Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Midweek Football Picks 2015 (November 24-26)

I'll be honest, I can't seem to get out of my own way when it comes to the football picks this season with so many games seemingly going far away from where I expected them to.

Only a few of those have been down to bad luck so I can't even point to that, but they have simply been bad picks and I have to be better.

Last season wasn't great, but the previous years have been positive so unless the Premier League and Champions League have literally changed something fundamentally, I expect improvements.

Arsenal v Dinamo Zagreb Pick: Arsenal's home win over Bayern Munich last month has given them an outside chance of making it through to the Second Round of the Champions League. The two opening losses to the weaker teams in the Group has given Arsenal a mountain to climb and they do need help from the Bavarian giants, but The Gunners should have a chance to qualify for the next Round in the next couple of weeks.

First off they need to beat Dinamo Zagreb at The Emirates Stadium and I expect they are going to be far too good for the Croatian Champions. A 2-1 defeat in Zagreb was a huge surprise result for Arsenal, but they should have been well ahead in that game prior to going behind and then losing Olivier Giroud to a first half red card made it a very difficult challenge.

Injuries are a big problem for Arsenal at the moment, but their attacking threat through Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud should pay off against a team that really isn't up to this level.

Dinamo Zagreb might dominate their domestic League, but they won't face teams like Arsenal too often and were crushed by Bayern Munich in their visit to Germany. If Arsenal can get their noses in front in the first half hour of this game, I would expect them to take revenge over Dinamo Zagreb with a comfortable win and then keep an ear out for the result of the Bayern Munich-Olympiacos game which will be played at the same time.

Barcelona v Roma Pick: Barcelona are coming in off an almost perfect performance when they crushed Real Madrid 0-4 away from home in the Spanish Primera Division. That result will make Barcelona strong favourites to retain their title, especially with Lionel Messi back after a two month absence, and now they will focus on booking their place in the Champions League Second Round.

A win on Tuesday will ensure Barcelona win the Group regardless of what happens in the other game in the section and they look a team with a lot of confidence behind them. Messi is expected to start to build his match fitness and Roma will do well to stay with them in the Nou Camp.

Roma are very much looking to book their place in the Second Round too and a win on Tuesday will make them favourites to follow Barcelona into the Last 16.

This is not a team that travels very well in the Champions League and I think it is a big test for Roma to take on a rampant Barcelona who have been keeping clean sheets and scoring plenty of goals. A defeat isn't the end of the road for Roma, although the permutations for qualifying to the Second Round will be clear at the end of the evening.

I struggle to see Roma keeping up with the Barcelona attacking quality and with the confidence the home team has and I will back the defending Champions to win by a couple of goals.

Maccabi Tel Aviv v Chelsea Pick: A really disappointing season to this point for Chelsea can show some light at the end of the tunnel if they can move through to the Second Round of the Champions League. Chelsea are a club in turmoil, or so it seems from outside of Stamford Bridge, but a victory in Israel coupled with a Dynamo Kiev failure to win in Porto will be enough for Jose Mourinho's side.

They should be too good for Maccabi Tel Aviv who have been overmatched in the Group Stage of the Champions League having surprisingly come through the Qualifiers. Maccabi Tel Aviv have lost all four games in the Group by at leas two goals including home defeats to both Dynamo Kiev (0-2) and Porto (1-3).

My one concern in backing Chelsea is that they haven't won any of their last 6 away games in all competitions and even that last victory came at League One Walsall.

Only one of their last ten away Champions League games has seen Chelsea win the game by more than a single goal, but they will have taken some heart from the performance in the 1-0 win over Norwich City. With the home side not likely to prevent at least two goals being scored against them, I do think Chelsea will be able to win this by a couple of goals on the night and will back them to do so.

CSKA Moscow v Wolfsburg PickThis is a big game for both CSKA Moscow and Wolfsburg and the importance of the three points from the fixture will not be lost on either team. For CSKA Moscow it is much more simple than it is for Wolfsburg as any defeat means they will be out of the Champions League regardless of what happens in the other game later in the evening and even a draw might not be good enough for them.

That should mean CSKA Moscow look to get on the front foot in this one and they have been a team that can score goals, although recent form has been a real concern for them.

For Wolfsburg a defeat might not be the end of the road, but they will have a keen interest in the other game being played at Old Trafford, especially as they face Manchester United at home to end the Group Stage. Wolfsburg might feel confident of their chances at home to beat United, but they have struggled away from home which is a concern in this fixture.

Wolfsburg have lost 5 of their last 6 away games in all competitions including conceding twice at both Manchester United and PSV Eindhoven. A lack of goals has to be a bother for the away side having failed to hit the net in 3 of their last 4 away games, but this is a game which should feature both teams looking to get forward to score the goals that will take them potentially through to the Second Round.

You have to remember that CSKA Moscow have conceded at least once in their last 12 away games in the Champions League, but have also scored in 10 of their last 11 at home. If this game does get to 1-1, I don't think either team will settle for that result and will still look to secure the win and so backing at least three goals to be shared in the early game on Wednesday looks the call.

Juventus v Manchester City PickThis is almost a 'nothing to lose' game for both Juventus and Manchester City in terms of being knocked out of the Champions League, but the importance of winning the Group will not be lost on either team. However, both teams seem to be ones that will look to make things happen rather than sitting back and hoping things happen and so there could be some entertainment for those watching.

Juventus at home will be expected to get forward, but Manchester City have shown that they not a side that will look to settle for a point and instead will look to play attractive attacking football.

For Manchester City the concern has to be the absence of Vincent Kompany which has seen the team concede far too many goals. However the return of Sergio Aguero means they have a focal point who can score goals and I think the layers might have got it a little wrong with their lack of expectation for goals.

Neither side has any reason to step back in this one and I think both teams will score at least once and there could be spaces to exploit as the game wears on. Winning the Group is so important for both teams that I think they will search for the win until the end of the game and I can see at least three goals shared by these teams for a second time this season.

Malmo v Paris Saint-Germain PickIt is going to be an emotional time for Zlatan Ibrahimovic returning to Malmo even if he won't say as much in the media. The fans are certainly going to give their national hero a big ovation before Malmo look to earn a surprise win over Paris Saint-Germain that will give them an outside chance of moving into the Second Round of the Champions League at PSG's expense.

That is a big ask for Malmo having to beat PSG and Real Madrid in consecutive games and this is a team that has struggled to compete with the top teams in the Champions League over the last couple of years. Atletico Madrid, Juventus and Real Madrid have all won here by the same 0-2 scoreline and Paris Saint-Germain are certainly of that level of team.

Malmo will certainly try to make life difficult for their visitors and the conditions in Sweden means there is snow and cold that Paris Saint-Germain need to deal with.

However, I am not convinced that it is going to be enough to put these teams on an equal setting and Paris Saint-Germain should be too good on the day. It wouldn't surprise me if Ibrahimovic scores the winner in this one, but I think backing PSG to become the fourth team in the last two Group Stages to win here with a clean sheet looks to be the call.

Manchester United v PSV Eindhoven PickManchester United and PSV Eindhoven both have a very big opportunity to get through to the Second Round of the Champions League and this could be the pivotal game to decide which one of those teams are able to do that. It is arguably more important for Manchester United to win the game with a visit to Wolfsburg to come, while on the other hand PSV Eindhoven could overcome a loss by beating CSKA Moscow at home in their final game and hope Manchester United beat Wolfsburg.

In all honesty PSV Eindhoven can't rely on that to happen as a win would almost give Manchester United a reason to rest some players in the final game at Wolfsburg knowing qualification is assured. Of course Manchester United will want to win the Group to avoid the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich in the Second Round, so the pressure is on United to win this game and get into a position to do so.

Both home wins in the Champions League have come after facing some adversity and that has to be a concern for Manchester United fans. CSKA Moscow could easily have gone a goal ahead just thirty seconds before Wayne Rooney scored the winning goal in Manchester United's last game at Old Trafford, while Wolfsburg took the lead here.

However, both teams are arguably better than PSV Eindhoven and the Dutch Champions have conceded at least two goals in each away defeat in the Group. PSV were 3-0 down at CSKA Moscow before fighting back for a 3-2 loss and they were beaten 2-0 at Wolfsburg, while Manchester United outplayed them for much of the first half in the first game of the Group.

That injury suffered by Luke Shaw seemed to affect Manchester United badly, as you would expect, but I expect the team to be a little more ready this time. Manchester United might not be the most exhilarating team to watch at this moment of time, and they do have a big Premier League game at leaders Leicester City on Saturday, but I still think the home team win this by a couple of goals.

PSV Eindhoven have conceded too many on their travels in the Group so far and even in the Dutch League they have been poor defensively. While they have had the quality to make up for that in the Eredivisie, it has been harder in the Champions League and I like Manchester United to win by a couple of goals.

Shakhtar Donetsk v Real Madrid PickAfter keeping Rafa Benitez in the role of manager for the foreseeable future, Real Madrid will be looking for an immediate reaction to their 0-4 home defeat to Barcelona by confirming top spot in their Champions League Group. Shakhtar Donetsk are expecting a backlash from Real Madrid and they have struggled to match Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid in earlier games in the Group and might find it difficult again.

I fully expect Benitez to go back to basics after seeing his side concede seven games in the last two games and making sure Real Madrid are solid at the back.

That could be a key to their performance in the Ukraine as their attacking threats should provide a way to goal to secure the win and Real Madrid have kept clean sheets in all four Champions League games.

As well as Shakhtar Donetsk have done in the past in this competition, they have failed to score in three of four games in the Group and were beaten to nil by Paris Saint-Germain here. They have also failed to score in half of their last six Champions League home games which have all been played away from Donetsk and I think a small interest on Real Madrid bouncing back in the correct manner from their El Classico humiliation has to be taken.

That small interest should be on Real Madrid wining this game with a clean sheet and that is what I will back.

MY PICKS: Arsenal - 2 Asian Handicap @ 1.85 Bet365 (2 Units)
Barcelona - 1.5 Asian Handicap @ 1.75 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Chelsea - 1.25 Asian Handicap @ 1.83 Bet365 (2 Units)
CSKA Moscow-Wolfsburg Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.80 Stan James (2 Units)
Juventus-Manchester City Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.05 Bet365 (2 Units)
Paris Saint-Germain Win to Nil @ 2.10 Sky Bet (2 Units)
Manchester United - 1.25 Asian Handicap @ 2.10 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Real Madrid Win to Nil @ 4.00 Sky Bet (1 Unit)

November Update3-8, - 8.58 Units (21 Units Staked, - 40.86% Yield)

October Final16-25, - 13.51 Units (79.50 Units Staked, - 16.99% Yield)
September Final29-30-3, + 4.18 Units (117.5 Units Staked, + 3.58% Yield)
August Final16-31-1, - 24.34 Units (94 Units Staked, - 25.89% Yield)

Season 2015/1661-86-4, - 33.67 Units (291 Units Staked, - 11.57% Yield)
Season 2014/15159-208-5, - 20.22 Units (647 Units Staked, - 3.13% Yield)
Season 2013/14164-185-3, + 15.84 Units (577 Units Staked, + 2.75% Yield)

Season 2012/13+ 4.42 Units (415 Units Staked, + 1.07% Yield)

Monday, 23 November 2015

NBA Picks November 2015 (November 23-30)

It had been a pretty disappointing first two weeks of the month, but last week has turned around the results with eight of the ten picks made in the last seven days coming as winners.

I've had some luck with a couple of teams coming back from big deficits to win their games, but I was also on the right side of a couple of blow outs which will always make me feel better.

Usually my weekly thread covers games from a Monday-Sunday range, but November comes to a close next Monday so these picks will be for the next week of action and then a new thread will begin for the picks that will be made in the first week of December.

I am looking to avoid giving back the profits from last week with the picks over the next few days as the American public get set for Thanksgiving Day this Thursday.

Monday 23rd November
The Boston Celtics were in a big hole by half time in their loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday which meant last week ended with a loss for my picks. However, it was still a strong week and there are plenty of positives to build upon this week.

Philadelphia 76ers @ Minnesota Timberwolves Pick: I picked the Philadelphia 76ers to keep things competitive against the Miami Heat on Saturday, but I do wonder if they can pick themselves from blowing a big lead and a chance to win their first game of the season just two days later.

They are going up against a Minnesota team that has yet to win a home game this season so this number of points might look attractive, especially with two young teams facing each other. Young players mean inconsistent performances and that has been the case for both the 76ers and Timberwolves in the opening month of the season.

However, I do think Philadelphia might feel they missed a trick in not being Miami and that emotional let down is hard to ignore. Minnesota are the better team and I think they are more likely to be ready having a couple of days to think about their defeat here to the Detroit Pistons.

Tuesday 24th November
The Minnesota Timberwolves did win on Monday, but it was another late collapse from the Philadelphia 76ers who had been leading in the Fourth Quarter.

Disappointing for the 76ers and disappointing for my pick too.

Indiana Pacers @ Washington Wizards Pick: The Indiana Pacers have been in the better recent form on the court so I am a little surprised that they are the underdog in this game at the Washington Wizards. Of course the home court will give Washington every chance to get their fourth straight win but I am not convinced they should be favoured to win.

Games between these teams have been very close in recent outings and I can't imagine this one will be any different.

Indiana are a very good road underdog to back and they are 10-6 against the spread when set as a three point or fewer underdog. On the other hand, Washington just 6-8 against the spread when favoured by three or fewer at home and I like the Pacers to continue their hot streak to open the season.

Wednesday 25th November
The Indiana Pacers looked a very interesting underdog on Tuesday and they didn't disappoint with an outright win on the road. It wasn't a lot of points being given to the Pacers but they played like they had felt disrespected at being the underdog at Washington.

They outscored Washington in three of the four quarters played and brings the week back to 0.500 in terms of picks and virtually there in terms of units.

Miami Heat @ Detroit Pistons Pick: Strong Defensive performances have sparked the Miami Heat this season and they will be looking for another one as they head on the road to face the Detroit Pistons. The Heat have won three in a row and six of their last seven games, although I do have a concern that Miami haven't been on the road since the beginning of the month.

Playing in their home comforts is obviously going to make life easier for Miami and it has to be noted that they are just 1-2 in road games this season. However, the Detroit Pistons have just hit the barriers a little bit after a positive start to the season which has led the team to five losses in their last seven games.

Detroit have recently beaten the Cleveland Cavaliers at home, but Miami have the size and the Defensive skills to shut down their Offense. Scoring hasn't come easy for Miami which should make this a close game, but I like the Heat as the road underdog to pull together and win this one.

It is not often that a single point will make a big difference in a basketball game, but I will the small spread on offer here and look for Miami to cover.

Cleveland Cavaliers @ Toronto Raptors Pick: The Toronto Raptors have thrived as the small home underdog and they have gone 6-2 against the spread as the home underdog of three points or less over the last couple of years. It hasn't always been a very good position for the Cleveland Cavaliers, but the latter have shown themselves to be the top team in the Eastern Conference and can prove that with a road win in Canada.

Cleveland won both road games in Toronto last season and have improved to 18-6 against the spread in their last twenty-four games in Canada.

The Raptors are going to come off a long road trip in the Western Conference and that can be a difficult position for the players to get ready to perform. This is just a one-stop at home before travelling to Washington, but that concern for the home team is balanced by the fact the Cavaliers have lost their last couple of road games.

I do think Cleveland are the better team though and there is enough talent on both sides of the court to think they can slow down the Raptors Offensively. Toronto can be a little one-dimensional down the stretch and I will back Cleveland to make the plays to cover this spread on the road.

MY PICKS: 23/11 Minnesota Timberwolves - 8 Points @ 1.91 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
24/11 Indiana Pacers + 2.5 Points @ 1.95 Coral (1 Unit)
25/11 Miami Heat + 1.5 Points @ 1.91 Betway (1 Unit)
25/11 Cleveland Cavaliers - 1.5 Points @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)

November 23-30 Update: 1-1, - 0.05 Units

November 16-22 Final8-2, + 5.28 Units
November 9-15 Final6-7-1, - 1.59 Units
November 2-8 Final7-8, - 1.59 Units
November Update21-17-1, + 2.10 Units

October Final5-4, + 0.57 Units
Season 201626-21-1, + 2.67 Units

Final Season 2015109-108-5, - 6.91 Units
Final Season 201458-72-1, - 16.86 Units
Final Season 2013105-93-3, + 10.49 Units
Final Season 201279-53-1, + 27.48 Units

Sunday, 22 November 2015

ATP World Tour Finals Day 8 Picks 2015 (November 22nd)

This is the final week of the regular tennis Tour and the Final of the ATP World Tour Finals is played on Sunday with just the Davis Cup Final to be played next week.

It is a concern when you think of some of the events that have been happening in Belgium over the last twenty-four hours and anyone who is travelling to see the Davis Cup Final needs to make sure they stay safe although it looks like Belgium will be hosting the Final as was scheduled.

On Sunday the two best players in the world, in my opinion if not the World Rankings just yet, will meet in the Final at the O2 Arena and it is the Final that most would have predicted at the start of the tournament.

Hopefully I will be able to end the week with another winner after a good tournament, although this season has been far from the level I expect of myself. July-October were terrible months when I made some mistake and perhaps overruled my head, but it is something I will take on board and look to improve in 2016 and get back to the winning years.

Novak Djokovic - 3.5 games v Roger Federer: For the second time this week and for the second time in consecutive seasons, Novak Djokovic is set to face Roger Federer at the O2 Arena in the World Tour Finals. Last season was an anti-climax as Roger Federer pulled out of the Final due to injury which meant he focused on the Davis Cup Final, but this year both players look in strong form and the Final should be very good to watch.

Both Djokovic and Federer came through their Semi Final matches in straight sets and both looked very good in their wins over Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka respectively. The edge on that form has to be given to Novak Djokovic who was very, very good, but Roger Federer might have the mental edge having beaten Djokovic in the Group a few days ago.

How much am I going to stake in that result? Not that much actually because Novak Djokovic admitted he had been very loose in the second set to let the match get away from him. The fact is that that wasn't an elimination match so Djokovic might have let his focus wander, but that is not likely to happen in the Final.

It is a big Final for Federer too who can still take over as World Number 2 for the end of season Rankings if he wins the tournament and Andy Murray isn't successful in the Davis Cup next week. However, Federer hasn't looked himself the last couple of matches (not talking about the new-look bearded Federer) and he has won through sheer will.

That isn't enough against the World Number 1 who I think will be much better in all aspects of his game than he was in his straight sets loss to Federer. As I said earlier in the week, the conditions should suit Djokovic more than Federer and he has won three in a row at the O2 in the World Tour Finals which backs up that belief.

I thought Djokovic would win 75, 64 earlier this week and I was wrong... However, I think he is the right favourite here and I will look for Djokovic to just be a little more solid all around and take his chances this time around. Federer might not be at 100% when it comes to his health as I still think he could be suffering from a cold he had on Thursday and I think Djokovic wins the title with an impressive win to round up an impressive 2016 season.

MY PICKS: Novak Djokovic - 3.5 Games @ 2.10 Bet Fred (2 Units)

World Tour Finals Update: 9-5, + 6.90 Units (28 Units Staked, + 24.64% Yield)

NFL Week 11 Picks 2015 (November 19-23)

From next week I will be back with the NFL Recaps that have been missing for a couple of weeks and then the Thanksgiving Day Picks will be on the Week 12 Picks thread on Thursday afternoon.

It is a busy week next week with the NFL/College Football games beginning on Thursday but the latter also has a pretty full Friday schedule for the Thanksgiving Day weekend.

Week 11 Picks
I was frustrated with Week 10 but I think a lot of people out there would have been with the underdogs completely dominating the counter through the week. It was incredible really as some favourites blew their advantages late on and others just simply failed to turn up.

That meant it was a terrible week for the picks and ruined what had been a very good Week 9 and once again means the season totals have taken a hit. We are still in a positive but I do feel that it could have been a lot worse so have to be thankful for that.

Hopefully Week 11 will prove to be a much more positive one as the last few weeks have been a little disappointing for me personally and I am looking for more consistent results from the picks being made.

Indianapolis Colts @ Atlanta Falcons Pick: After a blistering start to the season, the Atlanta Falcons have hit the barriers and would have been grateful for a late season bye to try and right their ship. The Falcons are now 3 games behind the Carolina Panthers in the Division which is going to be tough to overcome, although they do play them twice down the stretch.

That means the Falcons can't really drop any silly games if they do want to win the NFC South, while they are also in a decent position to pick up a Wild Card spot in the NFC. Coming out of a bye has been a good position for Atlanta in recent seasons and Dan Quinn will be hoping to maintain that success.

Atlanta face the Indianapolis Colts, who are also off a bye but are missing Andrew Luck for the foreseeable future. That means Matt Hasselbeck is going to be back at Quarter Back having gone 2-0 in relief of Luck earlier this season and the veteran will be hoping that he can continue his winning run as the back up in Indianapolis.

However, both of those wins came against fellow AFC South teams and that is one of the poorer Divisions in the NFL with all four teams having a losing record to this point. The Colts will look to give the ball to Frank Gore to keep the Atlanta Offense off the field, but the pressure will likely be on Hasselbeck as the Falcons have defended the run effectively for the most part.

He will have some success throwing the ball though with Atlanta getting limited pressure up front and Hasselbeck has some Receivers who will be able to get open. The problem for Hasselbeck is that he is yet to be in a position this season where he is in obvious passing spots as Indianapolis played both Jacksonville and Houston well, but Atlanta have the Offense to force him into a shoot-out which gives the home team the edge.

Matt Ryan and the Offense had looked out of sync prior to their bye, but they would have been able to work things out and Julio Jones should finally be back to full health. They are going against an Indianapolis Secondary that played well against Denver, but that game looks an outlier and I expect Ryan to make plays with his arm as he will be under limited pressure and has the playmakers to get the ball down the field.

Devonta Freeman might not have a lot of running lanes immediately until the Colts are forced to respect the pass, but the fantasy darling Running Back is also a threat catching the ball out of the backfield. His speed will be tough for the Colts to get a hold of and I think the Falcons will be able to move the chains consistently.

Some of their drives have bogged down thanks to mistakes made by the Offense, but I think Dan Quinn would have got the team focused in the bye week. Atlanta haven't covered in any of their last 5 games and Indianapolis have in 4 of their last 5, but the favourite has gone 4-0 against the spread in this series and I think the Falcons have too much scoring for Indianapolis.

New York Jets @ Houston Texans Pick: The NFC Play Off race looks to have seen a couple of teams separate themselves from the rest of the Wild Card chasing pack. That is not the case in the AFC though and these two teams might look at this game in January as the reason they are either playing Play Off football or booking their holidays in warmer climates.

The New York Jets are not going to catch the New England Patriots in the AFC East, but they have the same record as the current Number 6 Seed in the Conference. On the other hand the Houston Texans are a game behind the Jets, but are also level with the Indianapolis Colts at the top of the AFC South and could very much be in a position to host a Play Off game in January especially with Luck out of the equation for the Colts at this point.

The teams are in contrasting shape at the moment with the Jets losing 3 of 4 games and the Texans winning 3 of 4, but the latter are on the short week having won on Monday Night Football. Compare that with the New York Jets who almost came back from a big deficit in Week 10, but that was on Thursday Night Football and so have had a little more time to prepare.

New York will also have their starting Quarter Back available as Ryan Fitzpatrick looks set to go against one of his former teams while Houston will go with TJ Yates who had to replace Brian Hoyer last week.

The problem for Yates is he will get almost no support from his running game and will be forced to make throws against a Secondary that will lock down DeAndre Hopkins with Darrelle Revis. I am not sure where else Yates will be able to go and the Jets could have the answer to stall their drives.

Fitzpatrick may get more support from Chris Ivory against a Defensive Line that has struggled against the run this season. That Line played well against Cincinnati but a short week could be tough to prepare for the ground and pound that the Jets will use, one that sets up Fitzpatrick to hit his Receivers like Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall.

I expect the former Texan to make some big throws from Quarter Back having felt he was perhaps disrespected in Houston and Fitzpatrick can lead the Jets to a vital win. The Jets are not used to being favoured on the road though which concerns me and is a major reason I can't go bigger than the minimum unit on them covering here in Texas.

Denver Broncos @ Chicago Bears Pick: There are so many stories in play in this game including John Fox and Adam Gase going back against the team they Coached last season and led to a Super Bowl a couple of years ago. However there is no doubting that the biggest story is the benching of Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler making his first career start for the Denver Broncos who are desperate to right a shaking ship.

The Broncos are still on top of the AFC South and have a healthy three game lead over their two nearest rivals, but two losses in a row will shake confidence. Denver also have a back loaded scheduled which will see them face San Diego twice, New England, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati and three of those five games are on the road.

So a game in Chicago is actually very important for Denver to try and get moving in the right direction again else they host New England having lost three in a row. The right decision has been made in taking Manning out of the starting Quarter Back spot because he has looked terrible for much of the season but is arguably off his worst game of his career.

So now Osweiler will get the call against a Bears team that has won 4 of their last 6 games and are back in contention in the NFC although still in a tough spot. It will be interesting to see how focused Chicago can be when you think they have a huge Divisional game against the Green Bay Packers on Thursday night and now face a team with a back up Quarter Back.

I don't know if Osweiler is going to be the permanent starter or just until Peyton Manning can become healthier, but I expect the Bears will try and dare Denver to beat them with Osweiler's arm. He showed some things in relief of Manning last week, but both Fox and Gase will know his strengths and weaknesses and are sure to have passed that on to Vic Fangio at Defensive Co-Ordinator.

The problem for Denver is that they haven't been able to establish the running game to at least aid their Quarter Back and it could be a tough day for the Broncos who are also likely without Emmanuel Sanders at one Wide Receiver spot.

But why do I like the Denver Broncos to cover on the road with these things against them? It is simply because the Bears have that game at Green Bay on the short week and I think the Broncos Defensive unit can make the plays to help their team win this game. Aqib Talib is back this week to give the Secondary a boost although DeMarcus Ware remains absent and I think Osweiler will be given a simple game plan to manage this game and help the Defensive unit with the field position.

Jay Cutler has played very well so far this season and hasn't been making mistakes that he has become known for. Jeremy Langford has filled in ably for Matt Forte and Alshon Jeffery has shown toughness despite being hobbled which has made this Offense dangerous the last few weeks.

Even a famed St Louis pass rush couldn't rattle Cutler last week, although I do think the Broncos are better at playing the run and have more depth in the Secondary than the Rams. Langford could be bottled up by Denver and I think this Secondary is able to make the big plays that can give the Broncos the edge in the game and spoil John Fox's attempted revenge over his former team.

The Bears are just 1-3 against the spread at home this season and I think Denver rally through their problems this week and win this one on the road.

Kansas City Chiefs @ San Diego Chargers Pick: The San Diego Chargers have virtually dropped out of the Play Off picture in the AFC after losing five games in a row by an average of five points per game. Every one of those games was lost by a one score margin and they will come out of their bye week hoping to at least rattle a few other teams in their remaining games.

No one will ever talk about being out of the Play Off picture and Philip Rivers has admitted that his team need to take things one game at a time and hope they can get back into things. Beating a Divisional rival like the Kansas City Chiefs off the bye will give San Diego some confidence to take into their remaining games and they have to feel a little disrespected as the home underdog.

There is a feeling that the Kansas City Chiefs are being over-rated after demolishing the Denver Broncos on the road last week. However backing up such an emotional road win with another road game is not going to be easy for the Chiefs against a well-rested team who could have restored health on both sides of the ball.

Well I say better health, but I mean along the Offensive Line which will at least offer Rivers some protection from a fierce Kansas City pass rush led by Tamba Hali and Justin Houston. Rivers is missing many of his starting Receivers including Keenan Allen and Malcolm Floyd, but Antonio Gates is likely back and that is huge for the San Diego Chargers.

It will be down to Rivers, who is perhaps the most under-rated Quarter Back in the NFL, to help the Chargers move the chains as they haven't been able to establish the run. That is also where the Chiefs Defensive unit has thrived this season, but the Secondary can struggle at times and Rivers will also be able to check down to Danny Woodhead coming out of the backfield to keep the drives going.

There are still some Defensive problems for the San Diego Chargers to deal with and the Kansas City Chiefs can take advantage even if they don't exactly have the most exciting of Offenses. However, that lack of an edge has seen many of their drives end in Field Goals and that was the case last week too despite having some short fields to work with against the Denver Broncos.

Charcandrick West has played well in relief of the injured Jamaal Charles and he could have a big game against this Chargers Defense that has allowed 4.9 yards per carry. However San Diego might be better with some Linebackers recovering from injury to perhaps plug the holes that have come out and the Chargers may also be looking to Alex Smith to try and beat them with his limited passing game.

Smith does have Jeremy Maclin but he is too often looking for the short pass that can be tough to keep the Chiefs drives from stalling in the red zone when the space becomes limited. It is half the reason that they have had to hit so many Field Goals when getting down into that position, while his Offensive Line has struggled in protection which hasn't helped Smith's cause to look down the field.

Coming out of the bye I do like the San Diego Chargers with the points to keep it competitive against a Kansas City Chiefs team off an emotional win. The underdog has gone 3-1 against the spread when these teams have met in Southern California and I do think the home underdog can surprise as the Chargers have kept games close in their recent poor run.

Kansas City are 4-14 against the spread when favoured in Divisional games and I will back the Chargers with the points.

Green Bay Packers @ Minnesota Vikings Pick: When the Green Bay Packers opened the season 6-0 and the Minnesota Vikings were just 2-2 after four games, I don't think many would have suggested the latter would be leading the NFC North when Week 11 rolled around. This is the first game of the season between these Divisional rivals and the Green Bay Packers are the underdog on the road here.

Three straight losses will do that to a team but I think the loss to the Detroit Lions last week really has opened up some eyes about the Packers. Losing to Denver and Carolina on the road could be forgiven, but struggling against Detroit was a real surprise and there are some worries about the Green Bay Offense which has struggled to get unplugged.

One concern has to be the play of Aaron Rodgers who was on the injury list this week with a shoulder complaint. He has looked a little unsure of himself in the pocket and hasn't been helped by his Receivers getting open, but Rodgers has missed the confidence that has become so associated with him.

Rodgers might find himself under pressure in the pocket in this game, but he is capable of making plays with his legs and may also be able to establish James Starks running the ball. That will give the Packers a chance to play in short yardage down and distance which will give Rodgers more time naturally, but his Receivers have to show they can consistently win their one on one match ups if the Packers are to get rolling again.

The Minnesota Vikings have a Secondary that will feel they can knock Randall Cobb, James Jones and Davante Adams off their routes, but the Packers should be able to still bounce back from a terrible outing against the Detroit Lions.

It will come down to whether the Green Bay Packers Defensive unit can find the answers that they haven't been able to do the last three weeks. Adrian Peterson has been looking better and better in recent weeks and he should be able to establish the run for the Minnesota Vikings who have become the kind of team that most would have expected from an Offensive standpoint.

Teddy Bridgewater hasn't reached the heights of his rookie season, but he is being asked to manage the game and ride on Peterson's back without making the big mistake to that costs the Vikings games. The Offensive Line hasn't always protected him properly and that is where Green Bay will look to get after him, but Bridgewater can make some plays against a banged up Secondary that has given up some big yardage in their three losing games.

The issue is that there is some big pressure on Minnesota who are trying to prove they are the team to beat in the NFC North and that can be tough to deal with. Green Bay haven't lost four in a row with Aaron Rodgers at Quarter Back and I think they will feel disrespected as the underdog in this one, while the spot looks like one they have regularly bounced back in recent seasons.

Minnesota do have a very good record against the spread against Green Bay in recent years but they haven't ben favoured too often in that time. The Packers are 0-2 against the spread as the road underdog in the last couple of years, but I think Green Bay will come out with a point to prove and can find their way to secure the win.

San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks Pick: The Colin Kaepernick era in San Francisco looks to be over as he went in for season ending surgery, but the Quarter Back had already been replaced by Blaine Gabbert. The San Francisco 49ers have had a difficult season following Jim Harbaugh's departure but they are still just about in the Play Off picture although a defeat here in Seattle would end those chances.

The San Francisco 49ers are coming in off a bye week but remain without Carlos Hyde at Running Back and Blaine Gabbert is going to have a much more difficult experience at Quarter Back in Seattle. He guided his team to a win over the Atlanta Hawks in Week 9, but the Legion of Boom should be angry and waiting for the visit of the 49ers after dropping their second home game of the season last weekend.

It is going to be difficult for Gabbert to receive enough support from the ground game and that means he is likely going to be throwing from third and long in an intimidating atmosphere. The pressure will be on Gabbert to keep the chains moving and that is not a position he has thrived in in the past.

Gabbert has also found pass rushes confidence sapping and while he had a fairly clean pocket against the Atlanta Falcons, the Quarter Back is going to be under immense pressure by this Defensive Line. The Seattle Seahawks rattled Carson Palmer last week who had a better Offensive Line than the San Francisco one and I expect the Seahawks to get to Gabbert consistently.

While Gabbert is going to be under pressure on the field, Russell Wilson faced some rare criticism for his performance in the loss to the Arizona Cardinals last week. Wilson was given more time behind his Offensive Line after Seattle came off the bye week, but he missed some big throws although I am expecting the Quarter Back to have a bounce back game this week against this San Francisco Secondary that has struggled through injury and departures all season.

San Francisco don't get the same level of pass rush as last season so Wilson should have time to find the likes of Jimmy Graham and Doug Baldwin when he does go back to throw. Another key difference for Wilson compared with Gabbert is that Seattle should be able to establish their running game which will make it easier for Wilson to move the chains with both his legs and arm.

This is the biggest game that San Francisco have left to play in all honesty so I am expecting a full effort from them, but they have been blown out in three of four road games this season. I don't think Gabbert is going to have much success at all and wouldn't be surprised if he throws a couple of turnovers while the Seahawks should swarm him often.

I also think Seattle will continue their dominance of this rivalry and I expect them to score enough points to cover a big number at home and get back into the Play Off picture. Seattle are 7-0-1 against the spread in the last eight games of the series and I think they take out their anger on the 49ers and beat them by at least two Touchdowns.

Cincinnati Bengals @ Arizona Cardinals Pick: In normal circumstances I would not be that interested in backing a team that is coming off an emotional Divisional road win and has two more Divisional games to play following this one. That is the spot for the Arizona Cardinals, but Carson Palmer is facing his former team and has admitted that this is not 'just another game' so I expect the Cardinals to all focus for their leader.

There are still other goals that Arizona are looking for than getting revenge for their Quarter Back and I think the Cardinals can't afford to look past the Cincinnati Bengals who were beaten for the first time last week. They are now on a short week out West against a team that has been very dominant as the home favourite and I like the Cardinals in this Sunday Night Football game.

Andre Ellington and Chris Johnson have given Arizona something they haven't had for a while here and that is an effective running game. Both players have helped Arizona average 4.4 yards per carry and Carson Palmer will be able to hand the ball off to the pair of them and pick up big yards against the weakness of the Cincinnati Defense.

That will open things up for Carson Palmer to take his shots downfield even if Michael Floyd and John Brown are both absent for this game. Juron Brown is capable of stretching the field and Larry Fitzgerald remains a safety blanket for Palmer so it looks like it will be tough for the Bengals to slow down the Offense consistently.

Another issue for the Bengals is the lack of a strong running game which really begins to show up as we reach December and January. Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard give Cincinnati a one-two punch out of the backfield, but the Offensive Line has struggled to open holes for them and they average just 3.9 yards per carry.

It means the pressure will be on Andy Dalton who didn't have a great game against the Houston Texans last week and who faces an under-rated Defensive unit. The pressure up front won't be the issue, but Arizona have a very strong Secondary that can take away AJ Green with Patrick Peterson and have some ball-hawking players that can turn the ball over.

Dalton has had some very good games this season when being asked to throw to keep the Bengals afloat, but it is going to be tough to do that in Arizona. I think the Cardinals will make the bigger plays on both sides of the ball which can make the difference in this contest and I really like them as a home favourite in their home Stadium where Arizona have been dominant under Bruce Arians.

The short week and long travel is against Cincinnati here and I think Carson Palmer has a statement game against his former team and Arizona cover.

Buffalo Bills @ New England Patriots Pick: The Buffalo Bills were very hyped up when they played the New England Patriots earlier this season, but a blow out loss later and they were aware that the AFC East was still the domain of the Patriots. However Rex Ryan is never going to back down from New England even if he wants his team to emulate what they have achieved and this Monday Night Football game could be another 'must see' event.

The Bills might actually have something of a chance for revenge this week even if the layers have a big spread in favour of the unbeaten Patriots. New England have lost Dion Lewis and Julian Edelman and both are key figures for the Patriots, although Tom Brady is defying his age and likely to continue to have big games without him.

Buffalo did find something of a pass rush last week coming off a bye week and Ryan might be able to dial up some pressure on Brady which is always the key to beating the Patriots. The Secondary hasn't been able to hold up without a well paid Defensive Line getting to the Quarter Back and that is huge for Buffalo this week if they want to cause an upset on the road and put themselves in a strong position to challenge for a Wild Card spot in the AFC.

If they can force Brady to release quickly, New England drives could certainly stall because he won't have the same reliable catchers as Edelman and Lewis had proved to be. LeGarrette Blount won't find a lot of running lanes and Buffalo might just give themselves a chance to cause an upset by stalling drives and perhaps forcing the Patriots to settle for Field Goals rather than Touchdowns.

The Bills have to make sure they protect the ball well enough though as the turnover battle could be critical for them in this one. The return of Tyrod Taylor at Quarter Back will give Buffalo some more confidence and they have three players that can run the ball effectively and try and keep New England off balance.

Taylor, LeSean McCoy and Karlos Williams are all healthy and have had over ten days to get ready for this game which is huge for Buffalo. The Patriots have improved against the run as the season has progressed, but I think Buffalo will be able to have some success and that opens up the play-action pass to get Sammy Watkins stretching the field.

One area the Patriots have impressed is against the pass though and they have also got a lot of pressure up front and I expect Taylor will be sacked a couple of times. Taylor has to know that and make sure he protects the ball against a New England team that is one of the better sacking teams in the NFL, while Buffalo's Offensive Line is proven to be better running the ball than protecting their Quarter Back.

It still looks a lot of points for New England to cover as the home favourite and they are just 12-14 against the spread as the home favourite in Divisional games over the seasons. Buffalo have covered as the road underdog twice this season in their Divisional games and Rex Ryan teams generally gave New England a much tougher time in Foxboro than they did at home.

Getting a Touchdown head-start against a team that is banged up looks a lot of points and I like the Bills to cover.

MY PICKS: Atlanta Falcons - 5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
New York Jets - 3 Points @ 1.85 Coral (1 Unit)
Denver Broncos - 1 Point @ 1.91 Bet Victor (2 Units)
San Diego Chargers + 3 Points @ 2.05 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Green Bay Packers + 1 Point @ 1.95 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Seattle Seahawks - 13.5 Points @ 1.95 Betfair Sportsbook (2 Units)
Arizona Cardinals - 4.5 Points @ 1.95 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Buffalo Bills + 7 Points @ 1.95 Sporting Bet (2 Units)

Week 10: 3-6, - 5.54 Units
Week 96-2, + 8.08 Units
Week 80-1, - 1 Unit
Week 72-4, - 4.23 Units
Week 63-5-1, - 3.33 Units
Week 53-5-1, - 3.48 Units
Week 44-3-1, + 2.24 Units
Week 38-2, + 9.03 Units
Week 24-5, - 1.71 Units
Week 15-2-1, + 6.46 Units

Season 201538-35-4, + 7.52 Units
Season 201477-80-2, - 8.47 Units
Season 201386-70-2, + 22.27 Units

Season 2012- 4.78 Units

Saturday, 21 November 2015

ATP World Tour Finals Day 7 Picks 2015 (November 21st)

The ATP World Tour Finals have reached the Semi Finals in London and that means there are only two days left for the Singles tournaments before the Davis Cup Final next week which will conclude the 2015 season.

Andy Murray's defeat on Friday was a big disappointment and means he is a little vulnerable as World Number 2 with a Roger Federer title win meaning the latter will be taking that position in the World Rankings.

Murray was not impressed with his performance, but he will now have a week to get back on the clay courts and get ready for the trip to Belgium where is likely going to need to win two Singles and one Doubles rubber if Great Britain are to win the Davis Cup. He won't be facing the level of competition he has this week though and I think Murray will be confident by the time that Final rolls around even if there are some weird vibes from his camp which saw them sitting high in the O2 Arena rather than courtside on Friday.

On Saturday we have the two Semi Finals played and both look like they could be very good matches on paper especially in the form that the four players have shown this week.

Hopefully I can pick three winners over the next two days to end this week in a very positive manner.

Novak Djokovic - 4.5 games v Rafael Nadal: Rafael Nadal still holds the head to head advantage over Novak Djokovic, but it is the World Number 1 who has won seven of their last eight matches against one another. That includes straight sets wins at the Monte Carlo Masters in April, the French Open back in May and in Beijing last month.

I don't think you can doubt that Rafael Nadal is in much better form than in those matches earlier in the season, but he was quite convincingly pushed aside by Djokovic in Beijing when the Spaniard won just four games.

I would be very surprised if this Semi Final is not a lot closer with Nadal producing some very strong tennis to win all three Group games. On the other hand Djokovic has not quite looked up to his very best the last couple of matches, although he had Friday off while Nadal was having to dig deep to beat David Ferrer in three sets.

It is a match up that Djokovic has enjoyed in recent matches as his more consistent length has made it very difficult for Nadal to stay in the extended rallies. His serve is also under-rated and I think Djokovic will have the higher number of break point chances in this one and Nadal is perhaps not fully restored at his top level to challenge the World Number 1.

In the last eight matches, Djokovic would cover this number of games in a victory over Nadal six times including in all three matches they have played this season. A couple of years ago Djokovic also beat Nadal by a five game margin in the Final here at the World Tour Finals and I think he will have a little too much for the Spaniard again.

After some battling rallies, I think Djokovic comes through 64, 63 in this Semi Final.

Roger Federer - 3.5 games v Stan Wawrinka: Last year at the O2 Arena, Roger Federer beat Stan Wawrinka in what had to be the most controversial match between a pair of friends. Wawrinka and Federer's wife Mirka got into something on the court which saw both players meet up and hash things out backstage at the conclusion of the match in anticipation of their Davis Cup Final exploits that were to take place later in the week.

Both men have put that incident behind them, but you know the cameras will be fixed on Mirka and Wawrinka in this match as the media perhaps hope to catch a second coming together. It is unlikely though with the respect Wawrinka and Federer have for one another and this could be a very intriguing Semi Final on Saturday evening.

There are questions that both will need to answer- Stan Wawrinka had to play Friday night and it was a tough win for him over Andy Murray although he did get it done in two sets. However, it will be interesting to see if he can recover physically, while Roger Federer had been suffering with a cold on Thursday and will hope to be in better shape come Saturday.

In their three matches this season, all of them have seen the winner dominate. Federer has won two of those and Wawrinka has won one, but each win has come in straight sets and I do favour Federer in this Semi Final. Last season's Semi Final was very competitive, but Federer played the big points not as well as he would have expected and he can make things a little more straight-forward this time around.

Federer will need to serve better than he did against Kei Nishikori, but that might be possible with the additional focus with this being a more competitive match for him. I am also thinking he will be feeling better by this moment and Federer can find his way to a 63, 64 win and a rematch with Novak Djokovic in the Final.

MY PICKS: Novak Djokovic - 4.5 Games @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Roger Federer - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Ladbrokes (2 Units)

World Tour Finals Update: 7-5, + 2.70 Units (24 Units Staked, + 11.25% Yield)

Friday, 20 November 2015

College Football Week 12 Picks 2015 (November 21st)

This month has been a hectic one for me but I am hoping things will settle down somewhat over the next few days.

Life is seemingly too busy for my usual posts and that is just the way it goes at times, but I am going to put up my College Football Week 12 Picks after a solid Week 11 returned the picks to profitable status.

Week 12 Picks
The Week 11 Picks went 7-4 although I have to say I was remarkably surprised with how poorly the Baylor Bears played in a home loss to the Oklahoma Sooners. I was convinced the Bears would be the team to beat in the Big 12 this season, but that Conference looks certain to have a one loss Champion for the second season in a row, although it will be 'joint-Champions' that potentially leaves the Conference out of the National Championship picture.

One of the surprise elements could be seeing a team like the Houston Cougars perhaps getting into the final four or the Notre Dame Fighting Irish as the best of the one-loss teams that won't be involved in a Championship Game.

These things will all be cleared up in the next couple of weeks I feel and that means the games in Week 12 and Week 13 are absolutely huge as the regular season winds down.

West Virginia Mountaineers @ Kansas Jayhawks Pick: The Kansas Jayhawks haven't had much success in the Big 12 games in recent years and they are coming off a big effort where they ultimately came up short against the TCU Horned Frogs.

I am not sure how they can pick themselves up again this week and the seniors may instead be looking ahead to their final home game next weekend. I have little doubt the Jayhawks will want to finish their season with a flourish and they did beat West Virginia when they last met here two years ago, but this Mountaineers team is battle hardened and looking to secure Bowl eligibility as soon as possible.

Revenge for that defeat two years ago will be on the mind of West Virginia and I think the Mountaineers have the balanced Offense to beat a team that put a huge emotional effort into a losing effort in Week 11.

Indiana Hoosiers @ Maryland Terrapins Pick: With two teams that have lost at least six games in a row and are almost both out of Bowl contention, it is little surprise that the public are backing the road underdog. The Indiana Hoosiers put in a huge effort to barely fail to beat Michigan last week and I do wonder if that has taken something from their tank.

However, the Hoosiers can win their last two games to reach six wins for the season and become eligible for a Bowl game and they have been looking much more competitive than Maryland.

Even the firing of Randy Edsall has done nothing for Maryland who have lost seven in a row even if the players are still trying. However, the Bowl chances are gone and you have to wonder if they have enough motivation to beat an Indiana team that is still fighting for a post-season berth.

The Maryland Defensive unit have played well enough to keep the team in this one and I think they are a dangerous team. However, I have to take the points with the road team here to keep this competitive.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets @ Miami Hurricanes Pick: When the spread was released at the start of the week, the Miami Hurricanes were surprisingly favoured to win this game. That is no longer the case but I still think the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets are going to be the too strong for the home team who have struggled to stop anyone running the ball against them.

It is something of a surprise if you were to just read the records of these two teams as to who is favoured. Georgia Tech are secured a losing record while Miami are Bowl eligible, but the Yellow Jackets have been unlucky so often this season that they are a better team than their record suggests.

On the other hand Miami are fortunate to be 2-2 in their last four games after a controversial win over the Duke Blue Devils, but the bigger fear will be the way they have been pounded on the ground. Both Clemson and North Carolina have had enough success to think the triple-option run by Georgia Tech is going to be too much for them this week.

Miami might not have the same level of success against an under-rated Georgia Tech Defensive unit and I like the road team to come through with the win.

Michigan State Spartans @ Ohio State Buckeyes Pick: The Michigan State Spartans had a controversial loss attached to their name else this would be a battle of the unbeaten teams in the Big Ten East. It is no surprise that the public have decided to back the road underdog, but don't be surprised that the sharps are backing the defending Champions Ohio State Buckeyes as there have been signs the spread is going to move upwards.

Neither team has been cashing too many cheques at the counter, but the Ohio State Buckeyes have certainly looked stronger with JT Barrett as the starting Quarter Back. Connor Cook is the star for the Spartans and is expected to play too, but I think the Buckeyes have the better Defensive unit which will make all the difference on the day as well as the fact that they host this game.

Ohio State were 12 point winners on the road last season and they have won their last five games by at least fourteen points each. When you add in that Michigan State should have lost to the Michigan Wolverines I think there is definitely a talent edge leaning towards the home team.

You can't doubt it is a big spread, but I think the Buckeyes make more plays on both sides of the ball and come through to cover.

LSU Tigers @ Mississippi Rebels Pick: A once promising season is petering out for the LSU Tigers who have lost back to back games heading into this game at the Mississippi Rebels. While they try and pick themselves up, the Rebels are off a bye and should be ready for the challenge of hosting the LSU Tigers.

Les Miles' Head Coaching role has been questioned this week and I do wonder how his players can pick themselves up. Both Alabama and Arkansas dared LSU to beat them through the air and they have failed to do that, but I am looking for them to have a response to their two losses in a row.

The game against Arkansas was always going to be one where the Tigers would be flat after losing to Alabama, but I think they would have heard all the negatives about their team. That should fire them up and while I think the Mississippi Rebels are a solid team, to cover this big number is not going to be easy for them.

The road team is 11-4 against the spread in the series and I like the Tigers to cover and show they are better than they have the last two weeks.

USC Trojans @ Oregon Ducks Pick: The Oregon Ducks have looked a lot better with Vernon Adams healthy at Quarter Back and they have won four in a row, although they have been outgained in terms of yardage in two of those games. A big win over the Stanford Cardinal have given Oregon a chance of perhaps getting into the Pac-12 Championship Game again, but they still look to be asked to cover a big number this week.

It has been a disappointing season for USC of whom so much was expected this year, but they have also won four in a row and are also not too far away from getting into the Pac-12 Championship Game themselves.

I really think both teams have a chance of putting up some big points in this one and I can see this being competitive throughout. That makes the points on the road underdog look attractive and I think Oregon are perhaps over-rated a little having won games when they have not been winning the yardage battle.

The win over Stanford would have taken some emotional effort too and getting more than a Field Goal looks a lot of points.

Tennessee Volunteers @ Missouri Tigers Pick: With the two games they have yet to play in the regular season, Tennessee look on course to have their most wins in a single season since 2007. Of course it won't be easy on the road at Missouri considering the Tigers still need a win to become Bowl eligible and this is their final home game of the season.

Missouri had a surprise win over the BYU Cougars last week but Tennessee are a better team and I do think the Volunteers can underline their improvement this season by winning this one by a Touchdown at least.

My concern would have to be that the Tigers Defensive unit is a very good one and seems to match up well with Tennessee's, but I still do think the Volunteers are the better team and will show that on the scoreboard. There is enough balance Offensively for Tennessee to get through the Tigers and keep the chains moving while I don't know if Missouri have a strong enough Offense to get this done.

Baylor Bears @ Oklahoma State Cowboys Pick: The Baylor Bears were beaten at home by the Oklahoma Sooners last week and were a little banged up Offensively. It doesn't get easier in the Big 12 as they visit the only unbeaten team in the Conference in the Oklahoma State Cowboys who might be the Conference's best bet to reach the National Championship Play Off.

This has recently been a very tough place for Baylor to visit and I do wonder if they can bounce back from a very disappointing home loss to the Sooners. The Cowboys have already blown out the TCU Horned Frogs at home and Oklahoma State arguably look a stronger team on both sides of the ball especially in the current health of both teams.

Even the narrow win over the Iowa State Cyclones has to be taken with a pinch of salt as the Cowboys were off a big win over the Horned Frogs and perhaps looking ahead to this game.

I think the Oklahoma State Defense might create a couple of turnovers and stall a couple of Baylor drives to lead them to the win in this one and I like them to cover, especially as the disrespected home underdog.

Boston College Eagles @ Notre Dame Fighting Irish Pick: The Notre Dame Fighting Irish might just have a chance to reach the National Championship Play Off if they can remain unbeaten in their final games of the season. Their one loss to the Clemson Tigers, by only two points, looks an incredibly strong one and Fighting Irish have been playing very well despite being hit with the injury bug through the season.

I think they have will have a little too much on both sides of the ball for the Boston College Eagles. The Boston College Eagles have lost six in a row and they have struggled Offensively and now face a pretty strong Fighting Irish Defensive unit.

One thing I will say is that the Boston College Defense is definitely legit and will give Notre Dame something to think about. However their Offensive struggles means that Defensive unit can be worn down and that has been a problem for them all season.

Three of their last four games have seen Boston College lose by at least sixteen points and I will look for Notre Dame to reach that margin too.

TCU Horned Frogs @ Oklahoma Sooners Pick: I was very impressed with the way the Oklahoma Sooners handled themselves in their victory over the Baylor Bears and now they face a banged up TCU Horned Frogs team on both sides of the ball.

Trevone Boykin is questionable while Josh Doctson is out for the rest of the season and I am not sure how the Horned Frogs will find enough Offense against this Oklahoma Defensive unit which might be the best in the Big 12.

On the other side of the ball, Baker Mayfield looked incredibly confident last week and it would be a surprise if he suddenly moved into a really nervous position. Oklahoma looked very good Offensively and they moved the chains consistently last week and I think they have enough success against this Defensive unit to keep things going.

It is a big number, but TCU look too banged up to compete with Oklahoma to me and I think the Sooners can set up a huge game with State rivals Oklahoma State next week.

MY PICKS: West Virginia Mountaineers - 28 Points @ 1.95 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Indiana Hoosiers + 2.5 Points @ 1.95 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets - 2.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Ohio State Buckeyes - 13.5 Points @ 2.00 Sky Bet (1 Unit)
LSU Tigers + 6.5 Points @ 2.00 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
USC Trojans + 4.5 Points @ 1.91 William Hill (1 Unit)
Tennessee Volunteers - 6.5 Points @ 2.00 Sky Bet (1 Unit)
Oklahoma State Cowboys + 1 Point @ 1.91 William Hill (1 Unit)
Notre Dame Fighting Irish - 15.5 Points @ 1.95 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Oklahoma Sooners - 11.5 Points @ 1.91 William Hill (1 Unit)

Week 11: 7-4, + 2.33 Units (11 Units Staked, + 21.18% Yield)
Week 104-5, - 1.36 Units (9 Units Staked, - 15.11% Yield)
Week 93-6, - 3.29 Units (9 Units Staked, - 36.56% Yield)
Week 85-6, - 1.33 Units (11 Units Staked, - 12.09% Yield)
Week 711-3, + 7.10 Units (14 Units Staked, + 50.71% Yield
Week 68-5, + 2.49 Units (13 Units Staked, + 19.15% Yield)
Week 56-7, - 1.50 Units (13 Units Staked, - 11.54% Yield)
Week 48-4-1, + 3.26 Units (13 Units Staked, + 25.08% Yield)
Week 36-4, + 1.57 Units (10 Units Staked, + 15.70% Yield)
Week 25-4-1, + 0.68 Units (10 Units Staked, + 6.80% Yield)
Week 17-6, + 0.48 Units (13 Units Staked, + 3.69% Yield

Season 201570-54-2, + 10.43 Units (126 Units Staked, + 8.28% Yield)
Season 201475-82-2, - 13.39 Units (172 Units Staked, - 7.78% Yield)
Season 201365-49-2, + 8.49 Units (124 Units Staked, + 6.85% Yield)
Season 201254-59-1 - 7.11 Units (114 Units Staked, - 6.24% Yield)

Season 201163-36, + 23.25 Units (99 Units Staked, + 23.5% Yield)