Why the Knicks Raptors Won’t Have a Shootout, Plus the NFL’s Best Bets for Crucial Week 18

The first week of 2023 is in the books. Did she treat you well? Do you find it better than 2022 so far? If so, great! If not, would a newsletter full of picks to get you through the weekend make things better?

I hope so, because that’s all I have to offer. The NFL wraps up its regular season this weekend, and I have a few picks in there, plus basketball (both NBA and college) picks tonight and football picks to go through Monday. Then I will come back and tell you everything you need to know for the National Football League Championship game.

But first, let’s catch up on the latest news.

To the weekend!

All Eastern times, all odds via Caesars Sportsbook

🔥 The hot ticket

Nix in wild birds7:30 p.m. | TV: NBA League Pass

Latest possibilities:

under 217

  • main direction: Under 11-5 in their last 16 road games for the Knicks
  • criterion: less than 218 (-110)

Before I get to this check, I want to thank Orlando Magic For their performance in the second half last night. Memphis had a 65-43 halftime lead that Orlando could have easily put together and called it an evening. Fortunately, the Magic is too young to know any better and thought they could play him in the second half. And they did! Orlando scored 72 points in the second half and only lost by eight, which helped us get past our goal. We appreciate that.

Let’s hope the Knicks and Raptors do their part tonight, except let’s miss every shot instead of making them all.

When I’m picking a underrated player in an NBA game, I often look for elite defensive teams. This is not the case here. Neither team is bad defensively, but they are more “above average” than good, with the Knicks ranked eighth in defensive efficiency and the Raptors ranked 13th. However, while the Knicks are good on the offensive end, they are ranked Rank 10 in efficiency, no one moves fast.

The Knicks are 23rd in speed, and the Raptors are 24th. So we have two slow-moving teams that have good defenses and not-so-great offense. These aren’t the type of matches that lead to high goalscoring, and when you know you’re in the same division and seeing each other often, the odds of this becoming a penalty shootout drop even further.

Here’s what SportsLine says about the game: The drop model is the biggest fan of spreading out in this game from the total.

💰 Picks


🏀 College Basketball

Canisius in Manhattan, 7 p.m. | Television: ESPN+

Latest possibilities:

Manhattan Jaspers +1

The Pick: Manhattan +1.5 (-110) – Oh yeah, we’re going down in the mud tonight. That glorious Friday night slime. Mucktion? Let’s get into the workshop.

Anyway, tonight we bet on the home team that lost 4-9 twice in a row and six of the last seven losers against a 2-11 team that lost nine in a row. While the Rick Pitino-led Iona team is solid, the rest of this conference is a crapshoot, and I’m not interested in taking road favorites that are just 0-7 in real road games this season, losing by an average of 13.9 points per game.

Also, Canisius (the road favourite) hasn’t played a home game since November 20th and won’t play at home until January 13th. Canisius was terrifying both offensively and defensively, though he was strong on the board. That might be a factor tonight, but Manhattan is a better shooting team, and hitting shots is fairly important in the sport of basketball.


Titans at Jaguars, Saturday, 8:15 p.m. | Television: ESPN

Latest possibilities:

Tennessee Titans +6.5

Choice: Titans +6.5 (-110) – The Jaguars are too obvious a play to grab. It probably doesn’t make sense to you, but it makes sense to me. The Titans lost six straight games, including a 36-22 loss at home to the same Jaguars. They also had starting Josh Dobbs at QB again, a week after he went 20/39 for 232 yards (5.9 per meter!) in a 27-13 loss to Dallas.

But the Titans left nearly 10 days ago, while the Jaguars had to play six days early. Sure, they didn’t have to play all that hard in the 31-3 win over Houston, but late in the season, rest matters a lot. Those extra days gave Tennessee time to recover and extra time to prepare for a winner-takes-all game. I don’t know if that’s enough to win this game, but getting a touchdown almost seems excessive.

Rams at Seahawks, Sunday, 4:25 p.m. | TV: Fox

Latest possibilities:

Los Angeles Rams +6

Pickaxe: Rams +6 (-110) – One of the most common phrases you hear in the last week of the NFL season is, “They have nothing to play for.” Everyone says that, and everyone bets against the team with “nothing to play for.” This leads to tremendous value for teams who have nothing to play for! Remember, the flip side of “nothing to play for” is “this team has nothing to lose.”

Meanwhile, Seattle’s entire season comes down to this game. The Seahawks cannot reach the playoffs without a win. All the pressure is on them, and while Geno Smith and Seattle have been a sweet story this year, it’s not like they lit it up to finish the season. They beat the Jets last week, but have lost five of their last seven. The Rams have been terrible on the road this season, but I think they can hang around this season.

⚽ Soccer

juventus vs. Udinese, Saturday, 12 noon | Television: CBS Sports Network
Pickiness: Less than 2.5 (-115) –
Serie A got back into action earlier this week, and Juventus have picked up where they left off: playing a dull game and picking up three points. I tell you, watching Max Allegri’s Juventus game is like looking back in time, but I won’t judge him because he does a lot better than what Juventus were trying to do. Juventus won seven consecutive matches in the Italian League and did not allow a goal to be scored in any of them. At home, Juventus allowed three goals in eight games all season.

I expect Saturday to be another bitter affair. Udinese have been one of the highest scoring teams in the league this season, but have outperformed xG (expected goals) and have fared better at home than on the road. In addition, Udinese’s main creative engine, Gerard Deulofeu, is not expected to play in this match due to a foot injury (there was also speculation about him). I don’t see Udinese as the team that will finally beat Juventus without him, and while Juventus may get three on their own, it will happen more by accident than intention.

Milan vs. Roma, Sunday, 2:45 p.m. | TV: Paramount +
Pick: Milan (-118) –
It’s hard not to do winning runs around Roma, especially with so much of the season left to play, but I’m enjoying it a lot. Over the summer, Roma made some big moves, namely bringing in Paulo Dybala, and as their names were known, Roma have been linked with the surprise squad heading into the season. Meanwhile, Napoli lost the names everyone knew and replaced them with players they hadn’t heard of, so Napoli were about to fall off the face of the earth. Here we are now, Napoli lead the league by five points while Roma are sixth and could be seventh by the end of the week.

While Napoli’s lead is important, Milan pose a serious threat to catch it and take the league. He has a strong attack and a great defense, and I love that in this match. Roma are one of those teams that routinely cheat the market with their xG numbers because they are a team full of size shooters who are not very good finishers. As a result, they often struggle against good teams while beating bad ones. Take Milan.

🔒 Sports day selection: The projection model has an NBA Tonight graded play that sees one team get points when they should be the favourites. But which team is it? Well, click on this link and find out.

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