The Daily Sweat: Big Labor Day card includes analyzing COVID absences, again

·4 min read

It would be nice to get excited about a Labor Day of afternoon baseball, with a college football nightcap, without worrying about the real world. 

Unfortunately, that's not going to happen. 

Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin won't be on the sideline when his team faces Louisville on Monday because he tested positive for COVID-19. The Boston Red Sox, battling for a wild-card spot, have put 10 players on the COVID list since Aug. 27. We saw a bizarre scene in a Brazil-Argentina World Cup qualifier when health officials took to the pitch to halt the match over quarantine issues. 

If you want to place an early bet on Thursday night's NFL opener, beware that Dallas Cowboys star guard Zack Martin will be out after testing positive for COVID. If you're having your fantasy football draft this week, understand which players are at bigger risk for missing a game or two due to the virus. The same goes for placing any NFL player or team future bets. 

It's not fun, but breaking down teams for absences related to COVID-19 has returned. Maybe you liked Ole Miss going into its game tonight, but now have to account for the coach not being there. The line, which had grown as high as Ole Miss -10.5, is 9.5 at BetMGM on Monday morning

The games are still ongoing, but unlike a couple months ago, there is a growing list of players and coaches missing games due to COVID-19. With college football just started and the NFL beginning this week, it doesn't seem we're at the end of the issues affecting the games. Make sure you know who's out. If you like betting early to get the best of the number, at least pause for a moment to consider that the line could change dramatically based on players being ruled out. We got used to a lot of this in 2020. It doesn't make adjusting for it in 2021 any more enjoyable. 

Mississippi coach Lane Kiffin will miss Monday's game against Louisville. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)
Mississippi coach Lane Kiffin will miss Monday's game against Louisville. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

Here's a first look at the sports betting slate for Labor Day: 

Hey, there's a football game

Notre Dame-Florida State was a fun one on Sunday (unless you were a Notre Dame -7 bettor). That leads right into Ole Miss-Louisville. The Rebels are making strides, but 9.5 points is a large spread. Ole Miss should be able to maintain without Kiffin on Monday night, but I still trust Louisville to cover the large number. 

A fun baseball slate

MLB has a 12-game schedule (why isn't every team in action on the holiday? Who knows?) on Monday and nine of the games will be during the day. The best games could come from the AL East, where the Toronto Blue Jays face the New York Yankees (-135 at BetMGM) and the Tampa Bay Rays are at the Red Sox (-130). All four teams have playoff hopes. 

The NL West is still interesting, with the San Francisco Giants (-155) going to the Colorado Rockies and the Los Angeles Dodgers (-225) traveling to the St. Louis Cardinals. With the Giants and Dodgers coming off an emotional series, it might be a good spot to take both underdogs. 

Who cashed tickets last weekend? 

The Giants took two of three from the Dodgers, with both wins as an underdog of course. The Dodgers are almost always favored. San Francisco leads the division by a game in a fascinating race. The Milwaukee Brewers are not in an interesting race — they lead the NL Central by 11 games — but they had a ridiculous win Sunday with Daniel Vogelbach hitting the rare ultimate slam (a walk-off-grand slam with his team down three runs) to put a dagger into the hearts of any Cardinals bettor. 

Patrick Cantlay won the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup, outlasting Jon Rahm in the PGA's final event of the season. And we had a ton of college football, which was great to see again. The most surprising outcomes might have been underdog UCLA beating LSU outright (almost everyone had bet on LSU, so BetMGM liked that result), Georgia winning as a small underdog over Clemson, and Montana shocking No. 20 Washington 13-7. The Huskies were 22.5-point favorites. 

What's the best bet? 

I like both of those AL East underdogs mentioned before. The Blue Jays have been scratching their way back into the playoff race and the Yankees have cooled off after their 13-game winning streak. The Red Sox have Chris Sale on the mound and he's been pretty good since coming off the IL, but the Rays are a very good team and I like getting them with a plus number. 

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