Hello, dearest subscriber, happy Friday! I like to think of this newsletter as a safe space for all of us and one where I can share things with you without fear of judgment. With that in mind, I want you to know that this newsletter is the only way I can keep track of what day it is during the week.
As somebody who does most of their work from home, this has long been a problem for me as it is. In a year like this one, in which so many days feel the same as the one that just passed, it's been a bigger problem. So this newsletter has been a bit of a godsend in that department. For example, no longer than 15 minutes ago, I went through one of those frequent moments where I asked myself, "what day is it?" Then I thought, "well, I wrote about Thursday Night Football in yesterday's newsletter, so that must mean today is Friday."
It turns out it is, and I have a loaded newsletter to come. I have a pick for tonight's college football slate, as well as another on Saturday. Then, since you've been so good this week, I'm going to share NFL and Premier League plays, too. Before you know it, it'll be Monday, and I'll only know because the reminder on my phone to start working on this newsletter will buzz to tell me.
Now let's take a look at some of today's -- which, again, is Friday -- news:
- Trevor Lawrence's positive COVID test impacts Clemson now, but isn't likely to impact his NFL Draft stock. Still, is there anybody out there who wouldn't take him at No. 1?
- Steve Nash is adding some familiar names to his Brooklyn Nets coaching staff.
- The Patriots might be missing another key player this weekend.
- Dennis Dodd takes you through college football's biggest storylines this weekend.
To the weekend winners!
All times Eastern, and all odds via William Hill Sportsbook
🔥 The Hot Ticket
Hawaii at Wyoming, 9:45 p.m. | TV: FS1
The Pick: Under 60.5 (-110): It's gonna be windy in Laramie! Here's a little lesson for those of you who might not be aware of it, but no weather impacts an outdoor sport more than wind. Now, if it's heavy rain or a blizzard, obviously both of those can destroy a football game. The wind always has an impact though. In baseball, it could be the difference between a home run or a routine flyout to left. In football, when it's windy enough, it becomes more difficult to complete passes downfield. Most college quarterbacks don't have the kind of arm strength to push through that wind. It also affects the kicking game.
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College kickers are shaky enough: now toss in some 15-mph winds blowing across the field and ask them to adjust to it. Most can't. It's not a coincidence that games played in windy conditions tend to feature fewer points, and tonight's game between Wyoming and Hawaii will have plenty of wind. Current forecasts call for temperatures in the low 40s at kickoff, with steady winds of 10 to 12 mph blowing across the field. When we see that kind of wind, and a total as high as this one, we want to go under. And when we take an under due to the wind, kids, we call it a Wunder.
Key Trend: The under is 19-7 in Wyoming's last 26 conference games.
Here's what SportsLine is saying about Friday night's game between Minnesota and Maryland: Both the Gophers and Terps are looking to bounce back from losses last week, and SportsLine's Advanced Computer Model has a couple of plays it likes for the game.
💰 The Picks
🏈 College Football | Full weekend schedule
Northwestern at Iowa, Saturday, 3:30 p.m | TV: ESPN
The Pick: Northwestern +2.5 (-110) -- Northwestern isn't going to continue scoring 40+ points per week, but the improvement on its offense is legit. A new QB in Peyton Ramsey has raised the floor, and a new play-caller in Mike Bajakian has brought about significant improvement. Iowa's offense last week was underwhelming. The Hawkeyes averaged only 30.3 yards and 5.8 plays per drive against Purdue, and it struggled mightily in the red zone. This Northwestern defense is better than Purdue's. Also, Pat Fitzgerald teams perform incredibly well as underdogs. Since Fitz -- who picked up his 100th win at Northwestern last week -- took over the program, the Cats are 51-33 ATS as an underdog and 44-28 as a road underdog.
Key Trend: The road team has covered four of the last five meetings.
You can read the rest of my college football picks for this weekend in The Six Pack.
🏈 NFL | Full weekend schedule
Patriots at Bills, Sunday, 1 p.m | TV: CBS
The Pick: Patriots +4 (-110) -- It's clear that the Patriots aren't the Patriots this year. Cam Newton had a great start but has come crashing back down to Earth in recent weeks. Still, if there's any time I want to be on the Patriots to bounce back, it's here. Bill Belichick has been a monster ATS throughout his tenure with the Patriots, but he's been even better as an underdog, going 13-6 ATS since 2010. Off a loss, his teams have gone 24-14 ATS over that same period. Plus, if there's a game for the Patriots offense to get right, it's against this Bills defense. It ranks 26th in rush defense DVOA, and that's something we know Belichick will be happy to exploit on Sunday. Temperatures will be in the 40s, and it's going to be windy in Buffalo on Sunday, and that's when Belichick relies on his rushing offense.
Key Trend: New England is 13-3 ATS in its last 16 trips to Buffalo.
Raiders at Browns, Sunday, 1 p.m | TV: Fox
The Pick: Raiders +2.5 (-110) -- The Raiders were smoked last week, losing to Tampa 45-20. That makes the Raiders appealing to me in this spot because I think they're a better team than the Browns. I mean, this is the same Raiders team that beat the Chiefs at their own game a few weeks ago. Meanwhile, Cleveland is 5-2, but it's five wins have come against the Bengals (twice), Cowboys, Washington and Indianapolis. Only the Colts qualify as quality competition there. Also, I know there's the narrative that Baker Mayfield might be better off without Odell Beckham, but I have a hard time buying into the idea that the Cleveland offense is better without its best weapon in the passing game.
Key Trend: Cleveland is 3-7 ATS in its last 10 games.
Saints at Bears, Sunday 4:25 p.m | TV: Fox
The Pick: Under 43.5 (-110) -- It's a low total, but I'm confident these teams can stay under it. The Bears offense stinks (26th in DVOA), but the defense is fine (6th in DVOA). Then there are the Saints. The narrative that Drew Brees doesn't play as well outside the Superdome is a bit overblown, but what isn't is the fact that Brees doesn't perform as well in cold weather. On Sunday afternoon, the current forecast for Chicago calls for temperatures in the thirties and 20 mph winds (there it is again!) blowing through Soldier Field. That will go a long way to affecting both offenses, as well as special teams units.
Key Trend: The under is 20-8 in Chicago's last 28 games.
⚽ Premier League | Full weekend schedule
Arsenal at Manchester United, Sunday, 11:30 a.m | TV: NBCSN
The Pick: Manchester United (+101) -- United is coming off a 5-0 romp over RB Leipzig in the Champions League that has everybody feeling great about themselves. I think that confidence could carry over here. United have not been great to start the season in the Premier League. They've picked up only seven points in five matches and allowed three more goals than they have scored. At the same time, they are also creating more chances to score than most other clubs.
Arsenal, meanwhile, have looked like a team capable of beating the sides they're better than, but that's it. Their three wins have come against Fulham, West Ham and Sheffield United. Their losses have come to Liverpool, Manchester City and Leicester City. Manchester United are much closer to the latter category of opponent than the former.
Key Trend: Arsenal is 1-2 on the road this year.
Interested in my other Premier League plays this weekend? You can find them in my Corner Picks column.
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: SportsLine expert Barrett Sallee is on a monumental 55-31 tear with his CFB best bets, and he's got three more for Saturday, including Ohio State-Penn State and LSU-Auburn.
💸 The DFS Rundown
Patrick Mahomes -- If you're playing a large field tournament, you'll want to pivot away from Mahomes this weekend because he'll be heavily owned. I'd consider somebody like Buffalo's Josh Allen instead. If you're playing cash, though, Mahomes is the best option out there. He's got an incredible matchup against one of the worst defenses in the league. If you're worried about Mahomes handing off or being taken out of the game in the second half with the Chiefs up big, don't worry. He'll probably have thrown or run for four touchdowns by then anyway. Mahomes for three quarters against the Jets will likely net more points than anybody else in a full game this weekend.
Kareem Hunt -- Hunt has a solid matchup at home against the Raiders this weekend, and he stands out as a must-start in cash lineups at running back. He's at a reasonable price for the position and is likely to exceed the value. However, he will be a chalky play this weekend, so if you're playing in a larger tournament and want a contrarian play, consider Chicago running back David Montgomery. He won't put up huge numbers, but he's cheap and likely to bring excess value.
Davante Adams -- When the Packers and Vikings met in Week 1, Adams saw 17 targets. He caught 14 passes for 156 yards and two touchdowns. Now, can we expect him to repeat that performance? Probably not, but could he? Yes, he could. I mean, he just had 13 catches for 196 yards and two scores last week, and in the three full games he's played this season, he's averaging 14.3 targets, 11 receptions, 137.6 yards and 1.3 touchdowns per game. That's decent. For a contrarian play, go with Buffalo's Stefon Diggs. As mentioned in the links up top, New England's best corner, Stephon Gilmore, is dealing with an injury. If he can't go, it could lead to a big day for Diggs.
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 Jacob Gibbs was ranked as one of the nation's most accurate Fantasy experts last year. Plus, use SportsLine's all-new DFS Optimizer to get optimal NFL DFS picks from 10,000 simulations.
🏈 Saturday Moneyline Parlay
We're risking 1 unit to win 1.65 units.