Each week TheLines gives a lookahead to what should be some of the most watched and wagered-on events in sports. This week, the MLB playoffs roll on and there is a monumental collision in the SEC as Georgia will face Alabama.
ALCS: Astros vs. Rays
The blood of most MLB fans is boiling at the Houston Astros’ playoff run after one of the most egregious cheating scandals and lack of discipline in MLB history. But, here they are. The Tampa Bay Rays pulled off a gutsy performance in the ALDS against the red-hot Yankees after taking care of Toronto in two games. The Astros became the first team in MLB history to win a playoff series with a regular season record under .500. Tampa took Game 1 behind a stellar defensive performance in the ALCS, but it’s typically going to take more than two runs to win games in this series.
NLCS: Braves vs. Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers (+150) are the favorites to win the 2020 World Series, but have to go through the unbeaten Atlanta Braves to do so. Atlanta beat the Reds and Marlins without dropping a single game, but the Dodgers are playing on a different level than the Braves’ previous opponents. Los Angeles took care of the Brewers and the electric Padres in their opening rounds and sit as -225 favorites to win the series. After missing out a season ago, the Dodgers are looking to return to the World Series (they made appearances in both 2017 and 2018). Despite having been to those two Fall Classics, the Dodgers haven’t actually hoisted the trophy since 1988.
UFC: Brian Ortega vs Chan Sung Jung (Saturday, Oct. 17)
It’s a showdown between the second and fourth ranked fighters in the featherweight division and one of the better bouts on the UFC schedule. Brian Ortega (+155) is coming off a loss in his last fight, which was the first blemish on his record (14-1). Chan Sung Jung (-190) is 16-5 and defeated his last two opponents by TKO in the first round. This test should be a bit tougher for the man dubbed “Korean Zombie” and is must-watch TV on Saturday.
No. 3 Georgia vs. No. 2 Alabama (Saturday, Oct. 17)
This is the biggest game of the college football season so far and, potentially, of the entire season. It’s also the last week that the SEC will play without the competition of Big Ten TV ratings. Georgia is coming off a convincing win over No. 14 Tennessee and Alabama is coming off a less than satisfying win in which they allowed 31 points to Ole Miss. Don’t expect the same defensive effort out of the Crimson Tide in this one, although Georgia is hoping for it. ‘Bama is favored by six points at the opening lines, but that line should move throughout the week.
Browns vs. Steelers (Sunday, Oct. 18)
The Cleveland Browns are 4-1 for the first time since 1994 and are on a tear fans haven’t seen in decades. Their bitter rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers, are 4-0 to begin the season and sit on top of the AFC North. This is the Browns’ second shot at a division opponent (they lost Week 1 to Baltimore 31-6). The Steelers are looking like serious contenders and have no intention of giving up their comfy spot at the top of the division. These games are nasty, physical, chippy, and produce some memorable moments (not all good). The Steelers opened as 4.5-point favorites.