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Football betting: Top five contest picks of the weekend

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With the rise in popularity of football betting contests, the Yahoo Sportsbook staff is offering its top football picks for this weekend’s slate. And much like those contests, these lines locked as of Thursday night, so they won’t reflect subsequent movement.

All lines from BetMGM.

Nick Bromberg

Season record: 27-13

Utah at Stanford (Under 54)

Stanford is a mess right now after beating Oregon. The Cardinal have lost three consecutive games since that upset win and Utah is the best team in the Pac-12 South. The Utes should cruise in this one, especially if Stanford QB Tanner McKee doesn’t play. He’s questionable.

Liberty at Ole Miss (Under 67)

QB Matt Corral is one of nine Ole Miss offensive starters dealing with an injury. Not all of them will miss Saturday’s game, but it’s easy to see how Lane Kiffin will want to keep the ball on the ground, keep Corral healthy and maul a team that doesn’t have nearly as much talent.

Ohio State (-15) at Nebraska

This line has moved in Nebraska’s favor and I have no idea why. The Cornhuskers are an absolute mess and Ohio State’s offense is absolutely rolling right now.

L.A. Chargers (-1.5) at Philadelphia Eagles

The Chargers shouldn’t have a repeat of what happened when they were in Baltimore. The Ravens are far better than the Eagles.

Green Bay Packers at Kansas City Chiefs (Over 48)

The total on this game dropped 6.5 points after Aaron Rodgers’ COVID-19 absence was announced. I have no idea if the Chiefs cover the spread — they’ve burned me a couple of times this year — but I still think this game is relatively high scoring.

Frank Schwab

Season record: 18-21-1

Cincinnati Bengals (-2.5) over Cleveland Browns

The Browns are becoming a mess. The Bengals had a bad loss last week, but I’ll give them a pass for that. It’s strange to say based on preseason expectations, but I think they’re the better team.

New Orleans Saints (-6) over Atlanta Falcons

I think the Taysom Hill Saints will be just fine. I don’t see how the Falcons move the ball without Calvin Ridley.

Minnesota Vikings (+6) over Baltimore Ravens

Both of these teams love close games. The Vikings aren’t bad and this line is way too high.

L.A. Chargers (-1.5) over Philadelphia Eagles

One of these years, I’ll stop believing in the Chargers.

Tennessee Titans (+7.5) over L.A. Rams

The thing about the Titans’ last two wins is they weren’t really relying on Derrick Henry. Henry is a big loss, but this is also too much of a line adjustment.

Greg Brainos

Season record: 17-23

New England Patriots (-3.5) at Carolina Panthers

The Pats offense is humming and their defense gets either P.J. Walker or post-concussion Sam Darnold with an injured throwing shoulder.

Buffalo Bills (-14.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars

The Bills should hang at least five touchdowns on the Jags. I’ll still be rooting for Josh Allen to pick-six Josh Allen.

Las Vegas Raiders at New York Giants (+3)

The Raiders have a lot going on.

Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers (-1.5)

This line is either weird or it’s telling us that Kyler Murray isn’t going to play. Hoping for the latter, but I’m also fine with being on the non-square end.

Green Bay Packers (+7) at Kansas City Chiefs

If anyone can make a backup look like Aaron Rodgers, it’s the Chiefs’ defense.

Sam Cooper

Season record: 18-22

Army at Air Force (Under 37.5)

Service academy unders are an automatic bet. Eight of the last 10 Army vs. Air Force games have gone under. Ten of the last 10 Army-Navy games have gone under. Seven of the last 10 Navy vs. Air Force games have gone under. I like my chances.

Ohio State (-15) at Nebraska

I’m not going to overthink this one. Ohio State wasn’t super sharp vs. Penn State. I expect the Buckeyes to be better. And I think last week may have been the last stand for Scott Frost and these Huskers. How many heartbreaking losses can one program handle?

Navy (+21) at Notre Dame

Navy has been a double-digit underdog in its last six games and has covered in five of them. The Midshipmen have also covered in five of their last seven games against Notre Dame. Too many points.

Auburn at Texas A&M (-4)

I’ve been on the right side with Auburn a few times this year, but I think it’s time to hop off that train. I’ll roll with the Aggies at home.

Missouri at Georgia (Under 59.5)

Missouri was already facing a brutal task going against the UGA defense, but that got even tougher with the news that starting QB Connor Bazelak is out. I can’t wait to sweat this one out in garbage time.

Pete Truszkowski

Season record: 10-29-1

Georgia Tech (+10.5) at Miami

The simple zig-zag theory here with Miami. The Hurricanes went from huge underdogs last week and winning outright to huge favorites. I think 10.5 points is too much.

Wake Forest at North Carolina (Over 76)

The line is telling me not to bet Wake Forest, but I think the winner of this game scores near 50 points.

New England Patriots (-3.5) at Carolina Panthers

Bill Belichick made Sam Darnold see ghosts. I can only imagine what he’ll do to P.J. Walker

L.A. Chargers (-1.5) at Philadelphia Eagles

I’m missing something here, and I don’t care.

Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals (Over 47)

The Browns’ offense will improve without OBJ, and Joe Burrow will get his against this Browns secondary

Joe Garza

Season record: 21-19

Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals (Over 47)

Two franchises currently living up to their historic standing. Like Crocs vs. Skechers.

Chicago Bears (+6.5) at Steelers

Release the meme: “Oh no, baby, what is you doing???”

Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints (Under 42)

That explosive Aaron Rodgers interview? This game is the exact opposite.

Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers (-1.5)

Whether we see one-legged Kyler Murray or Colt McCoy, the 49ers — who are getting healthier with George Kittle expected back — will make us forget Kyle Shanahan is a donkey for at least a week.

L.A. Chargers (-1.5) at Philadelphia Eagles

Remember when people were saying Justin Herbert was better than Pat Mahomes? Ha, joke’s on them. That’s the real Crocs vs. Skechers conversation.

Cody Brunner

Season record: 17-21-2

Liberty at Ole Miss (-9)

Hugh Freeze's return to the Grove will make for fascinating theater and probably a lot of confiscated fan signs. I'm banking on the talent gulf here, and maybe for Lane Kiffin knowing the spread and making sure it gets covered. 

Michigan State (-3) at Purdue

Everybody's homing in on this one as a trap game. Maybe they're right, but I just don't see it. The Spartans have found ways to win all year (and cover most of the time). Purdue got its feather-in-the-cap win a few weeks ago against Iowa. 

Wake Forest (+2.5) at North Carolina

This is one of those spreads where it feels like Vegas knows something we don't. The Tar Heels have allowed an average of more than 30 points a game this season in an off year in the ACC. The Demon Deacons haven't exactly run a murderer's row, but they're the better team on both sides of the ball.

UTSA (-11) at UTEP

I was a bit stunned to see the Roadrunners not make the inaugural CFP rankings. They have a few quality road wins and have taken care of business against lesser competition — which UTEP most certainly is. 

Broncos at Cowboys (-10)

I should've been on this train all season. The Broncos are competitive enough, but if Dak Prescott is healthy, this one shouldn't be close.