Once again this season, the ACC Atlantic Division should be tougher than the Coastal from top to bottom. My betting outlook for 2018 for each team below highlights that and you can see my season win total projections for each squad.
I’m previewing all the Power 5 conferences in the coming weeks, which began with the Big Ten here. Hit me up on Twitter @JonnyOddsShark and keep an eye for the PoddsShark podcast on iTunes, where I’m featuring fabulous guests to help me handicap each conference. This week I’ll talk to CBS’s Will Brinson about the ACC. Subscribe and take a listen.
Check out the ACC Coastal division preview here.
My ACC Atlantic picks...
Clemson 10.5 (over -155)
Clemson could get some betting value again this year after losing in the national semifinals last year and an 8-5-1 ATS (against the spread) season. That’s a fail by today’s Clemmy standards.
I love Kelly Bryant at QB and I feel he just doesn’t get the credit he deserves. He doesn’t try to do too much, with a menacing defensive line that’s among the best in the nation taking care of business when he doesn’t have the ball.
This defense will be a nightmare to play against again in 2018 and there isn’t nearly enough juice on this OVER. The schedule smells like freshly baked cupcakes with spots at Georgia Tech (Sept. 22), at Florida State (Nov. 11) and vs South Carolina (Nov. 24) being the only ones that might not be a breeze.
Florida State 8.5 (under -140)
New coach Willie Taggart will probably focus on the run game, which should be FSU’s strength this year with Cam Akers and Jacques Patrick in the backfield. I’m not sure what to make of either QB yet – James Blackman and Deondre Francois. Lots of talent but inexperience and O-line was terrible in pass protection last season.
The schedule makes this total seem way too lofty with games at Miami, at NC State, at Notre Dame and matchups vs BC and Florida to close out the year. Don’t forget Va Tech to open the season.
One traditionally strong betting spot for the ’Noles is conference games at home: 31-3 SU (straight up) and 20-14 ATS over the past five seasons.
NC State 7.5 (under -140)
The Wolfmen have the best QB-WR corps in the ACC so they’re gonna rack up points. Ryan Finley returns for a sixth college season and he’ll have his top three receivers back – Stephen Louis, Kevin Harmon and Jacobi Meyers.
The defense struggled last year and Ted Roof will come on as co-DC with an aim to clean up the pass defense (104th in 2017). Expect lofty totals until that happens. I got eight wins for these guys at least – maybe even as many as 10 with a cushy non-con slate helping.
Wake Forest 6.5 (under -160)
Wake has four fifth-year seniors starting on the offensive line and I love a good O-line on a team with tempered expectations.
Head coach Dave Clawson has helped bring some respectability back to Wake, making the biggest improvement in yards per play in the Power 5 from 2016 to 2017 with 6.3 yards per play last season. The Deacs tied as the second-best bet in the conference in 2018 with BC at 8-4-1 ATS and I’m looking for more betting value here this season. One concern is they lose All-ACC kicker Mike Weaver and they don’t have much to replace him.
Boston College 6.5
BC’s strengths will be the O-line (all returning starters) and the top running back in the ACC in A.J. Dillon. The front seven on defense should be sturdy again, so the Eagles are a team that you’ll need to do up your chin strap against.
They went 5-7 OVER/UNDER in 2017 and I expect to see some lower totals for them this year. The Eagles finished the season 8-1-1 against the spread last year so I expect them to see love from bettors early on this season.
The health of sophomore QB Anthony Brown will be a storyline, returning from a knee injury suffered late last season. Gotta like the schedule that features UMass, Holy Cross, at Purdue and Temple for a non-con slate.
The Cards tend to be way overvalued at home where they went 23-38 ATS over the past 10 seasons and just 6-14 ATS in conference play over the last five years. Bettors have to be aware of that.
Life without Lamar Jackson begins but sophomore Jawon Pass has all his starting receivers and most of the O-line returning, so the transition might be smoother than many think in a pass-first offense (no pun intended).
The DBs were so bad at times they were hard to watch last season so returning only two starters on defense may actually be a good thing for Lou-town. If you take the OVER, you are betting on big improvements on D. Won’t start easy in Week 1 as 25.5-point dogs against Alabama in Orlando.
Believe it or not, ’Cuse was the fastest-tempo team in the country last season and QB Eric Dungey led the conference with 278 passing yards per game. But that resulted in a 3-9 O/U record as the second-best UNDER team in the conference. The defense didn’t rank better than 99th in passing yards, rushing yards or points allowed and the Orange replace all the linebackers this year – which was their strength. Duddn’t look good.