Thursday’s Best Picks: Bet Like a Pro With Our Winning Selections

Swinging Johnson

Thursday, December 17, 2015 5:44 PM UTC

Thursday, Dec. 17, 2015 5:44 PM UTC

Thursday night features our top NFL pick, NBA pick, college basketball pick and NHL pick. There’s plenty of action to be had and money to be made, so let’s sweep the board tonight!

Tampa Bay Bucs (6-7 SU, 7-6 ATS) vs. St. Louis Rams (5-8 SU, 5-7-1 ATS)
Cornerback may be the most important defensive position on the field and the Rams have their ace back in the fold. Trumaine Johnson may not be a household name outside of St. Louis but he is a bona fide game changer and he proved that again last week by turning Megatron into the Invisible Man holding Detroit’s superstar wideout to only one catch in the Rams 21-14 victory as three-point home dogs in NFL odds. Johnson was sidelined with a thigh injury during the Rams game against Baltimore on November 22nd and his absence was immediately felt as St. Louis lost the following two games and allowed a combined 58 points without him roaming the secondary.

The Bucs will be without Vincent Jackson, out with a knee injury sustained last week against the Saints, therefore Jameis Winston will be looking for Mike Evans who will no doubt be blanketed by St. Louis’s Johnson. The Bucs will be forced to go to the ground where the Rams have surrendered three consecutive 100-yard rushing performances. However, the rushing edge will go to the Rams who will employ the electric Todd Gurley to move the chains.

I believe St. Louis is the side to back in your NFL picks because they not only have Trumaine Johnson back but should see Janoris Jenkins return as well. Winston will be hard pressed to find open targets and the Rams will bring the heat. St. Louis is in a good spot here.

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NFL Picks: Rams -2½
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline


Houston Rockets (12-14 SU, 9-17 ATS) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (4-21 SU, 9-16 ATS)
Houston is below .500 as they enter this matchup with the Lakers and much of that disappointment must fall squarely on the broad shoulders of Dwight Howard who has posted an average of only 12.9 points per game which is almost six points less than his career average. Defense has been a foreign concept to the Rockets who are currently mired in 28th place in that category coupled with an average of only 42.8 rebounds per game ranking them 23rd in the league. Houston has lost their last two games by wide margins, failing to cover the NBA odds against both the Nuggets and Kings. This is not the Houston Rockets everyone anticipated headed into the season and it seems the only thing they do well is score (ranked 5th with 104.1 PPG) but their lack of going hard to the glass and their allergy to defending the opposition has led to a season of frustration and disappointment.

However, Houston is 4-0 straight up and against the spread versus the Lakers over the past three seasons with their latest meeting on Saturday night resulting in a lopsided 126-97 victory over LA. If you included the Rockets in your NBA picks Saturday night you never had to sweat it as Houston, an 11 ½ point home favorite, cruised to the easy cover. Yet this is not the same old mismatch any longer even though the Lakers stink to put it mildly. Los Angeles is coming off a fine effort in their last outing with Kobe Bryant resembling a bit of his former self knocking down 22 points en route to a 113-95 victory over the Bucks. This may be a good spot for the Lakers as they are now at home and fresh off the heels of their best performance of the season. The squares will see a relatively low line on the Rockets and back them implicitly but we are going the opposite way as the Lakers are undoubtedly rejuvenated with Kobe’s most recent performance as well as the sting of a blowout to the Rockets still clear in their minds.

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NBA Pick: Lakers +6 
Best Line Offered: at Youwager


Marshall (3-6 SU, 2-6 ATS) vs. West Virginia (8-1 SU, 5-1 ATS)
The Thundering Herd of Marshall began their season with six consecutive losses but turned that around recently with three straight wins. Before you believe this team is destined for a miracle resurgence it should be noted that their victories came against Eastern Illinois, Eastern Kentucky and NC Central. Not exactly NCAAB powerhouses but a win is a win.

On the flipside we have the No. 20 ranked team in the country, the West Virginia Mountaineers, off to a flying start with an 8-1 record. Those that have had faith in the Mountaineers and have included them religiously in their NCAA basketball picks have gotten a healthy return on their investment with a 5-1 ATS mark. The NCAA basketball odds makers hung a heavy number on West Virginia in their last outing installing them as 21 ½ point home favorites over Louisiana-Monroe and they did not disappoint. The Mountaineers completely overmatched their rivals and drew away with a 100-58 victory.

The only stumble the Mountaineers have had thus far this season has been against the No. 8 ranked Virginia Cavaliers where they could not weather the Cavs’ suffocating defense and were outclassed on a neutral site 70-54. This matchup tonight resembles all the others that West Virginia has had against small conference opponents. This team is simply too talented and too deep not to run away with this one. Marshall has a habit of beating up the small schools but wilts against the big boys. West Virginia is indeed a big boy in college basketball this season and when I smell a mismatch I don’t care how many points I am laying.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: West Virginia -20½ 
Best Line Offered: at JustBet


New York Islanders (18-14, -0.2 units) vs. Colorado Avalanche (15-17, +1.7 units)
The Islanders had reeled off wins in seven of their last eight games when they met the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night. The NHL odds makers expected the good times to continue to roll as they installed the Isles as -165 road favorites. But that ended abruptly in Florida as they fell 5-1 despite outshooting the Panthers 34-16. It was an uncharacteristically weak outing for Islanders top goalie Jaroslav Halak who had only 12 saves in the game but should be between the pipes tonight. Halak boasts a 2.16 goals against average and a .920 save percentage which has been instrumental to New York’s success this season. The Islanders currently rank 10th in goals scored (2.7), 7th in goals against (2.3), 12th on the power play (19.5%) and 4th when shorthanded (86.3%).

Colorado has taken control of their season after a weak start. The Avs have won six of their last eight and the defense has been stout. If you have included the Avalanche in your NHL picks over their last three road games then you have been paid off in spades. Colorado was installed by the NHL odds makers as +170, +155 and +170 road underdogs against the Predators, Blues and Blackhawks respectively and won each contest.

While I can respect Colorado’s recent spate of success I don’t believe it will continue tonight at home. The Islanders have defeated the Avs soundly in their last two contests including a 6-0 shutout in their last trip to the Pepsi Center. The Islanders are too quick in the offensive zone despite the fact that Colorado has played well defensively. This is a sound choice tonight as we are getting the Isles laying very little juice.

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NHL Pick: Islanders -110 
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle

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