Ness Notes: Wednesday, Oct 14

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 5 recap: Week 5 concluded a day later than usual as Tuesday featured a matchup of unbeatens, the 4-0 Bills at the 3-0 Titans. Tennessee was not able to practice since the team shut down operations back on Sep 29, after 24 players and team personnel members tested positive for COVID-19 since Sep 24. The Titans were finally able to return to their facility on Saturday and had three days of walk-through practices to get ready for Buffalo. The Titans entered the game 3-0 but also 0-3 ATS but with only three practices in 16 days, routed the previously unbeaten Bills, 42-16.

The Titans got some players back in time for Tuesday's game, but they were without starting receivers Corey Davis and Adam Humphries. However, QB Ryan Tannehill finished with 21 completions on 28 attempts for 195 yards with three TDs and zero INTs (129.3 QB rating) plus ran for a TD. Buffalo QB Josh Allen had his worst game of the season (26 of 41 for 263 yards  with two TDs and two INTs / 77.6 QB rating) and the Tennessee defense forced three TOs and held a Buffalo team to just 16 points (Bills had averaged 30.8 PPG in their 4-0 start).

Home teams ended the week 9-5 SU but 6-8 ATS (home dogs were 2-2 SU & ATS). Home teams are now 40-36-1 SU (.526) Y-T-D, while going just 33-42-2 ATS (44.0%) with home dogs going 6-18 SU and 10-12-2 ATS. NFL games had averaged a combined 51.3 through the first four weeks of the 2020 season, the highest since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. Week 5 games averaged 51.8 PPG but over/under numbers have been adjusted up, as seven games went over and seven stayed under. Peering a little closer, let me note that the seven games which went over averaged 62.9 PPG, while the seven that went under averaged just 40.7 PPG. After five weeks, there have been 42 overs, 33 unders and two 'pushes.' There is no Thursday night game in Week 6 but we will have another MNF doubleheader. Friday's Notes will feature a Week 6 preview.

MLB Playoffs: "Something had to give" in Game 1 of the NLCS, as 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). Game 1 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. Game 2 was expected to see Ian Anderson go up against Clayton Kershaw. 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'd won BOTH postseason starts, pitching 11.2 scoreless innings with a 17-3 KW ratio. However, Kershaw was scratched with back spasms. Gonsolin was an under-appreciated hurler for Dave Roberts' squad this season. However, the jury is still out on how he will fare in his first postseason appearance.<p>Here's the answer. Anderson allowed just one hit and struck out five in four scoreless innings but his outing was cut short after he gave up five walks and threw 85 pitches. As for Gonsolin, he was fine through three innings but then allowed a two-run HR to Freddie Freeman in the 4th. He was chased in the 5th inning, when Atlanta added FOUR more runs (Gonsolin was charged with five ERs in 4.1 innings). The Braves extended the lead to 7-0 in the top of the 7th but Corey Seager hit a three-run HR in the bottom of the 7th. It was 8-3 entering the bottom of the 9th when the Dodgers scored FOUR times, before Cody Bellinger was left on third base when A.J. Pollock's groundout ended the rally. The Braves are now 7-0 this postseason and lead the Dodgers 2-0. Game 3 is set for 6:05 ET on FS1. Kershaw is still unavailable so it's Jose Urias and Atlanta's Kyle Wright. The Dodgers are favored (-180) and the over/under is 9 1/2.

Over in the ALCS, the Tampa Bay Rays keep giving us more reasons to believe the City of Tampa is this year's "chosen city." The Lightning won the Stanley Cup and the Rays are now just ONE win away from making the franchise's second-ever World Series appearance (Rays lost to the Phillies in the 2008 Series). Jose Altuve's first-inning throwing error opened the door for Tampa to take 3-0 lead in Game 2, as Tampa's 4-2 win gave the Rays a 2-0 lead in the series. Altuve's sudden case of the yips has come to exemplify an ALCS in which the Astros can't seem to catch a break. Altuve's FOURTH throwing error of the postseason and THIRD of the ALCS played a big part in Tampa's five-run, sixth-inning rally. The Rays' 5-2 victory gives them a commanding 3-0 lead as the team's get set for Game 4 (8:40 ET on TBS). Tonight's pitching matchup features Tyler Glasnow and Zach Greinke. The Rays have won each of Glasnow's last 11 starts (including 3-0 this postseason) and while the Astros are 2-0 in Greinke's two starts this postseason, he had little to do with Houston's 11-6 series-clinching Game 4 win over Oakland (4 ERs allowed over 4.2 innings), after pitching four innings and allowing one run in the team's 4-1 Game 1 win over Minnesota in the wild card round. The Rays are favored (-140) and the over/under is 8.

The CFB week gets off to an early start with a Wednesday night game between two unbeaten Sun Belt schools. The Coastal Carolina Chanticleers are 3-0 and visit Cajun Field in Lafayette, La to face the 3-0 ULL Ragin' Cajuns. UL-Lafayette is ranked No. 21 in the latest AP poll, one of FOUR Group of 5 schools currently ranked. ULL opened the 2020 season by winning 31-14 at Iowa St as a two-TD underdog. That victory is arguably the biggest win in school history, as ULL beat a top-25 opponent on the road for the first time, having previously gone 0-26 against ranked foes away from home. ULL's only other win over a top-25 team was in 1996 at home against Texas A&M. However, the Rajin' Cajuns have 'escaped' with wins vs Ga State (34-31) and Georgia Southern (20-18), since. Kickoff is 7:30 ET on ESPN with ULL favored by 7 1/2-points.

Note: I'm featuring a doubleheader of Game of the Year plays on Wednesday, my SBC 10* Game of the Year in tonight's CFB and my LCS 10* Game of the Year in MLB. Any takers? 

Good luck...Larry

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