Happy Friday, everybody. We’ve made it through another week, and we’ve got a terrific weekend in store for us. Not only do we have four college football games on the docket tonight, but a full(ish) day of college football on Saturday and the NFL all day on Sunday. Plus, we have the return of the Premier League as soccer’s international break is over.
And I have picks for a little bit of everything for you in today’s newsletter. In fact, today’s newsletter is practically bursting at the seams with picks, so I don’t want to waste too much of your time up here. Hell, you’ve probably already scrolled past this. It’s OK. I get it. Sure, it’s a bit of a blow to my ego, but that’s something I need to learn to live with. Not you. So I’ll stop wasting your time and let you get what you came here for.
First, let’s catch up on today’s news.
All times Eastern, and all odds via William Hill Sportsbook
🔥 The Hot Ticket
New Mexico at Air Force, 9:30 p.m. | TV: FS1
The Pick: New Mexico +9.5 (-110): Listen, there’s a certain amount of trust involved in our relationship. You subscribe to this newsletter to get caught up on today’s news, and with the PM edition, you trust me to give you sound gambling advice. Because of that trust, I feel the need to tell you that there are four college football games on tonight, and as somebody who loves college football more than some people he’s supposed to love a lot, I have to tell you that these games stink. I’m going to watch at least parts of all four of them because I’m deranged, but they’re bad games. Even worse, of the four, there’s only one in which I could find a good bet to make, and it’s New Mexico.
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Air Force hasn’t played since Halloween, when it lost to Boise State 49-30. It’s been dealing with injuries and COVID-19 issues. New Mexico has had COVID-19 issues of its own, but not the having it kind. Instead, it’s been the not being allowed to play at home because of state guidelines kind. Still, even though the Lobos are 0-3 to start the year, they’ve been competitive. Much more competitive than you might expect from a team dealing with the circumstances they face. Tonight, I love this matchup for them.
Their problems defensively have been against the pass, and Air Force is an option team that does throw the ball but isn’t built to do so consistently. The Falcons offense ranks 105th nationally in passing efficiency. What New Mexico does well defensively is stop the run. It ranks a respectable 33rd nationally in success rate against the run and is allowing 3.23 yards per carry, which ranks 15th. Furthermore, New Mexico’s defensive coordinator is Rocky Long. The same Rocky Long who has dominated option attacks throughout his coaching career. I think the Lobos might get their first win for new head coach Danny Gonzales tonight, but taking the points is a much smarter play.
Key Trend: New Mexico has covered seven of its last eight against Air Force.
Here’s what SportsLine is saying about the game: If you don’t trust me, trust the Advanced Computer Model. See what it has to say about this game at SportsLine.
💰 The Picks
🏈 College Football
No. 9 Indiana at No. 4 Ohio State, Saturday, 12 p.m | TV: Fox
The Pick: Ohio State -20.5 (-110) — Through four games, Indiana has forced 12 turnovers, and it’s done a phenomenal job turning them into points. The problem is, Indiana has had difficulty scoring points on its other possessions. Through the first four games, 37.8% of Indiana’s points on offense have been scored following a turnover. That’s the second-highest rate in the country, trailing only rival Purdue. The average length of Indiana’s touchdown drives this season has been 53.2 yards, which is the shortest of any team that has played at least two games.
So, when Indiana isn’t facing a short field thanks to a turnover, it has a difficult time reaching the end zone. In a matchup like this one, against a strong defensive Ohio State team that is unlikely to provide a bunch of turnovers, Indiana’s not likely to have many short fields. Meanwhile, Ohio State has Justin Fields at quarterback and one of the most potent offenses in the country. Also, let’s not forget that Indiana was a strong team last season, and lost at home to Ohio State, 51-10.
Key Trend: Ohio State is 11-4 ATS in its last 15 Big Ten games
Want more college football picks for this weekend? Read my weekly column The Six Pack.
Falcons at Saints, Sunday, 1 p.m | TV: Fox
The Pick: Falcons Over 23.5 (-105) — I had been eyeing the Falcons in this spot since last week, but once it was announced that Drew Brees would be missing the game, the spread lost all its value. However, the reason I liked the Falcons so much is not affected by Drew Brees’ absence. I like the Falcons in this spot because Matt Ryan has lit the Saints defense up in recent years. In his last four starts against New Orleans, Ryan has thrown for 1,245 yards, 11 touchdowns and only four interceptions. The Falcons are coming off a bye and should have both Calvin Ridley and Julio Jones at full strength. I don’t know what to expect from the Falcons defense in this spot, but I do think the Falcons will put points on the board regardless.
Key Trend: The Falcons are averaging 27 points per game this season.
Packers at Colts, Sunday, 4:25 p.m | TV: Fox
The Pick: Packers (+110) — When it comes to matchups between strong defenses and explosive offenses, I lean toward the offense. That’s what I’m doing here, and getting to do so while backing Aaron Rodgers is a bonus. Yes, the Colts have a terrific defense that ranks fourth in the NFL in DVOA. However, while the Colts have a strong pass defense overall, they don’t have a great pass rush and don’t put a lot of pressure on the QB. The last thing I want to give Aaron Rodgers is time to survey the field. On the other side, Green Bay’s defense leaves a lot to be desired, but the Colts offense has struggled to run the ball, and Philip Rivers seems to get a little worse every week.
Key Trend: The Packers have won five of the last six games they’ve been underdogs.
Cowboys at Vikings, Sunday, 4:25 p.m | TV: Fox
The Pick: Vikings -7 (-110) — Nothing that has happened to the Cowboys in recent months has been a good development. The Vikings, meanwhile, are playing well right now. So well that Kirk Cousins even managed to win a game on a Monday night for the first time in his career. Now the Vikings return home. This year, Cousins is averaging 268.3 yards per game in four home games and has tossed 11 touchdowns. Compare that to his road splits where he’s averaging only 214.8 yards per start and has six touchdown passes in five games. Also, Dalvin Cook has been eating bad run defenses alive all season long, and Dallas’ defense ranks 28th in DVOA against the run. Put it on purple.
Key Trend: The Cowboys are 1-8 ATS in their last nine games.
⚽ Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur vs Manchester City, Saturday, 12:30 p.m | TV: NBC
The Pick: Manchester City (-125) — It’s kind of crazy that City sits in 10th behind teams like Crystal Palace right now, but that’s where they are. Their climb to the top will start soon, likely this weekend against Spurs. City has been better in road matches so far this season. It’s where hey’ve been much more sound defensively. On the flip side, Spurs have been more aggressive in the attack on the road than at home. They have an xG differential of 1.3 at home compared to 4.9 on the road in the same number of matches. I think we could be in for a bit of a goal fest in this one (so I don’t hate the over), but I like City’s chances of leaving with all three points more than anything else.
Interested in more Premier League picks? You can find them in my weekly column Corner Picks.
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: The SportsLine Projection Model is 39-21 on top-rated picks this season, returning over $1,000 in profit already, and it has a top-rated play on one of tonight’s CFB games.
💸 The DFS Rundown
Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore — I don’t have my beloved Kyler Murray available on Sunday because he played Thursday night, so I guess I’ll have to settle for Lamar Jackson. Now, Jackson isn’t having the same kind of year that saw him win MVP in 2019, but I like this week’s matchup. The Titans defense ranks 22nd in the NFL in success rate against the run, and I think a Ravens offense that’s been stuck in neutral will finally get out of its rut. If you want a contrarian option, consider Tua Tagovailoa against Denver.
Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota — Cook will be the highest-owned back in DFS this weekend. As I mentioned above when explaining why I’m taking the Vikings, Cook is facing a horrible Dallas defense. Cook’s a must-have in cash. If you’re looking for something more contrarian for a larger tournament, I’m a fan of Green Bay’s Aaron Jones this week. Yes, even against the Colts defense.
Taysom Hill, TE, New Orleans — This is a bit of a cheat, but if you play on Fanduel, Taysom Hill is listed as a tight end. That might change before Sunday. If it doesn’t, start Taysom Hill! He’s starting at quarterback for the Saints this weekend, meaning you could get QB production in your TE spot. Find edges wherever you can!
Full lineup advice
SportsLine’s team of DFS insiders has you covered for daily fantasy sports. Mike McClure has won almost $2 million playing DFS, and Jacob Gibbs was ranked as one of the nation’s most accurate Fantasy experts last year. Plus, use SportsLine’s all-new DFS Optimizer to get optimal NFL DFS picks from 10,000 simulations.
🏈 Saturday CFB Parlay
A six-leg college football money line parlay that pays +141.
- Ohio State -1100
- Nebraska -700
- Wisconsin -300
- Alabama -7000
- Oklahoma -270
- Georgia -2400