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NCAA Basketball Futures Bet: Baylor Bears to Win 2021 Championship

by Al McMordie

Wednesday, Nov 25, 2020

The 2021 Men's Basketball Championship will likely be played within the state of Indiana, rather than across the nation, in an effort to reduce travel.  And it is also likely that there will be (at best) sparse attendance at the arenas.  So, what we've come to love about March Madness -- the enthusiasm of the fans, the music of the bands, the cheerleaders -- will be absent.  But that doesn't mean we can't have another futures prediction.Faithful followers have come to learn that our Futures predictions are the best in the business.  Let's review some highlights just in the past few years.  In College Basketball, we cashed Virginia as our Preseason Futures wager (at 22-1 odds) to win the 2019 Title.  Also in 2019, we cashed our Futures wager on the Washington Nationals in Baseball, at 18-1 odds.  This past season we followed up the Nationals with our Preseason Futures pick on the Dodgers, at 4-1 odds.  And that made it three winning MLB Futures in four seasons, as we had Houston, at 10-1 odds, in 2017.  In hockey, we delivered with the Tampa Bay Lightning this past season, at 7-1 odds.  And we cashed the Spurs (14-1, 2014), Warriors (5-1, 2016), and Warriors again (-160, 2018) in the NBA.  This Football season, we didn't have a pick in College Football, but we currently have the New Orleans Saints (at 10-1 odds) to win the Super Bowl.So, who is our pick to win the 2021 Men's NCAA Basketball Championship?  We're going to go with a university which has never won a basketball championship (at least by its men, as the Lady Bears have won three titles):  Baylor.   The Bears' odds to win the 2021 Men's Championship are currently 12-1 at both MyBookie and BetUS.The Bears last made the Final Four over 70 years ago (1950), and have reached the Title game just once (1948).  But this should be their breakthrough season under veteran coach Scott Drew, who has already won over 350 games at just 50 years of age.The Bears finished last season at 26-4, and spent five weeks ranked #1 in the country.  They lost a couple of key players from last season, in center Freddie Gillespie and guard Devonte Bandoo, and Tristan Clark decided to retire after sustaining a knee injury in his sophomore season.  But there's a wealth of talent in Waco.  In the backcourt, the Bears will be led by Jared Butler, MaCio Teague, and Donavan Mitchell.   Transfer Adam Flager will come off the bench, as the sixth man.  In the frontcourt, Baylor will have Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua and Mark Vital.Take Baylor to win the 2021 Men's NCAA Basketball Championship at 12-1 odds.  Good luck, as always...Al McMordie.

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Big Al's Daily Angle: UEFA Champions League and NCAA Basketball Preview

by Big Al Staff

Wednesday, Nov 25, 2020

The Wednesday sports card features the debut of the college basketball season with a full slate of games all day. Another eight matches also take place in the afternoon for the UEFA Champions League Group Stage Matchday 4. The televised college basketball schedule begins at noon, with Xavier hosting Oakland on FS1 as an 18.5-point favorite with a total set at 138.5 (all odds from BookMaker). George Washington travels to Navy on the CBS Sports Network for a noon tipoff with the Midshipmen 2-point favorites. Four more nationally-televised matches take place at 2 PM ET. Illinois State travels to Columbus to play Ohio State on ESPN with the Buckeyes a 17.5-point favorite and the over/under set at 137.5. ESPN2 has St. Mary’s facing Memphis in the Crossover Classic in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where the Tigers are a 7.5-point favorite with a total of 138.5. Kansas State hosts Drake on ESPNU as a 5-point favorite with an over/under of 131.5. Fairfield travels to Providence on FS1 with the Friars' 20-point favorites with a total of 126.The 4 PM ET window has three more televised games. EPSN has Oklahoma State traveling to UT-Arlington, where they are an 8-point road favorite with an over/under of 138.5. Michigan hosts Bowling Green on ESPN2 as a 14-point favorite with the total set at 148. Georgetown plays at home against Maryland-Baltimore County as a 13-point favorite on FS1.At 4:30 PM ET on ESPNU, Western Kentucky visits Northern Iowa, and is  a 2-point road favorite, with the total set at 140. The CBS Sports Network broadcasts the Liberty/Purdue matchup in the Space Coast Classic in Melbourne, Florida at 6 PM ET with the Boilermakers' 9.5-point favorites with a total of 124.5. Butler hosts Western Michigan at 6 PM ET on FS1, with the Bulldogs laying 19.5-points with an over/under of 132. The 7 PM ET window has three more nationally televised games. ESPN has Rhode Island playing Arizona State on a neutral court in Uncasville, Connecticut, for the 2K Empire Classic, where the Sun Devils are an 8-point favorite with the total set at 150.5. Rhode Island is a late replacement for Baylor, who pulled out of the event given COVID issues. West Virginia visits South Dakota State on ESPN2 as a 10-point road favorite with an over/under of 146. St. John’s hosts Saint Peter’s on FS2 as a 10.5-point favorite with an over/under of 139. At 8 PM ET, Connecticut hosts Central Connecticut on FS1 as a 26-point favorite. The CBS Sports Network has Mississippi State hosting Clemson at 8:30 PM ET with the Tigers' 4.5-point road favorites with a total of 136. The second game in the 2K Empire Classic on ESPN takes place tentatively at 9:30 PM ET, with Villanova playing Boston College as a 14-point favorite with an over/under of 140. Utah State travels to Virginia Commonwealth on ESPN2 at 9:30 PM ET as a 14-point favorite with a total of 136.Two more nationally televised games close out the Wednesday card. Marquette hosts Arkansas-Pine Bluff at 10 PM ET as a 30-point favorite on FS1. At 10:30 PM ET, UCLA visits San Diego State on the CBS Sports Network as a 3.5-point road favorite with an over/under of 133.The UEFA Champions League plays their final eight games for Group Stage Matchday 4. These matches are all reverse fixtures of the games played on November 3rd in the round-robin group stage six-match schedule.Two matches take place at 12:55 PM ET. Borussia Monchengladbach hosts Shakhtar Donetsk after defeating them by a 6-0 score. Manchester City travels to Olympiacos after their 3-0 victory earlier this month. The remaining six matches take place at 3 PM ET. Bayern Munich hosts Salzburg after defeating them by a 6-2 score. Atletico Madrid plays at home against Lokomotiv Moskva after these two teams played to a 1-1 draw. Real Madrid travels to Inter Milan looking to avenge a 3-2 loss at home. Porto travels to Marseille after defeating them by a 3-0 score in their first meeting. Ajax hosts Midtjylland after beating them by a 2-1 score. Atalanta attempts to avenge their 5-0 loss at home to Liverpool. All eight games are available on the CBS Sports All-Access package. Alternatively, the CBS Sports Network broadcasts a whip-around show during the six 3 PM ET games.

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Ness Notes: Tuesday, Nov 24

by Larry Ness

Tuesday, Nov 24, 2020

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: Jared Goff outplayed Tom Brady last night, completing 39 of 51 passes for 376 yards with three TDs. WRs Robert Woods (12 receptions for 130 yards and one TD) and Cooper Kupp (11 receptions for 145 yards) brought their "A" games. Woods had a single-game high in 2020 for catches and Kupp matched his season-high (also had 11 catches in Week 9). Tom Brady completed 26 of 48 passes for a modest 216 yards with two TDs (both Goff and Brady had two INTs}. The two TD passes lifted Brady's career count to 566, allowing him to pass injured New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees (565) for the most in NFL history. The Rams have now won THREE of four and at 7-3 are tied atop the NFC West with Seattle, while the Bucs have lost TWO of three and at 7-4 not only trail the 8-2 Saints by 1 1/2-games in the NFC South but also have lost BOTH meetings with New Orleans this season.NFL Week 11 recap and highlights: Let's start with the numbers. Home teams did well in Week 10 going 11-3 SU and 8-6 ATS (home dogs were 2-3 SU & ATS) and followed in Week 11 by going 9-5 SU and 9-5 ATS, as well (home dogs were 3-1 SU & ATS). Doing the math on the Y-T-D numbers, home teams are now 85-75-1 (.531) but they remain under .500 ATS at  77-82-2 ATS (48.4%). Home dogs are well below .500 at 17-37 (.315) SU but are a small money-maker in going 29-23-2 (55.8%) ATS. Week 10's 14 games averaged 45.7 PPG (down about 7 PPG from Week 9) and Week 11 games followed suit, averaging 45.5 PPG. A closer look reveals that SIX games averaged more than 50 PPG, while SIX others averaged under 40 PPG. THREE games totaled 60-plus points, while THREE others totaled 30 points or less. EIGHT of Week 11's 14 games stayed under the total and there have now been 81 overs, 76 unders and four pushes through 11 weeks.Week 11 highlights: Pittsburgh moved to 10-0 with a 27-3 win at Jacksonville. Pittsburgh's D is allowing the fewest points in the league (17.4 per) and leads the league with 38 sacks and 21 takeaways. Pittsburgh has had at least ONE sack in 67 straight games, two games shy of the all-time record of 69, set by the TB Bucs from 1999 thru 2003. Pittsburgh is 10-0 for the first time in franchise history and becomes the NINTH team this century to start that hot. Of the previous eight, only one (2009 Saints) won the Super Bowl. The NY Jets are the "yin" to Pittsburgh's 'yang," as their 34-28 loss to the Chargers dropped them to 0-10 on the season. The Jets have lost 10 straight games in the same season for the first time in club history and they are two losses from matching their longest losing streak ever, a 12-game skid that bridged the 1995-96 seasons. In direct contrast to the Steelers, the Jets are now the NINTH team since 2000 to have opened 0-10 and of the previous eight, the 2008 Lions and 2017 Browns are the only ones to finish 0-16.Russell Wilson's MVP candidacy has somewhat faded but he picked up his 93rd regular season win last Thursday, tying Peyton Manning for the most by a QB through his first nine seasons. Wilson also reached 30 TD passes for the FOURTH straight season, joining Brett Favre and Drew Brees as the ONLY QBs to do so in NHL history (not bad company). Two QBs made their NFL debuts as a starter on Sunday and BOTH won! Taysom Hill (not Winston) got the start for the Saints and completed 18 of 23 for 233 yards plus ran for 51 yards with two TDs, as New Orleans beat Atlanta 24-9. Carolina's PJ Walker started for an injured Teddy Bridgewater and completed 24 of 34 for 258 yards with one TD and one INT. However, with the Carolina defense 'throwing its first shutout' in five years, the Panthers broke a five-game losing streak in beating the Lions 20-0 (Detroit was held to just 10 FDs and 185 total yards).Sticking with the QB theme, the Chargers' Justin Herbert entered Sunday's game with the Jets as the first QB in the Super Bowl era to lose SEVEN of eight starts despite an overall passer rating exceeding 100.0. He shredded the Jets pass D for a career-high 366 yards, while throwing three TDs. He has completed 68.0% on the season for 2,699 with 22 TDs and six INTs (QB rating of 104.7). He's now become the first rookie in league history with at least a two TD passes in SEVEN consecutive games! Two "feel good" stories from Week 11 were Alex Smith and Andy Dalton. Just FOUR days after the second anniversary of an injury that threatened his life, Smith led Washington to a 20-9 win over Cincinnati. He had thrown for 390 yards the week before but the Washington lost to Detroit. Smith threw for just 166 yards vs the Bengals but the "W" had to feel VERY good. However, there was some sad news to come out of the Cin/Was game, as Cincinnati QB Joe Burrow (the No. 1 pick of the 2020 Draft), suffered a torn ACL and MCL. Returning to the "fell good" theme, Burrow's Cincinnati predecessor, Andy Dalton, coming off a bout with COVID-19, threw three TDs passes (game-winning TD pass came with 1:37 left), as the Cowboys upset the Vikings 31-28. It was Dalton's first win as Dallas' starting QB.A final shout to a pair of WRs. Keenan Allen of the Chargers has quietly had some career for the Chargers, garnering very little recognition. However, he set a Chargers single-game record with 16 catches against the Jets and is now one of only FIVE players with two games of at least 15 receptions. The other four are Antonio Brown, Brandon Marshall, Wes Welker and Jason Witten. Allen entered the 2020 season with 303 receptions his previous three seasons, with six TDs in each. He already has 81 catches through 10 games (on pace for 130) and six TDs. Then there is New Orleans' WR Michael Thomas. He set an NFL single-season record with 149 catches in 2019 but he's been hampered by injuries for MOST of 2020. However, he had NINE catches on Sunday and his career total now sits at 489 receptions, the MOST of any receiver in NFL history through his first five seasons! Don't look over your shoulder, Jerry Rice!Wednesday's notes will feature the first CFP rankings of 2020 (out tonight) plus the opening of 2020-21 college hoops season. With the NFL dominating the Thanksgiving landscape, I'll preview NFL Week 12 on Thursday, with my CFB preview moving to Friday.Good luck...Larry

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Big Al's Daily Angle: UEFA Champions League Preview

by Big Al Staff

Tuesday, Nov 24, 2020

The Tuesday sports card features the first eight matches in the UEFA Champions League Group Stage Matchday 4. These matches are all reverse fixtures of the games played on November 4th in the round-robin group stage six-match schedule.Two matches start at 12:55 PM ET. Chelsea travels to Rennes following their 3-0 victory against them that helped them stay tied in first place in Group E with 7 points. The Blues have scored seven times in their three matches without conceding a goal. Rennes is tied for last place in the group with just one point from a draw. They have scored just one goal while conceding five times. Chelsea is a -1 goal line favorite with the total set at 2.75 (all odds from BetOnline).Sevilla maintained pace with Chelsea with seven points in Group E with their 3-2 victory over Krasnodar. They have scored four times in their three matches while allowing only two goals. Krasnodar hosts this rematch tied with Rennes with just one point in group stage play. They have scored three goals but conceded eight times. Sevilla is a  -1 goal line favorite with the over/under at 2.75.The remaining six matches take place at 3 PM ET. Istanbul Basakshir travels to Manchester United after upsetting the Red Devils by a 2-1 score. They have three points in Group H with two goals scored and five allowed. Man United is tied in first place with six points in the group with two victories. They have scored eight times while conceding three goals. Man United are -1.75 goal line favorites with the total at 3.25. RB Leipzig joined Man United in first place with six points in this group of death after they upset PSG by a 2-1 score. The Red Bulls have scored four goals while allowing six. PSG hosts the rematch with three points in Group H. They have scored four goals and conceded six times in group play. The 2019-20 Champions League finalists are a -1 goal line home favorite with an over/under of 3.5.Barcelona maintained their perfect record in Group G with a 2-1 victory at home over Dynamo Kyiv. They have scored nine goals while allowing just two goals. Dynamo Kyiv hosts this rematch tied for the bottom in the group with one point. They have scored three goals while allowing six goals. Barcelona is a 0.75 goal line favorite with the over/under at 3.25.Juventus is in second place in Group G after their 4-1 win at Ferencvaros. They have scored six goals while conceding just three. Ferencvaros has allowed 11 goals while scoring four times in group stage play. They only have one point in group play. Juventus is a -2.25 goal line favorite with the total set at 3.5.Lazio hosts Zenit after these two teams settled for a 1-1 draw. Lazio is in second place in the group with five points. They have scored five goals and allowed three goals. Zenit is in last place in the group with just one point. They have scored two goals while allowing five goals. Lazio is a -0.75 goal line favorite with an over/under of 2.75. Club Brugge looks to avenge a 3-0 loss at home to Borussia Dortmund. Club Brugge is in third place in the group with four points. They have scored three goals while allowing five goals. Dortmund hosts the rematch in first place in the group with six points. They have scored six goals while conceding three times. All eight games are available on the CBS Sports All-Access package. Alternatively, the CBS Sports Network broadcasts a whip-around show during the six 3 PM ET games.

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Ness Notes: Monday, Nov 23

by Larry Ness

Monday, Nov 23, 2020

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 11: A detailed recap will be featured in Tuesday Notes but Week 11 was highlighted by Pittsburgh moving to 10-0 with a 27-3 win at Jacksonville, as the Jags have now lost NINE in a row. However, the Jets one-upped Jacksonville by losing 34-28 at the Chargers to fall to 0-10 to open the 2020 season. The Jets have lost 10 straight games in the same season for the first time in club history and they are two losses from matching their longest losing streak ever, a 12-game skid that bridged the 1995-96 seasons. Week 11 featured two overtime games, the Titans beating the Ravens 30-24 in Baltimore (no "playoff revenge" for the Ravens) and the Colts edging the Packers 34-31, after holding Green Bay to THREE points after halftime (GB led 28-14).MNF concludes with the Rams at the Bucs (8:15 ET on ESPN). The 6-3 Los Angeles Rams need a win to keep pace with the 7-3 Seattle Seahawks in the NFC West and the 7-3 Tampa Bay Bucs need a win to stay just a half-game back of the 8-2 Saints in the NFC South. I'm "old school" and can remember the Rams beating the Bucs 9-0 at Tampa in the 1979 NFC championship game (can you say Chuck Knox & John McKay?). Fast-forwarding to 2020, the Bucs are favored by 4 1/2-points and the over/under is 48 1/2.CFB recap: Unfortunately, I begin with the fact that 18 games were either postponed or canceled due to COVID-related issues. The list includes SIX ranked teams, as No. 4 Clemson, No. 5 Texas A&M (for the second straight week), No. 12 Miami-Fl, No. 15 Marshall, No. 21 Texas and No. 24 ULL. It hardly bodes well that San Diego St at Fresno St and Washington at Washington St (both scheduled for Friday), have already been canceled. There were three games between ranked teams in Week 12, all played on Saturday. The higher ranked teams had gone 17-3 SU and 16-4 ATS in meetings between top-25 teams entering Saturday but only No. 3 survived on Saturday, edging No. 9 Indiana 42-35 (didn't come close to covering). In the other two matchups, No. 10 Wisconsin lost 17-7 at No. 19 Northwestern and No. 14 Oklahoma lost badly at No. 18 Oklahoma,41-13. Updating the Y-T-D numbers we find the higher ranked team 18-5 SU and 16-7 ATS in meetings between top-25 teams.Moving on to ranked teams vs unranked ones. Ranked teams went a perfect 14-0 SU against unranked opponents from Nov 3-7 but still could NOT win more than 50 percent ATS, going 6-7-1. However, when 'all the dust had settled' from the week of Nov 10-15, ranked teams had gone 12-1 SU against unranked opponents (then-No. 19 SMU's loss to Tulsa being the exception) and more significantly, a MONEY-MAKING 11-2 ATS! That trend continued in last week's games (Nov 17-21), as ranked teams went 11-1 SU and a solid 8-4 ATS. That's a three-week run of 37-2 (.949) SU and 25-13-1 (65.8%) ATS. The Y-T-D numbers are 105-24 (.814) SU and 61-66-2 (48.0%) ATS. Can (will) ranked teams finally go over .500 ATS after this Thanksgiving weekend?Recapping those three games between ranked teams, Ohio State QB Justin Fields looked 'human' for the first time in 2020, as did Ohio St's pass defense. Fields entered the game with as many TD passes as incompletions (11 each) but while he did throw for 300 yards with two TDs and a rush TD, we saw signs of mortality. He had more incompletions (12, going 18 of 30) than in his first three games combined plus threw THREE interceptions, after entering the game with ZERO in 83 attempts (he also was sacked FIVE times!). The Buckeyes were favored by three TDs but won by just SEVEN, as Indiana QB Pennix passed for 491 yards and five TDs. Ohio St did beat Indiana for the 26th consecutive time and won for the 18th straight time over a top-10 Big Ten opponent but the Buckeyes' run of 16 straight double digit wins in Big Ten play came to an end. Wisconsin redshirt freshman QB Graham Mertz 'exploded' on the scene by completing 20 of 21 passes while throwing five TDs in his college debut back on Oct 23 (45-7 win over Illinois). However, while Wisconsin routed Michigan 49-11 last Saturday, he threw for just 127 yards and against Northwestern's D on Saturday, was picked off THREE times. Northwestern moves to 5-0 in the Big Ten for the first time since 1996 (the year after the team's 1995 Rose Bowl trip). Oklahoma's Mike Gundy has led Oklahoma to a bowl game in each of the last 14 seasons (and will make it 15 straight in 2020) but he fell to 2-14 in the "Bedlam" series with Oklahoma, as the Sooners routed the Cowboys 41-13. No. 1 Alabama beat Kentucky 63-6 and has now scored 35-plus points in 20 straight games, the longest streak in FBS history. No. 6 Florida won 38-17 at Vandy (eighth straight game of 35-plus points) as Kyle Trask threw three TD passes and now has 30 in his first seven games, the first QB in SEC history to do so. No. 7 Cincy eked out a 36-33 win at UCF, as the Cincinnati defense held the Golden Knights to 359 yards (entered the game averaging 619.1 YPG). It's not easy to cover a 51-point spread but No. 8 BYU did just that, beating North Alabama 66-14 to move to 9-0. Some lowlights of the weekend were Penn St losing 41-21 at home to Iowa, as the Nittany Lions fell to 0-5 for the first time in school history (program began play back in 1887!) and Tennessee losing its FIFTH in a row (30-17 at Auburn) after a 2-0 start. The Vols opened 2019 at 2–5 start but won their final SIX games of the season, including a 23–22 comeback victory in the Gator Bowl against Indiana. The Vols opened 25th in the preseason AP poll and started 2-0 in 2020 and were up to 14th when they visited then-No. 3 Georgia on Oct 10. The Vols led 21-17 at the half "between the hedges" but would get shut out in the second half of a 44-21 loss. NOTHING has gone right since, as the team's five straight losses have all come by double digits. That's the first time that's happened in school history (FB program started in 1891).New AP poll: The AP poll began back in 1936 but unanimous No. 1 rankings are pretty rare, as it's happened just 80 times in poll history. However, 67 of those times have come since 1992 and it will come as no surprise that Alabama leads the way. The Crimson Tide received all 62 votes in Sunday's poll, claiming a unanimous No. 1 ranking for the 22nd time (most of any school), with 21 of those coming since 2012. Four ranked teams lost this past week but THREE lost to a ranked opponent, so there was little change in the current poll. In fact, the top-8 teams remained the same for the second straight week. Falling out of the top-10 were No. 9 Indiana (fell to No. 12 after losing to Ohio St) and No. 10 Wisconsin, which fell to No. 18 after losing at Northwestern. Miami-Fl moved to No. 9 (from 12) and Oregon to No. 10, up from No. 11. Northwestern jumped EIGHT spots to No. 11 with its first 5-0 start in the Big Ten since 1996. Coastal Carolina had a tough time vs Appalachian St (won 34-23) but moved to 8-0, falling just one spot to No. 16. However, the season's other 'Cinderella' team, Liberty, lost for the first time in 2020, 15-14 at NC State and fell out of the poll (was No. 21). Climbing back in at No. 25 was North Carolina, which back on Oct 11 was 3-0 and ranked No. 5. However, the Tar Heels will host No. 2 Notre Dame on Saturday (Irish own the nation's longest-active winning streak at 14 in a row). Two other top-25 showdowns are No. 1 Alabama hosting No. 22 Auburn in the latest edition of the Iron Bowl (24th time both teams are ranked) and No. 15 Iowa St playing at No. 20 Texas. The Cyclones can clinch a spot in the Big 12 championship game with a win. The last time Iowa St WON a championship game was back in 1912, capturing the MVC championship.I noted above that the AP poll began back in 1936 but in reality, yesterday's poll is the last time in 2020 that it will be relevant. The first CFP rankings will be revealed Tuesday night and will take 'center stage' the rest of the way. Alabama, Notre Dame , Ohio St and Clemson are 1-2-3-4 in both current polls (Coaches' poll being the other), and it would hardly be surprising if that's the order we will see on Tuesday. Recap of the CFP rankings covered in Wednesday's Notes.Good luck...Larry 

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Big Al's Daily Angle: EPL and NFL Preview

by Big Al Staff

Monday, Nov 23, 2020

The Monday sports card features two-afternoon matches in the English Premier League along with Monday Night Football in the NFL.The NBC Sports Network broadcasts a double-header in the English Premier League. At 12:30 PM ET, Burnley hosts Crystal Palace. Burnley earned just their second point of the season two weeks ago before the international break with their scoreless draw at Brighton. The Clarets are 19th in the EPL table with just two draws in seven matches. They have scored only three goals. Injuries have played a role this season for manager Sean Dyche’s team after they finished tied for ninth place last year. Crystal Palace returns to the pitch after a 4-1 victory against Leeds United on November 7th before the international break. That was the fourth win on the season for manager Roy Hodgson’s side that also has a draw in their eight matches. The Eagles are in ninth place with 13 points. They had only scored eight times in their first seven matches before adding those additional four goals against Leeds. Crystal Palace finished last season in 14th place in the EPL.This match is a pick ‘em with the total set at 2 (all odds from BetOnline).Southampton travels to Wolverhampton for the second match on the NBC Sports Network at 3 PM ET. The Saints return to action after a 2-0 victory at home against Newcastle United on November 6th. That victory was the Saints’ fifth this season, along with a draw in their eight matches. They currently sit fifth in the EPL table with 16 points for the results on Sunday. Manager Ralph Hassenhuttl remains without forward Danny Ings, with the Englishman on the shelf with a knee injury. Southampton finished in 11th place last season. Wolverhampton looks to rebound from a 1-0 loss at Leicester City in their most recent match on November 8th. The Wolves have four victories and one draw in their eight games for 13 points, which places them in twelfth place in the EPL table after the results on Sunday. Wolverhampton remains an outstanding defensive club for manager Nuno Espirito Santo as the nine goals they have allowed this year ties for the fewest in the league. But the Wolves have only scored only eight times, which is the fourth-fewest in the EPL. Wolverhampton finished tied for sixth place in the EPL last season, which once again qualified them for the Europa League. The Wolves are -0.25 goal-line favorites with an over/under of 2.25.Monday Night Football on ESPN features two NFC foes in the thick of the playoff race.Los Angeles won their second game in their last three contests last week with their 23-16 victory over Seattle last Sunday as a 3-point favorite. The Rams used a +2 net turnover margin to help them outgain the Seahawks by +56 net yards to defeat their NFC West rivals. Los Angeles is one-half game behind the Seahawks in the NFC West standings after Sunday’s results. This game will be the fifth time that the schedule-makers have required Sean McVay’s team to play on the east coast. The Rams are 2-2 in those games. Tampa Bay has four victories in their last five games after their 46-23 win at Carolina last Sunday as a 6-point favorite. The Buccaneers dominated the Panthers as they outgained them by 361 net yards while holding them to just 187 yards. The Bucs’ offense churned out 544 yards while being on the field for over 36 minutes of that game.Bruce Arians gave his team three days off this week after admitting that his team was tired after playing ten straight weeks without a bye week yet. The Buccaneers struggled in their three prime-time games earlier this season, with their lone victory being at the beginning of the month when they needed to rally in the second half to defeat the New York Giants at home by a  25-23 score. Arians changed the practice schedule this week by moving afternoon practices tonight. Brady has a career record of 18-7 when playing on Monday Night Football, but most of those starts were with him wearing a Patriots uniform. Tampa Bay is one game behind New Orleans in the NFC South standings after the Saints’ victory over Atlanta on Sunday. Tampa Bay is a 4-point favorite with the total set at 48. Kickoff is shortly after 8:15 PM ET.

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NFL Monday Night Football: Buccaneers/Rams Preview

by Big Al Staff

Monday, Nov 23, 2020

Monday Night Football on ESPN features two NFC foes in the thick of the playoff race.Los Angeles won their second game in their last three contests last week with their 23-16 victory over Seattle last Sunday as a 3-point favorite. The Rams used a +2 net turnover margin to help them outgain the Seahawks by +56 net yards to defeat their NFC West rivals. Quarterback Jared Goff completed 27 of 37 passes for 302 yards in the victory. Goff is completing 66.4% of his passes on the season for 2447 yards with 13 touchdown passes and six interceptions. He leads an offense that is scoring 24.0 points-per-game while averaging 395.6 yards-per-game. The Rams’ defense sacked Seattle’s Russell Wilson six times. Los Angeles ranks third in the NFL with 31 sacks. The Rams lead the NFL by holding their opponents to 296.4 yards-per-game, and their 18.7 points-per-game scoring average is second-best in the NFL. Los Angeles is one-half game behind the Seahawks in the NFC West standings after Sunday’s results. This game will be the fifth time that the schedule-makers have required Sean McVay’s team to play on the east coast. The Rams are 2-2 in those games. Tampa Bay has four victories in their last five games after their 46-23 win at Carolina last Sunday as a 6-point favorite. The Buccaneers dominated the Panthers as they outgained them by 361 net yards while holding them to just 187 yards. The Bucs’ offense churned out 544 yards while being on the field for over 36 minutes of that game.Tom Brady completed 28 of 39 passes for 341 yards with three touchdown passes in the win. Brady is completing 66.0% of his passes for 2739 yards with 23 touchdown passes and seven interceptions. He leads a Tampa Bay offense that is scoring 29.6 points-per-game while averaging 368.5 yards-per-game. The Bucs have topped the 30 point mark in three of their last five games. However, Brady has been sacked 14 times this season, with nine of them coming in their three losses to New Orleans twice and to Chicago. The Tampa Bay defense is third in the league by allowing 300.3 yards-per-game. The Bucs are also holding their opponents to 22.6 points-per-game, and they rank fourth in the NFL in sacks. Bruce Arians gave his team three days off this week after admitting that his team was tired after playing ten straight weeks without a bye week yet. The Buccaneers struggled in their three prime-time games earlier this season, with their lone victory being at the beginning of the month when they needed to rally in the second half to defeat the New York Giants at home by a  25-23 score. Arians changed the practice schedule this week by moving afternoon practices tonight. Brady has a career record of 18-7 when playing on Monday Night Football, but most of those starts were with him wearing a Patriots uniform. Tampa Bay is one game behind New Orleans in the NFC South standings after the Saints’ victory over Atlanta on Sunday. The injury list is relatively light for both teams. Tampa Bay declared left guard Ali Marpet out for this game on Sunday. Defensive lineman Vita Vea and tight end O.J. Howard remains on their Injured Reserve list. Los Angeles safety Taylor Rapp and Pro Bowl left tackle Andre Whitworth are both out indefinitely with injuries. BetOnline lists Tampa Bay as a 4-point favorite with the total set at 48. Kickoff is at 8:15 PM ET.

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NFL Sunday Night Football: Chiefs/Raiders Preview

by Big Al Staff

Sunday, Nov 22, 2020

Sunday Night Football on NBC features a rematch of two AFC West rivals with playoff aspirations. Las Vegas upset Kansas City in Arrowhead Stadium on October 11th by a 40-32 score. The Raiders were 10-point underdogs in that game. Las Vegas got blasted home the next week after stunning the Chiefs by a 45-20 score to Tampa Bay. Yet the Raiders have since won three straight games to raise their record to a 6-3 mark with their 37-12 win at home against Denver last week. Las Vegas forced five turnovers in that blowout victory. The Raiders' winning streak has come from old-fashioned, smash-mouth football as they have piled up 190.7 rushing yards-per-game during their winning streak while averaging just 138 passing yards-per-game. The commitment to running the football has helped the Las Vegas defense. During this three-game winning streak, the Raiders are holding their opponents to only 14.7 points-per-game with opposing quarterbacks putting up a low cumulative 68.1 passer rating. Kansas City’s lone loss this season was against Las Vegas. The Chiefs have since rattled off four straight wins to raise their record to an 8-1 mark since that setback. Kansas City comes off their bye week after they defeated Carolina at home by a 33-31 score two Sundays ago as a 10-point favorite. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes led the way by completing 30 of 45 passes for 372 yards with four touchdown passes against the Panthers. Andy Reid has led his teams to an 18-3 record coming off a bye week in his career as a head coach with Kansas City and previously with Philadelphia. Reid has won all four of his encounters with the Raiders with the benefit of the bye week. Injuries and COVID loom large in this rematch. The Raiders encountered a potential COVID outbreak early in the week when defensive end Clelin Ferrell tested positive. Ferrell and seven other starters on the defense quarantined for the rest of the week and did not practice. The best-case scenario for Las Vegas is that these other seven players test negative on Sunday are cleared to play in the evening. As of Saturday afternoon, the Raiders removed seven of their ten players from their COVID list, including safety Johnathan Abram. All these players still need a negative test on Sunday to be eligible to play. Ferrell will remain out given his positive test given the league’s minimum five-day restriction policy from an initial positive test.   Las Vegas does have some good news on the injury front with left tackle Kolton Miller a full participant in the Raiders’ practice on Friday with defensive tackle Maurice Hurst a limited participant after both have missed time with injuries. Kansas City will be without left guard Martinas Rankin, who is on the COVID list, but wide receiver Mecole Hardman was taken off the COVID list on Saturday. The Chiefs had hoped to get Sammie Watkins back at wide receiver after he took part in limited practice on Friday, recovering from his hamstring injury, but he was declared out for this game on Saturday. Right tackle Mitchell Schwartz is out with a back issue and was placed on the Injured Reserve on Saturday. Defensive end Taco Charlton was also placed on Injured Reserve. Left tackle Eric Fisher is off the COVID list and took part in full practice on Friday, so he should play on SundayBetAnySports lists Kansas City as a 7.5-point road favorite with the total set at 57. Kickoff is shortly after 8:20 PM ET.

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Big Al's Daily Angle: EPL and NFL Preview

by Big Al Staff

Sunday, Nov 22, 2020

The Sunday sports card features the continuation of Week 11 of the National Football League, along with four matches in the English Premier League.The NFL has 12 games scheduled for Sunday. Seven games begin the card at 1 PM ET. The national game on Fox has New Orleans hosting Atlanta, with the Saints a 4-point favorite with the total set at 49 (all odds from BookMaker). CBS has a rematch of the AFC Divisional playoff game between Baltimore and Tennessee. The Ravens host this showdown as a 6-point favorite with the over/under at 50.Another four games take place in the second window of afternoon games. At 4:05 PM ET, the New York Jets travel to Los Angeles to play the Chargers. The Denver Broncos host the Miami Dolphins at 4:05 PM ET. At 4:25 PM ET, the Dallas Cowboys play at the Minnesota Vikings. The national game on Fox at 4:25 PM ET features Indianapolis hosting Green Bay. The Colts are a 1-point favorite with the over/under at 51.5.Sunday Night Football on NBC features a rematch of two AFC West rivals with playoff aspirations. Las Vegas upset Kansas City in Arrowhead Stadium on October 11th by a 40-32 score. The Raiders were 10-point underdogs in that game. Las Vegas got blasted home the next week after stunning the Chiefs by a 45-20 score to Tampa Bay. Yet the Raiders have since won three straight games to raise their record to a 6-3 mark with their 37-12 win at home against Denver last week. Las Vegas forced five turnovers in that blowout victory. Kansas City’s lone loss this season was against Las Vegas. The Chiefs have since rattled off four straight wins to raise their record to an 8-1 mark since that setback. Kansas City comes off their bye week after they defeated Carolina at home by a 33-31 score two Sundays ago as a 10-point favorite. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes led the way by completing 30 of 45 passes for 372 yards with four touchdown passes against the Panthers. Kansas City is a 7.5-point road favorite with the total set at 57. Kickoff is shortly after 8:20 PM ET.Match week 9 of the English Premier League continues with four matches on Sunday. At 7 AM ET, Everton travels to Fulham for a game televised on the NBC Peacock app. The Toffees are a -0.5 goal-line favorite with the total set at 2.75. At 9 AM ET, Sheffield United hosts West Ham United, which is also on Peacock. The Hammers are a -0.25 goal-line road favorite with the over/under set at 2.25. The NBC Sports Network has Leeds United hosting Arsenal at 11:30 AM ET. The Gunners are -0.25 goal-line road favorites with a total of 2.75. The Sunday card concludes at 2:15 PM ET with Leicester City traveling to Liverpool for the second match on the NBC Sports Network. The reigning EPL champion Reds are a 0.5 goal-line favorite with the over/under at 3.

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NCAA Saturday Afternoon Football: Cincinnati/UCF Preview

by Big Al Staff

Saturday, Nov 21, 2020

The Saturday afternoon game at 3:30 PM ET on ESPN features a showdown of American Athletic Conference powers.Cincinnati has hopes to reach the college football playoffs as they continue their undefeated season. The Bearcats is the seventh-ranked team in the Associated Press poll this week after their 55-13 victory over East Carolina last Saturday as a 27.5-point favorite. Cincinnati is scoring 41.6 points-per-game while averaging 471.9 yards-per-game. They are also holding their opponents to just a 12.4 points-per-game scoring average. Junior quarterback Desmond Ridder completed 24 of 31 passes for 327 yards with three touchdown passes in the victory over the Pirates. He added another 75 rushing yards on eight carries with another touchdown. Ridder is completing 66.7% of his passes this season for 1483 yards with 14 touchdown passes but also with six interceptions. The dual-threat has added another 469 rushing yards with nine touchdowns on an 8.8 yards-per-carry average.Fourth-year head coach Luke Fickell has 15 starters back from the team that finished 11-3 last year that included a 38-6 win over Boston College in the Birmingham Bowl. That was the second-straight 11-win season for this program that wants to put themselves in a position to compete against the elite power five opponents in the nation. Winning the American Athletic Conference championship game remains an obstacle after losing to Memphis in the title game last year by a 29-24 score. The Bearcats avenged that loss to the Tigers earlier this season with a 49-10 blowout victory. They also easily won at SMU by a 42-13 score. With games at Temple and Tulsa on deck, this is likely the stiffest test left for Cincinnati to reach the AAC championship game. Central Florida lost two close games last month to conference rivals with an 8-point loss to Tulsa was followed up by a 50-49 loss at Memphis. The setback to the Golden Hurricane was devastating as they blew an 18-point lead in that game. The Knights have responded with three straight victories where they have averaged 44.3 points-per-game. They defeated Temple at home last Saturday by a 38-13 score as a 28.5-point favorite. Sophomore quarterback Dillon Gabriel completed 12 of 22 passes against the Owls for 268 yards with two touchdown passes to lead his team to victory. He has thrown nine touchdown passes without an interception in UCF’s three-game winning streak. The southpaw is completing 63.3% of his passes this season with 23 touchdown passes and only two interceptions. After passing for 3653 yards with 29 touchdowns in his freshman campaign, Gabriel leads an offensive attack that is number one in the nation with a 393.6 passing yards-per-game average. The Knights were second in the nation last year by averaging 540.5 yards-per-game. The fast-tempo offense under third-year head coach Josh Heupel has been even more explosive this season as they are producing 619.1 yards-per-game, which is the best mark in the FBS. Heupel has eight starters back on both sides of the ball from the group that finished 10-3 last year. UCF has been snake bit in close games, with their three losses last year being by just eight combined points. Cincinnati upset the Knights last year by a 27-24 score as a 3.5-point home underdog. BetAnySports lists the Bearcats as a 4-point road favorite with the over/under set at 65.5.

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Big Al's Daily Angle: EPL and NCAA Football Preview

by Big Al Staff

Saturday, Nov 21, 2020

The Saturday sports card features a busy slate of college football games along with the return of the English Premier League after their international break last week. The college football card features 31 games between FBS opponents. COVID issues led to the cancellation of the following 14 match-ups between FBS teams scheduled for Saturday: UAB at UTEP; Mississippi at Texas A&M; Georgia Tech at Miami (FL); Charlotte at Marshall; Arizona State at Colorado; UL-Monroe at Louisiana Tech; Wake Forest at Duke; Navy at South Florida; Houston at SMU; Utah State at Wyoming; Texas at Kansas; UNLV at Colorado State; Maryland at Michigan State; San Jose State at Fresno State. Twelves games kick off the college football slate in the noon to 3 PM ET window. Nine games take place at noon. On ABC, Clemson travels to Florida State with the Tigers' 34-point road favorites with the total set at 64 (all lines from BookMaker). Ohio State hosts Indiana on Fox with the Buckeyes a 20-point favorite and an over/under of 66.5. Florida travels to Vanderbilt on ESPN with the Gators 31-point road favorites with a total of 68. On ESPN2,  Appalachian State plays at Coastal Carolina with the Chanticleers 5-point favorites and the over/under at 48. Arkansas State visits Texas State, where the Red Wolves are 5.5-point favorites with a total of 68.5. Army hosts Georgia Southern on the CBS Sports Network as a 3-point favorite with the over/under set at 40.Another ten games take place in the 3:30 PM ET to 4 PM ET window. Seven games kickoff at 3:30 PM ET. ESPN has the American Athletic Conference showdown with Cincinnati traveling to Central Florida as a 4.5-point road favorite with a total of 65.5. Wisconsin travel to Evanston to play Northwestern in a battle of undefeated Big Ten West foes on ABC with the Badgers a 7.5-point road favorite with the over/under at 44. Nevada hosts San Diego State on CBS with the Aztecs' 1.5-point road favorites with the total set at 46.5. ESPN2 has UCLA playing at Oregon, where the Ducks are a 17-point favorite with an over/under of 64. Oregon State hosts California with the Golden Bears 2.5-point road favorite with the total at 46.5. At 4 PM ET, Iowa State hosts Kansas State on Fox with the Cyclones 12-point favorites with the over/under at 46.Seven games kick off from 7 PM ET to 8 PM ET. At 7 PM ET, Tennessee travels to Auburn with the Tigers 10.5-point favorites with the total set at 50.5. ABC broadcasts the Bedlam rivalry game this year at 7:30 PM ET with Oklahoma State playing at Oklahoma, where the Sooners are 7-point favorites with an over/under of 60.5. At 8 PM ET, Washington hosts Arizona on Fox with the Huskies 12-point favorites with a total of 53.5.Two final games close out the card in the evening. At 10:30 PM ET, USC travels to Utah with the Trojans 2.5-point road favorites with an over/under of 57.5. At 11 PM ET, Hawai’i hosts Boise State with the Broncos’ 13.5-point road favorites, with the total set at 55.The English Premier League returns to the pitch after a two-week international break with four matches on Saturday. Chelsea plays at Newcastle United at 7:30 AM ET on the NBC Peacock app. At 10 AM ET on the NBC Sports Network, Aston Villa hosts Brighton and Hove Albion. NBC broadcasts the Tottenham Hotspurs hosting Manchester City at 12:30 PM ET. The card concludes at 3 PM ET with West Bromwich traveling to Old Trafford to play Manchester United on the NBC Peacock app. 

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Ness Notes: Friday, Nov 20

by Larry Ness

Friday, Nov 20, 2020

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."As my very favorite pop icon (the legendary Britney Spears) once opined, "Oops!... I Did It Again." Regulars know that I've charted games featuring ranked teams against unranked opponents all season (ranked teams opened the week 94-23, .803 SU but just 53-62-2, 46.1%  ATS) and the current CFB week features 13 such games. The first of those games was played last night, as No. 25 Tulsa (ranked for the first time since 2010) hosted Tulane. Tulsa opened the current season with a competitive 16-7 loss at then-No. 11 Oklahoma St but then ripped off FOUR straight wins. The Golden Hurricane fell behind the then-No. 19 Mustangs 21-0 last Saturday, before outscoring them 28-3 the rest of the way. So what else was new? Tulsa trailed 16-2 at UCF on Oct 3 but came back to win 31-26 and on Oct 30 at home, trailed East Carolina 17-3 before winning 34-30. Nothing to it! Well, "Oops!... Tulsa Did It Again!" Tulsa fell behind Tulane 14-0 last night but for the FOURTH time this season, erased a double-digit deficit. Third-string QB Davis Brin (1st and 2nd string QBs got hurt) ran for one TD and passed for two, including a 37-yard Hail Mary TD pass as time expired in the fourth quarter. The teams traded FGs during the first overtime and on the first possession of the second overtime, Tulane moved to the Tulsa 7-yard line but on third-and-goal, Michael Pratt was intercepted by Zaven Collins, who returned it 96 yards for the game-winning TD in Tulsa's 30-24 victory. The pointspread? It was anywhere from Tulsa favored by four to seven points, depending on when you played it! And the Over/Under ranged from 53.5 to 56 points.  So, for many bettors, this game -- which was 0-0 at halftime -- went OVER the total!  You just CAN'T make this stuff up! The NFL opened its Week 11 with a "Battle 4 First" in the NFC West between the Cards and Seahawks in Seattle. There was a three-way tie at the top of the division when the Cards and Seahawks kicked off last night. Carlos Hyde, back in action after missing three games due to a hamstring injury, rushed for a season-high 79 yards and a TD. Russell Wilson had  a season-low 197 passing yards but completed 23 of 28 with two TDS and zero INTs (119.8 QB rating). However, the 'game ball' should go to the Seattle defense, which held the Cardinals' top-ranked offense to 314 yards, more than 100 below their average (425.5). Arizona gained just 57 yards rushing after entering with a league-best average of 168.9 per game. Note that the Seattle defense entered the game allowing a league-high 448.3 YPG. The Seahawks broke a three-way tie atop the NFC West by moving to 7-3 (Cards are now 6-4), although the Los Angeles Rams (6-3) can join them atop the division by winning at Tampa Bay on Monday night (see Monday's Notes).Sunday's NFL: Let's start at the top AND the bottom. The NFL's only unbeaten team, the 9-0 Pittsburgh Steelers (6-3 ATS), will play at the 1-8 Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags actually won their Week 1 game, upsetting the now 6-3 Colts 27-20 as a home dog, but have since lost EIGHT in a row. Maybe the Jaguars can build on a stretch in which they have lost their last two games by a combined six points or perhaps Pittsburgh could be peeking ahead to an AFC North showdown against Baltimore on Thanksgiving. Then again, maybe the Steelers are simply DUE for a loss. Pittsburgh is favored by 10 1/2-points and the over/under is 46. The 0-9 Jets (coming off a bye week) are surely "DUE for a win," as they travel to Inglewood, Ca for a game with the 2-7 LA Chargers. The Jets have lost nine straight games in the same season for the first time in club history and  they are three losses from matching their longest losing streak ever, a 12-game skid that bridged the 1995-96 seasons. As for the Chargers, all SEVEN of their losses this season have been by EIGHT points or less and more troubling, FOUR times they have blown leads of 16 points or more (are you kidding me?). Could this be the week the Jets break through? New York opened 0-6 ATS but is 2-1 ATS its last three, while after opening 5-1 ATS, the Chargers enter on an 0-3 ATS skid. LA is favored by 9 1/2-points and the over/under is  46.My Thursday recap cap touched on one division leader (Seattle) and I've just mentioned Pittsburgh, the leaders of the AFC North. Let's move on to the remaining division leaders, beginning in the AFC. SNF features a classic AFL rivalry, the Chiefs and Raiders. The defending champs are 8-1 and are coming off a bye to visit Las Vegas, where they will take on the 6-3 Raiders. The Raiders shocked the Chiefs 40-32 at Kansas City back in Week 5, as 11-point underdogs. The Raiders got crushed 45-20 at home by the Bucs in their next game but enter this contest on a 3-0 SU & ATS run.  Mahomes is completing 66.9% for 2,687 yards with 25 TDs and just one INT (115.9 QB rating) but Carr is not far behind, completing 69.3% for 2,56 yards with 16 TDs and just two INTs (107.4 QB rating). The Chiefs are favored by 7  1/2-points and the over/under is 57. The AFC East leading Buffalo Bills (7-3) are on their bye week, meaning the 6-3 Miami Dolphins can move into a tie atop the division with a win at 3-6 Denver. Miami has won FIVE straight (Tua is 3-0 as a starter) and covered each win by averaging 31.6 PPG during its current streak. Buffalo last won the AFC East back in 1995 and Miami last won it in 2008, going 11-5 a year after going 1-15! Miami is favored by 3  1/2-points and the over/under is 45. The Colts and Titans are tied atop the AFC South at 6-3 (will meet in Week 12) and BOTH have tough tests on Sunday. The Colts will host the 7-2 Packers (leaders of the NFC North), while the Titans will play at 6-3 Baltimore. Aaron Rodgers (67.8% for 2,578 yards with 26 TDs, three INTs and a QB rating of 116.4) leads a Green Bay offense averaging 30.8 PPG, while the Colts defense allows a league-low 290.4 YPG and a modest 19.7 PPG. The Colts are favored by two points and the over/under is 51. The Titans return to 'the scene of the crime,' which is the way the Ravens likely view this game. Lamar Jackson was league MVP in 2019, posting a 113.3 QB rating (36-6 ratio) while rushing for 1,206 yards (6.9 YPC / 7 TDs), which set a single-record for QBs. Baltimore set a single season record for team rushing yards and became the first team since at least 1950 to average 200-plus pass YPG (201.6) and 200-plus rush YPG (206) in the same season. The D was not quite in the class of the Ray Lewis era units but the Ravens ranked 3rd in points allowed (17.6 PPG) and 4th in yards allowed (300.6 YPG). However, the Ravens were unceremoniously bounced from the playoffs last season, losing 28-12 at home to the Titans as 10-point favorites. In that game, Baltimore outgained Tennessee 530-to-300 in yards and 29-15 in FDs. Jackson passed for 365 yards and ran for 143 but coughed up THREE turnovers and was 0 of 4 on fourth down attempts. The Ravens will surely remember but they have 'flopped' in their biggest games so far in 2020 and Pittsburgh looms on Thanksgiving Day. Baltimore is favored by five points and the over/under is 49 1/2.Over in the NFC, I mentioned the North leader (Green Bay) just above and have also earlier set the stage in the NFC West. That leaves the NFC East and the NFC South. The 3-5-1 Eagles sit atop the NFC 'Least,' as their competition is the 3-7 NY Giants plus Washington and Dallas (both 2-7). Talk about being in the right place at the right time? However, the Eagles will be tested by a vastly-improved Cleveland Browns team that is 6-3 and eyeing a wild card berth in the AFC. The Browns are favored by three points and the over/under is 47 1/2. The New Orleans Saints have won SIX in a row and at 7-2, lead the 7-3 Tampa Bay Bucs in the NFC South by just a half-game. However, they own the important tiebreaker, having beaten the Bucs in BOTH regular meetings, including a 38-3 beatdown at Tampa in Week 9. It's 'lucky' Week 11 but the Saints will be without QB Drew Brees for an indefinite period of time due to rib and lung injuries. Visiting New Orleans on Sunday will be the 3-6 Atlanta Falcons, who are coming off a bye week and have turned things around after a 0-5 start with a 3-1 record under interim head coach Raheem Morris. This contest marks the first of two matchups between the Falcons and Saints in a three-week span, as the Saints will visit Atlanta for a Week 13 game. When Atlanta lost 23-16 at home to Carolina to fall to 0-5, head coach Dan Quinn was fired (should have been gone right after that INCREDIBLE Super Bowl collapse). The Falcons named Raheem Morris as interim head coach and the Falcons are 3-1 but with ANY luck would be 4-0 (lost to Detroit on the game's final play). Many will remember that the Saints went 5-0 with Teddy Bridgewater at QB in 2019 while Brees recovered from thumb surgery. Former Tampa Bay starter Jameis Winston is expected to replace Brees, although Taysom Hill could also take some snaps from center in addition to his usual reps at a variety of skill positions. The Saints are favored by 3  1/2-points and the over/under is 50.Good luck...Larry

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