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Saturday, December 14, 2013

NFL Week 15 Cash-In: Kansas City at Oakland

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NFL Week 15 Cash-In
Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders
Line: Kansas City -6, O/U: 42

The Match-Up
The 10-3 Kansas City Chiefs head to Oakland for a divisional game against the 4-9 Raiders. The Chiefs got back on track last week with a 45-10 beat down of the lowly Washington Redskins. This week they face an opponent in a similar situation in Oakland. For the Raiders the season is all but over. They will be auditioning a few positions and evaluating Matt McGloin to see is he is the QB of the future.

Trends:
The Chiefs are 8-2 ATS in their past 10 trips to Oakland.
The Chiefs are 5-1 ATS in their past six road games.
UNDER is 8-1-1 in the past 10 Raiders home games.
The Chiefs are 1-9 SU, 2-8 ATS in their past 10 divisional games.
The Raiders are 4-1 ATS in their past five divisional games.
UNDER is 14-2-1 in the past 17 meetings between the Chiefs and the Raiders.

The Verdict:
This may be the lay-up of the week. Kansas City is 5-1 SU and 5-1 ATS on the road this season. The Chiefs still have a shot at the division and home field in the playoffs at stake. It is just too important for them to lay an egg here. Expect them to roll much like they did last week.

Pick: KANSAS CITY -6

NFL Week 15 Cash-In: Chicago at Cleveland

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NFL Week 15 Cash-In
Chicago Bears at Cleveland Browns
Line: Chicago -1, O/U: 43.5

The Match-Up:
Chicago comes into the game battling for their playoff lives. There has been a ton of controversy this week surrounding who should start at quarterback for the Bears. Josh McCown has led the team in recent weeks and has done a remarkable job in doing so. He has the highest QBR in theNFL over the last three games and looks like a guy ready to lead a team into the playoffs. Jake Cutler is in the final year of his contract and coming back from a series of injuries. He has been the guy in Chicago for a while now and they have a tough decision coming up as to who will takes those reins going forward. This week the Bears head to Cleveland with Cutler at the helm to take on a Browns team who is coming off a very emotional loss on the road to New England in the final minutes. Jason Campbell has been a nice spark for the the Browns and has really grown a strong rapport with WR Josh Gordon who is having a career year. They will be going up against a very injury depleted and suspect Bears defense this week which should allow for the two to hook up early and often.

Trends:
The Bears are 5-15-1 ATS in their last 21 games.
The Bears are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 road games.
The Browns are 7-3-1 ATS in their last 11 home games vs. a team with a winning road record.
The Over is 10-3 in the Bears last 13 road games.
The Over is 4-1 in the Browns last 5 home games.

The Verdict:
As bad as the Bears defense has been, the offense has been equally good. They need this game to hang onto whatever slim playoff hopes they may have left. They will be motivated and going against a team that is already playing for next season. Forget the trends. Expect the Bears to win and continue their quest next week.

Pick: CHICAGO -1

AFC Wild Card Race Round-Up

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AFC Wild Card Race Round-Up

In a year that we really have a lot of clear cut division winners, the race everyone will be watching down the stretch will be the AFC Wild Card race. Four teams (Baltimore, Miami, San Diego, New York) have a realistic shot at the final wild card spot. With three games remaining for each team, including several against each other, lets take a look at what each team needs in order to make it to the AFC Playoffs.

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Baltimore Ravens
(7-6, 2nd AFC North)

Remaining Games:
Week 15: @ Detroit Lions
Week 16: vs. New England Patriots
Week 17: @ Cincinnati Bengals

Outlook:
The Ravens control their own destiny and hold tie breakers over both Miami and New York thanks to head to head victories Their road will not be easy as the three remaining games all come against teams currently leading their divisions, including inner-division rival Cincinnati. That said, they are the defending champs and know what it takes to win big games. This is the time of year Joe Flacco makes his money. He just got the big bucks this year. Lets see if he can come through again.

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Miami Dolphins
(7-6, 2nd AFC East)

Remaining Games:
Week 15: vs. New England Patriots
Week 16: @ Buffalo Bills
Week 17: vs. New York Jets

Outlook:
The Dolphins, on paper at least, seem to have the easiest schedule of the teams in the race. They take on an injury depleted New England team at home in week 15, go on the road to play a struggling Buffalo team week 16 before returning home for a big rivalry game (that may decide the 6 seed) to close out the season. The Dolphins have gone through a lot of off the field distractions this season but Joe Philbin's club has hung in there tough and look like a playoff caliber team. They have an outside shot at the division should they will out and New England lose out. Its unlikely, but not entirely impossible.

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San Diego Chargers
(7-7, 3rd AFC West)

Remaining Games:
Week 15: vs. Denver (WIN)
Week 16: vs. Oakland
Week 17: vs. Kansas City

Outlook:
They had their backs against the wall going into Thursday nights game against Denver and really stood up to the test knocking off the #1 ranked team in the AFC. They close the season with a pair of divisional games, both at home. They really need to win out and get some help in the form of losses from Miami and Baltimore. Maimi owns a head to head tie breaker over them thanks to their week 11 victory. They are a long shot but no offense in the running may be hotter than that of Phillip Rivers' Chargers. They are certainly a team that no one would want to face if they were to get in.

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New York Jets
(6-7, 3rd AFC East)

Remaining Games:
Week 15: @ Carolina Panthers
Week 16: vs. Cleveland Browns
Week 17: @ Miami Dolphins

Outlook:
The Jets must win out to get in. Their toughest test will come in week 15 against the red hot Carolina Panthers. If there is a silver lining for the Jets it is that the team has gotten a little healthier each week. The past two weeks they have gotten back WR's Santonio Holmes and Jeremey Kerley. They will need rookie QB Geno Smith to gain some confidence with each of them if they want a chance down the stretch. Will it come down to the week 17 match-up with Miami?

Friday, December 13, 2013

Heisman: Winston Will Win, Should He?

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Heisman: Winston Will Win, Should He?
By Wild on Sports Analyst Jason Gillson

Its all but a forgone conclusion the Jameis Winston will win the Heisman Trophy this weekend but does he represent what is right with the game or what is wrong?

The Heisman Trophy will be awarded on Saturday and in all likelihood Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston will be the second freshmen in consecutive seasons to win the award. His team is the #1 ranked team in the country by every form of ranking possible. He is 8th in the country in total passing yards (3,820), 2nd in the country in touchdowns (38) and leads all of college football with a 190.1 efficiency rating. And the cherry on top:  by all accounts, he would be the consensus #1 overall pick in this year's NFL Draft if he were eligible.

Sounds like a cut and dry case, right? The best player on the best team wins the most prestigious award in the sport. If that were in fact the criteria, and in the minds of many voters it is, it would and likely will be a landslide victory. Sadly, if you actually read the criteria you may come to a different conclusion.
The outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity. Winners epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work.
Integrity. That may be a tough sell for those who have been keeping an eye on the landscape of college football the past few months. The same player whose name has been the spotlight of many highlight reals has also been the spotlight of a major legal investigation.

Now, in fairness to Winston it was announced last week that the district attorney will not charge Winston in the case for a variety of reasons that he managed to dance around. Lack of strong enough evidence is suggested as one. A complete dropping of the ball, so to speak, by the Tallahassee Police Department is suggested to be another. Now that is a whole different issue for a whole different time, but Google it and you will see what I mean. What the DA did say is that he will not be charged. What he was very careful not to say what that Winston was absolved of all guilt. The reality - he did something - we don't know exactly what - either the evidence isn't convincing (work of outside agency or otherwise) or the accuser is questionable.

I'm not sure that integrity can be associated with a man accused of rape. Granted, the key word is accused. I'm not trying to call him guilty. I don't know what happened but based on what both sides have said and what the 180+ page affidavit there is enough there to question why college football would bestow its highest honor on a man who has questionable integrity, when integrity is in fact a key component of qualification.

So if not Winston, who?

The other five candidates invited to New York City for the presentation are runningbacks Andre Williams and Tre Mason and quarterbacks Jordan Lynch, AJ McCarron and reigning Heisman winner Johnny Manziel. At a quick glance...

Andre Williams - RB Boston College 2,102 yards rushing, 17 TDs
Tre Mason - RB #2 Auburn 1621 yards rushing, 22 TD's
AJ McCarron -  QB #3 Alabama 2,676 yards passing, 26 TDs, 5 INTs
Jordan Lynch - QB Northern Illionis 2,676 yards passing, 23 TDs, 7 INTs
Johnny Manziel - QB Texas A&M 3,732 yards passing, 33 TDs, 13 INTs

Statistically, the two that stand out are RB Andre Williams and QB Johnny Manziel.

There is no question that rushing for 2,000+ yards in today's college football is a remarkable accomplishment. Doing so for a ACC team that has not not been on the National radar since the Matt Ryan days is an accomplishment all on his own. He does not have a team surrounded by NFL bound talent like some of the other candidates. Yet, he was able to accomplish what only 15 others have ever been able to at the Division 1 level.

Integrity? In addition to his on the field accomplishments, he is a star in the classroom as well. Did we mention he is writing a novel? He is soft spoken off the field but levels a hardy boom on. In a sport that grows more pass happy by the year, to be able to accomplish what he has is worthy of serious consideration.

Can the reign champ become just the second player (Archie Griffin being the first) ever to win the award twice? Statistically, Manziel and Winston have very similar numbers:

Manziel: 3,732 yards, 33 TDs, 13 INTs
Winston: 3,820 yards, 38 TDs, 10 INTs

While the numbers are very similar, the way they got there are very different. Outside of A&M receiver Mike Evans there really isn't a whole lot to be excited about in terms of a supporting cast. He does not have multiple options to check down to, he does not have a defense that can keep teams under 30, let alone 40 most games. He doesn't play for the #1 team in the country, but in terms of outstanding performances that scream of excellence you will be hard pressed to find a player in a game better than what he did against #1 (at the time, now #3) Alabama. Give him the defense Winston has at Florida State and he wins that game. What about the performance against #2 Auburn? Give him the defense Winston has at Florida State and they win that game as well. Heck, he might have won that game on his own had he not been injured late in the game.

Wins over 2 of the top three teams in the country? That may open a few more eyes. Granted, he did not win those games. Voters will hold that against him. Is he playing for the #1 team in the country? No. Is he the most spectacular player in the game? It may be hard to find someone else who is.

Now, when it comes to integrity Manziel has a question mark of his own. There was an NCAA investigation launched against him to probe whether he accepted money in exchange for an off-season autograph session. While they did not suspend him games it was against NCAA rules if found guilty. Like Winston, nothing conclusive.

So who gets our vote? Our ballot would read:
1. Andre Williams, RB Boston College
2. Johnny Manziel, QB Texas A&M
3. Jameis Winston, QB Florida St.

Sadly, our vote does not matter.

When the lights go on New York City Saturday night it will be Winston on stage holding the trophy. But in our eyes he is the wrong man and represents what has been wrong with the high profile sports world for years now.

Who would you vote for?

NFL Fanduel Week 15 Players to Start

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NFL Fanduel Week 15 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 - Tom Brady - NE vs. MIA -- $9,600
Brady will face a tough test this week against a Miami team that is hungry and fighting for their playoff lives. The team has gotten off to terrible starts the last couple weeks but found ways to win even after injuries to key guys like Rob Gronkowski. Why is he such a good start? There will be a big chip on his shoulder in this one to prove that he can get it done without the big guns. He has a good history against Miami and a secondary that is a little beat up at the moment.
QB - Kirk Cousins - WAS vs. ATL -- $5,100
Looks like this is the showcase three week stretch for Cousins to audition for a starting gig elsewhere next season. He has a pretty good match-up this week against an Atlanta team that has been scored on by just about everyone this season. At just $5100 Cousins is an absolute steal. He will be motivated, Shanahan will be motivated to make him look good. All in all a lot to love.
RB - Demarco Murray - DAL vs. GB -- $8,000
Dallas heads out into the elements this week at the frozen tundra. They will look to control the game and the ball on the ground with Murray. Green Bay is 25th in the league against the run. Murray will get bulk work against a suspect run defense. Looks like a good start here.
RB - Lamar Miller - MIA vs. NE -- $4,600
New England is really beat up defensively particularly up the middle with the losses of Wilfork, Kelly and Mayo. They got burned badly by Denver a couple of weeks ago and Miller is the type of streaky back that could explode in a game and match-up like this. For the money, the risk reward here looks appealing.
WR - Dez Bryant - DAL vs. GB -- $8,700
Dallas needs this game if they want to win the division. Bryant hasn't put up the gaudy numbers in recent weeks that we are used to seeing but this could be the week that all comes back to life. Green Bay is 21st in the league against the pass. If Rodgers is able to play for the Packers it could turn into a shootout.
WR - Pierre Garcon - WAS vs. ATL -- $6,800
Cousins is going to be airing it out this week. Garcon is the top target on the team. It just all adds up. If you are goign with one, why not have the other.
TE - Charles Clay - MIA vs. NE -- $6,100
Clay has really emerged as a major red-zone threat for the Dolphins in recent weeks he has 7 catches on 10 targets in consecutive weeks and caught a pair of TD's last week. The Dolphins should be able to move the ball on the beat up Patriots defense opening the door for plenty of opportunities for Clay in this one.
TE - Brandon Pettigrew - DET vs. BAL -- $4,500
Really has been a non-factor this year but as much as Stafford likes to throw the ball could be a candidate for a breakout any week.
K - Steven Hauschka - SEA vs. NYG -- $5,300
Should get plenty of opportunities this week against a brutal Giants team.
K - Ryan Succop - KC vs. OAK -- $5,000
Oakland is terrible. Juts terrible. KC could hang 50 on them if they keep the foot on the gas.
DEF - Kansas City - vs. OAK -- $6,500
Read above. They have put up great numbers this year against far better opponents.
DEF - Indianapolis - vs. HOU -- $5,000
Houston is a mess. They are on track for the worst record in the league and the #1 overall pick. Indy needs to get things back together going into the playoffs. It just all adds up to a Colts steamroll.

NFL Week 15 Power Rankings

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NFL Week 15 Power Rankings

We have a new #1! By virtue of the Seattle loss to San Francisco last week, Peyton Manning and Denver Broncos have jumped up into the #1 ranking this week. The Broncos look like the clear favorites in the AFC now due to a continuing pile of injuries to key players in New England. They get their last real test of the regular season this week in division rival San Diego. A win in that game should lock up the #1 seed and home field through out. 
At #2 we have the New England Patriots who just continue to find a way to get it done. The win did not come without a price however as they lost star TE Rob Gronkowski for the season with a torn ACL. Add Gronk to the list that includes Wilfork, Mayo, Kelly and other who are all done for the season. This may be the best work of Brady-Belichick that we have seen to date. 
Dropping down to the #3 spot this week after a loss at the 49ers are the Seattle Seahawks. That is quickly becoming one of the best rivalries in football and a treat to watch last weekend. Hard to imagine a situation where they don't split regular season match-ups and that is just what they did. All eye remain of Seattle however as the favorite to come out of the NFC. 
The New Orleans Saints remain at the #4 spot this week. They continue to take care of business at home where they are a perfect 7-0. 
Jumping up into the top five this week are the Cincinnati Bengals. Andy Dalton and co. seems to be really clicking on all cylinders right now and could really be a dark horse going into the playoffs. The rash of injuries in New England coupled with tough road games at Miami and Baltimore could open the door for Cincy to even jump up into a possible bye. Keep in mind, they own the tie-breaker over New England after beating them earlier in the season.

Things are really starting to get interesting now and we gear up for the playoff push! Where does your team rank?

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

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

NHL Power Rankings - December 11

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NHL Power Rankings
December 11, 2013

The Chicago Blackhawks continue to shine and once again hold the top spot in our NHL Power Rankings this week. They clearly are the creme of the crop this season and the whispers are beginning already about a possible repeat. The real test will come in the next two weeks as they are expected to be without goaltender Corey Crawford who was injured over the weekend. Making a strong charge up the standing this week are the Anaheim Ducks. They have won three in a row and have points in nine of their last ten games. Ryan Getzlef has points in 14 straight games, just an unbelievable statistic. Also making a climb in the rankings this week are the Los Angeles Kings. Even without all-star goaltender Jonathan Quick the team just keeps finding ways to get it done. Tuesday night's 6-0 thumping of the then red-hot Montreal Canadiens is just the last of a series of impressive victories. Dropping a pair of spots this week are the San Jose Sharks. They have wins in 6 of their last 10 but took a really beating this past week from the Penguins. You can't take nights off in the NHL especially against one of the better offensive teams in the league. Rounding out the top five are the St. Louis Blues. The Blues drop a pair of spots after losses this past week to Anaheim and LA, both teams in the top 3. They did take care of business Tuesday night against Winnipeg to get back on track and remain a team to watch with their depth and balance.

Where does your team rank?

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

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