Saturday, August 13 2022

Are Halloween lights a new phenomenon? We’ve been dog-sitting for friends this week, and Augie has a different routine than our dog, Frankie. We simply let Frankie out back to use the bathroom at the end of the night, but Augie will not follow suit. He demands a walk to let him get his business out of the way, so each night before bed, I’m putting on shoes, putting Augie’s leash on and walking him down the block and back.

While doing this, I noticed a lot of Halloween lights on my neighbor’s houses! Orange and purple lights as far as the eye can see. Now, I grew up in a home with Halloween decorations as a kid, as my mom loved putting them out. A lot of houses did and still do, but I don’t recall seeing lights until this year.

So did this just happen? Has it been going on for a while, and I just haven’t noticed? Is Big Holiday Light pushing this on us all of a sudden? Are we going to start putting out lights for every single holiday? Will National Pizza Day require lights too? I demand answers!

Maybe we should start decorating our homes with lights for Football Fridays?

All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook

🔥 The Hot Ticket

Astros at Braves, 8:09 p.m. | TV: FOX
The Pick: Astros Over 4.5 (+120)
: I’ve bet on Houston’s ability to put the bat on the ball through the first two games of this series. Taking the under on Charlie Morton‘s strikeout total in Game 1 won, but doing the same with Max Fried in Game 2 was a loser. Well, tonight, I’m following the same approach, but I’ll be ignoring Atlanta starter Ian Anderson‘s strikeout prop. At 3.5, it’s a little too close for comfort.

Instead, I’ll bet on the Astros to turn that contact into runs. Anderson is not a high-strikeout pitcher. His strikeout rate of 23.2% is just above the league average for a starting pitcher, as is his swinging strike rate of 11.9%. I don’t like to make a habit of relying on average to slightly above-average pitchers to keep the Astros out. Anderson’s arsenal includes a fastball, changeup and a curveball, but Houston’s entire lineup crushes fastballs. Anderson likes to go to his change more often against lefties, but Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker have obliterated changeups from righties. It just doesn’t feel like a great matchup for Anderson.

Behind him is a solid bullpen, but one that has been worked through the first two games. Charlie Morton’s broken leg in Game 1 forced Atlanta to its pen early, and it’s had to rely on it to cover 9.2 innings already.

Key Trend: In 174 regular season and postseason games, the Astros have averaged 5.4 runs per game.

Here’s what SportsLine is saying about the game: SportsLine expert John Bollman has shared his thoughts about tonight’s Game 3 in Atlanta.

💰 The Picks

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Hornets at Heat, 7:30 p.m. | TV: ESPN

Latest Odds: Under 222.5

The Pick: Under 222.5 (-110) — This matchup reminds me of Thursday night’s game between the Bulls and Knicks. We took the under in that one because, while the Knicks defense hadn’t been great, it’s still at the core of what they do. On the other side, as good as the Bulls had been playing to start the season, the Knicks were their first real test.

This brings me to the Hornets. Charlotte leads the NBA in offensive rating at 114.8, but Cleveland is the only team it’s played with a defensive rating in the top 20 of the league. Tonight the Hornets will face the best defense in the NBA so far. The Heat have a defensive rating of 92, which is four points better than the Jazz in second. At home as favorites, Miami will be able to use its defense and pace to slow down a Charlotte team that likes to play quickly. The Heat will get the Hornets into a game they aren’t comfortable playing, and while I like Miami to cover, there’s a lot more value on the total.

Key Trend: The under is 5-2 in Miami’s last seven games played on only a day’s rest.


Eagles at Lions, Sunday, 1 p.m. | TV: FOX

Latest Odds: Detroit Lions +3.5

The Pick: Lions +3.5 (-110) — Somebody help me; I can’t stop betting on the Lions. Scratch that, I don’t need help. The Lions might be 0-7, but they’re 4-3 ATS because most people don’t want to bet on them. Well, I do! I’m here for you, Lions! I believe in you(r ability to cover the spread)! Of course, that only plays a small role in this pick. We must also factor in that the Philadelphia Eagles — the same Eagles that are 2-5 on the season — are favored by more than a field goal on the road.

Remember last week when Sam Darnold and the Carolina Panthers were field-goal favorites on the road against a bad Giants team? We’ve got a repeat situation here in which you’re supposed to trust Jalen Hurts and a mediocre Eagles offense to cover as a road favorite. I’m not saying it isn’t possible, but it sure isn’t something I’m trying to bet on.

Key Trend: The Eagles are 1-8 ATS in their last nine as a favorite.

Steelers at Browns, Sunday, 1 p.m. | TV: CBS

Latest Odds: Pittsburgh Steelers +4

The Pick: Steelers +3.5 (-110) — This strikes me as something of a problematic matchup for the Browns. While Cleveland is an excellent rushing team, and it looks like they’ll be getting Nick Chubb back, the Browns have had trouble protecting their quarterbacks. This season, the Browns have given up a sack on 8.3% of their dropbacks, which ranks 27th in the league. Conversely, the Steelers defense has sacked opponents on 6.6% of their dropbacks this season, which ranks seventh in the NFL.

Also, while the Browns offense ranks eighth in the league with 2.44 points per possession, that number is skewed by two outstanding performances against the Chiefs and Chargers. In Cleveland’s other five games, it has averaged a more pedestrian 2.04 points per possession. I’m also concerned about a Cleveland offense that has scored touchdowns on only 56% of its red-zone possessions, which ranks 24th in the league. I think a Steelers defense that ranks 11th in the league in points allowed per drive and sixth in red-zone efficiency will be able to keep the Browns and a banged-up Baker Mayfield within range.

Key Trend: The Steelers are 11-4 ATS in their last 15 as road underdogs.

🏈 College Football

No. 6 Michigan at No. 8 Michigan State, Saturday, 12 p.m. | TV: FOX

Latest Odds: Michigan State Spartans +4

The Pick: Michigan State +4 (-110) — Believe it or not, this is only the 18th time in the long history between these programs that both teams are ranked at the time. It’s only the fifth time both have been ranked in the top 10, with the last one being all the way back in 1967. This game will also serve as the toughest test for either to this point, and while I’m leaning Michigan’s direction, I can’t pass up the Spartans and the points.

As efficient as the Wolverines’ offense has been (12th nationally in points per possession, 22nd in success rate), it’s also one-dimensional. Michigan runs the ball 65.4% of the time, which is the sixth-highest rate in the country. It does this because it’s good at running the ball … and not so good at throwing it. Michigan State’s defense has not been great against the run by any stretch, but it’s hard to cover as a road favorite when you run the ball as often as the Wolverines do without offering much in the passing game. While Michigan’s offense has been strong overall, it ranks 67th nationally in red zone efficiency. That’s another factor that makes it difficult for me to trust them as favorites of this size against a Michigan State offense that’s capable as well.

Key Trend: Michigan State has covered 11 of the last 13 meetings.

No. 10 Ole Miss at No. 18 Auburn, Saturday, 7 p.m. | TV: ESPN

Latest Odds: Under 66

The Pick: Under 66 (-110) — The totals for Ole Miss games continue to be posted too high, but you won’t hear any complaints from me. Betting the under in Ole Miss games has been a profitable 3-1 in the Rebels’ four SEC games. Ole Miss has averaged 3.34 points per possession with a success rate of 51.6% on the season, but those numbers drop to 2.93 points per possession and 47.9% in SEC play. That includes the Arkansas game when the Rebels scored 4.33 points per possession. Simply put, this offense hasn’t been as good as perceived.

Ole Miss will be on the road against an Auburn defense that ranks 30th in points allowed per possession and has been solid all season long. The Tigers also have an offense that isn’t spectacular, but they will be able to control the ball, keeping Matt Corral and Co. off the field as much as possible. This isn’t going to be a boring rock fight, but it’s not going to be a shootout, either.

Key Trend: The under is 8-2 in Auburn’s last 10 SEC games.

Looking for more college football picks? I’m currently 28-20 on the season in my weekly column, The Six Pack.

⚽ Soccer

Tottenham vs. Manchester United, Sunday, 12:30 p.m. | TV: NBC
The Pick: Manchester United (+140) —
While Spurs opened the season with a win over Manchester City, the expected goals (xG) told a different story. They’ve won three of their four home matches in the Premier League but have managed an xG differential of -0.8 in the process. This is primarily due to their attack being an attack in theory only. Tottenham’s 4.7 xG in four home matches ranks 15th of 20 Premier League clubs. A club with Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min should be much better than this, but Kane is playing like a person who would prefer to be anywhere else in the world than where he is.

And it’s those problems at Tottenham that led me to find value on a Manchester United team mired in its own mess. For all of this team’s problems lately, it’s still a dangerous side and one capable of scoring goals. Defensively this team has had problems, but they’ve only reared their head against clubs capable of doing damage. I’m not sure this Spurs team fits that description at the moment, so I’m betting on United to save Ole Gunnar Solksaer’s job for a few more days at least. I mean, after this match, United has to play Atalanta in the Champions League on Tuesday and Manchester City next Saturday, so it’s still only a matter of time before he’s sacrificed.

🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: SportsLine MMA expert Andrew Gombas has shared his favorite plays for Saturday night’s UFC 267.

 ⚽ Weekend Soccer Parlay

Because I haven’t given you enough to sweat already, here’s a soccer parlay for the weekend that pays +153.

  • Manchester City (-675)
  • Liverpool (-450)
  • Inter Milan (-300)
  • Borussia Monchengladbach (-286)



NBA DFS: Fred VanVleet and top DraftKings, FanDuel daily Fantasy basketball picks for Oct. 29, 2021


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