San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers ATS

San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers -6

The Packers are unbeaten at home this season. Perhaps even more impressive they are 7-1 ATS the spread at Lambeau, averaging 30 ppg.  Green Bay will enter this game fully healthy with the return of David Bakhitari on offense, Jaire Alexander and Whitney ZaDarius Smith on the defensive side of the ball. The defensive goal will be to limit the big plays of the versatile Deebo Samuel. Samuel averages 18.2 yards per catch and 6.2 yards per carry.  He is the spark that lights the fire for the San Francisco offense.  

The 49ers have already pulled off an upset in these playoffs.  They defeated the Dallas Cowboys in AT&T Stadium.  The 49ers were able to jump out to a lead early and coast their way to victory.  The game got interesting downt he stretch because the San Francisco defense lost two key players, Nick Bosa and Fred Warner. To hold down Aaron Rodgers and company they will need their defense at full force. 

The Packers defeated the 49ers on a late field goal in San Francisco in week three of the regular season. Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams were able to connect for 12 catches, 132 yards and a touchdown.  Aaron Jones ran the ball effectively, going for 82 yards and a touchdown.  The Packers have been in a grove all season, if you take away the abomanation of week one.  The 49ers will have to be able to create pressure to be able to slow down the Green Bay offense.  If Bosa can’t go, they will be in a lot of trouble.  

Green Bay will be able to score early and put the pressure of Jimmy G who is still not playing at 100%.  When Green Bay grabs the lead the 49ers will have to throw and when the pressure is on the San Fran QB tends to make mistakes. 

Pick: Green Bay Packers -6

Bengals vs. Titans ATS

Cincinnati Bengals at Tennessee Titans 

The Bengals won their first playoff game in 31 years last week.  They got the monkey off their back, now they have to deal with a bull. The Titans will be welcoming back Derrick Henry for the first time since he broke his foot at the end of October.  

Without their star the Titans were still able to lock down the #1 seed.  The game plan did not change much even without Henry, they ranked 5th in the league in rushing.  The Bengals have been great against the run all season but they lost multiple defensive lineman last week including Larry Ogunjobi and leading pass rusher Trey Hendrickson.  Cincy will have to stack the box to stop Henry, which will open up the passing game for Ryan Tannahill and his finally healthy receiving core.  This could be  a big opportunity for veteran Julio Jones who will get a lot of one on one coverage from secondary CB’s.  This game is the reason the Titans got Jones in the offseason, he will have a huge day.  

Joe Burrow can be lethal if he has a clean pocket. The Bengals will have a tough time keeping him clean, Tennessee has multiple dominant pass rushers.  Harold Landry leads the way with 12 sacks, Denico Autry has 9 and Jeffery Simmons has 8.5.  Cincinnati has given up a league leading 53 Sacks on the season and Saturday their biggest weakness will be exposed. 

The Bengals are ahead of schedule, Burrow and the boys have a great core to build around but the losses on the defensive side and the return of Henry will be too much to overcome for a Titans team that is 6-3 ATS at home.  I am going to buy a half point and hammer the titans to cover.  

Pick: Titans -3

AFC Playoffs Picks ATS

Las Vegas Raiders at Cincinnati Bengals

The Raiders dispatched Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers to earn the last playoff spot in the AFC. Their reward is a matchup with another stud QB Joe Burrow and the NFC North Champion Cincinnati Bengals.

The Bengals are ahead of schedule in their rebuild. The Bengals were road warriors this year, going 6-2 ATS and 5-3 overall on the road. One of those road wins was a 32-13 beating of the Raiders on November 21st. Joe Mixon dominated on the ground, running for 123 yards and two touchdowns. The time of possession was widely in favor of the Bengals at +15 minutes.

The Bengals are not a run first team but they are able to lean on Mixon in the right matchups. If they can establish the run again they can neutralize the biggest defensive asset of the Raiders, their pass rush. Joe Burrow has multiple weapons to take advantage of the Raiders stacking the box and should be able to pick apart the defense if he gets 1on 1 coverage on Tee Higgins and JaMarr Chase.

Their defense may have a slight advantage but I don’t see how their offense can keep up with Joe and the boys. Vegas leads the NFL in penalty yards per game at 63 yards per game, while the Bengals are one of the more disciplined teams in football. This is a ten point game at least. Rolling with Joe, cigars for everyone.

Pick: Bengals -6

New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills

This game is simple. Can Buffalo stop the New England run game? They stop the run, they win the game. They don’t stop the run, they lose.

The Bills have the #1 overall defense in the NFL. They however possess the #13 overall defense against the run. The Patriots have shown the ability to run the ball in their two matchups with Buffalo, the infamous “wind” game was a ground dominate effort leading the a Patriots victory, in matchup two the Bills offense shined. Josh Allen led the Bills to a 33-21 victory in Foxboro, while giving up 103 yards and three tuddys to Damien Harris.

The Patriots have struggled down the stretch because of the regression of rookie Mac Jones. Over his last five he has thrown five interceptions. Belicheck will not allow the game to be on the shoulders of his rookie QB. He will limit the throws and pound the ball right down the middle of the Buffalo defense. Both Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson will be available, which means fresh legs for the Patriots run game.

Josh Allen is a stud, but this is the third meeting this year, hard for me to believe the Patriots won’t be ready to limit his downfield throws.

This division matchup will be gritty, no matter what this will be decided by a field goal. I like the Patriots to keep this close and potentially win because Allen can’t get the ball in his hands enough.

Pick: Patriots +4

Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs

A lot of things went right to allow the Pittsburgh Steelers to get into the playoffs. The luck has run out. The Chiefs have found their groove at the right time and they get the best matchup they could possibly ask for with an over the hill relic of a hall of fame QB in Big Ben.

The Chiefs smacked the Steelers in the face just two weeks ago. They will do it again on Sunday, ending a historic career, finally. The Chiefs hold the advantage in nearly every category, including on the defensive end. The “vaunted” Steelers defense ended the season in the bottom ten in points against. Their inability to stop the run has allowed teams to control the clock and score at will. If they can’t get pressure on the QB they are basically just crash pads in the middle of the field. The Chiefs have averaged 35 points per game over their last four, the Steelers just don’t have the firepower to match them.

The Chiefs are 6-2 ATS in their last eight. They are red hot, fully healthy and playing at home. The Steelers would be a nice story but Big Ben hasn’t had a QBR over 35 in his last five games. If they fall behind its going to be tough to beat the Chiefs if your QB can’t throw it over 20 yards. Najee Harris will likely make a big play at some point and Dionte Johnson will break loose, but it won’t be enough. Double digits in the playoffs is never an easy cover but this one is a mismatch of organization going in different directions.

Pick: Chiefs -13

Fantasy football players that stunk and you now hate them.

Fantasy seasons go by fast, before you know it your season is over and you are the but of the joke with your league.  But it’s not your fault.  The blame has to go somewhere, there are a few players that you can forward your excuses to.  Here are five of the players that were the biggest busts in your fantasy season.  Guys like Saquon, CMC and Derrick Henry getting hit with injuries are not included, when they played they were somewhat productivel.  These are the guys that played a majority of the season and just were not productive.

Darren Waller, TE, Las Vegas Raiders, ADP 24

The Raiders have had a troubled season off the field.  On the field they have been inconsistent at best.  Waller has been just as inconsistent, after being labeled as “the best player in football” by his coach after his 19 targets and 10 catches in week one. Waller has missed a few games due to injury but the production when he plays has not been to the standard that a player with an ADP in the top 25 should be giving.  In total Waller has just two touchdowns and none of them were from outside of the red zone. Even in the red zone waller has just 8 pass completions.  

Waller currently sits as the 14th best TE in fantasy football.  He is hanging out with guys like TY Conklin and Jared Cook, when you drafted him in the first 4 rounds.  He broke 100 yards just twice in 2021 and has seen a lot of his production taken by Derek Carr’s new favorite toy Hunter Renfrow.  Waller’s injury didn’t help his production, but still he seems to be on the tail end of what was a great story.  I would find it hard to grab Waller any later than the 6th round next year.

Mike Davis, RB, Atlanta Falcons, ADP 52

Mike Davis had a great 2020 season for Carolina, filling in for the injured CMC.  Davis had 8 touchdowns and 59 catches for the Panthers and went into the offseason as a hot commodity. The Atlanta Falcons signed Davis and projected him as their lead RB. 

At just 27-years old Davis was still in his prime, now in the presumed “lead”back role he was sure to have a stellar season.  Then there was Corredalle Patterson.  The longtime NFL journeyman decided he would make a permanent transition to the running back position and become not only fantasy relevant but potentially the steal of the waiver wire for 2021.  Patterson not only turned Davis into an afterthought, destined to spend his season on your bench, he made him droppable in pretty much every league. 

The putrid Atlanta offense didn’t help matters but ultimately a guy you looked at as a potential #The 2 RBs on your fantasy team had just 3 total touchdowns and never carried the ball more than 13 times in a game all season.   

Miles Sanders, RB, Philadelphia Eagles, ADP 35

I projected Miles Sanders as a future fantasy football stud. Still just 24 years old he could one day be the player I think he can be. Over his three seasons in the NFL he is averaging 5.0 yards per carry.  He has explosive speed and can catch the ball out of the backfield.  Unfortunately for 2021 fantasy owners, Sanders found himself with a head coach that forgot you can run the ball with someone other than your QB. 

Sanders currently has the same amount of touchdowns as anyone who reads this.  That is zero, in case you got confused.  Not only is he not getting in the endzone, he doesn’t even get a chance.  The Eagles have three other RB’s on the roster that in total have 12 touchdowns including former Bear Jordan Howard, whom I thought retired.  Rookie Kenneth Gainwell has even seen 7 receiving targets in the red zone.  It is almost like he is a forgotten man despite having #1 potential.    

The perfect example of Sanders’ fantasy season was last night, he ran for 150 yards but twice on the goal line Jalen Hurts snagged his touchdowns.  Either a new coach, new team or new system needs to be put in place for the sake of Sanders fantasy relevance.

Big 12 Championship- This is going to be a grind

Big 12 Championship: Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. Baylor Bears +5.5 Total: 46.5

The Big 12 Championship game looks kind of odd without Oklahoma participating, nevertheless there will be a team from the state that is looking to find itself in the college football playoff.  The Cowboys are one win away from forcing themselves into the conversation, the Baylor Bears will look to be dream killers on Saturday in what is sure to be a hard hitting affair. 

This will be the second time these two teams have met, the first was won by Oklahoma State 24-14.  The Cowboys were able to overcome three interceptions thrown by QB Spencer Sanders. Oklahoma State dominated on the ground, led by Jaylen Warren’s 125 yards and two touchdowns.  Sanders was able to add 76 yards on the ground but this time around he will have to limit the turnovers and utilize their strong run game.  

The Baylor Bears will have a similar offensive game plan, they are a run first team that has averaged over 200 yards per game on the ground.  In their first meeting the Bears fell behind early 14-0 and were outgained in the first half 240 – 90. The Oklahoma State defense is good all around but they thrive against the run, allowing just 2.8 yard per rush. Baylor will likely be without QB Gerry Bohanon, who is dealing with a hamstring injury, if he does play he will have to graduate from game manager to big play threat to challenge the Cowboy defense.  If Bohanon can’t go, the Bears will have to lean on Redshirt Freshman Blake Shapen.

The Big 12 has a rare matchup of defensive minded teams in their championship game. This one will be old school.  Both teams will battle in the trenches which will slow the pace down a lot.  Oklahoma State has a lot more to play for, if Sanders can avoid the turnovers that have plagued him in big games this season this should be a win and an easy cover. I like the Cowboys to win by a touchdown.  

Ok State being the choice to win the game also means I think they will dictate the pace.  That means running and controlling the clock. This game will be played on a neutral field at AT&T Stadium.  While I am sure based on location the fan bases will be split, I look at this like an away game for both teams.  These two are a combined 8-2 to the under on the road and I expect that trend to continue.

Pick: Under 46.5, lean hard OK State -5.5

NCAAF Pick Nov 20- ACC QB Showdown

Virginia Cavaliers at Pittsburgh Panthers -14.5, Total 66

The Virginia defense stinks. If you take away their shutout of Duke they haven’t given up less than 28 points on the season, that includes beatdowns from North Carolina, Wake Forest and BYU.  In those three games they gave up an average of 54 points per game.They will face a Pittsburgh offense that is averaging 36 ppg (4th nationally) and led by future NFL first rounder Kenny Pickett.

The Cavaliers season has been a roller coaster.  Starting the season 2-2 before reeling off four straight wins over Louisville, Georgia Tech, Duke and Miami. Their momentum was abruptly stopped when they got run over by BYU. That game came with an extra kick inthe gut as star QB Brennan Armstrong sustained an injury that forced him to miss the Notre Dame game.  Without Armstrong the highly vaunted Cavalier offense could not move the ball scoring just 3 points behind backup Jay Woolfok. There are reports that Armstrong should be back for this game, if he is the Virginia offense should be able to move the ball.

The Pittsburgh defense has struggled over the last three weeks, giving up 23,29 and 38 over the last three weeks.  Their early season games against Tennesee and Western Michigan showed the vulnerabilities in the defense.  With the potential return of Armstrong, the Pittsburgh defense will have to deal with a dual threat QB that can expsoe them.  Armstrong is third in college football with 3,557 yards and added 7 rushing touchdowns.  

I am playing under the assumption that Armstrong will be on the field.  If that is the case I am taking the points with Virginia and I am hammering the over. This game will be a shoutout between two extremely talented QB’s against lackluster defenses. 

Pick: Virginia +14.5, over 66

Free Agents Cardinals should add (Non-Shortstops)

The needs of the St. Louis Cardinals are obvious to most that watched the 2021 version.  Edmundo Sosa and Paul Dejong felt like fillers for a position of need at shortstop.  The offseason free agent market will allow for multiple options in one of the greatest free agent markets of all time for the position.  The Cardinals could go aftera number of great players, Carlos Correa, Marcus Semien, Trevor Story, Corey Seager or Javy Baez.  Adding a shortstop along with another starting pitcher should be the #1 objective for the Cards in the offseason but they also could look at trying to add some depth on the bench as well as some help with the pitching staff.  Here are five of my favorite underrated potential signings. 

Eduardo Escobar, Utility,  (2.4 WAR)

I feel like I have been writing about Eduardo Escobar for a few years now.  Escobar had another solid year with 28 homers and .786 OPS. He has the ability to play multiple positions and plays literally every position on the field.  He is a switch hitter that can bat in any part of the lineup.  

St. Louis is in desperate need of a power bat off the bench and Escobar fits the build.  He can play second base and move Tommy Edman over to shortstop, you can still have an impactful bat in the lineup if Arenado or Goldschmidt need a day off, or just have a veteran on the bench.   He is a switch hitter that can bat in any part of the lineup.  

Escobar was  having a great year in Arizona but saw a major dip in his numbers when traded to Milwaukee.  His end of the year slump will make him extremely affordable, his versatility makes him the perfect  fit for most teams and immediately improves the Cardinals bench.

Marcus Stroman, RHP, (3.4 WAR)

Stroman quietly had a great season in 2021.  After sitting out 2020, he started 33 games for the underachieving Mets.  He was top ten in the league with a 3.02 ERA, he also included a 1.15 WHIP.  He included his top strikeout percentage in his career with a 21% K rate. 

At just 30 years old he still has a lot of productive years ahead of him. Stroman has shown the ability to be a top of the rotation guy in his career with the Toronto Blue Jays, he also excelled as the #1 option for team USA in the World Baseball Classic.  

Stroman is an innings eater that can compete for a top spot in the rotation. The Cardinals could get him for an affordable rate at around 4-years, $100 million.  

Kendall Graveman, RHP, (1.3 WAR)

Graveman converted to the bullpen full time in 2021.   He saw an increase in fastball velocity to an average of 96 mph and added a slider that got him up to a 27% K rate.  Graveman was surprisingly traded to the eventual American League champion Houston Astros  after dominating for the Mariners in 30 games.  During his time with Seattle, Graveman had 10 saves, with a 0.82 ERA and a .69 WHIP. 

The Cardinals bullpen was one of the highlights most of the season.  Additions of journeymen TJ McFarland and Luis Garcia helped carry a load of young pitchers that were overused during the 2021 season.  St. Louis will get Jordan Hicks back next season to go along with TJ McFarland, Genesis Cabrera, Kodi Whitley and Closer, Gio Gallegos.  The Cardinals will give Alex Reyes a chance to be in the starting rotation next year which means adding at least one power reliever.  Graveman would give St. Louis a solid arm that can go multiple innings and give relief to their young arms.  If he needs to be put in the closer spot, he can do it, if needed to pitch the 6th, he can do it, if he needs to open and go three innings, he can do it.  

Michael Conforto, OF, (2.9 WAR)

St. Louis has the outfield basically spoken for.  The combination of Tyler O’Neil, Harrison Bader and Dylan Carlson was as good as you can ask for in developing players.  The fourth outfielder all season was a rotating door of instability.  Justin Williams, Austin Dean and Lars Nootbar all had their chances but didn’t do enough to solidify their roster spot for next season.  The Cardinals need to find a reliable bat that can step right into the lineup and make an impact.  With young players, you get inconsistency, the Cardinals need to add a player that can realistically be a starter.  Also someone that hits with power from the left side would be nice.  What about Michael Conforto?

Conforto is coming off a few injury plagued seasons.  His injuries could see him forced into taking a “prove it” deal with a contender.  The Cardinals could realistically offer him a  chance to get at bats against tough righties as well should versatility producing in a bench role.  If the DH is implemented into the National League next year, he could get a full allotment of at bats.  In 7 seasons Conforto has a career OBP of .354 and a career OPS over .800. As recently as 2019 he hit 33 homers for a Mets team that provided little protection for him.  Imagine putting him in front or behind Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado.  

NCAAF Picks ATS Week 10

Liberty Flames at Mississippi Rebels -10  Total: 67.5

The Liberty Flames will get their chance to take on one of the big boys when they face off against the Ole Miss Rebels.  

The Flames defense will have their hands full with future pro and potentially top overall draft pick, QB Matt Coral.  Coral will not have his full allotment of receivers but the Rebels will still be able to produce offense on the ground against a Liberty defense that gave up over 200 yards on the ground to both North Texas and UMass.  Corral actually leads the Rebels in rush yards this year with 519 to go along with ten rushing touchdowns, his ability to scramble will be tough for the Liberty defense to contain.  Henry Parrish Jr and Snoop Conner are both explosive out of the backfield, each average over 5 yards per carry. As a team Ole Miss averages over 6 yards per play on offense ranking them in the top ten in all of football.

Liberty will have a chance because they have a dynamic QB in Malik Willis.  Like Coral, Willis leads his team in rush yards, 684 yards while completing 66% of his passes.  The Liberty offense should have their way with a subpar Ole Miss defense.  The Rebels give up 429 yards of offense per game, most notably they give up a ton on the ground. Their inability to stop the run will force the defense to get worn down, Ole Miss ranks 107th in defense time on field.  This will be a huge factor in Liberty cashing in on offense. 

These two squads will both be fired up for this game and we will see a great matchup of the two most athletic and talented QB’s in all of college football. Both defenses will give up large chunks of yards and both defenses will not be able to keep the other out of the endzone.  The total has been set to low for this one.  I am on the over and lean Liberty with the late cover.

Pick: Over 67.5, Flames +10 

San Jose State Spartans at Nevada Wolf Pack  -10

Nevada has scored 49, 55, 34 and 51 while going 4-0 at home this season.  They have one of the most potent offenses through the air in all of college football, averaging 384 yards per game.  QB Carson Strong is coming off of a huge game against UNLV, throwing for 417 yards and four touchdowns.  Strong has built up a resume fit for a top NFL prospect, throwing for a total of 2,883 yards and a 24:5 TD to interception ratio.  Nevada in total averages 37.63 points per game, ranking 15th in the nation. This is a team that has built everything around the offensive side of the ball. 

The Nevada defense is not great, but they are able to force teams to play their way by jumping on them early with the high powered pass attack.  San Jose State does not have the offense to keep up with the Wolf Pack.  Nevada will be able to score, if they limit turnovers and control the field position the Spartans will not be able to keep up with the pace. 

San Jose State is just 1-5 ATS on the road in their last six. Nevada is 4-1 ATS in their last five. The Wolf Pack have to jump out early and when they do they will get the crowd into the game and that will lead to an easy victory and cover.

Pick: Nevada Wolf Pack -10

Houston Cougars at USF Bulls +13

The Houston Cougars have won seven games in a row after upsetting the SMU Mustangs 44-37.  Houston QB Clayton Tune has completed 69% of his passes for 1,883 yards and 16 touchdowns.  Houston is 5-3 ATS and an impressive 3-0 ATS on the road this season.  

USF had some issues holding onto the ball last week against Eastern Carolina.  QB Katravis Marsh threw three picks in their 29-14 loss.  The Bulls have lost four of their last five games.  USF has given up 31.88 points per game (105th in nation), their two wins came against Temple and Florida AM.  The defense is pretty bad, the offense isnt much better.  USF QB Timmy McClain has only completed 56% of his passes, they lean on the run game to produce offense.  Houston has been top ten against the run on the season, they are going to force the Bulls to beat them through the air.  They are not built to do that.   

The Cougars are one of the hottest teams in the country. Their offense is playing at an elite level.  Getting a matchup with a terrible USF team is a great way for Clayton Tune and company to show their dominance. This game will never be close.  Number should be way higher. 

Pick: Houston Cougars -13 

NCAAF Picks ATS Week 9

Michigan Wolverines at Michigan State Spartans +4

Michigan State has been one of the biggest surprises in all of college football. Under second year coach Mel Tucker the Spartans have thrived on both sides of the ball.  The Spartans have Heisman candidate Kenneth Walker in the backfield.  Walker has run for 997 yards and 9 touchdowns on the season. The Spartan offense will lean on the run, but they also have a solid passing game behind QB Payton Thorne.  Thorne has thrown for fifteen touchdowns and just four interceptions.  The Michigan front is tough but they will be forced to stack the box to stop the run, which will allow for man coverage for Thorne to pick apart.  Thorne has two different receivers, Jayden Reed and Josh Nailor, both have 27 catches and both are going to be big problems for the Michigan defense.

Michigan has the exact same strategy on offense.  They will lean on the run in order to set up the pass. The Wolverines have two runners, Blake Corum and Hassan Hankins both have run for over 600 yards on the season. The Michigan State defense has been very good against the run.  The Spartans are holding opposing Big Ten teams to just 3.3 yards per carry.  If Michigan cannot establish the run they will have to rely on Cade McNamara for the first time this season.  McNamara is averaging just 21 throws per game and has only thrown two balls over 40 yards. 

Both teams average 200 yards on the ground, both average 30+ points per game.  Both have solid defenses, giving up just 18 ppg (Michigan) and 14 ppg (Michigan State).  The difference will be the QB play. Payton Thorne has the ability to take over the game, Cade McNamara has not shown that same ability.  Jim Harbaugh has not won the big game in his career at Michigan, this one is the biggest game of 2021.  The Spartans are not the team of 2020, their explosive offense will set them apart on Saturday, as well as their advantage at home.  I love the Spartans at +4, but it’s worth it to go after the ML.

Pick: Michigan State Spartans ML +160 or +4 for safety net

Arkansas State Red Wolves at South Alabama Jaguars -9

South Alabama QB Jake Bently has led the Jaguar offense all year.  Bently has thrown for 1,825 yards and 11 touchdowns on the season.  The Jaguars are 3-1 ATS at home this season.  The offense will be able to put up points against a putrid defense, but their key advantage will be on the defensive side of the ball. South Alabama is top 5 in the country against the pass.  Bently and company will be able to put up points at will and their defense matches up perfectly with the Red Wolves biggest strength.

Arkansas State has lost 6 in a row, including all three of their road contests.  The Red Wolves have been a powerhouse through the air this season (348 yards per game).  Most of their air yards have come due to the inability to stop the opposing offense.  The Arkansas State defense ranks dead last in the country against the run and dead last in rush offense. The Red Wolves inability will make it tough for QB James Blackmon to run the offense that they want.  

South Alabama is coming off of a bad loss to UL Monroe, they will be motivated in front of their home crowd to make a statement.  The defense will be the difference in a high scoring affair.  The Jaguars will take a few punches but they ultimately will take the lead and run with it. 

Pick: South Alabama Jaguars -9

Kentucky Wildcats at Mississippi State Bulldogs 

Kentucky is coming off of a miracle cover over powerhouse Georgia two weeks ago. They got a week off and now will go on the road to take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs.  The Wildcats are 2-0 ATS on the road, both against SEC opponents.  In contrast the Bulldogs are just 1-3 ATS at home.  

The Bulldogs are good offensively.  QB Will Rogers has completed 73% of his passes, helping his team to average 423 yards of offense per game (50th in nation).  Rogers has had his struggles during the season, throwing seven interceptions and getting sacked 20 times.  Mississippi State will have to try and limit the Kentucky pass rush. The Wildcats are very good at applying pressure at 6.78% sack percentage while only giving up 17 ppg on the season. 

Kentucky will not have a walk in the park on offense.  The Bulldogs shut down the run, allowing just 98 yards per game. The matchup of the Miss State defense against star RB Chris Rodriguez should make for an interesting matchup.  Rodriguez has rushed for 775 yards, adding 5 touchdowns as the cornerstone of the Kentucky offense.  Kentucky QB Will Levis will give him some room to run, his dink and dunk game should allow them to move the ball downfield and wear down the defense.  

This game is going to be a gritty matchup between two teams that rely a lot on their defense.  The Bulldogs have had a problem protecting the QB and that will be exasporated on Saturday.  Kentucky will get pressure on Will Rogers which will lead to turnovers and Wildcat touchdowns.  

Pick: Kentucky ML -105

Braves vs Astros- World Series Breakdown

Atlanta Braves vs Houston Astros

The Houston Astros will take on the Atlanta Braves in the 117th World Series.  The Astros will be in their third World Series over the last five years, while the Braves are in the World Series for the first time since 1999.  The Braves took down the favorites of the National League, the Los Angeles Dodgers. Atlanta has spent the entire postseason as the underdog and this will not change.  

Lineup

The Astros have the advantage over basically any team in baseball. Houston led the AL in batting average, on-base percentage, runs scored and hits.  Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker are the new faces of the Astros offense. Alvarez has been the star of the playoffs, hitting .441, with a .791 slug.  Altuve doesn’t have the flashiest numbers, but has scored 15 runs in ten playoff games.  Houston will likely have to sit Michael Brantley during their trips to Atlanta, unless they trust him or Tucker to handle center field. With Alvarez in the outfield the Astros will have to deal with a very large outfield in Truist Park, the fifth largest outfield in baseball.  Even in a national league park the Astros will still be able to put pressure on any pitching staff.  This lineup is just too loaded.

The Braves made a big push at the deadline to improve their outfield.  Adding Jorge Soler, Joc Pederson, Adam Duvall and NLCS MVP Eddie Rosario to a lineup that featured mainstays Ozzie Albies and Freddie Freeman.  Austin Riley has been the league’s most improved player in 2022, his progression was what kept the Braves in the hunt at the deadline.  The Braves have a lot of power, their lineup doesn’t have the major star power that the Astros have outside of Freddie Freeman.  Ozzie Albies and Adam Duvall were quietly at the top of most offensive categories The Braves can match the Houston star power with the great depth in the lineup and off the bench. 

Rotation

These playoffs have seen the advantage of having a strong starting rotation.  The Braves and Astros have both seen the most production from their starters during the playoffs.  The Astros have overcome the injury to Lance McCullers because of the production from Framber Valdez.  Valdez is effective versus power right handed bats because of his breaking ball.  The Astros will need to rely on Luis Garcia again in this series.  He came up huge for Houston in game 6 of the ALCS, going 5+ giving up no runs and sealing the series for Houston.  Valdez and Garcia will have to eat up innings for Houston, veteran Zach Grienke is still a major question mark and they likely will not travel down the Jake Odorizzi path again in this series.  If Houston can get dominance from their top two starters they can utilize a solid bullpen to hold down the powerful Braves lineup.  

The Atlanta rotation isn’t deep but it’s top three gives them an advantage over Houston, they currently have the best starter 3.27 ERA in the playoffs. Ian Anderson has to step up and be better than the Astros questionable potential starters.  Anderson will be slotted in the #3 role which means he will get the start in Atlanta, where he has much better numbers, holding opposing lineups to just a .207 BA against.  The Braves will likely put together a bullpen game for game four.  While Atlanta has some things to figure out after their top three, they still have the advantage in nearly every other matchup in this series.

Bullpen

The Astros have a system to get through their questionable rotation.  They want to get five innings in order to turn it over to their four bullpen arms Ryne Stanek, Phil Maton, Kendall Graveman and Ryan Pressly. Houston has relied on this system through the American League playoffs. The Stros have gotten a lot of swings and misses from opposing batters.  They are a heavy right handed bullpen which could end up being a problem against the power lefty bats of the Braves.  Houston may have the best overall reliever in this series in closer Ryan Pressly.  

The Braves got a lot out of their bullpen in the playoffs.  AJ Minter, Tyler Matzek and Will Smith have all been great in the playoffs.  Smith most notably has recouped from a tough stretch towards the end of the season.  In the postseason Will Smith has been dominant, picking up four saves and giving up no runs over his seven inning pitched. The Braves have seen cracks in Luke Jackson, their righty reliever that had a breakout 2022.  He gave up 5 runs in the NLCS and may need to be used sparingly in the World Series.  Luckily for Atlanta, they have veteran Jesse Chavez who can step up and handle the role of righty shutdown reliever. 

Conclusion

I loved the Braves over the Brewers, I thought they could compete with the Dodgers.  I think they have enough to take down the favorite Houston Astros.  The loss of Lance Mccullers was able to be masked in their series with the Boston Red Sox.  The Braves bring better pitching to this series and an offense that can match the Astros.  The Astros look of invincibility at home took a hit after their game two loss to Boston.  Veteran Charlie Morton and an experienced Atlanta offense will get them a victory in game one and a victory in the series. 

Pick: Atlanta Braves in 6