Boise State Broncos vs. Oregon Ducks (Las Vegas Bowl)
Saturday, December 16, 3:30 pm ET
In what’s the top bowl game of the opening Saturday of the bowl season, Oregon will announce to the world that the Ducks of old are back, and will be as good as ever under new permanent head coach Mario Cristobal. The Ducks were 6-1 with quarterback Justin Herbert healthy, averaging 52.1 points per game in the process. Boise State has been decent against the pass this year (44th nationally), but Herbert and the Ducks will have a ton of fun in Sin City and win by double digits.
SportsLine Expert: Barrett Sallee (2-1 in last 3 CFB ATS picks)
Marshall Thundering Herd vs. Colorado State Rams (New Mexico Bowl)
Saturday, December 16, 4:30 pm ET
COLORADO STATE -5.5
Marshall comes into the New Mexico Bowl in poor form, having dropped four of its last five games. I don’t think the Thundering Herd, despite their quality defense, can keep pace with Colorado State’s impressive trio: QB Nick Stevens (29 TDs), RB Dalyn Dawkins (6.2 yards per carry) and WR Michael Gallup (1,345 yards, 7 TDs). In my simulations, the Rams are covering 61 percent of the time. Lay the points.
SportsLine Expert: Stephen Oh (33-23-2 in last 58 CFB ATS picks)
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Green Bay Packers vs. Carolina Panthers
Sunday, December 17, 1:00 pm ET
We’ll soon know whether Aaron Rodgers will suit up for this game, but here’s why you should lay the points now: if Rodgers is ruled out, this line will skyrocket, and you’ll have to lay more than a TD with the Panthers. If he’s in — and he won’t be near 100 percent if he is — it’s not going to go down more than a point or so. And the Panthers should win this game: they’re excellent at home, they’re running the ball well, and a mediocre passing game should be effective enough against a Packers pass defense that ranks 27th in net yards per attempt. Green Bay is coming off back-to-back overtime games; the minutes add up.
SportsLine Expert: R.J. White (92-72-7 in last 171 NFL picks)
New England Patriots vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Sunday, December 17, 4:25 pm ET
An immutable rule of thumb: If a top-notch team is spotted three points at home, seize it. The spread has been bumped up from one in the belief that New England is incapable of two clunkers in a row after it bowed to Miami. Overlooked is a potentially dire injury situation on defense, with DT Alan Branch (knee) doubtful and LB Kyle Van Noy (calf) and DE Trey Flowers (ribs) questionable. Their absence would more than counter Pittsburgh’s loss of Ryan Shazier (back), with Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell looking at a career day. Then there is the vaguely sore Achilles bothering Pats QB Tom Brady. A pair of road games six days apart, which means a short week for Brady’s R&R, adds to the Patriots’ vulnerability.
SportsLine Expert: Mike Tierney (25-12-1 in last 38 NFL picks)
Dallas Cowboys vs. Oakland Raiders
Sunday, December 17, 8:30 pm ET
The Cowboys’ defense looked like a brand new group with LB Sean Lee back in the fold. They were able to stop the run and shut down the Giants’ passing game last week. New team, new matchup and challenges on Sunday night. However, because the Cowboys are still in must-win mode, they’ll still have the same aggressive mindset against the Raiders. I like Dallas to win and cover.
SportsLine Expert: Emory Hunt (35-21-2 in last 58 NFL ATS picks)
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