Welcome to another edition of Football Friday, the most awesome newsletter you’re reading right now. I’m sure most of you watched last night’s Dolphins victory over the Ravens because, even if it was an ugly game, it was still a football game. While the game stunk — especially for anybody who had fantasy players going — there was one part of it that boggled my mind.
What exactly is Miami’s plan with Tua Tagovailoa? The team drafted him with the fifth overall pick last season, but it doesn’t seem like anybody in the organization wants him. The front office is rumored to be interested in trading for Deshaun Watson, while the coaches refuse to name Tagovailoa their starter. Last night, Jacoby Brissett started because Tagovailoa was dealing with a broken finger, yet Tagovailoa was on the active roster as a backup.
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Then, after Brissett injured his knee early in the second half, Tagovailoa came in and sparked the offense. He stayed in despite Brissett seemingly being able to return to the game.
So this means that the Dolphins either decided to put a QB who wasn’t healthy enough to play on the active roster and were then caught by surprise, or they benched the guy they took in the first round last season because they had more faith in the journeyman backup. I do not know if Tagovailoa will ever live up to his draft position, but if he does, I’m betting it’ll have to be in a different uniform. There doesn’t seem to be any development plan for him in Miami.
- Odell Beckham explained his decision to sign with the Rams.
- The Cam Newton-Panthers reunion is a win-win.
- It’s unlikely much will change with college’s targeting rules.
- Three things to look for in tonight’s World Cup qualifier between the United States and Mexico.
Now let’s start Football Friday with two basketball picks, because Football Friday is about branding, not accuracy.
All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook
🔥 The Hot Ticket
Latest Odds: Under 222.5
The Pick: Under 222.5 (-110): Two of the best teams in the NBA meet tonight when the 10-1 Golden State Warriors clash with the 8-3 Chicago Bulls. The winner will be crowned The Greatest Dynasty of All Time for at least a week, maybe even two. Now, the NBA has thrown us some curveballs early in the season because nobody expected the three teams with the best records in the league at this point to be the Warriors, Bulls and Washington Wizards, but you know what those three have in common?
They play defense.
The Warriors enter the night ranked first in the league in defensive rating, while the Wizards are fourth and the Bulls are sixth. The difference between these two teams and the Wizards is that both Golden State and Chicago have been excellent offensively too, and we’re taking advantage of that tonight. It’s their offensive ratings that have bumped this total up a little too high.
The Bulls are playing the first game of a long road trip and will be without Nikola Vucevic due to COVID-19 protocols. This not only hinders the Bulls offense slightly, but it should help their defense too. Among the Bulls regulars, Vucevic has been the weakest spot defensively. The one area of concern tonight is that Golden State is an excellent three-point shooting team, and if there’s been a weakness with the Bulls defense, it’s been guarding the three-point line. So there’s always the possibility we get Steph’d to death.
Key Trend: The under is 10-2 in Chicago’s last 12 games as an underdog.
Here’s what SportsLine is saying about the game: The SportsLine Projection Model’s favorite play in this game is on the spread.
💰 The Picks
Latest Odds: Over 215
The Pick: Over 215 (-110) — It’s time to bust out our first NBA over play of the season. As I’ve gone over here a few times already, the under has been a solid bet in the NBA to start the season as teams and players adjust to the way the game is being officiated. We haven’t seen nearly as many free throws, and players who earned giant contracts pretending to get fouled are getting frustrated.
As a result, we’ve seen books respond with lower totals for games, and now I’ve finally found a line where the correction is too large.
The Nets are certainly one of those teams adjusting to life in the new NBA, but they’ll be facing a terrible New Orleans defense tonight. The Pelicans are tied with Memphis for the worst defensive rating in the league at 112.4. They’ve also developed a habit of sending opponents to the free-throw line, as they rank 22nd in the league in opponent’s free-throw rate. I’ve a feeling we’ll see one of Brooklyn’s best offensive outputs of the season tonight, and it’s going to help us cruise past this total.
Key Trend: The over is 15-3 in Brooklyn’s last 18 games against teams with a losing record.
Browns at Patriots, Sunday, 1 p.m. | TV: CBS
Latest Odds: Cleveland Browns +2.5
The Pick: Browns +2.5 (-110) — It’s hard to argue that Mac Jones hasn’t been the most consistent rookie QB in the NFL this season. And that hasn’t stopped me from betting against him and the Patriots when favored. The Pats are 3-3 ATS as favorites this season but have covered their last two. The thing is, those covers have come against the Jets and Panthers — two teams with a very questionable QB situation.
The Browns do not have that, and with or without Nick Chubb, I consider them live dogs this weekend.
The Patriots’ defense has not been great against the run, and it’s at the heart of what Cleveland does offensively. Plus, we saw how well this team performed last week against Cincinnati without the Odell Beckham distraction. Furthermore, like most young QBs, Jones has struggled when pressured. That’s not great news considering he’ll be facing a Cleveland defense that ranks second in the league in pressure rate (34.2%).
Key Trend: Cleveland is 5-1 ATS in its last six road games.
Seahawks at Packers, Sunday, 4:25 p.m. | TV: CBS
Latest Odds: Seattle Seahawks +3.5
The Pick: Seahawks +3.5 (-120) — We know Russell Wilson will be back for Seattle this weekend, and we can assume that Aaron Rodgers will probably be back for the Packers. Well, even if Rodgers is back, I like Seattle getting three points here, and there’s still a chance Rodgers won’t play, which makes Seattle even more appealing!
Wilson won’t be the only player Seattle gets back this weekend, either, as Chris Carson has been designated to return off injured reserve. That means Seattle is getting healthy at the right time. Meanwhile, Rodgers can’t be around the team until Saturday at the earliest. He hasn’t been practicing with the team or working on the game plan, even if he is playing.
Now, he’s still Aaron Rodgers, and he’s been there a while, so I don’t think the impact will be that severe, but it could lead to a slower start, which might be all we need. Nor does it hurt my confidence that the Packers’ defense has been mostly mediocre this season and has really struggled in the red zone. When you can’t hold opponents to field goals, it’s more difficult to cover spreads as a favorite.
Key Trend: Seattle is 14-5 in its last 19 as an underdog.
🏈 College Football
No. 8 Oklahoma at No. 13 Baylor, Saturday, 12 p.m. | TV: Fox
Latest Odds: Oklahoma Sooners -5.5
The Pick: Oklahoma -5.5 (-110) — I have a feeling we’re going to see a strong performance from the Sooners. They’re coming off a bye, which allowed them some extra time to not only further cement quarterback Caleb Williams into the offense, but also work on all the problems they had defensively. Still, this is a team that doesn’t quite have that extra gear we’ve seen in recent seasons — the gear that allows it to blow out quality opponents like the one it’ll face this weekend.
Fortunately, we don’t need Oklahoma to blow out Baylor. Winning by a touchdown will do just fine and it can do that. While Oklahoma has serious problems in the secondary, Baylor does too. We saw TCU expose some of those flaws last week, and while Baylor’s offense has been better than most people realize, Oklahoma is better equipped to take advantage of the situation. Also, while Baylor has had success with its vertical passing game, it’s largely due to its ability to run the ball. Oklahoma’s defense has been solid against the run, ranking 54th in success rate. That could hinder Baylor’s ability to hurt it deep.
Key Trend: Oklahoma is 9-4 ATS in its last 13 conference games.
No. 19 Purdue at No. 4 Ohio State, Saturday, 3:30 p.m | TV: ABC
Latest Odds: Purdue Boilermakers +21
The Pick: Purdue +21 (-110) — I don’t doubt that Ohio State is one of the four best teams in the country, but we must consider the context of the situation. This is a very good Buckeyes squad, but it’s far from dominant. Because of this, it’s difficult for me to trust it to cover spreads this large against competent teams — particularly strong defensive teams like Purdue.
The Boilermakers rank 12th nationally in defensive success rate and 25th in defensive EPA. Granted, they haven’t faced many offenses like Ohio State’s, but their results have not been opponent-based. Just last week, they held an explosive Michigan State offense in check. What’s most interesting about this game is the red zone matchup.
There’s no reason for a team as talented as the Buckeyes to rank 42nd nationally in red zone efficiency, but they do, and Purdue’s defense ranks 15th in red zone efficiency. Purdue’s defense also ranks ninth in pressure rate and Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud has looked shaky when pressured. Don’t get me wrong, Ohio State is the better team, but it isn’t blowing the doors off this Boilermakers squad often enough to lay the points.
Key Trend: Purdue is 20-7 ATS in its last 27 games as an underdog.
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: SportsLine expert Alex Selesnick (aka PropStarz) is up 119 units on NFL futures and NFL prop bets the past two seasons, and now he has released his coveted and profitable top props for Week 10.
🏈 The Wrong Team Is Favored Parlay
Here’s a simple two-team money line parlay featuring two underdogs that should be favored this weekend. It pays +440.
- Boston College (+100)
- Utah State (+170)