After what felt like a slow drip in the NFL coaching carousel, the floodgates seemed to open on Thursday. First, the news came out that the Denver Broncos are hiring Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, which isn't likely to slow down speculation that Aaron Rodgers could leave Green Bay this offseason. A few hours later, the Chicago Bears coaching search ended when the team announced the hiring of Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus. There have also been reports that the Jaguars could be wrapping up their search shortly.
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And none of those stories are the biggest in the NFL today. That honor goes to Ben Roethlisberger, who officially announced his retirement. While it doesn't come as a big surprise considering the hints he dropped earlier in the season, there's a sense of finality that comes now with the official announcement. To think that Roethlisberger is leaving a year after Philip Rivers did the same and that we might still see Tom Brady walk away this year too means the faces of the NFL are changing quickly. The QB torches are being passed down to a new, exciting generation.
Speaking of new and exciting, how about these other stories from today?
- So who is going to replace Big Ben in Pittsburgh?
- Mike Singletary says Big Ben was nearly traded to San Francisco.
- Dan Quinn will not be filling any of the remaining NFL openings.
While on the subject of retirements, I'd like to announce my retirement from 0-3 days in this newsletter.
All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook
🔥 The Hot Ticket
🏀No. 6 Purdue at Iowa, 9 p.m. | TV: FS1
The Pick: Purdue -2 (-110): Purdue is a matchup nightmare for most teams it comes across. The team starts most games with 7'4 Zach Edey at center, and he just goes out there and grabs every rebound, blocks every shot, passes well out of the post and draws a billion fouls because teams don't have an answer for somebody as tall and long as he is. Then, when Edey needs a rest, he heads to the bench and in comes 6'10 Trevion Williams. Williams then uses his big body and nimble feet to put defenders in the spin cycle on the low block and draws more fouls while grabbing every rebound, blocking some shots, and being a better passer than Edey.
It's hard to deal with! The Boilermakers surround those two with wings like Jaden Ivey, Sasha Stefanovic and Isaiah Thompson to make things more complicated. While Ivey is the star of the group, all three are shooting better than 40% from three. That's what happens when you have two giants sucking the defense inside all day.
So, yeah, Purdue isn't easy to beat, but the Boilermakers aren't infallible. Like most college teams, they struggle on the road. Purdue is 16-3 on the season, but both its losses came on the road (at Rutgers and Indiana), while its two road wins were against Penn State and a double-overtime win over Illinois. Still, I like this matchup for them tonight on the road, even though Carver-Hawkeye is not an easy place to play. I don't know how Iowa gets enough stops on the defensive end to stay in this game without shooting lights out from three.
That's something previous Iowa teams were capable of, but this year the Hawkeyes are shooting only 33.8% from beyond the arc, and they're at a severe size disadvantage here. Look for Purdue to control the glass, limit Iowa's ability to score in the paint, and make plenty of trips to the free-throw line while winning this game.
Key Trend: I have no trend that supports this, but I don't need one other than Iowa doesn't have anybody in its regular rotation taller than 6'9 and it has to try to stop two giants.
Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: Both SportsLine experts Larry Hartstein and Jerry Palm are in agreement on which side of the spread to be on here, but are they on the same side I am?
🏀 College Basketball
Colorado at Washington, 11 p.m. | TV: Pac-12 Network
The Pick: Colorado -2.5 (-110) -- So tonight, I find myself in the uncomfortable position of betting on two road favorites in college. That's not where I usually like to be, but there's too much value on this line. Colorado is a fringe NCAA tournament team that could play its way into an at-large berth with some big wins down the stretch -- but is more likely to end up in the NIT. That might not seem exciting to you, but the NIT is a much better fate than the one Washington is destined for.
The Huskies are 9-8 on the season, and the average KenPom rank of the nine teams they've beaten is 145.2, with nobody ranked higher than 79th. Their largest margin of victory has been an 11-point win over No. 321 Northern Arizona. The Huskies have one of the worst offenses in the country, as its adjusted efficiency ranks 227th. Only three Power Five schools (Arizona State, South Carolina and Pitt) are worse.
They do a decent enough job on the defensive end, but it doesn't matter because they cannot shoot or rebound. The only thing they do well offensively is not turn the ball over, but given how horrific they are at shooting and rebounding, opponents don't feel much need to force the issue. They just get the ball back the old-fashioned way.
Key Trend: Washington is 6-13 ATS in its last 19 games as a home dog.
⚽ World Cup Qualifiers
USA vs. El Salvador, 7 p.m. | TV: ESPN2
The Pick: USA Over 2.5 (+100) -- In September, the USMNT and El Salvador played to a scoreless draw in an awful match. They meet again in another World Cup qualifier tonight, and I'm expecting things to go differently. At least, for the Americans. The US didn't send out an ideal lineup for the initial match but enters tonight as close to full strength as reasonably expected, needing a win to solidify its World Cup status further and possibly head to the top of the table in CONCACAF.
And they're going to do it with goals. During qualifiers, El Salvador has been one of the worst defensive teams in CONCACAF, and the USMNT should take advantage of it tonight. Also, if you don't bet this with me, it's unpatriotic.
Key Trend: 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: Esteemed soccer insider Martin Green is up more than $37,000 on his picks over the past four seasons, and he just released his coveted best bets for Thursday's World Cup qualifier between the United States and El Salvador.
🏀 Tonight's Parlay
Tonight we're going with a simple four-leg parlay paying +104.
- Coastal Carolina (-650)
- Louisiana Tech (-650)
- UC Irvine (-550)
- San Diego (-340)