Another week has come to an end, which means it's time for Football Friday. The greatest version of the greatest newsletter in all the world. Seriously, today's letter is bordering on egregious when it comes to the amount of picks I have to get through the entire weekend.
Tonight I've got an MLB pick and a college football pick. Then I've got three more college picks for Saturday, two NFL picks for Sunday and a soccer match for each day. That's nine total picks! If we win them all, we can retire.
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If we lose them all... well, let's not think about that. Let's read these stories instead.
All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook
🔥 The Hot Ticket
- Key Trend: The Dodgers have won four of the last five in San Diego.
- The Pick: Dodgers (-120)
Dodgers starter Tony Gonsolin has not been as good as his numbers tell you. He went 16-1 in the regular season with a 2.14 ERA in 24 starts, but his serving as the team's third starter should tell you that. Still, he's been pretty good! His walk rate of 7% was well below the league average, and he does a tremendous job of keeping hitters off-balance and avoiding the middle of the plate. That will come in handy against the Padres.
I cannot say the same about San Diego starter Blake Snell. His strikeout rate of 32% is 41% better than the league average, but he walks 9.5% of the hitters he faces, too. He also allows a lot of hard, flyball contact. That seldom works out for pitchers against the Dodgers. The Dodgers' offense finished the regular season with the second-best hard-hit rate against lefties at 34.3% (Houston is at 34.4%).
The other problem for the Padres is Snell rarely goes deep into games. He lasted only 3.1 innings against the Mets as control problems elevated his pitch counts, and patient teams do that to him regularly. He's made three starts against the Dodgers this season and never went past the fifth inning in any of them, allowing six runs in 14 innings of work. Every part of tonight's matchup tilts in the Dodgers' favor.
Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: Looks like I'm not the only one who sees value in the Dodgers money line tonight.
🏈 College Football
No. 10 Penn State at No. 5 Michigan, Saturday, 12 p.m | TV: Fox
The Pick: Under 50.5 (-110) -- I don't know why the total for this game is this high. While this game went crazy in 2013 when Bill O'Brien's Nittany Lions beat Brady Hoke's Wolverines 43-40, the eight meetings since have averaged 46.13 points per game, and only two went north of 52 points.
Neither team has been tested, and I have more faith in the defenses than I do the offenses based on what I've seen. Michigan's offense has been overly reliant on big plays from Blake Corum, and an improved Penn State offensive line hasn't faced a front this good yet. I can't wait to watch this game to see how good both of these teams are, but I'm not expecting a shootout.
No. 19 Kansas at Oklahoma, Saturday, 12 p.m | TV: ABC
The Pick: Kansas +9 (-110) -- I #BelieveInKansas, and dangit, Kansas believes in me. Kansas QB Jalon Daniels will not be playing, and apparently, none of the oddsmakers watched backup Jason Bean last week. Bean replaced Daniels and threw for 262 yards and four touchdowns in just over a half of work. And that was without a week of preparation.
Oh, and have you seen Oklahoma's defense? There was a lot of attention on the Sooners not having Dillon Gabriel going into last week's game against Texas and not nearly enough on the defensive injuries. Well, there still isn't because there is no reason on Earth you should trust this Oklahoma team to cover a nine-point spread right now -- especially against an offense capable of putting up points like Kansas.
No. 3 Alabama at No. 6 Tennessee, Saturday, 3:30 p.m | TV: CBS
The Pick: Under 66 (-110) -- This is, without a doubt, Tennessee's best chance to beat Alabama in a long time. Seeing as Alabama has won 15 straight in this rivalry, most of them by roughly a billion points, that's not saying much. But it's true, and not just because we don't know the status of Tide QB Bryce Young. If Young is out, Tennessee has a real shot of pulling off the upset, but even if he plays (and I'm fairly confident he will), this Vols offense is playing well enough that we can't assume Alabama can keep up.
No matter who wins, however, I don't expect the game to be as high-scoring as the total suggests. If Jalen Milroe starts over Young, the Tide will be more conservative on offense and run more. Even if Young plays, we haven't seen a lot of explosive plays in the Alabama passing game with him on the field. Meanwhile, as explosive as Tennessee's offense is, it hasn't faced a pass rush like the one it'll see Saturday. I won't be surprised to see Tennessee lean more on the run game to try to slow it down.
Patriots at Browns, Sunday, 1 p.m | TV: CBS
The Pick: Patriots +2.5 (-115) -- I expect Mac Jones will return to the Patriots this weekend, but that doesn't impact how I view this game. While I think Jones is better than Bailey Zappe, I don't think the difference between the two -- or how the Patriots use them -- makes much of one. Instead, I'm making this pick more to fade the Browns as favorites.
Offensively the Browns have been good. They're 6th in the league in success rate and 3rd in points per possession. The problem is that they're too reliant on their run game, and even if these aren't the dynasty Patriots, Bill Belichick teams still do a good job of taking away your strength and forcing you to beat them in other ways. I'm not confident in the Browns if Jacoby Brissett is forced to drop back and win this game with his arm. Nor am I all that confident in a Browns defense that ranks 24th in points allowed per drive to do enough to keep the Patriots from hanging around.
Bills at Chiefs, Sunday, 4:25 p.m | TV: CBS
The Pick: Over 54 (-110) -- Generally speaking, a great offense will always beat a great defense. Offenses dictate the action while defenses must react to it, so if the offense is elite, there isn't much a defense can do about it. Well, we have two elite offenses in this game featuring the two best quarterbacks in the league.
We only have one elite defense, and some numbers suggest Buffalo's defense might not be as great as it seems. We know the Chiefs' isn't. Buffalo has done a great job of stopping teams in the red zone, but most teams aren't the Chiefs in the red zone. Kansas City's touchdown rate of 78.3% on red-zone possessions ranks third in the league, but the two teams ahead of them (Tennessee and New Orleans) have had far fewer red-zone possessions. There aren't going to be a lot of stops in this game. It should be everything a football fan is hoping it'll be.
Atalanta vs. Sassuolo, Saturday, 2:45 p.m | TV: Paramount+
The Pick: Under 2.5 (+115) -- There was once a time, not too long ago, when Atalanta were the entertainers of Serie A. It played an attractive, attacking style under Gian Piero Gasperini that saw the team score a bunch of goals and allow more than their fair share too. It led to Atalanta climbing the table in Serie A and helped the club make a lot of money as it sold cheap, underrated players onto bigger clubs for much more than they paid after they performed well in Bergamo. Things have changed.
Atalanta sits second in Serie A entering the weekend, but it's not the fun team it used to be. Some might say it's become boring. As scoring in Serie A has dropped overall this season, Atalanta is the poster child. After seeing an average of 2.97 goals in Atalanta matches last season and 3.61 the season before, that number has plummeted to 2.11 this season. Atalanta does not have the attacking talent it once had and has adapted by playing more pragmatically, and it's hard to argue with the results. It's allowed only five goals through its first nine matches. I don't see much changing this weekend against a Sassuolo side that hasn't been producing many bangers itself.
Real Madrid vs. Barcelona, Sunday, 10:15 a.m | TV: ESPN+
The Pick: Real Madrid (+123) -- I've seen a bit too much concern for Barcelona this week. As things stand, it looks near impossible for Barcelona to advance to the Champions League knockout stages. It will probably be relegated to the Europa League for the second straight season. This will be catastrophic for the club's finances, which were already a catastrophe. And you know what I say to that? Good. I have nothing against Barcelona. I love Lionel Messi and those Barcelona teams that dominated the world, but Barcelona has nobody to blame for this mess but Barcelona. It spent more money than it had, and when it needed to be wise, it made more stupid, short-sighted decisions thinking the best way to solve being broke is spending even more money.
That's the backdrop heading into El Clasico against a Real Madrid team that is in working order, won the Champions League and La Liga last year, and is now tied with Barcelona atop the table. Now, Barcelona's problems off the pitch haven't impacted it much on the pitch, but Barca has been bumslaying. It's bullying teams that aren't on its level and struggling against the teams it still believes it's on the same level as. It isn't. We'll be reminded of that once more Sunday in Madrid.
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: SportsLine's Alex Selesnick is sharing all his favorite NFL props for Week 6.