Happy Monday, everybody. I hope you enjoyed your weekend, and I hope you enjoyed the AM edition of the CBS Sports HQ newsletter today. I did, and I’m excited that Zach Pereles has joined the team to take over the AM duties on the newsletter. I’m also grateful to my colleagues Shanna McCarriston and Chris Bengel for filling in the last few months, as they did an excellent job of keeping you informed of everything you needed to know in the world of sports.
As for that world, there’s quite a bit going on today, and there’s even more happening tonight. Plus, did you know that college basketball starts in full force this week? It does! It catches me by surprise every year, but as I was doing my prep for tonight’s newsletter, I noticed college basketball lines hitting the board and felt a tinge of excitement. Nothing gets the blood flowing quite like betting on a bunch of teenagers missing shots, and I can’t wait to have a successful season betting on it in this newsletter alongside all of you.
Now let’s get to those boring picks.
All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook
🔥 The Hot Ticket
🏈 Bears at Steelers, 8:20 p.m. | TV: ESPN
The Pick: Steelers Over 23.5 (+100): I am dreading tonight. Being a Chicago Bears fan has been painful enough during my life, but there’s nothing worse than having the Bears in a primetime game when the whole world will be watching. These are the games where I not only have to suffer through watching the Bears, but the world laughs at me while doing so. I prefer to suffer alone in a dark corner where nobody can see the tears.
And we are all going to suffer tonight. The total for this game is 39.5 points. If it holds until kickoff, it’ll be only the second game this season to close with a total below 40 and only the third time since the start of last season. This happens when two terrible offenses meet, but while the Steelers have been bad this season, I’m expecting more from them tonight.
On the year, the Steelers rank 25th in the league in points per drive at 1.67, but there have been improvements recently. That number climbs to a slightly more respectable 1.91 over Pittsburgh’s last four games, and tonight the Steelers will face a Bears defense that has gotten progressively worse. The Bears rank 26th on the year with 2.66 points allowed per possession, but that number has spiked to 3.17 during the team’s current three-game losing streak. The Bears are likely to be without Khalil Mack again this week, they won’t have safety Eddie Jackson and players like Akiem Hicks and Tashaun Gipson will be limited if they manage to play.
It’s a banged-up defense that gets thinner by the week and one Pittsburgh can take advantage of. Recently, Najee Harris has become more of a focal point in the Steelers offense, and the Bears are not good against the run.
Plus, while Justin Fields has improved, he and the Bears offense have struggled mightily against defenses that can pressure quarterbacks. Pittsburgh’s defense has allowed opposing QBs 2.64 seconds to throw on dropbacks this season, which ranks fifth in the league. I expect this Bears offense to struggle and for that pressure to lead to turnovers and terrible field position, which will only help the Steelers offense further.
Key Trend: The Bears have allowed at least 24 points in three straight games.
Here’s what SportsLine is saying about the game: SportsLine’s R.J. White is 47-27-3 ATS in his last 77 Steelers picks and he has a spread play for tonight’s game available.
💰 The Picks
Knicks at 76ers, 7 p.m. | TV: NBA League Pass
The Pick: Under 213.5 (-110) — Hey, look, it’s two of the top four offenses in the NBA going head-to-head tonight; let’s take the under! I’m starting to sound like a broken record here, but while these teams have been great offensively, defense is still at the core of what they do. While neither team is ranked in the league’s top half in defensive rating, both do an excellent job keeping teams out of the paint
The Knicks rank fourth in the league with only 41.4 points allowed inside the paint per game, while Philly is 11th. In other words, to beat these teams, you have to hit shots. While both teams are capable of doing so, they also move slowly. The Knicks are 26th in pace, while the Sixers move slower than any other team in the league. Plus, both of these teams are banged up. The Sixers have been shorthanded for a while and will be without Joel Embiid tonight. The Knicks won’t have Kemba Walker. This one could be sloppy.
Key Trend: The under is 4-0 in the last four meetings.
Timberwolves at Grizzlies, 8 p.m. | TV: NBA League Pass
The Pick: Timberwolves +6 (-110) — After a hot start to the season, Minnesota has crashed back to earth, losing its last four. While the Timberwolves have been busy finding their level, tonight’s spread is still looking for it. The Timberwolves rank 22nd in the NBA with a net rating of -3.4. That’s in line with their record. The same cannot be said of Memphis.
The Grizzlies are 5-4 this season and have picked up big wins against the Nuggets (twice), Warriors and Clippers, and those wins are causing them to be overvalued here. You see, while Minnesota ranks 22nd in net rating, that’s better than the Grizzlies! Memphis is 25th at -5.6, thanks to a defense that’s been non-existent. Memphis’ defensive rating of 112.7 is 29th in the league, ranking ahead of only the Charlotte Hornets. I don’t like to bet on bad defenses to cover spreads like this one, not even against the Timberwolves.
Key Trend: Memphis is 2-5 ATS in its last seven games as a home favorite.
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: SportsLine’s Advanced Projection Model, which is up almost $7,800, has five strong player prop bets for tonight’s game between the Bears and Steelers.
🏈 Monday Night Props
The parlays have gone cold, so let’s bet some props tonight instead.
- Justin Fields Under 184.5 yards passing (-115)
- Justin Fields Over 0.5 interceptions (-160)
- Najee Harris Over 79.5 rushing yards (-115)