Hello, reader, we've got some good news and bad news for you as you prepare to dive headfirst into the weekend. First, we'll start with some good news. As Pete told you about in this morning's newsletter, the Colts had to shut down their facility after some positive COVID-19 tests. Well, it's since been discovered that the four positive tests were false positives. After consulting with the NFL and it's chief medical officer, Dr. Allen Sills, they decided to reopen their facilities on Friday afternoon.
That's the good news! The bad news is COVID-19 hasn't stopped wreaking havoc on the NFL. Shortly after the news broke of Indianapolis' false positives, more news broke that the Patriots had to cancel Friday's practice after another positive test. The team has conducted a second test on the individual who tested positive to confirm the first test, but there has not been an answer as I'm writing this.
If the Patriots have to postpone their game against Denver this weekend, it would be a headache for the NFL as far as rescheduling. Both teams were already forced to use last week as a bye thanks to COVID-19 forcing a postponement.
But wait, there's more? Our Cody Benjamin details how COVID-19 protocols could put the Cleveland Browns in an awkward spot at the quarterback position this week as Baker Mayfield continues to recover from his rib injury.
- Dennis Dodd breaks down the storylines that will define the biggest college football game of the regular season.
- Are the Heat looking to make a run at Giannis Antetokounmpo?
- If Wichita State fires Gregg Marshall, where might it turn to replace him?
OK, let's make some money
All times Eastern, and all odds via William Hill Sportsbook
🔥 The Hot Ticket
Rays vs. Astros, 6:07 p.m. | TV: TBS
The Pick: Astros (+125): All right, so here's the thing. There's a good chance this series ends tonight with a Rays win, but the price on the Astros is too reasonable to pass up in this spot. Yes, they're going against Tampa Bay ace Blake Snell, but that might not be terrible news for Houston. In the first game of the series, Snell held the Astros to one run in five innings. Now, that seems good on the surface, but Snell only had two strikeouts and allowed six hits. Snell allowed a lot of hard contact to Astros hitters in the game with five hard-hit balls (exit velocities over 95 mph) and an average exit velocity against of 87.8 mph. That's not great.
Furthermore, Astros hitters have always done well against Snell. In 124 plate appearances against Snell, current Astros hitters are slugging .571 with a wOBA of .394. Their expected slugging and wOBA are in line at .557 and .388, so it's not like they've gotten lucky. They hit him hard. Now, Blake Snell is Blake Snell, and he's capable of shutting them down tonight, but at the price we're getting, the Astros seem more than capable of winning this matchup often enough to be worth taking.
Key Trend: Blake Snell has an ERA of 4.73 in 32.1 career innings against Houston. That's 1.49 runs higher than his career ERA of 3.24.
Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: The Advanced Computer Model has been in the kitchen all day cooking up simulations and here's what it has to say about tonight's game in San Diego.
Braves vs. Dodgers, 9:08 p.m. | TV: FS1
The Pick: Over 9 (-110): I messed up yesterday. On Wednesday, I told you all about how the ball flies in Globe Life Field when the roof is open, and the Dodgers scored 11 runs in the first inning. Yesterday, though, I was worried about taking the over in the game because Clayton Kershaw was pitching. Stupid me, I actually thought that Clayton Kershaw was more powerful than nature, and I paid for it. Had I taken the game total, we would've won. Instead, I took the Dodgers total and lost. Well, not today. Today we respect nature, and the roof will be open again tonight, allowing nature to take its course.
That course, as we've documented, will lead to runs. The roof at Globe Life Field has been open for 15 games this year, and the over is 10-4-1 in those games. In this series, it has gone 3-1. We're counting on it improving to 4-1 tonight.
Key Trend: There have been 51 runs scored in the first four games of this series, or 12.75 per game.
Bears at Panthers, Sunday, 1 p.m | TV: Fox
The Pick: Over 44.5 (-110) -- It might come as a surprise considering they've been without Christian McCaffery, but the Panthers offense still ranks 9th in the NFL in offensive DVOA. Now, the Bears are still a mess, ranking 26th, but they showed signs of figuring it out late Thursday against Tampa. Matt Nagy has to learn what works best for Nick Foles compared to what he had to do with Mitchell Trubisky, and it looks like that's happening. On the defensive side of the ball, the Bears rank 5th overall in defensive DVOA but aren't great against the run. Carolina is 23rd overall and awful against the run. I don't think we're in for an offensive explosion here, but both these teams are capable of going over this total.
Key Trend: The over is 7-2 in Carolina's last nine as a home favorite.
Bengals at Colts, Sunday, 1 p.m | TV: Fox
The Pick: Bengals +7.5 (-110) -- I've always been a bigger fan of betting on a Philip Rivers team as an underdog than as a favorite. It's not that he's awful overall when favored, but he isn't good, either. His teams have gone 41-52-2 ATS since 2010 when favored, and it's not hard to figure out why. Rivers turns the ball over a lot. It's hard to cover spreads when you're turning the ball over. Also, this spread is too large. The Bengals got crushed by the Ravens last week, but crushing bad teams is what the Ravens do very well. I think that game is having too much of an impact on this line. The Colts defense is fantastic, but it's not unbeatable, as we saw last week against the Browns. Cincinnati isn't going to win this game, but it will do enough, and Rivers will toss an interception or two to help the Bengals stay within range.
Key Trend: The Bengals are 10-4 ATS in their last 14 games as a road dog.
Packers at Buccaneers, Sunday, 4:25 p.m | TV: Fox
The Pick: Packers -1 (-110) -- What do you do when two of the greatest QBs of all-time against the spread are going head-to-head? In my opinion, you go with the one who is playing better at the time, and that's definitely Aaron Rodgers. I don't know if the Packers drafted Jordan Love with the sole purpose of making Aaron angry and getting him to play like this, but whatever the case, it's been an excellent outcome for the Packers. Tom Brady, meanwhile, is still playing well enough, but he's showing signs of decline, and I don't just mean because he can't remember how many downs there are. Also, for whatever it's worth to you, these two have only squared off as starters twice during their careers -- Rodgers was injured for the 2010 meeting -- and the favorite has covered each time.
Key Trend: Aaron Rodgers is 83-60-3 ATS since 2010.
Hammerin' Hank Goldberg is coming off a 3-0 sweep of his best bets, giving him a 30-15 run dating to last year, and he's got three more best bets for NFL Week 6. One of his plays is on Rams-49ers on Sunday Night Football.
🏈 College Football
Georgia at Alabama, Saturday, 8 p.m | TV: CBS
The Pick: Alabama -4.5 (-110) -- No, Nick Saban will not be on the sideline for Saturday night's game (8 p.m. on CBS), but that might not be as important as you might think. Saban has a staff filled with coaches who not only have previous head coaching experience but have it at major programs like USC, Texas and Tennessee. This game will be decided on the field, and while Georgia's defense is the best in the country, Alabama's offense is the best in the country. I'm not ready to rely on Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett being able to keep pace during his first career road start. If you'd like to see the rest of my college football picks for this weekend, read them in The Six Pack.
Key Trend: Alabama is 4-1 ATS in its last five home games.
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: Off to a 23-6 start on its top-rated college football picks, the SportsLine Projection Model has a slew of top-rated plays for the slate that begins at 6 p.m. ET tonight with SMU-Tulane and runs through the Georgia-Alabama showdown at 8 p.m. ET Saturday. See every computer model pick here.
💸 The DFS Rundown
Sunday Main Slate Stud
Derrick Henry, RB ($9.0K FD/$7.3K DK) -- I know you might be worried about Henry coming into this matchup on a short week, but I wouldn't be. On Tuesday night, Henry "struggled" with only 57 yards on 19 carries, but still found the end zone twice. That was against a good Bills defense. On Sunday he'll be up against a Houston defense that ranks 26th in the NFL in DVOA against the run.
Alexander Mattison, RB ($7.0K FD/$7.2K DK) -- With Dalvin Cook not expected to play, that means it'll be Mattison taking over the No. 1 RB duties in Minnesota this weekend. While filling in for the injured Cook against Seattle, Mattison carried the ball 20 times for 112 yards and caught three balls for 24 yards. On Sunday, he'll be going against an Atlanta defense that hasn't been bad against the run but did allow Mike Davis to tear it up for 149 total yards and a touchdown last week.
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. Use SportsLine's all-new DFS Optimizer to get optimal NFL DFS picks from 10,000 simulations.
NFL Player Props
- GB Aaron Rodgers Over 1.5 TD passes (-190)
- MIA Ryan Fitzpatrick Over 1.5 TD passes (-140)
- JAX James Robinson Under 74.5 rushing yards (-115)