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Boxing Picks 2021- Canelo Alvarez vs Billy Joe Saunders (May 8th)

There have been some solid cards over the last several months, but the largely absent fans has been a big miss for Boxing as much as other s...

Saturday, 29 September 2012

College Football Week 5 Picks 2012

Seriously, my College Football Picks have sucked so far this year after a really good 2011 season, although I just needed a little more luck and it would have looked so much better.

That's no excuse though, but I still feel a positive week will turn things around.

As usual, my picks are coming out in staggered periods, even more so than normal as I have been very busy with work...

Missouri Tigers @ UCF Knights Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15435-Missouri-Tigers-at-UCF-Knights.htm)

Tennessee Volunteers @ Georgia Bulldogs Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15437-Tennessee-Volunteers-at-Georgia-Bulldogs.htm)

Virginia Tech Hokies v Cincinnati Bearcats Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15439-Virginia-Tech-Hokies-at-Cincinnati-Bearcats.htm)

Clemson Tigers @ Boston College Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15438-Clemson-Tigers-at-Boston-College.htm)

Unfortunately my links for the previews have crashed so the remaining picks are below under the 'My Picks section'.

If the site recovers, I'll put down the previews, but hope you can accept I have three/four reasons for each pick I made.

MY PICKS: UCF Knights - 2 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Georgia Bulldogs - 13.5 Points @ 1.92 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Virginia Tech Hokies - 6.5 Points @ 1.92 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Clemson Tigers - 7 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Florida State Seminoles - 16 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
UCLA Bruins - 20.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
South Carolina - 20.5 Points @ 1.92 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Texas Longhorns - 2.5 Points @ 1.95 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Alabama Crimson Tide - 30 Points @ 1.92 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Nebraska Cornhuskers - 11.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)

Week 4: 3-8, - 5.10 Units
Week 35-5, + 0.15 Units

Week 24-4, + 0 Units
Week 12-4, - 2.10 Units

Season 201214-21, - 7.05 Units
Season 201163-36, + 23.25 Units (99 Units Staked, + 23.5% Yield)

Weekend Football (September 29-30)

This is the thread for my football picks from the weekend as I look to end September with the profit intact and hopefully adding to it.

You can read my views about all things Manchester United here

You can also read my views from last weekends football here

I wrote my thoughts about the situation at Blackburn Rovers earlier in the week and of course Steve Kean has since been sacked by the club- most of my points still rang true for the most part though.

Fulham v Manchester City Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15379-Fulham-v-Manchester-City.htm)

Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15382-Manchester-United-v-Tottenham-Hotspur.htm)

Arsenal v Chelsea Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15375-Arsenal-v-Chelsea.htm)

Bristol City v Leeds United Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15386-Bristol-City-v-Leeds-United.htm)

Everton v Southampton Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15380-Everton-v-Southampton.htm)

Middlesbrough v Leicester City Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15389-Middlesbrough-v-Leicester-City.htm)

MY PICKS: Manchester City Win and at least 3 goals scored @ 2.87 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Manchester United Win and 3/4 goals scored @ 3.40 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Arsenal-Chelsea Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.92 188Bet (2 Units)
Bristol City-Leeds United Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.80 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Everton Win and at least 3 goals scored @ 2.00 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Middlesbrough-Leicester City Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.92 Pinnacle (1 Unit)

September Update12-10, + 13.96 Units (37 Units Staked, 37.7% Yield)

August Final12-13, + 1.29 Units (40 Units Staked, 3.22% Yield)

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

NFL Week 4 Picks 2012

Week 3 Quick Hits
  • It was only a matter of time before the replacement referees were going to cost a team a game through their ineptitude and that was the case on Monday Night Football in front of a nationally televised audience. The mistakes made in that game were bad enough as they kept Seattle going in the second half, but missing a clear pick in the end zone to rule the game in favour of the Seahawks was disgusting- it led to outrage on Twitter as sports stars and NFL players not involved in the game openly criticised what the NFL has come to.
  • The NFL statement on Tuesday was an embarrassment- Chris Mortenson put it best: 'They should have just said we can't change the game outcome on mistakes made by officials'... Instead, the NFL decided to put their fingers in their ears and pretend nothing had happened.
  • Twitter also saw some of the responses from the Green Bay Packers players that were understandably upset with the calls that went against them.
  • By the far the funniest 'tweet' I read was one saying 'Russell Wilson is the first player in NFL history to throw a game WINNING interception'.
  • A much less funny and biggest issue with the replacement referees is the number of personal fouls the players are getting away with- how did Golden Tate get away with his hit on Sean Lee in Week 2 and what about the one suffered by Darrius Heyward-Bey in Oakland against the Steelers this week?
These were some of the things I had already written before news broke on Wednesday that a tentative deal is in place to get the real referees back in action by Sunday- guess the NFL had their fingers out of their ears for long enough to actually hear the criticism coming their way!

  • The game may have been tarnished, but how good was the Seattle Defense for the most part against the Green Bay Packers on Monday? I said I thought the Defense might be for real and I think I have already been proven correct after their performances against the Packers and Dallas the week before... My question now? Will Seattle be able to score enough points?
  • I was concerned that the New Orleans Saints may miss Sean Payton's presence this season, but there is no way I had an inclination that they would have looked as bad as they have on both sides of the ball to open the season. The Offense is spluttering while the Defense couldn't stop a high school team the way they are playing and the Saints are already in big trouble in the NFC South thanks to the Atlanta Falcons 3-0 start.
  • How many would have tipped Arizona being 3-0 after playing in New England and hosting Philadelphia and also tipped New Orleans at 0-3 after playing Washington and Kansas City in the SuperDome?
  • Talking about that Arizona team, did anyone else see how good the Defense played against Philadelphia on Sunday? They dominated Philadelphia and got some good licks on Michael Vick...
  • Speaking of Michael Vick, I just can't see him lasting the season if he doesn't find a way to protect himself better- he was crushed by Kerry Rhodes at the end of the second half that led to a fumble and a Cardinals touchdown, while even his performances had Andy Reid almost implying he would be pulled if he doesn't improve.
  • What were Detroit thinking going for a Quarter Back sneak on a fourth and one in Overtime? It was a clearly a miscommunication and cost them the win when the chip shot field goal would have at least given them a chance to stop Tennessee and win the game with 7 minutes left.
  • When Peyton Manning signed with Denver, I said I was surprised as I didn't think they were the best of the teams that wanted him (Arizona and San Francisco are 5-1 combined without him)- however, the Broncos have faced two really tough teams in their last two games (6-0 on the season) and they are in a winnable Division starting with Oakland at Mile High this week so don't rule out this team just yet.
  • I don't like the New York Jets, or any team in the AFC East (apart from my beloved Dolphins), but it was sad to hear a player of Darrelle Revis' calibre has been ruled out for the season- he is one of the star Defensive players in the League and his loss will hurt the Jets massively in their bid to return to the Play Offs.
  • What might hurt the Jets more is the play of the Offense- I wasn't sure about Mark Sanchez before the season, but I now think he plain sucks and the Jets just don't have the 'ground and pound' ability through Shonn Greene. The success against the Bills will prove to be an exception in my humble opinion and I think the loss of Revis weakens the Defense massively so my projection that they will miss the Play Offs looks better by the day.

Honestly, I can't believe I ended up with a small profit on the picks for week 3- not because I didn't deserve one, but the fact of the matter is that I would have been up for the season with another big week if those replacement referees hadn't screwed the call in Seattle.

Seriously, if I was on Seattle on Monday night, I would have played the lottery to see if my luck holds out- the referees choked the call because there was no way they were going to overturn a touchdown for the home team whose fans would have strung them up.

It wasn't just that call that bothered me- Seattle didn't move the chains at all in the second half until a 'roughing the passer' call (wrong call), a 30 yard pass interference on Sam Shields (wrong call) and then that non-call on Golden Tate at the end of the game when he clearly pushes the aforementioned Shields before putting his finger on the ball to be awarded the touchdown.

Would have been almost 5 units of profit for the week if the replacement referees had balls and eyes, instead it is a small profit leaving the thread in a loss for the season.

My Top Ten
This isn't a Power Ranking, but it isn't solely a personal view either- records are important, but so is my perception of a team.

1) Houston Texans (3-0)Still unbeaten and they looked very, very good in Denver when outplaying the Broncos.
2) San Francisco 49ers (2-1): The defeat to Minnesota was a surprise, but forgiveable considering they had beaten Green Bay and Detroit in consecutive weeks so a letdown was always a possibility.
3) Atlanta Falcons (3-0): Atlanta crushed San Diego and have a high-scoring Offense while looking the best team in the NFC South.
4) Arizona Cardinals (3-0): Arizona are the biggest surprise so far, but anyone who saw them end last season with a 7-2 record may have foreseen this start.
5) Baltimore Ravens (2-1): It was an impressive comeback against New England on Sunday night, although I did think they had missed another game winning/tying field goal against them for a moment.
6) Green Bay Packers (1-2): The only team with a losing record in my top ten that should have a winning record... Offense still not clicking, but Defense has looked good the last two weeks.
7) New England Patriots (1-2): The only team with a GENUINE losing record in my top ten... New England blew the win in Baltimore, but they played pretty good for most of the game and will beat most teams with that level of performance.
8) Dallas Cowboys (2-1): I know there will be a lot of people thinking I have placed this team too high... If the Offense can just find a little more consistency, this Defense can help them win games as they shut down Tampa Bay to 10 points, a team who scored 34 in New York in week 2.
9) Buffalo Bills (2-1): Losing CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson for at least a couple of weeks is tough and this week we get to see who the Bills are as they host the Patriots.
10) New York Giants (2-1): Back in my top ten after a total and utter dismantling of Carolina on both sides of the ball to back up a big comeback against Tampa Bay.

My Bottom Five
32) Cleveland Browns (0-3): Still having some teething problems early in the season and were beaten easily by Buffalo... Now on a short week at Divisional rivals Baltimore.
31) New Orleans Saints (0-3): They are just not playing well at the moment, although I imagine Drew Brees will get them out of their slump sooner rather than later... Unfortunately I don't see that happening against an angry Green Bay in Wisconsin this week.
30) Washington Redskins (1-2): The injuries to the Defense are going to put a lot of pressure on RG3 to win games by scoring lots of points.
29) St Louis Rams (1-2): Only above Washington after handling them in week 2 and I think they have shown enough signs to think they will at least double last season's 2 win total, although the Division looks ridiculously tough.
28) Indianapolis Colts (1-2): Should have beaten Jacksonville at the weekend, but they are still getting all their pieces together.

Week 4 Picks
Hopefully the Picks this week are not going to be affected by people who can't tell the difference between a touchdown and an interception.

Cleveland Browns @ Baltimore Ravens Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15374-Cleveland-Browns-at-Baltimore-Ravens.htm)

New England Patriots @ Buffalo Bills Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15455-New-England-Patriots-at-Buffalo-Bills.htm)

Carolina Panthers @ Atlanta Falcons Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15457-Carolina-Panthers-at-Atlanta-Falcons.htm)

Minnesota Vikings @ Detroit Lions Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15458-Minnesota-Vikings-at-Detroit-Lions.htm)

Miami Dolphins @ Arizona Cardinals Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15456-Miami-Dolphins-at-Arizona-Cardinals.htm)

New Orleans Saints @ Green Bay Packers Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15459-New-Orleans-Saints-at-Green-Bay-Packers.htm)

Oakland Raiders @ Denver Broncos Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15460-Oakland-Raiders-at-Denver-Broncos.htm)

Cincinnati Bengals @ Jacksonville Jaguars Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15461-Cincinnati-Bengals-at-Jacksonville-Jaguars.htm)

Chicago Bears @ Dallas Cowboys Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15469-Chicago-Bears-at-Dallas-Cowboys.htm)

MY PICKS: Cleveland Browns + 12 Points @ 1.96 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
New England Patriots - 3.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (3 Units)
Atlanta Falcons - 7 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Detroit Lions - 4 Points @ 1.92 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Miami Dolphins + 5.5 Points @ 1.92 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Green Bay Packers - 7.5 Points @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Denver Broncos - 7 Points @ 2.05 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Cincinnati Bengals - 1 Point @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Chicago Bears + 3.5 Points @ 1.85 Pinnacle (1 Unit)

Week 3: 4-3, + 0.95 Units
Week 26-4, + 3.92 Units
Week 13-6, - 6.76 Units

Season 201213-13, - 2.29 Units

Final Thoughts on Weekend Football (September 22-23)

You can read my views on the latest goings on at Manchester United here

Are there some serious problems at Manchester City: I know that is a little bit dramatic considering the season has barely started and the fact that they are the Champions, but I think most would find it hard to disagree with the fact that Manchester City are not passing the 'eye test' and are not playing as well as they were for much of last season.

They are conceding far too many goals at the moment and I do wonder if the Roberto Mancini-Brian Marwood spat over the lack of transfer activity in the Summer window has had an impact on the squad.

Maybe the players at the club don't think the manager has faith in them (hence desperate for reinforcements) and the discord could have led to the disjointed performances they have had.

It's not really a time to panic for City as they are still well in touch with the leaders and they remain unbeaten in the Premier League, but it is definitely something to keep an eye on with a tough game at Craven Cottage next on their fixture list.

Reading's poor start to the campaign: At the start of the season, I said Reading may have the best opportunity of the three promoted sides to stay in the Premier League this season, even though West Ham United had the more experience, but it has been tough for them so far.

The side moved to the bottom of the table following a 1-0 loss at West Brom on Saturday, but it is the manner of the defeats to them and previously Tottenham Hotspur that has to be a big worry.

Brian McDermott said as much following the defeat on Saturday that his side are not doing the things that got them back into the Premier League.

Reading need to get a positive result on the board to turn the momentum around, otherwise it could be a really long season for them. The one saving grace is the new owners that have promised transfer funds in January so Reading need to make sure they are at least in touch with the safety zone in the Premier League by the time we reach that stage of the season.

West Brom have been very impressive: I wrote in my season preview for the Premier League that I thought West Brom could be in danger of relegation after losing Roy Hodgson to England and I believed they might be the surprise candidate to be fighting at the wrong end of the table.

I am not too big to admit I may have been wrong as they have been very impressive in the early goings- even when I thought the bubble may have burst with a 3-0 loss at Fulham, West Brom bounced back and hammered Reading 1-0 (could have won much easier if they had taken their chances).

Steve Clarke has got the side playing very well and confidence is high after wins over the likes of Liverpool and Everton and they may just be capable of finishing in the top half of the table and compound my season expectations.

The poisonous atmosphere at Ewood Park could cost Blackburn Rovers a promotion spot: Even though the side were top of the table and had made a positive start to life in the Championship, the Blackburn Rovers fans have been itching to get on Steve Kean's back and they found their chance in a 1-2 home loss to Middlesbrough.

This kind of atmosphere at home makes it extremely tough for the players and despite winning three in a row to open the season, the performances have been much more convincing away from Ewood Park.

The rumours suggest that Kean wasn't far away from being removed as manager over the weekend and it might be in the best interest of the club if he is taken away so the fans can support the side.

My belief is the Venky's have kept him on as they know he will take the brunt of the abuse- once Kean is gone, the fans are sure to turn their attentions to the owners who have been nothing but an embarrassment to the club ever since they took over and promised signings of the calibre of David Beckham and called the Champions League a minimum target when sacking Sam Allardyce.

Sometimes you just reap what you sow and that is the case for Blackburn.

Talking about poison, no one deserves the treatment Mark Halsey got: I think Mark Halsey probably made the wrong decision when sending off Jonjo Shelvey against Manchester United, but those morons who 'tweeted' him wishing he gets cancer should be utterly ashamed of themselves.

Halsey suffered from throat cancer a couple of years ago but thankfully recovered and it is utterly shameful that people think wishing those kind of things on him is 'just' because of a football match.

I've never understood why people think racially abusing people or wishing horrific things like cancer with messages on Twitter is a 'normal' thing to do, yet it seems that some spend their entire time simply doing just that.

More importantly, after all the talk about Hillsborough and the desire to end vile chants, these incidents should show how the minority still act and how difficult it will be to clamp down on such things at football matches when we can't on the social media site.

United Corner 26th September (Liverpool Reaction, Capital One Cup, Tottenham Hotspur)

             This is a new 'corner' I have added to the blog that will be devoted to my first passion in life, Manchester United. I will publish this, on most occasions, on a Sunday evening where I will look back at the previous week, giving my take on results and upcoming fixtures.

All views expressed will be my own.

It has been eight days or so since I last wrote down anything to do with Manchester United, but it has been a successful eight days in terms of results even if the performances are not up to scratch.

It all began against Galatasaray last Wednesday night in the Champions League as they became the latest European side to come to Old Trafford and perhaps feel they deserved more than what they got from the game. Granted United had chances to kill the game off in the second half, but it was only when I got home to see the highlights of the game that I appreciated how good their chances were.

On another day, Galatasaray would have had an early penalty and that really would have tested our mettle. There was just nothing outstanding in the way we performed and it was a far 'flatter' performance than I expected considering the way we exited the competition.

Personally I put down the lack of urgency and emotion in the game due to the fact that Liverpool were next on the fixture list and at the end of the day the 3 points was all that mattered. Coming home I also heard that Cluj had beating Braga in Portugal so United should be looking to book their place, and hopefully top spot, by the time Match Day 4 is completed out in Braga.

As I said, I thought the lack of urgency was down to the fact we had Liverpool next on deck, but the performance was terrible in that game, even if the result was great.

I have been saying for a while that I wouldn't have been at all surprised if Brendan Rodgers had recorded his first win of the season against United- in fact, I woke up on Sunday morning with this terrible dawning that we were going to be beaten.

After a lively 5 minutes to open the game, we descended into a team that couldn't hold onto the ball and it seemed only a matter of time that Liverpool were going to get in front.. And then Jonjo Shelvey lost his mind!

In hindsight and after seeing countless replays, I realised that it was a harsh red card, but watching in live time it looked a nailed on red. He had already gone in pretty hard on Ryan Giggs and you could just see him throwing himself into the ball as Jonny Evans moved forward to get it.

The performance didn't pick up much in the second half, but we did very well to turn the result around and it's a big one so we can't complain too much- I think tactically we made a mistake by playing Giggs in centre midfield (gives away far too much possession for my liking and positionally is awkward at times, sitting far too far ahead of Michael Carrick and letting their midfield have too much room behind him to run into). Nani had another forgettable game and is fast running out of chances with injuries potentially clearing up in the forward areas.

I have also finally made my mind up about Shinji Kagawa and I know most won't like it at all- I think he is an extremely clever player and he knows in his mind exactly what to do at the right time so all the decision making is generally good.

However, I think he definitely has a lack of pace for the position of the field he is expecting to occupy and he doesn't quite have the ability to beat a man- he would still be effective around better players (Nani being in idiot mode really isn't helping), but Kagawa doesn't address the need for someone to get the ball and move with it through the middle of the park, something I truly felt Moussa Dembele could have offered us.

At Dortmund, having someone like Mario Gotze alongside him would have got the best out of his game- I am not being critical of Kagawa, I am just not sure he has enough about to him to be playing in the role that United want him to although will be hoping he proves me wrong going forward.

The United end at Anfield covered themselves wonderfully well during the game, even if some Scousers were moaning about a rendition of 'Where's Your Famous Munich Song?'. Later we did hear reports that United were chanting 'Always the Victim', but surprisingly there was little coverage of the fact that 'aeroplane gestures' had begun the issue- I know you should be the bigger man when someone is taunting you, but it does seem to me that a lot of people in the media have an agenda about the United fans.

I even heard someone on the radio (think it was that idiot Danny Kelly from TalkShite) saying that he thinks the 'You Know What You Are' chant about Luis Suarez shouldn't be sung at grounds and people should be ejected for that from games- Funny thing though, no one mentioned the fact that Paddy Evra was loudly booed throughout the game when he had the ball for the horrible crime of reporting racism!!

I thought it was absolutely crazy that Fergie had decided to 'rest' Nemanja Vidic on Sunday... OK, I'll admit it, my first thought was 'I wonder what Vidic has done'.

It later transpired that the Captain will be ruled out for a couple of months with knee surgery- I know there were rumours that Vidic would have left Old Trafford this Summer just gone if he hadn't done his knee in last December, so now I have got to wondering whether United want to get him in tip top shape, give him six months of continuous playing time and then unload him next Summer.

Maybe Vidic himself feels he needs to get himself back to 100% to revitalise the interest that Barcelona and Real Madrid have had in him or maybe it is just simply that he really needed the surgery.

I don't know too much about all that, but I do know he will be a miss as Fergie wanted to get him and Ferdinand back together to provide some consistency for our defence after we have conceded far too many goals to open the season. Now Jonny Evans will get that opportunity to put a stamp on one of the centre half positions as he won't be under a lot of pressure from injured competition in the coming weeks.

Talking about injuries, wonder if the rumours about Antonio Valencia walking around in a protective boot are true?

The next few days will see United have a couple of home games in the Capital One Cup and the Premier League. Obviously we have had a good record in the League Cup in recent seasons, but we will be blooding some of the youngsters and also giving the fringe players a chance. Newcastle United should give us a tough test, especially if they play some of their stronger players, while a small crowd at Old Trafford that is expected don't really 'get up for' a League Cup game as they would for other evening kick offs.

We'll then have the much more important home game against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday where we could have the chance to take over at the top of the very early Premier League table. While they have regularly been three points at Old Trafford, we'll once again get to see Dembele against us and I hope we do a much better job shackling him than we did when he played us with Fulham earlier this season.

The Spurs game will really give us an indication of where we are as a football team as they are another with a midfield that could pose plenty of problems while Jermaine Defoe isn't missing chances. It will be a really tough game, but one that I would be pencilling in three points when it is all said and done.

Team I expect against Newcastle: De Gea, Michael Keane, Evans, Wooton, Buttner, Fletcher, Anderson, Powell, Welbeck, Hernandez and Henrique.

Team I expect against Tottenham: Lindegaard, Rafael, Evra, Ferdinand, Evans, Carrick, Scholes, Cleverley, Nani, Kagawa and Van Persie

Sunday, 23 September 2012

NFL Week 3 Picks 2012

I have been extremely busy at work this week meaning I haven't been able to put down a proper thread for the NFL Picks- I would have got it done on Saturday, but even then I had a wedding to attend so I was out for most of the day.

Week 2 worked out to be much more solid than week 1 and I'll be hoping these picks can continue the upward trend, although my College Football Picks this week look like they stink:

Buffalo Bills @ Cleveland Browns Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15299-Buffalo-Bills-at-Cleveland-Browns.htm)

New York Jets @ Miami Dolphins Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15297-New-York-Jets-at-Miami-Dolphins.htm)

San Francisco 49ers @ Minnesota Vikings Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15298-San-Francisco-49ers-at-Minnesota-Vikings.htm)

Philadelphia Eagles @ Arizona Cardinals Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15300-Philadelphia-Eagles-at-Arizona-Cardinals.htm)

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Oakland Raiders Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15301-Pittsburgh-Steelers-at-Oakland-Raiders.htm)

New England Patriots @ Baltimore Ravens Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15302-New-England-Patriots-at-Baltimore-Ravens.htm)

Green Bay Packers @ Seattle Seahawks Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15304-Green-Bay-Packers-at-Seattle-Seahawks.htm)

MY PICKS: Buffalo Bills - 3 Points @ 2.10 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
New York Jets - 1.5 Points @ 1.95 Bet Victor (2 Units)
San Francisco 49ers - 6.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Arizona Cardinals + 3 Points @ 2.05 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Pittsburgh Steelers - 3.5 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (3 Units)
New England Patriots + 2.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (3 Units)
Green Bay Packers - 3 Points @ 1.85 Pinnacle (2 Units)

Week 2: 6-4, + 3.92 Units
Week 1: 3-6, - 6.76 Units

Season 2012: 9-10, - 3.24 Units

Saturday, 22 September 2012

College Football Week 4 Picks 2012

It's been a long week for me, but the weekend has sneaked upon me somewhat as we have already reached Week 4 of the College Football season.

It's been a largely disappointing start for me as I can't quite get the rub on some matches- some are just horrible picks which I wish I hadn't made about ten minutes after watching the game on TV, others have just been a little unfortunate, but hopefully the first 'winning' week of the season will lead to greater things going forward.

Below you will see all the picks I have for Week 4:

Maryland Terrapins @ West Virginia Mountaineers Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15252-Maryland-Terrapins-at-West-Virginia.htm)

California Golden Bears @ USC Trojans Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15281-California-at-USC-Trojans.htm)

Oregon State Beavers @ UCLA Bruins Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15283-Oregon-State-at-UCLA-Bruins.htm)

Kansas State Wildcats @ Oklahoma Sooners Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15278-Kansas-State-at-Oklahoma-Sooners.htm)

South Alabama Jaguars @ Mississippi State Bulldogs Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15251-South-Alabama-at-Mississippi-State.htm)

Miami Hurricanes @ Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15284-Miami-Hurricanes-at-Georgia-Tech.htm)

Vanderbilt Commodores @ Georgia Bulldogs Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15245-Vanderbilt-Commodore-at-Georgia-Bulldogs.htm)

Clemson Tigers @ Florida State Seminoles Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15253-Clemson-Tigers-at-Florida-State.htm)

Kentucky Wildcats @ Florida Gators Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15250-Kentucky-Wildcats-at-Florida-Gators.htm)

USF Bulls @ Ball State Cardinals Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15279-USF-Bulls-at-Ball-State-Cardinals.htm)

Rutgers Scarlet Knights @ Arkansas Razorbacks Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15244-Rutgers-at-Arkansas-Razorbacks.htm)

MY PICKS: West Virginia Mountaineers - 25.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
USC Trojans - 16 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
UCLA Bruins - 7.5 Points @ 1.95 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Oklahoma Sooners - 16 Points @ 1.95 Bet365 (1 Unit)
Mississippi State Bulldogs - 34 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets - 14 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Georgia Bulldogs - 15 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Florida State Seminoles - 14 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Florida Gators - 24 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
USF Bulls - 9 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Arkansas Razorbacks - 8.5 Points @ 1.94 Pinnacle (1 Unit)

Week 3: 5-5, + 0.15 Units
Week 24-4, + 0 Units
Week 12-4, - 2.10 Units

Season 201211-13, - 1.95 Units
Season 201163-36, + 23.25 Units (99 Units Staked, + 23.5% Yield)

Friday, 21 September 2012

Weekend Football Picks (September 22-23)

Once the Champions League and Europa League competitions begin, it seems the weekend games come around that much quicker.

My Final Thoughts from last weekend can be read here

You can also see what I thought about the upcoming week for Manchester United in my last United Corner here

I'll have my next 'United Corner' out on Monday as I know I won't be in any fit state to sit down and write on Sunday evening after the big game earlier in the day.

Below are my picks from the weekend football:

Chelsea v Stoke City Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15216-Chelsea-v-Stoke-City.htm)

Southampton v Aston Villa Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15215-Southampton-v-Aston-Villa.htm)

West Brom v Reading Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15218-West-Brom-v-Reading.htm)

Wigan Athletic v Fulham Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15217-Wigan-Athletic-v-Fulham.htm)

Sheffield Wednesday v Bolton Wanderers Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15241-Sheffield-Wednesday-v-Bolton-Wanderers.htm)

Newcastle United v Norwich City Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15237-Newcastle-United-v-Norwich-City.htm)

Tottenham Hotspur v Queens Park Rangers Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15239-Tottenham-Hotspur-v-Queens-Park-Rangers.htm)

Manchester City v Arsenal Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15223-Manchester-City-v-Arsenal.htm)

MY PICKS: Chelsea Win to Nil @ 2.38 Sky Bet (2 Units)
Southampton-Aston Villa Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.00 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
West Brom-Reading Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.00 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Wigan Athletic-Fulham Draw @ 3.40 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Sheffield Wednesday-Bolton Wanderers Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.86 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Newcastle United - 0.5 Asian Handicap @ 1.87 Pinnacle (3 Units)
Tottenham Hotspur - 1.25 Asian Handicap @ 2.10 Bet Victor (4 Units)
Manchester City Win and 3/4 Goals Scored @ 3.75 Paddy Power (1 Unit)

September Update: 8-6, + 10.87 Units (20 Units Staked, 54.5% Yield)

August Final: 12-13, + 1.29 Units (40 Units Staked, 3.22% Yield)

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Final Thoughts on Weekend Football (September 14-17)

This is a little later than I usually plan it, but between work and actually looking at potential picks, it has been tough to do any sooner.

It was great to have the Premier League and domestic football back in action this week as I am not really a fan of the international breaks and feel there are too many qualifiers, especially with some of the weaker nations being so irrelevant that I think changes should be made to how qualification goes about.

Honestly, I feel the lower Ranked nations should have to go through some sort of 'pre-qualification' before being pitted against the likes of Germany and Spain, even if Georgia showed real heart in a close loss to the Spanish team in the last set of games.

My thoughts on Manchester United in the latest United Corner can be found here

Oh well, here are my Final Thoughts on last weekend:

Arsenal are genuine title contenders?: If you picked up a newspaper (or read an online publication as is the norm these days), you would have noticed a lot of people tipping Arsenal as title contenders following their wins over Liverpool and Southampton in the League.

I know you are only as good as your last performance in this new social networking World, but people have completely forgotten their two draws with Sunderland and Stoke City and are perhaps jumping the gun a little bit.

Arsenal are always likely to put in big performances from time to time with the possession football they play- if everything clicks on the day, they will blitz teams as they did against Southampton, while the win at Liverpool was impressive against perhaps an 'over-rated' side.

I like Santi Cazorla as he looks a real player while Lukas Podolski has made a good start to the season, but before I am ready to call them real contenders, I want to see how they do against the bigger and better Premier League clubs.

It seems the fixture compute has been kind to those thoughts as Arsenal play Manchester City at the Etihad and then host Chelsea in back to back weeks- win those games and I'll say they are title contenders.

Have Southampton come up a season too soon?: Following on from the Arsenal thoughts, it is only fair to think about Southampton and wonder if they have come up too fast following their back to back promotions.

Norwich City were successful in keeping their place in the Premier League when they managed that feat last season, but I think the playing styles of the teams are distinctly different- Southampton like to get the ball down and play while Norwich were a little more direct in their approach and I think the latter style can be a little tougher to get used to for Premier League teams rather than a style where teams look to play you off the park.

However, it would be rash to think Southampton are going doomed on four games, those coming against Manchester City, Wigan Athletic, Manchester United and Arsenal.

The most disappointing result would have been the Wigan loss at home, but they had leads against both Manchester clubs and everything just seemed to go wrong in their game against Arsenal. Southampton play Aston Villa next at St Mary's and it is conceivable they can win that and bring some real positive vibes back into the club.

It will be wise to review Southampton's situation in a months time after they play the likes of Villa, Everton, Fulham and West Ham in the League, although the rumours are that the owners have already got the knives ready to give Nigel Adkins the chop.

Manchester City's home form is going to be crucial again: Manchester City won 18 of their 19 home games last season, drawing the other, and that ultimately secured them the Premier League title and this season has the makings of another where they need to secure a huge amount of points at home to retain their title.

Of course, the Champions will normally have a very strong record at home, but City's away day struggles are very much under the radar at the moment. The dropped points at Stoke City over the weekend means they have won just 12 of their last 30 away games in the Premier League and that will put additional pressure on them winning their home games to make up for it.

This has largely been ignored as they have won some big games at Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, Newcastle United but it is something to consider, especially for those that love backing the short priced 'big name' favourite away from home on your coupons.

Time to bring in goal-line technology: We have to get a rush on goal-line technology as Everton became the latest club to have a clear goal not given in their match against Newcastle United.

The tests are being done and the Premier League are insistent that they will get the technology out sooner rather than later, but there is too much money involved these days on those decisions and it needs to be there.

To be honest, the official that missed the ball going over the line also ruled out another goal when incorrectly ruling Maruoane Fellaini offside, so maybe he has some explaining to do this week.

Blackburn Rovers have a great chance to bounce back to the Premier League immediately: The Championship is a tough Division to get out of as so many teams can beat others on their day, but Blackburn Rovers look to have the best squad in the League and they look like a team that can bounce back to the Premier League at the first attempt.

The likes of Jordan Rhodes and Nuno Gomes look capable of getting the goals to fire them to promotion and the pressure is decreasing on Steve Kean with every passing game.

They have moved to the top of the Championship with a 3-5 win at Bristol City and they do look capable of staying there or thereabouts for much of the season.

United Corner September 18th (Wigan, Galatasaray and Liverpool)

This is a new 'corner' I have added to the blog that will be devoted to my first passion in life, Manchester United. I will publish this, on most occasions, on a Sunday evening where I will look back at the previous week, giving my take on results and upcoming fixtures.

All views expressed will be my own.

I don't know what kind of bad luck charm I have picked up recently, but both of my trips to Old Trafford this season has seen me moving at a brisk pace to get to the ground after parking the car thanks to a horrendous amount of traffic on the roads.

After watching the first half of the game at Wigan Athletic, it wouldn't have been like I had missed much after what was a disappointing and often disjointed performance.

As tepid and insomniac curing as the first half had been, the second was a complete contrast as wave after wave of United attack looked like it was going to bring goals for the side. Nani has his critics at Old Trafford, but it would be nice if the fans get off his back a little and try and support and cajole a performance out of him.

He had a terrible first half, but was very good in the second as the whole team increased their tempo and looked more threatening going forward.

Nick Powell had a good cameo, but it is when we aren't winning games that I will look to judge his impact, while Alexander Buttner had a solid debut at left back. Buttner was good going forward, but I found his positioning to be a little suspect when trying to defend, while he was rash in the tackle so there is still some work to be done that won't be exposed in games against Wigan at home.

Overall it was a solid performance in the end and the bonus of picking up our first clean sheet of the season is a positive to take forward, although I am expecting much bigger tests from the two games we have remaining this week.

The biggest thing coming out of the game this weekend wasn't the performances of the debutants, but the chants that came early in the game directed at Liverpool.

'It's Never Your Fault' isn't directed at Hillsborough and all that happened there, despite some in the media quickly pointing to that, but it was ill-timed and not well thought out by the fans who decided to go with it.

Even Sir Alex mentioned that the chants are not making light of what happened at Hillsborough, but we shouldn't have given anyone the chance to criticise this club and the fans who have been through it all in the past.

We all know what kind of chants United fans are subjected to about Munich whenever we play at Anfield, Elland Road or the Council House, but we had always been bigger than that and the 'Where's Your Famous Munich Song' chant at Anfield makes our point loud and clear.

Now we have given up the moral high-ground, even if we weren't making reference to what happened in April 1989.

On a related, but unrelated matter- what has happened to Joe Jordan that he has become deaf and blind? He claims he never heard any Munich chants during his time playing for United... That is quite astonishing as looking back at any tapes pre-1989 will show the banners that were regularly carried around grounds from opposition fans, especially the Liverpool fans.

I wish Gattuso had given him a slap around his head a couple of years ago if only to jog his clearly flagging memory!!

The Champions League will kick off this week as we host Galatasaray and I hope Fergie sticks to his word of having learnt from the mistakes of last season and he will be starting a strong side. I've never understood the need for too much rotation at this stage, unless it is a Tuesday night game off the back of a game against one of the top six sides in the Premier League, and surely it makes much more sense to get 10-12 points from our opening four games and then resting players in the last couple of games.

We have a good chance to do that this time and I would take a big step towards that mark by putting out a side to put Galatasaray to bed early and then bring off a couple of the more vital players in preparation for Liverpool. We do have until Sunday for that game so there are no real excuses and we could also give Darren Fletcher a run out in the last 10 minutes if we are comfortable.

I just don't think we should be under-estimating any team right now, not considering the last home loss in the Champions League came to Turkey's Besiktas.

I'd play: De Gea, Rafael, Evra, Vidic, Ferdinand, Carrick, Cleverley, Valencia, Nani, Kagawa and Van Persie.

Once all the Champions League games are out of the way, we can begin to look forward to the big one at Anfield on Sunday- it is going to be an emotionally draining day for players and fans alike as it is the first game at Anfield since the Hillsborough findings came out, while all the problems around Racist Bastard Number 7 and Patrice Evra are likely to be magnified ahead of the game.

Both clubs are trying to put a lid on the simmering tension, but I think the media's insistence that the United chants were directed at Hillsborough has only increased the heat and I truly hope all fans going to the game get home without getting involved in any issues outside of the ground.

On the playing field, I am nervous as I have tipped Brendan Rodgers' first win as in the League as manager of Liverpool to come in this game against our lads, especially when they blew a big chance to knock of Manchester City at Anfield last month.

We should be too good for them on paper, but they are going to be fired up with the the fans fully behind the team and it is going to be a really tough test for us I feel.

We MUST hold out in the first twenty minutes and try and take the crowd out of the game as that is when Liverpool should come out of the traps very quickly. It will take concentration, but those minutes will be crucial to our chances of picking up the points.

Hopefully the boys can put in a big performance on the pitch and we as fans can show our true Manchester United colours in the stands and show what makes us so great and unique- let us cheer the United boys on and ignore all the bile we are going to encounter from their end and hopefully we can somehow come away with the three points.

I'd play: De Gea, Rafael, Evra, Ferdinand, Vidic, Scholes, Carrick, Cleverley, Valencia, Young and Van Persie.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Midweek Football Picks (September 18-20)

Below you will find my picks from the Midweek Football that is taking place between Tuesday and Thursday.

You can also read my thoughts in the latest United Corner about all the latest goings on at Manchester United here

My Final Thoughts from last weekend's football can be found here

Montpellier v Arsenal Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15148-Montpellier-v-Arsenal.htm)

Real Madrid v Manchester City Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15149-Real-Madrid-v-Manchester-City.htm)

Borussia Dortmund v Ajax Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15155-Borussia-Dortmund-v-Ajax.htm)

Paris St Germain v Dynamo Kiev Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15154-Paris-St-Germain-v-Dynamo-Kiev.htm)

Olympiacos v Schalke Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15156-Olympiacos-v-Schalke.htm)

Manchester United v Galatasaray Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15179-Manchester-United-v-Galatasaray.htm)

Chelsea v Juventus Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15175-Chelsea-v-Juventus.htm)

Bayern Munich v Valencia Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15194-Bayern-Munich-v-Valencia.htm)

MY PICKS: Arsenal @ 2.25 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Real Madrid Win and 3/4 Goals Scored @ 3.50 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Borussia Dortmund-Ajax Both to Score @ 1.95 William Hill (1 Unit)
Paris St Germain Win and at least 3 Goals Scored @ 2.87 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Olympiacos @ 2.90 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Manchester United - 1.5 Asian Handicap @ 1.95 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Chelsea @ 2.25 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Bayern Munich to win by 1 Goal (English Handicap Draw) @ 4.00 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)

September Update: 5-1, + 10.75 Units (11 Units Staked, + 97.7% Yield)

August Final: 12-13, + 1.29 Units (40 Units Staked, + 3.22% Yield)

Friday, 14 September 2012

Weekend Football Picks (September 14-17)

I haven't put down any football picks for the month of September, we are now getting ready for a solid month of games between the two early season international breaks.

Over the next month, the Capital One Cup will move through to the Fourth Round, while the Champions League and Europa League will complete the first two match days.

Of course, at the same time, the Premier League and other European domestic Leagues will get through a number of games and give us a much clearer idea as to where teams expectations are likely to be for the rest of the season.

Arsenal v Southampton Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15002-Arsenal-v-Southampton.htm)

Norwich City v West Ham United Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15001-Norwich-City-v-West-Ham-United.htm)

Queens Park Rangers v Chelsea Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15005-Queens-Park-Rangers-v-Chelsea.htm)

Sunderland v Liverpool Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15013-Sunderland-v-Liverpool.htm)

Stoke City v Manchester City Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15004-Stoke-City-v-Manchester-City.htm)

Manchester United v Wigan Athletic Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15072-Manchester-United-v-Wigan-Athletic.htm)

Reading v Tottenham Hotspur Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15095-Reading-v-Tottenham-Hotspur.htm)

MY PICKS: Arsenal - 1.5 Asian Handicap @ 2.10 Pinnacle (3 Units)
Norwich City-West Ham United Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.00 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Queens Park Rangers + 0.5 Asian Handicap @ 2.10 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Sunderland + 0.25 Asian Handicap @ 2.00 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Stoke City-Manchester City Draw @ 3.75 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Robin Van Persie First Goalscorer @ 4.33 Bet365 (1 Unit)
Tottenham Hotspur Win and 3/4 Goals Scored @ 4.50 Paddy Power (1 Unit)

August Final: 12-13, + 1.29 Units (40 Units Staked, + 3.22% Yield)

College Football Week 3 Picks 2012

It is the second week in a row that I have backed a school to cover a big spread and they have been more than set to do so before resting their starters with the game in hand and letting a backdoor cover come in.

In Week 1 it was Oregon, in Week 2 it was Clemson who conceded a touchdown with 3 minutes left and won by 25, failing to cover the 27.5 point spread.

It was also a pretty unproductive week as the picks went 4-4, meaning the week ended dead level.

Hopefully the form from last season will return sooner rather than later as the first couple of weeks have been a big disappointment for me in all honesty.

Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns @ Oklahoma State Cowboys Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15063-Louisiana-at-Oklahoma-State.htm)

Texas A&M Aggies @ SMU Mustangs Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15061-Texas-A&M-Aggies-at-SMU-Mustangs.htm)

Virginia Tech Hokies @ Pittsburgh Panthers Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15056-Virginia-Tech-Hokies-at-Pittsburgh-Panthers.htm)

FIU Golden Panthers @ UCF Knights Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15064-FIU-Golden-Panthers-at-UCF-Knights.htm)

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers @ Kentucky Wildcats Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15065-Western-Kentucky-at-Kentucky-Wildcats.htm)

Notre Dame Fighting Irish @ Michigan State Spartans Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15066-Notre-Dame-at-Michigan-State.htm)

USC Trojans @ Stanford Cardinal Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15081-USC-Trojan-at-Stanford-Cardinal.htm)

Utah State Aggies @ Wisconsin Badgers Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15090-Utah-State-Aggies-at-Wisconsin-Badgers.htm)

Texas Longhorns @ Mississippi Rebels Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15091-Texas-Longhorns-at-Mississippi-Rebels.htm)

Florida Gators @ Tennessee Volunteers Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15094-Florida-Gators-at-Tennessee-Volunteers.htm)

MY PICKS: Oklahoma State Cowboys - 22.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Texas A&M Aggies - 12.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Virginia Tech Hokies - 10 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
UCF Knights - 16.5 Points @ 1.92 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Kentucky Wildcats - 7 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Notre Dame Fighting Irish + 5.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
USC Trojans - 8 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Wisconsin Badgers - 13.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Texas Longhorns - 10 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Florida Gators @ 2.30 Pinnacle (1 Unit)

Week 2: 4-4, + 0 Units
Week 1: 2-4, - 2.10 Units

Season 2012: 6-8, - 2.10 Units
Season 2011: 63-36, + 23.25 Units (99 Units Staked, + 23.5% Yield)

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

NFL Week 2 Picks 2012

Week 1 Quick Hits
  • The NFC is absolutely wide open this season if Week 1 is anything to go by as teams like the Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints and the reigning SuperBowl Winners the New York Giants were all beaten... At home no less. You can't read too much into the first game of the season, but there has to be some concern with how these teams played, particularly on Defense going forward
  • What is going through Michael Vick's head? He made some of the worst decisions during the game against Cleveland and can consider himself fortunate that he only threw 4 Interceptions as there were at least 3 other passes that could have been picked off. He has to improve if Philadelphia are going to anywhere this season.
  • Joe Flacco did an 'Eli Manning impression' this off-season as he made it clear he feels he is an 'elite' Quarter Back and his performance against Cincinnati on Monday night was very impressive to say the least. However, take a quick look at the schedule and the number of 'elite' QB's Flacco will be going against this season and we will see where he stands when he competes against them.
  • It is going to be a long season for Cleveland and Miami as their rookie Quarter Backs struggled in the opener and there really isn't a lot of positives to take going forward.
  • I was really concerned with how the replacement referees would do to be honest, but they have a pretty clean week barring a couple of horrible calls in the Green Bay-San Francisco game and the Arizona-Seattle game... Doesn't mean I am over the moon that the real referees have been locked out through to Week 5 at the earliest by the sound of things.
  • So who has RG3 over Andrew Luck right now? You can't make a snap judgement on one game, and I do think both are the real deal... Still think both Indianapolis and Washington are happy with the choices they made last April.
  • All these people that put a lot of importance on the pre-season need to look at what the New York Jets did in Week 1- they scored just 31 points in 4 pre-season games, yet managed 48 against the much vaunted Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

The picks didn't go well at all in Week 1 as my two most popular choices decided to kill themselves by turning the ball over 8 times between them, the Detroit Lions doing it twice while deep in Rams territory. Both Detroit and Philadelphia combined to have over double the total Offense their opponents did, but the mistakes hindered them all day.

My Top Ten
1) New England Patriots (1-0): They looked like an improved unit on Defense in their dominating win over Tennessee and the Offense continues rolling.
2) San Francisco 49ers (1-0): Any team that goes into Lambeau Field and dominates almost all facets of play deserves to be this high up the list. They have the best balance in the NFL if Alex Smith can bring that level every week.
3) Houston Texans (1-0): They will definitely have tougher tests down the road, but they were impressive in their win over Miami.
4) Baltimore Ravens (1-0): The no-huddle worked and Joe Flacco picked up from where he left off last season in the AFC Championship Game. If he finds consistency, the Ravens will be very tough to beat this season.
5) Dallas Cowboys (1-0): To go into the SuperBowl Champions backyard and win comfortably is impressive... Dallas can't afford a letdown in a tough road game in Seattle this weekend.
6) Atlanta Falcons (1-0): Beating up a Kansas City team missing a number of key members of the Defense is one thing, doing the same to Peyton Manning and Denver on Monday Night Football will be completely another.
7) Denver Broncos (1-0): That game showed that Peyton Manning is back and Denver could be the real deal this season despite all my doubts.
8) Chicago Bears (1-0): I had a feeling they could challenge the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North and they will get a chance to prove that on Thursday night when they go into Lambeau.
9) Detroit Lions (1-0): It was a tough day in the office, but they came out with the W... They will need to be a lot better to knock off San Francisco on Sunday night as they travel West.
10) Philadelphia Eagles (1-0): That was a horrible Offensive performance from the Eagles but they won when last season they may not have. The game against Baltimore will tell us a lot more about what this team is capable of.

My Bottom Five
32) Cleveland Browns (0-1): Cleveland almost pulled the win thanks to their Defense and a horrible Michael Vick performance, but they stunk Offensively and I think they struggle for wins for much of this season.
31) Miami Dolphins (0-1): Ryan Tannehill's numbers look OK, but the 'eye test' says this is going to be a horrific season for a team with so few playmakers on Offense.
30) Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1): They didn't play badly in Minnesota to be honest, but they blew the chance for a win in a season when I don't see too many winnable games in the schedule.
29) St Louis Rams (0-1): St Louis could have got the win in Detroit with a little more luck, but it could easily have been a blow-out too, but they do look like a team that won't occupy one of these positions for long.
28) Oakland Raiders (0-1): Another team that won't be here for too long if they get healthy on the Offensive side, but the Defense has to cut the bone-head penalties from their game that extends drives.

Week 2 Picks
The NFL has expanded the week to include Thursday night games through to Monday so the picks will come out in staggered periods over the next few days.

Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packers Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15016-Chicago-Bears-at-Green-Bay-Packers.htm)- I have not giving up on Aaron Rodgers and the Packers and expect them fired up after all the talk over the last three days following their loss.

Arizona Cardinals @ New England Patriots Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15111-Arizona-Cardinals-at-New-England-Patriots.htm)

Houston Texans @ Jacksonville Jaguars Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15112-Houston-Texans-at-Jacksonville-Jaguars.htm)

New Orleans Saints @ Carolina Panthers Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15113-New-Orleans-Saints-at-Carolina-Panthers.htm)

Tennessee Titans @ San Diego Chargers Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15115-Tennessee-Titans-at-San-Diego-Chargers.htm)

Washington Redskins @ St Louis Rams Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15114-Washington-Redskins-at-St-Louis-Rams.htm)

Detroit Lions @ San Francisco 49ers Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-15117-Detroit-Lions-at-San-Francisco-49ers.htm)

Oakland Raiders @ Miami Dolphins Pick: Might be crazy, but will have a small interest in the Miami Dolphins to win this game against Oakland who are on a short week and playing the early Eastern Time game.

Baltimore Ravens @ Philadelphia Eagles Pick: Another small interest play on the Ravens to befuddle Michael Vick and earn a big road win ahead of the big clash with New England next week.

Minnesota Vikings @ Indianapolis Cols Pick: I am going to take the Indianapolis Colts with the points to perhaps win their first game of the season and the first of Andrew Luck's professional career with the benefit of protection if they do lose by a field goal.

MY PICKS: Green Bay Packers - 6 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (2 Units)
New England Patriots - 13.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Houston Texans - 7 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Carolina Panthers-New Orleans Saints Over 51.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Tennessee Titans + 6.5 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Washington Redskins - 3.5 Points @ 2.00 Sky Bet (2 Units)
San Francisco 49ers - 6.5 Points and Under 46.5 Points @ 3.60 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Miami Dolphins @ 2.10 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Baltimore Ravens @ 2.45 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Indianapolis Colts + 3 Points @ 1.92 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)

Week 1: 3-6, - 6.76 Units

Saturday, 8 September 2012

US Open Day 13 Picks (September 8th)

I haven't made picks from the US Open for a couple of days as I had some outrights that meant I didn't want to double dip and that has turned out to be the right decision all in all. David Ferrer managed to come through the third quarter after a titanic battle with Janko Tipsarevic, while Serena Williams is in the Final of the Women's tournament.

It wasn't all good news as Roger Federer exited to Tomas Berdych at the Quarter Final stage and it is going to be my worst result at a Grand Slam tournament in 2012. You have to love Berdych too- I have kept him onside in every Slam this year, only for him to disappoint once too often that I ignored him this time... His best performance of the year!

We have now reached 'Super Saturday' which means both Men's Semi Finals and the Women's Final will be played today, although I still don't think it is fair on the second Men's Semi as the winner gets less time to recover than the winner of the first Semi. That is the case in every Grand Slam, but none of the others expect a player to play the Final the next day and that is where the issue arises.

However, that is not going to be resolved until the tournament next year so the players have to deal with the hand given to them today.

Tomas Berdych-Andy Murray Under 41.5 Games: My first pick is going to be the under total games in the Tomas Berdych-Andy Murray Semi Final which will be going on at 4pm today (British time).

A lot of people will be calling how close this match could be and I tend to agree to a certain extent as I am not 100% sure which of these players is going to come through. Tomas Berdych has a strong record against Andy Murray which includes winning their only battle at Slam level back in the French Open 2010 and he has won 4 of their last 5 matches against one another.

However, I like the under for the total games as a four set match today is unlikely to go over this total and there is every chance that this match will be completed, one way or the other, in four or less sets.

The layers clearly fancy tie-breakers and tight sets, but only 3 of the 17 sets they have completed have needed a tie-break to separate them, while only another 2 have got to 5-5.

2 tie-breakers would be a killer unless there is a straight sets winner, but I wouldn't be surprised if the winning players comes through 6-4, 7-6, 3-6, 6-3 which would finish under 41.5 games by 0.5 games.

Novak Djokovic - 7.5 games v David Ferrer: I really took some time before making this pick, but that was mainly down to the amount of respect I have for David Ferrer and what he does on a tennis court year in and year out.

He has taken full advantage of Rafael Nadal's absence in this tournament and will also be leading Spain in their Davis Cup Semi Final next week against the United States, but this may be a step too far, even for him.

Novak Djokovic has the mix of power and consistency that should cause Ferrer plenty of problems and I am unsure how much the Spaniard will have left in the tank after the emotional and physical battle in the Quarter Final against Janko Tipsarevic.

Ferrer doesn't have the 'get out of jail' serve and will have to earn every point, something that is bound to tell at one point with a 30 year old.

The Spaniard has now lost 10 sets in a row against Djokovic and while there are a few tight sets that could have gone his way, there are a number of 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 sets in favour of the World Number 2 and defending Champion and I think he will prove too strong again.

I won't be surprised to see the match start off close, but eventually Djokovic prevailing 7-6, 6-2, 6-3.

Serena Williams - 5.5 games v Victoria Azarenka: It must be strange for the World Number 1, Victoria Azarenka, to come into a match as the complete underdog, but that is the case as she faces her nemesis Serena Williams who has a 9-1 head to head record against her.

Azarenka also came through the tougher Semi Final yesterday and everything here is pointing to a Serena win.

It was the same situation last season as Serena faced Sam Stosur in the Final, but she came unglued on that occasion and I think that will inspire her to better things this time around.

The spread looks big, but Serena has covered it against Azarenka in 4 of their previous 5 meetings going back to Toronto last season and Williams has too much in her game for Azarenka.

I am expecting Williams to win in straight sets and I also believe she is good enough to earn a couple of breaks of serve in one of the sets which should leave her in the position to cover the games.

MY PICKS: Tomas Berdych-Andy Murray Under 41.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Novak Djokovic - 7.5 games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Serena Williams - 5.5 games @ 1.83 Paddy Power (3 Units)

US Open Update: 12-15, - 2.94 Units (50 Units Staked)

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

US Open Day 10 Picks (September 5th)

I haven't made one complaint about any of the picks I have made over the last ten days, blaming myself for making bad picks rather than anything that happened on the court... until yesterday.

This time it was the weather that conspired against me in both matches that were completed- the Victoria Azarenka match was unfortunate as she won the first set 6-1, only for Sam Stosur to play out of her skin for the next two sets, even in a losing effort. That was annoying as Azarenka was up 3-1 and 4-2 in the final set, but couldn't hold on to her serve until it was too late.

It was the David Ferrer match that really hurt as he went up 15-30 in the third set as he led 4-3, only for the weather to kick in and delay the match for several hours... Richard Gasquet was finished to be honest, but he was able to come back out, save a break point and then hold before being broken in his next service game and missing the cover by one game.

As I said on Twitter 'that was as predictable as it was gut-wrenching'.

The weather is expected to be in play again today and it will likely be another stop-start day... I am not happy with the fact that Serena Williams and Roger Federer have been scheduled for the night session as there is every chance that the other matches are all completed by that time and theirs could easily be postponed until tomorrow with the way the rain could be playing its part today.

Sara Errani - 1.5 games v Roberta Vinci: An all-Italian battle in the Quarter Final would not have been high on many people's projections at the beginning of this tournament, but that is the case as both of these girls knocked out Angelique Kerber and Agnieszka Radwanska in their Fourth Round matches, the two favourites from this quarter of the draw.

Sara Errani is the more experienced at this level considering she reached the Final at the French Open earlier this year and she also holds a 3-2 head to head record against Roberta Vinci, winning the last three matches they have competed in.

Both have been in wonderful form with Errani reaching the Semi Final in New Haven the week before the US Open, while Vinci won the tournament in Dallas in the same week.

Both have also played well here in the early Rounds, but I think it is Errani who has the slightly more consistent game and I think that will see her reach her second Grand Slam Semi Final of the season, a real achievement.

Ana Ivanovic + 6.5 games v Serena Williams: Serena Williams is clearly the best player in the Women's draw and she is a short favourite to win the tournament after handing out a bagel in each of the last three sets she has played.

It might be a little more difficult against Ana Ivanovic, a player who is also playing pretty well at the moment, and someone who has at least made her previous matches somewhat competitive against Serena in the past.

The 6.5 games being given to the Serb may be down to the beating she took at Wimbledon by Victoria Azarenka as well as the fact she was handed a double bagel in her only match ahead of the US Open, but she has enough in her game to think she will average 3 games a set in this match to cover the handicap.

Serena is 3-0 against Ivanovic, but her largest win is 6-2, 6-4, so here's hoping Ivanovic can make this competitive.

Roger Federer - 5.5 games v Tomas Berdych: Before the US Open began, Tomas Berdych spoke candidly about the top four in the Men's game and how there is a definite gap between them and the other players in the Tour and I am not sure he has the belief that he can beat someone like Roger Federer at this moment in time, particularly with the way Federer has been playing.

Both Men have come through their opening Rounds easily, but I think the mental edge will definitely belong to Federer as the court suits his game just fine.

It is possible that the match will be extended to four sets, and possibly until tomorrow with some of the rain in the area, but I like Federer's chances and I think Berdych is the kind of player than can fall away when he thinks the match is beyond his reach, and that should see the cover come in.

I'll look for a 6-3, 6-7, 6-3, 6-4 win for Federer.

MY PICKS: Juan Martin Del Potro to win 3-1 in sets @ 4.00 Running from yesterday with the score tied at 6-6 in the first set
Sara Errani - 1.5 games @ 1.95 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Ana Ivanovic + 6.5 games @ 2.00 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Roger Federer - 5.5 games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)

US Open Update: 10-13, - 3.84 Units (43 Units Staked)

College Football Week 2 Picks 2012

It wasn't the most productive of weeks for me last time out as the picks only went 2-4, but the opening weekend of the new season can be tough and it isn't the end of the World considering I had those moments in 2011, yet seemed to find a way to bounce back.

That will have to be the case this week, although I will hope for a little better fortune than backing a team like Oregon to cover the spread, only for them to pull their starters because they had racked up 50 points with 12 minutes left in the Second Quarter.

The most impressive team in the opening week of the season was Alabama from the games I watched as they crushed Michigan so easily that it was a little embarrassing for the Big Ten Conference. Struggles for Wisconsin and a defeat for Penn State hasn't helped that Conference either.

USC and LSU beat over-matched opponents fairly comfortably as expected of them, but it was the Crimson Tide that impressed the most and it is no surprise that they have moved into the Number 1 position in the nation.

The Week 2 Picks will come out on this thread whenever I have have locked down the games I like and they will come in staggered periods ahead of the full days play on Saturday.

Miami Hurricanes @ Kansas State Wildcats Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-14930-Miami-Hurricanes-at-Kansas-State-Wildcat.htm)

Auburn Tigers @ Mississippi State Bulldogs Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-14931-Auburn-Tigers-at-Mississippi-State.htm)

North Carolina Tar Heels @ Wake Forest Demon Deacons Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-14932-North-Carolina-at-Wake-Forest.htm)

Idaho Vandals @ Bowling Green Falcons Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-14933-Idaho-Vandals-at-Bowling-Green.htm)

Ball State Cardinals @ Clemson Tigers Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-14934-Ball-State-Cardinals-at-Clemson-Tigers.htm)

Florida Gators @ Texas A&M Aggies Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-14941-Florida-Gators-at-Texas-A&M-Aggies.htm)

Wisconsin Badgers @ Oregon State Beavers Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-14940-Wisconsin-Badgers-at-Oregon-State-Beavers.htm)

UTEP Miners @ Mississippi Rebels Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-14943-UTEP-Miners-at-Mississippi-Rebels.htm)

MY PICKS: Kansas State Wildcats - 7 Points @ 2.00 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Mississippi State Bulldogs - 3 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
North Carolina Tar Heels - 10.5 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Bowling Green Falcons - 17 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Clemson Tigers - 27.5 Points @ 1.92 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Florida Gators @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Wisconsin Badgers - 7 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Mississippi Rebels - 8.5 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)

Week 1: 2-4, - 2.10 Units

Season 2011: 63-36, + 23.25 Units (99 Units Staked, + 23.5% Yield)

NFL Week 1 Picks 2012

Finally, the NFL season begins on Wednesday 5th September and it just seems the months have rushed by since the New York Giants knocked off the New England Patriots to pick up their second SuperBowl win in the last five seasons.

I have made my projections for all the teams in the NFL this season, although injuries, momentum and bad calls can all change a 16 game season very quickly.

My AFC projections can be found here

My NFC projections can be found here

The one element that no one will be able to understand this season will be how will the replacement referees do- their pre-season showing was, errr, disappointing to say the least so watch out for bad calls this time around after the lockout affected 2011 season.

As always, my picks will be coming out on here at staggered times with the games spread from Wednesday through to Monday, but I will provide a link to this post whenever I make new picks.

Dallas Cowboys @ New York Giants Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-14891-Dallas-Cowboys-at-New-York-Giants.htm)

Philadelphia Eagles @ Cleveland Browns Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-14950-Philadelphia-Eagles-at-Cleveland-Browns.htm)

St Louis Rams @ Detroit Lions Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-14951-St-Louis-Rams-at-Detroit-Lions.htm)

Washington Redskins @ New Orleans Saints Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-14953-Washington-Redskins-at-New-Orleans-Saints.htm)

New England Patriots @ Tennessee Titans Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-14967-New-England-Patriots-at-Tennessee-Titans.htm)

Miami Dolphins @ Houston Texans Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-14966-Miami-Dolphins-at-Houston-Texans.htm)

San Francisco 49ers @ Green Bay Packers Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-14968-San-Francisco-49ers-at-Green-Bay-Packers.htm)

Cincinnati Bengals @ Baltimore Ravens Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-14977-Cincinnati-Bengals-at-Baltimore-Ravens.htm)

San Diego Chargers @ Oakland Raiders Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-14986-San-Diego-Chargers-at-Oakland-Raiders.htm)

MY PICKS: New York Giants-Dallas Cowboys Over 45 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Philadelphia Eagles - 9.5 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (3 Units)
Detroit Lions - 8.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (3 Units)

New Orleans Saints - 9 Points @ 2.05 Paddy Power (2 Units)
New England - 4.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Houston Texans - 12.5 Points @ 1.92 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Green Bay Packers - 5 Points @ 1.95 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Baltimore Ravens - 6.5 Points and Over 40.5 Points @ 3.50 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Oakland Raiders - 1.5 Points and Over 46.5 Points @ 3.60 Paddy Power (1 Unit)

NFL Preview 2012 (AFC Conference)

It does only feel like yesterday that we saw the New York Giants knock off the New England Patriots to win the SuperBowl, but the new season is upon us and I can't wait for the kick off.

I actually think the NFC is the stronger Conference of the two and I wouldn't be surprised if they pick up their fourth straight SuperBowl win and their fifth in the last six seasons. There are a number of teams that look capable of going all the way in the NFC, but that just makes it harder to pick a potential winner before the season starts.

Below I will have a brief look at all the teams in the AFC Conference and how I think their prospects are for the new season. Of course things are always likely to change with injuries being a major part of the sport and, depending on who is unfortunate to miss time, that can change the prospects of teams dramatically.

My forecast for how teams do is obviously based on how the teams look at this stage. For example, I think New England are going to win a bunch of games, but that would not be the case if Tom Brady was injured for the season as he was in 2008. So any forecast I have made for teams have to be taken with that pinch of salt in mind.

My preview of the teams in the NFC Conference can be found here.

AFC East

New England Patriots (13-3) Record last year in bracket

Last years SuperBowl Runners-Up remain one of the elite teams in the AFC and they look head and shoulders above the rest of their rivals in the AFC East as far as I am concerned.

Tom Brady has been given a new deep-threat with the signing of Brandon Lloyd, while I expect the two Tight End set to pose plenty of match up problems for Defenses they face. The running game will be governed by Steven Ridley since Ben-Jarvus Green-Ellis was allowed to move on, but the key to their whole Offense remains Brady and I have no doubt they will continue racking up the points.

The biggest question mark on the team remains a Defense that finished 31 in yards per game last year, one that will now be missing the pass rushing ability of Mark Anderson, Andre Carter and Shaun Ellis. That means Number 1 Draft Pick, Chandler Jones, will be expected to fit straight on to the Defensive Line, but they definitely look a little weaker if trying to get to the opposition Quarter Back.

The Secondary are capable of turning the ball over, but they may have a hard time if there is a lack of pressure up front. However, this deficiency is unlikely to stop them winning the AFC East as I don't think any of the teams they face have a consistent passing game to take advantage, but they will need to improve play if they are to get back to the big game in February.

New England do not face a horrible schedule and only meet four teams that made the Play Offs last season, three of those coming at home. Looking through their schedule, I am expecting the Patriots to win at least 13 games, and they could finish with an even better record if the Defense improves a little from last year.

Buffalo Bills (6-10)

The Buffalo Bills haven't made the Play Offs since 1999, but they do look a team on the rise and may be in contention for a Wild Card spot with a bit of fortune and better health this season.

My biggest issue with the Bills is an Offense that struggled in the second half of last season after Ryan Fitzpatrick signed a huge contract extension. However, they do get Fred Jackson back this season and I think they will be capable of running the ball with either him or CJ Spiller coming out of the backfield.

My problem is the Quarter Back and the Receivers as I don't particularly rate them highly, but the Offensive Line should be improved and Fitzpatrick may get a little more time to make the right decisions. Stevie Johnson and David Nelson don't exactly get the blood rushing in the receiving areas, but they do seem to have some sort of chemistry with the QB and that can be enough to keep things ticking over.

While the Offense may struggle for consistency without the big play-makers at receiver, the Defense is vastly improved this year and could be one of the better ones in the NFL if they can maintain some health.

Mario Williams was the big off-season signing and he is going to help provide a stronger pass rush with Mark Anderson and their additions to the Defensive Line gives Buffalo one of the best in the NFL when teamed with Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus. Stephon Gilmore will be a starter at Corner Back after being picked up as the first choice in the Draft and the Secondary may just be helped out by the front four that should be able to put plenty of pressure on the opposition Quarter Back.

The Buffalo Defense looks very capable as long as the front four can stay healthy and get the pressure on the opposition Quarter Back as I expect they can. The Linebackers have experience, while the Secondary will only be helped if the front four are as good as they look like they can be.

I would have projected Buffalo as a definite Wild Card team if the schedule had been kinder and if I had full faith their starting Defense can stay healthy. Their first nine games are tough, but if the Bills can get out of that at 4-5, there is a chance they can finish with a 10-6 record with full health and may possibly be enough to move into the Play Offs.

New York Jets (8-8)

The New York Jets fell apart from inside the dressing room last year and that saw them fail to make the Play Offs after getting to the AFC Championship Game in each of the previous two seasons.

Bringing in Tim Tebow to the mix looks like a move that will either bring these players together or one that will see the Jets fall apart and end the Rex Ryan era in New York.

Mark Sanchez is the current starting Quarter Back and Tebow is expected to run certain packages for the Offense. Sanchez has struggled for consistency in his three seasons in the NFL and it will be interesting to see how long the crowd give him before they start calling for Tebow to start.

The Offense struggled altogether last season and I don't see enough improvements to them this season. The Wide Receiver position looks weak, while Shonn Greene is inconsistent running the ball.

Last year the Defense struggled against the run, but they do look better equipped to deal with that this year, while the Secondary remains one of the better ones in the NFL. There will be hope that Quinton Coples can help generate a more effective pass rush from the Defensive Ends this season and I do expect the Jets to have one of the higher ranked Defenses in the League.

I don't particularly like their schedule, especially in the early weeks of the season, and it may be tough for them to make a return to the Play Offs. Personally I think they may end with the same record as last season and finish 8-8, but it could get worse if they have the same infighting as last season as I don't see them being better than 4-4 at their bye week.

On the other hand, if the Jets surpass expectations, their two games against Buffalo may decide which of these AFC East teams, if either, gets into the Play Offs as a Wild Card team.

Miami Dolphins (6-10)

It hasn't been the best few years to be a Miami Dolphins fan and I don't foresee too much changing in 2012 with plenty more questions than answers about their team.

In the off-season, Miami missed out on picking up Peyton Manning and then decided to deal Brandon Marshall just before the Draft. Ryan Tannehill was the Number 1 Draft Choice, but he looks like being kept out for the year to get up to speed with the NFL.

Miami look like a team that is going to have a hard time on Offense as they just don't have the receiving playmakers needed to be competitive in this tough Division. The Wide Receivers are Brian Hartline and Davone Bess with Anthony Fasano at Tight End, while there are serious questions over whether Matt Moore or David Garrard start behind the Offensive Line, which should be stronger than last year.

There is some hope that Reggie Bush can continue running the ball effectively and he will be joined by Daniel Thomas in the backfield.

The Defense remains the strength of the team and they were very effective against the run last season and I expect they will be the same again this year. However, there is a lack of depth in the Defensive Line and the loss of Jason Taylor will still be an issue. The Dolphins have a solid set of Linebackers, but they will want to get more pressure on the opposition Quarter Back and not just rely on Cameron Wake to get the job done.

Miami's Secondary could have been upgraded with the signing of Richard Marshall who will likely be the starter opposite Vontae Davis with Sean Smith backing them up.

The team have had just one winning record in the past six seasons and I don't think they are ready to have one this season as they are still rebuilding the Offense. The new Head Coach is Joe Philbin, who was the Offensive Co-Ordinator at Green Bay last season, so he should be able to get something out of the team, but they are limited in terms of talent on the Offensive side of the ball as far as I am concerned.

I initially thought Miami could at least get up to 6 wins in the Division, but moves since I first wrote this has changed my expectations completely, while they will be starting the rookie Ryan Tannehill at Quarter Back... There is every chance that the Fins may finish with the worst record in the NFL, but my heart is looking at a 4-12 record with a bit of luck.

AFC North

Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4)

The Pittsburgh Steelers failed to win the AFC North last season, but they were the favourites to win their Wild Card game against the Denver Broncos before losing in a shocker to Tim Tebow in Overtime.

Pittsburgh remain one of the favourites in the AFC, but the defence is a year older after struggling at times last season and they did really have a hard time earning turnovers. However, they did finish as the Number 1 Ranked defence when it came to points per game and they remain a tough team to score upon.

The bigger question for this squad may be on the offensive side of the ball as they bring in Todd Haley as Offensive Co-Ordinator... This move has not been well received by Ben Roethlisberger as Bruce Arians, a good friend of his, was removed from that post for Haley and there could be a chance in how Pittsburgh attack defences with more emphasis likely to be on the running game.

Mike Wallace continues to be a hold out as he wants a much larger contract and that will take down the quality of the receiving corps if it is not resolved, while Rashard Mendenhall is expected to open the season on the PUP list.

The Offensive Line has at least been upgraded with a couple of Draft Picks and I expect the more balanced offense to protect Roethlisberger a little more as he takes far too many sacks and can be a little beaten up as the season draws into Play Off time.

I have pegged Pittsburgh to reclaim the AFC North title with them having a slightly easier schedule than Baltimore and I wouldn't be surprised if they can get back to the 12 win table after reaching that total in three of the last four years. The Steelers will need to win a couple of really tough road games if they are to reach that total (games at Denver, Tennessee, Cincinnati and Dallas).

Baltimore Ravens (12-4)

Baltimore were literally a slip of a catch away from winning the AFC Championship Game at New England last season and playing in the SuperBowl (also missed a game tying Field Goal from around 27 yards at the end of regulation) and now they arrive into the 2012 season a year older on defence and missing a monster of a component in Terrell Suggs.

Suggs was the Defensive Player of the Year last season but tore his achilles in the off-season and is not due back before November at the very earliest, while the likes of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are another year older (even if they haven't looked like missing a step). There will be some expectation on Courtney Upshaw, their top pick in the Draft, to come in and play immediately in place of Jarret Johnson who signed with San Diego in Free Agency, while Paul Kruger should start in place of Suggs.

The Ravens have also had to replace Defensive Co-Ordinator Chuck Pegano who has taken over as the Head Coach of Indianapolis, but Dean Pees is another internal promotion so I expect the defence to be as tough as ever.

Joe Flacco will be still be looking for a little more consistency in his Quarter Back play, but he showed he has the big game temperament with three solid games against Pittsburgh (twice) and New England in the AFC Championship Game. The Offensive Line remains strong, although the loss of Ben Grubbs to New Orleans could affect the run game as it did when he was injured last season and the Ravens will be using a rookie at Left Guard.

Ray Rice is still one of the most versatile backs in the NFL as he is a real threat in the passing game out of the backfield and he should be ready for a big season after signing a new contract. As long as the Ravens can adjust to running the ball without Grubbs, they remain one of the favourites in the AFC.

I have got them finishing behind Pittsburgh mainly because of the schedule as they have trips to Philadelphia, Houston, San Diego and a potentially improved Kansas City to deal with while also hosting both SuperBowl teams from last season as well as being in this tough Division. I still think the Ravens get into double-digit wins, but that may not be enough to retain their title from last season although I do think they will get into the Wild Card spots for the Play Offs.

Cincinnati Bengals (9-7)

Not many people would have tipped Cincinnati to have finished with a winning record last season, and even fewer would have picked them as a Play Off team as they were set to start a rookie at Quarter Back and they were losing their best player in the Secondary (Jonathan Joseph).

It was a surprising season all around and the expectations have been raised as Andy Dalton and AJ Green (WR) move into their second seasons- Green may find it tougher as teams will be aware of his ability and had already began double-teaming him last season and there isn't another receiver opposite him that will take those away.

The defence may have given up 20.2 points per game last season (24th in the NFL), but they didn't give up many yards (7th) and are expected to be amongst the leaders again this season. It also has to be said that outside of Pittsburgh and Baltimore, only Denver (pre-Tebow) managed to score 24 points against the Bengals.

Cincinnati made some additions to the defence, particularly top pick in the Draft Dre Kirkpatrick, and they should be just as strong as last season if not improved.

Even with that in mind, Cincinnati may actually regress in terms of wins this season as they are in the tough AFC North that has to also play the NFC East which is one of the toughest, if not THE toughest, Divisions in the NFL. Their games before their bye week could see the Bengals as good as 5-2, but their schedule is very tough after that and I believe they will finish without a winning record this season.

Cleveland Browns (4-12)

Cleveland are still in a process of rebuilding and have also just been bought by Jim Haslem, a '1000 percent Steeler fan'.

They spent their first couple of picks in the Draft in bringing in an upgrade at Quarter Back, Brandon Weeden, and Trent Richardson at Running Back in a bid to get the offense going after failing to average more than 17 points per game in any of the last four seasons.

Richardson has had surgery on his knee, but is expected to start in the first game of the season. Weeden's accuracy at the QB position should at least get the likes of Mohamed Massaquoi, Greg Little and Benjamin Watson going.

There has to be better play from the Offensive Line who gave up 39 sacks last season and didn't open up the running lanes, but their improvement at QB and RB should help both of these numbers.

The Browns defence is perhaps a little under-appreciated, but they will be missing Phillip Taylor with injury, while Scott Fujita and Joe Haden are both likely to be suspended and will miss three and four games respectively.

Dick Jauron is the Defensive Co-Ordinator here and I expect them to be stronger in the second year in his system, but the team is unlikely to move out of the basement in this tough Division.

While I do think Cleveland are moving the right way, they still have some ways to go and their schedule has not done them any favours which means I think they struggle to surpass last seasons 4 wins. There are some winnable games on the schedule this season, but I can't see more than 3/4 wins without a couple of surprise results heading their way.

AFC South

Houston Texans (10-6)

It won't be a surprise to anyone that I am projecting the Houston Texans to win the AFC South for a second season in succession as they return some familiar players to the starting line up, although losing a couple of key pieces.

Matt Schaub actually missed the end of last season as Houston looked capable of really challenging for the AFC Championship and a place in the SuperBowl, and his presence will be key to once again powering this Offense that is capable of scoring plenty of points.

The Quarter Back play is pretty good, but is aided by playmakers like Andre Johnson, Arian Foster (as long as both can stay healthy) and Owen Daniels. The Offensive Line has lost Eric Winston this season and that leaves some question marks on them on that side of the ball, but there is too much talent to prevent them averaging more than the 23.4 points per game they managed last season.

Wade Phillips came in as Defensive Co-Ordinator last season and he worked wonders in helping them to the Number 2 defence in terms of yards per game and Number 4 in terms of points per game allowed.

He changed the formation into a 3-4 defence, although some may be concerned by losing Mario Williams in Free Agency. However, Brook Reeds managed 6 sacks as a rookie in place of an injured Williams last season and he will now be a starter opposite Connor Barwin, who had 11.5 sacks last season, at the outside linebacker positions.

Bradie James has been brought in to replace DeMeco Ryans as an inside linebacker and should fit in to the system having played for Phillips in Dallas and the defence looks capable of being one of the better ones again in the NFL as they continue to have the ability to rush the Quarter Back with their front 7.

The Texans are in a weak Division and look capable of reaching double-digit wins again as they are given a schedule that is similar in strength to the one they faced in 2011. They would have finished with more than 10 wins in 2011 if they hadn't started looking ahead to the Play Offs (losing their last 3 games), but I have them getting back to that total this time and hosting a Wild Card game in the Play Offs.

Tennessee Titans (9-7)

The Tennessee Titans were a surprise team to me last season as I didn't expect them to finish with a winning record, but it could be tough for them to repeat that in 2012 despite being in a Division with Jacksonville and Indianapolis.

I expect Chris Johnson to have a much better season after he just cracked 1000 yards for the season at an average of 4 yards per carry in 2011 a year after going for 1364 yards at 4.3 yards per carry and then being rewarded with a big contract extension.

A lot of the offense will go through Johnson with Matt Hasselbeck likely to keep his starting job despite the Titans making a big effort to bring in Peyton Manning in Free Agency. There is a chance that Jake Locker will take over as the starter at some point in the season, especially if the Titans are struggling.

Kendall Wright (WR) may be a bigger part of the offense in his rookie season than he might have expected with Kenny Britt once again in trouble with the law and likely to miss some time through suspension and he is also coming off a ACL tear that prematurely ended his 2011 season.

The defence was the real strength of this team, although they did struggle to get to the Quarter Back in 2011 and they have brought in Kamerion Wimbley from Oakland with that in mind. Cortland Finnegan CB) has moved on so they have got younger in that position, although they could have a tough time if there is not enough pressure from the front 7.

Tennessee face a really tough schedule on slate in 2012 and I can't see how they get back to a winning record- in fact, they may just struggle to even get back up to 8 wins and I foresee them having a losing record for only the second time in the last seven seasons.

Indianapolis Colts (2-14)

The Indianapolis Colts 'won' the chance to pick Andrew Luck in the NFL Draft and that means it is the end of the Peyton Manning era here as he was allowed to move on. There has been a total in-house clearance in Indianapolis as Jim Irsay got set to move onto this new era in the Colts history.

Chuck Pegano, Baltimore's former Defensive Co-Ordinator, has taken over as the Head Coach and the vast majority of the Coaches are in their first year at the Colts. This means a change in systems and getting new ideas across that will surely lead to a rebuilding year.

Andrew Luck will get Reggie Wayne, Austin Collie and Donny Avery as potential receivers and he also has Coby Fleener at Tight End, his team-mate and safety blanket at Stanford last year. However, the Offensive Line is being rebuilt, while Indianapolis will look to their running backs to keep the pressure off their rookie Quarter Back.

The defence will now have to learn a new system as they move to a 3-4 formation, a situation that can only lead to more struggles following last season when they finished 29th in yards per game allowed and 28th in points per game allowed.

There have been a lot of goings from the roster, but the schedule will provide them an opportunity to maybe double the wins from last season as they get to play Jacksonville (twice), Tennessee (twice), Cleveland, Miami and Minnesota (all at home). That schedule may also see them finish above Jacksonville in the Division if they can get to 4 wins.

Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11)

Shahid Khan took over as the new owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars last season and has promised to keep the franchise here and not move to Los Angeles, although he will be hoping they can attract fans to the stadium to support the team.

That won't be easy considering how bad they looked last season, despite the 5 wins, and the team with the worst offensive yards per game in the NFL are unlikely to have improved much this season. Maurice Jones-Drew is their main, and some would say only, weapon in this offense, but he has been holding out in the off-season as he wants a new contract and that may have set him back... How much will depend when he returns.

The Jaguars did try to increase their production by bringing in Laurent Robinson and Justin Blackmon as receivers for Blaine Gabbert, but the Quarter Back will really need to have upped his game in the off-season after a terrible rookie season when he looked lost at times.

Jacksonville do have a decent defence that can keep them in games and the signing of Aaron Ross (CB) in Free Agency will make their Secondary that little bit tougher. They are tough to run on having held teams to 3.8 yards per carry last season, but the pressure on the Jaguars will be in keeping games as close as they can and that will mean the offense at least finding a way to move the chains with consistency and giving the defence a chance to rest.

The schedule looks a tough one to negotiate and I think they will fall short of the 5 wins they managed last year and, if things fall a little badly, they may have their worst season since joining the NFL (4-12 record).

AFC West

San Diego Chargers (8-8)

The San Diego Chargers haven't won the AFC West in the last couple of seasons, but they are still the best team in this Division as far as I am concerned. They have had 6 seasons with a winning record in the last 8 years and it was only a collapse in the middle of the 2011 season that cost them a chance of making it back to the Play Offs for the first time since 2009 (the Chargers went 1-6 after a 4-1 start that saw them lose their way in the Division).

Philip Rivers is still the best Quarter Back in the AFC West even though the Denver Broncos have brought Peyton Manning into the mix. Rivers continually denied having an injury last season as he made a lot of mistakes, but I am sure there was something not right with him and he is someone that is still within the elite at this position in the NFL.

He no longer has the option of throwing to Vincent Jackson as he moved on in Free Agency, but the Chargers brought in Robert Meachem who will provide the deep threat, while Malcom Floyd is a huge target that may have his best season in the NFL as long as he can stay healthy. Antonio Gates is still a top receiving threat although there are some depth issues with Vincent Brown breaking his ankle in the pre-season.

Ryan Mathews will carry the workload from the running back position now Mike Tolbert has left in Free Agency, but he has to be a concern with numerous injuries affecting him in his first two years in the League.

The Defense has been upgraded in a bid to improve their form from a season ago and they have brought in Jarret Johnson from the Baltimore Ravens to provide another pass rusher opposite Shaun Phillips from the outside linebacker spot, while they also spent their first draft pick on Melvin Ingram who had 19 sacks in his last 2 seasons at South Carolina.

San Diego should also have a stouter Defensive Line and the players in the front 7 may just cover up the deficiencies in the Secondary, giving the Chargers the edge in the AFC West.

This is a tough Division, but the Chargers schedule has given them a chance to have a winning record and that may be enough for them to take it. San Diego need to make a fast start like last season and they will need to go into their bye no worse than 4-2. If they can get to there, I see them getting 9 or 10 wins this season and we have seen a winning record take this Division in 5 of the last 6 seasons.

The Chargers are also 5-1 against Peyton Manning in his career.

Denver Broncos (8-8)

Last season, the Tim Tebow story captured the imagination of the nation as he led the Denver Broncos into the Play Offs and through to the Divisional Round in the Play Offs. However, Tebow never sat well with John Elway, the Hall of Fame former Quarter Back of the Broncos and the current Executive V-P of Football Operations here in Denver, and it was no surprise when they made a play for Peyton Manning in Free Agency.

Manning turned down the chance to go to Tennessee and San Francisco to play here (I was very surprised he didn't pick the 49ers, but he didn't want to play in the same Conference as little brother Eli).

There are still a lot of question marks about Manning and his health and that is either going to make, or break, the Denver Broncos season.

IF Manning is healthy and get back to anything like his old self, the entire Denver offense has been upgraded and I expect better numbers from the Wide Receivers. The Broncos have been smart in bringing in two players that will know Manning's plays, and I expect the likes of Jacob Tamme and Brandon Stokley to have positive impacts on the rest of the receiving corps.

Willis McGahee should help keep Manning upright if he can run the ball as effectively as he did last season, but the Offensive Line does have some question marks and have to improve markedly from the 41 sacks they allowed last season if they are to help the Quarter Back avoid any serious hits.

Last season, Tim Tebow was getting all the attention, but the Defense was playing at a very high level down the stretch and keeping the Broncos in games and allowing the magical 4th Quarter comebacks to be made. While it is has been possible to use the running game against them, the hope will be that Peyton Manning can build leads and force teams to throw.

That will bring in to play the likes of Von Miller, DJ Williams and Elvis Dumervil who are all very capable at getting to the opposition Quarter Back in passing downs, while Champ Bailey and Tracy Porter can make plays in the Secondary.

Denver do face a really tough schedule and that is why I have projected the Chargers to finish above them in the AFC West and I also think the Broncos may just miss the Play Offs. They have a very difficult start as they host Pittsburgh and Houston while travelling to Atlanta (all Play Off teams in 2011) and I think it would be a real achievement for them to be better than 2-4 at their bye week as they also travel to New England and San Diego in that time.

The schedule is a little more manageable after the bye, but visits to Cincinnati, Kansas City and Baltimore are still on slate and it wouldn't be a massive surprise to me if they finish with the same 8-8 record as last season.

Kansas City Chiefs (7-9)

There have been a number of changes from 12 months ago as Todd Haley is no longer the Head Coach here having been replaced by Romeo Crennel. There is also a new Offensive Co-Ordinator and Special Teams Co-Ordinator, while the expectations are massively reduced after finishing with a losing record the year after winning the AFC West with 10 wins.

Injuries really took their toll on the Chiefs last season as Matt Cassel, Jamaal Charles, Tony Moeaki and Eric Berry were four of the big names that missed much of the season.

Cassel will once again be the starting Quarter Back for the Chiefs and will be expected to manage the game, while making a few big throws to the likes of Dwayne Bowe (who has signed his franchise tag tender) and Tony Moeaki.

Charles will share time at the running back position with Peyton Hillis as they look to replicate the one-two punch of a couple of seasons ago when Charles was paired with Thomas Jones. The running game should improve their numbers as the Offensive Line has also been upgraded with Eric Winston being signed as the new Right Tackle.

The Defense has lost a key component in Brandon Carr in the Secondary, but they did sign Stanford Routt from Divisional rivals Oakland to take over one of the Corner Back spots opposite Brandon Flowers, while Eric Berry's return from injury will strengthen the unit.

Kansas City have upgraded the Defensive Line by choosing Dontari Poe as their first pick in the Draft, and only 1 team scored more than 16 points against them in the last 5 games of the regular season in 2011.

There does look to be a lot of upside in the Chiefs this season and I have had a hard time separating them and the Denver Broncos if I am honest. If they are still in contention after their first 9 games, the games do get 'easier' down the stretch and they may just surprise everyone by taking the AFC West for the second time in three years.

I think they will surpass the 7 wins from last season, but they may have to settle for the same 8-8 record as Denver although there is a real possibility they do finish with a winning record if they are better than 3-6 after 9 games.

Oakland Raiders (8-8)

Oakland bet the house on Carson Palmer last season as they traded two Number 1 picks in the Draft and a Number 2 to bring him in from the Cincinnati Bengals, but they lost 3 of their last 4 games to lose control of the AFC West and ended with an 8-8 record.

Palmer has not had an off-season to work with the Oakland Raiders staff, but there has been a huge turnover in staff and new systems need to be put in place. There is some real speed in the Receiving areas and I think the off-season will have given them a chance to work on some real chemistry in this area.

And those receivers may just find a little more space to use their quickness as Darren McFadden will be back running the ball for Oakland after missing 10 games with an injury. McFadden has the ability to take the ball to the house from any position on the field and that threat is going to force defenses to respect the running game here and that should help the passing game no end.

While I do think the Offense will be improved, the Defense will be missing Kamerion Wimbley and Stanford Routt from a year ago, and there are some real depth issues which means they will have the pressure of staying healthy to keep the Raiders involved in the Division.

There are still some talented players on the Defense like Richard Seymour, Tommy Kelly and Rolando McClain, but they have to have a lot more success in pressurising the Quarter Back in passing situations if they are to cover up a weaker Secondary, while also improving a rush Defense that gave up 5.1 yards per carry in 2011.

Oakland do not have the kindest schedule and I think they are unfortunate in playing the more 'winnable teams' on the road. The Offense has the capabilities of being really explosive this season so they may just surprise me, but they have a new Head Coach, Offensive Co-Ordinator and Defensive Co-Ordinator and that means I have them falling short of the 8 wins they recorded last season and I think they will get around 6 wins and have their first losing record since 2009.

I still think all roads in the AFC are going to pass through New England, although there are some credible threats in the Conference through Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Houston.

I do really like the Texans, but I wouldn't want to back them having to go to a cold New England in January and unfortunately I think the Patriots are going to have the best record in the Conference with the schedule on slate.

Both Baltimore and Pittsburgh could provide much sterner tests to the Patriots, even on the road, but I do think New England are the right favourites to win the Conference as we stand right now. However, they may have to beat both the powerhouses from the AFC North in consecutive weeks and that may be enough to see them knocked off before the SuperBowl.

These four teams do look the pick of the Conference and I expect one of them will be playing in the SuperBowl, although that is hardly pushing the envelope in making a prediction.

AFC Play Off Team Prediction: New England, Pittsburgh, Houston, San Diego, Baltimore and Buffalo