Hello, beautiful subscriber. I'm happy to see you unless you are new White Sox manager Tony La Russa. If you are Tony La Russa, first of all, congratulations on being intelligent enough to subscribe to this newsletter. Secondly, please resign as manager of the Chicago White Sox.
I had a different beginning to this newsletter already written when the news broke that the White Sox had hired Tony La Russa to be their new manager. It had been rumored since the moment that they fired Ricky Renteria, but I never believed it to be possible. I always thought that it was just team owner Jerry Reinsdorf being an idiot and that he'd get his interview, and then the team would hire somebody else. But that's not what happened.
Now the White Sox, a team on the cusp of possibly being something special, has decided to hire a 76-year old manager who hasn't ran a team in nine years. A manager who has experienced plenty of success but retired the first time due in part to a game that was changing and moving in a different direction than the one he was accustomed to.
So naturally, nearly a decade later, he's back. I'm not knocking anything La Russa has done in his career. He's one of the greatest managers in baseball history, but that doesn't make him the right choice for a team right now. It just makes him the choice of the team's owner, who wants to spend some more time around one of his oldest and dearest friends. And if the White Sox win or lose because of it, at least they'll be able to talk about The Good Ol' Days while doing it.
- The Big Ten nixed Nebraska's plan to schedule a nonconference game this weekend.
- The New York Giants had a player test positive for COVID-19 today.
- Looks like Gardner Minshew was hiding an injury from the Jaguars.
- Julian Edelman is going to be missing some time.
Before we get to tonight's picks, I want you to know that I made these picks before I found out about the La Russa hire. So they were made anger free!
All times Eastern, and all odds via William Hill Sportsbook
🔥 The Hot Ticket
Falcons at Panthers, 8:20 p.m. | TV: Fox
The Pick: Over 51.5 (-110): These teams met a few weeks ago with Carolina winning 23-16, and it was an important game because it was the last one Dan Quinn coached before the Falcons fired him. It was also a misleading final score. There were only 39 points scored in the game, but Carolina had 437 yards of offense and averaged 6.9 yards per play. Atlanta had 373 yards of offense, averaging 5.9 yards per play. The Falcons were without Julio Jones in the game and Calvin Ridley was playing through injuries of his own at the time. The total for that game was 53.5, but what's changed in three weeks to lower it to 51.5?
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I know the Falcons stink at 1-6, but they've played better than their record indicates. They're just also really good at blowing leads. Now Julio Jones is back, and healthy, and Ridley is in better condition than he was in the first meeting. While Carolina isn't likely to get Christian McCaffery back tonight, he didn't play in the first meeting, and the Panthers offense still had success. These are also two defenses that don't put much pressure on the opposing QB, so Matt Ryan and Teddy Bridgewater should both feel comfortable most of the night. We're going to have a shootout on our hands.
Key Trend: The over is 5-1 in Carolina's last six division games.
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: SportsLine expert R.J. White is on an overall 20-9 NFL run, and all-time he's 32-18 ATS picking for or against the Falcons. Here is his strong play for Thursday Night Football.
💰 The Picks
🏈 College Football
South Alabama at Georgia Southern, 7:30 p.m | TV: ESPN
The Pick: South Alabama +4 (-110) -- I thought a lot of the Jaguars' early success was somewhat fluky, but as they come into this game at 4-1, I've begun to realize it hasn't been luck. They rarely run the ball, but they don't have to because they've been so successful passing it. Tonight they're going up against a Georgia Southern team that ranks 41st nationally in defensive pass efficiency but has posted those numbers playing teams like ULM and UMass. Last week, against a Coastal Carolina team much more adept at moving the ball in the air, the Eagles allowed nine yards per attempt. I think they'll struggle to contain this South Alabama squad as well. And, as for Georgia Southern's option rushing attack, the Jaguars have faced strong rushing attacks in games against Tulane and UAB and held up well. Their defensive rush success rate of 59.7% ranks 42nd nationally, so it's not great, but it's good enough to slow the Eagles down a bit and keep them in this game.
Key Trend: South Alabama is 6-1 ATS in its last seven Sun Belt games.
Colorado State at Fresno State, 10 p.m | TV: CBS Sports Network
The Pick: Colorado State -2.5 (-110) -- You never want to read too much into one game, but it is hard to trust Fresno State in this spot after what they did defensively in their opener against Hawaii. The Warriors rushed for 323 yards in the game, averaging 6.1 yards per carry. That left the Bulldogs with a rush defense success rate of 43.2% after one game. That ranks 99th out of 101 teams. Now Fresno's hosting a Colorado State team that will likely be running the same kind of up-tempo rushing attack Steve Addazio employed at Boston College. That's not a great matchup.
Plus, Colorado State's game against New Mexico last week was canceled due to COVID-19 restrictions on the Lobos' side. So the Rams have had an extra week to prepare for this game, and it's hard to ignore the trends involving teams playing their first game of the season against teams that have already played. There have been 27 games played between FBS schools this year featuring one team beginning its season against an opponent that has already played. The team playing its first game has gone 20-7 ATS in those games. Take the Rams.
Key Trend: Colorado State has covered in five of the last seven meetings.
Here's what SportsLine is saying about this game: The Advanced Computer Model has a play for tonight's Mountain West clash between Fresno State and Colorado State as well. Which way is it leaning in this one?
💸 The DFS Rundown
Your MVP or Captain
Teddy Bridgewater -- I think both QBs could have healthy nights tonight, so make sure you get both of them in your lineups, but I'd rather have Bridgewater in my MVP slot. In the first game, Teddy threw for 313 yards and two touchdowns. I won't be shocked if we see similar production from him tonight, as he's been a pretty reliable fantasy QB this year outside a couple of clunkers against Tampa Bay and Chicago -- two teams who have terrific pass defenses and pass rushes. The Falcons do not.
Curtis Samuel -- Anybody using Teddy tonight will probably want to pair him with Robby Anderson or D.J. Moore. We're going to fade that slightly. As I said, I still want Matt Ryan and some of that Falcons offense in my lineup, so I'd rather go cheaper on Curtis Samuel to be able to spend up elsewhere. In the first meeting, Samuel caught all five targets he saw for 36 yards, but he was also utilized in the run game, getting four carries for 28 yards. A similar performance tonight would provide plenty of value at his price.
Full lineup advice
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🏈 Thursday Night Football Props
- D.J. Moore under 70.5 receiving yards (-115)
- Matt Ryan Over 1.5 passing TD (-200)
- Teddy Bridgewater Over 1.5 passing TD (-210)
- Calvin Ridley to score a TD (+125)