Each week, TheLines previews the sports betting week ahead. It’s a busier-than-usual Christmas season this year, as both the NBA season and college bowl season begin. Here is a look at what’s on tap.
Bowl Season begins – Monday
Bowl Season brings with it a ton of important matchups, including the New Year’s Six games and the College Football Playoff. In the first week of competition; UCF takes on No. 16 BYU in the Boca Raton Bowl, Marshall and Buffalo meet in the Camellia Bowl, and undefeated No. 12 Coastal Carolina takes on Liberty in the Cure Bowl. Coastal and Liberty were supposed to meet during the regular season, but the game was called off due to COVID-19 positive tests within the Chants’ program. There’s plenty of great action in the remaining bowl games, all of which begin Monday.
NBA regular season begins – Tuesday
It hasn’t been much of an offseason, but there’s been plenty of storylines and movement since the season ended in October. The major storylines for 2020-21 include: what do the Nets look like with Kevin Durant and their loaded roster; can LeBron and the Lakers repeat; and what difference will stars like Russell Westbrook and John Wall make with their new teams? The Lakers are +325 favorites to repeat as champions, with the Nets (+525), Bucks (+550), and Clippers (+550) following suit. Opening night sees the Warriors visit Durant and the Nets, and the Lakers face the in-city rival Clippers.
NCAAB: No. 7 West Virginia vs. No. 3 Kansas – Tuesday
The major headlines might be focusing on No. 1 Gonzaga versus “defending-champion” No. 17 Virginia, but Mountaineers vs. Jayhawks should be a classic. Kansas has won seven in a row, after dropping their opening-night game to Gonzaga, behind sound basketball; rebounding and defense has been the key for Kansas this season. West Virginia keeps the game up-tempo, attempting the 11th-most two-point shots this season per game (46.4). Kansas relies on their half court game to limit opponents, so they will have to try and slow the game down to their liking.
NFL: Titans vs. Packers – Sunday
The Titans maintained their grip on the AFC South with their convincing win over the Lions this past weekend. They have now scored 39.3 points per game over their last four games. Meanwhile the Packers are looking to clinch the top seed in the NFC. Aaron Rodgers is making his final marks on an MVP-caliber season and Derrick Henry is looking to wrap up his second consecutive rushing title. He would be the first player since LaDainian Tomlinson to do so.
NFL: Rams vs. Seahawks – Sunday
This past Sunday’s game – an embarrassing loss to the Jets – is one that Rams fans would like to forget forever, but they’re still just a game back of the NFC West lead. Los Angeles has led the division for much of the year, only surrendering it to the Seahawks and Cardinals for a couple weeks throughout the season. The Seahawks have won four of their last five since losing the first matchup with the Rams. They take over the NFC West and hope to hold onto it and secure home field advantage for the first round of the playoffs. For the Rams, it’s about securing their playoff spot, while Seattle is looking for their first division title since 2016 and their fourth since 2013.