at +1200, along with Oregon’s Bo Nix and Florida State’s Jordan Travis.

Like Penix, Nix and Travis are veteran quarterbacks who decided to return to programs that expect to be highly competitive next season.

The top transfer in the initial 2023 Heisman odds is Sam Hartman (+1800), the record-setting Wake Forest quarterback who moved on to Notre Dame. The top non-quarterback is Michigan running back Blake Corum (+3000), who recently announced he will return to the Wolverines as he rehabs from a season-ending knee injury.

2023 Heisman Trophy Odds (1/9/23)
Caleb Williams, QB, USC (+400)
Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina (+1000)
Michael Penix Jr., QB, Washington (+1200)
Bo Nix, QB, Oregon (+1200)
Jordan Travis, QB, Florida State (+1200)
Quinn Ewers, QB, Texas (+1800)
Sam Hartman, QB, Notre Dame (+1800)
Drew Allar, QB, Penn State (+2000)
Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU (+2000)
Joe Milton, QB, Tennessee (+2000)
Case Klubnik, QB, Clemson (+2000)
J.J. McCarthy, QB, Michigan (+2500)
Brock Vandagriff, QB, Georgia (+2500)
Kyle McCord, QB, Ohio State (+2500)
Dillon Gabriel, QB, Oklahoma (+3000)
Blake Corum, RB, Michigan (+3000)

–Field Level Media

Dec 31, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; TCU Horned Frogs running back Emari Demercado (3) celebrates after making a touchdown with quarterback Max Duggan (15) against the Michigan Wolverines in the third quarter of the 2022 Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

CFP Title Game: TCU-UGA Preview, Props, Prediction

TCU was predicted to finish seventh in the Big 12 this season and nobody expected to see the Horned Frogs as one of the last two teams standing in the College Football Playoff title game.

Quarterback Max Duggan wasn’t even picked as the opening-game starter by first-year coach Sonny Dykes, so his second-place finish in the Heisman Trophy balloting was just as unexpected.

Yet nothing about the third-ranked Horned Frogs feels the least bit astonishing as they try to tame top-ranked Georgia in the national championship game on Monday in Inglewood, Calif.

The Bulldogs (14-0) are vying to become the first team to win back-to-back titles in the CFP era that began in 2014.

Meanwhile, the Horned Frogs (13-1) are looking to finish off an improbable ride.

“I think, in some ways we probably viewed ourselves as (a Cinderella team) early on because we were figuring this thing out,” Dykes said. “I think that if you had asked us before the season started — ‘Would we play for a national championship?’ — most of us probably didn’t think that we would.”

Georgia opened as a 13.5-point favorite at BetMGM. The line shifted to 13 with the public heavily backing the Horned Frogs, but it moved to 13.5 by Monday despite 71 percent of the spread bets and 58 percent of the handle still supporting TCU.

DraftKings reported spread at 12.5 points Monday morning but had also seen a shift to 13.0 by the afternoon, with the Horned Frogs drawing 66 and 51 percent of the spread action, respectively.

Georgia was garnering more support at BetRivers, where the Bulldogs had been backed by 53 percent of the money as 13.5-point favorites. TCU was still drawing 62 percent of the tickets.

The Bulldogs have their own motivation: winning a second straight title. Their championship last season was the program’s first since the Herschel Walker-led team won the 1980 crown.

Despite allowing 71 points over their past two games, Georgia still ranks fifth nationally in scoring defense at 14.8 points per game. The Bulldogs allowed 14 or fewer points eight times, including two shutouts.

TCU is tied for fourth nationally at 41.1 points scored per game but might not have standout running back Kendre Miller (1,399 yards, 17 touchdowns) due to a knee injury sustained in the Michigan game.

Emari Demercado will be the lead back if Miller can’t play. Demercado, a senior, had a career-best 150 rushing yards against Michigan.

Georgia has won all four meetings with TCU, including a 31-23 triumph in the 2016 Liberty Bowl in the most recent clash.

“I know everyone wants to act like they’re this myth or this Cinderella story, but the truth of the matter is that they’re one of the best teams in college football,” Georgia center Sedrick Van Pran said. “So they’re there for a reason. So we’re taking it like that.”

PROP PICKS
Georgia TE Brock Bowers Under 64.5 Receiving Yards (-132 at BetRivers): This has drawn the most money among player props at the sportsbook. Bowers has been extremely consistent this season, catching multiple passes in every game and at least four in nine of his past 12. However, he has topped 64.5 receiving yards in only two of his past nine games and four times overall this season.

Over 63.5 Points (-105 at BetMGM): The same total at DraftKings had -110 odds on Monday at DraftKings, where the Over had drawn 77 percent of the bets and 52 percent of the money. Meanwhile, BetRivers was offering a 63.0-point line with the Over backed by 71 and 63 percent, respectively. With a slightly better winning payout, BetMGM was reporting 71 percent of the bets and 68 percent of the action backing the Over after the line opened at 61.5.

TCU QB Max Duggan Over 0.5 Rushing TDs (+120 at DraftKings): This has been the fifth-most bet player prop at the sportsbook. The Horned Frogs have increasingly relied on Duggan’s legs since the regular season ended, as he had three touchdowns on 30 carries between the Big 12 Championship and the CFP semifinal games. With Miller’s status uncertain due to a knee injury, Duggan’s legs could factor even more heavily into the game plan. And near the goal-line in crunch time, who does Dykes trust more than Duggan with the ball in his hands?

PREDICTION
TCU is embracing the underdog role and the semifinal win over Michigan showed that the Horned Frogs are worthy of their title game appearance. Winning it is another matter.

Georgia’s defense will bounce back from a pair of sub-par games while Bulldogs QB Stetson Bennett continues to defy skeptics as one of the nation’s most efficient signal-callers.

–Georgia 42, TCU 27

–Field Level Media

South Dakota State quarterback Mark Gronowski throws a pass while warming up before the FCS semifinal game against Montana State on Saturday, December 17, 2022, at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium in Brookings, SD.

Fcs Semifinals 001

FCS title game: SDSU favored over NDSU in ‘Battle of Dakotas’

The long-awaited Battle of the Dakotas will take place in Frisco, Texas, on Sunday when the South Dakota State Jackrabbits battle the North Dakota State Bison in the FCS title game.

The Bison (12-2) have made the FCS title game almost an annual tradition as they seek their 10th championship in the past 12 years. However, they are 4.0-point underdogs to the Jackrabbits (13-1), who ride a school-record 13-game winning streak into their second title game in the past three years.

SDSU is the top seed and blew out Montana State 39-18 in the second semifinal game on Dec. 17. That came a day after third-seeded NDSU survived a 35-32 shootout against No. 7 Incarnate Word for its seventh consecutive win.

The line opened at 5.5 points at BetMGM but has shifted to 4.0 with the Bison backed by 55 percent of the spread bets while the Jacks have drawn 55 percent of the money. The 4.0-point line at DraftKings has seen similar action, with NDSU garnering 51 percent of the spread bets and SDSU backed by 58 percent of the money.

Sunday will mark the 114th meeting since 1903 between the rivals, with the Bison holding a 63-45-5 series lead, including each of the past three FCS playoff meetings. NDSU also boasts 11 wins over SDSU since its first FCS title in 2011.

However, it’s the Jacks who have won the past three meetings overall, including a 23-31 victory during the regular season. The Bison will be trying to avoid their first four-game losing streak in the series since 1950.

Matt Entz owns a 49-6 record as NDSU’s head coach, with half of those loses coming to SDSU. He has only managed to beat the Jacks once thus far, in 2019 when Entz had future first-round pick quarterback Trey Lance running the offense.

SDSU reached the FCS title game in 2021 only to lose to Sam Houston State in a season that was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The shortened season was the only time since 2011 that the Bison failed to win at least 12 games.

Less than a year later, NDSU added to its title haul with a victory over Montana State in last year’s championship game. The Bison are 44-3 all-time in the FCS playoffs and have never lost in the title game, with six of their nine championship victories coming by double figures.

Sunday’s kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. ET on ABC.

–Field Level Media

Nov 13, 2022; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson (3) after being hit by Tennessee Titans linebacker Rashad Weaver (99) as he attempts a pass during the second half at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Russell Wilson tops deep group of 2023 NFL Comeback POY candidates

As Russell Wilson prepares to close out what many have deemed a disastrous first year in Denver, the Broncos’ embattled quarterback does have support in at least one corner.

Wilson has already been installed as the favorite to win NFL Comeback Player of the Year honors by oddsmakers at SportsBetting.ag.

The Broncos are 4-12 entering Sunday’s season finale at the Los Angeles Chargers. Lose, and Denver could tie for the second worst record in the NFL.

That only drives the stake a bit further into the heart of the 2022 season, however, as the Broncos’ first-round draft pick in April belongs to the Seattle Seahawks courtesy of the blockbuster trade to bring Wilson to the Mile High City.

Wilson, 34, has thrown for 3,241 yards with a career-low 13 touchdowns. He has been sacked a career-high 53 times through 14 games.

In theory, those numbers would make the nine-time Pro Bowl signal-caller ripe for a bounce-back campaign in 2023 under a yet-to-be-hired head coach.

Wilson is the +400 favorite among 23 players being offered by the sportsbook.

He’ll face competition from a stiff group of candidates, the majority of whom are coming off major injuries rather than trying to rebound from a major drop in performance.

Among them:
Breece Hall, RB, Jets (+450)
Hall burst out of the gates as a rookie, rushing for 463 yards and four touchdowns on 80 carries before suffering a torn ACL in a Week 7 win over the Broncos. Hall’s 681 yards from scrimmage were the fourth-most ever by a Jets player through seven games, per ESPN, and he’s still the team’s leading rusher on the season.

Hall is expected to be ready for the start of next season, when he projects as the Jets’ unquestioned lead back.

Trey Lance, RB, 49ers (+700)
Lance has undergone a pair of surgeries since fracturing his fibula and sustained ligament damage during a Week 2 game against the Seahawks. He is expected to be ready to participate in offseason activities, but Lance’s status as the 49ers’ long-term answer at quarterback remains murky.

Rookie Brock Purdy has the offense humming into the postseason, and the return of Jimmy Garoppolo could happen in January. While Purdy’s emergence likely signals the end of Garoppolo’s time with the 49ers this offseason, can the 49ers turn away from Purdy if he leads the team deep into the playoffs – and potentially a Super Bowl title?

Kyler Murray, QB, Cardinals (+750)
Late-season injuries inherently bring an additional layer of uncertainty. Murray underwent ACL reconstruction surgery after going down in a Week 14 loss to New England. He isn’t expected to be ready for Week 1, but how many games Murray misses next season might not be known until sometime in the fall.

He also might be adjusting to a new offensive scheme. The Cardinals were mired in a disappointing season well before Murray was injured and coach Kliff Kingsbury remains the favorite to be the next fired in the NFL.

Javonte Williams, RB, Broncos (+800)
Wilson’s adjustment to a new city and a new offense certainly wasn’t aided by Williams’ torn ACL in Week 4. Williams had emerged as a solid power back and the No. 1 option over fumble-prone Melvin Gordon.

Minus Williams, the Broncos’ ground game hit the skids. Gordon was eventually released and Denver has turned to veteran journeymen including Latavius Murray, Mike Boone, Chase Edmonds and Marlon Mack.

There’s no ready-made replacement on the roster and, like Hall, Williams is positioned for a lead back role entering next season.

Matthew Stafford, QB, Rams (+800)
The tea leaves never read well for Stafford in 2022. That began with an offseason procedure on his elbow and pain that lingered into training camp. Stafford was scuffling through a disappointing season for the Rams as a whole when he suffered a neck injury in Week 11.

That would prove to be the end of his season, which concluded with 2,087 passing yards, 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions in nine games. Stafford, 34, said he has no intention of retiring, and the Rams’ offense will regroup after a season that also saw wide receiver Cooper Kupp lost to an ankle injury and a non-stop turnstile along the offensive line.

Other intriguing names being offered by SportsBetting.ag for the Comeback award next season include Kupp (+1000), Colts quarterback Matt Ryan (+1400), Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (+1600) and Jaguars wide receiver Calvin Ridley (+2000), who was acquired from the Falcons during a one-year gambling-related suspension by the NFL.

–Field Level Media

Dec 31, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; TCU Horned Frogs running back Emari Demercado (3) celebrates after making a touchdown with quarterback Max Duggan (15) against the Michigan Wolverines in the third quarter of the 2022 Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

TCU drawing support as massive underdog to Georgia

The primary question for many around the country ahead of Monday’s College Football Playoff championship game isn’t about whether TCU can pull off an historic upset, but if the Horned Frogs can cover.

Top-ranked Georgia (14-0) was installed as a near-two touchdown favorite shortly after rallying past Ohio State 42-41 to win the Peach Bowl in the second semifinal. That set up a showdown in Inglewood, Calif., against TCU (13-1), which had upset second-ranked Michigan 51-45 earlier in the day in the Fiesta Bowl.

While the Bulldogs are seeking to further build on their growing dynasty with a second consecutive title, the Horned Frogs are trying to win their first national championship since 1938.

Georgia opened as a 13.5-point favorite at BetMGM. The line has since shifted to 13 with TCU backed by 78 percent of the spread-line bets and 79 percent of the money. The Frogs’ +400 moneyline to win the game outright has also moved to +375 with the public backing them with 88 and 78 percent of the action, respectively.

Meanwhile, bettors at BetRivers remain bullish on the Bulldogs winning the game, backing Georgia’s -480 moneyline with 62 percent of the bets and 64 percent of the money. However, the 12-point spread has drawn heavy action to the underdog, with TCU backed by 72 percent of the bets and 57 percent of the money.

The public is also expecting a high-scoring affair after the two semifinal games averaged 89.5 total points.

The Over/Under for the championship game opened at 61.5 points at BetMGM but has shifted to 62.5 with the Over drawing 86 percent of the bets and 90 percent of the money. The 62-point total at BetMGM has seen the Over backed by 81 and 82 percent of the action, respectively.

TCU has embraced the underdog role since opening the season unranked, with coach Sonny Dykes continually standing up for the Big 12 conference throughout the Horned Frogs’ run to the title game.

“You’ve got to be on your best, week in and week out,” Dykes said in noting that Big 12 teams don’t have the scheduling flexibility to schedule non-conference games late in the season. “And it takes a toll on your team. It really does. It’s difficult to get through that gauntlet of nine consecutive conference games against quality opponents.”

The Horned Frogs have knocked off one Goliath in taking down Michigan. They now have their sights set on Georgia, which had to overcome a 14-point deficit entering the fourth quarter as New Year’s Day approached.

The Bulldogs had to survive a missed 50-yard field goal with three seconds remaining to set up their date against the Horned Frogs.

“If we want any chance at winning a national championship, we have to play a lot better football than we played tonight,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said after the game. “We’ve got to keep the resiliency and composure along with us.”

According to BetRivers data, Georgia has covered the spread in each of its past four games against top-3 ranked Associated Press teams. However, the Bulldogs have failed to cover the spread in three of their past four games overall.

Meanwhile, TCU is 3-0 straight up this season as a betting underdog and eight of the Horned Frogs’ past nine games against Top 10 teams have gone Over the total points line. The sportsbook also reported the longest odds on a futures bet taken on a TCU national championship victory was +15000.

“Now we’ve got to take care of business,” Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett said after the Ohio State victory. “We’ve got to prepare. We’ve got nine days or whatever to play a really good TCU team. So we’ve got to prepare our butts off.”

–Field Level Media

Georgia wide receiver Ladd McConkey (84) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the first half of the SEC Championship NCAA college football game between LSU and Georgia in Atlanta, on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022.

News Joshua L Jones

Syndication Online Athens

Peach Bowl: Ohio State-Georgia Preview, Prop Picks, Prediction

Ohio State’s blueprint for winning the College Football Playoff championship will be staring the No. 4 Buckeyes in the face when they play No. 1 Georgia in a semifinal game at the Peach Bowl on Saturday in Atlanta.

The Buckeyes (11-1) are coming off a 45-23 thrashing by second-ranked Michigan on Nov. 26 in Columbus, Ohio. They are only in the playoffs thanks to Southern California losing to Utah in the Pac-12 championship game, enabling Ohio State to be awarded the final spot.

Critics would say the Buckeyes don’t deserve a shot at the Bulldogs (13-0) after being manhandled by the Wolverines for the second year in a row.

Ohio State coach Ryan Day said his players understand their underdog role – the Bulldogs are consensus 6.5-point favorites for the New Year’s Eve clash.

“I see a team that realizes that not a lot of people give us a chance,” he said. “We know what we’re in for, we know what the challenge is. Years and seasons and life doesn’t always go the way you plan. It’s about how you react to it and how you respond to it.

“As much as that (Michigan) loss hurts, we’re not going to overreact on it. It’s not worth it. We have a game against Georgia ahead of us that we’re focusing on.”

Day has never coached in the Peach Bowl, and he understands Kirby Smart and the Bulldogs have the perceived “home” edge in Atlanta. Smart played in the Peach Bowl twice and has also been a coach in the game.

This is Georgia’s second game in Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta this month. The Bulldogs whipped LSU, 50-30, on Dec. 3 to claim another SEC title.

All the Buckeyes wanted was another opportunity to redeem themselves, just as Georgia did a year ago. The Bulldogs lost 41-24 to Alabama in the 2021 SEC title game but as the No. 3 seed in the CFP downed No. 2 Michigan 34-11 before defeating No. 1 Alabama 33-18 for the national championship.

The Bulldogs have continued to dominate, beating LSU for their first conference crown since 2017.

“I feel like this year, coming off of a conference championship win we have worked harder than we did last year coming off of a loss,” Georgia wide receiver Kearis Jackson said. “It’s crazy because people may look at it as we’re complacent, we’re happy, it’s just another box we wanted to check, one of our goals. Our season is not complete yet. We still have goals that we want to reach. The Peach Bowl is the next thing we want to accomplish.”

The winner Saturday plays either Michigan or TCU for the championship in Inglewood, Calif., on Jan. 9.

BULLISH ON BULLDOGS
The public isn’t buying into Ohio State’s second chance. The line opened at 7.0 points at BetMGM and has only shifted slightly to 6.5 with Georgia drawing lopsided action with 82 percent of the bets and 85 percent of the money backing the Bulldogs.

The same spread line at BetRivers also has seen one-sided action with Georgia backed by 71 percent of the bets and 66 percent of the money. The line is at 6.0 at DraftKings with the Bulldogs garnering 79 and 88 percent of the spread action, respectively.

Since the four CFP teams were announced, Georgia also leads at DraftKings with 56 percent of the bets and 58 percent of the money to win another title at -125. Ohio State (+350) is last with just 10 and 8 percent of the action, respectively.

PROP PICKS
Over 62.0 Total Points (-110 at BetRivers): The line is slightly higher at 62.5 at the other two sportsbooks, but the Over has been popular across the board despite the Bulldogs sporting the nation’s second-ranked scoring defense (12.8) and the Buckeyes 13th at 19.2. Ohio State is second in scoring offense with 44.5 points a game compared to the Bulldogs’ 11th (39.2).

Georgia TE Brock Bowers Receiving TD (+100 at DraftKings): This has been one of the most popular player props at the sportsbook. The recipient of the John Mackey Award as the nation’s top tight end, Bowers has six touchdowns among his 52 catches this season.

Ohio State WR Marvin Harrison Jr. Receiving TD (-105 at DraftKings): Buckeyes QB C.J. Stroud led the nation in passer efficiency rating. He threw for 3,340 yards, 37 touchdowns and six interceptions but will be without receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba and running back TreVeyon Henderson due to injuries. Harrison Jr., who had 72 receptions for 1,157 yards and 12 touchdowns, will need to step up big time despite being a primary focus of Georgia’s defense.

PREDICTION
Ohio State was dominated in the trenches by Michigan and will face an equally stiff test on both sides of the ball. The Buckeyes have plenty of talent to make this a highly entertaining game but ultimately will not be able to withstand the Bulldogs’ edge in physicality for four quarters. –Georgia 35-28

–Field Level Media

Dec 25, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Silver & Black GOAT? Tom Brady favored to be Raiders’ starting QB in ’23

Are the stars aligning for Tom Brady to don the Silver and Black in 2023?

Las Vegas is almost certain to move on from Derek Carr after benching the nine-year starter for the final two games of the season. The move protects the Raiders from owing Carr $32.9 million in the event of an injury, and sets up the likelihood of an offseason trade that would bring a palatable $5.625 million hit in dead salary cap money.

The Raiders are loaded with skill position talent and will likely seek an experienced quarterback to team with running back Josh Jacobs, wide receivers Davante Adams and Hunter Renfrow, and tight end Darren Waller.

Las Vegas’ coach just also happens to be Brady’s longtime friend and former coordinator, Josh McDaniels.

“All options are on the table” for Brady in 2023, according to an NFL Network report earlier this month.

He was installed as the favorite by SportsBetting.ag to be the Raiders’ quarterback in Week 1 of next season after news of Carr’s benching. The list includes Jarrett Stidham, who will start Las Vegas’ final two games, along with five quarterbacks currently on other NFL rosters and four potential rookie draft picks.

Raiders Starting QB Week 1 2023 Odds*
Tom Brady (+300)
Jimmy Garoppolo (+350)
Anthony Richardson (+500)
C.J. Stroud (+650)
Will Levis (+700)
Jarrett Stidham (+800)
Lamar Jackson (+900)
Baker Mayfield (+1200)
Bryce Young (+1200)
Aaron Rodgers (+2200)
*If not Derek Carr

Brady, 45, at least contemplated Las Vegas as an option before signing with Tampa Bay in 2020. He went on to win a seventh Super Bowl with the Bucs.

After briefly retiring last offseason, Brady has played well during an uneven season for Tampa Bay’s offense overall. He is fourth in the NFL with 4,178 passing yards and has thrown 21 touchdowns against nine interceptions.

The Bucs have a losing record at 7-8 but are still in excellent position to win the NFC South.

According to the NFL Network report, Brady was likely leaning toward (another) retirement earlier this season when Tampa Bay dropped five of six games.

But with the team winning four of its past seven games and in position to make a potential playoff run, Brady’s passion is said to have been reignited.

The San Mateo, Calif., native has a nine-figure broadcasting deal with Fox Sports awaiting him whenever he elects to hang up his helmet.

Brady has until the start of free agency in mid-March to decide whether to re-sign with Tampa Bay or explore other options. Those could include Las Vegas, a return to New England or joining his childhood team in San Francisco.

The sportsbook is offering several Brady-related markets. That includes being a +2000 longshot to be the New York Jets’ starting quarterback next year and a few tied to potential retirement.

What Will Happen First By Week 1 2023
Tom Brady Retires (-130)
Tom Brady Signs With Patriots (+175)
Bill Belichick Retires (+350)

What Will Happen First By Week 1 2023
Matt Ryan Retires (-125)
Tom Brady Retires (+200)
Aaron Rodgers Retires (+350)
Matthew Stafford Retires (+1000)

–Field Level Media