Are you ready to get angry for no real reason? The college football season is only a few weeks away, and we have our first major preseason poll. The Coaches Poll was released Monday afternoon, and to nobody's surprise, Alabama begins the season at No. 1. What might surprise some is defending champion Georgia isn't even at No. 2, but at No. 3 behind Ohio State.
Of course, while most people look at the top of the polls, my interest in the preseason is trying to get a read into the psyche of the voters. Every offseason, some teams get hype but fail to live up to expectations. USC, Miami and Texas are great at this. So when the polls come out, I look to see where those teams are ranked, because it gives you an idea of how risky voters are willing to be.
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Nobody wants to put them too high for fear of looking foolish later. This year, the coaches with ballots felt the middle of the poll was the perfect place, as USC checked in at No. 15 with Miami and Texas right behind at No. 17 and No. 18. I'm telling you know, based on recent history, at least two of them will finish the season ranked lower than where they are now, but which two will it be?
- It could be a few more weeks before Joe Burrow returns.
- The Carolina QB job is reportedly Baker Mayfield's to lose.
Pete Rose was in the news this weekend, so let's bet on baseball tonight.
All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook
🔥 The Hot Ticket
Reds at Mets, 7:10 p.m. | TV: MLB.TV
- Key Trend: The over is 5-0-1 in the Mets last six games.
- The Pick: Over 9 (-115)
The New York Metropolitans are flying high, having taken four of five from the Atlanta Braves this weekend to expand their lead in the NL East to 6.5 games. The key for the Mets will be not taking their foot off the gas, and that could be a serious concern going from playing the Braves to whatever it is that's left of the Cincinnati Reds.
The Reds are 44-63 and sold damn near everything that wasn't nailed down at the deadline. They're in full tank mode, but there's some value on them tonight if human nature gets to the Mets. The better value, however, is on the total. Like many parks, Citi Field "shrinks" in the heat as balls carry further. The forecast tonight calls for temps in the upper 80s and a strong wind blowing out toward left-center.
New York starter Chris Bassitt gets a lot of ground balls, but he allows plenty of flyball contact as well, and he's prone to the longball from time to time. Cincinnati's Justin Dunn is making his big league debut with the Reds (he came over from Seattle in a trade for Eugenio Suarez and Jesse Winker in March), but he has MLB experience. While he's been pretty all right overall (3.94 ERA in 102.2 innings), he's allowed 16 home runs in a limited amount of time, and his walk rate of 15.5% is very much Not Great.
We're in line for a high-scoring affair.
Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: The Projection Model doesn't think much of a play on either side of the total here, but it does see value on the run line.
💰 The Picks
Nationals at Cubs, 8:05 p.m. | TV: MLB.TV
The Pick: Nationals (+162) -- This is one of those times when the only thing I can see is a bad team (the Cubs) as a strong favorite, and I can't let that slide. Sure, the Nats are awful and traded away Juan Soto and Josh Bell at the deadline, but the Cubs shouldn't be favored this heavily against anybody. At least, not without a starter better than Keegan Thompson on the mound. I don't mean that as a slight on Thompson, who has been pretty average, but average pitching isn't good enough to justify the price, particularly when backed by a bullpen with a 4.06 ERA (21st).
Having said all that, the Nats are pretty bad, and Anibal Sanchez has a 7.65 ERA through four starts. But, four starts is a small sample, and while none of them have been good, only one has been truly horrific. They've also come against far better offenses than the one he'll face tonight. The Cubs offense has been bad all season, but it's been particularly putrid over the last week. So, essentially, we have a baseball game between two bad teams, and it's not out of line to think both are capable of losing to the other.
Key Trend: The Cubs are 13-16 as a favorite this season, and 10-12 as a home favorite.
Pirates at Diamondbacks, 9:40 p.m | TV: ESPN+
The Pick: Pirates (+205) -- This is a situation like the one we're facing with the Cubs and Nationals, but featuring two teams we have a soft spot for in this newsletter. Last year we bet the over on the Pirates' preseason win total and rooted them on to victory (or at least our bet), and this year it's the Diamondbacks who seem to be on their way to that magical number of 67 wins. But there's a strong enough chance that one of those wins won't come tonight.
Arizona has the edge in starters, as Zac Gallen has been solid this season, but while he has a good strikeout and walk rate, Gallen gives up a little too much solid contact. Opponents have a barrel rate of 8.9% against him, which is high for a pitcher who has worked so many innings. The Pirates come into this series as one of the hotter offenses in baseball, and if the bats stay hot, they've got an excellent chance of picking up the dub tonight.
Key Trend: The Diamondbacks have lost six of their last eight games.
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: SportsLine's Matt Severance took at look at College Football Playoff futures and believes there's one Pac-12 team out there that could be worth a bet.