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Thursday, 29 September 2011

English Football Weekend Picks (October 1st-2nd)

Wow, September kicked my ass as far as picking English and European football matches were concerned, and it has been tough to take, especially when you look at the number of games that were literally taken away from me in the last 5 minutes.

Unfortunately, football is a 90 minute game, but it has left a sour taste in the mouth and I am hoping the ridiculous amounts of bad luck I feel I have had are no officially over as we move into October.

There are so many sites out there that will boast about wins, yet say nothing when they have a losing run but I don't want to be part of that. I got absolutely killed in September, and I won't lie about that- it's on me to perform better and I will try and do better this month while not chasing my picks.

Fortunately the College Football Picks have really helped me out this month, while I have built a heavy profit from the tennis over the last 3 months that I can take the hit- but only once will I expect to have a month like I just had.

As with my College Football and NFL Picks, these will be staggered over a couple of days as I look my plays in the books.

You can follow me on Twitter where I will also state when more games have been put up, and otherwise let's hope for a happier month to come.

Picks and Previews:

Manchester United v Norwich City Pick and Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11865-Manchester-United-v-Norwich-City.htm)

Blackburn Rovers v Manchester City Pick and Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11867-Blackburn-Rovers-v-Manchester-City.htm)

Aston Villa v Wigan Pick and Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11869-Aston-Villa-v-Wigan.htm)

Wolves v Newcastle United Pick and Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11870-Wolves-v-Newcastle-United.htm)

Everton v Liverpool Pick and Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11874-Everton-v-Liverpool.htm)

Bolton Wanderers v Chelsea Pick and Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11875-Bolton-Wanderers-v-Chelsea.htm)

Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal Pick and Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11885-Tottenham-Hotspur-v-Arsenal.htm)

Fulham v QPR Pick and Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11904-Fulham-v-QPR.htm)

Barnsley v Coventry Pick and Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11889-Barnsley-v-Coventry.htm)

Reading v Middlesbrough Pick and Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11892-Reading-v-Middlesbrough.htm)

Crystal Palace v West Ham Pick and Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11897-Crystal-Palace-v-West-Ham.htm)

MY PICKS: Nani to score anytime @ 2.88 BoyleSports (2 Units)
Sergio Aguero to score anytime @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Wigan + 0.5 Asian Handicap @ 2.30 Bet365 (2 Units)
Wolves-Newcastle United Draw @ 3.40 BetFred (1 Unit)
Everton-Liverpool Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.10 BetFred (2 Units)
Chelsea - 1 Asian Handicap @ 1.90 Pinnacle (4 Units)
Tottenham Hotspur @ 2.20 BetFred (2 Units)
Fulham-QPR Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Coventry @ 3.30 Stan James (1 Unit)
Reading-Middlesbrough Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.95 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Crystal Palace-West Ham Time of last goal 73 minutes or later @ 2.00 Paddy Power (1 Unit)

SEPTEMBER: - 25.31 Units
AUGUST: + 7.94 Units

College Football Week 5 Picks and Previews

It was another decent week for the Picks in Week 4 that has continued the profits rolling in, but it is just making me more and more wary that a bad week is going to catch up with me sooner rather than later.

I will be staggering my Picks for Week 5 over the next couple of days, but I have some early plays out.

Keep checking back on Twitter to see when I have released some more picks- this week the Picks will begin on Thursday with South Florida's visit to Pittsburgh.

Week 5 Picks:

South Florida Bulls @ Pittsburgh Panthers Pick and Preview  (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11840-Pittsburgh-Panthers-v-South-Florida-Bulls.htm)

Alabama Crimson Tide @ Florida Gators Pick and Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11842-Florida-Gators-v-Alabama.htm)

Nevada Wolf Pack @ Boise State Broncos Pick and Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11845-Boise-State-v-Nevada-Wolf-Pack.htm)

UCLA Bruins @ Stanford Cardinal Pick and Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11859-Stanford-Cardinal-v-UCLA-Bruins.htm)

Nebraska Cornhuskers @ Wisconsin Badgers Pick and Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11861-Wisconsin-Badgers-v-Nebraska-Cornhuskers.htm)

Baylor Bears @ Kansas State Wildcats Pick and Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11862-Kansas-State-v-Baylor-Bears.htm)

MY PICKS: South Florida Bulls - 2.5 Points @ 1.92 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Alabama Crimson Tide - 3.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Boise State Broncos - 27 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Stanford Cardinal - 20 Points @ 1.92 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Wisconsin Badgers - 9 Points @ 1.92 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Baylor Bears - 3.5 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)

WEEK 4: 4-2, + 1.80 Units

WEEK 35-1, + 3.60 Units
WEEK 23-0, + 2.82 Units
WEEK 14-0, + 3.74 Units

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

NFL Week 4 Picks and Previews

The NFL has had plenty of strange results over the first 3 Weeks of the season, but there is probably nothing more surprising than seeing the Buffalo Bills at 3-0, the only team in the AFC that is yet to be beaten and sitting higher than New England and the New York Jets in the East.

Before I get on with the Picks from this Week, I am going to go over a few points from Week 3, before putting up my top 10 in the Power Rankings, and then my personal top 5 and bottom 5 teams in the NFL.

WEEK 3 Thoughts
1) Michael Vick's complaints about referee treatment: Michael Vick griped that he is not given enough protection from the NFL referees as he doesn't get as many flags for late hits as some other QBs do.

His comments seem to have separated people into two camps- there are some that think Vick is moaning for no reason and others that think he has a point.

I tend to sit with the latter camp- Vick is not protected as much as others as he is a mobile QB, but Ben Roethlisberger is another who could make the complaint but chooses not to. However, Vick was hit late on at least 2 occasions against the Giants last week that should have drawn flags, and you can understand why he was so frustrated after the game, especially as at least one of those hits was a player leading with his helmet.

Steve Young put it best when saying on MNF that the 'more mobile a QB, the less likely he is to get a flag for a late hit', but Vick is at least trying to stay in the pocket and must be offered more protection than he is getting at the moment.

2) 'Suck for Luck' hots up: Andrew Luck is clearly going to be the Number 1 Pick in the NFL Draft next April, which means there is a genuine reason to lose games for some teams.

The leading contenders so far are Kansas City, Miami, Indianapolis and Minnesota (I ruled out St Louis who already have their franchise QB settled in Sam Bradford)- all 4 of those teams suffered close losses in Week 3 and there could be some GM's looking ahead to getting a little more 'Luck' in the future.

In my mind, the latter two teams are unlikely to make the play as I think they either win enough games to move away from this discussion (Minnesota) or they have enough faith in the QB they have (Peyton Manning at Indianapolis barring any long term issue with the neck) which leaves Kansas City and the Dolphins.

Mark down November 6th in your diaries as that could be the day this whole issue is decided- that is the day the Chiefs visit Miami.

3) Which team is more likely to sustain early season form- Buffalo or Detroit? Both teams have opened up as 3-0, but it is Buffalo who are the more surprising.

I liked the Lions a lot before the season started so I would pick them, but that is assuming Matt Stafford can remain healthy.

Detroit's Defense looks tough and will only get better when Nick Fairley is good to join Ndamukong Suh in wreaking havoc in the backfield, but the Offense is reliant on Stafford as the drop off to Drew Stanton and Shaun Hill is too much for them to overcome.

Buffalo have been brilliant so far during the first 3 weeks of the season, and Chan Gailey needs to be given a ton of credit for keeping faith with Ryan Fitzpatrick. However, they are in a tough Division and that Defense is giving up far too many points, while it is hard to see them continuously coming back from large half time deficits as they have done in their last 2 games.

4) Phantom call in the Chicago-Green Bay game ruins best Special Teams play I have seen in a long time: I have seen some strange decisions in the NFL over the years, but there was nothing stranger than the 'holding' call given near the end of the Chicago-Green Bay contest.

The Oscar this year must go to Devin Hestor who fakes trying to catch the ball, while Johnny Knox scampers away virtually untouched on the other side of the field.

I got away with a lot of luck that the holding penalty came in (had picked Packers - 3.5 Points), but it was a bogus call and the officials have to be questioned- maybe the umpire also had a - 3.5 point ticket stamped.

5) Green Bay remain the team to beat in the NFL: The SuperBowl Champs are looking unstoppable at this moment, with Aaron Rodgers leading an Offense that can put up a bunch of points on any team they play.

They have found a running game (big criticisms of that last season) and Jermichael Finley really does provide an added bow to the Offense. With a deep receiving corps too and one of the best QB's in the NFL, it was only the Defensive unit that was worrying me.

The first 2 weeks of the season saw the Defense struggle, however they looked better on Sunday and I do think it will be hard for any team to keep up with the Pack at this moment in time.

Power Rankings Top 10
1) Green Bay Packers: Obvious choice, 3-0 to start this season meaning they have now won 9 in a row since last season and looking unbeatable.
2) Buffalo Bills: 3-0 start and beating New England from 0-21 down is impressive
3) Detroit Lions: That Defense is tough, but the Offense looks really good with Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson.
4) Baltimore Ravens: If Joe Flacco and the Offense can keep their high flying start to the season going, the Defense can make enough big plays to keep them winning.
5) New England Patriots: Need the Defense to step up as they face bigger challenges than Chad Henne and Ryan Fitzpatrick this season.
6) New Orleans Saints: Powerful Offense and not far from being 3-0 themselves this season.
7) New York Giants: The last 6 Quarters played have been impressive
8) Pittsburgh Steelers: Need to stop shooting themselves in the foot, particularly the Offense.
9) Oakland Raiders: Should really have started the season 3-0
10) Dallas Cowboys: Overcome injuries on the OL and in the receiving corps to beat Washington on Monday Night and are a fumble in the opponents Red Zone away from being 3-0.

My Top 5 and Bottom 5
1) Green Bay                             32) Kansas City
2) New England                         31) Indianapolis
3) New Orleans                          30) Miami
4) Baltimore                               29) Cincinnati
5) Pittsburgh                              28) Seattle

WEEK 4 Picks and Preview
My Picks for Week 4 will be appearing below. They will come out in staggered sessions due to work commitments, but I will update on Twitter (@DavAulak) whenever I have put some up.

I will put up picks with the previews available in the links so keep checking out the updates over the next few days.

Week 4 Picks:

New Orleans Saints Pick and Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11879-Jacksonville-Jaguars-v-New-Orleans-Saints.htm)- LOCKED IN EARLY FOR THE 6.5 POINT SPREAD

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Houston Texans Pick and Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11880-Houston-Texans-v-Pittsburgh-Steelers.htm) LOCKED IN EARLY FOR THE 4 POINT SPREAD

Detroit Lions @ Dallas Cowboys Pick and Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11906-Dallas-Cowboys-v-Detroit-Lions.htm) LOCKED IN FRIDAY

Atlanta Falcons @ Seattle Seahawks Pick and Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11908-Seattle-Seahawks-v-Atlanta-Falcons.htm) LOCKED IN FRIDAY

Minnesota Vikings @ Kansas City Chiefs Pick and Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11910-Kansas-City-Chiefs-v-Minnesota-Vikings.htm) LOCKED IN FRIDAY

San Francisco 49ers @ Philadelphia Eagles Pick and Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11914-Philadelphia-Eagles-v-San-Francisco-49ers.htm) LOCKED IN THE 8.5 POINT SPREAD ON FRIDAY

New York Giants @ Arizona Cardinals Pick and Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11916-Arizona-Cardinals-v-New-York-Giants.htm)

Denver Broncos @ Green Bay Packers Pick and Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11917-Green-Bay-Packers-v-Denver-Broncos.htm)

Miami Dolphins @ San Diego Chargers Pick and Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11918-San-Diego-Chargers-v-Miami-Dolphins.htm)

Indianapolis Colts @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers Pick and Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11919-Tampa-Bay-Buccaneers-v-Indianapolis-Colts.htm) LOCKED IN SATURDAY FOR THE 10 POINT SPREAD

Washington Redskins @ St Louis Rams (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11932-St-Louis-Rams-v-Washington-Redskins.htm)

MY PICKS: New Orleans Saints - 6.5 Points @ 1.92 Pinnacle (4 Units)
Pittsburgh Steelers + 4 Points @ 1.92 BetFred (2 Units)
Detroit Lions + 2.5 Points @ 1.92 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Atlanta Falcons - 4.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (3 Units)

Minnesota Vikings - 2.5 Points @ 1.92 BetFred (2 Units)
Philadelphia Eagles - 8.5 Points @ 1.92 Paddy Power (2 Units)
New York Giants - 1 Point @ 1.95 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Green Bay Packers - 12 Points @ 1.92 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Miami Dolphins + 7 Points @ 1.92 BetFred (1 Unit)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 10 Points @ 1.92 Pinnacle (2 Units)
St Louis Rams + 3 Points @ 1.83 Bet365 (3 Units)

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

What to make of Carlos Tevez?

This has to be the strangest night in a long time when a player as good as Carlos Tevez decides that he will not come onto the field of play for whatever reason.

I don't think Tevez will be playing for Manchester City ever again, but this was a situation that needed to be resolved in the Summer when it was clear that the Argentine did not want to stay at the club. City are not in desperate need of money, but they effectively ended chances of Tevez leaving the club when demanding £50 million for the player from other European clubs.

Now I don't think City should have been shortchanged because they are bankrolled by a billionaire, but they clearly overvalued a player that did not want to play for the club- if Fabregas goes for £35 million, there is no way City could have expected £15 million more for a player that everyone knew wanted to leave the club.

So instead of selling him, they keep Tevez as effectively the 4th choice striker which has obviously built frustration and ended in the manner it has tonight. Imagine if Tottenham had treated Luka Modric this way after refusing to sell him in the Summer to Chelsea.

There is also another issue being brought about from this scenario and that is whether Roberto Mancini has the respect of the players that a more experienced manager would have- there were rumours all was not well when he was at Inter Milan with the team being brought together by Jose Mourinho for their big success in Europe.

We have also heard of problems with Mario Balotelli, Edin Dzeko and now Tevez which suggests Jerome Boateng was spot on when he said there was no real team bond at the club.

I think we are going to see an interesting few days from Eastlands and how they will recover with the Manchester Derby approaching this month.

Personally, I think Tevez will end up being loaned to a South American club, most likely sooner than later, but this is an issue built by City and at the end of the day, you reap what you sow.

Midweek Football Picks and Preview (European and English Football)

Well it has not been a great month, but I am hoping for a slight turn of fortune over the last few days to try and reduce a heavy beating I have taken in the football picks I have made.

Fortunately the NCAAF Picks have saved me from slitting my wrists as the profits continue to pile up from those picks.

I will keep updating this page during the week as more picks go live so continue to check me out on twitter so you can see when the newest picks are out, for the European football as well as the College Picks which should start going live on Wednesday and the NFL Picks will start on Thursday/Friday.

You can check out my reasoning for the Picks by opening the links provided:

Manchester United v Basel Pick and Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11796-Manchester-United-v-Basel.htm)

Bayern Munich v Manchester City Pick and Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11797-Bayern-Munich-v-Manchester-City.htm)

Real Madrid v Ajax Pick and Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11802-Real-Madrid-v-Ajax.htm)

West Ham United v Ipswich Town Pick and Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11804-West-Ham-United-v-Ipswich-Town.htm)

Valencia v Chelsea Pick and Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11812-Valencia-v-Chelsea.htm)

Arsenal v Olympiakos Pick and Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11815-Arsenal-v-Olympiakos.htm)

AC Milan v Viktoria Plzen Pick and Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11820-AC-Milan-v-Viktoria-Plzen.htm)

Maribor v Birmingham City Pick and Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11833-Maribor-v-Birmingham-City.htm)

Tottenham Hotspur v Shamrock Rovers Pick and Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11837-Tottenham-Hotspur-v-Shamrock-Rovers.htm)

Stoke City v Besiktas Pick and Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11839-Stoke-City-v-Besiktas.htm)

MY PICKS: Manchester United win to nil @ 2.00 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Bayern Munich-Manchester City Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.92 William Hill (2 Units)
Real Madrid win to nil @ 2.10 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
West Ham United to win by 1 Goal @ 3.80 Stan James (1 Unit)
Chelsea @ 2.60 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Draw HT-Arsenal FT @ 4.33 Coral (1 Unit)
AC Milan - 1.5 Asian Handicap @ 2.05 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Maribor @ 2.25 Stan James (2 Units)
Tottenham Hotspur win to nil @ 1.73 Coral (3 Units)
Stoke City @ 1.92 Ladbrokes (2 Units)

SEPTEMBER UPDATE: 11-27, - 18.45 Units
AUGUST: + 7.94 Units

Monday, 26 September 2011

Things we Learned from the Weekend Football (September 24-25)

I could not have had a worse month if I had tried, with almost every pick falling at the most inopportune time.

Heavy losses in the football have only been saved by a solid start from the College Picks I have made, but let's not beat around the bush here, I cannot wait for this month to end and hope the changing weather will also bring a change of fortunes.

Recap of the weekend football:

1) If I feel my luck is bad, it still seems much better than Fernando Torres': Fernando Torres has been in the media spotlight ever since moving to Chelsea, but the Spaniard just can't seem to get a break at the moment.

After scoring just 1 goal in his first 24 games for the Blues, it looked like his form could be returning with a very nice finish at Old Trafford last weekend, only to remove all the positives from that performance by enduring one of the worst misses in the Premier League history.

This weekend was very similar as Torres looked to put that miss behind him with another nice finish to open the scoring against Swansea, but once again lady luck deserted him and he was sent off for a rash challenge before the half time whistle had even sounded.

He now will miss 3 Premier League games, but I think the Chelsea faithful may just get to see the best of Torres in the coming months.

2) QPR are a top forward away from really going places: This sounds a little funny, but I think QPR would be more than safe in the Premier League if they had a top quality forward in their team.

They created plenty of opportunities in the 1-1 draw with Aston Villa but Jay Bothroyd does not cut it for me at this level and that could pose problems in the short term before a potential remedy can be brought in during the January transfer window.

The new signings have instilled creativity in the middle of the park, while they look a little more solid defensively and that all bodes well for their future in the top flight.

3) Injuries piling up for Wigan does not bode well for their future: Wigan once again played some nice stuff going forward in their 1-2 home loss to Tottenham at the weekend, but defensively they were shocking in the first half and I feel the loss of Charles N'Zogbia and Hugo Rodallega leaves them a little short of quality in the final third too.

Injuries and suspensions are stretching a small squad and it might be a bigger achievement than last season for Roberto Martinez if he keeps Wigan up.

They don't have the most taxing of fixtures over the next 6 weeks, and we should know a lot more about them at the end of that run.

4) Alan Pardew is going a far better job at Newcastle than expected: I have to admit I am very surprised with how well Newcastle have started this season considering their lack of options up front and losing key personnel during the last 6 months and I have to say the credit must be given to Alan Pardew, someone who has not really been taken in by the Toon Army.

The team are up to 4th in the table, remain unbeaten on the season and have been strong defensively- bigger tests await for the team, but it is more than a respectable start and keeps the fans off the backs of the unwanted owner of the club.

Friday, 23 September 2011

NFL Week 3 Picks and Previews

Due to commitments this weekend, my previews and picks for Week 3 of the NFL are going to be staggered over the next 36 hours.

This means I am going to find it tough to put in my recap for Week 2 in terms of things we learned (sucks having to work), but I will update the weekly profit and loss at the bottom of the post as usual.

I will try and keep everyone update via twitter (@DavAulak) when I have put up more picks.

The Picks for Week 3 so far:

Houston Texans @ New Orleans Saints (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11771-New-Orleans-Saints-v-Houston-Texans.htm)

Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11770-Chicago-Bears-v-Green-Bay-Packers.htm)

Due to time constraints, I have not been able to post full previews for the rest of my picks this week, but you can see what I have gone with below.

MY PICKS: New Orleans Saints - 4 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Green Bay Packers - 3.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (3 Units)
New England Patriots - 7 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Cincinnati Bengals - 2.5 Points @ 1.92 BetFred (2 Units)
Pittsburgh Steelers - 10.5 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (3 Units)
Detroit Lions - 3 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Miami Dolphins + 2.5 Points @ 1.92 BetFred (1 Unit)

WEEK 2: 3-5, - 5.03 Units
WEEK 1: 4-2, + 2.53 Units

College Football Week 4 Picks and Previews

Week 3 provided another week of profit for the blog as we continue moving onwards and upwards, although I am bright enough to know this cannot continue at this pace and a bad week could be just around the corner.

That means I am taking a little more care with my picks and trying not to change the way I have been viewing games over the first 3 weeks of the season.

Below you can find my picks and, by opening the links, you will see the full breakdown of why I have picked the teams I have... Let's hope for another solid week:

Louisiana State Tigers @ West Virginia Mountaineers (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11749-West-Virginia-v-Louisiana-State.htm)

Remember, the key over the season is to hit something between 55-57% to ensure a profit on the season and that is what I will be aiming to do... That does mean I am bound to have a tough week at some point so do NOT look at these as guaranteed picks, just one guys thoughts.

MY PICKS: Oklahoma State Cowboys + 4.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Arkansas Razorbacks + 11 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Baylor Bears - 20.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Florida Gators - 19.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Louisiana State Tigers - 5.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Arizona Wildcats + 14.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)

WEEK 3: 5-1, + 3.60 Units
WEEK 2: 3-0, + 2.82 Units
WEEK 1: 4-0, + 3.74 Units

Thursday, 22 September 2011

English Football Weekend Picks (September 24th-26th)

I have got a few picks from the weekend football already up and running, but I will update this post as the others go online in the next couple of days, while I should also have College Football Week 4 Picks and NFL Week 3 Picks soon.

I have had an awful September, but these kind of months have to be tolerated to get the rewards and I am hoping for a strong last week to bring me back down to respectable levels, because currently I am back down to level for the season which is nothing to shout out about.

Remember to check out @DavAulak on Twitter if you want to keep yourselves updated for when all the picks will be released for the weekend schedule.

My full previews and predictions of the games can be found by opening the links:

Stoke City v Manchester United (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11709-Stoke-City-v-Manchester-United.htm)

Wigan v Tottenham Hotspur (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11708-Wigan-v-Tottenham-Hotspur.htm)

Chelsea v Swansea (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11727-Chelsea-v-Swansea.htm)

Liverpool v Wolves (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11728-Liverpool-v-Wolves.htm)

Manchester City v Everton (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11726-Manchester-City-v-Everton.htm)

West Brom v Fulham (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11731-West-Brom-v-Fulham.htm)

QPR v Aston Villa (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11732-QPR-v-Aston-Villa.htm)

Watford v Nottingham Forest (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11753-Watford-v-Nottingham-Forest.htm)

Cardiff City v Leicester City (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11754-Cardiff-City-v-Leicester-City.htm)

MY PICKS: Draw HT-Manchester United FT @ 4.50 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Tottenham Hotspur @ 2.05 Stan James (2 Units)
Chelsea to win to nil @ 2.10 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Liverpool-Wolves Under 2.5 Goals @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Sergio Aguero to score anytime @ 1.92 BetFred (2 Units)
West Brom-Fulham Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.10 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
QPR-Aston Villa Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.25 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Watford-Nottingham Forest Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.05 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Leicester City @ 3.00 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)

SEPTEMBER UPDATE: 10-19, - 7.55 Units

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Things we Learned from the Weekend Football (September 17-18)

A little later than usual, but these are a few things I have taken away from the results over the weekend in England.

1) Aston Villa struggling for goals: It is not always a good decision to make rash judgements on a team, but Alex McLeish is making Villa into another version of his Birmingham side that could defend well, but not score enough goals.

It is not all the new manager's fault considering Villa have only scored more than 1 goal in 2 of their last 10 home games... In fact they have only scored more than 1 goal in 33% of their last 12 games so they have to be a team I avoid for the next couple of weeks and take a watching interest instead.

2) Titles are won in May, not September: Unbelievably, United have moved to odds on to win the Premier League in many places now, but I am not ready to buy their dominance just yet- anyone who watched the game on Sunday will surely accept United got the breaks and were fortunate to escape with a win.

Patrice Evra agreed that United need to play a lot better and the next month will tell us a lot more about the side after they play League games at Liverpool and Everton and also host Manchester City.

History will also show that titles are not won at this time of the season, with only a look at last season showing that off- at this time last season, Chelsea were 4 points clear having won all 5 opening League games and they had a +20 goal difference, yet ended the season with no trophies and sacking their manager.

While the latter part of that will not happen to Sir Alex Ferguson, it is far too early to be handing out medals just yet.

3) Arsenal will not make the top 4 with THAT defence: I did warn people in my preview of the Arsenal game that they are not a good price at odds on away from home with a defence that had been lucky not to concede more goals in recent weeks, yet other sites had tipped them 'to win to nil'... Win to nil? Did no one else watch them against Swansea and Borussia Dortmund?

Arsenal should have lost in Germany and they were very lucky to beat Swansea at home, yet you would have thought it was the 2nd coming of George Graham's famous defence when reading reports from those games.

There is not enough 'proper' defenders in the Arsenal team, the ones who will happily have their nose broken if it meant keeping a clean sheet, and I am really not convinced with their new signings.

Per Mertesacker supporters keep telling me about the number of caps he has picked up for Germany, but he was criticised in his home country for a 'lack of pace and immobility', 2 elements that will be exploited in the Premier League.

I agree the team will take time to find their defensive shape, but I am not convinced they will be good enough to make the top 4 with the personnel they have.

4) Leicester may have got over the home 'heebie jeebies': Leicester had a very strong home record last season, but, as I have mentioned before, I felt they were struggling a little bit this season because of the expectations that this team will win promotion to the Premier League.

After losing their first 2 League games at the King Power Stadium, they have won back to back games there against Southampton and Brighton, 2 unbeaten teams that were flying high in the League.

I think that could represent a turning point at home for a team that has plenty of Premier League experience and quality to count on and I think the Foxes could start pushing their way up the table, especially if they keep their away form up too.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

England Carling Cup Picks (Wednesday 21 September)

I cannot wait for September to roll through as I just don't seem to be able to catch a break so far.

Below are my last 2 Carling Cup Picks for the week before I start work on the weekend games in the Premier League, NCAA Football and the NFL.

Brighton v Liverpool (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11700-Brighton-v-Liverpool.htm)

Southampton v Preston (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11701-Southampton-v-Preston.htm)

MY PICKS: Draw-Liverpool HTFT @ 4.50 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Southampton - 1 Asian Handicap @ 1.92 Pinnacle (1 Unit)

SEPTEMBER UPDATE: 10-18, - 6.55 Units

Monday, 19 September 2011

England Carling Cup Picks (Tuesday 20 September)

Tough month so far, but am going to play some minimum stakes on the following games from the Tuesday coupon.

I am going to have a recap on the weekend's football, most likely at some point tomorrow, but I will be quite happy to get out of this month with a minimum loss at worst.

Carling Cup Picks from Tuesday:

Leeds United v Manchester United (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11692-Leeds-United-v-Manchester-United.htm)

Aston Villa v Bolton Wanderers (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11693-Aston-Villa-v-Bolton-Wanderers.htm)

Blackburn Rovers v Leyton Orient (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11694-Blackburn-Rovers-v-Leyton-Orient.htm)

MY PICKS: Michael Owen to score anytime @ 2.75 Coral (1 Unit)
Aston Villa @ 1.83 Victor Chandler (1 Unit)
Blackburn Rovers - 1.5 Asian Handicap @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)

SEPTEMBER UPDATE: 9-16, - 6.3 Units

Saturday, 17 September 2011

NFL Week 2 Picks and Previews

In this post I am going to share a few thoughts about Week 1, and below that will be my picks for Week 2 and the links to where you can read my reasoning behind the picks.

WEEK 1 Recap
There were a few surprising results and performances in Week 1, but we have to be careful in going too overboard about 1 game:

Pittsburgh Steelers being decimated: Everything that could have gone wrong, did for the Steelers but I don't think I am ready to rule them out as a contender for the SuperBowl just yet. 7 turnovers are not something that can be overcome no matter how good the team is and they will be expected to bounce back this week.

Baltimore are also a lot better than they are perhaps given credit for and they look like they have finally got the correct balance on Offense to give them a chance to get over the Pittsburgh hump and maybe represent the AFC in the SuperBowl next year.

Are Kansas City that bad or Buffalo that good? Personally I think the Chiefs were the most overrated team going into Week 1 and did not deserve to be giving 7 points to any team, while the Bills exposed the flaws in the Defense.

Eric Berry is also out for the season and I think it will be a long one for the Chiefs.

Buffalo played everyone tough last season too, so it was no real surprise to see them as a competitive team, although I am going to take a keen interest in how they follow up that win against Oakland this week.

Are the 'Dream Team' in Philadelphia likely to go all the way? It is too hard to tell how the Eagles are going to do on one game, but what I did notice is the amount of big plays they were going to give up if the St Louis Rams receivers had not smeared their fingers with butter before the game.

The scoreline was flattering for the Eagles and they have much bigger tests ahead, starting with a trip to Atlanta this Week.

Will Tony Romo ever prove himself in the 'crunch time'? Tony Romo played brilliantly for much of the game at the New York Jets last week, but it was bad mistakes and fumbles that eventually cost the Cowboys in getting a big win on the board in Week 1.

The throw that was intercepted by Darrelle Revis was a big mistake and I still have no idea what Romo was thinking, although it is telling that the QB still has the support of his team mates at this moment in time.

Romo is 1-3 in Play Off games in his career, and more mistakes like last week will have the critics sharpening their knives again.

Are Indianapolis done without Manning? I think everyone knew what the Colts would be like without Peyton Manning, but the manner of their Offense collapsing was more worrying.

I am not ready to write off the Colts just yet (as you will see) and I think another Week for Kerry Collins to learn the Offense will help him a lot.

I also believe the Houston Texans were always going to be a tough ask for the Colts and that is not a result to take too much to heart- remember, the Texans beat the Colts in Week 1 last season too and the latter managed to bounce back.

WEEK 2 Picks and Previews
Kansas City Chiefs @ Detroit Lions (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11667-Detroit-Lions-v-Kansas-City-Chiefs.htm)

Green Bay Packers @ Carolina Panthers (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11668-Carolina-Panthers-v-Green-Bay-Packers.htm)

Baltimore Ravens @ Tennessee Titans (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11671-Tennessee-Titans-v-Baltimore-Ravens.htm)

Seattle Seahawks @ Pittsburgh Steelers (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11672-Pittsburgh-Steelers-v-Seattle-Seahawks.htm)

Arizona Cardinals @ Washington Redskins (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11673-Washington-Redskins-v-Arizona-Cardinals.htm)

Cleveland Browns @ Indianapolis Colts (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11675-Indianapolis-Colts-v-Cleveland-Browns.htm)

Chicago Bears @ New Orleans Saints (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11677-New-Orleans-Saints-v-Chicago-Bears.htm)

Houston Texans @ Miami Dolphins (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11676-Miami-Dolphins-v-Houston-Texans.htm)

St Louis Rams @ New York Giants (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11678-New-York-Giants-v-St-Louis-Rams.htm)

MY PICKS: Detroit Lions - 7.5 Points @ 1.92 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Green Bay Packers - 9.5 Points @ 1.92 Paddy Power (3 Units)
Baltimore Ravens - 5.5 Points @ 1.92 Ladbrokes (3 Units)
Pittsburgh Steelers - 14 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Washington Redskins - 3.5 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Indianapolis Colts @ 2.10 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Chicago Bears + 6.5 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Houston Texans - 3 Points @ 2.05 Pinnacle (3 Units)
New York Giants-St Louis Rams Under 44 Points @ 1.92 Paddy Power (2 Units)

WEEK 1: 4-2, + 2.53 Units

English Football Weekend Picks (September 17th-18th)

I am not going to lie- September has not been a very good month so far for me and my picks from the English football coupon, but hopefully things will begin turning around this week.

Below I have my picks from the weekend coupon for games to be played on Saturday and Sunday. If you open the links, you can read my reasoning behind the picks.

I will update the results in my 'Things we learned' post that should on the blog on Monday before I crack on him with Carling Cup picks.

Blackburn Rovers v Arsenal (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11638-Blackburn-Rovers-v-Arsenal.htm)

Aston Villa v Newcastle United (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11640-Aston-Villa-v-Newcastle-United.htm)

Swansea v West Brom (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11641-Swansea-v-West-Brom.htm)

Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11652-Tottenham-Hotspur-v-Liverpool.htm)

Fulham v Manchester City (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11662-Fulham-v-Manchester-City.htm)

Manchester United v Chelsea (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11651-Manchester-United-v-Chelsea.htm)

Crystal Palace v Middlesbrough (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11663-Crystal-Palace-v-Middlesbrough.htm)

Leicester City v Brighton (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11664-Leicester-City-v-Brighton.htm)

Reading v Doncaster Rovers (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11665-Reading-v-Doncaster-Rovers.htm)

MY PICKS: Robin Van Persie to score anytime @ 2.20 BetFred (2 Units)
Aston Villa @ 2.00 Pinnacle (2 Units)
West Brom @ 3.00 Stan James (1 Unit)
Tottenham Hotspur @ 2.70 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Fulham-Manchester City Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.92 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Manchester United-Chelsea Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.05 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Crystal Palace @ 3.25 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Leicester City-Brighton Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.95 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Reading-Doncaster Rovers Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.92 Stan James (1 Unit)


Thursday, 15 September 2011

College Football Week 3 Picks and Previews

It's been a good couple of weeks for me in the College Football picks, but do not make the mistake that the picks I make are 100% guarantees because there is NO SUCH THING in the world of sports.

A turnover, a missed field goal and sometimes even a missed extra point can be the difference between success and failure so while it has been a good start, I do need to keep my research going and trying to pick the best action from the week.

Below I have my picks and full previews of the game I will be backing this week and hopefully they will make sure we can continue making profit through Week 3:

Boise State Broncos @ Toledo Rockets (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11627-Toledo-Rockets-v-Boise-State-Broncos.htm)

Stanford Cardinal @ Arizona Wildcats (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11628-Arizona-Wildcats-v-Stanford-Cardinal.htm)

Northern Illinois Huskies v Wisconsin Badgers (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11629-Northern-Illinois-v-Wisconsin-Badgers.htm)

Tennessee Volunteers @ Florida Gators (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11632-Florida-Gators-v-Tennessee-Volunteers.htm)

Nevada Wolfpack @ San Jose State Spartans (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11634-San-Jose-State-v-Nevada-Wolfpack.htm)

Houston Cougars @ Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11635-Louisiana-Tech-v-Houston-Cougars.htm)

These picks are my views of how the game will go and just remember the key is to reach a 55-57% strike rate to ensure profit for the year. By opening the links, you will able to see my reasons for the picks in the 'prediction' section and why I have picked who I have.

MY PICKS: Boise State Broncos - 19 Points @ 1.92 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Stanford Cardinal - 9.5 Points @ 1.92 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Wisconsin Badgers - 16.5 Points @ 1.92 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Florida Gators - 9.5 Points @ 1.92 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Nevada Wolfpack - 6.5 Points @ 1.92 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs + 7 Points @ 1.92 Pinnacle (1 Unit)

WEEK 2: 3-0, + 2.82 Units
WEEK 1: 4-0, + 3.74 Units

SEASON UPDATE: 7-0, + 6.56 Units

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Champions League Picks Wednesday 14th September

Not a great day yesterday as the picks went 1-2, although Chelsea's late goal saved me from a terrible day.

Still not sure how the Borussia Dortmund-Arsenal game did not go 'Over' with the amount of chances in the game. It also makes me continue to worry for the Gunners who were extremely lucky to get away from Germany with a point. I fear they are in for a long season if they play as they did, because they gave up far too many chances and it was only rash decisions from the Dortmund forwards that prevented them winning this game, something that will not happen all season.

Chelsea made a number of changes to their team with the game against Manchester United in mind, and that could have cost them in this game although they eventually took control.

Shakhtar was another disappointment for me, especially considering they were 0-1 up at Porto- however, the sending off of one of their players just before half time while the game was balanced at 1-1 meant they could not hold out and took a close loss.

Below I have my picks for today's action in the Champions League. You can follow the links to the full previews I have written, with analysis and reasons for my picks:

Manchester City v Napoli (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11598-Manchester-City-v-Napoli.htm)

Benfica v Manchester United (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11599-Benfica-v-Manchester-United.htm)

Dinamo Zagreb v Real Madrid (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11600-Dinamo-Zagreb-v-Real-Madrid.htm)

MY PICKS: Manchester City - 1.5 @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Benfica-Manchester United Under 2.5 Goals @ 1.95 Victor Chandler (2 Units)
Real Madrid - 1.75 Asian Handicap @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)

SEPTEMBER UPDATE: 5-8, - 1.84 Units

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Champions League Picks Tuesday 13th September

It was a decent weekend from the football and I now have 3 more picks from the Champions League tonight. You can find full previews at the links provided:

Borussia Dortmund v Arsenal (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11589-Borussia-Dortmund-v-Arsenal.htm)

Chelsea v Bayer Leverkusen (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11590-Chelsea-v-Bayer-Leverkusen.htm)

Porto v Shakhtar Donetsk (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11591-Porto-v-Shakhtar-Donetsk.htm)

MY PICKS: Borussia Dortmund-Arsenal Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.10 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Chelsea - 1.25 Asian Handicap @ 2.00 Victor Chandler (2 Units)
Shakhtar Donetsk + 1 English Handicap @ 2.20 Paddy Power (1 Unit)


Things we Learned from the Weekend Football (September 10-12)

Another Premier League weekend has come and gone and there are no signs that the Manchester clubs are deciding to slow down in their fast starts to the season.

So what did I learn from this weekend:

1) Arsenal still have some real issues to resolve: Yes, the team are off the mark in terms of League wins but there was nothing really impressive about the manner of their 1-0 home win over Swansea, with the away side having their chances to grab something from the game with better finishing.

A top 4 place will be a successful season for the Gunners in my opinion. That will still take some effort judging on the first game for the new look team on Saturday.

While I don't think it's wise to judge a team on one game, I maintain that the signings of Mikel Arteta and Yossi Benayoun are significant downgrades compared with Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri and they don't have the same pace and movement in the team.

The next few games will tell us a lot more about the Gunners and how they will fare this season.

2) Both Manchester Clubs look mighty impressive Manchester United and Manchester City continue their game of trying to improve on each other's performances, with United beating Bolton 0-5 away from home after City had destroyed Wigan 3-0 at home earlier in the day.

Both teams are playing some special football at the moment, with the current performances having everyone involved in the clubs looking forward to October 23rd more and more.

3) A lack of goals could cost the promoted clubs this season: All 3 of the promoted clubs are struggling for goals, scoring a combined 3 goals in their 12 League games this season.

I have the most worries for Norwich and Swansea as neither club is likely to break the bank in January and hurt their long term aims, while QPR's new owner is much more likely to flash the cash to ensure they are still in the Premier League next season.

Norwich and Swansea have squads that are unlikely to be heavily broken up if they do get relegated, but it will stand them in good stead to have a good go at returning to the Premier League at the first opportunity.

4) There may be some serious questions about the squad harmony at Chelsea coming out: Fernando Torres was dropped this week after suggesting in an interview that his struggles have been down to the 'older' and 'slower' players at Chelsea.

There are some big egos at Stamford Bridge and this may be a sign that the added tension of a player being signed that was not wanted by the management is causing a disruptive influence as the style of play does not suit him.

A question mark has always been placed around Chelsea's dressing room and how the players get on with one another, especially the big names that considered their place in the starting line up a guarantee,  and it will be interesting to see how that plays out.

US Open Recap

The final Grand Slam of the season has come and gone in Flushing Meadows and it was an interesting tournament as Novak Djokovic underlined his status as the World Number 1, while Serena Williams had her 2nd consecutive meltdown at this event.

Below are a few thoughts coming out of the event and also the season profit update.

1) Novak Djokovic has already recorded the best tennis season in memory: When I say this, I mean in the Men's game although it is also arguable that it is the best single season in both the Men's and Women's events. To go 70-2 while picking up 3 Grand Slams is mighty impressive, but to do it in an era when Men's tennis is definitely in a 'boom' phase makes the feat even more incredible.

The Serb could easily have gone out to Roger Federer in the Semi Final but staved off 2 match points and has now improved his record to 11-1 against Federer and Rafael Nadal in 2011, an incredible statistic on its own.

I am sure he will have a long rest until the tournament in Shanghai now (I think he will pull out of Serbia's Davis Cup tie at the weekend), but he still has 2 achievements left that will truly cap this wonderful year: winning at the O2 at the End of Year Championships and retaining the Davis Cup with Serbia.

2) Rafael Nadal needs to go back to the drawing board in dealing with Djokovic: Nadal has shown in this tournament that he is definitely the 2nd best player in the World, but he needs to find a solution to the Djokovic problem after losing 6 straight Finals against the Serb this year.

For long periods he didn't know what exactly he wanted to do yesterday and his forehand just does not trouble Djokovic: you have to credit the World Number 1 from analysing the games of Nikolay Davydenko and David Nalbandian and trying to take the ball early to remove all of Nadal's heavy spin, something those two players have had success with in the past, just not with Djokovic's consistency.

Nadal needs to look to get more out of his serve, as he doesn't get enough free points from it. For years the complaint was that he did not use the natural 'lefty serve' in the advantage court and that is something he should go away and develop for the 2012 season.

At the moment he is forced to work so hard for every single point and the consistency and power of Djokovic is taking it out of him.

3) Will Roger Federer add to his Grand Slam tally? I still think Federer has another Grand Slam left in him, only being ousted here in New York by a 'lucky' shot on match point 1 against Novak Djokovic.

He will need the right draw if he is to make an impact at Slam level though, as more and more people fancy their chances against him and the top 2 really do not hold fear of him.

I am not ready to rule Federer out just yet.

4) Caroline Wozniacki once again showed she is not a World Number 1: I will give the Dane her credit and say she is out on the tour almost all the time so she deserves her ranking for consistency, but personally I would change the Ranking system to put more and more importance on the Grand Slam events and the upper tour events while lessening the points gained in winning the tournaments where only one or two of the top 30 players will be competing.

Wozniacki was completely outgunned by Serena Williams and had no real idea to deal with the American. Defeats to Dominika Cibulkova and Daniela Hantuchova in the last 2 Grand Slams are not what is expected of a World Number 1 either.

I think it will be tough to take the World Number 1 off Wozniacki in the near future, unless Serena Williams devotes more time to a fuller schedule on the tour next season.

The tennis picks will slow down over the next 3-4 weeks as there is a rest period coming up for the main players while the events on offering are not the best.

I will make a couple of Davis Cup Picks if I can find some value in the market so check in later on in the week for those. In the meantime I will continue making my football, College Football and NFL picks.

US OPEN DAILY PICKS: 27-18, + 27.36 Units




Monday, 12 September 2011

NFL Week 1 Picks (Monday Night Football)

I have only the one pick tonight as the New England Patriots visit my Miami Dolphins.

New England Patriots @ Miami Dolphins (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11587-Miami-Dolphins-v-New-England-Patriots.htm)

The full reasoning behind my pick can be seen at the link posted.

MY PICK: New England Patriots - 7 Points @ 1.95 Ladbrokes (3 Units)

WEEK 1 UPDATE: 3-2, - 0.32 Units

US Open Men's Final Pick

The first thing I will say is I am still not quite over the shock of seeing Sam Stosur dismantle Serena Williams yesterday in the Women's Final.

Every time you would think Williams would come back she wouldn't and it was far easier than anyone could have possibly imagined.

My thoughts on the controversial incident at the beginning of set 2 is that the umpire could have used her discretion and called a 'let' on the point where Serena screamed before the point was technically won- Stosur was not going to get back to the shot, but I did remark BEFORE the point penalty that Williams should not be doing that.

While the rules state such an incident should see the point awarded to the opponent, in this case Stosur, I think the umpire could have given Williams a warning not to do it again and replayed the point rather than the way she handled it.

That is not to condone how Serena reacted when given a code violation in the next game, nor when she sent out a torrent of abuse at the changeover.

A big factor that may have been overlooked in the Final was the late nature of Serena's match the day before- Stosur had actually finished her Semi Final before Williams had even taken to the court and that may have been another reason why Williams underperformed.

That is not to take anything away from Stosur who played the best match of her career- now it will be interesting to see how she handles the next Grand Slam she plays after seeing how Petra Kvitova and Na Li have struggled since winning their first majors... Oh, and Stosur's next Grand Slam will be at home at the Australian Open, so no expectations then!

The Men's Final takes place today, weather permitting, and I think Novak Djokovic is rightly the favourite to come through. He has had Nadal's number this season, including on the Spaniard's favoured clay courts and it is hard to see how things can change here.

The fact Djokovic took 5 sets to see off Federer should be less of an issue than last year as it was not the gruelling match of 12 months ago, as well as the fact Djokovic managed to play his Semi Final first. Nadal may have won in 4 sets, but his match with Andy Murray also went a long time so fatigue should not play an issue.

The problem for Nadal is the pace and power Djokovic has- he can hit through the World Number 2 and also has incredible defensive skills.

The other key is Djokovic can handle the heavy top spin shots Nadal favours and I can only see the Serb winning his 3rd major of the season while reaffirming his Number 1 World Ranking.

Nadal is a battler, and I can see him taking a set, so I will have a small interest in Djokovic coming through 3-1 in sets.

MY PICK: Novak Djokovic win 3-1 in sets @ 4.33 Sporting Bet (1 Unit)

US OPEN UPDATE: 26-18, + 24.03 Units

Sunday, 11 September 2011

NFL Week 1 Picks (Sunday 11th September)

First things first- I hope everyone takes a moment to remember the tragic events of 10 years ago.

I was fortunate not to know anyone affected by 9-11, nor by the bombings in July 2005, but we should all take a moment to reflect and count our blessings to live in a democratic society where we are free to do anything we want.

My Week 1 Picks made a good start on Thursday as the Green Bay Packers managed to hold off the New Orleans Saints for the win. The high scoring nature of the game didn't bother me either considering I had started Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees in separate Fantasy Football Leagues.

The following are my Week 1 Picks from the Sunday offering with full previews at the links provided:

Philadelphia Eagles @ St Louis Rams (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11562-St-Louis-Rams-v-Philadelphia-Eagles.htm)

Cincinnati Bengals @ Cleveland Browns (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11564-Cleveland-Browns-v-Cincinnati-Bengals.htm)

Seattle Seahawks @ San Francisco 49ers (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11580-San-Francisco-49ers-v-Seattle-Seahawks.htm)

Minnesota Vikings @ San Diego Chargers (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11563-San-Diego-Chargers-v-Minnesota-Vikings.htm)

MY PICKS: Philadelphia Eagles - 3.5 Points @ 1.92 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Cleveland Browns - 6.5 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (2 Units)
San Francisco 49ers - 5.5 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
San Diego Chargers - 8.5 Points @ 1.92 Ladbrokes (3 Units)

WEEK 1 UPDATE: 1-0, + 1.84 Units

Saturday, 10 September 2011

US Open Day 13 Super Saturday Picks

I am going to let my picks on Andy Murray, Roger Federer and Serena Williams run tonight as I have them all in the outright markets and feel at least 2 will win.

It will be a fantastic day of tennis IF the weather can stay away.

With all the College Football, English football and NFL Picks being made too, I don't think it's the time to double dip in the tennis.

The US Open update for profit/loss will be up tomorrow

College Football Week 2 Picks (Saturday 10th September)

I only have a couple more plays for this week as I look to continue my strong start to the new season.

You can find the full previews at the following links:



MY PICKS: Alabama Crimson Tide - 9.5 Points @ 1.93 William Hill (1 Unit)
Stanford Cardinal - 20 Points @ 1.93 Pinnacle (1 Unit)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEK 2: 1-0, + 0.96 Units

Friday, 9 September 2011

Weekend 10th-11th September English Football Picks and Previews

I have picked out a few games from the weekend coupon and hoping they will bring in a profit.

The full previews can be found at the links below:









MY PICKS: Arsenal - 1.25 Asian Handicap @ 1.93 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Manchester City win to nil @ 2.00 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Aston Villa + 0.5 Asian Handicap @ 1.90 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Bolton-Manchester United Both to Score @ 1.83 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Chelsea @ 1.73 Pinnacle (2 Units)
West Brom @ 2.90 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Fulham-Blackburn Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.05 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Leicester City @ 2.15 William Hill (1 Unit)


US Open Day 12 Picks (Men's Quarter Finals)

The schedule has been changed by the organisers of the tournament in a manner they feel will best give all the remaining competitors a chance to win the prize.

The bottom half of the Men's draw is playing catch up, and it will still mean playing 3 matches in 3 days if they are to get through to the Final, which has been moved until Monday.

While the schedule change looks reasonable, they have given their sponsors and TV companies a Super Super Saturday as all 4 Semi Finals are scheduled to go on one after the other.

The two Men's Semi Finals take place in the afternoon and the Women have been given the night session to themselves, although personally I would have had the matches start at noon with the Women on first followed by one Men's match and then the last Semi Final played not before 7pm for a night game.

The Women's Final takes place on Sunday and the Men's, as I mentioned, is moved to Monday.

On to the Picks for the final two Quarter Finals:

Andy Murray - 5.5 games vs John Isner: This looks like a dangerous pick considering the way John Isner can serve, but I have a feeling the big man is just about running on fumes and he will be grinded down by Murray and put away in a similar fashion to Australia in 2010.

Isner was struggling against Gilles Simon yesterday, being broken NINE times, and will little rest between matches, I think he is going to struggle big time against a player that will force him to hit a lot of tennis balls.

Murray is also one of the best returners on the tour so we can expect him to start getting a lot of serves back and I think he will then be able to expose the lack of real movement in Isner and come away with a fairly routine win.

Murray has won his 2 previous meetings with Isner, winning all 5 sets- he beat Isner for the loss of just 11 games in Australia in 2010 and also won 6-4, 6-2 at the Hopman Cup earlier this season against the big serving American.

The British Number 1 will not want to spend unnecessary time on court so I expect him to be fully focused. He will break Isner's belief in a tight first set, before coming away with a 7-6, 6-3, 6-4 win.

Rafael Nadal to win 3-1 in sets vs Andy Roddick: Andy Roddick played very well in the sets I saw against David Ferrer yesterday, but this is an altogether different test for a player that has not been in the best of form this season.

Rafael Nadal is clearly keen to keep his time on court to a minimum if his performance in destroying Gilles Muller yesterday is anything to go by. However, he has thrown in a few erratic service games and that may be enough for Roddick to sneak a set, although I can't see him having any more success than that.

Nadal leads 6-3 in the head to head, and has won 4 of the last 5 meetings. However, they have split their last 2 meetings in Miami and at the O2 in London, with both matches going the full distance.

The Spaniard has been fortunate not to drop a set so far at this years US Open, with Gilles Muller, David Nalbandian and Andrey Golubev all having chances to do so. I think Roddick's mental belief will allow him to break that run, but I can't see him going any further as he falls 6-4, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3

MY PICKS: Andy Murray - 5.5 games @ 1.83 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Rafael Nadal win 3-1 in sets @ 3.75 Sporting Bet (1 Unit)

US OPEN UPDATE: 26-16, + 27.03 Units

Thursday, 8 September 2011

NFL Week 1 Picks (Thursday 8th September)

As with my College picks, the majority of my NFL plays will be posted the evening before the games are to be played, in this case Saturday rather than the Friday evening.

This week is the exception in the early part of the season as the traditional opening of the new season takes place on the Thursday.

You can read the full preview of New Orleans Saints @ Green Bay Packers (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11526-Green-Bay-Packers-v-New-Orleans-Saints.htm).

My reasons for my pick are posted on there and will give you an idea of my mindset for the game.

As I wrote when putting up College picks, these are my personal thoughts and what I will be taking. The big players look for a 57% success rate in Vegas when playing against the spreads and there is no such thing as a guarantee in the NFL.

Let's hope for another great season.

MY PICK: Green Bay Packers - 4 Points @ 1.92 Pinnacle (2 Units)

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

College Football Week 2 Picks (Thursday 8th September)

Week 1 of the College Football is in the books and I felt good with my 4-0 run. The biggest players in Vegas hope to finish at around 57% when picking against the spread, so I would not expect every week to go like that, although I am hoping my hard studying of the lines will reap rewards in the long run.

My first pick of Week 2 is Arizona @ Oklahoma State (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-11525-Oklahoma-State-v-Arizona-Wildcats.htm)

This game will be played at the same time as the Green Bay-New Orleans NFL opener, so I will be checking in and out of the game between breaks in the big one, but hopefully it will be giving us a positive start to the weekend.

The rest of my College picks will go out on Friday evening (I am not picking the Friday game this week) and I will have around 3-6 plays for the Saturday games.

MY PICKS: Oklahoma State - 14 Points @ 1.96 Pinnacle (1 Unit)

College Football Week 1 Picks: 4-0, + 3.74 Units

NFL AFC Breakdown

Following on from my NFC Breakdown post, this is my AFC version. As I mentioned in the NFC post, I am going to put up my ante-post picks on Thursday morning.

Week 1 Picks will begin on Thursday for the Green Bay-New Orleans season opener, and then I will have one post for Sunday games and one post for the two Monday Night Football games we have this week.

College Football picks will also begin to be made on Thursday for the Oklahoma State-Arizona game and I will then have one post covering my picks made for the Saturday games.

AFC East
New England Patriots: The New England Patriots made some decent moves in the offseason and look set to be a real threat in the AFC again. They signed Chad Ochocinco from Cincinnati and also brought in troubled Albert Haynesworth from Washington.

Ochocinco should provide the big play if he can get on the same page as Tom Brady and the rumours are that the Pats are lining up Randy Moss to come back after trading him away last season.

Albert Haynesworth will line up alongside Vince Wilfork and could cause carnage as the Pats try to protect a soft Secondary that was exposed at times last year.

Tom Brady was the MVP last season in the regular season and I expect the Pats to win the Division again.

New York Jets: The biggest opposition to the Pats will come from the loud-mouthed New York Jets who have once again talked about winning the SuperBowl. Rex Ryan has got the Defense in great shape, but the key could be how Plaxico Burress can get on after being signed in the offseason to help the Offense.

Mark Sanchez may also be given the chance to throw the ball a little more after the Jets relied heavily on their running game in the last 2 seasons.

They failed to sign Nnamdi Asomugha in the free agency market, but still have Darrelle Revis, arguably the best CB in the NFL and I expect the Jets will be playing postseason football again.

Miami Dolphins: I am a Miami Dolphin fan, but I am not holding out too much hope for the season.

After flirting with Jim Harbaugh, the Dolphins made themselves look like a joke by extending Tony Sparano's contract and the failure to bring in a QB means this team will be struggling.

The Defense is the more effective unit and could keep the Dolphins in games, but a lack of a pass rush outside of Cameron Wake means they are going to struggle this year and miss the Play Offs again.

Buffalo Bills: I was very surprised when the Bills traded away Lee Evans to the Baltimore Ravens, and did not bring in a QB for the new season. They played teams tough last season, but Ryan Fitzpatrick is not the answer and they could be in line to win the Andrew Luck sweepstakes in April.

The best chance of the Bills moving out of the basement in the East is if they can hand the Dolphins 2 defeats in their meetings.

Pittsburgh Steelers: This Steelers team is loaded with talent, but it will be interesting to see how they respond to their SuperBowl defeat last season, as previous years have seen them miss the Play Offs when reaching the big game.

However, they had won their last 2 appearances in the big game so this defeat in February may have lit a fire under the team to perform well.

The team looks built on both sides of the ball to go well this season and I think they will win the Division.

Baltimore Ravens: As has been the case for many seasons now, the Baltimore Ravens will be chasing Pittsburgh all the way in the Division.

They have upgraded the Offense with the capture of Lee Evans, although the losses of Todd Heap and Derrick Mason may not help Joe Flacco who would have been used to them as safety blankets.

Ray Rice should have another big season at RB, while there is nothing I can say about the Defense that no one knows already.

They did have a few problems in the Secondary last season, but that is an area the team has resolved to improve and they too should be reaching the postseason.

Cleveland Browns: The Browns are a team in progress and should once again finish behind the big two teams in the Division. They showed plenty of promise last season with big wins over New England and New Orleans and they also pushed the Steelers in a game that was settled late.

Colt McCoy should improve in his 2nd season and I can see the Browns surprising some teams, but they are still a work in progress and finishing 3rd in the Division is the best they can hope for.

Cincinnati Bengals: While the Browns are a team in progress, the Bengals are just beginning a journey that has seen them lose Carson Palmer and Chad Ochocinco in the off-season.

That means they will be starting with Andrew Dalton and AJ Green, two rookies in key positions on the Offensive side of the ball.

The Defense also lost Jonathan Joseph at CB and it is going to be a tough season all round for this team.

Marvin Lewis guided them to 4-12 last season with Palmer, Ochocinco and Terrell Owens... I think they will do well to reach that number of wins again this year.

Indianapolis Colts: The team is getting older, but more worrying is the status of Peyton Manning who has not recovered from his neck surgery as expected.

The team brought in Kerry Collins as a veteran QB and could begin the season with him.

The bottom line for the Colts is this- if Manning misses significant time, they will not be making the Play Offs. The Defense can be stout on occasions, but a Manning-less Offense will struggle to put up the points to cover any deficiencies.

Houston Texans: This is a talented team that may be ready to finally push their way into the postseason. The Offense is loaded with playmakers from Matt Schaub (QB) to Andre Johnson (WR) and Arian Foster (RB).

Foster may miss the first month of the season, but the Texans are still expected to be capable of putting up points. The question is whether the Defense can actually create some stops?

Wade Phillips has been brought in as Defensive Co-Ordinator and I expect he will do good things for this unit. The signing of Jonathan Joseph is a huge upgrade in the Secondary, while the Run Defense is fairly strong.

The Texans will not have a better chance to win the South.

Tennessee Titans: The Titans fired Jeff Fisher in the offseason and also released Vince Young as they get ready for a new era in Nashville. Matt Hasselbeck will be given the keys to the Offense for the season and Chris Johnson has returned to the team to provide a real spark at RB.

The Defense is capable of producing big efforts, but over the course of the season I expect them to struggle as the transitional period continues.

The Titans will do well to finish 3rd in the Division.

Jacksonville Jaguars: In a surprising turn of events, David Garrard was released on Tuesday meaning the QB for the new season will be Luke McCown. There just seems to be a lack of playmakers on both sides of the ball, while the biggest star, Maurice Jones-Drew, looks to be hampered at the moment.

Jack Del Rio's job was under pressure at the end of last season, but he was given one more chance... Unfortunately, I think the Jags are going to struggle this season and Del Rio will not be here this time next year.

Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs were the surprise winners of the AFC West last season, but I think their defeat to the Baltimore Ravens in the Play Offs shows there is still a way to go at Arrowhead.

The signing of Steve Breaston gives the team a little more options on Offense but I am not sold on Matt Cassel at QB.

The team also took advantage of a ridiculously weak schedule last season and won't have the same benefits this year. Finishing above 0.500 will be an achievement.

San Diego Chargers: The Chargers are an annual regular season disappointment, starting poorly and just about making it into the Play Offs as a dangerous team- that all caught up with them last season.

Phillip Rivers is one of the best QBs in the NFL and will benefit from playing a full season with Vincent Jackson.

Bob Sanders (if he can stay healthy) and Takeo Spikes should improve the Defense and Corey Liuget is going to be a beast in the run Defense.

The Chargers look poised to reach the Play Offs, but they will not want a slow start this year.

Denver Broncos: After spending a lot of time thinking about trading away Kyle Orton, it seems Denver will be starting with him at QB.

Josh McDaniels killed the roster by trading away some huge pieces so this looks a transitional season for the Broncos.

Von Miller has looked good and should get plenty of opportunities to sack the QB with Elvis Dumervil on the other side, and there has been talk of double digit sacks for Von Miller.

Denver should play plenty of teams tough, but will do well to finish higher than 3rd in the Division.

Oakland Raiders: The Oakland Raiders had their best season since 2002 and decided to fire their Head Coach in response.

Losing Nnamdi Asomugha could really have a bad effect on this team as a whole as the Defense is likely to have a fall off in play.

Darren McFadden and Michael Bush should provide enough impetus to make the Raiders dangerous, but I think they will end in a familiar position of recent seasons at under 0.500

AFC East: New England Patriots
AFC North: Pittsburgh Steelers
AFC South: Houston Texans
AFC West: San Diego Chargers

Wild Cards: New York Jets, Baltimore Ravens

NFL NFC Breakdown

With the NFL just days away, and with our own football currently in the middle of an international break, this seems like a good time to get writing about the upcoming American Football season.

I was worried we wouldn't see any games played this season, but thankfully the labour dispute was resolved and the Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints will be good to go on Thursday night.

I have decided to have a brief look at the two Conferences in different posts, just to get an idea of how teams are likely to play this season and I will post my ante-post picks on Thursday morning.

Where else to start but what was recently the most competitive Division in the NFL let alone the NFC. This year it doesn't seem to be the case with one team looking head and shoulders above their rivals.

Philadelphia Eagles: If you don't know what the Philadelphia Eagles have been doing this off-season, you need to get your head back in the NFL game. They have made some big plays in the free agency market as they get a team together that is geared for winning now and the SuperBowl is the aim.

Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie have come in to sure up the iffy Secondary from last season while Jason Babin is sure to help providing the burst to attack opposition QBs. The Defense may have to play aggressively to cover up the short comings that remain in the middle of the field, with the weakness being at Linebacker and Safety.

Michael Vick will be under a different sort of pressure this season with expectations vastly increased following his performances last season. The Eagles will be hoping he can steer clear of injury, something he is susceptible to with his style of play. Vince Young will be backing him up, while Ronnie Brown has come in from Miami to back up LeSean McCoy.

The Eagles look the team to beat in this Division.

New York Giants: I would have been favouring the New York Giants to be the closest team to the Eagles, but injuries have decimated the Defense during the pre-season. Eli Manning may be a SuperBowl winning QB, but I am not convinced with him and he seems a little too erratic in terms of performances for me.

The Giants could have a decent season if they avoid any further injuries, but the NFL is not that forgiving and I think they will fall away come November.

Dallas Cowboys: This is an interesting team that does not have the expectation of last season that crushed their Play Off hopes before the season got to November.

Tony Romo is back at QB and I expect Dez Bryant will improve on last years rookie performance. The biggest problem for the Cowboys last season was their suspect Secondary and they don't seem to have improved in that department.

However, Rob Ryan comes in as Defensive Co-Ordinator and I expect he will use enough variations and schemes to confuse the opposition enough that they cannot take full advantage of their shortcomings.

I expect the Cowboys will go close for a Wild Card spot at best.

Washington Redskins: Mike Shanahan's rebuilding of this once proud franchise will continue this season and I expect things will not improve their 6-10 record from last season.

There are signs that things are on the way up for Redskins fans, but seeing either John Beck or Rex Grossman lead the Offense is enough to put anyone off. Donovan McNabb was traded to Minnesota so I don't really expect this team to be one to hang 30-40 points on teams.

The Defense is likely to keep the team in some games, but I think the Skins will find it tough in this Division to keep up with some high octane Offenses and they are destined to finish bottom of the East this season... However, things are at least beginning to look brighter for the future.

NFC North
Green Bay Packers: The SuperBowl Champions may not have made a lot of free agency moves, but they have got a lot of players back from injury and look more than capable of making another run for the big one. Aaron Rodgers is an exceptional QB and he has plenty of weapons on the Offensive side of the ball that I can see them putting up lots of points.

The Defense is still solid, although they did miss out bringing in Nnamdi Asomugha in the off-season. The Pack look an all round good team and I expect they will be participating in the postseason and they could go deep.

Chicago Bears: The Chicago Bears had a better season than expected last season but the reigning North Champions are not being touted as having the same impact this year. The Defense is now another year older, while doubts remain over the abilities of Jay Cutler to lead the team on the Offense.

The trade of Greg Olsen to the Carolina Panthers was a strange move, and they may be hoping the Mike Martz Offense can spark a revival in Roy Williams who came in after spending time with the Dallas Cowboys.

This is a tough Division and it may be hard for Lovie Smith's troop to make it back to the postseason.

Detroit Lions: For the first time in an absolute age, the Lions look like having a really bright future. The Defense has been upgraded again from last season, when they shut down the Packers in both Divisional matches, and they have a real chance to make some noise in the NFC IF they can keep Matt Stafford healthy.

Stafford looks like a quality QB in the making, but his first 2 seasons have been decimated by injury. He showed enough promise in the games he did play to suggest the Lions have a good future to look forward to, especially with Calvin Johnson as one of the top WRs in the game.

I see an improvement for the squad this season, but whether that is good enough to get a Wild Card spot is yet to be determined and could rest on Stafford's injury issues.

Minnesota Vikings: A turbulent 2010 for the Vikings shows no real sign of improvement this season in my opinion. Donovan McNabb looks like a QB that doesn't have a lot left in the tank, while Sidney Rice has moved on to Seattle.

The Defense is a year older and there will be a lot of pressure on Adrian Peterson to keep the team driving forward.

The Vikings were built to 'win now' when bringing in Brett Favre in 2009, and that window has now closed with a transitional season in the offing.

Atlanta Falcons: The Atlanta Falcons' deficiencies were shown up by the Packers in the Play Offs last season and it will be interesting to see how they bounce back. The team won a lot of close games and that means a slight change in fortune could see them taking several steps back.

There is a lot of talent in the team from QB Matt Ryan to WR Roddy White to DE John Abraham. However, Michael Turner may just have lost a half-step this season at RB, and I think the Falcons will do well to repeat as the NFC South Champions, let alone finishing as the Number 1 seed in the NFC.

New Orleans Saints: The Saints managed to reach the postseason last year as the defending SuperBowl Champions, but a shocking defeat to the Seattle Seahawks kind of summed up their season.

They have made a few moves in the off-season, releasing Reggie Bush and bringing in Darren Sproles to freshen up the RB position, while signing Olin Kreutz and Shaun Rodgers look like good moves.

The team was blighted by inconsistent performances last season, but I think they will win the South this year.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Buccs were the surprise package of the NFC last season and they were a little unfortunate to miss the postseason as they are in the toughest Division in the Conference (in my opinion).

However, they are a young team and I think they are still a little short of making a splash, and I actually feel they may have a drop off in performance as Defensive Co-Ordinators will have a better feel of what to expect.

Carolina Panthers: Ron Rivera is putting together the Panthers and all eyes will be on Number 1 Draft Pick Cam Newton- I think he has the potential to be a top QB, but his lack of playing time in College along with the long lockout means it will be tough for him this year.

We can expect a lot of running from this team, but it is hard to imagine they will score enough points to win a lot of games... In saying that, I expect them to improve a little from last year although not enough to move out of the basement in this Division.

Seattle Seahawks: Seattle managed to win this Division with a losing record last year and then reached the Divisional Round of the Play Offs after stunning the Saints in the Wild Card Round.

It is hard to get excited about a team that has Tavaris Jackson as the starting QB, although he will at least have the benefit of playing with Sidney Rice, his team-mate from Minnesota.

Will they improve on their 7-9 record? I don't think so this year as the Division looks to be a little better now the St Louis Rams are a year older and Arizona Cardinals have a QB.

St Louis Rams: I am expecting some good things from the Rams this season, especially if Sam Bradford plays like he did last season.

Steve Spagnuola has already got the Defensive unit playing well and I think they are the best team in the Division, although it will be interesting to see how they play with a lot more expectations on their shoulders.

They came close to winning the Division last year, and I think they will this year.

Arizona Cardinals: I liked the move to bring in Kevin Kolb, even at what looks like a high price on first glance, because he gives this team at least a chance of winning, something John Skelton and Derek Anderson did not.

The signing also persuaded Larry Fitzgerald to stay in the desert and I think they will be much improved from last year. However, they have lost some key players like Steve Breaston on the Offense and the Defense is a definite weak point.

This team needs to be going in the right direction if Ken Whisenhunt is still in a job in January.

San Francisco 49ers: It's so hard to feel confident in this squad when they continue to use Alex Smith as their QB- Smith has been given numerous chances over the years since being drafted as the Number 1 Pick overall, and he hasn't been helped by a number of different Offensive schemes to learn in that time, but he looks far too inconsistent to build a team around.

The Defense is a tough unit, but they can only do so much to keep the 49ers in games.

Jim Harbaugh will need time to turn the team around after a decade of decadence- I expect they will look good in a few games but still fail to reach 0.500 for the season.

NFC East: Philadelphia Eagles
NFC North: Green Bay Packers
NFC South: New Orleans Saints
NFC West: St Louis Rams

Wild Cards: Atlanta Falcons, Dallas Cowboys