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.  


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. 


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.


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. 


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

NCAAF Picks Week 8

North Carolina State Wolfpack at Miami Hurricanes +3

The season has not been going well for the Miami Hurricanes.  Devastating losses to UVA and UNC over the last two weeks have them currently sitting at 2-4 and little to know hope of doing anything of note this season.  Miami lost starting QB D’eriq King for the season and added starting RB Cameron Harris to the DL last week. The depleted offense has QB Tyler Van Dyke at the helm.  He has thrown for just 52% with 5 TDs and 3 interceptions. The Hurricanes are running into a red hot defense coming off a beatdown on the road against Boston College. NC State has given up just 14.33 ppg, and just 315 yards per game on the season.  

The NC State offense is led by QB Devin Leary’s 73% completion percentage, 15 TD to just 2 interceptions. The Wolfpack are just as effective on the ground as well as in the air. The two headed monsters of RB’s Zonovan Knight and Ricky Person Jr. have combined for almost 900 yards and four touchdowns.  Both rank in the top ten in the ACC for total yardage.  

NC State is 6-2 ATS in their last eight, they are looking to take control of the ACC and to do that, they have to take down the Hurricanes. They have a strong defense going against an undermanned Miami offense.  The Wolfpack will dominate, similarly to what they did against Boston College.   

Pick: NC State -3

Illinois Fighting Illini at Penn State Nittany Lions -23

Penn State’s dream season hit a snag last two weeks ago against the Iowa Hawkeyes.  They got a bye last week, allowing them to regroup and get ready for a matchup with Big Ten bottom dwelling Illinois Fighting Illini.  

The Penn State defense has been stout, holding opposing offenses to just 13.8 ppg. They hold down opposing offenses by limiting big plays.  They are top 5 in yards per play this season.  The Nittany Lions held Wisconsin to 10, Auburn to 20, Indiana to 0 and Iowa to just 23. The defense will be able to dominate, the Illinois offense that is averaging just 17 ppg.  

On offense Penn State will have a healthy Sean Clifford, their offense disappeared against Iowa once Clifford left the game. The passing game is ranked 23rd in the nation averaging 268 yards through the air.  Jahan Dotson has been a great target for the Nittany Lions, he has averaged 82.3 yards per game.  Penn State will have a lot of opportunities for big plays while they lean on the run game to establish the offense.  The Nittany Lions have two strong RB options with Keyvone Lee and Noah Cain.  

Illinois scored a combined 9 points in their last two Big Ten games and now face the best defense in the conference. The Fighting Illini will not be able to get anything going on offense, their defense should be able to keep them in it for a little while, eventually they will wear down and Penn State will dominate.  

Pick: Penn State Nittany Lions -23

LSU Tigers at Ole Miss Rebels Total: 76

The Rebels are down their two top receivers Johnathan Mingo and Braylon Sanders.  The absence of his main targets forced Ole Miss QB Matt Correal to utilize his legs more which led to more hits.  Correal is questionable for this game, if he is able to go he will likely not be on the same level as he usually is. If Correal is not at his full abilities the Rebels offense will rely on their SEC #1 ranked run game. But that may play right into the hands of their opponent. 

The LSU run game made an appearance last week in their upset over the Florida Gators. The Tigers should be able to move the ball on the ground against a 111th ranked Rebels run defense.  Tyrion Davis-Price is coming off of a dominant 287 yard performance.  If Davis-Price can continue to be effective on the ground, LSU will be able to manage the clock and turn this game into a battle of the trenches. 

Both teams have been miserable on defense. Still, ther combined totals against are under 75 and each teams combined total ppg on offense is under 75.  Ole Miss will have to run the ball more due to the injury to Correal, while LSU will want to run the ball to keep the opposing offense off the field.  If this game is turned into a battle of the rushing offenses, not only do I see an under hitting but a potential ML wager on LSU may be in play. 

Pick: Under 76

NBA- Three new teams to take the next step.

The NBA season is here. Every year teams make huge strides in one direction or the other.  Major transformations can happen in an instant.  Teams that are one player away from contending for a championship can immediately find themselves in the gutter if they upset the wrong player.  Look at the Houston Rockets, one minute they are a frontrunner, the next they are competing for the #1 pick.  Last year, I predicted the Hawks, Pelicans and Suns to make big strides, the Suns and Hawks not only made the playoffs, but actually made big runs.  The Pelicans are back to the drawing board.  This season there again were major changes made in the NBA landscape.  Here are a few teams that I think make a big step in 2022.

Chicago Bulls

Additions- Demar Derozan, Derrick Jones Jr., Alex Caruso, Tony Bradley, Ayo Dosunmou, Lonzo Ball

I once wrote about the potential of a Bulls rebuild beginning with the emergence of Lauri Markkanen paired along with Kris Dunn.  I look back on that blog and realize its stupidity of a cold hard take.

The Bulls rebuild that has seemed like it’s been going on for ten years was finally finding its footing in 2021.  The addition of Nikola Vucevic immediately gave the Bulls a weapon to play alongside Zach lavine.  Vuc was good with Chicago, averaging 23 ppg and 11 rpg in 26 games.  The addition of a bonafide star made the Chicago offense efficient despite being a bottom ten ppg team last season, they were top ten in offensive efficiency with the big man in the middle.  

Chicago has the guys on the offensive end but their biggest issues in 2021 were turnovers and interior defense.  The Bulls went out to address those issues by adding PG Lonzo Ball and veteran guard Demar Derozan.  Both are high level defenders that are efficient with the ball. Zach Lavine will now be able to play off of the ball, his athletic ability will be on full display with less ball control needed.  

The Bulls addition of Tony Bradley will help protect the basket when defense is needed. 2nd year player Patrick Williams will have to begin the season on the injured list.  The Bulls will lilley go with Derrick Jones Jr or Alex Caruso in the starting lineup, but the smart choice would be inserting Troy Brown Jr. into the lineup to try and make up for the defensive loss of Williams for the first few weeks.

Chicago’s offense will be elite, they will lean on Ball and Williams on the defensive end. The Bulls offense will be fun to watch, it will be enough to find themselves in contention for the playoffs and potentially making their way into the middle of the conference.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Additions- Evan Mobley, Lauri Markkenan, Ricky Rubio

The Cavaliers made a lot of offseason moves. Drafting the uber talented Evan Mobley, along with adding Lauri Markkenan and Ricky Rubio gives the Cavs the depth they have not had in a long time. 

The Cav’s will feature one of the best young frontcourts in the league with Collin Sexton and Darius Garland.  Garland in particular made a huge jump in his second year, averaging 17 ppg and shooting 39% from behind the arc.  Cleveland will now have a proven veteran behind the two young guards in Ricky Rubio.  The addition of Rubio will allow the Cavaliers offense to not lose it’s flow on offense.  With Rubio they have a slashing guard that can help set things up while playing alongside Evan Mobley.  Mobley’s athletic ability will be perfect for a pick a roll game with Rubio. 

The addition of Markkenan will give the Cavaliers a boost from the 3-point line, a place that was seriously a problem during the 2020-2021 season.  His ability to hit shots will help Sexton and Rubio break down defenses and set up one on one matchups in the paint for Mobley and returning center Jarett Allen.

The biggest question mark of the team will be what is going to happen with Kevin Love. The Cavaliers seemed to build a team that would be prepared to not have him be a big part of the future plans.  If Love is able to perform to his abilities, a combination of him, Markkenen and Allen could be a nightmare for smaller lineups.  The Cavaliers will likely need more depth in the front court but this team competeded last year and have made vast improvements to the roster. 

Sacramento Kings

Additions- Alex Len, Tristan Thompson, Davion Mitchell

This is laughable, the Kings have had 15 straight seasons without making the playoffs.  That is ten more seasons than the nearst team.  They have been the appendamy of futility over the last decade in the NBA.  The rebuild is close to being able to legally drive a car. Instead of a driver’s license the Kings will be rewarded with a spot in the playoffs.  

The 2020-2021 Kings were a horrid defensive team.  The defense gave up a 55% effective field goal percentage, good for 30th in the league.  Their on ball defense was laughable at times.  It is an indication of a lack of a team concept to rotate onto shooters. To address that problem they added Baylor stud Davion Mitchell in the draft, as well as signing rim protector Tristan Thompson.  They will also have a full season of Maurice Harkless.  The addition of those three along with the offensive acumen that D’eAron Fox will make this team a serious threat for one of the final playoff spots for the upcoming season. 

Davion Mitchells addition gives the Kings a spark of energy likely off the bench.  Mitchell at 23 years old brings a maturity that you won’t usually see from a first year player.  He also brings with him a winning culture, fresh off leading the Baylor Bears to the national title a year ago. A similar addition is Tristan Thompson, a veteran that has won a championship before and can be a great bench asset for Luke Walton’s squad. 

The King’s offense will still need to be on the move.  They will play a lot of 3 guard lineups during the season, which means the defense will not be completely transformed, their style will not allow that. The key for Sacramento will be to improve the half court defense to get to the middle of the pack in opponent effective field goal percentage. If they do that, their offense should carry them to a lot of wins.  

NCAAF Picks ATS Week 7

Auburn Tigers at Arkansas Razorbacks Total 53.5

The Razorbacks have become one of the most exciting teams in college football this season.  The rebuild of the hogs has been one of the best stories of the college football season. They can get another statement win on Saturday when they take on the vulnerable Auburn Tigers coming off of a tough loss to Georgia last week.

KJ Jefferson has been awesome for the Hogs, he totaled 6 touchdowns against Ole Miss.   Jefferson and the Arkansas offense have been dominant against anyone not named Georgia.  Arkansas will be able to score points at home behind their run game.  This offense has been able to find holes in most defenses with aggressive play calling.  The Razorbacks entered this season with literally zero expectations, so they can go all out in every game.  

Auburn has averaged 35 points per game this season.  Most of those points were accrued against shotty defenses.  They were able to put together two 60+ point performances against Alabama St and Akron. The Tigers have two monsters at RB in Tank Bigsby and Jarquez Hunter, both have run for over 450 yards this season.  Hunter is the big play back, while Bigsby is the consistent power runner that will break down a defense.  They got to face off with an Arkansas defense that gave up 100 yards on the ground to two separate Ole Miss RBs. Bo Nix finally had his consecutive passes without an interception streak ended against Georgia’s top ranked defense.  

Arkansas gave up 89 points in their last two games, which included 600 yards last week. Auburn may prefer to slow down the pace but they will have too many chances for explosive runs from Tank Bigsby.  The Razorbacks will be able to provide enough offense to keep them in the game.  This won’t be the shootout that last week’s Ole Miss- Arkansas game was but it will be feisty and high scoring, Auburn will prevail by just outscoring an Arkansas team that doesn’t have the defensive players to stop the run.  The Razorbacks are also 3-0 to the over in their home games this season. They can score enough to make this interesting at least.

Pick: Over 53.5, Auburn ML

BYU Cougars at Baylor Bears -6.5

The BYU Cougars were on track to make an outside run at the the college football playoff  until they were tripped up at the hands of the Boise State Broncos.  The Cougars were uncharacteristically loose with the ball, turning it over four times at home.  This was QB Jaren Hall’s first game back after sitting out the previous two games, throwing for 300 yards and a touchdown.  Boise State was able to bottle up the scrambling ability of Hall, holding him to negative yardage.  Hall will need to be able to utilize his scrambling ability to keep the Bears defense off balance.  If the Baylor linebackers are forced to shadow Hall, it should open up running lanes for the Cougars stud running back Tyler Allegier.  Allegier is 6th in college football running for 642 yards on the season.  

Baylor has been a bit of a surprise to start the season. Their most recent blowout victory over West Virginia brought their record to 5-1 overall, 4-2 ATS.  The Bears win with offense, averaging 38 ppg and averaging 450 yards per game.  QB Gerry Bohannon was electric against the Mountaineers, throwing for 336 yards and 4 touchdowns.  The Bears have been great at home going 3-0 SU and ATS.  The Bears have the ability to put points up on you in a hurry, if they can hold downt he run game of BYU they should have success on the defensive end. 

The Baylor Bears have Texas, TCU and Oklahoma coming up over the three weeks following this matchup. It would not be shocking to think they will be distracted in an obvious look ahead spot.  The Bears should have enough to win this game but they will not be able to run all over a stingy BYU defense that has already shut down Pac 12 powerhouses Arizona State and Utah.  BYU will try to run the ball to grind down the clock and not allow the Baylor offense to be on the field.  Baylor is at home and brings more offense to the table but the Cougars should be able to stick around in this one.  I’m rolling with the Cougars, if they don’t turn the ball over they are a handful to deal with. 

Pick: BYU Cougars +6.5 

Utah State Aggies at UNLV Rebels

Utah State kicked off their season with a trio of victories over Washington State, Air Force and North Dakota.  Their momentum was immediately stopped when they ran into the class of the Mountain West in losses to both Boise State and BYU. They will travel to face off against a UNLV team that has been playing better but has been unable to get over the hump in their historic losing streak. 

The Aggies have a vaunted passing game, averaging 303 yards through the air (15th in nation). Their uptempo offense has been a problem for opposing defenses, they have averaged 495 total yards per game. QB Logan Bonner has thrown for 1,235 yards, while his top target Deven Thompkins has put up 639 yards and 4 touchdowns. The Aggies also have a strong ground game averaging 175 yards per game.  Utah State has a favorable matchup along with a whole week to prepare.  They have taken advantage of lesser competition all season and should be able to do it again on Saturday. 

UNLV has lost 11 straight games.  Their most recent loss to UTSA they were torched through the air by Frank Harris for 278 yards and 2 touchdowns.  The Rebels will have to find a way to get pressure on Logan Bonner.  Bonner has had problems with turnovers over the last two weeks.  If UNLV is able to force takeaways they can stay in the game.  The Rebels have only forced 6 takeaways through their first five games and will have to be prepared for the fast paced Aggies that are averaging 80 plays per game this season.  

UNLV has to run the ball and control the clock, they do not have a defense that can match up with Utah State.  It’s simple, if Utah State holds onto the ball, they should be able to score at will.  Aggies will win in a route.  

Pick: Utah State Aggies -6

ALCS Breakdown and Prediction

Boston Red Sox vs Houston Astros 

The ALCS is set. One team that has become a cornerstone of the event and a team that has come out of nowhere to shock the baseball world. The Red Sox will head to Houston for game one, for the third time in this postseason they will be the underdog. Boston is coming off a forgettable 2020 season, finishing 24-36, dead last in the AL East. The organization had to start the season without their ace Chris Sale and dealt with injuries to the pitching staff all season.They will face off with the Astros, making their fifth straight appearance in the ALCS 

Both teams have explosive offenses, ranking 2nd (Houston) and 3rd (Boston) in slugging percentage and OPS.  The Astros are 1st in the league in OBP, Red Sox are 4th.  Both teams relied on their offense to carry them in their division series matchups. 

Houston has the deepest lineup in the league. Kyle Tucker could arguably have been the best player in baseball in the second half of the season. He carried his hot streak into the NLDS, hitting two dingers and driving in seven runs.  Tucker could be in the middle of any lineup in the league but he sits in the seven spot in the Houston lineup behind a litany of all-stars and this year’s American League batting champion Yuli Gurriel.  Martin Maldonado would be the only spot in the order where you could conceivably have a “break” but manager Dusty Baker will not hesitate to pinch hit for him when necessary.  This lineup is stacked.

The Red Sox have an offense that can match the Astros for depth.  Featuring multiple power hitters up and down the lineup, they will need another solid performance from the top of the lineup to give the red hot Rafael Devers a chance to drive in runs.  Enrique Hernandez and Kyle Schwarber have to continue to set the tone the way they have so far during the playoffs. JD Martinez looks like he is healthy enough to make an impact giving the Red Sox the full allotment of their talent.  

Pitching has been a question for Boston most of the season. Can their staff match up with the vaunted Houston offense.  Chris Sale is coming off a forgettable start against the Rays in game 2.  Eduardo Rodriguez has been inconsistent to say the least. The Sox have been forced to rely on the resurgent Nathan Eovaldi and their bullpen to get them to this point. The secret weapon of the Boston staff is Tanner Houck.  Houck pitched in three games during the NLDS, surrendering just three hits in his seven inning pitched.  Houck along with newly appointed closer Garrett Whitlock give Boston two pieces that they will be able to go to at any time.  The Red Sox were able to make it work in a smaller series but they may be stretched thin in a full seven game series.  

The Astros were able to get two starts out of Lance McCullers in the division series. They will need his stability in this series against the power bats of the Red Sox.  After McCullers, the Astros will have Framber Valdez who has the ability to handle the right-handed power bats of the Red Sox.  The Astros still don’t know what they are going to get out of Zack Greinke, but they have their own weapon that could be used in the bullpen or as a starter in Cristian Javier.  Javier could play a big role due to his ability to be versatile.  Unlike the Red Sox the Astros know exactly what they want to do in their bullpen.  If their starters can get them to the fifth or sixth, you line up Ryne Stanek, Kendall Graverman and Ryan Pressly to seal the deal. 

The similarities between these two teams is pretty remarkable. They are offensive juggernauts that are still trying to piece together what they want to do with their pitching.  The Sox are led by former Astros coach Alex Cora who has brought in a lot of the same concepts on the offensive side of the ball  (not sign stealing).  The Red Sox have the power to compete with the Astros, ultimately it will come down to the pitching depth Houston brings to the table and their home field advantage.  The Red Sox are a great story, but Chris Sale doesn’t seem right and after Nathan Eovaldi Boston has too many questions in their rotation.  Boston has enough to win a few games but the Astros are just  better defensively and on the mound.  Houston will get a scare by losing game one, but the Astros will regroup and take the series at home. 

Pick: Astros in 5

NCAAF Week 6 Picks ATS

East Carolina Pirates at Central Florida Knights -10

Two teams heading in different directions meet this weekend when the East Carolina Pirates, coming off of 3 straight wins, take on the Central Florida Knights, coming off of 2 straight losses.  

Central Florida brings name value to this game, which is why they are getting ten points against a powerful offensive unit.  The Pirates are averaging 30 ppg this season behind fourth year QB Holten Ahlers and freshman RB Keenan Mitchell.  The latter has been a force on the ground, averaging 9.4 yards per carry on the season, coming off a dominant effort against Tulane.  Mitchell went for 222 yards and two touchdowns against Tulane.  The ECU offense will have an advantage against the Knights.  UCF will not be able to stop the ground game and as long as they hold onto the ball they will be able to score at will.

UCF will have to deal with the loss of QB Dillon Gabriel.  In his place is Mikey Keene, who has been solid this season but does not bring the resume of Gabriel.  UCF will have to take advantage of the ECU’s poor pass defense, that is giving up 320 yards through the air. They will have to throw because it looks like leading rushers Isaiah Bowser could possibly miss the game.  

Both of these teams share the same problem, they seem to ignore the defensive side of the ball.  The Knights are not the contenders of a few seasons ago, they will have trouble pulling away from East Carolina, this is a one score game and potentially an upset pick. 

Pick: East Carolina Pirates +10, over 67

Michigan State Spartans at Rutgers Scarlet Knights Total 50

Michigan State has exploded up the CFB rankings with a hot start to the season. With victories over Northwestern, Nebraska, Western Kentucky and Miami the Spartans have found themselves ranked #11 in the country. They also take care of business, covering the spread in 3 of 4 games.  The Spartans have been a top notch offensive team all season, they have averaged 37 points per game.  RB Kenneth Walker has been an unstoppable force, he leads the nation in rushing yards with 680 and top five in TD’s with 8.  Rutgers will have to stack the box to slow him down,  but all they will be able to do is slow him down rather than stop him. If they do stack the box, QB Payton Thorne will pick them apart efficiently.  Thorne has 11 TDs and just one interception on the season.  He will get a lot of man to man coverage that his talented receivers will be able to exploit.  

Michigan State’s secondary has been troubling.  Last week the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers lit them up and it was the same story against Miami and Northwestern.  They have given up an average of 300 yards through the air this season.  Rutgers is a run first team but QB Noah Vedral has the ability to throw the deep ball and will test the secondary.  Rutgers has been dominated by superior talent but they should be able to put the points up on the board to keep it competetive at home.  

Michigan State has hit the over in 3 of 5 games and will be able to move the ball for explosive plays consistently on the ground. Rutgers will just need to get in the end zone twice against Michigan State, I see this as a route for the Spartans in the second half leading to a nice higher scoring victory.

Pick: Over 50

Alabama Crimson Tide at Texas A&M Aggies

The Aggies are coming off of two straight SEC losses, one on the road to a revamped Arkansas team and at home against Mississippi State. They will welcome in the Alabama Crimson Tide who reminded us who is the top dog in the conference and in all of college football by putting a beating on Ole Miss last week 42-21. 

Texas A&M has not only lost their last two games, but they have looked abysmal on offense.  In both losses they totaled less than 300 yards of total offense and still have a lot of questions at the QB position.  The Aggies have more turnovers than touchdowns this year. A team that can’t hold on to the football will now get to face the SEC’s top turnover margin team.  Bama will be able to get constant pressure on QB Zac Calzada and force him into long yardage situations, the worst nightmare for A&M.  

Since their close call to Florida three weeks ago the Crimson Tide have been as impressive as can be.  They held Heisman hopeful Matt Corral to just 213 yards and one touchdown.  They ran all over Ole Miss, gaining over 200 yards on the ground.  Alabama RB’s are dealing with some injuries but should be good to go on Saturday.  The Crimson Tide will have to deal with a tough Aggie defense but they are still going to be able to put up the points necessary to pull away in the end.  The A&M offense does not have the ability to put up the points to make this one interesting. Let’s not ignore the fact that Aggie Head Coach Jimbo Fisher has given Saban’s squad some nice bulletin board material with some comments in the Houston Chronicle.  The dogs will not be called off and Crimson Tide will make another SEC statement.

Pick: Alabama -18

AL Wild Card Preview and Prediction

The world wanted madness.  The AL Wild Card race was looking to try and give us that Michael Bay explosive scene that could captivate the sports world.  On Sunday we didn’t get the madness we hoped.  The Red Sox and Yankees retained order, winning their games and forcing the clock to strike midnight for playoff cinderellas, Seattle and Tornonto.  While we didn’t get the excitement we hoped for heading into a potential game 163 for multiple teams, we did however get a matchup between two historic rivals that will no doubt be a huge part in rebuilding a modern day rivalry that has taken a backseat to many over the last few years.  This game will be an epic encounter that will likely help decide the future aspirations of both teams.  The Red Sox will have decisions to make as they continue to rebuild their farm system, they overachieved in 2021, while the Yankees, many would say underachieved.  New York has a bloated roster full of expensive pieces that if they do not work will have to be shuffled in order to find the right formula, something that will be a challenge for years to come.  Both of these historic organizations need to make their run now before the upstart Blue Jays and their young core make them an afterthought in the years to come.  This game will not only be before the Wild Card, but potentially the future of these franchises for the next five – ten years. 

Pitching Matchup: Gerrit Cole vs Nathan Eovaldi 

The Yankees had the luxury of saving their ace Gerrit Cole for just this suation, a do or die situation on the road.  Cole has not been good against Boston this year, in four starts this season he is 2-2 with a 4.51 ERA and an opponent OPS of .852.  Cole has a career record of 8-4 with a 2.68 ERA in the playoffs including a loss in his only Wild Card start for the Pirates in 2015. Much like the Yankees, Cole has been pretty even statistically on the road when compared to home.  The Yankees will have a short leash if necessary, due to the depth of the Yankee bullpen.  Chad Green, Jonathan Loaisiga and Clay Holmes will bridge the gap to Aroldis Chapman.  The Yankees would prefer to lean on Cole but they have the assets in the pen to keep them in the game if Cole is not on his game. 

Nathan Eovaldi has become an All-Star in 2021.  He stepped into the role left by Chris Sale at the beginning of the season, he was the ace of this Red Sox team all season. Eovaldi finished the season with 11 wins and 3.75 ERA, most notably though was his 1.19 WHIP and a FIP of 2.79.    Eovaldi has a challenge ahead of him, facing one of the best teams in baseball at taking pitches.  In his career the Red Sox starter has been very good against the Yankees, through 71 innings pitched he had just a 3.64 ERA.  If you take out his most recent start on Sept 24th against the Yankees his career numbers are very good.  He is a veteran that will not be intimidated by the moment.  Eovaldi will not be asked to do more than he is capable of, his job will be to keep the Red Sox in the game and let the offense win it in the end.


Both teams went out and addressed needs during the season.  The Yankees were dealing with injuries to Luke Voit and Aaron Hicks, they went out and got Anthony Rizzo and Joey Gallo. The Red Sox needed some more thump in the lineup so they went out and added slugging outfielder Kyle Schwarber.   

The Sox have one of the deepest lineups in baseball, averaging 5.12 runs per game on the season.  They are second in baseball in slugging percentage and 3rd in batting average.  The depth of the lineup has been huge all season, Bobby Dalbec has become a force in the lineup, popping 25 homers  on the season from the 7th spot in the lineup.  The key will be the top of the lineup, Enrique Hernandez has owned Gerrit Cole in his career going 5-for-11, while Rafael Devers has three homers in 19 at-bats against the Yankees ace.   The Red Sox will need to jump on Cole early on in order to get the crowd into the game and put pressure on the Yankee offense that will be down a lot of key contributors.  

The Yankees will be without DJ LeMahieu at the top of the order. In his absence they have turned to Gleyber Torres, who has performed admirably in his absence but overall has not put together a stellar season.  Torres will have to get on base in order to force Eovaldi to pitch to the crowded middle of the Yankees order.  Aaron Judge and Gianocarlo Stanton will provide the pop needed to jump on Eovaldi similarly to the way the Yankees jumped on him in his last start against the Bronx Bombers.  That start saw him leave in just the third inning after giving up seven runs.  New York was patient that night, forcing Eovaldi to throw a lot of pitches, a number of the hits he gave up came on 4+ pitch at bats.  If the Yankees are patient they will get pitches to hit and have the bats that can make it a tough day for the Fenway faithful. 

Final Verdict

In a winner take all situation I tend to lean with the team that has the better pitching.  The Yankees will have their ace on the mound and a bullpen that had a 3.66 ERA in the regular season (compared to Bostons 3.99).  The difference though may be the depth of the lineup favoring the Red Sox.  With Cole on the mound Gary Sanchez will likely be on the bench in favor of Cole’s personal catcher Kyle Hishioka.  That takes a power bat out of the lineup along with the table setter in LaMhieu.  New York will need all the runs it can muster against a Boston lineup that can be dangerous 1-9 and will have a huge home field advantage.  

Red Sox win 4-2