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 4 kicked off last night with a game between the winless Broncos and Jets. It was NOT a well-played game but it was somehow entertaining. Brett Rypien, the nephew of 1992 Super Bowl MVP Mark Rypien, made his first NFL start and threw for 242 yards and two TDs but also threw three INTs (one which was returned for a TD). However, he led the Broncos to 37 points, after the team had averaged just 15.0 PPG in opening 0-3. He got some help from newly-acquired RB Melvin Gordon, who ran for 107 yards, including a 43-yard TD run with just under two minutes to go which sealed Denver's win. Rypien became the first QB to win his first start with three interceptions since San Francisco's Jim Druckenmiller beat the St. Louis Rams 15-12 in 1997. As for the Jets, paraphrasing HOF head coach Bill Parcells, "They are who their record says they are!" The Jets are 0-4 SU and ATS. I'll return to the NFL in just a bit.
The NBA Finals resume tonight with Game 2. The Lakers dominated the first game, cruising to a 116-98 win but the main storyline for Game 2 is the injuries to Miami PG Goran Dragic (plantar fascia tear in left foot) and PF/C Bam Adebayo (neck strain). Both are listed as doubtful and I think that's an optimistic take. The current line has the Lakers listed as 7 1/2- or eight-point favorites and after winning my NBA Game of the Year on the Lakers in Game 1, I will sit this one out and see what kind of team Miami can put on the floor. Playoff numbers to-date: Favorites are just 40-36-2 ATS, while the under has cashed in 45 of the 78 games (57.7 percent). For those following the "Zig-Zag" Theory (that means playing "on" the SU loser of the previous game), they've gone 27-33-2 ATS (45.0%) or minus-.9.3 net units.
MLB Playoff Update: Game 2 of the Marlins/Cubs series was postponed and will be played on Friday but four other series were played on Thursday. The Braves beat the Reds 5-0, snapping their record-tying string of losses in 10 consecutive postseason rounds since their last playoff series win in 2001. The Reds, playing in their first postseason since 2013, did not score a SINGLE run in the two games (over 21 innings), batting .169 as a team, while hitting 1 of 14 (.071) with RISP. Oakland beat the Chicago White Sox 6-4 in its deciding Game 3, ending a nine-game losing streak in winner-take-all postseason games, a major league record that dated to the 1973 World Series. The A's had also lost six straight playoff series since sweeping Minnesota in the 2006 ALDS, starting with when Detroit swept Oakland in that year's ALCS. Back in the NL, Clayton Kershaw struck out 13 while delivering eight innings of three-hit ball. His 13 strikeouts were a playoff career high and considering he came into the game with a 9-11 record and 4.43 ERA in the playoffs, he and the Dodgers have to be feeling pretty good. The Dodgers eliminated the Brewers with Thursday's 3-0 victory and it's "Good Riddance" to Milwaukee. The Brewers never got above .500 all season and 'snuck into' the expanded playoff field with a 29-31 record as the NL's No. 8 seed.
Joining the Marlins and Cubs in playing on Friday, are the Cards and Padres. San Diego's powerful offense finally burst to life in the 6th-inning of Game 2, after slumbering through a 7-4 loss in Game 1 and a listless first five innings last night. The Cards led 6-2 heading into the bottom of the sixth but the Padres hit five HRs while plating NINE runs from the 6th to the 8th inning. The Padres are the first team in postseason history with five HRs from the sixth inning onward in a game and Thursday's victory marked the team's 23rd comeback win of 2020. The Cards will start Jack Flaherty in Game 3, while the Padres are expected to use a "bullpen game." Game 1 and 2 starters Chris Paddack and Zach Davies lasted a combined 4.1 innings, forcing the Padres to use eight relievers on Wednesday and seven more on Tuesday, for a total of 13.2 innings. SIX San Diego relievers have worked in both games. As for the Miami/Chicago game, it's Miami rookie Sixto Sanchez (3-3, 3.46 ERA) up against the Cubs' Yu Darvish (8-3, 2.01 ERA).
Returning to the NFL, the "big story" of Week 4 has to be the postponement of the Pittsburgh/Tennessee game due to COVID-19 concerns. This is the NFL's first real test and all sports fans (and bettors) have their "fingers crossed," The 3-0 Steelers and Titans are two of SEVEN teams still unbeaten, joined by the Bears, Bills, Chiefs, Packers and Seahawks. Green Bay and Seattle are 3-0 ATS but Tennessee is 0-3 ATS, as the Titans have only outscored their three 'victims' by a total of just SIX points.
The Pittsburgh/Tennessee game was the only contest featuring unbeaten opponents but there are two games featuring 3-0 teams playing 2-1 opponents. The 3-0 Chiefs host the 2-1 Pats (Chiefs are -7) and the 3-0 Bills are at the 2-1 Raiders (Bills are -3 1/2). The LONE game featuring 0-3 opponents is the Vikings at the Texans (Houston is -4), a game between two 2019 playoff teams. The SNF game on NBC has the 0-2-1 Eagles (winners of the NFC East in 2019) at the 2-1 SF 49ers, the defending NFC champs (Niners are favored by seven points). MNF has the 0-3 Falcons at the 3-0 Packers (Green Bay is favored by 7 points at BookMaker
). See you all Monday for my next Ness Notes report.