As Ferris Bueller might say: The world of sports moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around at least once a week, you could miss it.
Here we'll review what you might have missed in the past week all in one place. Why spend hours scrolling through Twitter to catch up on the news you want? We've already done that for you, so remember to check back every Monday to get your dose of weekly sports review.
Jimmy Butler had another outstanding performance in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, which made the series 3-2 in favor of Los Angeles. Butler has undoubtedly established himself as an elite player in this league over the course of this postseason, but it appeared that he had emptied the tank to get the Heat to a Game 6. Butler finished with only 12 points on 5-10 shooting and only reached the foul line for 3 attempts.
It was Bam Adebayo who paced Miami in scoring with 25, but the perimeter scoring threats of Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson only combined for 17 points. Goran Dragic made his return to the lineup, but that wasn't enough to spark the team to a comeback. The Lakers held a 28 point lead at halftime, and they never relented.
Only @Lakers duos to win the NBA Finals while both averaging 25+ PPG in the postseason: LeBron James (27.6 in 2020… https://t.co/PhQlp2qQoA— NBA History (@NBA History)1602481895.0
As the final buzzer rang on the 2019-2020 NBA season the LA Lakers had won the NBA Finals 106-93. LeBron James with his fourth NBA Championship and fourth NBA Finals MVP. For others such as Dwight Howard and Anthony Davis it was their first taste of winning a title.
James' legacy will undoubtedly be a hotly contested debate as he draws closer to Kobe Bryant's 5 rings and Michael Jordan's 6. In these Finals, James averaged 29.8 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 8.5 assists against the Heat. Even while approaching 36 years of age, LeBron doesn't look to be losing a step yet. The return of players like Steph Curry and Kevin Durant will increase the number of competitive teams seeking a championship next season, but the Lakers look primed to defend around the core of James and Davis.
French Open Men's Singles Final Rafael Nadal v. Novak Djokovic
Nadal took the first set 6-0 and set the tone early at Court Philippe-Chatrier. Rafa held a 6-1 record against Djokovic in this competition going into their eighth French Open Final against one another.
Rafael Nadal any time someone plays him on a clay court https://t.co/cRn9tiJw6C— ODDSbible (@ODDSbible)1602494169.0
Nadal's dominance on clay certainly extends beyond his rival, but on such a large stage the disparity is obvious. Nadal took the second set 6-2. The Joker took a 4-3 lead in the third set, which was quickly leveled by Nadal to make it 4-4.
They repeated the process to make it 5-5. In the end Djokovic had too many unforced errors down the stretch and Nadal finished in straight sets with his 20th Grand Slam Title tying Roger Federer for the all-time lead.
Both of the NL Division Series provided little drama. The LA Dodgers and Atlanta Braves advanced to the National League Championship Series by sweeping their opponents. The Braves didn't allow a run against the Marlins after the first game, while the Dodgers capped off their series with the Padres by putting up 12 runs.
Good morning to everyone except Dodger fans. Game one of the NLCS is tonight 😤 https://t.co/Osw9FSXmWy— Evan Drake Underwood (@Evan Drake Underwood)1602509195.0
The Dodgers and Braves will highlight some of the league's brightest stars, including Ronald Acuna, Freddie Freeman, and Marcell Ozuna for Atlanta. Clayton Kershaw, Mookie Betts, and Cody Bellinger for Los Angeles. Game 1 is Monday night, and we'll see Max Fried go for Atlanta and Walker Buehler for the Dodgers.
The AL Division Series featured the Tampa Bay Rays serving the New York Yankees an early exit after a competitive 5 games. The other matchup saw Houston make short work of the Oakland A's defeating them 3-1. The Astros have missed their ace Justin Verlander, so they will continue to rely on their bats as they did against Oakland. They will need production from George Springer and Carlos Correa to combat the pitching dominance of the Rays.
Blake Snell was available in Game 5 against the Yankees but wasn't needed. This set him up for a Game 1 ALCS start on Sunday, which saw him pitch 5 innings only surrendering 1 run on 6 hits. Snell outdueled Framber Valdez, who went 6 innings and only gave up 2 runs, but that was enough to seal the victory for the Rays. Game 2 starters will be Lance McCullers Jr for Houston and Charlie Morton for Tampa Bay.
Charlie Morton vs. his former self (Lance McCullers) tonight in game two. @RaysBaseball @astros #ALCS2020… https://t.co/rcNtlILRTi— "Thunder Dan" Palyo (@"Thunder Dan" Palyo)1602514449.0
Covid-19 and Rescheduling
For the second week in a row, we saw positive Covid-19 diagnoses affecting the NFL schedule. The Patriots vs Broncos has been rescheduled to Week 6. The Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs were scheduled to play Thursday Night (Oct 15) but are instead playing Monday Night (Oct 19).
The Jets and Dolphins game that was scheduled for Week 10 has been moved up to Week 6, and the Jets' original Week 6 game with the Chargers has been moved to Week 11.
The Jaguars and Chargers game initially scheduled Week 8 is now being played Week 7. The Chargers and Broncos game moves from Week 11 to Week 8. The Chargers and Dolphins matchup goes from Week 7 to Week 10. The Dolphins and Broncos subsequently now play Week 11 instead of Week 6.
From a fantasy perspective the shifting of games affects not only matchups, but bye weeks for players. The following are updated bye weeks for teams affected by the schedule changes. Broncos Week 5, Patriots Week 5, Chargers Week 6, Dolphins Week 7, Jaguars Week 8, Jets Week 10.
Notes from Week 5
The Carolina Panthers got their third win of the season without star running back Christian McCaffrey. Teddy Bridgewater threw for 313 yards and McCaffrey's replacement, Mike Davis, has continued to impress as he finished with 149 total yards and a touchdown.
Falcons chose their defensive coordinator and former Buccaneers’ HC Raheem Morris as their interim head coach to re… https://t.co/EB9dTZknOL— Adam Schefter (@Adam Schefter)1602510255.0
The team that Bridgewater and the Panthers defeated on Sunday was the Atlanta Falcons who have now started their season 0-5. It resulted in the team firing Head Coach Dan Quinn and General Manager Thomas Dimitroff Sunday evening, and now the only question that remains in Atlanta is if this season is already lost.
The Las Vegas Raiders shocked the world by taking down the previously undefeated Kansas City Chiefs. Every time it appeared that Patrick Mahomes was leading a classic comeback, the Raiders would match them with a score. In the end it was Derek Carr who won the showdown 40-32 as the Raiders improve to 3-2 on the year.
Fantasy Breakout Performers Week 5
Travis Fulgham Phi WR - Fulgham exploded with 10 catches for 152 receiving yards and a touchdown on Sunday. Easily the Eagles' most competent threat against the Steelers as no other Eagle had more than 37 receiving yards. As DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery continue to deal with injuries Fulgham may have just carved out WR1 duty based off of one performance as Carson Wentz is desperate for any help he can get to turn this season around for Philadelphia.
Four touchdowns in Week 5?! Get ready to place your @NFLFantasy waiver claims on @ChaseClaypool. #PHIvsPIT https://t.co/ZIpcir1JHY— NFL (@NFL)1602509400.0
Chase Claypool PIT WR - In one of the most memorable rookie performances in recent memory, Claypool finished his day with 4 touchdowns (3 receiving and 1 rushing) on 116 total yards from scrimmage. It was the outburst from Claypool that kept Pittsburgh coming back and eventually putting the Eagles away. An injury to Diontae Johnson opened up more opportunity for Claypool in this game, but the rookie receiver proved he was up for the challenge. If Johnson remains sidelined for next week's matchup with the Browns, Claypool is a must start.
The Cowboys lost Dak Prescott to a serious ankle injury and his season is almost certainly over
It's another eventful week in the NFL.
Four teams -- the Jets, Falcons, Saints, and 49ers -- are the first teams to get a bye week. After Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers narrowly escaped Thursday Night Football with a 28-22 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, the reigning Super Bowl champs are the first team with five wins in the league. Who will join them on Sunday? We know that we'll get at least a second five-win team since the 4-1 Ravens are hosting the 4-1 Chargers. That is going to be an epic battle, so let's start with that clash of AFC contenders. Welcome to our Week 6 NFL Best Bets.
Playing on the road is a difficult task for any team, but if any team can escape with a victory, it's Justin Herbert and the Chargers. This isn't the Chargers of the last decade. This team is winning the close battles. Herbert is playing at an MVP level this season and already has led this team to big-time wins over the Kansas City Chiefs and Cleveland Browns -- two of the top teams in the AFC. This L.A. team is deep at the skill positions, can rush the passer, has an improved offensive line and a great young coach. What's not to like?
All that said, Lamar Jackson seems to be playing as he did during his 2019 MVP campaign. Not to mention, Marquise "Hollywood" Brown is actually catching passes. He eclipsed 100 yards last week and scored two touchdowns (including the game-winning catch in overtime). Simply put, this is a tough team to bet against. It did take last-second heroics for the Ravens to beat the winless Lions and a pretty pedestrian Colts team. Overall, Baltimore hasn't faced a test like this yet this season. Take the points and the better overall squad. Chargers may win this game, but if they don't, they are not going to lose by more than a field goal.
PICK: Chargers +3.5
It's been a tough start to the season for the Chiefs. They had great odds to return to the Super Bowl and are now last in the AFC West heading into Week 16 with a 2-3 record. They desperately need this game. This is a great opportunity for the Chiefs to prove they are still elite by defeating a team that made the postseason last year on the road. The Chiefs are going to turn it around against a Washington defense that is allowing the sixth-most passing yards and second-most passing touchdowns this season. Patrick Mahomes is going to blow up. Tyreek Hill is going to dominate. Travis Kelce is going to continue to provide a steady source of receptions down the middle of the field. As long as the Chiefs' offensive line holds against Chase Young, it's going to be a long day for Washington's defense. Betting on Mahomes to right the ship isn't a really difficult choice.
PICK: Chiefs -6.5
Yes, the Texans are one of the worst teams in the league. Betting on them on the road against a divisional rival might seem crazy at first. However, the Texans are 7-3 against the spread as underdogs in their last 10 games. Plus, the Colts are emotional after completely giving away the game against the Ravens in which they blew a 22-3 lead late in the game. This is going to cause a bit of a hangover in that locker room. When New England suffered a terrible loss against Tom Brady and the Bucs, the Texans managed to cover the spread the following week. Look for history to repeat itself. Texans coach David Culley has Houston playing hard in spite of its lack of talent and quarterback Davis Mills appeared to take a step forward last week against the Pats. Houston has played pretty good pass defense, too. The Texans have allowed only seven passing TDs this season.
PICK: Texans +9
Sunday night will be an interesting matchup to watch as Geno Smith will make his first start in four years as the Seahawks travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers. I hate betting on Ben Roethlisberger, but it's hard to envision the Seahawks covering the spread without the services of Russell Wilson. And as much as I think Big Ben should hang up his cleats, you have to give him credit for the way he dominated a solid Broncos defense last week. Roethlisberger looked better than he did earlier in the season and was able to get the ball to his playmakers -- Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, and running back Najee Harris. Seattle's defense is one of the worst in the league and their secondary is even worse than their front seven. Look for the Steelers to light up Seattle in the passing game.
PICK: Steelers -5
Both of these offenses can put up a lot of points, though they go about it very differently. The Browns are a run-heavy team, and even though they will be without the services of Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt is more than capable of getting the job done. Meanwhile, Arizona's offense runs through electric quarterback Kyler Murray. Murray is able to move the chains with his legs but he isn't afraid to toss the ball either. He loves getting his guys involved and his weapons are elite in DeAndre Hopkins, Rondale Moore, and Christian Kirk.
The Browns are coming off an 89-point slugest with the Chargers and hit the OVER in their other game against a high-end offense in a 33-29 loss to the Chiefs. Meanwhile, the Cardinals have scored 30-plus points in four of five games this year. Smash the OVER.
PICK: OVER 49.5
Week 2 of the NFL was full of breakout performances, thrilling finishes and potentially the start of the Justin Fields era in the NFC North as the Bears' win over the Bengals finds them in first place in the division.
We cap off the week with a Monday Night Football showdown between the Packers and the Lions with the winner finding themselves tied for first in the North. The Packers put up an absolute dud of a performance last week against the Saints in Week 1 while the Lions looked surprisingly effective while playing catch-up against the West-leading 49ers. The expectations for these two teams couldn't have been further apart coming into the season but with matching 0-1 starts on the books, I think there are a couple of interesting props and roster construction angles to exploit.
NFL DFS Showdown Picks
*Prices are from DraftKings
Captain: TE T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions ($9,600) ($14,400)
I'm normally not a fan of playing a tight end in the captain spot, but T.J. Hockenson is not your average tight end. He finished 2020 with an elite 18% target share in the Lions' offense and picked up right where he left off in Week 1, finishing with an 18.2% share on 50 routes run last week. Hockenson has always carried premium TD upside as a red-zone target but what was most encouraging about last week was that he ran nearly 55% of his routes out of the slot, leaving him a matchup against Chandon Sullivan, who's allowing a 67% catch rate in his coverage. In a game where the Lions are projected to be down early, expect Hockenson to get fed once again. His red-zone utilization gives him enough juice to take the captain's chair in my builds.
Core Consideration: QB Jared Goff, Detroit Lions ($10,000)
Two principles I take into Showdown slates apply to this play. Generally speaking, if I have a pass-catcher as my captain, I'm finding a way to get their QB into a flex spot. The second is that your build needs to tell a story. Mine is that the Packers come out with something to prove after getting embarrassed in Week 1 and that we'll likely see upwards of 50 pass attempts from Jared Goff as he attempts to mount a comeback. Goff is a surprisingly effective passer when getting good protection and this unit gave him a clean pocket on 86.7% of snaps last week. Expect that to continue tonight as Goff will continue to feast in garbage time.
Contrarian Play: WR Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers ($2,000)
I still chuckle at the thought of the return of Randall Cobb being on the short-list of demands from Aaron Rodgers in the midst of his holdout. I do, however, think there is something to be said about the importance of chemistry between a quarterback and his receiver and I expect that in a typical game (which Week 1 was not), Aaron Rodgers is going to find his spots to get Cobb involved. In a game script that figures to have the Packers up by a healthy margin, not many are going to look at the tertiary passing options for Green Bay and I think a $2,000 Randall Cobb could sneak in a handful of receptions at single-digit ownership..
Salary Relief: WR Amon-Ra St. Brown, Detroit Lions ($2,400)
This one fits perfectly into my narrative for the game as well. In a game where the Lions are likely to flirt with 50+ pass attempts and coming off a week where St. Brown ran routes on 75% of the team's passing plays, I will be overweight on Amon-Ra tonight. Lining up in the slot on 74.5% of plays means St. Brown will primarily see coverage from Chandon Sullivan, the most favorable of the options GB lines up in their defensive secondary. Expect St. Brown to see his target volume increase tonight. If Detroit can be more effective in getting to the red zone, he carries decent scoring upside with the way he's utilized in this offense. Plus, who doesn't love the extra motivation of playing against their big bro?
Monday Night Football Best Bets
Taking a look at the wagering side of this game; before we determine anything else we must ask ourselves what we think of these Green Bay Packers. I tend to look at last week's performance as the exception and not the rule. With that being the case, I am laying the 11.5 points and taking GB tonight. Over the past six seasons, oddsmakers have been fairly sharp when it comes to these larger spreads and NFL teams cover double-digit spreads more than 55% of the time. The total for tonight is sitting at 48.5 and given the somewhat surprising ability of the Lions to make up ground last week, I am confidently on the "over" side of that line.
Picks: Packers -11.5, OVER 48.5 points
Taking a look at the prop market, I am again mainly investing in the "GB Blowout" narrative:
D'Andre Swift: OVER 28.5 Receiving Yard
Coming off a 65-yard performance in a very similar game script, this one feels like a no-brainer. Swift averages nearly 8 yards per reception so this really boils down to whether you think he catches more than 3 passes. I certainly do and I'm confidently on the OVER for this prop. FanDuel is currently carrying the best odds at -110.
T.J. Hockenson: Anytime TD
I'm not the biggest fan of these "to score" props, but I'll break from the norm with this one. I am projecting the Lions to at least have a go at it in this game and there simply isn't a scenario where that doesn't involve a score for Hockenson. +220 odds at FanDuel sort of feels like stealing given that I see this game going over the 48.5 total.
AJ Dillon | UNDER 8.5 Rushing Attempts
I know that the betting public is forecasting a fairly comfortable win for the Packers, but let's not get carried away. AJ Dillon would have to nearly double his career average for carries to get to this number. Plus, it's a bit unlikely that this game gets so far out of reach that Green Bay brings in their backups. Even last week when they did bring in the second-stringers, Dillon only saw 4 carries. I'm expecting Aaron Jones to have a monster day on the ground, as evidenced by my Saturday article.
Week 1 is in the books and it's time to move on to the best bets in Week 2.
If you listened to my article earlier this week, you would have started 1-0 for taking the Giants with the points against Washington in that thriller of a matchup Thursday night. Now, let's dive into Week 2's best NFL bets.
Tennessee Titans/Seattle Seahawks Over 54
The Seahawks' offense was high-flying in the first half last week. Because the Colts never really threatened the outcome of the game, the Seahawks were able to take the air out of the ball and finish the game with an easy win while only scoring seven in the second half. While both the Titans' defense and offense looked atrocious, expect Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry to have big bounce-back weeks and make this an epic high-scoring game. This has all the makings for a shootout in which both teams put up 30-plus points.
Cincinnati Bengals +2.5 @ Chicago Bears
Until that Monday night game, the Bengals had the honor of winning the craziest Week 1 game over the Vikings in overtime. The Bears' defense, which is supposed to be their strength, looked awful against the Rams, including one of the most blown coverages you'll ever see on Cooper Kupp's long touchdown. It was simply an awful week for the Bears. I don't think it gets any better until they remove Dalton and promote Justin Fields. If they don't do that prior to game time, the Bengals will run away with this one.
Los Angeles Rams -3.5 @ Indianapolis Colts
Coming out of Week 1 the Rams looked great on both sides of the ball. Matthew Stafford had a great first game, going 20 for 26 with three touchdowns. The Colts... They didn't look that great on either side of the ball. While Carson Wentz's overall numbers didn't look bad, most of the yardage and one of his two TDs came in the fourth quarter as they were chasing from two or more scores back, never actually threatening to win the game. I'm leaning towards the Rams winning this in a blowout and would consider alternate spreads.
Arizona Cardinals -3.5 vs. Minnesota Vikings
Kyler Murray appears to be a man on a mission to avenge last season's bitter ending after absolutely torching the Tennesee Titans in Nashville. The Vikings' defense, who hasn't been as formidable as years past, is going to have their hands full with Kyler. Last week they allowed Joe Burrow to complete nearly 80% of his passes, and Burrow isn't a threat to run nor has a receiver as talented as DeAndre Hopkins. If the Vikings offense doesn't step up and make this a shootout, things could get ugly in Phoenix.
Dallas Cowboys + 3.5 @ Los Angeles Chargers
Dak Prescott looked great in Week 1 and if there were any issues with his shoulder after throwing 58 times, he had 10 days to get healed up again and ready for the Chargers. I can almost guarantee, whenever the Cowboys go to play either Los Angeles team in their stadium, that there will be more Cowboys fans than LA fans. So while they aren't playing in Jerry World, they'll have more fan support. My concern for Justin Herbert and the Chargers is their efficiency in the red zone. His most potent weapons in Keenan Allen and Austin Ekeler become less effective as they get closer to the goal line. That leaves Jared Cook and Mike Williams as your bigger bodies in the red zone, which isn't ideal. The Cowboys have a decent chance to win this one outright, but you can take the points for some cushion.
- Cowboys ML (+160)
- Titans +6.5 (-105)
- Steelers ML (-225)
- Rams -3.5 (-110)
Five Props To Consider
- Calvin Ridley OVER 6.5 receptions (+115)
- Tyrod Taylor OVER 34.5 Pass Attempts (-105)
- Aaron Jones OVER 88.5 combined yards (-115)
- Nick Chubb OVER 17.5 carries (-120)
- James Robinson OVER 9.5 carries (-125)
All five of these props have an excellent chance at hitting. I like the idea of wagering a three-leg prop parlay with the last three props listed (Jones, Chubb and J-Rob). Thanks me on Monday.