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07-22-2004, 05:57 PM
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PRO INFO SPORTS finished the 2003 NFL and NCAA Football seasons strong and we are eagerly awaiting the start of the 2004 campaigns. Our information, analysis, and advice are second-to-none. Even our complimentary selections are superior to other handicappers' paid picks. Just ask our FREE-LERT subscribers, as late last year we released our entire Sunday NFL card for FREE to demonstrate our expertise. The results were a stellar 5-2 day, which followed a 5-2 week in college football. Our NFL and NCAA Football 7 STAR SELECTIONS were a perfect 4-0 on the weekend, as clients enjoyed another winner that Sunday Night with our final top-rated play of the day:

7 STAR SELECTION (5% of Bankroll)

ATLANTA +1.5 over Carolina

The Carolina Panthers look to snap a two-game losing streak and clinch a division title tonight in Atlanta; however, the Atlanta Falcons will have something to say about that as Michael Vick will make his first start of the season. Carolina fell last week at home, 25-16, to the Philadelphia Eagles, while the Falcons were losing their third straight game, 17-13, at Houston. Vick played for the first time since breaking his leg in the preseason game and played well. Without question he gave his team a lift, going 8-of-11 passing for 60 yards, and ran three times for 16 yards. Most importantly, he showed he could still move around like he did prior to his injury and he bounced back after taking a couple of good hits.

Carolina broke the six-game losing streak to Atlanta in September with a 23-3 win at home. It was the only game Carolina has won by more than a touchdown this season, and, of course, Vick was not in uniform. The last time the teams played in Atlanta, the Falcons won 30-0 in October of last year. Vick had 297 combined yards and a touchdown. In the two meetings in 2002, Atlanta outscored Carolina 71-0 as Vick was unstoppable. The Panthers' offense continues to revolve around RB Stephen Davis. With four games to play, he is only 175 yards away from setting a career high in rushing yardage, but defenses have been doing a better job of against the Panthers' offensive line and Davis the past few weeks. Davis has 49 attempts for only 174 yard during the mini-skid.

Atlanta is simply a much, much different team without Michael Vick. Sometimes a single player's value to a team can be overestimated, but not here. Backups Doug Johnson and Kurt Kittner are pocket passers and were unable to buy extra time by scrambling. Vick will be able to move around to give his receivers time to get downfield, an element of the Falcon offense that's been missing with Vick out. On defense, Carolina has not been nearly as good as advertised. The Panthers' front four isn't getting sacks and has had trouble with good running teams. Linebacker Dan Morgan is out with a concussion and the secondary has been the weak link in the defense. That should give a Vick and the Falcons a fighting chance here.

Carolina has the most trouble with teams that have mobile, athletic QBs. The Panthers have lost games this year to teams quarterbacked by Steve McNair, Tony Banks, Quincy Carter, and Donovan McNabb. They did beat Aaron Brooks' Saints twice this season, but did not cover the spread in the first meeting, and needed OT the second time. Now, Vick has the potential to eat the Panthers alive, as he proved last year. The game could easily come down to kicking and special teams. With three missed field goals and a missed extra point by John Kasay last week, the Panthers are clearly struggling in this area.

When Michael Vick entered last week's game in Houston, he clearly gave the Falcons a huge lift, and nearly brought them from behind to catch the Texans. The GeorgiaDome will be rocking tonight and the team will come out with a fiery intensity. Despite the poor year they've had, they won't be lacking for confidence with Vick at the controls, as Atlanta is 9-2-2 ATS vs. Carolina, including 6-0-1 at home. In looking at some other numbers, we find 2 PRO INFO SPORTS POWER SYSTEMS active here. Non-Monday division road favorites of less than 3 points, playing against a team looking to avenge a SU road loss that is not coming off a shutout win, are 0-16 SU/ATS since 1989, losing to the spread by an average of 13 points a game. Also, division home underdogs of less than 7 points and division road dogs of less than 13 points off a non-conference game and before another non-conference game are a combined 15-0-1 ATS since 1990. Look for the best effort of the season from Atlanta as they continue the Carolina slide.

PROJECTED FINAL SCORE: ATLANTA 23 CAROLINA 21

ACTUAL FINAL SCORE: ATLANTA 20 CAROLINA 14 (OT)!


Our solid selections continued with the college football bowl season right through the National Championship games. On New Year's Eve, our top FIVE plays were ALL winners and on New Year’s Day our top 3 selections all cashed, including our 7 STAR winner with USC beating Michigan by 14 in the Rose Bowl, exactly as forecasted. Our top-rated 5, 6, and 7 STAR SELECTIONS finished at 11-1 with another winner in the Sugar Bowl:

7 STAR SELECTION (5% of Bankroll)

LSU +7 over Oklahoma

The eyes of the college football world will be focused on the Louisiana Superdome tonight, as the second-ranked Louisiana State Tigers take on the third-ranked Oklahoma Sooners in the 70th annual Sugar Bowl, with the BCS national title on the line. Three teams had legitimate claims to a spot here, with USC being left out of the big game. The Tigers found their way to New Orleans thanks to seven straight wins to finish this season, culminating in a 34-13 thrashing of Georgia in the SEC Championship Game. The Sooners, who won the first 12 games of the season, were manhandled in the Big 12 Title Game by Kansas State, 35-7, but the BCS formula still put Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl.

The Tigers come into the Sugar Bowl with one of the most diverse offensive attacks in the nation. The team has been able to move the ball both on the ground and through the air this season, en route to a healthy 34.9 ppg. The offense is generating 427 yards per game, getting great balance between the run, at 187.8 ypg, and the pass, at 238.8 ypg. Veteran quarterback Matt Mauck has put it all together this season, as he has completed over 64 percent of his passes thus far for 2,701 yards and 28 TDs. It certainly helps to have some of the nation's best outlets to throw to, including Michael Clayton. Clearly one of the top wideouts in the entire country, he comes in with great numbers, having amassed 74 receptions, for 1,041 yards and 10 TDs. The ground game lacks a workhorse type back, but freshman tailback Justin Vincent has been the best of the bunch, averaging 6.4 yards per carry and rumbling for team-highs of 884 yards and nine TDs on the ground. The offensive line will certainly be under pressure in this game, but has done a nice job in protecting Mauck to this point, allowing only 17 sacks in 13 games.

While the LSU offense has done its job this season, it has been the play of the defensive unit that is most responsible for the team's postseason trip to New Orleans. The Tigers currently lead the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 10.8 ppg, and rank second in total defense behind Oklahoma. Running the football is certainly an act of lunacy against this aggressive group, as LSU is yielding just 2.4 yards per carry and 68 yards per game thus far. With 96 TFLs, 39 sacks and 31 takeaways, this is simply a defense that gets up the field and makes plays. They will get their stiffest challenge of the season here.

Bob Stoops' Sooners team has done just about whatever they wanted to this season. Despite the debacle against Kansas State in the Big 12 Title Game, the Sooners still boast one of the nation's top offenses. The team leads the nation in scoring at 45.2 ppg, while ranking 12th in total offense at 461 ypg. The rushing game takes a backseat to one of the country's best passing attacks, which ranks third nationally at 308 yards per outing. Heisman Trophy winner Jason White is the reason for that. The veteran signal-caller has had a remarkable season this year, ranking second nationally in pass efficiency, having completed 64 percent of his passes, for 3,744 yards and 40 TDs, with only eight interceptions. The Sooners have their own Clayton to throw to downfield in junior Mark Clayton, who has hauled in 79 balls, for 1,393 yards and 15 TDs thus far. The ground game plays second fiddle in this offense, generating 153 yards per game. Like LSU, the team lacks a game-breaking type, but sophomore Kejuan Jones got the majority of the work this year, carrying the ball 205 times, for 866 yards and 11 TDs.

Defense is the name of the game once again in Norman this year, as that side of the ball is every bit as responsible for Oklahoma's appearance in the Sugar Bowl. The Sooners are allowing just 14.8 ppg this year, while leading the country in total defense. Trying to move the ball on the ground is just as difficult as through the air against Oklahoma.

Despite the loss against KSU, the Sooners are still one of the nation's most dangerous teams and will fight tooth-and-nail for their second national crown in the Stoops Era. Nick Saban, however, has seen the blueprint for defeating OU and LSU has the kind of athletic defense that should cause problems for White and company. This is going to be a brawl with both teams taking their shots. LSU has played in a playoff atmosphere for much of the second half of the season, and that kind of experience may be just what the team needs to post a win in the Superdome. It was actually Baylor of all teams that exposed the Sooners problems with blitzes, and Kansas State perfected the defensive gameplan. LSU will bring their own version and should have a lot of success. Oklahoma still has to be a bit shell-shocked after their implosion in the Big 12 Championship, as their aura of invincibility was thrown out like yesterday’s garbage. No coach in the country exudes as much confidence, or does a better job of preparing his team for a big game as Bob Stoops, but Oklahoma has spent a great deal of time sulking over their loss and wondering what happened. Until it came up against K-State's fifth-ranked defense, Oklahoma hadn't faced a defense ranked higher than 22nd in the country. Now it gets to face one even much better than the Wildcats. The Tigers blitz on almost every snap and have the secondary to prevent the big play. Contrary to popular opinion, LSU has more pro prospects, more speed, and more athleticism than Oklahoma. This is the real deal team playing what will amount to a home game with all the pressure in the world placed on the Sooners.

The favorite is just 1-4 ATS in the last 5 Sooner bowl game, and Oklahoma is 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games vs. SEC foes, none of which were close to the caliber of this LSU team. The Tigers are 5-1 ATS when playing against a team with a winning record, and 15-5 ATS after allowing 14 points or less. This should be a classic, much like last year’s Fiesta Bowl, in which the underdog prevailed in OT. A similar outcome is quite possible here as well.

PROJECTED FINAL SCORE: LSU 27 OKLAHOMA 24 (OT)

ACTUAL FINAL SCORE: LSU 21 OKLAHOMA 14!

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