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2017 CFB Playoffs Futures Predictions and Value Odds

Washington(12-1) @ Alabama(13-0)

  • Where: Georgia Dome. Atlanta, Georgia
  • When: December 31, 2016 3:00 pm EST
  • Spread: Washington +15.5 (-110) vs. Alabama -15.5 (-110)
  • Moneyline: Washington (+550) vs. Alabama (-800)
  • Over / Under: Over 53.5 (-110) vs. Under 53.5 (-110)

Sometimes, several opinions can be true at once. The ACC was knocked as a weak conference a few years ago – but Clemson has become an annual CFP entry. The Big Ten has endured rumblings that its best days were past – this season, Ohio State is good enough to rank in the top 4 and didn’t even win their division. Rumors of the PAC-12’s demise have been grossly exaggerated, judging by Washington’s entry in the final four. But while comparisons can be drawn to Alabama and the SEC, a higher ceiling in other P5 conferences does not add up to a lower ceiling for the Crimson Tide. Time after time, bettors have wagered on long odds that the undefeated Tide would lose the following week, only to lose their stake to a demolition-derby defense. Does any team in the CFP have a chance to out-score mighty Alabama?

Bovada’s futures odds for Nick Saban’s unbeaten top seed are at (-230), with Ohio State and Clemson at a skeptical (+500) and (+550) respectively, and Washington given the longest shot at (+1000).

Steamroller in Tuscaloosa, wild card in Washington

2017 CFB Playoffs Futures PredictionsChris Petersen has been here before. The Washington head coach’s previous gig was at Boise State where, coaching in dire circumstances in the biggest game of his life against Oklahoma, the skipper dialed up a a hook-and-ladder, an over-the-top Wildcat pass, and a hidden-ball play for the winning points. The versatility of the Washington roster, and the boldness of Petersen at the helm, make the Huskies an intriguing underdog futures pick.

But the Purple and Gold must get through Alabama. After a couple of near-collapses early in the season, the Crimson Tide defense has asserted itself as 1 of the most physical and intimidating units in recent memory. The 2016-17 ‘D went years without giving up a touchdown, it seemed, and when Florida finally struck though the air early in the SEC Championship Game, Saban cockily decided to make the Gators’ offense completely 1-dimensional. The leading Florida rusher, Jordan Scarlett, finished with 17 yards.

That kind of defense, plus natural wonder RT Jonah Williams blocking for QB Jalen Hurts, makes it hard to pin down a value bet among the 3 underdogs. The odds do not imply disrespect to OSU, UW or Clemson, but rather fear of ‘Bama.

QB Deshaun Watson and the Clemson Tigers tasted the sting of the defending champs in last year’s CFP final, losing 45-40. Given the eyeball test, it seemed that despite the many opportunities the Tigers may have had to change the outcome in Glendale, ultimately they played as well as they possibly could and still could not beat Alabama. The Tide appear to have gotten even better since then, so the head-to-head loss should discourage any multi-unit bets on the Tigers to win it all – Saban’s mercenaries lurk in the bracket.

Don’t forget the Buckeyes, who appear to have a puncher’s chance after grappling through a resurgent Big Ten slate of opponents. Beating Michigan at home, however, is not the same as beating Alabama on a neutral field. Ohio State deserves to be here, and has proven it can punish a dual-threat QB team like Clemson. That at least makes an OSU-as-champion futures wager likely to make it safely to the final before facing the gauntlet.

As un-sexy a pick this may be, Alabama is still the best value bet for CFP Championship futures. Many ‘Bama opponents are beaten before the ball is kicked off due to the intimidation factor against a potentially all-time great defense. Depending on the Huskies’ frame of mind on New Year’s Eve, that could buoy the Tide through the semi-finals by itself.

Alabama vs. Washington preview – a blow-out or a barn burner?

Ole Miss, which lost to the Crimson Tide 48-43 this season, is not as good as any of the 4 teams in the CFP. Why did they fare better than anyone? Because as a conference opponent, they weren’t quite as scared.

Live bettors should ignore the Georgia Dome scoreboard early and focus on the Huskies’ body English. Do they seem overwhelmed by fighting for inches against a pro-level front-7?

If the Purple stand their ground and keep QB Jake Browning on his feet, this game could get interesting. If it’s close in the 2nd quarter and the Huskies are spitting vinegar, wager 1 unit on a UW-to-win S/U live play that could pay off fantastically well.

Also, the O/U opened at 58 and quickly shrank 4 points, as players recognize the value in the under. One can imagine a ho-hum 26-10 win for Alabama, as Tide coaches will not be running any risky plays once acquiring a lead.

Ohio State vs. Clemson preview – cats pacing for a pasting?

Clemson has not played anyone as relentlessly physical as Ohio State in 2016-17. Auburn was a mess when the Tigers beat them. Florida State and Louisville are big and strong on the LOS but ultimately NFL-style finesse teams. Arguably the only power team that the ACC champs have faced all year was conference rival Pittsburgh.

Oh yeah, and the Tigers lost to Pitt 43-42.

Watson is still Watson, and nothing will come easy for the Buckeyes. But the QB power and read-option with J.T. Barrett can hurt the Tiger defense. Clemson is banged up at defensive tackle and DE, both crucial positions in stopping Barrett and his backs.

Our recommendation is to play Ohio State, a (-150) ML favorite at Bovada, straight-up or ATS against Clemson on New Year’s Eve.

Kurt BoyerThis article was written by Kurt Boyer

A freelance sportswriter from Missouri, Kurt has covered court, gridiron, rink and ring for 10+ years. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.


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