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1* Free Play on Braves -195
While the Giants (74-79) are coming off a 5-4 loss to the Red Sox, the Braves (94-60) are coming off a win over the Phillies by the same score. Tonight, the Braves will host San Francisco in Atlanta.
To put it flatly, the Braves have been the better team this season. With 816 runs scored, Atlanta ranks sixth in the majors. San Francisco ranks 27thin the league with just 656 runs scored. The Braves are better on the mound, too, where they hold an advantage in team ERA (.421 – 4.35).
Much of the Braves’ offensive production has come from the duo of Ronald Acuna Jr. and Freddie Freeman. Acuna Jr. leads the club with 40 home runs, and Freeman leads the team with 119 RBIs and his .299 average.
The visiting Giants will send out Tyler Beede (5-9, 5.02 ERA) to start. The San Francisco right-hander pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings his last time out, but it was against the lowly Marlins. Before his last two victorious starts, Beede was on a six-game losing streak.
At home, right-hander Mike Foltynewicz (7-5, 4.80 ERA) is set to start. Over his past five starts, Foltynewicz has posted a 1.52 ERA. In his last outing, Foltynewicz held the Nationals to one run over six innings.
1* Free NCAAF Pick on Air Force Falcons +7½ -110
Love the value here with Air Force getting a touchdown and the hook at Boise State, as these two MWC rivals go to battle Friday night under the lights. Broncos are currently ranked No. 20 and because this is one of just 3 games on the board for Friday, books have definitely shaded the number on Boise St, knowing the public will be looking to back them.
I think a lot of people were surprised with Air Force going on the road and upsetting Colorado last week, as the Buffaloes had just upset Nebraska the week before in a game where the public was all over the Cornhuskers. I don't think that was simply Colorado being flat off a big win.
With 14 returning starters and a lot of key guys coming back, people were calling for this to be the best Air Force team in years. I guarantee you they aren't going to Boise to try and keep it close. They expect to win this game.
I like the talent on the Broncos, but I think they are a bit overvalued from that upset win on the road against Florida State in Week 1. While it does look like the Seminoles are improved over last year, they are not close to what they were under Jimbo Fisher.
Also a lot of hype around true freshman quarterback Hank Bachmeier. While he's thrown for a lot of yards, he's been sacked 10 times and has thrown 3 picks (1 in each game).
Boise State is also just 11-21 under Bryan Harsin as a home favorite. Falcons are 26-13 ATS last 39 road games in the first month of the season and 35-19 ATS last 54 road games if their previous game was a non-conference matchup. Take Air Force!
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1* Free Sharp Play on Michigan +3½ -105
My money is on the Wolverines to cash in a cover here as a 3.5-point road dog against the Badgers. I think we are seeing a huge overreaction here based on the first couple of games. I not only think Michigan covers, but I like them to win outright here rather easily. Wisconsin is a run first team with an inexperienced QB. They aren't going to be able to run at will against Michigan like they have in their first two games against cupcakes. I also think people are overreacting to the Wolverines near loss to Army. The Black Knights are no pushovers and not an easy team to play against or prepare for. Last year Army went into Norman and took Oklahoma to OT and the Sooners ended up in the college football playoff. Bet Michigan +3.5!
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10* FREE NFL PICK (Cardinals +2.5)
I'll take my chances here with Arizona at basically a pick'em at home. I got on this line before it swapped sides, but I still highly recommend the Cardinals in this spot. I just think after everything the Panthers went through last year in that awful 2nd half collapse, it's going to be hard for them to deal with another Cam Newton injury.
Kyle Allen had a decent game in his only start last year at New Orleans, but that came in Week 17 with the Saints resting their starters. He threw for 228 yards and 2 scores, but that's not saying much given the circumstances.
I was really high on this Arizona team and I've seen enough out of Kyler Murray to believe they made the right call there. Murray is only going to keep getting better with each start. Panthers secondary is definitely the weak link of that defense. I just don't see Allen being able to keep pace with Murray in this one. Give me the Cardinals +2.5!
I'm going to take a shot on the hot Blue Jays here catching the Yankees in what could be a flat spot. The Yankees celebrated winning the AL East Division Thursday night by destroying the Angels, 9-1. The Yankees overcame a record amont of players on the injured list to win a division title for the first time in seven years. They earned the right to celebrate. So the Yankees might be a little hung over today. They also figure to be resting players, including those who are nicked up such as Aaron Judge. Toronto has played New York tough this season going 7-9, including winning a series at home against the Yankees last weekend. The Blue Jays are 7-2 in their last nine games, including winning their last four. The Blue Jays are swinging hot bats averaging 8.3 runs in their last eight games. They are scheduled to face J.A. Happ, who has been dealing with biceps tendinitis in his throwing arm. The Blue Jays are familiar with Happ since he pitched for them from 2016 through last season and also from 2012-14. He has a 3.78 career ERA in six starts against Toronto. The Blue Jays are throwing rookie Jacob Waguespack, who is 3-5 with a 4.47 ERA as a starter. This will be his 12th big league start. I'm not expecting too much from Waguespack, who hasn't been in good form. But at this price - and considering the situation and how well Toronto is swinging the bats - I'll throw a peanut on the Blue Jays.
ASA PLAY ON Tulsa Golden Hurricane (-) over Wyoming Cowboys, Saturday at 3:30 PM ET: Game #370
Tip off here. The team that is 1-2 is favored by a FG (or -3.5) over the team that is 3-0 on the season. Wyoming’s 3-0 record is as deceiving as you’ll ever see. They have been outgained in all 3 games by a combined 315 yards! That includes their game last week vs FCS foe Idaho. It was a game that had the Cowboys favored by 4 TD’s and barely held on to win 21-16. Idaho actually had the ball inside the Wyoming 20-yard line with under 4:00 remaining and came away with no points. That’s the same Idaho team that lost 79-7 @ Penn State this season. The only road game this year for the Cowboys was a 23-14 win @ Texas State. It was a game in which Wyoming was outgained by 151 yards and had 11 fewer first downs. TSU led the game from start until 8:00 minutes remaining in the 3rd when the Cowboys returned an interception for a TD giving them a 20-14 lead, their first of the game. Texas State was the better team in that game despite the loss. Keep in mind this is a Bobcat team that has just a 7-33 record their last 40 games. The point is, Wyoming has played one of the worst FBS programs and an FCS team their last 2 games and could have and maybe should have lost both. Tulsa, on the other hand, is 1-2 but we feel they are undervalued because of that. Their losses have come at the hands of Michigan State and Oklahoma State, two of the better programs in the nation. The Hurricanes rush numbers, both offensively and defensively, are massively skewed. They are not impressive looking as a whole. However, they held 2 of their 3 opponents to 115 yards rushing or less but struggled to slow down Oklahoma State, one of the top running teams in the nation. Offensively they rushed for 160 yards vs Oklahoma State and 256 yards vs San Jose State. The problem is, Michigan State, #1 in rush defense nationally last year and #2 so far this year, held them to a negative 75 yards rushing (sacks included). They face a Wyoming team on Saturday that can’t pass at all. They average 6 completions per game. That’s it. We expect Tulsa to slow down their rushing attack which will make it very tough for the Cowboys to score. Tulsa is much more diverse offensively and they have an experience QB, Zach Smith, who can move the ball through the air if needed. This is a huge home game for this underrated Tulsa team going into their bye before starting AAC play. Lay the small number. It should be higher in our opinion.
Syracuse -4.5 1.1% Free Play
No time for Syracuse to be sad about their loss against Clemson with Western Michigan coming in after a 57-10 win last week against Georgia State. Syracuse needs a win here after starting 1-2, and I don’t see them looking past Western Michigan, a team that gave them a battle last year in their own stadium. However, this is a classic sell high buy low situation. Western Michigan just blew out Georgia STate, but it’s a bit misleading considering Georgia State had 3 turnovers and a turnover on downs in the red zone.
The ACC has not been good to start the year, but the MAC is just 4-16 ATS the last two weeks, and Western Michigan just gave up 51 points to Michigan State 2 weeks ago. Syracuse meanwhile beat Liberty on the road in week 1 24-0, and that win all of a sudden looks better after LIberty beat a respectable MAC team 35-17 in Buffalo. The biggest key here for me is the fact that Syracuse can get the running game going again, and not rely on Tommy Devito to do everything here. Western Michigan has allowed over 200 yards rushing and 5 yards per carry to its last two opponents, and Syracuse ran for 334 last year. I trust Dino Babers, and I think they step up and win this game by double digits.
The free soccer pick takes place in England on Saturday morning.
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Dave’s Saturday Free Play:
1* on UCLA +19
The Key: The UCLA Bruins have played one of the toughest schedules in the country, which is a big reason why they are 0-3 right now. They faced Cincinnati and Oklahoma as underdogs, and were upset by a pesky San Diego State team. They have played the 21st-most difficult schedule thus far. Washington State is 3-0, but they’ve played the 190th schedule. Their wins have come against New Mexico State, Northern Colorado and Houston. They were fortunate to escape Houston with a 31-24 win. UCLA is a team that improved as the season went on. I think that will be the case again this year for this young team. And I think the price is right to pull the trigger on the Bruins here catching 19 points to the Cougars. The underdog is 5-0 ATS in the last 5 meetings. The road team is 5-1 ATS in the last 6 meetings. Take UCLA.
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Free Play from Doc’s Sports. Take #374 Kansas Jayhawks over West Virginia Mountaineers (4:30p.m., Saturday, September 21 ESPN+) The wrong team is favored in this game and the Les Miles magic will continue for another week. The Jayhawks are coming off their first road win against a Power 5 team in forever and expect them to follow that up with another winnable home game against the Mountaineers. West Virginia is 0-4 ATS (1 push) in their last 5 road games. The Underdog is 5-1 ATS in their last 6 meetings. Do not miss out on Doc’s Sports Weekend Football Card highlighted by top play on Saturday.
The set-up: Drew Brees is out for the Saints. Teddy Bridgewater is in. The Seahawks are 2-0 after an upset road victory at Pittsburgh last weekend and with a date vs. the co-division leading Rams in Week 4, I believe the home side lays everything on the line this week in order to secure the 3-0 start. The Saints are reeling now, but the offense looked terrible last week before Brees went down anyways. I don’t foresee anything changing in a week and with the major change at the QB position.
The pick: Seattle has been getting consistent play on both sides of the ball and Russell Wilson and company are now licking their chops to get a shot at this suspect New Orleans’ secondary. Note that the Saints are just 1-3 ATS in their last four anyways after a loss by ten or more points, while Seattle is 6-1 ATS in its last seven after a victory by six points or less. Consider the home side in this one.
1* FREE INFO PLAY on Ball State +20 -110
Saturday CFB Free play. My selection is on the 'under' between UTSA and North Texas at 7:30 pm et on Saturday.
This is being pegged as a potential shootout but I don't see it playing out that way on Saturday night at Apogee Stadium. Note that last year's matchup produced just 45 total points in a narrow North Texas victory. Texas-San Antonio opened the season with a 35-7 win but that came against FCS squad Incarnate Word. Since then, the Roadrunners have put up just 27 points in dropping back-to-back games against Baylor and Army. Note that while North Texas did drop to 1-2 with a loss at California last week, it did prove it can hang defensively, giving up two first quarter touchdowns before holding the Bears out of the end zone the rest of the way in a 23-17 loss. The Mean Green Eagles catch a favorable matchup here as UTSA possesses a rather punchless offense as evidenced by last week's dismal performance against Army. In that game, the Roadrunners threw for just 209 yards on 33 pass attempts and their leading rusher managed a paltry 27 yards on the ground. While I am high on North Texas QB Mason Fine, there's no denying that he has struggled over his last two contests, completing just 38-of-72 passes for 362 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. While UNT should have its way with UTSA, the same could have been said last year when it managed only 24 points. Take the under (8*).
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Jack’s Free Pick Saturday: Stanford +10.5
When this line was released early in the offseason in May, Stanford was a 2.5-point favorite over Oregon. Now the Cardinal are 10.5-point home underdogs to the Ducks this week. That’s a 13-point adjustment based off the opener and I believe it’s the perfect ‘buy low’ opportunity on Stanford here.
The betting public wants nothing to do with Stanford now after they went on the road and got blown out 20-45 by USC and 27-45 by UCF in back-to-back weeks. But Stanford played without starting QB KJ Costello against USC, and he means everything to them. And the loss in the heat down in Orlando against UCF isn’t really surprising when you consider UCF has only lost one game over the past three seasons combined.
Now Stanford returns home where they were last seen beating Northwestern 17-7 in the opener. They are a much different animal at home. In fact, Stanford is a perfect 9-0 ATS in their last nine games as a home underdogs. They have won eight of those games OUTRIGHT as an underdog. You can bet David Shaw will have his team highly motivated off those two losses and with Oregon coming to town Saturday night.
Conversely, it’s a good time to ’sell high’ on Oregon. They lost to Auburn 21-27 in their opener, but came back the next week and took out their frustrations on Nevada in a 77-6 home win. Then last week they went through the motions and beat Montana 35-3. So this will be their first true road game of the season and probably almost as tough of a test as that neutral site game was against Auburn.
Oregon is 1-12 ATS in its last 13 games off a win by more than 20 points. David Shaw is a perfect 10-0 ATS after two or more consecutive ATS losses as the coach of Stanford. Stanford is 3-0 SU & 3-0 ATS in its last three meetings with Oregon, outscoring them by a combined 84 points in those three meetings. The Cardinal are 17-5 ATS in their last 22 games following a loss. Bet Stanford Saturday.
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My free play is on Northwestern at 12:00 ET. Michigan State and Northwestern meet at Evanston in the Big Ten opener for each school this Saturday at 12 noon ET. The Spartans are coming off a disappointing 10-7 loss at home to Arizona State last weekend, while the Wildcats earned their first win of the season last Saturday, topping UNLV 30-14. Michigan State did very little offensively against the Sun Devils, after putting up 51 points the previous Saturday against Western Michigan, while gaining 582 yards. MSU scored just once on ASU and then had a potential game-tying FG get wiped off the board in the final seconds due to a penalty. Northwestern opened the season with a 17-7 loss at Stanford on Aug 31, gaining a pathetic 210 yards. That performance looks even worse now, as Stanford has allowed 45 points in each of its last two games, while allowing 492 and 545 yards, respectively. The Wildcats beat UNLV 30-14 last Saturday at home, rolling up 441 yards, including 276 on the ground (5.5 YPC). MSU had plenty complaints about the officiating in the ASU loss, as the Spartans outgained the Sun Devils 404-to-216 in total yards. 10 penalties surely hurt but so did THREE missed FGs attempts and poor execution in critical points of the game. QB Brian Lewerke passed for 291 yards but did not throw a TD, after passing fo 314 yards and three TDs vs Western Michigan. The Michigan State Spartans ground game is averaging a modest 157.3 YPG (81st), with Elijah Collins leading the way with 281 yards (6.4 YPC) and one TD. MSU's defense is a good as ever, allowing 11.3 PPG (12th) on 216.0 YPG (3rd), including 23.3 YPG on the ground (1st). The Wildcats ran for 276 yards on the ground against UNLV (5.5 YPC) but as noted, the MSU run defense is pretty good. The key for Northwestern will be QB Hunter Johnson. He transferred from Clemson in 2017 and sat out last year. The Wildcats are counting on him to fulfill his promise, as he was rated as a five-star recruit and was ranked among the top recruits in the 2017 class. Johnson was ranked by Rivals.com as the number 18 overall player (across every position) in the nation and was the 2016 Rivals 5-star challenge quarterback MVP. Northwestern has won its last THREE meetings against Michigan State and FOUR of the last five, overall. Northwestern’s record as an underdog (14-5-1 ATS its last 20) and Dantonio’s 3-10 ATS mark as a road favorite point to the Wildcats. Home dog 'barks' LOUDLY in this one. Good luck...Larry