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Nationals vs Cardinals NLCS Game 1 betting picks and predictions: Too early for a must-win?

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Anibal Sanchez faces off against Miles Mikolas in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series at Busch Stadium on Friday. Just like we all wrote it up. But that doesn’t matter anymore because this is where we are now.

The Nationals come in flying high after taking down the 106-win Dodgers in five games, while the Cardinals might have even more confidence after their 13-1 beat down of the Braves in the deciding game of their division matchup. Now, the Nationals will attempt to advance to their first Fall Classic in franchise history against the team with more World Series titles than anyone in the NL. From the opening pitch to the final out, we break down the best way to wager the odds for Game 1 of the NLCS.



Mikolas taking the ball for the Cardinals in Game 1 isn’t much of a surprise with the way the rotation innings have worked out and for the fact, that the right-hander has been much better pitching at Busch Stadium. He owns a 2.98 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP in 16 starts at home this season.

And while the Cards have definitely been able to but up some crooked numbers during this run, their lineup is arguably the most inconsistent of all the teams that made the postseason. In their three wins in the ALDS they averaged 8.3 runs per game and in the two losses they plated just one run. St. Louis also ranked 23rd in the Bigs when it came to scoring runs in the bottom of the first at just 0.51 per contest.

Sanchez is the type of pitcher that can give this lineup problems. Take the opening frame to be scoreless.

Pick: Run in 1st Inning – No (-120)


Sanchez can give the Cardinals problems by using an effective change up and locating his fastball. Sanchez pitched to a 2.42 ERA and a 0.85 WHIP in his final four starts of the regular season and followed that up with a solid performance in Game 3 of the NLDS where he allowed just one run on four hits with nine strikeouts over five innings. Teams are also hitting below .200 against Sanchez over that five game stretch. And while the Nationals have the better lineup on paper, they’ve done most of their damage after the fifth inning, averaging just 1.5 runs in the first five innings over six postseason games.

Pick: Under 4 First Five Innings (+100)


Mikolas did make two starts against the Nationals this season, and while he only gave up four runs, Washington got to him for 15 hits in 12 innings pitched. Here are the career stats for some of the Nats against Mikolas. Juan Soto is 3-8 (.375), Anthony Rendon is 4-9 (.444) and Howie Kendrick is a ridiculous 8-11 (.727). We’re not sure if Washington can steal game one or not, but we do like them to have more hits in the final box score.

Pick: Most Hits – Nationals (-105)


While we think this one may be low-scoring early on, that could turn around come the later innings. Washington was the third best team in the Bigs when it came to scoring in the sixth inning or later at 2.40 per contest. And if you’re name isn’t Andrew Miller the Cardinals bullpen has shown some blemishes during the postseason.

And everyone knows the issues surrounding the Nats’ pen. The only team with a worse bullpen ERA this season was the Baltimore Orioles. Let that sink in. The postseason hasn’t been much better as they currently have a 6.63 ERA and are allowing opponents to hit .273 against them thus far. With none of their starters expected to come out of the pen in this one, the only reliever that looks reliable right now is Daniel Hudson. This one goes Over late.

Pick: Over 8


That is the exact reason we like the Cardinals in Game 1. The advantage in bullpens is clear right now, and while the Nationals starters may give them the edge by series end, in this one the Cardinals will have a leg up. While it seems overblown to call a Game 1 must-win, with the gauntlet of Nationals starters staring them in the face in the next three games, it would be a big problem if they dropped this one. The Cardinals are also 21-9 in their last 30 games at Busch Stadium. Those angles give St. Louis the edge in Game 1.

Pick: Cardinals -130

Running up the points with Rockets, and the college football bets you need to make in Week 12

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Are you ready for some more MAC-tion? Because there are two more games on the schedule Wednesday night. We break down the best bets for these games and take a look at the weekend ahead in college football – from sides and totals to props and everything in between.


The Toledo Rockets might be only slight favorites for Wednesday night’s MAC tilt with visiting Northern Illinois, but they have a significant advantage in at least one area – and it could turn this one into a bit of a laugher. The Rockets come into the game with the nation’s No. 12 rushing offense, averaging nearly 251 yards per game on the ground – and they’ve been especially dominant over their previous two games, racking up a combined 664 rushing yards in narrow victories over Eastern Michigan and Kent State. The Huskies, meanwhile, are coming off getting routed 48-10 to Central Michigan in which the Chippewas posted 327 rushing yards.

An edge like this makes Toledo a terrific option in a variety of different bet scenarios; we recommend buying a few points in their favor and taking an alternate line of -6.5.


The Miami (OH) Redhawks should have little trouble filling the board Wednesday night as they host a Bowling Green defense that ranks among the worst in the nation in points allowed. But while the Falcons have surrendered a mind-boggling 33.8 points per game so far this season, the Redhawks might not necessarily be headed for a parade to the end zone. Miami (Ohio) has one of the worst touchdown-to-field-goal ratios in the country coming into Week 12, having scored 22 TDs compared with 16 FGs – six of those coming over the course of their current three-game winning streak.

Miami (Ohio) is a big-time favorite here, and is a good bet to open the scoring given BGSU’s 2.5 first-half-points-per-game average on the road this season. We like the Redhawks FG to kick off the point parade.


Kansas State’s premier rushing threat might be back on the field this weekend. Wildcats senior James Gilbert practiced on Tuesday and is trending in the right direction as he recovers from an undisclosed ailment that kept him out of last week’s 27-24 loss to the Texas Longhorns. It was originally thought that Gilbert would be in the lineup vs. Texas, but he was a late exclusion – and Kansas State struggled in his absence, finishing with a paltry 51 rushing yards on 26 attempts. Gilbert ranks ninth in the Big 12 Conference in rushing yards (558) while adding five touchdowns on the ground.

Gilbert’s return would invigorate a Kansas State rush attack that has a favorable matchup against a West Virginia defense allowing 173 rushing yards per game. We recommend the hosts ATS if Gilbert is deemed fit to return.


The Wake Forest Demon Deacons have seen their season take a terrible turn with word that standout wide receiver Sage Surratt will miss the remainder of 2019 with an undisclosed injury. Wake Forest head coach Dave Clawson confirmed Tuesday that Surratt, who wasn’t featured on the team’s depth chart ahead of its Week 12 encounter with Clemson, would be out for the rest of the season – though he wouldn’t specify what was wrong with the star wideout. Surratt finishes the year with 1,001 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns on 66 receptions as the premier target for quarterback Jamie Newman.

The absence of Surratt should give bettors even less of a reason to bank on Wake Forest, which has seen the line shift as far as four points in Clemson’s favor. Look for the Tigers to keep the undermanned Deacons below their team total.

Too late to start fading the Fins, and the NFL bets you need to make in Week 11

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This may require a double-take, but listen up. The Miami Dolphins have been the best bet in the NFL since the start of October. Yes, those Miami Dolphins. We break down the odds and let you know what bets we like in Week 11 of the NFL as we dive into sides, totals, props and more. 


The hottest team in the league right now is Lamar Jackson’s Baltimore Ravens. After knocking off the Patriots in Week 9, they turned their crosshairs on the winless Cincinnati Bengals in Week 10. The Ravens ran just 48 offensive plays but managed to put up 49 points. Lost in the 49-13 win was the fact that Baltimore moved to 8-1 against the first-quarter spread after winning the first 15 minutes 14-0.

This week, Baltimore is a 4-point home favorite versus a Houston team that is coming off their bye. If you don’t trust a team coming off a blowout win versus the worst team in the league and/or covering their last three games, take a look at the 1Q Ravens -0.5 (-105) as an alternative.

Baltimore is second in the league in first quarter points per game at 9.5 and third in the league in points against in the first quarter at 3.67 while the Texans are 0-3-1 on the road this year in the first quarter. Take the Ravens 1Q -0.5.


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will face a very motivated New Orleans Saints team Sunday, but NOLA will be without their top cornerback in Marcus Lattimore. The third-year CB is week-to-week with a hamstring injury meaning Bucs WRs Mike Evans and Chris Godwin will face sub-par corners in P.J. Williams and Eli Apple.

As Brad Evans pointed out on twitter, this is especially great news for Mike Evans who has struggled over his career versus Lattimore. Evans put up a donut early this year in Week 5 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and averaged 9.5 targets for three catches and 34 yards in two games in 2017 (last year Lattimore struggled following up his 2017 DROY but has been much better this year).

Even with Jameis Winston getting sacked nearly four times a game, Evans is averaging 139 yards a game over his last four contests. Jump on Evans’ receiving yard total on any number below 85 and check in on his reception total, hitting the Over on any number below 7.


No team in the league relies on the screen game more than the Minnesota Vikings. Per ESPN, Minnesota is averaging 9.8 yards per screen attempt which is 3.5 yards more per attempt than the No.10 team.

The beneficiary of this is running back Dalvin Cook who gashed the Cowboys in primetime every time he got the ball with blockers ahead of him. Over the last three games, Cook has amassed 193 yards receiving and will face a Denver Broncos’ defense that is giving up 8.6 yards per pass to RBs since Week 8.

Grab the Over on Cook’s receiving yards on any total less than 40 yards.


If you’re tailing the Cook receiving yards play and want some action on the other side of the ball, maybe look to fade the Broncos’ backfield in receiving yards. Denver is the worst team at generating yards on the screen game (3.7 yards per attempt) and neither Phillip Lindsay nor Royce Freeman has topped 17 yards receiving in the last two weeks. In the only game Brandon Allen has started at quarterback, Lindsay wasn’t targeted at all and Freeman saw one target which he lost a yard on.

Feel confident in taking Lindsay’s Under receiving yards on anything greater than 19 and Freeman’s Under on any number greater than 25.


The best team ATS over the last five weeks has been the Miami Dolphins. The former 0-7 team has rattled off five-straight wins ATS and face a Buffalo Bills team that has zero offensive identity of late and trailed the Dolphins by five points heading into the fourth quarter just four weeks ago.

We are a little bearish on Miami hitting a sixth-straight win ATS but have no problem fading Josh Allen’s Bills who are putting up just 288 yards of total offense over the last three weeks, good for sixth-worst. Their once stellar defense now sits 12th in Wtd DVOA — 9th against the pass and 27th against the run.

The Bills needed 22 4th-quarter points in their last meeting to cover their team total and we don’t see Brian Daboll’s offense clearing 23.5 points since they are 2-5 O/U that total in their last seven.

Get on the Bills’ team total Under 23.5 now, as it may drop under this key number later in the week.