Hello and Happy Wednesday. It's a short week for us here at the CBS Sports HQ newsletter because I don't know if you've heard, but there is a major holiday this week. As a result, there will not be a PM edition of this newsletter tomorrow. If you're worried about what you're going to do with yourself in the meantime, I do have a pick for the lone bowl game tomorrow in today's newsletter.
Like Santa Claus, if you're good, the PM edition will return on Friday. I'll stuff your degenerate stockings with picks to get you through the holiday weekend.
Speaking of picks, this is also the week I've been asked to vote on many different college football awards. I've submitted my vote on everything from the Heisman Trophy to the Ray Guy Award for the country's best punter (and speaking of things I've voted on, CBSSports.com released its All-America Team today). I've never had a more difficult time casting my ballot than this year. On the one hand, playing in more games and performing well over a longer stretch should be rewarded. On the other, unless it's injury or suspension related, not playing in as many games as others wasn't the player's fault.
Of course, while I trust you to keep it a secret, I can't tell you who I voted for until after the winner is announced. I don't want the Heisman Police knocking down my door. What I can tell you is that the player I voted for is definitely a college football player. I hope that's not too specific.
I also voted for these stories for you to read.
- Now might be your best chance to coach an NFL team.
- Today in James Harden.
- It looks like Arizona has found Kevin Sumlin's replacement.
Now that you're finished with your homework, it's time to play.
All times Eastern, and all odds via William Hill Sportsbook
🔥 The Hot Ticket
Florida Atlantic vs. Memphis, 7 p.m. | TV: ESPN
The Pick: Memphis -8.5 (-110): Don't you dare pretend you weren't already planning to watch the Montgomery Bowl. I know it's a lifelong family tradition of yours. There's nothing better than gathering the family around a warm fire as you watch a football game played in the Cramton Bowl. I mean, even the very name Cramton Bowl fills you with warmth.
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As for the game, I'm not expecting it to be all that exciting, nor that close. When breaking these teams down, I find an FAU team that runs the ball 61.4% of the time (13th most often in the country) but isn't good at running the ball (100th in success rate). Memphis' splits are about 50/50, but the Tigers are worse running the ball (103rd in success rate) than the Owls. What the Tigers do well is pass, as they're 33rd nationally in efficiency and 32nd in yards per attempt.
On paper, this looks like a good matchup for FAU because its defense ranks 10th nationally in success rate against the pass. The problem is that FAU hasn't played anybody. According to Sagarin ratings -- which tracks FCS teams -- the Owls have played the 130th most difficult schedule in the country this season. Only 127 FBS teams have played games. So I'm taking the Tigers team from the tougher conference that played the tougher schedule.
Key Trend: FAU is 3-8 ATS in its last 11 non-conference games.
Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: I know the Advanced Computer Model's family gets together every year to simulate the Montgomery Bowl. Here's what they came up with this year.
💰 The Picks
Mavericks at Suns, 10:30 p.m. | TV: ESPN
The Pick: Under 234 (-110) -- Listen, I get it. These were two of the better offensive teams in the NBA last season, and their four meetings included an average of 233 points per game. I would expect tonight's game to be one of the higher-scoring ones of the night. It's just, this total seems a bit too optimistic for me. Plus, Dallas will not have Kristaps Porzingis back until January, which hurts their offensive ceiling a bit. As for Phoenix, adding Chris Paul to the roster certainly isn't going to hurt their offense, but he only played in two preseason games with the team. He's still learning his new teammates, and they're still learning him. In the two games he did play, the Suns averaged 99.5 points. Bet on a learning curve.
Key Trend: The under went 7-3 in Dallas' last 10 road games.
🏈 College Football
Hawaii vs Houston, Thursday, 3:30 p.m. | TV: ESPN
The Pick: Hawaii +11 (-110) -- Looking for a little Christmas Eve action? Here's an early gift because this feels like free money. Houston went 3-4 this season, and coach Dana Holgorsen said the team is likely to be without 15 to 20 players for this game. Some of it's due to COVID-19, and some to academics. Either way, that's a lot of players for a team that's not very good to begin with to be missing.
Also, when it comes to bowl games, different coaches take different approaches. Some take them very seriously and prepare to win. Others see it as a chance to get started on next year. Well, in his career as a head coach, Dana Holgorsen's teams have gone 1-6 ATS in bowl games. The only time a Holgorsen team covered was when West Virginia crushed Clemson 70-33 in the 2012 Orange Bowl. In other words, if it isn't a major bowl game, Dana's not too worried about winning.
Key Trend: Dana Holgorsen is 1-6 ATS as a head coach in bowl games.
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: Find out what the Advanced Computer Model is saying about tonight's big NBA matchup between the Bucks and Celtics.
💸 The DFS Rundown
Bradley Beal, Wizards -- Like I said in yesterday's newsletter, this early in the NBA season, it's a bit more difficult to know what to expect. Still, even with that caveat, I'm a fan of Bradley Beal tonight against Philadelphia. Say what you want about Russell Westbrook -- and people have plenty of things to say -- but he does help teammates fantasy-wise. Last season Beal was terrific even when he was the guy opponents knew they had to stop. Now, with Russ commanding a lot of attention, there's likely to be a bit more room for Beal to operate. He might not get up 30 shots, but he might not need to, either.
Daniel Theis, Celtics -- Theis has a lot of what I look for in a value play in a large slate like tonight. No, he's not likely to get you a lot of points, but he is likely to get plenty of minutes. I wouldn't be surprised to see him get at least 27 minutes of action tonight. That means it'll be hard for him to fail upon delivery of value at his price, and there's a more than decent chance he'll exceed it. Slot Theis in, and it'll allow you to spend up elsewhere.
Full lineup advice
Get winning NBA DFS picks from SportsLine pros Mike McClure and Jacob Gibbs. McClure has won almost $2 million in daily Fantasy, while Gibbs crushed the NBA last season, cashing around 65 percent of the time in cash games and nearly 45 percent of the time in tournaments. See their DraftKings advice and FanDuel lineups here.
🏀 Wednesday Night NBA Parlay
Still a little too early for me to dive into props, so how about a little three-leg NBA money line parlay instead? It pays +127.