Friday, 10/13 Quick Hitters: GO CUBS GO, Weekend Football Thoughts + Best Bets

The Cubs-Nationals nearly five hour 9 inning marathon was beyond belief on Thursday night. I’m writing this column minutes after running around my house, as an ecstatic Cubs fan, nearly deciding to break open a bottle of champagne for my favorite team advancing to their third straight National League Championship Series!

In what will go down as one of the most thrilling, compelling, and wacky games of all-time in baseball’s postseason, Cubs manager Joe Maddon nearly used his entire available bullpen and asked his closer, Wade Davis, to somehow record 7 outs. Errors, Passed Balls, Pickoffs, Catcher’s Interference…it was a truly bizarre game in all facets.

The Cubs Curse? It’s gone. No more goats, fan interference, ground ball mishaps, etc… This is a new era of Cubs baseball…and “Holy Cow” I’m glad I’m around to enjoy it!

I think the Dodgers will beat my lifelong favorite team in 5 games to advance to the World Series…with the Astros taking care of the Yankees in 6 games to win the American League. (P.S. How did the Indians choke away that series by losing three straight? They were clearly the best team in baseball after the All-Star break.)

Either way, for a team that was two games under .500 at the All-Star Break to advance again to the NLCS…hallelujah! #FlyTheW

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If you missed my Wednesday football predictions, click here.

-As I said in Wednesday’s column (as my Bold Prediction for Week 7), Rich Rodriguez is 0-5 against UCLA coach Jim Mora. The Bruins may have an atrocious run defense but they still have star QB Josh Rosen…and unless Arizona gets significant pressure on him, he very well might slice and dice the Wildcats secondary. A 400 yard passing game is not out of the question.

-As much as I wanted to pick the upset…Arizona doesn’t win unless Khalil Tate goes nuts on the ground and through the air for the second week in a row. Either way, it’s an incredible reversal of momentum from a program where fan morale was on life support three weeks ago after a pathetic home loss to Utah.

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-Let me put it this way – this is the most excited I’ve been looking forward to attending a UofA home game since the 2015 matchup with UCLA when ESPN’s College Gameday was in town.

-ASU is going to make Washington sweat this week. Do I think they’ll beat the Huskies? Not at all. But if this isn’t a close game in the 4th quarter, I’d be surprised. The key for ASU – get pressure on Huskies QB Jake Browning. Make him uncomfortable often. On offense, if running backs Kalen Ballage and Demario Richard can combine for 150+ rushing yards, ASU might have a puncher’s chance.

-Washington State is going to win this week and next – meaning they’ll be coming to Tucson on October 28th undefeated and in the top 10. Generally Rich Rodriguez is good for one massive upset per season…(2016 season excluded).

-It’s stunning that Oregon State coach Gary Andersen resigned this week and walked away from the $13 million remaining on his contract with nothing. While it’s an honorable thing to do since his record was miserable as Beavers coach, who forfeits that much money these days?? The Beavers won’t fare much better this weekend as I expect Colorado to punish them in Corvallis.

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-It’s clear to say, at this point in the season, that USC isn’t nearly as good as most people, including me, thought they would be. Utah won’t beat them in the LA Coliseum this weekend but the game won’t be a rout by any means.

-It seems like Stanford ALWAYS has Oregon’s number. Now the Ducks have lost 2 of 3 and are playing with a backup QB on the road. I’d be surprised if the Cardinal don’t roll. In the meantime, RB Bryce Love keeps climbing the unofficial Heisman rankings with a crazy statistical season in progress. A big game against the Ducks might put him above Penn State RB Saquon Barkley for the time being.

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-Kansas State might be playing with a backup QB but coach Bill Snyder is very good playing at home as an underdog. He’s covered the spread in 5 of his last 6 in that scenario. Make it 6 of 7. TCU has been excellent this season but they’re due to trip up against a solid Wildcats team in Manhattan, Kansas.

-The ‘Red River Rivalry’ between Oklahoma and Texas is more interesting this year because both teams have new coaches. Expect a wild shootout with little defense…but it’s hard to pick against the Sooners – who must avenge last week’s shocking home loss as a 28 point favorite to Iowa State.

-Miami is definitely on upset alert this weekend against a pesky Georgia Tech squad. Coming off an emotional last second win at rival Florida State, the Hurricanes are prone for a letdown at home without star RB Mark Walton, who has been lost for the season due to injury.

-And the game this week where I’m just shrugging my shoulders…Auburn at LSU. In the battle of the Tigers, the Alabama version is better on paper than its Louisiana counterpart. But the game is in Death Valley (Baton Rouge) and it would seriously help coach Ed Orgeron‘s job security if he upset another top 25 team for the second straight week. I’m tentatively going with Auburn in this one but it’s far from a lock.

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On to best bets where the last two weeks haven’t gone well on the college side:

College Football Week 7 Best Bets

Last Week: 1-4
Overall: 16-18-1
West Virginia -3.5 vs. Texas Tech
Kansas State +6 vs. TCU
Stanford -10.5 vs. Oregon
ASU +17.5 vs. Washington
UCLA / Arizona Under 79 total points

On the other hand, a nice 4-1 week in the NFL evened my record for the season. Time to jump past the .500 mark come Sunday!

NFL Week 6 Best Bets
Last Week: 4-1
Overall: 12-12-1
Jaguars -2.5 vs. Rams
Ravens -6.5 vs. Bears
Steelers +4.5 vs. Chiefs
Texans / Browns Under 47 total points
Buccaneers / Cardinals Over 45 total points

-On Thursday, Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott‘s injunction against the NFL for his 6 game suspension was overturned and he’ll be forced to appeal once again. Either way, let’s face the facts – this domestic abuser is going to be on the shelf sooner than later so he should just quit fighting it. Dallas currently sits at 2-3 with three of the next four games on the road. Even with Elliott on the field this team is not going to make the playoffs…

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-My projected stat line for new Cardinals running back Adrian Peterson this week:
16 carries, 58 yards, 1 touchdown
2 catches, 12 yards
Either way, the Cardinals will still lose to the Bucs.

-Upset of the week: Going with a desperate Pittsburgh team over undefeated Kansas City. Is it stupid? Maybe. But then again Pittsburgh did win in Arrowhead Stadium last January…

-Stat of the week courtesy of NFL front office legend Gil Brandt:

The Jaguars defense is elite. But their offense is…dare I say solid at best – thanks to the efforts of rookie RB Leonard Fournette. Unless the defense continues holding offenses to single-digits, this team is not Super Bowl-caliber.

-The 5-1 Eagles are really good. 2nd year QB Carson Wentz is really, really good. Their 28-23 victory in Charlotte on Thursday night was very impressive. It’s hard to argue that they are the 1a to the Packers as far as best team in the NFC thus far (and yes, I’m biased as a Green Bay fan).

-On the other hand, it’s amazing how inaccurate Cam Newton was throwing the ball for the Panthers on Thursday night. I thought this was the week they’d cement their contention in the NFC. Not so much.

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-Week 6’s fantasy football portion of the column:

PPR HERO (an underrated player who will finish in the top-10 at his position this week): 
Season Record: 2-3
Week 5: Dak Prescott (QB, Cowboys) (WIN)
Week 6: Elijah McGuire (RB, Jets)

PPR ZERO (a top-15 player who will finish outside of the top-20 at his position this week): 
Season Record: 4-1
Week 5: Melvin Gordon (RB, Chargers) (LOSS)
Week 6: Stefon Diggs (WR, Vikings) Since Diggs isn’t playing, I’ll go with T.Y. Hilton (Colts)

KICK IT TO WIN IT (A likely waiver wire kicker who will end up in the top-10):
Season Record: 2-3
Week 5: Giorgio Tavecchio (Raiders) (LOSS)
Week 6: Jason Myers (Jaguars)

PUNT OF THE WEEK (the team I think will punt most frequently therefore upgrading the other team’s fantasy defense):
Season Record: 4-1
Week 5: Arizona Cardinals (vs. Philadelphia Eagles) (WIN)
Week 6: Chicago Bears (vs. Baltimore Ravens)

To read previous entries of my blog, click here. Also make sure to follow me on Twitter @eacohen83.

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