Thursday, 30 October 2014

NFL Week 9 Picks 2014 (October 30-November 3)

What was the one thing I said I didn't want to do in Week 8? It was not blowing the success of Week 7, but that is exactly what happened, although I was more annoyed with some of my 'square' picks than anything else. There were at least three games that could easily have swung my way, but that's the nature of the beast and I have had a few days to recover from a huge body blow I have taken.


Week 8 Thoughts
The New York Jets will be looking for a new Quarter Back in the Draft: The New York Jets are not exactly a team that many will be rushing to watch after their 1-7 start to the season, but last week has to be the nail in the coffin for Geno Smith as far as fans and staff have to be concerned.

He was absolutely brutal against the Buffalo Bills and it looks to also be the death knell for Rex Ryan as Head Coach which means there should be a new search for a Quarter Back in the next Draft. The Jets will be well positioned to take one of the big names coming out of College as they look set to finish the season with a top five pick and they will move from Smith.

Michael Vick wasn't much better in relief, but Ryan looks set to land on his feet as many believe he could be the next Head Coach of the Atlanta Falcons- I actually think Ryan will do well for Atlanta once he moves away from this mess in New York as the Jets get set for another rebuild with the key position of Quarter Back top of their list.


The criticism of JJ Watt and his 'selfie' celebration: JJ Watt sacked Zach Mettenberger and took a pretend 'selfie' shot and was then criticised because he told the media he was making a statement that they are 'in the NFL and not high school'.

Watt took exception to the fact that Mettenberger had been posting shots of himself in the hours leading up to the Texans visit to Tennessee and has since been criticised which makes absolutely zero sense to me.

In my opinion, Watt is dead right- there is a time and place for social media fun and it is certainly not in the hours leading up to a big Divisional game when you are making your first start in the professional Leagues. He was making a point to a kid about how to conduct yourself at a professional level and he is certainly someone I would describe as a pretty strong role model in the NFL, one that Mettenberger should definitely take notes from if he is to become a full time starter in the League.

Ken Whisenhunt already decided his Quarter Back needed a makeover and has made it clear Mettenberger needs to act 'the right way' for Tennessee so clearly the Head Coach would most likely accept what Watt was doing.


Stupidest thing I saw all week: You have called out your team-mates for their losses and declared not arriving with a new team to lose... You are then down huge in your next game and you sack a rookie Quarter... This is definitely NOT what you do next.


Lamarr Houston tore his ACL, much like Stephen Tulloch did in a similar manner, and is now out for the season that is getting worse and worse for the Chicago Bears.


Best moment of the week: It has to been the 'discussion' between Anthony Dixon and Sheldon Richardson about where the ball should be placed.




Top Ten
1) Denver Broncos (6-1): They lead the AFC and the Denver Broncos look the team to beat in this Conference after reaching the Super Bowl last season.

2) Arizona Cardinals (6-1): I can't ignore the Arizona Cardinals any more and they can make a big statement this week if they can win in Dallas.

3) New England Patriots (6-2): The Patriots host the Denver Broncos this week and can make a big statement about how far they have come since the Kansas City debacle.

4) Dallas Cowboys (6-2): It was a bad loss to Washington on Monday Night Football, but Dallas have a big week ahead with a huge game against Arizona and don't deserve to drop too far down.

5) Detroit Lions (6-2): A big leap up the Rankings after coming from a big deficit to somehow beat Atlanta in London, but the bye could see a healthier and dangerous Lions emerge in Week 10.

6) Kansas City Chiefs (4-3): Another team I have pushed way up the Rankings as they come into contention in the AFC West.

7) Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3): Still inconsistent, but the Offense may have turned a corner in the last six Quarters.

8) Indianapolis Colts (5-3): It was a poor loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, but the Colts still lead the AFC South.

9) San Diego Chargers (5-3): Injuries to key Defensive players are hurting the San Diego Chargers but they will hope to be in better shape going into this week with a few more days rest.

10) Green Bay Packers (5-3): Aaron Rodgers looked to have really done some damage to his hamstring which turned the game against the New Orleans Saints, but the bye comes at the right time.


Bottom Five
32) Oakland Raiders (0-7): A Head Coach change hasn't changed the Oakland fortunes who remain set to end the season with the Number 1 Pick in the Draft.

31) New York Jets (1-7): Only their opening week win over the Oakland Raiders keeps them out of bottom spot, but the Jets are just horrific.

30) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-6): Losing to Minnesota at home when the Offense can barely move the chains for much of the season doesn't exactly inspire.

29) Jacksonville Jaguars (1-7)They need more from Blake Bortles, but there are so many holes in this Jacksonville team.

28) Atlanta Falcons (2-5): Arthur Blank made the point that being up 21 at half time means you shouldn't be losing that game, but Atlanta somehow managed to do that and Mike Smith has to be nine games away from losing his job as Head Coach at this rate.


Week 9 Picks
It was an awful week, one of the worst I have had in the last three years, as almost every pick I made found themselves heading into the loser category to spoil a strong first seven weeks of the season. The Baltimore Ravens had no right to lose their game against the Cincinnati Bengals in the way the final four minutes went down, while an injury to Aaron Rodgers at a key time changed all the momentum in the Green Bay loss to New Orleans.

The Seattle Seahawks miscues in the Carolina territory prevented them covering too, especially Russell Wilson throwing a pick and then missing a wide open Receiver which basically took off at least ten points off the board.

I wish I could just say it was bad luck, but the Indianapolis Colts, Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears didn't really come close to a cover, while the Lions had no right to beat Atlanta let alone cover.

Bad week... But you have to move on.


New Orleans Saints @ Carolina Panthers PickThe NFC South lead is up for grabs on Thursday Night Football in Week 9, although I don't think anyone would have thought both the New Orleans Saints and the Carolina Panthers would be without a winning record going into the game.

Most won't need me to tell you that the New Orleans Saints are not as good on the road as they are at home, while there is the feeling they got away with one last week thanks to the Aaron Rodgers hamstring issue at a critical point of the game when it was tied. It allowed the Saints to play their Defense in a manner that they were barely worried about Rodgers running the ball, but that won't be the case against Cam Newton.

On the other hand, Rob Ryan won't be as concerned with the passing game and the Saints have been decent against the run despite a returning DeAngelo Williams for the Panthers at Running Back. The front seven finally got some pressure going too so the Saints may be able to bring Newton down in the backfield as they had success doing last season.

Mark Ingram is back to full health for the Saints as he showed on Sunday Night Football and the former Heisman Trophy winner could rip off big gains for New Orleans in this one. Carolina have struggled to contain the run and that will open up the play-action for Drew Brees to find Brandin Cooks and Kenny Stills deep down the field.

New Orleans aren't as good outdoors as they are in the SuperDome, but they should have won here last season and Brees won't have to worry as much about the six sacks he took in the loss here. Greg Hardy's absence has been huge for Carolina and they haven't generated the same success up front as they did in the 2013 season and Ingram's ability to run the ball should also keep the pocket clean for Brees.

With the Saints performances as a road favourite over the last two seasons, this is the kind of pick you could end up hating yourself for making, but New Orleans should have won at least 2 of their 4 road games they have lost this season. With Carolina just struggling a touch Offensively and their Defense not playing to the standard of last season, I like the New Orleans Saints to win and cover on the road.

MY PICKS: New Orleans Saints - 3 Points @ 1.92 Coral (2 Units)

Week 8: 1-8, - 13 Units
Week 78-1, + 11.20 Units
Week 62-3-1, - 2.46 Units
Week 53-4-1, + 0.84 Units
Week 44-4, + 0.02 Units
Week 38-2, + 9.82 Units
Week 25-3, + 1.50 Units
Week 13-6, - 3.18 Units

Season 201434-31-2, + 4.74 Units
Season 201386-70-2, + 22.27 Units
Season 2012- 4.78 Units

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

NBA Picks October 2014

The season seems to have swung around much faster in 2014 than it does normally, but the NBA charge to crown the 2015 Champion will begin in October.

It is all change in the Eastern Conference where the Cleveland Cavaliers are the new favourites thanks to being able to lure their prodigal son, LeBron James, back home from the Miami Heat. The easy defeat the Heat suffered in the NBA Finals last June really sped up the return of James who has admitted that he would have been less likely to move if Miami were going for four NBA titles in a row.

The return of James to Cleveland coupled with the decision to trade Kevin Love in from the Minnesota Timberwolves to go along with the talent of Kyrie Irving makes the Cavaliers very difficult to look beyond. Their closest challengers are likely to be the Chicago Bulls with a healthy Derrick Rose and Pau Gasol (I still think the latter has something to offer coming across from the LA Lakers), while the Miami Heat have still got Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh and have made a couple of decent moves to remain competitive.

Teams like the New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, Boston Celtics, Indiana Pacers look far short of what those three teams can offer and I would be surprised to see anything other than a Bulls-Cavaliers Eastern Conference Finals, although Rose needs to stay healthy.


There doesn't seem to be as much movement in the Western Conference with the veteran San Antonio Spurs still the team to beat, although the Oklahoma City Thunder and LA Clippers will feel they are going to be able to get closer with some good health. Kevin Durant is out for a little while, but the NBA doesn't really get going, in my opinion, until after the All-Star Game in February.

The Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets are definite dangers, while the Portland Trail Blazers could come on leaps and bounds with the experiences they garnered in the Play Offs.

Unfortunately for another big time franchise, this looks another rebuilding year for the LA Lakers despite the return of Kobe Bryant to full health, with the failure to bring in someone like James or Carmelo Anthony meaning there are a lot of make up pieces to their roster and Bryant the only 'star'.

In a loaded Western Conference, it would be a big surprise to me if the Lakers make the top eight places, let alone go deep in the Play Offs as Kobe Bryant is desperate to do one more time with a strong career definitely on the slope down from the mountain he helped the Lakers climb many times.


The 2013/14 season didn't prove a very good one for me after a couple of winning seasons, but I am expecting a turnaround this time around with a little better spot picking. That was some of the problem, but there were also some really bad times with teams blowing huge leads at times, but that is the nature of the NBA and you just have to hope to avoid those situations.

This year, the season tips off a few days before halloween and I am looking forward to the next nine months to determine the next NBA Champion.


Tuesday 28th October
Dallas Mavericks @ San Antonio Spurs Pick: The Miami Heat covered the last 2 years when opening as the NBA Champions, while the San Antonio Spurs are 4-0 in their last 4 occasions opening the season as the reigning Champions.

The injury to Kawhi Leonard takes away an important piece for San Antonio and Dallas will be confident considering their upgrades on the court and how close they pushed the Spurs in the Play Offs.

However, I think the Spurs will be ready to make a statement in this game and I like them to cover a small number. They might be 2-5 against the spread in their last 7 home games against Dallas, but they would have been 9-2 in that time if the number was the one we are seeing for opening night.


Houston Rockets @ LA Lakers Pick: Byron Scott said he is changing the culture of the LA Lakers and is demanding his team do not settle for the three point shot that was part of the plan under Mike D'Antoni last season. It might not be the ideal game for that kind of game plan against a hot shooting Houston Rockets team that loves to load up from downtown, although the Rockets have lost a couple of key components of that shooting.

Trevor Ariza doesn't seem an upgrade over Chandler Parsons which could play out over the course of the season, but Houston should have far too much talent for the Lakers. Opening games can be tough with the excitement in dressing rooms making up for a talent disparity, but Dwight Howard will be keen to win this game convincingly and show the fans what they could have been enjoying.

The Rockets covered in their last three games against the Lakers and they are 7-3 against the spread against them in recent games. I like Houston to have too much shooting for the Lakers in this game.


Wednesday 29th October
Atlanta Hawks @ Toronto Raptors PickThere is going to be excitement in the Air Canada arena on Wednesday as the NBA opening week sees the Toronto Raptors get underway. After last season, the Raptors believe this could be a huge season for them and they can make a statement by beating a fellow Eastern Conference team in this game.

The Atlanta Hawks definitely look a stronger team than the one that ended last season and I think they get above the 38 wins they managed in the 2013/14 season, but there is a chance this game, despite being the opener, lands in a good spot for the Raptors.

Atlanta face Indiana in their home opener next and the team might be a little more prepared for the revenge factor from their Play Off loss from last season against the Pacers. The home team won all four meetings last season and covered in all four and I like the Raptors in this one.

Minnesota Timberwolves @ Memphis Grizzlies Pick: The concern with backing Memphis to cover big numbers is their Offense which isn't always the prettiest, but they have got the job done against Minnesota at home and now they face a Timberwolves team without Kevin Love.

The younger looking Minnesota team may get a little lesson by the Defensive strength of the Grizzlies and Memphis are also 8-2 against the spread in their last 10 at home against Minnesota.

Minnesota are also on a back to back so may limit some minutes for their new look team and the Grizzlies may take control.


Thursday 30th October
New York Knicks @ Cleveland Cavaliers Pick: Teams coming off a blow out loss generally do well as the road underdog, but the Knicks have to travel into Cleveland for this one road game before returning home and the Cavaliers should be ready to go as they open their season.

The Miami Heat showed that it isn't easy just to bring three top players together and expect everything to go smoothly as they struggled a little bit four years ago in their opening games with the 'Big Three'. However, this Cleveland team isn't facing Championship calibre teams like Boston to open this season and their bigger test will come with their first road game at the Chicago Bulls.

New York's triangle Offense is also in the early stage of trying to get the best out of the players they have and I think they could be overrun by the emotions of the building on Thursday night.

Oklahoma City Thunder @ LA Clippers Pick: There is a new ownership at the Clippers which has excited the players and staff and this is opening night for the team which should keep the energy in the building.

This is also a great chance to lay the hammer down on the team that beat them in the Play Offs last season as the Oklahoma City Thunder are down to 9 healthy players and are off a back to back. The reserves should give the Clippers the chance to get away from Oklahoma City and I like them to cover what is a big spread.

MY PICKS: 28/10 San Antonio Spurs - 3.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
28/10 Houston Rockets - 7 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
29/10 Toronto Raptors - 4.5 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
29/10 Memphis Grizzlies - 8 Points @ 1.92 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
30/10 Cleveland Cavaliers - 12 Points @ 1.92 Coral (1 Unit)
30/10 LA Clippers - 12 Points @ 1.92 Bet Victor (1 Unit)

October Update: 2-2, + 0 Units

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

Saturday, 25 October 2014

College Football Week 9 Picks 2014 (October 25)

To say it has been a disappointing College Football season for my picks is an understatement to this point and I just can't seem to get out of my own way with some weeks looking positive before late turnarounds.

That happened again in Week 8 which has proved to be yet another week with a negative for the picks, but I do also feel that I have been close to a turn in fortunes. The season has proved to be a tough one for me, but I am hopeful that a big week to spark things for me isn't too far away.


Rutgers Scarlet Knights @ Nebraska Cornhuskers Pick: I backed the Rutgers Scarlet Knights to keep it close against the Ohio State Buckeyes last week, but they couldn't even play Special Teams right and were blown out convincingly by one of the favourites in the Big Ten.

One big concern for Rutgers this week is going up against Ameer Abdullah considering their run Defense has been giving up 4.7 yards per carry and Nebraska could ride their Running Back to a big win.

The Cornhuskers crushed Northwestern in the second half in Week 8 and the pressure will be on Gary Nova to keep Rutgers in the game. Nova has missed, for the most part, the multiple Interception games he has come to be known for and he has to play efficient football again from Quarter Back. However, Nova could feel he needs to force things a little more with Nebraska being able to move the ball consistently and I think the Cornhuskers will find a way to cover three Touchdowns.


Minnesota Golden Gophers @ Illinois Fighting Illini Pick: Minnesota only just got through a game against Purdue last week, but they might just have overlooked that team and I expect them to be more focused on Saturday. The Golden Gophers should be able to run all over the Illinois Defense and that should set them up for their fourth win in a row in the series.

They have also won four in a row in Illinois and all but one of those has come by at least a Touchdown and I do like Minnesota to do that in Week 9.

The Fighting Illini can throw the ball to stay competitive, but Minnesota should control the clock and dictate the tempo of the game and come through by seven.


Texas Longhorns @ Kansas State Wildcats Pick: So Kansas State won in Oklahoma and Oklahoma beat Texas on a neutral site so I am guessing most people will be picking the Wildcats to easily beat the Longhorns on Saturday?

Kansas State have beaten Texas three times in a row at home and the last two of those have been comfortable wins, but you can't deny that the Longhorns have been much more competitive lately. The stats also point to this being closer if looking at the games against the Sooners as Texas outgained them easily, while the Wildcats were outgained despite winning.

This game shouldn't produce a drop of intensity from Kansas State, but you can't deny they are in a different emotional place as a fairly big favourite after being a big underdog last week and Texas' Defense is certainly capable of making this a close game where taking the points is vital.


Florida Atlantic Owls @ Marshall Thundering Herd Pick: Rakeem Cato set a new record for 39 consecutive games with a Touchdown pass last weekend, but for a long time the Marshall Thundering Herd were in a surprisingly competitive game.

They are clearly the best team outside of the Power 5 Conferences in my opinion, although unlikely to be invited to have a place in the Play Offs, but Marshall are still pounding teams and just trying to run the table as effectively as possible. Last season the Thundering Herd only just escaped from a game against the Florida Atlantic Owls on the road and I think they will be far more focused for this game.

Marshall should be able to do what they like with the ball in the Offenses hands and they have been a covering machine through the season and even four Touchdowns to cover might not be enough for the Thundering Herd to be stopped.


Mississippi State Bulldogs @ Kentucky Wildcats Pick: The Mississippi State Bulldogs may have appreciated the timing of the bye week as that should keep the team focused on the games ahead after going through a really tough run of games. The additional rest would be welcome, but an emotional let down may also be less of an issue with the players likely to be itching to get back to action after a successful opening to the season.

In the SEC West, one defeat could be critical for Mississippi State's chances of reaching the Play Off and so they have to remain focused on the Kentucky Wildcats who have been much better this season as a team.

Patrick Towles should be able to produce a bounce back game after the Wildcats were blown out by the LSU Tigers last week, especially against this Bulldogs Secondary that has given up over 300 yards per game through the air.

However, I can't help but think Kentucky may have found their level in their blow out at LSU and it might be tough for them in this one. Dak Prescott should be able to help Mississippi State move the chains effectively for much of the afternoon and I think their Defense can force a couple of turnovers that lead to a big win where the Bulldogs cover the number.


Michigan Wolverines @ Michigan State Spartans Pick: Rivalry games can be very tough to get a feel of, although it does look like the Michigan State Spartans are playing at too high a level on both sides of the ball for the Michigan Wolverines to deal with.

However, the fact that this is a rivalry does concern me with what is a big spread at first glance, but I still like the Spartans because I don't see how the Wolverines will move the ball effectively against this Defense.

Connor Cook has to play a clean game at Quarter Back for the Michigan State Spartans though as any short fields will be tough for the Defense to deal with, but the Spartans should be able to move more consistently when they do have the ball.

Michigan State's Defense shut down Michigan last season and won this game by over three Touchdowns and the feeling is that they will come close to repeating that with the Defense playing as they are. Michigan have struggled Offensively and Devin Gardner is turning the ball over too much and I can see the Spartans earning extra possessions that will result in another big win in this rivalry and all comments about them being the 'little brother' once again haunting Michigan.


Louisiana Tech Bulldogs @ Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles Pick: Louisiana Tech haven't won a game on the road at Southern Mississippi since 1982, but they did blast them at home last season.

The Bulldogs have won their last two games and look to have the Offense that should have more consistent success through this game. The balance they will have to run and pass the ball should pose too many problems for the Southern Mississippi team to deal with although it could be competitive for a while as long as the Golden Eagles continue throwing the ball effectively.

Teams have hurt Southern Mississippi by establishing the run and I like Louisiana Tech to do that and that should eventually lead to a double digit win.


Arizona Wildcats @ Washington State Cougars Pick: The Arizona Wildcats haven't been that good against the spread this season, but they have a strong record at Washington State by winning their last 3 road games at the Cougars. This is also a legitimate revenge game for the Wildcats having lost at home to the Cougars as the favourite last season.

The Pac-12 title is still very much up for grabs for the Arizona Wildcats to keep them focused on this game and they have outgained every team they have played this season to suggest they have a worthy record and are perhaps unfortunate not to be unbeaten.

Arizona should be the more balanced Offense and the expected showers in Washington State may play into their favour as the Cougars have struggled to run the ball. If this becomes a game where it is tough to throw consistently, the Wildcats should be a much bigger favourite.


Mississippi Rebels @ LSU Tigers Pick: There are a few things that are concerning me for the unbeaten Mississippi Rebels coming into this game at the LSU Tigers- the first is that the game is being played at night in Death Valley where so many teams have struggled in the past.

Secondly, LSU are a much stronger home team than they are on the road and third is that Bo Wallace is yet to have a truly horrific game which has been something of a feature of his career.

However, Ole Miss have arguably the best Defense in the nation and they can use that unit to bamboozle a couple of Quarter Backs that don't have much experience. That unit can set up the Offense with good field position and Mississippi can play efficiently with the ball in their hands to win this game.

Mississippi State came to Death Valley and were leading big going into the Fourth Quarter before a furious comeback fell short for LSU and I think the Rebels will underline their potential to win the National Championship by securing a huge win on the road in this evening game.


South Carolina Gamecocks @ Auburn Tigers Pick: It does feel there is a marked difference between the teams in the SEC West and the SEC East and I do think Auburn are going to show that this week with a convincing win over the South Carolina Gamecocks.

The Gamecocks have struggled to defend the run all season and they are giving up 5.3 yards per carry which is an area that the Auburn Offense is likely to take full advantage of.

It is still a large amount of points for Auburn to be asked to cover against another SEC team, but they should have enough success shutting down the South Carolina Offense to overcome the number and win this by at least three Touchdowns. The Tigers Defense should keep South Carolina in third and long situations and force Dylan Thompson to make plays with his arms which is where the ball-hawking Secondary can set up the Auburn Offense in short field situations to pull away from the Gamecocks.

Auburn crushed the LSU Tigers here to improve to 7-3 against the spread as the home favourite under Gus Malzahn in their latest home game and I think they prove too strong for South Carolina and cover.


Alabama Crimson Tide @ Tennessee Volunteers Pick: This game looks a really tough one for the Tennessee Volunteers who were being physically manhandled by the Mississippi Rebels last week and now face an Alabama Defense that just secured the most sacks in a single game under Nick Saban.

With 18 sacks given up in three games and with a Quarter Back who is banged up to say the least, the Tennessee Volunteers could struggle to move the chains all day and the Alabama Defense may have another big game getting into the backfield. The Volunteers can't even rely on establishing a running game to ease the pressure on Justin Worley as their young Offensive Line has found it hard to open consistent holes and Alabama have been strong in this regard anyway.

You have to think Lane Kiffin is going to be rubbing his hands together leading the Alabama Crimson Tide in a stadium and State where he seems to be universally disliked.

His team opened big holes for TJ Yeldon last week and Tennessee have struggled against the best teams when defending the rush- Blake Sims also showed off his ability a week ago when running the ball and I think Alabama can have another big Offensive outing. Kiffin is unlikely to stop running up the score if he gets the chance and the Crimson Tide could definitely roll this weekend.

They have won 4 in a row in Tennessee and their last 3 wins here have come by more than 20 points each time. With the way this game should go, Alabama have every chance of surpassing a 20 point win again this season.


Ohio State Buckeyes @ Penn State Nittany Lions Pick: There is little doubt that the Penn State Nittany Lions Defense have played very well this season and are likely to make it difficult for the Ohio State Buckeyes, but I think Penn State will struggle to move the ball consistently themselves.

James Franklin did an excellent job making Vanderbilt a really competitive team in the SEC and the Commodores were never overawed about playing schools that were supposedly 'superior' in the talent departed. That would worry me in this game as he could make Penn State play better than they have shown in recent weeks while coming off a bye.

In saying that, the team have scored just 19 points in their last two games and they have to find more Offense if they are to keep this competitive. As well as the Penn State Defense have played against the run, JT Barrett could provide more problems as a dual-threat Quarter Back, while he has thrown well enough to hurt the Secondary.

Penn State are in a revenge spot after being embarrassed by the Ohio State Buckeyes last season, but I do think they are not quite as talented. Coming off a bye makes them more competitive, but the Buckeyes are winning their last four games by an average of 33 points per game and I like them to win this by a bit more than a couple of Touchdowns.


USC Trojans @ Utah Utes Pick: The Utah Utes have not beaten the USC Trojans since they were both part of the same Conference and I think they will just fall short of breaking their duck against them this week.

The Utes might have won 3 of their last 4 games, but they have been outgained in all four of those games and I do think the USC Trojans have more talent on both sides of the ball.

Both teams have been strong against the number, but I can't see Utah continuously getting away with giving up more yards than their opponents while I also believe USC can have a lot of success throwing the ball in conditions where the temperature will suit the Trojans. USC have enjoyed being the underdog on the road this season and they can win another game in that position.


Arizona State Sun Devils @ Washington Huskies Pick: The Arizona State Sun Devils could have a returning Quarter Back this week and they have covered the spread in 8 games in a row against the Washington Huskies.

The biggest concern could be the fact that the Sun Devils are coming off some tough games and may overlook Washington, but the only comparable team that both have played as seen the Sun Devils outgain Stanford while the Huskies were comfortably handled by them in terms of yards.

Arizona State's Offense looks the more balance of the two taking to the field and I think they have plenty of momentum behind them to come to Washington and cover the Field Goal number that has been set.

MY PICKS: Nebraska Cornhuskers - 20.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Minnesota Golden Gophers - 5.5 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Texas Longhorns + 10 Points @ 1.92 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Marshall Thundering Herd - 28 Points @ 1.95 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Mississippi State Bulldogs - 14 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Michigan State Spartans - 17 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs - 9.5 Points @ 1.92 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Arizona Wildcats - 2.5 Games @ 1.92 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Mississippi Rebels - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Auburn Tigers - 19.5 Points @ 1.95 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Alabama Crimson Tide - 18 Points @ 1.92 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Ohio State Buckeyes - 13.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
USC Trojans @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Arizona State Sun Devils - 3 Points @ 1.85 Bet Victor (1 Unit)

Week 8: 5-7, - 2.26 Units (12 Units Staked, - 18.83% Yield)
Week 73-8, - 5.31 Units (11 Units Staked, - 48.27% Yield)
Week 62-7, - 5.13 Units (9 Units Staked, - 57% Yield)
Week 54-5, - 1.13 Units (9 Units Staked, - 12.56% Yield)
Week 46-5, + 0.58 Units (11 Units Staked, + 5.27% Yield)
Week 33-7-1, - 4.18 Units (11 Units Staked, - 38% Yield)
Week 25-6, - 1.18 Units (11 Units Staked, - 10.72% Yield)
Week 16-4, + 1.77 Units (10 Units Staked, + 11.7% Yield)

Season 201434-49-1, - 16.84 Units (84 Units Staked, - 20.05% 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)

Weekend Football Picks 2014 (October 25-27)

I don't know what it is about this week, but I do feel that time has run away from me- I didn't get a chance to put down my Champions League picks, which was a shame, but hopefully this last weekend in October can start changing some of my fortunes.

The late goal for Crystal Palace against Chelsea killed a pick last week which could have made the week at least a positive one, but that was the way things have been going for me. I do need a bit of luck to go my way to change things around as it looks like being three straight losing months after only going through two losing months during the whole of last season.


West Ham United v Manchester City Pick: Last weekend, Manchester City were involved in a high-scoring game at Saturday lunchtime to open the weekend Premier League action and it seems that a similar pattern could emerge from this game.

Manchester City have scored plenty of goals away from home and have proven to be very effective on their travels in the Premier League and in Sergio Aguero they have arguably the top striker in the Premier League. To be honest, I can't imagine too many will argue with that assertion about Aguero and I think he will give West Ham United some problems having scored three times in two games at Upton Park last season.

On the other hand, West Ham United are a much improved team from last season and are playing with a lot of confidence at the moment. Beating Liverpool here has shown the team what they are capable of and they have a 5 game unbeaten run to protect.

The Hammers are attacking and scoring goals and Manchester City have been vulnerable at times when teams have attacked them so there is every chance that West Ham will have their chances in this one.

However, the issue might be at the other end and keeping Manchester City from scoring the goals that gives them the edge in this game. I am expecting goals in this early game, but it is also a game I believe Manchester City will edge and I will back them to win a game that has at least three goals scored.


Liverpool v Hull City Pick: There has been a lot of criticism for Mario Balotelli in the face of his recent performances for Liverpool and you have to say that the gamble Brendan Rodgers made in signing him looks to have backfired. I personally believe the Italian is a decent player, but his lack of effort at times is infuriating and I would not be surprised if he is left out of the starting eleven for this game.

Liverpool will be looking to bounce back from their heavy Champions League loss and keep their Premier League form going in the right direction, but they look an uneasy favourite in this one.

I do expect Liverpool are going to win the game, but their defensive vulnerability is likely to be exposed, especially if they continue to 'defend' set pieces in the manner they have. Hull City are a side that are capable of putting decent balls into the box and I wouldn't be surprised at all if they were to score in this one.

Hull City have scored in their last 7 away Premier League games and 10 of their last 11 and the set pieces are likely to cause some panic for Liverpool who only have a couple of days to work on them having conceded twice from that avenue against Real Madrid. On the other hand, Hull City have conceded at least two goals in 6 of their last 7 away Premier League games, including their last 3 in a row, and Liverpool will be looking to expose those issues even in the absence of Daniel Sturridge.

The side have rode their luck in a couple of League games to earn the three points and I think Liverpool are likely to find a way to the three points in this one with the attacking threat they do pose. However, it should be far from straight-forward and I expect Hull City will play their part in the game too as they showed when pushing Manchester City and Arsenal in recent League games.


Sunderland v Arsenal Pick: After the heavy beating that Sunderland took at the hands of Southampton, you have to feel there will be something of a response from the side in this one. The defending last week was disgusting once the side fell into a big hole and the last three or four goals were absolutely embarrassing, but Gus Poyet will have had a week to work on this and to get a real response from Sunderland.

This isn't the best game for Sunderland considering their recent set of results against Arsenal and I do think the attacking capability that the Gunners have are going to be tough to deal with.

However, Sunderland will also get some joy when they go forward against an Arsenal team that haven't had many clean sheets this whole season and that should make this a much closer match than the layers believe.

Arsenal scored twice in the last 25 minutes last season to beat Sunderland 1-3 at the Stadium of Light and games here have been far from easy for the men from North London. I think this one will be closer, although it is a game that I feel Arsenal can win, and I think backing them to win by a single goal margin may prove to be far more of a run than simply backing Arsenal to win at short odds this weekend.


Burnley v Everton Pick: The Premier League has looked a big step up for the Burnley players and even the excitement of promotion has produced a lot of positive results for the side in the early going.

They are entrenched in the bottom three and I think it will take a huge achievement from Sean Dyche to keep Burnley in the Premier League, but the financial gain should at least set the club up for the foreseeable future. Even playing at Turf Moor hasn't been making life easier for Burnley as they were beaten comfortably by both Chelsea and West Ham United here and the home team have been struggling for goals.

Everton themselves haven't won away from home for several weeks now since a 0-2 win at West Brom, but they do look a team that has more goals in the team than Burnley and I think they are likely to be too strong for Burnley in this game.

Playing in the Europa League and then balancing that with the Premier League has been a tough task for teams in the past, but Everton did win their last League game and will be looking to ride that momentum into this weekend. With the attackers at their disposal, Everton should find a way to grab the three points.


Tottenham Hotspur v Newcastle United Pick: There have been plenty of funny results in the Premier League this season and every time you think you have a team in the right place, they throw in a disappointing result to set them back.

Tottenham Hotspur have put in some impressive performances, but also some really poor ones and it is tough to know which team will come out for this one. They did at least end their European hoodoo by beating Southampton following a Europa League game after their second Group game and Mauricio Pochettino will be expecting his team to make it another three points this weekend.

The side were ruthless in forward positions in a 5-1 win in the Europa League on Thursday, but Newcastle United have shown signs of life over the last couple of games. They fought back twice to earn a draw with Swansea, but Newcastle remain a team that has struggled on their travels in the Premier League with 7 losses from their last 9 away games.

Newcastle's win over Leicester City has eased the pressure on Alan Pardew, but they were a little fortunate to get that victory and it'll be tough to back that up at White Hart Lane. The side did win here last season, but this has not usually been a good trip for Newcastle United and I do think Spurs are likely to have just enough to earn the victory.

It wouldn't surprise me if this is a tight game, but Spurs to win looks the call this weekend.


Manchester United v Chelsea Pick: For about a week, I have really had the gut feeling that Manchester United can win this game against Chelsea, but the defensive mistakes made against West Brom won't be helpful to that prediction. If Manchester United leave the gaps they did against the Baggies on Monday night, Chelsea have the players and the confidence to exploit them and my big concern is how United deal with the counter-attack and the pace Chelsea have in that situation.

Missing Diego Costa and Loic Remy could see Jose Mourinho play the same false nine system he used at Old Trafford last season and he still plays a more cautious style when facing the best teams in the Premier League. Chelsea set up to defend in numbers against Manchester City and returned to that shape once they took the lead, even though the home team had just ten men.

Louis Van Gaal is unlikely to change his system too much to accommodate what Mourinho will do, but he needs Manchester United to try and impose themselves and to keep up a high demanding physical game for the entire 90 minutes. That has been a problem for United who have struggled in the later stages of matches, although the saving of a point at West Brom with a late goal might show the players are beginning to understand those demands.

Concentration is the big key for Manchester United at the back as some of the gaps West Brom were exploiting are a real worry for fans, especially with the game against Chelsea quickly followed by Manchester City and Arsenal.

However, at Old Trafford, Manchester United will feel they can create chances with their range of attacking options and they have made very fast starts where they have looked capable of putting teams to the sword in the first half hour of games.

Like I say, a gut feeling says United can win this game, but the chance for goals is probably much more likely. Mourinho can play a cautious style away from home against the top teams, but an early goal, which United are capable of getting, can change all game plans.

Goals have been the feature of all the Manchester United games, bar Burnley, this season and Chelsea have certainly scored plenty on their travels to suggest they can take part in a high-scoring game.

MY PICKS: Manchester City to Win and Over 2.5 Goals Scored @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Liverpool to Win and Both Teams to Score @ 3.00 William Hill (1 Unit)
Arsenal to Win by One Goal @ 3.60 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Everton to Win @ 1.92 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Tottenham Hotspur to Win @ 1.73 Coral (2 Units)
Manchester United-Chelsea Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.95 Pinnacle (2 Units)

October Update7-13, - 8.63 Units (37 Units Staked, - 23.32% Yield)
September Final12-18, - 2.28 Units (41 Units Staked, - 5.56% Yield)
August Final8-22, - 19.92 Units (51 Units Staked, - 39.06% Yield)

Season 2014/1520-40, - 22.20 Units (92 Units Staked, - 24.13% 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)

Tennis Picks 2014 (October 25th)

I was beginning to think Rafael Nadal was going to at least finish his season with a performance at the O2 Arena in the World Tour Finals, but he has decided to end his 2014 season after being beaten in Basel.

That shouldn't really be a surprise as it was clear on Friday that Nadal was far from his usual self and he has made it clear that he wants a full recovery in time for the 2015 season which begins in two months time. Nadal will get his back looked at which caused some many problems all those months ago at the Australian Open as well as going in for surgery on his appendix, but the feeling is that he will have enough time to be more than ready for the Australian Open.


Nadal's withdrawal means an extra place as opened up at the Tour Finals and there are four places up for grabs going into the last ten days of the regular Tour. Kei Nishikori is almost certainly to have one of those which means Tomas Berdych, Andy Murray, David Ferrer and Milos Raonic are fighting for the remaining three places.

Murray takes on Ferrer in the Semi Final in Valencia on Saturday and the winner of that is likely to be the sixth player booking their place in London, while Berdych looks to have enough points already with Paris still to be played. Milos Raonic has faltered the most of these players over the last few weeks and he will need a big week in Paris to overcome one of the other three players I mentioned, while Grigor Dimitrov's Quarter Final loss in Basel is likely going to cost him.


Those issues will be cleared up over the next few days, but the WTA Tour has seen their Finals reach the Semi Finals which are to be played on Saturday. Serena Williams somehow managed to move through and she will be the favourite to win the tournament now, especially if she can beat Caroline Wozniacki in that Semi Final which I do believe she can do.

Agnieszka Radwanska owes Wozniacki a lot for her place in the Semi Final as her close friend beat Petra Kvitova in straight sets on Friday even with her place already booked in the next stage. Radwanska takes on Simona Halep in a tough second Semi Final, but I think the Romanian has been playing well enough to reach the Final.


Serena Williams - 3.5 games v Caroline Wozniacki: These two players are very close off the court, but that didn't stop Serena Williams obliterating Caroline Wozniacki in the Final of the US Open after a couple of very close matches between them during the summer hard court swing.

Serena Williams has now won six matches in a row against Wozniacki and she has to be feeling much better having survived in the tournament despite and absolutely awful performance in her loss to Simona Halep. She did bounce back to dismiss a disinterested Eugenie Bouchard and I think Williams will need to play as well as she has at any point this week if she is to see off Wozniacki.

There seems to be a new confidence in the way Wozniacki has been playing and it has certainly impressed me- I have been a critic of Wozniacki in the past, but I actually think she is playing better than when she was World Number 1 with more aggression leading to more positive results.

The Dane will need to be aggressive if she is going to win this match, but she also has to find the balance between attacking and defending considering how much more power Williams possesses. If Wozniacki can extract the unforced errors from Serena, she can cause the upset, but I don't imagine the World Number 1 playing as poorly as she did against Halep again this week and I like her to find a 75, 64 win in this Semi Final.


Simona Halep - 3.5 games v Agnieszka Radwanska: It must be a strange situation for both of these players who are coming into the match off of losses- Agnieszka Radwanska can't have played too many tournaments where she has lost twice yet still has the chance to win a title, while Simona Halep was beaten in three sets by Ana Ivanovic in what became a dead rubber after the Romanian took the second set.

I was surprised Halep put in as much of an effort to win that match with Ivanovic as she did as she had a real chance to earn some rest without putting in a full effort, but it is clear her game relies on the rhythm that means she can't take a moment off.

Even after that tough match, Halep should still be in better physical condition than Radwanska who has played two long matches in a row and has to be a little short of confidence that comes from back to back losses. She might look at this as a chance to play with 'house money', but Radwanska wasn't in great form to end the season and Halep won't make a host of unforced errors that Petra Kvitova did in the Pole's only win in the Group.

These two players have split their two previous matches one each earlier this season, but I like Halep's consistency and added power to be too much for Radwanska in a 63, 64 win.


Andy Murray - 2.5 games v David Ferrer: Over the last month, David Ferrer and Andy Murray have split two matches with one win apiece and the winner of this one is likely to take the title in Valencia on Sunday and come very close to booking a place in the World Tour Finals.

They have both shown their form at different times this week, but I think the edge should go to Andy Murray who has the bigger first serve and can earn a few 'cheaper' points than Ferrer who will have to work for everything he gets.

With Rafael Nadal pulling out of the Tour Finals, there is slightly less pressure on both of these players with that extra place opened up. However, I think Ferrer will likely be the slightly happier with how the draw has panned out in Paris and Murray might be more desperate for the points on offer this week.

Expect long drawn out rallies as has been the case in both matches over the last month, but I think Murray can win the second match in a row against Ferrer and move into the Final behind a 46, 75, 63 win.

MY PICKS: Serena Williams - 3.5 Games @ 1.85 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Simona Halep - 3.5 Games @ 1.92 Boyle Sports (2 Units)
Andy Murray - 2.5 Games @ 2.17 Pinnacle (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 8-13, - 9.78 Units (42 Units Staked, - 23.29% Yield)

Friday, 24 October 2014

Tennis Picks 2014 (October 24th)

We have reached the Quarter Finals of the two ATP tournaments that are being played this week and it looks like Grigor Dimitrov is going to become the latest player to fall out of contention in the Race to London.

That is nothing against Dimitrov who is still involved, but the likes of Milos Raonic, David Ferrer and Andy Murray have enough points in hand and haven't been knocked out this week which suggests the Bulgarian will need a lot to go in his favour for him to make the Tour Finals. He'll probably prefer to finish outside the top 10 so he can have a break and not go to London as an alternate too and that might be the situation he finds himself in with just one tournament to go after this one.

Of course, Dimitrov can win the the title this week and next week in Paris to prove me wrong, but I think that is increasingly unlikely and I believe both Murray and Ferrer are playing well enough to stay in front of a player that will be looking to play in the Tour Finals for years to come.


We will also determine the final four of the WTA Finals and it has highlighted why the Round Robin format was not used for too long on the ATP Tour- a few years ago some of the smaller tournaments attempted to begin their event with Groups, but it makes it much more likely that players will tank matches and I think the final round of matches in the WTA Finals look a little dangerous for that to happen.

A couple of years ago Victoria Azarenka was criticised for not trying in a dead rubber and a couple of players on Friday may actually benefit from losing a match.


Ivo Karlovic - 1.5 games v Benjamin Becker: I backed Kenny De Schepper to keep it close against Ivo Karlovic on Thursday and I think I would have been very much on the right lines if he had taken his only break point opportunity in the first set.

However, Karlovic was comfortably the best player on the court and he fully deserved his win and I do think he has every chance of backing that up with another win on Friday in this Quarter Final.

Karlovic has lost the most recent match against Benjamin Becker, but he had previously won 6 in a row against the German and I have to say I have been impressed that the big serving Croatian has found as many breaks of serve as he has in recent weeks.

Scoreboard pressure may play a part in that and I think that could be the case in this Quarter Final as Karlovic moves through with a 76, 64 win.


Rafael Nadal - 5.5 games v Borna Coric: Borna Coric has taken advantage of his Wild Card to reach a Quarter Final in Basel as he has recorded two impressive wins over players ranked much higher than he is.

The Croatian will be confident, but will now be facing a huge challenge in Rafael Nadal who has dismissed his first two opponents while giving up just 6 games. You can't really tell how healthy Nadal is feeling with Simone Bolelli and Pierre-Hugues Herbert very much out of his league, but it also suggests Coric will have a tough afternoon.

A lack of knowledge about Coric may give the youngster a chance to surprise a little, but Nadal plays every point so hard that he is likely to wear down his opponent and it might be a bit of a tennis lesson for the young player.

Nadal has been brutally efficient so far this week and I think he will prove too good in a 64, 62 win.


Jeremy Chardy - 3.5 games v Pablo Carreno Busta: Jeremy Chardy made it hard work for my pick on him to beat Alexandr Dolgopolov as he took the break advantage in all three sets played, but had to come from one set down to win the match.

It was a solid win for the Frenchman, but I am hoping he didn't leave everything out on the court ahead of this Quarter Final against one of the Spanish contingent left in the tournament in Valencia.

Pablo Carreno Busta has had a couple of surprising wins already this week and it would be something of a surprise if he can put together another solid performance on a surface that isn't the best for his game. He did reach the Quarter Final here in Valencia last season and the feeling is that Chardy's first serve is the more effective weapon and could determine the outcome of the match.

The first set could be another tight one, but I expect Chardy to put his stamp on the match eventually and come through with a 76, 63 win.


Petra Kvitova - 1.5 games v Caroline Wozniacki: Regardless of what happens in the first match in this Group, Caroline Wozniacki is in a strong position to qualify for the Semi Finals after winning her first two matches in straight sets.

In fact, unless Wozniacki's friend Agnieszka Radwanska wins in straight sets against Maria Sharapova, she will definitely be through to the Semi Final regardless of her result in this match and I am not sure where she will find the motivation to really push for the win.

Winning the Group might not be the best decision as there is a strong chance that player will have to face Serena Williams who will finish second in the Red Group in three out of four possible outcomes of the Simona Halep-Ana Ivanovic match. A straight sets win for Petra Kvitova would mean Wozniacki is second in the White Group unless the aforementioned scenario where Radwanska beats Sharapova in straight sets occurs.

Kvitova played well enough against Sharapova to think she would give a strong account of herself even if Wozniacki was fully motivated, but this seems a good chance to back the Wimbledon Champion in a match where her opponent might already be looking to conserve energy for the business end of the tournament.


Ana Ivanovic v Simona Halep: I mentioned that Serena Williams will go through in three out of four possible outcomes from this match with the one exception being a straight sets win for Ana Ivanovic against the in-form Simona Halep.

That form and momentum is very high for the Romanian and it is going to be interesting to see how she approaches this match as she will know exactly who she can play in the next round by finishing first or second in the Group. An easy straight sets win for Ivanovic will give the Serb top spot in the Red Group, while anything competitive will give Halep the edge and she is in the fortunate position of determining that depending on how much she puts into this match.

I hate to think of sports stars as machines- there is little doubt to me that Halep losing this match in straight sets is the best thing for her if she wants to win this tournament. She has nothing to prove by beating Serena Williams in the Final, but everything to lose to give the American a 'second shot' at her later in the event.

I don't think Halep will come out 'wanting' to lose, but I'd be surprised if there is a huge effort to fight in the match with a Semi Final to come on Saturday and her position at the top of the Group virtually secured. My concern would be that Halep wants to stay mentally competitive and wins a set, which eliminates Ivanovic even if she wins in three sets, and that might see the Serb decide to check out of the match.

MY PICKS: Ivo Karlovic - 1.5 Games @ 1.92 Sky Bet (2 Units)
Rafael Nadal - 5.5 Games @ 2.14 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Jeremy Chardy - 3.5 Games @ 2.10 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Petra Kvitova - 1.5 Games @ 1.92 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Ana Ivanovic - 1.5 Games @ 1.95 Pinnacle (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 6-10, - 7.82 Units (32 Units Staked, - 24.43% Yield)

Thursday, 23 October 2014

NFL Week 8 Picks 2014 (October 23-27)

By far and away, Week 7 was the best week of the season for the picks so far with all but one pick being successful. Stunning week, but one that will be almost impossible to match, and the hope is that I am not going to hit a long losing run to make up for that wonderful Week 7.


Week 7 Thoughts
Peyton Manning smashes Brett Favre's Touchdown Passes thrown record: You have to give credit to Peyton Manning for breaking Brett Favre's 508 Touchdown passes thrown record last weekend, although it has to be said the League is vastly different from the one that Favre started in.

Manning still deserves a lot of credit, although I do find it interesting that less people are concerned with how much he throws the ball as they were back in 2007 when Tom Brady and the New England Patriots were doing just that.

There definitely seems to be more leeway given to Manning in that regard, but I do think that has something to do with the fact that Brady has won three Super Bowl rings compared with Manning's one.

One thing that stood out from last week and the win over the San Francisco 49ers was what looked like a cool move by the Receivers to keep the 509 Touchdown ball away from Manning- however, it has since transpired what a control freak Manning is that he actually planned the whole thing on Friday even if it still looks pretty good.



Is the NFC South the worst Division in the NFL? The Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons were both beaten very easily again last week, while the New Orleans Saints somehow blew yet another game in the final two minutes and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were likely beaten by the 'bye' week.

None of the teams in the Division have a winning record and the heavy losses they have taken at various times are embarrassing and I don't think any team coming out of the South is likely to be a contender for the Super Bowl.

I am still convinced the Saints are better than they have shown, although Drew Brees has not played well, but the Falcons, Panthers and Buccaneers have looked nothing but poor.

Could this be the Division that we see a team with a losing record win it? I don't think that'll happen, but it won't surprise me if eight wins is enough to win the South and I wouldn't fancy any of these teams to win a road game in the Wild Card Round of the Play Offs in a season where so many believed potentially three teams could be making the Play Offs from this Division.


The Chicago Bears are on the cusp of imploding: Another home loss, the third of the season, has left the Chicago Bears looking up at the Detroit Lions and the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North and it seems enough is enough for some players.

Jay Cutler was awful again as his personal turnovers are beginning to kill the Bears and Brandon Marshall decided to effectively call out his Quarter Back, despite saying they are 'brothers'.

Marshall made a point of mentioning all of the playmakers on the Offense except Cutler and said it is 'unacceptable' that the Bears are 3-4.

Shooting themselves in the foot on Offense has made it extremely difficult for a Defense that has struggled to get teams off the field anyway. I can understand Marshall's frustrations too with the mistakes Cutler has been making and the Bears are going to do very well to turn this around and force their way back into NFC Play Off contention.


Percy Harvin traded to the New York Jets: I doubt I was the only person surprised to see Percy Harvin traded from the Seattle Seahawks to the New York Jets last Friday (which screwed one of my Fantasy Football teams) and it was a trade that really did come out of left field.

There weren't any rumblings that Harvin was unhappy in Seattle or that the Seahawks were unhappy with him, but it looks a move that had to be made after some of the stories coming out. Clearly the Seattle Seahawks felt they need to do something to get their season back on track at 3-3, although this move didn't go down all that well with all the rest of the team including Marshawn Lynch who almost decided to pull out from playing in St Louis.

It obviously is a move that Seattle think won't affect them adversely, but the big question is whether Harvin can give the New York Jets a spark.

With Erik Decker and Harvin, Geno Smith won't have a better chance to prove he is the franchise Quarter Back for the Jets future, although at 1-6 it is unlikely to impact their season. I think Harvin can be someone effective in the NFL and I think he will do well at the Jets, but he has to prove his output is worth some of the off field hassle that has followed him from Minnesota to Seattle and will be highlighted in the Big Apple.



Top Ten
1) Denver Broncos (5-1): Peyton Manning broke Brett Favre's record last week, but importantly the Broncos moved to the head of the AFC West ahead of a huge Divisional game against San Diego.

2) Dallas Cowboys (6-1): The Cowboys overcame a 14-7 deficit to beat the New York Giants as DeMarco Murray makes it a new NFL record of 7 straight 100 yard rushing games to open a season.

3) Indianapolis Colts (5-2): Been playing very well and have made a statement the last couple of weeks with comfortable wins over Cincinnati and Baltimore.

4) Green Bay Packers (5-2): R-E-L-A-X... The Packers have looked great since Aaron Rodgers said that after a Week 3 loss to Detroit.

5) Philadelphia Eagles (5-1): Were on a bye last week, but can't drop them much further than this.

6) Arizona Cardinals (5-1): Defensively they still look suspect, but can't argue with the team leading the tough NFC West.

7) New England Patriots (5-2): New England have been playing some good football over the last three weeks, but they were fortunate to hold off the New York Jets in Week 7.

8) Baltimore Ravens (5-2): The Ravens have looked stronger on both sides of the ball and have a chance to put a stamp down on the AFC North this week with a win in Cincinnati.

9) San Diego Chargers (5-2): Feel a little harsh dropping San Diego so far down the list after one loss, but injuries to key Defensive players will be tough to overcome over the next few weeks.

10) Detroit Lions (5-2): Matt Stafford and co head to London and will be hoping that Calvin Johnson is back sooner rather than later, but the Lions still have control of the NFC North even if holding off Green Bay is going to be tough.


Bottom Five
32) Oakland Raiders (0-6): They are now the only team without a win in the NFL and are in prime position to finish with the Number 1 Draft Pick.

31) New York Jets (1-6): Another loss for the Jets means they, along with Oakland, are the only teams that have lost six straight, although New York can bounce out if they can ride the positives of the Percy Harvin trade.

30) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-5): Despite being in my bottom five at the moment, Tampa Bay can still make some waves in the awful NFC South.

29) Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6): The Jaguars had a huge Defensive effort to beat the Cleveland Browns although some poor play-calling from the Browns contributed to their downfall.

28) Minnesota Vikings (2-5): I think the Vikings are doing the right things playing some of their younger playmakers, but that was a heartbreaking loss to the Buffalo Bills in Week 7.


Week 8 Picks
After some of the disappointment of Week 6 picks, I couldn't have asked for a better Week 7 as all but one pick came in as a winner and even that one had half a chance except for Larry Donnell's two fumbles for the New York Giants.

I took the points with three underdogs as the New York Jets, Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins and Kansas State Chiefs all covered with the last three of those teams actually winning outright.

Green Bay, Baltimore, Indianapolis and Arizona all did the business as favourites and Week 7 is going to be very difficult to match for the rest of the season if I am being honest. I would love to say that will be the norm, but I think even the most professional player in Vegas would be over the moon with a 8-1 record in one week and my bigger concern is not to pat myself on the back, but to try and remain vigilant and avoid a big setback.


San Diego Chargers @ Denver Broncos Pick: I have dropped the San Diego Chargers in my 'top ten' rankings after their loss last week to the Kansas City Chiefs and the fact their two starting Corner Backs are likely to be missing this game. It is no surprise that the public are pounding the Denver Broncos to the point that this spread has increased by two points, especially after Peyton Manning garnered all the headlines last week.

Manning should be able to have another strong showing, but San Diego have found a decent pattern to make them competitive against Denver in the last fourteen months, including a win in Colorado last season. Philip Rivers is playing at a very high level and he will likely use the clock for as much as possible to limit what Manning is able to do as he did last season.

Rivers will make the quick short passes to keep the chains moving as well as sustaining drives, something that San Diego did very well when beating the Seattle Seahawks earlier this season, and that could see Manning left on the sidelines. Denver do get more pressure up front than last season, but Rivers can use Brandon Oliver coming out of the backfield as well as a decent set of Receivers that should be able to win their battles against the Denver Secondary.

The difficulty will be stopping Manning from having his way throwing the ball against a Defense that hasn't got a lot of pressure up front and is missing Brandon Flowers and Jason Verrett. Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders and Wes Welker are too many weapons for the Chargers to deal with, especially if Ronnie Hillman continues to shine from Running Back.

However, I think the Chargers have been looking forward to this game and thus overlooked Kansas City in Week 7. They covered twice here as the underdog last season and I think Rivers and the Offense can sustain long drives that helps them keep this close, even if I think the Broncos will eventually prove too good and win.


Atlanta Falcons v Detroit Lions Pick: This is a game that is going to be played a strange time for fans in the United States with the early local time meaning the game is going to kick off at 9:30am Eastern Time and I am going to be interested to see how many fans get up that early to watch the game.

Both the Atlanta Falcons and the Detroit Lions are here on a 'business trip' and are trying to focus on a NFC game that could have serious Play Off implications when the season comes down to Week 17.

Calvin Johnson's return for the Lions will be a real boost for Matt Stafford and the Detroit Offense which has still played pretty well in his absence. With a new found trust in Golden Tate, Stafford has more options to throw to with the return of Megatron and the lack of pressure that Atlanta have generated means Detroit should move the ball effectively for much of the contest.

The problem will be for Atlanta to keep up considering how well the Detroit front seven have played and they should spend a long time in the backfield either feasting on Matt Ryan or the Running Back. Detroit have shut down teams this season on the ground by holding them to 3.3 yards per carry and keeping Ryan in third and long is going to play havoc on this inexperienced and banged up Offensive Line that the Falcons will be fielding.

The line looks about right as Detroit would have been a decent pick at - 6.5 points at home and I do think the Lions are the better team. If Calvin Johnson is active, it will just strengthen my belief in Detroit and I like them to win this by a Touchdown thanks to a couple of key sacks and turnovers giving them the edge.


Houston Texans @ Tennessee Titans Pick: Both of these teams have hit a real slump in form with Houston losing 3 in a row and Tennessee losing 5 of their last 6 games and you have to think the loser is going to be out of Play Off contention at the half way mark.

The Texans couldn't get out of their own way on Monday Night Football as they were beaten in Pittsburgh, but they should have won that game and probably would have if they hadn't imploded in the last three minutes of the first half.

Ryan Fitzpatrick has a strong running game to rely upon and that could give him a real chance of leading a win in the Stadium where he was playing his home games last season. He has to avoid the mistakes that has seen him lose starting Quarter Back spots through his career, but he should be the more successful Quarter Back on show on Sunday.

I love the Zach Mettenberger pick from Tennessee and I think he has the arm to be an effective player in the League, but this is a bad game to come into as far as I am concerned. Mettenberger's biggest problem is his movement in the pocket and Houston will have Jadaveon Clowney back who will cause havoc along with Brian Cushing and JJ Watt.

The Texans should get effective pressure on Mettenberger, but the rookie Quarter Back will have success if his Running Backs can establish the ground game. They have a chance to do that against Houston, but I can imagine the Texans daring Mettenberger to throw against them and forcing a couple of rookie mistakes to win this game.

Tennessee are just 2-6-1 against the spread as the home underdog in their last 9 occasions in that spot and they are just 1-5-1 against the spread as the underdog of 3 points or less. They have played three tight games, but I think the Houston Texans are a little under-rated to win here considering their recent performances when mistakes have cost them wins more than their actual play.

The game is stuck at a field goal spread, but I still like Houston to come through and win this game and cover.


Seattle Seahawks @ Carolina Panthers Pick: They say winning supersedes all issues and that might be the reason we haven't heard a peep out of the Seattle dressing room until the last couple of weeks. The trade of Percy Harvin seems to have been the spark that has split the camp in two, but Seattle can put all that to bed as their rivals San Francisco have by getting back to winning ways.

Seattle haven't lost three in a row in three seasons and Russell Wilson is unfamiliar territory in the professional League in losing two in a row after the Special Teams bumbles a week ago in St Louis.

My feeling is that Seattle will be a lot more settled this week now that the Harvin trade has really become the norm for the dressing room and I think they are going to be able to pound the Carolina Panthers on the ground. With both Wilson and Marshawn Lynch likely to have big rushing numbers, it should open up the field for the Quarter Back to throw the ball and become the latest team to score plenty of points against this Panthers Defense.

Wilson should be well protected for the most part, especially with his ability to scramble and make plays on the run, and it will be up to Cam Newton and the Panthers to try and keep up.

That won't be easy against Seattle who have excelled against the run, even though they are missing influential Bobby Wagner at Linebacker, and Jonathan Stewart may have a tough outing in relief of De'Angelo Williams.

Newton should have some success moving the chains with his legs, but he has struggled to pass the ball effectively and the Legion of Boom looks healthier this week. Kelvin Benjamin is a big target, but the rookie is a little banged up and it will be tough for Carolina who have scored just 19 points in their last 2 games against Seattle over the last two seasons.

Carolina may also be looking ahead to a huge NFC South game against the New Orleans Saints on Thursday Night Football- while Seattle could be a potential Wild Card rival in the NFC, the NFC South Division looks there for the taking and the Panthers know knocking off a Divisional rival is a much bigger game for them.

The Seahawks are 6-3 against the spread coming off a loss with Russell Wilson at Quarter Back, while that number is 15-9-1 since Pete Carroll arrived as Head Coach. I like Seattle to win this one by at least a Touchdown even though they are not as good on the road as they are at home.


Baltimore Ravens @ Cincinnati Bengals Pick: With the news that AJ Green is likely to sit for the Bengals once again, it is going to be a tough day for Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals Offense against the Baltimore Ravens Defense.

Without Green, Baltimore should have an 'easier' time locking down the passing game and the Bengals are going to struggle as they cannot rely upon Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill to make big gains on the ground. The Ravens should be able to contain them to the point of forcing Dalton to make the plays with his arm and he doesn't have the consistent threat at Receiver to worry Baltimore.

Additionally, Baltimore have found an effective pass rush of late and Indianapolis showed what you can do against this Cincinnati Offensive Line last week.

On the other hand, Baltimore are just about clicking perfectly on Offense and I am not sure how the Bengals Defense is going to slow them down considering how they have been playing over the last three weeks. Justin Forsett should set up Baltimore in short yardage situations and that will only make life simple for Joe Flacco with a lack of pressure in his face and with the Smith Receivers both playing well.

It is a revenge game for the Ravens who were beaten in Week 1 by Cincinnati and it is vital for them to square this series with the Divisional rival. I like the Ravens to be able to do that and surprise the Bengals at home despite their strong record here.


Chicago Bears @ New England Patriots Pick: This non-Conference game looks to be much more important for the Chicago Bears as they would love to go into their bye week still in touch with the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions in the NFC North. On the other hand, the New England Patriots are in their rightful place at the top of the AFC East and could potentially be thinking about the game with the Denver Broncos which is next up on deck.

Of course the Patriots have the bonus of an extra couple of days since playing on Thursday Night Football to prepare for this game and that is something that Bill Belichick is likely to make full use of.

However, Belichick and the New England Defense have lost Chandler Jones for the foreseeable future with an injury and that could make life that much easier for Jay Cutler and the Chicago Offensive Line. With Matt Forte likely to find some real running lanes, Cutler should have all tools to bounce back from Week 7 when he was essentially called out by Brandon Marshall for the errors the Offense have been making.

I can see the Bears moving the chains pretty effectively in this game, but the same can be said for New England even though their running game will be less of an issue for the Bears Defense to worry about. Tom Brady will still be able to make his big plays throwing the ball as the Chicago Secondary has been banged up and New England should win those battles.

I just can't shake the fact that the Bears should have a lot of success moving the ball too and that makes the almost Touchdown amount of points look a huge advantage. This game comes for the Patriots after two Divisional games and before the big game against Denver so blowing out a non-Conference opponent can't be high on the list of priorities, while the Bears should really have a big Offensive game against this Defense with the playmakers on that side of the ball.

The points look like they have to be taken this week with the Bears.


Indianapolis Colts @ Pittsburgh Steelers Pick: This is a big number considering Indianapolis are on the road, but I still like them to cover against a Pittsburgh Steelers team that rode their luck to beat the Houston Texans on Monday Night Football.

The Steelers Defense struggled in the first 27 minutes of that game to get off the field and they are playing a Colts team that have looked in sync over the last five weeks while riding their 5 game winning run. There is little pressure being found by Pittsburgh and giving Andrew Luck time to throw the ball is not likely to end well that often for the Steelers in this game.

Ahmad Bradshaw should also be able to run the ball effectively and it looks a big ask for Pittsburgh to slow down the Colts when they have the ball barring mistakes Indianapolis make themselves.

Ben Roethlisberger is unlikely to see a cleaner pocket than Luck in this one as his Offensive Line has struggled in pass protection, while the Colts have definitely made up for the absence of Robert Mathis. The Steelers may be able to establish something of a run game, but Roethlisberger will find it tough to throw down the field as the time just simply won't be there for him.

Those loss of yard plays will make the difference in the game and allow the Colts to take command and I expect they will win this by a Touchdown with the way the Offense has been playing.


Green Bay Packers @ New Orleans Saints Pick: This is one of the best home field advantages in the NFL and will always give the New Orleans Saints a real chance, but I am not sure if they are playing well enough to deal with the Green Bay Packers right now.

Jimmy Graham is banged up and Drew Brees is certainly not playing at the level expected, while the Defense has been an abomination just a season after being one of the better units in the NFL. Now they have to go against a purring Green Bay Offense led by Aaron Rodgers in what looked like being a marquee game in Week 8, but is now as much about the Saints surviving and almost a 'must win' for them.

The Saints have blown at least three games they should have won this season, but the Defense has let them down and there have been far too many mistakes from the Offense. Aaron Rodgers should have his way with the limited pressure that the Saints have found up front and he should be able to make big plays to Jordy Nelson, Davonte Adams and Randall Cobb and I think the Packers are capable of scoring plenty of points here.

Drew Brees should have some success too but a limited Jimmy Graham hurts this Offense, although Mark Ingram and Khyri Robinson should pick up large gains on the ground and keep Brees in third and short situations. The Packers have found some pressure up front, but the Saints should be able to throw the ball although they have to be careful of the Interceptions that have plagued Brees. The Packers Secondary is capable of making those big plays too and giving Rodgers extra possessions won't be a good idea for the Saints.

New Orleans also have a big game on deck on Thursday Night Football which could determine whether they are a threat in the NFC South or not and favourites heading into a short week have struggled at times. With the way Aaron Rodgers has been playing, I think he is in a strong spot as the underdog and I like the Packers in this one.


Washington Redskins @ Dallas Cowboys Pick: Recent history has shown the Dallas Cowboys to not be the best team to back to cover a big spread as a home favourite, while the Washington Redskins are 7-1 against the spread in the last 8 games in the series. However, the one failure came here at Cowboys Stadium last season and I do like Dallas to beat a Divisional rival while covering the spread in this one.

It was a big week for Colt McCoy last weekend as he came into the game against the Tennessee Titans and led the Redskins to the win, while he should be excited to be coming back to Texas to play. However, the Cowboys Defense has stepped up in recent games and they should be able to make enough plays to force the Washington Offense off the field particularly if Alfred Morris can't get things going.

It will be much tougher for the Washington Defense to do the same against a Dallas team that have pounded the ball very effectively and then followed that up with big plays from Tony Romo to Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams or Jason Witten. DeMarco Murray will keep Washington honest and open the passing game up for Romo and this Offensive Line has shown it can open holes against the tightest of run Defenses.

Personally I don't have a lot of faith in McCoy being the Quarter Back that can revive Washington and I think Dallas will be too strong for them. The Redskins haven't passed 20 points in their last 4 games and I think Dallas will do enough to hold them down and pull away with the win.

0 Unit Picks: Kansas City Chiefs - 7 Points, Minnesota Vikings + 2.5 Points, Miami Dolphins - 6.5 Points, Buffalo Bills + 3 Points, Arizona Cardinals - 1 Point, Oakland Raiders + 6.5 Points

MY PICKS: San Diego Chargers + 9.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Detroit Lions - 3.5 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Houston Texans - 3.5 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Seattle Seahawks - 5.5 Points @ 1.95 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Baltimore Ravens - 2 Points @ 1.95 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Chicago Bears + 6 Points @ 1.95 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Indianapolis Colts - 3.5 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Green Bay Packers + 2.5 Points @ 2.00 Sky Bet (2 Units)
Dallas Cowboys - 9 Points @ 1.92 Bookmaker.EU (2 Units)

Week 7: 8-1, + 11.20 Units
Week 62-3-1, - 2.46 Units
Week 53-4-1, + 0.84 Units
Week 44-4, + 0.02 Units
Week 38-2, + 9.82 Units
Week 25-3, + 1.50 Units
Week 13-6, - 3.18 Units

Season 201433-23-2, + 17.74 Units
Season 201386-70-2, + 22.27 Units
Season 2012- 4.78 Units