Good afternoon, cherished subscriber. I hope this Monday finds you well. It's been a better Monday than I anticipated because I came to a realization earlier today. I'm the type of person who likes to plan ahead when it comes to work, so I was putting together a gameplan for this newsletter over the coming days.
I was worried about what I could do for Tuesday and Wednesday. We've had MAC games on Tuesdays and Wednesdays the last few weeks, but with it being Thanksgiving weekend, the MAC has moved its schedule to the weekend. So I was worried about what I could write about for those two days when it dawned on me that the college basketball season begins on Wednesday. It doesn't solve the Tuesday problem (don't worry, I have plans), but who cares!
College basketball starts Wednesday!
There is no sport better at starting out of nowhere than college basketball, and with the pandemic going on and a lack of preseason tournaments, it was an even bigger surprise this year. But at least it's a pleasant one. As for tonight, we have Monday Night Football, and it's a big game. Before we get to my picks for it, though, let's catch up on any news you might've missed.
- Dennis Dodd's latest college football power rankings are out.
- Tua is a team player.
- Ezekiel Elliott says the Cowboys are right where they need to be, which is a self-own if I've ever heard one.
- Might the Cardinals enter the Nolan Arenado bidding war?
OK, let's make some money
All times Eastern, and all odds via William Hill Sportsbook
🔥 The Hot Ticket
Rams at Buccaneers, 8:15 p.m. | TV: ESPN
The Pick: Bucs -4 (-110): I don't know how good the Rams are. I think they're good, but are they NFC contender good, or just good enough to take advantage of four games against the NFC East? The Rams are 6-3 on the season and 4-0 against football's worst division. In their other five games, they're 2-3 and have been outscored 113-112, which suggests they're a lot closer to above-average than great.
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Their schedule also makes me question what the underlying metrics suggest about this Rams team. For instance, the offense ranks sixth in DVOA, but is that due to the opponents, or is it just that good? I lean toward opponents, because the Rams offense is averaging only 2.1 points per possession this year, which ranks 22nd in the NFL. It's also gone three-and-out on 30.1% of its possessions, which ranks 18th.
Tonight that offense that I'm not sold on faces a Tampa defense that's been one of the best units in the league, including against teams such as the Saints, Packers and Raiders. I trust Tampa's defense more than I do the Rams offense, and I trust the Tampa offense more as well. The Bucs offense ranks eighth in the NFL with 2.54 points per possession, is sixth in three-and-out rate (24.8%) and is much better in the red zone (a TD rate of 70% compared to LA's 62.9%). Also, while Jared Goff is an above-average QB, and Sean McVay does an excellent job of playing to his strengths, Tampa has the QB advantage in this spot too.
Key Trend: The Rams are 3-7-1 ATS in their last 11 Monday night appearances.
Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: SportsLine's Projection Model has revealed its top prop bet picks for Buccaneers vs. Rams on Monday Night Football.
💰 More Monday Night Football Picks
The Pick: 1st Half Over 23.5 (-120) -- I don't like a play on the full-game total because I think 48.5 points is just about dead-on, but I do like taking the over in the first half. The reasoning is pretty simple: both of the defenses in tonight's game play better in the second half. In the first half of games, both the Rams and Bucs defenses have allowed 14.7 points per game, which ranks 25th in the NFL. In the second half, they don't even allow 14.7 points between them. The Rams are the best in the NFL, allowing only 4.0 points per game after halftime, and Tampa's fifth at 7.9. Both teams also score slightly fewer points in the second half than the first.
Key Trend: These teams allow an average of 29.4 points per game combined in the first half.
The Pick: Jared Goff Under 265.5 Passing Yards (-115) -- I mentioned that Sean McVay has done a good job of playing to Goff's strengths with his playcalling, but the one thing he hasn't been able to fix is how Goff performs when pressured. He's not great! While few QBs excel when giant men are collapsing on them, Goff struggles more than others as he has a rating of only 36.9 when pressured. That ranks 30th among 33 qualified passers this year. Tonight he'll be going against a Bucs defense that ranks third in the NFL in PFF's Pass Rush Pressures metric. Expect the Rams to alleviate some pressure with their run game, and in turn ask Goff to make quick, short throws, which will hurt his chances of throwing for too many yards.
Key Trend: Tampa allows only 233.7 yards passing per game.
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: SportsLine expert R.J. White is a stunning 37-17 in his last 54 spread picks in games involving the Rams and he has a play for tonight's game.
💸 The DFS Rundown
Your MVP or Captain
Tom Brady -- Considering what I just told you about Jared Goff, it's not much of a surprise to see Brady here, is it? I don't expect a shootout tonight, but based on the way things are most likely to go, Brady should be the highest-scoring player in the game. He rebounded from an awful performance against New Orleans a couple of weeks ago with 341 yards and four total touchdowns against Carolina last week. We aren't going to see that same performance tonight, but I think we'll get at least two touchdowns and around 275 yards.
Leonard Fournette -- I'd bet that Antonio Brown will be popular tonight, but I'd rather have Fournette. He's cheaper and could easily end up with more points than Brown. We've seen Fournette take on a more prominent role in the offense in games against the Raiders and Giants, but then he did nothing against New Orleans. However, nobody on Tampa's offense did anything in that game. Last week against Carolina, he had a limited role, but that was more an issue of game flow than anything. I expect Fournette will see an increase in carries as well as targets in tonight's contest.
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.
⚽ Champions League Parlay
It's a four-leg parlay paying +396.
- Sevilla -165
- Chelsea -170
- PSG -185
- Dortmund -380