October’s spooky season brings plenty of pumpkin spice lattes and increasingly important football games.
Ravens at Steelers
Sunday, Oct. 8 | 1 p.m. ET | CBS
One of the top rivalry games in the NFL kicks off in the early window on Sunday, as the Ravens travel to Pittsburgh to play the archrival Steelers. Control of the division is up for grabs; no team is worse than +650 in AFC North odds.
This weekend will be a battle of who shows up to play. Baltimore continues to be one of the most banged-up teams in the NFL, with an injury report featuring nearly a dozen guys.
That doesn’t count the Injured Reserve list, where linebacker David Ojabo, running back J.K. Dobbins, defensive backs Ar’Darius Washington and Damarion Williams, and several other players are stuck.
Pittsburgh isn’t without its own health problems. Most notable is the status of quarterback Kenny Pickett, who suffered a bone bruise last week in Houston. If he can’t play on Sunday, the Steelers will turn to backup Mitch Trubisky.
The Steelers-Ravens rivalry is famously competitive and low-scoring, with 10 of the last 16 games decided by four points or less. That includes each of the last four games.
According to BetMGM’s NFL betting odds, the Thursday point spread was Ravens -4.
Additionally, 11 of the last 15 games have featured 40 points or less. The total on Thursday was 38.
Cowboys at 49ers
Sunday, Oct. 8 | 8:20 p.m. ET | NBC
You can’t do much better than perfect, and Mr. Irrelevant Brock Purdy has been exactly that as the regular-season starting quarterback for the 49ers.
Since assuming command of the San Francisco offense last December, Purdy and the 49ers are 9-0 in the regular season. Their ATS record is immaculate. The 49ers don’t just win. They win big, surpassing market expectations.
A big part of that success is Christian McCaffrey, who has now scored a touchdown in 13 straight games. McCaffrey has jumped up the NFL MVP odds board in spite of his non-quarterback status.
If there’s a knock on the 2023 49ers, it’s that they haven’t gotten much of a test yet this season. That’s especially true the last two weeks, when San Francisco hosted the Giants and Cardinals.
This week’s game against the Cowboys should prove a much stiffer test, as the Cowboys are one of the top five teams in the NFL – at least according to the Super Bowl odds market.
Dak Prescott’s 67.3 QBR is a top-10 mark in the NFL, and PFF grades the pass rush, coverage, and special teams as top-4 units in the NFL. Overall, PFF slots Dallas as the No. 2 unit in the league, trailing only … well, San Francisco.
Kentucky at Georgia
Saturday, Oct. 7 | 7 p.m. ET | ESPN
Kirby Smart’s Georgia is the two-time national champion, and the Bulldogs are in the hunt for a third straight title. They remain the favorite in the college football national championship odds market.
But after losing Stetson Bennett and dozens of other NFL draftees over the past two years, Georgia is not quite the immortal goliath it once was.
Enter Kentucky, which is still undefeated and ready to challenge for the SEC East after dismantling Florida last week.
Mark Stoops won the services of former NC State quarterback Devin Leary in the offseason, courtesy of the transfer portal, and Leary has proved an effective successor to Will Levis. Running back Ray Davis is averaging 7.8 yards per carry and is a real contender for SEC Offensive Player of the Year.
For Georgia, new quarterback Carson Beck has a QBR of 79.2, which ranks 20th in FBS.
One of the major trends that college football has seen this year is a consistent overvaluing of Georgia in the college football odds market. Everybody wants to bet on the champs, so it’s not surprising to see Kentucky priced as a 14.5-point underdog.