Joel Embiid Getty Anthony Davis 76ers Sixers Lakers
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Hello, and happy Friday, everybody. It's a cold, wet one here in my humble abode, as we've been getting what so many of us who live in colder climates refer to as a wintry mix. Is it snow? Is it rain? Is it some unholy union of the two? Yes!

So, yeah, we're stuck inside today, but that's fine because we had an epic upset in the World Cup Friday morning, as Croatia upset Brazil in the quarterfinals in a penalty shootout. I have to say, after watching the World Cup every day for two weeks, not having it for two days this week was a rude awakening. It's a lot like March Madness when you get four straight days of non-stop college basketball, and then three days without it.

It's also like March Madness because underdogs win because the favorites hit the iron.

Anyway, this week's Football Friday isn't as meaty as it has been the last few months because there's only one college football game this weekend, but I've got five picks to help you get through the whole weekend.

Let's see if we can follow a 3-0 performance Thursday night with a 5-0 record this weekend.

All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook


🔥 The Hot Ticket

Lakers at 76ers, 7:30 p.m. | TV: ESPN

    Latest Odds: Los Angeles Lakers +5
  • Key Trend: The Lakers rank eighth in the NBA in net efficiency over the last 10 games
  • The Pick: Lakers +5 (-110)

If you're a casual follower of the NBA, the last you heard about the Lakers may have been everybody mocking them for their terrible start to the season. Early on, it seemed running it back with the same team that didn't work out last season was leading to the same results. The Lakers started the year with only two wins in their first 12 games and were written off.

However, things have changed.

While the Lakers enter tonight's game against the Sixers on a two-game losing streak, road losses to the Cavs and Raptors are nothing to be ashamed of. They're still 8-4 since that 2-10 start, and if you look at their overall efficiency over the last 10 games, they rank seventh in the NBA in that period with a net efficiency of 4.0. The Sixers team they'll face tonight ranks 13th at 0.8

Jonathan Coachman is joined by Chip Patterson and Jon "Buckets" Eimer to dish out Friday's best bets. Download and follow The Early Edge on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.  

In other words, the Lakers have played well while the Sixers are treading water at the moment. Like the Lakers, the Sixers are on a losing streak of their own, losing their last three against the Cavs, Grizzlies and to a Rockets team that is 7-18 on the season. The Houston loss was James Harden's first game in a month, and while he scored 21 points and had seven assists, he was also 4-of-19 from the field with seven turnovers.

I don't know if he'll shoot only 21% from the floor again, but this is a rusty Sixers team that's difficult to trust as a favorite right now, and with the Lakers playing so well, they're an excellent bet to cover the spread tonight.

Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: The Projection Model says the best value in this game tonight is the total.


💰The Picks

Anton Watson Getty Gonzaga Bulldogs Zags
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🏀 College Basketball

Washington at No. 18 Gonzaga, 9 p.m | TV: WCC Network

Latest Odds: Gonzaga Bulldogs -16

The Pick: Gonzaga -16.5 (-110) -- This isn't the same level of Gonzaga team we've seen in recent seasons. While the Zags are still one of the top teams in the country and could make a run in March, a team that has typically been in the top three of power rating sites like KenPom finds itself as merely a top-10 team. Gonzaga is 6-3 on the season, with losses to Texas, Purdue and Baylor. Those are three resume losses if I've seen them, but Gonzaga has won more of those games than they've lost in recent seasons.

The Washington team the Zags face tonight will not be a resume loss. The Huskies are 7-2, but while they have a nice win over Saint Mary's, they've played one of the least difficult schedules among major conference teams. They've also lost games to Cal Baptist and Oregon State, which are ranked outside the top 150 in KenPom ratings. The Huskies struggle to score and rebound, and tonight will face one of the best defensive teams and best rebounding teams in the country. It's not a good matchup for them.

🏈 College Football

Army vs. Navy, Saturday, 3 p.m | TV: CBS

Latest Odds: Under 32

The Pick: Under 32.5 (-110) -- Not only is it one of the best college football games of the year, but it is also a staple of our betting diet. I've included the picks here every time these games happen, and I've told you the trend. Since 2005, when service academies play, the under has gone 43-9-1. That includes the under hitting in 16 straight entering the weekend. It's not complicated. Service academies run option offenses, which include few passing plays. That means the clock rarely stops.

Also, while an option offense presents unique challenges for teams that aren't used to dealing with them, the academies practice against them daily. So their defenses are better prepared to stop them than most other teams. So the clock never stops, limiting overall possessions and scoring chances. Also, the defenses know exactly what they're in for, limiting scoring chances even further. The books are catching on and lowering the totals for these games every year, but it hasn't stopped the under from cashing at an incredible rate. There's no point jumping off the train before it derails.

🏈 NFL

Jaguars at Titans, Sunday, 1 p.m | TV: CBS

Latest Odds: Tennessee Titans -3

The Pick: Titans -3.5 (-110) -- This looks like an excellent spot to take advantage of some recency bias. The Titans are in first place in the AFC South but have lost two straight games to drop from 7-3 to a much more mediocre looking 7-5. The offense has struggled in those two losses, scoring only 16 points against the Bengals and 10 points last week against the Eagles, but there's something we have to remember about those games. The Bengals and Eagles are a lot better than the Jaguars.

Also, the Titans have dominated the Jaguars under Mike Vrabel. Since Vrabel took over in Nashville in 2018, the Titans have gone 7-1 against the Jags. The lone loss was a 20-7 loss in 2019. The seven wins have come by an average of 15.4 points each. The Jaguars are 1-5 on the road this season, with all five losses coming by at least six points. That 3.5 is looking smaller and smaller, isn't it?

Bucs at 49ers, Sunday, 4:25 p.m | TV: Fox

Latest Odds: Under 38.5

The Pick: Under 37 (-110) -- There's been a lot made of the 49ers being favorites in this game, considering it's the first career start for Mr. Irrelevant Brock Purdy against The Most Relevant QB of All-Time Tom Brady. But you know what? The spread makes sense, even if it seems crazy on principle. Part of the reason it makes so much sense is that the Bucs pulled off a remarkable comeback against the Saints last week but did so thanks in large part to the Saints making mistakes to allow it.

What's important to me is how bad the Bucs' offensive line has been and how it's supposed to stop the 49ers' pass rush. I don't think it can. That means Tom Brady will be firing off a bunch of short passes to keep from being killed, and I don't expect Tampa to move the ball much. On the other side, while Kyle Shanahan might be a QB whisperer, it's hard to believe a Brock Purdy-led 49ers offense will explode for many points, either.

🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: The Projection Model says the best value on the board Friday night is a play on the spread between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Sacramento Kings.