Friday, 11/3 Quick Hitters: The World Champion Houston Astros, Weekend Football Thoughts & Best Bets

The Houston Astros won the World Series on Wednesday night…the first in team history for a city, who after the devastation of Hurricane Harvey a few months ago, certainly deserved it.

I have to give the front office credit…it was a well-rounded team with dominant young hitters, crafty starting pitching, a steady bullpen (minus ex-closer Ken Giles) and veteran leadership. If any team modeled the World Champion Cubs of 2016, it was these Astros.

While I don’t see this team becoming a dynasty going forward, they brought much needed happiness to a city and fanbase who had not experienced major sports triumph since the NBA’s Rockets twice in the mid-90s.

Good for you, Jose Altuve and company…and thank you for continuing the three decade torture of Dodgers fans.

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-So much for the SI cover jinx! Check this out from 2014 (even picturing World Series MVP George Springer)!

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-One postscript to the Astros championship…the epic marriage proposal by Houston’s star shortstop Carlos Correa:


If you missed my Wednesday football predictions, click here.

-Can Arizona win at USC? Why not? Every game between the two teams from 2007-2015 was decided by less than 10 points. Last year the Trojans routed a lousy Wildcats team but this time around, I’d recommend taking Arizona +7.5.

-Khalil Tate, if you really want to be taken seriously in the Heisman Trophy race, play big and win at USC. That’ll get PLENTY of national attention.

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-Even ASU fans are sour on their team’s chances to bounce back in a big way against a so-so Colorado team this weekend. While I want to think the Sun Devils’ defensive performances against Washington and Utah were an aberration, here’s their chance to prove otherwise against a halfway dynamic CU offense.

-I’m going to assume that star UCLA QB Josh Rosen misses tonight’s game against Utah. And if so, the Bruins will have a hard time generating points. Utes roll and Bruins coach Jim Mora’s seat gets hotter and hotter.

-How does Washington State respond after getting trounced by UofA last weekend? In a game where snow might be a factor, I’ll go with Stanford’s running attack and stingy defense to pull the upset. Hardly confident in this pick though…especially if star RB Bryce Love doesn’t play (he’s questionable as of the time this blog was posted).

-Prior to last season’s matchup, Oregon had won 12 straight meetings against Washington. Considering the Huskies are the much stronger team at this juncture, I’ll take Jake Browning’s team to make it two-in-a-row.

NCAA Pac 12  Football - Oregon vs. Washington

-While we didn’t pick this game among Wednesday’s selections, look for California to dominate an Oregon State team that won’t show nearly as much fight as it did last week against Stanford.

-Penn State goes from one tough road game to another, Michigan State. And after choking away last week’s game at Ohio State, the Nittany Lions need all of the style points they can get the rest of the season in order to possibly climb up the College Football Playoff Selection Committee rankings. I expect them to win a hard-fought and lower-scoring game than they’re used to in East Lansing.

-Watch out Clemson…I’m putting you on Upset Alert in Raleigh this week against an NC State team that’s been very tough at home. Despite losing to Syracuse several weeks ago, there’s no question that if they win out, coach Dabo Swinney’s Tigers will be in the Final Four for the third straight season.

-Miami has been really good this year…but who have they really beaten? Like Wisconsin, the Hurricanes are lacking quality wins. But beating a surprisingly good Virginia Tech team would change the whole narrative. Unfortunately I like the Hokies who will keep the ‘Canes offense in check throughout. Another pick I very much hope to be wrong about (as my parents are UM grads)!

-Alabama and LSU used to be among the best games of the year in college football. Now, considering Alabama is dominant while LSU struggles completing the forward pass, I don’t expect the Tigers to keep this one close…much less score more than one touchdown.

-And finally, “Bedlam,” Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State is a few weeks earlier this season (as there’s a decent chance both teams will meet again in the newly created Big XII Championship Game a month from now). Other than their win in Columbus, the Sooners haven’t overly impressed me this season. Meanwhile Oklahoma State has proven it can win both shootouts and extremely low-scoring affairs. Considering they’re the home team, I’ll take the Cowboys and QB Mason Rudolph to win one of those shootouts.

OSU WEST VIRGINIA FOOTBALL

On to best bets where I’m finally above .500 in both college football and NFL picks…barely…

College Football Week 10 Best Bets

Last Week: 2-3
Overall: 26-23-1
West Virginia -2.5 vs. Iowa State
California -7.5 vs. Oregon State
ASU -3.5 vs. Colorado
Arizona +7.5 vs. USC
Washington / Oregon Over 51.5 Total Points

NFL Week 9 Best Bets
Last Week: 3-2
Overall: 20-19-1
Jaguars -4.5 vs. Bengals
Chiefs Pick’em at Cowboys
Seahawks / Redskins Over 45 Total Points
Cardinals -2.5 at 49ers
Falcons +1.5 at Panthers

-Remember what I was saying about Houston earlier? Well it’s a mixed bag after their football team lost star QB Deshaun Watson for the season with a knee injury suffered in practice. It’s a terrible injury for a team already decimated on defense. With Tom Savage, the Texans can’t expect to win more than a handful of games, if that. There have been way too many key injuries this season…and this one effectively ends Houston’s playoff chances in 2017.

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-Not sure why I’m so confident in the Drew Stanton-led Cardinals this week…but the 49ers are just that bad. No, they won’t go 0-16…just traded for QB Jimmy Garoppolo will lead them to a win or two in a few weeks. But coming off the much needed bye week, I expect to see a locked and loaded Cardinals team. Unfortunately AZ fans, this week might be your last win for a little while…

-As a Packers fan, I’m going to be really, really upset if coach Mike McCarthy doesn’t open up the playbook for QB Brett Hundley on Monday night against the Lions. Don’t get me wrong, Hundley isn’t even a poor man’s version of Aaron Rodgers, but he was a pretty good college QB at UCLA…give him a chance to throw the darn ball!

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-I’ve talked about this on The Daily Blender the last several weeks…but it’s time to remedy the NFL’s bye week situation. First of all, I believe in adding an 18th week to the season so that each team has two bye weeks. Also, I believe all bye weeks should take place from Weeks 5-8 and 11-14…8 teams per week. Having teams get their bye weeks out of the way early in the season is essentially useless. Miami and Tampa Bay are at an incredible disadvantage due to having to postpone their Week 1 game to Week 11 due to Hurricane Irma and losing their in-season bye.

-Also the NFL needs to be willing to compromise when it comes to these long battles regarding multiple game suspensions. I understand that Ezekiel Elliott’s camp fought to get his six game suspension for domestic violence overturned…but it shouldn’t have taken eight game weeks. Now the Cowboys are at a HUGE disadvantage without their best player in a key part of the season. Both sides should’ve worked out a settlement of some kind to reduce the severity of the punishment.

-Week 9’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: 2-6
Week 8: Joe Mixon (RB, Bengals) (LOSS)
Week 9: Adrian Peterson (RB, Cardinals)

PPR ZERO (a top-15 player who will finish outside of the top-20 at his position this week): 
Season Record: 6-2
Week 8: DeAndre Hopkins (WR, Texans) (BIG LOSS)
Week 9: A.J. Green (WR, Bengals)

KICK IT TO WIN IT (A likely waiver wire kicker who will end up in the top-10):
Season Record: 3-5
Week 8: Adam Vinatieri (Colts) (WIN)
Week 9: Blair Walsh (Seahawks)
PUNT OF THE WEEK (the team I think will punt most frequently therefore upgrading the other team’s fantasy defense…aka turning them into a top-10 fantasy D for the week):
Season Record: 7-1
Week 8: Cleveland Browns (vs. Minnesota Vikings) (WIN)
Week 9: Denver Broncos (vs. Philadelphia Eagles)

-I wont bore you with a column full of Breeders Cup picks. But if you’re going to bet the big race on Saturday, here’s what I’m playing:
1st: West Coast
2nd: Arrogate
3rd: Mubtahiij
The Bob Baffert-trained trifecta!

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

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