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USATSI

The NFL and Deshaun Watson reached a settlement Thursday. The Browns quarterback will be suspended for the first 11 games of the 2022 NFL season and was hit with a $5 million fine.

Watson has been hit with 24 lawsuits since spring of 2021 accusing him of sexual misconduct. He's since settled 23 of the 24 lawsuits, and now he's settled with his employer. The Browns have a bye in Week 9, meaning Watson will be eligible to return in Week 13 against his former team, the Houston Texans. Whether or not you believe that's a coincidence is up to you. Elsewhere, in news that doesn't leave you feeling dirty: 

To tonight's bets!

All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook


🔥 The Hot Ticket

Mets at Braves, 7:20 p.m. | TV: ESPN+

Latest Odds: Atlanta Braves +115
  • Key Trend: The Braves have won five of the last seven meetings in Atlanta.
  • The Pick: Braves (+110)

We haven't activated #OperationFadeGrom much lately. This is mostly Jacob deGrom's fault, as he's made only 18 starts since the beginning of the 2021 season. However, #OperationFadeGrom was built on deGrom's teammates letting him down constantly despite him being one of the most dominant pitchers around. Last year the Mets started scoring more than two runs per game when deGrom started, which allowed them to win damn near every one of them (they're 13-5 in his starts since last season). Thankfully, tonight presents us with an opportunity to run the operation once more.

Allan Bell is joined by Allie O'Neill and John Bollman to bring you the best bets for Thursday. Download and follow The Early Edge on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.  

DeGrom makes his fourth start of the season tonight, and he's been incredible in the first three. He has literally struck out half the batters he's faced and walked only one of them. The problem is he hasn't thrown more than 76 pitches in any of his starts, as the Mets are wisely doing everything in their power to keep him healthy for the postseason. That's a concern for New York, seeing as how the Mets bullpen has pitched 14.2 innings in the first three games of the series.

Also, of deGrom's three starts this season, his "worst" was against Atlanta. He only struck out 12 hitters in 5.2 innings and allowed two runs! It was terrible! Seriously, though, this Braves offense is good, and Atlanta has an excellent starter going for itself tonight in Max Fried. This is likely to be a low-scoring contest, and if the Braves can stick around and make deGrom work for it and get him out quickly enough, the Mets pen could be vulnerable.

Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: The Projection Model is with us, as it has an A-graded play on the Braves money line tonight. The model is a devout follower of #OperationFadeGrom.


💰 The Picks

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⚾ MLB

Royals at Rays, 7:10 p.m | TV: MLB.TV

Latest Odds: Kansas City Royals +158

The Pick Royals (+180): -- What if I told you the Royals aren't as bad as you think they are? The team's 48-71 record is slightly misleading. You see, while the Royals began the season by going 27-47 through the first three months of the year, they've been a much more respectable 21-24 since the start of July. They're still treated in the market like the team from the first three months.

The Rays are the better team, but tonight's Royals starter Brad Keller does an excellent job of keeping the ball on the ground, which could come in handy. What really intrigues me about this play, though, is that Luis Patiño starts for Tampa, and he has not been very good in limited time this season. He hasn't lasted longer than four innings in any of his three starts, and that longest start came against the Royals in late July. Patiño allowed three runs while walking three and allowing seven hits in those four innings. There's a strong chance the Royals jump on him early.

Key Trend: The Rays are only 2-5 in their last seven series openers.

Nationals at Padres, 9:40 p.m | TV: MLB.TV

Latest Odds: Washington Nationals +328

The Pick: Nationals (+310) -- This is preposterous. This is principle. I've mentioned that the Padres will be overvalued on the market since they made the Juan Soto trade, but we've taken things to an entirely new level tonight as the Padres host the team they acquired Soto from. Yeah, the Nationals are awful, and they've traded away nearly everything they have of value to somebody else. But you know what? They're still an MLB team.

Do you see those odds? The implied odds of +310 are 24.39% (100/410), meaning that the Nats have to win this game at least 24.39% of the time to make it a smart bet. Well, since 1900, only one team in MLB history finished a season with a winning percentage lower than that. That team was the 1916 Philadelphia Athletics, who went 36-117 for a win percentage of 23.53%. In other words, unless this current iteration of the Nationals is the worst MLB team in the last 123 seasons, there is value on this bet.

It's principle! I don't care about the pitching matchup, the roster, any of it! It's a professional baseball team getting +310 against a team that's only 6-8 since adding Soto!

Key Trend: There is no trend, only principle. When you have principle, you don't need trends.

🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: SportsLine MMA expert Andrew Gombas has released his top picks for Saturday's UFC 278 card.