The Pizza Man showing no ill effects from a busy schedule and a trip to the West Coast, feasted on the Hollywood Turf Cup Stakes (gr. IIT) field Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 26, rallying wide and from far back to score easily in 2:31.75 for the 12 furlongs on a turf course rated firm at Del Mar. Fifth last out in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT) at Keeneland, The Pizza Man rebounded to win for the fourth time in seven tries this season. His share of the $250,000 Turf Cup purse raised his earnings to more than $1.9 million for his career. The Pizza Man was bred in Illinois and races as a homebred for Midwest Thoroughbreds. He is a 6-year-old son of English Channel out of the Lear Fan mare I Can Fan Fan. The pace was slow throughout the Turf Cup, as Class Leader and Southern Freedom kept each other company on the front end through the first turn and past the stands the first time. Jockey Mike Smith, meanwhile, had The Pizza Man reserved near the back of the 14-horse field despite the tepid fractions. The opening half mile went in :51.10 and three-quarters was clocked in 1:17.28. Not much changed through the second turn, as Procurement moved up and Southern Freedom gained the lead up the backstretch. It wasn’t until nearing the third turn that Smith angled The Pizza Man, still back in 10th position, toward the outside. Once in the clear, he began picking off foes quickly. Off the final turn the Roger Brueggemann trainee was eight-wide, but he dominated from there, cruising past the field to victory. Second choice Big John B, the local hope, followed The Pizza Man in the center of the course and gained the place. Power Foot was along for third. The winner paid $4.20, $2.80, and $2.60. Big John B returned $3.80 in both the place and show columns, and Power Foot paid $13.20 to show. The Pizza Man, third in last year’s Hollywood Turf Cup, has won 15 of 26 career starts.


The King's Swan Stakes



Lest you have forgotten, this race is named in honor of "The King of Aqueduct" (King's Swan) who was so popular with New York City area fans that on his retirement from racing at age ten, he was honored with a retirement ceremony at Aqueduct Racetrack. Trained by Richard Dutrow Jr, He raced through his 10th year, winning the graded Aqueduct Handicap on two occasions. Here in the initial running of this stakes event, #3 SPOOKED OUT is the overall speed leader in this field sprinting at 6.0 furlongs on the dirt, has excellent early speed abilities to compliment for this sprint, and has hit the board in "POWER RUN FASHION" in both of his two career starts to date, including a "POWER RUN WIN" to break his maiden in his last start. #1 MO FOR THE MONEY, the morning line favorite, comes off a "POWER RUN "WIN" to break his maiden in his "first asking."

RACING NEWS: Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer won the 7,000th race of his career when Kiss N Scat, who he co-owns with Steve Taub and George Todaro, won the first race at Golden Gate Fields Nov. 26. Hollendorfer is now third on the all-time list of trainers by wins behind the late Dale Baird and Steve Asmussen. Kiss N Scat, a 2-year-old Scat Daddy filly, easily captured an entry-level allowance race to kick off the card at the Northern California track. She won the one-mile race by 13 lengths under jockey Ricardo Gonzalez and paid $2.20 to win as the heavy favorite. "I'm very grateful to be able to do something like this," Hollendorfer said by telephone from Del Mar. "I've had a lot of good people help me. I want to thank the horses, the owners, and the help I've had. All of my staff, including (my wife) Janet, have done such a good job. They're the people who do most of the work."





RaceAnalyser Software

Wagering Mathematics Software

Rick has added these software products to his handicapping arsenal! They use TrackMaster Past Performance Files! Check 'em out!

WagerMate Thoroughbred Handicapping Software

RaceAnalyser Thoroughbred Handicapping Software

Disclaimer: Every attempt has been made to insure accuracy, however since this report is prepared and typed by hand, errors, including typographical and numerical, can be made. It is the responsibility of the end user to "cross check" these selections against the actual entries and program numbers.



RACE #2: #7 PALM ISLAND, a 4-1 shot, is the overall speed leader in this claiming field sprinting at tonight's "specialized distance" of 7.0 furlongs on the dirt.


RACE #5: #3 SAILEN RAY J, a 5-1 shot, qualifies as a TrackMaster PLUS "PowerPony," and has nice overall speed for this 5½ furlong sprint.

Ultra Longshot Angles

NOTE: The entries listed below have been "found" utilizing TrackMaster's fantastic new product Ultra Angles ... I have utilized this product to scan EVERY TRACK in North America for entries today meeting the following 3 criteria:

a. Odds are AT LEAST 4-1
b. The entry must be the TOP POWER RATED entry in the field
c. The entry must also have the BEST SPEED in this field for today's distance and surface!

Charles Town Race #6 - 9:22PM - #9 HALDOR 8/1
Delta Downs - Race #2 - 6:08PM - #5 THREEPEAT 12/1

NOTE: Listed Post Times are given in the local time zone of the track.



NOTES ON CLASS: The TrackMaster PLUS software uses a sophisticated mathematical formula to calculate the "class" of a particular race. It is important to note that this calculation is NOT based on purse structure, but on the competitive level of the entries in today's field. Therefore, it is possible (and not uncommon), that an entry may be racing for a higher purse today than in his or her last race, but in a "TrackMaster Sense" is dropping in class, because the overall abilities of the entries in today's race are not as competitive as the entries in his or her last race. The TrackMaster class scale is numeric, and basically ranges from 50 to 100, and is particularly helpful in judging entries that are "shipping" in from another track. In my analysis of a race, I often note that an entry is "dropping in class," or "stepping up in class." Following this statement, you will see a (number in parenthesis). The value of that particular number indicates the degree of the class change. EXAMPLE: "#4 SIN CITY takes a fairly significant class drop (-8) this evening." This indicates that this entry is dropping by 8 TrackMaster Class Levels from his or her last race. It does not necessarily mean that this entry is racing for a lower purse, only racing against a less competitive field.

NOTES: I frequently use the term, "POWER RUN" in this column. It is my terminology for a previous race run at a speed, which if duplicated today, should compete for the winner's circle at the class level in which the entry is competing today. Space requirements do not allow for a thorough discussion of this calculation, however, if you would like a short essay on how the "POWER RUN" is calculated, kindly send me some EMAIL at rneedham1@yahoo.com and I'll send you a copy of my "POWER RUN" file.

Do you want some handicapping tips? Select an "essay" below, and I'll return some comments to you via email!

Kindly enter Your Name:

    Power Run/PowerPonies
    Maiden Starters
    LASIX Runners
    Three Star Sires
    The Value of Class
    Reading PS's
    Exotic Wager BOXING
    Aqueduct's Inner Track
    Down and Dirty Quick Pick Longshots
    How to qualify for The Breeders' Cup
    The Psychology of Pari-Mutual Wagering

Rick Needham - Football 2015-2016


Rick is having some minor "heart related" medical procedures this fall ... he does not feel comfortable "charging" the annual subscription fee of $149.00 for his weekly reports, since there is a possibility that he may "miss a week!" Soooooo ... the reports will be totally free, until the procedures are finished sometime in late November (however, there may be a "missing weekend") ... Rick will have a subscription package for the college playoffs/bowls - N.F.L. playoffs through The Super Bowl! Send Rick an email requesting his free weekly reports. Note: Rick does NOT handicap N.F.L. Pre-Season games!

For "Continued Analysis" of College Football Championship Games through the Final Bowl Games N.F.L. Games through "The SuperBowl!" $125.00

Mail a check or Money Order
Payable to: Rick Needham

7621 Jonestown Road
Harrisburg, PA 17112


Colts at Falcons (MINUS 6.5) - Nov. 22, 1:00 - CBS

Rick's Overview This Sunday, the Indianapolis Colts will travel south to take on the Atlanta Falcons at 1:00pm. Atlanta comes in at 6-3 and second place in the NFC South behind the Saints, while the Colts are 4-5 and by some miracle, leads the AFC South division. Both teams know this is a pivotal game and a win or loss could completely change their post season fate. The last time these two teams met was back in 2011 and the Falcons won that game by a 31-7 score, but these are now two different teams with different coaching staffs. The biggest news in this one is that Colts star quarterback, Andrew Luck, will be out due to injury and 40 year old Matt Hasselbeck will get the start. Can the Falcons take advantage? Due to the injury to Andrew Luck, the line on this game is a little wider than it probably would have been before. The Falcons enter as a 6.5 point home favorite over the Colts. The total points are set at 48.0 combined. As of Tuesday morning the action was an even split in Vegas. 50% on Indy and 50% on Atlanta. That tells us that this line probably will sit right where it is all the way til kickoff, that is unless one side begins getting more and more action as the week continues. Against the spread this season, both teams are 4-5 but the Falcons cover most of theirs as the underdog. When favored, Atlanta has lost their last three ATS. We will take a look and see if this week is any different.

The Atlanta Falcons came storming out of the gate this season at 5-0 but since that time have gone 1-3 and the really bad part is that all three games they have lost, they were the favorite. The Falcons in years past had issues on defense. Matt Ryan and the offense could put up points but the defense was just not able to stop anyone. This season has been the opposite so far. The Falcons have held their opponents to less than 20 points on three different occasions. In those games they won two of them, barely, and just last week lost to San Francisco 17-16. If you look at the Falcons statistically, they still rank quite high among the NFL teams mostly in part to their fast start. They are still 7th in the NFL in scoring, 5th in passing yards, and their run game, led by Devonta Freeman, is adding another 115 yards per game. The defense is giving up just 21 a game which is a huge improvement from last season. What has plagued the Falcons in 2015 is turnovers. They have turned the ball over in the red zone five times already. Not only that, they have had to settle for field goals at the end of long drives. Between the 20’s, Atlanta is deadly, but they MUST find a way to score a touchdown…not kick it for three. That is the key this week at home: Get the offense rolling again. With Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman, and an offensive line that is not great but has certainly improved since 2014, there is no reason these guys are not penciled in for 24 points a game. Atlanta needs to score. Plain and simple.

The Colts come in as underdogs in this game but if Andrew Luck was starting I could this game being a bit closer regarding the point spread. With that said however, Hasselbeck has actually played pretty well this season. Early on in the season, the Colts actually looked better with him than Luck. Nothing against Luck, but I think everyone include Andrew Luck himself, agrees he did not play good at all in the first few weeks. The Colts have been up and down all season. They have losses to Bills and Jets, yet just a couple of weeks ago knocked off the Broncos who at the time were unbeaten. There is never any telling which Colts team will show up. This Sunday in Atlanta, I have a feeling the Falcons offense will be primed to put up points. They had a Bye week to work out some kinks and I think this will be the turning point for Atlanta. The Colts need to stop the run. If they can keep Devonta Freeman on a short leash and make the Falcons one dimensional then they can pressure Matt Ryan more and create turnovers. If the Colts defense does not create chaos for the Birds, there is no way they win this weekend…or cover.

Rick's Bottom Line: I am a fan but am a realist. I will be honest, the Falcons just have not played well. I like Atlanta to win this game, but I cannot see them beating anyone by more than six points right now. Maybe I am wrong, but you are giving me 6.5 points against a team that has not covered a spread in over three weeks…yea, give me the underdog. Falcons win 20-17. I'll take THE COLTS to beat the spread ... and I'll also play THE UNDER (48.0).

Michigan (MINUS 4.0) at Penn State - Nov 21, 12;00 ABC

Rick's Overview:The Michigan Wolverines come into University Park on Saturday to face the Penn State Nittany Lions. Both teams have forged strong seasons, with the Wolverines 8-2 and the Nittany Lions at 7-3. A win here would be big, as each team tries to increase their bowl profile. On Saturday, Michigan barely escaped Indiana in overtime, needing to pull out all the stops to win on the road. They get their third road game in 4 weeks this Saturday against Penn State, who came up short last week in a tough 23-21 road loss at ranked Northwestern. Michigan is a pretty strange team. They are likely one bizarre play away from being in the running for big things, with that crazy last-second loss to Michigan State. They have since registered three straight wins, two of them on the road. On Saturday, they needed a last-second TD to send the game to overtime. Each team scored a TD in the first overtime, with Michigan scoring a TD and an error preventing Indiana from doing the same. They deserve credit for winning a close game, but they were pretty fortunate to win and a similar performance could lead to a loss to Penn State this week. On Saturday, the Michigan offense had to pull out all the stops to beat Indiana, with Jake Rudock throwing for an immense 440 yards and 6 touchdowns. He also added 64 yards on the ground. Receiver Jehu Chesson caught 10 balls for 207 yards and 4 touchdowns. Amara Darboh added 109 yards, with tight end Jake Butt adding 82 yards. It was good that Michigan can pick up the slack when the defense isn’t doing its thing, but the “D” was supposed to be this team’s lynchpin and it has tailed off in recent weeks. We remember this is the same Michigan defense that was performing at an almost legendary level earlier in the season. They registered three straight shutouts, including two over ranked teams. That’s a far cry from a defense that gave up 41 points to the likes of Indiana on Saturday. While they established a standard that was probably unrealistic, they are now looking a bit ragged, after having given up an immense 238 yards on the ground to Hoosiers’ back Jordan Howard. So when you look at the defensive stats now, we see the Wolverines still ranked as the 2nd defense in the nation—6th against the pass and 8th against the run, while allowing just over 14 points per game. In their last 4 games, however, they’ve given up close to 27 a game. They’re still good, but their high rankings are more a result of their shutdown play from earlier in the season. But we can’t forget what the Wolverines looked like this time last year. Comparing that to how they look now, they’ve really taken a quantum leap forward this season in Jim HArbaugh’s first season at the helm.

Penn State should look forward to being back at home, following a demanding stretch of games where they faced both Ohio State and Northwestern on the road. It’s been a successful season for a Nittany Lions program that has fought hard to reclaim their footing. But their best wins this season are against San Diego State and some of the more middling teams in the Big Ten. These next two weeks represent a chance for Penn St. to notch a win over one of the conference’s powers, with Michigan State on the road next week. Nittany Lions’ quarterback Christian Hackenberg hasn’t had the season some though he would, with 54% completions and just 13 TD passes. He has only 3 picks and generally does a decent job in commandeering this Penn state offense. It’s just that for the most part, the offense is a bit lukewarm. They average just 25.2 points per game and against the better Big Ten teams; they are often stuck in the mud. They have a good back in Saquon Barkley and a nice receiver in Chris Godwin. But it’s not the most-electric offense and they’ll have to escalate their form in what should be a demanding game on Saturday. Luckily for the Nittany Lions, they have a good defense to fall back on during times of offensive lapses. They’ve given up 23 points in their last two games. In five wins this season, the Nittany Lions defense has allowed 14 or fewer points. They allow an average of 17.7 points per game. And their pass-defense is ranked 2nd in all of college football, giving up an average of just 152 yards per game. Against Ohio State, they gave up 38 points and we’ll see how they do against one of the better conference teams again this week.

Rick's Bottom Line: For the purposes of betting on this game, Michigan is by far the higher-profile team. Unless you’ve been making a point of following Penn State, they haven’t been discussed much in the arena of big-time college football. It could set up this false image in our head that Michigan is far and away the superior team. They have been better this season, but the gap between them and Penn State may be narrower than some suspect. Even so, the Nittany Lions look to have gotten some respect in the point spread this week, listed as only 4-point dogs as of press time. While Michigan wasn’t impressive last week, I see them putting forth a credible performance on Saturday as the light at the end of the tunnel is now in plain sight. I’ll TAKE MICHIGAN to both win and cover!

Panthers (MINUS 4.0 - O/U = 43.5) at Titans - Nov 15 - 1:00 FOX

Rick's Overview: This Sunday the unbeaten, 8-0, Carolina Panthers will take their perfect record into Nashville and take on the Tennessee Titans. Tennessee sits at 2-6 but are coming off a huge road win in overtime over the New Orleans Saints. Of course, on paper, this game should be an easy win for Carolina but this is the NFL, every player is a paid professional and like the old saying goes, “Any Given Sunday!” The line opened with the Panthers as a 3.5 point favorite but now on Tuesday it is at 4.5 in favor of Carolina. This proves that the action is on the Panthers so far and after doing a little research, I have seen that 78% of the early action is riding on Cam Newton and company. If you are planning on taking the Panthers in this one, I would pounce on them as soon as possible because at this rate, I can see the line going all the way to 5.5 ot 6 in favor of the Carolina Panthers. The over under is set at 43.5 and just like the actual spread, there is a huge amount of money on one side, the over. Again, if you plan to bet Carolina or the over, get on it now. I am not saying that is where I lean, but I know some of you already have your mind made up.

As the season continues, the Carolina Panthers appear to be one of the best teams not only in the NFC but in the entire NFL. Earlier in the season I kept stating that Carolina had not really played anyone, well, they have now. At 8-0, they have won games against the Packers, Seahawks, Saints, and Eagles. Those are pretty decent wins and to be 8-0 in the NFL halfway through the season, it doesn’t matter who you play, that is damn impressive. Cam Newton has played well, but it has been the Panthers run game and defense that has kept them winning. Carolina ranks 1st in the entire NFL in rushing yards totaling over 140 a game on the ground. The defense is knocking on the door as a top ten scoring D and due to the run game we mentioned earlier and the solid play of Cam, the Panthers are also top five in the NFL in scoring at almost 29 a game. This week will not be easy, no road game in the NFL is but I like the Panthers chances of going 9-0. The key will be to continue doing what they do. Solid defense, pound the rock and win. The defense will need to pressure Titans rookie QB, Marcus Mariota. If Mariota has time in the pocket he is deadly, but under pressure, he can make mistakes that will put Carolina in easy scoring positions.

Tennessee was on a six game skid until they went into the Superdome and upset the Saints in overtime by a 34-28 score. The Titans recently fired head coach Ken Whisenhunt after a horrid 1-6 start and Mike Mularkey took over as the interim. Mularkey isn’t your typical interim coach, he has plenty of head coach experience in this league and from the looks of last week, the team responded well. Statistically, the Titans are pretty average. They rank 27th in scoring offense but this can somewhat be blamed on the fact that Marcus Mariota missed a few games due to an injury he suffered against the Dolphins. I believe if he plays all season, they are ranked in the top 10-12 in the league, but that is just my opinion. The key to this weekend for the Titans is to play a solid game on both sides of the ball. This Carolina team is legit, and I am starting to think could be the favorite to not just win the NFC but the Super Bowl. There is no area in which I think Tennessee has the advantage, but if they can keep this game within striking distance like they did in New Orleans, anything can happen.

What a tough game to pick. Carolina is the obvious favorite and the 4.5 seems like a pure “chalk” pick, but Tennessee has new life and they are home. I think Carolina wins this game, but I actually think they will be the ones coming back late. I like the Carolina Panthers to score a late touchdown and pull this game out in the final moments. I'll place a minor wager on Carolina to win and cover, and a larger wager on The Over!

Giants at Saints (MINUS 3.0) - Nov 1, 1:00 FOX

Rick's Overview: This Sunday in The Big Easy, the New York Giants will come into town to take on the New Orleans Saints. The Giants, at 4-3 overall, are in first place in the NFC East division while the Saints are in 3rd place in the NFC South behind the red hot Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons. This will be the first meeting between these two teams since the 2012 season. In that game, the Saints traveled to New York and lost by a whopping 52-27 score. This game I guarantee will be much more competitive and not decided until late in the fourth quarter. The line at this time has the Saints as a 3 point home favorite over the Giants. The total points are set at 49. Against the spread this season, both teams sit at 4-3. The Saints who started out a terrible 0-3, have gone 3-1 ever since, including handing Atlanta their only loss of the season. From what I have looked into, the betting action is completely even. 50% like the Saints and 50% are riding the Giants. Pure toss up.

Many thought the New Orleans Saints were done, including myself, after their 0-3 start. Don’t get me wrong, this team is in no way a contender, but they are at least respectable at this point. Behind the arm of Drew Brees, New Orleans is ranked 3rd in the NFL in passing at almost 300 yards per game, but the rest of their team is lacking. The Saints are averaging just 98 yards a game on the ground which is 22nd in the NFL and their defense is 25th out of the 32 NFL squads. Being at home, I like the Saints chances of scoring against the Giants defense, but can their own defense slow down Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr? That is the question here. The Giants are scoring about 24 a game, but they have the weapons to put up 30-34 on any given day. The Saints need their defense to step up in a big way this Sunday, or they may see themselves a 3-5 team.

The Giants somehow, someway, have found themselves as the top team in the NFC East and controllers of their own destiny. After two gut wrenching losses to the Cowboys and Falcons to open the season, many were calling for the heads of the coaching staff, Eli Manning, the cheerleaders, waterboy, etc. Fans were NOT happy. Now look at them, all is well in East Rutherford. Statistically, the Giants are rather average. They are ranked 14th in passing yards on offense, 25th in rushing at just 96 yards a game, and their defense is pretty average ranking 14th in points allowed. This weekend their main focus needs to be on that Saints offense. The fast Superdome turf and anytime Drew Brees plays at home, things can get really bad for a defense. If the Giants can finally get some pressure on Brees, which they really have not done much of this season, then I can see them successful, but if he has all day to throw, I can see the Giants fans upset again and the NFC East division up for grabs.

This is not an easy game to pick. Both of teams are so up and down and both have questions marks in major areas. Even the public is torn on this one. There isn’t even good history between these two teams to find a trend to roll with. With that all being said, as much as I dislike the New Orleans Saints with all my soul, I think they beat New York in the Superdome. If this game was on the road for the Saints,, I would probably be all over the Giants, but I think not only do the Saints win this game, I think they take the Giants to the woodshed. 38-20 New Orleans, in a game that is not even really that close.

I'm TAKING NEW ORLEANS to win and cover!

Boston College at Clemson (MINUS 14.5) - October 17, 7:00 ESPNU

Rick's Overview: Clemson is rolling and rising, up to No. 5 in the latest polls, after routing Georgia Tech last Saturday. That the Tigers played so solidly the week after an emotional win over Notre Dame bodes well for the long-term potential of Dabo Swinney’s squad. Of course, Swinney knows his kids cannot look past Boston College, which may be struggling but is always dangerous. The Eagles have dropped three of their last four games, and need to get out of their current tailspin to entertain serious thoughts of bowl eligibility.

From The Eagles' Perspective: The defense, despite no help from the other side of the ball, continues to be a fortress. The Eagles are second nationally to Michigan at 7.2 points allowed per game. And running against Don Brown’s kids is like banging ones head against a wall. The front seven, especially LB Steven Daniels and linemen Mehdi Abdesmad and Harold Landry, will be a handful for an average Clemson offensive line.

And from The Tigers' Sideline: If you can’t score, you can’t win. And BC literally can’t score these days. The Eagles have produced 24 points in four games with FBS teams. The Tigers, meanwhile, boast one of the ACC’s premier defenses, yielding just 4.5 yards per play. With zero weapons or quarterback consistency, Boston College has no shot of fooling the likes of ends Shaq Lawson and Kevin Dodd, LB Ben Boulware and DBs Jayron Kearse and Mackensie Alexander.

Rick's 'Keep Your Eye On Department: This will be a very interesting test for Clemson QB Deshaun Watson, who’s been just okay to start his sophomore season. Big plays have been infrequent, and turnovers have been a little too common. While Boston College doesn’t harbor elite defensive backs, the group is physical and well supported by the team’s pass rushers.

Rick's Bottom Line: Boston College has played Clemson very tough the last two seasons. And as long as the D is putting opposing teams in a headlock, the Tigers will be tested again this fall. But the Eagle offense is so feeble these days that anything more than moral victories are becoming increasingly unlikely. Clemson will get just enough from Watson, along with a defensive score, to reach the season’s midpoint unblemished. I'll TAKE CLEMSON to both win and cover!!!

Giants at Eagles (O/U = 51.0) Oct. 19, 8:30 - ESPN

Rick's Overview: With the NFC East still up for grabs going into week six of the NFL with all four teams in the division struggling to stay alive in the title chase, but we should get a better idea of which team is ready to step to the front of the pack when the New York Giants travel to Lincoln Financial Field to battle the division-rival Philadelphia Eagles on Monday Night Football. The Giants currently sit atop the NFC East at 3-2 thanks in part to their nail-biting last-second victory over San Francisco in week five action last Sunday night, 30-27. Eli Manning hit Larry Donnell with the winning score with only 21 seconds left, allowing the G-men to keep their one game lead on the rest of the division’s chase pack sitting at 2-3 this season. After starting the season 0-2, the Giants have beaten Washington, Buffalo and the 49ers in the past three weeks and appear to have put their slow start to the regular season behind them. The Eagles also have begun to show signs of brushing off an embarrassingly slow start to the season, winning two out of the last three weeks including their overdue breakout performance on offense last Sunday in their, 39-17, victory over New Orleans at the Linc. Already with a loss at home to Dallas in week two, Philly cannot afford to lose to anymore teams in the division if they want to be able win tiebreaker scenarios later in the season. Winning at home is a must, and with road games at Carolina and at Dallas coming up, this is the point in the Eagles schedule where they have to seize the moment. Oddsmakers opened the NFC East battle on Monday Night Football with Philly as 4-point favorites at home. It didn’t take long for the point spread to drop the hook to Eagles minus -3.5 as fans excited about the Giants last-second win hit the betting window early. But its still early (betting line wasn’t released for this game until late on Monday at most sportsbooks and its still off the board at a few), so you can still find the number at minus -4 as well as -3.5. The over/under total opened at 49.5 and moved up to 50 at many sportsbooks pretty quickly. There are even a few offshore sportsbooks that have moved the total a full point up to 50.5 already as the early steams appears to be heavily on the over.

Normally when you think of the NFC East you think of bruising running games with big running backs that carry the ball 20 to 25 times a game, but this isn’t your daddy’s NFC East anymore. Both the Giants (91.2 ypg – 26th in NFL) and the Eagles (93.2 ypg – 23rd) have struggled to run the ball consistently this season, and the Eagles even went out and pilfered DeMarco Murray from another team in the division and it still doesn’t seem to help. And it doesn’t look like this week will get much better for either team on MNF, at least on paper, because both the Giants (allow 80.6 ypg – 2nd) and the Eagles (96.8 ypg – 10th) have been very strong at stopping the run. It’s no secret that this game will come down to the quarterback who makes the best decisions and out performs the other, and Giants fans have to be liking their chances in that matchup between Manning and the Eagles Sam Bradford. Bradford threw two picks in the win last week against the Saints and has six so far in 2015, but he’ll enjoy the fact that the Giants secondary is currently dead last in the NFL allowing 304 yards per game. Manning should also enjoy a big game, since the Eagles secondary isn’t much stronger allowing 280 yards per game in the air (26th in NFL). The road team has enjoyed a 6-2-1 ATS record of late in this yearly two-game series between the Giants and Eagles, but the Giants just haven’t been a good wager against the Eagles because New York is just 3-10-1 ATS in their last 14 head-to-head meetings with the Eagles. The best wager on Monday, when you’re talking betting trends, just may be on the under. With just about all of the individual trends on the total for both teams strongly in favor of the over, it’s actually the under that is a perfect 5-0 in the last five meetings between these two teams at the Linc. All five meetings in Philly since 2010 have stayed under the total, including the last two seasons when the total closed at 50.5 (in 2014 … ironic?) and 49 in 2013.

Rick's Bottom Line: Even though the Eagles scored 39 points last week, anyone in Philly will tell you it was a sloppy, underachieving 39 points. The Eagles just haven’t clicked yet, mainly because Bradford still doesn’t look like he’s mastered Chip Kelly’s scheme yet. I don’t like the hook attached to the 3.5 point spread currently, so unless you’re willing to pay extra juice to get it down to Eagles minus -3 I’m not too sure about playing a side here. I’m going to wait until the total stops climbing (hopefully it gets up to 52 or 52.5), then I’m going to bet THE UNDER for Monday Night Football!

Oregon (MINUS 7.0) at Colorado - Oct 3, 10:00 ESPN

Rick's Overview: That time-honored stock-market maxim of "buy low, sell high" often is borrowed in the sports handicapping industry. Never has it been more applicable than with the state of the betting market on Oregon (2-2) when it visits Colorado (3-1) on Saturday. The majority of college football observers were stunned at the Ducks' inept and listless performance in a 62-20 home loss to Utah last week. The margin of defeat and manner in which it was achieved are definitely worth noting, and it's looking like the Oregon program might be facing a downturn as it pertains to recent expectations and accomplishments. Even so, it's worth noting that Oregon's two losses are against Michigan State and Utah, each legitimate top-10 teams and playoff contenders. Oregon's performance against an inspired and prepared Utah team was perplexing, but it can be at least partially attributed to something of a bizarre anomaly. The Ducks gained 400 yards against the Utes -- their undoing was porous defense, turnovers and lack of execution on special teams.

Still, it's worth noting that Oregon is an above-average power conference football team and its opponent Saturday night, Colorado, is not. Opening spreads in this game in the -10 and -10.5 range were immediately bet down to the current number of -7.0. The current number is a steal on the Ducks. Those who grabbed the underdog seem to anticipate a repeat of Oregon's misery, but are apparently unaware of what they are getting into backing the Buffaloes. Colorado has yet to beat a quality opponent, and started the season with a listless performance of its own in a 28-20 road loss to Hawaii. Its defense had trouble getting off the field against a mediocre and conservative Colorado State offense, and the Buffaloes were fortunate to escape with a 27-24 overtime win. Their quarterback is experience but limited, and they lack explosive game-breakers on the outside and in the running game.

Rick's Bottom Line: In other words, this is a mismatch, and the perception of value on Colorado is misplaced. The Buffaloes are an ideal bounce-back opponent for Oregon, and the Ducks are the clear play here. I'll TAKE OREGON to both win and "cover!"

CHIEFS AT PACKERS (MINUS 7.0) - Sept 28, 8:00 pm ESPN

Rick's Analysis: The Chiefs and Packers had polar-opposite endings to their respective Week 2 games. K.C. lost on a fumbling gaffe by star running back Jamaal Charles, while Packers quarterback led his team to victory by playing a perfect fourth quarter. With his mobility restored, Rodgers toyed with the Seahawks' defense while extending plays, audibled to run calls for James Starks (95 yards rushing on 4.75 YPC), and threw repeated wide receiver bubble screens that Seattle could not stop.

Injury concerns with Eddie Lacy and Davante Adams should not affect Rodgers' elite play. The Chiefs will move the football, but Green Bay's defense tends to bend, not break. Against Chicago, the Packers made a fourth-and-goal stop to ensure the cover and against Seattle they forced two fourth-quarter turnovers. Underdogs have won all three Monday night games outright so far. I see Green Bay ending that streak and showing no rust following the stirring win over Seattle. Get on the Packers now as the line likely will move upward as kickoff approaches.

Rick's Bottom Line: I'll take THE PACKERS to win and cover!

Patriots at Bills (PICK 'EM) Sept 20 - 1:00 PM CBS

Rick's Overview: A battle of two longtime AFC East rivals sitting atop the standings after one week will be featured on CBS in early action on Sunday, when Tom Brady and the New England Patriots go on the road for the first time this season to take on the new-look Buffalo Bills in Ralph Wilson Stadium. New England and Brady of course kicked off the NFL’s 2015 season with a victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers last Thursday, 28-21. Pittsburgh could not stop the Brady to Rob Gronkowski combination, as Brady hit Gronk for three scores in a game that wasn’t as close as the score would indicate. Buffalo meanwhile opened up the Rex Ryan era as head coach with an “upset” over Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts, 27-14. An already tough Buffalo defense took Ryan’s new scheme and forced Indy into three turnovers and held Indy to 64 yards rushing en route to a big 24-0 lead to the end of the third quarter. New Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor was efficient (14-of-19, 195 yards, TD) and the offense took care of the football (no sacks, no turnovers) to key the Bills big opening week win. The Bills win over the Colts was so impressive that it has caused a major point spread line movement in this week’s game against the Patriots. The game originally opened late on Sunday with New England as 1.5-pointfavorites, but the early steam on Buffalo moved the line all the way down to a pick em’ for Sunday’s tilt. The over/under total opened at 45 and has yet to show signs of changing just yet.

Without the services of power running back LaGarrette Blount who was suspended for the opener, the Pats seemed to instead spread the field on offense and let Brady go to work. Dion Lewis emerged in Blount’s absence, by there’s no doubt that Brady is still the master at attacking weaknesses and switching plays at the line. The Buffalo defense is fast, deep and talented and should provide an excellent challenge for Brady just like they did against Luck last week. What will be interesting to watch this weekend is how Buffalo decides to game plan an attack against the Pats defense. The Pats defense allowed 330 yards passing to Ben Roethlisberger last week, and 134 on the ground too … so its not like they cannot get scored upon. The Bills were typical Rex Ryan last week, with 36 running plays called to just 19 passes, so the Pats better get strapped up and ready to take on LeSean McCoy and company in the trenches. New England had actually won six straight head-to-head meetings with the AFC East rival Bills until last year’s late December loss in a meaningless game, 17-9. Meaningless because Brady only played about 25 snaps in the game in order to save himself for what ended as a successful Super Bowl run. Historically, the Pats have owned this series at the betting window too, going 21-10-1 ATS going back 32 games including a stellar 9-2 ATS mark in their last 11 meetings in Buffalo. However, the underdog is 4-1 ATS in the last five, so there is a glimmer of hope for Bills backers.

Rick's Bottom Line: I know the game is in Buffalo and that the Bills are a very good defensive team, but if you’re going to give me Brady and the Patriots in a pick ‘em game … I got to take Brady and the Pats as a pick. So I’m taking New England as a "pick" in this one.

Memphis (MINUS 12.0) at Kansas - September 12, 7:00 ESPN3

Rick's Overview: Just how well will Memphis adjust to a two-deep featuring so many new faces? It’s too early to tell if the Tigers are ready to defend their shared American championship, but they did little wrong in last week’s 63-7 demolition of Missouri State. Kansas, on the other hand, did plenty wrong by losing at home to South Dakota State, 41-38. It was an inauspicious debut for new Jayhawk coach David Beaty.

From The Tigers Sideline: The defense is way behind the offense in Lawrence these days. And the Tigers will pounce on the opportunity to further pad the numbers. South Dakota State slapped the Jayhawks around for 463 yards. Memphis will surpass that number off the arm of QB Paxton Lynch and the legs of Sam Craft and Jarvis Cooper.

From The Kansas Viewpoint: While there aren’t many silver linings to becoming a program’s first-ever FBS victim, the Jayhawks did move the ball well in Beaty’s system. QB Montell Cozart spread the ball around to 10 different receivers, while JUCO transfer Ke’aun Kinner debuted with 161 rushing yards and two scores. Memphis, remember, has a whole new look on D. Keep Your Eye on Department: Memphis must contain Kinner, who looks as if he can be a productive Big 12 back. Without ground support, Cozart will make mistakes, because he’s more of a complement than a signature player. Tiger linebackers Noah Robinson, Leonard Pegues and Wynton McManis will be tasked with maintaining lane integrity and wrapping up in space.

Rick's Bottom Line: Beaty might get there, but he has a long way to go with this Kansas team. Justin Fuente, meanwhile, has his Tigers eyeing American contention once again. A more polished Memphis squad will keep the Jayhawks reeling with four total touchdowns from Lynch. I'll TAKE MEMPHIS ... maybe even by a Blowout!

Wisconsin at Alabama (-9.0) - September 5th - 8:00 PM ABC

Rick's Overwiew When last we saw Alabama, the run defense that allowed just three touchdowns all season long was getting run over by Ezekiel Elliott and an Ohio State ground attack that cranked out 281 yards and two scores in the Sugar Bowl playoff victory. With the brutal SEC schedule to deal with – playing Georgia and Tennessee to go along with all the killers from the West – this is almost like another playoff game. Lose this, and it’s asking way too much to run the table to get back into the fun, even if the Crimson Tide pulls out another SEC title. But more than that, this is about Bama’s mojo. Even with another SEC championship, and despite the tremendous season that finished with a playoff appearance, that’s not enough. When it’s national-title-or-failure, nothing else outside of a big trophy after the last game of the year will do. This is where the Crimson Tide must make a statement, sort of like it did with the 41-14 stomping of Michigan in Arlington to open up the 2012 national title-winning season. This is where the intimidation factor has to start, because at the moment – with Auburn being picked by many to win the West – Alabama seems like it’s a wee bit vulnerable. Wisconsin doesn’t need this game nearly as much as Alabama does – Bucky doesn’t play in the SEC West. With no Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan or Penn State to deal with from the East, and the only real test – at least on paper – coming at Nebraska – the Badgers can lose this game, go 11-1, take down an OSU or MSU in the Big Ten championship, and get into the playoff. Of course, if they can pull off the win over the Crimson Tide, then it’s Game On. If this team is good enough to beat Alabama, it’s good enough to dominate everyone else on the schedule without a problem. Can Paul Chryst start out his head coach tenure with a bang? Wisconsin closed out the 2014 season with a win over Auburn, and, for the most part, the program has been able to hold its own over the years against SEC teams. Beating Alabama, though, in the first meeting between the two schools since a 15-0 Badger win in 1928, would be something truly special.

From Alabama's Sideline: Wisconsin needs to run the ball to win, Alabama might have its best run defense yet in the Nick Saban era. Drop mic, thanks for playing. The Badgers should be able to throw the ball a wee bit better than they’re being given credit for, and Joel Stave could be effective on his midrange throws, but he’s not going to stretch the field and there won’t be too many wide open spaces to work underneath. Alabama should be able to do what it does defensively – don’t take chances, don’t blitz, hang back and make the stop – and let its NFL front three control the line. The Wisconsin offensive line will be terrific again with a little bit of time, but it’s taking a little bit of shuffling to put it all together for the opener. That’s a problem – Wisconsin can’t win unless the front five wins the battle up front, and it won’t

. From Wisconsin's Sideline The Badgers can play a little bit of defense, too. The secondary returns loaded – it’s not a stretch to call it the best Alabama will face this year – after finishing fourth in the nation in pass defense. The Crimson Tide has weapons on the outside, but there’s no Amari Cooper, and the quarterback situation is still a question mark. No, the Bucky front three isn’t anywhere near the class of Bama’s, but it’s more than good enough to hold its own and should be able to load up and focus on Derrick Henry, Kenyan Drake and the Tide ground attack. And don’t just dismiss the Wisconsin running game quite yet. LSU’s defensive front might not have been up to its normal snuff last year, but it was still solid. Melvin Gordon ran wild until he was inexplicably pulled out of the opener. Auburn didn’t have an answer once the Badger line started pounding away in the bowl game, and over the years, phenomenal run defenses tend to not be so amazing when Wisconsin punches them in the mouth.

Keep Your Eye On Department: Is Corey Clement really good enough to be yet another statistical superstar for the Badger running game? He showed what he could do as a freshman running for 547 yards and seven touchdowns, and last year ran for 949 yards and nine scores with the right size, the right look, and the right breakaway speed, Now he just needs a little room to move against the Tide defensive front. Replacing Melvin Gordon is apparently a piece of cake compared to finding a guy to take over the Alabama quarterback job. With Jake Coker suffering a foot injury, is it really going to be Alec Morris? Will Cooper Bateman get in? Will Coker be ready? Five quarterback are on the depth chart, with Morris looking like the easiest option to fill in. Alabama might load up to stop the run, but Wisconsin will really revolve everything around stopping the ground game.

Rick's Bottom Line:Wisconsin will look fine, it’s not going to be embarrassed, and it’ll have a few chances to take the game over – and then Alabama’s defense will decide that fun time is over. The Badger D will keep this from getting out of hand – this won’t be the 2014 Big Ten Championship all over again – but the O will hit a hard wall when it has to try to throw. I'll TAKE ALABAMA to both win and cover!

To visit Rick's Sports Site ... click here ... THE BETTER BETTOR

EMAIL Rick ... rneedham1@yahoo.com