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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

BCS Bowl Preview: The 100th Rose Bowl

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BCS Bowl Preview: The 100th Rose Bowl
By Wild on Sports Analyst Bryan Ridall

The Rose Bowl is the most iconic bowl game played in college football, symbolized by its 100th anniversary, which will be played this year. Recently, the Rose Bowl has become the game in which the PAC-12 Champion has played the Big 10 Champion, as long as those teams were not in contention for the National Championship Game. This year will be no different, with #4 Michigan State representing the Big 10 after ending Ohio State’s undefeated season in the Big 10 Championship Game, and #5 Stanford representing the PAC 12, after pounding Arizona State in the PAC 12 Championship game. Both of these teams pride themselves on their running games, and playing a physical brand of defense to wear out the opposing offenses. While this game will probably be a relatively low scoring game, it will showcase a brand of smash-mouth football that many teams can’t compete with.

How Michigan State Got Here: 
Sparty has had its best season in a long time, going undefeated in Big 10 play, and it lost its only game to Notre Dame, a game that was played in South Bend. Connor Cook was named the starting quarterback, after only throwing 17 passes as a freshman, but played a conservative, mistake-free brand of football, throwing for 2400 yards, 20 touchdowns, and only five interceptions. He relied mostly on Jeremy Langford who embraced his role as the workhorse back, rushing for over 1300 yards and 17 touchdowns. Michigan State doesn’t have a game breaking wide receiver, but has had consistent production from all of their weapons, with seven players having over 15 receptions and six players with over 190 yards receiving. Sparty also has a consistent kicking game, with kicker Michael Geiger hitting 14 of 15 field goals, including 8/8 from 40+ yards. In reality, Michigan State’s hopes for victory rely on their top-ranked defense. Michigan State’s defense is #1 in yards allowed per game, including the #1 rush defense and the #5 pass defense, as well as giving up the fourth fewest points per game. Michigan State only gave up over 350 yards in three games this season, and held teams to under 250 total yards in eight of their games. However, as of Thursday, Michigan State announced that defensive leader Max Bullough would be suspended for the Rose Bowl for violating team policies. Bullough has started at middle linebacker for the past three years and was a senior captain and main play caller for the defense. While the Spartans have senior Kyler Elsworth as Bullough’s back up, Elsworth has played limited snaps, especially in meaningful situations. Elsworth will get thrown into the fire and will have to make calls and change formations to contend with Stanford’s run-heavy formations, which can feature up to 8 offensive linemen on the field.

How Stanford Got Here: 
This may sound ridiculous, but this may be Stanford’s most disappointing season in recent memory. In a season during which they dominated the best teams the PAC 12 had to offer, Stanford lost at Utah and against USC at The Coliseum. Stanford, like MSU, used a relatively conservative passing game and a strong running game to wear opposing defenses down. Quarterback Kevin Hogan threw for almost 2500 yards, with 20 touchdowns and nine interceptions, while completing over 61% of his passes; adding over 300 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Stanford’s offense was defined by its running game, which utilized unique formations, often using more than six offensive linemen in order to overpower opposing defenses and wear them down. Running back Tyler Gaffney was a workhorse, carrying the ball over 300 times, gaining over 1600 yards with 20 touchdowns. Gaffney is a big, bruising back who led the offense as a senior this season, and ran with a violent aggression and refused to go down after first contact. Stanford’s receivers are relatively underwhelming, save for game changer Ty Montgomery, who can score any time he touches the ball, whether it’s in the receiving, return, and sometimes even rush game. Montgomery had 14 all-around touchdowns, including ten receiving touchdowns, and was Hogan’s most reliable receiver because of his blend of size and incredible speed. Shayne Skov, who is technically a linebacker, but was often on the line, and also played with his hand on the ground, led Stanford’s defense, which gave up the 10th fewest points in college football and was the 3rd best defense against the run. However, Stanford’s biggest problem is their pass defense, which ranked 85th in the country, but that is a bit misleading. Teams were forced to throw on Stanford because of their inability to run the ball on the Cardinal defense, and eventually were able to get big plays on the aggressive and physical corners. Outcome: This will most likely be the lowest scoring and “ugliest” of all of the BCS bowl games, but it will give us a glimpse back in time to old school football. Both of these teams win their games in the trenches, relying on their offensive and defensive lines to dictate the way that the game is played. Both teams will have their difficulties running the ball, but Tyler Gaffney and the overloaded formations that Stanford uses will wear down Sparty’s defense, leading the Cardinal to victory.

Prediction:
Stanford: 17, Michigan State: 10

Sunday, December 29, 2013

NFL Fanduel Week 17 Players to Start

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NFL Fanduel Week 17 Players to Start

Each week we give you a stud and a bargain at each position to help you win your Fanduel match-ups. Lets take a look at some of the players you should be starting this week...

QB - Drew Brees - NO vs. TB - $10,000
A playoff berth is on the line for the Saints in a must win home game. The key to that statement being HOME. Brees and company are a much different team in their own building. Expect them to put up some huge offensive numbers this week.
QB - Philip Rivers - SD vs. KC - $7,900
Philip Rivers has quietly put together one of the best seasons in his career. They still have an outside chance of getting into the playoffs and are playing a team that will be resting their starters in the 2nd half. Could add up to a great value play this week.
RB - Matt Forte - CHI vs. GB - $8,500
Forte and the Bears are in a win and in lose and out situation against their division rival Packers. The wind is expected to be howling which favors a rushing attack. Forte will be going up against the #26 ranked defense against the run. He and fantasy owners everywhere should be licking their lips.
RB - DeAngelo Willams - CAR vs. ATL - $5,800
Carolina still needs to win this game to assure themselves of a first round bye. They will likely get out to an early lead against a team that has simply given up and is horrible defensively. Willams should see a ton of touches. He doesn't get the ball in goal line situations which keeps him in the second tier of fantasy backs most weeks but that shouldn't matter in this one. At just $5,800 is an absolute steal.
WR - DeSean Jackson - PHI vs. DAL - $7,800
Jackson and the Eagles go up against 31st ranked defense against the pass in a game that the winner will take home the division crown. The Eagles will put the game in Nick Foles hands and Jackson is his #1 and most explosive receiver. A great match-up at a reasonable price.
WR - Marques Colston - NO vs. TB - $6,000
We usual define a bargain as $6,000 or less so this is right on the cusp and maybe not what you would look for most weeks but this match-up at this price cannot be ignored. The Saint are at home with something to play for. Revis island will have to float between Jimmy Graham and Colston. There are going to be more than enough balls to go around. A line of 110/1 at this price would bode well for owners.
TE - Jimmy Graham - NO vs. TB - $7,600
Love for the same reasons as Colston above. While he may not rack up the yards if he has Revis on him, he still could score double digit touchdowns. If you have the budget to fit him, play with confidence.
TE - Charles Clay - MIA vs. NYJ - $5,000
Clay had seven catches for 80 yards against them a few weeks ago. Miami is in a must win situation. Clay is Tannehill's favorite redzone target. Looks like a good match-up this week.
K - Stephen Gostowski - NE vs. BUF - $5,600
New England scores points in bunches. Last week they exploded and will look to continue that momentum with a first round bye on the table with a win.
K - Steven Hauschka - SEA vs. STL - $5,000
Seattle has nothing to play for but still are too good not to score some points against a division foe. St. Louis has a decent defense that could keep the Seahawks out of the endzone. Good play for the money.
DEF - Seattle Seahawks - vs. STL - $6,100
While the Seahawks have little to play for they take great pride in their defense and shutting down opponents. St. Louis is going to try to run the ball all day which plays just fine into Seattle hands. This could be a very low scoring game.
DEF - Miami Dolphins - vs. NYJ - $5,000
In their last meeting the Dolphins held the Jets to just 3 points. They will be very motivated in this one with a playoff berth on the line. Geno Smith is just way to inconsistent to scary anyone. Looks like a good bargain here.

NFL Wek 17 Cash-In: Baltimore at Cincinnati

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NFL Week 17 Cash-In
Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals
Line: Cincinnati -6.5, O/U: 43.5

The Match-Up:
The Baltimore Ravens head to Cincinnati with a playoff berth on the line against the division rival Bengals. There is a lot at stake for both teams in this one. For the Ravens, win and a Miami or San Diego loss and they are in. For Cincinnati, they could lock up a first bye which would be a huge step over playing a motivated wild card team in the first round next week.

Baltimore really shot themselves in the foot last week laying a major egg at home against New England. They controlled their own destiny going into the game but now need a win and some help. The defense was particularly puzzling giving up 40 points to an injury depleted offense.

Cincinnati comes into the game after a nice little bounce back victory last week against Minnesota. The key to success lately has been Andy Dalton and the offense. The Bengals have scored 40+ in three of the last 5 games. The defense is still very good even without Geno Atkins. There is a lot to like about this team going into the playoffs.

The Baltimore Ravens took a four-game winning streak into its game against New England last week, but hit a wall against the Patriots in a 41-7 loss at home. The loss put the Ravens on the outside looking in for a playoff spot, and the defending champions now need help to make the postseason.
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/sbnation/SBNation_20131226_Baltimore_Ravens_vs__Cincinnati_Bengals__Betting_odds__Week_17_pick__preview.html#ZYQiB8eCBmk3TtvS.9
The Baltimore Ravens took a four-game winning streak into its game against New England last week, but hit a wall against the Patriots in a 41-7 loss at home. The loss put the Ravens on the outside looking in for a playoff spot, and the defending champions now need help to make the postseason.
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/sbnation/SBNation_20131226_Baltimore_Ravens_vs__Cincinnati_Bengals__Betting_odds__Week_17_pick__preview.html#ZYQiB8eCBmk3TtvS.
Trends:
Ravens are 5-1 SU past six versus the Bengals
Ravens are 5-2 ATS past seven as road underdogs
Bengals are 10-1 SU and ATS past 11 home games

The Verdict:
The Ravens need this game. They are embarrassed after last week's flop and John Harbarugh is too good a coach to let his team lay down with the playoffs on the line. This is a huge rivalry game and should be very close. The Ravens have won five of the last six meetings and need this more than any of the others. We'll take the points in this one.

Pick: BALTIMORE +6.5

NFL Week 17 Cash-In: Detroit at Minnesota

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NFL Week 17 Cash-In
Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings
Line: Minnesota -3, O/U: 51

The Match-Up:
The Detroit Lions head to Minnesota to take on the division rival Vikings. This could be a game without stars as Adrian Peterson has been ruled out and the Lions are considering shutting down Calvin Johnson. Neither team has a chance of making the playoffs at this point so the two teams will be looking at auditions for 2014 and perhaps a little pride.

The Lions seemed to be in the drivers seat for a division title three weeks ago as they controlled their own destiny and were playing some inspired football. Fast forward three weeks and here are the Lions one the outside looking in after dropping three straight games. Matt Stafford has been turnover prone, the running game has failed to gain traction and the defense seems to be just porous enough to not get it done.

Minnesota comes into the game as a confusing team. Clearly they are terrible on the road, going 1-7-1. At home they are 3-3 with wins over Philly and Chicago in their last two home games. Will that home momentum continue this week? With the horrible inconsistency at QB you just never know what you are going to get both in terms of playing ability and personnel. Add to that the loss of all world runningback Adrian Peterson and this could be ugly. But then again...

Trends:
Lions are 1-14 SU past 15 trips to Minnesota
Lions are 1-8 SU, 1-7-1 ATS past nine games as road underdogs
Vikings are 2-7-1 ATS past 10 games as home favorites
Lions are 5-1 ATS past six divisional games
Lions OVER is 10-1 past 11 Week 17 games
Lions 5-1 ATS past 6 regular season finales
Vikings 3-10 ATS past 13 regular season finales

The Verdict:
Matthew Stafford and company have a lot to prove going into the off-season. This group has been together for a while now and it is about time they start showing promise or significant off-season changes could be in order. The Vikings are favorites by virtue of being at home. In a game that is a toss up, at least in the minds of many, we'll take the points.

Pick: DETROIT +3

NFL Week 17 Cash-In: Miami vs. New York

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NFL Week 17 Cash-In
Miami Dolphins vs. New York Jets
Line: Miami -5.5, O/U: 41.5

The Match-Up:
The Miami Dolphins have a chance to lock up the final wild card berth in the AFC this weekend as they play host to division rival New York Jets. There is a ton at stake for both teams. For Miami its obvious, win and you could get in. Granted, they need San Diego to also win or Baltimore to lose, but first and foremost they need to take care of their own business. They failed to do so last week laying a major egg at Buffalo. For the Jets this has the potential to be the final game at the helm for head coach Rex Ryan. The whispers are out there, lose and hes out, win and well, I guess we will wait and see. Either way this has the potential to be the end of a very entertaining era in New York.

Trends:
Miami won the previous meeting 23-3 in New York December 1st.
New York is 1-6 SU, 2-4-1 ATS on the road this season.
Miami is 4-3 SU, 5-2 ATS at home this season.
Five of the last six meetings played UNDER the total.
Jets are 12-3 ATS at Miami since 1998.
UNDER is 9-1 past 10 Miami divisional games.
Dolphins OVER is 11-2 past 13 Week 17 games.

The Verdict:
The Dolphins flat out flopped last week in their first chance to lock up a playoff berth. They are a much different team at home in the Miami heat. We expect them to show up to play in this one. Cameron Wake and company will be introducing themselves to Geno Smith early and often making it difficult to muster up any type of offense. In the end, Ryan Tannehill will show why he is worthy of consideration for most improved player of 2013 and the Dolphins will roll to a 10+ point victory.

Pick: MIAMI -5.5

Friday, December 20, 2013

NFL Fanduel Week 16 Players to Start

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NFL Fanduel Week 16 Players to Start

Each week we give you a stud and a bargain at each position to help you win your Fanduel match-ups. Lets take a look at some of the players you should be starting this week...

QB - Tony Romo - DAL vs. WAS - $8,600
OK, Romo in December -- we're crazy right? Not so fast. Romo in the first half last week was a good as we have seen him. Romo in the second half, well, that's a different story. This week he goes up against a Washington team that is really weak defensively. That 1st half Romo should show his head in a game that may be more of a shootout than many expect. Look for Romo to silence his doubters this week.
QB - Kirk Cousins - WAS vs. DAL - $7,000
Cousins put up a big stat line in his debut as the starter last week. This week is goes up against a team on pace to give up the most yards against in franchise history. His team will more than likely be playing from behind which means Cousins will be airing it out early and often. A crazy stat line of 400/3/2 or something in that neighborhood isn't out of the question.
RB - LeSean McCoy - PHI vs. CHI - $9,700
McCoy is competing for the rushing title and going up against the #31st ranked rush defense in football in a must-win game. Expect big things from Shady this week.
RB - Frank Gore - SF vs. ATL - $6,300
Atlanta's defense has been beat up and brutal all season. San Francisco will get out to a early lead which should mean a very healthy dose of Frank Gore throughout as they control the clock and the game.
WR - Brandon Marshall - CHI vs. PHI - $8,500
Jake Cutler back under center means a big boost is targets for Marshall. Both of these teams need this game to make the playoffs. Both teams have strong offenses with questionable defenses. It is going to be a shootout. We like the top target of the team we expect to win.
WR - Michael Crabtree - SF vs. ATL - $5,700
Crabtree is looking like the Crabtree of last year at just the right time. He was a stud in the playoffs last year and is Kaepernick's favorite target when healthy. Look for them to continue to build upon that relationship against a secondary comprised primarily of rookies.
TE - Charles Clay - MIA vs. BUF - $5,500
New England game planed to specifically shut him down last week leading to just one catch for 6 yards. The Bills aren't nearly as cleaver. Expect Clay to bounce back in a big way this week.
TE - Antonio Gates - SD vs. OAK - $4,500
Gates at the minimum going against a terrible team and playing for one of the hottest teams in football? Sounds like a lay-up to me.
K - Adam Vinateri - IND vs. KC - $5,400
Call me crazy but this just might be the game where Indy snaps out of their second half funk and asserts themselves as a legitimate contender in the AFC. What better way to do it than against a team that they very well may face in the wild card round.
K - Caleb Sturgis - MIA vs. BUF - $5,000
Best of the 5k group this week. The Dolphins need this game to make the playoffs. The Bills won't be complete pushovers in this divisional rivalry which should open the door for plenty of FG opportunities.
DEF - Seattle Seahawks - vs. ARI - $6,200
Arizona has bleak playoff hopes but will be going up against the best defense they have faced all year. Larry Fitzgerald is pretty beat up right now which will force Carson Palmer's hand to find other targets -- should feed very well into the hands of the est pass defense in football.
DEF - New York Jets - vs. CLE - $5,100
The Jets season may be over but there is still a ton to play for in terms of jobs for next year, particularly Rex Ryan. Expect the Jets to show up on their home field and really make a rough go of it for the Browns offense. At just $5,100 this could be the steal of the day.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

NFL Week 16 Power Rankings

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NFL Week 16 Power Rankings

The Seattle Seahawks have regained their rightful seat on top of our NFL Power Rankings. Last week's trip to New York very week could have been the first of two trip this season with the Super Bowl as the second possibility. Dropping down to #2 this week are the Denver Broncos. The Broncos lost to division rival San Diego on Thursday night and really failed to get the offense going for the first time this season. We are assuming this is just a blip on the radar but it is still worth noting moving forward. Dropping one spot to #3 are the the New England Patriots. The Pats did not look good last week week against the Dolphins. Maybe its the injuries piling up, maybe it was just running into a hot team at the wrong time. Either way they need to turn things around if they want a bye. AT #4 this week are the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers have quietly put together a four game winning streak and Michael Crabtree is back a looks as good as he did pre-injury. They may not be favored to come out of the West anymore but Seattle will have their hands full with their division rivals. Rounding out the top 5 are the Kansas City Chiefs. Jamaal Charles for MVP? Looks like the front runner at this point.

Where does your team rank?

Rank
Last Week
1 Seattle Seahawks 3
2 Denver Broncos 1
3 New England Patriots 2
4 San Francisco 49ers 6
5 Kansas City Chiefs 7
6 New Orleans Saints 4
7 Carolina Panthers 8
8 Cincinnati Bengals 5
9 Arizona Cardinals 10
10 Indianapolis Colts 11
11 Philadelphia Eagles 9
12 Baltimore Ravens 13
13 Chicago Bears 14
14 Miami Dolphins 16
15 San Diego Chargers 15
16 Detroit Lions 12
17 Green Bay Packers 19
18 Dallas Cowboys 17
19 Pittsburgh Steelers 22
20 St. Louis Rams 23
21 Tennessee Titans 18
22 New York Jets 20
23 New York Giants 21
24 Minnesota Vikings 26
25 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24
26 Atlanta Falcons 29
27 Buffalo Bills 30
28 Jacksonville Jaguars 25
29 Cleveland Browns 27
30 Oakland Raiders 28
31 Washington Redskins 31
32 Houston Texans 32

NHL Power Rankings - December 18

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NHL Power Rankings
December 18, 2013

Another week, another week atop our power rankings for the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blackhawks lead the NHL in points (55) and wins (25). Patrick Kane may be the hottest player on the planet right now and at 46 points sits just 1 point behind league leader Sidney Crosby. At #2 for the second straight week are the Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks have the second most points in the NHL (53) and are currently riding a five game winning streak. At #3 are the St. Louis Blues. They have played just 33 games compared to 37 for Chicago and yet sit in second place and a few points back. At #4 are the LA Kings. The Kings have won seven of their last 10. Their 68 goals allowed this season are the fewest in the National Hockey League, a surprising feat considering they have been without star goaltender Jonathan Quick for a couple weeks now. Rounding out the top five is the Eastern Conference's lone representative the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Pens are winners of nine of their last ten and have a one point lead over Boston for the top seed in the East.

Where does your team rank this week?


Rank
Last Week
1 Chicago Blackhawks 1
2 Anaheim Ducks 2
3 St. Louis Blues 5
4 LA Kings 3
5 Pittsburgh Penguins 9
6 Vancouver Canucks 11
7 San Jose Sharks 4
8 Boston Bruins 7
9 Colorado Avalanche 8
10 Phoenix Coyotes 12
11 Montreal Canadiens 6
12 Minnesota Wild 10
13 Tampa Bay Lightning 14
14 Washington Capitals 15
15 Detroit Red Wings 13
16 Toronto Maple Leafs 18
17 Dallas Stars 16
18 Carolina Hurricanes 17
19 Nashville Predators 25
20 Philadelphia Flyers 22
21 New Jersey Devils 21
22 Columbus Blue Jackets 24
23 Winnipeg Jets 19
24 Ottawa Senators 23
25 New York Rangers 20
26 Florida Panthers 28
27 Calgary Flames 26
28 Edmonton Oilers 27
29 New York Islanders 29
30 Buffalo Sabers 30

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