Put up or Shut up. Previewing the Nationals/Cardinals Series

The Cardinals had a chance to bury their division rivals, the Christian Yelich-less Milwaukee Brewers. They found themselves in a position to establish themselves as the true frontrunner for the National League Central race. The Cardinals hopes for dominance were crushed by Ryan Braun’s ninth inning grand slam off of rookie Junior Fernandez.

St. Louis was bit by the hand that had been feeding them all of 2019.  Their young bullpen arms were not able to handle the late inning situations as they had previously the entire season. The Cardinals still sit two games up on the second place Chicago Cubs and three games up on the aforementioned Milwaukee Brewers. The redbirds have a very interesting clash in front of them against the uber talented and desperate Washington Nationals.  

Oh, they also get to face the murderer’s row of starting pitching Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin and Max Scherzer.

St. Louis will counter Dakota Hudson, Miles Mikolas and Adam Wainwright.  Comparing the overall starting pitching is an obvious advantage to the Nationals. Washington comes into this series with a 6-8 record in September including getting smashed by the Atlanta Braves which has all but ended their chances at the eastern division crown. Both teams are in a must win situation the rest of the season.  The Cubs and Brewers are both hot on their heels ready to take over their positions at the top.  

The Cardinals will have the advantage in the bullpen which in a playoff like atmosphere Mike Schildt will have to be ready to make the move before it is too late.  The Nationals have a powerful offense that can turn a one run lead into a four-run lead before you know it.  Schildt will have his first real playoff like atmosphere at Busch, Cardinals fans will find out if he is the one that will take them to the next step. 

The Nationals have the superior depth in their lineup with bench players like Howie Kendrick, Gerardo Parra and Matt Adams.  They can put out multiple lineups that will be tough to matchup against over a three games series.  The key for St. Louis will be to get ahead early and force the Nationals to utilize their subpar bullpen.  If the Cardinals can get a lead it will also allow Dakota Hudson, Miles Mikolas and Adam Wainwright to attack the zone.  They are pitch to contact pitchers, it can be an advantage for them to have the freedom to throw in the zone and not worry about one long ball putting them behind. 

Who has the advantage?

Starters- Advantage Nationals

Bullpen- Advantage Cardinals

Offense- Advantage Nationals

My series prediction.

In game one St. Louis will need to a strong performance in game one from Dakota Hudson, if he can give them a solid six innings and keep the ball in the ballpark it can set them up for the rest of the series.  Strasburg is a vaunting task for any offense but is hittable when off, it is going to be hot for game one so the ball should be taking off and the usual pitcher friendly Busch Stadium.  Cardinals take game one 4-3. 

Game two is a much more even matchup with Mile Mikolas taking on Patrick Corbin. Corbin’s one start versus St. Louis he was erratic in the strike zone, walking four over his six innings. Corbin has the stuff to shut down the Cardinals but with St. Louis’s heavy right-handed lineup they should have the advantage.  Mikolas on the other hand found himself at home against the Nationals, giving up seven hits over six innings but only one run.  This game will come down to who is the first to fold.  Cardinals take game two by getting to Corbin early, Cardinals win 7-3.

Game three is simple. Scherzer in St. Louis will dominate. Cardinals will scratch across a run early, but it won’t be enough.  Soto and Rendon will punish Wainwright in the first and the third.  Nationals win the game but lose the series.  Nationals 8-2.

NCAAF Picks ATS Week 3

Ohio State Buckeyes -17.5 at Indiana Hoosiers Total 60

The Buckeyes trampled the Cincinnati Bearcats last week 42-0. Justin Fields and company rolled through a Bearcat’s squad that was able to out muscle the UCLA offense the week before. Ohio State’s offense will always make the headlines while their defense got little recognition for pitching a shutout.  

In come the Indiana Hoosiers who had a scare versus Ball State (34-24) in week one and followed it up with a dismantling of Eastern Illinois (52-0).  It has been a complete team effort with two quarterbacks combining for five touchdowns and to five different receivers.  Their rushing attack is led by Stevie Scott’s 109 yards over the first two games.  

Ohio State has a 24-0-1 record against Indiana over their last 25 meetings.  They have also went 5-1 in their last six road games in September. 17.5 seems like a large number of the road against a Big Ten team but I see Indiana having trouble moving the ball against the stout Ohio State defense.  

Pick: Ohio State -17.5, Under 60

USC Trojans -4.5 at BYU Cougars, Total 55.5

USC is entering this game fresh off a beatdown of Stanford, (45-20) putting them in the top 25.  Freshman Kedon Slovis came out of nowhere to lead an offensive explosion.  USC has a clear advantage in talent all over the field including a very young and talented defense, the Trojans top eight tacklers are all underclassman.  While the inexperience hurt them last year, it is paying off early in 2019.  

While USC has the talent, BYU is coming off of an inspiring victory of their own against Tennessee.  The Cougars faced two power five schools in their first two games, holding both Tennesee and Utah to just 30% conversions on third down.  BYU has the ability to deflate the freshman QB who will be facing his first road test. This smells like a trap for USC.

Pick: BYU +4.5

Stanford Cardinal at UCF Knights -9.5 

Stanford just blew a 17-3 lead versus a freshman quarterback in a division game.  They now get to face a UCF team that seems to have a never-ending chip on their shoulder. Stanford is limping on the offensive end and they will need every bit of it against UCF.  Stanford QB Davis Mills has only thrown for 318 total yards over their first two games, if they fall down early, they don’t have the offense to overcome.  

The Cardinal are giving up 351 yards per game over their first two as well as 7 touchdowns.  Those two teams don’t bring the same fire power as the Knights.  UCF should win this by two touchdowns.

Pick: UCF -9.5

Oklahoma Sooners -23.5 at UCLA Bruins

UCLA can’t score, even in a Chip Kelly system.  Oklahoma scores like they are playing intramural flag football with no refs.  Jalen Hurts and Lincoln Riley seem to have a great repartee in this offense which could lead to bigger things for Hurts in the long run. UCLA has name recognition and that’s about it right now.  This game is to easy, not much more analyses needed. 

Sooners roll by four touchdowns

Pick: Oklahoma -23.5

Other Picks:

Florida/Kentucky Under 47.5

Colorado State +10

Maryland -7 

Forget the Waiver Wire- Play your Bench

Injuries week one are going to open the door for multiple “handcuffs” and waiver wire pickups to make an impact in week two.  Injuries to Darrius Guice, Nick Foles, Tevin Coleman and Joe Mixon should leave other players with a chance to make impacts.  I am looking more toward the players that showed up bigger than expected the first week of the season.  Here are three players that are will continue to overplay their preseason fantasy value in week two. They are most likely owned in your league, put them in the lineup!

Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, Baltimore Ravens (32% ESPN) (30% Yahoo)

Speed plays in the NFL. Look at the breakouts of Alvin Kamara and Tyreke Hill over the past few seasons.  Marquise Brown showed off that speed in his first career NFL game. Catching his first pass for a 47-yard slant straight to the endzone.  Brown continued to dominate the field going for 147 total yards and adding another 40-yard touchdown reception.  

Marquise will get another favorable matchup in week 2 when the Ravens take on the Arizona Cardinals who just gave up 385 passing yards to the Detroit Lions in week one.  Danny Amendola put up huge numbers last week hauling in seven catches for 101 yards and a touchdown.  While Brown will have his ups and downs during his first season in the league he will have flashes of brilliance like he did Week 1.  Week 2 should be just as explosive. 

Jamison Crowder, New York Jets, (70% ESPN) (46% Yahoo)

Drafting Jamison Crowder always comes with its risk.  As a multi time Crowder drafter I have been bite quit a few times.  Like an addict though I just couldn’t get enough of the potential high that Crowder can bring.  Taking Crowder looks like it may pay off heading into week one.  Crowder found himself as the favorite target for Sam Darnold. catching 14 of 17 passes for 99 yards. While Crowder didn’t find the endzone he still brought tons of value especially in PPR leagues. 

The best part about Crowder is that he is still available in over 50% of leagues.  Crowder’s health during a full season is always up in the air. In week two the Jets will matchup with the Browns coming off of an embarrassing defeat against the Tennessee Titans 43-13.  Marcus Mariota was able to torch the Browns secondary, the Jets should have a similar chance to do that on Monday.  

Devin Singletary, Buffalo Bills, (70% ESPN) (71% Yahoo)

Singletary was listed at the top of the depth chart in Buffalo to begin the season.  Playing 70% of the snaps for the Bills in week one showed who was considered to be the #1 RB for Buffalo but his actual carries were limited to just four actual carries.  Singletary was able to gain 70 yards as well as bring in five catches. Singletary showed the bust-out potential he has, which will make him a featured back going into week 2. 

A matchup with the Giants defense is just what the doctor ordered for a potential impactful game. New York gave up 151 rushing yards to the Dallas Cowboys last week, they should not bring an impactful push against the run heavy Buffalo Bills.  Singletary will be the featured back and should have a very solid game ahead of him.  I’m looking for 100+ rushing yards and 50+ receiving yards.

NCAA Football Week Two Picks ATS

Cincinnati Bearcats at Ohio State Buckeyes -16.5, Total: 55.5

I am one of the many that stopped watching the Buckeyes opening contest against Florida Atlantic after they jumped out to a 28-0 first quarter lead.  The cover seemed like a forgone conclusion, unfortunately for Ohio State backers the Buckeyes were not able to hold the cover putting a stop to the offense

Justin Fields looked like the real deal accounting for five touchdowns in his first start, he will have a stiffer challenge coming versus a Cincinnati frontline that made life miserable for UCLA.  Former Ohio State player, now Head Coach of Cincinnati Luke Fickell will have a veteran team that will not be intimidated by the name on the jersey.  Fickell has a tough defense that will be able to stop the run early and make a game of it.  

16.5 seems like the right gap due to the immense level of talent on Ohio State but the Bearcats bring a stout defense as well as a sharp veteran passer in Desmond Ridder.  This game will be a dog fight early, but Ohio States overall talent will win out.  I like Cincinnati to cover by my favorite play is the under. 

 Under 55.5, Cincinnati +16.5

Syracuse Orange at Maryland Terrapins -2, Total: 57.5

Syracuse’s offense seemed out of sync against the lowly Liberty Flames.  Putting up just 24 points against the Flames defense.  Syracuse’s new starting quarterback Tommy DeVito struggle on the road. He didn’t hit half of his passes, couldn’t do much down the field, and ended up throwing two picks. Syracuse will have a tough challenge against the stout Maryland defensive front. Maryland is coming off of domination of Howard winning 79-0 in week one while racking up eight sacks. 

Maryland will be able to keep the Syracuse defensive front at bay with their rushing attack.  The Terps were dominate on the ground with 317 rushing yards.  This game will be a struggle to find out which offense can find its flow first.  With Maryland at home and the early struggles of DeVito Syracuse can be in for a tough game. 

Pick: Maryland -2, Under 57.5

West Virginia Mountaineers at Missouri Tigers, -14, Total: 62.5

The Missouri Tigers shockingly took a loss as 17-point favorites against Wyoming.  Mizzou couldn’t hold onto the ball in their defeat with three fumbles, losing two of them.  

The Tigers defense was also a huge problem giving up over 297 yards on the ground. 

The Tigers were still solid on offense with Kelly Bryant throwing for over 400 yards and two touchdowns. Mizzou was the dark horse to win the SEC East but now will have to go back to the drawing board.  A matchup with the rebuilding West Virginia Moutaineers at home should be just what the doctor ordered.  West Virginia is coming off of a narrow victory versus respectable FCS James Madison.  Mizzou should be able to run their offense efficiently against the Mountaineers defense.  Look for the Tigers to jump out to a lead early and then step on the neck of their Big 12 foe.  

Pick: Mizzou -14, Over 62.5

Nebraska Cornhuskers -4 at Colorado Buffaloes, Total: 64.5

This line has made an interesting move.  Opening at -7 in favor of the Cornhuskers has moved all the way down to -4.  This is most likely due to the subpar performance from Nebraska in week one versus South Alabama.  There is a reason that teams schedule a lower level team early in the season, they can work out the kinks in the offense.  The Nebraska defense took a nice step forward as the game went on causing five turnovers and sacking the QB four times.  

Colorado was impressive against the powerful offense of Colorado State in week one, with a 21-point victory. First year head coach Mel Tucker was quick to point out the flaws from the Colorado defense though as they gave up 505 total yards along with 27 first downs.  The Buff’s will have a step up in competition versus Nebraska.  Scott Frost’s offense will find a way to turn it around in this matchup.  With the line continuing to fall you can get the Cornhuskers at a value.  

Pick: Nebraska Cornhuskers -4, WAY OVER