Is fall ever going to arrive? When I walked my dog through Chicago earlier today, it was 83 degrees and muggy, and it's been like that far too often as of late. I mean, I look at the calendar, and it says it's mid-September, but it sure doesn't feel like mid-September. I know fall doesn't officially begin for another week, but the weather has never waited for anything to be official.
Don't get me wrong; it's not that I don't enjoy summer. It's a top-four season for sure, but like winter, I get sick of it after a while. It's exciting to come out of the winter cocoon -- I know not all of you are familiar with this concept of "winter" -- and peel off layers of clothes, but it's not as exciting as fall. Fall brings football and comfortable hoodies and sweatpants.
So far, all I've received is the football. Let me put on my hoodies! Sitting on the couch and watching football in a t-shirt and basketball shorts doesn't feel right.
- Tom Brady says he could play until he's 50. I don't believe him.
- Speaking of old guys playing QB, who is losing the race against Father Time?
- After being raided by the Big 12, the AAC might raid the Mountain West.
- In the NBA, being mediocre is the new tanking.
Now let's break down tonight's football slate while we continue waiting for a 60-degree day.
All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook
🔥 The Hot Ticket
The Pick: Giants +3.5 (-120): Welcome back, primetime games between bad NFC East teams. We missed you so much and are sad that we'll probably only get to see 20 more of these games this season. Now, I've ranted and raved about the prevalence of these NFC East primetime matchups in this newsletter before, and I'm not going to do it again. I'm taking a more zen-like approach to it this year, centering myself and trying to take advantage of it.
That's right, it's time for the NFC Least Principle. Long-time readers already know what this is, as it was the inspiration for our NL Least Principle during the baseball season. The premise is simple: nobody in the NFC East is any good. Therefore, nobody in the division deserves to be favored against anybody else within the division. So when there's a matchup between NFC East teams, we take the underdog and wait to cash the ticket.
It's been profitable! Last season the principle went 11-1. Seriously. It went 11-1. The only time it failed to work was when the Eagles beat the Cowboys, 23-9, as 10-point dogs. I think it will work again tonight because I'm not willing to trust Taylor Heinicke as a favorite. Plus, there's the public perception about Daniel Jones being bad that gets overblown a bit since he plays in New York, but while I'm not going to tell you Jones is good, he's been pretty solid against Washington.
Jones has started four games against Washington, and the Giants have won all four. He's completed 68.3% of his passes for 901 yards, eight touchdowns and three interceptions. In other words, Jones is 4-0 as a starter and 4-19 against everybody else in the NFL. Maybe he suffers his first loss to Washington tonight, but the Giants will cover.
Key Trend: Underdogs in NFC East matchups went 11-1 ATS last season.
Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: SportsLine's Mike Tierney is 23-9-1 in his last 33 ATS picks involving Washington, and you bet he has a pick available for tonight's game.
💰 The Picks
The Pick: Saquon Barkley Over 39.5 rushing yards (-140) -- Like many of you, I find myself in the awkward position of having Saquon Barkley on my fantasy team, unsure of what to do with him tonight. Barkley is coming off a torn ACL and is being eased back in, and last week he had only 11 touches and rushed for 26 yards. Those numbers are a bit misleading, though. It was more the game script that got out of hand for the Giants and forced them to abandon the run game. Barkley was on the field for 28 of New York's 59 snaps on offense, and he either had a carry or was targeted on 13 of those 28 snaps.
As our first pick of the night explained, tonight's game should be a lot closer than New York's loss to Denver last week. So, even if the Giants are still working Barkley back in, he'll likely play around half the team's snaps again. And when he's on the field, he'll be featured. So I think this rushing total is a bit low. Now, as to whether or not that means we should start him in fantasy ... I don't know. I guess it depends on what your other options are.
Key Trend: Barkley had 13 combined carries and targets in 28 snaps last week.
🏈 College Football
Ohio at Louisiana, 8 p.m. | TV: ESPN
The Pick: Ohio +19.5 (-110) -- We have two teams that have been disappointing to start the season squaring off on tonight's college slate. Louisiana won the Sun Belt last season and began 2021 ranked before losing to Texas in its opener. Last week, the Ragin' Cajuns (what an incredible name) struggled to get by FCS program Nicholls, so not even a win provided much of a confidence boost. Then there's Ohio, which saw long-time coach Frank Solich retire unexpectedly in mid-July after 16 seasons in Athens. The Bobcats have played like a team that had their coach unexpectedly leave just before the season began, losing to Syracuse in the opener and Duquesne last week.
But that Duquesne loss is slightly misleading. If you look at the box score, you see that the Bobcats played well when they had the ball, but the defense struggled to get off the field in critical spots. Meanwhile, Louisiana hasn't looked all that impressive anywhere through two games. This team ran all over everybody last season but is averaging only 2.77 yards per carry thus far in 2021. This makes it extremely difficult for me to trust the Cajuns as this large of a favorite right now, so I'm backing the team that has shown me signs of an explosive offense to keep it respectable.
Key Trend: Ohio is 13-3 ATS in its last 16 as an underdog.
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: SportsLine expert Alex Selesnick (aka PropStarz), who's up 116 units on NFL futures and prop plays the past two seasons, just released his top prop picks for Week 2.
⚽ Friday Soccer Parlay
With such a slim baseball slate tonight, how about we bet a two-leg parlay on Friday afternoon's soccer action? It pays +155.
- Leeds United or Draw (-275)
- Sassuolo (-115)