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|Date||Match Up||Rating||Score||Result||Profit||Lead Time||Analysis|
|09-05-10||Tulsa -7 v. East Carolina||Top||49-51||Loss||-110||14 h 17 m||Show|
I'm playing on TULSA. I had East Carolina the last couple of times that the Pirates upset the Golden Hurricane, including last year's 44-17 destruction. I'm going with Tulsa this time though, as this should provide a great opportunity for the Golden Hurricane to exact some revenge.
The Pirates have been the CUSA Champs in back to back seasons. This is a rebuilding year though. In addition to having a new coaching staff, the Pirates return only eight starters from last season, including just two on defense. They are inexperienced at quarterback and must learn new schemes on both sides of the ball.
While the Pirates will surely take a step back this season, the Golden Hurricanes figure to be improved from last year. They return 14 starters, including nine on offense. Indeed they return offensive players which accounted for 98% of last season's rushing yards and 91% of last season's passing yards. That type of experience should provide a significant advantage vs. an inexperienced defense which is still learning its new system and which lost ALL of its starting defensive linemen.
Tulsa coach Todd Graham was quoted as saying: "Usually early in the year, teams beat themselves. We're going to make sure we don't beat ourselves with stupid penalties and we're going to take care of the football and make sure we play disciplined, Tulsa football."
The Golden Hurricane have been very strong in September in recent seasons, going 4-1 ATS in September lined games. On the other hand, even the strong ECU squads of the last couple of seasons have gone just 1-6 ATS in September. Those numbers only figure to get worse here.
The Golden Hurricane dominated the Pirates the last time that they played here, a 31-10 victory in 2006. They should be a much improved team this season and I look for their edge in the experience department to more than compensate for the Pirates' home field advantage. *10
|09-04-10||Purdue v. Notre Dame -11||Top||12-23||Push||0||109 h 44 m||Show|
I'm laying the points with NOTRE DAME. As you're probably aware, there are a number of changes at Notre Dame this season. The changes start at the top with Brian Kelly taking over for Charlie Weis.
While the Irish will need to deal with some of the changes in philosophy, Kelly's a proven winner. He'll be looking to make a statement in his first game and I feel that a home game vs. Purdue will provide the perfect opportunity for him to do so.
With new defensive coordinator Bob Diaco switching to a 3-4, the Irish, who return 10 defensive starters, should be much better on defense this season. Diaco followed Kelly from Cincinnati. (The two also worked together before that.) Diaco's defense will the luxury of starting off against a Purdue offense which is still learning the ropes. Note that the Boilermakers' offense, which was already replacing its quarterback and three lineman, suffered another blow when Ralph Bolden, last year's leading rusher, went down with an ACL injury in the spring. Also, note that Diaco's Cincinnati defense ranked third nationally in tackles for loss and tied for 10th in sacks last season. Diaco worked fast, too, as last year was his first year at Cincinnati. He helped a good Cincinnati defense become much better. Note that when switching to Diaco's system last season, the Bearcats allowed 15 points in their opener and just three points in their home opener, the following week. (The Bearcats were 2-0 SU/ATS in those games, winning by a combined score of 117-18!)
Bolden's injury was just one of many injuries that Purdue has had to deal with. All five scholarship running backs missed the spring game and quarterback Robert Marve "wore down" during the spring. Its on the defensive side of the ball where Purdue's real issues are though. Speaking of 'issues,' note that the Boilermakers are just 5-12 SU/ATS the last 17 times that they played a road game with a total in the 52.5 to 56 range.
While Claussen and Tate are gone, the cupboard is far from bare on the Notre Dame offense. The receiving corps is still strong, led my Michael Floyd. Last year's leading rushers Armando Allen and Robert Hughes are both back. Dayne Crist is still unproven at QB but I expect him to prove capable. Kelly has led "turn-arounds" at his previous stops and he always seems to get the most of his quarterbacks. Crist should benefit from facing an inexperienced Purdue secondary.
The Irish players are behind their QB. TE Kyle Rudolph had this to say to the Chicago Tribune about Crist: "Even though he was behind Jimmy, whether it was in the weight room or the classroom or on the practice field, everybody always viewed Dayne as a leader."
The Irish won by "only" three points at Purdue last season. They could have won by more though, as they were up by double-digits at halftime and had a solid edge in the stats department. The most recent game here at Notre Dame was in 2008. The Irish were laying only -2 or -2.5 points and they won by 17. Prior to that, in 2006, the Irish beat Purdue by 14 here. Kelly is well aware of that history and doesn't want to start his tenure by achieving less than previous Notre Dame teams have in the series. I expect Kelly to have his team ready and look for them to start the "new era" with a convincing double-digit victory. *10
|09-03-10||Arizona v. Toledo +16.5||Top||41-2||Loss||-110||20 h 43 m||Show|
I'm playing on TOLEDO. The Wildcats will be a good team this season. However, with only four returning starters on defense, it may take some time for them to come together on that side of the ball. In my opinion, asking them to go on the road and win by more than two touchdowns, against a Toledo team that figures to have one of the better offenses in the MAC, is asking too much.
This is a big game for the Rockets. They've got a second year coach and they'll be looking at this game, a rare nationally televised affair, as a chance to show that their program is on the right track. It should be noted that Toledo has a history of success in 'big' home games. In fact, the Rockets are 5-1 since 2001, when hosting a team from a BCS Conference. Last season, they hosted Colorado. Getting roughly four points, they won outright by 16.
Yes, the Rockets have to replace Aaron Opelt at quarterback. However, Austin Dantin got plenty of snaps last season and completed 66% of his passes. While the Rockets admittedly weren't very good defensively last season, they should be somewhat improved on that side of the ball this year.
The Wildcats have lost eight straight road openers and they rarely play this far East. They've also played poorly on the road outside the Pac-10 in recent seasons. Indeed, the Wildcats are 1-5 ATS the last six times that they were listed as road favorites and a money-burning 7-20 ATS the last 27 times that they were favored in the -10.5 to -21 range.
This could be a high-scoring game and the O/U line has climbed all the way to 60 or 61. That's noteworthy as we find Arizona at 2-7 ATS (1-8 SU) the last nine times that it played with an O/U line ranging between 56.5 to 63. During the same stretch, the Rockets have gone a profitable 7-2 ATS (6-3 SU) when playing a home game with a total in the 56.5 to 63 range. The Rockets have had this game circled and I look for them to give the Wildcats a tougher challenge than many will be expecting. *10
|09-02-10||Pittsburgh Panthers v. Utah Utes -2.5||Top||24-27||Win||100||82 h 19 m||Show|
I'm playing on UTAH. Pittsburgh comes in with the higher ranking. In fact, the Panthers, ranked #15 in the country, are the highest ranked opponent that Utah has opened the season against. I feel that the Utes are favored for good reason though.
Last year was supposed to be the 'rebuilding year.' All the Utes did was go 10-3 and win their 9th straight bowl game. This year, the Utes enter the season in much better offensive shape than they did last season. Last year, there was a battle for the top QB spot. This year, Jordan Wynn comes is firmly entrenched as the starter. Wynn started the final five games last season and the offense produced nearly 35 points per game.
Working behind an experienced (4 returning starters) offensive line, Wynn is complemented by an excellent running game (Senior tailback Eddie Wide rushed for 1069 yards and 12 TD and was a 1st Team All-MWC performer) and a deep receiving corps, led by senior Jereme Brooks (56 catches, 696 yards, 7 TDs).
The Utes should have a solid defensive line, as they return three quality starters. While their secondary is unproven, they're athletic. The Panthers may not be able to exploit the secondary, as they have a QB making his first start.
Pittsburgh is ranked for a reason. The Panthers have plenty of talent, including star running back Dion Lewis and receiver Jonathan Baldwin. However, unlike Utah, as mentioned, the Panthers don't have experience at the quarterback position. Tino Sunseri has a lot of potential and should have a decent year. However, making his first start at a stadium where the home team almost never loses is difficult.
As Utah coach Kyle Whittingham had this to say: "Experienced quarterback doesn't guarantee success, but it is a great starting point..."
While slowing down Lewis will not be easy, the Utes figure to load up against him and try to force Sunseri to beat them. Playing in this hostile environment, I won't be surprised to see a Pittsburgh miscue or two.
The Utes are determined to show that they will be a factor again this year and that they are worthy of next season's conference move. They're 3-0 SU/ATS their last three against teams from the Big East and 3-0 SU/ATS the last three times that they played a game with a line in the +3 to -3 range. While I certainly respect the Panthers, with the line having fallen from its opener, I expect the Utes to improve on those stats here. *10
|09-02-10||Green Bay Packers v. Kansas City Chiefs -5.5||Top||13-17||Loss||-110||57 h 22 m||Show|
I'm playing on KANSAS CITY. Many will look at this game and scratch their heads. They'll see the winless Chiefs laying points vs. a Green Bay team which they just saw dominate on National TV. I believe the Chiefs are favored for good reason though, as I see this one as a case of one team (KC) badly needing a victory vs. another team (GB) which has nothing to prove. The Packers are 2-1 and their QB (Aaron Rodgers) has looked terrific. They are coming off a game in which they scored more points (59) than any team in a preseason game since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. Their main priority should definitely be staying healthy here. On the other hand, the Chiefs have been dismal for years and are 0-3 in this preseason. They could badly use a victory.
Looking back to last preseason and we find that three teams were winless and playing at home for their Week 4 game. Those teams (Denver, Carolina and Jacksonville) went 2-1. The three winless home teams outscored their opponents by a combined score of 53-38.
Note that the Packers were 3-0 heading into Week 4 of last preseason. They went on the road and lost 27-13.
The Chiefs are moving in the right direction. Despite losing by three vs. the Eagles, they played arguably their best preseason game under coach Haley and they had an edge in total yards in that game. Haley was quoted as saying: "I think there's a lot of progress being made. It's encouraging the way we are blocking up front and the way we are moving the football on the ground. Those are good trends and good signs for the direction things are going. That was the most positive sign to date of this football team and the direction we're going. I know it's a preseason game, but the things we've been talking about from day one - being smart, tough, physical - the physical nature of that game was evident."
He went on to say: "If we play with that amount of effort and that physical on a down-in and down-out basis on both sides of the ball, that we're going to be able to make good things happen."
Overall, despite their 0-3 record, the Chiefs have outrushed their opponents by a total of 140 yards, had a better pass completion average and they've had 60 first downs while only allowing 48. Regardless of what Haley might say, he could really use a victory here. I expect his team to be the more motivated squad and look for that to lead to a convincing win and cover. *10
|08-29-10||Pittsburgh v. Denver +2.5||Top||17-34||Win||100||10 h 49 m||Show|
I'm playing on DENVER. Even with tonight's game being played at Denver, the line has moved from its opener and the Steelers are currently small favorites. That's due in part to the fact that the Steelers are 2-0 so far in the preseason while the Broncos are 0-2 ATS. Those records actually work in our favor though, as the Broncos should be the team which comes in with a little more urgency.
Just because a team is 0-2 doesn't mean, they can't win in Week 3. In fact, yesterday I was 2-0 with teams which were 0-2. My teams (Carolina and Houston) won by a combined score of 38-14.
The Broncos have history on their side. They're 5-1 SU/ATS the last six times that they were off consecutive losses in the preseason. The Broncos are also a perfect 3-0 SU/ATS the last three times that they were preseason home underdogs of three points or less. As for the Steelers, they're just 2-5 ATS the last seven times that they were preseason road underdogs of three or fewer points.
True, most of Denver's preseason stats have come under Shanahan, now in Washington. However, the fact that Shanahan is having some early preseason success (Redskins are 2-1) figures to provide even further motivation for the Broncos here.
While its still only preseason, the Broncos figure to have some payback on their minds. Last regular season, they were riding high with a 6-1 record. Then, they faced Pittsburgh on a Monday night game. The Steelers dominated them 28-10 and the Broncos haven't been the same since. Avenging that loss and earning a victory would do wonders for team morale.
Despite their 0-2 record, starting QB Kyle Orton has been solid for the Broncos. He's gone 24-of-35 while throwing for 261 yards with four touchdowns and only one interception. He's expected to play into the third quarter here, with the rest of the healthy Denver starters doing the same.
All things considered, I feel that getting points with the revenge-minded and motivated home team provides us with excellent value. *10
|08-27-10||Philadelphia Eagles v. Kansas City Chiefs +2.5||Top||20-17||Loss||-110||9 h 29 m||Show|
I'm playing on KANSAS CITY. Neither team has been very impressive so far this preseason. I feel that the Chiefs need this game more than the Eagles though. They've got more to prove, to themselves and to their fans. The Chiefs have been a poor team in recent seasons and last year was no exception. They've got a coach in his second year now though, looking to show that his team is going to be improved. They've got a couple of big name coordinators (Romeo Crennel and Charlie Weis) looking to prove that they're as good as their past reputations. They've also got a starting QB looking to prove that he's worth the big bucks that he's getting paid.
Note that Cassell was solid last week, going 14-of-19 for 125 yards, including a six-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Horne. I feel that Cassell is fully capable of going 'toe to toe' vs. Kolb and I like the Chiefs' backups better than Philadelphia's Vick and Kafka - those two threw four interceptions last week.
As for the Eagles, sure, they're looking for improvement and would like to win this game. That said, Andy Reid has nothing to prove. Beating the Chiefs for a preseason game at Arrowhead won't have the slightest effect on how people view him as a coach.
While the Chiefs have admittedly struggled in preseason games under Haley, the Eagles have a much longer history under Reid. Note that they're just 1-6 ATS the last seven times that they played a preseason game with a line in the +3 to -3 range, going a money-burning 10-26-3 ATS their last 39 in that role. That includes a 0-4 SU/ATS mark as a road favorite of -3 points or less.
With most backing the road team, the line has moved in our favor. I feel that provides us with plenty of value with the more motivated home side. *10
|08-26-10||Indianapolis Colts +3.5 v. Green Bay Packers||Top||24-59||Loss||-110||77 h 2 m||Show|
I'm taking the points with INDIANAPOLIS. By now, even most casual fans are aware that the Colts have been a poor bet in the preseason. This season's first two games (both double-digit losses) have only added to the perception that the Colts have little interest in winning "exhibition" games. The oddsmakers know that the betting public wants to fade Indianapolis and has already factored the Colts poor preseason history into the line. I believe that's providing us with plenty of value.
True, the game is in Green Bay. However, the fans aren't as big a factor in the preseason and the "tundra" isn't exactly "frozen" in August.
Additionally, the Colts have a significant scheduling advantage. They last played, at Toronto on 8/19 ET. On the other hand, the Packers played way out on the West Coast (a 10om ET game) on 8/21. Traveling from Seattle and then playing on a very short week can be tough.
Each preseason week is different. Week 3 is the week that the starters see the most playing time. Not surprisingly, that's been when the Colts, always a good team when their top players are in the game, have been at their preseason best. While their overall preseason stats are admittedly pretty bad, note that the Colts have quietly fared quite well in Week 3 of the preseason. Check this out.
Looking back to last season and we find that the Colts lost their Week 3 preseason game, which was also on the road, by only one point. The previous preseason, the colts won their third game (a Week 2 game, but the third for the Colts) outright. They were three point underdogs but went into Atlanta and won by 7. The year before that, the Colts went just 1-3 in the preseason. However, the lone win was their third game, a 37-10 blowout victory in Week 3. The year before that, the Colts were also 1-3 in the preseason. Once again, the lone win was their third game, a 27-14 victory at New Orleans. You get the idea - the Colts have actually fared very well in their third preseason game.
While I respect the Packers, I expect the Colts to be much better than we've seen the past two weeks. Catching the Packers on a short week and returning from the Pacific Northwest, I feel that getting more than a field goal is very generous. *10.
|08-23-10||Arizona Cardinals +4 v. Tennessee Titans||Top||10-24||Loss||-110||10 h 44 m||Show|
I'm taking the points with ARIZONA. This line has climbed from its opener, a significant move. I feel that provides us with plenty of value with the visitors.
True, the Arizona offense will likely be without receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Early Doucet. Certainly, we'd rather have them playing - particularly Fitzgerald, one of the best receivers in the game. That doesn't mean the Cardinals' offense won't be motivated though. On the contrary. The Cards' other offensive players would love to play well, on National TV, and show that their offense was about more than Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald.
Meanwhile, Matt Leinart has much to prove. He's trying to win over his team and prove his doubters wrong. Of course, even though the two won't oppose each other for all that long, he'd probably also like to outperform Vince Young, the QB who beat him in the 2005 Rose Bowl. (Young also beat him with a late comeback last season.) The fact that the first team offense failed to score last week provides further motivation.
Leinart's backup Derek Anderson also has much to prove, as he didn't play well last week.
Comments from Arizona's coach (Ken Whisenhunt) suggest he really wants to see improvement from his offense. He was quoted as saying: "There were a couple of times in the first half, offensively, where it was a joke, to be quite honest with you. Plays that we had run 25 times in two weeks looked like it was the first time we'd run it."
Keep in mind that Fitzgeral wasn't going to play the entire game anyway and that the Titans will also be without several players. Justin Gage (WR), Cortland Finnegan (CB), David Thornton (LB), William Hayes (DE) and Tony Brown (DT) are all expected to be out, to name a few.
Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher has nothing to prove by winning in the preseason. He had this to say of tonight's game: "....I think everybody understands that our starters could score 14 points and not give up any, and then the backups come in and give up 17 and you lose. We all understand what preseason is about."
Both these teams saw their Week 1 games decided by a field goal or less. I feel that this one could also easily come down to the wire, making getting more than a field goal very attractive. *10
|08-22-10||Minnesota Vikings v. San Francisco 49ers -2.5||Top||10-15||Win||100||10 h 36 m||Show|
I'm playing on SAN FRANCISCO. These teams both won their opening game in convincing fashion. The 49'ers beat up on the Colts by a score of 37-17. The Vikings took care of the Rams by a score of 28-7.
Of course, the big story is the return of Brett Favre. (Was there ever really any doubt?) While Favre's return is undoubtedly a positive for the Vikings this season, the future Hall-Of-Famer won't see much action at all here. He'll likely only play a series or two and all the "Favre talk" figures to have been somewhat of a distraction. Also, keep in mind that he's now 40 years old and is coming off ankle-surgery in the offseason.
Having come extremely close to reaching the Super Bowl last season, the Vikings have little to prove. Staying healthy figures to be the top priority. Not only is Favre playing on the repaired ankle but wide receiver Percy Harvin collapsed on the practice field this week.
The 49'ers figure to have more to prove. They believe that this can be the year that they return to the top of the NFC West. However, after going 8-8 last season, establishing and maintaining a winning mentality remains important.
While a preseason victory can't compare to a regular season one, note that the 49'ers may feel that they have a bit of a score to settle with Favre and the Vikings. That's because Minnesota beat them (27-24) on a last second touchdown last season.
While they had some trouble on the road, the 49'ers were a very solid 6-2 at home last regular season. That began with a 2-0 mark in their preseason home games. The 49'ers have played at home in Week 2 of the preseason in each of the past three seasons. They were 3-0 in those three Week 2 home games, winning by a combined score of 81-47. I expect them to continue their strong homefield play tonight, covering the small number along the way. *10
|08-15-10||Denver Broncos v. Cincinnati Bengals -3||Top||24-33||Win||100||9 h 40 m||Show|
I'm laying the points with CINCINNATI. Admittedly, the Bengals didn't look too good in their Hall of Fame Game loss to the Cowboys. That's worked in our favor, as that performance has helped to keep the line reasonably low. Had the Bengals blown out Dallas, we could easily be laying more here. More importantly, having already played a real game, the Bengals should have an advantage.
As Dallas coach Wade Phillips commented after last week's H.O.F. game, "The best thing about it, is you see what you did and what you need to improve on."
Even though I do feel that teams playing the H.O.F game have an advantage in Week 1, I actually played against the Cowboys. However, that was due in large part to the fact that they were playing on a Thursday (after playing on Sunday night and then having to travel) and did not have the proper time to "see what they needed to improve on." (The Cowboys lost outright to the Raiders.) That's the not the case for the Bengals. The H.O.F. game was practically right in their own backyard and they've had a full week in between games.
The fact that the Bengals' offense struggled last week, should provide them with plenty of motivation. Note that Cincy may be able to draw some added motivation by remembering last year's regular season meeting. You may recall that the Broncos won that game after completing a very fortunate 87-yard touchdown, off a tipped ball, in the final minute of the game.
At the time, Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer was quoted as saying: "I've never seen anything like that. I've played football since I was 7 or 8, and I've not seen that." Indeed, that was the longest game-winning play from scrimmage in the final minute of the fourth quarter in NFL history.
As for the Broncos, they've already been decimated by injuries. They were a strong preseason team under Shanahan but their biggest priority here figures to be avoiding losing any more players.
I already noted Dallas lost, when playing on a short week. However, it should also be mentioned that both teams that played in the 2009 H.O.F. game, won their Week 1 game. Each team had an edge in total years and a solid overall advantage in the second half. Buffalo, the team that lost the 2009 H.O.F. game, bounced back to outgain the Bears by a commanding 375-225 edge in total yards in the Week 1 game. The Bills won that game by a touchdown. I expect the Bengals to also bounce back with a solid win, covering the small number along the way. *10
|08-14-10||Tennessee Titans v. Seattle Seahawks -3.5||Top||18-20||Loss||-115||11 h 26 m||Show|
I'm playing on SEATTLE. These teams closed out last season by playing each other. The Titans won that won 17-13. That result allowed the Titans to salvage a .500 season and it dropped the Seahawks to 5-11. While it was still a disappointing season for the Titans, it was far worse for the Seahawks. That should make them the "hungrier" team here. That's particularly true with a new coach playing his first game in front of the home fans.
Pete Carroll hasn't been in the NFL for a decade. Given that his previous NFL record was mediocre, there have been a lot of critics, saying that he won't succeed. He's getting paid a fortune and should be motivated to try and temporarily quite the critics and win the Seattle fans over right away.
He was quoted as saying: "I can't wait to see the fans and see the crowd. I've heard so much about it. There's no way I imagine anything close to what it's going to be like going in there for the first time when we're really cranking it up and it's game time. We'll get to see how far we've come."
The Titans haven't fared too well in their preseason road opener recently. Last season was a bit different, as they played in the H.O.F. Game, a 3-point win on a neutral site. However, their first 'true' road game of the preseason resulted in a 30-10 loss. The previous season, their first preseason road game resulted in a 17-3 loss. They haven't played a Week 1 NFLX game on the road this entire millennium and I feel that they'll have little to prove here and that their biggest goal will be staying healthy.
The Seahawks have been a very strong preseason team in recent seasons. While that wasn't with Carroll running the show, with several competitions going on, a solid QB rotation and players trying to impress their new coach, they've still got what it takes to succeed again here. *10
|06-17-10||Boston Celtics v. Los Angeles Lakers -6.5||Top||79-83||Loss||-110||34 h 20 m||Show|
I'm laying the points with the LA LAKERS. Having been on the correct side of all six games in the Finals, I'm certainly not surprised that we're going to a seventh game. I had the Lakers in Game 1, the Celtics in Game 2, the Lakers in Game 3, the Celtics in Games 4 and 5. After the Lakers dropped those two games, many wrote them off for Game 6. I wasn't one of them. Off that convincing wire-to-wire blowout, the Lakers have now regained their confidence and swagger. I expect them to follow it up with another convincing victory.
When the Celtics beat the Lakers in the Finals two years ago, Paul Pierce was arguably better than Kobe Bryant. That certainly hasn't been the case through the first six games. Indeed, Kobe has been seemingly on a mission the entire playoffs and he's showing no signs of slowing down. Last game, he had "only" 26 points. However, he added 11 rebounds and played great defense. Most importantly, he got help from his supporting cast, something that was missing the previous game.
Kobe was quoted as saying: "I was very happy. We did a great job defensively. We kept them out of the middle, kept them out of the paint, did a good job on the boards. It was a solid effort by us."
Pau Gasol, who had 17 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists, had this to say: "We want to carry everything we did tonight to Game 7, and then I think we'll be in a very good place to win. When you bring the intensity we did tonight, good things are going to happen."
While the Lakers managed to get everyone involved, the Celtics fell apart in that area. Doc Rivers commented: "We played an individual game tonight on both ends. We never gave ourselves an opportunity offensively, because we never trusted each other. Everybody was out to make their own place."
Ray Allen added: "We didn't get in any rhythm early, and it affects our chemistry..."
While the Lakers were already dominating before he went down, it should be noted that Boston's starting center Kendrick Perkins went down hard in the first quarter and did not return. As I release this play, it is still unclear whether he will be available for Game 7. My guess is that he will not be. However, even if he is, he surely won't be 100%. When asked if Perkins would play, Rivers was quoted as saying: "It doesn't look great, but I don't know."
Without Perkins available, or even if he plays and isn't 100%, the Celtics aren't nearly as tough in the paint. That helps the entire Laker team, particularly Gasol. Rivers noted: "He's a guy that cleans the paint up, let's say, and not having him there made the Lakers awful long." He went on to say: "He's one of our guys that I think gives us great spirit, gives us a lot of toughness and size. You know, I hope he can play. It would be tough if he can't."
With Perkins out, Sheldon Williams saw his most playing time in Game 6. That didn't exactly work out too well though. He finished with 0 points and three rebounds in 14 minutes. Rasheed Wallace went 0-7 in his 17 minutes and "Big Baby" also had 0 points, in 27 minutes.
The Lakers have been here before. They've got the best player, the momentum, homecourt advantage and a coach who knows how to win the big game. They're 10-1 at home in the playoffs and, even with a a loss at Boston in Game 5, they're 9-1 SU and 7-3 ATS the last 10 times that they were tied in a playoff series. Looking back further and we find them at a highly profitable 19-7-1 ATS (20-7 SU) their last 27 in that situation. They were the better team all season and I look for them to be the better team again tonight. *10
|06-15-10||Boston Celtics v. Los Angeles Lakers -6.5||Top||67-89||Win||100||30 h 54 m||Show|
I'm laying the points with the LA LAKERS. With the Celtics having won two in a row and now up 3-2, many are likely writing the Lakers off. Not me. I had Boston in each of the last two games (and have been on the right side in every game) so am not surprised to see the Celtics with a series lead. With tonight's game back at LA, I fully expect the Lakers to force a Game 7. More importantly, I also believe that they'll win by enough to earn us a cover.
Kobe Bryant is capable of playing great at any venue. One of the biggest differences about playing in front of the home crowd is how it affects the rest of the Lakers. After watching the Celtics' backups win Game 4, Kobe got virtually no help from his supporting cast when he needed it in Game 5. While they've shown that they can be a bit fragile at times on the road, the rest of the Laker players are a much stronger group, when playing on their own home floor.
Yes, the Celtics split the first two games at LA. However, the Lakers are still 10-1 their last 11 here. A look at those 10 victories shows that they came by a margin of 10.2 points. In my opinion, the Celtics scored the upset here in Game 2 for two reasons. The first reason was that Ray Allen was on absolute fire from 3-point range. The second reason was that the Lakers may have relaxed, if only slightly, already having a lead in the series. I don't expect either of those factors to be an issue here. With the exception of Game 2, the Lakers have done a great job on not letting Ray Allen get open looks from "downtown." Additionally, with their season on the line, there certainly won't be any of the "letdown" or "relaxing" that we saw in Game 2. Between Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant, they'll make sure of that.
For the season, even though they were without Bryant for a number of games, the Lakers are an impressive 43-8 here. The average score of those 51 games was 104.3 to 95.7.
Kobe, who berated his teammates at the end of Game 5 was quoted as saying: "Listen, if you told me at the beginning of the year that we've got two games at home to win a championship, yeah, I'll take that ... "
A look at the first five games of this series shows that all five were decided by at least six points with four being decided by seven or more. The average margin of victory was 8.8 points with the two games here at LA both being decided by nine or more. I expect Kobe to "do his thing" and for the rest of his team to step up and give him the help that he needs, leading to a Laker win and cover. *10
|06-13-10||Los Angeles Lakers v. Boston Celtics -2.5||Top||86-92||Win||100||21 h 56 m||Show|
I'm playing on BOSTON. I've been successfully "zig-zagging" in this series, having gone 4-0 with my side selections. I played the Lakers in Game 1, came back with Boston in Game 2, the Lakers in Game 3 and back to the Celtics in Game 4. I expect the pattern to come to an end here though and feel that the value lies with the Celtics, for the second straight game.
For starters, due in large part to many others jumping on the "zig-zag bandwagon" (and to the fact that the Lakers are such a beloved team) the line is now lower than it was in Game 4. That line opened at -3 and went up to -4. This one is going the opposite way. It opened at -3.5, although only briefly. It then went to -3, then -2.5. It's possible that it could go even lower, still. I feel that anything at -3 or better is providing excellent value.
Many will point to Game 4 and say that there's no way the Celtics can expect another huge performance from the likes of Big Baby Davis and Nate Robinson. That may indeed be true. That said, I think that the Celtics can expect a bigger combined effort from the "Big 4," of Rondo, Allen, Pierce and Garnett. Sure, those players still combined for 54 points, all scoring in double-digits. However, they all finished with less than 20 points. None had more than six rebounds and they shot a combined 21-51. Yet, despite those mediocre stats and despite Kobe doing his thing (he had 33 points) the Celtics still won by seven, scoring 96 points. I feel that we can expect better combined numbers from those four tonight.
Bryant and Gasol will get their points. The rest of the Lakers have been inconsistent though. With only a couple of exceptions, Artest has been a terrible shooter in most games. Odom hasn't played well in this series and doesn't seem to match up well. Fisher had just six points and two assists last game. Perhaps most importantly, Bynum is far from 100%. He only played 12 minutes in the last game and managed a mere two points.
True, as I've pointed out a few times in these playoffs, the Lakers have been great when tied in a playoff series. They're generally at home in those situations though. Additionally, the Celtics aren't too shabby in that spot either, as they're 11-4 SU the last 15 times that they were tied in a playoff series. With the line now so low, a SU victory has a very strong chance in also resulting in a pointspread victory.
Note that the Lakers are just 5-8 ATS and 4-9 SU the last 13 times that they were road underdogs of +3 or less. They're also just 5-9 ATS their last 14 in the Finals. On the other hand, the Celtics are 8-2 ATS their last 10 in the Finals. While it likely won't be "easy," I expect them to improve on those stats here. *10
|06-13-10||New York Mets v. Baltimore Orioles +1.5||Top||11-4||Loss||-130||12 h 1 m||Show|
I'm playing BALTIMORE on the RUN-LINE (+1.5 runs). The Mets have taken the first two games of the series. The Orioles have actually outhit them in both games though and I believe that they're providing us with excellent value, particularly on the run-line.
Admittedly, Millwood has struggled his last few starts. However, two of those games were vs. the Yankees (one home and one away) and the third was vs. the Jays, at Toronto, a team which has been hitting a ton of home runs all season. Millwood, who still has a respectable 4.14 ERA and 1.33 WHIP at home (averaging 6.9 innings per start here) should be happy to see the Mets. He's 8-5 with a 3.36 ERA against them. His teams are 8-3 his last 11 starts vs. the Mets. A closer look shows that Millwood allowed four or fewer earned runs in 10 of those 11 games (5 in the other) including two or fewer in seven of them.
While Millwood's teams are 3-0 his last three starts vs. the Mets, note that two of those games were decided by a single run. Also, note that four of Millwood's last five home starts were decided by one run.
There is no denying that Pelfrey has been very solid. However, he's also been involved in a lot of close games. Since he got blown out (10-0) at Philly on 5/1, he's seen six of his last seven starts decided by two runs or less (the other was decided by 3) with two of the last five being decided by a single run. Last time out, he won 2-1 vs. San Diego.
As good as he's been, the Mets are still just 4-7 his last 11 road starts and two of those four victories came by one run. In other words, the Mets would be just 2-9 his last 11 road starts, if being asked to lay -1.5 runs. Note that the Mets are also just 15-20 (-11.4) vs. the moneyline, the last 35 times that they were listed as road favorites in the -125 to -150 range.
Even having dropped both games in this series, the Orioles are still 23-18 their last 41 I.L. games. I'll grab the +1.5 runs but I feel that they've got a great shot at scoring the upset here. *10
|06-10-10||Los Angeles Lakers v. Boston Celtics -3.5||Top||89-96||Win||100||33 h 16 m||Show|
I'm laying the points with BOSTON. The "zig-zag theory" may not have fared too well in the playoffs. However, it's been alive and well in the playoffs, thus far. The Lakers won and covered in Game 1. The Celtics bounced back with a win and cover in the second game. Game 3 saw the Lakers respond with a win and cover of their own. I expect the "pattern" to continue for another day and look for Boston to even up the series.
The Lakers played great defense in Game 3, holding Boston to a mere 84 points. That didn't surprise me, as I had both LA and the 'under' in that game. They're not always that good, when coming off a strong defensive outing though. In fact, LA is a money-burning 2-8 ATS the last 10 times it held its previous opponent to 85 points or less.
As I mentioned in my analysis of Game 3, the Lakers have been outstanding when tied in a playoff series. They've only been mediocre, when leading in a playoff series though, going 6-6 ATS (7-5 SU) their last 12 in that situation. On the other hand, including their big win in Game 2, the Celtics are a perfect 6-0 SU, going a profitable 5-1 ATS, the last six times that they were trailing in a playoff series.
In my Game 3 analysis, I also noted that this series was playing out similarly to Boston's series vs. Cleveland. In that game, the Celtics lost Game 1 on the road and bounced back to score the upset in the second game. Game 3 saw them return home, only to lose in front of their home fans. So, what happened in Game 4? Just as many were starting to write them off, the veteran Celtics responded with a double-digit victory.
While the Celtics did lose one home game vs. both Orlando and Cleveland, they have yet to lose two home games in any series. Kevin Garnett finally came back to life last game. I expect "The Big Ticket" to deliver another strong effort and this time, I look for his supporting cast to do a much better job. Specifically, its fairly safe to assume that Ray Allen will shoot a lot better than he did in his last game.
The Celtics are 71-25 SU the last 96 times that they were attempting to avenge an earlier loss. During that stretch, they've also gone 37-17 SU when coming off a SU loss as an underdog. I expect them to improve on those stats, covering the small number along the way. *10
|06-08-10||Los Angeles Lakers +2.5 v. Boston Celtics||Top||91-84||Win||100||29 h 40 m||Show|
I'm taking the points with the LA LAKERS. After playing on LA in Game 1, I came back with Boston in Game 2. I'm "zig-zagging" here again for Game 3.
Yes, the Celtics played a lot better on Sunday than they did in the opener. Ray Allen set a Finals record with eight 3-pointers while Rondo recorded another Triple-Double. That said, if Kobe hadn't been in foul trouble, scoring only 21 points, the Lakers very well could have won that game. He's still the best player in this series and I expect him to bounce back with a huge game.
Bryant was quoted as saying: "You're trying to stay even-keel. You don't get too high, don't get too low after a win or a loss. You just go into the next one and take care of business." While that's a good line to feed the media, the fact is that he wasn't happy with his performance. Naturally, he didn't like the fact that the Lakers lost. But he also didn't like Ray Allen stealing the spotlight or that he managed only 21 points. Again, I believe we can expect a big bounce-back effort.
As far as the other key LA players, Gasol is off to a very strong start to the series and Bynum is coming off a breakout game. He had 21 points, six rebounds and seven blocked shots in Game 2. They may not be able to count on quite that big an effort from him here, but at least he's fighting through injury and making his presence felt, more than we saw in the earlier rounds.
Yes, the Celtics are now playing on their homecourt. They've been far from unbeatable here though. The Magic beat them here once and so did the Cavaliers. Overall, they've won just eight of their last 15 games here. For the season, they're a money-burning 19-30-1 ATS here, including an ugly 5-14 ATS when playing a home game with a total of 190 to 194.5.
The Lakers know that they can win here, as they did so in the regular season this year and last - the only two games they played here since the Finals two years ago.
The Lakers, who have earned at least one road win in every series, have also been outstanding when tied in a playoff series. Indeed, they're 19-6 SU and 18-6-1 ATS their last 25 in that situation. That includes a perfect 8-0 SU record their last eight in that situation. They're also 24-8 SU (20-11-1 ATS) the last 32 times that they were attempting to avenge an earlier home loss. In a game that could easily come down to the wire, I'll grab the points. However, I expect LA to regain control of the series and come away with the outright win. *10
|06-06-10||Boston Celtics +6 v. Los Angeles Lakers||Top||103-94||Win||100||54 h 59 m||Show|
I'm taking the points with BOSTON. As you know, the Lakers won Game 1 in convincing fashion. Often, when a favorite covers in the opening game of a series, the line will be slightly lower for the second game. That's not the case here though. In fact, the current line is slightly higher than it was for the opener. I feel that provides us with excellent value on the underdog Celtics.
In my writeup for Game 1 on the Lakers, I noted that the home team had gone a perfect 5-0 SU/ATS in Game 1 of the Finals, over the last five years. However, Game 2 has often been a different story. Last year, was a prime example. In Game 1, the Lakers destroyed the Magic by 25 points.
In Game 2, off that blowout, the line climbed from -6 to -6.5. Yet, the contest was much closer. In fact, it went to overtime, with the Lakers eventually winning by just five points. The previous year, when these teams faced each other in the Finals, Game 2 was also closer than Game 1. The Celtics won the first by double-digits. Yet, Game 2 was decided by only six points.
Looking more closely at the Finals meeting between these teams two years ago and we find that the Lakers did win two of the three games at LA. However, both those victories came by six points or less. Overall, the Lakers are just 11-18-2 ATS their last 31 in the NBA Finals, including 4-7 ATS their last 11.
Even with the Game 1 loss, the Celtics are still 6-1 ATS their last seven in the Finals. They've also been outstanding at bouncing back from a big loss. In fact, they're 19-6 SU and 16-9 ATS the last 25 times that they were coming off a double-digit setback. That includes a 8-4 SU/ATS mark the last dozen times that they were in that situation.
It should also be noted that the Celtics are a perfect 5-0 SU and 4-1 ATS the last five times that they were trailing in a playoff series. This season, after losing Game 1 at Cleveland, listed as +6 point underdogs, they bounced back with a 18-point victory in Game 2. Also, after losing Game 1 at Orlando, listed as +7 point underdogs, they bounced back with a 3-point victory in Game 2. Combine that with their 29-point victory vs. Miami the second game of the opening round and we find them at 3-0 SU/ATS in Game 2 in these playoffs, winning by 50 combined points.
I expect a much better game from the Eastern Conference Champs here, as they continue their "Game 2 success" by earning at least another cover. *10
|05-29-10||Los Angeles Lakers +1.5 v. Phoenix Suns||Top||111-103||Win||100||20 h 53 m||Show|
I'm playing on the LA LAKERS. Home teams are a perfect 5-0 SU in this series. However, I expect that to change this evening. While they only ended up winning at the buzzer, the Lakers dominated much of Game 5. Not only did they do a better job of dealing with the Suns' defense but they also got back to playing strong defense themselves.
The fact that the Suns came all the way back to tie the game, erasing an 18-point deficit, will have many feeling that they will get it done tonight and force a Game 7. While that's certainly a possibility, I feel that the fact that they fought all the way back, only to lose in heartbreaking fashion, will work against them. They know they had an opportunity to steal homecourt advantage and that they didn't make the most of it. Working so hard to fight back, only to come up short, can often work against a team. On the other hand, the Lakers know they dodged a bullet and will badly want to close things out here and avoid a Game 7.
Not that the Lakers should need any more incentive but the fact that Boston won last night should also provide added motivation to get this series done ASAP. The last thing they want to do is have to drag this one out to the full seven games, while Boston sits around and gets rested up.
This series has been similar to the first round matchup with Oklahoma City. In that series, like this one, the home team won all five of the first five games. With the Lakers up 3-2, many expected the trend to continue and for the Thunder to protect their homecourt in Game 6. That didn't happen though, as the Lakers came away with a narrow victory. It probably won't be easy but I look for Kobe and co. to come away with another win here. *10
|05-28-10||Orlando Magic v. Boston Celtics -3||Top||84-96||Win||100||20 h 42 m||Show|
I'm playing on BOSTON. What looked like a sweep has suddenly become a series. Down 3-0, the Magic appeared to be done. They've battled back though and are now right back in the series. If they can win tonight, they'll get to go back to Orlando to play Game 7 on their home floor. Admittedly, that should have the Celtics feeling some pressure. That said, I believe that Boston has the veteran leadership to be able to handle that pressure. The Celtics are also wise enough to know that they better take care of business tonight, as they absolutely do not want to return to the state of Florida. I feel that they'll be able to get it done.
I believe that Boston's last two losses can be rationalized. Losing Game 4 was a result of the Celtics taking the Magic for granted and looking ahead to the Finals. Everyone was already talking about a showdown with the Lakers and Game 3 had been so "easy" that the Celts probably felt that just showing up would be enough to ensure a victory. As a result, they came out with a little less intensity and the Magic jumped all over them. Game 5 can be explained simply by the fact that the game was at Orlando. Beating an elite team on its home floor, in the playoffs, is never easy. The
Magic had gained confidence from the Game 4 win and were now thrilled to be back home and playing another game. However, the series is now back to Boston. Also, the pointspread is now low enough that a SU victory will likely result in an ATS win.
With the line significantly lower than it was for Game 4 here, note that the Celtics are a profitable 4-1 SU/ATS the last five times that they were favored by four points or less, going 12-6 SU/ATS their last 18 in that situation.
On the other hand, including the Game 3 loss, the Magic are 0-3 SU/ATS the last three times that they were underdogs of four or less.
Even with the Game 4 loss, the Celtics are still a healthy 12-8 SU/ATS the last 20 times that they hosted the Magic, going 6-2 SU/ATS their last eight home games overall. They're also a lucrative 15-9 ATS (18-6 SU) the last 24 times that they were coming off a double-digit loss. I expect them to bounce back and improve on those stats here. *10
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