Ryan Tannehill attempts to avoid pressure form a stout Colts defense.

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For about half the day, things were really looking up.

Week 9 Vibe Check (2-2) - Nailing that the Ravens were going to go into Indy and pull a win out at all costs and them delivering felt absolutely tremendous. I saw them at -1 earlier in the week, but by game time they were +1 at some books and I sincerely hope you got to bet an underdog Ravens team.

Going into the afternoon, something became apparent almost immediately: the Steelers were not covering 14 points. The Cowboys' fourth QB of the season, Garrett Gilbert, proved move effectively than the last two, combined. Not to mention, Big Ben was dealing with an injury most of the game. Here's a live look at his recovery now:


Ben Roethlisberger, feeling great, leaves the practice field three years ago. Ben Roethlisberger, feeling great, leaves the practice field three years ago.Jeremy Fowler/ESPN


Davante Parker laid out his case as Tua's top target and easily put up over 4.5 catches. Meanwhile, I need to start following my own advice or, at least, hold a negotiation with whatever deity the Chargers angered.



Seahawks +2.5 over Rams

This line feels a little too reactionary for my tastes. Sure, the Seahawks got run off the field in Buffalo, but that was bound to happen. It was a cross country road game against a passing heavy team a week after blowing out their division rival. The thing everyone's forgetting is how bad the Rams looked pre-bye. Short term memory is important to play sports, but not to bet on them. Russell Wilson has been aerial maestro this season and I'll take him with points over Jared Goff any day of the week and twice this Sunday.

Bengals +7.5 over Steelers

Right before kick off last week, my cousin inquired "-3.5 in the first quarter or -7.5 in the half for the Steelers?" Thinking, hey this Dallas team looks hardly competent enough to tie their own shoelaces, I cracked, "Why not both?" We very quickly learned why not. Even before Ben's injury, his ability to throw the deep ball has diminished in a flash. One of the league's top gunslingers has only completed 31% of his passes beyond 15 yards and gone 1 of 12 in the past two games. While the Pittsburgh D has occupied rarified air, Ben can't quite get as much under his passes as he once could. This seems to have stalled the offense, at times, even with his full assortment of weapons. On the other side, Joe Burrow has consistently looked like the QB of the future that we were all promised. He's kept Cincinnati in just about every ballgame, losing two out of the last three on last second comebacks and beating Tennessee a week ago. Give the young man a touchdown and I'm willing to ride with him.

Dolphins -1.5 over Chargers

We are trying this again, folks! Let's bet against the Chargers for a change and try to win some money. Miami come out ahead in two games against better, non-cursed teams since the Tua takeover, and their sturdy pass D has only gotten better, too. In fact, they're uniquely positioned to handle Herbert's deep ball prowess and LA's backfield is currently undermanned, limiting their ability to attack the most exploitable part of Miami's defense.


Brandon Aiyuk over 4.5 Recs

The Niners will now be without every starting skill position player except for Kendrick Bourne from last season year's battle royale in the Superdome, so... Improvement, I guess? One guy who'll be on the field that they didn't have last season or last week will be the burgeoning YAC monster, Aiyuk. After missing Thursday night's Packer beatdown due close contact to Bourne, who appears to have been a COVID false positive, the Niners will be able to implement a game plan built around their rookie receiving sensation.

That's apparently what Shanahan had done before having to pivot his schemes to 5th stringer, Richie James, who promptly had the game of his life, racking up 9 catches and 184 yards. Between Aiyuk's speed making him an even more potent deep threat than James, he's also more likely to be involved in the "run game," meaning little tap passes on jet sweeps that allow him to explode around the edge and into space. If he gets even two of those looks, he's just under halfway home.

Paul George grabbing a rebound in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals

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In a must win game for the Los Angeles Clippers, Paul George was finally able to look like the best player on the floor in a playoff game.

After a slow start, George poured it on in the second half on his way to a game high 41 points in Game 5. The performance elevated the Clippers over strong outings from the likes of Devin Booker and Chris Paul as L.A. outlasted Phoenix 116-102.

The Clippers don't have much time to bask in their win however as they have to turn around and play two more elimination games just to make it out of the West. The Suns jumped out to a 3-1 series lead as Los Angeles struggled to find their identity without Kawhi Leonard. If the Clippers are to stave off elimination any longer, George has to continue this level of play.

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Ben Simmons disappointed in the playoffs this season

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Following a Game 7 loss to the Atlanta Hawks, the Philadelphia 76ers and coach, Doc Rivers, are questioning if Ben Simmons is the right guy to be running their offense through moving forward.

Offense being the key word here.

Simmons is an all-world defender possessing the ability to guard virtually any opponent on the court from the perimeter to the rim. But it was his lack of offensive help throughout this playoff season that stood out beyond any accomplishments this year. Simmons joined Rudy Gobert as unanimous selections for the NBA's All-Defensive First Team this year and also finished fifth in the NBA in assists per game with 8.8 per contest.

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The Lakers looked lost in the Valley

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The Phoenix Suns are just a win away from sending LeBron James home in the first round of the playoffs for the first time in the King's illustrious career.

After stating that "These shoulders were built for a reason," James referring to facing the challenge of taking on added responsibilities after Anthony Davis was ruled out for Game 5, the Lakers and LeBron disappointed in a big way Tuesday night. L.A. started off hot jumping out to a 10-5 lead behind a couple shots from James and a three from Davis' replacement Markieff Morris. But it didn't take long for the wheels to completely fall off for the defending champion Lakers as they spent most of the first half trying to remember how basketball works.

LeBron James LeBron looking on during Game 5Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Two numbers stick out in the Game 5 loss for the Lakers and those are 34.5 and 12. Los Angeles shot 34.5% from the field on Tuesday night and were minus 12 in turnover ratio. No matter who's on your team, if you can't shoot and you can't protect the ball, the outcome is already determined.

The Suns weren't simply beneficiaries of a poor performance however as the Suns put it on the Lakers early and often and they never let their foot off the pedal for 48 minutes. Phoenix ended with 15 more assists, had seven more combined steals and blocks, and outscored L.A. in the paint by 12 points. Devin Booker and Cameron Payne were spectacular and they seemed to hit big shots every time the Lakers appeared to threaten a comeback. Mikal Bridges was effective on both sides of the ball adding three steals and two blocks to help electrify his team with the defensive effort.


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