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

o Assign player fantasy sports value, measure player efficiency, and compare and rank teams across eras.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

NFL 2015 Week 16 - EvenMoney's Game of the Week (Patriots vs Jets)

New England At NY Jets (-3; 45) has strong playoff implications for both teams. A win for the New England Patriots mean they clinch home field throughout the playoffs. A New York Jets loss does not eliminate them from the playoffs.

This matchup is a chance at redemption for a Jets team that took a lead into the fourth quarter when these two teams met in Week 7. New York led until halfway through the fourth quarter, and then the defense showed the gaps and tendencies that would be exposed in three of the next four games.

Sitting at 5-5, with 4 losses in the AFC division, the Jets have turned their season around. Winners of their last 4 games, the Jets have found a great balance on both sides of the ball. During this stretch, the Jets have averaged 27.5 points, while giving up 16 points.

Though the level of competition was not near what they will face today against the Patriots, the same could be said of the three losses the Jets had after losing to the Patriots.

After beating the Jets in Week 7, the Patriots went on to win 4 straight games. Just as they looked to be streaking toward another undefeated season, the Patriots lost two games in a row. They have since won two straight games but the spectre of dominance is not the same.

The Patriots have battled injuries to key players and are likely resting some to avoid injuries this late in the season. Even with these injuries, the Patriots are still good for their season low mark of 20 points.

The question for this game lies on the Patriots defense, which is giving up less than 20 points over the entire season. This average is a hard split where 7 games fall above that scoring mark, and 7 do not. This says more about level of competition than it does about the Patriots defense's consistency. 

The New York Jets have scored 20+ points in 10 of their 14 games - 8 Wins, 2 Losses. Their defense has held opponents to 20 points or less in 8 games -- all wins.

With the points, this game is a toss-up, a push, where the even money goes to the home team, the Jets  (.526).

So, I take the Jets (UNDER), either looking at a defensive battle or blowout. Pick wisely, come back for Monday's pick and until then watch to see who's the winner.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Skins Eagles, Clinch NFC East - NFL 2015 TNF 16

A win tonight over the Philadelphia Eagles and the Washington Redskins will clinch the NFC East division. Doing so and then beating the Dallas Cowboys next week would have the Skins finish the season 9-7, winners of four straight and provider of respectability for one of this season's much maligned conferences.

A loss in tonight's matchup - Washington At Philadelphia (-3; 49) - will have the NFC East division winner finish at 8-8 or 7-9, but let's hold off on that.

The Skins have been inconsistent all year and have only won two games in a row once, during this current stretch. If they make the playoffs, they would have done so while not beating a team that qualified for this year's playoffs.

The Skins defeated the Eagles earlier this season in a game of two disparate halves, which saw Redskins Quarterback Kirk Cousins make the early case that he's the better of the two quarterbacks.

Cousins bests Eagles Quarterback Sam Bradford in most top statistical categories, including TD/INT ratio, which might prove to be the difference in tonight's game.

At the same time, Bradford has shown the ability to power the Eagles offense, while the Eagles defense continues to struggle against teams with potent passing games.

The Eagles are 6-1 when they score 23+ points and 0-7 when they score less than 23 points.

The Redskins are 6-0 when they score 23+ points and 1-7 when they score less than 23 points.

Tonight's question is simple: Can Kirk Cousins and the Skins offense maintain the consistency of these past two weeks and score 24+ points?

Both teams' defenses give up over 23 points a game, with the Skins having the statistical advantage by 2.2 points.

The numbers are unanimous for the Skins, especially with the 3 points being given. Still, I do think the Eagles can pull off a win while not covering the spread.

So, I take Skins (OVER) because I think both teams will take more offensive risks. Pick wisely, come back for Sunday's picks and until then let's see if Skins clinch.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

NFL 2015 Week 15 - EvenMoney's Game of the Week (Broncos vs Steelers)


Denver At Pittsburgh (-6.5; 45.5) is about respect and lack of it. Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers have scored 30+ points in five straight games. They are 4-1 in these games and have put themselves in position to control their own playoff destiny.

If the Steelers win all three games or have the same number of victories as the New York Jets, they make the playoffs and the Jets do not. This is complicated NFL tie-breaker math that will play itself out in the coming weeks, if necessary.

In the same time span, the Denver Broncos have only once scored 30 points, an overtime victory over the at-the-time undefeated New England Patriots. The Broncos are 3-2 over this stretch and 3-1 since backup Quarterback Brock Osweiler replaced Peyton Manning as the starter.

The Broncos are one victory away from clinching a playoff spot but they still have to worry about the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs have won eight straight. If both teams finish with 11 wins, then the complicated NFL tie-breaker math will determine the division winner.

The numbers point to a Steelers (.842) victory and cover.  For this game, the question is whether the Broncos defense can hold the Steelers to 20 points or less.

So, I take the Steelers (UNDER) because Steelers even though their defense is up and down, the offense is operating on a high level. Pick wisely, come back for Monday's pick and until then watch two top AFC teams earn their respect.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Is Jets' Best Good Enough? - NFL 2015 TNF 15

The New York Jets are 8-5 and have one more win than I thought they'd get this season. Most of that credit goes to two people: Head Coach Todd Bowles and Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.

If the playoffs started today, the Jets would qualify as the sixth seed for the AFC playoffs. Yet, the Jets face long odds to make the playoffs. New York must win all of, or 2 of its final 3 games. In the latter scenario, they would be counting on the Pittsburgh Steelers to also lose one or more games.

The problem with that is the Steelers face only one tough game - this week's matchup with the Denver Broncos. For the Jets, tonight's matchup against the Dallas Cowboys is technically their only easy game. A loss tonight and the Jets give hope to countless teams that are slightly out of the playoff picture.

Looking back on this season, only two of their five losses count as games the Jets should have done better. Even in those games -- Weeks 10 and 11 -- the Jets faced teams that are on their level, with one (Buffalo Bills) being their Week 17 opponent.

Have the Jets done their best and will they continue to do so? Can they win all 3 or even 2 of their remaining games?

Though not dominant, the defense has stabilized, keeping teams to under 25 points in the last 6 weeks. This has led to a 4-2 record where the offense has proven to be the unpredictable force, scoring just 17 points in both losses.

The Jets are 7-1 when they score 21+ points, and 1-5 when they don't. The bottom line is the Dallas Cowboys do not have enough offensive output to beat the New York Jets. The Cowboys are averaging 16.16 points in their last 6 games, scoring under 20 points in 4 of these games.

For tonight, NY Jets At Dallas (+3.5; 41), the question is whether the Cowboys' best good enough to stop the Jets from scoring.

Jets' Head Coach Bowles has shown a lot of confidence in his offense, particularly Ryan Fitzpatrick, who in turn has not thrown too many interceptions. The Cowboys defense can go either way so Fitzpatrick needs to limit his risks.

The numbers tilt at .947 for the New York Jets to win by 6 points.

So, I take Jets (UNDER) because I think Bowles and Fitzpatrick know what's at stake. Pick wisely, come back for Sunday's picks and until then always do your best.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

NFL 2015 Week 14 - EvenMoney's Game of the Week (Bills vs Eagles)

On the surface, this game looks like it's for the birds. No, not the Eagles, but not worth a serious discussion. With so many teams vying for top spots in their conference or holding on to their Wild Card slots, how does Buffalo At Philadelphia (PK; 47) rise to the top?

In a nutshell, it is the mystery of not knowing which team will show up. Each team has one shot to make it into the playoffs. Though losing this game does not mathematically eliminate them, it pretty much shuts the door on the Buffalo Bills. For the Eagles, a loss has the most impact only if the New York Giants and Washington Redskins win this NFL Week 14.

At 5-7, the Philadelphia Eagles are tied with those two teams for the lead in the NFC East. In a season where no team from the division is playing like they want to win it, the Eagles' season took a sharp turn when they lost to three non-playoff bound teams from NFL Weeks 9 to 11.

If not for an injury to Eagles starting Quarterback Sam Bradford, we're probably not having this conversation. Bradford got injured in the third quarter, with the Eagles leading the Miami Dolphins. Mark Sanchez came in to replace him and the Eagles went on to lose. In the next two losses, the Eagles defense gave up 45 points each game, while the offense struggled.

Last week, upon Bradford's return, the Eagles pulled off an improbable win, on the road, against the New England Patriots. Still, let's not act like the Eagles were bona fide contenders before the Bradford injury.

After 8 games, they were a 4-4 team, just like today's opponent. The Buffalo Bills also went through losses with their backup quarterback manning the help. For them it was a two-game skid, with one loss a game they likely would have lost with their starter.

During those two games, the Bills defense gave up 34 points each game. The Bills are 6-1 when the opponent scores 21 points or less- the lone loss came at the hands of the New England Patriots, who also scored the most - 40 points - against them this season.

The Bills are 0-5 when the opponents scores 24 or more points. In the 9 games, that Bradford has started and completed, the Eagles have scored 24+ points 6 times. They won 5 of those games.

This match-up is listed as a "pick-em", as in go with mainly what you believe. The numbers are overwhelming that the Bills (.895) will win. The lack of faith is on an Eagles defense that has given up 27+ points in 5 out of their last 6 games.

So, I take the Bills (UNDER) with the outlook that Bills and LeSean McCoy will dictate style of play. Pick wisely, come back for Monday's pick and until then watch which team's season is one for the birds.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Can Teddy Bridge The Gap? - NFL 2015 TNF 14

At no time does the saying "Defense wins championships" ring truer than this NFL season. Of the 12 teams that are best situated to make the playoffs, 10 of them are ranked tops in Defense. The two that are not are the division leaders for the NFC East and AFC South.

Though ranked fifth in points per game, the Minnesota Vikings defense is coming off a humbling experience, having given up 38 points this past Sunday. The Vikings also gave up 30 points in Week 11 against the Green Bay Packers.

Even before the injuries on the defensive side of the ball, coming into tonight's game, one could see what type of teams give the Vikings defense problems. The Vikings have only beaten one team that would qualify if the playoffs started today.

The Vikings are 1-4 when they give up 20 or more points. In today's NFL that type of offensive production does not work.

Minnesota has to score more and even though the focus is on Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, it is the Vikings' offensive approach that is outdated.

The days of NFL success being measured by having a dominant running back are over. Heading into Week 14:
  • 2 running backs have reached 1000 yards
  • 10 more running backs can reach 1000 yards for the season, provided they maintain their average weekly output
  • of these 12 running backs, only 5 of their teams would qualify if the playoffs started today

Gone also are the days, where a quarterback throwing for 3000 yards meant the team's passing was on point.
  • 12 quarterbacks have reached 3000 yards; only 4 of their teams would qualify if the playoffs started today
  • 13 more quarterbacks can reach 3000 yards for the season, provided they maintain their average weekly output

Minnesota Vikings Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (2398 yards) sits near the bottom of the 25 quarterbacks on pace to reach 3000 yards. Since this is only his second year in the NFL, there is much time for improvement.

With the playoffs on the horizon, an ailing defense and tonight's matchup - Minnesota At Arizona (-10.5; 46.5) - how soon can Teddy bridge the gap of a past NFL era to today's, where dominance is measured by throwing for 4000 yards?

Of the 21 quarterbacks on pace to throw for 4000 yards, 9 of their teams would qualify if the playoffs started today. This, in itself, is a great measuring stick because the other two quarterbacks and teams that fall short do so because of injuries.

Bridgewater has the opportunities and accuracy but needs to improve on his longer passes, particularly with a dominant running back, Adrian Peterson who leads the NFL in Rushing Yards.

The numbers point toward the Arizona Cardinals (.632) to win by 9 points, and that 3 out of the 4 times the Vikings lost, they did so by 17 or more points.

So, I take Cardinals (OVER) because I see Vikings getting 17 points - not enough to outduel Cardinals. Pick wisely, come back for Sunday's picks and until then get on up and take it to the bridge.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

NFL 2015 Week 13 - EvenMoney's Game of the Week (Jets vs Giants)


"[D]uck what you heard - who's the best in New York,
Fulfilling fantasies without that [fairy] Mr. Roarke?"

With so many quality matchups this Sunday, the early marketing value is on this clash between the two New York metropolitan area teams, where a loss by either dooms a chance at the playoffs.

For the Giants, the reality is that they must win, at least, 4 out of their last 5 games to finish 9-7 for the season. This is only the starting point because they also need the Washington Redskins to finish no better than 9-7.

For the Jets, they too must finish no less than 9-7 but realistically they too must win 4 out of their last 5 games. A 10-6 record will likely get them into the AFC's tie-breaking discussion.

The mathematical possibilities for both teams are too many to ponder, so the best bet is to focus on this game. 

Historically, the New York Giants are the best NFL team in New York. At the same time, fan adulation is not as lopsided as in Major League Baseball where the New York Yankees dominate the landscape when contrasted to the New York Mets.

For this year, at this moment: Who's the best in New York? The Jets have a better record by one game, but is that enough? The Giants can win their division and make the playoffs with an equal or worse record. The Jets cannot.

Their offensive output is nearly identical with the slight edge going to the Giants mainly because of Points Scored, while the Jets have the superior running game.

Defensively, the two teams are polar opposites. The Jets are very conventional, besting the Giants on points and yardage given and Sacks. The Giants are way better on Interceptions and Fumbles.

The better quarterback conversation is a landslide for the Giants' Eli Manning in all passing categories, while the Jets' Ryan Fitzpatrick can make more happen with his legs and enjoys better pass protection.

Though the Jets have a better starting Receiver tandem in Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, in this game against secondaries that have struggled, Manning has a better corps of receivers to target, particularly Odell Beckham, Jr.

On the offensive side, the game comes down to the Jets' Chris Ivory, the current best running back in New York. The key reasons are:
  • not falling behind early -- only 1 win when trailing at halftime
  • 0-3 when Fitzpatrick throws 2 or more Interceptions
  • 1-5 when opponent scores 22+ points

Basically, the Jets need Chris Ivory involved throughout for offensive balance in their play calling and to keep their defense off the field because the Giants:
  • have scored 24 points in 8 of their 11 games
  • 1-5 when opponent scores 24+ points
  • 4-1 when opponent scores less than 22 points

With the game being NY Jets At NY Giants (+2.5; 46.5),  the numbers favor the Giants (.842) to win by 2 points simply because the Giants have not had problems scoring.

So, I take the Giants (UNDER) but with Ivory having a big game and helping Jets to a narrow victory. Pick wisely, come back for Monday's pick and until then who do you think is the best in New York?

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Mean Ole Lions - NFL 2015 TNF 13


The Detroit Lions have a chance to play spoiler to two division rivals in these final weeks of the NFL season. Tonight they face the Green Bay Packers who have lost 4 of their past 5 games, including a loss to Detroit.

The Lions are all but eliminated from playoff contention unless they win their final 5 games while other teams falter royally down the stretch. This is a disappointing season for the Lions who are coming off a playoff year with 11 wins.

Falling short of early expectations caused many ripples within the Lions organization. In November, the Lions fired their general manager and president. This came days after Head Coach Jim Caldwell got rid of three coaches from the offense, though statistically the drop-off has been on the defensive end. 

Last year the Lions defense gave up 282 points in 16 games (average 17.63 per game). This year they have given up 288 points in only 10 games (average 28.8 per game).

After losing their first 7 of 8 games, the Lions are on a three-game winning streak, that started with their Week 10 win over the Packers. Over this stretch the Lions defense is giving up only 14.33 points per game.

On the other side of the ball, the Green Bay Packers were riding high with a 6-0 record. They have lost 4 of their last 5 games and are struggling to find an identity on both sides of the ball.

The Detroit Lions have not beaten the Green Bay Packers twice in one season since 1999 but the Lions have won the previous two Home games against the Packers.

For this matchup, Green Bay At Detroit (+2.5; 46.5), the numbers point heavily toward the Detroit Lions (.789) to lose by no more than 1 point.

So, I take Lions (UNDER) as I see this as a toss-up game. Pick wisely, come back for Sunday's picks and until then listen to hear how loud the mean ole Lions roar.