Friday, January 27, 2012

Super Bowl XLVI Hot and Not List – The New England Patriots

The combatants for next Sunday's NFL Super Bowl have been decided with the New England Patriots representing the AFC and the New York Giants representing the NFC.

While both these teams have proven they are worthy to battle it out for one of the most prestigious titles in all of sports, each team comes into this matchup with both strengths and flaws. This week we will take an in-depth look at what is hot and what is not about the New England Patriots in an article that was originally posted on Ask the Bookie. The link to the piece is provided below.

Super Bowl XLVI Hot and Not List – The New England Patriots

Friday, January 20, 2012

NFC Championship Betting Preview- New York Giants vs. San Francisco 49ers

The following is a link to my preview and prediction for this Sunday's NFC Championship Game between the New York Giants and the San Francisco 49ers as originally posted on Cappers Picks.

This matchup features a streaky Giants' team that opened the season 6-2, followed that up with just one victory in their next five games, and then turned things around with two dominating wins over the Jets and Cowboys to work their way into the playoffs. They ramped things up to an even higher level by snuffing-out Atlanta 24-2 in the Wildcard Round and stunning the 15-1 Green Bay Packers 37-20 on the road in last Sunday's Divisional Round. New York will be looking to ride this incredible momentum to a second Super Bowl appearance in its past five seasons.

The other half of the equation is the rags to riches San Francisco 49ers. They finished the 2010 season with a 6-10 record and out of the playoffs for the eighth-straight time. Enter Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh and suddenly the 49ers reel-off 13 victories in 16 regular season games and a thrilling 36-32 last-second win over New Orleans in last Saturday's Divisional Round. San Francisco has been especially good at home this season with an 8-1 record in nine tries.

NFC Championship Betting Preview- New York Giants vs. San Francisco 49ers

AFC Championship Betting Preview – Baltimore Ravens vs New England Patriots

The following is a link to my preview & prediction for Sunday's AFC Championship Game between the Baltimore Ravens and the New England Patriots as originally posted on Bang the Book.

The key to this matchup is which team's strength can cancel the other one's out. Baltimore comes into this game with the league's third-ranked defense in total yards allowed and is also ranked third in points allowed; giving-up an average of 16.6 points a game. New England boasts the No.2-ranked offense in total yards per game and is ranked third in scoring with an average of 32.1 points a game.

AFC Championship Betting Preview – Baltimore Ravens vs New England Patriots

Friday, January 13, 2012

New York Giants vs. Green Bay Packers Game Preview & Prediction

Since the Eagles are at home for this season’s NFL playoffs I have shifted my focus to this Sunday’s Divisional Round matchup between the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers.

I still cannot help think about what might have been the current scenario if the Giants would have lost to the Jets in Week 16 as it could have paved the way to an Eagles-Packers rematch instead. None the less, give New York credit, it did what it had to do to get to this point with three-straight victories including an impressive 24-2 drubbing of Atlanta in last Sunday’s Wildcard Round.

The Packers are currently 7.5-point home favorites to win, but the line actually opened at nine points. The betting public has obviously put the early money on the Giants and for good reason. Last week against the Falcons, Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw rushed the ball for a combined 155 yards and Eli Manning completed over 70 percent of his throws for 277 yards and three touchdowns. The defense harassed Matt Ryan all day long with just its front four, completely shut down Michael Turner in the running game, and made two crucial stops on fourth and short that changed the entire complexion of the game.

The G-Men are starting to look a lot like the team that made an improbable run to Super Bowl XLII and stunned the 18-0 Patriots 17-14 as heavy underdogs. It remains to be seen if this year’s version can pull-off the same feat, but one thing that is for sure is that Green Bay better bring its A-Game on Sunday. The Giants have thrived in situations such as this in the past and are more than capable of winning this game outright.

The following is a link to my complete preview and prediction for this game as originally posted on Cappers Picks

New York Giants vs. Green Bay Packers

Saturday, January 7, 2012

2011 Eagles Season Wrap-up

This was supposed to be the year that all the pieces were finally put in place for a championship run. In fact, one minor slip of the tongue by a newly acquired Vince Young coined the Birds as 'the dream team' with the public, media, and the rest of the league. In reality, this one little phrase proved to be the kiss of death on this season as the bar was raised way to high for a bunch of talented athletes that did not have the opportunity to come together as a team.

Just because your offense and defense is loaded with Pro Bowl-caliber players does not mean they will be able to harness all that talent into an unstoppable force that can go out and win games week after week. The Eagles never really had a chance this year after a good majority of their starting defensive lineup and offensive line had to be slapped together in the first few weeks of August with the start of the regular season just a month away.

The end result should have been predictable, but we as fans remained blind to the reality that there were major cracks in the foundation of this year’s team. These cracks were quickly exposed in a 1-4 start that festered into a 4-8 record after the first 12 games that pretty much ended the dream for this team. In a classic case of too little, too late, the Eagles rallied for four straight dominating victories to salvage an 8-8 record overall and were actually primed to do some serious damage in the playoffs if they would have snuck their way in. The Eagles that walked off the field after a season-ending 34-10 win over Washington is hopefully the real dream team that walks onto the field on opening day in 2012.

The Highlights

As a team, the highlights other than its strong finish would have to be a 5-1 record in the division that included two highly enjoyable spankings of the Cowboys and a hard-fought 17-10 victory over New York in Week 11 on the road. Even the sweep of the Redskins was impressive considering the trouble the Birds have had beating that team in the past. The offense finished the season ranked fourth in the NFL in total yards and the much-maligned defense was actually ranked eighth in total yards allowed.

As individual players, the primary highlight was running back LeSean McCoy. The third-year back established himself as the best all-around player in the league with 1,309 yards rushing on 273 carries and another 315 yards receiving on 48 catches. He led the team in scoring with 17 touchdowns on the ground and three through the air. A pair of Jason’s also proved themselves worthy of Pro Bowl recognition with Jason Peters anchoring the Eagles’ offensive line and Jason Babin wreaking havoc on the defensive side of the ball with 18 sacks and three forced fumbles.

The Lowlights

The biggest lowlight of this season, other than the humiliating 31-14 loss to Seattle in front of a prime-time audience, was the fourth-quarter meltdowns against the Falcons, the Giants, the 49ers, the Bears, and the Cardinals. I am not saying they should have won every one of those games, but just one victory would have been enough to win the division this year. The second biggest lowlight was a -14 turnover ratio that was tied for second worst in the NFL. These are the type of mistakes that cause teams to lose games and have them at home watching the playoffs with the rest of us.

It appears that this whole bunch including its beloved leader Andy Reid will be back for an encore performance in 2012. Expect this team to stay pretty much intact heading into next season with hopefully a few more additions to plug any remaining holes that still exist. You might see Philly’s front office bring in a veteran defensive coordinator once all the smoke clears from all the other firings in the league, but the majority of the high-priced free agents that were brought in signed multi-year contracts. It remains to be seen what the Birds will do with DeSean Jackson, but my guess is that he will be back next season after getting his act together over the last few weeks of the season. That being said, if the Eagles’ offensive line can find a way to keep Michael Vick healthy, and Reid finally addresses the team’s major issues at linebacker, the championship dream should be able to rise from the ashes and make a serious run at becoming reality in 2012.

Just as a side note, I was never really thrilled with the idea of going to Indianapolis in the winter, but I am already packing my best drinking shoes and beads for Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans.