As a born and bred Chicagoan, the Chicago Bears have always been a part of my life. It's a franchise that's embedded deep within the city, despite an overall lack of success. So it's no surprise that a team that hasn't won a title in 35 years still clings so tightly to its past and the players who helped make the franchise what it once was.
So the news of Bears great and NFL Hall of Famer Gale Sayers's death was a true gut punch. I wasn't alive when Sayers played for the Bears, but to hear people who saw him play describe him, it's almost as if he wasn't a football player, but something more. Something people can't quite find the right words to explain as well as noises or gestures. The English language itself isn't strong enough to capture who Sayers was as a football player.
They're the same kind of noises I make when watching highlight clips of Sayers, as it's clear he was playing a different sport than nearly everybody else on the field with him at the time. The term "greatest of all time" or "GOAT" gets thrown around so often these days that it's essentially been rendered meaningless, but make no mistake about it: when Sayers was playing, he was the GOAT. Nobody had ever seen anything like him before.
- The Chargers doctor did what to Tyrod Taylor?
- Another day, another New York Giants player going on injured reserve.
- How will the College Football Playoff decide which teams are eligible? Shrug.
And now onto the money-making portion of our program.
All times Eastern, and all odds via William Hill Sportsbook
🏆 The Hot Ticket
🏀 Celtics vs. Heat, 8:30 p.m. | TV: ESPN
The Pick: Celtics -3.5 (-110): I'm glad this series took a few days off between games because it gave me some extra time to figure out just what the hell happened in Game 3. I didn't know whether it was just a result of the Heat playing their worst game of the series, or if Gordon Hayward's return was a turning point for the Celtics here. I have concluded that it was the worst performance by the Heat offensively when it comes to the former. The problem is, even if that's true, I can't ignore how ridiculously well the team shot in the first two games. That performance likely isn't sustainable against an excellent defensive team like Boston, so even if Miami improves tonight, will that be enough?
As for the latter, yes, I think Hayward's return is significant. I also think the Celtics made some adjustments in Game 3 defensively that paid dividends and are likely to continue tonight. That would be a massive comeback because historically, the Celtics are only 2-15 in the playoffs when they get down 0-2 in a series. Miami is 16-0 all-time when taking a 2-0 lead. But you know what? I'm seeing the series price on Boston right now at +115, and I'm strongly considering it. For now, I'll stick with the Celtics to cover tonight.
Key Trend: The Celtics are 19-7-1 ATS on 3+ days rest.
Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: The SportsLine Advanced Computer Model has a pick for tonight's game as well, and if it disagrees with me don't think for a moment that I'm not willing to fight a machine.
🏒 NHL | Today's full schedule
Lightning vs. Stars, 8 p.m. | TV: NBC Sports Network
The Pick: Stars (+135) -- Listen, if one of the two people who write this newsletter daily is a hockey expert, it's not me. The three things Pete Blackburn knows a lot more about than I do are hockey, video games and Taylor Swift. Still, I can't help but notice that when I've watched the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final, the Lightning had a 15-minute burst when they scored three goals. In the other 105 minutes of action, the Stars have outscored the Lightning 6-1. That seems like something worth taking notice of.
Key Trend: The Stars are 3-1 against the Lightning this season.
⚾ MLB | Today's full schedule
Athletics at Dodgers, 9:40 p.m. | TV: MLB.TV
The Pick: Under 9 (-120) -- We took the under in this same game last night and had to live with a push. Well, we're coming back for more because all the same reasons I liked the under last night are still in play tonight. The critical difference is that Dodgers starter Julio Urias doesn't get many groundballs, but he makes up for it with a higher strikeout rate. Oakland's Sean Manaea is a groundball machine who doesn't walk anybody and gets plenty of swings and misses himself. Finally, both of these offenses perform better against righties than lefties. It's all adding up to an under play.
Key Trend: The under is 4-1-1 in the last six meetings
Rockies at Giants, 9.45 p.m. | TV: MLB.TV
The Pick: Giants Over 5.5 (+119) -- Through Ryan Castellani's first two career MLB starts, he looked promising. He allowed only two hits and a run through 8.2 innings, with 10 strikeouts and three walks. He's been an absolute trainwreck since. In the 30 innings over seven appearances since, he's posted an ERA of 6.90 while walking 18 and striking out only 14. He's allowed 10 runs in those 30 innings, and opposing hitters are slashing .270/.391/.604 against him. So, yeah, we're going to bet against him tonight and assume the Giants will have a fun night at the dish.
Key Trend: The Rockies are allowing an average of nine runs per game in Castellani's last six starts.
SportsLine Pick of the Day: The SportsLine Projection Model is heavily favoring one side of Athletics vs. Dodgers at 9:40 p.m. ET. SportsLine subscribers can get picks for that game, and for every other MLB game today, here.
💸 The DFS Rundown
Kenta Maeda ($10K FD/$9.2K DK) -- There are so many aces pitching tonight as teams have set up their rotations for the playoffs. There's no reason for you to spend up on guys like Shane Bieber and Trevor Bauer with other options available, so save some money with Maeda. He has the best matchup of all of them going against the Tigers. He's posted 16 strikeouts in 12 innings against Detroit this season. The floor here is very high.
Alex Dickerson, OF ($2.8K FD/$4.3K DK) -- We're already taking the over on the Giants team total, so it would make sense that we take the guy likely to lead-off against the righty Castellani. Dickerson isn't a household name, but he is a guy with an OPS of .918 against righties this season while slugging .554 against them. He also has 37 extra-base hits (including 15 dingers) in 302 plate appearances (a rate of 12.3%) against them. Load up on him if he's near the top of the lineup.
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.
⚾ Stack Attack
Every day during the MLB season we're going to pick a pitcher to attack by taking home run props on several different players from the same team. Tonight we are attacking Toronto Blue Jays starter, Robbie Ray.
Robbie Ray is one of the pitchers who inspired The Stack Attack. He's a three true outcomes pitcher. It's either a strikeout, walk or a home run, and a lot of the time, it's a home run. So when we see him going against the Yankees? Stack em up!
- Aaron Judge +200
- Luke Voit +200
- Giancarlo Stanton +200
- D.J. LeMahieu +400
- Gleyber Torres +500