Thursday, November 8, 2018

Panthers Battle Steelers Thursday Night

Pittsburgh Steelers Football

Steelers and Panthers Playing Well Heading into Showdown

The Carolina Panthers and Pittsburgh Steelers will clash this Thursday night at Heinz Field in what will feel like a playoff game in Steel City. Both teams enter Thursday’s showdown with active winning streaks on the line. They both have first place in their divisions in mind.

It’ll be the first and only time Carolina and Pittsburgh meet this regular season, and just the second time Ben Roethlisberger and Cam Newton have faced each other. Newton will look to even up the all-time series this week.

TV: 8:20 p.m. ET, FOX, NFL Network.

LINE: Steelers -3.5. O/U: 51.

The Steelers started the 2018 season 1-2-1 with the team in a sea of controversy due to the hold-out of Le'veon Bell. Since then the Steelers have run the table, winning four straight games.

While it has been a team effort, the Steelers’ new starting RB, James Conner, has proven that the Steelers can win without Bell. Conner ranks third in the NFL in rushing yards with 599 yards. He has eclipsed the 100-yard plateau in each of his last four games.

WR JuJu Smith-Schuster leads the team in receptions with 53, receiving yards with 672, and 20-plus-yard catches with nine.

Ben Roethlisberger says he's not a fan of Thursday games, and he let his listeners know why on his weekly radio show this week. Roethlisberger has thrown seven touchdowns without an interception in his last two Thursday contests.

Antonio Brown has reeled in three scoring strikes in each of his last two such tilts. The 30-year-old Brown has flourished during games on other days as well, collecting eight touchdowns in his last six games overall. He found the end zone on two occasions to go along with 10 catches in his last encounter with Carolina.

The Panthers have surrendered the eighth-fewest rushing yards in the league this season. The squad will be called upon often to stop Conner. Pro Bowler Luke Kuechly and the Carolina defense may be the difference maker tonight. Kuechly leads the team with 64 tackles

Christian McCaffrey can give Conner a run for his money after totaling 157 scrimmage yards (79 rushing, 78 receiving) in Sunday's 42-28 win over Tampa Bay.

Tight end Greg Olsen made a twisting one-handed catch versus the Buccaneers to reel in a scoring strike for the third straight outing.

PREDICTION: Panthers 28, Steelers 24


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Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Capitals Host the Penguins Wednesday Night

Washington Capitals

Capitals and Penguins Looking for Consistency

The Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals will meet on Wednesday at Capital One Arena. The Penguins matchup on the road with the reigning Stanley Cup champions may not be a bad thing given their ongoing struggles overall and at home.

Pittsburgh has stumbled badly after completing a perfect four-game road trip through Canada. The Pens have dropped four in a row (0-3-1) entering tonight.

TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, TVA, Sportsnet

LINE: Capitals -123; O/U: 6.5 Under -113.

Team captains and superstars Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin going head-to-head is always a headline attraction. The Penguins are more concerned by their recent slump. It culminated with back-to-back losses at home by a 10-1 margin.

"It's not a good feeling when you're in these types of situations, but we have to rely on one another to get out of it," Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan told reporters. "We believe we have what it takes to be a very good team in the league."

Ovechkin helped Washington end a two-game skid of its own. They scored a late goal to put the icing on a 4-2 win over Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers on Monday night.

It will mark the first meeting between the Metropolitan Division rivals since the Penguins edged the defending Stanley Cup champion Capitals 7-6 in overtime on Oct. 4.

The Penguins are 6-4-3 on the NHL Season. Pittsburgh has yet to lose in regulation away from home. They pumped in 23 goals in its dominating four-game road trip. They have been limited to six goals during its current slide. That  includes back-to-back drubbings by Toronto and New Jersey.

The Penguins are 2-for-19 on the power play in the past five games.

The Capitals are also 6-4-3 on the season. Washington received a boost from its newly configured fourth line to jump-start the win over Edmonton. They received goals from Jakub Vrana and Devante Smith-Pelly within the first six minutes of the game.

Vrana was demoted to the fourth line after struggling in the previous game. He was joined by Travis Boyd, who collected a pair of assists in his season debut.

Washington has yet to win back-to-back games this season.

Ovechkin is tied for eighth on the all-time list with 234 power-play goals - two behind Mario Lemieux.

PREDICTION: Capitals 3, Penguins 2

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Next up:
Pittsburgh home to Arizona Saturday, November 10
Washington home to Columbus Friday, November 9

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Pacers Host the 76ers on ESPN

Pacers Basketball

76ers Look for First Road Win Against Pacers

The Philadelphia 76ers and the Indiana Pacers will on Wednesday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. This season 76ers have been unable to win on the road. They've barely been competitive in those games. The Sixers will try for a sixth time to get their first road victory tonight.

TV: 8 p.m. ET, ESPN, NBCS Philadelphia, FS Indiana

Line: Pacers -3; O/U: 2016

Four of the 76ers five losses away from home have come by at least 15 points. Sunday's dreadful 122-97 setback at Brooklyn was the pinnacle, they hope. That game featured an NBA-high 28 turnovers by Philadelphia. A game like that is not what you want to see for a team hoping to be among the elites in the Eastern Conference.

"To win on the road, you better not turn it over at the rate we've been turning it over," coach Brett Brown told reporters. "You better have an incredible focus on rebounding. Historically, those are the tenets of road wins -- caring for the ball and finishing plays with rebounds. ... I think that togetherness, that toughness, that ability to take punches and come out together on the other side, that is part of growth. We don't have that right now."

The Pacers had won three straight by a total of nine points before suffering a 98-94 loss to Houston on Monday. That was the second of three straight at home. Victor Oladipo scored 28 points in the defeat. That is his NBA-leading 10th straight game with at least 20 points.

The 76ers are 6-5 on the season and it is a crap-shoot as to how they will play from night to night.

Ben Simmons scored 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting in the loss to the Nets. He also had five turnovers and has given the ball up 16 times over his last two road games.

Joel Embiid added 16 points and 15 rebounds while missing his only 3-point attempt. It was part of a 4-for-20 showing from beyond the arc for Philadelphia.

The Pacers are 7-4 on the season. Indiana is attempting an average of 85 shots a game. That is the fewest in the East. They could stand a few more scoring chances that might make the difference in close games like Monday's loss. The team is not prepared to force anything.

"We don't want to just get into a run-and-gun game and make it a shootout," coach Nate McMillan told reporters after the loss to the Rockets. "If we have something early (in the possession), we'll take it. If not we want to make them defend it."

It helps that the team ranks fifth overall in field-goal percentage at 48.9%. led by a 68.4 percent showing by forward Domantas Sabonis.

JJ Redick is shooting 31.3 percent from 3-point range on the road, compared to 44.7 percent at home.

PREDICTION: Pacers 112, 76ers 106

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Next up:
Philadelphia home to Charlotte Friday, November 9
Indiana at Miami Friday, November 9

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NCAAB: Ohio State Buckeyes vs Cincinnati Bearcats

Cincinnati Bearcats Athletics

Buckeyes Travel to Face Bearcats for First time in 98 Years

The fans at Fifth Third Arena will see the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Cincinnati Bearcats on Wednesday evening. For the first time since Jan. 3, 1920, Ohio State will travel to Cincinnati to play the Bearcats. This is the season opener for both teams will be the first meeting in a regular-season game since 1921.

TV: 6 p.m. ET, ESPN2

LINE: Cincinnati -4.5; O/U: 135

No one knows for sure the reason the two Ohio programs have avoided each other throughout the decades. The general consensus is that Ohio State had nothing to gain as the highest-profile school in the state. If they played and lost to Cincinnati, then it could affect recruiting.

Cincinnati defeated Ohio State in the 1961 and 1962 NCAA Tournament championship games. Ohio State won contests on a neutral court in 2006 and in an NCAA Sweet 16 game in 2012 in Boston.

The two-year agreement to meet in a home-and-home series is attributable to relationships between the schools' two athletic directors and coaches. Cincinnati's Mike Bohn and Ohio State's Gene Smith got together on the AD's end and the two coaches, Cincinnati's Mick Cronin and Ohio State's Chris Holtmann, agreed to play.

"It's great for basketball in Ohio, the two biggest universities in the state playing each other," Cronin told "It's good for our state, it's good for high school basketball, it brings attention to both our universities nationally. Everything is positive about the game. Hopefully, it's a series we can always play."

The Buckeyes were 25-9 during the 2017-18 season. They surprised everyone last year by finishing in a second-place tie with Purdue in the Big Ten. It was Holtmann's first season, after being picked  to finish 11th in the preseason.

Ohio State is not expected to duplicate last year's success after losing several key components. Those losses included Big Ten Player of the Year Keita Bates-Diop.

The top returnee is forward Kaleb Wesson. He recorded 12 points and 10 rebounds in limited action against UNC Pembroke in Ohio State's 81-63 exhibition victory last week.

Wesson's brother, Andre, along with C.J. Jackson, Musa Jallow and Kyle Young, are the other Ohio State returnees. They will be joined by transfer Keyshawn Woods and Holtmann's first recruiting class. These players could contribute right away and will be needed.

The Bearcats were 31-5 in the 2017-18 season. They must replace three starters. Gary Clark was the 2017-18 American Athletic Conference player of the year. Kyle Washington and Jacob Evans  were significant contributors from an NCAA Tournament team that won more than 30 games for the second straight season.

Junior guard Jarron Cumberland is a preseason All-American Athletic Conference pick. He is the only returnee who averaged in double figures last season. He scored 11.5 points per game.

Junior college transfer Rashawn Fredericks should make an immediate contribution. 6-foot-11, 250-pound junior center Nysier Brooks should see more minutes as a rebounder and defender.

Cincinnati is one of four programs to win 30 or more games in each of the past two seasons. They are one of six schools to appear in the last eight NCAA Tournaments.

PREDICTION: Cincinnati 60, Ohio State 58

NCAAB Betting Odds & Trends

Next up:
Ohio State home to IPFW Sunday, November 11
Cincinnati home to North Carolina Central Tuesday, November 13

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Tuesday, November 6, 2018

NCAAB: Duke Blue Devils vs Kentucky Wildcats

State Farm Champions Classic

Duke and Kentucky End off the Night With a Quality Top-5 Matchup

No. 2 Kentucky faces No. 3 Duke in a major showdown in the State Farm Champions Classic in Indianapolis on Tuesday. The Wildcats have a deep incoming class, PLUS they landed Stanford transfer Reid Travis. The Blue Devils will showcase the nation's top three recruits in R.J. Barrett, Zion Williamson and Cam Reddish.

TV: 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

LINE: Kentucky is -2.5; O/U: 158.

Travis brings 98 games of experience to a young roster. He is looking forward to a top-level opponent in his first game at Kentucky.

"The mood is a lot of excitement," Travis said in a press conference. "Taking it game by game, but obviously we're getting to the real big games so it's a lot of excitement in the locker room. We want to get better, and just continue to prepare to grow."

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is still defining roles but will throw his freshman trio of stars into the fire and see how things play out.

"We'll face different tempos and obviously Kentucky will be one of the most talented teams that we will play, but we just have to keep moving," Krzyzewski said during a press conference. "We're developing really good habits."

Duke was 29-8 in 2017-18.  The college debut of Williamson has been an anticipated event since early in his high school career. Kentucky was one of the schools he shunned. The 6-foot-7, 285-pound Williamson has mixed well with fellow forwards Barrett and Reddish. Incoming freshman point guard Tre Jones has meshed in well also. The youngster has also impressing his older teammates.

C Marques Bolden had a 3.9 average last season. He is the Blue Devils' leading returning scorer.

Kentucky was 26-11 in 2017-18. Reid Travis is back and averaged 19.5 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. Sophomore forward P.J. Washington averaged 10.8 points and 5.7 rebounds. They give the Wildcats a solid frontcourt duo that ranks among the best in the nation.

Sophomore guard Quade Green averaged 9.3 ppg and was a part-time starter last season. Freshman Tyler Herro is expected to be a major 3-point threat as well.

Kentucky may get some answers about some of the other newcomers during the game against the Blue Devils.

"We've got a couple of days to prepare for this next one, that will be a hard game," Kentucky coach John Calipari said at a press conference. "Now may be harder than I thought. We need more energy defensively and the game Tuesday will be great for film to see who needs to do what."

Kentucky leads the series 12-9, but Duke has prevailed in seven of the past nine meetings.

PREDICTION: Kentucky 76, Duke 75

NCAA Basketball Betting Odds & Trends

Duke Blue Devils:
Team record: 29-8 SU,22-14 ATS
Duke is 9-4 ATS in its last 13 games
Duke is 10-3 SU in its last 13 games
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Duke's last 6 games

Kentucky Wildcats:
Team record: 26-11 SU,19-18 ATS
Kentucky is 5-1 ATS in its last 6 games
Kentucky is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games
The total has gone OVER in 9 of Kentucky's last 11 games

Next up:
Duke home to Army Sunday, November 11
Kentucky home to Southern Illinois Friday, November 9

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NCAAB: Michigan State Spartans vs Kansas Jayhawks

State Farm Champions Classic

2018 State Farm Champions Classic Opens with Jayhawks and Spartans Clash

Two of the top teams in the nation face off in the State Farm Champions Classic in Indianapolis on Tuesday. Top-ranked Kansas and No. 10 Michigan State battle in the season opening tournament.

The Jayhawks and Spartans lost key players from last season's squads. They both bring back some experienced players, as well as some top recruits to make themselves into title contenders again.

TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN.

LINE: Kansas -4.5; O/U: 155.5.

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo would like to have NBA lottery picks Miles Bridges and Jaren Jackson Jr. back. That isn't happening, but he has three starters returning. Point guard Cassius Winston is the team's leading returning scorer at 12.6 points. He is also the Big Ten's assist leader at 6.9.

Forward Nick Ward will be the key for the Spartans down low.  He averaged 12.4 points and 7.1 rebounds in 18.9 minutes as a sophomore.

Ward and the Spartans could have a tough time in the paint against Kansas. The presence of 7-0 junior center Udoka Azubuike is menacing. He averaged 13 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.7 blocks last season. The kid is a load on both ends of the floor.

Jayhawks fans are excited about the brother duo of Dedric and K.J. Lawson. They are eligible to play after transferring from Memphis where they averaged 19.2 and 12.3 points, respectively, in 2016-17.

Jayhawks and Spartans were 30-win Teams Last Season

The Spartans were 30-5 in 2017. Ward and Winston have garnered a majority of the preseason headlines and accolades. Coach Tom Izzo and Michigan State knows the most important is guard Joshua Langford. The junior was the only Spartan to start every game last season and averaged 11.7 points. He was inconsistent with his shot and his scoring output.

Winston led the Big Ten in 3-point field goal percentage in 2017-18, hitting 49.7 percent of his shots from beyond the arc.

The Jayhawks were 31-8 in 2017. The departure of the team's leading scorer and assist man, Devonte' Graham, is going to be an impact early. Coach Bill Self has to figure out a new starter at the point guard position, though he has a few options.

To start the season, Self will likely go with highly regarded freshman Devon Dotson. He is a McDonald's All-American who averaged seven points and three assists in the team's two exhibition contests.

If Dotson struggles, Self can turn to California transfer Charlie Moore. He led the Golden Bears in assists as a freshman, though both will certainly see plenty of time throughout the season.

Azubuike led the nation and set the Kansas and Big 12 single-season record for field goal percentage at 77.0 in 2007-18.

PREDICTION: Kansas 82, Michigan State 72

College Basketball Betting Odds & Trends


Next up:
Michigan State home to Florida Gulf Coast Sunday, November 11
Kansas home to Vermont Monday, November 12

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Monday, November 5, 2018

Nuggets Take on Celtics in Denver

Denver Nuggets

Nuggets Want to Prove they Can Play with Contending Celtics

The Denver Nuggets will be trying to extend a winning streak on Monday when they take on the Boston Celtics at Pepsi Center. Denver is wanting to prove they can contend and play with the big boys in both conferences. Tonight will be a good test against one of the top teams in the East.

TV: 9 p.m. ET, NBCS Boston, Altitude (Denver).

Line: Nuggets -2; O/U: 209.

The Nuggets are cruising along in the early going. They showed what they are capable of when they put their foot on the gas in the fourth quarter in a 103-88 win over Utah on Saturday. They easily pulled away.

Denver outscored the Jazz 35-15 in the fourth quarter on Saturday. It continues the team's best start since 1976.

Coach Michael Malone insists his squad is just doing the little things right.

"We're third in defensive efficiency," Malone told reporters. "Our turnovers are way down, and we're the best rebounding team in the NBA. And those are things, I don't care if the league is 3-point shooting or not, when you defend and when you take care of it and you rebound, you're going to give yourself a chance every night."

The Celtics had a four-game winning streak come to an end with a 102-101 loss at Indiana on Saturday. All-Star center Al Horford is using it as a learning experience.

"Games like this will help us learn to value possessions," Horford told reporters. "There were times I'm not even focused on offense, I'm thinking defensively we need to get stops. ... We have to be better in that regard. Some of these games early in the season that have worked in our favor but we're living on the edge a little too much. Maybe this will wake us up as a group and understand that we need to be better."

The Celtics are 6-3 on the season and continue to get better each and every game they play. Losses like Saturday only build character and the team knows it.

PF Marcus Morris is 18-of-29 from 3-point range over the last five contests.

Boston point guard Kyrie Irving scored 18 points in Saturday's setback. He missed a key layup attempt in the final seconds and put the loss on his own shoulders.

"Great play call by Coach Stevens and I just smoked the layup," Irving told reporters. "It was just my body position. That was fully my responsibility to get open and to finish that shot. I rushed it. I got my left hand on the backboard and instead of finishing the play, I just put too much whatever on it and it just shorted. This one was my responsibility. I should have put us up four with that layup."

Irving knocked down 4-of-7 from beyond the arc in the loss and is 15-of-27 over the last four contests. He has been playing well for the Celtics.

The Nuggets are 8-1 to start the season. They are playing with an intensity no one expected at this point from them.

Center Nikola Jokic scored seven points on 3-of-9 shooting on Saturday. He still managed a double-double with 16 assists and 10 rebounds.

"I think it speaks to his greatness," Malone told reporters of Jokic. "Some guys can impact the game with solely their scoring and their ability to score baskets. Nikola can dominate a game without scoring at all and not many guys can do that."

Jokic is 17-of-42 from the floor over the last four games, but is averaging 9.5 assists in that span. All of them wins.

PF Paul Millsap is shooting 59.1 percent from the floor during the four-game winning streak.

PREDICTION: Celtics 110, Nuggets 107

NBA Betting Odds & Trends


Next up:
Boston at Phoenix Thursday, November 8
Denver at Memphis Wednesday, November 7

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Monday Night Football: Titans vs Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys Football

Titans and Cowboys Need a Win Tonight

The Tennessee Titans and the Dallas Cowboys will battle on Monday when they at AT&T Stadium. These teams have yet to find themselves this year and are in dire need to do so.

TV: 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN.

LINE: Cowboys -4.5. O/U: 40.

The Cowboys and Titans each have the luxury of playing in terrible divisions. Both teams are in danger of falling too far back in the playoff pictures with another loss. The Titans and Cowboys also own identical 3-4 records while coming off a loss and a bye heading into Monday night's clash.

Dallas (17.6) and Tennessee (18.1) rank second and third, respectively, in the NFL in points allowed.

The game will mark the Cowboys debut of wide receiver Amari Cooper. He was acquired from Oakland for a first-round draft pick to put some go-go juice in Dallas' struggling offense.

"He's electrifying. He's one of those guys you hold your breath every time he catches the ball," running back Ezekiel Elliott told reporters regarding Cooper. "He's a great addition to this offense and I'm excited."

Titans and Cowboys Look to Prove Something After Bye Week

The bye week couldn't have come soon enough for Tennessee. They followed a three-game winning streak by scoring a total of 31 points during a three-game slide that includes a pair of one-point defeats.

Marcus Mariota injured his elbow in the season opener. He has been dealing with numbness in his throwing hand, but he finally was able to discard the glove he's been wearing since getting hurt.

That, and the loss the of tight end Delanie Walker to a season-ending injury in Week 1, has contributed to Mariota's woes. He has thrown three touchdown passes and five interceptions while being held to 129 yards or fewer in four of his six games.

Mariota has thrown 24 TD passes and seven interceptions in his last 12 games versus NFC opponents.

The running back tandem of Dion Lewis and Derrick Henry also has struggled. Lewis gained 155 yards from scrimmage in Tennessee's last contest it has been an aberration.

The Titans rank 19th in the league against the run, permitting 112.3 yards per game.

The Cowboys have been hurt by the offseason departures of Dez Bryant and Jason Witten. The losses have grounded Dallas' aerial attack. That prompted the move to bring in Cooper to jump-start a passing offense ranked 29th in the NFL at 183.1 yards per game.

Whether Cooper is the answer for Dak Prescott remains to be seen. The former No. 4 overall pick had 48 receptions and seven touchdowns last season. He brought in 22 catches and one score for the Raiders this year before the trade.

The Cowboys have the league's fourth-ranked ground game thanks to Elliott. He is second in the NFL in rushing with 619 yards and has three 100-yard performances.

Dallas ranks third overall in total defense (313.7) and against the pass (217.4).

DE Demarcus Lawrence has registered seven sacks in his last five home contests.

PREDICTION: Cowboys 23, Titans 17

NFL Betting Odds and Trends

Tennessee Titans:

Team record: 3-4 SU,4-3 ATS
Current Streak: lost 3 straight games.
Tennessee is 4-2 ATS in its last 6 games
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Tennessee's last 6 games
Tennessee is 1-4 SU in its last 5 games on the road

Dallas Cowboys:

Team record: 3-4 SU,3-4 ATS
The total has gone UNDER in 9 of Dallas's last 11 games
Dallas is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games at home
Dallas is 1-4 ATS in its last 5 games when playing at home against Tennessee

Next up:
Tennessee home to New England Sunday, November 11
Dallas at Philadelphia Sunday, November 11

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Sunday, November 4, 2018

Lakers Host the Raptors Sunday Night

LA Lakers

Lakers are Looking to Build on Winning Streak Against Raptors

The Toronto Raptors and the Los Angeles Lakers will meet on Sunday at STAPLES Center. The Lakers are improving in some areas after getting a warning from the front office. Rumors are swirling Luke Walton is borrowed time.

TV: 9:30 p.m. ET, Sportsnet One (Toronto), Spectrum SportsNet (Los Angeles).

Line: Raptors -3; O/U: 238

The Lakers have responded to increased pressure from the front office. They have a shot at their first three-game winning streak of the season on Sunday. President of basketball operations Magic Johnson put some heat on coach Luke Walton in a recent meeting.

The Lakers eked out a one-point victory over Dallas at home and followed it up with a solid showing at Portland on Saturday.

Rajon Rondo had his best effort with Los Angeles with 17 points, 10 rebounds, six assists. He also had three steals off the bench. LeBron James finished with 28 points in Saturday's 114-110 victory.

The Lakers' chances at pulling to .500 for the first time would be a lot better if the Raptors are without star swingman Kawhi Leonard. He is dealing with a foot injury. The two-time All-Star is already planning to sit out one game of back-to-back sets and Toronto plays at Utah on Monday.

The Raptors are 8-1 on the season and have proven they may be a major player in the Eastern Conference race.

Leonard had 19 points and Kyle Lowry added 11 points and 12 assists in Friday's 107-98 victory at Phoenix. The win began a four-game road trip.

Lowry has at least 10 assists in a career-high seven straight games. He leads the NBA with an average of 11.2.

Toronto shot 50.6 percent from the floor while recording 11 steals and 10 blocks. They held an opponent to fewer than 100 points for the first time this season.

The Lakers are 4-5 on the season and show signs of becoming a much better squad.

Los Angeles got a big effort from center JaVale McGee. He had 12 points, nine rebounds, six blocks against Portland. Chandler will soon have more support underneath in the form of veteran Tyson Chandler.

The 36-year-old averaged 9.1 rebounds in 25 minutes through 46 games with Phoenix last season. He reportedly will sign with the team after clearing waivers on a contract buyout with the Suns.

He will join a bench that provided 51 points on 21-of-32 shooting Saturday night.

PREDICTION: Raptors 113, Lakers 111

NBA Betting Odds & Trends


Next up:
Toronto at Utah Monday, November 5
Los Angeles home to Minnesota Wednesday, November 7

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Sunday Night Football: Packers vs Patriots

New England Patriots Football

Two Future Hall of Fame QB's Take the Helm Tonight for Patriots and Packers

The Green Bay Packers and the New England Patriots battle at Gillette Stadium on Sunday Night Football. This game tonight has the potential to be one of the top games in the NFL this season. Many fans, and sports bettors, have had this one circled since the schedules came out.

TV: 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC.

LINE: Patriots -5. O/U: 56

Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers often are mentioned in the conversation as the best quarterbacks in the game. The former NFL Most Valuable Players rarely share the same field. That will change on Sunday night as Brady and Rodgers will square off for only the second time in their stellar careers.

Brady and Rodgers are the only active players in the league to have won multiple MVP awards. This is among the many reasons for the hype surrounding Sunday's matchup.

"If you want to study how to play quarterback, you need to watch that game Sunday night because you're going to see all the little things," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "From pure quarterback play, I think this is definitely one you want to watch."

Rodgers came up short in his bid to hand the Los Angeles Rams their first loss a week ago. Now they must fly to the opposite coast to face Brady and a New England squad that has won five straight and is unbeaten at home.

"The challenge from my standpoint is knowing we have to be incredibly productive as an offense," Brady said. I know we can't turn it over, I know we're going to have to possess the ball. I know we're going to have to score in the red area."

Two High Powered Passing Attacks and Inconsistency on the Ground

The Packers are 3-3-1 on the season. They have been battling injuries and consistency on offense this season.

Green Bay has been fairly one-dimensional on offense. Rodgers is third in the league with an average of 326.1 yards per game. He has been efficient as well, throwing for 13 touchdowns with only one interception.

Rodgers has a 100-plus passer rating in his last games three overall. He has at least two TD passes in five of his last six versus AFC foes.

Injuries have hindered two of Rodgers' top receivers. Davante Adams has six touchdown catches on the season. He has amassed 24 receptions for 405 yards and three scores over the past three games.

A cluttered backfield was thinned out this week with the trade of Ty Montgomery. The trade leaves Aaron Jones poised to lead the ground game after posting season highs with 86 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries against the Rams.

The Packers are No. 5 against the pass, allowing 221.7 yards per game. They traded starting safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to Washington this week so that may hurt some.

The Patriots are 6-2 on the season and seem to get better each week, take away the struggles with Buffalo last week.

Running back Sony Michel was limited in practice again Thursday after sitting out last week's game due to a knee injury. One of the surprise replacements for him was wideout Cordarrelle Patterson, who had 10 carries for 38 yards.

Tight end Rob Gronkowski has not scored since the season opener. He did not practice Thursday and was held to three catches in each of his last two games.

Brady threw for 324 yards in last week's 25-6 victory at Buffalo. He connected with Julian Edelman nine times for 104 yards. He hit running back James White 10 times for 79 yards. That padded his team-leading totals to 55 catches, 459 yards and six receiving touchdowns.

New England is vulnerable to the pass, allowing 277.3 yards per game to rank 27th in the league.

New England is seeking its 10 consecutive home win against a Green Bay squad that is 0-3 on the road.

PREDICTION: Patriots 33, Packers 30

NFL Betting Odds & Trends


Next up:
Green Bay home to Miami Sunday, November 11
New England at Tennessee Sunday, November 11

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Saints Host the Rams in Battle for NFC Supremacy

New Orleans Saints Football

Unbeaten Rams Battle One Loss Saints

The fans at Mercedes-Benz Superdome see the Los Angeles Rams and the New Orleans Saints when they take their seats on Sunday. This is the top NFC matchup in week 9 of the NFL. The winner of this game has the inside track to home-field advantage in the playoffs.

TV: 4:25 p.m. ET, FOX.

LINE: Rams -2. O/U: 57.

The Rams almost saw their perfect record go by the boards last weekend. They will face perhaps a more daunting challenge this weekend in what could be a battle for supremacy in the NFC. The Rams are the lone undefeated team at the midway point of the season.

Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints are surging as well and the offense is clicking on all cylinders. Brees has the Saints at 6-1 on the season.

The Rams will be facing an elite quarterback for the second time in as many weeks. They squeezed out a 29-27 victory  over Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers last week. That ran their record to 8-0.

"You're looking at another week where a guy, first ballot Hall of Famer, all-time leading passer, completing 77 percent of his balls," Rams head coach Sean McVay said of the prospect of facing Brees.

New Orleans owns the league's second-longest winning streak, behind only the Rams,  with six consecutive victories. They knocked off Minnesota 30-20 in a rematch of last season's NFC playoff game to extend the streak.

Saints & Rams Offenses Should Have a Shootout Today

Todd Gurley II has been unstoppable for The Rams. He has rushed for 800 yards and 11 touchdowns, which are both league highs. The workhorse has also posted 31 catches for 351 yards and four scores. Gurley II accounted for 195 yards from scrimmage against Green Bay.

Gurley II joined Jim Brown and Priest Holmes as the only players with at least 15 TDs through the first eight games.

Quarterback Jared Goff has 17 TD passes and only five interceptions. He will get one of his top targets back in Cooper Kupp, who has a team-best five touchdown receptions despite missing the past two games with a sprained knee.

Reigning Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald has registered an NFL-high 10 sacks. This is for a unit that acquired pass-rushing linebacker Dante Fowler from Jacksonville at this week's trade deadline.

The Saints eked out a one-point win at Baltimore when the Ravens missed a tying extra point. New Orleans then relied on its defense to avenge last season's loss at Minnesota. They got an interception return for a score and a fumble return that set up a TD.

Brees tossed his first interception last week, but has 14 touchdown passes and has a league-leading 77.4 completion percentage. His gaudy 118.2 passer rating is also tops in the NFL. Brees has thrown for 1,045 yards with eight touchdowns, along with zero interceptions in his last three at home.

Alvin Kamara's workload has been reduced with the return of fellow running back Mark Ingram from a four-game suspension. He had a rushing and receiving score last week to boost his season total to nine touchdowns.

Kamara is expected to play despite missing practice Thursday due to illness. Defensive end Marcus Davenport did not practice for a second straight day.

WR Michael Thomas has 14 receptions for 160 yards and two touchdowns in two games versus Los Angeles.

PREDICTION: Saints 30, Rams 27

NFL Betting Odds & Trends


Next up:
Los Angeles home to Seattle Sunday, November 11
New Orleans at Cincinnati Sunday, November 11

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Saturday, November 3, 2018

NFL Week 9 Free Betting Pick- Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens

Baltimore Ravens Football

NFL Week 9 Free Betting Preview and Pick- Steelers at Ravens

One of the best rivalries in the NFL will be renewed this Sunday with the 4-2-1 Pittsburgh Steelers going on the road to face the 4-4 Baltimore Ravens. The game is set for a 1 p.m. start from M&T Bank Stadium on CBS.

Baltimore has been opened as a three-point favorite in this AFC North battle.  VietBet has set the total at 47.5 points. The line is now Ravens -2 and the total has settled at 47.

The Steelers have got things rolling in the right direction since a 26-14 Week 4 loss to the Ravens. They were a three-point favorite on their home field.

Following a home win against Atlanta and a road win against Cincinnati, Pittsburgh ran its current winning streak to three games (both straight-up and against the spread) with Sunday’s 33-18 victory against Cleveland. They were an 8.5-point home favorite. The total went OVER 47.5 points in that game and it has gone OVER BetAnySports’ total line in five of its first seven games.

The loss of Le’Veon Bell due to a contract dispute is becoming less and less of an issue in light of running back James Conner’s ability to fill the void. He led the way against the Browns with 146 yards rushing and two scores on 24 rushing attempts. He also caught five passes for 66 yards as part of Ben Roethlisberger’s 24 completions on the day.

Ravens Have to Get on Right Track

Baltimore has gone in the opposite direction since drawing first blood in the season series against Pittsburgh. Sunday’s no-show in a 36-21 loss to Carolina may be a tipping point. They were listed as 2.5-point road favorites on BetAnySports’ closing line. It dropped the Ravens to 1-3 SU and ATS in their last four games. The total went OVER 44.5 points in that game after staying UNDER in their previous five outings on BetAnySports’ closing line.

Sunday’s loss quickly got out of hand with a 24-7 deficit at the half. The inconsistency in Joe Flacco at quarterback produced two interceptions against one touchdown throw.

Baltimore has struggled to effectively run the ball for most of the season. This offense is not built to play from behind. The pressure is starting to mount on Flacco and the team’s head coach John Harbaugh following such a promising start.

The Steelers have the revenge factor and a ton of momentum on their side heading into Sunday’s rematch. Add in two points and I will take Pittsburgh to even the score against its bitter rival in Baltimore.

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LSU Hosts Alabama in Huge SEC Matchup

LSU Tigers Athletics

Expect a Heavyweight Title Fight at Death Valley Tonight

The top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide and the 4th-ranked LSU Tigers will battle on Saturday at Tiger Stadium (Death Valley). This game will decide the SEC West Champion and give the winner a leg up on getting into the College Football Playoff.

TV: 8 p.m. ET, CBS.

LINE: Alabama -14; O/U: 51.5.

Alabama has been cruising through its schedule so far this season. The Crimson Tide might run into a stern test on Saturday when it visits LSU in an SEC showdown.

The Crimson Tide are also atop the first College Football Playoff rankings. They have defeated six of their eight opponents by 34 or more points. Now they face a stingy LSU squad that is third in the CFP rankings and are allowing just 15.1 points per game.

Alabama coach Nick Saban said that none of his team's gaudy stats matter in the matchup with the Tigers. Alabama has scored more than 50 points six times, is an example of those stats.

"(LSU) is one of the best teams in the nation," Saban said during a press conference. "I think they're very elite in a lot of ways in terms of the way they play defense. Their offense is very efficient. They've really done a great job this year and the quarterback (Joe Burrow) plays well for them."

LSU coach Ed Orgeron is aware of the stakes as his team would greatly increase its CFP hopes with an upset.

"I am not going to make it bigger than life that our guys can't handle it," Orgeron said during a press conference. "We're going to approach this game, we're not going to say it's like every other game, we understand this is 'the' game. But we're going to approach every day like we've done. We're not going to change our process."

The Crimson Tide are 8-0 overall and 5-0 in the SEC. This is normal fare for them under Nick Saban and should be ready for the Death Valley crowd.

Sophomore quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is having a season for the ages. He has 2,066 yards and 25 touchdowns without throwing a single interception this year.

Wideout Jerry Jeudy is his top target with 31 receptions for 777 yards and 10 touchdowns. Fellow sophomore DeVonta Smith has a hamstring injury and is in danger of missing his second straight game.

RB Josh Jacobs, who averages 30.9 yards per kickoff return, is second on the team with nine touchdowns (eight rushing, one kickoff return).

The defense is allowing an average of 15.9 points per game. Senior defensive end Isaiah Buggs has a team-high 8.5 sacks and is enjoying a strong season. Junior cornerback Saivion Smith has a team-best three interceptions.

The LSU Tigers are 7-1 on the season and 4-1 in the SEC.

The only blemish is a loss to Florida for an opportunistic team. They are tied for the national lead with 14 interceptions. They have five from sophomore safety Grant Delpit, who also has four sacks.

The Tigers will be without standout junior linebacker Devin White, who has a team-best 76 tackles, for the first half due to a targeting infraction against Mississippi State.

Burrow, a junior, has passed for 1,544 yards and six touchdowns. Senior running back Nick Brossette has recorded 697 yards and 10 scores on the ground.

The LSU offense is averaging 30.4 points per game.

Alabama has won the past seven meetings, including a 24-10 victory last season.

PREDICTION: Alabama 31, LSU 21

NCAA Football Betting Odds & Trends


Next up:
Alabama home to Mississippi State Saturday, November 10
LSU at Arkansas Saturday, November 10

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Northwestern Hosts Notre Dame Saturday Night

Northwestern Wildcats Athletics

Notre Dame Can't Afford to Overlook Northwestern

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Northwestern Wildcats will meet on Saturday at Ryan Field. Notre Dame can't afford to look past a solid Northwestern squad with Florida State on deck next week at home.

TV: 7:15 p.m. ET, ESPN.

LINE: Notre Dame -9.5; O/U: 50.

Notre Dame marches forward to a possible undefeated season as it visits Northwestern on Saturday evening. The third-ranked Fighting Irish are coming off a easy win over Navy. The Wildcats got a huge home win over Wisconsin and are in the driver's seat to win the Big Ten West.

Notre Dame took care of business as a 22.5-point favorite in San Diego. Running back Dexter Williams gashed Navy for 142 yards and three touchdowns in the 44-22 win.

Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson ran for two scores and threw for another as the Wildcats upset previously ranked Wisconsin 31-17.

Notre Dame is 8-0 and Northwestern is possibly the toughest opponent left on the schedule with Florida State being down this season.

The Fighting Irish were focused on getting its running game back on track after a mediocre performance two weeks ago. Williams delivered with a some help from Jafar Armstrong, who had nine carries for 52 yards and a touchdown. Armstrong was playing in his first game since Sept. 22.

Quarterback Ian Book is the key to the Irish offense. His stat line of 27-of-33 for 330 yards and two touchdowns increased his season totals to 1,468 passing yards, 12 touchdowns and four interceptions. That is only in the five games he has started this season. Book has a completion percentage of 76.5 that is the best in the nation.

The Irish defense ranks sixth in the nation in the S&P+ advanced metric. They had no problem adapting to Navy's triple-option offense and were able to pitch a shutout in the first half. The goose-egg allowed the offense to build a 27-0 lead.

The Wildcats are 5-3 on the season, but have gotten better every week they have played.

Thorson was shaky through the air last week. He threw three interceptions to go along with the touchdown on 17-of-30 passing for 167 yards. That brings the senior's season totals to 193-of-318, 2,072 passing yards, 10 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

He has also taken 18 sacks on the season and will have to stay upright against a Fighting Irish defense that has 17 sacks. Thorson has started 47 straight games at quarterback. That is the second-longest active streak in FBS. He is a constant for the Northwestern Offense

Freshman running back Isaiah Bowser has provided a nice spark to the Wildcats offense. He has back-to-back 100-yard efforts after gashing the Badgers for 117 yards and a touchdown on 34 carries.

PREDICTION: Notre Dame 31, Northwestern 21

NCAA Football Betting Odds & Trends


Next up:
Notre Dame home to Florida State Saturday, November 10
Northwestern at Iowa Saturday, November 10

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