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Ness Notes: Wednesday, October 28

by Larry Ness

Wednesday, Oct 28, 2020

This column will be available Monday through Friday (posted no later than 1:00 ET), EXCLUSIVELY at BigAl.com. I like to call it my daily 'random thoughts' on the sports betting world, although I'll pass along that my therapist refers to it as "thoughtful commentary." World Series recap and closing thoughts: The LA Dodgers won their EIGHTH consecutive NL West title in 2020, finishing the pandemic-shortened season with a MLB-best record of 43-17 (LA's .717 winning percentage would have translated to 116-win season over 162 games). The Dodgers were clearly MLB's best team in the regular season, noting the team's run differential of plus-136 was 52 runs higher than their closet competitor (SD Padres) and a whopping 76 runs higher than their World Series opponent, the Tampa Bay Rays (Rays owned the best record in the AL at 40-20, second to only LA in all of MLB). However, the Dodgers found themselves down 3-1 to the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS, before rallying to sweep the final three games of the series. That allowed LA to reach the World Series for the FOURTH time in the last four seasons. It marked the 63rd instance in major league history that a team had reached three World Series in a four-year span and only TWO teams among the group did not win a World Series. The Dodgers, who lost to the Astros in 2017 and to the Red Sox in 2018, sure didn't want to join the 1907-09 Detroit Tigers and the 1911-13 NY Giants in that 'club.' As already noted, the Rays had the AL's best regular season record. However, they were extended to the limit in both their ALDS with the Yankees (won Game 5, 2-1) and in the ALCS by Houston (took a 3-0 series lead only to be pushed to a Game 7 that they won 4-2). Tampa Bay reached the World Series for just the second time in franchise history, having lost the 2008 World Series to the Phillies, 4-1. Of note was that a Dodgers/Rays matchup was only the FOURTH time in the wild-card era (since 1995) that the teams with the best record in each league would meet in the World Series.Game 6: Tampa Bay rookie Randy Arozarena gave the Rays a 1-0 lead with a first-inning HR against Gonsolin. He became the second rookie ever to hit three HRs in a single World Series, joining Charlie Keller of the 1939 New York Yankees, while extending his all-time record for a single postseason to 10 HRs (his 29 hits also set an all-time record for a single postseason). He also became the first rookie to collect an RBI in four consecutive World Series games. However, the Rays never scored again after Arozarena's HR, Roberts pulled Gonsolin after 1.2 innings and SIX relievers (NONE named Jansen), gave him 7.1 scoreless innings, allowing just two hits, while striking out 12 Rays. Tampa Bay finished with just FIVE hits and 16 Ks. As for the Dodgers, they looked helpless against Snell, who struck out NINE batters while giving up two hits, including one to Austin Barnes in the sixth with one out. It was then that Tampa Bay manager took Snell out of the game, much to Snell's dismay and as it turned out, all ALL Tampa Bay fans and bettors. Cash decided to bring righty Nick Anderson into the game to face Mookie Betts, despite the fact that Betts was hitting just .218 against left-handers this season and had struck out in his first two at-bats of this game against Snell. Sure enough, Betts doubled to put runners on second and third with just one out. A wild pitch scored the tying run and then Corey Seager's run-scoring groundout gave LA a 2-1 lead. With Tampa Bay helpless against A's bullpen, Mookie Betts solo HR in the eighth, sealed the 3-1 victory.SS Seager batted .400 with two HRs, five RBI and six walks against the Rays, including last night's sixth-inning grounder that allowed Betts to race home from third base with the go-ahead run. He was named World Series MVP after winning MVP in the NLCS against Atlanta. He hit .310 with five HRs and 11 RBI in the NLCS, including three HRs as the Dodgers fought off elimination in Games 5, 6 and 7. He drove in runs in FIVE consecutive plate appearances, starting with his final two at-bats in Game 2, to match a feat that had been accomplished only by the Houston Astros' Carlos Beltran in 2004. Only EIGHT players have won MVPs in a LCS and WS in the same season (all National Leaguers), with the most recent being San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner in 2014. However, it seems only fitting that Seager would pull off this rare 'double-double,' just like Orel Hershiser did in 1988, the last time the Dodgers won the World Series.It was a 'redemption' World Series for Clayton Kershaw, who entered the 2020 World Series having struggled badly in his first two two World Series appearances (2017 and 2018). He had gone 1-2 with a 5.40 ERA in five appearances (four starts) in those two series. The Dodgers were 1-3 in those four starts, as Kershaw had allowed 21 hits and 16 ERs over 22.2 innings for a 6.35 ERA. However, he went 2-0 vs the Rays, posting a 2.31 ERA with a 14-3 KW ratio over 11.2 innings. He became only the third starting pitcher to earn two wins and strike out at least one-third of the batters he faced in a single World Series, joining Bob Gibson and Sandy Koufax. Long-suffering Kershaw fans will lament that he is the first pitcher to do so on a winning team and NOT win World Series MVP.My closing thought is on Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash. Let me say going in, I 'hate' him for introducing the practice of using "an opener," as it has wreaked havoc on handicappers and bettors. Way too many times we have all waited for teams to announce a starting pitcher, as linemakers are forced to wait on establishing a line. What has been worse, is a starting pitcher named in the morning, only to find out shortly before the first pitch that "an opener" will get the nod, thereby canceling one's play or bet. I'll add that I'm also no big fan of "analytics" but that said, I don't despise them as so many my age do.My most vivid childhood memories are of Sandy Koufax dominating the Yankees (1963) and the Twins (1965), while Bob Gibson did the same against the Yankees (1964), the Red Sox (1967) and the Tigers (1968). In that vein, I can't imagine taking Snell out of the game last night after giving up a one-out single. As noted, Betts had struggled against lefties all season (see above) and had already struck out twice against Snell in his first two at-bats. Who knows what would have happened if Snell was left in? However, we do KNOW what happened when he was taken out. One wonders if either Snell or Cash will ever get another chance in a World Series? A return is NOT guaranteed.That said, let me say this for Cash. He was hired by the Tampa Bay Rays as their manager back on December 5, 2014, succeeding Joe Maddon, while becoming the youngest manager in the MLB. He took over a team playing in an awful stadium with some of the worst fan-support in MLB, as well as working with one of MLB's lowest payrolls. The Rays did little his first three seasons but then won 90 games in 2018, although they didn't qualify for the playoffs. However, 2019 was a breakout season, as they won 96 games, then beat the Oakland A's in the wild card game, before pushing the Astros to a full five games in an ALDS. I noted above what Tampa Bay accomplished here in 2020 and will note that the Rays did it all with a $29 million payroll, which ranked 28th out of the 30 major league teams.I KNOW Rays fans are devastated but would they really want to bring back Joe Maddon, who guided the LA Angels, with Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon, to a 26-34 record in 2020, FOURTEEN games worse than Tampa Bay's? Cash has been making the same type of decisions (like he did with Snell last night), since arriving in Tampa. It should be noted that last night's contest was Snell's 17th start of 2020 and he had NEVER completed six innings in ANY of his previous 16. One's memory doesn't have to be stretched too far to remember Snell's start in Game 2 of the Series. He didn't allow a hit through four innings, while striking out two Dodgers in each of the first four innings. However, his dreams of a no-hitter ended in the 5th. He walked Kiké Hernandez with two out and served up a two-run HR to Chris Taylor. A walk to Mookie Betts and a single by Corey Seager ended Snell's night. Coulda, shoulda, woulda!Good luck...Larry

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NFL Sunday Night Football: Eagles/Cowboys Preview

by Big Al Staff

Wednesday, Oct 28, 2020

First place in the NFC East will be at stake in the Sunday Night Football game on NBC despite it being a battle of two teams with losing records and a long list of injuries.Dallas has lost two straight games as well as four of their last five games after they got beat at Washington on Sunday by a 25-3 score. The Cowboys’ offense managed only 142 yards against the Football Team’s defense. Since the season-ending ankle injury to quarterback Dak Prescott, Dallas has scored only 19 points in their 24 offensive drives. Andy Dalton’s status for this game is questionable after he was on the receiving end of a brutal hit from Washington’s Jon Bostic that knocked him out of the game. Dalton will need to pass the concussion protocol to play on Sunday. Even if he clears that hurdle, he is not likely to get practice time this week. The Cowboys signed Garrett Gilbert as an emergency backup, but it will be rookie Ben Dinucci who will be their starting quarterback if Dalton is unable to gp. Dinucci was a 7th round pick from James Madison, who led the Dukes to the FCS Championship Game against North Dakota State last year. He completed over 70% of his passes in his senior season for 3441 yards with 29 touchdown passes. He also rushed the ball 122 times for 569 yards last year with seven touchdowns, so offensive coordinator Kellen Moore might be able to draw up some plays to take advantage of those skills. Owner Jerry Jones is answering questions regarding the job security of head coach Mike McCarthy. Yet the injury situation that McCarthy has had to manage in his first year has been overwhelming. The offensive line has lost four of their original starters with Tyron Smith, La’el Collins, Joe Looney, and Brandon Knight either on Injured Reserve or already declared out the season. Dallas has placed eight players on IR, which does not include starting tight end Blake Jarwin, who is also out the season with a knee injury. The Cowboys’ defense may even be in worse shape under embattled defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. Dallas is last in the NFL by allowing 34.7 points per game. The Cowboys have only forced three turnovers all season. Their inability to generate takeaways is why they are last with a net turnover margin of -13. Cornerback Chide Awuzie and linebacker Sean Lee are both on IR. Dallas depleted their depth even more on Tuesday by trading away defensive lineman Everson Griffen.The Cowboys are the first team to start the season by not covering the point spread in seven straight games since 2006. The last NFL team to pull off that feat was the Nick Saban-coached Miami Dolphins.Philadelphia snapped a two-game losing streak on Thursday Night Football last week with their 22-21 victory at home against the New York Giants. That win put the Eagles into first place in the division with a 2-4-1 mark. Injuries continue to mar Philadelphia’s season. They have placed ten players on Injured Reserve and began the week with another six players listed as questionable for this game. The Eagles’ offensive line is without three original starters with Brandon Brooks out the season, Andre Dillard out indefinitely, and Isaac Seumalo on IR. The team resigned Jason Peters after Brooks suffered his Achilles injury in August, but he is now on IR with a toe injury. Starting left tackle Lane Johnson is questionable with a knee, and rookie guard Jack Driscoll is listed questionable with an ankle. Philly added DeSean Jackson to their Injured Reserve after he injured his ankle in the Giants game. The Eagles are also without their top two tight ends with Zach Ertz out for another few weeks and Dallas Goedert on IR. Running back Miles Sanders is questionable with a knee injury after not playing last week. To the victor of this game will go at least a share of first place with three victories on the season. BetOnline has Philadelphia as a 7.5-point favorite with the total set at 42.5. The game time is 8:20 PM ET.

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Big Al's Daily Angle: UEFA Champions League Preview

by Big Al Staff

Wednesday, Oct 28, 2020

With the Los Angeles Dodgers winning the World Series on Tuesday, the Wednesday sports card is limited. However, bettors do have eight matches in the UEFA Champions League Group Stage in the afternoon to consider.Two matches start at 1:55 PM ET. Chelsea travels to Krasnodar following their 0-0 draw with Sevilla in their opening Champions League match last Tuesday. Krasnodar, representing the Russian Premier League, earned a 1-1 draw with Rennes last week. Chelsea is a -1.25 goal line favorite with the total set at 2.75 (all odds from BetOnline).The second match at 1:55 PM ET has Paris Saint-Germain on the road at Istanbul Basaksehir. PSG looks to rebound from a 2-1 loss at home last week to Manchester United. Istanbul Baseksehir out of the Turkish Super Lig comes off a 2-1 loss at RB Leipzig in their opening Champions League match last week. PSG is a -2 goal line favorite with an over/under of 3.25. Six more matches start at 4 PM ET. Rennes builds off their 1-1 draw at home to Krasnodar last week by traveling to Sevilla, who settled for a 0-0 draw at Chelsea last week. Sevilla is a -1 goal line favorite against their La Ligue French opponent with a total of 2.25.Borussia Dortmund hosts Zenit Petersburg as they look to rebound from a 3-1 loss at Lazio. The Russian Premier League side comes off a 2-1 loss to Club Brugge. Borussia Dortmund is a -1.5 goal line favorite with a total of 3.25.Lazio travels to Club Brugge after that 3-1 win at home over Borussia Dortmund last week. Club Brugge representing Belgium comes off that 2-1 win for Zenit and is a 0.5 goal line favorite in this match with the over/under set at 2.75.Barcelona looks to bounce back from their 3-1 loss to Real Madrid in the latest incarnation of El Clasico by continuing their good start in the Champions League after their 5-1 victory at home against Ferencvaros. They travel to Juventus, who comes off a 1-1 draw at Dynamo Kiev. This match is a pick ‘em with the total at 2.75.Dynamo Kiev looks to rebound from their loss to the Serie A powerhouse by traveling to Ferencvaros where they are a 0.25 goal line favorite with a total of 2.25.RB Leipzig looks to build off their 2-1 win over Istanbul Basaksehir last week by traveling to Old Trafford to play Manchester United. The Red Devils come off that 2-1 win over PSG. Man United is a 0.25 goal line favorite with the over/under set at 2.75. All eight games are available on the CBS Sports All-Access package. Alternatively, the CBS Sports Network broadcasts a whip-around show during the six 4 PM ET games.

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What does Cover Mean in Sports Betting?

by Big Al Staff

Wednesday, Oct 28, 2020

What does cover mean in sports betting? One of the most popular bet types in sports betting is the point spread.  The point spread refers to the number of points (plus or minus) applied to the respective final scores of the two teams in order to determine the outcome of a bet.  One of the teams is designated the underdog, while the other one is the favorite.  With a moneyline wager, the odds on the favorite are often prohibitive, and you may have to lay $500, $700, or even $2,000 dollars to win $100.  However, with a point spread, the playing field is leveled, which makes both sides of the bet equally as attractive since the odds are generally close to -110 for both teams.With each matchup, the oddsmakers need to determine the appropriate point spread.  Typically, the point spread will reflect the difference in talent between the two teams, and will be adjusted by various intangible factors, such as schedule, motivation, home field advantage, and the like.  After the game goes final, the bookmaker will add the point spread (if an underdog) or subtract the point spread (if a favorite) to determine the winner of the bet.  When a team won the bet, it is said that the team covered the spread.Thus, cover in betting refers to 'cover the spread' -- when a team wins for its bettors after the application of the point spred. To further illustrate how point spread betting works, we'll dive in to show you all there is to know to get you started straightaway! How does point spread betting work? Alright, so you're into wagering, and you're already familiar with moneyline betting.  Now, it’s time to dive into some other options.  Sports bettors in the United States prefer to wager on the point spread.  But how does it work?  Let's start with a simple definition of the point spread.  The spread is a median number, calculated by the bookmaker, which has as its objective the equal division of money wagered on both the underdog and the favorite.Point spread betting is most popular in football and basketball since there are lots of points scored in those games.  It's also possible to make spread wagers in hockey and baseball, as well, but in a different form (we'll dive into that later).  For now, we'll zoom into the way the number works -- how to read the point spread betting lines.How to read the point spread numbersTo display how the point spread works, we'll use an NFL match between the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles.  The betting lines for this NFL game might look like this: Dallas Cowboys -3.5 Philadelphia Eagles +3.5 As you can, two teams are competing against each other here.  One carries a plus sign, while the other a minus sign alongside the spread number.  The favored team is the Dallas Cowboys, and the Philadelphia Eagles are the underdog.  The number represents the amount of points to be applied to the final score to determine the point spread winner.  For the Cowboys, they need to win by more than 3.5 points to cover the spread.  The Eagles, on the other hand, need to either win the game outright, or lose by less than 3.5 points, to cover the spread.As you can see, it’s quite possible that a team could win the game, straight-up, but not cover the spread.  Here, the Cowboys could earn a narrow win by just two points, and fail to cover the 3.5-point spread.Understanding the payout in spread bettingYou're in this to make money, so we'll show you just how to calculate the amount of money you can win.  You must understand that the betting odds for point spreads are generally close to -110.  Now, let's take the previous example and add the betting odds: Dallas Cowboys -3.5 (-108) Philadelphia Eagles +3.5 (-112) In this example, you'll see two different odds for each team.  The odds are designed to provide the sportsbook with a means to earn its “vigorish,” or profit.  When you see -108, that means you need to bet $108 to win $100, and with -112, you would need to wager $112 to win $100.  Thus, the lower your odds, the less risk you have to take with your bet to secure a nice payout.  Most sportsbooks will set the betting odds for a point spread wager around -110, but they have the latitude to adjust the odds, as needed, to balance the betting action.  It goes without saying that some sportsbooks have better odds for their players than others.  BetAnySports, for example, is our #1-rated sportsbook, primarily because it has reduced juice.  Unlike most other sportsbooks that have standard -110 odds, BetAnySports offers its players -105 juice on football and basketball games, which is a major benefit.  Half-point spreads​In the NFL example that we used earlier, you'll have no doubt noticed that the point spread was a half-number, and not a whole number.  Point spreads incorporate a half-point system.  This has a dual function.  Most importantly, it allows a bookmaker to more easily balance its books on a particular game.  And a secondary function is that it eliminates any chance of the game resulting in a tie, and thus the bet 'pushing.'  When a bet pushes, there’s no winner, so a sportsbook returns the stakes to the bettors, and doesn’t earn any vigorish.Point spreads in other sports than the NFL and NBAThere are sports all over the world.  And even though football and basketball are prevalent in the States, it's not that way throughout the world.  Indeed, there are millions of fanatic soccer fans who eagerly watch the English Premier League.  And sports like hockey and baseball are also very popular.  With these sports, bookmakers also offer spread betting, but it works in a slightly different way than with football and basketball.  The reason for this is the fact that there is a lot less scoring in soccer, hockey and baseball than in a regular football or basketball game.  So, the spread tends to be fixed -- usually at 1.5 goals (soccer, hockey) or runs (baseball).  And if the action on the game is unbalanced, the oddsmaker will adjust the associated moneyline odds, rather than the spread.  That’s a departure from how spread betting works in football and basketball, where the oddsmaker will move the point spread to try to balance out the betting action.Also, bookies use different terms in soccer, hockey and baseball.  In those sports, the spread is referred to as a goal-line, puck-line or run-line, rather than point spread.  But they work in the same way, with spreads generally fixed at 1.5 goals or runs (but sometimes it will be +/- 2 or +/- 2.5, etc.). How to win at spread betting The sports betting industry is no different than other industries.  There’s stiff competition among the books to earn the business of sports gamblers.  When trying to determine which sportsbooks to join, we want to share some tips:Pick the right sportsbookIn spread betting, there's a lot of movement in the betting lines.  You have the opening numbers when a game is first listed for wagering.  And the closing numbers at game time.  But in the hours or days in between, there can be major line movement, especially in games with injuries.  As a bettor, you can take advantage of this by keeping a sharp eye on the odds and place your bet at the right moment.  Nevertheless, you always need a proper sportsbook.  You might wonder, how do I find the right sportsbook?  Well, allow us to share a few tips: Explore your options:  There are hundreds of sportsbooks. Before the internet, you only had the brick-and-mortar sportsbooks in Las Vegas, or illegal bookmakers on the street corner.  Now, there are online sportsbooks that can be accessed by a few clicks of a mouse.  Start by doing a quick search on the most prominent and trusted sportsbooks out there (we also have a Top 10 Sportsbook section at our site, along with extensive reviews). Determine what’s important:  To make a proper decision, you need to understand your needs.  You can do this by listing the most important criteria that you want in your sportsbook.  Think about odds/reduced juice, sign-up and reload bonuses, parlay/teaser odds, prop bets, betting limits, modern website, banking methods, etc. Gain some experience:  When you're new to sports betting, you might feel overwhelmed by the options.  The one misconception that people might have is that they need to pick one sportsbook for the rest of their life.  You can (and should) have accounts at multiple sportsbooks, since this will enable you to shop the lines to get the best number.  Indeed, sports gamblers should have a minimum of three sportsbooks.  So don't be afraid to try out a couple of betting sites that match your criteria!  Although our sportsbook reviews will go into this with more depth, here are some sportsbooks to join if you’re specifically looking for certain things.  If you want the best odds, join BetAnySports (which is our #1-rated sportsbook).  If you’re a big bettor, and want to wager $50,000 on an NFL side, then BookMaker should be your choice.  If you want the best website, Bovada is tops.  And if you’re looking for unique odds so you can shop the lines, then BetNow and BetOnline are perfect for that.  Finally, if you like betting parlays and teasers, BetAnySports has the best odds for those bet types.Don't be afraid to ask for helpSports betting can be difficult, especially with adrenaline flowing through your veins because your money is on the line.  You want to make the right call all the time, but sometimes your vision might be dazed, and you feel lost.  In these moments, you shouldn't be afraid to ask for help.You could call, e-mail, or simply purchase the picks of a professional handicapper with just a couple of clicks.  All you need to do is ask for help, and you might just put yourself on a winning streak.  Some professionals have a track record that dates back decades, so they are sure to bring you profits over the long run! Point spread sports betting terms To sum up this article, we want to share a couple of common terms in spread betting.  You don't need to know every single one before you start wagering, but you'll come across these when doing your research, so it doesn't hurt to bring yourself up to speed beforehand. ATS - against the spread:  The ATS term represents the point spread track record for a team.  In the statistics for a team, you might see 6-1 ATS.  That means the team covered the spread six times and failed to cover the spread once. Chalk:  Chalk is the favored team. Cover:  When a team wins with the bet after the application of the point spread, the team covers the spread. PK - Pk'em:  In some matchups, the two teams are rated equal by the oddsmakers, and there’s no points in the point spread -- the game is a Pk’em.  Thus, the team which wins straight-up will bet the winner of the point spread bet.   Push:  When the scores of the two teams, after the application of the point spread, are equal, the game results in a push (or tie), and no team covers the spread.  All bettors receive a refund of their initial stake.

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Ness Notes: Tuesday, October 27

by Larry Ness

Tuesday, Oct 27, 2020

This column will be available Monday through Friday (posted no later than 1:00 ET), EXCLUSIVELY at BigAl.com. I like to call it my daily 'random thoughts' on the sports betting world, although I'll pass along that my therapist refers to it as "thoughtful commentary." World Series Game 6: I provided a brief recap of Games 3 through 5 in Monday's Notes and now, following LA's 4-2 win in Game 5, the Dodgers are just ONE win away from the team's first World Series title since 1988. The Game 6 pitching matchup is a rematch of Game 2, as Blake Snell takes on Tony Gonsolin. The Rays staked Snell to a 5-0 lead and he didn't allow a hit through four innings, while striking out two Dodgers in each of the first four innings. However, Snell's dreams of a no-hitter ended in the 5th. He walked Kiké Hernandez with two out and served up a two-run HR to Chris Taylor. A walk to Mookie Betts and a single by Corey Seager ended Snell's night. However, four relievers held off the Dodgers, allowing two runs over 4.1 innings, as Tampa Bay evened the Series at one-all with a 6-4 victory. Gonsolin was 2-2 with a 2.31 ERA in nine games (eight starts / team was 5-3) during the regular season. However, in his two outings this postseason against Atlanta, he'd allowed SEVEN earned runs in 6.1 innings for a 9.95 playoff ERA. He threw just 41 pitches in a Game 7 against Atlanta (allowed two runs in two innings) in which the Dodgers won 4-3 to complete their comeback from being in an 0-3 'hole' against the Braves. I found the choice of starting Gonsolin in Game 2 a little strange, as he was pitching on just two days' rest in Game 2 of the World Series and got just four outs, throwing 29 pitches while allowing a solo HR and one walk. In his three postseason starts, he's lasted only 7.2 innings, allowing eight ERs on six hits with almost as many walks (7) as strikeouts (9). His ERA is 9.39 and his WHIP is 1.70.However, he hasn't pitched since that Game 2, so he takes the mound well-rested. Remember, he pitched well in the regular season (see above). The Dodgers have won Games 1, 3 and 5, while the Rays have won Games 2 and 4. "The trend" says Game 6 sets up as a Tampa Bay win, which would send the World Series to a Game 7, mirroring the two LCS that also went a full seven games. The Dodgers, as they have been in EVERY game so far, are favored (-140) and the over/under is 8. I'll be back tomorrow with a World Series recap OR, a Game 7 preview.Note: I've gone 8-3, +$5,615 with all LCS and WS plays and Game 6 is my 10* MLB Game of the Week. BATTER UP!NFL's Week 7 concluded last night with the LA Rams beating the Chicago Bears 24-10. LA's defense dominated, as Chicago's only TD came on an eight-yard fumble return with just 7 1/2 minutes to go and Chicago down 24-3. Jared Goff won the QB 'battle' over Nick Foles, completing 23 of 33 for 219 yards with two TD passes, no INTs and a 108.0 QB rating. In comparison, Foles completed 28 of 40 for 261 yards without a TD pass and two INTs (66.8 rating). Supporting Goff was an LA running game that produced 161 yards, compared to Chicago's 49 rushing yards on 2.9 YPC.LA's win gave home teams a 6-8 SU and ATS record for the week, as home dogs went 1-5 SU but 3-3 ATS. Here are the Y-T-D numbers. Home teams are barely over .500 at 53-51-1 (.510), while going just 45-58-2 ATS (.437). Home dogs check in at 9-26 SU but a more respectable 16-17-2 ATS. Scoring remains high (Week 7 games averaged 49.1 PPG) but resulted in six overs, seven unders and one push. Y-T-D there have been 52 overs, 50 unders and three pushes.More NFL from Week 7: In a showdown of unbeatens, the Steelers moved to 6-0 with a 27-24 win in Nashville against the Titans (now 5-1). Arizona's comeback 37-34 OT win in SNF action dropped Seattle to 5-1, leaving Pittsburgh as the NFL's lone unbeaten. Up next, the Steelers are at the 5-1 Baltimore Ravens this Sunday. At the 'bottom of the barrel' are the 0-7 Jets, who had a 10-0 lead at home over the Bills in the mid-second quarter but NEVER scored again in an 18-10 loss. Buffalo never scored a TD, settling for six FGs. Dallas is not winless (Cowboys are 2-5) but remain the NFL's lone winless ATS team, falling to 0-7 with a 25-3 loss at Washington.The NFC East is a 'disaster,' as the 2-4-1 Eagles sit atop a division that is 7-20-1 (.288) SU and 10-18 (.357) ATS, overall. In contrast, there is the NFC West in which all four teams are above. 500. The division is a combined 18-8 (.692) SU and 16-10 (.615) ATS. The defending NFC champions are the SF 49ers, but they sit in last-place at 4-3, trailing the 5-1 Seahawks, as well as the Cardinals and Rams (both are 5-2). The Niners are not the only 2019 division winner that is finding that repeating in 2020 will not come easily. The Houston Texans won the AFC South in 2019 for the FOURTH  time in the previous five years but at 1-6, the Texans are effectively 'dead' in 2020 (Titans lead the division at 5-1). The Brady-less NE Patriots entered 2020 having won 11 straight AFC East titles (as well as 17 of the previous 19) but at 2-4 are already 2 1/2 games behind the 5-2 Buffalo Bills The Pats travel to Buffalo on Sunday and while it may be just Week 8, how isn't it a "must win?" Minnesota was 10-6 in 2019 and earned a wild card spot, where the Vikings upset the 13-3 Saints in New Orleans, but the Vikings have little chance of playing past Week 17 in 2020, as they are off to a 1-5 start.There are a couple non-playoff teams from 2019 that are 'sitting pretty' through Week 7 of 2020. No team is better positioned than the 6-0 Steelers, who are almost assured of ending their brief, two-season postseason drought in 2020. The TB 12-led Bucs are riding Brady's excellent start in 2020 (18 TDs / four INTs) plus one of the NFL's best defenses (20.3 PPG on 291.3 YPG ) to a 5-2 start. The Bucs last made the playoffs in 2007, a 12-year drought! Week 8 kicks off on Thursday with another ho-hum contest, the 1-6 Falcons at the 3-4 Panthers. Who is responsible for 2020's 'ugly game' Thursday Night schedule?Good luck...Larry

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Big Al's Daily Angle: UEFA Champions League and MLB Preview

by Big Al Staff

Tuesday, Oct 27, 2020

The Tuesday sports card begins with matches in the UEFA Champions League Group Stage in the afternoon, before Game 6 of the MLB World Series in the evening.Los Angeles took a 3-2 lead in the World Series on Sunday with their 4-2 victory over Tampa Bay. The Dodgers scored two runs in the top of the 1st inning before adding a third run in the top of the second inning. The Rays rallied for two runs in the bottom of the third inning, yet it was an inning later that proved to be the pivotal moment of the game. With Manuel Margot on third base with two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning, he attempted to steal home, but he failed to get his hand from his head-first slide beneath catcher Austin Barnes’ tag. Tampa Bay would not score the rest of the game. Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts has named Tony Gonsolin his starting pitcher for Game 6. The right-hander started Game 2 of the World Series last Wednesday, where he allowed a run in just 1 1/3 innings. Roberts planned for Gonsolin to only serve as an opener in that game, but he has stated that he hopes that he will get five or six innings out of the 26-year-old this time around before going to his bullpen. Kershaw pitched 5 2/3 innings in Game 5 before getting pulled by Roberts. Gonsolin has allowed eight runs in 7 2/3 innings in the 2020 playoffs for a 9.39 ERA along with a 1.70 WHIP. In his nine games in the regular season, which included eight starts, Gonsolin had a 2-2 record with a 2.31 ERA and a 0.84 WHIP.Manager Kevin Cash turns to Blake Snell to extend the Rays’ season for one final game. The left-hander pitched 4 2/3 innings last Wednesday in Game 2, where he allowed two runs while striking out nine Dodger hitters. Tampa Bay went on to win that game by a 6-4 score. Snell has a 2-2 record in the playoffs this season with a 3.33 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP across 24 1/3 innings. In his eleven regular-season starts, Snell had a 4-2 record with a 3.24 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP. The Rays got five innings out of Tyler Glasnow on Sunday before relying on their bullpen for the final four innings. Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, is the neutral site that hosts this World Series with the Dodgers the designated home team for Game 6 and a potential Game 7. Fox broadcasts the game with the first pitch scheduled for 8:08 PM ET. BetAnySports lists Los Angeles as a -133 moneyline favorite with the total set at 8.5. If Tampa Bay wins this game, then the Game 7 pitching matchup will likely be Charlie Morton versus Walker Buehler. The Group Stage of the UEFA Champions League continues with eight matches beginning at 1:55 PM ET. Bayern Munich travels to play Lokomotiv Moscow in that opening window of two games. Liverpool, Manchester City, and Real Madrid are three of the teams involved in the 4 PM ET matches. All eight games are available on the CBS Sports All-Access package. Alternatively, the CBS Sports Network broadcasts a whip-around show during the six 4 PM ET games.

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What does WHIP Mean in Baseball?

by Big Al Staff

Tuesday, Oct 27, 2020

What does WHIP mean in baseball?One of the four major sports leagues in the United States is Major League Baseball (MLB, in short).  Baseball is the classic American sport, and dates back to 1845, when the New York Knickerbocker Baseball Club was founded.  Today, millions of little boys dream of hitting a title-winning home run in the seventh game of the World Series.  Sports, of course, is big business.  Indeed, you have people across the world who wear merchandise of the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, even though they may have never lived in those cities, or even attended a baseball game.  This goes to show what the impact is of sport on society.  And with the popularity of sports, the betting industry has substantially grown, as well.Besides the NFL and the NBA, the MLB is an exciting league for gamblers.  Many bet types exist.  You can make the standard moneyline wager, where you pick the winner, prior to the start of the game.  But after a game starts, there are a ton of in-play betting opportunities.  Think about the number of home runs to be hit in a game, whether there will be a score in a given inning, or whether the next batter will get a hit -- sportsbooks will take in-game wagers on all of this, and more.  So, an essential part of betting on baseball is knowing your statistics.  To that end, let’s dive deep into the terminology.One common baseball statistic is WHIP.  It stands for walks + hits divided by innings pitched.  When running this formula, it produces a number of how many opposing players per inning a pitcher puts on base.  This is one of those advanced statistics which brings you more relevant information than a simple win percentage, for example.  When you genuinely want to have an edge in your betting, WHIP is one of the better pitching statistics to look at.  We'll guide you through the meaning of WHIP, and see how you can implement it in your baseball betting strategy. Breaking down the definition of WHIP The term WHIP became popular as one of the eight statistics in Dan Okrent's original 1980 Rotisserie League, a famous fantasy baseball league.  The definition of WHIP is comprised of three different terms that we want to shed light on individually:  walk, hit, and innings pitched.  Anyone unfamiliar with baseball might have no idea what these terms mean; others might need a little refresher.  In both cases, we got you covered!  So, without further ado, let's dive right in!What is a walk in baseball?In an at-bat, when a pitcher throws four pitches out of the strike zone -- and the hitter doesn't swing a single time -- a walk occurs.  Upon earning a walk, the batter is awarded a free pass to first base.  In the statistics, you'll often see a walk referred to as BB, which stands for base on balls.  Note that a walk can also occur if a manager issues an “intentional walk,” which is a major part of baseball strategy.  In that instance, a batter may be directed to first base without a pitch even being thrown, and the pitcher of record gets credited with the walk.What is a hit in baseball?When the batter strikes the baseball into fair territory and reaches base without a fielding error or a fielder’s choice, you have a hit.  In baseball, there are four types of hits:  singles, doubles, triples, and home runs.  This indicates which base the hitter reaches after successfully striking the baseball (but any advancement following a fielding error or fielder’s choice wouldn’t apply).  When calculating the batting average for a hitter, you would divide the number of hits by the number of at-bats.  But bear in mind that you would not count at-bats that resulted in a walk, but would count at-bats that resulted in a baserunner reaching base on an error.What does innings pitched mean in baseball?The term innings pitched refers to the number of innings a pitcher remains in a game.  There are three outs in an inning, so each out represents one-third of an inning pitched.  However, bear in mind that not every pitcher who appears in a game records an out.  So, it’s possible for a pitcher to have zero innings pitched.  This can happen if a pitcher enters the game, and allows each batter he faces to reach base on an error, hit, or walk.  Also understand that there are lots of ways for a pitcher to be credited with an out, including pick-offs and caught stealings.  And double plays, not surprisingly, count double, and are worth two-thirds of an inning pitched. What makes a good WHIP? A WHIP is one of the most commonly-used statistics to measure a pitcher's performance.  One of the main goals for a pitcher is to keep runners off the basepaths.  And a pitcher’s WHIP reveals how well the pitcher is doing.  Let's repeat the formula once again(number of walks plus hits) / innings pitchedWe'll further explain with an example.  Let's take Boston Red Sox's legendary pitcher Pedro Martinez during his brilliant 1999 season.  Martinez was 23-4 that season, and threw 213 ⅓ innings, and allowed 160 hits and 37 walks.  That leaves you to the following formula:160 + 37 / 213.33 = 0.92The WHIP here is 0.92, which is an excellent rating.  To give you an indication as to what constitutes a good or bad WHIP, we've got this handy chart: WHIP of 1.00 or lower:  It's a fantastic feat to compile a WHIP of 1.00 or below for a season, and doesn’t happen often -- even by the game’s best pitchers.  You’ll see this attained by legendary pitchers like Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, and, more recently, Clayton Kershaw. 1.01 - 1.20:  A WHIP in this range is very good.  With a pitcher like this, your team can feel confident and strong. 1.21 - 1.40:  In 2019, the league average WHIP was 1.33, so a WHIP in this range is considered okay, but nothing impressive. 1.41 - 1.60:  With a number like this, you're below average. 1.61 and above:  If a pitcher’s WHIP is above 1.60, it’s a sign that they are pitching very poorly, and might be sent down to the minor leagues, or placed on the injured list, or get relegated to the bullpen (if a starting pitcher). Now you know what it takes for a WHIP to be considered excellent, average, or poor. Other MLB statistics WHIP is one statistic, but there's a lot more to know when betting MLB.  There are some other factors to take into consideration to get a clear picture of how to bet on baseball and read the stats.  We'd like to share a list of the most common baseball statistics, especially the pitching statistics besides WHIP, that are important to baseball bettors.  Here we go! Slugging percentage:  The total number of bases a player reaches per at-bat.  It deals only with hits and does not include walks and hit-by-pitches, unlike the OBP.  In 2019, the average slugging percentage was .435.  OBP -- on-base percentage:  The OBP statistic stands for the frequency that a batter reaches a base per plate appearance.  To determine whether a batter reaches base successfully, one would include hits, walks and hit-by-pitches, but would not include things like errors, dropped third strikes, and fielder’s choices.  In 2019, the league average OBP was .323. OPS -- on-base plus slugging:  When you take a player's on-base percentage and slugging percentage, you get the on-base plus slugging statistic.  The combination of two key statistics provides a clearer image of a batter's offensive skills.  In 2019, the average OPS in baseball was .758. ERA -- earned run average:  The number of earned runs a pitcher allows per nine innings.  An earned run would include any run scored by a player put on base by a pitcher, if the runner scored without the aid of an error or a passed ball.  It's one of the most common statistics to evaluate a pitcher. K% -- Strikeout rate:  When a pitcher records an out through the accumulation of three strikes by a batter, a strikeout occurs.  A pitcher’s strikeout rate is the rate at which a pitcher strikes out hitters.  It’s defined as the number of strikeouts divided by the number of batters faced. What is the best sportsbook for MLB betting? When you're done with research, and you've taken in all the information, it's time to get down to business.  It's time to log on to your computer to surf to your favorite betting site.  The problem is, you might not have a favorite sportsbook just yet.  It could be that you're still used to the old-fashioned brick-and-mortar sportsbooks, or you simply never dared to wager some real money.  Don't worry.  We're here to guide you along the way.  And an essential part of becoming a winning sports bettor is having the right sportsbook.So, what makes a sportsbook special?  First off, you want the sportsbook to be trustworthy.  One of the primary factors for a sportsbook to earn a Top 10 ranking at our site is whether it has a long-standing record of perfect payouts.  Second, it’s critical that a sportsbook has competitive odds.  In baseball, odds will widely vary.  Some sportsbooks might have a dime line (e.g., -105 on both sides), while others will only offer a twenty-cent line (which is less favorable for bettors).  Third, it’s a great benefit to gamblers if the online sportsbook offers a nice sign-up bonus and reload bonuses.  Fourth, a sportsbook should make it easy to deposit and withdraw funds.  And, finally, it’s important that a sportsbook have a modern and easy-to-use website.  We’ve researched all the best sportsbooks to arrive at our Top 10 ranking.  Our current #1 sportsbook is BetAnySports, primarily because it offers the best odds across all sports.  But our #2-rated sportsbook -- BetNow -- also offers great odds, as it has a baseball dime line up to -190.  And BetNow (along with BetUS) also gives the best sign-up bonus.  Our #3-rated sportsbook is Bovada, as it has the best website, and the fastest Bitcoin payouts.  And another fantastic sportsbook is BookMaker, especially if you’re a big player since it will take, for example, $50,000 on an NFL side.  Of course, it goes without saying that every gambler should have at least three sportsbooks in order to shop the lines and get the best number. After reading this guide, you're up to speed on what WHIP and other baseball statistics mean.  After watching a couple of games, and doing a little digging in these statistics, you know all there is to place your first winning bet!  Have fun!

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Ness Notes: Monday, October 26

by Larry Ness

Monday, Oct 26, 2020

This column will be available Monday through Friday (posted no later than 1:00 ET), EXCLUSIVELY at BigAl.com. I like to call it my daily 'random thoughts' on the sports betting world, although I'll pass along that my therapist refers to it as "thoughtful commentary." NFL Week 7 will conclude tonight with 5-1 Bears in LA to take on the 4-2 Rams at 8:15 ET on ESPN (Rams are favored by six points and the over/under is 44 1/2). Just one of Chicago's wins this season have come over a .500 or better team (Tampa Bay), while all FOUR of the Rams' wins in 2020 have come against NFC East teams, which are a combined 7-20-1. You make the call. Full Week 7 recap in Tuesday's Notes but Pittsburgh's 27-24 Sunday win at Tennessee moved the Steelers to 6-0, while the Titans fell to 5-1. When the Cardinals came back Sunday night to edge the Seahawks, Seattle fell to 5-1 leaving the Steelers as the NFL's lone unbeaten team. The Jets lost 18-10 at home to the Bills and remain the NFL's lone winless team at 0-7 but they covered to give them their first ATS win of the season (1-6 ATS). The Cowboys lost 25-3 at Washington and Dallas now stands alone as the NFL's lone winless ATS team (0-7). How 'bout dem Cowboys!3-Day World Series recap: With the Series tied at one-all, Walker Buehler allowed just ONE run over six innings with 10 Ks in Game 3. He became the first pitcher in World Series history to record double-digit strikeouts in six innings, as the Dodgers won 6-2. The Rays' Charlie Morton allowed five ERs over just 4.1 innings, after entering the game having won all FIVE of his starts in the playoffs for Tampa Bay over the last two years while recording a minuscule 0.70 ERA.Game 4 was a World Series "classic," as the Tampa Bay Rays won Saturday night's contest with one of the wildest finishes in World Series history. The Dodgers broke a 6-6 tie in the top of the 9th by scoring their seventh run of the night, all coming with two outs. Then, with two outs and two strikes in the ninth inning, Brett Phillips, a seldom-used outfielder, hit a single to center field off Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen, bringing in the tying run. However, Chris Taylor kicked the ball and Randy Arozarena, who started on first, never stopped running. The relay to catcher Will Smith had Arozarena out by 30 feet but Smith dropped the ball and the ricochet allowed Arozarena to dive home with the winning run. The 8-7 Tampa Bay victory tied the Series at two-all.Game 5 saw Clayton Kershaw take the mound with the fifth-worst postseason ERA among pitchers with at least 70 innings, since the advent of the wild card in 1995. Kershaw was excellent in LA's Game 1 win (one ER allowed in six innings with eight Ks) and was treated to an early 3-0 lead. Kershaw allowed two runs in the third but lasted 5.2 innings, while surviving an attempted steal of home by Manuel Margot in the fourth with two outs and LA leading just 3-2. Then, LA used THREE relievers (NONE named Jansen) to pitch 3.1 scoreless innings for the 4-2 victory. Game 6 is set for Tuesday with a pitching rematch from Game 2 of Tampa Bay's Blake Snell and LA's Tony Gonsolin. See Tuesday's Notes for a preview. CFB recap: Saturday featured four games between ranked opponents, No. 6 Oklahoma St at home against No. 17 Iowa St, No. 9 Cincinnati at No. 16 SMU, No. 14 No. Carolina home to No. 23 NC State and No. 18 Michigan at No. 21 Minnesota. The higher ranked team won all four and also went 4-0 ATS. That continued a trend in which of the 15 games featuring ranked opponents in 2020, the higher ranked team has gone 14-1 SU and 13-2 ATS (the lone SU loser was then-No. 3 Florida losing on Oct 10 at then-No. 21 A&M). However, ranked teams against unranked opponents have seen a very different dynamic. Ranked teams did win 10 of the 12 such matchups this past weekend but were able to go just a modest 6-6 ATS, although that was a MAJOR improvement over the numbers Y-T-D. Ranked teams are 54-18 (.750) SU when taking on an unranked opponent so far this season but remain a 'money-burning' 26-45-1 (.366) ATS.No. 19 Va Tech losing at Wake forest was a surprise but No. 8 Penn State losing 36-35 in OT at Indiana was a real shocker. It was Indiana's first win over a top-10 team since 1987! The Indiana shocker was just ONE of seven Big Ten games, as the conference took the field for the first time in 2020 this past weekend. Illinois started things off with a 45-7 rout of Illinois on Friday, as Graham Mertz, the highest-rated quarterback recruit to ever sign with Wisconsin, made quite a 'splash' in his first career start. He entered the year as Jack Coan’s backup but when Coan suffered a serious foot injury in preseason practice, Mertz got the start. He lived up to his billing, completing 20-of-21 passes for 248 yards and five TDs. His 95.2% single-game completion percentage mark set an all-time Big Ten mark. However, Ohio State's Justin Fields would match it the very next day, as he also completed 20 of 21 passes for for 276 yards (two TD passes and one rushing TD), as Ohio St beat Nebraska 52-17. Ohio State has now won 13 straight Big Ten games by double digits! Also making news in the Big Ten was Michigan's dominating 49-24 win at Minnesota. Michigan's junior QB Joe Milton completed 15 of 22 passes for 225 yards and a touchdown, and rushed for 52 yards and another score, in his first career start (had 11 pass attempts in his first two seasons). While Indiana's upset of Penn St garnered the biggest headlines out of the Big Ten, let's give a shout out to Rutgers' Greg Schiano. The Scarlet Knights won 38-27 at Michigan St, snapping the school's 21-game Big Ten losing streak in the first game of his second tenure as head coach at Rutgers.6-0 Clemson remained No. 1 in the AP's latest poll (52 of 62 first-place votes), winning its 38th straight regular season game, 47-21 over Syracuse. A win at home over BC this coming Saturday and the Tigers will match Miami's 39-game streak set from 2000-03, leaving only Oklahoma's 45-game winning streak (1953-57) to beat. No. 2 Alabama got the remaining 10 first-place votes after beating Tennessee but the Tide lost WR Waddle on the opening play of that game on his kickoff return (ankle). Ohio St moved up from No. 5 to No. 3, as Notre Dame fell to No. 4 after winning a nation-best 11th straight game, 45-3 at Pittsburgh. Idle Georgia rounds out the top-5.Falling out of the rankings were No. 19 Va Tech, No. 21 Minnesota and No. 23 NC State. Indiana enters the poll at No. 17, matching the school's highest ranking since being ranked No. 17 in 1993. The Hoosiers snapped a 25-year absence from the AP top-25 in 2019 but their stay lasted just one week. Will Indiana remain ranked next week, after playing UNDEFEATED Rutgers this Saturday? Also new to the latest poll is Oklahoma, which returns after a three-week absence. That three-week poll drought was the longest for Oklahoma since the Sooners were left out of the final SIX polls of the 2009 season (Oklahoma finished 8-5 that season). Checking in at No. 25 is Boise St, which beat Utah St 42-13 in its first game of 2020. Boise St finished No. 23 in the final AP poll of 2019 and the Broncos are no strangers to being ranked. In fact, it's the 19th straight season in which the Broncos have been ranked for at least ONE week, tying them with USC for seventh-best all time.Closing shout outs. Joining Clemson at 6-0 in 2020 are BYU (ranked No. 11) and Liberty. The Flames are coached by Hugh Freeze and he led them to an 8-5 season in 2019 (his first at the school), including a 23-16 Cure Bowl win over Georgia Southern. Liberty received 85 points in Sunday's AP poll, second to Memphis' 105 points, among "others receiving votes." Boise St, the 25th-ranked team has 113 points. Let's NOT forget the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers, who were ranked (at No. 25) for the first time in last week's poll. The Chanticleers beat Georgia Southern 28-14 this past Saturday and are now up to No. 20. Is there a 'ceiling' for how high they could climb? How about this? Coastal Carolina will host Liberty on Dec 5 in the season- finale for both schools. Could it be a "Showdown of Unbeatens?"Good luck...Larry

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Big Al's Daily Angle: EPL and NFL Preview

by Big Al Staff

Monday, Oct 26, 2020

The Monday sports card features Monday Night Football in the NFL, along with two matches in the English Premier League.The prime-time Monday Night Football game on ESPN this week has the Chicago Bears traveling to Los Angeles to face the Rams. Chicago sits atop the NFC North with Green Bay with a 5-1 record after pulling off two straight upsets. The Bears beat Tampa Bay on Thursday Night Football two weeks ago by a 21-19 score before defeating Carolina on the road last week in their 23-16 victory as a 2-point underdog. The strength of the Bears is their defense as they have not allowed 20 points in three straight games while not allowing more than 26 points all season. In their last two games, Chicago has registered seven sacks along with 15.5 tackles-for-loss and 14 hits on the quarterback. The Bears also have four takeaways in these two games.Los Angeles had their two-game winning streak snapped last Sunday night with their 24-16 upset loss at San Francisco as a 2.5-point favorite. After playing on the road for two weeks, the Rams return to their new home at SoFi Stadium, where they have quickly become very comfortable. The Rams have won both their games at home while allowing only 26 combined points. Quarterback Jared Goff has completed 70% of his passes at home this season with 475 passing yards. The Los Angeles defense has sacked the quarterback eight times in these two home games with 13 tackles-for-loss and 16 hits on the quarterback. These two teams played last season on a cold night on November 17th in Chicago, where the Rams won by a 17-7 score. BetAnySports lists Los Angeles as a 6-point favorite with the total set at 44.5. The kickoff is shortly after 8:15 PM ET.The English Premier League completes their sixth week of the season with two matches involving teams all looking to move up the table after disappointing starts. At 1:30 PM ET, Brighton and Hove Albion host West Bromwich. The Seagulls have only 4 points after five matches, which puts them in 16th place after league action on Sunday. Brighton finished in 15th place last season, so they are worried about avoiding relegation by finishing in the bottom three spots in the 20-team top flight. The Baggies are one of the three promoted teams from the Championship League this season, but they have yet to win a match. They have 2 points coming from two draws in five games, which leaves West Brom in 17th place. BetOnline lists Brighton as a -0.75 goal line favorite with an over/under of 2.75. The NBC Sports Network broadcasts the match. At 4 PM ET, Tottenham travels to face Burnley. The Spurs are in 11th place with two victories in five matches this season. They settled for sixth place last year in Jose Mourinho’s first year as their manager. The Clarets are one of the three teams tied for last place in the table with just one point (albeit with only four matches played). Burnley finished in tenth place last season. Tottenham is a -1 goal line favorite at BetOnline, with the total set at 2.5. The game is available on the NBC Peacock app.

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NFL Monday Night Football: Rams/Bears Preview

by Big Al Staff

Monday, Oct 26, 2020

The prime-time Monday Night Football game on ESPN this week has the Chicago Bears traveling to Los Angeles to face the Rams. Chicago sits atop the NFC North with Green Bay with a 5-1 record after pulling off two straight upsets. The Bears beat Tampa Bay on Thursday Night Football two weeks ago by a 21-19 score, before defeating Carolina on the road last week in their 23-16 victory as a 2-point underdog. Nick Foles took over for quarterback Mitchell Trubisky under center in Chicago’s fourth game against Atlanta. His first start in a Bears’ uniform was the next week at home against Indianapolis, which is the team’s only loss of the season. In his last two games, Foles has completed 53 of his 81 passes for a 65.4% completion percentage while throwing for 441 yards. Chicago has scored 43 points in these two games, but they have settled for five field goals. Foles has also thrown at least one interception in five straight starts going back to his tenure in Jacksonville. That is the longest active streak in the league. The strength of the Bears is their defense as they have not allowed 20 points in three straight games while not allowing more than 26 points all season. In their last two games, Chicago has registered seven sacks along with 15.5 tackles-for-loss and 14 hits on the quarterback. The Bears also have four takeaways in these two games.Los Angeles had their two-game winning streak snapped last Sunday night with their 24-16 upset loss at San Francisco as a 2.5-point favorite. After playing on the road for the last two weeks, the Rams return to their new home at SoFi Stadium, where they have quickly become very comfortable. The Rams have won both their games at home while allowing only 26 combined points. Quarterback Jared Goff has completed 70% of his passes at home this season with 475 passing yards. The Los Angeles defense has sacked the quarterback eight times in these two home games with 13 tackles-for-loss and 16 hits on the quarterback. The Rams are scoring 25.3 points per game this season while holding their opponents to only 19.0 points per game. They are averaging 388.2 yards per game but giving up just 318.5 yards per game. However, the strength of schedule for head coach Sean McVay's team places some doubt on those good numbers since all four of their victories are against the teams from the weak NFC East, where Philadelphia is currently in first place with a 2-4-1 record. Los Angeles' two losses were to Buffalo and then to the 49ers last week. These two teams played last season on a cold night on November 17th in Chicago, where the Rams won by a 17-7 score. BetAnySports lists Los Angeles as a 6-point favorite with the total set at 44.5. The kickoff is shortly after 8:15 PM ET.

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What does Sharp Mean in Sports Betting?

by Big Al Staff

Monday, Oct 26, 2020

What does sharp mean in sports betting? Do you remember the first time you ever made a wager?  It could be that you were playing golf with a friend, and you simply bet on who would have a better score.  You might have bet lunch on the wager.  And that might have been the spark which would kickstart your career as a sports bettor.There are lots of paths to becoming an expert bettor in the NBA, the NFL, and many other sports.  Many bettors will start with simple moneyline wagers, or point spread bets, and they’ll gain experience with those types of bets.  Of course, to be successful, one has to put in hours of research to handicap the games.  And some bettors go all the way, and actually work full-time as a professional handicapper or bettor.  That takes a lot of confidence -- to give up your day job, and put all your money on the line -- to go “all in” in a sports betting career, but it's possible.Now, in our experience, there are several extremely important components to becoming a winning sports bettor.  They include the skill to conduct quality research, the ability to process information, and the determination to get down at the best numbers.  And it’s this last characteristic -- betting at the most favorable numbers -- which will often separate the wheat from the chaff, or the sharps from the squares.In this betting guide, we'll take you through the term 'sharp' -- what it means and how you can become a sharp bettor.  Thus, how you can find the best bets, and only wager these bets. How to recognize sharp money First of all, you should know what sharp money is.  As we mentioned before, when a bettor is sharp, the bettor values numbers, and will only bet at the best numbers.  Now, this does require a point of clarification.  When we say a sharp will only bet at the best numbers, that refers to an instant point in time.  So, if a game’s current line ranges from -4.5 to -5.5, the sharp bettor who likes the underdog will only take +5.5.  In contrast, a square (or casual) gambler won’t be concerned about the number.  If they like the underdog, they’ll be on it regardless of the line.  Sharp bettors are also referred to as “wise guys” and often operate in groups known as betting syndicates.  Sharp money, then, refers to the side of a bet where the experts are betting on.  But this also requires a point of clarification.  Let’s say the Cincinnati Bengals are playing the Cleveland Browns, and the line opened at Cincinnati -6, and was bet up to -7.5.  It’s a misnomer to say, when the line is sitting at -7.5, that “the sharps are on the Cincinnati Bengals.”  Instead, you would want to say, the sharps were on Cincinnati at -6.  And that’s because you always have to include a specific point spread when you refer to what sharps are betting, or which side is a sharp side.  Indeed, once the line has moved to -7.5, sharp bettors may have moved off Cincinnati.  When you know how to spot what the experts are betting on, it can be very lucrative and bring you an edge over the other casual bettors.  But it’s also critical to get down at the same numbers as the sharps; you can’t “follow” sharp bettors at worse numbers.  That’s not a path to success.  To spot sharp money, you need to understand a couple of basic factors.Understand how sportsbooks operateOne of the fundamentals of sports gambling is the sportsbooks. The books are made up of bookmakers and oddsmakers.  Back in the days, it was just Las Vegas where the magic happened, but these days the sportsbooks are all over the world.  With online betting sites popping out the ground like mushrooms, there's even more competition.  However, one thing has remained the same, and that's the way sportsbooks operate.  There's a general belief by the public that bookmakers try their hardest to level the betting action so they receive an equal amount of wagers on both sides of a game.  This will even out the books, and the sportsbook will earn their money on vigorish paid by all bettors.  However, this is actually a myth.  Sportsbooks actually don’t mind taking unbalanced action on each game.  Instead, all they care about is that they make money, overall.Because balanced action is rarely achieved and, indeed, isn’t even the objective, the issue then becomes the factors that will cause a sportsbook to move its lines.  Now, oddsmakers aren't stupid; in fact, they're quite smart.  They have tons of data to learn from and understand that casual bettors not only prefer to bet the favorite instead of the underdog, but also are squares -- that is, they’re relatively unconcerned about the number.  Thus, casual bettors who like the Baltimore Ravens -7.5 over the Arizona Cardinals will also like the Ravens at -8, and at -8.5.  In contrast, the specific number will matter greatly to sharps.Therefore, if a sportsbook moves its number, it will largely do so as a reaction to the bets made by the players it has categorized as sharp bettors, and not the wagers made by casual bettors (not including line moves due to player injuries).  This is done to limit further betting on a particular side by sharp players (and, thus, to limit risk).  The moment you appreciate all of this, you will have a much better understanding of how to value line movements.Keep an eye on line movement and betting percentagesAny matchup will have an opening line, a current line, and a closing line (at the moment of game time).  It's incumbent upon sharp bettors to keep a constant eye on the marketplace to track line movement, and get the best numbers.  Also, by watching the marketplace, you will learn about how specific sportsbooks move their numbers.  Are they the first to get hit by the betting syndicates, or do they cater more toward recreational players, and instead follow the sharp books?  Keeping track of the line movements can inform you of which sides (and at which numbers) the professional bettors are on.The other statistic to keep an eye on is the betting percentage.  The betting percentage does not reveal how much money bettors are wagering on each side of the matchup.  Instead, the betting percentage counts just the raw number of wagers on each side.  So, you could have 73% of the bets on one side of a game, while 27% of the wagers are on the other side.  But maybe that 27% represents more money, because those bets are larger in size.  These statistics are valuable information for the professionals!Reverse line movementAs discussed above, the sportsbooks aren’t as concerned about square action as they are about sharp action.  And that’s because -- if you want to treat sports bets like consumer goods -- there will be inelastic demand for certain sides by square bettors.  But sharp bettors will exhibit elastic demand as a reaction to a price change.  And this fact leads us into our discussion of reverse line movement.  Let’s say the opening point spread was at -6.0 for the Chicago Bears vs. the Las Vegas Raiders, and more than 80% of all wagers were placed on the Bears.  You would expect the line to move higher, towards -6.5.  However, the sportsbook might choose to move the line downward to -5.5, even though there’s just 20% of the wagers on the Raiders.  When you see this happening as a bettor, you know the sharps are on Raiders, and are against the general public.Sharp bettors pool their money in syndicatesProfessional bettors often pool their money in betting syndicates.  They have access to large sums of money and need to bet more money on a game than any individual sportsbook will handle.  For example, maybe they want to bet $275,000 on an NFL side.  Now, they could get down $55,000 at BookMaker, which has the largest betting limits.  But they’ll also need to wager at a multitude of sportsbooks to process the entire bet.  Thus, they’ll choose to hit all the sportsbooks at once to get as much money as possible at the best line.  In reaction to such a coordinated strike, the sportsbooks will move their odds in unison.  This is called a “steam move.”  So, in the absence of meaningful news, when you suddenly see the numbers on a game change across the board, simultaneously, it likely means a big syndicate bet just came in. How do sportsbooks handle sharp money? Alright, so you understand how to spot the sides sharp bettors are playing, and you know how they operate.  How, then, do sportsbooks handle these bettors, and what do they do to keep the sharps at bay?  The most significant factor is the distinction between two sorts of sportsbooks:  sharp books and square books.  To illustrate the difference, we set up a few characteristics of each one.Square books Focus on casual bettors (square bettors) who are biased toward betting on favorites, and also parlays with higher vigorish Have smaller betting limits to prevent sharp bettors from placing big wagers Base their lines on the numbers published by the sharp books, rather than originating odds, themselves Sharp books Welcome sharp bettors with open arms Large betting limits Actively handicap matchups, and originate the odds (that other books follow) Adjust their odds as a reaction to bets made by sharp players Which sportsbooks should you pick? As you can see, there's a distinction between how sportsbooks handle the sharp players and the casual bettors.  When you're choosing among sportsbooks, it's essential to know the difference between these two sportsbook types.  It goes without saying that each bettor should use, at a minimum, three sportsbooks to shop the lines to get the best number.  You should thus ask yourself what kind of sports bettor you are, and which type of sportsbook will best suit your needs.  So, there's a lot to consider when you select the three or four sportsbooks you want to use.The most important factor, from our perspective, are the odds.  And that’s why 5Dimes is our #1-rated sportsbook, and should be the first sportsbook used by any player -- whether a casual bettor or a sharp.  And that’s because BetAnySports has reduced juice; its standard odds on football and basketball games are -105, rather than -110.  After BetAnySports, one’s choice will likely come down to what kind of bettor one is, and what they value most.  If one is a big bettor, and wants to bet, say, $25,000 a game, then BookMaker would be the best choice.  But if one was most interested in a big sign-up bonus, then BetNow or BetUS would be a perfect sportsbook.  And if one is a casual gambler who cares greatly about the website, and overall user experience, then Bovada is the industry leader in that regard.  Finally, if one is a sharp player, and wants to bet into the earliest-published numbers, then BetOnline is tops.  And all six of these sportsbooks are great for bettors who want to shop the lines, as they all offer unique numbers, and don’t follow other sportsbooks.  As you can see, sharp and square are two commonly-used betting terms that will bring you that extra edge in sports betting.  After reading this guide, you now have insight into the way the industry operates and how you can profit from it.  It's always good to learn more, and to know how to implement your knowledge into your betting strategy, which will bring more money into your bankroll!

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NFL Sunday Night Football: Seahawks/Cardinals Preview

by Big Al Staff

Sunday, Oct 25, 2020

The Sunday Night Football game on NBC is a battle of two NFC West teams for the second straight week. Tampa Bay and Las Vegas were the originally scheduled teams for this prime time slot.  But with the COVID outbreak threatening the ability for the Raiders to play on Sunday, the NFL switched that game with the Seattle/Arizona clash.The Seahawks look to continue their unbeaten 5-0 start to the season as they return to action after their bye week. Seattle played on Sunday Night Football two weeks ago when they rallied from a 13-0 halftime deficit to defeat Minnesota by a 27-26 score. The Seahawks' defense stopped a Minnesota 4th-and-1 attempt late in the game after Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer bypassed a field goal attempt that could have given his team a 28-20 lead. Converting that fourth down likely wins the game, but when it failed, it provided Russell Wilson the opportunity to embark on the game-winning touchdown drive. Wilson is one of the frontrunners to win the Most Valuable Player award. He is completing 72.8% of his passes for 1502 yards with an 8.9 yards per attempt average. His 19 touchdown passes are the most in the NFL, and he has thrown only three interceptions. Wilson has also added another 153 rushing yards. He leads an offense that is scoring 33.8 points per game while averaging 395.8 yards per game. The Seattle defense remains a concern after they allowed the Vikings to gain 449 yards against them while keeping Wilson off the field for almost 40 minutes of that game two weeks ago. The Seahawks are allowing 471.2 yards per game, which is last in the league by nearly 40 yards per game more than what the Atlanta Falcons are giving up. Seattle will be without safety Jamal Adams for this game as he is out with a groin injury. Arizona plays in their second-straight prime time game after they crushed the Cowboys in Dallas on Monday night by a 38-10 score as a 1-point underdog. That victory raised the Cardinals record to 4-2 on the season in the highly competitive NFC West. Kyler Murray completed only 9 of 24 passes, but he made them count for 199 yards with two touchdown passes and no interceptions. He added another 74 yards on the ground with another touchdown. Murray is completing 65.9% of his passes on the season for 1487 yards with a 7.3 yards per attempt average. He has thrown ten touchdown passes, but he has tossed six interceptions. Murray has added another 370 rushing yards while reaching the end zone six times. The Arizona offense has thrived with the addition of wide receiver De’Andre Hopkins as they are averaging 27.7 points per game along with 402.5 yards per game. Hopkins has caught 47 passes for 601 yards with two touchdowns in a Cardinals uniform, but he is dealing with a lingering ankle injury that limited his participation in Friday’s practice. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury is “hopeful” he can play at full speed in this game. The Arizona defense might have played their best game of the season on Monday in limiting Andy Dalton and the Cowboys’ offense to just 344 yards while forcing four turnovers. The Cardinals are second in the NFL by allowing only 18.7 points per game. But Arizona will be without All-Pro linebacker Chandler Jones who is on Injured Reserve with a biceps injury. Jones generated 19 sacks last season. These two teams split their two divisional games last year. The Seahawks won the first game on the road in September by a 27-10 score before Arizona upset them in Seattle in December by a 27-13 margin. Jones sacked Wilson four times in that game while registering six hits on the quarterback. BookMaker has the Seahawks as a 3-point road favorite with the total set at 55. Kickoff is at 8:20 PM ET. 

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