Ness Notes: Tuesday, Oct 20

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." 

NFL Week 6 concluded with a MNF doubleheader. The Chiefs were to play at the Bills this past Thursday but it was rescheduled to Monday. Both came in 4-1, after each team lost for the first time this season in Week 5. The Bills led 10-7 as the first half was nearing its end but Mahomes hit TE Kelce with a second TD pass to put KC up for good, 13-10. The Chiefs extended the lead to 23-10 and the final was 26-17. Rookie RB Edwards-Helaire ran for 161 yards, as KC ran for 245 yards (on 5.3 YPC). It should not h=go unmentioned that KC ran the ball more times than it passed it for just the SECOND time in Mahomes' 37 starts. That's NOT to say Mahomes was not a major factor. He was 'surgical 21 of 26 for 225 yards with two TDs and zero INTs (QB rating of 128.4). His "opposite number," Buffalo QB Josh Allen, played poorly. He was 14 of 27 for only 122 yards with two TDs and one INT. Allen opened the season by leading the Bills to four straight wins, completing 70.9 percent of his passes, while averaging 331.5 YPG through the air with 12 TDs and just one INT. However, in Buffalo's back-to-back losses, he's completed just 58.8 percent, while averaging only 192.5 YPG passing with four TDs and three INTs.

The regularly scheduled MNF game saw the Cards roll over the Cowboys 38-10 in Dallas. It was Arizona's third straight road game but Dallas RB Ezekiel Elliott started the game with two fumbles, which gave the Cards all the momentum they needed. The first fumble came after catching a short pass from Andy Dalton and 11 plays later Kyler Murray and Christian Kirk hooked up for a six-yard flip for a TD. Two plays into the next possession, Elliott fumbled again and five plays later, Arizona RB Kenyan Drake scored the Cardinals' second TD and gave them a 14-0 lead. Arizona won the 'turnover battle' 4-0. QB Kyler Murray completed a modest 9 of 24 for 188 yards but had two TD passes and did not throw an INT. He added 74 yards rushing and a third TD to become just the THIRD player in league history with 30 passing TDs and 10 rushing TDs in the first 25 games of his career. He's done so in 22 games, tying Daunte Culpepper (Vikings) for the QB quickest to reach the mark. The Cowboys fell to 2-4 but incredibly, remain atop the NFC East, as their three division rivals own a combined 3-14-1 record (more in a bit). League-wide scoring is up this season and NINE teams are currently allowing 30-plus PPG but NO team is allowing more than the Cowboys, who are giving up 36.3 PPG. New head coach Mike McCarthy may also want to point out that his team also owns the WORST turnover ratio of ANY team, at minus-12 (15 giveaways vs just three takeaways).

I noted above that Dallas sits atop the NFC East at just 2-4 and that's because defending NFC East champ Philly is just 1-4-1. However, the Eagles are NOT alone among 2019 division champs through Week 6 of NFL 2020. In fact, the LONE division winner from 2019 to be currently leading its division in 2020, is the 5-1 defending Super Bowl champion KC Chiefs in the AFC West. Here's a list of the other six 2019 division champs and their status as the season head to Week 7. In the AFC East, the defending champion Pats are just 2-3. The Pats haven't been under .500 through the fifth game or later since they were 3-4 in 2002, which was the last season the Patriots did not win 10-plus games. Houston won the AFC South in 2019 (for the 4th time in the previous five seasons) but are 1-5 and in deep trouble in 2020. The San Francisco 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. Neither the Packers (4-1), the Ravens (5-1) nor the Saints (3-2) lead the divisions they captured in 2019 (NFC North, AFC North and NFC South, respectively) but that's not because of poor play. The Bears are 5-1 in the NFC North, the Steelers are 5-0 in the AFC North and the Bucs are 4-2 in the NFC South.

NFL home teams continue to struggle in 2020, as after going 7-7 SU and 6-8 ATS in Week 6, are 47-43-1 SU (.522) Y-T-D and 39-50-2 (.438) ATS. Home dogs are 8-21 SU and 13-14-2 ATS. The Cowboys fell to 0-6 ATS with their Monday loss, joining the Jets, who remain the NFL's lone winless team. Five teams are tied atop the ATS standings at 4-1. That group includes the 5-0 Seahawks and Steelers plus the 4-1 Packers but also the 2-3 Broncos and 1-4 Chargers. Week 6 games averaged 47.5 PPG and 10 of the 14 went under. There have been 46 overs, 43 unders and two 'pushes' on the season.

World Series 2020: Both LCS went the full seven games, although each followed a different path, which I detailed in Monday's Notes. So in the end, the team with the best record in the AL and the team with the best record in the NL, will meet in the 2020 World Series. Just the way it should be, right? That makes sense but I should note that it's only the FOURTH time in the wild-card era (since 1995) that the teams with the best record in each league will meet in the World Series. Tampa Bay is in the World Series for just the second time in franchise history (first time being in 2008, when it lost to Cole Hamels' Phillies). The Rays opened the season ranking 28th in the majors in payroll and the only team to reach the World Series since 1998 with a lower ranking was that 2008 Tampa Bay club. As for the Dodgers, they are in the World Series for the THIRD time in the last four seasons, losing in 2017 to the Astros and in 2018 to the Red Sox. It's the 63rd instance in major league history that a team has reached three World Series in a four-year span and only TWO teams among the group did not win a World Series. The Dodgers sure don't want to join the 1907-09 Detroit Tigers and the 1911-13 NY Giants.  If the Dodgers win, it will be their 7th championship (including one as the Brooklyn Dodgers).

The starting pitchers for Game 1 will be Tampa Bay's Tyler Glasnow and LA's Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw and LA are favored (-175) and the over/under is 7 1/2. There's good news for the teams' pitching staffs, as after each team played SEVEN games in SEVEN days in their respective LCS, the World Series will have a one-day break after Games 1 and 2 and another one-day break after Games 3 thru 5 and before Games 6 and 7.  BetAnySports has the series odds at -200 for the Dodgers, with Tampa Bay at +185.

Good luck...Larry

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