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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, 30 November 2013

Weekend Football Picks 2013 (November 30-December 1)

It has been a busy week as my working commitments means I haven't had a chance to crack on with the picks for the games this week any earlier than Saturday. However, I have to say that the games this weekend look tough to call in the Premier League and it could be a hard week to come out on the right side.

Aston Villa v Sunderland Pick: I don't like backing Aston Villa too many times at home because I do think the system they employ is much more effective when they are allowed to counter-attack and that is unlikely to be the case against Sunderland this weekend.

Aston Villa did pick up an important win over Cardiff City in their most recent game at Villa Park and Paul Lambert would have circled this game as one they have to win before the festive period really kicks in.

Gus Poyet does have Sunderland playing better of late and they have been unfortunate to lose at Stoke City last week and Hull City before that as sending offs have affected the game plan. A lack of goals has to be a concern for Poyet, particularly away from home, while they have also been conceding too many goals on their travels.

Wes Brown is a big player for Sunderland as he is a defender that certainly can excel for them, but I think the momentum of the result on Monday will spark a Villa win this weekend. At odds against, Aston Villa have to be the call in this one.

Cardiff City v Arsenal Pick: As well as Cardiff City played last week, especially in their determination not to lose that game against Manchester United, they didn't create an awful lot of chances during the 90 minutes.

With better finishing, Manchester United would have put that game to bed in the second half and I don't think Arsenal will be as generous in this game. The return of Theo Walcott gives them another attacking option and Arsenal should be able to create chances to win this game.

Arsenal have only had 1 clean sheet away from home in the Premier League this season and I do believe Cardiff will be dangerous enough to score in this one off a set piece or something like that. 

However, I do think the Gunners are too strong and I will back them in the same way I backed Manchester United last week and call for Arsenal to win a game in which both teams score.

Newcastle United v West Brom Pick: Picking a winner in this game is not as clear-cut as some may initially think- Newcastle United have been in good form with a couple of big wins here and they have also protecting a decent home record.

On the other hand, West Brom may have drawn 4 of 6 away games in the League this season, but they have won at Old Trafford and should have won at Stamford Bridge so they won't feel overawed by having to face Newcastle United at St James' Park.

There is a lot of potential for goals in the game, as previous fixtures between teams here have also shown. The last 9 games at St James' Park between these sides have seen at least 3 goals scored, while 3 of the last 4 of the home/away games respectively have also seen that mark surpassed.

At 1.90, the chance for goals is perhaps a little under-rated here and I think this may be another exciting late afternoon kick off for the neutral fans to enjoy.

Real Madrid v Real Valladolid Pick: Real Madrid should be far too strong for Real Valladolid, but they are likely going to concede in this one on the way to the win.

Valladolid have scored in Barcelona, Villarreal and Valencia, while Real Madrid have conceded at least one goal in their last 4 gamesi n front of their own fans.

Even their last 2 wins over Valladolid at home have come in games they have conceded so backing the home side to win in a game where both teams score looks the way to go.

Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United Pick: This is a really big game for Andre Villas-Boas and his future as Tottenham Hotspur manager... The loss to Manchester City can be seen as quite a turning point for the fans and it seems to have come to a head.

Despite spending a lot of money in the summer after selling Gareth Bale, Spurs have struggled for goals and just haven't created enough chances for their new striker Roberto Soldado.

They should have chances against Manchester United who haven't been that solid defensively in their away games all season, although they are coming off the best performance of the season in the win at Bayer Leverkusen.

Some will criticise the quality of Leverkusen, but they don't lose many games at home and that was a very respectable win. United haven't been creating a lot of chances themselves, but the likes of Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie can produce a goal out of nothing and I think that will prove to be the difference in the two sides.

United have a strong record at White Hart Lane and I do think they can win this game. However, I recommend taking them on the Asian Handicap where a draw would at least return half stakes.

Hull City v Liverpool Pick: I have been impressed with the defensive shape that Hull City have had in the majority of their games this season, especially at the KC Stadium where they have been particularly stingy.

However, as much as Steve Bruce would like to sit back and try and defend deep in numbers in this one, the home crowd will mean Hull City have to show some adventure and I can see Liverpool exploiting them when they do.

Liverpool have scored plenty of goals away from home so far in the Premier League and the lack of goals in the home team will be a concern for Hull. That should be the difference between the teams in this one, and I think having someone like Luis Suarez means Liverpool can score a goal even when they are not playing particularly well.

With the goals in the Liverpool side, even away from home, I think they are going to win this game by a couple of goals.

Manchester City v Swansea Pick: There isn't really a lot to say about Manchester City when they play in front of their own supporters and they have been much more consistent at the Etihad Stadium than they have on their travels.

Manchester City have scored plenty of goals and I think Swansea are going to be the latest team to visit this ground and come away not just empty handed, but coming away with a comfortable loss.

City will score goals and Swansea haven't been playing as well this season as they did last year. Whether that is down to their participation in the Europa League or just teams getting used to their style of football is a question that will be cleared up in the next six weeks, but either way they won't find it easy to match Manchester City in this one.

The layers don't seem that convinced that City will win this one as easy as I think they might, so backing the home side for a win by at least two goals is the call.

MY PICKS: Aston Villa @ 1.95 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Both Teams to Score and Arsenal to Win @ 3.30 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Newcastle United-West Brom Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.85 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Both Teams to Score and Real Madrid to Win @ 2.38 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Manchester United - 0.25 Asian Handicap @ 2.17 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Liverpool - 1 Asian Handicap @ 2.10 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Manchester City - 1.5 Asian Handicap @ 1.90 Pinnacle (2 Units)

November Update15-14-1, + 3.00 Units (45 Units Staked, + 6.67% Yield)

October Final20-16-1, + 12.94 Units (51 Units Staked, + 25.37% 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 2013/1446-44-1, + 2.05 Units (144 Units Staked, + 1.42% Yield)
Season 2012/13+ 4.42 Units (415 Units Staked, + 1.07% Yield)

Friday, 29 November 2013

College Football Week 14 Picks 2013 (November 29-30)

This is the final week of the regular season for most teams now and either schools will be looking forward to Bowl games or they can begin to focus on the basketball team and what they can achieve. It has been another fun season in College Football with a lot of good games that have been played and we should also see an exciting end to the season with Championship Games and the big BCS Bowl games to be played in the next six weeks.

There have also been some real disappointments in the form of schools not achieving what was expected of them, either through a gluttony of injuries or bad form. That was represented by what happened in Florida Gators last game, another loss, last week.

I don't understand how those two players didn't realise they were blocking each other, despite being on the same team, and sums up what has happened to some teams that have underachieved.

The picks had a better week last time out, although it could have been a lot better if not for a couple of poor second halves. Hopefully the regular season can end in strong fashion before the Conference Championship Games are played next week.

Iowa Hawkeyes @ Nebraska Cornhuskers Pick: Neither team will be playing for the Big Ten Championship this season, but both will be elevated to Bowl status so a win could potentially improve their position there.

This has all the making of a close game and it is no surprise that the layers have separated them by the usual points for a home team, but I am surprised that the spread is under the key number of 3 for the game.

Iowa will probably get a little more out of their passing game, while Nebraska will likely get a little more out of their running game and the difference will be which of the Defensive unit steps up the most. I will say that the Cornhuskers can get a decent pass rush going and that may give them a chance to get drives stalled for the Hawkeyes. With a small spread like this, that could prove to be the difference and I like the home team to cover in a close win.

Texas State Bobcats @ Troy Trojans Pick: Both teams are coming in off a losing streak, but there has to be more motivation for the home side to reach the 6 win mark that will make them Bowl eligible compared with Texas State who have already won 6 games.

The Trojans should be able to run the ball and pass the ball with sustained success and the question will be whether Texas State can find enough through the air to punish a Troy Secondary that has struggled all season.

Texas State should stay in third and manageable situations with their ability to run the ball, but they are only passing for 151 yards per game this season and they will have to make plays through the air to make this a game.

With the Troy Secondary giving up big plays, I think they will concede points, but I expect the Trojans Offense to be strong enough to pull away with a 10-14 point lead.

Fresno State Bulldogs @ San Jose State Spartans Pick: The Fresno State Bulldogs will look to remain unbeaten and become one of the BCS buster teams. They will be playing in the Mountain West Championship Game next week regardless of the result in this game, but they want to get invited to a big Bowl game and that means winning out.

The home team also has enough motivation as a win would give them a chance to become Bowl eligible too, but they have lost 3 in a row and are running out of chances.

Both teams will have success passing the ball, but the difference is that Fresno State can find a little more balance with their running game and that could prove to be the difference. San Jose State have averaged 335 yards per game through the air, but they have given up a fair few sacks and have also been guilty of throwing Interceptions.

Those extra possessions should give Fresno State the chance to cover the spread even as that has gone above the key number of 7. I expect a high scoring game, but one that the Bulldogs pull out by double digits.

Washington State Cougars @ Washington Huskies Pick: Washington will want to get revenge on their Washington State rivals after losing to them in overtime last season and both teams will be coming in with decent form behind them and Bowl eligibility already confirmed.

The Pac-12 North has been a tough Division all season with 5 of the 6 teams having at least a 0.500 record in the Conference.

Both teams should move the chains in this one, although I do think Washington are the more likely winners as the Huskies have a better balance in their Offense compared with Washington State. However, the Huskies Quarter Back situation is yet to be cleared up and that may give the Cougars a bit more of a chance in this one.

I am concerned with some of the turnover issues Washington State have had on Offense which has seen them blown out a few times this season, but their Defense has also been capable on getting the ball back to the Offense and I just see this being a game decided by between 7-14 points. Therefore, getting the 16.5 point headstart looks the way to go.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights @ Connecticut Huskies Pick: Gary Nova will have to play a lot of mistake free football in this game to give his Defense a chance to at least get enough rest and make plays themselves.

If Nova is guilty of turning the ball over in his own territory, Connecticut may be able to make enough plays to double their win totals.

However, I do think the Rutgers team has more talent and they may be able to take advantage of a Connecticut team that doesn't have a lot to play for and may have celebrated too much in winning last week. Gary Nova should make enough plays against the Secondary to keep the Scarlet Knights moving and I believe he can have the bigger impact compared with Casey Cochran and help lead Rutgers to a win.

Ohio State Buckeyes @ Michigan Wolverines Pick: There is little doubt in my mind that Michigan have circled this game for a month or so once it became clear that they will definitely not be playing in the Big Ten Championship Game and they would like nothing more than to spoil Ohio State's season.

I would have given them half a chance six weeks ago, but Devin Gardner makes too many mistakes to really trust Michigan to cause a surprise and the lack of a running game means the Quarter Back may push himself to do too much.

Ohio State should have considerably more success moving the chains and as long as Braxton Miller can avoid mistakes in turning the ball over, the Buckeyes may record a huge win in the Big House.

The emotional effort that Michigan put in is going to be tough to deal with, but the Buckeyes know they don't have a lot of time to impress voters to get into the National Championship Game. It will be close for a while, but the Buckeyes should pull away for the win.

Kansas State Wildcats @ Kansas Jayhawks Pick: It has been another long, tough season for Charlie Weis and the Kansas Jayhawks and I think it won't be ending in any positive manner against their local rivals, the Kansas State Wildcats.

The difference in the Offensive and Defensive units favours Kansas State heavily and the only way this game is close is if the Wildcats are sloppy in the manner they approach it.

I can see Jake Walters having a big game from the Quarter Back position, especially with an established running game and I do think Kansas State will find a way to win this game and cover the spread.

Baylor Bears @ TCU Horned Frogs Pick: This is likely to be a closer game than I initially thought with the emotional investment that Baylor had in their game last week which saw their National Championship ambitions go up in smoke. Baylor still have a lot to play for in the remaining two weeks of the season, but the emotional impact of last week's loss is not to be underestimated.

On the other hand, TCU have lost 4 of their last 5 games to fall out of Bowl eligibility and that may see them have a let down performance against a powerful Baylor team.

Both Defenses are tough units, but Baylor's Offense should have the more success of the two Offenses that take the field. As long as Bryce Petty can afford turning the ball over, I can see the Baylor Defense winning the field position which should give them every chance to cover the spread.

Baylor have to have revenge on their mind for last season against TCU too and having more to play for should give them the mental edge to win this game and cover the spread.

Clemson Tigers @ South Carolina Gamecocks Pick: This game has the making of a shoot-out and Clemson have the chance to beat THREE SEC teams in a row if they can knock off the Gamecocks. The Tigers beat LSU in a Bowl game last season and then beat Georgia to open this campaign.

Playing South Carolina hasn't ended well for Clemson in recent seasons, but they have a team that can certainly match them for points this time around.

Turnovers are going to be critical and it was those mistakes that cost Clemson the game against Florida State as they were in a big hole early in that game. Out of the two Defenses, I think there is a little more upside for Clemson as far as I am concerned but it is a shame that they have been so heavily backed this week that their points have gone from + 5 to + 3 as the week moved on.

I still think Clemson are worth chancing with the points behind them here, especially if South Carolina hear Missouri are losing and they may just take their foot off the gas with a game against the SEC West winners next week.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish @ Stanford Cardinal Pick: This is going to be a tough, physical game for both teams and I do think it is going to be a lot closer than the layers seem to believe.

Notre Dame should have enough success throwing the ball to at least make this a competitive game, while Stanford will likely bleed the clock with long sustained drives on the ground.

That makes the 15.5 points being given to the Fighting Irish look a little on the high side as far as I am concerned and I'll back them to at least cover.

MY PICKS: Nebraska Cornhuskers - 2.5 Points @ 1.92 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Troy Trojans - 7 Points @ 2.05 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Fresno State Bulldogs - 8.5 Points @ 1.92 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Washington State Cougars + 16.5 Points @ 2.00 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
Rutgers Scarlet Knights - 2.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Ohio State Buckeyes - 15.5 Points @ 1.92 William Hill (1 Unit)
Kansas State Wildcats - 17.5 Points @ 2.00 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Baylor Bears - 13.5 Points @ 1.95 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Clemson Tigers + 3 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Notre Dame Fighting Irish + 15.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)

Week 13: 5-3, + 1.77 Units (8 Units Staked, + 22.13% Yield)
Week 122-6, - 4 Units (8 Units Staked, - 50% Yield)
Week 117-2, + 4.59 Units (9 Units Staked, + 51% Yield)
Week 106-3-1, + 2.69 Units (10 Units Staked, + 26.9% Yield)
Week 94-4, - 0.23 Units (8 Units Staked, - 2.86% Yield)
Week 86-2, + 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 201357-40-2, + 9.70 Units (107 Units Staked, + 9.07% 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)

Thursday, 28 November 2013

NFL Week 13 Picks 2013 (November 28-December 2)

Week 12 proved to be one for the underdog as the majority of the games ended with the dog covering, while there were also a few real surprise finishes including Tampa Bay winning in Detroit. The classic Sunday Night Football game between New England and Denver was a memorable one, especially for the way Tom Brady led the Patriots back in terrible conditions, but that went against the picks I made and it ended the week in a disappointing fashion.

It was a winning week, but it could have been so much more if either of the Manning brothers in the NFL had found a way to win games that were tied late into the day.

On another note, as a Miami Dolphin fan I was very disappointed with the home loss against Carolina as Miami had dominated the game for the most part but couldn't get the job done. In saying that, I would love to know how the referee missed the clearly illegal hit on Rishard Matthews by Luke Kuechly- this is the second week in a row the Linebacker has gotten away with what should have been a penalty committed in the end zone, and one that may have effectively cost Miami the chance to put the ailing Panthers away on the day.

Week 12 Thoughts
Play Off teams begin to separate from the rest: As the NFL enters the final five weeks of the season, it is no surprise that we are beginning to see some separation between those teams that have a chance of reaching the Play Offs and those that are unlikely to do so.

While the AFC is a fairly open Division with a number of teams in contention for the final Wild Card spot in the Conference, the Dallas Cowboys have effectively ended the New York Giants chance of making the post-season and cut the contenders in half in the NFC East.

The NFC East got clearer, and teams like New England have taken a stranglehold of their Division, but the NFC North remains up for grabs as none of the teams in that Division managed to win the game. The Green Bay Packers tie with Minnesota may have put the Packers behind the black ball if they are to make the Play Offs, and also increases the importance of finding a way to win in Detroit this Thanksgiving Day before the expected return of Aaron Rodgers.

That is the most fascinating Division in the NFL at the moment, but I am expecting a lot more drama down the stretch.

Have Jacksonville ended their own chances of finishing with the Number 1 pick in the Draft? I don't necessarily agree with tanking a season, but Jacksonville are desperate for some reinvestment in their playing staff and I had tipped them to finish with the Number 1 Pick next April.

I did not expect the Jaguars to win in Tennessee and Houston which may have ended their hopes and the chance to pick up a potential franchise Quarter Back. The feeling is that this Draft could have a deep class of Quarter Back, so it may not be the end of the world for the Jags, but I look at the teams that would have higher Draft choices if the season ends today and I do worry for Jacksonville fans.

The Houston Texans could clear out the Head Coach and his staff come the end of the season, while Matt Schaub looks finished here with the fans at his back. Case Keenum has looked good at times, but I expect the Texans may be looking for a Quarter Back if they finish with the Number 1 pick.

The Jaguars should be very glad Minnesota avoided defeat at Green Bay last week as they are another team that are likely to be looking for a new signal caller and there is the potential for Jacksonville to 'only' have the Number 3 pick if they continue their upturn in fortune. That could be significantly damaging for the long-term prospects of the franchise and won't be much fun for London fans that get to 'enjoy' the Jags for the next three years.

Seattle Super Bowl hopes take a hit: So Brandon Browner could potentially be ruled out of the rest of the season and Willie Thurmond has been suspended for four games- Browner is also potentially going to be serving a one year suspension for using stimulants and he will be a big loss for the Legion of Boom Secondary that has been so effective for Seattle.

It would be a loss and losing one of the big Corner Backs that causes so many physical match up problems is tough to overcome for Seattle, although the Seahawks can at least point to an improvement on the Offensive side of the ball with the return to health of some key personnel.

The situation is one that can be overcome on the face of things, but how will Seattle react to the news of a couple of key Defensive Backs and that is the question that will be answered. They have a huge game with New Orleans this Monday Night Football and the Number 1 seed and home field advantage may not be as wrapped up as I thought it was.

The NFC Wild Card race is likely to live up to its name: I was looking at the teams that are chasing the Wild Card in the NFC and it is extremely tough to separate a number of teams at this moment in time. The Carolina Panthers (8-3) look in a strong position but don't have an easy end to the season and they are closely followed by the San Francisco 49ers (7-4), Arizona Cardinals (7-4).

To make things more complicated, the second place team in both the NFC East and North have 6-5 records- the most exciting aspect is the number of these teams that will play one another down the stretch and really give fans plenty to look forward to.

My Play Off teams: Things can quickly change in the NFL with injuries and the like changing these projections each week, but here are mine after the Week 12 results.

AFC: 1) Denver, 2) New England, 3) Cincinnati, 4) Indianapolis, 5) Kansas City, 6) Pittsburgh

NFC: 1) Seattle, 2) New Orleans, 3) Philadelphia, 4) Detroit, 5) Carolina, 6) San Francisco

Top Ten
1) Seattle Seahawks (10-1): Only team with double digit wins this season.

2) New Orleans Saints (9-2): It's a huge game for the Saints on MNF as they visit the Seahawks.

3) Denver Broncos (9-2): That was a heartbreaking loss on Sunday night, but Denver are still in control of the Number 1 seed in the AFC.

4) New England Patriots (8-3): The win over Denver in the fashion they did makes New England a dangerous team going into the Play Off run.

5) Carolina Panthers (8-3): No team is hotter than the Panthers who can make a big statement with two games against the Saints coming up.

6) Kansas City Chiefs (9-2): The Chiefs may just start slipping down if they lose to Denver again this week.

7) Arizona Cardinals (7-4): Back in the Wild Card mix, but a big game at Philadelphia next.

8) San Francisco 49ers (7-4): Another team back in the Wild Card mix and two big home games against St Louis and Seattle up next.

9) Philadelphia Eagles (6-5): Hot streak going into the bye will be tested by Arizona this week.

10) Cincinnati Bengals (7-4): Hard to decide my final team, but they are in control of the AFC North and are in a strong position to reach the Play Offs.

Bottom Five
32) Houston Texans (2-9): 9 straight losses, a Head Coach that has seemingly lost his team and this season can only be described as an abomination after losing at home to the Jaguars.

31) Atlanta Falcons (2-9): Put everything into a 'Super Bowl' against New Orleans and came up short.

30) Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9): I never thought they would win one game, let alone two and all credit to Gus Bradley for engineering two road wins in the Division.

29) Minnesota Vikings (2-8-1): Blew a big lead in Green Bay before playing out a tie.

28) Washington Redskins (3-8): Time to sit RG3 for the season and get ready for a lot of changes in the staff this off-season.

Week 13 Picks
It could have been a lot worse in Week 12 as most of the games I really liked fell through, the Denver game in particularly being disappointing as the Broncos blew a 24 point half time lead to lose the game at New England.

This week we have three Thursday night games as we have reached Thanksgiving Day and all the bye weeks have been completed so the real move towards the Play Offs can begin. Games don't get any more important with five weeks left of the season and teams jockeying for position and this week we have a few more of those for the neutrals to enjoy.

Green Bay Packers @ Detroit Lions Pick: This is a big game for both teams and I would go so far as to say that I am expecting the winner to win the NFC North and go through to the Play Offs. Both teams are coming in without a win for a while, but I think the Detroit Lions have a real chance to snap their losing run on Thanksgiving Day.

I think both teams have every chance of moving the chains in this one, but I do think the Detroit Lions will have the more consistent success as long as they stop shooting themselves in the foot.

It was the Interceptions and fumbles that cost the Lions the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but take those away and I expect Detroit would have won that one.

Detroit should be more focused for this game and I expect Matt Stafford to Calvin Johnson/Nate Burleson combination to help move the chains downfield, while Reggie Bush should be able to find decent running lanes in this one.

I am not convinced about Matt Flynn either, although I do think he can have some success against the Lions Secondary that can struggle in coverage. However, I will have a small interest in the Lions to cover this game.

Oakland Raiders @ Dallas Cowboys Pick: Both teams are coming off emotional games so I am expecting that to offset against one another and I do think the Dallas Cowboys can win this game and cover the spread.

When the line was opened, it did seem Oakland were being given too many points, but that line has come down to a more manageable level and one that I think the Cowboys are the right side.

Dallas have a strong record on Thanksgiving Day, although they have failed to cover the last two years, including a surprise loss to Washington last season. However, Tony Romo is playing very efficiently at the moment and I expect the Cowboys to be able to move down the field with some consistency.

It's not to say that Oakland won't have some success too as they should be able to run the ball with enough effectiveness to open play-action and boot leg passes for Matt McGloin. The Quarter Back has looked better than I would have imagined, but Oakland need to finish drives with Touchdowns to give themselves a chance in this one.

Turnovers may prove to be the difference in this one, but Romo has been good at protecting the ball, while the Cowboys Defense has forced the ball over. That may be where the game is covered or not and I like Dallas to get over the line.

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Baltimore Ravens Pick: When the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers meet one another, you have to expect a close, bruising battle and this one is not expected to be any different.

The momentum is certainly behind Pittsburgh who also have a decent recent record at this stadium, but Baltimore have the more consistent Defense and may force more mistakes.

It is an incredibly tough game to call, but the line seems to value Baltimore a little more than Pittsburgh. I think the Ravens Defense is going to be able to force more three and outs and limit the Steelers game compared to the other way around.

Joe Flacco should be given a little more time in the pocket out of the two Quarter Backs and the Steelers Defense is not as good as it once was. Baltimore should be the more desperate team too and that may give them the edge in the game, although I can't have anything but a small interest in the game.

Tennessee Titans @ Indianapolis Colts Pick: The Indianapolis Colts have been playing terribly over the last few games, ever since Reggie Wayne was lost for the season, but they look in a good spot to bounce back and win this game and the AFC South Division.

The Colts knocked off Tennessee a couple of weeks ago in a come from behind win, but the manner of their loss to Arizona last week has given a bit of value on the spread which would have been 8.5 points a couple of weeks ago.

Donald Brown will be starting at Running Back and he has gashed Tennessee enough in the past to think he will have success in this one. That will ease the pressure that has built on Andrew Luck in recent games and I am expecting the Colts to move the ball in much better fashion than they have in the last four games.

I am not disputing the fact that Tennessee will have their success moving the ball too, but Indianapolis should be too good and I think they win this game by a Touchdown at least.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Carolina Panthers Pick: At this stage of the NFL season, teams are already beginning to think about the Play Offs and positioning so there is a chance that Carolina are already thinking about their two games with the New Orleans Saints in the next three weeks that will decide the NFC South.

However, they can't afford to drop games like this because there is host of teams lined up behind them for a Wild Card race and Ron Rivera won't want to put all his eggs in the basket of having to beat Drew Brees to make the post-season.

The fact that Tampa Bay have won 3 in a row should also keep the home team focused.

I think the absence of Darrelle Revis is going to be a huge problem for Tampa Bay to overcome and it should give Cam Newton the chance to throw the ball around with success. That may open their running lanes and the chance for all the Running Backs to be involved, while the Defense is capable of giving Mike Glennon problems for the second game this season.

Glennon won't be able to rely on Bobby Rainey on the ground and may have to hit a few bombs as he did against Detroit last week. However, that may not be enough against this confident Panthers team and I like them to cover.

Chicago Bears @ Minnesota Vikings Pick: It would be a surprise to me if these teams don't move up and down the field all day on Offense, but I think the Chicago Bears may be in a good position to at least keep tabs with the Detroit Lions in the NFC North.

In the absence of Lance Briggs, Chicago have not been able to contain the run game and Adrian Peterson is probable to go and could have his biggest rushing game of the season. On the other hand, Minnesota's Secondary is terrible and I expect Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery to have big games even with Josh McCown throwing the ball to them.

The difference for me? I don't trust Christian Ponder who can be far too erratic and it would not surprise me if he makes the mistake that costs the Vikings the chance to win, while Minnesota also put a lot into their game at Green Bay last week and still couldn't beat a banged up team with a big lead.

Arizona Cardinals @ Philadelphia Eagles Pick: This game has so many potential Play Off implications and should be the game to watch from the early ones with both Philadelphia and Arizona in strong form.

The Cardinals are not in a great spot coming off a huge win and now travelling across the country to take on a team coming off a bye. Philadelphia have shown signs of improvement on both sides of the ball during their 3 game winning run although I would happily concede that Arizona are by far the best team they have faced in that time.

Arizona's Defense is under-rated and it won't be easy for Nick Foles to have the games he has had of late, although there can be blown coverages and Foles has looked to take his shots downfield. It will be on Foles as the Cardinals can slow down the running game.

On the other hand, Carson Palmer should also have a big game, but the Eagles will look to get pressure on this Offensive Line and try and force mistakes out of the veteran Quarter Back. Palmer has been guilty of turning the ball over and that could be a problem for the Cardinals if their Defense doesn't get the required rest between drives against an up-tempo Offense.

Foles is yet to throw a pick this season and that kind of game may spark a big win for the Eagles as they look to overtake Dallas in the NFC East.

New England Patriots @ Houston Texans Pick: There is a chance that New England could have an emotional down game after the way they beat Denver last week in dramatic fashion and they also have an important Divisional game next week.

However, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick will smell the Number 1 seed in the Conference so can't afford to lose to an AFC team that has played as badly as Houston in recent weeks.

The Texans have struggled to run the ball or stop the run, two elements they have prided themselves on in recent seasons. Houston have been devoid of an Offensive spark, although they may have saved some energy to ensure they put in all their effort in this game.

My problem is trusting Case Keenum to make enough plays without mistakes to keep sustained drives on the field, while I also think the Patriots Offense is going to begin to click together now with better health.

The Houston pass Defense may make some plays, but New England look far too strong and I like them to win this game going away from the Texans.

St Louis Rams @ San Francisco 49ers Pick: There is no doubt that Jim Harbaugh will be looking forward to locking horns with Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks again next week, but he will be more than aware of the significance of winning this game.

San Francisco have been harshly criticised recently, but were back to their best against Washington on Monday Night Football and have the added benefit of the returning Michael Crabtree. I don't expect a huge game from Crabtree immediately, but his presence will force Defenses to respect him and open the passing lanes to Anquan Boldin or Vernon Davis.

That will help Colin Kaepernick a lot, and I think he is another player that has been harshly criticised considering he has only two real weapons to throw to. The read option hasn't been used that much, but I think the 49ers will be able to establish a run to slow down the vicious St Louis pass rush.

I do think San Francisco will move the chains and score points in this game so the question is whether Kellen Clemens and the St Louis Rams team can keep up. They have had a lot of big plays in their wins over the last couple of games, but San Francisco are well coached and will be prepared to limit what they give.

The 49ers should stay focused and I like them to win this one by double digits.

Denver Broncos @ Kansas City Chiefs Pick: There is no doubt that the spread is out of whack with Denver being almost the same number on the road as they were asked to cover at home.

However, I do think the Broncos are going to be too strong for Kansas City for the second time in three weeks because their Offense will score their points and I am not sure Kansas City can score enough to keep up.

As long as the game is close, Alex Smith and the Kansas City Offense can play their cautious game, but Denver score points quickly and that will force the Chiefs to throw caution to the wind. The absence of Justin Houston and a hampered Tamba Hali should only give Peyton Manning a little more time and I think Denver may be itching to go and remove the memory of last weeks loss in New England.

Kansas City have won their games because the Defense has limited teams, but they have struggled the last two weeks and that puts the Offense in a tough position to come back. Denver should win this game by a Touchdown at least.

New York Giants @ Washington Redskins Pick: Both teams are going to be emotionally down after losses last week and this is a real eliminator when it comes to the Play Offs, even though the winner is also going to be on life support when it comes to post-season play.

With that in mind, I am surprised the layers have this as a pick 'em contest because the Giants seem to have a real edge when you look at the match up on the field.

The Washington Defense has struggled to stop teams all season and the Giants should have a balance on Offense to keep them guessing and have sustained drives. Errors from Eli Manning are still evident, but he may not have to do a lot if Andre Brown picks up from last week while the returning Hakeem Nicks gives him another reliable Receiver.

On the other hand, I don't know what Robert Griffin III has done in recent games to think he can avoid the mistakes and make the plays necessary to win the game.

New York have been capable of slowing down rushing attacks and have also improved their pass rush in recent games. Their recent record against Washington does put me off a little, but the Giants look the better team at the moment and have to be the call to win this game.

MY PICKS: Detroit Lions - 6.5 Points @ 2.00 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Dallas Cowboys - 7.5 Points @ 1.92 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Baltimore Ravens - 2.5 Points @ 1.92 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Indianapolis Colts - 3.5 Points @ 1.95 Coral (1 Unit)
Carolina Panthers - 7 Points @ 1.95 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Chicago Bears + 1 Point @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Philadelphia Eagles - 3 Points @ 1.90 Coral (1 Unit)
New England Patriots - 7 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (2 Units)
San Francisco 49ers - 7.5 Points @ 1.95 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Denver Broncos - 6.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (2 Units)
New York Giants + 1 Point @ 2.00 Pinnacle (2 Units)

Week 12: 6-4, + 1.43 Units
Week 116-2, + 7.59 Units
Week 104-4, + 0.86 Units
Week 92-5, - 4.24 Units
Week 85-3, + 4.64 Units
Week 77-2, + 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 201357-43-1, + 19.31 Units
Season 2012- 4.78 Units

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Midweek Football Picks 2013 (November 26-28)

I have to say, it is really good to have domestic football back, although I was not satisfied on Sunday evening after Manchester United blew a late lead at Cardiff City. I tend to avoid Twitter in the aftermath of a disappointing result as that mainly because social network sites these days seem to be full of the 'joys' of life that like nothing more than a good moan.

Sack the manager, sack the staff, get rid of the players, all comments that offer nothing going forward if I am honest and very few constructive comments and analysis. In saying that, I have tried to trim the people I follow so that I don't really see too many of the knee-jerk reactions and really do like reading some of the more respected opinions that I do see.

United should have won that game on Sunday, missing a couple of glorious chances to wrap up the points in the last twenty minutes, but they have to move on quickly to the Champions League and a chance to secure a place in the last 16. Only Manchester City of the English clubs is guaranteed a place in the knock out stage of the competition, but United and Chelsea will both feel they can follow suit, while Arsenal are in the most precarious position.

In saying that, Arsenal could also book their place in the last 16 with a win this week and a failure of Borussia Dortmund to beat Napoli, but the most likely scenario is the Gunners travelling to Italy on match day 6 needing to get a result to go through.

Dortmund are one of the leading contender to win the Champions League that are in a very difficult spot going into the last two games and anything less than two wins is unlikely to be good enough for the side that finished as Runner Up just a few months ago. Juventus were one of the 'trendy' picks to win the tournament before it began, but they too are in danger of missing out and are likely to need a result in Galatasaray on match day 6 to go through, while the familiar faces of Milan and Porto have work to do.

That should mean a fascinating round of games to help clear up some of these issues, while the Europa League also reaches the penultimate round of the Group Stage.

The picks for November are once again in a positive position after a good weekend, but there is still work to be done to continue the upward trend that began after a terrible August.

Bayer Leverkusen v Manchester United Pick: When you get down to the last couple of games in the Champions League, you really start getting down to the important games that can determine qualification for the majority of teams.

That is actually the case for both of these teams this week as the winner will definitely be playing in the Champions League in the new year, while the losing team would have to secure a place in the final game.

Manchester United would love to get the win in Germany that could secure top spot as well as a place in the last 16, especially wiht a busy festive period in which they will have around 5 games in a period of about 20 days.

David Moyes would be grateful if he has the chance to at least rotate his squad in the final game against Shakhtar Donetsk, but he is missing a couple of key players here and Manchester United have looked more vulnerable away from home than the results may indicate.

Bayer Leverkusen also have a very strong home record and will be full of confidence that they can earn the win that would give them a great chance to top the Group. They have already dismissed the other two teams in the Group here and avoided defeat against Bayern Munich, but United should be able to create some chances here.

Goals looks the best play, even if the draw would probably suit both teams. I can't imagine Leverkusen thinking it is easier to get a result in Real Sociedad than in front of their own fans, and they don't strike me as a side that will sit back unless news from Ukraine is the home side are losing to Sociedad.

I also expect David Moyes to want his team to give this game a right go to secure their place in the next round and be able to rest some players in the later game. At odds against, the chance of goals certainly looks under-rated.

Manchester City v Viktoria Plzen Pick: With plenty of goals in the home side and with an extra day before their next Premier League game, Manuel Pellegrini will have the chance to play a strong team with the bid to still try and win the Group. I would be surprised if Manchester City don't take the opportunity to continue building the momentum they have at the Etihad Stadium and to try and take that into the coming festive period.

The amount of goals is going to be a problem for Viktoria Plzen to deal with as they have already conceded 8 goals in their first 2 away games in the Group and were also comfortably beaten at home by City earlier in the section.

If CSKA Moscow have got a result earlier in the day against a much-changed Bayern Munich, Plzen will need to earn something here and that could lead them to being a little too open. With the way Manchester City attack, I would expect them to be able to continue their run of games scoring at least 3 goals and I'll back them to cover the Asian Handicap.

Paris Saint-Germain v Olympiacos Pick: I was surprised to hear Laurent Blanc mentioning the nerves his side had in the last Champions League game, but I am expecting them to make amends in this one and win the Group ahead of the final round of games.

There will be a desperation for the fans to get the top spot wrapped up with a win to avoid some of the bigger European names in the Second Round, especially as Paris Saint-Germain are considered a real dark horse to win the tournament.

It won't be an easy game against Olympiacos who have a long unbeaten run of their own to defend, but PSG could prove a little too clinical in front of goal as they were in the first game between the teams. As long as they contain their nerves, Paris should book their place in the last 16 as Group winners and I will take them to win this one by a couple of goals.

MY PICKS: Bayer Leverkusen-Manchester United Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Manchester City - 2 Asian Handicap @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Paris Saint-Germain - 1.25 Asian Handicap @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)

November Update14-13, + 2.95 Units (42 Units Staked, + 7.02% Yield)

October Final20-16-1, + 12.94 Units (51 Units Staked, + 25.37% 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 2013/1446-44-1, + 2.05 Units (144 Units Staked, + 1.42% Yield)
Season 2012/13+ 4.42 Units (415 Units Staked, + 1.07% Yield)

Saturday, 23 November 2013

College Football Week 13 Picks 2013 (November 23)

That was not a good week for me as 6 out of 8 picks fell down the crapper, although at least two of those could easily have gone the other way... That doesn't matter now and it turned out to be a poor week, although the season is still in decent shape.

With a couple of weeks of the regular season left before the Conference Championship Games and the Bowl Games, this is the last chance for schools to get themselves in a position to become Bowl eligible, while others already know their chances are over.

Alabama and Florida State remain one and two in the nation, but there has to be a few concerns with the allegations that are being investigated about Jameis Winston and whether that will see the voters perhaps look to Ohio State or Baylor as a team that should move up into the top two spots. Unless the Seminoles lose or Winston is charged with something in the coming couple of weeks, that is probably unlikely, but it does give those latter two schools another reason to continue bashing up their opponents.

It won't be easy for Baylor who face Oklahoma State this week on the road, while Ohio State's best chance for picking up style points will likely come from a potential Big Ten Championship Game against Michigan State. With lots to play for in the remaining couple of weeks of the regular season, College Football is certainly still keeping the interest of fans all over the place.

Michigan State Spartans @ Northwestern Wildcats Pick: The Michigan State Spartans Offense may not have the power to really exploit the pass Defense problems that Northwestern have, but they have a Defense that could win the field battle and thus come through and win.

It can be hard for a team to get out of a slump, especially in the College ranks, but Northwestern have enough motivation to try and rally and get into a Bowl game.

The problem is that Michigan State have plenty of motivation themselves to win the Legends Division and book a place in the Championship game. I expect their Defense to be the best unit on the field and set up the Spartans for a win by at least a Touchdown.

Duke Blue Devils @ Wake Forest Demon Deacons Pick: For the life of me, I can't understand why the Duke Blue Devils are 'only' favoured by six points in this game as they have all the momentum and could force turnovers to see them cover the spread.

That 'trap' line does worry me because nothing in College Football or the NFL is ever as straight forward as they seem, but Duke have been playing strong football of late. Unless the pressure of winning the Coastal Division has got to them, or if they have suddenly woken up on the success they have had this season, you would expect the Blue Devils to be too strong for Wake Forest in this one.

I think Duke will need to add to their takeaways if they are to cover in this one, but they won by a Touchdown last season and could have a similar result this time too.

Illinois Fighting Illini @ Purdue Boilermakers Pick: I probably need my head testing to trust the Illinois Fighting Illini to win and cover a spread considering how horrible their Defense has played throughout the season.

However, it has to be said that this is an Offense that is capable of scoring plenty of points and they will also be benefiting from the fact that they are playing a Purdue Offense that has struggled.

It is no surprise considering how many Freshmen players they are starting, including the Quarter Back, and that may help Illinois find a way to win this game. The Fighting Illini will give up their yards as they have all season, but I think they can score enough points to force Danny Etling into a mistake or two and win this game by a Touchdown at least.

East Carolina Pirates @ North Carolina State Wolfpack Pick: The match up here looks a good one for the East Carolina Pirates on both sides of the ball and I would expect Shane Carden to really have another big game as long as the Pirates can keep the rushing game going from last week.

Carden and the Offense have put up big points and that has allowed the Defense to excel with their pass rush as teams are forced to play catch up. North Carolina State have struggled to run the ball and becoming one-dimensional against this Defense when potentially chasing a game is not the position they will want to be in.

The Pirates have already crushed North Carolina earlier this season and I think they are going to be too strong for the Wolfpack too. It doesn't look enough points to be giving an Offense like East Carolina's and they should be able to win by a Touchdown with a turnover or two in their favour.

Texas A&M Aggies @ LSU Tigers Pick: Both teams are coming off byes with the knowledge they could still finish in one of the big Bowl games this post-season despite falling short of their own aims to compete for the National Championship.

He may not have announced it yet, but the consensus is that Johnny Manziel will make himself eligible for the NFL Draft after this season and that means we have up to three games left to enjoy a player that has made a big impact in two seasons in College Football. Manziel should be able to lead his Offense to plenty of points, but will need the Aggies Defense to step up to the plate for the first time this season.

Texas A&M have given up far too many points and I expect the LSU Tigers to punish them with their expanded Offense. Les Miles has only once lost back to back games too so the Tigers will feel they can win this game, but I can't help think that some Manziel magic could keep this close.

With the Aggies getting five points, I can see them picking up a backdoor cover in this one in what should be a competitive game throughout and it is one where Texas A&M certainly have a shot to win the game outright.

Utah Utes @ Washington State Cougars Pick: You know what you are going to get from Mike Leach and his Offense so it is no surprise that Washington State will be flinging the ball around in this one. After snapping a 3 game losing run with a surprise win last week, the Cougars can make themselves Bowl eligible with a win on Saturday against the slumping Utah Utes.

Utah have lost 4 on the spin and need to win out if they are to get to 6 wins for the season and they should have their own success in this one with a more balanced attack than what Washington State will use.

Both teams should score points in this one, but home advantage may be the key for the Cougars on 'Senior Day' and I can see that motivation proving to be the difference when it is all said and done. Utah have run a couple of the better teams in the Pac-12 close, but they have also been beaten handily in their road games where they are now 1-3 after losing all 3 road Conference games.

Missouri Tigers @ Ole Miss Rebels Pick: The Missouri Tigers can't afford to slip up over the next two weeks if they want to complete their surprise season and get into the SEC Championship Game. No one expected the Tigers to top the loaded SEC East, but their one loss to the South Carolina Gamecocks could still come back to haunt them if they were to drop another game.

The return of James Franklin could be critical for the Tigers to get the job done over the next two weeks, but I don't expect this to be a walkover for Missouri as the pass Defense has given up big yards through the air which is where Ole Miss' Offense really excels.

However, the Tigers Defense has been opportunistic in creating turnovers and that could prove to be the ultimate difference as a couple of extra possessions will be critical in getting them over the line. Ole Miss have avoided the big mistakes for the most part this season, but the Tigers can get a heavy pass rush that will disrupt things up front and that is where mistakes can be made by Quarter Backs as they try to steer out of trouble.

Boise State Broncos @ San Diego State Aztecs Pick: Boise State will be after some revenge after suffering a home loss against the Aztecs last season and they are playing well enough to snap a three game win streak the San Diego State team are enjoying coming into the game.

Both teams should be able to score points in the game, but it is the Broncos that have looked after the ball a little better through the course of the season and I would expect them to win the turnover battle.

Boise State have also had a little more luck in turning the ball over too and I think that is the best way these Defenses will stop sustained drives taking control of the game... While I expect both teams to score points, the extra possessions should help Boise State win this one by at least a Touchdown.

MY PICKS: Michigan State Spartans - 6 Points @ 1.92 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Duke Blue Devils - 6 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Illinois Fighting Illini - 6 Points @ 1.92 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
East Carolina Pirates - 6 Points @ 2.00 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Texas A&M Aggies + 5 Points @ 2.00 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Washington State Cougars - 1.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Missouri Tigers - 2.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Boise State Broncos - 6 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)

Week 12: 2-6, - 4 Units (8 Units Staked, - 50% Yield)
Week 117-2, + 4.59 Units (9 Units Staked, + 51% Yield)
Week 106-3-1, + 2.69 Units (10 Units Staked, + 26.9% Yield)
Week 94-4, - 0.23 Units (8 Units Staked, - 2.86% Yield)
Week 86-2, + 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 201352-37-2, + 7.93 Units (99 Units Staked, + 8.01% Yield)

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

Weekend Football Picks 2013 (November 23-25)

Finally the Premier League is back in action this weekend and we can get ready for a crazy six weeks where the games come thick and fast as we get closer to the festive period. This is the time when we begin to separate the teams into the blocks they are going to be in for the rest of the season, while we will also see the World Cup draw for Brazil next summer and the Champions League last 16 draw.

The League will take shape over the coming weeks which makes points all the more important now and it should be a lot of fun for all the fans of the clubs.

Everton v Liverpool Pick: Coming back off an international break can affect teams in different ways, particularly the big sides that have seen players travel all over the world for their national teams.

That is one of the reasons that I can't quite pull the trigger on backing Liverpool to win yet another Merseyside derby at the home of their local rivals, while recent form also indicates this will be another close fought match.

Everton have been playing well under Roberto Martinez and have also shown some defensive discipline that isn't always associated with the Spaniard in charge as they have 3 clean sheets in a row. It is a big ask for them to get another in a game where they will be urged forward by the home crowd, especially with Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez likely to start as a tandem again.

This has been a fixture that Liverpool have enjoyed in recent seasons and they have scored plenty of goals at Goodison Park. In fact, they have scored twice in 5 of their last 6 visits to this ground and ha also scored at least 2 goals in 3 straight away games in the Premier League before the defeat at Arsenal.

While Everton have been better defensively, they did concede twice to Newcastle United at home and I think backing Liverpool to do the same at odds against looks the call.

Newcastle United v Norwich City Pick: Backing an inconsistent side like Newcastle United at odds-on is never much fun for the heart, but I do think they can pick up their third League win in a row on current form.

The international break has potentially snapped the momentum they had after wins over Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur, but Newcastle United have been scoring freely of late at home and should become the latest team to see off Norwich City.

There is no doubt that Norwich don't travel particularly well and they have been conceding too many goals in their recent away games. With Loic Remy in the form he is in, I would expect Newcastle United to continue their recent streak of scoring at least 2 goals at home and that should be enough to make the odds pay and bring in a home win.

Stoke City v Sunderland Pick: I have been impressed with the way Sunderland have begun to pick up results, but it has to be noted that they still look a little more vulnerable away from home. Ill disciple cost them a chance of picking up a result at Hull City in their sole away game under Gus Poyet and they will have to perform better if they are to win here at Stoke.

This is also a game that Mark Hughes would have circled as one that Stoke should win and I can imagine this being a tense afternoon for the fans in attendance.

It may be November, but points from games like these can prove invaluable in May and there is every chance that we don't see a goal scored as neither team has been that productive in front of goal.

However, I have a feeling that Stoke may prove to be a little too physical and find a way to win this one and they look worth chancing at odds against.

West Ham United v Chelsea Pick: We saw a couple of poor performances from Chelsea in the Premier League before the international break, but that two week gap between games could be critical for them to turn around their form. Chelsea have a run of games where they would expect to pick up a lot of points and that begins with this difficult game at West Ham United.

West Ham and Sam Allardyce have regularly upset the 'big' clubs when they visit Upton Park. They may have lost 1-3 to Manchester City here, but that game had become tense and difficult for the away side when West Ham pulled a goal back to make it 1-2 and really get the fans behind the team.

The lack of goals is a concern for West Ham if they are to spring the shock result, but I certainly expect them to make this a very difficult game for Chelsea and I expect them to get forward and try to create chances.

Chelsea have looked vulnerable at the back in recent games so I wouldn't be surprised if West Ham do have chances, but I also expect the away side to create goal-scoring opportunities themselves. This has the potential for entertainment for the neutrals and I will back at least 3 goals to be shared by the sides.

Manchester City v Tottenham Hotspur Pick: This is a big game for both of these clubs and a chance to lay down a marker for a busy calendar that is coming up for both, but I have to say I have a lot more belief in Manchester City being a dangerous title challenger than I have in Tottenham Hotspur.

Spurs may only have conceded 1 goal away from home this season, but I can't see them having enough success to keep Manchester City from scoring in this one and I do think the home side are going to come out firing.

The absence of Vincent Kompany is a concern for City, but I think Andre Villas-Boas is too cautious with the team that he picks and I think he will set Spurs up to defend deep and hope to catch City on the counter-attack. However, the problem for Villas-Boas is I don't think the defenders he usually puts in the field are good enough to contain all of the attacking options City have and I feel this game will be a wake up call for all the fans of the North London club.

I have had a gut feeling all weekend that City are going to come out and make a real statement of their intention for the coming weeks and I believe they will punish a Spurs side that hasn't made the best use of the all the signings they made in the summer. Without Gareth Bale, there is a creative spark missing especially as Villas-Boas is putting out a team that has speed but little end product.

I would love to be wrong, but I think City are going to win this one by a couple of goals at least.

Cardiff City v Manchester United Pick: Cardiff City have been plagued with the inconsistencies that comes with being a promoted side, but their wins over Manchester City and Swansea will give them confidence that they could give Manchester United a competitive game in this one.

On the other hand, Cardiff were out-played by Spurs and Newcastle United here too so they will need to bring their 'A' game if they are to surprise Manchester United.

Manchester United have begun to improve their results in recent weeks and back to back away wins in the Premier League will give them confidence to come here and pick up a vital three points. There is enough attacking talent here to cause problems for Cardiff, but United have also looked vulnerable at the back in games.

United haven't had a clean sheet away from home until the result in Real Sociedad in their last away game, and they have conceded against the likes of Sunderland, Swansea and Fulham on their travels. It wouldn't surprise me if Cardiff add their name to that list in front of a passionate crowd that are going to be completely up for a game of this size.

However, I do think Manchester United are grinding out enough results to pick up the win here, especially with the attacking duo of Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie seemingly reading from the same page. I'll take United to win a game where both teams get the ball in the net.

MY PICKS: Liverpool Goal Crazy: 2-3 Goals @ 2.60 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Newcastle United @ 1.80 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Stoke City @ 2.15 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
West Ham United-Chelsea Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.92 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Manchester City - 1 Asian Handicap @ 2.23 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Both Teams to Score and Manchester United to Win @ 3.30 Paddy Power (1 Unit)

November Update9-12, - 3.47 Units (34 Units Staked, - 10.21% Yield)

October Final20-16-1, + 12.94 Units (51 Units Staked, + 25.37% 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 2013/1446-44-1, + 2.05 Units (144 Units Staked, + 1.42% Yield)
Season 2012/13+ 4.42 Units (415 Units Staked, + 1.07% Yield)

Thursday, 21 November 2013

NFL Week 12 Picks 2013 (November 21-25)

This is the final week where some teams can enjoy their bye and that means the Play Offs are looming large. It was a good week for the picks as the season continues in fine form, but I am aware that is was between Week 12 and Week 17 that I really struggled last season after a good start to that season.

Why do I think that happened? I do believe it was down to teams with losing records taking more chances as they had 'nothing to lose' with the Play Offs already out of reach, while my focus probably wasn't at its best which was only recovered by the time the Play Offs rolled around. I'll be looking to avoid that fate this time around as a very important week for a number of teams begins.

Week 11 Thoughts
The big no call at the end of the Carolina-New England game on Monday Night Football: It was quite an unbelievable end to the Panthers-Patriots game on Monday night as Tom Brady looked to lead New England on a game winning drive.

I was more bemused by the fact that the officials barely gave an announcement as to why the flag had been picked up and instead the head referee was walked down the tunnel with Tom Brady telling him what a 'fucking brutal' call had been made.

The NFL have, unsurprisingly, backed the officials decision as being the correct one, but I think the best point being made at the moment is that this is a call that would have been called pass interference if it occurred anywhere else on the field. Forget the last drive too- if this happens at any other time bar the last play of the game, I am sure that DPI would have been called and New England could have the ball on the Carolina 1 yard line.

Like many other sports, the inconsistency in the calls made by the referees is what infuriates fans/players/coaches and this is another example of that... And just out of interest, move this game to New England and what are the chances of the referee picking up the flag and ending the game on a play like that for the HOME team?

Jim Schwartz, what are you thinking? Your team is up by four points and you have a chip shot to score a Field Goal and go up by a Touchdown... So why would any Head Coach decide to try a fake Field Goal there?

I really don't understand Jim Schwartz' thinking here, especially after saying last week that Detroit look a team that is going places, but a defeat like that has me questioning the Lions again. They are known for shooting themselves in the foot, but the loss has given Chicago a way back into the NFC North, while Green Bay are also in contention despite losing 3 games in a row.

The game on Thanksgiving Day against the Packers is all important for Detroit now, but the Lions have to do better with their play-calling if they are to achieve their aims of making the Play Offs and also find someone outside of Calvin Johnson to make the big plays down the stretch.

Kansas City are who we thought they were: I haven't really respected the 9-0 record that the Kansas City Chiefs brought into their Week 11 game against Denver and the problem certainly came from the fact that they had to come from a big deficit to get into the game.

I had my doubts that the Chiefs could come back from a two possession deficit with the way the Offense runs and that proved to be the case on Sunday.

The Defense is probably even better than I thought, although they will need to get the pass rush going in the second game against the Broncos in Week 13, but Kansas City will need to score more points if they are to go deep into the Play Offs.

I remain unconvinced they can do that if I am honest, but they have another chance to change my mind in Week 13.

Gary Kubiak may just have cost himself the Head Coach job at Houston: I feel sorry for what Gary Kubiak had to go through when he suffered a mini-stroke recently at half time of a nationally televised game, but he may just have punched his ticket out of Houston with his decision on Sunday in the loss to Oakland.

Being 2-8 is one thing, but why in the world did Gary Kubiak think it was a good idea to pull Case Keenum and bring back Matt Schaub? His reasoning makes no sense, while the fans teed off on Schaub for the rest of the game.

Schaub then got into an argument with Andre Johnson, who has been in great form since Keenum took the starting job, to end the game and it was a strange decision that has backfired badly and will ultimately cost Kubiak his job in my opinion.

Making matters stranger, Kubiak has announced that Keenum will be the starter again next week which makes Sunday that much more baffling as far as I am concerned.

Seattle Seahawks should win home-field advantage: I think the San Francisco loss to New Orleans has given Seattle the inside edge to home-field advantage in the NFC and that means big trouble for the rest of the teams in that Conference.

Seattle just don't lose at home these days, riding a 13 game winning run there and a win over the New Orleans Saints there after their bye this week will surely give the Seahawks the Number 1 seed.

They would have tie-breakers over the Saints and Panthers, while they hold a big lead over the 49ers in the Division and the schedule would favour Seattle too. Pete Carroll knows the window isn't that big for this Seahawks team to win it all and they are the favourites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl this year.

My Play Off teams: For the rest of the season, I will make the prediction of which teams will make the Play Offs and their seedings. Of course these predictions could change on a weekly basis as surprise results, injuries and other intangibles take their toll.

AFC- 1) Denver, 2) New England, 3) Indianapolis, 4) Cincinnati, 5) Kansas City, 6) Pittsburgh

NFC- 1) Seattle, 2) New Orleans, 3) Philadelphia, 4) Green Bay, 5) Carolina, 6) San Francisco

Top Ten
1) Seattle Seahawks (10-1): Only team with ten wins and in control of the whole NFC

2) Denver Broncos (9-1): A huge win for the Broncos in their bid to win the Number 1 seed in the AFC.

3) New Orleans Saints (8-2): That was an impressive win over San Francisco, but another big test awaits in Week 13 in Seattle.

4) Kansas City Chiefs (9-1): Could this be the start of a real slip for the Chiefs?

5) Carolina Panthers (7-3): One of the hottest teams in the NFL, although they got away with a win over New England on Monday Night Football.

6) Indianapolis Colts (7-3): I am not convinced about a team that can't run the ball and has lost Reggie Wayne, but they have virtually won the AFC South already.

7) Cincinnati Bengals (7-4): Andy Dalton has to play better after the bye if the Bengals are to win the AFC North.

8) Philadelphia Eagles (6-5): A bye this week, but may still have lead in the NFC East depending on the Giants-Cowboys outcome.

9) Chicago Bears (6-4): Back in the NFC North Division hunt despite being swept by Detroit.

10) Arizona Cardinals (6-4): It may be controversial to put them above the 49ers, but Arizona are on a winning streak, are back in the Wild Card mix with a tie-breaker win over Carolina and San Francisco are on a two game slide.

Bottom Five
32) Jacksonville Jaguars (1-9): Things are back to normal as the Jaguars lose by double-digits again.

31) Houston Texans (2-8): Taking out Case Keenum, their best chance to win, and eight losses in a row is terrible for a team that was thinking Super Bowl.

30) Atlanta Falcons (2-8): Injuries have killed the Offense, Matt Ryan has regressed the last few weeks and Atlanta have four losses in a row.

29) Minnesota Vikings (2-8): Minnesota have permanently been in my bottom five, but they are unlikely to move out with issues at Quarter Back and the whole Defense.

28) Washington Redskins (3-7): Lost to the Vikings, and played an awful game for much of their loss to Philadelphia with questions about Mike Shanahan's future as Head Coach.

Week 12 Picks
It was a strong Week 11 for the picks and this has all felt good after seeing the way Vegas have been battering the public according to the financials released each week. This is an interesting week where there are a number of the Play Off chasing teams facing one another and the race to the post-season is going to be fascinating in both Conferences.

It will all begin with a Divisional game on Thursday night which should have been a very important one for both teams and I hope another good week is in the offing. I am also looking to avoid the collapse that came last season at around this time, but paying full attention to the games and spots should hopefully help me avoid that carnage.

New Orleans Saints @ Atlanta Falcons Pick: I don't like being on a team that is being backed by the public as heavily as the New Orleans Saints are, but they do look the right side to me and I will take them to inflict a big win over their Divisional rivals.

While some will worry about the Saints having to face Seattle next, I am of the belief that they will feel they have enough time to prepare for that game with this being a Thursday Night tilt and not facing the Seahawks until Monday Night Football. New Orleans also can't afford to drop a Divisional game with Carolina just a game behind so I expect a full focus from the Saints.

I just don't see a way where Atlanta can slow down this Offense and it would not surprise me in the least if New Orleans become the fourth team in a row to surpass 30 points against them. There are too many Offensive weapons, even without Darren Sproles, for Drew Brees to lean on and that means the question shifts to Atlanta's Offense.

Matt Ryan has struggled without the Receiving weapons he had last season and he is making too many mistakes in recent weeks. He might be revitalised, with the rest of the team, to try and play spoiler against a Divisional rival, but it is a big ask for Atlanta to score enough points to make this competitive.

I am expecting a fully focused New Orleans team to pull away from Atlanta as this game goes on and record a double digit win on the road.

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cleveland Browns Pick: It isn't a familiar position for the Pittsburgh Steelers to be the underdog when going up against the Cleveland Browns, but I do think they are worth backing with the points in this game.

The Cleveland Defense is legit, but does anyone really trust the Offense not to implode in a similar fashion to last week? On the other hand, it has to be considered that the Steelers will find it tough to move the chains themselves as Joe Haden should be able to take out Antonio Brown for much of the game and force Ben Roethlisberger to look elsewhere.

Running the ball won't be easy for the Steelers, but Cleveland should have more success doing that and I wouldn't be surprised if the Browns can complete a Divisional home sweep with another win today. However, the momentum has definitely been behind Pittsburgh in recent weeks and I have a suspicion that they are going to sneak the 6 seed in the AFC. They can't afford to lose here and I'll have a small interest with the points.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Detroit Lions Pick: It may have taken the Tampa Bay coaching staff a little too long to realise what kind of quality player that they have in Darrelle Revis, but they have learned that in time and have begun to win games. It was  a poor start to the year for the Buccaneers, but back to back wins gives them confidence and they gave Seattle fits on the road only three weeks ago.

Having Revis in man coverage will mean he is matched up with Calvin Johnson and the key for Tampa Bay is their big Corner Back acquisition will consider this a successful game if he can restrict Johnson's impact.

If Tampa Bay can force Detroit to look for other options, they will have a chance in this game to spring the surprise, especially if Mike Glennon can exploit a Secondary that has struggled this season. Tampa Bay will need to at least keep Detroit honest and pound the ball on the ground too, although I can't see too much success for them when trying that.

It does feel the Buccaneers are getting too many points in this one, especially if you consider Detroit have a huge game on Thursday when they host the Green Bay Packers. That game is far more important than this one and the Lions may be guilty of overlooking Tampa Bay to an extent.

The Buccaneers are playing well enough to make Detroit pay if that is the case and I will take the points in this one.

Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers Pick: I really don't know why the Green Bay Packers are being backed so heavily to cover the spread in this one unless Aaron Rodgers has secretly made it clear that he will be playing... If Rodgers was starting, I would like the Packers to win this one going away, but don't have the same faith of Scott Tolzien doing that.

Tolzien hasn't played badly between the 20's, but he has made critical mistakes inside the red zone, and turnovers in general have hurt his play. I don't think the Vikings are playing well enough in the Secondary to slow down this Offense, but they have been solid against the run so Eddie Lacy might not be as effective and force the Quarter Back to win the game.

As bad as Minnesota have been Defensively, they will be completely focused on trying to derail a Divisional rival and have a decent match up on paper when they have the ball. The Packers have begun to struggle Defensively, perhaps because their own Offense isn't having long drives to give them enough rest, and I can see Adrian Peterson being a real factor in this one.

Peterson should have a lot of running room in this one, while Christian Ponder, the most likely starting Quarter Back, is going to be facing a Defense that has struggled against the pass in their most recent games. The Vikings should be able to score enough points to at least keep this close, even if they don't win, especially with the Packers having a big 'win or bust' game at Detroit during the week. Green Bay can't afford to drop this game if they are to make the Play Offs, but I have a feeling it will be closer than the points suggest.

New York Jets @ Baltimore Ravens Pick: I know, I know, Geno Smith was a travesty last week in the loss to the Buffalo Bills, but he has been bad one week and followed that up with a comeback performance and that will hopefully be the case in this one for the Jets backers.

I am more convinced with the Jets Defense and I expect them to make it tough for Joe Flacco and a lethargic Baltimore Offense that we have seen for most of the season. They have struggled to put together sustained drives and it is only their own Defense that has kept them in games.

Baltimore should be able to at least pressure Smith in the pocket and neither team is going to be able to run the ball effectively so the Jets Quarter Back has to avoid the turnovers that cost the Jets the game last week. This has all the making of a low-scoring game so mistakes are going to be highlighted as those extra possessions or short fields will be critical.

The Jets Secondary hasn't played that well at times, but I am not sure the Ravens can exploit that and getting more than a field goal start for the road team looks good. Baltimore could easily be focused on the big Thanksgiving Day game against the Steelers at home too so a three point win might be the best they can hope for.

San Diego Chargers @ Kansas City Chiefs Pick: Backing against teams in a bad spot in the NFL is usually a productive place to start and the Kansas City Chiefs can't be in a worse spot. This game comes between two big games against the Denver Broncos, who handed the Chiefs their first loss of the season last weekend.

Emotionally it can be tough to recover from such a loss, while the Kansas City Offense isn't exactly known for putting a lot of points on the board and all that should give the desperate San Diego Chargers a chance in the game.

San Diego lost an important game at the Miami Dolphins last week and another loss this week will seriously dent their chances of earning the final Wild Card place in the AFC, but they have one of the more effective Quarter Backs of the season and Philip Rivers is capable of engineering long scoring drives.

As long as Rivers avoids turning the ball over, the Chargers certainly have half a chance to spring the surprise in this one, even with their turgid Defense on the field. Both teams will chew up a lot of clock with their drives so getting more than a field goal start for San Diego is the call.

Carolina Panthers @ Miami Dolphins Pick: Carolina are arguably the hottest team in the NFL at the moment and are coming off two huge wins at the San Francisco 49ers and at home against the New England Patriots, but that might make them a little susceptible for a surprise result in this one.

Carolina are not in a great spot after those big wins and a quick look at their schedule shows the game against Miami is the 'easiest' one they have in a run of around 6 games. The Panthers could potentially overlook the Dolphins after an emotional couple of close wins and they are on a short week.

The absence of Charles Johnson may make it easier for Ryan Tannehill to find time in the pocket to hurt Carolina in the Secondary, while I expect the Dolphins to establish the run in this one.

Establishing the run makes it easier for Tannehill to complete the passes he needs to, while Miami will try and set their pass rush up to hurry Cam Newton and try and force him to make mistakes.

Both teams will look to run the ball, which could shorten the game, and I think the emotional let down spot is too big to ignore and the Dolphins are perhaps being given too many points in this one.

Indianapolis Colts @ Arizona Cardinals Pick: It is the time of the season when you do have to look at spots that teams find themselves in and there is no doubt that the Indianapolis Colts are in a bad spot with this non-Conference game coming between the big games with the Tennessee Titans.

Winning the game next week would secure Indianapolis' place in the Play Offs as they can wrap up the Division and they could easily overlook a game at a non-Conference foe.

Arizona also have a lot of momentum behind them and I think Carson Palmer could have a big game against this Secondary with Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd. The Colts haven't been at their best Defensively in the last three weeks, while the Offense could struggle to sustain drives against the Cardinals Defense.

We saw another NFC West team bamboozle Andrew Luck recently when the St Louis Rams turned the ball over and won at a canter. I don't expect this to be as easy, but I think Arizona will shut down the running game and force Luck to throw to Receivers that have had drops, while also trying to avoid mistakes against a ball-hawking Secondary.

I wish the spread had come under the key number of 3, but I do like the Cardinals to win this game.

Dallas Cowboys @ New York Giants Pick: The Dallas Cowboys Defense has been brutal the last few games and they are giving up far too many yards per game on that side of the ball. The loss of Sean Lee is critical to their chances and I think this has swung the edge in the game towards the New York Giants who are rallying in the NFC East with a 4 game winning run.

I still don't fully trust Eli Manning to avoid the mistakes that have plagued his game this season, but the Giants have found a semblance of a running game that keeps the pressure off the Quarter Back. Dallas will find it tough to bring down Andre Brown and Brandon Jacobs without their inspirational Linebacker Lee.

If the Giants can run the ball, Eli will feel he doesn't have to push too much, the reason he has given for the number of Interceptions thrown, while Dallas haven't shown they are capable of slowing down too many teams when throwing the ball.

Tony Romo is capable of leading the Offense in a shoot-out as shown in the game with the Denver Broncos, but he hasn't played that well of late and the pressure will be on him as the Cowboys are unlikely to have a lot of success running the ball.

Romo will at least have Miles Austin back and Dez Bryant healthier, but I think the Giants are going to find a way to win this game and level their record with the Cowboys in the NFC East.

Denver Broncos @ New England Patriots Pick: It is always fascinating to see Tom Brady go up against Peyton Manning, but I do feel the edge is with the Denver Broncos in this one, particularly on the Defensive side of the ball.

Both Offenses should keep the chains moving, but I can see Denver making more stops and perhaps forcing more field goal attempts than the other way around.

Denver create so many match up problems that it is tough to slow down their Offense, although this is coming between two big Divisional games against the Kansas City Chiefs. Tom Brady is also exceptional when coming off a loss and rarely will guide his team to back to back losses.

The gusty wind forecast could also be a problem for the passing game and that would swing the momentum to New England in my opinion as they are better at the ground game of the two teams. However, I think the Broncos are going to make enough plays to win this one and put Denver in a strong position to secure home field advantage in the Play Offs for the second season in a row.

MY PICKS: New Orleans Saints - 9 Points @ 1.92 Coral (2 Units)
Pittsburgh Steelers + 2.5 Points @ 1.95 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers + 8 Points @ 1.92 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Minnesota Vikings + 5.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
New York Jets + 3.5 Points @ 1.95 Bet365 (1 Unit)
San Diego Chargers + 3.5 Points @ 1.95 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Miami Dolphins + 4.5 Points @ 1.92 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Arizona Cardinals - 3 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (2 Units)
New York Giants - 2.5 Points @ 1.95 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Denver Broncos - 2.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (2 Units)

Week 11: 6-2, + 7.59 Units
Week 104-4, + 0.86 Units
Week 92-5, - 4.24 Units
Week 85-3, + 4.64 Units
Week 77-2, + 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 201351-39-1, + 17.88 Units
Season 2012- 4.78 Units