NFL (0.75 Unit) 2-Team 6 Point Teaser (-110): 7:15 PM CT on ESPN
Pittsburgh Steelers +8.5
I don’t think the Steelers are quite as bad as they’ve appeared to be this season. Their brutal schedule has been arguably the toughest in the league, but things get a little easier tonight. To be fair, the Colts aren’t as bad as they’ve appeared either, but in my opinion, that just creates a game deserving of a short spread. While I’m not interested in backing Pittsburgh at less than a field goal, this tease creates a lot of leeway, considering how these teams play.
First of all, it gets an underdog through all the key numbers of a full possession, in a game with a low total. It’s especially good value when you consider that Pittsburgh’s second-worst average margin this season of minus-7.4 is still within the number. Also consider that the Colts have not won any game this season by more than a touchdown, and they’re now in the favorite role after two covers as an underdog in the Jeff Saturday experiment. That’s too much of a swing in their valuation for me, so I’m happy to get all these points with a live underdog.
The very low total for this game is that low for a reason, so being able to tease it through the key total numbers of 42 and 45 is also good value. These are not good offenses in any sense, and they lack the explosiveness needed to get over a total like this. Both teams only create points on 13% of their offensive possessions, and their average drives produce only about 30 yards.
Things are especially rough for Indianapolis, owners of the worst offensive rating by DVOA metrics, which would still be dead last if you removed the Sam Ehlinger games. Another reason I like Pittsburgh here is the ability of T.J. Watt to wreak havoc on the poor-performing Colts offensive line, making life difficult for the statuesque Matt Ryan. That should both stall drives and force Indy to keep it on the ground, creating excellent conditions for an under. Combined on the season these teams are 17-4 under this total, so look for another tonight.
NBA (0.75 Unit) Charlotte Hornets @ Boston Celtics -3 First Quarter (-110): 6:30 PM CT on NBCS-Boston
This Boston team absolutely crushes opponents early in games, and tonight gives them an easy victim to continue that dominance against. I avoided this bet in their game yesterday with Jayson Tatum sitting out, but it didn’t matter as the Celtics cruised to a 9-point lead after a quarter. That only padded their league-best average margin of plus-4.5 points in first quarters this season, which rises to plus-5.7 in home games.
It’s driven by their explosive and top-rated offense that averages 31.6 first-quarter points per game. Tonight they face a Charlotte team with the league’s lowest offensive rating, creating troubles in the first quarter. The Hornets are 29th in first-quarter scoring and 28th in average margin at minus-2.7 points. With that rising to a minus-3.2 in road games, the confluence of factors here has me loving Boston to get out to another fast start.
NCAA Basketball Minnesota +12 @ Virginia Tech (-110): 6:00 PM CT on ESPN2
This Gophers team has a potentially long and ugly season ahead of it, but this is too many points for Virginia Tech to be laying. The Hokies looked like a juggernaut to start the season, especially on offense. But they’ve come back down to earth against better competition, and even against poor competition as they struggled to put away Charleston Southern on Friday. They also struggled against another Big 10 foe in Penn State, only escaping with a 2-point win against the only power-conference team they’ve seen.
So the Gophers should be able to exploit some matchup advantages here, particularly against the Hokie defense. With Jamison Battle having returned from injury and paired with Dawson Garcia, Tech’s top defender Justyn Mutts will only be able to focus on one of them. And Minnesota will slow the pace, as they’re just 325th in tempo this season, likely creating a lower-scoring game where catching this many points has natural value.
Tiny Nick is 960-800 ATS (+88.3 Units) on his Locks since joining Zone Coverage.
Every day he will offer his Locks and Degenerate picks. Locks are the games he’s confident in. Degenerates are entertaining but riskier picks.