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Saturday, December 7, 2013

NFL Week 14 Cash-In: Miami at Pittsburgh

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NFL Week 14 Cash-In
Miami Dolphins @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Line: Pittsburgh -3.5, O/U: 40

The Match-Up
The 6-6 Miami Dolphins head to Pittsburgh to take on the 5-7 Steelers. There are big tie playoff implications on the line in this one. A loss last week really hurt the Steelers chances. A loss this week will officially but them to rest. The Dolphins are coming off a big divisional win against the Jets last week that has put them in the drivers seat for the final wild card position. They will face a tough test going into the elements up in Pittsburgh this week. Traditionally the Dolphins have not been a very good team in cold weather situations. They are going to need a big game out of their lines on both sides of the ball. The offensive line has been in shambles all season but stepped up in a big way last week. The Steelers pass rush isn't what it was a few years ago but they can still get after the QB from time to time. Protecting Tannehill is the top priority for offensive success for the Dolphins.

The Steelers come into the game with wins in three of their last four games and lost a heart breaking divisional game to the Ravens last week. They have gotten back to Steelers football, pounding the ball on the ground and playing tough defense. This week they will need to do more of the same. They have been very good at home lately winning their last three home contests.

Trends
Miami is 7-1 SU and ATS in the past eight games as dogs
The total has gone UNDER in 15 of Miami's last 22 games on the road.
Pittsburgh has won the past five meeting between the teams.

The Verdict
We are bucking the trends and going with the team that truly needs the game more. Pittsburgh is out of it whether they like it or not. Miami is still very much alive and a win here puts them in the drivers seat for the final AFC playoff spot. Factor in they are getting more than a field goal and you have yourself a nice little play.

PICK: MIAMI +3.5

NFL Week 14 Cash-In: Kansas City at Washington

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NFL Week 14 Cash-In
Kansas City Chiefs @ Washington Redskins
Line: Kansas City -3, O/U: 44

The Match-Up
The 9-3 Kansas City Chiefs head to Washington to take on the 3-9 Redskins. The Chiefs enter the game on a three game losing streak after dropping a pair to Denver and one to San Diego. The biggest problem has been on the defensive side of the ball, the side that to this point was considered the strength. They have given up an average of 34.3 points per game in those losses, nearly two touchdowns more than their previous nine games. That is a trend that will need to stop against RGIII and company this week if they are going to get back on track. Offensively, they have gotten away from their bread and butter running game led by one of the best back in football in Jamaal Charles. A lot of this change in game plan has been due to nature of the game and needing to rack up points quickly after falling behind. Washington gives up 108 yards per game on the ground. Look for them to go with Charles early and often as they look to exploit the Redskins on the ground.

For Washington this has been on major disappointment of a season. RGIII has taken far longer to recover than the team had hoped and their struggles in the win column are a direct result. Like the Chiefs, the Redskins boast one of the games premier rushing attacks in the league, when kicking on all cylinders. They are catching the usually stingy Chiefs defense at the right time. They have been beaten up in recent week. If Alfred Morris can get the wheels turning early they could do some real damage.

Trends
Chiefs are 5-0 SU and ATS vs. Redskins since 1992
Chiefs won and covered four straight as road chalk
Redskins are 4-14 SU past 18 games as home dogs

The Verdict
The Chiefs are too good to keep losing like this. This week they get one of the worst teams in football at this point. Look for them to pound the ball on the ground and get back to the style of football that make them so dominate for the first nine games of the season. Expect a win by a touchdown or more.

Pick: Kansas City -3

NCAA Cash-In: ACC Championship

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NCAA Cash-In: ACC Championship
Duke Blue Devils at Florida State Seminoles
Line: Florida St. -29, O/U: 64

The Match-Up
David faces Goliath this week as the #1 Florida State Seminoles host the surprising Duke Blue Devils. The big news this week for the undefeated Seminoles was not related to anything that will happen in Saturday nights game but instead off the field where Heisman hopeful QB Jameis Winston will not be charged in a sexual assault case. Now that is out of the way they will look to keep their drivers seat to the National Title game nice and cozy against a team they know little about.

Duke comes into the game at 10-2, winners of 8 straight and a perfect 5-0 on the road. They have quality wins on the road at Virginia Tech and home against then ranked Miami. When you think Duke you don't generally think football. The program was the ACC doormat for years but have seen a major resurgence this season and have every right to be in this game.

Trends:
The Seminoles have beaten Duke 15 straight meetings, covering the last five meetings. 
Florida St. won 48-7 at home last year vs Duke as 27-point favorites.
Duke is 6-0 ATS in its last six games on grass
Florida State is 11-2-1 ATS in its last 14 neutral-site games
The OVER is 12-5-1 in Duke’s last 18 conference games
The OVER is 7-1 in FSU’s last eight conference games.

The Verdict:
Florida St. has every reason to be the overwhelming favorite in this one. They have won handily in each game this season and look like the clear favorite to win the National Championship. That said, there have been a lot of distractions in Florida this week. The Jameis Winston saga may be over from a legal standpoint but there is still a lot of speculation around him and on top of that he has Heisman voters to try and lock up. It would not surprise me to see him squeeze the ball just a little tighter in the first half allowing the game to stay close. Four plus touchdowns is a huge number. I think they win, just not in as grant a fashion as Vegas eludes to.

PICK: DUKE +29

NCAA Cash-In: PAC 12 Championship

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NCAA Cash-In: PAC 12 Championship
Arizona St. Sun Devils vs. Stanford Cardinal
Line: Arizona St. -3, O/U: 56

The Match-Up
The battle for the right to go to the Rose Bowl! The #7 Stanford Cardinal head to the desert to take on the #11 Arizona St. Sun Devils. The two teams played mid season at Stanford with the Cardinal rolling to a 42-28 victory. This time around it should be a little closer however. Arizona St. is a perfect 7-0 at home this season. They are coming into the game on a seven game winning streak including a blow out win against rival Arizona last week.

Stanford has had a tough road to get back to the PAC 12 title game in recent weeks. After knocking off then #2 Oregon they suffered a let down loss on the road against USC before wins over Cal and a nail bitter last week against Notre Dame. They come into the game with a smothering defense an run first style of attack on offense. Controling the clock and not getting into shootouts is the name of the game for the Cardinal. They are not designed to need to go out and score 30+ through the air. If it turns into that type of game they could be in trouble. If it is a clock control grind it out type of game that highly favors Stanford.

Trends:
Stanford is 3-0 SU and 2-0-1 ATS in the last three meetings.
Stanford is 4-0 ATS in its last four December games.
Arizona State is 4-1 ATS in its last five home games
The favorite is 5-0-1 ATS in the last six meetings.
The OVER is 6-2 in ASU's last eight home games and 7-3 in ASU's last 10 conference games.
The UNDER is 8-3 in Stanford's last 11 road games.

The Verdict:
Arizona St is the sexy, flashy pick but I'm just not convinced they can get it done against a true tough defense. Defense was the difference the last time these two met. Granted, that was back in September, but still notable. It won't be the blowout it was last time as the Sun Devils are tough at home. That said, we like the Cardinal to control the clock and control the game.

PICK: STANFORD +3

NCAA Cash-In: SEC Championship

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NCAA Cash-In: SEC Championship
Auburn Tigers vs. Missouri Tigers
Line: Missouri -1.5, O/U: 59.5

The Match-Up:
A pair of Tigers will meet in this years SEC Championship game. The Auburn Tigers come into the game off of one of the biggest victories in the history of this storied program in the Iron Bowl against then undefeated and #1 ranked Alabama. The highlights of the final play of that game have been run on a loop nation wide all week as they returned a missed field goal 100+ yards for a touchdown in the final second of the game. They will look to carry that emotional high into this week's game against a very tough Missouri team.

Missouri has been a bit of a head scratcher this year. It is just their second season in the SEC and last year served as a rude awakening to what SEC football was all about. This year has been a completely different story as they have taken the SEC East by storm and a 11-1 record. The tricky thing when trying to handicap Missouri is their lack of play against the elite SEC talent. Their lone loss was to South Carolina. They did not play Alabama, Auburn or LSU. It remains to be seen what they can do against that type of talent.

Trends:
Tigers are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 conference games.
Under is 4-0 in Tigers last 4 games on fieldturf.
Tigers are 6-0 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
Tigers are 7-0 ATS in their last 7 conference games.
SEC teams are 2-13 in their last 15 the week after playing Alabama.

The Verdict:
Top to bottom Auburn is the deeper, more athletic team. They have shown they can beat the big boys. The only question is whether there is any kind of hangover from the emotional week following that win. For Missouri to keep it close they are going to have to protect QB James Franklin. He has the receivers to be dangerous but needs the time and protection t find them. At the end of the day, Auburn is just the better team.

PICK: AUBURN +1.5

Friday, December 6, 2013

NFL Week 14 Power Rankings

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NFL Week 14 Power Rankings

Boy those Seahawks are tough at home. They passed their latest test with flying colors taking care of the Saints at home on Monday night. The road does not get any easier this week as they travel to San Francisco this week for a divisional game with the rival 49ers. Jumping up to #2 this week are the New England Patriots. The Pats escaped a nail biter against the Texans last week in an emotional return of Houston coach Gary Zubiak. This week they host the Cleveland Browns. Expect this one to not be nearly the nail biter that we saw last week. At #3 are the Denver Broncos. They took care of business last week against the Chiefs and appear to be in the drivers seat in the AFC West.They now are in a fight with New England for the #1 seed in the AFC. The New Orleans Saints drop two spots to #4 this week after a disaponting performance in Seattle last week. They face a very tough challenge this week at home against our #5 ranked Carolina Panthers. The winner of this game is in the drivers seat for the division crown.

Where does your team rank this week?

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

NFL Fanduel Week 14 Players to Start

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NFL Fanduel Week 14 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 - Nick Foles -- PHI vs. DET - $9,000
If you told me back in September that Nick Foles would be one of our must play studs of the week in December I would have looked at you like you had three heads. Yet, here we are in December and Foles has 19 TDs to 0 INTs and his Eagles are in the thick of a division race. This week they take on the Detroit Lions who are in a race of their own. Honestly, either QB in this match-up would be a good a good start here. It should be a relatively high scoring affair.
QB - Josh McCown - CHI vs. DAL - $7,200
Huge playoff implications across the board this week and this games is about as important as any of them. Chicago need the win to stay in contention for the NFC North. McCown has grown a terrific rapport with wide receiver Alshon Jeffery. Last week the two connected for 200+ and a couple TD's. He still has Brandon Marshall on the other making for a very deadly duo on the outside. The Cowboys are vulnerable through the air and come into the game ranked 31st in the league against the pass. Great match-up for a team that needs a big performance.
RB - Jamaal Charles - KC vs. WAS -- $9,600
Charles is the highest price RB this week, but with good reason. He has only broke the 100 yard rushing mark once in the last six weeks but does have four TD's over that span. A lot of that has to due with KC being in tighter games or needing to come from behind through the air. There should be none of that this week against the lowly Redskins. Expect the Chiefs to jump out to an early lead and pound the rock with Charles the rest of the way.
RB - CJ Spiller - BUF vs. TB -- $6,500
Price went up a bit after a breakout of sorts last week. He started the season as a top 5 fantasy back. After a string of injuries and inconsistencies he was back in star form last week with 149 yards and a TD. He will look to keep that going this week against a Tampa Bay defense that is stingier at times but still vulnerable to big plays.
WR - Alshon Jeffery - CHI vs. DAL -- $7,800
Jeffery was an absolute beast last week going for 40+ points. This week he goes up against the #31 ranked pass defense in the NFL. While he is sure to be on the Cowboys radar this week, he still has Brandon Marshall on the other side to draw attention and avoid double teams. Expect another 100+ performance and TD.
WR - Victor Cruz - NYG vs. SD -- $6,500
Sleeper picks are a little harder to come by this week. We are going with a bounce back pick in this position. By all accounts Cruz is having a down year this season. He has gone over 100 yards just three times this season with just a couple TDs to show for his efforts. Well, this week he draws the #27 ranked pass defense. If he is going to get back on tract this is the week.
TE - Rob Gronkowski - NE vs. CLE -- $8,500
No-brainer. As we told you last week, at this point Gronk is far and away the best player at his position fantasy wise this year. If you can afford to get him in your line up you will not be disappointed.
TE - Charles Clay - MIA vs. PIT -- $5,000
Clay has been a nice little surprise for the Dolphins this season. Last week he had seven receptions for 80 yards. He is consistently targeted in the 6-10 range per game and is even getting some short yardage carries on the ground as a full back. All it takes is one trip in the end zone to validate the pick at this price.
K - Adam Vinatieri - IND vs. CIN -- $5,800
The Colts are back but draw a pretty solid defense in Cincy this week. Andrew Luck will move the ball some but expect Vinatieri to be busy this week.
K - Alex Henery - PHI vs. DET -- $5,000
It is a large group of cheap options this week but we like the match-up for the Eagles and Henery. It should be a fairly high scoring game, leaving plenty of opportunities for Henery to rack up some points.
DEF - New England Patriots - vs. CLE -- $5,200
The Patroits gave us 30 points to Houston last week, so you really don't know what you are going to get but they are going up against a Browns team that still does not know who their QB will be and whoever it is bound to throw a pick or two.
DEF - Baltimore Ravens - vs. MIN -- $5,000
The only way they get beat is if Adrian Peterson explodes for 200+. They are getting stingier by the week and this week have a very good match-up against a team that can't do much of anything through the air.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Ellsbury Rekindles Rivalry

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Ellsbury Rekindles Rivalry
By Wild on Sports Analyst Jason Gillson

It has grown boring really. In 2012 the Bobby Valentine led Red Sox were the league's laughing stock going 69-93 a year after running beloved manager Terry Francona out of town. In 2013 it was the Yankees turn as injuries, old age and zero depth led to the worst Yankees team since 1995. With the two teams alternating horrendous performances there was little bite to sports greatest rivalry. The fans could sense it -- Fenway lost his its sell out streak, Yankee stadium was no more; the players could sense it -- Kevin Youkilis, who had as nasty a relationship with the Yankees players over the years as anyone switched uniforms with no real fire works; and major league baseball lost its most marque postseason match-up for consecutive years. The flame of true hatred was fading fast.

Well, Jacoby Ellsbury may have just dumped some gasoline on that flame as the former Red Sox all-star center fielder agreed to a 7 year, $153 million deal on Tuesday.

So much for New York budgets cuts. Just weeks ago Brian Cashman told assembled media that the Yankees were going to be spending responsibly and focus on a budget that would keep them below the luxury tax. At the time that was believed to mean that the Yankees would only bring back one of their high prices free agents of a pool that included Robinson Cano Curtis Granderson and Phil Hughes. Beyond that signings of the likes of Brian McCann, Kelly Johnson and Brendan Ryan were believed to be the excitement of the off-season. Poof, there goes that myth.

The Northeast has been in a bit of a stir in the 24 hours since the deal was agreed upon. Callers to popular Boston talk radio shows brought out the trader rants and comparisons to those who had spurned them in the past, namely another former Sox center fielder Johnny Damon. The burning of the jerseys int he streets are littering youtube, the soggy pink hats of the Red Sox bunnies are struggling to catch all of the tears -- OK, maybe we're going a bit overboard here, but you get the idea.

It is interesting really. The thought seemed more or less unanimous at one point that Ellsbury would inevitably leave. He hired super-agent Scott Boras who has a reputation to getting the largest contracts in the major leagues. He wouldn't even consider talking extension with the Sox for fear of losing the right to test the open market in search of the mega payday. The Red Sox had a number they were willing to go to, something in the neighborhood of 4 years, $15mil per. That offer, fictional or not, was ever even really in pay. That was all fine and good by Red Sox fans this fall. Many assumed he would return home to Seattle, just a stones throw from his native Oregon home. What was never thought was that the player, who when healthy stole the hearts of Sox fans and bases left and right, would bolt for the arch enemy. No, not Johnny Jacoby. Excuse me if you have heard that before.

So the flame has been re-lit, the pink hats are crying while Yankee fans rejoice and Red Sox fans are summoning up the "in Theo Cherington we trust" shirts. All is chaotic in this epic rivalry. Its about damn time really.

There is one good bit of news for Red Sox fans in light of all of this drama - in the battle that really matters, the Sox are defending Wold Champions; just the starting point in the next series of dominoes to fall. Just watch what happens next...

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

NHL Power Rankings - December 3rd

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NHL Power Rankings
December 3, 2013

The defending champs are back in the drivers seat and on top of this weeks edition of NHL Power Rankings. The Hawks are winners of six straight and eight of their last 10. Patrick Kane has eight points over that six game span and could be in the running for his first career scoring title. Equally hot are the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks are winners of five straight and eight of their last ten. They currently sit on top of the Pacific Division and are nipping at the Blackhawks heals for the conference lead. At #3 this week are last week's top dog the St. Louis Blues. The Blues sit in second in the Central with two games in hand over Chicago. St. Louis dropped a pair of games this week but remain one of the strongest teams in the west. Up one spot to #4 are the Colorado Avalanche. The Aves have won five of their last six, all six games against upper echelon competition. This past week they took a pair from Minnesota and are starting to look more like the team that jumped out of the gates than the team that stumbled in early November. Rounding out the top five we finally have a team from the Eastern Conference! After being the shutout of the past 3 weeks the Boston Bruins have cracked the code to give the east a little representation. The Bruins have won four of their last five and are showing why they are many's favorites to repeat as Eastern Conference Champs.

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

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