Your Sports Equinox Betting Guide: NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, College Football, More Picks For Thursday
We're celebrating Sports Equinox SZN in a new way: With our favorite bets across (almost) every sport in action Thursday.
The "sports equinox," as most fans know it, happens any time the four major pro American leagues (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL) overlap on a given day — but we're broadening that scope to serve bettors the most robust menu of options possible on these days.
We'll announce the full schedule of Action's Sports Equinox coverage in the coming weeks, but for now: Let's dive into our Thursday picks.
Thursday Sports Equinox Picks
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ATP Naples Pick 🎾
David Gertler: Daniel Galan, who made the third round of the US Open this season, is still much more comfortable on clay courts than hard courts — he has a 59% career winning percentage on clay versus 52% on hard. Meanwhile, Nuno Borges is an impressive 111-42 on hard courts as a professional.
Galan has a big first serve and tries to be aggressive in rallies — especially with his forehand — but his backhand is prone to break down and he becomes inconsistent under pressure. Borges also has a strong first serve and dominates play with his forehand, utilizing excellent controlled aggression.
However, neither player has particularly good variety, so this will be a slugfest from the baseline. Borges is better defensively and Galan will be uncomfortable in defensive positions on the court, especially with the ball on Borges' forehand.
The CJ Cup ⛳
Jason Sobel: Two weeks after the Presidents Cup, the International team’s most dynamic young star, Tom Kim, parlayed that momentum into his second career win at the age of 20. It can be argued whether Jordan Spieth was the U.S. side’s best player at Quail Hollow, but we can’t debate the record as he became just the sixth player to post a 5-0-0 record in the history of the competition.
Perhaps momentum doesn’t carry a full month later, but we’ve got to believe he’ll still have some good vibes left over from that week. That’s the narrative play for Spieth this week, but there’s also a technical reason for backing him.
On a fast, firm course that requires creativity with wedge shots, I like the idea of playing one of the game’s preeminent wedge artists. It'll be imperative for players to think their way around this track, which plays into the capable hands of Spieth, who thrives in challenging environments such as this.
Leicester City vs. Leeds Pick ⚽
Anthony Dabbundo: My projections have Leeds as the better team in this match. And after factoring in home-field advantage, I make Leicester a small home favorite. However, they're not enough of a favorite to take the moneyline — and a suspension for James Maddison only further blunts the underperforming Foxes' attack.
Leicester is middle-of-the-league in pressure success rate allowed and ability to play through pressure. There are questions of whether Leeds can recreate that performance from last week away from home, but the Foxes aren't an elite passing team that will create overloads in midfield and overwhelm Leeds.
Virginia-Georgia Tech Pick 🏈
Cody Goggin: These two teams are nearly even in skill, so this may simply come down to who has the coaching advantage between first-year head coach Tony Elliott and Brent Key.
Virginia’s strengths are in just the right places — as I detailed in my full preview of this game — to give the Cavs heavy advantages over Georgia Tech in the rushing game on both sides of the ball.
Virginia can be found at +3.5 at some books, which I would take down to +3. If you can find a 3.5, you'll want to take that with 3 being a key number in football (shop real-time college football odds here).
Yankees vs. Astros Game 2 Pick ⚾
Mike Ianniello: Framber Valdez put up terrific numbers this season and earned his first All-Star nod. However, his expected ERA was a half run higher than his ERA. He also ranks in the bottom 20% of the league in average exit velocity and hard-hit percentage allowed.
Well, few teams hit the ball harder than the New York Yankees. It was very easy to watch Game 1 and think this offense stinks and won’t be able to score, but I believe this is a good spot to buy low.
In the ALDS against Seattle, Valdez walked three batters and gave up two runs in 5 2/3 innings. During the postseason last year, he was lit up for a 7.78 ERA over five starts. He didn’t make it out of the third inning in three of his starts and allowed at least two runs in four of them.
The Yankees do two things very well:
- They are patient at the plate and finished the season with the highest walk rate in the league. Valdez has the sixth highest BB/9 rate among all qualified pitchers.
- New York also hits more home runs than any team in baseball. While living and dying by the home run is not always a recipe for victory, it is a pretty good recipe to put up two runs with one swing of the bat.
Saints vs. Cardinals Pick 🏈
Sean Koerner: Considering the number of key injuries on both offenses, the under is the way to attack this game.
The Saints have run the ball at the highest rate on early downs in neutral situations — even more than the Bears and Falcons! — and I believe they’ll continue to establish the run here, especially considering how good the Cardinals are against opposing No. 1 receivers.
The Cardinals have been trailing at a league-high average of 43 minutes, 24 seconds per game. They have rarely played with a lead this season, so as 2.5-point home favorites, we could see their offense be a bit more balanced. Kyler Murray’s 6.6 average intended air yards is the fifth lowest among qualified quarterbacks this season, which means it’s unlikely we'll see many explosive plays from a Cardinals offense that may be beyond repair right now.
This number has dropped to 43.5 at some books, but I would make sure to get it at 44 because that’s a key number when it comes to totals (check real-time NFL odds here). Common scores like 24-20 or 27-17 would result in a push at 44, as opposed to a loss with 43.5.
Hurricanes vs. Oilers 🏒
Tony Sartori: Carolina is a relentless team on the forecheck and when running man-on-man in the defensive zone. The Hurricanes hound the opposition, trying to make their lives as difficult as possible with constant pressure.
Combine this relentless pressure with strong goaltending, and you get a team that prevents scoring at a high level. Last season, Carolina stifled the high-powered Edmonton offense to just one goal in each of their two meetings.
In fact, the Oilers have scored three or fewer goals in seven of the past 10 meetings between these two clubs. We should expect more of the same.
Clippers vs. Lakers Pick 🏀
Matt Moore: This opened -4 — and admission: That is where I bet it; if it gets to -6 or -6.5, we’ve chased too much steam. That said …
The Lakers do not appear to be, by any measure, in the Clippers’ class. Fading underdogs in their home opener is not fun, but this line simply does not make sense relative to the factors in play.
The Lakers have a glaring issue with wing depth and shooting; the Clippers led the league in 3-point shooting efficiency two seasons ago and are stocked with scorers. The Lakers have a nearly non-NBA-caliber bench; the Clippers are arguably the deepest team in the league.
If the number was higher, I genuinely would be on the other side, but at anything south of Clippers -6, it’s reasonable to fade what appears to be a Lakers team that not only is circling the drain, but is actively aware of it.