o Analyze results, identify trends and predict outcomes for NFL, NBA, WTA and ATP matches.

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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Week 8, 2011: Seven on Sunday

Our 7 favorites this Sunday with comments
At Tennessee
Two teams coming off ugly blowout losses, but Titans still have hope, while Colts are winless.
New Orleans
At St. Louis
Though the points are high, Rams are winless and season-high score is 16 points.
At NY Giants
Giants have been up and down but Dolphins are another winless team that cannot score more than 16 points.
At Buffalo
Bills are going to score 24+ points. Skins have scored 20 and under for 4 straight weeks.
At Denver
Look for Lions to stop losing skid so don’t let the Broncos win over Dolphins fool you!
At San Francisco
Niners have been on a roll, while Browns struggle to score points
San Diego
At Kansas City
Toughest of these picks and it’s a question of whether the Chiefs have really turned it around.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Week 7, 2011: Bears vs Bucs by EvenMoney

Chicago Bears vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (At London) is this week’s spotlight game, in a week with not many marquee matchups. Of the two games that pass the test, we chose this one because for the Bears, if they lose, they might as well hibernate for the winter. Though the Bucs’ playoff fate will not be decided for, at least, two more weeks, a loss keeps them questioning whether they will ever take that proverbial step forward.

Courtesy of dclfboy5

In Week 1, we questioned the Bucs’ readiness and they’ve slightly surpassed our expectations, because of last week’s win over the New Orleans Saints. But, at the same time, that blowout loss (48-3) to the San Francisco 49ers two weeks ago has us back to square one. Who are the Bucs and can they surpass our projected win total of 9, for the season? A win this week simply holds us at this projection, and remotely a chance at 10 wins for the season.

A loss and it could mean no playoffs, even though the Bucs have beaten both the other top teams in their division. For this week, let us focus on a Bucs team that loses whenever it gives up more than 20 points in a game. They will be facing a Bears team that only wins when it scores 30+ points or keeps the opponent at 17 points and under.

In a nutshell, one team loves a blowout and the other does not; one has no identity and the other does. On paper, the Bucs defense is in the league’s lower tier, except where it counts: Points Against. On offense, they are mediocre across the board. A lot of their stats – offense and defense - have to do with the San Francisco game, where they did not show up on either side of the ball. This game against the Bears will tell which side of the ball they can count on for the remainder of the season.

The Bears have similar problems, except they are worse offensively and defensively. Their lone advantage is their Special Teams, specifically Returns featuring Devin Hester.

Bucs (+1.5) Over (43.5) – Go with consistency and quality of opponents, and Josh Freeman is playing (slightly) better than Jay Cutler.

10/23 1:00 ET Chicago -1.5 Tampa Bay (At London) 43.5

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Week 6, 2011: Lions vs 49ers by EvenMoney

San Francisco 49ers @ Detroit Lions is this week’s spotlight game, in a week with at least 8 other matchups we could have chosen. To think in Weeks 1 and 2 when we covered both these teams, we did so to lay down the gauntlet and they both responded. In Week 1 the Lions won and have maintained that pace - currently at 5-0. In Week 2, though the 49ers lost, the result was a Push (at 3 points) and similar to the Detroit Lions, they sit atop their division (with a 4-1 record).

This week’s game means the same thing to both teams, in that, any misstep, doubt could creep in and give their closest division competitor a chance to wrest control out of their hands. This is more of a concern for the Lions because the defending Super Bowl Champions – the Green Bay Packers – are also 5-0. The two teams will play 2 times, and if they should split, then the overall record and record within the conference will be the key factors in which team is crowned.

For the 49ers, they have a two-game division lead over the Seattle Seahawks. As we stated before, the NFC West will only send one team to the playoffs. Avoid any sort of losing streak, a playoff slot is theirs. A win against the Lions (pretty much) guarantees the 49ers, a 10-win season; within the NFC West, that is a playoff lock. A loss will tilt them to 9 wins or less, something the Seahawks could achieve.

The two teams are evenly matched in output: Scoring PPG (Lions 31.8; 49ers 28.4), and Defense (Points Against – Lions 17.8; 49ers 15.6). The difference is how each team goes about scoring. For the Detroit Lions, it’s an all-out air assault that has them Top 10 in Attempts, Completions, Percentage, Yardage and TDs (#3).

The Lions are doing this behind the arm and on the shoulders of QuarterBack Matthew Stafford who is just 13 yards shy of 300 per game, and has a 3:1 TD/INT ratio.

Contrast this with the 49ers who are winning because of their Rushing defense and offense. They have relegated QuarterBack Alex Smith to a ball-control, manager type. Smith is ranked 29th out of NFL QB’s in Attempts (126) and YPG (193). He’s more prone to take the Sack (14) than throw an INT (1). So, how are the 49ers producing offense? Answer: Frank Gore (80 YPG) and Kendall Hunter (27 YGG).

As a team, the 49ers are ranked 7th in Rushing Attempts and 32nd in Passing Attempts. They take this imbalanced offense into Detroit to face a Lions team that is balanced on defense. Their Pass defense is superior to their Rush defense, and it is tested the most by opponents. Though the Lions Rusing defense gives up a lot of yards per game and per carry, they’ve only given up 1 TD all season.

49ers (+4) Under (46) – Comparison of common opponent as well as the quality of opponents; the Lions are coming off a Monday Night Football appearance; and that extra point where a Field Goal doesn’t do it ATS (against the spread).

10/16 1:00 ET At Detroit -4 San Francisco 46

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Week 5, 2011: Jets vs Patriots by EvenMoney

New York Jets @ New England Patriots is a marquee game for two reasons: the other match-ups are bleh; and the rivalry has been balanced a bit in recent games. This game has much more consequence for the Jets; they lose and they can essentially kiss their playoffs hopes BYE BYE!

If the New York Jets lose this game, the best they can do the rest of the season is 6-5. If they win, even if they go 6-5, they would still be at 9-7 by season’s end. But beating the New England Patriots would build confidence which might push them to 7 or 8 more wins; thereby inking them to a 10 or 11-win season and the playoffs.

To even entertain this scenario, the Jets have to stop being overconfident, something that has filtered from Head Coach Rex Ryan. He’s gotten the credit when things went well, so he must get the blame when things stink! Simply put, Rex Ryan is doing a HORRIBLE JOB! He is stuck on one speed. That has always been the case with his defense and we saw opponents solve it last year by conceding that they will face 3rd and Long, and in which case the Jets would blitz. First Down!!

Courtesy of lightyoshi

Coming off last year’s good playoff showing, the Jets are convinced that QuarterBack Mark Sanchez had taken that proverbially leap. So, the Jets offense has taken more risks this season – many of them unnecessary, particularly with Center Nick Mangold injured. Mangold is expected to play but that still does not mean the Jets will not be a pass-happy offense.

HIGHLIGHTS – New York Jets vs. Baltimore RavensWeek 4, 2011

Contrast their per-game averages this season to last year. This season the Jets are attempting 36.8 pass attempts to 23 rushes, while last year for the entire season they averaged 32.8 pass attempts to 33 rushes. Some of this lies on the fact they’ve often trailed in games.

On the defensive side, the Jets defense (ranked #8) has played fairly well but their rush defense has yielded 130 yards per game (YPG) and 6 TDs (ranked #27).  This does not bode well for them because the Patriots are ranked #1 on offense, #1 in passing and #9 in rushing. So, we can conclude that the Jets are not going to win the game on defense, since the Patriots score 33.75 PPG to the Jets’ 25.0 PPG.

So, how can the Jets win? Both teams give up about 24 PPG, and the only way the Jets can keep the Patriots from scoring is by keeping them off the field. To do this, the Jets have to run the ball effectively, something they haven’t been able to do this season.

Jets (+7.5) Over (50) – The Patriots are the NFL’s worst defense, including on passing. Even if they win the game, they will give up 25 points to the Jets, which puts them at risk for a loss, at least not covering the spread.

10/9 4:15 ET At New England -7.5 NY Jets 50

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Week 4, 2011: Steelers vs Texans by EvenMoney

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Houston Texans is this week’s biggest game, in that it features two evenly matched teams that cannot afford a loss. Though the Texans can anticipate or hope their lone competitive division rival, the Tennessee Titans, will fade, the Steelers do not have that luxury. The Ravens will not wilt, and both Browns and Bengals have a shot at finishing at least .500. The latter means any misstep could knock the Steelers out of the division and/or wildcard race.

Pittsburgh has a relatively easy schedule where they can win 9 out of their remaining 13 games without having to go beyond their norm. But, the Ravens, who demolished the Steelers in Week 1 also benefit from such scheduling. This means Pittsburgh must defeat the Texans to keep pace or gain an advantage.

To beat the Texans, the Steelers are going to have to score points, lots of them – 24 or more; something the Steelers have not done this season. Pittsburgh’s average of 18PPG (points per game) is a bit misleading since they have played in two blowouts in which the losing team scored in single digits – one loss (7pts); one win (0 points).

In that win against the St. Louis Rams, they “took their foot off the gas” in the 3rd quarter. Their other game, a win with a score of 23-20, showed them in a battle, but it was against the Colts who are without star QB Peyton Manning. Basically it comes down to not being able to pinpoint, just which performance is the real Pittsburgh Steelers.

This game against the Houston Texans will give us that answer because the Texans have put up 23+ points in all games. They have done this in three disparate contests – 4th quarter fade against powerhouse New Orleans; up and down game versus Miami; and a shellacking of the hapless Colts.

This game will come down to Texans offense battling Steelers defense, specifically the Passing game: 12th ranked Texans versus 1st ranked passing defense. Listed as “probable" to play, the Texans RB Ben Tate’s production is a given, especially since the Steelers run defense roughly yields what he produces (4.6 yards per rush; nearly 100 yards per game).

Even with Tate (listed as probale) in the lineup, can Matt Schaub maintain his average: 274 ypg on 65% passing, and 2:1 TD/INT ratio?

Steelers (+3.5) Under (45) – Texans might win but covering while putting up lots of points? Only elite teams do that against the Steelers.

10/2 1:00 ET At Houston -3.5 Pittsburgh 45