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Gridiron Players Club (12/16/23)

(2 Picks)


CFB

2:15PM EST: Louisiana +3.5 (4 Units).


Louisiana’s had some ups and downs this season due to QB injuries, but this is a talented football team. Chandler Fields is now their starting QB, he's their 3rd option. He is a 5th year Junior that started some games for Louisiana a season ago. He's started 3 games thus far and has played well. He completed 71 of 97 (73.2%) passes with 7 touchdowns and just 1 interception. They are just 1-2 during that span. The most impressive start came against a very good Troy Defense. He completed 29 of 39 (74.4%) passes for 282 yards, 3 Touchdowns, and 1 Interception. Troy ranks 6th in scoring defense, 14th in total yards allowed per game, and 34th in passing yards allowed per game. Louisiana also ran for just 66 yards that day. Fields had to do it all himself. They took a tough 34-21 loss in that game, but Fields did lead them down and tie it up in the 4th quarter.


The following week and most recent game was a rout over UL Monro. Fields went 18/20 for 246 yards and 2 touchdowns. UL Monroe stinks but that was the 2nd most points they've allowed all season. Louisiana has settled in with Chandler Fields at QB and they're playing good football. He also gets another very QB friendly match-up in this one. Jacksonville State ranks 115th of 133 FBS programs in passing yards allowed per game. It's the blatant weakness of their defense as they rank 24th in rushing yards allowed per game. Troy's defense is better than Jax State's all around and Louisiana didn't have an issue. That game was also played @ Troy. This game is technically a Neutral State but it's still being played in Louisiana’s home state just a couple hours away. They'll have a better fan turnout.


Defensively Louisiana isn't great, but neither is Jacksonville State's offense. The Gamecocks rank 56th in points per game and they just laid a 17-point egg against New Mexico State. The one thing Louisiana does do is take the ball away. They rank 34th in takeaways per game and the Jacksonville State's offense has averaged 2 turnovers per game over their last 3 contests. The Cajun’s defense has played well at times this season. It's also harder to play defense with a revolving door at QB and the inconsistent offensive play. The Louisiana offense has certainly settled in with Fields.


Louisiana’s also played in the tougher conference. The Sun Belt isn't a strong conference, but Conference USA is the worst Conference in College Football. The Rajin Cajuns have a rich bowl game history, appearing in 6 straight and playing in this New Orleans Bowl 7 times. They're 5-2 in those 7 games and are 7-3 in Bowl Games overall. They're officially 5-3 since they had to vacate 2 wins. They're going to show up and compete in this game, great number at +3.5.


NFL

8:15PM EST: DEN/DET Under 48.5 (3 Units).


The Broncos just find a way to turn every game into a grind it out slugfest lately and Detroit's game for that. Lions football has been a bit off brand the last few weeks. They're struggling pretty much everywhere and it's because they've gotten away from their roots. Earlier this season the Lions would physically dominate you offensively with a strong ground game. They have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL and a great RB duo with Montgomery and Gibbs. They would control the time of possession and keep their defense fresh. Their average TOP over their last 3 games is 28:49. Despite that they still rank 5th on the season. If they averaged 28:49 all year they would rank 26th.


Denver's a good get right spot. The Broncos rank dead last in the NFL in rushing yards per game. That's a bit inflated from their early season struggles but still, not a great rushing defense. Going back, they allowed 76 rushing yards to the LAC 26th ranked rushing attack, 89 to Houston's 25th, 107 to CLE but that was a Dorian-Thompson Robinson and PJ Walker game, so the Browns offense stunk. Minnesota ran for 175 (27th), Buffalo 192 (10th), KC 62 & 96 (17th) & GB 137 (19th). Those were all the games after the Broncos defense turned the corner. They were ran all over prior to that. Denver allowed just 16 points per game over that 8-game stretch. The Lions also rank 5th in rushing yards per game so a bump up in opponent.


Denver's offense has certainly been better, but they've only scored more than 24 points once during this 8-game stretch. Sean Payton has Russ playing much closer to his Seattle days than ever before. The Broncos are running the football and giving Russ his play-action game. They've averaged 33.3 rush attempts per game over their last 3. The Browns lead the league at 32.2 per game for reference. Their lead back Javonte Williams is only averaging 3.8 yards per carry, but they continue to give him the ball and keep the defense honest. It helps when your defense hasn't let up more than 22 points in 8 straight games, keeping you from abandoning the run game. They're just playing all-around great complimentary football right now.


With how each team is playing, and the emphasis on running the football for both teams, this clock can tick away real fast. Even if the offenses have success, possessions and opportunities are going to be limited. Denver's dragged everyone else down into these low scoring 1 score games and the Lions play-style fits right into that.

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