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  • 11-6 NFL RUN Nov. 7-25, 8-3 RUN on Thursday NFL picks
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Nelly’s Sportsline has been at the forefront of the handicapping world since the 1990 football season, Joe Nelson has been the lead handicapper since 2003.

Active since: 1990

Location: Madison, Wisconsin

Widely known for the Nelly’s Sportsline Green Sheet weekly newsletter in the football season, Nelly’s Sportsline has provided consistent returns for scores of clients nationwide for more than three decades. In the lead role for nearly two decades, Joe Nelson has earned significant acclaim for contest wins, top rankings on national leaderboards, impressive win percentages, as well as being recognized for providing outstanding content and analysis showcasing an intimate understanding of the workings and cycles of the three major American sports and the active wagering marketplace.

Some recent highlights:

2020-21 Football: In the atypical 2020-21 football season Nelly’s Sportsline delivered an impressive showing in both college and NFL football, posting an incredible closing run through the bowls and NFL Playoffs. Nelly’s finished at exactly 60.0% in the 2020-21 NFL season including a 10-1 run through the playoffs and the Super Bowl, backing Tampa Bay and turning in a perfect card on a handful of Super Bowl props. Nelly’s finished the 2020-21 college football season with a winning selection on Alabama in the championship game to complete the college season with a 62.5% winning percentage, closing the season on an epic 75.0% run from November 7 on, including a 77.8% winning percentage in bowl releases.

2020-21 Basketball: Nelly’s finished the NBA regular season winning at a 62.0% pace, for a fourth consecutive NBA regular season above a 60.0% winning percentage. Nelly’s finished the 2020-21 college basketball regular season at 62.7%.

2020 Baseball: Nelly’s turned in a profitable MLB season for the fifth time in the previous six years in the abbreviated 2020 baseball season. Totals were a standout with a 61.1% winning percentage on MLB over/under selections in the 2020 regular season.

2019-20 Basketball: Nelly’s hit 62.9% in the 2019-20 NBA regular season before the pause in March. Nelly’s added a 63.6% winning percentage in the NBA restart to complete a 63.1% regular season. Nelly’s was also profitable in college basketball before the season was cancelled at 54.5%.

2018-19 Football: Nelly’s had winning records and slightly profitable results in both the NFL and NCAA seasons.

2018-19 Basketball: Nelly’s finished at 57.7% in the 2018-19 college basketball season including a 62.5% winning percentage in the 2019 NCAA Tournament capped off by selecting Virginia for the championship. Nelly’s had a historically great NBA regular season finishing at 66.1% in 2018-19 including an 84.2% run in December 2018 that included an 11-game winning streak while also posting a 14-game winning streak late in the season.  

2018 Baseball: Nelly’s grinded out a profitable MLB regular season at 52.7% with the vast majority of those selections being underdogs or totals. Nelly’s had a 62.2% winning percentage in the 2018 MLB postseason including hitting 77.8% in postseason totals.

2017-18 Football: Nelly’s turned in an incredibly profitable 2017-18 NFL season hitting 60.7% in the regular season and 71.4% in the NFL playoffs, backing the Eagles in all three of their playoff games through the Super Bowl upset. Nelly’s also hit 63.6% in the 2017-18 college bowl season.

2017-18 Basketball: Nelly’s hit 61.1% in the 2017-18 college basketball season including a 68.8% winning percentage in the 2018 NCAA Tournament after backing Villanova in both Final Four games. That season included a 73.5% pace in February 2018 college basketball. Nelly’s hit 63.1% in the 2017-18 NBA regular season including a 66.7% mark in the first half before the All-Star break, while posting a winning record in every single month of that NBA regular season.

2017 Baseball: Nelly’s turned in a third straight profitable MLB season in 2017 including a 66.7% mark in the World Series. In that season Nelly’s posted two separate eight-game winning streaks with solely underdog selections.

2016-17 Football: Nelly’s closed the season on a strong note with a 69.4% mark in the 2016-17 college bowl season.

2016-17 Basketball: Nelly’s turned in a phenomenal March Madness run hitting 65.0% in NCAA Tournament selections and a 62.2% winning percentage from March 1 through backing North Carolina in early April for the championship. Nelly’s also turned in a 60.0% record in the NBA Playoffs in 2017.

2016 Baseball: Nelly’s hit 54.6% in the 2016 MLB regular season with almost exclusively underdogs and totals for a massive profit return, including hitting 60.5% on totals in the regular season and 66.7% on totals in the 2016 MLB postseason.

2015-16 Football: Nelly’s hit 61.9% in the 2015-16 NFL season including posting an 85.7% winning clip in the NFL playoffs, while backing the Broncos to blast the Panthers in the Super Bowl. Nelly’s hit 71.4% in the 2015-16 college bowl season including riding Clemson as an underdog in their narrow loss to Alabama for the playoff title.  

2015-16 Basketball: Nelly’s hit 61.9% in the 2015-16 college basketball regular season including three huge months with an 87.5% November 2015, a 65.8% January 2016, and a 61.9% February 2016. Nelly’s also had a profitable NBA regular season in 2015-16.

2015 Baseball: A 63.6% month of April with almost exclusively underdogs buoyed a profitable MLB season in 2015, a season finished off by backing the Royals as an underdog in each of their four World Series wins.

2014-15 Football: Nelly’s had an 85.7% winning percentage in the 2014-15 NFL playoffs for a great closing run.

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Big Ten Draw in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge

Friday, Nov 26, 2021

Big Ten Draw in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge  After the chaos of the Thanksgiving week tournaments, the ACC/Big Ten Challenge provides compelling matchups next week in this year’s 14-game draw. A reliable event of interest that often signals the start of the college basketball season in earnest, here is a quick look at this season’s pairings from the Big Ten perspective for games Monday, Nov. 29 to Wednesday, Dec. 1.  Monday Iowa at Virginia: Iowa has quietly started the season 5-0 after being in the headlines a lot last season in an uneven 22-9 season that ended abruptly with a Round of 32 blowout loss to Oregon as a #2 seed. Sophomore Keegan Murray leads this year’s team and Iowa remains one of the highest scoring teams in the nation. This will be a big test however as the Hawkeyes have had a very light early-season schedule and are yet to play a road game. The line on this game will likely be near-even as Iowa’s offense will face the usually elite Virginia defense.  CHANCE OF BIG TEN WIN: 50% Notre Dame at Illinois: Illinois has already lost twice this season while the roster has been in flux in several games with a few injuries and the suspension for the first three games for Kofi Cockburn. The Illini entered the NCAA Tournament as one of the overall favorites last March but lost in the Round of 32 for a disappointing finish. Ayo Dosunmu is in the NBA now but there is still a strong roster in place for Brad Underwood. Turnovers and free throw shooting have been problem spots for Illinois so far this season as the defense has held up its end but the offense has been hard to count on. Losses away from home to Marquette and Cincinnati are not overly damaging but the Illini are a risk to continue to be overvalued: CHANCE OF BIG TEN WIN: 75% Tuesday Clemson at Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights were a Round of 32 NCAA Tournament team last year just like Iowa and Illinois but Rutgers will have a hard time living down the collapse against Houston, the team that eventually made the Final Four after delivering a great comeback to beat the Knights. Rob Harper and Geo Baker are familiar leaders for Rutgers this season but the 3-2 start has offered plenty of concern, with losses to DePaul and Lafayette. Rutgers has shot below 25 percent from 3-point range so far this season as the offense has really struggled. Clemson has had some up-and-downs as well but the losses came in close games to much better teams than Rutgers lost to. CHANCE OF BIG TEN WIN: 45% Duke at Ohio State: Ohio State may have a bit of a break in this scheduling as Duke will be coming off Friday’s huge national game with Gonzaga in Las Vegas before traveling to Columbus. Ohio State was upset in the Round of 64 as a #2 seed in one of many failures for the conference last March. The Buckeyes have EJ Liddell back and he has been among the most productive players in the nation so far. Penn State transfer Jamari Wheeler also joins the starting five along with freshman Malaki Branham as the Buckeyes have some questions to answer still this season. Ohio State is 4-2 with a nice win over Seton Hall but two narrow losses away from home to top 40 caliber teams. CHANCE OF BIG TEN WIN: 45% Florida State at Purdue: Purdue has started the season 5-0 with notable wins over North Carolina and Villanova in close games in Connecticut in the Hall of Fame Classic. The offense has tremendous numbers this season including scoring at least 80 points in every game and all five wins have been top 200 foes. The depth and size for Purdue will attract some attention for the Boilermakers to be among the Big Ten favorites this season. Purdue won’t draw a top ACC contender in this pairing but Florida State beat Purdue two years ago in non-conference play and the Boilermakers lost to Miami in this event last season. Florida State will be one of the few teams with a size edge against Purdue and the 5-1 start has featured good defensive numbers so far. RayQuan Evans missed the last game for Florida State and will impact the number on this game. CHANCE OF BIG TEN WIN: 80% Minnesota at Pittsburgh: The Gophers are quietly 5-0 under new head coach Ben Johnson. The schedule has not been difficult with no top 100 results but that won’t change this week drawing a Pitt squad sitting towards the bottom of the ACC. This is almost a completely different team from last season as Eric Curry is the long holdover in the starting lineup as Johnson has filled the roster with transfers from all over the country. The offensive efficiency has not been as strong as last season’s team so far but the defense has made some noise with most strong performances. 5-0 could swing the other quickly for this group with Mississippi State next weekend plus starting the Big Ten season with Michigan State and Michigan in the first two games. CHANCE OF BIG TEN WIN: 55% Indiana at Syracuse: In what was a great season for the Big Ten last year outside of the NCAA Tournament results, Indiana struggled falling far from its typical place as one of the prominent programs in the conference. Archie Miller’s fifth season in Bloomington should draw elevated expectations and this was a competitive game that had three overtime losses last season, including losing to Florida State on the road in this event. ACC transfer Xavier Johnson is now the leader of this team as this is a rather inexperienced group but the Hoosiers have started the season 5-0 including a win over St. John’s. This game is going to be the first road game of the season however. Syracuse has drawn a tough path and has two losses already but this has been an excellent shooting team and is always a challenge to play. CHANCE OF BIG TEN WIN: 50% Northwestern at Wake Forest: The Wildcats were 9-15 last season for Chris Collins and only returns two starters with a couple of transfers out of Evanston. So far so good for the Wildcats however with a 5-1 start and the only loss coming in a close game with Providence away from home. Heading to Wake Forest is a manageable draw for the Wildcats as Wake Forest has started 5-0 but through an incredibly weak schedule under Steve Forbes. CHANCE OF BIG TEN WIN: 55% Wednesday Wisconsin at Georgia Tech: The Badgers had a huge Thanksgiving week, delivering three excellent wins to win the Maui Invitational in Las Vegas, including the notable upset over Houston. Johnny Davis had a star-making tournament and he missed the only loss for Wisconsin, a five-point home defeat to Providence. As usual the defense has been excellent and Wisconsin takes good care of the ball, while being an exceptional free throw shooting team so far this season. Georgia Tech has won five straight since losing the season opener but none of the wins offer great substance with the only top 200 win coming against Georgia. CHANCE OF BIG TEN WIN: 55% Louisville at Michigan State: The Spartans have had five top 100 games already as while the 5-2 record has been a slight disappointment, the defeats have come against Kansas and Baylor, elite national title contenders. Wins over Loyola-Chicago and Connecticut are quality results and the Spartans have featured a top tier defense so far this season. 3-point shooting has been a problem as have turnovers for this veteran roster joined by freshman Max Christie. Louisville had a nice win over Mississippi State on Thanksgiving and this will be a second straight Big Ten foe after facing Maryland over the weekend.  CHANCE OF BIG TEN WIN: 75% Miami at Penn State: Penn State has its first big test coming up facing LSU before this game as the Nittany Lions lost to Massachusetts in its only noteworthy early season game. Micah Shrewsberry is the team’s new coach coming from Purdue and with NBA experience as an assistant with the Celtics for several years. The roster from last season mostly was retained as Penn State is one of the most experienced teams in the nation filled with upperclassmen. Miami has had mixed results and is a bit of a wild card at this point and 3-point shooting has been a problem sot on both sides of the ball. CHANCE OF BIG TEN WIN: 65% Michigan at North Carolina: The Wolverines have two losses already and only one top 100 win as it has been a shaky start for the Wolverines against very high expectations. Michigan has top 15 efficiency numbers on both sides of the ball as the losses were puzzling. 3-point shooting and free throw shooting have been poor so far for Michigan and turnovers have been an issue as newcomers Caleb Houstan and DeVante’ Jones try to fit into the lineup. North Carolina lacks any win of substance but the Tar Heels played Purdue very tough in a non-conference loss. Hubert Davis leads the Tar Heels now and his players are finding good looks with strong shooting rates so far. CHANCE OF BIG TEN WIN: 65% Nebraska at NC State: Fred Hoiberg’s first two seasons in Lincoln have not been successful but this year’s team is already halfway to last season’s win count. None of those wins were top 200 results and Nebraska has a loss outside the top 200. 3-point shooting has been very poor for the Huskers so far but the rest of the offensive numbers offer some promise with three newcomers joining the starting five this season. There is good size on this team but it is a young group without much experience playing together. NC State didn’t make the NCAA Tournament last season but should be a threat this season. The only loss came in a close game vs. Oklahoma State as this could be an overlooked team in the ACC for Kevin Keatts. CHANCE OF BIG TEN WIN: 30% Virginia Tech at Maryland: Mark Turgeon’s team has back-to-back ACC draws as this game comes after facing Louisville in the Bahamas. Maryland has struggled with its outside shooting through a rather easy non-conference path but this is a top 50 team nationally in offensive and defensive efficiency. The loss came at home against George Mason and this will be a difficult draw even with home court advantage. Mike Young’s Virginia Tech team is a tough matchup and the 3-point shooting numbers on both sides of the ball sharply favor the Hokies. The Hokies are coming off tournament play in Brooklyn for a taxing week on the road to help Maryland’s cause. CHANCE OF BIG TEN WIN: 50% The Big Ten should be favored in eight of 14 games in this event and with a few other toss-up games the chances for the conference to win the series is high. The Big Ten has won the even the past two seasons going 7-5 last year and 8-6 in 2019 but the ACC has had the overall edge since the event started in 1999. The Big Ten has seen a few of its high profile teams disappoint so far but the matchups appear to favor the Big Ten this week.     

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November Paths for Five NFC Contenders

Friday, Oct 29, 2021

Week 8 of the NFL season started with a huge Thursday night clash in the NFC as the Packers narrowly held off the Cardinals in a battle of top NFC contenders. Five teams have created separation in the NFC as top conference title threats, here is a look at the November paths for those teams as the potential playoff bracket is starting to come into form.  These teams are listed in the current standings as of 10/29/2021 Green Bay Packers (+450 to win the NFC as of 10/29/21) Green Bay is 7-1 and on top of the NFC standings after knocking off the league’s final undefeated team on Thursday night in Week 8. The Packers also earned the head-to-head tiebreaker with Arizona in pursuit of earning the top seed in the NFC for a second consecutive season. Winning while short-handed was a great result for Green Bay, now winners of seven straight games since the opening loss to the Saints but Green Bay has the weakest scoring differential of the top threats in the NFC and will have a difficult November path.  The Packers will have an extended turnaround ahead of Week 9 after the early game in Week 8, but they will head to Kansas City next for a difficult game, even if the Chiefs have been vulnerable this season. Green Bay catches a break in Week 10 as a potentially difficult home game with Seattle seems likely to be without Russell Wilson, although some are suggesting his timetable could be moved up. A huge division game at Minnesota is ahead in Week 11 while on Thanksgiving weekend the Packers host the Rams before a Week 13 bye week. A 2-2 November might be considered an acceptable result for Green Bay with some of the season’s most difficult games ahead in the next few weeks.  Arizona Cardinals (+550 to win the NFC as of 10/29/21) Falling from the ranks of the unbeaten was a tough result for Arizona last week, particularly given the golden opportunity to escape with a win that was there in the final minute last week vs. Green Bay. Given how difficult the NFC West was projected to be this season, any Cardinals fan must still be thrilled that the team is 7-1, a year after finishing 8-8 and missing the playoffs entirely last season. The Cardinals have the top scoring differential in the NFC and while there are wins over Houston and Jacksonville included to boost the numbers, Arizona has road wins over Tennessee, the LA Rams, and Cleveland as this is not an empty 7-1 resume.  The Cardinals have two difficult division games remaining in November but playing at San Francisco and at Seattle no longer looks quite as difficult as expected. Russell Wilson could be back for the Seahawks in time for that Week 11 game but with a home game with Carolina in Week 10, the next three weeks are a very manageable path for the Cardinals as moving back ahead of the Packers is certainly a possible outcome by the end of the month. Getting a long layoff ahead of the Week 9 game with San Francisco could be greatly beneficial given the lingering injury issues for a few key players but it is clear that Arizona isn’t going anywhere as a serious NFC threat even after taking its first loss.  Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+250 to win the NFC as of 10/29/21) The Buccaneers haven’t necessarily looked like the defending Super Bowl champions in a 6-1 start but a big reason the Buccaneers were the prohibitive favorite in the NFC while having a great chance to repeat as Super Bowl champions is a favorable schedule. Tampa Bay’s best win so far this season was the narrow opening week win over Dallas as they lost their big road test to the Rams. Tampa Bay won’t play the other three NFC contenders on this list and the most formidable remaining game is a December home game with Buffalo as the path to the best record in the NFC remains clear for Tampa Bay. October closes with a big division game in New Orleans and a win in that game would give Tampa Bay a significant cushion in the division race. Tampa Bay has a bye week in Week 9 before a playoff rematch at Washington in Week 10. The Buccaneers will complete its series with the four NFC East teams hosting the Giants in Week 11 before a potentially dangerous game in Indianapolis in Week 12. With only three November games, the bye week may be the most important factor for Tampa Bay this month and it is hard to see this group having more than two losses heading into December.  Los Angeles Rams (+400 to win the NFC as of 10/29/21) The Rams have started 6-1 but they are behind in the NFC West race by virtue of the head-to-head loss hosting Arizona in Week 4. Los Angeles does have a big potential tiebreaker under its belt from beating Tampa Bay in Week 3 and five of six wins for Los Angeles have been against the NFC as Los Angeles will be facing AFC teams in three of the next five games. The Week 14 game at Arizona will loom large in the division race and the chances for the Rams to be the top NFC seed are hurt by a late season schedule closing with Minnesota, Baltimore, and San Francisco, all teams that seem likely to need late season wins in the wild card race.  In the short term the Rams have a serious shot to move up to being the #1 seed in the NFC in November as they close the month at Green Bay after a bye week for a great opportunity to earn a key tiebreaker. After playing as a big favorite in Houston this week, a big AFC test is ahead Sunday night in Week 9 with the Titans before a Monday night game in San Francisco in Week 10 as the Rams will be in the spotlight in November with a chance to move up in the NFC pecking order.  Dallas Cowboys (+600 to win the NFC as of 10/29/21) As strange as it sounds Dallas may be the overlooked and undervalued team in the NFC race. There is not much of a case for Dallas being the most complete nor the best team in the NFC, and the current Dak Prescott injury situation is a big shadow over that prospect. The NFC East will provide Dallas with a better opportunity than the rest of the conference however. The only noteworthy wins for Dallas so far are narrow road escapes vs. the Chargers and Patriots but Dallas has an incredibly favorable remaining schedule and still has a realistic chance to end up with the top record in the NFC. Dallas was off in Week 7 and Prescott’s status remains up in the air for Week 8 at Minnesota in one of the most difficult remaining games of the season. If Dallas can win that game, they have home dates with Denver and Atlanta the next two weeks before a big Week 11 game in Kansas City that should be a highly anticipated game. Dallas closes November with the Raiders on Thanksgiving Day and while four of the final six games will be road games for the Cowboys, four of those final six games will be division games. Dallas has a substantial lead in the NFC East and may not face much pressure to go for the #1 seed in the NFC, but at full strength the Cowboys are only likely to be an underdog in two of three remaining games from November to January.  Last season there was much talk of how much more valuable being the #1 seed was in the NFL playoff field with the switch to a 14-team field and only two teams getting playoff bye weeks, but the Super Bowl champion wound up being the #5 seed in the NFC team as a wild card that won three road games before catching a big advantage with a home Super Bowl. The #1 seed did win the NFC in 2019 and 2017 with the Eagles winning the Super Bowl as the #1 seed in 2017 as the last NFC team to do so and over time it should play out to be a significant advantage in the new playoff format. The standings are likely to shuffle significantly in the upcoming weeks and while Green Bay has the current momentum as the top spot, they appear to have the most difficult path in the coming weeks to hold as they try to repeat as the #1 seed in the NFC again this season. 

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Four 2021-22 NBA Win Total Projections

Thursday, Oct 14, 2021

The NBA season will officially start on Tuesday night and for the first time in two years the league will have an 82-game schedule as traditional win total assessments are back in order. Here are a handful of win total selections worthy of consideration ahead of the 2021-22 NBA season.  Toronto Raptors OVER 35.5 Toronto failed to make the playoffs last season going just 27-45 but the Raptors had a -0.4 average scoring differential, a figure that was better than three teams that did reach the play-in games. After going 53-19 in 2019-20 with one of the best home courts edges in the league, Toronto was only 16-20 at home last season but remember all those games were played in Florida, not in Toronto. The Raptors have clearance to play north of the border this season and stricter protocols and penalties in Canada could lead to some opponents being shorthanded when visiting.  While Kyle Lowry being traded this summer signals a rebuild, Nick Nurse is still regarded as one of the best coaches in the league in terms of adjustments and personnel management and the roster looks strong enough to compete in an Eastern Conference that has a few great teams but looks wide open after that. Pascal Siakam will miss several weeks to start the season, but Toronto played through multiple different rosters last season. OG Anunoby had a breakthrough season while midseason acquisition Gary Trent proved to be a nice fit. Malachi Flynn had a nice rookie season while Goran Dragic adds stability to an excellent backcourt alongside Fred VanVleet as this looks like a .500 caliber team that can climb back into the playoff race.  Chicago Bulls OVER 42.5 Not unlike Toronto, Chicago had a 31-41 record last season despite a -0.9 average scoring differential as this was a competitive team that likely deserved a slightly stronger record. The opportunity to move up in the Eastern Conference is there with Washington and Charlotte much worse scoring teams than the Bulls last season while the Knicks, Hawks, and Heat have metrics that suggest a regression is ahead this season after being solid playoff teams in the top six last year.  Not too much stock should be put on the NBA preseason, but the Bulls have been one of the more impressive teams this October. The pairing of Lonzo Ball and Zach LaVine in the backcourt has a lot of potential while having Nikola Vucevic for the entire season should pay dividends. Patrick Williams had a solid rookie season and acquiring DeMar DeRozan does add some experience to this team even if his impact may be overstated. The Bulls were a winning team from mid-April to the end of the season last year despite falling short of the play-in field. Billy Donovan’s only losing season as an NBA head coach was last year as his track record does deserve some respect as well.  Portland Trailblazers UNDER 44.5 The Western Conference is stacked with quality teams and the expectations from most expect that the Warriors and Lakers are going to jump back to being top tier contenders this season. Those wins will have to be taken from someone else in the West as a few of the teams that were in the middle of the playoff pack last season seem likely to tumble in the standings in 2021-22. Portland is a prime candidate for a slide after going 42-30 last season but with just a +1.8 average scoring differential. Portland was only 32-28 before a 10-2 run to close the regular season last year, passing up the Lakers for the #6 spot in the West and this team does not project to be much better than a .500 squad over 82 games.  Portland had a minimal home court edge last season at just 20-16 and this is a team with a first-time head coach in Chauncey Billups after Terry Stotts was let go despite eight straight playoff appearances and a trip to the conference finals in the last full season. It isn’t clear what Billups will offer in that role but the preseason returns for Portland have been poor so far. To what extent the rumblings about Damian Lillard seeking a trade in the offseason are true remain unknown but this does seem like a situation with more volatility than most. The Blazers are opening the season with a lengthy injury report right now and eight of the first 14 will be road games as a slow start in the transition seems likely.  Dallas Mavericks UNDER 48.5 With a matching 42-30 record to Portland last season and an average scoring differential of just +2.2 Dallas was a clear step below the top four in the Western Conference last season. Add improvement to the Lakers and Warriors this season and Dallas could lose some ground after being the only top six playoff team in the West last season that didn’t have a winning record in the Western Conference. Luka Doncic is a serious MVP threat that will post big numbers, but the roster does not look much different than last season with Reggie Bullock and Frank Ntilikina the only notable additions.  Josh Richardson and JJ Redick are notable departures from last season and Richardson was the team’s fifth leading scorer last season. While Dallas has plenty of quality outside shooters on the roster, the team looks thin up front and Kristaps Porzingas and Maxi Kleber both battled injuries much of last season. Dwight Powell is moving into a starting role despite mostly being a reserve in his career. A bigger issue may be the coaching change with Rick Carlisle owning a tremendous track record as the head coach of the Mavericks. Jason Kidd is a below .500 NBA coach in 373 games with two teams and his personal baggage will add extra pressure to question the hire if things don’t start smoothly. 

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NFL Review: 5 Undefeated Teams

Wednesday, Sep 29, 2021

NFL REVIEW: FIVE 3-0 TEAMS Five teams have made it to 3-0 in the NFL and only one of those teams were among the top dozen or so favorites to win the Super Bowl before the season started. There is good reason to be skeptical of all five of those teams and being 3-0 this season is not quite as valuable as in past seasons with the move to a 17-game schedule. This is a breakdown of the chances to remain on a playoff path in the 2021-22 NFL season for the five 3-0 teams through Week 3.  3-0 DENVER BRONCOS (76-26 scoring) The Broncos are tied with the Bills for the top scoring differential in the NFL and with just 26 points allowed no defense has had a better start through three weeks. Denver had quite a buzz in the off-season as one of the few logical fits for Aaron Rodgers as the discussion of his possible departure from Green Bay was a common focus in the NFL media for several months. Once Rodgers reunited with the Packers, Denver was mostly a forgotten squad in a difficult AFC West with several high-profile teams.  Many did peg Denver for the playoffs however and a big factor in that logic was a rather favorable schedule which the Broncos have made good use of so far. The three wins for Denver have come against a trio of 0-3 teams and arguably the three worst teams in the NFL right now. Two of Denver’s opponents have featured rookie quarterbacks, but Denver has had convincing results in all three games while picking up two road wins as plenty of teams do not take care of business in favorable opportunities.  Teddy Bridgewater was picked up in the off-season after an uneven and mostly mediocre season for the Panthers in 2020 and he won the job over Drew Lock in August. Bridgewater has played exceptionally well through three weeks, featuring a top five QB Rating and QBR and still without an interception. He has taken seven sacks but has terrific numbers against the blitz and is averaging over 275 yards per game as he hasn’t simply been a game manager. Known for his accuracy, Bridgewater has completed nearly 77 percent of his passes and the Broncos have had adequate balance in the running game as well.  FUTURE OUTLOOK: Denver has been favored in all three games as they have not done anything noteworthy yet and the schedule in October is very difficult as four of five foes made the playoffs last season while the other is their fellow 3-0 division leader Las Vegas.  The Broncos have six difficult AFC West games remaining while also drawing all four teams in a deep AFC North. Denver does have enough winnable games remaining on the schedule for this team to stay in the playoff race all season, but this squad has been hit hard with injuries of late. KJ Hamler joined Jerry Jeudy on injured reserve last week to take two receivers out of the equation while the offensive line and linebacker group also has been thinned out. Denver should not be dismissed completely due to the early schedule, but this is not a team that should be confused for a serious AFC championship contender.  3-0 CAROLINA PANTHERS (69-30 scoring) The Panthers may be the biggest surprise to be 3-0 as this was a 5-win team last season now in the second season under Matt Rhule and Sam Darnold’s NFL track record was about the worst of any regular starter in recent years. Darnold is producing in the passing game and has only one interception so far as the Panthers have won even with limited production on the ground. Christian McCaffrey has 201 rushing yards but left the Week 3 win over Houston and will be out for several weeks for a Panthers team that is gaining just 3.4 yards per rush.  In wins over New York and Houston the Panthers faced rookie quarterbacks including facing Davis Mills on a short week Thursday night game, meaning that two of three wins have been in the first NFL start for a pair of rookie quarterbacks. The win over New Orleans deserves praise however as it was a dominant defensive performance. It was perhaps a poor scheduling spot for the Saints, but the Panthers have been very impressive defensively through three weeks, leading the NFL in yards per play allowed while second in scoring defense.  FUTURE OUTLOOK: Carolina’s schedule should remain rather favorable in the coming weeks. They will face three NFC East teams in October while also drawing Minnesota and Atlanta teams that have losing records this season after having losing records last season. Two games with Tampa Bay are not until late in the season as the Panthers have a good chance to produce a playoff caliber record this season. The final four weeks are a beast however with three of four games on the road playing at Buffalo, home vs. Tampa Bay, at New Orleans, and then at Tampa Bay. A collapse in the final month to lose out on a postseason spot might be the most likely scenario for this group depending on how important those late season games are for the expected contenders.  3-0 ARIZONA CARDINALS (103-65 scoring) Arizona has risen in stature significantly with a 3-0 start as the Week 1 performance against Tennessee was a dominant outing that may wind up as one of the more impressive game scores of the season. The Cardinals managed to survive the home opener against Minnesota as the Vikings missed a 37-yard-field goal at the end, while the team took care of business in Week 3 vs. Jacksonville. Arizona is tied with Tampa Bay for the most points scored in the NFL through three weeks and Kyler Murray is now the betting favorite for MVP.  The Cardinals were 8-8 last season as it is not a surprise that this team is already in the NFC mix as the off-season brought the team a few notable additions. Murray has already thrown for over 1,000 yards but he does have four interceptions and is not close to last season’s rushing pace with only 70 yards so far, although he has rushed for three touchdowns already. Arizona does have an excellent group of wide receivers and star players on both sides of the ball as this is a team that can stay in the spotlight. Arizona allowed 7.0 yards per play vs. Minnesota and last week the Cardinals allowed 361 yards against Jacksonville while falling behind 19-10 late in the third quarter vs. the winless Jaguars. A pick-six late in the fourth quarter helped keep Arizona in the win column in a game they were +3 in turnovers in, as this group hasn’t looked like a serious NFC contender outside of the opening week.  FUTURE OUTLOOK: Tennessee and Minnesota could wind up as quality wins for Arizona as the team deserves a great deal of credit, but it is hard to envision this team staying undefeated much longer. Difficult division games are up the next two weeks while games with Cleveland and Green Bay also lurk in October as this group is much more likely to be 4-4 by the end of the month than 8-0. Playoff hopes will hinge on winning games in the very difficult NFC West as the Cardinals might still wind up right near the cut, just like last season. 3-0 LOS ANGELES RAMS (95-62 scoring)  The Rams are the one team in this quintet that most expected to have a good chance to be 3-0 as one of the highest regarded teams in the NFC. The Rams are 3-0 through a difficult schedule facing three 2020 playoff teams including last week’s big win over Tampa Bay for the current notion of NFC supremacy. The opening week win over the Bears may not be that valuable while the Colts are 0-3 as those two teams could be headed for seasons of decline. The Bears moved the ball fairly well against the Rams while the Colts were in a position to win vs the Rams even while having to play a backup quarterback at the end of the game.  Overall there is a lot to like about the pairing of Matthew Stafford with the Rams so far as he has nine touchdowns and one interception and the top QBR in the league at this point. The Rams have allowed just over 20 points per game this season but the defense did allow a great deal of yardage last week and has rather average defensive numbers overall, even with Andy Dalton and Carson Wentz accounting for two thirds of the statistics. Last season’s elite defensive numbers were likely a bit overstated with a few scheduling breaks as this squad risks being overvalued.  FUTURE OUTLOOK: The Rams don’t look likely to go anywhere as a top NFC threat as while they could certainly take a loss in division games the next two weeks facing Arizona and Seattle, they also have upcoming games with the Giants, Lions, and Texans. The late season schedule is quite difficult however as this is a group that might hit the Week 11 bye week at around 8-2 but then could take several losses in the final seven. That closing stretch includes three division games plus games on the road vs. Green Bay and Baltimore in potential late-season conditions for the southern California squad. Things look good so far for the Rams, but this team should not be the favorite for the #1 seed in the NFC just yet.  3-0 LAS VEGAS RAIDERS (scoring 90-72) The Raiders have had a lot go right to reach 3-0 as both home wins have required overtime. It has been a quality schedule however beating Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Miami, three winning teams in the AFC from last season and expected AFC playoff threats. Pittsburgh may be in a great decline however and Miami played with a backup quarterback as there are some potential reasons for caution with the start for Las Vegas.  The Raiders have continued to win with Josh Jacobs injured however and Derek Carr has the most passing yards in the NFL by a significant margin. While the Raiders have allowed decent scoring, they are actually a top 10 team in yards per play allowed and the suspect offensive line has played better than expected so far. Las Vegas is not allowing many big plays in the passing game and while the run defense has been poor on a per carry basis, the Raiders have pushed the scoring pace in most games to make the running game less important.  FUTURE OUTLOOK: The 3-0 start is certainly unexpected for the Raiders as it came through what looked like a rather difficult stretch of the schedule. The path before a Week 8 bye week to close October is reasonable as the Raiders should pick up a few more wins and ultimately the schedule is well-balanced as Las Vegas rarely has consecutive games against top teams outside of facing the Chiefs and Browns in back-to-back road games in December. The Raiders have likely boosted their season projection the most of these five 3-0 teams and Las Vegas should now be considered a very realistic playoff threat in the AFC even in a loaded AFC West.  3-0 teams have done quite well in Game #4 in the NFL historically, going 116-80 S/U and 101-90-5 ATS since 1980. Last season seven teams reached 3-0 and six of those teams made it to 4-0, going 6-1 S/U and 6-1 ATS in the fourth games. 3-0 teams fare best at home with an over 62 percent ATS rate historically though that edge has lessened since 2000. When 3-0 teams face 3-0 teams, the host has gone 12-4 S/U and 13-3 ATS since 1986 as the Rams may have a favorable opportunity this week to reach 4-0. 

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The Best of the 0-3 NCAA Teams

Thursday, Sep 23, 2021

The Best of the 0-3 NCAA Teams  Ahead of the final weekend of September there are nine winless teams in college football. Some of those squads are going to be tough to back in any circumstance this season even with elevated underdog spreads. There are three 0-3 squads that look worthy of consideration in upcoming weeks however and the poor starts in the win column may lead to attractive pricing in the conference season.  TULSA  (17-19 loss to UC-Davis, 23-28 loss at Oklahoma State, 20-41 loss at Ohio State)  Tulsa went 6-0 in American play in the regular season last season before falling by three points vs. Cincinnati in the AAC championship game. The other two losses in a 6-3 season came on the road at Oklahoma State and in bowl action vs. Mississippi State in close games. A similar path of success in conference play is possible again this season for the Golden Hurricane.  The past two weeks Tulsa has not looked out of place on the road against high-quality major conference teams. Two weeks ago, Tulsa lost 28-23 at Oklahoma State in a game they led 14-7 through three quarters and 17-14 later in the final quarter. Tulsa had more yardage in the game and missed on several opportunities as they reached Oklahoma State territory in each of the first four drives of the game without scoring.  Last week Tulsa lost by 21 in Columbus, but it was a seven-point game in the fourth quarter until Ohio State scored twice in the final four minutes. Tulsa put up 501 yards of offense on the road against the Buckeyes while producing several big plays in the passing game.  Tulsa’s overall profile will be downgraded from the two-point loss to UC-Davis at home in the opening week, but Tulsa had 448 yards in that game but lost the turnover battle 3-0. Davis is an FCS team but one of the top-rated FCS teams, and a team that would be favored over about half of the power five teams according to recent power ratings.  Close losses have been common in now the seventh season under Philip Montgomery, as the former Houston and Baylor offensive coordinator has been given more time than most coaches these days even with his record now at 31-43. Tulsa should pick up its first win this week vs. Arkansas State but 1-4 seems like a possibility with a difficult AAC opener against Houston.  From there Tulsa could find some momentum with a winnable home game vs. Memphis and two favorable opportunities to close out October. The team may still be underrated in the final month when they could see underdog spreads with road games in November at Cincinnati, at Tulane, and at SMU. A winning season may be a long shot with the tough start, but Tulsa should be considered a much stronger team than its record.  FLORIDA STATE (38-41 loss vs. Notre Dame, 17-20 loss vs. Jacksonville State, 14-35 loss at Wake Forest) The Seminoles have been an easy team to ridicule and Jay Norvell may have a tough time surviving a 3-9 start to his career in Tallahassee. The valuation of Florida State may be at rock bottom in the coming weeks however and this is a group that could surprise in the ACC season with a few upsets or competitive results as a significant underdog. Last season Florida State won only three times but one of those wins was against an undefeated North Carolina team that had climbed to #5 in the polls.  There was a great build-up for the opening game vs. Notre Dame and Florida State competed well, staging a great comeback bid before losing in overtime against a highly regarded team that remains undefeated and was in the CFP last season. Florida State’s loss to Jacksonville State was inexcusable but it was on a short week following the Sunday night primetime opener and the Seminoles did enough to win that game with a 17-7 lead with five minutes to go before the miracle finish.  The 21-point loss to Wake Forest in the ACC opener can be pinned on six turnovers as Florida State did move the ball effectively in the passing game. The quarterback situation is a concern as Jordan Travis played most of the Notre Dame game, but McKenzie Milton provided a spark in the comeback. Milton has been given the lead role the past two games even though Travis has performed better and adds depth to the playbook with his rushing ability.  Florida State will face several suspect defenses in the next few weeks as the offense has the potential to keep pace in contests with Louisville, Syracuse, and North Carolina. The final five games are all difficult and Florida State will likely take a losing record into games with Clemson, NC State, Miami, Boston College, and Florida to close the season. The points may be alluring for a Seminoles team that has the potential to be the team that competed well in the opener on the national stage, yet this will be a team that may get minimal marketplace support with all the negative headlines.  RICE (17-38 loss at Arkansas, 7-44 loss vs. Houston, 0-58 loss at Texas)  The numbers are terrible for Rice, but the Owls have faced one of the most difficult schedules in the nation facing three high-quality teams. Rice finished just 2-3 last season in five Conference USA games, but they delivered a stunning 20-0 shutout at Marshall and played within five points against UAB in two impressive December performances. Coming into the season the defense graded very well relative to its conference peers and the offense appeared to have the potential for improvement with a few playmakers added to the roster, notably Nebraska transfer Luke McCaffrey.  Rice should find the win column this week hosting an FCS squad Texas Southern but could remain an underrated group in difficult future conference road games vs. UTSA, UAB, and Charlotte in the coming weeks. The home schedule for Rice is quite favorable this season as the Owls have the potential to turn into a winning team by season’s end even with the terrible start through a path in which most teams in the nation would have also gone 0-3 through.  The opener vs. Arkansas was also one of the more misleading scores of the season so far as Rice had a 17-7 lead in the third quarter in Fayetteville and was tied 17-17 in the fourth quarter. Arkansas added two late scores to push the final margin to 21 points, but Rice held a formidable Razorbacks offense to just 373 yards and the Owls stayed in the game despite being -2 in turnovers. The blowout losses the past two weeks came in tough situations with the opposing team entering the game off a humiliating loss in each instance. Houston had blown a 14-point lead with a four-interception game in a loss to Texas Tech in the opening week and was very sharp against Rice in a critical game. Texas meanwhile played Rice after being embarrassed in a 40-21 defeat against Arkansas the previous week as Rice saw the best from both of those teams.  At -116 in scoring so far this season the statistics are not going to look favorable for Rice in the coming weeks but the opportunities on the schedule will improve dramatically. Most may still look at Rice as a similar team to the squad that posted a combined 8-34 record from 2017 to 2020 but Mike Bloomgren’s turnaround plan is still on schedule now in his fourth season with the program. This is a team that should compete well and produce several wins in the Conference USA season yet may rarely be favored.  Considering the other winless teams Connecticut, Ohio, UNLV, and Arizona will be difficult to support as they appear to be a long way off and are battling through recent coaching changes, though the prices may hit a tipping point in some matchups. Massachusetts has been scoring the past two weeks since a quarterback change and may have some potential for underdog covers as the Minutemen may provide some opportunities against the spread even if S/U wins are not going to be common on the horizon. Navy has looked horrible in two games, but Ken Niumatalolo’s solid past track record may leave the Midshipmen with some potential for support later this season. 

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National League MVP Odds and Arguments

Tuesday, Aug 17, 2021

National League MVP Odds and Arguments  The return of Fernando Tatis has caused his MVP odds to jump from around -110 early in August to -300 currently. He is the overwhelming favorite, but the current price shift has greatly increased the plus-money figures on everyone else to create a window of opportunity for those looking for a sizable score. In-and-out of the lineup much of the season, Tatis has a great risk to miss more time down the stretch to leave the door open in this vote, while the Padres now also look like they will be in danger of missing the playoffs. Here are the top candidates in the MVP race including a few that may be worth considering for a long shot wager in case Tatis falls back out of the lineup.  Fernando Tatis, San Diego, -300 Tatis remains the clear favorite in the NL MVP race as the NL home run leader. He has missed 31 games however and while he returned with two home runs last Sunday after sitting for two weeks, his shoulder issue is a lingering concern that could open the door for another candidate in the final seven weeks of the regular season. Tatis isn’t even a qualified hitter right and he is playing for a 3rd place team that may be losing its grip on a playoff position that was assumed most of the season. Those are things that could matter to some of the older block of BBWAA voters who may already begrudge Tatis for the flair he plays with. Priced at around -300 it is his award to lose but there a few candidates that could warrant a look, banking on Tatis missing time and the Padres continuing to slide in the coming weeks.  Bryce Harper, Philadelphia, +475 A past MVP and one of the most recognized players in the game Harper is fourth in the NL in wRC+ thanks to his high walk rate. His rather pedestrian home run and RBI counts will need to grow substantially in September and most importantly his candidacy will hinge entirely on the narrative that he carries the Phillies to the NL East title. While Atlanta leads the division currently and has looked like the much better team overall, the race is close and a rise to the top fueled by Harper is still in the realm of possibility. Unlike the other candidates on this list Harper won’t face a threat of losing votes to his teammates as he has been the clear top performer on the Phillies.  Max Muncy, Los Angeles, +900 Perhaps the best candidate to catch Tatis in home runs is Muncy who has 26 but also has the potential for a big closing run to reach close to 40 home runs as he often has been a streaky performer. Muncy also is a threat to hit conventional benchmarks of 100 runs and/or 100 RBI to bolster his case. His WAR is also currently the highest in the NL among qualified candidates. He doesn’t play a premium defensive position however and he has plenty of competition within his own locker room as emerging as the clear choice among several standouts for the Dodgers will be a challenge.  Trea Turner, Washington/Los Angeles, +1700 The best value on the board might be Turner, who like Muncy will face the challenge of splitting votes with his teammates. Turner also has not hit quite as well since joining the Dodgers as his season line over 96 games in Washington puts him on this list. Turner has been a valuable defender at an important position, and he has a chance to win a batting title while also a possibly a NL stolen base title with Starling Marte now in the AL. A 30/30 performance is not out of the question for Turner but the problem in that argument is that Tatis has a chance to do that as well. It would take quite a finish but hitting leadoff in a highly productive Los Angeles lineup will afford Turner an opportunity to compile great statistics down the stretch.  Freddie Freeman, Atlanta, +1700 The case for Freeman to take a second straight MVP crown does not currently have much traction but a big final month that clinches an NL East title for Atlanta in the absence of the early season MVP frontrunner Ronald Acuna does offer a compelling argument that could resonate with voters. In contrast to Tatis and Harper, Freeman is beloved by the press and his numbers are not too far off what will be the required pace. A subpar defensive performance is hurting his WAR while he also offers little on the basepaths. If he can match the September that he delivered in 2020, hitting .375 with 32 RBI in the final month, it is not an impossible outcome.  Nick Castellanos, Cincinnati, +5000 Joey Votto, Cincinnati, +5000 These Reds stars have matching odds as both continue to push Cincinnati closer to a playoff spot that seemed highly improbable just a few weeks ago. Jesse Winker is not much further down the list as well as Cincinnati has received great production from the lineup. Castellanos is a serious threat to win the NL batting title while Votto is charging in the home run leaderboard. Both have high strikeout counts with not enough walks to support their case, but both are still in the NL’s top seven in wRC+, while top 10 OPS performers, though neither is close enough on the WAR leaderboard for serious candidacy. If one stands head-and-shoulder over the other to carry the Reds past the Padres for the second NL wild card spot there is a chance, but it is not overly realistic as the pricing suggests.  Manny Machado, San Diego, +6000 While much of this article centers on the possibility of the Padres losing Tatis and crashing out of the playoffs, what if they lose Tatis and still finish strong? That scenario would boost Manny Machado’s case and he has rather quietly produced a great season line in the shadow of his teammate. He could reach the 100 run and 100 RBI benchmarks, and a big final month could get him to 30 home runs and close to a .300 batting average. Climbing into the top 10 for WAR and wRC+ would not take a herculean performance down the stretch and Machado has one of the stronger defensive ratings on this list at a valuable position. Winning the comparison case with his teammate will however require Tatis effectively shutting down for the rest of the season.  Juan Soto, Washington, +7000 Given that Washington has faded out of playoff contention Soto’s case will need to overcome a significant hurdle, but he has taken the most walks in all off baseball even in just 107 games and he could hit over .300 with 30 home runs while getting close to 100 runs and RBI for an MVP caliber traditional line. He is certainly one of the best players in baseball even if he is not a serious threat in this discussion barring significant setbacks for most of the other players on this list. Giancarlo Stanton won the 2017 NL MVP and Harper unanimously won the 2015 NL MVP on non-playoff teams as the playoffs may not be as much of a requirement as it is presumed. In 2017 Stanton only received 10 first place votes in a year where six different players received 1st place votes, a scenario that is possible this year.  Brandon Crawford, San Francisco, +7000 15th in the NL in wRC+ and 5th in WAR, Crawford’s case might be better than this pricing represents. The Giants after all have baseball’s best record and Crawford is a good story as a veteran having a career season. He is only two home runs away from a career high and has a chance to reach 100 RBI for the first time in his career. Crawford could also make a charge to the batting title currently only sitting about a dozen points back. His excellent defensive rating at a premium position adds to the intrigue of his candidacy but Crawford has missed 21 games to keep his counting statistics a notch below where they likely need to be. San Francisco has been the surprise story of the season and voters will be looking for someone to reward as he has a chance to garner some votes, though 1st place votes do not currently seem likely.  Justin Turner, Los Angeles, +9000 Turner’s season line could wind up looking somewhat like the lines of his two teammates on this list with a big final month. He hit .394 in September 2020 before the Dodgers went on to win the World Series and for his career, September has been his best hitting month in terms of batting average. Missing significant time in August has bumped his case down on this list but if he surpasses his teammates in the coming weeks as the Dodgers pass up the Giants for the top spot in the NL, the argument would be clear. Turner is a long shot, but the gap in his odds compared to Muncy and Trea Turner should perhaps not be quite so large as he is the face of the team in Clayton Kershaw’s absence. 

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2021 NCAA Impact Transfer Quarterbacks

Saturday, Aug 14, 2021

2021 NCAA Impact Transfer Quarterbacks  After uninspiring results in three years at NC State, Russell Wilson transferred to Wisconsin for the 2011 season and delivered tremendous results. His success set the tone for a new era of college football with transfer acquisitions being a critical component in recruiting. Coming off the abbreviated 2020 season and with relaxed transfer rules in place, there are several proven quarterbacks that changed schools this off-season. Here are a handful of quarterback transfers for the 2021 college football season that could have a big impact in the 2021 season.   Charlie Brewer (From Baylor to Utah) Brewer is one of the most experienced quarterbacks in the nation having been the starter for the better part of four seasons at Baylor. He should eclipse 10,000 career passing yards in September and has a career completion rate of 63.5%. His numbers dropped last season in a chaotic season for the Bears with a major Covid pause and a coaching transition, but he should step into a good situation to be successful at Utah. Kyle Whittingham’s program has won consistently riding seven consecutive seasons above .500 and the roster has a significant amount of returning experience. Given his size Brewer isn’t much of an NFL prospect, but he has a chance to end his college career on a high note with a potential Pac-12 contender.  Jack Coan (From Wisconsin to Notre Dame) A steady presence for the Badgers in 2018 and 2019, Coan was named the starter in 2020 ahead of super prospect Graham Mertz before suffering an injury ahead of the season. Coan has good size and is quicker than he appears, though he is not in the mold of Ian Book, the long-time Notre Dame quarterback that was a serious rushing threat. Brian Kelly has not officially named Coan the starter for an Irish team coming off a College Football Playoff appearance, but it would be a surprise if sophomore Drew Pyne beat out Coan. It will be difficult to replicate last season’s success but being Notre Dame’s quarterback is still a high-profile gig and Coan has the potential to have good numbers on a nationally relevant team and will also get a chance to face his former team in Chicago as well.  Grant Gunnell (From Arizona to Memphis)  Gunnell isn’t a household name after being an off-and-on starter for marginal Arizona teams the past two seasons, but he could be by season’s end. He has 15 career touchdowns against only three interceptions however and at 6’6” he will stand out now playing in the American. Ryan Silverfield’s offense should remain a high-scoring unit and Gunnell can go from relative anonymity to being an NFL draft pick like Paxton Lynch was out of Memphis in 2016. Defense has not often been a strength for the Memphis program as Gunnell could produce big numbers in many high-scoring shootout style games with last year’s Memphis quarterback Brady White posting the sixth most passing yards in the nation in 2020.  McKenzie Milton (From UCF to Florida State) A star for UCF from 2016 to 2018 including the undefeated 2017 season, Milton suffered a terrible injury late in the 2018 season. There were questions on whether he would ever play again given the nature of the injury and the subsequent surgeries, but his knee has been rebuilt and he has been cleared to play. He ultimately has won the last 23 games he has started but there are major questions to whether he can return to being the dynamic playmaker he was for the Knights and he will face significantly upgraded opposition in the ACC. Florida State has been a mess in recent years now led by Mike Norvell with the Seminoles going just 3-6 last year. A storybook finish for Milton doesn’t seem likely but it is certainly worth rooting for.  Tyler Shough (From Oregon to Texas Tech)  While Texas Tech has changed coaches and isn’t quite the Air Raid squad of the past, being the Red Raiders quarterback remains a coveted position, especially when the face of the NFL is an alum. Shough was one of the most sought-after recruits after a stellar high school campaign as he has an NFL build and great athleticism. After redshirting behind Justin Herbert, Shough carried high expectations into 2020 at Oregon but ultimately did not have a great statistical season despite a Pac-12 Championship. Texas Tech is not expected to be a Big XII contender but the opportunity to post big numbers in high-profile games will be there.     Terry Wilson (From Kentucky to New Mexico)  An electric playmaker for the 2018 Wildcats team that beat Penn State in the Citrus Bowl, Wilson suffered a season-ending injury early in the 2019 season. He didn’t capture the same level of success last season and with Kentucky having several promising young options at quarterback Wilson found a new opportunity leaving the SEC. His mobility should play well in the Mountain West and while he is heading to a program that has 10 wins combined the past four seasons, he could immediately be among the conference’s top quarterbacks as well as a formidable rusher.  Logan Bonner (From Arkansas State to Utah State)  A two-year starter and quarterback that has played in each of the past four seasons at Arkansas State, Bonner followed coach Blake Anderson to Utah State. That should allow him to have much more comfort and the potential for more immediate success than most transfer quarterbacks. Utah State went just 1-5 last season, but the season had all sorts of challenges with internal Covid issues forcing the cancellation of a game while another game was cancelled due to a player protest. Head coach Gary Andersen left the team after three games as well as not much went right and it showed in the results. Anderson has a 51-37 career record and with Bonner in tow the Aggies could be a mild surprise, as this was an 11-2 team in 2018 and has generally been an above average Mountain West team in the last decade.  Bailey Zappe (From Houston Baptist to Western Kentucky)  Zappe has generated a big buzz now leading Tyson Helton’s offense at Western Kentucky. Zappe set all sorts of records at Houston Baptist, averaging 458 passing yards per game in an Air Raid style offense. The Hilltoppers had a slow start last season but won their final three Conference USA games and they line up as a possible team on the rise in the conference for 2021. Zappe could quickly emerge on the national passing leaderboards if he lives up to the hype and the Hilltoppers have a pair of Big Ten non-conference tests early in the year for showcase opportunities. In Conference USA the Hilltoppers are also a serious contender in the East division and the schedule is favorable for a strong bowl season.  Here are a few other transfer quarterbacks that are worth watching, all of which have a likely path to a starting role at their new school:  Ryan Hilinski (From South Carolina to Northwestern) Tanner Mordecai (From Oklahoma to SMU)  N’Kosi Perry (From Miami, FL to Florida Atlantic)  Chase Brice (From Duke to Appalachian State)  Jacob Sirmon (From Washington to Central Michigan)  D’Wan Mathis (From Georgia to Temple)  Bailey Hockman (From NC State to Middle Tennessee State)  Also worth mentioning is that notable transfers will be fighting for starting roles at several major conference programs including Tennessee, Kentucky, Michigan, Michigan State, and Arizona. It is too soon to say whether those jobs will be won however. 

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