The Los Angeles Lakers have found relative success of late, making the significance of their Thursday night matchup with the Boston Celtics all the more exciting. Can they finally live up to their NBA odds against a playoff-bound Eastern Conference contender?
Although not without uncertainty of their own this season, Boston’s veteran core has produced at rates that Lakers fans could only dream of throughout the first half of the regular season. Despite that, however, it’s the Lakers with the advantage on the NBA futures. › Continue reading
The Chicago Bears’ players, coaches, management and fans are tired of the team being the best in the league for the first eight weeks and returning to mediocrity thereafter. The Bears last season were just 8-8 following a trip to the NFC Championship. They started the season 7-3 and ended it 1-5. Injuries are often times used as an excuse, but the Bears lost starting quarterback Jay Cutler and Matt Forte their starting running back.
Those two alone were worth at least two or three more victories and a trip to the postseason. With Cutler healthy, he will be able to target weapons like Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffry a second round draft pick. Michael Bush was picked up in the free agent market to help Forte, as he was injured and you never know when that might happen again. › Continue reading
As the 2012 NFL preseason is set to kick off in less than 24 hours, a number of football fanatics are wondering how well the Pittsburgh Steelers will play this season. Will the Steel Curtain return to Pittsburgh, will Ben Roethlisberger withstand being pounded game in and game out and will the team play deep into the playoffs?
The Steelers have a long tradition of putting superb teams on the field and this season should be no different. Pittsburgh has recorded at least 12 wins in each of its last three seasons. However, some critics are looking at the team to not perform as well as they have in the past in 2012. › Continue reading
The Baltimore Ravens were close to sending their AFC Championship game into overtime against the New England Patriots last season and who knows what might have happened in OT. Nevertheless, a short field goal miss ended their season.
The offseason has seen some players leave and other get another year older, Ray Lewis. This season the team might not make it as far as they have in years past.
In 2011, the Ravens started the season with 7/1 odds to take the AFC. They had a 10.5 OVER/UNDER on wins. Baltimore went on to have a 12-4 regular season and win the AFC North outright, the first time they had done that since 2006. › Continue reading
Out west, things have changed. The Denver Broncos have a new stud at quarterback, the Tebow days are over and the Raiders have a new coach. Having a new coach is something the Raiders have gotten used to of late. The revolving door of coaches continued after last season let’s see if Dennis Allen sticks around for a while.
The Raiders traded a big chunk of the team to get QB Carson Palmer last season. In what for many was questionable when it was done and is questionable today. His health issues were questioned. However, even though he was thrown to the lions as soon as he arrived, he did not perform all that bad. Look for him to step up his game and play much better if he stays away from injury.
Darren McFadden is the key to this season for the Raiders on offense and for many seasons to come. His loss last season made a good team bad. Helping him will be Denarius Moore at wide out and the game breaker Jacoby Ford. The line will be a patchwork of players with the exception of Stefen Wisniewski. A rookie on the line will be Tony Bergstrom. Mike Brisiel was a pickup from Houston and could be a big plus.
Defensively the Raiders have issues. They lost a number of players during the offseason. Rolando McClain has developed well but could be out for six months for a legal issue. Without Kamerion Wimbley, the Raiders will look to Lamar Houston for pass rushing. Richard Seymour should help, but he is getting old and will have to be rested. Ronald Bartell and Shawntae Spencer will be at the corners with the loss of Stanford Routt.
One intangible in the Raiders favor is they have the best placekicking and punting tandem in all of football. Sebastian Janikowski and Shane Lechler can change games with just one kick of the ball.
If McFadden stays healthy, the team will have a chance at a wildcard. Without him, the team is ordinary at best.
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The New York Yankees are leading the American League East with an overall record of 59-39 and will host the Boston Red Sox this weekend, who have a record of just 49-50. The two teams have a fierce rivalry that dates back more than 100 years. The teams’ records and statistics can be thrown out when these two meet.
Bobby Valentine, the Red Sox manager, will make his first visit to New York since 2002 when he was fired by the National League’s New York Mets. Also appearing for the first time in the Bronx wearing a Yankees uniform is Ichiro Suzuki. The veteran will start for the Yankees after being traded by Seattle earlier in the week for two pitching prospects.
The Yankees will send Phil Hughes to face Boston in the first game of the series. Hughes has a season record of 9-8 and a 4.09 ERA. The right-hander is 2-2 with a 2.25 ERA in his last five starts. In nine starts over his career against Boston, Hughes is just 1-5.
Boston will counter Hughes with Aaron Cook. Cook is 2-3 this season with a 3.50 ERA. He pitched last weekend against Toronto in Boston and let in five runs in 6 1/3 innings to suffer the loss. He has pitched only once against New York in his career. Last year, while with the Colorado Rockies, Cook lost to New York 8-3 after giving up six runs in only 5 2/3 innings.
The Yankees will get Nick Swisher back for tonight’s game. The outfielder has been out for five games nursing a strained hip flexor. Alex Rodriguez the Yankees third baseman will miss tonight’s contest.
The most recent line has the Yankees favored -162 to the Red Sox +152. The total is resting at 10.5. The Yankees will win this game to open the series and the total will winners of those who take the UNDER.
The Miami Marlins have started the season much slower than was anticipated by their fans and management. The Marlins will take on the San Francisco Giants today in game 2 of their three game series out west. The Giants are starting to come around and have a record of 12-11. The Marlins have had problems offensively as they were only able to muster six hits in their 2-1 win over Matt Cain and the Giants Tuesday night. It was only Miami’s second victory in its last 10 games. In seven of their last 10 games, the Marlins have only managed to score two runs or less.
Barry Zito will go on the mound for the Giants. Zito is 1-0 with an ERA of 1.67 and is starting to look like the pitcher he was in his prime, as he has yielded two runs or less in each of the four games, he has started and has a 0.93 WHIP.
Miami will counter with Carlos Zambrano who is 0-2 with an ERA of 3.24. He has thrown well against the Giants in his career, as he has an ERA of just 0.86 in four starts against San Francisco since the 2009 season and is 5-1 over his career in 12 starts against the Giants.
The Giants heavy hitters have not fared well against Zambrano. Pablo Sandoval is just 2 for 10 against the former Cub and Buster Posey has only 1 hit in 9 at bats against Zambrano. On the season however, Sandoval is hitting .323 and Posey .333.
The teams are evenly matched and the Giants are favored in this game at home -125, with Miami at +115. The run total is set at 6 ½. The Giants will come back from last night’s loss and defeat the Marlins in this matchup and the run total will cash out to those taking the UNDER.
The Los Angeles Dodgers have jumped out of the gate early this season and have a 16-7 record after the first month of the season. Tonight they take on the Colorado Rockies who are 11-11 on the season. Colorado won the first game of the series Monday night 6-2.
Los Angeles will look to Ted Lilly to get them back on the winning track to add to their second best record in the major leagues. Lilly is 2-0 on the season with an ERA of just 0.90 and his opponents have a batting average of just .138 against the lefthander. Last Wednesday he did not get a decision against the Atlanta Braves in the team’s 4-2 loss. He only allowed one run on three hits in his seven innings.
Jhoulys Chacin will start for the Rockies. Chacin has had a bad start to the season that seems to have carried over from the end of last year. He overall record his is last 20 starts is just 3-12. He gave up five runs over just five innings in his last outing last week against Pittsburgh.
Los Angeles is getting exceptional play out of Matt Kemp. On Monday, Kemp hit his 12th home run that leads the majors and has a batting average of .417 that also leads the majors and he is tied for the lead in the majors with 25 RBIs and 24 runs scored.
Carlos Gonzalez for the Rockies has hit well against Lilly over his career. He has 6 hits in 15 at bats including four home runs. However, Troy Tulowitzki and Dexter Fowler are a combined 7 for 48 against the Dodgers’ lefthander.
The Rockies are favored in this matchup at -120, while the Dodgers are at +110. The total is at 9. Take the Dodgers in this, as Lilly will shut down the Rockies bats. The total will be low scoring and end UNDER.
How do you follow up perfection? That task is hard to do, but it will be handed to John Danks to accomplish. The Chicago White Sox take on the Seattle Mariners to end a three game series this afternoon in Seattle. Philip Humber pitched the major league’s 21st perfect game in the history of the sport yesterday, in the White Sox 4-0 win. He only threw 96 pitches in the game, striking out nine, including the last out of the game.
Danks has the unenviable task of taking the mound following Humber’s perfect game. Danks is 1-2 on the season with an ERA of 4.82. The southpaw has won five consecutive starts against Seattle at Safeco Park and has not given up a run in 18 1/3 innings against the Mariners in Seattle.
Facing Danks will be Kevin Millwood. Millwood on the season has no decisions, but his ERA is high at 6.30. He had a difficult time in the team’s 9-8 loss against Cleveland last Tuesday. He gave up nine hits and seven runs in just four innings. In the fifth inning of that game, five batters reached safety without an out recorded, before he was relieved. His career stats against Chicago are 1-5 with an ERA of 3.14 over 11 starts.
Offensively Adam Dunn for the White Sox has 8 hits in 19 at bats, with six round trippers against Millwood. Dunn hit two homers against Seattle Friday night, but was held hitless on Saturday. Paul Konerko is 10 for 27 in his career against Millwood and has two homers this season and a .353 batting average.
On the season, the White Sox are 8-6 and the Mariners are 7-9. In this third and final game of the series, the total is at 7 with the White Sox favored at -130 and the Mariners at +110.
The Orlando Magic will travel to North Carolina on March 6 to take on the Charlotte Bobcats, the NBA’sdoormat. Orlando has come out of the break playing exception ball one game and horrible the next. Charlotte on the other hand is very consistent, but consistently bad. They are a NBA worst 4-31 this season. Orlando is currently 24-14 and battling for a high seed in the Eastern Conference with Miami, Indiana and Chicago.
Dwight Howard who leads them in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots as always, leads Orlando. The Magic have one player listed as injured but Quentin Richardson is day to day and may play. Orlando is 5-0 SU over their last five games against the Bobcats.
Charlotte’s leading scorer, Gerald Henderson, is only averaging 14.6 per game and the team as a whole is averaging just 86 per game. They too have on player listed as day to day on the injury list. Bismack Biyombo has a shoulder injury but he has not played but 10 games the entire season.
Head to head Orlando is 10-0 SU and 6-4 ATS over the last 10 games between the two teams. In those 10 games, the total has been UNDER 7 times. Orlando is 2-2 SU in their last four games since the All Star break with losses to Atlanta and Oklahoma City. Charlotte is 0-5 SU in their last five games and is already thinking about their chances in the draft lottery.
With the way Charlotte is playing of late, the game will be won SU by the Magic. The line could be as high as double digits in favor of Orlando when it comes out later tonight. The total should be UNDER, as the Orlando defense should easily shut down the meek offense that the Bobcats put on the floor.