Weekend’s Best Bets 10/31-11/4

Last week was a strange week because of multiple line movements in both NCAA and NFL football. Based on the lines I posted on Thursday, I performed pretty well although the line movements would have had a negative effect had I placed the bets on game day. Still, I was over 4-1 in NFL games once again while I still struggled with NCAA games. As my twenty-fourth year approaches on Sunday, I think I will be entering my sports betting prime. Hopefully.

College Football

Credit: athlonsports.com

Last Week: 2-3

Overall: 4-11

Georgia Southern @ Appalachian State 10/31 8:00 PM EST

Appalachian State -14.5

This line opened at -15.5 and I will gladly take the point difference on this line. Appalachian State hasn’t lost since the last time they played Georgia Southern last year by a total of 20 points. I’m sure the Mountaineers haven’t forgotten about that loss just yet. I expect Appalachian State to keep rolling and win their fourteenth game in a row in a blowout.

Kansas State @ Kansas 11/02 3:30 PM EST

Kansas State -6

No letdown game here. The Wildcats are the real deal and beating Oklahoma was no fluke. Kansas State quarterback Skylar Thompson seemed locked in against the Sooners and I don’t think he’s done yet. The play calling against Oklahoma was also very impressive last week so despite Kansas putting up big numbers against Texas and Texas Tech the past two weeks I think their offensive explosion ends here.

UAB @ Tennessee 11/02 7:00 PM EST

UAB +12

I might even consider taking UAB +400 in this game because of how close they will be able to keep this one. Tennessee has already dropped a game to a mid-major team this year and the talented Blazers could deliver another mid-major loss to the Vols’ record. Tennessee’s offense has been incredibly inconsistent, therefore the Blazers cover this spread with good defense and a balanced offense.

Boise State @ San Jose State 11/02 10:30 PM EST

San Jose State +17

There is still no word on if Boise State’s true freshman quarterback, Hank Bachmeier, will be back from his hip injury for Saturday’s game. Despite if he plays or not, San Jose State should cover this spread. Throughout the season, the Spartans’ quarterback, Josh Love has been making his case for deserving a spot in the NFL. He has thrown for 2,355 yards to go along with 15 touchdowns and just 3 interceptions. I don’t see a scenario where Boise’s defense keeps Love in check so I have the Spartans keeping this one close.

Navy @ Connecticut 11/01 8:00 PM EST

Navy -27.5

I always seem to be on the wrong side of the huge spread in UConn games, however, I know for a fact Navy will score at least 40 points in this game. They have only scored less than 34 in one game this season which was their lone loss to Memphis. The Huskies are very bad on both sides of the ball so if their offense doesn’t show up the same way it did against an even worse UMass team, then Navy should have no issue covering this spread.

NFL

Dec 30, 2018; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) runs with the ball as Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell (93) attempts to make a tackle during the third quarter at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Last Week: 4-1

Overall: 13-2-1

49ers @ Cardinals 10/31 8:20 PM EST

49ers -10

Last week I said the Niners were up against their first real test which was the Carolina Panthers. Safe to say they passed the test and also aced all the extra credit questions like the overachieving kid in algebra class. The Cardinals are without their top two running backs and Kenyan Drake has barely spent any time in Arizona to be able to handle a full playbook. That leaves Kyler Murray with too much responsibility to beat this impenetrable defense. San Francisco remains unbeaten in a blowout.

Texans @ Jaguars 11/03 9:30 AM EST

Over 46

Texans games have surpassed this total in all but two games this season while the Jaguars have only surpassed this total in three games. The last time these two teams faced off, the final score was 13-12 but that was before each team had players pile up on the injury report. In what is essentially a home game in London for Jacksonville who play there every year, I’m expecting a shootout.

Jets @ Dolphins 11/03 1:00 PM EST

Dolphins +140

I might be crazy taking this one but I honestly believe that the Dolphins have a more cohesive defense than the Jets. The Dolphins did lead the Steelers by 14 on Monday night while the Jets win over Dallas looks more and more like a fluke by the week. And despite being winless, the Dolphins still look like a team that’s trying to win but just don’t have the talent yet while the Jets seem like a team that’s trying to lose. I’m taking Miami to get their first win of the season.

Browns @ Broncos 11/03 4:25 PM EST

Browns -3.5

The Broncos are without Joe Flacco for 4-6 weeks making this a juicy matchup for the Browns defense. I think Baker Mayfield will do enough to propel his team to a victory by at least a touchdown in Denver. What I won’t be looking forward to is Mayfield’s post game interviews where he is way too high on himself after beating a below average team.

Buccaneers @ Seahawks 11/03 4:05 PM EST

Over 51.5

The Bucs have hit the over in 16 of their last 21 games on the road. This is largely due to Jameis Winston’s inconsistency. He’ll throw for about 350 yards and 3 touchdowns to complement his 4 interceptions allowing his opponent to score on a short field. The Seahawks have struggled on defense at home this season allowing an average of 28 points to their opponents. I wouldn’t be surprised if one of these teams covered the over on their own in this one.

Weekend’s Best Bets 10/24-10/28

Last week was another up and down week for me as I only got out of Saturday’s college games with one win while I went undefeated with one push for my six NFL picks. Despite my recent performance in college football, I am still going to try to bounce back and provide picks although you would be better off taking the opposite of what I pick. I’ll look to keep my streak going for NFL games this week.

College Football

Sep 15, 2018; Auburn, AL, USA; LSU Tigers quarterback Joe Burrow (9) carries against the Auburn Tigers during the first quarter at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Last Week: 1-4

Overall: 2-8

SMU @ Houston 10/24 7:30 PM EST

SMU -14

The Mustangs head to Houston on a short week and are hosted by a team who barely beat a bad UConn time last week. SMU’s high powered offense has scored over 40 points in every game this season except for the first game of the season while the Cougars have surrendered over 30 points in every game this season except for their game against UConn last week. Houston’s defense will not be able to contain SMU’s offense leading to a potential blowout.

Auburn @ LSU 10/26 3:30 PM EST

LSU – 10.5

I am not a believer in Auburn’s freshman quarterback, Bo Nix. He goes through stretches in big games where it is apparent that he cannot lead an offense. It happened against Oregon, it happened against Texas A&M, and it happened against Florida. If that happens against LSU then that’s bad news for Auburn. LSU is rolling with their best offense in program history with Heisman co-favorite Joe Burrow leading the way. I like LSU to win by two touchdowns.

Appalachian State @ South Alabama 10/26 12:00 PM EST

Appalachian State -26

The story of Appalachian State is a fun one. They were one of the best, if not the best, FCS team of all time, winning over 550 games, three straight championships from 2005 to 2007, and making the FCS playoffs 20 times. In 2013, they transitioned to the FBS level and have dominated the Sun Belt Conference ever since, winning four straight bowl games and finishing three straight seasons with 10 or more wins. They are currently undefeated and ranked 21st in the country. Now with that kind of background, Appalachian State doesn’t belong on the same field as a team as bad as South Alabama. The Mountaineers win in a blowout.

Texas @ TCU 10/26 3:30 PM EST

Over 58.5

After squeezing out a win against Kansas, the Longhorns seem like a team that has to score at least 40 points to win a game because of their historically bad defense. They have gained at least 427 yards of offense in every game but one this season and while the Horned Frogs haven’t had an explosive offense this past month, I expect them to score at least 30 against this bad Texas defense. I actually think that 58.5 is an exceptionally low total for this shootout.

Texas Tech @ Kansas 10/26 7:00 PM EST

Texas Tech -3.5

Kansas has had two offensive explosions this year. One against Boston College and one last week against Texas. After their 48 points against Boston College, they only scored 24 the next week against West Virginia at home. I expect a similar situation against the Red Raiders. It is difficult to predict which Texas Tech team will show up in Lawrence but I think we’ll see the team that can put up 40+ points and I can’t say the same for Kansas.

NFL

Sep 18, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos center Matt Paradis (61) lines up across from Indianapolis Colts nose tackle David Parry (54) in the first half at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Last Week: 5-0-1

Overall: 9-1-1

Redskins @ Vikings 10/24 8:20 PM EST

Redskins +17

The Redskins have hit the under in four straight games while the line for this game is 42 points. I am by no means saying the Redskins have any shot at winning but the over/under is entirely too low for this spread. Interim head coach, Bill Callahan, has shifted Washington’s offense to be run-first putting the ball in Adrian Peterson’s hands more often which will decrease the amount of scoring opportunities. The Vikings will also be without Adam Thielen which will make it even more difficult for them to cover the spread.

Broncos @ Colts 10/27 1:00 PM EST

Colts -5.5

There is a possibility that the Colts have their entire starting defense in tact for the first time all season this week. That combined with the fact that the Broncos just traded their number one receiver in Emmanuel Sanders means the Colts are looking at a juicy matchup. I don’t expect Denver to score more than 10 points in this one while the Colts dominate on both sides of the ball.

Browns @ Patriots 10/27 4:25 PM EST

Under 46

The league leader in interceptions thrown meets the team that leads the league in interceptions. Sounds like a disaster for Baker Mayfield. The only thing bettors should be wary of is if New England scores any more defensive touchdowns which would allow this game to hit the over. Nonetheless, Mayfield doesn’t stand a chance against this historic defense and the Patriots will hit the under once again as they have done nearly every week.

Giants @ Lions 10/27 1:00 PM EST

Giants +6.5

The Lions lead the league in fumbles recovered while the Giants are second to last in fumbles lost so the Lions should not expect to dominate the turnover battle in this one. The Lions run defense has been very bad this year, giving up at least 110 yards in every game this season so Saquon Barkley should have a fun day. The Lions also experienced two key losses this past week with Kerryon Johnson going down with an injury and Quandre Diggs headed to Seattle via trade. The Giants have a good chance at covering this week.

Seahawks @ Falcons 10/27 1:00 PM EST

Seahawks -3.5

The Seahawks have needed everything to go right for them to get 4 of their 5 wins so I understand this spread. However, the Falcons are clearly one of the worst teams in the league with a defense who has given up the second most points per game and the most total points this season. The Seahawks will do enough in this one to win by at least a touchdown.

NBA

Credit: sfchronicle.com

Clippers @ Warriors 10/24 10:30 PM EST

Clippers -1.5

I had to squeeze in a basketball bet to commemorate the beginning the the NBA season. The Clippers just beat the Lakers by 10 who are a much better team than the Warriors. I expect the Clippers to spoil the Warriors’ first game in the new Chase Center in San Francisco. The Warriors currently have gaping holes at the wing after losing Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson and they near the bottom of the list for every defensive category. This one might not even be close.

Our 2019/2020 NBA Over/Under Win Total Picks

Credit: bleacherreport.com

Atlanta Hawks: 33.5 (-110/-110), 2018-19 wins: 29

Dula: Over. I really like the direction the Atlanta Hawks are heading in. They are very young but also very talented. I expect second year guys, Trae Young and Kevin Huerter, to improve on their rookie campaign and I expect Atlanta’s two first round picks, DeAndre Hunter and Cam Reddish, to have an immediate impact. Atlanta will only improve for years to come.

Keehn: Under. Atlanta drafted well this year. Trae Young and John Collins are legitimate pros… on the offensive side of the ball. This team is far and away one of the most atrocious defensive teams in recent memory. Adding Hunter is a great addition for this and he will start at the 3 and play a lot. However, Young and Collins are so horrifically bad on defense that they will give up too many points for the fast-paced offense to match. They were both ranked number one at their position for worst defensive efficiency and most field goals given up.

Boston Celtics: 48.5 (-110/-110), 2018-19 wins: 49

Dula: Over. While the Celtics did lose Kyrie Irving, they gained Kemba Walker who I think can propel this team to 50 wins. Kyrie proved he could not be a system player as he did not fit in Brad Stevens’ system. Kemba was 2nd in the league in scoring when driving to the basket last year, behind only the MVP of the league, Giannis Antentokounmpo. Combine him with young stars like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown then add a little bit of Gordon Hayward and you’ve got a recipe for a contender. Boston also got who I believe will be the steal of the draft in Purdue’s Carsen Edwards who averaged more than 30 PPG in the NCAA tournament earlier this year.

Keehn: Over. Brad Stevens and the rest of the crew in bean town can finally breathe a sigh of relief with the departure of Kyrie Irving. Kemba Walker brings in a new vibe to the team. This team did take a strong hit defensively, adding Kanter and Walker who are both not as good as Horford/Kyrie/Baynes. However, they finished the preseason as the best defense on paper when it came to efficiencies. Jayson Tatum is ready to pop this season. He will finally begin to go to the basket and draw fouls and shoot more 3’s which will propel him to an all-star appearance. Gordon Hayward will look to get back to his normal self again. This team is trending in the right direction. If Stevens can mix and match lineups that work, their depth could propel them past 50 wins. Look for Carsen Edwards to be the steal of the draft.

Brooklyn Nets: 44.5 (-110/-110), 2018-19 wins: 42

Dula: Over. The Nets are a year away from being legitimate contenders when Kevin Durant comes back from his Achilles injury. This year will be a building block year with newly acquired Kyrie Irving leading the charge. The Nets also added a lot of depth this offseason with veterans like Garrett Temple, Wilson Chandler, DeAndre Jordan, and third-year player Taurean Prince. Caris LeVert was in the midst of a breakout year before dislocating his ankle last season, if he stays healthy this starting lineup is scary good.

Keehn: Over. This one really could go either way. If Kyrie stays healthy this season, all season, they should be more than okay to beat this total. Maybe now that DeAndre Jordan is playing with his friends he will show a small bit of effort. Last year was embarrassing for him and he looks to turn this around. If Atkinson can keep a hold of the personalities of this team, it will all work out. But if he starts to let the players dictate the show, it could get out of hand. Jarrett Allen should play more than Jordan. However, with Kyrie at the helm, he might demand otherwise. It will be interesting to see how the young Nets do with Uncle Drew at the helm. When healthy this team is loaded with talent. They are one year away (obviously).

Charlotte Hornets: 23.5 (-110/-110), 2018-19 wins: 39

Dula: Under. Kemba Walker single-handedly won games for Charlotte last season. Now, I don’t believe that he won an extrta 16 games for them, but he kept them in playoff contention until the end of the season. With no Walker, the Hornets’ starting backcourt includes two guards who would probably be backups on any other team with Rozier and Bacon. I expect a lottery pick from Charlotte in next year’s draft.

Keehn: Under. I have no comment on this team because they are by far the worst in the league. Jordan should be ashamed of the team he has put together. Giving Rozier that much money is ridiculous. This is going to get ugly. Maybe worst team in the league is a bit harsh but without Kemba, what can they even be?

Chicago Bulls: 30.5 (-134/+110), 2018-19 wins: 22

Dula: Over. The Chicago Bulls are only getting more experienced and Zach LaVine can hopefully play at least 70 games this year. The Bulls are also very deep at the guard position with Satoransky, LaVine, Dunn, and rookie Coby White. They also get Otto Porter Jr. for a full season and they added veteran, Thaddeus Young. Lauri Markkenen and Wendell Carter Jr. round out the frontcourt making Chicago a pretty decent team.

Keehn: Over. Don’t be surprised if Chicago makes a little bit of a playoff run at some point in the season. Zach Lowe put them as one of his preseason playoff teams, and I don’t blame him. If LaVine can stay healthy along with Lauri, they can be a fun team to watch. Wendell Carter and Coby White are prototypical guys with their sizes and skill-sets for the modern NBA. This team has so many young weapons and should surprise a lot of people this year.

Cleveland Cavaliers: 23.5 (-121/+100), 2018-19 wins: 19

Dula: Under. Outside of Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson, the Cavs are a rather young team with potential. Sexton and rookie Darius Garland could eventually be a dynamic backcourt and I think Dylan Windler will also be an impactful rookie. This team does have some bright spots but they still won’t be able to claw out of the hole LeBron left them in.

Keehn: Under. The Cavs are really bad. Kevin will be traded by December and they have an extremely young backcourt with Garland and Sexton. This team just doesn’t have enough to compete. They are going to need a lot of help if they are going to get above 20 wins.

Dallas Mavericks: 40.5 (+110/-134), 2018-19 wins: 33

Dula: Under. Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis are going to be a dominant scoring duo. I also believe that Doncic will be a top 3 player in the league in the near future. But for now, the Western Conference is too good for Dallas to reach a .500 record. That being said, the Mavs are not too far away from competing in the west.

Keehn: Under. There are actually quite a few people who have Dallas making the playoffs this year. This is quite bold considering Kristaps is coming off injury and Luka is is still so young. Outside of those two guys they really don’t have any play makers who have played in any big games. In fact, Luka and Kristaps haven’t played in big games either. This team will be good eventually. Look for them to be active at the trade deadline. They’ll get there eventually, but not this year.

Denver Nuggets: 52.5 (-121/+100), 2018-19 wins: 54

Dula: Over. The Denver Nuggets come into the season with essentially the same roster as last year with the addition of Michael Porter Jr. who sat out all of last season after back surgery. The Nuggets have four guards who could be starters in the NBA with Gary Harris, Jamal Murray, Monte Morris, and Malik Beasley. Nikola Jokic is also arguably the best center in the league rounding out this very solid roster. The Nuggets should still be considered contenders despite the amount of offseason action in the Western Conference.

Keehn: Over. This team is going to finish as the number one seed in the West, and it’s not that bold to say. It isn’t even because of Michael Porter Jr coming back. This team is the most balanced team in the league with several matchups that work in their favor. Adding Jerami Grant was one of the best additions this offseason. This team is defensively poised, they are maturing, and they are ready to go deeper in the playoffs. Jokic is the best center in the league. He is absolutely someone you should consider throwing money on for MVP this year and he is a clear-cut top 5 fantasy player. He looks to lead this team to another great year.

Detroit Pistons: 37.5 (-134/+110), 2018-19 wins: 41

Dula: Over. The Pistons O/U being at 37.5 is kind of disrespectful if you ask me. The Pistons were a playoff team last year and entered the postseason with an injured Blake Griffin. Luke Kennard did a better than expected job filling in for Griffin and with the additions of Derrick Rose and BIG3 MVP Joe Johnson, I think the Pistons have a chance at making the playoffs again this season.

Keehn: Over. Ever so slightly over. Like, 38 or 39 wins kind of over. I actually like this O/U for them. The teams in the East who improved this year with their offseason additions and changes did more so then the Pistons did. D-Rose is obviously a great addition to any team but point guard really wasn’t this team’s problem. They got badly exposed on the wing on both sides of the ball and did nothing to get better at that position. The East teams who did improve all have dynamic wings who will be able to keep exploiting this. If Blake gets hurt like I expect him to at some point, they are in serious trouble. They’ll be a borderline playoff team but I don’t think they will be able to keep up with the other teams in a better (but still not great) Eastern Conference.

Golden State Warriors: 47.5 (-134/+110), 2018-19 wins: 57

Dula: Over. So they lost KD and Klay Thompson, but that doesn’t make them 10 games worse than they were last year. They still have Steph Curry who is in a position to put up MVP numbers and teams can’t shut him down like the Raptors did in the finals because D’Angelo Russell will take that defensive pressure off of him. Willie Cauley-Stein was an underrated acquisition at center and if they can figure out their small forward position, I expect the Warriors to thrive with a chip on their shoulder this season.

Keehn: Under. Part of me thinks that this team will just somehow magically get to 50+ wins just because they’re the Warriors. Adding Russell is very interesting but here’s a twist not a lot of people are thinking of. Russell is going to be one of the most talked about guys likely to get traded at the deadline than almost every player in the league besides Kevin Love. If the Warriors get a few picks and some solid players, that would be preparing them for the future. It doesn’t help when they have Omari Spellman and Alfonso McKinnie in their starting lineup and in the crunch time lineup with Curry and Draymond in the preseason. In a loaded Western Conference, those guys aren’t going to cut it. One thing is for sure: Steph is going to win the scoring title. The rest is up in the air for this team. With the uncertainty of Klay coming back, I have to under on this one. However if Klay were to have a similar timetable to Oladipo, I would switch to over very quickly.

Houston Rockets: 52.5 (-110/-110), 2018-19 wins: 53

Dula: Over. While this team is not very deep outside of backups, Tyson Chandler, Gerald Green, and Austin Rivers, the combination of Westbrook and Harden is going to be too powerful for most teams to handle. It still baffles me that Scott Brooks had those two guys and Kevin Durant and failed to win a championship but that’s another discussion. The Rockets will maintain their regular season dominance and achieve at least 53 wins this season.

Keehn: Over. A thousand times again… this will be over. This team is going to finish near the top of the West. I cannot believe people are excluding this team from their playoff projections. The amount of disrespect Russ gets around the league is laughable. Him and Harden are going to be an absolute nightmare for even the higher end defensive teams. Russ is still going to stuff the stats sheet, Harden is still going to put up MVP numbers, and the role players are going to do their thing. This team is going to WALK to 50 wins. Come on guys, is this real?

Indiana Pacers: 47.5 (+100/-121), 2018-19 wins: 48

Dula: Over. While Oladipo won’t be healthy do start the season, if he comes back and is the same All-Star he was last season then the Pacers are a dangerous team. They are very deep and a backcourt consisting of Dipo and Malcom Brogdon is no joke. I expect a 50 win season from Nate McMillan and his squad.

Keehn: Under. The loss of Thaddeus Young and Bojan are huge for this team. With Oladipo’s return up in the air, his ideal complement, Brogdon, won’t be able to do the things he did with Milwaukee because the cast is nowhere near as good as the Bucks. The Pacers have a lot of talented individual guys, but being able to gel as a team and continually grow leading up to his return will be a big test for this team.

Los Angeles Clippers: 56.5 (-110/-110), 2018-19 wins: 48

Dula: Over. Doc Rivers was simply robbed of Coach of the Year last year. Now he gets the two best two-way players in the league with Paul George and Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard. The Clippers return both of their Sixth Man of the Year nominees, Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell which shows how strong their bench is. This team will coast to the Conference Finals if healthy.

Keehn: Over. This is higher than I would have expected. 56 is quite high considering Paul George will miss the first 10 or so games. However, when healthy, this team is far and away the best in the league. The 2 best 2 way players in the league surrounded by veteran who is the best 6th man in the league, young stars who play their roles beautifully, a defensive pest as a point guard, and a championship head coach. That is the formula for winning if there ever was one.

Los Angeles Lakers: 51.5 (-110/-110), 2018-19 wins: 37

Dula: Over. Mising out on Kawhi Leonard was a blessing in disguise for the Lakers. Because of that, they were able add the necessary depth to their lineup. LeBron had the first serious injury of his career last year so we’ll see how his body holds up after logging over 46,000 regular season minutes in his career. A healthy Anthony Davis should take the pressure of LeBron though, making this team a favorite to win the west.

Keehn: Over. If Anthony Davis can stay healthy all year, this team will be so much fun to watch on defense. Anthony Davis is a clear-cut candidate to compete with Giannis for the MVP. LeBron still looks as sharp as ever. The guys around them are all defensively oriented. Davis, LeBron, Green, Bradley, and McGee is a downright scary defense. However, if one of LeBron or AD goes out for a long period of time, this team won’t have enough scoring to stay afloat and it could plummet quickly.

Memphis Grizzlies: 26.5 (-112/-109), 2018-19 wins: 33

Dula: Over. I think it’s reasonable to say this team can reach 30 wins. With the additions of young talent like Ja Morant, Grayson Allen, Tyus Jones, and Brandon Clarke the future looks bright for Memphis but they will continue to rebuild for the next few years.

Keehn: Over. Not by much here. They are going to have to steal a lot of games from the East teams. Morant is ready to be the front-runner to win ROY (yes because he will play more minutes and get more volume than Zion). Jarren Jackson Jr. is going to be a force in this league really soon. It should be him this franchise builds around. They’ll get there eventually. Clarke is one of my favorite recent college players to come out of a draft. This team is built for the future. Slightly over here. Maybe they’ll get to 30 but over 30 would be a stretch.

Miami Heat: 42.5 (-110/-110), 2018-19 wins: 39

Dula: Over. Jimmy Butler is back in a situation where he is undoubtedly the star on his team. I’m expecting potential MVP numbers from him this season. He’s accompanied by Rookie of the Year candidate, Tyler Herro, who I haven’t even seen hit the rim on the shots he’s made throughout summer league and preseason so far. Spoelstra’s move of Justise Winslow to point guard last season should also continue to see its benefits.

Keehn: Over. The Heat got rid of the most lazy player in the league and added the least lazy player in the league. I would take that as a huge win. Jimmy Butler completely changes the Heat’s mindset to a “win now” one. If they can make an acquisition at the trade deadline for a Love, Griffin, or Russell, this team could be a real contender. Bam Adebayo, Justice Winslow, and Tyler Herro are great young pieces who will be used at length this year. Expect them to compete for a high seed in the East.

Milwaukee Bucks: 56.5 (-110/-110), 2018-19 wins: 60

Dula: Under. Khris Middleton and Giannis are one of the NBA duos that nobody is talking about but they belong in the conversation with AD and Lebron, Russ and Harden, and PG and Kawhi. However, 57 wins is still a lot of wins and the east has gotten stronger despite losing Kawhi Leonard. That’s not to say they won’t get 55, but I’m not seeing 57 for the Bucks.

Keehn: Over. Watching Giannis in the preseason was incredibly hilarious. 27 points and 14 rebounds in 24 minutes of action was pretty consistent (ball-parking). He is the favorite to repeat as MVP. His jumper also took a HUGE step forward. It is far smoother and he is shooting it with more confidence. The team as a whole got worse but Giannis, somehow, got better. I like them to be the top seed in the East once again.

Minnesota Timberwolves: 35.5 (-110/-110), 2018-19 wins: 36

Dula: Under. Losing Derrick Rose hurts the Wolves. I expect Jarrett Culver to beat out Jake Layman for the starting job sooner rather than later but I still don’t think this team got any better in the offseason. Karl-Anthony Towns’ talent will be wasted for yet another season in Minnesota.

Keehn: Under. This is the season that is going to drive Towns out of town. Jarrett Culver is ranked as my second best rookie for the long-term. He is going to be a good 2 way NBA player for a long time. They lost Jones and Rose which is a big hit on load that Jeff Teague will have. This team did not get much better while the rest of the conference did. I expect Josh Okogie to take a jump this year.

New Orleans Pelicans: 38.5 (-112/-112), 2018-19 wins: 33

Dula: Over. There is no team in the NBA that I am more excited to watch than the Pelicans. They were a top 5 team in pace last season so what they did in the offseason was go out and get a bunch of athletic guys who can beat their guys up and down the floor. I cannot wait to see how they implement a transition offense with. And they will have an above average defense with guys like Lonzo Ball, Jrue Holiday, and Derrick Favors in the starting lineup. Not to mention, they had an excellent draft getting Zion Williamson, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, and Jaxson Hayes. I don’t think it will happen, but I hope I see this team in the playoffs.

Keehn: Over. This is one of those where the number for this might have people shaking there heads, but it’s actually pretty good. I like them to win around 40 games this year and just missing the playoffs. This team will have a rare identity that isn’t really seen at any level of basketball these days: a young team with an exceptional defense. They will be a show in transition but it is their defense that will get people out of their seats. If Zion can stay healthy, get your popcorn ready.

New York Knicks: 27.5 (-122/+100), 2018-19 wins: 17

Dula: Under. I don’t think the Knicks are as bad as everyone has made them out to be. If Julius Randle can stay healthy, they can potentially be a 30 win team. But I just don’t think they are good enough to beat the teams they’ll be playing. Give RJ Barrett some time and let Kevin Knox get another year of NBA experience and they should be a decent team in a few years.

Keehn: Under. Before the preseason started, I would have thought about the over on this one. However, after watching some of their games I am going to have to take the under. Dula is right: they aren’t as bad as people think. It is clear that Fiz is running the team through Barrett and Randle this preseason. The problem is the team doesn’t really have an identity. With 4 of their 8 best players all being power forwards, it’s hard to have an identity with a lop-sided roster. Barrett is going to be a serious contender for rookie of the year, Knox will improve his all around game, and Mitchell Robinson will learn from his bad high school tendencies he had last year.

Oklahoma City Thunder: 33.5 (-110/-110), 2018-19 wins: 49

Dula: Under. OKC is in full rebuild mode this season, but with all the draft picks they attained this offseason I’d say they have a good foundation for what they want to build. I actually like their backcourt with Chris Paul and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and who doesn’t love Steven Adams? Still, this team won’t be able to compete this season.

Keehn: Under. As cool as this team is on paper, there is going to be some moves for this team. It can almost be guaranteed that this team will be different roster wise from beginning of the season to the end. Steven Adams will have a great year and Chris Paul will be a nice mentor for Shai Alexander who is one of my favorite young players in the league. They will be fun to watch, but won’t have enough firepower to compete with the elites in the west.

Orlando Magic: 40.5 (+110/-134), 2018-19 wins: 42

Dula: Under. The Magic didn’t get any worse this offseason, they just didn’t get any better. I was very surprised when Nikola Vucevic decided to remain with Orlando after testing the waters as a free agent, seeing how he is one of the best centers in the league who has nothing to show for it. The Magic selected Chuma Okeke in the first round of the draft this year which also made no sense to me so despite resigning Vucevic, the Magic had a below average offseason.

Keehn: Over. The Magic are going to be a force that nobody sees coming in the East this season. Ranked in the top 3 defensively the last 3 months of the season, this team is the real deal. Jon Isaac is my pick for most improved player this year. Fultz’s jumper is better, but it is still really odd. The Magic having him isn’t too much of a factor here. Aaron Gordon looks to be an all-star along side his extremely underrated big man, Nikola Vucevic is going to continue his monster campaign. I really like this team a lot.

Philadelphia 76ers: 53.5 (-134/+110), 2018-19 wins: 51

Dula: Under. The Sixers are one injury away from being just an average team. The lack of depth in Philly makes me want to take the under here. While Ben Simmons looks like he’s been working on his jumper in the offseason, and the Sixers signed Al Horford, I’m worried that one injury could exponentially set this team back. The Sixers were a much better team as whole last year (their starting 5 is among the best in the league but their depth last year made them better) and they only totaled 51 wins so it wouldn’t make sense to me to take the over here.

Keehn: Over. Their depth is a PROBLEM. Brett Brown played more than 10 guys off the bench in almost all of their preseason games to see who was going to put in. Strong campaigns from rookie Matisse Thybulle, Mike Scott, and a few others. Those guys are not nearly enough to fill the shoes of an injury prone, but loaded, starting 5 of Philly. Their 5, when healthy, is the best in the league. I want to take the under here, but I am going to make the bold assumption that this team can actually stay healthy for once. If they do, they will be a regular season dream. However, when it comes to crunch time in a playoff series, they could be in trouble, especially with the lack of durability of Embiid and the age of Al Horford.

Phoenix Suns: 27.5 (+100/-121), 2018-19 wins: 19

Dula: Under. My heart wants to say over but it’s the Suns. They have been the laughing stock of the league for the last five years and I just won’t believe they’ll win 30 games until I see it. They do have a lot of solid players like Rubio, Ayton, Tyler Johnson, Mikal Bridges, and Devin Booker, but I still don’t think it’s enough to get them to 30 wins which is a mark they haven’t reached since the 2014-15 season.

Keehn: Under. This team is so bad. Devin Booker will always be a good player on a bad team. He is a great fantasy option but really has to take over this year if he wants to help this team get anywhere. It is a lot of talented guys playing together with no real identity. Mikal Bridges and Ayton look to have big years for Phoenix.

Portland Trail Blazers: 47.5 (-110/-110), 2018-19 wins: 53

Dula: Under. Dame and CJ will continue to be one of the best backcourts in the NBA but the frontcourt is what worries me with the Blazers this season. I really don’t like Zach Collins as a starter and there is no timetable for Jusuf Nurkic’s return. Even if Nurkic comes back healthy, it could be too late to give the Blazers another 50 win season.

Keehn: Over. This is a very different team for the Blazers. They sub in two long, athletic, defensive-minded wings for two above average shooting ones. They get Hassan Whiteside, an expiring contract, which will be huge in their negotiations for a “win now” guy at the deadline. They can flip Whiteside’s expiring for a Griffin or Love with Nurkic coming back. Each of the past 5 years the Blazers always project in the bottom of the playoff picture and always finish better. I trust Damian Lillard, not only because he is my favorite player in the league, but because he can lead a team in a loaded western conference. This team has a winning formula and can still be very talented in the West.

Sacramento Kings: 38.5 (-110/-110), 2018-19 wins: 39

Dula: Over. The Kings are not too far away from being in the top tier in the west. The top tier meaning the seven teams who should be locks to make the playoffs but the Kings should fight for an 8-seed this year. Bagley, Barnes, Hield, Fox, and potential Most Improved Player, Bogdan Bogdanovic, make up a solid roster that shouldn’t be slept on.

Keehn: Over. It’s crazy because when I say the over on this one, I’m guessing 39 wins, the same they had last year. I like this young team a lot. Buddy is an elite shooter. He is in the tier of shooters just below Klay and Steph. Bagley looks to take the leap this year and De’Aaron Fox is ready to enter a high level tier of NBA point guards. He is going to have a huge year for the Kings. However, the conference is loaded and I still expect them to be in the hunt for the 8 seed.

San Antonio Spurs: 46.5 (-110/-110), 2018-19 wins: 48

Dula: Over. I will never bet against Popovich. Even if this team was depleted and they didn’t have guys like Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan accompanied by Derrick White and the return of Dejounte Murray, I still would not take the under with Popovich coaching this team. This team also has depth with DeMarre Caroll, Patty Mills, Lonnie Walker IV, Trey Lyles, and Rudy Gay coming off the bench. The Spurs are a lock for 50 wins this season.

Keehn. Under. Dejounte Murray is really good. the injury to him last year was really unfortunate. The Spurs always find a way to hang around and be relevant in the post-Kawhi era. However, I feel as though the conference as a whole got better and the Spurs did not get much better. They have a lot of minutes distributions they have to figure out. This is probably the first time ever I would have hit the under on Pop. What has happened to me?

Toronto Raptors: 46.5 (-121/+100), 2018-19 wins: 58

Dula: Under. The Raptors won’t sniff the second overall seed in the east like they did last year. Losing Kawhi won’t have the same effect losing LeBron had on Cleveland, but Toronto is by no means a contender. I expect Fred VanVleet to come back down to earth from his extraordinary playoff run while Siakam will continue to emerge as a star. Not all is lost for Toronto and they can still sneak into the playoffs but a repeat is very far out of the question.

Keehn: Over. The Raptors are a very interesting team. They just gave Lowry his money for his years of service there. The Raptors are the number one team to move their own pieces at the deadline. Pascal Siakm is ready for a big year. The majority of this team is back and even without Kawhi, they are still a good basketball team in the East. They’ll finish with anywhere around 45-49 wins… IF… big if, they keep their team in tact. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if they moved Gasol at the deadline. OG coming back is bigger for this team than people think. Dula and I have disagreed on this one ever since Kawhi announced he was leaving. This’ll be a fun one for us to watch throughout the year.

Utah Jazz: 53.5 (-110/-110), 2018-19 wins: 50

Dula: Over. The Jazz could be the best defensive team in the NBA with their starting lineup including Mike Conley, Joe Ingles, and Rudy Gobert. Not to mention they have Ed Davis coming off the bench who shut down Joel Embiid in the playoffs last season before he left the series with an injury. While everyone is talking about the flashy teams like the Lakers, Clippers, and Rockets, the Jazz are getting lost in the contender conversation.

Keehn: Under. The Jazz are picked by a lot of people to be in that top 3 range right behind the Lakers and Clippers. They had an amazing offseason and their team definitely got a lot better. They finally have a playoff experienced guy who can help them out in those big game situations when they need a play maker or a quick bucket. Mitchell is ready for a big pop this year and they look extremely good on paper. However, I really think the Lakers, Clippers, Nuggets, Rockets, and Blazers are all better than them. For that reason, I think they might be a tad overrated. Gobert will repeat as DPOY that’s for sure.

Washington Wizards: 27.5 (+100/-122), 2018-19 wins: 32

Dula: Under. I truly believe the WIzards will be the worst team in the NBA this season. Despite Beal’s extension, I am not ruling out a trade to send Beal elsewhere through his own request. Although, I really like rookie Rui Hachimura who I think has a legitimate chance at winning Rookie of the Year because of the amount of minutes he will get on this very bad team. Hachimura is also a good all around player on both sides of the ball. So I really don’t like the Wizards this season but I love Hachimura.

Keehn: Under. This team is going to be so bad. It’s such a shame because Bradley Beal is such a good player. He is a popular pick to get traded at the deadline, despite him signing an extension. Rui Hachimura is a guy who I thought could have easily been a top 5 pick. Bryant is emerging a little bit. But unfortunately, they have nowhere near enough fire power.

Weekend’s Best Bets 10/17-10/21

Last week was a roller coaster for me when I went down six units on Saturday with my college football bets then hit all but one of my NFL bets to go up one unit on the weekend. I’ll try to keep it going with the NFL bets while I’ll try to turn it around with my NCAA bets (although, I went 8 for 9 on NCAA bets two weeks ago but didn’t post an article.)

Sep 7, 2019; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Justin Fields (1) celebrates his first quarter touchdown against the Cincinnati Bearcats with offensive lineman Wyatt Davis (52) and Jonah Jackson (73) and Thayer Munford (75) at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

College Football

Record: 1-4

UCLA @ Stanford 10/17 9:00 PM EST

Stanford -3.5

Stanford were considered to be 9.5 point favorites on Monday, then 7 point favorites yesterday, now the line is down to 3.5 points. Normally a line change this drastic would scare me off but I can’t deny the value here. I’m assuming this change comes from the announcement that Stanford will start their third string quarterback but their defense is healthy and their defense won them the game against a good Washington team. The Bruins are also surrendering over 500 YPG to go along with 37.7 PPG so I don’t think it matters who’s at quarterback for their opponents.

Toledo @ Ball State 10/19 2:00 PM EST

Toledo -1

Toledo opened as a one point underdog in this game then the line changed to make them one point road favorites. Toledo has had the upper hand in this matchup as they have beat Ball State five times in a row with each win coming by double digits.

Houston @ Connecticut 10/19 12:00 PM EST

Houston -22

I made the mistake of thinking UConn could cover a 34 point spread last week against Tulane and they lost 49-7. In my defense, 34 is a lot of points for a conference game. It’s not like UConn is an FCS team, but they might as well be. Even against a weak Houston team, the Huskies are even weaker. Houston easily wins this game.

Ohio State @ Northwestern

Northwestern +28

Ohio State has to get through this week against Northwestern before playing No. 6 Wisconsin next Saturday in Columbus. The Buckeyes should easily get bast Northwestern but with the Big Ten Game of the Year happening just a week after this game, I expect them to rest their starters midway through the third quarter to avoid any potential injuries. This gives the Wildcats a decent chance of covering this spread.

Florida @ South Carolina 10/19 12:00 PM EST

Florida -6

While the Gamecocks did defeat Georgia last week, they are in a prime spot for a letdown game. Florida’s offense actually looked very good against LSU led by their quarterback Kyle Trask. South Carolina will get their quarterback Ryan Hilinski back but he will be less than 100% as he was barely able to put pressure on his sprained knee on the sideline during the game last week. Florida will bounce back from their loss at LSU and beat the Gamecocks by about two touchdowns.

NFL

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – SEPTEMBER 22: Le’Veon Bell #26 of the New York Jets stiff arms Patrick Chung #23 of the New England Patriots during the first quarter in the game at Gillette Stadium on September 22, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Record: 4-1

Chiefs @ Broncos 10/17 8:20 PM EST

Chiefs – 3

Despite the Chiefs having injuries to their defense and Patrick Mahomes likely being less than 100%, I still believe they can beat a below average Broncos team. History is also on their side as the Chiefs have beaten the Broncos in seven straight games while covering the spread in six of them and winning five straight ATS in Denver.

Jaguars @ Bengals 10/20 1:00 PM EST

Jaguars -3.5

The Bengals must love how much attention the Dolphins are getting because they are just as bad. They are also down two cornerbacks and a safety this week which makes this a very good matchup for Minshew and the rest of this offense. I’d even go as far as saying this game has blowout potential. Jaguars with the points is my lock of the week.

Rams @ Falcons 1:00 PM EST

Rams -3

I am certainly not a believer in the Rams as contenders this year even with the addition of Jalen Ramsey, however, the Falcons are a very bad team with a very bad defense. The Rams have enough weapons to take advantage of the aforementioned very bad defense and win by a touchdown. I expect Jared Goff to bounce back from the worst game of his career with what could be one of his best with a matchup like this.

49ers @ Redskins 1:00 PM EST

49ers -9

I kind of think this is a generous line given that the Niners beat the Rams in LA by 13 and the Redskins are a much worse opponent. The Niners defense is going to have a field day with Washington’s abysmal offense. I’d be surprised if Washington is able to put double digits on the scoreboard in this one.

Patriots @ Jets 10/21 8:20 PM EST

Patriots -9.5

The first time these teams played, the spread was 22.5 points. Now it has dwindled all the way down to 9.5 which is likely due to Sam Darnold returning as well as recency bias. Yes, the Jets did beat the Cowboys last week but the Cowboys are not a good team. The media treats them like they’re a good team but they just aren’t. The Jets also did most of their damage in the first half last week, scoring 21 of their 24 before the halftime whistle blew. While the Patriots offense did not look great against the Giants last week, I expect them to play better against their division rivals. And there is no penetrating this New England defense. New England by 20.

Under 43

I missed the under in the Patriots game last week but the under in games for the team with the easiest schedule in the league is more often than not a valuable play. The Jets defense is also 11th in defensive points per drive meaning the Patriots might struggle slightly with moving the ball against them. I’d say this game has 17-3 or 21-7 written all over it allowing the Patriots to cover and for the game to hit the under as well.

Weekend’s Best Bets: 10/10-10/13

College Football

Syracuse @ NC State 10/10 8 PM ET

Syracuse +4.5

NC State’s three wins have come against East Carolina, Western Carolina, and Ball State while they have two bad losses to Florida State and West Virginia. Syracuse also has two embarrassing losses but one of them came against Clemson and the other came against Maryland who were fresh off a 79-0 win so their offense was clicking. NC State has also failed to cover against the spread when less than a touchdown in five straight games. I’m taking ‘Cuse with the points but I wouldn’t disagree with Syracuse money line here either.

Georgia Tech @ Duke 10/12 12:30 PM ET

Georgia Tech +17.5

When Georgia Tech played Duke last year, they came in as the favorite even with Duke having Daniel Jones at the helm. Duke will win this game but 17.5 is still just too many points for them to cover despite their 3-2 record. While the Yellow Jackets come into the game at 1-4, their losses don’t convince me that this game has blowout potential so I’m grabbing them with the points.

Old Dominion @ Marshall 10/12 2:30 PM EST

Over 47.5

Both of these defenses are ranked outside the top 50 and history is on the over’s side in this one. Despite none of their games hitting the over yet this year, Marshall has not had their game have a total this low in nearly a year while Old Dominion has not had a total this low in every game besides one in the last five seasons. Hammer the over.

UConn @ Tulane 10/12 3:45 PM EST

UConn +34

Any time I see a conference game with a spread over 30 I always love the underdog with the spread. Don’t get me wrong, UConn is a very bad team but they are not a whole five touchdowns worse than Tulane. The Green Wave come into this game at 4-1 but none of their wins scream “impressive” to me. I’m taking the Huskies with the points.

Nebraska @ Minnesota 10/12 7:30 EST

Nebraska +7.5

When Vegas first presented the lines for this game, Nebraska opened as a road favorite. Now, they are considered to be underdogs and Vegas has them losing by more than a touchdown. Nebraska lost to Ohio State two weeks ago 48-7 but I truly believe that Ohio State is the best team in the country so I won’t fault them for that the same way Vegas is. The Cornhuskers are the play here.

NFL

Giants @ Patriots 10/10 8:20 EST

Patriots -16.5

The league’s best defense squares off against the league’s most depleted offense. The Giants will be without Shepard, Engram, Gallman, and Barkley. The Patriots will be without Philip Dorsett but Edelman and Gordon seem like they will play against the Giants’ atrocious secondary. Bill Belichick has been notorious throughout his career for confusing young quarterbacks so I think a Daniel Jones with limited options will have trouble finding the endzone.

Under 42

As I just mentioned, I think the Giants will struggle to score. I might even go as far as saying they likely will not score a touchdown. Meaning even if the Patriots score 35 points, this game will still hit the under. This will not be an entertaining game to say the least.

Panthers @ Buccaneers 10/13 9:30 AM EST

Panthers -2.5

Anything goes in London where a team like the Jaguars are undefeated but I am a big believer in the Panthers this season. If you take a look at their roster, they are a very solid team led by potential MVP Christian McCaffrey. The Bucs defense will not be able to stop CMC and their secondary will not be able to contain Carolina’s speedy receivers. I like to Panthers by two touchdowns here.

Seahawks @ Browns 10/13 1:00 PM EST

Seahawks -2

The Browns just got mollywhopped by the Niners on Monday night. Nothing about the Browns makes me believe they are a good team at this point and they are going against early MVP candidate Russell Wilson this week. This game will still be close with the Seahawks beating their opponents by a total of 21 points this season and 17 of those points coming against Arizona. Nonetheless, I like the Seahawks by a touchdown.

49ers @ Rams 10/13 4:05 EST

49ers +3.5

The Niners are coming off a dominant win against Cleveland and they enter yet another game as underdogs. The Rams defense has been very bad these past two weeks allowing a combined total of 85 points and Goff has also not been great as of late. Goff has thrown 14 TDs, 15 INTs, and fumbled the ball 12 times in the last 12 games. If San Francisco is in fact the real deal then the Rams don’t stand a chance in this one. Money line is also a viable play here.

MLB World Series Prediction: Cinema Edition

Credit: citypages.com

From the very beginning we have branded ourselves as a “Sports/Entertainment” blog. For these postseason predictions, I am going to be using entertainment analysis rather than sports analysis. While the playoffs are already well underway, I am going to pick the winner of the World Series based on the best films to take place in each city. The early favorites are New York and Los Angeles, but let’s see if anyone can dethrone two of the biggest film cities in the world.

National League

St. Louis

Credit: carlosdev.wordpress.com

Forty-seven films have taken place in St. Louis, Missouri but most of them are nothing to run and tell your mother about. One underrated film that partially takes place in St. Louis is The Game of Their Lives, which is about the 1950 U.S soccer team who beat England 1-0 in Brazil. Another one that may go overlooked is Steven Soderbergh’s King of the Hill which is based on the memoir of A.E. Hotchner and follows a boy struggling to survive on his own in a hotel in St. Louis. Another honorable mention is Red Dragon, a prequel to the classic, Silence of the Lambs.

Honorable Mentions: Mississippi Grind

Dula’s Durians Rating: 23%

Atlanta

Credit: slate.com

Seventy-three films have been set in Atlanta and Atlanta is also becoming one of the biggest film cities in the country with multiple blockbuster films being shot there in recent years. The first film I’ll mention that takes place in Atlanta is the nearly flawless, Baby Driver. This 2017 Edgar Wright film already beats all 47 films set in St. Louis but for the sake of the article, I’ll continue. Driving Miss Daisy also was set in Atlanta which won four Oscars including Best Picture. Another Best Picture winner, Moonlight, spent its third act entirely in Atlanta.

Honorable Mentions: ATL, Flight, Love, Simon, Ride Along, Triple 9

Dula’s Durians Rating: 80%

Washington D.C.

Credit: moviefone.com

A whopping 326 films have taken place in Washington D.C. in some aspect. However, not all of them take place entirely in our country’s capital. A lot of films with political aspects involve D.C. as part of the plot but many quality films have come from D.C.’s backdrop. A Few Good Men, All the President’s Men, and one of my personal favorites, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, have all taken place entirely in D.C. giving them an early leg up in the competition. Just the sheer volume of films that take place in Washington D.C. means that great films had to have taken place there. The Coen Brothers’ Burn After Reading, Clint Eastwood’s In the Line of Fire, horror classic The Exorcist, and the first ever film to take place in D.C., Mr. Smith Goes to Washington are all films that were also set in the country’s capital.

Honorable Mentions: Annie, Armageddon, Body of Lies, The Butler, Contact, Dave, Enemy of the State, Foxcatcher, Forrest Gump, Independence Day, J. Edgar, Jackie, JFK, Lincoln, Minority Report, National Treasure, Quiz Show, St. Elmo’s Fire, Vice, Watchmen, Zero Dark Thirty

Dula’s Durians Rating: 93%

Los Angeles

Credit: time.com

The home of Hollywood is a front runner in this competition, however, Washington provided some stiff competition in the National League. It’s only fitting that these two cities are matched up in the NLDS. There are simply just too many films set in Los Angeles to select a confined list of them so I’ll try to separate the iconic films from the honorable mentions. Emphasis on “try.”

Iconic Mentions: Die Hard, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Heat, Boyz N The Hood, Pretty Woman, Beverly Hills Cop, The Big Lebowski, Sunset Boulevard, Chinatown, Rebel Without a Cause, Blade Runner, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Less Than Zero, L.A. Confidential, La La Land

Honorable Mentions: Nightcrawler, Drive, Training Day, Mulholland Drive, L.A. Story, Magnolia, Reservoir Dogs, Point Break, Rush Hour, Swingers, Collateral, Bowfinger, Speed

Dula’s Durians Rating: 99% (why am I even writing this article?)

Winner: Los Angeles Dodgers

American League

Tampa Bay

Credit: nytimes.com

Only seven films have been set in Tampa, Florida. Come on now Hollywood, show west coast Florida some love. It’s not like Tampa can’t be a backdrop of some crazy love story or a coastal action film. Someone make a Tampa classic. The most notable of the seven is Magic Mike which includes the crew known as “The Kings of Tampa.” It actually is a pretty decent film. Magic Mike XXL is a different story though and that film is bad. Thankfully, for Tampa’s sake, the second film took place in Myrtle Beach.

Honorable Mentions: Cop and a Half, The Punisher

Dula’s Durians Rating: 7%

Houston

Credit: forgottenfilmcast.wordpress.com

The Astrodome has been used in multiple films with Brewster McCloud being the first one. That experimental comedy is not for everyone but is indeed an interesting watch. Rollerball is an underrated science-fiction sports film that is also set in Houston. My favorite of the Bad News Bears trilogy, Bad News Bears in Breaking Training, takes place in Houston as the game at the end is played in the Astrodome. Terms of Endearment began its story in Houston and this is a film that received eleven Oscar nominations, five of which it won. The iconic line, “Houston, we have a problem,” delivered by Tom Hanks in Apollo 13 was because the crew he was relaying the information to was in Houston. Because Houston being the hometown of the Johnson Space Center, many films about space include Houston as one of their settings. This includes; The Martian, Space Cowboys, and Armageddon.

Honorable Mentions: Reality Bites, Selena, Reba (TV series)

Dula’s Durians Rating: 46%

Minnesota

Credit: insidestl.com

Minnesota has an advantage of being a state rather than a city. Any city in Minnesota can qualify for the list of films set there. Minnesota is home to two memorable family sports films, The Mighty Ducks and Little Big League. Field of Dreams also partially takes place in Minnesota. The film the comes to mind immediately for me is the Coen Brothers’ Fargo because of the exaggerated Minnesota accents. The Disney film Inside Out also begins in Minnesota before the family moves to San Francisco. Diablo Cody’s Best Orginal Screenplay winning Juno involves two high school students from Minnesota dealing with an unplanned pregnancy. Another film worth mentioning is Sam Raimi’s A Simple Plan. I also have to mention The End of the Tour for a few reasons. The first being that this film is, in my opinion, top five most underrated of all time. Jason Segel delivers one of the best acting performances I have ever seen as late novelist, David Foster Wallace. He was absolutely snubbed of an Oscar nomination. The second reason being that the last location of Foster’s book tour was in Minneapolis. I’d say all of the notable films that are set in Minnesota are somewhat underrated which is similar to the Minnesota Twins this season who were expected to lose the division to the Cleveland Indians.

Honorable Mentions: The Cure, Grumpy Old Men, Jennifer’s Body, Jingle All the Way, Purple Rain, Young Adult

Dula’s Durians Rating: 74%

New York

Credit: Variety.com

Well, here we are, the favorite to win the American League in the Cinematic Series. The Big Apple has more films set there than I can count. But let’s do the same thing we did with Los Angeles and try to highlight the most iconic films that took place in the city so nice they named it twice. Two films considered to be among the best ever made took place in New York: The Godfather and 12 Angry Men. I could have a never ending list of great films that took place in New York but let me try to condense it.

Iconic Mentions: Taxi Driver, Dog Day Afternoon, King Kong, Saturday Night Fever, Ghostbusters, Annie Hall, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Goodfellas, Once Upon a Time in America, West Side Story, Superman, Tootsie, Do the Right Thing, Big

Honorable Mentions: Black Swan, Manhattan, Sweet Smell of Success, Rosemary’s Baby, The Squid and the Whale, He Got Game, Marty, Serpico, Requiem For a Dream, Midnight, Cowboy, Kids, Elf, The Warriors

Dula’s Durians Rating: 100%

World Series Matchup: Los Angeles vs. New York

No surprises here. Two of the most cinematic cities in the world find themselves in a Goliath vs. Goliath matchup. But here is the deciding factor; which city is the backdrop for the best films. For Los Angeles, I’d say Sunset Boulevard, Chinatown, Heat, The Big Lebowski, Blade Runner, and La La Land are among its best. As for New York, The Godfather, 12 Angry Men, Taxi Driver, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and The Apartment.

You’re only as good as your best film and New York’s five best films are better than those set in Los Angeles. I also may be adding some personal bias because 12 Angry Men and Inside Llewyn Davis take place in New York and are two of my personal favorites.

However, I do believe that it is justifiable that New York is the winner of the Cinematic Series.

Cinematic Series Winner: New York Yankees

Credit: vanityfair.com

Competition and Success Favored Over Education:The Destruction of Youth Sports

I’ve written a piece similar to this one called “The Importance of Youth Sports: A Building Block for Success”, in which I describe how important youth athletics are to the growth of the our next generations. Here, I want to describe how conventional, fundamental youth leagues are being brought down by commercialism and a high value on competition, trophies, and winning.

A coach boasts a trophy over his team in excitement. Are we really teaching kids valuable lessons? Or are we promoting and pressuring children to win over everything else? Credit: Athletics in Action

Coaching youth football has been a special opportunity for me. I get the chance to not only work around and teach a sport that I am truly passionate about, but I also get to positively influence values and cooperative skills for a team full of kids.

I’ve coached youth football for four years now and I love it- however, I have noticed a decline in participation. When I played, in the same organization, practice fields and parking lots were filled. Now, there are empty spots in the grass, and plenty of spaces to park. What is happening?

            Now more than ever, children experience an immense pressure to perform from their parents. According to Christina Corbin’s 2019 Fox News Article, Experts Cite ‘bully parents’ in Decline in Youth Sports Participation Nationwide, she uses a direct quote from clinical Sports Psychologist Dr. Marshall Mintz to give insight on what parents are doing to their kids. Mintz states that he’s seen “young athletes who throw up on the way to games because of the pressure they’re experiencing”.

This sort of issue is very detrimental to a child’s success. It is very important for youth sports to serve as a fun way for children to learn essential life and team-building skills, which is not possible if they are forced to feel like they need to excel beyond unrealistic standards.

            Another threat to the foundation of youth sports has been the commercialism of the platform. Instead of simply providing local teams for kids to come play for (despite talent level or financial issues), there are now “elite” level organizations that are forcing traditional youth leagues into extinction.

Jack Urquhart’s 2015 piece for Universe Narratives (BYU University) highlights the extreme elitist groups and how they are ruining youth league sports. He points out that elite leagues were “created to give kids opportunities to play more games against better teams, and travel further to do so” which has lead to the industrialization of youth sports ( a now 17 million dollar industry according to Fox).

This not only corrupts league owners with the thought of profit, but it takes away from the old-school values of helping children learn and have fun doing so. By creating these groups and favoring them for the competition, society then is excluding those are aren’t seen as “talented enough” and also preventing those without the proper financing an opportunity to play. Why should we only value those with talent and money? What does that teach our youth? Do we really want them to feel as if they aren’t good enough to play because their parents can’t afford to put them in AAU basketball leagues?

This problem is only growing worse, as kids continue to feel discouraged when it comes to participating in sports. Jeremy Engle wrote an article in 2019 for the New York Times about the decline of youth athletics in America. He shows us a horrible truth- “children from age 6 to 12 who regularly participated in an organized team sport declined to 37 percent in 2017 from 45 percent in 2008”. He also states that”80 percent of youth athletes quit sports by age 15”, which just shows the accumulation effects of parent pressures and over competitive leagues.

Overall, we need to recognize the issue that is at hand- youth sports are dying. No, not as an industry, but the values that should be taught through this platform are definitely being impacted in a troubling way. Instead of learning key life skills, kids are being overworked and fed the thought that they need to achieve greatness.

Coaching, just as any leadership role, comes with responsibilities. At a youth level, winning should NOT be held above all. Instead, it should be more about learning ways to stay in shape, figuring out how to handle adversity while using teamwork to overcome it, and to even just have fun playing a game.

Things will only get worse as these children progress. We see Asia Mape state in her 2019 article for USA Today High School Sports that “1 in 5 teens suffer from clinical depression”, which could very well be correlated to the toll sports have taken on their young minds. If kids are faced with performance pressures at a young age, then it will surely carry over into the next level. Then on top of being scared that they won’t play well, they also have to handle the increased pressures to maintain their GPA in school, perform well in a work setting, and balance a social life.

 Sports should be a fun form of learning- not a source of extreme pressure to perform. If we continue to encourage competition and devalue the educational aspect, we will create a system in which youth sports will break down fundamentally. Help stop the issue and help make a difference. I have put my everything into giving back to my local youth football organization as a coach- and if you were an athlete or even just know enough to influence kids in a positive direction, then you can give back too.

Sources:

Corbin, Cristina. “Experts Cite ‘bully Parents’ in Decline in Youth Sports Participation Nationwide.” Fox News, 30 May 2019, https://www.foxnews.com/sports/experts-cite-bully-parents-in-decline-in-youth-sports-participation.

Engle, Jeremy. “Are Youth Sports Too Competitive?” The New York Times, 1 May 2019. NYTimes.com, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/01/learning/are-youth-sports-too-competitive.html.

“How the Pressure to Be Perfect Affects Kids, and What Parents Can Do about It.” USA TODAY High School Sports, 14 May 2019, https://usatodayhss.com/2019/how-the-pressure-to-be-perfect-affects-kids-and-what-parents-can-do-about-it.

The Decline of Youth Sports and the Efforts to Save Them « Universe Narratives. https://universe.byu.edu/narratives/decline-of-youth-sports/. Accessed 22 Sept. 2019.