So at what point should baseball be concerned that it’s in a lockout and nobody seems to care? I realize that we’re smack dab in the middle of bowl season and late-regular season NFL, but have you noticed how little anybody is talking about it? It’s always hard to escape the football bubble this time of year, but a lockout is a big deal in any sport, and when it’s the first work stoppage in MLB in 27 years, you’d think it would get more attention.
In the circles I run with — which include a lot of baseball fans, including myself — there was the initial reaction to the lockout’s beginning, and then everybody seemed to go back to their lives. This is the time of year when baseball fans are supposed to be following all the latest in hot stove news, getting mad at their teams for not spending enough money on the players they want or trading away the players they don’t. Instead, there’s nothing.
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Maybe this will change as we get through football season and the spring approaches, but the overall apathy I’ve sensed about the lockout to this point can’t be a good sign.
All right, let’s get this money.
All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook
🔥 The Hot Ticket
Vikings at Bears, 8:15 p.m. | TV: ESPNThe Pick: Kirk Cousins Over 21.5 Completions (-130): I’d initially hoped to include both of tonight’s NFL games in this newsletter, but there’s too much uncertainty surrounding the Browns/Raiders game due to Cleveland missing so many players — including Baker Mayfield — due to COVID. If it makes you feel any better, know that I was able to get the Raiders money line at +150 before the Baker Mayfield news broke on Monday morning, so while I don’t have a bet for you, at least I’ve gotten excellent closing line value.
Of course, that means the Browns are definitely going to win, but whatever. There’s another game to bet on, and it involves the dying corpse of a team that is my beloved Chicago Bears in primetime for all the world to see. Terrific.
The Bears spent the week dealing with plenty of their own COVID issues, as both coordinators were absent from practice all week. The good news is defensive coordinator Sean Desai will be on the sideline tonight, but the bad news for Desai is he’s dealing with a shell of a defense. Starting defensive backs Eddie Jackson and Artie Burns have been on the COVID list all week and are questionable for tonight along with a few others. Khalil Mack has been out for weeks, and star linebacker Roquan Smith left last week’s game against the Packers with a hamstring injury and is questionable for tonight. Joining him is Akiem Hicks, who has been out the last month with an ankle injury, and fellow defensive tackle Khyiris Tonga suffered a shoulder injury last week too and hasn’t practiced all week.
Oh, and DeAndre Houston-Carson — who was forced into a starting role at safety due to injuries — broke his hand last week and is out tonight too.
So, yeah, the Bears defense is a mess and has been picked apart by opposing quarterbacks recently. Over the last five games, QBs have completed 75.5% of their passes against the Bears defense. While some of that was Aaron Rodgers and Kyler Murray, it also included games against Jared Goff, Tyler Huntley and whatever is left of Ben Roethlisberger at this point. Teams have had an easy time moving the ball in the air against the Bears all season, and that won’t change tonight with all the injuries in the team’s secondary. Expect Kirk Cousins and Minnesota receivers to have big nights tonight.
Key Trend: Quarterbacks are completing 75.5% of their passes against the Bears defense over the last five games.
Here’s what SportsLine is saying about the game: Maybe you’re looking for more of a traditional play for tonight’s game. Well, I have good news. SportsLine’s R.J. White is 39-19-3 ATS in his last 61 picks involving the Vikings, and he has a play available for tonight’s contest.
💰 The Picks
🏀 College Basketball
Oral Roberts at South Dakota, 8 p.m | TV: ESPN+
South Dakota Coyotes
The Pick: South Dakota +4 (-110) — You probably remember Oral Roberts as the No. 15 seed that reached the Sweet 16 last season thanks to upsets over Ohio State and Florida. You probably also remember that the Golden Eagles managed to get by both teams by jacking up a bunch of three-pointers and making nearly all of them. Well, it’s a new season, but it’s the same Oral Roberts.
The Eagles are still jacking up threes, as 51.6% of their shots on offense have come from beyond the arc this season. They’re good at it, too. They’ve shot 37.5% on the season, but there’s a significant disparity in their home/road splits. In six home games this year, Oral Roberts is shooting 43.4% from three. It has shot only 33.3% in five road games. Perhaps that’s why the Eagles are 3-0 ATS at home but only 1-3-1 ATS on the road. South Dakota hasn’t been great this season, but the Coyotes are 6-0 at home on the season, and if I can get them as home dogs tonight, I’m not going to pass up the opportunity.
Key Trend: Oral Roberts shoots 43.4% from three at home and only 33.3% on the road.
🏈 College Football
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Wyoming vs. Kent State, Tuesday, 3:30 p.m. | TV: ESPN
The Pick: Wyoming -3 (-110) — How about some Tuesday afternoon bowl action? It’s the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, which is the only bowl game in the world with a giant potato as its mascot, and I’m pretty sure it’s the only game that sees the winning team dump a cooler full of fries onto their coach. And this year, I think that coach will be Wyoming’s Craig Bohl.
There’s a serious clash of styles in play here, as both teams like to run the ball, but Wyoming moves much slower on offense than Kent State, which is one of the quickest moving teams in the country. The problem for Kent State in this matchup is on the defensive side of the ball. In short, Kent State doesn’t have a defense. This season, it has allowed 2.8 points per possession (118th nationally) and has struggled against the run. Wyoming will be able to control the clock with its offense and keep the Kent State offense off the field. Considering how quickly the Golden Flashes move on offense when they have the ball, their defense is likely to tire out late, allowing the Cowboys to pull away for a cover.
Key Trend: Kent State is 1-6 ATS in its last seven games as an underdog.
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: SportsLine expert Alex Selesnick (aka PropStarz) is up 178 units on NBA props and future plays and you don’t want to miss out on his favorite NBA props for Monday night.
⚽ Tuesday’s Serie A Parlay
I’m sorry I’m including two Tuesday picks in today’s newsletter, but there’s just not a lot of value out there tonight, and sometimes you have to know when it’s best to just sit a game out. So here’s a nice little three-leg Serie A parlay for your Tuesday. It pays +127.
Udinese (-265)Atalanta (-250)Juventus (-560)