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."
MNF: NFL Week 16 concludes with the 11-3 Buffalo Bills visiting the 6-8 NE Patriots on ESPN/ABC at 8:15 ET. Something just doesn't seem quite right about that headline, does it? The Buffalo Bills are led by the right arm (and both legs) of QB Josh Allen, He had four TDs (two passing, two rushing) in a 48-19 win in Denver in Week 15. The performance allowed Buffalo to capture its first AFC East title since 1995 and land Allen his fourth AFC Offensive Player of the Week honor of the season. As for the Pats, who have essentially 'owned' the division since Bill Belichick brought his hoodie to their sideline, they are 'led' by former MVP Cam Newton, who may have 11 rushing TDs (Allen has eight) but has thrown just five TDs passes (Allen has 30) and 10 INTs, for a QB rating of 79.6 (Allen's is 104.2). Note that in the Week 8 meeting between these two teams (in Buffalo), the Pats were just a four-point underdog, losing 24-21 but winning ATS. However, in tonight's game at home in Foxboro, the Past are a seven-point home dog (over/under is 47). I'm taking a 'pass' off a 4-1 NFL Sunday which included a Game of the Year win on Pittsburgh (NEVER in doubt, right?). As I've talked about all season, this has been a 'crazy' NFL season. I'll recap Week 16 in Tuesday's Notes and will again feature a special Saturday edition of Ness Notes to preview Week 17 (all games will be played on Sunday, Jan 3).
NBA: The 2020-21 NBA season opened after the shortest offseason in league history on Dec 22. The Clippers beat their Staples Center co-tenants 116-109 on Tuesday, 'spoiling' the Lakers' ring ceremony. The Clipps then avenged last season's 3-1 playoff collapse to the Nuggets with a resounding 121-108 win on Friday. However, the Clippers returned on Sunday for their home-opener against the 0-2 Mavericks and promptly got BLOWN-OUT, 124-73! You read that right. The Clippers trailed 77-27 at halftime, with their 50-point deficit being the largest at the break in the shot-clock era, which began in 1954-55. Nice to know the NBA is still the NBA we've always known. The Cavs, Magic and Pacers have all opened 3-0 in the East, while the Thunder are 1-0 in the West. Here's an idea. Why not realize that OKC is simply the West's "best team" and NOT make them play anymore games, while making them the West's No. 1 seed for the postseason. I'm pretty sure Ohio State football fans understand that logic! Unfortunately for the Thunder, the NBA didn't 'buy' my suggestion, as OKC will host the Utah Jazz tonight, as part of a five-game NBA card (no TV games). The linemakers also seem confused as to OKC's 'greatness,' as the Jazz are favored by 8 1/2-points on the road.
CBB: It was a reasonably quiet Friday through Sunday in college hoops. There were two top-25 matchups, with No. 9 Wisconsin winning at No. 12 Michigan St on Friday and Gonzaga leaving little doubt about its No. 1 ranking with a 98-75 rout of No. 16 Virginia in Fort Worth, Tx on Saturday. Wisconsin's win was NO small deal as the Badgers had dropped 12 straight in East Lansing, with their last victory at Breslin Center coming back in 2004. Higher ranked teams are now 15-7 SU but just 11-11 ATS against lower-ranked teams. The last three days saw five games between ranked and unranked opponents, with ranked teams going 3-2 SU and ATS. No. 4 Iowa was upset in OT at Minnesota on Friday and No. 23 Ohio St lost at Northwestern on Saturday. Ranked teams are currently 119-19 (.862) SU but a more modest 74-62-2 (54.4%) ATS vs unranked opponents Y-T-D. The new AP poll will be released this afternoon but according to current rankings, Monday's CBB features No. 1 Gonzaga (-39.5) at home to Northern Arizona, No. 9 Wisconsin (-9) home to Maryland and No. 12 Michigan St (-2.5) at Minnesota. Gonzaga will obviously remain at No. 1 but Wisconsin should move up from No. 9. NO way Michigan St doesn't fall in the rankings (out of the top-25?) and I can't imagine Minnesota NOT moving into the poll for the first time this season. The new poll will be part of Tuesday's Notes.
However, the focus of Tuesday's Notes will be the resumption of the bowl season (no games Sunday or Monday) and my NFL Week 16 recap.