It's extremely difficult to get through an NFL season without a loss. That's why the 1972 Dolphins have been able to raise a champagne toast to themselves each of the last 46 seasons whenever the NFL's last undefeated team suffers its first loss. The closest we've come to seeing it happen since was the 2007 season when the New England Patriots were undefeated heading into Super Bowl XLII before losing to Eli Manning and the New York Giants.
I've always wondered which Super Bowl loss hurt more for the Patriots. Losing out on the undefeated season, or losing to a Giants team that went freaking 9-7 during the regular season four years later. Anyway, I digress. Going undefeated is nearly impossible, and it's a lot more difficult when your starting quarterback gets placed on the COVID-19 list.
That's what happened to Ben Roethlisberger on Tuesday. The Steelers announced Big Ben was one of four players being placed on the list, and now he and his teammates must be isolated for at least five days. The good news is that it sounds like Roethlisberger is only on the list due to being a close contact of Steelers tight end Vance McDonald, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday. So there's a chance Roethlisberger will be able to play against the Bengals on Sunday. It's not all that different than what happened to the Detroit Lions last week when Matt Stafford was placed on the COVID-19 list but played Sunday against the Vikings.
Of course, the Lions lost that game.
- Pete Prisco's latest NFL Power Rankings are out, and goodness are they powerful.
- Will this week in Augusta be the last time Tiger Woods defends a major title?
- Jerry Palm has handed in his first College Football Playoff projection of the season.
- Ryan Wilson's latest NFL Mock Draft is QB-heavy.
OK, let's make some money
All times Eastern, and all odds via William Hill Sportsbook
🔥 The Hot Ticket
Miami OH at Buffalo, 8 p.m. | TV: ESPN
The Pick: Miami OH +9.5 (-110): This is a battle between last season's MAC champion (Miami) and the favorite to win the MAC in 2020 (Buffalo). It's also a battle in which I believe the spread is a little too large. Some of this is no doubt due to the question marks surrounding Miami's QB situation. Brett Gabbert, the younger brother of Blaine Gabbert, suffered a concussion in last week's opener. We don't know if he'll be available for tonight's game, but if he isn't, it might not be a big deal.
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A.J. Mayer replaced Gabbert last week and threw for 212 yards and three touchdowns in relief, leading the RedHawks to a win over Ball State. His performance was good enough to earn him the MAC's Co-Offensive Player of the Week award. He split it with Buffalo running back Jaret Patterson, who is probably the best running back in the country you've never heard of.
That makes going against the Bulls somewhat worrisome. They're the favorite in the MAC for a reason, but I couldn't help but notice Buffalo's struggles stopping the run last week. While the Bulls allowed only 3.32 yards per carry overall, their defensive success rate against the run ranks 10th in the conference currently. Miami allowed 4.45 yards per carry yet is ranked a spot ahead of the Bulls in defensive rush success rate. Both teams were reasonably stable defending the pass, but Miami had a slight edge offensively, even if the scoreboard shows Buffalo scoring more points. That's enough to make me think the RedHawks will be able to stick around tonight and could have a chance to win the game late.
Key Trend: Miami is 15-4 ATS in its last 19 conference games, and 6-1 ATS the last seven times it's been an underdog.
Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: The Advanced Computer Model likes one side of the spread in this matchup as well. What is it? Well, if I just told you that wouldn't be much fun. You have to click the link.
🏈 College Football
Akron at Ohio, 7 p.m | TV: CBS Sports Network
The Pick: Under 58 (-110) -- It's always a little scary taking an under in a MAC game, but it's the most sensible play on the board in this game. Ohio is capable of covering a four-touchdown spread against a bad Akron team, but the Bobcats offense was unimpressive last week, which makes it difficult to trust them in doing so. Again, we're dealing with a one-game sample size, so we don't want to dive too deep into it, but the Bobcats averaged 1.54 points per drive last week. That ranks 10th in the conference. Akron averaged 1.08, and that puts them a spot behind the Bobcats. I expect Ohio's offense will be better tonight, but I'd rather be on the under, especially if it stays at 58 or better.
Key Trend: The under is 32-14 in Akron's last 46 games.
Kent State at Bowling Green, 7:30 p.m | TV: ESPN2
The Pick: Kent State -20.5 (-110) -- You know how I mentioned how poorly the Ohio and Akron offenses were last week? Well, neither can hold a candle to the debacle that was the Bowling Green offense. The Falcons scored only three points in their season opener, and tonight they'll be facing a Kent State offense that moves quickly and puts up points in a hurry. The Falcons were one of the worst teams in the conference last year when Kent State beat them 62-20, and I haven't seen any indication that they've improved much in 2020. We fade Bowling Green in this newsletter, kids.
Key Trend: Bowling Green is 2-10 ATS the last 12 times it's been a home underdog.
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: MACtion is back tonight and SportsLine's Projection Model has picks on every game. The model is 37-20 (65 percent) on all top-rated plays this season.
💸 The DFS Rundown
Kurtis Rourke/Isiah Cox, Ohio -- Ohio's QB situation could prove annoying since Rourke is likely to split carries with Armani Rogers, but Rourke was the much better option as a passer last week. Tonight the Bobcats are facing an Akron defense that was ripped to shreds through the air last week. Cox caught four passes for 102 yards and a score last week and will likely be Rourke's top target again tonight.
Xavier Williams, Kent State -- Williams didn't see a lot of action last week against Eastern Michigan. He only had seven carries, but he made them count with 55 yards and a touchdown. There's a chance he won't see a ton of work tonight, either, but he's set up to succeed against the Bowling Green rush defense. Picking Williams allows you to roster Jaret Patterson and spend up elsewhere as well.
Full lineup advice
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