Wildcard Weekend Picks ATS and SU

Buffalo Bills at Houston Texans -3

This game has upset written all over it.  The Texans are three point favorites mainly due to the home field advantage they will take into this game. Being at home may not actually be an advantage for the Texans.  Houston was 5-3 both home and away in 2019 but has only covered the spread in two of those eight games.  

DeShaun Watson has struggled over his last three games throwing five interceptions in those games. Matching up with a Buffalo defense that is giving up just 16.19 points per game this season. Buffalo is tough to move the ball against and they will need to jump out to an early lead to control the tempo of the game.  Buffalo will have a Tre’Davious White shadowing the DeAndre Hopkings throughout the game which should limit his big play ability. If Watson can utilize his secondary options he will be successful, that has not always been great for Houston though. Watson is in a tough spot, he will have to carry the offense.

Josh Allen and the Bills offense has been inconsistent at times but the emergence of Devin Singletary has given Buffalo a versatile offensive threat that opens up the big play ability  of John Brown. Relying totally on the Bills offense would worry me if they didn’t have such an advantage on the defensive end. 

Pick: Bills ML

Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots -5

A nightmare of a matchup for any team, the Tennessee Titans will enter into a context with the greatest QB of all time as well as arguably the best coach of all time. The Titans have found something in former Miami cast off Ryan Tannahill.  Tannahill has found a way to elevate the entire roster making a star out of rookie AJ Brown. Derrick Henry has thrived with the new addition of a passing game. Henry walked away with the leagues rushing title.  

The Patriots have found trouble moving the ball.  They will have to find a way to establish the running game as the Titans have given up 117 yards per game over their last three.  The Patriots will have to lean a lot on Sony Michel. He and Rex Burkhead helped New England average 151 rush yards over its last three contests. 

The Patriots are struggling on both ends.  They still possess a dominant defense, Stephen Gilmore will most likely be matched up with AJ Brown.  If Gilmore can shut down the rookie that will allow the Pat’s defense to focus on shutting down Henry. The Titans will hang around but the Patriots have enough to pull this one out.  Don’t get wrapped up on the loss to the Dolphins, this is still a capable Patriots team. 

Pick: Pats win, Titans Cover

Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints -9

This game is hard to ignore the underlying narrative of the Case Keenum miracle throw to Stefon Diggs just two years ago.  With Kirk Cousins now behind center for Minnesota you immediately have questions about his big game performances of the past.  The Saints are the superior team, but with Dalvin Cook most likely available in this game it seems like nine points is just too much.  

I don’t have much of an opinion on this one, should be the most lopsided game of the day.  Late garbage time touchdown gets the cover for the Vikings.   

Pick: Saints win, Vikings Cover

Seattle Seahawks at Philadelphia Eagles +1.5

A battle of injury riddled playoff teams will come down to which quarterback will be able to overcome those injuries in order to establish their offense.  Carson Wentz has been phenomenal this season becoming the first ever quarterback with 4,000 yards in a season where not one of his wide receivers had over 500 yards.  

Russell Wilson has a legitimate argument for MVP of the National Football League.  The Seahawks lost a lot in week 16 and 17. Most notable they will be without Chris Carson.  Marshawn Lynch and Travis Homer took over the backfield duties last week against the stout 49ers defense.  Even with Carson out the way you beat the Eagles is by throwing the ball. Wilson will have to connect with Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf to open up the running lanes for Beast Mode and company.  Surprisingly the Eagles defense has been great at home and should force pressure on Wilson.  

The biggest question coming into this game will be the health of the last man standing, Eagles Tight End Zach Ertz.  While injuries to Lane Johnson and Miles Sanders are important, Wentz has always relied on Ertz and if he is healthy enough to play he will at the very least be a great decoy to open up one on ones for Greg Ward and Dallas Goedert.  I am least confident in this pick, I am taking Eagles -1.5.

Pick: Eagles -1.5

Worst Trades last Twenty Years

On December 26th 1919 the Boston Red Sox traded sold the rights to Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees.  Thus began one of the longest and most miserable championship droughts in the history of any organization.  In honor of this and the coming of a new year, I wanted to talk about some of the worst trades over the last twenty years.  I am going to try and pick one from each sport. These will be trades, not free agent signings and most will be bad but maybe not the worst on all lists.  I would also like to note that these trades won’t have the impact of Babe Ruth to the Yankees but what really would?

NBA: OKC ships James Harden to the Rockets

Fresh off a Sixth Man of the Year award James Harden was entering the 2012-2013 season with high hopes for himself and his team built around young stars.  Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka and Harden were going to be the core of a future championship team. Unfortunately management saw the writing on the wall.  They knew resigning all four players was not realistic to a smaller market team. While the Thunder did reportedly offer Harden a contract worth about $55 million it was never signed and the team decided to move on. 

They trade Harden and a handful of players that names are worth typing for Jeremy Lamb, Kevin Martin and two draft picks (one became Steven Adams).  At the time this seemed like a decent return for a player that had primarily played a bench role, they were soon to find out that it may have taken a future championship away from OKC.  Harden developed into the MVP, multi-time All-Star and franchise player Rockets GM Darryl Morey thought he saw while no players outside of Adams are active for the Thunder. Anyone and everyone will always question what could have been if Westbrook, Durant and Harden had stayed together.  We will never know.  

Honorable Mention: Brooklyn Nets trade everything for KG and Paul Pierce

MLB: Indians steal Corey Kluber from Padres

In 2010 the St. Louis Cardinals were in need of a proven starter.  The San Diego Padres were looking for a power bat. The Cleveland Indians started the season 30-47 and were looking to unload some veterans to bring in prospects.  This culminated in St. Louis getting veteran Jake Westbrook, the Padres getting slugger Ryan Ludwick and the Indians acquiring a 24-year old rightie in Double-A named Corey Kluber.  

Kluber was a bit older for a pitcher in Double-A but possessed strikeout potential.  The Indians projected him as a potential middle of the rotation innings eater down the line.  The Padres and Indians had little idea that Kluber would discover a pitch that would end up changing his career.  Kluber was none for a low 90’s fastball and trouble with command, until he found the sinker. Becoming a mainstay in the rotation in 2013 Kluber would go on to win 98 games in total for the indians over his 8 full seasons including three All-Star appearances and two Cy Young Awards.  

The Cardinals and Padres got what they needed out of the veteran pickups but neither would be near the impact of Corey Kluber,  sometimes things just workout.

Honorable Mention: Cubs trade Josh Donaldson (2008)

NFL: Raiders trade Randy Moss to Patriots

Randy Moss as a Raider seemed like it would make sense.  Until it didn’t. The Raiders picked up the troubled wide receiver in hopes that they would be able to give a premier target to their young quarterbacks.  Two years and mediocre production along with some other issues, forced the Raiders to move on from Moss. In 2007, the Raiders found a suitor, the New England Patriots. The Patriots traded a fourth round selection for the future hall of famer.     

The Patriots had already established themselves as top of the league organization but had not really shown the offensive force that most dynasties had.  The combination of Tom Brady and Randy Moss was almost unfair to the league. Their first season together the Patriots raddled off 18 straight victories before being upset in the Super Bowl by David Tyree’s helmet.  Still the combination was lethal almost immediately. Moss, was reenergized by the move to New England. His 2007 season was something you would see when you play easy mode on Madden football, 98 catches, 1493 yards and 23 touchdowns.  That is not a typo. Randy Moss had 23 touchdowns in 2007! Moss would go on to have three stellar seasons with the Patriots while the Raiders would fall on hard times trying to replace the weapon they had basically handed away.

Honorable Mention:  Bills trade Marshawn Lynch (2010)

NHL: Bruins trade Joe Thornton to Sharks

In 2005 the Bruins started slowly.  Before the lockout of the previous year they had exited the playoffs in the first round three consecutive seasons.  They decided to shake things up. The decision was made to move their star Joe Thornton to the San Jose Sharks for a few afterthoughts and some players I guess.  

Thornton went on to continue a hall of fame career in San Jose, currently leading the franchise in most offensive categories.  The Sharks may have not gotten the championship they were looking for in picking Thornton but they did become a force in the NHL for years to come.  The Bruins floundered for a bit but in the long run they were ok. Still when you trade a star in their prime you have to get something in return….they didn’t.

The Airing of Fantasy Football Grievances!

Being a fantasy football champion is not easy.  As a multiple time champion across many leagues I have found that your season can be dependant on many things.  If you draft well, you can be set if you avoid injuries. If you don’t draft well you better be good at working the waiver wire.  After my most recent championship was locked in yesterday, I took a look at how some teams drafted and wanted to help them air out their grievances. In honor of the great Seinfeld’s festivus we are going to host the airing of grievances to our top three fantasy disappointments in 2019. 

3. David Montegomery, RB, Chicago Bears

A popular sleeper in most leagues, this rookie RB out of Iowa State was supposed to walk into an awesome situation.  Taking over the primary back roll with for the departing Jordan Howard should have lead to solid production for a run heavy offense.  Well that was not the story of 2019 for Montegomery. The problem was not completely on the rookie. The Bears had plenty of problems other than their running game.  

Still when you finish the season ranked behind James White, Ronald Jones and just two points ahead of James Conner (played ten games) you have to be called a bust.  Montegomery went from a top sleeper to a droppable option. Next season could be a different story for the Bears and their run game but for the 2019 season they deserve to be hated.

2. Le’Veon Bell, RB, New York Jets

Remember last year when people took Le’veon Bell with a top three pick in their drafts?  I do, because I was one of those people. Bell was supposed to have a new life in New York.  An up and coming Quarterback, an offense with some solid weapons, a team that was on the rise.  Bell was going to be the final piece of the puzzle of a team that was supposed to compete in 2019.  We forgot about Adam Gase.  

Le’Veon Bell has averaged just 3.3 YPC, 4 total touchdowns and 61 receptions.  All of these numbers acceptable for a fifth round RB3 on your team, but not for a guy that was a preseason #18 average draft position.  Bell currently ranks 15th overall in fantasy points by running backs, behind rookie Miles Sanders, barely ahead of Kenyan Drake. Bell’s season was ok, but we don’t want ok.  Hey Adam Gase this guy is the best player you have on the field. Be smarter.

1. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Cleveland Browns

The Browns were going to be good in 2019.  Baker Mayfield and new addition Odell Beckham Jr.  were going to set the league on fire with a huge aerial attack.  Beckham Jr. was finally happy and can flourish to his full potential…… Uh no.   The Browns much like Beckham’s fantasy output have been a complete flop this season.  

Odell was projected as the #6 wide receiver in most preseason ADP, closing as the 18th player overall in most leagues.  You were spending a second round fantasy pick on a guy that has seen the end zone just two times the entire season heading into week 16.  

Odell found some success in game 16 of the year but he already burned you and it’s too late to make up for it now.

Klub and MadBum

The title to this blog would make for a great CBS sitcom.  I could see the commercials now, an odd couple of sorts changing cities in order to change their lives…maybe for the better?  Madison Bumgarner and Corey Kluber are two potential aces that have switched teams in the offseason. The theme of the 2019 Winter meeting seems to center around pitching.  With Strasburg and Cole signing massive contracts they have overshadowed the mometus moves by both the Diamondbacks and Rangers in order to bolster their staffs. The question I have is who really made the better move??

Bumgarner helps in more ways than one.

The Diamondbacks agreed to a five-year $85 million contract over the weekend.  Bumgarner will join a rotation that features Merrill Kelly, Luke Weaver, Mike Leake, Zac Gallen, Alex Young and Robbie Ray.  With Madbum that makes for seven names for five spots. MLB trade rumors is suggesting that the pickup of Bumgarner means that Robbie Ray will be on his way out in Arizona.  If that happens, did the Diamondbacks really improve themselves? Surprisingly to most Bumgarner just turned 30 years old in August, a five year deal will not have him pitching into the twilight of his career. Bumgarner’s 3.2 WAR immediately puts him at the top of the starting pitchers for the D-Backs.  

Rotation WAR

Robbie Ray 2.0

Luke Weaver 1.8

Merrill Kelly 1.5

Zac Gallen .8

Alex Young .4

The Diamondbacks now have a proven starter at the top of their rotation. They addition of Bumgarner makes the trade market for Robbie Ray a lot better.   The impending free agent has the upside to miss bats that most contending teams are going to want to acquire. Arizona has pitching depth in the minor league system so moving Ray with the addition of Bumgarner will allow Arizona to get the depth the need at first base or the outfield.  The signing of Bumgarner has opened up the possibilities for Arizona, they improved their #1 starter and opened up the market for to continue improving their roster.  

Rangers get an Ace

The Texas Rangers have made their counter move in the stacked AL West adding former Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber for basically some guys on a spreadsheet.  This deal seemed like a recreation of the Moneyball scene where Jonah Hill and Brad Pitt just threw out a few names to pick up a reliever.  

The Cleveland Indians picked up Delino Deshields Jr. and Emmanuel Clase. Clase is the player that brings the most interest in this trade. Clase is a 21 years old and possesses potential dominant stuff including a 100 MPH cutter.  Clase projects as a future relief option for the Indians. He still has only reached the High A level but immediately jumps into the top 30 prospect list for Cleveland. 

Now let’s talk about what the Rangers got in Corey Kluber.  The Rangers had starting pitching issues all season in 2019 and they were set on reworking their rotation.  Kluber has become the marquee name along with Jordan Lyles and Kyle Gibson. Those three will join Mike Minor and Lance Lynn making a rotation that can immediately make an impact in the loaded AL West. Kluber is coming off a lost season, dealing with multiple stints on the injured list but the upside he brings is well worth what is ultimate cost was.  While the Indians found him expendable the Rangers have a chance to push themselves into the playoff hunt with a healthy new ace of the staff. We tend to forget that 2018 Kluber won 20 games and added a 5.5WAR.  

Who did better?

Arizona and Texas both have tough divisions to deal with.  The NL West is still the Dodgers and the AL West is still the Astros until further notice.  Both teams were able to add impact starters for little cost. I am going to call Diamondbacks the winner of these two trades  Bumgarner allows the flexibilty to fill in any and all needs they may have. Kluber is a huge move for the Rangers but they still have a lot of work to do to contend for even a wild card spot in the American League.  If the D-Backs decide to hold on to Ray or move Ray they should have the rotational pieces that will make them a force to contend with in the National League.

How the Cole signing helps the Cardinals.

Stephen Strasburg returned to the Washington Nationals agreeing to a 7-year $245 million dollar contract smashing David Price’s $217 million contract signed in 2016.  Strasburg now has the largest contract ever signed by a pitcher.

Gerrit Cole…hold my beer.

Cole signing a 9-year $324 million contract to join the New York Yankees on Tuesday immediately surpassing Strasburg’s deal.  The Yankees have planted their flag in the American League East for years to come. The Yanks will have a rotation that now includes James Paxton, Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, JA Happ along with the aforementioned Cole.  The Yankees will have a rotation that will match their powerful lineup and lockdown bullpen. 

Why does this help the St. Louis Cardinals?  

The Boston Red Sox have openly stated that they are looking to cut down salary heading into the 2020 season.  David Price, being the obvious salary to try and dump. Price has had a connection to the Redbirds since he signed his mega deal in 2016.  St. Louis has a need for another impact starter to place behind Jack Flaherty and Dakota Hudson. Injuries to Alex Reyes and Carlos Martinez have changed the future of the rotation.  Price, has had a few injury concerns throughout his career but his numbers when healthy have not tailed off to a point of major concern. David Price’s SIERRA if eligible last season would rank in the top 13 right behind Jack Flaherty. Price is owed $32 million each year for the next three.  Pricey (ha pun intended), but acceptable if the Red Sox can throw in a kicker. 

The signing of Gerrit Cole has put the Red Sox even further behind in the AL East. Boston has to make a decision on their future.  By moving Mookie Betts or Andrew Benintendi along with Price would be enough for St. Louis to include one of their young rising outfielders, Tyler O’Neil, Randy Arozerena or Adolis Garcia. 

The Cardinals have to go out and take advantage of a Red Sox right now, while the iron is hot.  Boston sees the writing on the wall. They have to do some remodeling before they can make a run at the division title.  They also see teams like Oakland and Tampa Bay continuing to emerge. They are desperate, throw them a name like Carlos Martinez and a prospect and you can not only get a solid piece to your rotation but a potential proven outfield commodity.  

NBA's Biggest Disappointments so Far


San Antonio Spurs 

The Spurs are 8-14.  While it is early, you don’t have time in the loaded Western Conference to sit around and wait for your team to develop.  It’s really not the record that is the biggest surprise, it’s more the style of play that we have seen from San Antonio. Greg Popovich is a future Hall of Fame coach that has found a way to adapt his players to the style that is necessary to win.  They have always been a solid paced team that was able to play defensively at a high level. That’s no the case in 2019. Currently the Spurs are sitting behind the New York Knicks in team defensive rating. The NEW YORK KNICKS!

The Spurs have an interesting problem, they have two stars that don’t shoot threes.  That is an uncommon trend in today’s NBA. While San Antonio has become a faster paced team on the offensive end they have not caught up with the trend of shooting from deep.  They are mid-range happy. With their defensive issues they have to find a way to put more points up. The Spurs don’t have a lot of time to figure this season out, if they continue to flounder in mediocrity it may lead to a moving of one or potential both their star players LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar Derozan.  Derozan would make a lot of sense as he is an impending free agent in 2020.

Brooklyn Nets with

Kyrie Irving

The Brooklyn Nets surprised many last year making it to the playoffs while expectations were remarkably low. The summer hit and in comes Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.  With the additions of Irving and Durant the spotlight was now on Brooklyn. The Nets knew they would have to wait for the Durant debut, but they still had Kyrie.  

The disappointment has been the Nets with Kyrie.  The record is the first thing to stand out, 4-7 with Kyrie, 6-3 without Kyrie.  Over this Irving-less stretch, Brooklyn is 13th in net rating  per NBA.com, ranking 20th offensively and ninth defensively. In comparison, it was 20th overall in the first nine games with Irving, ranking 11th in offense and 25th in defense.  

The offense obviously was going to take a hit without Kyrie, but the defensive numbers and the progression of players is noticeable.  Spencer Dinwiddie, Joe Harris and Jared Allen have all stepped up to become the focal points of the team. Kyrie is set to return from his shoulder injury in the next few games.  The Net’s have progressed as a full unit, will they continue their positive regression with the impending return of their star??  

Portland Trailblazers

The Blazers are fresh off a trip to the Western Conference Finals.   Coming into the season the rest of the West made improvements but the Blazers were still considered a legit playoff contender.  That has not come to fruition. Portland sits at 9-13 and that’s after winning 4 of their last 5.  

Why is Portland struggling?  

The Trail Blazers lost a lot of their depth over the offseason.  Jake Layman (Minnesota), Seth Curry (Dallas), Mo Harkless (LAC), Al-Farqou Aminu (Orlando), Meyers Leonard (Miami), Enes Kanter (Boston) and Evan Turner (Atlanta).  That is seven players are the Portland roster that had moved on to different teams. Team chemistry is an understated element of any successful team. Portland was now relying on a group of young players that haven’t developed into their roles.The biggest addition of the offseason was adding Hassan Whiteside to replace their rising star Jusef Nurkic.  Another new player to try and build chemistry with.  

Portland has seen the biggest impact to their changes on the defensive end.  They are ranking 24th in the league in defensive efficiency. An early season injury to Zac Collins has forced the Blazers hand to bring in Carmelo Anthony to help with on the offensive end.  This team has some young talent but it needs time to grow.

College Football Championship Weekend Picks ATS

Pac 12 – Oregon Ducks vs. Utah Utes -6.5

Does anyone remember when Utah was beat by USC?  That was all the way back on September 20th. The Utes have become a top ten team both offensively and defensively.  Utah QB Tyler Huntley has developed into a huge threat averaging 11.1 yards per attempt which has ranks him 3rd nationally. 

Oregon has to find a way to make stops as their defense vanished against better talent giving up big points to Washington, Washington State and Arizona State.  Oregon will have problems dealing with Huntley and Utah runningback Zack Moss.  

Justin Herbert will be running for his life against the Utah pass rush most notably Bradlee Anae. The Ducks have a verteran QB and a coach that has played these big games before.  I like Utah to win and Oregon to cover on a garbage time TD.

Pick: Utah wins, Oregon covers +6.5

Big 12 – Baylor Bears vs. Oklahoma Sooners -9

To have a chance at the College Football Playoff both of these teams would need some help.  The Sooners have the best chance based on their placement at the moment. The Sooners have escaped multiple games over the last month and they have to come out and have a dominant performance on Saturday.  

Baylor came out and took care of business the last two weeks dominating Kansas and beating in state rival Texas. The Bears big play ability is scary for the leaky Oklahoma defense. Baylor is top twenty in the nation in yards per play averaging 6.56. Baylor will put up points, it’s whether or not they can force turnovers.  If Baylor is able to force mistakes from the Sooners they have a chance.

Oklahoma will have the services of CeeDee Lamb in the game, something they didn’t have in their prior matchup. That makes a dangerous offense even more explosive.  The Bear’s have only given up a shocking seven touchdowns this season. Those numbers will increase by a lot on Saturday. 

AAC – Cincinnati Bearcats vs. Memphis Tigers -10

I feel like I have seen this before.  Oh it was last week. Memphis was able to topple the Bearcats by ten in their first matchup.  Memphis was able to win but it was Cincinnati was able to cover the 14 point spread. 

The Bearcats may have a wrinkle in their scheme come Saturday as quarterback Demond Ridder may be able to suit up.  While he doesn’t have the arm strength of last Saturday’s starter freshman Ben Bryant, Ridder does bring a much more athleticism.  I look for Cincinnati to utilize both QB’s if available. That means Memphis is not going to see the same game plan they saw the week before. 

If Ridder plays I like the chances for Cincinnati, their defense has what it takes to win this game.

Pick: Cincinnati Upsets Memphis

SEC – Georgia Bulldogs vs. LSU Tigers -7

THIS IS YOUR MAIN EVENT OF THE EVENING!!! It’s hard for me not to imagine someone saying that as these two teams take the field Saturday.  The entire landscape of the College Football Playoff could be changed by the outcome of this game.   

Joe Burrow has burst onto the scene throwing himself right in the middle of Heisman talk as well as a bright NFL future.  LSU has scored 36 points in all but one game this year. I can list off the Burrow’s statistics but they are pretty easy for anyone to find.  He will outplay the steady Jake Fromm on Saturday, with the help of a strong running game and the red hot Clyde Edwards-Helaire.  

Georgia will be the toughest test defensively for LSU.  The Bulldogs are just behind Clemson with 10.4 points per game this season.  As good as they are they will not be able to contain LSU for a full 60 minutes.  LSU and Georgia have played four similar foes this season with LSU putting up 183 points compared to Georgia’s 94.  This game could be interesting but I see LSU with too much firepower to handle. 

Pick: LSU wins, Georgia Covers

ACC – Virginia Cavaliers vs. Clemson Tigers -28.5

Is Virginia good? Not really.  Beating their rival Virginia Tech got them the chance to play spoiler for Clemson Tigers.  That means they get a chance to play tune up for the only ACC team worth anything this season.  Looking past just the stats Virginia has really only been great at times this season at home and with this being on a neutral site any advantage for Virginia is gone. 

Clemson is better on both sides of the ball. They win and cover with ease.

Pick: Clemson -28.5

Big 10 – Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Wisconsin Badgers +17

There is only one way I see Wisconsin actually winning this game…..sorry  really thought I had something. Wisconsin hasn’t beat Ohio State since 2010. Wisconsin is one dimensional, they will need to use the run game to control the pace and keep the #1 ranked offense in the country off the field.   Ohio State will have all the motivation in the world to pour it on and insure themselves a shot at the #1 overall seed in the College Football Playoff.  

I would love to see Wisconsin make this a game, but they had their chance week nine when the weather fit their game plan.  Wisconsin has a puncher’s chance at best.  

Pick: Ohio State -17

NCAAB Picks ATS for Thanksgiving Season Record 25-13-1

NC State Wolfpack vs. Memphis Tigers

A matchup between two teams that are hanging out next to each other on the Kenpom ratings with the Wolfpack at 41 followed directly by the Tigers at 42.  

Memphis has won three straight since losing prized big man James Wiseman, they have done it by working the ball inside. Precious Achiuwa and DJ Jefferies carried the load against Ole Miss putting in 25 each.  Achiuwa and Jefferies will have a premier matchup as the Wolfpack have had their issues guarding the interior, allowing lesser competition to dominate them. 

NC State is lead by a great player in guard Markell Johnson.  Johnson is going to have to deal with some serious pressure from the Memphis defense which will force turnover which will lead to easy points that the Wolfpack won’t be able to make up for. 

Pick: Memphis Tigers ML

Davidson Wildcats vs Marquette Golden Eagles

Marquettes lone loss on the season came at the hands of Wisconsin who was able to control the pace of the game.  Davidson this season has not been able to hold down the pace of anyone, ranking near the bottom of division one in defensive efficiency.  Davidson just gave up 81 and 92 on back to back games against Wake Forest and Nevada, two teams that don’t bring the potential firepower that Marquette will.  

This game will come down to the easy factor of controlling the glass.  Marquette has a clear advantage lead be Theo John on the inside. This one could be close but the Golden Eagles have clear advantages. 

Pick: Marquette -3

St. Louis Cardinals Outfield – What will they do?

With Marcel Ozuna most likely gone for the 2020 season, the St. Louis Cardinals find themselves in a tough situation.  Currently on their 40 man roster your options for replacements are somewhat limited or at the very least unproven at the major league level. What should the Cardinals do?  Let’s break it down. 

Outfield options on roster:

Harrison Bader

Lane Thomas

Dexter Fowler

Randy Arozarena

Tyler O’Neil

Jose Martinez

Justin Williams

Adolis Garcia

Tommy Edman

Yairo Munoz

I am going to eliminate the unrealistic options:

Justin Williams will not make the team without a ridiculous spring, he’s out.  

Adolis Garcia has power, 31 homers along with a .517 slugging percentage in AAA definitely stands out, but he has found himself behind Lane Thomas and Randy A, he’s out.

Tommy Edman and Yairo Munoz will be utility players on the roster.  Projected them as starters in the outfield is not an option (yet). They are out.

Jose Martinez is not a starter for any team in the National League.  You can only ignore his defense for small periods of time. He’s out.

Who has a chance:

Dexter Fowler has right field likely locked down.  While he wasn’t good in the playoffs Fowler was able to raise every offensive statistic.  He still sucked but the money is too much for him to not be slotted into the lineup going into spring training.  

Tyler O’Neil should be given the first chance to be the left fielder, you know what he brings to the table.  He is going to strikeout and he is going to hit dingers. O’Neil’s 40% k-rate is alarming to say the least but with O’Neil there is still major upside.  His hard hit rate from 2018-2019 ranks fifth in baseball behind guys like Christian Yelich, Aaron Judge, Alex Avila, Matt Olson and his most comparable player Joey Gallo.  O’Neil’s plate discipline is a problem, but his upside is undeniable. He should get the first chance but its not set in stone.

Center field for the 2019 Cardinals is going to be a competition of similar attributes.  Randy A, Harrison Bader and Lane Thomas are all viable candidates.  

Harrison Bader brings the most experience which is laughable as he doesn’t really bring much.  Bader’s defense is elite but a 29% strikeout rate in during 2019 with little power upside and an OBP of just .301 is not something the Cardinals can afford with a team that already has been deprived of offense with the potential loss of Ozuna.  

Lane Thomas played well when given the chance at the major league level last season.  His surprising power numbers over the last two seasons in triple A and the major league level is what garnered the attention of the front office.  Increasing his slugging percentage by nearly 100 points from 2017 to 2018 is a huge positive regression. Thomas will need a solid spring to win the job but he is a guy that has to be taken into consideration.

Randy Arozarena’s .453 OBP last season is the highest of the three potential candidates. Randy A has the lowest walk percentage of the three, while it’s not a huge difference it still shows that he is more reliant on putting the ball in play rather than taking pitches.  The Cardinals are in need of a leadoff hitter currently and Randy seems to be the likely option because, well he can hit. If he is able to make the roster, it would hopefully be in a starting capacity. There is no need to force him to the majors if he is not going to play.

Free Agent Options:

The Cardinals are never likely to make a free agent move of any prestige so I want to take out candidates like Yasiel Puig and Nick Castellanos  So what is left…nothing. The Cardinals will most likely go after a guy past his prime to compete for a spot on the roster. Names that come to mind are Cameron Maybin (33, 1.6WAR), Corey Dickerson (31, 1.0WAR) and Kole Calhoun (32, 2.5WAR).  All three of the aforementioned players would be nice bench assets but with a bench full of younger higher upside players it doesn’t make sense to reach for an outfielder with little upside. 

Conclusion:

As the roster stands right now I would like to see Fowler, Randy A and O’Neil in the outfield.  The Cardinals could be bold and make a move to add one of the premiere offensive free agents at third base (Anthony Rendon, Josh Donadlson) and put Tommy Edman in the outfield but that would not meet with the history of this franchise.  The Cardinals have questions in their outfield, it’s obvious they need to make a move. Dylan Carlson is coming so they are going to be patient and hope that one of their young players takes the next step.

NCAAF Picks

Syracuse Orange at Louisville Cardinal Total: 62.5

Both defenses are not good, ranking 83rd(Syracuse) and 103rd(Louisville) overall. These teams are going to be looking to move the ball and move it quickly.  

Syracuse seemed to find its offensive groove last week against Duke running for 286 yards dominating the Blue Devils and reminding us of what we thought the Orange could be.  The Orange have actually run 80 plays per game during the season which ranks them in the top five nationally. Syracuse has not been able to throw the ball the way that they had hoped but they should be able to move the ball against the Cardinals defense.

Louisville has become an offensive juggernaut over the last three weeks scoring 28, 27 and 34 over the last three weeks against better defensive units then Syracuse.  The Cardinal quarterback Micale Cunningham has averaged 12 yard per pass since the beatdown at the hands of Clemson four weeks ago.  

This game may not be flashy, but I see a lot of turnovers causing great field position that will lead to scores. These teams aren’t playing for much which should benefit the offenses. 

Pick: Over 62.5 

Minnesota Golden Gophers at Northwestern Wildcats +14

The Golden Gophers chance at the College Football Playoff is over.  PJ Fleck will not let that bother his team heading into a matchup with the offensively challenged Northwestern Wildcats. 

Minnesota has the 14th ranked total defense in the country.  Northwestern had problems running away from the UMass Minuteman until the second half.  For those who don’t know UMass is arguably the worst team in all of college football.  

The Wildcats will come out fired up in the first half being its final home game of the season.  They could keep things close…in the first quarter. The Golden Gophers running game will take over and Minnesota will coast to an easy victory.

 Pick: Minnesota Golden Gophers -14

Penn State Nittany Lions at Ohio State Buckeyes -18.5 Total: 57

The Nittany Lions hold their fate in their hands.  If they are able to beat Ohio State on Saturday they will completely change the current landscape of the College Football Playoff. While that is nice to think about they have one big hurdle to jump. That hurdle is the dominant Ohio State Buckeyes who have shown no mercy to any team at any point during the season. 

Some will say that Penn State was exposed over the last two weeks.  While they haven’t played their best football they had tough matchups in a ramped up Minnesota team and an underrated Indiana team.  The Nittany Lions will come out focused and ready for a battle. But it won’t matter. Penn State Quarterback Sean Clifford has struggled over his last five games and he will have to deal with the built up frustration of Chase Young returning from a ridiculous two game suspension.  

This game will come down to whether or not Ohio State is able to establish JK Dobbins and the run game allowing for Justin Fields to open up and do Justin Fields things.  The problem for Penn State will be the Buckeyes have to many weapons to hold down. They have better talent and are coached better than Minnesota. Penn State should be able to put up some points but I don’t see them having much of a chance to stop Ohio State.  

Parlay Pick: Ohio State ATS and Over

Other Picks:

Mizzou -4