How Nick Saban absence affects Alabama-Georgia line

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Las Vegas — Hockey and basketball are behind us, but we still have football and baseball (at least for another week). So, let’s run through this weekend’s betting menu:

Friday

Baseball highlights the schedule with Game 6 of Tampa Bay Rays vs. Houston Astros in the ALCS (5:07 p.m., if necessary) and Game 4 of Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Atlanta Braves in the NLCS (8:08 p.m.). I bet the Dodgers +195 to win their series after they fell behind 2-0, and we saw them explode for a record-setting 11 runs in the first inning Wednesday on the way to a 15-3 win to get back in series. Still, if you’re betting individual games and the Braves are +180 in any of them, I would say that’s the value play.

Friday’s probable pitchers were undetermined as of deadline for this preview, but I’m looking to bet Overs as the pitching staffs get used more and more. Even when the aces come back around, they probably won’t be throwing complete games.

We do get college football late Friday night (9:30 p.m.) with No. 13 BYU visiting Houston. It’s always tempting to take home underdogs in these weeknight prime-time games (even with limited fans in the stands), but this line looks too short, and I actually think BYU -5 is the right side.

Saturday

Autumn Saturdays are always highlighted by the college football schedule, though we still don’t have all the conferences playing yet and have at least four games (LSU at Florida, Oklahoma State at Baylor, Cincinnati at Tulsa and Vanderbilt at Missouri) already postponed.

We’re hoping to still see the marquee game of the day with No. 3 Georgia visiting No. 2 Alabama (8 p.m.), though the matchup was put into the uncertain category Wednesday when it was announced Alabama coach Nick Saban tested positive for COVID-19. The line was bet down from Alabama -6.5 down to -4.5 after Saban was declared out. I was on Georgia +6.5 before the news, as I believe the Bulldogs are live ’dogs with a strong defense and I had this closer to pick ’em.

However, I think there’s actually better value to be found with some underdogs on the undercard. I like Pittsburgh, now up to +13.5 at Miami (noon), Kentucky +6 in a much lower-profile SEC game at Tennessee (noon), Western Kentucky +13.5 at Alabama-Birmingham (1:30 p.m.) and Florida International +7 at Charlotte (8 p.m.).

Per usual, I’ll defer to my VSiN colleague Lou Finocchiaro on the UFC Fight Night card from Fight Island in Abu Dhabi, though it’s hard to cheer against “The Korean Zombie,” Chan Sung Jung. I can’t believe they didn’t schedule this fight for Halloween in two weeks (that’s as bad as the NFL missing out on the marketing opportunities by not scheduling the upcoming Super Bowl LV in Las Vegas).

Khalil Mack sacks Tom Brady on Oct. 8, 2020
Khalil Mack sacks Tom Brady on Oct. 8, 2020Getty Images

Sunday

Pro football is back after giving us a Tuesday night game in Week 5, but no Thursday night game in Week 6 (that’s so 2020). The NFL schedule makers/programmers didn’t do viewers any favors with this week’s menu, as we have nine 1 p.m. kickoffs and just two in the 4 p.m. hour.

In the early games, my top underdogs are the Jaguars +3.5 vs. the Lions (Detroit favored by more than a field goal on the road, really?), Falcons +4.5 at Vikings (plug your nose), Browns +3.5 at Steelers, Eagles +7.5 vs. Ravens, and Broncos/Drew Lock +10 on an inflated line at Patriots/Cam Newton.

For teaser bettors, I would look at Bears teased up to +7 at the Panthers and the Colts down to -1.5 vs. the Bengals (would also consider Ravens down to -1.5 at Eagles, even though I like the home ’dog — plus I’m not as confident in the Eagles getting the outright upset, so we could middle that game if Ravens win by 2-7 points).

Now we see why there’s just two games in the afternoon windows as the Jets visit the Dolphins. Just kidding, they obviously want us all watching Packers/Aaron Rodgers at Buccaneers/Tom Brady. I was going to pass on this game, but with it being bet down to Packers -1, I believe the value is on the Packers, who are the better team right now.

In the Sunday nighter (8:20 p.m.), I liked the 49ers +3.5 to rebound vs. the Rams, but the line is down to 3 at most books. I’d jump back on the 49ers if it goes back up to +3.5.

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