Ness Notes: Friday, October 23

by Larry Ness

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 3: The best-of-seven series is tied at one victory apiece and the Game 3 pitching matchup is a VERY good one. 26-year-old Walker Buehler takes the mound for the first time since he threw six scoreless innings in a 3-1 triumph against the Atlanta Braves on Saturday in Game 6 of the NLCS. That performance gives him 29 Ks over four postseason starts (19 innings) in 2020. The Dodgers are 3-1 in his starts and Walker owns a 1.89 ERA. I think Buehler is now considered LA's 'ace,' over Kershaw. With an excellent effort here, he could nail down that moniker. However, he faces one tough competitor in Tampa Bay's 36-year-old Charlie Morton. Morton's 3-0 in 2020's postseason, allowing 11 hits and two runs (one earned) over 15.2 innings for an 0.57 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and 17-4 KW ratio. In fact, Morton has won all FIVE of his starts in the playoffs for Tampa Bay over the last two years while recording a minuscule 0.70 ERA. The Dodgers are favored (-150) and the over/under is 7 1/2.<p>Note: I enter Friday on an 8-2 run MLB run (+$6,615 at $100/unit) and Game 3 is my 10* MLB Game of the Year. BATTER UP!

NFC 'Least' is back! Going back in time, NFC East fans will remember that in a 10-year span from Super Bowl XXI through Super Bowl XXX, an NFC East team won SEVEN of the 10 Super Bowls played in that span (49er fans will point to the fact that "their team" won the other three). However, that was THEN and this is NOW. The Giants and Eagles met last night in Philly, with the Eagles eking out a 22-21 win. Carson Wentz threw an 18-yard TD pass to Boston Scott with 40 seconds remaining for the game-winner. Wentz threw for a season-high 359 passing yards and two TDs, both coming late in the fourth quarter on scoring drives of 78 and 71 yards. He also had a rushing TD. The Giants attempted to answer on the ensuing drive but QB Daniel Jones was stripped of the ball and Philly recovered to seal the win. Improbably (incredibly?), the Eagles now sit ATOP of the division with 2-4-1 record, edging the 2-4 Cowboys by percentage points (.357 to .333). For those unfamiliar, the NFL gives a team half a win and half a loss in a tie game. NFC East teams are a combined 6-19-1 SU and 9-17 ATS. However, the New York Football Giants (as Howard Cosell always referred to them), may be 1-6 but they own the division's only winning ATS record at 4-3.NFL Week 7 resumes on Sunday, with Baltimore (5-1), Indianapolis (4-2), Miami (3-3), Minnesota (1-5) enjoying bye weeks. Only three unbeaten teams remain and barring a tie, ONE team will fall from the rung of unbeatens by Sunday night. The 5-0 Steelers will visit the 5-0 Titans in Nashville on Sunday. This game was originally scheduled for Oct 4, but an outbreak of COVID-19 in the Titans organization forced a postponement. Now, this Week 7 game marks just the EIGHTH time in NFL history that undefeated teams have met this deep into a season. The Steelers are 5-0 for the first time since 1978 and Tennessee for the first time since a 10-0 start in 2008. Tennessee is currently favored by just one point and the over/under is 50 1/2.

Speaking of COVID-19, the Raiders were scheduled to host the Bucs in Las Vegas for NBC's Sunday Night Football. However, the Raiders placed four starting offensive linemen plus a safety on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Thursday. All five players were deemed high-risk contacts Thursday. The NFL then announced later on Thursday that the Raiders' game against the Bucs had been moved to 4:05 ET "out of an abundance of caution to ensure that a game would be available for fans on Sunday Night Football." That means, the 5-0 Seahawks will now face the 4-2 Cardinals in Arizona for SNF.

Seattle is the NFL's third unbeaten team but has yet to face an NFC West opponent. The Seahawks' 5-0 start is the best in franchise history and the 4-2 Cardinals are above .500 this late in the season for the first time since 2015, which was the last time they made the playoffs. Seattle QB Russell Wilson is widely considered the front-runner for the NFL's MVP award a third of the way through the season, as he's completing 72.8% for 1,502 yards while leading the league with 19 TD passes (just three INTs) and with a 129.8 QB rating. However, THREE of Seattle's five victories have come down to the game's final 15 seconds. Seattle is favored by 3 or 3 1/2-points and the over/under is 56.

Another HUGE game is the 3-3 SF 49ers playing in Foxboro vs the 2-3 NE Pats. The 49ers won the NFC West last season at 13-3 (and advanced to the Super Bowl) but their 3-3 record leaves them in last-place in 2020, behind not only the 5-0 Seahawks but also the 4-2 Rams and Cards. The Pats are more than just the defending AFC East champs, as New England entered 2020 having captured the AFC East title the previous 11 years and in 17 of the last 19 seasons (since 2001). The Pats welcome the 49ers to Gillette Stadium on Sunday with a 2-3 record. New England hasn't been under .500 through the fifth game or later in any season since they were 3-4 in 2002, which was the last season the Patriots did not win 10-plus games. New England is a two-point choice and the over/under is 44.

I'll close with the NFL's only winless team, the 0-6 (also 0-6 ATS) J-E-T-S Jets, Jets Jets! The Jets are last in the NFL with 75 points scored (every other NFL team has scored at least 100), which is an average of 12.5 per game. The Jets are also one of EIGHT teams allowing 30-plus points per game (30.8), meaning they are losing by an average of 18.3 PPG. Buffalo QB Josh Allen was terrific in Buffalo's 4-0 start, completing 70.9 percent of his passes, while averaging 331.5 YPG through the air with 12 TDs and just one INT. However, Buffalo has lost back-to-back games, 42-26 at Tennessee and then 26-17, as Allen has completed just 58.8 percent, while averaging only 192.5 YPG passing with four TDs and three INTs in the back-to-back defeats. Buffalo is favored by 12 1/2-points and the over/under is 45.

Updating the NFL's Y-T-D numbers to include last night's game. NFL home teams continue to struggle in 2020, going a modest 48-43-1 SU (.527) but a 'money-burning' 39-51-2 (.433) ATS. Home dogs are 8-21 SU and 13-14-2 ATS. There have been 46 overs, 44 unders and two 'pushes' on the season.

Good luck...Larry

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