Bears vs. Rams NFL Week 1 Sunday Night Football Picks

Matthew Stafford #9 of the Los Angeles Rams on August 28, 2021 in Denver, Colorado.   Dustin Bradford/Getty Images/AFP

Matthew Stafford #9 of the Los Angeles Rams on August 28, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. Dustin Bradford/Getty Images/AFP

 

The Chicago Bears will invade LA to take on the new-look Rams as they kick off their respective seasons in an NFC showdown on Sunday night. Let’s analyze this Week 1 matchup and end the week by cashing our NFL picks!

 

Chicago Bears vs. LA Rams

 

Sunday, September 12, 2021 – 8:20 PM ET at SoFi Stadium

 

The Bears are entering the 2021 campaign after a middling 8-8 season and will hope to regroup with either veteran Andy Dalton or first-round pick and former Ohio State star, Justin Fields, commanding the offense. As of this writing, the word is that Dalton will get the starting nod in Week 1 but his leash will be shorter than virtually all of the opening week starters around the league.

 

Head coach Matt Nagy has been cagey about his choice but Dalton seems to have done enough to convince his coach that he is the right man for the job…at least until he isn’t. That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement but if Fields is to have a successful NFL career, and longevity in the Windy City, then a case could easily be made that he is better off holding a clipboard and learning all about the game at the next level than a baptism by fire which has had deleterious effects for many young quarterbacks.

 

Defensively, the Bears appear more than sound with Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks as stalwarts on that side of the ball but their secondary could be susceptible with the departure of Kyle Fuller. Yet, a fierce pass rush can go a long way towards taking the heat off of the corners and safeties so this might not be as glaring a weakness on this team versus others.

 

Stafford New Man Under Center in LA

 

Matthew Stafford has toiled in NFL purgatory (some might say hell) over his 12 years with the lackluster Detroit Lions. But the Rams decided the 33-year-old gunslinger was worth swapping quarterbacks with the Lions and sent Jared Goff as well as a pair of first-round picks to Motown his services.

 

Los Angeles has built their team around a stout defense but their offense was always a bit tenuous under Goff’s stewardship. That should change dramatically this year and if it does, the Rams will be a force to be reckoned with throughout the regular season and into the playoffs.

 

This could be the first time in Stafford’s professional career that he has an upper-echelon offensive line protecting him which will allow him time in the pocket to reach his talented targets, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp while having a rookie wideout in Tutu Atwell that has 4.32 speed.

 

The running game is a question mark but acquiring Sony Michele from the Patriots will bolster their rushing attack as he is expected to share duties with former Memphis back, Darrell Henderson Jr. LA’s projected starter, Cam Akers, went down with a ruptured Achilles and is likely done for the season.

 

Wanna Make a Bet?

 

After perusing the NFL odds at some of the best online sportsbooks, we see that the Rams are favored by 7 ½ to 9 points over the woeful Lions. It looks like easy pickin’s to me but full disclosure, I am an unabashed Matthew Stafford fan and can’t imagine he won’t flourish under a savvy head coach like Sean McVay with so many weapons at his disposal.

 

Do the Bears really have the offensive chops to keep pace with what should be a high-flying Rams offense? I don’t see it, although Chicago’s defense could come alive and keep this one within the margins. Nevertheless, the thinking here is that whatever the Bears can do, the Rams can do better and that goes for both sides of the ball.

 

But the question remains, is that disparity worth laying north of a touchdown? I can tell you that the public will be salivating to bet the Rams and that always scares me. However, Joe Q. Public is not always wrong and I’m siding with the great unwashed masses on this one.

 

Free NFL Pick: Rams -7 ½ (-105) at BetMGM

Notre Dame vs. Florida State College Football Week 1 Best Bets

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish huddle before the ACC Championship game on December 19, 2020. Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images/AFP

Notre Dame players huddle before the 2020 ACC Championship game. Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images/AFP

 

 

The ninth-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish will invade Tallahassee to take on the Seminoles of Florida State. Let’s break it all down and determine which side is the sharp side in this Week 1 college football showdown!

 

Notre Dame vs. Florida State

 

Sunday, September 5, 2021 – 7:30 PM ET at Doak Campbell Stadium

 

Last season Notre Dame was ultimately proven to be more of a pretender than a contender after losing a rematch to Clemson, only this time the Tigers had their stellar quarterback and future No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft, Trevor Lawrence under center.

 

The second of two games between the schools was for the ACC title and it wasn’t even close as the Tigers mauled the Irish, 34-10, and Lawrence lit up the Notre Dame secondary for 322 yards while their defense held Notre Dame to just 44 yards on the ground and 219 through the air.

 

But redemption was in Notre Dame’s sights as they copped the fourth and final spot entering the College Football Playoff for a date with Alabama. However, the result was nearly identical as they fell to the Tide, 31-14, and had no answer for the riddle that was Mac Jones, who torched the Irish for four touchdowns and nearly 300 passing yards.

 

And that was how Notre Dame’s promising season ended. It was a successful campaign by most standards, finishing as the No.4 ranked team in the nation and getting one of the four CFP bids, but their last two games illustrated the wide gap between the good and great teams in college football.

 

Notre Dame’s schedule in 2021 has only one preseason top 10 team on its slate which comes in the first Saturday in October as they welcome the Cincinnati Bearcats to the Golden Dome.

 

Noles Looking to Rebound

 

Florida State wound up with a dismal 3-6 straight-up record (3-6 ATS) last season but at least they ended on a high note by beating Duke in their last contest of the year. The college football odds at all of the best online sportsbooks were unanimous in offering the Seminoles as three-point home chalk and they did not disappoint their backers, cruising to a 56-35 victory and easily covering the three-point impost.

 

Although Jordan Travis took the lion’s share of the snaps under center for the Seminoles last year, head coach Mike Norvell has not divulged who the starter will be as of this Friday morning writing.

 

“It’ll be revealed (by) who runs out on the field at 7:44 there on Sunday night,” Norvell said with a smile. “Like I said at the beginning of this, guys will know. We’re excited about the quarterback room, the opportunity that’s ahead for us. And those guys have competed really well, and I’m excited about what we’ve seen.”

 

Jordan Travis is about as mobile a quarterback as the Irish will see this year but injuries have put a damper on his career thus far. Travis’ chief rival for the starting position is McKenzie Milton, a UCF transfer who was one of the most dynamic passers in the nation before suffering a gruesome right knee dislocation accompanied by ligament, nerve, and artery damage. After rehabbing for the last two seasons, Milton said he’s ready to roll.

 

“I feel comfortable out there,” Milton said during Atlantic Coast Conference media days Thursday. “I feel like I can make all of the throws. I can run. I can jump. Physically, I feel fine.”

 

Wanna Make a Bet?

 

The first few games of the season are always tough to predict because we are looking at last season as a barometer of what this season will hold. And while that can be somewhat true, we also know that there are graduating seniors along with incoming freshmen that can radically change that dynamic.

 

But that said, what we do know is that the Irish had a terrific defense last season, especially against lower-echelon clubs, holding opponents to 19.7 points per game, ranking them 14th in the nation in that category.

 

Compare that to the 36 PPG (105th) by Florida State and we’ve got a huge disparity in the quality and depth on defense. Moreover, this is a rematch from last year when Notre Dame defeated FSU, 42-26, but failed to cover the 21-point spread.

 

This year things have tightened up and the Irish will no longer have Ian Book slinging, as he is now plying his trade with the New Orleans Saints. Jack Coan, a transfer student from Wisconsin, will assume the reins of the Irish offense and although his mobility is not comparable to Book’s, he should be able to exploit what was a woeful Seminoles defense.

 

The oddsmakers are giving us just enough rope to hang ourselves with the Irish, dropping from an opener of Notre Dame -7 ½ to where it now stands at -7 a few days before kickoff. While that may not sound like a ringing endorsement of Notre Dame, it’s hard to load up on any team in the first week of the season because there are so many question marks.

 

What we do know is that the Irish defense should acquit itself nicely and if their offense is even serviceable, it should be a double-digit win by the visitors.

 

Free College Football Pick: Notre Dame – 7 (-110) at Bet365

Nebraska vs. Illinois College Football Preview and Best Bet

 

Logan Smothers #8 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers. (Photo by Corey Perrine / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

Logan Smothers #8 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers. (Photo by Corey Perrine / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

 

College football is in the air and the season kicks off this Saturday with a Big 10 clash between the Nebraska Cornhuskers and the Illini of Illinois. Let’s break it down and make our first of many college football picks this season a winner!

 

Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Illinois Fighting Illini

 

Saturday, August 28, 2021 – 1:00 PM ET at Memorial Stadium

 

These Big 10 rivals met last year in Lincoln and if you happened to scan the college football odds you would have seen that the Huskers were a whopping 17-point favorite. However, that number was woefully off base as the Illini delivered a 41-23 smackdown on Nebraska’s home turf. Luke McCaffrey, the NFL’s Christian McCaffrey’s little brother, tossed three picks in that game but you won’t be seeing him on the field as he transferred to Louisville after the season, and within a blink of an eye packed up to join the Rice football team for the 2021 season.

 

The defense was an issue for Nebraska last season as they allowed over 29 points per game and surrendered 217 passing and 169.5 rushing yards per game in the truncated 2020 season. On offense, Nebraska managed only 23 points per game and leaned heavily on their rushing attack that averaged over 201 yards per game while their passing checked in at a modest 190 yards per contest en route to their 3-5 record.

 

The Illini were mired in the basement of the Big 10 West standings with a 2–6 mark last season. Defensively, they allowed 230 rushing and 237 passing yards per game while surrendering an average of nearly 35 points per contest. Offensively, they were similar to Nebraska in featuring the run game which averaged 196.1 yards per contest while their passing game was rather docile as evidenced by the 152.9 yards per game they averaged.

 

Bret Bielema Back in Big 10

 

Illinois is hoping their program can get a big boost with Brett Bielema at the helm. As college football fans know, Bielema has had mixed results in the schoolboy ranks with an outstanding run at Wisconsin from 2006-2012 in which he led the Badgers to two Big Ten titles and part of a third over his successful tenure. However, his stint in the SEC with Arkansas was quite the opposite as he assembled a 29-34 record over five seasons.

 

After a few seasons at the pro ranks, first a defensive line coach with the Patriots and then as a senior assistant with the Giants, he has returned to the scene of his most galvanizing moments as a head coach, and the administration at Illinois is banking on him to rekindle that Big 10 magic from several years ago.

 

“They didn’t know me from Adam,” Bielema said of his players. “All I said is, “Here I am, let’s get to know each other.’ I would say there have been moments of high stress but also moments of levity and fun.

 

“I know this, walking off that field on Saturday we’ll know a lot about who we are by the actions of our four quarters and how we react to moments of adversity as well as success.”

 

And as hope springs eternal in Illinois with a big-time head coach planning great things for this season and beyond, the same cannot be said for Nebraska’s Scott Frost who is on the hot seat in his fourth year at Lincoln. Nebraska’s hometown kid has fostered a 12-20 record over his three seasons as the Cornhuskers head coach and it’s now or never.

 

Recalling last season’s embarrassing loss at home to the Illini, Frost stated, “There are some challenges to playing a team that has a new staff. We did not play very well against them last year. We made some mistakes. We need to play better this year. I think the guys are locked in on that.”

 

Wanna Make a Bet?

 

I’m not sure why the oddsmakers at all of the best online sportsbooks are showing the Huskers as touchdown favorites in this one. After all, this has not been a good team in a long time, and say what you will about Illinois, they haven’t been much worse. In fact, they beat this team by almost 20 points on the road last season and have a seasoned quarterback in Brandon Peters who knows his teammates well heading into his third season under center for Illinois.

 

Although the offensive schemes will be different under the new head coach, Brett Bielema, it should be an improvement over what they were working with under the old regime. There is no good reason to lay points on the road with Nebraska unless they prove otherwise with a stunning turnaround this season. Grab the seven with the home hound and cash a ticket!

 

 

White Sox vs. Rays MLB Preview and Best Bet

Starting pitcher Lucas Giolito #27 on August 15, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois.   Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images/AFP

Starting pitcher Lucas Giolito #27 on August 15, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images/AFP

 

A battle between division leaders begins on Friday night when the White Sox take on the Rays in the opener of a three-game set in Tampa. Let’s analyze this matchup and find the sharp side in our MLB picks tonight!

 

Chicago White Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays

 

Friday, August 20, 2021 – 7:10 PM ET at Tropicana Field

 

The White Sox were poised for a four-game sweep of the Athletics on Thursday but Matt Chapman tied the score at three apiece with a solo shot in the top of the sixth inning before Matt Olson went yard for a two-run bomb an inning later to seal a 5-4 victory for Oakland.

 

Andrew Vaughn had a two-run blast for the White Sox while starter Dylan Cease worked six innings and allowed three runs on four hits before righty reliever, Michael Kopech, took over in the seventh and got tagged for a pair of runs, as well as the loss.

 

“It wasn’t great, but I kept us in it,” Cease said. “That helps you swallow one like that a little bit easier. But at the end of the day, losing is not fun, so it’s not much of a consolation prize.”

 

And while the White Sox were losing to the A’s, the Rays were busy putting the finishing touches on a four-game sweep of the lowly Orioles in a 7-2 Thursday night victory. The Rays have destroyed the O’s this season, winning 15 of 16 games, and are now 11-3 over their last 14 contests.

 

Second baseman, Brandon Lowe, continues to crush the ball, belting his 29th home run of the season on Thursday night, a career-high, and there are still six weeks left in the regular season.

 

“This is going to be kind of what we’re looking at postseason-wise, I feel like,” Lowe said. “You know the White Sox are going to make it, we feel like we’re going to make it. I think the games are going to be a little bit tougher, it’s going to be a little bit lower-scoring ballgames but it’s going to be a hard-fought battle for the whole series.”

 

Pitching Matchup

 

Chicago will send right-hander Lucas Giolito (9-9, 3.83 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 161 strikeouts) to the hill tonight in hopes that he can improve upon his most recent outing when he lasted only four innings and surrendered three runs on six hits in a 5-3 loss to the Yankees on Sunday. The 27-year-old native of Santa Monica has faced the Rays only once this season and it resulted in an 8-7 extra-innings victory in which he worked six full innings and allowed three runs on four hits back in mid-June.

 

The Rays will counter with a righty of their own in Michael Wacha (2-4, 5.91 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, 76 strikeouts) who last took the mound on Saturday in a performance he would rather forget. The 30-year-old veteran was torched for seven runs on 11 hits in a 12-0 thrashing by the Twins. Wacha has to meet the White Sox lineup this season.

 

Wanna Make a Bet?

 

The MLB odds at all of the best online sportsbooks are showing the White Sox ranging between -118 to -130 favorites and it’s easy to see why. The longtime St. Louis Cardinal, Michael Wacha, has been a mess in the month of August as evidenced by his 11.57 ERA in his three appearances.

 

It’s hard to have faith in a pitcher that is melting like butter in a blast furnace each time he takes the mound. And what’s even more astounding is that his manager, Kevin Cash, is letting him stay in the game even when he’s getting lit up like a Christmas tree. Over his three ignominious performances this month, he has worked four, five, and five innings in games where most managers would have pulled the plug much earlier.

 

Therefore, it’s understandable that Wacha’s mental state heading into a game against one of the very best teams in the league might not be all that good. Chicago is seventh in runs scored and batting average while ranked fourth in on-base percentage. Not the team you want to meet if you’re mechanics aren’t working.

 

Let’s lay the lumber with the road chalk and cash a ticket tonight!

 

Free MLB Pick: White Sox -118 at SugarHouse

Dodgers vs. Mets MLB Preview and Best Bet

Julio Urias #7 of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws on August 7, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.   Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images/AFP

Julio Urias #7 of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws on August 7, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images/AFP

 

Two legendary franchises will open a three-game set in New York when the Dodgers travel to meet the Mets in a Friday night showdown. Let’s analyze this matchup and find the sharp side in our MLB picks tonight!

 

Los Angeles Dodgers vs. New York Mets

 

Friday, August 13, 2021 – 7:10 PM ET at Citi Field

 

On Thursday night the Dodgers watched their four-game winning streak come to a halt, as well as the opportunity to sweep the Phillies for the first time in nine years, in a 2-1 loss to Philadelphia. It was a pitcher’s duel and the Phillies came out on top after dropping the previous two meetings by scores of 5-0 and 8-2. Los Angeles had a golden opportunity to crack the game wide open with bases loaded in the ninth inning but right fielder, Billy McKinney, hit a lazy fly ball with two outs ending the game.

 

Dodgers’ starting pitcher, Mitchell White, worked four full innings and surrendered both of the Phillies’ runs, one of which was a solo blast by Bryce Harper. “Mitchell White did everything we asked,” Roberts said. “A seeing-eye grounder (by Torreyes) and Harper got him. But he pitched well and the guys in the bullpen pitched well in the whole series.”

 

While the Dodgers were getting edged, the Mets were busy sweeping up the Nationals in claiming three consecutive wins with the most recent being a 5-4 win in the second leg of a doubleheader. The first game also went to New York, as they secured a 4-1 seven-inning win in the opener on Thursday.

 

Pete Alonso was the hero of the night game as he took a Kyle Finnegan sinker deep in the bottom of the seventh to clinch the victory.

 

“I know I clipped it pretty good when I got it,” Alonso said. “I saw it go up. With the winds here because it was pretty storming, it was like a hurricane winds there.”

 

“I didn’t know if any of those winds or those false winds were kind of still swirling around in the stadium. So, I know I hit it pretty well but I didn’t know if it was going to go just because of the environment, but really happy over the wall,” he said.

 

Pitching Matchup

 

The Dodgers will send Julio Urias (13-3, 3.41 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 144 strikeouts) to the hill after allowing three runs on six hits throughout five full innings of work in what resulted in a 5-3 win over the Angels last Saturday. The 25-year-old southpaw has enjoyed his most productive season to date and will get a look at the Met’s lineup for the first time this season.

 

On the other side of the diamond, the Mets will trot out Tylor Megill (1-2, 3.20 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 48 strikeouts), a 6’7” righty who last pitched four-plus innings and surrendered four runs on five hits in a 5-3 loss to the Phillies. It was the second consecutive start in which Megill has been touched for four earned runs. He has yet to face the Dodgers this season.

 

Wanna Make a Bet?

 

The MLB odds at all of the best online sportsbooks are showing the Dodgers have spiked from an opening favorite of -143 to ranging between -152 to -165 as of this Friday morning writing. I find the price on the home dog rather enticing but am concerned about New York’s starter, Tylor Megill, and the way he has been throwing over his last pair of starts. He was cruising along just fine in this, his rookie year, but August rolled around and things have not been the same. It appears there is now enough game tape on him for hitters to become familiar with his mechanics.

 

On the flip side, we see LA’s Julio Urias racking up the W’s as the Dodgers try to catch the first-place San Francisco Giants. Both teams are very much in playoff contention as the Dodgers are five games removed from the top spot in the NL West while the Mets are just half a game behind the Phillies in the NL East. Therefore, neither team has more incentive than the other to get the job done tonight.

 

With all of that said, I will side with the Dodgers and lay the lumber. LA has the bats to make life miserable for the rookie and is second in scoring while the Mets check-in at No. 28 of 30 in runs scored this season. Let’s lay it and like it with Big Blue tonight!

 

Free MLB Pick: Dodgers -152 at SugarHouse