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Thursday, 31 October 2013

NFL Week 9 Picks 2013 (October 31-November 4)

Last week was terrible for me personally in terms of a really busy period at work and the fact that my phone has stopped working meaning I can't do much for the blog while I am on the move. Thankfully, this week isn't seeing too many late finishes, at least not early in the week, and I have the chance to put up a full post for this week's NFL slate of games.

The last couple of weeks have been very solid for the picks after a horrible Week 6 when a lot of luck deserted me, but that came back the last couple of weeks to keep the season moving in the right direction. This is now the time of the season when injuries are going to really start affecting teams and there are plenty of big name players that have already seen their seasons come to a close and that is what makes picking a Super Bowl winner so demanding back in September.

Week 8 Thoughts
Half Term Report: Technically we have reached just short of the half way point, but it is still a good time to see how the NFL is shaping up as there have been enough games to separate contenders and those teams that are almost done as a Play Off threat.

Injuries have really killed the Atlanta Falcons at this stage and the consensus pick for the NFC South, and a trendy Super Bowl pick, are almost certainly out of contention already. Other teams that have really disappointed me are Pittsburgh, Houston, Tampa Bay and the New York Giants.

I thought all of those could have been potential Play Off teams, but I am less surprised by Washington and Minnesota's drop from last season.

The biggest surprise is comfortably the Kansas City Chiefs, although I again said they would be a lot better than last season thanks to that Defense, but I didn't think they would be the last unbeaten team left in the NFL. Detroit are 5-3 and playing up to the potential they have, but a dark horse could be the Carolina Panthers who have turned around their form far earlier than last season and finally have a winning record for the first time in years.

New England will win the AFC East, but they are not going to win the AFC: It seems easy to say which team won't make the Super Bowl, but I am going further with the New England Patriots as I think they could potentially be ripe for the Wild Card Weekend upset if they don't improve rapidly.

New England were fortunate to beat the Miami Dolphins on Sunday and that win had more to do with their opponents losing their way than anything else. Tom Brady hasn't looked himself and his hand definitely is giving him some problems, while the Receivers are still learning.

The most pressing concern will come from the injuries occurred on the Defensive side of the ball and I don't think they would be able to slow down Denver in a straight shoot-out, while both Indianapolis and Cincinnati definitely look too good. If Kansas City win the AFC West, Denver could be a potential visitor to New England in the Wild Card Round and I just don't think this Patriots team is good enough to go all the way in the AFC.

The disappointment of a Miami Dolphins fan: After going 3-0, I did say Miami were probably fortunate to get to that position, but I was expecting more than the team going 0-4 in their next four games. In fact, it can be said that Miami have blown at least 2 of those games, possibly 3 of those games, and much of that is down to mistakes made by the Offense.

Ryan Tannehill is only in his second season, but he has to do better when it comes to protecting the ball- it isn't the Interceptions that bother me, although a couple of those have been down to poor decision making, but the fumbles are beginning to hurt the Dolphins massively.

It's the strip sack that cost Miami the game against Buffalo and he had another against the Patriots as Miami blew a 17-3 half time lead... He has to do better, but if you can't look after the ball, you just won't win too many games.

Tannehill is young and I think he has shown enough to believe he will lead the Dolphins to better things, especially as he hasn't been protected effectively all season, but he has to show the fans improvements and not regress into bad throws as he has at times. Unfortunately, coming up against the hot Cincinnati Bengals on a short week isn't the best way to turn things around.

Should fans be concerned about Peyton Manning? There has definitely been some issue for Peyton Manning the last couple of weeks, but I think the bye is going to come at exactly the right time for the veteran Quarter Back.

He did look a little beaten up in the game against Washington, while Manning has been listed with a ankle injury but we won't really know how much that bothers him just yet. I would be more concerned if the Offensive Line can't improve their play with games against Kansas City in their second half of the season.

Manning might not have the perfect deep ball any more, but he is still capable of leading this team to glory although I will again say the Offensive Line has to improve and the Defense has to show they can at least slow teams down a little and not need their Offense to put up over 40 points to win games.

The Giants are back in the NFC East: I said above that the New York Giants have been one of the most disappointing teams of the season as far as I am concerned, but it says a lot about the NFC East that they are still in the Division.

Being 1-2 in the Division is a problem for the Giants when considering Dallas are 2 games in front of them with a 3-0 record in the East, but it is New York who have the momentum and will go into their bye to prepare for a 3 game stretch at home.

One of those games is against Dallas and New York could be right back in contention in the Division if they can 2-1 in their next 3 games as long as one of those wins is against the Cowboys. I predicted an 8-8 record could be enough to win the NFC East at the start of the season and it is a big ask for the Giants to go 6-2 in the second half of the season considering the schedule they have left.

However, Tom Coughlin and the Giants will be glad that their season isn't over yet and they could still surprise by winning the East, although I would back Dallas if I was picking a team today.

Top Five
1) Kansas City Chiefs (8-0): I am not convinced about the Chiefs, as I have said all season, but they remain the last unbeaten team so deserve the top spot... They do remind me of the last time the Chiefs made the Play Offs and were blown out by Baltimore though and I would like to see what this team would do if they went down by a couple of scores.

2) Denver Broncos (7-1): Bye has come at the right time to try and get Peyton Manning back up to full health.

3) Seattle Seahawks (7-1): Bad day in the office for the Offense against St Louis and now they have lost Sidney Rice for the season and Percy Harvin has had a setback in his return to action.

4) New Orleans Saints (6-1): Jimmy Graham is still hobbled, but the Saints have enough weapons to use the Tight End solely as a red zone threat.

5) San Francisco 49ers (6-2): The return to the power running game has sparked the 49ers and the team is getting healthier at the right time to make another run to the Super Bowl.

Honourable mentions: Cincinnati Bengals and Green Bay Packers

Bottom Five
32) Jacksonville Jaguars (0-8): They look even worse in real life than they do on TV.

31) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-7): I don't know if this team has given up on Greg Schiano, but the Defense has struggled to stop anyone the last three games... Finally someone has seen sense and Tampa Bay will at least be using Darrelle Revis in man coverage going forward.

30) Minnesota Vikings (1-6): Another team with no real belief and no chance of going anywhere this season.

29) Washington Redskins (2-5): Had a big lead in Denver, but the Offense couldn't keep things going and the Defense eventually played to the level they have all season and allowed the Broncos to win easily.

28) Houston Texans (2-5): Case Keenum will start at Quarter Back going forward and Houston have lost 5 in a row... Have to beat Indianapolis this weekend if the Texans are to maintain any real hope of making the Play Offs.

Week 9 Picks
It has been a good couple of weeks, although I will be the first to admit that Denver had no right covering last week as they were 25 points behind the spread in the third quarter before scoring three Touchdowns in a eight minute span. Denver ended up covering by more than a Touchdown, and that made up for the fact that Detroit only won by 1 point despite beating Dallas in almost all facets of the game except for the 4 turnovers the Cowboys created.

This week does look tougher on first glance, but hopefully the momentum of the last couple of weeks can be carried forward.

Cincinnati Bengals @ Miami Dolphins Pick: Jonathan Martin has been excused from the Miami Dolphins team after an incident in the cafeteria during the week and that is not good news for Ryan Tannehill who has been playing behind a shaky Offensive Line all season.

Tyson Clabo will come back in at Right Tackle, but he is going to be in for a long day against this Cincinnati pass rush up front and that is going to cause problems for Tannehill who has definitely regressed the last few weeks.

Miami have to do better with the play-calling that has been questioned all week, but it will be tough to run on the Bengals as much as they did against New England and that means trying to find Tannehill some time who will also be missing Brandon Gibson for the rest of the season.

The Bengals are off a near perfect performance in seeing off the New York Jets and they will still see this as a critical game to take. Andy Dalton is playing at his best level since joining the NFL, but he too will be under pressure from a Miami Defense that gets a lot of pressure up front. The Quarter Back can't rely on the Bengals establishing a running game, but will have to exercise the screen pass to Giovani Bernard and also hope Marvin Jones continues from where he left off against the Jets.

Dalton has steered clear of the Interceptions that have prevented him moving to the next level and the momentum is totally behind Cincinnati in this one. Turnovers have killed Miami during their 4 game losing run, and it is hard to see how they recover from some of the internal issues that have arisen going into this short week.

The Bengals have flattered to deceive in a road loss at Cleveland earlier this season, but I think they want to ride their momentum going into the game with Baltimore in ten days time and I like them for a unit to cover a spread that has hit the key number.

Atlanta Falcons @ Carolina Panthers Pick: This is a huge statement game for Carolina where they can put away a Divisional rival and also spark a real belief that they can either chase down the New Orleans Saints in the Division or get involved in the Wild Card race.

Carolina have a lot of momentum behind them and they have put together three good games, reminding me a little of the way they ended last season. The push has come earlier this time around and the Panthers do look a dangerous team going forward.

I expect they will be able to move the chains on the ground initially which will open the passing lanes for Cam Newton, while making the Atlanta Offense one-dimensional by slowing down Steven Jackson will help the Defense force Matt Ryan into awkward positions.

It is a big number for Carolina to cover in this one if Atlanta were a little healthier, but they have so many injuries on both sides of the ball that I just can't see the Falcons keeping up. Matt Ryan will make some plays, but Carolina should control the clock and their Defense looks the strongest unit on the field that should be able to make plays to give Cam Newton and the Offense extra possessions.

As I said, it is a big number, but I like the Panthers to make a statement to the rest of the NFC in this one.

Tennessee Titans @ St Louis Rams Pick: The Tennessee Titans are coming off a bye and will be fully focused on winning this game with a date against the dire Jacksonville Jaguars next on deck. Tennessee will look at this game as a chance to build momentum ahead of back to back Divisional games that will put them in a position to challenge for the AFC South crown.

On the other hand, I have been trying to figure all week how the St Louis Rams will get up for a non-Conference game on a short week after coming so close to beating a Divisional rival on Monday Night Football. The Rams put in everything they had in the gas tank to win that game, and I don't know how they could recover in time to be ready for this one.

The Jeff Fisher factor may inspire the home team who will want to win this game for their Head Coach against his former team, but that may not be enough for them.

Jake Locker is definitely the better Quarter Back playing in this one and I can see the Titans forcing Kellen Clemens into a couple of mistakes that allows them to leave here with the win. The spread has been stuck on a key number which doesn't help, but I like the Titans to cover here.

Minnesota Vikings @ Dallas Cowboys Pick: The Dallas Cowboys have been the team to back when it comes to against the spread this season and they covered in another losing effort last weekend.

That won't appease Cowboys fans who can't afford to see Dallas slip up in this game if they have serious ambitions to make it to the Play Offs. With games at New Orleans and New York Giants to come in the next two weeks, losing to a 1-6 Minnesota Vikings team at home is unthinkable.

Minnesota are off a big loss at home to Divisional rivals Green Bay Packers and will be starting Christian Ponder again at Quarter Back. He may have a little more success against a prevent Defense that Dallas run, while Adrian Peterson may finally get back on track as he deals with a hamstring issue.

The absence of Demarcus Ware will make life a little easier for Ponder, but I am not sure he has the confidence to take advantage behind an Offensive Line that has struggled to protect whoever lines up behind Center.

Dallas have also not looked that good Offensively in recent games, although they still have made some big plays. The lack of a running game has to be a concern, but DeMarco Murray may return this week to at least keep the Vikings honest and also offer better protection for Tony Romo. The Quarter Back has struggled for numbers the last couple of weeks, but Romo should be able to torch a Secondary that is playing a lot of young players and will be missing Harrison Smith.

I don't trust Christian Ponder in this game and I think the coaching staff haven't given him a lot of confidence that they believe in him. With Dallas well aware of the importance of winning this game ahead of two tough road games, I am going to back the Cowboys for a small stake.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Seattle Seahawks Pick: I wasn't the only person disappointed with the lack of intensity that Seattle showed on Monday Night against St Louis and the conspiracy theorists have had a field day in discussing why they didn't seem to be that interested in that game.

Pete Carroll won't care about spreads and all of that, but he will care that his team did win and will look to put some pressure on San Francisco by extending the lead in the NFC West while their rivals are on a bye week.

The absence of Sidney Rice does hurt his Offense, but home field is huge for Seattle and it is a big ask for Mike Glennon to make the plays to keep Tampa Bay in the game.

And if you want to talk about a lack of effort, the Buccaneers looked to have given up on Greg Schiano as they were beaten up by the Carolina Panthers and it will be interesting to see how they bounce back in one of the toughest environments in the NFL as a visiting team.

It is a big spread to cover considering how the Seattle Offense has looked the last couple of games and especially in the absence of Sidney Rice. However, Seattle are very strong at home and I can see their Defense forcing Mike Glennon to make a couple of mistakes and use those turnovers to power to a big win. The spread has started dropping to 14 points and I would definitely wait for that hook just as a safety valve.

Baltimore Ravens @ Cleveland Browns Pick: This is a huge AFC North game which has a lot of Play Off implications, especially for the Baltimore Ravens who will be expecting to get back to the post-season. A win would give them some momentum ahead of the game with Cincinnati, while they would also own the tie-breaker over Cleveland going forward.

They can't afford to take the Browns lightly as that team is playing far more competitive football than anyone would have expected once they traded away Trent Richardson. Cleveland have also knocked off the Cincinnati Bengals at home this season and they have a legit Defense that matches up well with Baltimore's Offense.

Neither team will have sustained success in this one as far as I am concerned, but Joe Flacco is likely to make the bigger plays compared with Jason Campbell and a healthier Ray Rice could prove pivotal to the game.

John Harbaugh is also very strong coming off a bye and has his team well prepared to win that game and the Ravens have dominated the recent series between these teams. I hate how small the spread is because it looks a big trap, but I will back Baltimore to win and cover here.

Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packers Pick: I think the Green Bay Packers Offense is more dangerous than it has ever been since Aaron Rodgers took over as Quarter Back... Well at least since their Super Bowl run.

The year the Packers won the title, it was down to the running of James Starks in the Play Offs that sparked them and I feel the arrival of Eddie Lacy gives them a genuine Running Back that teams have to be aware of. That opens things up for Aaron Rodgers and his array of talent and this is going to be a big ask for the Chicago Bears to slow Green Bay down.

And that means Josh McCown has to find a way to spark an Offense to keep up with a high-scoring team like Green Bay. Personally I just don't think the back up is going to be capable of doing that in this game, especially if Matt Forte is taken away in the manner Green Bay have managed to do in recent games.

Brandon Marshall will likely get his catches, but McCown is going to be under pressure up front and I think it is a big ask for him to try and keep the Bears close with the Packers in this one.

One thing to factor in perhaps is the fact that Aaron Rodgers is 8-2 against the Chicago Bears as the starter for Green Bay... However, he has never beaten them on Monday Night Football where he suffered his 2 defeats against the Bears.

Even with that strange statistic in mind, Green Bay have been too good for Chicago at home and I like them to win this one going away.

MY PICKS: Cincinnati Bengals - 3 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Carolina Panthers - 7 Points @ 1.83 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Tennessee Titans - 3 Points @ 2.05 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Dallas Cowboys - 9.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)

Seattle Seahawks - 14 Points @ 1.92 William Hill (2 Units)
Baltimore Ravens - 2 Points @ 1.95 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Green Bay Packers - 10 Points @ 1.95 Bet Victor (2 Units)

Week 8: 5-3, + 4.64 Units
Week 7: 7-2, + 5.70 Units
Week 62-7, - 8.15 Units
Week 54-4, + 0.35 Units
Week 47-1, + 9.27 Units
Week 33-4-1, - 1.10 Units
Week 26-1, + 6.46 Units
Week 15-6, - 3.50 Units

Season 2013: 39-28-1, + 13.67 Units
Season 2012- 4.78 Units

College Football Week 10 Picks 2013 (October 31-November 2)

There is only around five weeks left in the College Football season and it is the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Florida State Seminoles that have the inside track to the National Championship Game, although both the Oregon Ducks and the Ohio State Buckeyes will have something to say about that down the stretch.

With those four teams being unbeaten, and with every chance of finishing the year without a loss, it is a shame the four team Play Off system is still a year away from being the norm.

The Baylor Bears are another outstanding unbeaten team that would be in the mix, while all these teams still have some major obstacles to overcome and games continue escalating in size as the season draws to a close. This is also the time of the season where some players can begin separating their Draft stock compared with others as the pressure builds and the best players produce the goods, while some others will look to protect themselves from injury as their schools are already out of contention.

There are a number of big games on the slate this week, mostly the inter-State clash between the unbeaten Florida State Seminoles and the unbeaten Miami Hurricanes, and the picture of who will play for the Championship is potentially going to be a little clearer at the end of the weekend.

The picks have had a mixed season so far in the College Football games, but they remain in the profit and that is the first point of call. Hopefully I will be looking to kick on down the final few weeks and put together a solid run to increase those numbers.

South Florida Bulls @ Houston Cougars Pick: South Florida are off a big home loss to the Louisville Cardinals and it could be tough for them to raise their game against the Houston Cougars on a short week.

The game with Louisville would have been the big one for the Bulls and they are going to have a tough time slowing down Houston through the air or on the ground. Little time to prepare doesn't help their cause, and the Cougars have been a covering machine over the last twelve months.

It is possible to throw the ball against the Cougars Secondary, but Houston will be able to turn the ball over and I don't think South Florida have the consistency to keep this close as the Cougars pass rush will get close.

South Florida won't be able to run the ball that effectively either and I like the Cougars to win this by around 21 points.

Arizona State Sun Devils @ Washington State Cougars Pick: If you love watching games where the Quarter Back will look to air out the ball, this is going to be the game for you as two Pac-12 teams meet on Thursday night.

The difference between the teams comes in a couple of areas and should separate the teams when the game is in the books and that is the Arizona State running game and Arizona State pass Defense.

Out of the two teams, Arizona State will certainly have the better balance on Offense as they should be able to establish a very effective run game. That will at least keep the Cougar's Defense guessing as to the play call and I can't say it will be the same the other way around.

The Arizona State pass Defense should be able to generate more pressure up front, while they have been stronger against the pass compared with the Washington State unit, and that should lead to more chances for Interceptions and creating extra possessions for their own powerful Offense.

Washington State have lost 3 of their last 4 games by big margins and that is because they can get into a vicious cycle if their 'Air Raid' is a little out of sync or if they are pushing too much to get back into the game. The Sun Devils are certainly not as good on the road, but I like them to win and cover.

Northern Illinois Huskies @ Massachusetts Minutemen Pick: There is a real belief in the Northern Illinois camp that they can earn a BCS Bowl Game spot for the second season in a row, especially if they can run the table this season with the sole defeat in two seasons coming against the Florida State Seminoles.

They should prove far too strong for Massachusetts on both sides of the ball in this one and it will be tough for the Minutemen to keep up with Jordan Lynch and a powerful Offense.

Lynch should be able to use the read option to ensure the Northern Illinois Huskies can earn big chunks of yardage on the ground and I can see the Defense forcing a couple of turnovers and getting a couple of stops to help the road team pull away.

Winning the Conference is the key for Northern Illinois and they will be fully focused with a bye week next up on deck and I like the Huskies to cover.

Ohio State Buckeyes @ Purdue Boilermakers Pick: The bye came at a good time for Purdue as it may have given them the time they needed to get their Offense back on track, but this doesn't look the best place for them to do so.

Purdue's main problem will be the fact that teams have been able to defend against the pass to an efficient enough level as they don't respect the run game. It will be another tough test for them to establish a ground attack against Ohio State and that puts a lot of pressure on the Quarter Back to make plays from third and tough yardage situations.

I don't think Ohio State will have so many issues as they should be able to pound off large runs with their rushing attack and that will keep Braxton Miller in very strong positions when he wants to throw the ball too.

Ohio State have struggled against Purdue in recent games, but this Boilermakers team doesn't look as strong as those and they have had a few blow outs that will knock confidence. The Buckeyes should be able to take advantage too and they will want to keep winning big to give themselves a chance to steal votes off of Oregon and Florida State when it comes to the National Championship Game.

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers @ Georgia State Panthers Pick: Western Kentucky have been a bit of a disappointment as far as I am concerned so far this season, but they have a great chance to get back in the win column against this Georgia State team.

I am expecting the Hilltoppers to punish this Defense on the ground and that will open up the passing lanes against a team that has allowed over 250 yards per game through the air. Western Kentucky should be able to move the chains at will, but they have to look after the ball better than they have if they are to secure the win.

Georgia State themselves have struggled to run the ball and that puts a lot of pressure on the Quarter Back to make the throws to keep them in the game. One dimensional Offenses rarely succeed when it comes down to it and I think the Panthers could be punished if they don't sustain drives and a tired Defense takes to the field too often to catch their breath.

The Hilltoppers should prove too strong barring silly turnovers and I expect them to win this by three Touchdowns.

Auburn Tigers @ Arkansas Razorbacks Pick: The Auburn Tigers have been one of the surprise stories of the season in the SEC and they are playing with a confidence that is going to make it tough for the Arkansas Razorbacks to stop their momentum which is facing downwards.

With a lot of defeats in a row, it is going to be tough for Arkansas to get up for this game, particularly in the manner they have been bashed up by the likes of Alabama in recent games.

There have been some tension in the media between the teams coming into this one, which should inspire the home team to at least make this a closer contest than I initially imagined. However, I still like Auburn's Offense to make the bigger plays and win by 10 or more.

Pittsburgh Panthers @ Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Pick: Homecoming will inspire the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, but the real key to the game is likely going to be their Defense that will be able to prevent Pittsburgh sustaining long drives.

If they can keep Tom Savage in third and long situations, it will be tough for Pittsburgh's Offensive Line to give the Quarter Back sustained protection throughout the game.

And Pittsburgh will need to sustain drives to give their Defense a chance to catch their breath against an Offense that will have long, pounding drives with their triple option.

Georgia Tech will look to tire out a Defense that faced the same schemes last weekend against Navy and it may be a big ask for the Panthers to really keep up in this game, especially with a big game against Notre Dame next up on deck.

Tennessee Volunteers @ Missouri Tigers Pick: Missouri took a very bad loss last week against the South Carolina Gamecocks, but playing at home and still having the SEC East in their control should see them bounce back.

The Defense is also taking on an inexperienced Quarter Back that Tennessee will be starting and while they have given up a lot of yards through the air, Missouri will be looking to get pressure up front and also use their ball-hawking Secondary to try and turn the ball over to their Offense.

Missouri will look to shut down Rajion Bell at the Running Back position and force the Volunteers to throw the ball and that is a battle the Tigers should be able to win. The Tigers should also have significantly more success when they have the ball in their hands as Tennessee haven't been effective at slowing teams down on the ground or through the air.

James Franklin is unlikely to be rushed back as Quarter Back this week, but I still like Missouri to bounce back from the disappointment of last week and win this game.

Colorado Buffaloes @ UCLA Bruins Pick: The biggest question is how UCLA will bounce back from losses to Stanford and Oregon, but I like them to stay focused with the Pac-12 South still within their grasp if they can get back to winning ways.

I don't think Colorado will have a lot of success when they have the ball, although they might get some garbage time yardage passing the ball, while UCLA should have their way with this Defense whether they run the ball or pass the ball.

The Bruins have been close to the best teams in this Conference, although still not quite good enough to win those games... Colorado don't fit into that category and I like UCLA to cover this big spread.

Miami Hurricanes @ Florida State Seminoles Pick: I have been a big fan of how Jameis Winston has gone about his business as Quarter Back of the Florida State Seminoles this season and I think his consistency compared with Stephen Morris will give the home team the real edge over the Miami Hurricanes.

Morris' inconsistencies just won't help against this Defense and there has to be a concern with the way the Hurricanes have been playing coming into this game. While they remain unbeaten, they have struggled to put away much lesser teams than Florida State.

You also can't ignore the manner in which the Seminoles are winning games and they won't take their foot off the gas in this game as they look to sway voters. Last weekend they could have beaten North Carolina State by 70 if they wanted to and I think the Seminoles could be very tough to slow down for the Hurricanes.

Turnovers could be critical for the Hurricanes if they are to cover, but this spread looks a little too low and I like Florida State to make another statement against a previously unbeaten team.

MY PICKS: Houston Cougars - 18 Points @ 1.92 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Arizona State Sun Devils - 11 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Northern Illinois Huskies - 26 Points @ 1.92 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Ohio State Buckeyes - 31.5 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers - 18.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Auburn Tigers - 7.5 Points @ 1.95 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets - 11 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Missouri Tigers - 10.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
UCLA Bruins - 28 Points @ 1.92 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Florida State Seminoles - 21 Points @ 1.92 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)

Week 9: 4-4, - 0.23 Units (8 Units Staked, - 2.865 Yield)
Week 8: 6-2, + 3.58 Units (8 Units Staked, + 44.75% Yield)
Week 73-6, - 3.26 Units (9 Units Staked, - 36.22% Yield)
Week 63-5, - 2.08 Units (8 Units Staked, - 26% Yield)
Week 56-2, + 3.66 Units (8 Units Staked, + 45.75% Yield)
Week 42-6, - 4.08 Units (8 Units Staked, - 51% Yield)
Week 35-2-1, + 2.77 Units (8 Units Staked, + 34.63% Yield)
Week 26-2, + 3.55 Units (8 Units Staked, + 44.38% Yield)
Week 14-3, + 0.74 Units (7 Units Staked, + 10.57% Yield)

Season 201339-32-1, + 4.65 Units (72 Units Staked, + 6.46% Yield)

Season 201254-59-1 - 7.11 Units (114 Units Staked, - 6.24% Yield)
Season 201163-36, + 23.25 Units (99 Units Staked, + 23.5% Yield)

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

NBA Picks October 2013

Is it really time for a new NBA season? Time really has crept up on me, but the coming Halloween season is usually the indication that the basketball is ready to tip off all over again.

It is a big year for the Miami Heat who are looking for a three-peat following their Game 7 win over the San Antonio Spurs in June, but the Eastern Conference is loaded with potential rivals and even getting to the NBA Finals is going to be a big test for the Heat.

The Heat certainly still look the team to beat, but the Indiana Pacers have improved in the off-season and will remember how close they came to beating the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals last season. The Chicago Bulls and Brooklyn Nets are improved and will go close, while the New York Knicks may have lost ground in this Conference.

How the Heat play may have a lot to do with whether LeBron James opts out of his contract at the end of the season and the Decision part 2 gets to be played out in the off-season... That storyline is likely to remain at the forefront of the NBA throughout the season, especially if Dwyane Wade struggles as he did in the Play Offs last season.

The Western Conference also looks strange with the LA Lakers not looking in a position to be competitive for an appearance in the NBA Finals- at the moment, the LA Clippers, Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs look the teams to beat in the West, although injuries can quickly change things as they did for the Thunder when they lost Russell Westbrook in the Play Offs last season.

Whatever happens, this should be another fascinating nine months on the long and winding road to the NBA Finals.

Picks from October games will all be placed in this thread and I will then have new threads for each month going forward. The last two seasons have produced winning records for the picks, but things can quickly change in the NBA and hopefully I have stayed on top as much as possible.

October 29th
Orlando Magic @ Indiana Pacers Pick: The Indiana Pacers won't generate the same kind of media coverage as the big market teams in the NBA, but they have built a roster that is going to go very close to winning it all this season.

They have made good moves in Free Agency by picking up players that can spread the floor and hit three pointers in Chris Copeland and CJ Watson, while the imminent return of Danny Granger will give them more scoring options.

Indiana could do with a little bit more scoring, especially when they come across the best teams in the Eastern Conference, but they remain amongst the best defensive teams in the NBA.

It should be a tough game for Orlando to get going against Indiana, although the Magic should be more competitive this season. The problem is they are going against such a tough defense that I am not sure how they can score enough points to keep up with the Pacers in this one.

The Pacers have dominated recent games against Orlando and I like them to cover this one.

LA Clippers @ LA Lakers Pick: There was a definite shift in strength between these teams last seaosn and the off-season moves seem to have backed up the LA Clippers as being the team to beat in Los Angeles this season too.

Of course, the Clippers want to achieve more than underline their position as the dominant team in this big market City, and that means having a deep Play Off run. Bringing in Doc Rivers will help the team as he has the authority of winning a Championship as a Head Coach and the Clippers do look good.

I am expecting them to make a positive start to the new season against a LA Lakers team that is missing Kobe Bryant. With Steve Nash being a little hobbled, I would expect Chris Paul to dominate this game as he did in the four games last year and I do think the Clippers can make a statement to the rest of the NBA in this one.

It isn't the surprise it would have been a couple of years ago, but the Clippers should open the season with a win and a cover of the biggest spread they would have seen against the Lakers in a long time.

October 30th
It wasn't a great start to the season for the picks, although being moosed in the first game of the season truly sucks.

Milwaukee Bucks @ New York Knicks Pick: There are some doubts surrounding the New York Knicks this season, especially after Carmelo Anthony suggested he will opt out of his contract to test the market in the next off-season. However, this is still a roster that will be looking to compete with the Miami Heat for the Eastern Conference title, even if they do look short of the very best in the Conference.

They should get off to a good start in the refurbished Madison Square Garden against a Milwaukee Bucks team that has changed a lot from last season. Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis have moved on, and injuries are affecting the Bucks heading into the opening game of the season.

New York have dominated the recent games in the series and I think it will be tough for the Bucks to keep up with their limited roster in this game.

Oklahoma City Thunder @ Utah Jazz Pick: Russell Westbrook is still not back for the Oklahoma City Thunder, although his return looks ahead of schedule, but that shouldn't stop the Thunder from winning their opening game of the season.

I know playing in Utah is always tough, but this is a young Jazz team that is going through a transition and the Thunder still have Kevin Durant who is capable of blowing open any game. I don't believe the Jazz have the defensive quality to slow down Durant and this Offense and that should prove to be too much pressure for their own Offense to keep up.

The Thunder have won 4 of their last 6 at Utah, including on their most recent visit, and I like them to cover.

MY PICKS: 29/10 Indiana Pacers - 12 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
29/10 LA Clippers - 8.5 Points @ 1.92 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
30/10 New York Knicks - 8 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
30/10 Oklahoma City Thunder - 6 Points @ 1.92 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)

October 2013: 0-4, - 4 Units

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

Sunday, 27 October 2013

NFL Week 8 Picks 2013 (October 24-28)

This has been a terrible couple of days for me with work and issues with my phone that have prevented me from doing my full weekly post for the NFL (and College Football/Weekend Football) posts this weekend.

Suffice to say, I will be back with a fuller post for Week 9 next week, but for now I will have a few breakdown of games to be played in the NFL and other picks from the week at the bottom of the post. I will also update season tallies at the end of the post next week.

Jacksonville Jaguars v San Francisco 49ers Pick: London is preparing itself for stormy and erratic weather, but this game should be played in enough time to be adversely affected by the weather.

If it is raining and windy, that will only work in San Francisco's favour even more as they simply run the ball effectively and can stop the run on Defense.

Chad Henne isn't very mobile and is going to be under a lot more pressure than Colin Kaepernick throughout the game and everything is pointing to a comfortable win for the 49ers.

San Francisco have been here a few days to get accustomed to the change in time zone and they should be focused as they continue chasing the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC West. They are the more effective Offense and have played some dominating games Defensively to extend Jacksonville's run of defeats by double digits here.

Buffalo Bills @ New Orleans Saints Pick: Coming off a loss and having two weeks to think about that and preparing for this game is not really the time when you want to play the New Orleans Saints, but that is the spot that the Buffalo Bills find themselves in.

The Bills were impressive in their win at Miami last week with Thad Lewis holding tough, but they have to keep this close they can use their Running Backs to full effect. If the Bills are forced to throw the ball to keep up, this team could struggle as they are not built to do that and New Orleans' pass Defense has been pretty good.

We know the Saints are going to score their points at home and it is a tough spot for Buffalo having to play their second of back to back road games, especially of an important Division win last week.

New Orleans have been very strong at home under Sean Payton and they will want to make amends for their loss to the New England Patriots. The Saints also cannot afford to drop a winnable home game with Carolina breathing down their necks in the NFC South and I like New Orleans to cover.

Miami Dolphins @ New England Patriots Pick: Ryan Tannehill has to be more secure with the ball if the Miami Dolphins are going to come to New England and come away with the win- it was another fumble from the Quarter Back that led to the loss to Buffalo last week and he has been guilty of being a little sloppy with the ball in his hands.

That won't cut it against New England who will be looking to rectify the mistakes that cost them the win against the New York Jets last week. Tom Brady isn't as good with pressure in his face and Miami will certainly think they can do enough of that to at least force Brady to make mistakes.

However, it is tough to see how the Dolphins have sustained success Offensively in this one and the Patriots have dominated the recent series with a 4-2 record against the spread.

I do think the Dolphins can have more success against this banged up Defense, but Aqib Talib is likely back to shut down the Receiver he is covering and I think another week of having Rob Gronkowski back in the Offense will be enough to get the Patriots the win here and control of the AFC East.

Dallas Cowboys @ Detroit Lions Pick: I am expecting both teams to have some considerable success throwing the ball in this game, but I do have a feeling that the Detroit Lions are going to come away with a vital win in their bid to get back to the Play Offs after missing out last week.

The Lions are going into the bye at the end of this game and they will be fully focused to get a couple of games above 0.500 and also earn a potential tie-breaker against a possible Wild Card rival later in the year.

Home field should prove to be the difference, especially as Dallas are on the second of back to back road games and the Cowboys have also won a couple of Divisional games and may have put too much effort into those games.

Both teams have Receivers that will want to show why they are considered amongst the best in the NFL and this could be a high-scoring contest. However, I can see the ball-hawking Secondary of the Lions possibly creating a late turnover that leads to Detroit getting to 5-3 and dropping Dallas back with the pile in the NFC East.

Green Bay Packers @ Minnesota Vikings Pick: The Green Bay Packers are dealing with a number of injuries on both sides of the ball, but they are coming through adversity and I like their chances of winning this game on the road.

It is always tough for teams to play on Monday Night Football and get ready for a Sunday game, while the uncertainty at the Quarter Back position has to be a concern for Minnesota. Adrian Peterson hasn't looked himself in the last couple of games and I think his injury is slowing him down a little too much, plus Green Bay are stout against the run to at least limit the impact he can have on the game.

We know Aaron Rodgers is a capable Quarter Back that should have a lot of success against this Secondary, even with new weapons lining up alongside him. The Packers have momentum on their side, have the better team and look set to take a hold of the NFC North.

Playing a key Divisional game will keep the Packers focused on what they want to do and I like them to win this game.

Seattle Seahawks @ St Louis Rams Pick: The Seattle Seahawks have been playing really good football all season and they have found enough Offense to come through games, although the Defense has made a lot of big plays on the road to keep the team in games and also change the momentum.

It was the Defense that sparked the win in Houston and I can see this unit causing Kellen Clemens a lot of problems in his first start in relief of Sam Bradford.

Clemens will be under pressure for much of the game as he can't rely on the running game to slow down the pass rush and not too many Receivers get the better of the two Corner Backs Seattle send out to the field.

The pressure on Clemens has every chance of leading to mistakes, while Seattle have had a few extra days to prepare for this game. The San Francisco win yesterday and the fact that this is a Divisional game will only make Seattle that much more determined to win the game and I am struggling to see how St Louis keep up unless Russell Wilson has a really bad game.

It is clear the favourite is going to get pounded in sports books throughout the world who are interested in the NFL, so I would suggest locking in a price on Seattle now while the spread is still at 12 points.

MY PICKS: San Francisco 49ers - 14.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (2 Units)
New Orleans Saints - 11 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (2 Units)
New England Patriots - 6 Points @ 1.95 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Detroit Lions - 3 Points @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Green Bay Packers - 8 Points @ 1.92 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Denver Broncos - 11 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Kansas City Chiefs - 7 Points @ 1.95 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Seattle Seahawks - 12 Points @ 1.95 Bet Victor (2 Units)

Saturday, 26 October 2013

College Football Week 9 Picks 2013 (October 26th)

Ball State Cardinals @ Akron Zips Pick: The Ball State Cardinals will want to stay in control of the MAC West and that means they cannot afford to drop a game here against Akron who are one of the weaker teams in the Conference.

There is a difference between the teams in terms of what the Quarter Back brings to the table and Keith Wenning should make more plays and help Ball State to the win.

I also believe the Cardinals match up better on the Defensive side of the ball and all of this seems to give them an edge in the game. Ball State won their last game here by 17 points and they might be able to pull away with something similar in this game, although it would likely need a turnover or two in their favour to ensure they can get over the spread.

Nebraska Cornhuskers @ Minnesota Golden Gophers Pick: The Nebraska Cornhuskers are in pole position to win the Big Ten Legends Division and should be fully focused on this game after preparing for it for the last two weeks.

They do have some big games coming up, but Nebraska know they need to keep winning Conference games and I can't see them letting up here. The Defense has begun to play better and that won't bode well for Minnesota, particularly if they can slow down the run attack just enough to force Philip Nelson to beat them through the air.

I am not sure Minnesota have enough to keep up with Nebraska in terms of points as a big deficit will begin to put too much pressure on Nelson to make big plays with his arm and that could lead to turnovers and extra possessions for Nebraska.

Nebraska have played well the last three games and I like them to win this one against the Golder Gophers who cannot try and surprise the Cornhuskers. They won't be underestimated after a big win in Northwestern last week and that would have focused Nebraska to in this game and cover the spread.

Michigan State Spartans @ Illinois Fighting Illini Pick: This is Homecoming for Illinois, but another tough test awaits them after a couple of rough outings in October already. Facing a motivated Michigan State team that have a Conference title on their minds is going to be tough for Illinois unless they play a clean game.

Michigan State won't run away and score 50 points on a team, but they will stifle them with a very strong Defense, while I think the Spartans are going to have more joy Offensively than they did last time out.

Jeremy Langford should be able to pound the ball on the ground which will control the clock and also keep field advantage in favour of the Spartans. I expect Nathan Schaalhaase will have some joy throwing the ball, but it is tough to do that consistently with the pressure he is likely to see in his face and this looks another game where the Fighting Illini will find themselves coming up short.

I think Illinois will perhaps make this a higher-scoring game than some will expect, but like the Indiana game, I feel the Illinois Defense can't slow down Michigan State enough to prevent the Spartans to win by double digits.

Clemson Tigers @ Maryland Terrapins Pick: The Clemson Tigers found themselves in a big hole early last week and could never recover as the Florida State Seminoles crushed their chances of winning the National Championship and the ACC Conference in one swift moment.

Clemson are in a tough position to try and raise their game and pick themselves up after the loss last week, but I do think the Tigers may be able to take advantage of the injuries in the Maryland Offense.

CJ Brown may have already been inconsistent, but losing his top two Receivers is going to make it that much tougher and the pass rush that Clemson generate may be able to effect the Quarter Back a lot more as he may have a hard time getting on the same page as the replacements.

Maryland are also coming in off a blow-out loss to the Wake Forest Deamon Deacons and they may be catching a Clemson team in a really bad mood that could lead to the Tigers overcoming them and covering the spread.

MY PICKS: Ball State Cardinals - 10 Points @ 1.92 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Nebraska Cornhuskers - 10 Points @ 1.92 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Michigan State Spartans - 9.5 Points Coral (1 Unit)
Clemson Tigers - 16.5 Points @ 1.92 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
SMU Mustangs - 14 Points @ 1.92 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Texas Tech Red Raiders + 6.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs - 5.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Alabama Crimson Tide - 28 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)

Weekend Football Picks 2013 (October 26-27)

Crystal Palace v Arsenal Pick: You can only beat what is in front of you and Arsenal have certainly done that so far, but there has still be an over-reaction to their start to the season, although that is unlikely to be shown up this weekend.

Crystal Palace are a team with a lot of uncertainty around them after losing their manager and coming off a heavy home loss to Fulham. They don't really stop teams playing and that doesn't bode well for them against an Arsenal team that have attacking players that have created chances.

A negative feeling may not be improved much if Arsenal score early in this one and it could be very tough for Crystal Palace to even keep the scoreline looking respectable if that happens. Arsenal will keep coming forward and they have won comfortably at Fulham and Sunderland, two teams that are about what Palace bring to the table.

I am expecting Arsenal to bounce back from their own loss during the week and heap more problems on Palace and I like the away side to win this by a couple of goals.

Aston Villa v Everton Pick: I would be surprised if we don't see goals in this game between two teams that will feel they can cause problems if they get on the front foot in this one.

Both teams have been vulnerable at the back as Aston Villa have shown by conceding at least 2 goals in their last 4 home games in all competitions, while Everton have conceded at least 2 goals in 4 of their last 5 on their travels.

The history of the fixture has also produced quite a lot of goals and you know the two Belgian strikers, Christian Benteke and Romelu Lukaku, will feel they can add to their Premier League goal tally in this one.

The layers have taken a chance by offering the over 2.5 goals at odds against and I do think that is worth backing here.

Manchester United v Stoke City Pick: As a Manchester United fan, I will be the first to tell you that they haven't been the most trust-worthy team to back so far this season as they are still getting used to the new voice in the dressing room.

However, David Moyes has also seen a little bit of luck desert him at times and I think Manchester United would have been comfortable winners last weekend if they had scored the second goal instead of hitting the bar and the post.

There is a feeling that a big win is due for United and I have a feeling that Stoke City could be the team that unfortunately cops that as they visit a ground they haven't had a lot of success at in recent games.

I have been impressed with what Mark Hughes is attempting to do since taking over at Stoke, but they are a team that has struggled for goals although they will be a real threat from set pieces as that is one area United have particularly struggled to defend.

Even with that in mind, I do think there have been signs that United are about ready to explode in terms of goals and I like them to win this one by a couple of goals this weekend.

Sunderland v Newcastle United Pick: It is said that you can usually throw the form book out of the window when it comes to derby games, but there is a clear difference in the way these sides come into the game in terms of mentality.

Sunderland played well last week until they conceded and the heads quickly dropped and it will be interesting to see if they can pick themselves up if they fall behind in this one. On the other hand, Newcastle United have reserved some of their best results for away games and will certainly feel they can add to the woes of the home fans.

The Magpies have scored plenty of goals in recent games and Sunderland have been conceding goals for fun. That is possibly the best way for to back the away side in this one as Ladbrokes are offering 2.70 that Newcastle United score 2 or 3 goals in this one.

I know it came against stronger clubs, but Sunderland have conceded at least 2 home games to Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United, while also conceding heavily at Swansea and Crystal Palace. Newcastle themselves have scored at least 2 goals in 4 straight away games and the odds look a little high.

In terms of Newcastle scoring 4 or more away from home, they haven't managed that tally since 2010 in a Carling Cup game at Chelsea, while Newcastle hit 4 at Ipswich Town in the Championship in 2009. It would be a truly shocking collapse if Sunderland conceded 4 to their closest rivals and I think it is much more likely that Newcastle continue their recent run of 2 goals in away games.

Tottenham Hotspur v Hull City Pick: I have been impressed with the way Hull City have gone about their business so far this season, particularly in the effort they have shown in their away games aside from the first half against Chelsea when it looked like the Tigers would be blown away.

However, they have conceded 2 goals in each of their away games which has to be a concern when it comes to their chances of picking up points against one of the strongest Premier League teams.

Tottenham Hotspur don't concede a lot of goals and the 0-3 loss to West Ham United looks an aberration as they have kept clean sheets in their two wins since then. The layers are taking no chances of that happening again, and I am not interested in a win to nil at short prices off the back of a Europa League game where Spurs have struggle before this season.

In saying that, I do think Spurs are going to win this game and instead I will back them on the Asian Handicap to come through with a clear win against a tough Hull City team that is missing too many key players in my opinion.

MY PICKS: Arsenal - 1.5 Asian Handicap @ 2.05 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Aston Villa-Everton Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.95 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Manchester United - 1.5 Asian Handicap @ 2.05 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Newcastle United to score 2-3 Goals @ 2.70 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Tottenham Hotspur - 1.5 Asian Handicap @ 2.05 Pinnacle (2 Units)

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Tennis Picks 2013 (October 24th)

It has truly been a terrible week when it comes to the tennis picks being made, but those have mainly been my own fault with some poor decisions made on my part. Sometimes you can look at bad luck, but this has not been one of those weeks as I have picked some poor matches and players haven't even been in matches that they have lost.

Anyway, hopefully Thursday will prove to be a better day for the picks going forward.

David Ferrer - 3.5 games v Julien Benneteau: I think 2014 will see David Ferrer begin to drop rapidly down the World Rankings, especially the early part of the season when he has a lot of points to defend, while he has to do more of the same in the next couple of weeks.

Twelve months ago, Ferrer won the tournament in Valencia and followed that up with his first Masters win in Paris, and he got off to a decent start with a win over Gael Monfils yesterday. That will give him some confidence after Ferrer has really struggled for form since reaching the French Open Final and he has a number of surprise losses on his record since then.

It certainly isn't an easy match against Julien Benneteau who is coming off an impressive dismantling of Feliciano Lopez and the Frenchman has always enjoyed the indoor hard courts which makes him a dangerous opponent.

Benneteau has a surprisingly decent serve, although his second serve isn't as strong, and he can certainly play enough good tennis to break serve so Ferrer will have to be on his toes in this one.  However, I do think that Ferrer is going to be able to earn a bit more from the longer rallies in this one.

I won't be surprised if there are a few breaks of serve in this one, but I think Ferrer can come through with a 75, 64 win.

Marcos Baghdatis + 3.5 games v Juan Martin Del Potro: Juan Martin Del Potro is defending his title in Basel this week after a successful Asian swing and he has proven to be one of the best indoor players on the Tour over the last couple of years.

Just looking at his last twelve months will show he has titles in Basel, Vienna and Rotterdam, while he has also reached the Semi Final at the World Tour Finals and Del Potro will certainly be tough to stop here this week.

Even with that in mind, I think Marcos Baghdatis could cause him some problems as he has in their past meetings and I like the Cypriot's chances to make this a competitive match despite a terrible 2013 season. I think Baghdatis causes problems for Del Potro because he is pretty strong off the ground and is willing to match what Del Potro brings to the court, although that is also why he hasn't been able to sustain that and actually beat the Argentinian player in their three matches this season.

There is every chance that Baghdatis can take a set in this one and that should put him in a position to cover the spread, although he will have to serve well too which can be an issue for him.

Na Li - 3.5 games v Jelena Jankovic: Na Li didn't return serve very well in her win over Sara Errani, but could book her place in the Semi Final with a win over Jelena Jankovic who is coming off an impressive win over Victoria Azarenka.

There is slightly less pressure on Jankovic which could make her a dangerous opponent, especially as she will face an injured Errani in her final match in the Group and the win over Azarenka puts the Serb in a strong spot.

I do think Li is the stronger player of the two, especially as Jankovic can be so erratic from day to day and she may also just relax a little too much off a big win as she had yesterday. The return game from Li will be the key in this one and she has to perform better in those positions than she did against Errani, but she had a lot of success against the Jankovic in the US Open that she can replicate here.

It will be close, but Li could come through 63, 76.

Agnieszka Radwanska v Angelique Kerber: It may be too late for Agnieszka Radwanska to qualify for the Semi Finals after losing her first two matches without winning a set, but she could have a small chance of going through if she wins this match impressively.

Radwanska has the game to make life very awkward for Angelique Kerber and the pressure is also on the German following her loss to Serena Williams in her opening match. Kerber does have decent ground strokes, but she is too often comfortable getting dragged into long rallies and you would have to back Radwanska to win the majority of those battles.

Both players will definitely feel more comfortable returning serve and they have split two matches over the last month, but I do think Radwanska's game is more reliable of the two. If Kerber serves particularly well, that could be a different story, while Radwanska dropping the first set may see her 'tank' the match, but I do believe the Pole is going to come through to give herself a small chance of progressing to the Semi Finals.

MY PICKS: David Ferrer - 3.5 Games @ 1.83 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Marcos Baghdatis + 3.5 Games @ 2.10 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Na Li - 3.5 Games @ 1.90 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Agnieszka Radwanska @ 1.92 Pinnacle (2 Units)

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Tennis Picks 2013 (October 23rd)

It wasn't a fun Tuesday as the picks all seemed to decide to play like crap early and then try and turn things around... I was particularly disappointed with the early part of the Victoria Azarenka match as she had so many chances to take a commanding lead, but didn't really get going until she was 2-5 down in the set.

Hopefully Wednesday is a much better day as is the rest of the week.

Serena Williams - 6.5 games v Agnieszka Radwanska: Serena Williams started off a little slowly in her first match in Istanbul, but she still managed to run away with the match and I am expecting her to be too strong for Agnieszka Radwanska in this second match and book her place in the Semi Finals.

Radwanska lost her opening match last night and her game doesn't really trouble Serena as she doesn't have the power to really get the American moving side to side. If Serena has time to hit a ball, she is going to dictate the majority of points and the Radwanska serve doesn't set up too many short points either.

On the other hand, Williams will use her big serve to dominate rallies and it is no surprise that Radwanska has barely struggled to make matches competitive in the past when coming up against Serena.

The courts are playing a little slower from what I had seen yesterday, but Williams is playing too well to lose this match and I do expect another strong win.

Robin Haase v Vasek Pospisil: These two players met last week in Vienna and it was a fairly close match for the first couple of sets, although Robin Haase managed to pull away in the third set to take the win.

Both players will feel their game is suited to an indoor hard court as both have decent first serves, but both are also erratic off the ground. Vasek Pospisil will look to get to the net and put away volleys, but that also leaves him vulnerable to passing shots and I think the Canadian is going to struggle to consistently find winners at the net.

I don't particularly rate him when it comes to long, drawn out rallies from the back of the court, although I would be surprised if we see too many of those in this one. Robin Haase should be able to frank the win from last week as long as he isn't too tired from reaching the Final in Vienna where he came up a little short against Tommy Haas.

Kei Nishikori v Ivan Dodig: I actually quite like the way Ivan Dodig gets on with business on the court, but he can be a little erratic with his approach shots which can leave him in no man's land when he approaches the net.

He has a lot of good abilities with a strong serve and heavy groundies, while his doubles play has seen his volleys continue to improve, but a player like Kei Nishikori could give him fits as he makes him play one more shot.

Kei Nishikori should prove to be too strong over three sets in this one despite not having a huge shot in his arsenal, but I expect his consistency to grind down Dodig, although there will be a couple of close sets played. That means this match is likely going to come down to a couple of key points in each set and I think the Japanese player can come through those moments to win a close one.

Grigor Dimitrov v Radek Stepanek: It had been a tough couple of months for Grigor Dimitrov as the season was coming to a close, but he has recovered to win the tournament in Stockholm last week and may have the confidence to come through this match against Radek Stepanek.

It is tough to back up a winning week on the Tour as tiredness from travelling and a lot of tennis can catch up to players, but Dimitrov is definitely on the up while Stepanek's best performances are reserved for the Davis Cup or for doubles tournaments.

However, Stepanek has the ability to get under the skin of opponents and it may take Dimitrov a little while to get used to what he is seeing on the other side of the net. I think Stepanek will want the younger player to feel like he doesn't know what is coming next from him, but Dimitrov has played some big matches this year and should be able to handle the expectation.

It will likely be another close match, but I like Dimitrov to come through and get a step closer to the potential match up with Roger Federer later in the week.

Tommy Haas - 1.5 games v Philipp Kohlschreiber: Tommy Haas has given himself a little chance to get through to the World Tour Finals in London by winning the tournament in Vienna last week, but he still needs other players to lose early and himself to get close to winning the last two tournaments of the season if he is to sneak in.

That means he can't afford to take this match easy, although the veteran will also find it tough to back up the success of last week. Philipp Kohlschreiber is a tough player to get a handle on as he can play some sublime tennis, but then suddenly start exploding in a rash of errors from out of nowhere.

Kohlschreiber hasn't played a lot of tennis over the last six weeks though and I think that will work against him in this one and I do like Haas' chances of coming through in two tough sets.

MY PICKS: Serena Williams - 6.5 Games @ 1.92 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Robin Haase @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Kei Nishikori @ 1.75 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Grigor Dimitrov @ 1.95 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Tommy Haas - 1.5 Games @ 1.92 Pinnacle (2 Units)

Weekly Update: - 7 Units (7 Units Staked, - 100% Yield)

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Midweek Football Picks 2013 (October 22-24)

The next couple of rounds in the Champions League and Europa League Groups are usually critical in determining which teams make it through to the knockout stages and which teams will be left to concentrate on domestic matters after Christmas.

This year is no different and some teams may put themselves in a very strong position to qualify for the next stage- it is also important for some of the bigger teams to get their qualification out of the way as early as possible so they are not having to play their strongest teams during a period when games come quick and fast, particularly for those English sides involved.

Manchester United, Arsenal and Manchester City could put themselves in a very strong position once they complete their double-headers over the next couple of weeks, while Chelsea will want to earn at least 4 points from their 6 points available against Schalke.

When you think of the Champions League potential winners this season, you do notice that Borussia Dortmund and Juventus go into their double-header with Arsenal and Real Madrid respectively with some doubts about their chances of moving through to the last-16. Both teams have not picked up as many points as they would have expected by this stage and neither can afford to drop more than 3 points in the coming couple of weeks if they are to avoid having a mountain to climb in their last couple of games in the Group Stage.

CSKA Moscow v Manchester City Pick: There have been a number of complaints about the playing surface from the away side ahead of this game and you can't really blame them as UEFA had forced CSKA Moscow to play their first home game in the competition away from this stadium.

Manuel Pellegrini might not be happy about the state of the pitch, but he will likely have focused his side on trying to keep that out of their minds and earn a result that will put them in the driving seat for qualification along with Bayern Munich.

He will not want to leave qualification resting on the game in Munich to end the Group Stage and I think Manchester City are playing well enough to come here and win.

A lack of goals in the CSKA Moscow team has to be a concern and I don't think we will see a lot of goals on a poor playing surface. However, I do like Manchester City to win here and I think the 'win to nil' looks a big price.

Anderlecht v Paris Saint-Germain Pick: This is a really tough game for Anderlecht as they are playing what looks like the best team in the Group by a country mile. Over the last twelve months, Anderlecht have lost 3 of 4 home games in the Champions League and they have conceded 9 goals in those losses and that kind of form won't get the job done against Paris Saint-Germain.

PSG have been very effective away from home in the competition, while they are coming into this one with plenty of good results behind them. Laurent Blanc will rotate some players, but there is a lot of quality in the away side and I can see them running out comfortable winners.

With the amount of goals Anderlecht have conceded at home in this competition, Paris Saint-Germain to win this by at least 2 goals looks a very big price.

Galatasaray v Copenhagen Pick: There will be pressure on Galatasaray in this game as they will have a real hope of making it through to the last 16 and they will know that anything less than a win would put them in a difficult position to coe through this Group.

Galatasaray haven't been at their best at home in recent Champions League games, but I still feel they will be too strong for a Copenhagen side that may be over-rated because of one performance against Juventus.

The home side might have been given a confidence boost thanks to a win at home over the weekend and I feel Galatasaray are the right side to back, but I will give up the one goal on the Asian Handicap in this one.

Manchester United v Real Sociedad Pick: It has been tense at Old Trafford the last couple of games and there is a feeling that Manchester United are extremely short of confidence at the moment.

Whether Real Sociedad have the belief that they can become the latest side from Spain to visit Old Trafford and earn a victory is another matter as they haven't been in the best form themselves. However, a win at Valencia will certainly have given them a boost, although I have a feeling that Old Trafford still holds a feeling of awe for visiting teams from Europe.

I think Sociedad will come to Old Trafford with attacking intentions and I do think they will score against a United defence that has looked vulnerable at times.

However, I also feel United are due a touch of luck that should lead to a win although it may come without a clean sheet.

Real Madrid v Juventus Pick: This is a big game between two of the most famous names in European football, but it is one that I think Real Madrid will win and give themselves a strong chance of winning the Group.

Real Madrid have been very strong at home in the last couple of years in the Champions League and they have goals in the side, which covers up some of the defensive vulnerabilities that they can show.

I do think Juventus will come here with the intention of getting forward and I wouldn't be surprised if they come here and score. However, they haven't looked at their best defensively with at least 2 goals conceded in each of their last 3 games.

With that in mind, the home win in a game where both teams score looks a nice price.

MY PICKS: Manchester City Win to Nil @ 2.90 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)

Paris Saint-Germain - 1.5 Asian Handicap @ 2.30 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Galatasaray - 1 Asian Handicap @ 2.10 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Both Teams to Score and Manchester United to Win @ 3.10 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Both Teams to Score and Real Madrid to Win @ 3.10 Coral (1 Unit)

October Update16-10-1, + 15.34 Units (37 Units Staked, + 41.46% Yield)

September Final13-12, + 1.24 Units (39 Units Staked, + 3.18% Yield)
August Final13-26, - 12.13 Units (54 Units Staked, - 22.46% Yield)

Season 2013/1426-38, - 10.89 Units (93 Units Staked, - 11.71% Yield)
Season 2012/13+ 4.42 Units (415 Units Staked, + 1.07% Yield)

Tennis Picks 2013 (October 22nd)

This is the final week of the season for those players on the WTA Tour as the End of Year Championships begin in Istanbul on Tuesday, while the ATP Tour has reached the last exciting two weeks of the season where players try and book a place at the World Tour Finals.

It is the tournament in Basel that has the most interest with the likes of Stanislas Wawrinka, Roger Federer and Richard Gasquet all looking for more points to add to their chances of making it to London.

Tommy Haas is playing in Valencia, but he looks like he has too many points to make up, while Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has decided to save his energy for Paris next week. Tsonga, along with the three players named playing in Basel, are likely playing for the last three places in London with both Haas and Milos Raonic looking for a lot of help if they are to sneak in.

Serena Williams is clearly going to begin as the favourite in Istanbul to win that title after the way she has played throughout 2013 and she is clearly the player to beat when it comes to Grand Slams going into 2014. She won't be disappointed with the draw and will likely face Victoria Azarenka in the Final.

The American won the tournament last year, but the layers are taking no chances with her price and she is a short favourite to win this title. I can't disagree with that, but I also don't think there is much value with the top eight players here, aside from Maria Sharapova, and any lapse in concentration from Williams could allow someone else to take the title home.

Victoria Azarenka - 6.5 games v Sara Errani: The first match in Istanbul is one that Victoria Azarenka will look to break her recent poor form and she matches up well enough against Sara Errani to think that is entirely possible.

Azarenka has lost both matches she has played since the US Open Final, but she has the power and consistency to really make life tough for Errani, while the Italian hasn't shown much form herself in recent weeks.

The World Number 2 should be able to bully the majority of the points in this opening match and it is no surprise that the scores in the recent sets between these two players have been skewed heavily in favour of Azarenka.

Errani has won more than 2 games in just 2 of the last 10 sets these two have competed in and I think Azarenka is going to be ready to come away with a 63, 62 win.

Agnieszka Radwanska v Petra Kvitova: This will be the third straight year that Agnieszka Radwanska and Petra Kvitova have been paired in the Group Stage of the WTA Championships and both players have won one of the previous matches.

However, Kvitova's power has proved to be the difference in the majority of matches between the players as the Czech player has established a 4-1 head to head record.

Even with that in mind, this has been a tough year for Kvitova and she may find Radwanska just a little too consistent, while the ability of the Polish player to force an opponent to hit one more shot could be the difference in the match. Both have played some decent tennis since the US Open, while I would usually consider the faster indoor surfaces to be more to the liking of Kvitova.

They have both picked up titles since the US Open, but I think Radwanska has been the more consistent player and is worth a small interest.

Andreas Seppi - 2.5 games v Daniel Brands: It can be hard for players to find their motivation towards the end of the season and that seems to be the case for both of these players meeting in the First Round in Basel.

There isn't much form to talk of as both players have lost a lot more than they have won recently, but Andreas Seppi has at least had a Semi Final run in recent weeks and I feel the Italian will get the better of Daniel Brands.

You would think an indoor hard court would favour someone like Brands who has a decent first serve and looks to play heavy groundies, but he has an erratic game and that can be shown up on a surface where games can move through quickly.

Seppi's game can also be vulnerable as his serve is attackable, but I think he can come through this one with a 64, 76 win under his belt.

Guillermo Garcia-Lopez - 2.5 games v Joao Sousa: This has been by far the best year Joao Sousa has had on the Tour and he recently picked up a title in Kuala Lumpur and should be full of confidence with a couple of qualifiers wins under his belt here in Valencia.

The Portuguese player has definitely got more upside than Guillermo Garcia-Lopez who is coming to the latter stages of his career, but the latter has also put in a couple of strong showings in tournaments and should be motivated to perform in front of the Spanish crowd.

Garcia-Lopez can play some really good tennis at times, but he is also capable of throwing in a terrible performance out of nowhere. The home crowd should keep him in this match though and he will have chances against Sousa's game.

He never makes life easy, but I can see Garcia-Lopez coming through 63, 46, 64.

Mikhail Youzhny - 3.5 games v Bernard Tomic: Only a stomach issue in his last match in Shanghai concerns me, but Mikhail Youzhny should be too good for Bernard Tomic who has had his usual slow down as the season develops.

It seems to be the state of Tomic's game that he can't raise his level after Wimbledon and off-court issues have again been a concern for the Australian. I still think he is capable of reaching the heights of the men's game, but Tomic has to put in the time and effort that you need to do just that.

Too often I have seen Tomic fall apart in matches in surprising fashion and movement remains a weakness that can be exposed by the best players.

Youzhny is no longer amongst the best players on Tour, but he plays with heart and determination and I think that will lead him to the win. He can pressure opponents with that smooth backhand and I feel he will out-work Tomic and come through 64, 64.

MY PICKS: Victoria Azarenka - 6.5 Games @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Agnieszka Radwanska @ 2.20 Coral (1 Unit)
Andreas Seppi - 2.5 Games @ 2.05 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez - 2.5 Games @ 1.95 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Mikhail Youzhny - 3.5 Games @ 1.75 Pinnacle (2 Units)

Saturday, 19 October 2013

College Football Week 8 Picks 2013 (October 19)

There is no doubt that the last couple of weeks have been disappointing for the College Football picks, but there have been plenty of bad breaks to complain about. There was nothing worse than watching Michigan blow not one, not two but FOUR chances to win the game against Penn State last week and that has almost certainly ended the Wolverines chances of making it to the National Championship Game.

Hopefully the luck will change around and I will now see some positive bounces in favour of the picks, even in undeserved situations as the last two weeks have had some games end in losing picks which should have covered comfortably.

Georgia Bulldogs @ Vanderbilt Commodores Pick: Injuries have hurt the Georgia Bulldogs and pretty much ended their chances of playing for the National Championship, but they can still make waves in the SEC East if they can run the table.

Todd Gurley is expected back in the line up for the Bulldogs and his presence from the Running Back position should make life more comfortable for the whole Offense to move the chains for Georgia. Aaron Murray is one of the better Quarter Backs in the nation and should find easier passing lanes if Gurley is back and establishing the run against the Commodores Defense that has allowed 4.6 yards per carry.

Vanderbilt should also have their success passing the ball as that is an area Georgia have really struggled this season, but the Bulldogs may get enough pressure up front to at least slow down some drives and that could be the difference between the teams.

It will also be harder for Vanderbilt to run the ball against Georgia and a one-dimensional Offense may not do enough to cover the spread.

Texas Tech Red Raiders @ West Virginia Mountaineers Pick: The two Head Coaches will know each other very well as former colleagues and this should be a fun Big 12 Conference game.

Both Offenses will be throwing the ball with success in this one, although the Red Raiders will feel they can get more pressure up front on the Quarter Back, while the West Virginia Secondary may feel they will have more opportunities to turn the ball over with Interceptions.

The difference may be that Texas Tech should have a little more success establishing a ground attack of the two teams and having that extra crease to their Offense should help the Red Raiders roll and maintain their unbeaten start to the season.

Texas Tech do have Oklahoma on deck, but they should be focused against a dangerous opponent on the road and I like them to cover.

Ohio Bobcats @ Eastern Michigan Eagles Pick: The Ohio Bobcats will be kicking themselves for the mistakes that blighted them last week in the loss against Central Michigan, but the MAC East is not out of their reach just yet.

It will be if they fail to win their next two games against two of the weaker teams in the Conference, especially as Ohio have to visit both Buffalo and Bowling Green in consecutive weeks.

For now, Tyler Tettleton should have things working for him in this game against an Eastern Michigan Eagles Defense that has given up plenty of points so far. As long as the Quarter Back and his team avoid the mistakes that plagued them last week, they should be able to continue putting up big points that they had been if you take out the Louisville game.

I also think Eastern Michigan could struggle to sustain drives and there is every chance that Ohio will force mistakes to give them the extra possessions to win this game and cover the spread.

If the Ohio Bobcats Defense can continue getting after the Quarter Back, it will be tough for the Eagles to move the chains and I'll back the Bobcats in this one.

UCLA Bruins @ Stanford Cardinal Pick: This is a big Pac-12 game for both schools and it will be interesting to see how Stanford recover from a really disappointing loss last week in Utah.

While the Cardinal have been effective when they have the ball, there has to be a real concern with the way the pass Defense has played, especially now they come up against Brett Hundley who has shown what he is capable of through the first 5 games for UCLA.

The Bruins should have success moving the ball through the air and the importance of looking after the ball cannot be lost on them. It will also be very important for UCLA to try and limit the Stanford run game to a point where they are forcing Kevin Hogan to make the big plays to keep the chains moving.

UCLA do have a couple of mental demons to exorcise against Stanford following their two losses last season against them. However, they will feel better about this season and the Cardinal are coming off a devastating loss to Utah.

Add the fact that they haven't been a strong home favourite since Andrew Luck was Drafted by the Indianapolis Colts and I will take the points in this one.

Indiana Hoosiers @ Michigan Wolverines Pick: I have been disappointed by a couple of the Michigan Wolverines performances this season, but last week was a travesty that they didn't win that game against Penn State after holding a big lead in the fourth quarter and then missing a ridiculous four chances to win the game either at the end of regulation or in overtime.

It will be hard for them to get back up for this game against Indiana, but Michigan might have been feeling the pressure of potentially getting involved in the National Championship discussion. With that almost completely wiped out, the Wolverines still have the opportunity to win the Big Ten title and that should get them going.

Playing in front of a huge crowd at home will help as will playing an opponent that is coming off a physical loss at Michigan State. Brady Hoke's Wolverines have also won 22 straight home games and have been a strong favourite at home since this Head Coach took over.

Indiana shouldn't be under-estimated as they can score a lot of points, but they might be made one-dimensional this week and it is tough to avoid the pressure that Michigan will send at Nate Sudfield. I'll still trust Michigan to recover and cover the spread with a double digit win.

Arkansas Razorbacks @ Alabama Crimson Tide Pick: A team like Arkansas which is rebuilding has to take a few shots in the mouth in a Conference like the SEC and that has been the case for the team the last couple of weeks. Now they face the Alabama Crimson Tide who look to continue setting the standard for every other team in the nation.

It will be tough for Arkansas to rally from the loss to South Carolina last week and I can see Alabama using TJ Yeldon to pound them into submission before AJ McCarron uses the deep pass to finish them off.

That will make it tough for Brandon Allen to keep up if he has to start throwing the ball more against this Crimson Tide Defense and it may end up being a long day in the office for Arkansas on both sides of the ball.

Alabama haven't been the most trust-worthy home favourite over the last couple of years as the layers generally put more points on them with the public looking to back the Crimson Tide. However, they may be facing an exhausted team and the Crimson Tide should have enough motivation to record another easy victory in the SEC, although they have some bigger tests still to come this season.

Florida State Seminoles @ Clemson Tigers Pick: There is absolutely no surprise at all that this was the game that was picked as the live game for the nation to enjoy as there is so much reward for the winner with the ACC Championship in their control as well as potentially getting into the mix for the National Championship Game.

Both teams should be plenty confident heading into the game as both have played very well this season- I am not investing too much into Clemson's struggles against Boston College last weekend as they were clearly caught looking ahead to this one.

Tajh Boyd and Jameis Winston will both have success throwing the ball and I do think the Defenses are going to have their hands full with these Quarter Backs. The key to the game could come on whether Clemson can generate the pass rush they have in earlier games and try to rattle Winstone while also slowing down the Florida State rush attack.

The added experience of the home Quarter Back as well as Clemson's experiences of playing the big games they have over the last twelve months and that may give the Tigers the edge. Clemson will feel disrespected in being set as the home underdog and this is actually a position where Florida State haven't excelled over the last two seasons.

Clemson have also been winning their home games against Florida State in recent years and I like the Tigers with the points.

Oregon State Beavers @ California Golden Bears Pick: The Oregon State Beavers are not usually a good road to back, but I do think they can compound the problems for the California Golden Bears in this Pac-12 Conference game.

Sonny Dykes will need some time at California to get his message across to the his new team, but this should still be a fun game to watch for the fans as both teams are at their best when they air the ball out.

The difference will come from the fact that Oregon State have managed to get to the Quarter Back and that has also led to the Secondary being able to pick of Interceptions and the likely extra possessions should give the Beavers a chance to cover despite this being over the 10 point spread mark.

The California pass Defense has also been more susceptible to the big play and I think the Beavers will find a way to cover, possibly with a late Interception sealing the deal.

MY PICKS: Georgia Bulldogs - 6.5 Points @ 1.92 Coral (1 Unit)
Texas Tech Red Raiders - 5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Ohio Bobcats - 16.5 Points @ 1.92 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
UCLA Bruins + 4.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Michigan Wolverines - 9.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Alabama Crimson Tide - 29 Points @ 1.92 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Clemson Tigers + 3.5 Points @ 1.92 Coral (1 Unit)
Oregon State Beavers - 10.5 Points @ 1.92 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)

Week 7: 3-6, - 3.26 Units (9 Units Staked, - 36.22% Yield)
Week 63-5, - 2.08 Units (8 Units Staked, - 26% Yield)
Week 56-2, + 3.66 Units (8 Units Staked, + 45.75% Yield)
Week 42-6, - 4.08 Units (8 Units Staked, - 51% Yield)
Week 35-2-1, + 2.77 Units (8 Units Staked, + 34.63% Yield)
Week 26-2, + 3.55 Units (8 Units Staked, + 44.38% Yield)
Week 14-3, + 0.74 Units (7 Units Staked, + 10.57% Yield)

Season 201329-26-1, + 1.30 Units (56 Units Staked, + 2.32% Yield)

Season 201254-59-1 - 7.11 Units (114 Units Staked, - 6.24% Yield)
Season 201163-36, + 23.25 Units (99 Units Staked, + 23.5% Yield)