You've done it! You've survived another week, and now you're about to reward yourself with a weekend full of sports. Good job. I speak for everybody at CBS Sports when I say we're all very proud of you. Seriously, I emailed everybody in the company this morning to ask if they were proud of you and every single person except Kevin said yes, and that's just because Kevin didn't respond. He's a pretty nice guy but a bit lax about checking his email. I'm sure when he finally gets around to it, he'll feel bad for not responding quickly enough to let you know how proud of you he is.
That's our Kevin.
Anyway, it's a big weekend of sports. Not only do we have the World Series and NFL games, but both the Big Ten and Mountain West are starting their seasons this weekend. That adds another 13 college games to the schedule every weekend, including those late-night Saturday games we've been missing out on. Finally, our chance to chase our losses betting on teams we know nothing about has returned! Oh, how we've missed it.
Before diving into the weekend, catch up on these stories first.
- Dennis Dodd fills you in on the storylines to follow ahead of this weekend's college football slate.
- Pretend I'm making a face that says I'm shocked but you can tell I'm not really shocked as you read this story.
- Sam Darnold's doing his best to ignore the Trevor Lawrence speculation.
- Can't start an NFL weekend without reading Jonathan Jones' insider notes first.
Now let's start this weekend with some winners.
All times Eastern, and all odds via William Hill Sportsbook
🔥 The Hot Ticket
Rays vs. Dodgers, 8:08 p.m. | TV: Fox
The Pick: Rays (+138): Third verse, same as the first two! As I've gone over through this series's first two games, the difference between these two teams isn't significant enough to not take the Rays on the moneyline when we're getting enough value. We're getting enough value here. As the Rays showed in Game 2, they're very much capable of winning this series. Now, we have to remember that the Dodgers were doing a bullpen game on Wednesday, and tonight Walker Buehler is pitching. That's significant, but the Rays are starting Charlie Morton, who has been fantastic this postseason.
In three playoff starts, Morton has allowed one earned run in 15 2/3 innings, with 17 strikeouts and only four walks. Batters are hitting only .190/.250/.224 against him. Of the 11 hits he's allowed, nine have been singles, and none have been home runs. Also, while he doesn't have a ton of experience against this Dodgers lineup (Mookie Betts is responsible for 27 of the 83 plate appearances the Dodgers roster has against Morton), the results are encouraging. With Morton on the mound, the Rays ask him to get through the lineup twice before turning it over to the bullpen. It's a formula that has worked exceptionally well for them this year, and it just might work again tonight.
Key Trend: Including the postseason, the Rays have won five straight when Charlie Morton starts.
Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: I am but one person with one opinion, but the beauty of SportsLine is it offers the opinions of many to help you figure out the best play for you, so make sure to check out what the SportsLine experts have to say about tonight's game.
💰 The Picks
🏈 College football
Illinois at No. 14 Wisconsin, Friday, 8 p.m | TV: Big Ten Network
The Pick: Illinois +20 (-110) -- Big Ten football returns Friday night with a rematch of one of the biggest upsets in the conference, if not the country last season. Wisconsin comes in as a heavy favorite tonight over Illinois, but I'm not convinced it should be. The Badgers are replacing star running back Jonathan Taylor as well as leading receiver Quintez Cephus. Quarterback Jack Coan, who started last year and was going to start this season, suffered a foot injury that has him out indefinitely. In steps the highly rated Graham Mertz, making his first career start. Illinois has a lot of returning experience on the offensive side of the ball and an infusion of transfer talent at the skill positions. Wisconsin's defense is the best unit in this game, and it's why the Badgers will likely win so long as the offense doesn't turn the ball over numerous times, but I expect Badgers coach Paul Chryst to have a conservative approach on offense with a young QB. Take the points.
Key Trend: Underdogs went 14-7 in Big Ten West divisional matchups last season.
Browns at Bengals, 1 p.m | TV: CBS
The Pick: Under 50.5 (-110) -- That's an awfully high total for a game like this. The implied score in this game is Cleveland 26.75, Cincinnati 23.75. Well, despite their performance last week against the Colts, I'm not as confident in Cincinnati's ability to score 24 points. As you'd expect of a rookie QB, Joe Burrow's performance suffers when pressured, and only Carson Wentz has been sacked more often this season. While not elite, Cleveland's pass rush ranks 9th in the NFL in PFF's Pass Rush Pressures metric. I think they put enough pressure on Burrow to limit Cincinnati's offensive ceiling and keep us comfortably under the total.
Key Trend: The under is 15-6-1 the last 22 times Cincinnati has been an underdog.
Steelers at Titans, 1 p.m | TV: CBS
The Pick: Steelers +1 (-110) -- The Steelers opened as 1.5-point favorites in this matchup, and now the line has moved to Pittsburgh getting points. Well, you know what? The original line was right! But all people see is a 5-0 Titans team getting points at home, and they think they're getting a steal. They're not. The Titans are a good football team, but they are not nearly as good as their 5-0 record suggests. The combined record of the five teams Tennessee has beaten this year is 9-20. Of course, you can say the same things about a lot of the teams Pittsburgh has beaten, but the difference is the underlying metrics tell a much different story about the Steelers than the Titans. And that story is the Steelers are better.
Key Trend: Mike Tomlin teams are 36-20 ATS as underdogs all-time.
Jaguars at Chargers, 4:25 p.m | TV: CBS
The Pick: Jaguars +7.5 (-110) -- Listen, I know that everybody loves Justin Herbert when he makes ridiculous throws because he has amazing arm strength, but don't let that distract you from everything else. The Chargers were last seen on a Monday night against New Orleans when Herbert made some great throws, and that's having an impact on this line. The Saints pass defense is average at best this year, and Herbert took advantage of mistakes on their end. He deserves credit for that. But he's also in charge of an offense that is still without Austin Ekeler. While I think he's more than capable of leading the Chargers to a win here, I am nowhere near ready to start trusting him as this heavy a favorite against anybody. Not even the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Key Trend: The Chargers are 2-6 ATS the last eight times they've been favored.
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: Start your betting weekend tonight with Tulsa-South Florida (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN). SportsLine's hottest CFB expert Emory Hunt, who's 9-1 ATS in his last 10 picks, has a strong pick on this one. It's one of 12 CFB picks he's locked in.
💸 The DFS Rundown
Your MVP or Captain
Mookie Betts -- I mentioned earlier that Betts is the Dodger who has seen the most of Charlie Morton by far, and he's had some nice results against him. In 27 career plate appearances, Betts is hitting .304/.391/.356 against Morton. Now, the power numbers aren't great, as he only has two doubles and no homers, but there's not a lot of swing and miss, either. Betts has only struck out once in those 27 plate appearances and has a whiff rate (how many pitches he swings at and doesn't make contact with) of only 5.1%. So we're betting on the contact here to raise Mookie's floor compared to tonight's other hitters.
Ji-Man Choi -- There aren't many hitters in baseball who have a matchup advantage over Walker Buehler, but Choi is the Rays hitter who comes the closest. He's a stronger hitter against righties, and we're getting him at a cheap price in a top-half position of the lineup. He's far more likely to provide value to your lineup tonight than a lot of the higher-priced options.
Full lineup advice
SportsLine's team of DFS insiders has you covered for daily fantasy sports. Mike McClure has won almost $2 million playing DFS and is one of the top MLB DFS experts anywhere. Check out his MLB picks here, and be sure to see what he's picking for NBA DFS here too. Use SportsLine's all-new DFS Optimizer to get optimal NFL DFS picks from 10,000 simulations.
🏈 Friday Night Lights Parlay
We're betting 1 unit to win 1.93 units tonight.