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Happy Friday, everybody! It's the start of an incredible weekend of sports, and tonight's newsletter has plenty of picks to get you through all of it. Not only do I have a pick for tonight's World Series opener, but I've got a college football pick ready for you, too. You know, something to sweat during commercials.

Then, of course, is the rest of the weekend. Two more college picks for Saturday, two NFL picks for Sunday and three soccer plays for the entire weekend. Before we get to all of it, let's check out the latest in the world of sports.

Let's play ball!

All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook


🔥 The Hot Ticket

Phillies at Astros, 8 p.m. | TV: Fox

Latest Odds: Under 6.5
  • Key Trend: The under is 6-1-1 in Houston's last eight home playoff games.
  • The Pick: Under 6.5 (+105)

Tonight is Game 1 of the World Series, and since both teams took care of business quickly in the last round, we get the ideal matchup of both teams sending their ace to the mound. Justin Verlander starts for Houston, while Aaron Nola takes the bump for Philadelphia. On the season, Verlander has the better numbers, but many underlying metrics suggest Nola is the better pitcher at the moment.

But we're splitting hairs here. These were two of the league's top offenses during the regular season, and both have hit well in October, but both fare far better against lefties than righties. The Astros finished second in MLB with a wRC+ of 124 against lefties during the season, but that number dropped to 107 against righties. Philly ranked seventh in MLB with a wRC+ of 115 against lefties but only 12th at 102 against righties.

Also, one of the aspects of Nola's and Verlander's games that make them so special is they don't walk people. Nola's walk rate of 3.6% was 57% better than the league average, while Verlander's 4.4% was 46% better. Both also miss bats at an elite rate, so hitters will have to earn their way on base the old-fashioned way. That won't be easy, either. Houston has one of the best defenses in baseball, and while the Phillies haven't been great (it's hard to be when you have Kyle Schwarber in left and Nick Castellanos in right), they've improved considerably the second half of the season.

Runs will not be easy to come by tonight. You'll probably only need three runs to win this one.

Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: SportsLine's Allie O'Neill is on fire in MLB, going 22-7 in her last 29 money line plays, and she's got a pick for Game 1 tonight.


💰 The Picks

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USATSI

🏈 College Football

East Carolina at BYU, 8 p.m. | TV: ESPN2

Latest Odds: East Carolina Pirates +3

The Pick: East Carolina +3.5 (-115) -- BYU is a team that started the season hot, going 4-1 with a win over a Baylor team ranked in the top 10 at the time. When it fell 28-20 at Notre Dame, nobody was too concerned because, even in a down year, Notre Dame is Notre Dame. They should've been concerned because a BYU defense that was already suspect has fallen apart the last two weeks.

The Cougars allowed 52 points to Arkansas and 41 points to a Liberty team last week that was missing 17 players. BYU enters tonight with plenty of players on its injury report and is facing an East Carolina team that's been solid. The Pirates aren't spectacular on the defensive side of the ball, but there's a big difference between "below average" and "one of the worst in the country," which is where BYU resides. The Pirates' offense does a good job of putting itself into third-and-manageable positions, which will come in handy against a BYU defense that's been awful on third and fourth downs all year.

No. 2 Ohio State at No. 13 Penn State, Saturday, 12 p.m. | TV: Fox

Latest Odds: Under 60.5

The Pick: Under 61 (-110) -- The Penn State offense recovered nicely last week against Minnesota following a poor performance against Michigan, but I don't think it has fixed anything. The Penn State offense is better when it can run the ball, and I don't think it'll run the ball as effectively against an Ohio State defense that ranks fourth nationally in success rate against the run and 15th in yards before contact per rush.

That said, while I like Ohio State to cover, Penn State has played the Buckeyes better than most in recent seasons and could make a game of this one again. Plus, while they put up 54 points last week, Ohio State's offense wasn't as sharp against Iowa as you'd think. No secondary can match up with Ohio State's receivers, but Penn State's can do a better job than most, so we may see the Buckeyes lean more on the run game than usual in this one.

No. 10 Wake Forest at Louisville, Saturday, 3:30 p.m. | TV: ACC Network

Latest Odds: Wake Forest Demon Deacons -3

The Pick: Wake Forest -3.5 (-105) -- I don't know if you heard the comments from Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson after last week's win over Boston College, but when he wasn't heaping praise upon QB Sam Hartman he was taking shots at the haters for always doubting his Demon Deacons. That's a great sign for this week against Louisville, because the Deacs are playing with a chip on their shoulder and want to prove they aren't in the top 10 by accident.

Meanwhile, Louisville beat Pitt last week, but it was an awful performance from the Cardinals offense. This is still a flawed Louisville team, particularly on the offensive side of the ball, and I don't see how it keeps pace with Wake. Also, don't for a moment think that Clawson and the Deacs are over 2016's "WakeyLeaks" scandal. Even if those involved are no longer around, there's always an added incentive to stick it to Louisville when they can.

🏈 NFL

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USATSI

Panthers at Falcons, Sunday, 1 p.m. | TV: Fox

Latest Odds: Carolina Panthers +4

The Pick: Panthers +4 (-110) -- Are the Panthers better without Christian McCaffery and Baker Mayfield? I highly doubt it, but if they win again this weekend, we have to consider the possibility. Or it could just be that the Falcons stink too, and lost. Frankly, this pick is more about Atlanta than Carolina because while the Falcons have been Fun Bad, I'm not ready to trust them as a favorite.

Atlanta is 3-4 on the season and 6-1 ATS, but it's been the underdog in all seven games. Also, it failed to cover last week for the first time when we took the Bengals. They could pick up the win this week to improve to 4-4 and place themselves firmly in the playoff picture (my god, the NFC is a dumpster fire), but they won't win by much if they do.

Commanders at Colts, Sunday, 4:25 p.m. | TV: Fox

Latest Odds: Washington Commanders +3

The Pick: Commanders +3 (-110) -- We have a similar situation here to the one we just dealt with. The Indianapolis Colts have moved on from Matt Ryan after seven games. What matters is Sam Ehlinger is starting at QB for the Colts this week, and he's the favorite. The same Sam Ehlinger who has never started an NFL game. The Sam Ehlinger who appeared in three games as a rookie last season but never threw a pass (three carries, nine yards), is a three-point favorite.

OK! Sure! Let's go with that!

Meanwhile, Washington lost Carson Wentz to an injury last week and started Tyler Heinicke in his place. While Heinicke isn't going to win any Super Bowls in the NFL (at least, not as a starter), he's far and away the more trustworthy option in this game. I'm taking the points, but I recommend considering the Commanders on the money line or some alternate spreads.

⚽ Soccer

Lecce vs Juventus, Saturday, 12 p.m. | TV: Paramount+
The Pick: Juventus (-113) -- 
I'm a glutton for punishment because I keep betting on Juventus even though it's a mess. But the reason I keep doing it is that I'm winning! The narrative surrounding the club right now does not paint a pretty picture. Still, just because Juventus being in eighth place in Serie A and not advancing in the Champions League is a disaster for Juventus, it doesn't mean Juventus isn't better than most of the teams it's facing at home.

But the market has responded more to the larger narrative than it should. There are some concerns here because Juve has been better at home, but the defensive problems that doomed this team early in the season have improved. They're still a problem against stronger teams with dangerous attacks, but that's not the case this weekend against a Lecce side that has scored only nine goals this season (only Sampdoria have scored fewer in Serie A).

Arsenal vs. Nottingham Forest, Sunday, 10 a.m. | TV: USA
The Pick: Arsenal Over 2.5 Goals (-110) -- 
Arsenal Overs have been a consistent source of cash this season, but the total for this match is at 3.5, and that's a little too high. Nottingham has scored seven goals in six home matches but only once in six road matches, making it difficult to trust it to carry its share of the load. Instead, I'll bet on Arsenal hitting its team total over and eliminating Forest from the process altogether.

Arsenal is a far more competent Nottingham Forest regarding home/away splits. It's averaging 1.83 goals per match on the road in the Premier League, but that average leaps to 2.8 goals per match at home. Forest beat Liverpool 1-0 last week, but looking at the expected goals Liverpool racked up suggests how lucky Forest was to get the result. You don't need the numbers to tell you if you watched the match.

Livingston vs. Celtic, Sunday, 8 a.m. | TV: Paramount+
The Pick: Over 2.5 (-150) -- 
I don't make a habit of including Scottish Premiership matches here, but the value here makes it a no-brainer to include this week. If you aren't familiar with the Scottish Premiership, it's run by two clubs: Celtic and Rangers. Everybody else just exists. Lately, the league has been dominated by Celtic. While Rangers won it in the 2020-21 season, Celtic has won the league 10 of the last 11 seasons and looks primed to make it 11 of 12.

Celtic has scored 39 goals in its 11 league matches, 12 more than anybody else in the league. Last week they beat Hearts 4-3. The week before, it was Hibernian 6-1. Celtic has had as many league matches finish with at least seven goals scored (three) as it has with fewer than three. The average Celtic match sees 4.36 goals. Livingston has been one of the better defensive teams in the league, but that won't matter against Celtic.

🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: I didn't include an NBA play tonight, but if you want one, the SportsLine Projection Model is showing an A-graded play available between the Washington Wizards and Indiana Pacers.