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: The Saints overcame a 20-3 deficit to 'escape' with a 30-27 OT win last night over the Chargers. Drew Brees completed 33 of 47 passes for 325 yards (one TD / one iNT) and ran for a TD. He drove the 3-2 Saints to a tiebreaking 36-yard FG by Wil Lutz on the first possession of overtime and then watched as Justin Herbert's five-yard completion to Mike Williams came up a yard short on fourth down at the Los Angeles 49 to end the game. The 1-4 Chargers lost their FOURTH straight game since Herbert, the overall No. 6 pick in the 2020 draft, took over for Tyrod Taylor as the starter. However, it's hard to blame Herbert. He completed 20 of 34 for 264 yards with four TD passes and zero INTs (122.7 QB rating). The rookie is completing 68.8% for 1,1195 yards with nine TDs and three INTs (QB rating of 107.1) in his four starts. He looks like 'a keeper!'
In a normal season, MNF concludes the NFL week but we are all WELL aware that 2020 is no 'normal' year. The Titans had their Week 4 game with Pittsburgh postponed and Tennessee's Week 5 game with Buffalo (set for Sunday) was pushed back to Tuesday. The good news is, the 4-0 Buffalo Bills and 3-0 Tennessee Titans will proceed as scheduled after all of the Titans' coronavirus tests from Monday came back negative. It marked the second straight day that the Titans had no new positive COVID-19 tests. Tonight's game features two QBs off to excellent starts. Buffalo's Josh Allen is completing 70.9% for 1,326 yards with 12 TDs and one INT (122.7 QB rating) in four games, while Tennessee's Ryan Tanehill is completing 67.3% for 809 yards with six TDs and one INT (105.8 QB rating) in three games. Both teams are unbeaten but while Buffalo is 3-1 I'll have my NFL Week 5 recap on Wednesday's Notes.ATS, the Titans are 0-3 ATS, due to just a plus-6 point differential margin. Buffalo is favored by 3 1/2-points and the over/under is 51 1/2. I'll feature my NFL Week 5 recap in Wednesday's Notes.
MLB Playoffs: The Tampa Bay Rays eked out a 2-1 win in Game 1 on Sunday night and then came back with a 4-2 victory in Game 2, late Monday afternoon. A two-out throwing error by Astros second baseman Jose Altuve brought Manny Margot to the plate with two on in the bottom of the first and he hit Lance McCullers second pitch over the fence in center to give Tampa Bay a 3-0 lead, one which the Rays never relinquished. Margot then made the "catch of the postseason" in the top of the second, when Houston's George Springer came up with two outs and runners on second and third. Springer hit a fly down the right field line that kept drifting into foul territory toward the wall but Margot made the grab as he hit the wall and then he went over it and fell face first to the concrete below, quickly getting up to hold up his glove, displaying that he made the catch. Tampa Bay is looking like a team of destiny and manager Kevin Cash has masterfully used his deep and talented bullpen. That said, the Astros have had their chances. They left seven runners on base over the first four innings in Game 2 and for the series, the Astros have scored just three runs but left 21 runners on base while losing the first two games. Meanwhile, the Rays are up 2-0, with a modest 10 hits (team BA of .169). The pitching matchup is Ryan Yabrough for Tampa Bay (making his first career postseason start) and Jose Urquidy for Houston. Not exactly a Gibson/Koufax showdown. Game 3 (8:40 ET on TBS) is a pick'em and the over/under is 8 1/2.
The NLCS got started last night and "something had to give" in Game 1. The Braves and Dodgers were both 5-0 this postseason and the pitching matchup featured Fried (Braves were 12-1 in his starts in 2020) vs Buehler (Dodgers were 9-1 in his starts). We now know the answer. The lone unbeaten in the 2020 postseason is Atlanta. The game entered the 9th tied at one-all when Austin Riley hit a solo shot to put the Braves up. An Acuna double, an Ozuna single and an Albies HR, all, like Riley's hit, coming after 0-2 counts, gave the Braves a 5-1 win. The Dodgers owned MLB's best record at 43-17, EIGHT game better than Atlanta's 35-25 mark, but now enter Game 2 (6:05 ET on FS1) looking to bounce back from the team's first loss since Sep 23 (almost THREE weeks ago!). Ian Anderson starts for Atlanta and Tony Gonsolin for LA. Anderson made his MLB on August 26 and in six regular season starts, posted a 1.95 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and .172 BAA. He's won BOTH postseason starts, pitching 11.2 scoreless innings with a 17-3 KW ratio. Gonsolin was an under-appreciated key hurler for Dave Roberts' squad this season. However, the jury is still out on how he will fare tonight, given it's his first post-season appearance. The Dodgers are favored (-135) and the over/under is 8.
Final NBA thoughts: Let's hear it for Adam Silver. He was the first to shut down the season (all sports followed) and he worked with the players to pull off a 'bubble' in Orlando which went off with barely any missteps. When the Lakers took Game 6 from the Heat 106-93, it capped the longest season in NBA history. Three-hundred fifty-six days after the season began, the Lakers won the 2019-20 NBA championship, the franchise's 17th all-time (matching the Celtics for most-ever). Individually, LBJ won his fourth title and was named 2020 Finals MVP for the fourth time, as well. He previously won Finals MVP in 2012 and '13 with the Heat and in 2016 with the Cleveland Cavaliers, making him the first player in NBA history to win the award with three different franchises. Winning his fourth Finals MVP moves him out of a tie with Magic Johnson, Tim Duncan and Shaquille O'Neal and into second all time, trailing only Jordan, who won the award six times. He also became the second-oldest player to win NBA Finals MVP (35 years, 286 days), behind only Kareem (38 years, 54 days in 1985). A final 'shout out' goes to Jeanie Buss. She took over the Los Angeles Lakers in 2017, as controlling owner after a legal battle with her brothers. She is now the first female controlling owner to lead an NBA organization to a championship.
The Lakers won the title but the Heat were the NBA postseason "ATS champs." The Heat finished 14-7 SU this postseason but 16-5 ATS (76.2%). In comparison. the Lakers went 16-5 SU but 11-9-1 ATS. With no homecourt edge, I guess it should be no surprise that favorites were only 41-40-2 ATS. The under has cashed in 48 of the 83 games (57.8 percent). For those following the "Zig-Zag" Theory (that means playing "on" the SU loser of the previous game), they finished 32-33-2 ATS (49.2%) or minus-4.3 net units.