Hello, and happy Friday to you all. I want to echo Pete Blackburn’s words this morning and let any brands know that they can send me free things, too. Some of my favorite things are the free things that I’ve received.
So far, the only things I’ve gotten as a result of this newsletter are angry tweets and emails.
Anyway, I hope I don’t leave you feeling like you need to fire off some angry thoughts in my direction this weekend, because I have a packed newsletter for you today. I’ve got a couple of picks for Friday night, and then a lot more to get you through both Saturday and Sunday. You don’t have to thank me; I don’t do it for your gratitude. I do it with the hope that somebody will send me free stuff.
I’m going to check the mail to see if any of that stuff has arrived, and while I do that, you can catch up on your reading. I’ll be back in a minute.
OK, let’s make some money.
All times Eastern, and all odds via William Hill Sportsbook
🔥 The Hot Ticket
No. 25 Louisiana at Appalachian State, 8:30 p.m. | TV: ESPN
The Pick: Appalachian State -3 (-105): Based upon history and preseason expectations, this is the game that was supposed to be the Sun Belt Championship. Coastal Carolina threw a wrench in those plans for Appalachian State, however, but we’ve still got an exciting matchup on between two of the better programs in the Power Five. They’re also two similar teams, making it a bit more challenging to handicap this matchup. The longer and closer I look, the more Appalachian State begins to look like the smartest play.
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Neither team has a glaring weakness, but if there is one, it’s the Louisiana run defense. The Cajuns rank 95th nationally in success rate against the run at 45.8% and though they do a good job of limiting explosive runs, as they allow only 4.26 yards per carry (70th). Tonight they’ll be facing an Appalachian State offense that ranks 22nd nationally in rushing success rate and averaged 5.59 yards per carry.
Also, whenever you see a ranked team as an underdog to an unranked team, it should raise an eyebrow. That’s just enough to push me to the Mountaineers here, but don’t expect this to be easy. Odds are this is going to be a close game. You’ll be sweating out the entire 60 minutes and possibly into overtime. In other words, a great way to start your weekend!
Key Trend: Ranked underdogs are only 11-22-1 ATS this season.
Here’s what SportsLine is saying about the game: You already know the Advanced Computer Model’s been in the kitchen cooking up some simulations. What’s this game looking like out the oven?
💰 The Picks
🏀 College Basketball
No. 4 Wisconsin at Marquette, 7 p.m | TV: FS1
The Pick: Wisconsin (-190) — This is one of those times where I’m comfortable taking a favorite against the spread, but I find the moneyline to be a smarter play. I’d probably have this as more of a one or two-point spread if the game were being played in a packed building, but with the current situation, I’m not sure Marquette has much of a home-court advantage. The Golden Eagles are coming off a loss to Oklahoma State and were not impressive offensively. Tonight they’re facing a Wisconsin team that’s one of the best in the country defensively and is top 20 in adjusted efficiency on offense. Toss in Wisconsin’s depth and experience, and the Badgers getting the win is the safest play.
Key Trend: Wisconsin is 20-5 straight up as a favorite since 2018.
Lions at Bears, Sunday, 1 p.m | TV: Fox
The Pick: Lions +3 (-105) — The Bears aren’t nearly as bad as they looked during a 41-25 loss to the Packers last week, but that doesn’t mean they’re good, either. They’re merely below average, and I am not shy about fading below-average teams when they’re favored against anybody. Even if anybody is a Detroit Lions team that just fired its coach. Based on the reaction to the news from some former Lions, I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of players in that Detroit locker room are happy about the decision and bounce back in Chicago this weekend. I’m officially advising you to take the points, but if the Bears are without Akiem Hicks again, I’d strongly consider taking the Lions straight up. Hicks is that important to the Bears defense.
Key Trend: The Bears are 0-4 ATS in their last four as a favorite.
Raiders at Jets, Sunday 1 p.m | TV: CBS
The Pick: Raiders -9 (-105) — Last week, I told you to take the Falcons and the points at home against the Raiders. My reasoning was simple: The Falcons weren’t as bad as their record suggested. I did not see a 43-6 destruction coming. Simply put, nothing went right for the Raiders in Atlanta, and a snowball quickly became an avalanche, which is excellent news for us because it allows us to capitalize on an overcorrection on the other side.
The Falcons were better than their record said. The Jets aren’t. They are every bit of their 0-11 record. They might have looked semi-competent against the Chargers and Patriots, but that was the apex of their season. They’re still a team that has lost 11 games by an average of 15.4 points per game, so if I can get the Raiders as a single-digit favorite in this spot, I’m all over it.
Key Trend: The Jets are 3-8 ATS in their last 11 games.
Patriots at Chargers, Sunday 4:25 p.m | TV: CBS
The Pick: Patriots (-110) — Believe me when I tell you that I’m not excited to be betting on the Patriots right now, but this is an excellent spot to do so. These two teams are similar in many ways when you look at the numbers, but this matchup tilts toward New England in my mind. The biggest reason is that the Chargers defense ranks 31st in the NFL in Football Outsiders’ Rush DVOA metric. That’s not good, considering they’ll be going against a Patriots offense that ranks fourth in the NFL in Rush DVOA. Also, considering this game is a pick-em, we can expect it to be close. The Chargers are 2-7 in one-score games this season and 13-22 in them since Anthony Lynn took over in 2017.
Key Trend: The Chargers have failed to cover in five straight.
🏈 College Football
West Virginia at No. 9 Iowa State, Saturday, 3:30 p.m | TV: ESPN
The Pick: West Virginia +6.5 (-110) — Did you know that West Virginia is kind of good? Most people don’t, so don’t be ashamed. Their defense is ranked 11th nationally in SP+ and 8th in points allowed per drive. The Mountaineers are particularly effective in stopping the run, ranking 9th nationally in defensive success rate against it.
Iowa State is a bit one-dimensional on offense. Running back Breece Hall has been carrying the load as he’s rushed for 1,260 yards and 16 touchdowns. Still, as a team, Iowa State’s offense ranks 54th in rushing success rate. I think the WVU defense can limit Hall better than most Big 12 defenses and force Iowa State to beat it through the air. Now, the Cyclones can do that, but I just don’t think they can do it effectively enough to cover the spread in the process.
Key Trend: The road team is 5-2-1 ATS in the last eight meetings.
Texas at Kansas State, Saturday 12 p.m | TV: Fox
The Pick: Under 51 (-110) — It’s looking to be a windy weekend in middle America, and that includes Manhattan, Kansas. As of publication, the forecast is calling for steady winds of 13 to 14 mph. Forecasts can change quickly, and while the wind is a bonus, it’s far from the only reason I like the under in this game.
Kansas State was already a run-heavy team before losing Skylar Thompson and having to turn to Will Howard. The Wildcats will be looking to control the ball in this spot to limit Texas’ possessions and stay within range. While the Texas defense has been solid against the run (38th in defensive success rate), it’s hasn’t been good enough to lead me to believe KSU won’t have some success doing it.
I also know that Texas doesn’t run the ball effectively outside of Sam Ehlinger in battering ram mode. So the Longhorns offense is one dimensional, and while they’re not bad throwing the ball, they’re not all that efficient doing it, either. I’m expecting a game that’s a bit choppy and uneven, in which both teams will have trouble moving the ball down the field with ease.
Key Trend: The under is 6-1 in the last seven meetings.
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: Mike Barner, who returned a healthy $3,864 on his NBA picks last season, has studied the win totals for every NBA team for the upcoming season and identified five best bets.
💸 The DFS Rundown
Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks — I’m somewhat stuck between two quarterbacks this week. It’s either Wilson or Deshaun Watson for me, and I’m leaning Wilson because, in the end, I like the matchup better for him. Plus, he hasn’t had a huge game in a few weeks, but he hasn’t played poorly, either. I don’t think it has helped that DK Metcalf has been kept in check thanks to a couple of difficult matchups against secondaries. The kind of matchup I don’t see him having trouble with this weekend. So I’m banking on Russ to have a “bounce back” kind of performance, though if you’re more comfortable with Watson, go for it.
Brandin Cooks, WR, Texans — With Randall Cobb on IR and Will Fuller suspended, somebody will benefit with a larger target share, and I like that person to be Cooks. Keke Coutee will also see an increase in targets, but I don’t know how much his role will change since he works from the slot. Cooks can move all over and will likely be the guy to fill Fuller’s role. That makes him very attractive this weekend for his price.
Full lineup advice
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🏈 NFL Sunday Parlay
A four-leg NFL parlay paying -106.
- Vikings: -500
- Seahawks: -550
- Packers: -410
- Chiefs: -1000