Host Jonathan Coachman is joined by betting experts Larry Hartstein, Mike McClure, Justin Perri and Allie O'Neill on the Early Edge podcast, powered by SportsLine. Get highlighted plays for the NBA, college basketball, NHL, golf and NFL Playoffs for Thursday, Jan. 27, and you can stream the show live every morning on the SportsLine YouTube page.
Mike jumps in with the story of his accidental win on a golf play for the Farmers Insurance Open. He took Will Zalatoris to win a matchup play against Scottie Scheffler. He cashed that Round 1 ticket despite thinking it was a full-tournament bet. But he also shares that Zalatoris has switched to a longer driver, giving him more length off the tee and boosting the young star's already special skills. And for the record, McClure still likes Zalatoris over Patrick Reed as another full-tournament recommendation.
Larry delves into the officiating for Sunday's AFC Championship Game (3 p.m. ET), which will feature Bill Vinovich as head referee. He is known for not calling penalties, and his crews have the fewest pass interference and defensive holding calls in the league and haven't called roughing the passer all season. Penalties typically affect the Over-Under, and with the ref likely to let them play, the total has gone from 51.5 to 54.5.
The Coach jumps in with the picks and has two SportsLine Plays of the Day. The first is in the NBA, with the SportsLine Projection Model recommending the Warriors -6.5 over the Timberwolves. The model, which is 58-32 (+2140) overall on NBA top-rated picks this season, has Golden State covering in 66 percent of simulations. Play No. 2 is from college basketball, with two SportsLine experts recommending Middle Tennessee State +2.5 against Marshall.
Mike is going back to golf, and back to Zalatoris, taking him +100 against Scheffler for Round 2. Zalatoris is "one of the best players in the world on approach," McClure says, and his improved length will make him even better. "If he can just have a neutral round putting and not lose strokes on the greens, he has a real legitimate shot to go low today and really climb that leaderboard."
Allie has been on fire on her NHL picks, and she is taking the Golden Knights vs. Panthers matchup to go Over 6.5 goals (-120). She points out that in the last 13 Vegas road games, 10 have gone Over 6.5 goals, while 11 of the last 12 Florida home matchups have eclipsed that total.
Justin hit both of his college basketball picks on Wednesday's show, and he is heading to the ASUN today, taking Bellarmine -2.5 against Stetson. Bellarmine is 6-0 ATS against teams with a losing record, and the Hatters are 8-11 and have the worst defense and third-worst offense in the conference. The Knights are playing consistently well and should cover easily, with Perri's model showing that they should be at least a six-point favorite.
Larry wraps it up with an NFL prop play, taking Rams RB Cam Akers Under 59.5 rushing yards (-115) in Sunday's NFC Championship Game (6:30 p.m. ET), with this number dropping quickly. Akers has had an amazing recovery from his torn Achilles, but he's averaging 2.3 yards per carry in the past three games and faces a stout 49ers run defense. "It's been 10 weeks since they've allowed any running back to get over this number that they're giving for Cam Akers," Hartstein says.
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