National League Wild Card Round Preview

Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts

Mark J. Rebilas - USA TODAY Sports

After the American League kicked off the fun in the 2020 MLB Playoffs, now it's time for the National League to get in on the action.

The action is going to be fast and furious around baseball. After trying to get a handle on the four series around the American League yesterday, now we take a stab at predicting the four series in the National League.

Cincinnati Reds v. Atlanta Braves

It's a shame we couldn't get a longer series between the Reds and Braves. Cincinnati has one of the best pitching rotations in baseball, while Atlanta has one of the strongest lineups. The Reds will look to Trevor Bauer, Luis Castillo, and Sonny Gray to lead them to an upset of the NL East champion Atlanta Braves.

The best pitcher in the National League this year has been Trevor Bauer, who struck out 100 batters this year and posted a microscopic 1.73 ERA. Castillo struggled early in the season, but turned things around in September, as he was nearly unhittable in the final month of the regular season. If Sonny Gray is healthy after missing his last couple starts of the season, the Reds could be a sleeper in the National League.

Of course Cincinnati will need a little offense to help out their pitching staff. Joey Votto, Nick Castellanos, and Eugenio Suarez can all provide power at the plate. The question is can they do it consistently? More heroics are going to needed from new second baseman Mike Moustakas, who hit six home runs in September.

There might not be a lineup in the National League that is feared more than that of the Atlanta Braves. Marcell Ozuna and Freddie Freeman combined to hit 31 homers and drive in 109 runs this year. Dansby Swanson started to live up to the hype that came with being the first overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft. All that and we still haven't even mentioned Ronald Acuna Jr., who struggled this year but still hit 14 homers.

The biggest concern for the Braves is going to be pitching. Max Fried emerged as the ace of the staff this year, posting a 7-0 record. The rest of the rotation is a question mark. Ian Anderson only has six career starts, while Kyle Wright was just 2-4 with a 5.21 ERA. The Braves lost Mike Soroka and Cole Hamels for the year because of injuries, or else the rotation wouldn't be a cause for concern for Atlanta.

I wonder how much energy the Reds used just trying to make the playoffs. Now Cincinnati has to hit the road and take on one of the best teams in baseball. The Reds have the pitching to win this series, I'm just not sure they can outhit the Braves in Atlanta. Bauer wins the first game for Cincinnati before Atlanta rallies to win the next two games to move on to the next round of the playoffs. Atlanta in 3 games.

Miami Marlins v. Chicago Cubs

Imagine how insane you would have thought someone was if they told you before the season that the Miami Marlins would make the playoffs this year. Even with expanded playoffs, the Marlins were coming off a 2019 season in which they lost 105 games. Miami now joins the 2017 Minnesota Twins as the only teams in baseball history to make the playoffs a year after losing at least 100 games. Don Mattingly deserves consideration for NL Manager of the year after what he has done with this Marlins team.

The key to Miami's offense is Brian Anderson. The third baseman led the team with 11 home runs and 38 RBIs this year. Jesus Aguilar adds a bit of pop to the lineup to compliment Anderson, while shortstop Miguel Rojas hit .304 this season.

Pitching is what helped earn Miami a playoff spot this year. Pablo Lopez, Sandy Alcantara, and Sixto Sanchez did a lot of the heavy lifting at the top of the rotation, while Brad Boxberger and Brandon Kintzler were on the money in relief when they were handed the game. Boxberger finished the season with six holds, while Kintzler secured 12 saves.

A team a little more familiar with the playoffs of late has been the Chicago Cubs, who won the World Series in 2016. The Cubs won the NL Central despite some struggles from Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, and Kyle Schwarber. Baez and Bryant both barely hit over .200 this season, while Schwarber finished the regular season with a .188 batting average. Even with their struggles, the Cubs lineup is still dangerous, especially when you add in Anthony Rizzo, Ian Happ, and Willson Contreras.

Pitching is where the Cubs created a lot of their success this year. Yu Darvish had a bounce-back year, going 8-3 with a 2.01 ERA and 93 strikeouts. Kyle Hendricks will take the ball in the first game of the series against the Marlins. Alec Mills threw a no-hitter a few ago against the Milwaukee Brewers. Jon Lester doesn't have the same stuff as he used to, but he gives the rotation some veteran grit.

Miami is perfect when they make the playoffs. The Marlins have won the World Series in each of their two previous playoff appearances. The streak ends this year, as the Cubs get some revenge for Steve Bartman. Chicago in 2 games.

St. Louis Cardinals v. San Diego Padres

What a contrast in styles between St. Louis and San Diego. Smallball taking on the power game of the Padres. The Cardinals finished last in baseball this year with just 51 home runs, while the Padres mashed 95 taters. Paul Goldschmidt did his best to jumpstart the offense of the Cardinals this year with a .304 batting average. Brad Miller hit a team-high seven homers.

The Cardinals will have to hope their pitching can hold up to give them a shot at knocking off the Padres. Kwang-Hyun Kim gets the ball in Game 1 after going 3-0 with a 1.62 ERA in his MLB season after spending the last 12 years with SK Wyverns in the KBO. The ageless Adam Wainwright will follow Kim, and if the series goes to a deciding third game, Jack Flaherty will hope to redeem himself after a season that saw his ERA balloon to 4.91.

San Diego knew they were building for the future, I just don't think they were prepared for the future to be now. Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado have formed one of the most feared duos in baseball, combining for 33 homers and driving in 92 runs this year. Along with Tatis and Machado, Trent Grisham hit 10 homers and swiped 10 bases. Wil Myers had a resurgence, hitting over .253 for the first time since 2013, when he was the AL Rookie of the year. All that and we haven't even mentioned Eric Hosmer.

The Padres might have better odds in the playoffs if the status of pitchers Dinelson Lamet and Mike Clevinger was known. Clevinger and Lamet are both dealing with arm injuries and they might not be able to pitch against the Cardinals. Clevinger was acquired from the Cleveland Indians prior to the trade deadline, while Lamet struck out 93 batters and posted a 2.09 ERA. Zach Davies will get the nod in the series opener, and we could see Chris Paddack and Garrett Richards if Lamet and Clevinger can't pitch.

The Cardinals have the experience but I don't see how they are going to keep up with the Padres here. Tatis, Machado, and the rest of the offense of the Padres will be too much for St. Louis to handle. San Diego in 2 games.

Milwaukee Brewers v. Los Angeles Dodgers

This series has the possibility of getting very ugly, very fast. The Brewers snuck into the playoffs on the last day of the regular season with a 29-31 record. Their prize? They get to take on a Dodgers team whose 43-17 record was the best in baseball this year. Just two years removed from winning the NL MVP, Christian Yelich looked like anything but that this year, hitting just .205 and driving in 22 runs in 58 games this year. Aside from Yelich and Keston Hiura, and an aging Ryan Braun, there isn't much to the Milwaukee offense.

The pitching for the Brewers isn't much better. Brandon Woodruff pitched like an ace this year, striking out 91 in 73.2 innings. Milwaukee suffered a big blow when Corbin Burnes suffered an oblique injury and won't be available for this series. The Brewers have a good bullpen with Devin Williams and Josh Hader, but Milwaukee not have a chance to put them in position to try and close out a game against the Dodgers.


If the Dodgers can't win it all this year, it's hard to see them winning a World Series anytime soon. Los Angeles has a perfect mix of hitting and pitching. The Dodgers have been so close to winning a title before, it feels like this is the year they exercise those demons. The pitching staff hasn't been overworked this year, which should allow guys like Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler to pitch deeper into games, if needed. Even if the starters can't go more than five or six innings, Kenley Jansen, Blake Treinen, Jake McGee, and others can pick up the slack from the bullpen.

The acquisition of Mookie Betts could be what pushes the Dodgers over the top and finally gets them a title. Betts has led the offense, which is seeing Cody Bellinger improve at the plate as the year moves along. Justin Turner missed some time due to injury this season, but his return makes a dangerous offense even better. Don't forget about Corey Seager, who is putting together his best season since 2016.

Anything can happen in a three-game playoff series, but if Milwaukee eliminates the Dodgers, it will be one of the biggest upsets in baseball history. Los Angeles is better at pretty much every position. I'd be shocked if this even goes to a third game. Los Angeles in 2 games.

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All | Pass Yds | Pass TDs| Pass Comp | Pass Att | Rush Att | Rush Yds | Rec | Rec Yds

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Research Prop Bet Betting Example

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As you can see, Goff is averaging 46 more yards per game at home in 2022 entering Week 16. Vegas may try to trick you when Goff is on the road after coming off a massive home game but by using our tool, you won’t be fooled.

Goff has a 5-3 O-U record on his passing yard props at Ford Field this season. While his average line at home on DraftKings is 247 yards, his average result is 277.1 passing yards. Prior to throwing for 250+ yards against the Jets at the Meadowlands in Week 15, he was 2-3 on his passing yards props on the road. His average line on DraftKings on the road was only 10 yards fewer heading into Week 15 yet he averaged a full 50 fewer yards per game (227). This shows a clear pattern that he is much more successful at hitting the over and much more efficient when playing in front of his home crowd. There are countless examples of patterns you can spot using this brand-new prop tool that are even more eye-popping than Goff’s numbers.

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On the road, while his average line is only two yards fewer (271.2 to 269.2), he has a 1-5 O-U record and is only averaging 239 passing yards per game.

Fantasy SP has just highlighted a very promising prop bet whenever Brady is at home. Take the over. And when he is on the road, it’s a prime spot to smash the under.

Some players also tend to do much better when their team is the favorite such as running backs late in the fourth quarter when their team needs to kill time. Heading into Week 15, Dalvin Cook had a 7-2 O-U rushing yard record when his team was the favorite (79.9 yards per game). Conversely, when the Vikings were underdogs, he was 1-3 (57.8 yards per game). This is why filtering by favorite or underdog can be a critical data point to help you gain an edge at sportsbooks.

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Stay tuned for our future article on even more in-depth tips and tricks.

2022 World Cup Best Bets, Team Props, and Futures
2022 World Cup Best Bets, Team Props, and Futures

Picking up where they left off in 2018, the French National Team led by 23-year-old Kylian Mbappe have found their way back into the finals as they look to be the first back-to-back World Cup Champions since Brazil’s dominant runs in 1958 and 1962. Standing between that incredible feat for the defending champions is Argentina, who currently have their superstar, Lionel Messi, in top form. Messi is finding ways to create passes no one can see and he’s done it multiple times, assisting three goals (tied for the most) throughout the tournament. The legend is also scoring goals of his own and is tied with Kylian Mbappe (5 goals) for Golden Boot honors in this year’s World Cup. Regardless, soccer fans around the world are in for a treat on Sunday at 10:00 AM EST as two of the best players in the world face each other for their country’s World Cup glory.

After winning Group D, France defeated Poland in the Round of 16, England in the quarterfinals, and a strong Morocco team in the semis to advance to the Final. On the other side of the bracket, Argentina won Group C and dispatched Australia in the Round of 16. Messi and the Argentinians were then tested in the quarterfinals, needing a penalty shootout to defeat the Netherlands after blowing a late two-goal lead. Finally, Argentina played perhaps their best match of the tournament against Croatia in the semi-finals, winning 3-0. Now the stage is set for a blockbuster finale between two powerhouses featuring some of the top players in the world.

Note (from FanDuel Sportsbook): No team will play at home during Qatar's World Cup. For betting purposes, FanDuel explains that: “Home Team refers to the team listed first, Away Team refers to the second team listed.”

Argentina (-104) vs. France (-112)

Argentina Keys To Victory

Lionel Messi has played incredibly for Argentina throughout this World Cup. He is leaving opposing defenders in the dust, taking on multiple players at once, dragging them away from his teammates, which is opening up the field for his fellow goal scorers. Every time Messi has the ball at his feet, there seems to be more than one threat. Messi is playing just as well as he always has in 2022. He’s served his team as a playmaker and as a goal-scorer in Qatar. He’s also had some help from Manchester City forward Julian Alvarez who’s scored a handful of goals in this World Cup (including two in Argentina’s decisive victory over Croatia). If Alvarez and Messi are able to link up while on the attack, the depleted French defense and midfield could be in for some trouble.

France Keys To Victory

One of the biggest headlines heading into this World Cup Final is the return of French striker Karim Benzema. The Real Madrid star and winner of this year’s Ballon D’Or hurt his hamstring in one of France’s first practices soon after arriving in Qatar. He flew back to Madrid where he immediately completed his recovery work which was set at three weeks from the time of injury. Right now, Benzema is flying back to Doha and could be starting for France in the final. At the moment, France’s HC Didier Deschamps has declined to comment on whether or not he will be including KB9 in the starting lineup. France’s ball movement has been excellent throughout the tournament, but their key to victory against Argentina will be efficient defense. Over the last few games, France’s defense seems to have slowed down. Not only will they need to stop Messi, but they will need to turn defensive stops into counterattacks. Mbappe and Olivier Giroud (four goals thus far in the tournament) will need to be electric on offense and test the Argentinian keeper. Antoine Griezmann may be an x-factor for France as he has three assists in this World Cup and was inches away from scoring against Morocco.

Conclusion

It’s only fitting that Lionel Messi will finally hoist the World Cup trophy in his last World Cup match. Expect him to score a goal and lead his team to victory in a tightly contested battle.

The Pick: Argentina (-104)

World Cup Final Best Prop Bets

Kylian Mbappe: To Score Or Give Assist (+100)

Mbappé has been relatively quiet over France’s last few games. Still, he is the main wing on France’s team who is capable of breaking down defenses through his skillful technique and ridiculous speed. He currently is tied with Messi for the most goals in the 2022 World Cup. If he isn’t able to score in this game, then expect him to at least make an assist. For France to win this one, the 23-year-old will need to have a big game.

Lionel Messi: Anytime Goalscorer (+190)

Messi has stepped up his performance big time this World Cup. If you have watched Argentina play in this tournament, you know how crucial of a role Messi has played in the team’s success. He is tied for the most goals in the tournament with Mbappe and has a great chance of putting the ball in the net at some point during Sunday’s big match. This is a particularly great prop to target since Messi takes all of Argentina’s penalty shots and has converted four-of-five throughout the tournament.

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Calling every sports fan across the globe! The best month for all things sports is here: December. NFL and CFB are getting into the thick of things — I mean, we are finally not seeing Alabama and Clemson in the CFP, not to mention both the NBA and NHL are underway and college basketball just tipped off!

Despite all of these different sporting events going on, the World’s biggest Sporting event is down to the Semifinals, the World Cup.

Although Soccer is the World's most popular sport, it still struggles to gain support in the US. However, every 4 years Soccer takes the country by storm and this year, and these last few games are going to be amazing.

Let us introduce you to your new go-to app, FanDuel Sportsbook. It’s the place to be for not only the usual sports, but for this year's World Cup!

FanDuel Sportsbook is providing a multitude of features with a few market differentiators.

  • Futures:
    • World Cup Winner
    • Who will win the Golden Boot (the award for the top goal scorer of the World Cup)
    • Highest scoring Group
    • And more
  • Popular Markets - outside of the normal Moneyline, Spread & Over/Under lines, FanDuel will also be offering:
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    • First Goal Scorer
    • Shots on Goal
    • Correct Score
    • Number of Corner Kicks
    • Half-Time Result

Market Differentiators:

  • Tournament Goal Scorer Parlay Builder - build your own tournament-long Goal Scorer parlays with your favorite players from every team.
  • Daily Specials:
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    • Total daily goals
    • Player specials
    • And More!
  • Live Parlays

Out of all the betting apps we’ve used, signing up for FanDuel Sportsbook is also the easiest. Simply download the app and create an account by providing an email, credit card, and SS# — that’s to protect your winnings and ensure you're not a sporting professional.

FanDuel is undoubtedly the best site/app to parlay across multiple sports. It’s designed for bettors at any stage. The clear interface is ideal for beginners and you can make a bet in just a few clicks! It’s complete with a number of betting guides that explain the rules and resources to safely bet.

One of the best parts is that once the game ends, you can cash out your winnings right away. No minimum, no wait.

There’s also the incredible New User Offer: sign up with FanDuel Sportsbook and get up to $1000 in Free Bets if you lose your first bet!

Their app has everything you need — from tutorials to real-time game scores. Get amped for the World Cup with FanDuel Sportsbook. Enhance your Sportsember by downloading the FanDuel Sportsbook app today!

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