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Friday, January 15, 2016

Free NFL Divisional Round Picks

This is my favorite weekend of the NFL season. You have the four best teams going at it in each conference and it always provides some intriguing match-ups.

For the regular season, underdogs barely had a winning record but they are off to a 3-1 start against the spread in the playoffs. Could the dogs get their revenge in the postseason? Vegas hopes so. Let's take a look at the four match-ups:

Chiefs at Patriots

The Patriots are in a weird spot. Nobody knows what to make of them right now. Are they really the team we saw at end the season? They look horrible.

I had the Chiefs overrated much of the season due to their pretty average yardage differential numbers. Those numbers have improved and in that category they are much better than the Patriots.

It is tough to go against Tom Brady and Bill Belichick but the numbers tell a worrisome story in this one. The Pats are vulnerable.

Pick: Take the Chiefs +4.5

Steelers at Broncos

The big story is at the QB spot for both teams. Will Ben Roethlisberger play and if he does play will he be able to actually throw the ball downfield? Is Peyton Manning washed up? These teams have been near the top of my power rankings all season with the Broncos slightly better. Take the points in this one.

Pick: Take the Steelers +7

Seahawks at Panthers

The Panthers have had a great season but their yardage differential numbers all year have been pretty average. The Panthers got a horrible break when the Vikings failed to knock out the Seahawks last week.  I have the Seahawks 6 points better in this game. It will be a tough way for the Panthers to end their season if that holds true.

Pick: Take the Seahawks +1.5

Packers at Cardinals

The Packers at times look awful. They don't seem to have receivers who can get open and Aaron Rodgers doesn't seem to have a ton of time to throw the ball. The Cardinals spanked the Packers pretty good just a few weeks ago. Rematches this close together however tend to favor the team that was spanked the first time. In terms of yardage differential numbers, these teams are pretty even. Rodgers is the best player on the field and he is getting points.

Pick: Take the Packers +7 

Can you hear all that barking? The numbers all point to the underdogs covering the spread this week. We will see.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

David Bowie and the 2004 Red Sox

David Bowie passed away two days ago and I watched the tributes pour in on his life and his career. I never was a big Bowie fan. I never really got into his music with one exception. Under Pressure, a song he did with Queen will always be special to me.

Before Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS, Fox opened up their broadcast with a montage of images set to Under Pressure. It was a perfect scene setter if you will for the huge game. That opening and that song actually relaxed me. It made me feel at ease because as I watched the images of the players I realized that the only team under pressure was the Yankees. The Red Sox were playing with house money. They were left for dead three nights earlier. A Yankee win was expected but a Red Sox win after being down 3-0 against the Yankees would live forever. All the pressure was on them. The rest as they say was history.

While I may not have been a huge fan of David Bowie, that one song will always make me smile. Thank you for that.

I searched and searched to find that actual opening from FOX with no luck. If anyone does have it, please share. Instead, here is a great video of Queen and David Bowie singing the classic song. Enjoy and R.I.P to Mr. Bowie.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Why You Shouldn't Root for Clemson and Why You Should Be Worried

There has been some debate among Gamecock fans on whether or not we should root for Clemson in the name of state pride. The answer is no. My wife is one of those people who think we should. I am doing my best to ignore her.

First of all, there are 20 year old Clemson fans who talk trash and bring up the 1981 national title like it happened last weekend. Can you imagine what we will have to listen to if they win it all this year?

State pride? Listen, I was born and raised in NY, call me a damn yankee if you want, but I do love this state. I have lived here for just about half my life, married a South Carolina girl and I am raising a family of South Carolina kids. I love this state. When I venture up to Clemson it feels nothing like the state I love. Frankly, it feels like I need a passport.

Wofford, Furman, Coastal, PC, Winthrop, The Citadel, College of Charleston, Charleston Southern and any other schools in this state that I have missed, have my full support in the name of state pride. Never and I mean never will I root for Clemson. The closest I have come is when Clemson plays Ohio State or UNC and then I just hope the ground swallows them both.

Now that we got that straight, should we be worried about Clemson winning it all? Yes!!!!. If I take my biased hat off I still think Alabama is the better team. If this was a seven game series I would be confident that Bama would win in six games...maybe seven. One game? One game scares me.

Alabama may have the better team, but Clemson has the best player. It pains my garnet backside to say that, but it is true. Can one player lead a football team to victory? Normally you would say no. This isn't basketball when usually the team with the best player wins. This is football. However, this game reminds me very much of the Texas/ Southern Cal game a decade ago. Southern Cal had the better team but Texas had Vince Young. Watson is just as good, if not better than Young. I have this awful vision of Watson just taking over late in the game. Make it stop!

When I start to panic about a potential Clemson national championship I think back to the Clemson/Georgia game last season. Clemson, with a loaded defense, eventually wore out in the second half thanks to Georgia's relentless running game. Bama won't panic if Clemson stops them early on the ground, they will keep pounding and pounding with the idea in the second half those holes should open. Football is won upfront and while Clemson is very good upfront, Alabama is just as good but much deeper.

Am I still worried? You bet I am and you should be too. Unless of course you are one of those state pride people, in that case.....well...

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Complete NFL Playoff Predictions

Bill Barnwell wrote a great piece on each playoff team's kryptonite. We are going to use his theory along with our yardage differential numbers to figure out what team will be left standing as Super Bowl champions.

Kansas City at Houston

According to Barnwell, the Chiefs weakness is throwing downfield making the Texans their kryptonite. Bad luck for the Chiefs facing their kryptonite team in the first round. In our yardage differential numbers, the Texans are 5 points better on a neutral field. We have covered this theme a bit. We feel the Chiefs are a bit overrated.

Prediction: Texans win

Pittsburgh at Cincinnati

The Bengals weakness is the short passing game and their kryptonite team is the Chiefs. Good news, the Chiefs have just been eliminated in our predictions.

The Steelers do not have the Bengals as one of their kryptonite teams and in our yardage differential numbers we have the Steelers 7 points better than the Bengals on a neutral field. Give the Bengals a few points for home field advantage and they still come up short in this one.

Prediction: Steelers win

Seattle at Minnesota

This is a non-kryptonite match-up so we go to the yardage differential numbers and the Seahawks are much better than the Vikings.

Prediction: Seahawks win

Green Bay at Washington

This is another non-krypotnite match-up so we must rely on the yardage differential numbers, This is close. The Packers are 5 points better on a neutral field. The Skins are at home and that usually is worth around 3 points and some people like to say 4 points. Either way, the Skins still fall short.

Prediction: Packers win

Houston at New England

Houston struggles against play action teams, the Patriots aren't one of those teams. This is another non-kryptonite match-up. The Patriots yardage differential numbers are awful. I addressed this in our Power Rankings post yesterday. Even if you pretend the game with the Dolphins last week didn't exist, the yardage differential numbers still show the Texans as 8 points better on a neutral field.

Prediction: Texans win

Pittsburgh at Denver

These are the top two teams in our yardage differential power rankings. We have the Broncos one point better than the Steelers on a neutral field. Of course this game will not be on a neutral field, it will be in Denver. It is a non-kryptonite matchup.

Prediction: Broncos win

Seahawks at Panthers

We have our first dispute. In our yardage differential numbers we have the Seahawks much better than the Panthers. However, the Seahawks weakness is defending tight ends making the Panthers their kryptonite teams. Greg Olsen is licking his chops. Since there is a conflict with this prediction, we will side towards the krypotnite theory.

Prediction: Panthers win

Packers at Cardinals

The Cardinals weakness is punt coverage making the Seahawks their weakness. Luckily for them they were just elminated. This is a non-kryptonite match-up so we go to the yardage differential numbers. We have these two teams even on a neutral field but the game will be in Arizona.

Prediction: Cardinals win

Texans at Broncos

Houston's krypotnite teams are the Cardinals and the Bengals. The Bengals are eliminated and the Cardinals can only be faced in the Super Bowl. However, the Texans aren't the kryptonite to the Broncos success which means we head to the yardage differential numbers where the Broncos are our #1 team and also playing at home.

Prediction: Broncos win

Cardinals at Panthers

The Cardinals kryptonite team is the Seahawks and if you remember correctly our yardage differential numbers had the Seahawks beating the Panthers. If our numbers hold up and it is the Seahawks in this game the theory says the Seahawks will be returning for their third straight Super Bowl.

However, we are talking Panthers and their only krptonite team is the Steelers who just got sent home by the Broncos. The yardage differential numbers tell us that the Cardinals are two points better than the Panthers on a neutral field. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, they will have to play this game in Carolina. The importance of home field advantage rears its ugly head.

Prediction: Panthers win

Denver vs Carolina

Super Bowl 50 matches the two #1 seeds. This seems like a safe bet but it actually rarely happens. The Broncos are our #1 team in the yardage differential rankings but their weakness is giveaways and they have the longest list of any team when it comes to kryponite teams. They have managed to avoid them all until now. The Chiefs, Bengals and Cardinals are all on that Bronco kryptonite list and so are the Carolina Panthers.

Prediction: The Carolina Panthers win Super Bowl 50

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

NFL Power Rankings: Final Rankings

The Broncos, Steelers and Seahawks finish at the top of our power rankings as we head into the playoffs.

Remember, our power rankings are based on yardage differential and strength of schedule. The system has it flaws but it also gives you some great insight into how teams are really playing.

The biggest surprise in these final rankings is the drop of the Patriots. The Patriots played a Dolphins team that was rated as one of the worst in the league and were out-gained by them 438 yards and 196 yards. This performance killed their ranking in our system and dropped them all the way to dead last. Obviously, we don't feel the Patriots are the worst team. However, it is clear they are not playing well and haven't been playing well for a while. Part of that is injuries and part of that Sunday was an effort that made you think the Patriots were more concerned about being healthy for the playoffs than beating the Dolphins.

The Patriots 32nd ranking definitely skew our results but you can't argue with the Broncos, Steelers and Seahawks being at the top. Here are our final NFL Power Rankings for the 2015 season:

Team/Preseason RankYardage DifferentialCurrent Rank
1) Seahawks163
2) Packers318
3) Patriots-1232
4) Broncos181
5) Colts-530
6) Cowboys121
7) Ravens114
8) Eagles-225
9) Dolphins514
10) Bengals105
11) Cardinals318
12) Steelers172
13) Chiefs514
14) Lions 78
15) Bills610
16) Texans1010
17) Saints78
18) Rams121
19) Chargers514
20) Panthers121
21) Falcons610
22) Giants121
23) Niners610
24) Jets97
25) Vikings-327
26) Bears318
27) Browns417
28) Raiders-327
29) Redskins-225
30) Jaguars-327
31) Bucs610
32) Titans-1031

The Fascinating Retired Life of Dan Haren

I love twitter especially when people use it in great ways. Dan Haren was one of those people yesterday. Here are the twitter thoughts of Dan Haren:

I'm on an exercise bike, bored, so here are some things about my baseball career that come to mind......

 I went into almost every start the last few years thinking... How the hell am I gonna get these guys out

 There's was at least 3-4 times I thought the team plane was gonna crash.

I would count out the days about a month in advance to see if I was gonna pitch in Coors field.

 One of my favorite moment ever was hitting a homer off Chris Carpenter. I took my time running the bases.

 I gave up 11 runs in Toronto and got the win one time.

 I had to take Imodium most days I pitched to plug myself up. 💩

 My only superstition was to make sure I had 2 glasses of wine the night before I pitched. This ties in with the Imodium

 I gave up so many homers cause I didn't wanna walk people. That and cause I threw 85 mph meatballs sometimes.

 Why the hell did B.J. Upton hit so many homers off me..... This probably ties into the last tweet as well. I did much better facing Melvin

 I only hit like 5-7 people on purpose

 My threat to retire didn't quite work last offseason

 Sometimes when the count was 3-1, I would just throw it down the middle and hope for the best. People pop up in batting practice right

 Ok I'm done with the bike, time to go lift Bi's and tri's.

There you have it, the amazing retired life of Dan Haren. What a treat of tweets. Let's break down a few of them.

The game where he gave up 11 runs and got the win didn't really happen exactly as he said. It took place on August 21st, 2006 in the Rogers Centre. Haren was pitching for the Athletics and was matched up against Ted Lilly.  He went 5 and 2/3 innings and gave up 9 earned runs while getting the win. The final score was 12-10. Here is the complete box score

Haren clearly did not like pitching in Colorado. He made 11 starts there in his career going 5-5 with a 5.56 ERA giving up 19 homeruns in 68 innings pitched.

He faced Melvin Upton 41 times, walked him just once but Upton went deep off of him 6 times, the most of any batter Haren faced. Ryan Howard is next with 5. Upton had a total of 12 hits and hit .300

I think every retired MLB player should be required to tweet out gems like these....maybe we could do without the reason behind using Imodium on days they pitch though.

You can follow Haren on twitter @ithrow88

Monday, January 4, 2016

NFL Betting Trends: Week 17

The underdogs made a comeback in Week 17 going 11-5 against the spread and 8-8 straight up. Unfortunately, the impressive week for the underdogs didn't make them profitable for the season as they covered just 52% of the time. 54% is the magic number when trying to make money betting.

Home underdogs went 3-2 against the spread and straight up. Surprisingly, home dogs covered the spread just 50% of the time this year. Here are the compete numbers for the regular season:

NFL Betting TrendsWLT%
Underdogs ATS Overall1271151252
Home Underdogs ATS Overall3939250
Underdogs Straight Up Overall9316137
Home Dogs Straight Up Overall 295136

Our Free NFL Pick of the Week won again as the Raiders barely covered the 7 point spread against the Chiefs. Our Free Pick of the Week for the season finished 9-3-5.

Our season long record was not as impressive going just 120-104-11. The 54% mark made us profitable but barely. If you bet $100 a game on all of our picks you would have profited $499.60. The Return on Investment was 2.13%. This was short of our goals of a 58% season. Here are our final regular season numbers: