Happy Monday, everybody. The NBA offseason is officially underway! The Oklahoma City Thunder made a huge trade, and I'm not talking about the one that sent Dennis Schroder to the Lakers over the weekend. Nope, on Monday, the blockbusters truly kicked off, as the Thunder shipped Chris Paul to Phoenix.
The details of the trade are as follows: the Suns get Chris Paul and Abdel Nader, and the Thunder get Ricky Rubio, Kelly Oubre, Ty Jerome, Jalen Lecque and a first-round pick with various protections and blah blah blah, yadda yadda, CHRIS PAUL HAS BEEN TRADED! AGAIN! THIS TIME TO PHOENIX!
Chris Paul has always been one of the best players in the league since the moment he joined it, and he's one of my favorite players to watch. I don't make a habit of attending many professional sporting events as a fan, but there are a few exceptions. One of them came years ago when Paul played for the New Orleans Hornets, and they came to Chicago to play the Bulls. I went simply because I wanted to see Chris Paul play in person, and I was amazed by the complete control and understanding he had of the entire court around him. It's not something that comes through on television nearly as well as it does in person.
Now he'll be playing for the Suns, his third new team in as many years and fifth franchise of his career. Phoenix had a strong finish to the NBA season in the bubble and was one of the more exciting, young NBA teams. Now that they have Paul, they're a legit playoff threat in the West. They're still not nearly good enough to compete for an NBA title, but with CP3 in the fold, you can bet they'll be a joy to watch anyway.
- Anthony Davis is opting out! ... Only to sign a bigger deal with Los Angeles.
- It appears the NCAA is likely to host all 68 tournament teams in Indianapolis. Because it's all about their education, folks.
- The charges against former New York Giant DeAndre Baker have been dropped, and the lawyer who filed them has been charged with extortion.
- Catch up on anything you missed in college football over the weekend in The Monday After.
Oh, and by the way, there's an NFL game tonight. Let's talk about it, shall we?
All times Eastern, and all odds via William Hill Sportsbook
🔥 The Hot Ticket
Vikings at Bears, 8:15 p.m. | TV: ESPN
The Pick: Bears +3.5 (-115): The Vikings come into this game on a two-game win streak that includes a 28-22 win over Green Bay two weeks ago. There are two reasons that the Vikings have seemingly turned a corner after a 1-5 start to the season. One is that its defense has improved, climbing up to 15th overall in defensive DVOA. The other more noticeable reason is that Dalvin Cook has been running wild. In the wins over Green Bay and Detroit, Cook combined for 369 rushing yards and five touchdowns while averaging 7.1 yards per carry. As somebody who has Cook on his fantasy team, I've appreciated it, but we have to look a little deeper. When it comes to defensive DVOA against the run, Green Bay ranks 20th in the NFL while Detroit is 25th.
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That's been the case for Cook all season. He's put up monster games against lousy run defenses, and he's been solid against better units. Tonight he'll be going against a Bears defense that ranks 7th in the NFL in defensive DVOA against the run and 4th overall. The same Bears defense that held Derrick Henry to 68 yards on 21 carries.
Also, it's hard to overlook the fact that this is a Monday Night Football game that has Kirk Cousins playing quarterback for the favorite. In his career, Cousins' team has gone 0-9 ATS on Monday nights. It's also difficult to ignore that the Bears have won five of the last six meetings between these division rivals and 14 of the last 17 against the Vikings in Chicago. I don't know if the Bears win tonight, but 3.5 points seem like too many for the Vikings to be laying.
Key Trend: The home team is 25-10 ATS in the last 35 meetings
Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: The Advanced Computer Model is a subscriber to this newsletter, so you know it's not an idiot. If you want to know what it thinks about tonight's game as well, you can find out at SportsLine.
💰 More Monday Night Football picks
The Pick: Under 44 (-110) -- Another reason I like taking the points with the Bears tonight is that I don't expect it to be a high-scoring game. As explained above, the Vikings offense is built around Dalvin Cook, and the Bears defense is one of the best run defenses in the league. Unfortunately for the Vikings, the Bears are one of the best pass defenses in the league too, so I don't know how successful Kirk Cousins will be moving the ball through the air. Nor will he be helped out by a forecast currently calling for 15 mph winds blowing through Soldier Field tonight. The Bears offense has been bad all season, and Nick Foles hasn't made things better. Tonight will be the first time offensive coordinator Bill Lazor calls plays, as Matt Nagy has relinquished those responsibilities. Unfortunately for Lazor, he'll be calling plays without David Montgomery available, and there's a chance the Bears could be without Allen Robinson, too. The first team to 10 points is probably going to win.
Key Trend: The under is 12-5 in the last 17 meetings.
The Pick: Allen Robinson Over 71.5 Receiving Yards (-130) -- This is entirely dependent on Robinson playing. He's listed as questionable, so keep an eye on his status heading into the game. If he's able to go, he should have a nice night. I mentioned that the Vikings defense has improved in recent weeks, but that still doesn't make it good. According to Football Outsiders, Minnesota's corners rank 29th in the NFL in DVOA against the No. 1 receiver of their opponents. So, with the Bears already reduced to using Cordarrelle Patterson, Ryan Nall and Lamar Miller at running back, I anticipate they'll need to lean on Robinson even more than usual. He should see a flurry of targets, and he's one of the most talented receivers in the NFL. So long as Nick Foles gets the ball within five yards of him -- not a guarantee! -- he'll catch it.
Key Trend: Allen Robinson has finished with at least 72 yards receiving in six of nine games this season.
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: SportsLine expert R.J. White is an astounding 35-12 in his last 47 spread picks in games involving the Vikings. He just released a confident pick for Minnesota's Monday Night Football game in Chicago.
💸 The DFS Rundown
Your MVP or Captain
Dalvin Cook -- We shouldn't expect Cook to have the same kind of performance he's had the last couple of weeks. As I said earlier, against good defenses he's merely solid. Well, in tonight's game, solid might be the best you can hope for from anybody. While he isn't likely to rush for 100 yards, he is still capable of finding the end zone, and he's still the favorite to finish with more points than any other option on the board. You have to have him in your lineup tonight.
Kyle Rudolph -- The Bears defense has done a fantastic job of limiting their opponents' receivers, but tight ends have found success, particularly in the red zone. The Bears have only allowed 10 passing touchdowns on the season and six have been caught by tight ends. All six have come in the red zone, which is where Kyle Rudolph might see more action tonight with Irv Smith out with a groin injury.
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.
🏈 MNF Touchdown Props
To score anytime.
- Allen Robinson +138
- Kyle Rudolph +300
- Bears D/ST +550