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."
The NFL concluded its Week 4 with a MNF doubleheader as the Pats/Chiefs game, postponed from Sunday to to COVID-19 issues, joined the regularly scheduled MNF game between the Falcons and Packers. New England played without Cam Newton but gave KC fits most of the way (trailed just 13-10 in the 4th quarter), before Mahomes' second TD pass and a "pick-six" by Tyrann Mathieu (just NINE seconds apart), led KC to a 26-10.
Green Bay beat Atlanta 30-16, as Aaron Rodgers threw for 327 yards with four TDs. The Chiefs and Packers are both 4-0, joining the Bills and Seahawks as the NFL's lone 4-0 teams. The Steelers and Titans are each 3-0 but had their game postponed Sunday. The Falcons' MNF loss dropped them to 0-4, joining the Giants, Jets and Texans. The Jets and Titans are also both 0-4 ATS, while the Falcons are 1-3 and the Giants a 'giddy' 2-2! Houston, which won the AFC South last season for the FOURTH time in the last five seasons, have seen enough of Bill O'Brien. He was not only head coach but was also the team's GM. He was fired Monday afternoon with associate head coach Romeo Crennel named as the team's interim head coach. Now that's the 'ticket!' Crennel's record as an NFL head coach is 28-55 (.337) in five-plus seasons with the Browns and Chiefs!
Home teams went 2-0 SU and ATS on Monday night, after opening the week going 4-9 SU and 2-10-1 ATS. Week 4's first 13 games averaged 54.2 PPG but with totals being adjusted higher, saw six games go over, five go under and two fall "on the closing number." Both Monday games went under. Home teams are barely over .500 SU on the season at 25-22, while going just 20-25-2 ATS (Home dogs are 4-13 SU and 7-8-2 ATS). Overs still lead unders at 26-19-2 (57.8%). NFL Week 5 kicks off Thursday night when the 3-1 Bucs (what a comeback by Brady on Sunday when he threw five TD passes!) visit the 3-1 Bears, whose options at QB are either Foles or Trubisky.
NBA Finals: The Miami Heat reached this year's NBA Finals as the East's No. 5 to face the LA Lakers, the West's No. 1 seed. Miami is the first team seeded fifth or lower to reach the NBA Finals since the eighth-seeded New York Knicks lost to San Antonio in 1999. The last team seeded fifth or lower to win an NBA title was Houston in 1995, when it beat Orlando as the West's No. 6 seed. The Lakers rolled in Game 1 by the score of 116-98 and took Game 2 by 10 points (124-114), as Miami was with Dragic and Adebayo. Despite playing without those two starters in Game 3, Miami's starters outscored the Lakers' starting five 89-51 and Jimmy Butler played "the game of his life," with 40 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists. Butler became the 21st player to have a triple-double in the NBA Finals but it was just the third 40-point triple-double in Finals history. LBJ played a typical game in Sunday's loss (25-10-8), as he's averaging 27.7-10.7-9.0 through three games. However, the Lakers committed 10 turnovers in the first quarter alone in Game 3, one more than they had total in Game 2. They finished the contest with 20, James being responsible for eight and Anthony Davis five. Davis, after scoring 34 and 32 points in the first two games, took just NINE shots and finished with only 15 points. LA's other three starters (Howard, Green and Caldwell-Pope), combined for a pathetic11 points on 3-0f-13 shooting (23.1%).
Do we have a series now? We'll find out in tonight's Game 4, where the Lakers are 7 1/2-point favorites. The Heats are 13-5 SU this postseason (14-4 ATS), while the Lakers are 14-4 SU but 10-7-1 ATS. Playoff numbers to-date: Favorites are just 40-38-2 ATS , while the under has cashed in 46 of the 80 games (57.5 percent). For those following the "Zig-Zag" Theory (that means playing "on" the SU loser of the previous game), they've gone 30-32-2 ATS (45.6%) or minus-5.1 net units.
MLB Playoffs: The AL gets things going on Monday. The A's got the better of the Astros 7-3 in the season series but fell in Game 1 of the ALDS, 10-5. The teams combined for six HRs (three each) but the Astros out-hit the A's 16-8, overcoming a 5-3 deficit to score the game's final SEVEN runs from the 6th-inning on. Game 1 between the Yankees and Rays was expected to be a pitchers duel between Cole and Snell. That wasn't the case. Cole was solid but hardly spectacular (6 IP/ 3 ERs / 8 Ks) and Snell had a less-than-impressive outing ( 5 IP / six hits, including 3 HRs / 4 ERs). It was 4-3 Yanks into the 9th when New York broke the game open on the strength of Stanton's grand slam. The Yanks would score FIVE runs in the top of the 9th for a 9-3 win and a 1-0 series lead. The Bronx Bombers became the first team in American League history to hit a grand slam in back-to-back playoff games, while setting a franchise record by hitting at least three HRs in three consecutive postseason games. New York's goal in Game 2, after recording 31 runs and a major league-record 11 HRs in their first three postseason contests. It's Valdez (Hou) vs Manaea (Oak) in Game 2 and the game is a pick-em and the total is 9. The Yankees send rookie Garcia up against the Rays Glasnow, with the Rays favored (-125) and the total set at 8.
The NL 'joins the party' on Tuesday with Miami vs Atlanta at 2:08 ET from Houston. The second-seeded Braves did not surrender a run in their two-game sweep of Cincinnati over 22 innings, while the sixth-seeded Marlins allowed just ONE while sweeping the Chicago Cubs *Chicago batted .145 in the two games). Miami lost 105 games in 2019 and became the first team to reach the playoffs after a 100-loss season. The Marlins finished second in the NL East at 31-29 being beset by a virus outbreak early this season that forced 18 players from the field following the opening series and prevented them from playing for more than a week. Remember, the only other times the Marlins have reached the postseason in their history, they won the World Series (in 1997 and 2003). It's Alcantara for Miami and Max Fried for Atlanta. Fried has made 12 starts in 2020 (including Game 1 of the wild card series) and the Braves have gone 11-1. It's no surprise that Atlanta is favored (-1950 in Game 1, with a total of 8.
The teams with the two best records in the National League open tonight in Arlington at 9:38 ET, as the Dodgers, owners of MLB's best record (43-17) face the Padres, whose 37-23 record was second-best in the NL. The Dodgers won six of the 10 regular season matchups and will turn to Walker Buehler in Game 1, while the Padres have yet to announce a starter for Game 1. Top San Diego starters Mike Clevinger (elbow) and Dinelson Lamet (biceps/elbow) are still being considered for the NLDS roster after not participating in the wild-card round. The Padres pitched Chris Paddack and Zach Davies in the first two games of their series with the Cards but both 'flopped." The Padres then used NINE pitchers to craft a shutout in a deciding Game 3. The current odds have LA favored (-170) and the over/under at 8. BetAnySports has the Dodgers (-120) as significant favorites to win the NL pennant, followed by the Braves (+355), the Padres (+370) and the long-shot Marlins (+876).