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Knights v Midshipmen 2017 Army-Navy Game Money Line, Preview

Army Black Knights(8-3) @ Navy Midshipmen(6-5)

  • Where: Lincoln Financial Field. Philadelphia, PA (Neutral Site)
  • When: December 9, 2017 3:00 pm EST
  • Spread: Army (+3) vs Navy (-3)
  • Moneyline: Army (+140) vs Navy (-160)
  • Over / Under: Over 46 (-110) vs Under 46 (-110)

Coverage of the Army-Navy Game is always a little bit condescending by omission. The pomp and circumstance becomes a larger story than the players, coaches, or impending clash on the field. Ooh, look at the brand new jerseys, aren’t they awesome! Will the President show up? Hey, these teams run that option stuff, right? 

Yes, these teams run that option stuff. More importantly, each is a successful college football program by any standard…not just “Army” or “Navy” standards. Army recently fled a mediocre conference and hired an excellent head coach. The FBS-independent Black Knights plowed their way through a challenging schedule with an 8-3 record in ’17. Navy plays an even tougher schedule in the AAC, a “Power-6” conference as its fans call it. The Midshipmen are 6-5, at the tail end of another exhausting season that promised more than it prospered.

Based on the SU series record, last season’s wild win for Army could be written off as a fluke. Navy had won the previous 14 contests, an amazing streak in a rivalry as heated as this one. But there are danger signs for the Middies in 2017, namely that they’ve worn down physically and emotionally, starting with the most important position, quarterback. Just like 2016.

Odds-makers are wary. The West Pointers are slight money line underdogs (+140), despite having a better body of work than Navy in October and November.

Army-Navy Game 2017: The Teams

Let’s be original, and look at the match-up on the field.

Army and Navy run the Flexbone, an aggressive option-based running scheme with the QB under center. HCs Jeff Monken of Army and Ken Niumatalolo of Navy have each recruited very well at quarterback. But for the first time in a while, Army is looking better under center.

Ahmad Bradshaw has led West Point through several close scrapes this season. Fast and gifted, Bradshaw has had issues running against exactly 2 defenses in 2017 – the Ohio State Buckeyes, and the Temple Owls of the tough AAC. Otherwise he’s been dynamite, recently rushing for 244 yards against North Texas.

The Knights lost that one 52-49, snapping a 6-game winning streak. But North Texas is a C-USA division winner, not the type of patsy it has been in the past. Army hasn’t suffered as many breakdowns in pass coverage or run-support this year, thanks in large part to junior LB James Nachtigal.

Navy’s QB Zach Abey is an enigma. The junior looked like a world-beater as the ’17 team raced to a 5-0 start. But defensive woes have put pressure on Abey to perform at a high level, and he has been hampered by injuries and turnovers during the team’s wobbly finish.

The Mids like to throw deep more than Army does, and that facet of Abey’s game is lacking as well. Do-it-all skill player Malcolm Perry is a game-breaker, but his speed has yet to be fully utilized as the team has been punished by the best in its conference (and Notre Dame). Defense was a little better in the loss to Houston in Game 11, but in the 2nd half the offense ground to a halt completely, and the kicking game was a shambles.

Over there, under here

Wager on over (46) points for Army-Navy at Bet Online and get a 50% sign-up bonus and $50 mobile free play.

O/U totals for Army-Navy ’17 opened around 54 and have shot downward by 8 points in just over a week of serious betting action.

Bettors know that even if service academy defenses seem weaker than other units, coaching and tactics are likely to make up the difference. These schools know their own offense and know how to stop it. Heck, they’ll be running a lot of the same plays on Saturday.

Why else might the O/U have dropped to (46)? Probably the lack of a 3rd-and-long passing game from either side this year. Bradshaw and Abey are bullish inside runners, and will keep their units chugging along unless there’s an episode. And don’t be fooled…they can pass, too. But the real measure of a Navy or Army QB is whether he can pass accurately for 1st downs when a defense knows it’s coming.

Keenan Reynolds could do that. Zach Abey can’t. As for the Black Knights, they might as well have Bradshaw run around end when it’s 3rd and 15.

You could see a few more punts in the Army-Navy game this weekend. But unless they magically find a solid placekicker by Saturday. the Midshipmen will always go for it on 4th down in plus territory.

That means a smart O/U play could be to wait until the line drops even further, say (45), and then bet the over.

Army-Navy 2017 – The Pick

We’re liking Army on the money line. The point spread is worthless at (+3) between 2 teams that don’t kick lots of field goals, and (+140) odds are never a bad deal for an evenly-matched game.

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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