Alabama Georgia Odds – College Football Championship

georgia-alabama-oddsNo. 4 Alabama will take on No. 2 Georgia in the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship. This is the second time in the past seven years that we’ll see an All-SEC title game.

Under Nick Saban, Alabama has made fairly regular appearances on this stage. 2018 will represent the sixth time in the last nine seasons that Saban’s Crimson Tide will play for a championship. Alabama is 4-1 in national title contests under Saban.

Georgia is in less familiar territory, because this is their first championship appearance since 1983. And they haven’t won a national title since 1980.

One more piece of history worth mentioning before we get into the game analysis is that Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart was once one of Saban’s assistants. And the latter is 11-0 all time against his former assistants. Can Kirby break the streak?

Let’s find out by covering what each team needs to do to win. But I’m first going to cover the odds from the GTBets sportsbook.

2018 College Football Championship Odds (Jan 8 at 8:10pm ET)

Alabama Georgia Point Spread
Alabama -4 (-110)
Georgia +4 (-110)

Alabama Georgia Moneyline
Alabama -185 (-110)
Georgia +165 (-110)

Over/Under
Over 44.5 (-110)
Under 44.5 (-110)

Key Factors for Georgia (12-1)

jalen-hurts-alabamaJust like Bama, the Bulldogs need strong play from their young quarterback.

Jalen Hurts, a sophomore who took over the starting job last season, has national title experience. However, he’s also thrown fewer passes and for less yardage this season.

Hurts is still a work in progress as a passer. But he makes smart decisions and threw just one interception in 13 games. Hurts also has the ability to pick up large chunks of yardage on the ground.

Calvin Ridley is the top receiver on this team. He’s caught 53 passes for 935 yards and 4 touchdowns, which is very good on a team that prefers to run.

Speaking of which, Alabama will rely on a plethora of running backs to move the ball. Damien Harris lead the team in rushing with 983 yards and 11 touchdowns, while Bo Scarbrough (573 yards, 8 TDs), Najee Harris (306 yards, 3 TDs), and Josh Jacobs (276, TD) will all get carries.

The Tide will lean heavily on their elite defensive unit. They led college football by limiting opponents to 11.1 points per game. They also held opponents to just 3.92 yards per play.

Another promising defensive stat for Alabama is that they only allow 91.8 rushing yards per game. Furthermore, they’ve given up just two rushes of 40 or more yards. That said, Georgia’s talented running backs likely won’t break any huge plays.

alabama-linebackers-injuriesAll of this is made more impressive when considering that the Tide lost so much talent to the NFL Draft in the spring. They’ve also dealt with multiple injuries to their front seven, including Dylan Moses during bowl practices and Anfernee Jennings hurting his knee in the Sugar Bowl.

Alabama has plenty of other talent across the board. Senior defensive tackle (11.5 TFL) will plug the middle, while nose guard Da’Ron Payne is also a run-stuffer. Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick is perhaps the best defensive player in the nation. He can both cover elite receivers and provide strong run-stopping support at the line of scrimmage.

The Crimson Tide have several points going in their favor. They just need to put everything together to win Saban’s fifth championship in less than a decade.

Key Factors for Alabama (12-1)

This is a tough national championship game to call, because both Georgia and Alabama have similar styles. They’re teams that like to run the football and play strong defense. On the other hand, neither of these schools are known for throwing long-field bombs all game.

jake-fromm-titleBut this is one area where the Bulldogs will try to create some separation. True freshman Jake Fromm has played very well ever since taking over for the injured Jacob Eason. Fromm has thrown for 2,383 yards, 23 touchdowns, and just five interceptions. He’s also completed 63.7 percent of his passes, and got a late TD throw against Oklahoma that sent the game into overtime.

Georgia’s game plan won’t center on Fromm’s throwing abilities. But if he can deliver like he did against Oklahoma, it’ll certainly help the Bulldogs’ chances.

But Georgia will mainly look for their talented tailbacks to take the pressure off the freshmen signal caller. Senior Nick Chubb has had an outstanding season with 1,320 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns. Fellow senior Sony Michel has also made important contributions with 1,129 rushing yards and 16 TDs.

nick-chubb-title-gameAs if these two aren’t enough, freshman D’Andre Swift has had a solid campaign with 603 yards and three scores on the ground. If anybody can break through the imposing Alabama front seven, it’s the trio of Chubb, Michel, and Swift.

The Bulldogs also bring a tough defense into this contest. They ranked fifth nationally in points allowed per game at 15.7. They also hold opponents to just 4.65 yards per play. Georgia ranks well in rushing yards allowed too, limiting opponents to 121.9 per game.

This team may not have the recent championship experience that Alabama has. But Georgia is equally deserving of being here. Their strong defense and rushing attack definitely gives them a chance to win this game.

Prediction on Alabama vs Georgia

nick-saban-alabamaThe 2018 College Football National Championship game is more like an end of the regular season rivalry game than anything. And this is perfectly all right with me, given that these two teams will make for a very competitive contest.

Alabama is a moderate favorite at -4. And this makes sense, given that they hold a slight edge in most statistical categories.

Of course, stats don’t mean everything and Georgia should give them a good run. But I have a difficult time seeing this Crimson Tide squad losing two national championships in a row. Furthermore, they simply have more experience than Georgia at this level.

Final Score Prediction: Alabama 28, Georgia 23
Alabama covers -4 spread

Panthers vs Saints Odds – NFC Wild Card Preview

panthers-saints-playoffs-oddsThe New Orleans Saints will have the unenviable task of trying to beat the Carolina Panthers for the third time this season. But the good news for New Orleans is that they’ll also be hosting this NFC Wild Card matchup.

It’s almost surreal to see Drew Brees, Sean Payton, and the rest of the Saints in this position. After all, they started the season 0-2, with the Minnesota Vikings and New England Patriots absolutely shredding their defense.

Things got so bad that many wondered if the Brees/Payton days were numbered. An 11-3 run later, and New Orleans is hosting a playoff game in the SuperDome.

Can Carolina beat the experts’ predictions and pull off an upset? Let’s find out by discussing the various aspects of this game, including the GTBets odds, each team’s keys to victory, and my final score prediction.

Carolina vs New Orleans NFC Wild Card (Jan 7 at 4:30pm ET)

Panthers vs Saints Point Spread
Carolina +7 (-118)
Saints -7 (-102)

Panthers vs Saints Moneyline
Carolina +245
Saints -290

Over/Under
Over 47.5 (-110)
Under 47.5 (-110)

Key Factors for Carolina (11-5)

Cam NewtonThe biggest thing that the Panthers need to improve upon this time around involves their defense. In Week 3, they gave up 34 points to the Saints and offered little resistance in a 34-13 loss. It certainly didn’t help matters that quarterback Cam Newton was picked off three times.

Week 13 saw both teams face off again with matching 8-3 records. Newton and the Panthers played better, but the defense was a letdown again in a 31-21 loss. They especially had trouble containing the running back duo of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram.

Newton will try to lead this offense to an upset with his dual threat abilities. The 7-year veteran passed for 3,302 yards, 22 touchdowns, and 16 interceptions on the year. He also rushed for another 754 yards and 6 touchdowns.

greg-olsen-panthersOne big help for Newton is that tight end Greg Olsen will play. Olsen missed most of the season with a broken foot, and didn’t take the field in either contest against the Saints.

He unfortunately hasn’t looked like himself most of the season, hauling in just 17 catches for 231 yards and zero TDs. But given Olsen’s pedigree of success, we can reasonably assume that he’ll be a dangerous weapon on Sunday.

One bright spot has been the play of receiver Devin Funchess. In Olsen’s absence, Funchess turned in a solid campaign with 63 catches, 840 yards, and 8 touchdowns.

Running back Christian McCaffrey is another important weapon for Carolina’s offense. He caught 80 passes for 651 yards and five touchdowns. The Stanford first-rounder added another 435 yards and two scores on the ground.

The keys for Carolina will be limiting the Saints’ scoring opportunities, and making plays downfield. The latter is up in the air, because Olsen is the best downfield option. But he’ll have to prove that he can play like his old self again.

If the Panthers get a few big plays on offense and earn some easy scores, they’ll put serious pressure on New Orleans.

Key Factors for Saints (11-5)

kamara-saints-panthers-playoffsNew Orleans comes into this game with plenty of confidence, thanks to their previous victories over the Panthers, and home-field advantage.

The first victory actually saw the Saints utilize Adrian Peterson a fair amount. Peterson is no longer on the team, but New Orleans has even better options in Ingram and Kamara. The latter has really broken out this season with 728 rushing yards, 826 receiving yards, and 13 total touchdowns.

The second win saw New Orleans spread the wealth around, with eight players catching at least one pass and three different players running the ball. Kamara was especially huge in this contest, gaining 126 yards from scrimmage and scoring two TDs.

Receiver Michael Thomas also came up big, tallying seven catches for 87 yards and a score. Thomas was key to opening up underneath routes for Ingram, Willie Snead and Brandon Coleman.

New Orleans has the ability to confuse opposing defenses, given that they have so many weapons. And we look for the Panthers to have a difficult time figuring out where to divert their attention.

Speaking of defense, New Orleans got far better in this department in 2017. It’s never easy containing Cam Newton due to his ability to run and pass.

But the Saints’ defense has held Carolina to a combined 34 points (17.0 PPG) in two games. If they turn out yet another solid defensive performance, this game could be over before the fourth quarter.

Prediction on Carolina vs New Orleans

drew-breesNew Orleans opened at -6.5. And the line hasn’t moved yet, because it’s at -7 right now. Frankly, I’m a little surprised that the odds haven’t changed more, given how the Saints have all the ingredients to win this one.

But I strongly believe that many bettors are too focused on the task of beating the same opponent three times in a season. In reality, everybody should be looking at how New Orleans is playing in the SuperDome; they have multiple big-play threats on offense; and their defense is at least a top-12 unit.

Carolina is unlikely to go down without a good fight. But I still think that New Orleans wins this one fairly comfortably.

Final Score Prediction: Saints 31, Panthers 23