October 2008


Football picksOctober 31, 2008

NFL Picks and Hits

by J. Mesa
 
There was a lot of hot air emanating out of Cincinnati’s camp this week and it wasn’t from the un-corked pie hole of Chad Ocho Cinco. Nope, this time the noise was from 85’s wideout counterpart T.J. Houshmandzadeh.

In a stunning example of mediocrity this week, Houshmandzadeh went on record to guarantee that his Cincinnati team would not finish defeated at 0-16, but that the Bengals would indeed win games. Way to go out on a limb there, Hoosh.  But my question to Hoosh is: Have you been watching any game film this season? ‘Cause the Bengals have been stinking up the field all season long. OK, aside from a fired-up performance against a distracted Dallas Cowboys team their season has been down right abysmal.

I am not exactly sure when Hoosh and the rest of his kitty teammates plan to “turn it on” this season to start notching a few in the left-side column, but they better start showing up soon and personally, I just don’t see it happening.
 
So far this year Houshmandzadeh has a respectable 512 yards and at the half-way point of the season is on his way for 1,000 yards receiving. But over the last four games Hoosh has had an anemic output of just 246 yards with his longest reception at just 25 yards and two TDs in that four-game stretch. NFL Picks and Hits

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Football picksOctober 24, 2008

Hooked

by J. Mesa

So I was all set to write about how the juggernaut of the south, the Alabama Crimson Tide was the best and most worthy No. 1 team in the land. They are stacked at all the best positions and blow opposing linemen off the ball as if they were playing Pop Warner.

That was until two weeks ago when the tide started to change and an in–the-weeds team ranked No. 11 stampeded into this season’s Red River rivalry and stomped the then No. 1 Oklahoma Sooners 45-35. I’m talkin’ Texas, baby, and the Longhorn’s junior QB Colt McCoy, who can flat-out wing the pig like nobody’s business is a big part of why I’m “hooked.”

Sure, Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford had the “better” day that day in The River. Bradford threw for 387 yards, five touchdowns but also threw to opposite-teamed jerseys twice while McCoy threw none in the all-important turnover category. Even McCoy’s 277 yards passing and just one TD seemed meager compared to Bradford’s chalk, but in the only category that can get you to the BCS Championship game – wins, McCoy ruled.
Hooked

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Baseball picksOctober 21, 2008

What are the odds of THAT happening?

2008 World Series set for Phillies vs. Rays Showdown!

Experts from BetUS.com post predictions on every conceivable on and off-field scenario.
 
NEW YORK, NY- With the Tampa Bay Devil Rays finishing off the Boston Red Sox, this season’s World Series matchup is set!  The Phillies will take on the Rays in a battle of preseason unexpected.  Speculation across the country is heating up and fans are looking for answers.  Who will win, who will take home the MVP award, will any crazy fan streak the field?

This being the case, the largest most successful sportsbook on the web, BetUS.com once again beat everyone to the punch and posted odds and predictions on all things World Series 2008.  BetUS.com analysts have listed predictions on everything from streaking fans to streaking homers!

Analysts at BetUS.com posted the following odds and predictions on the 2008 World
Series:

Who will be named the World Series MVP?
Jimmy Rollins (PHI)                  11/1
Chase Utley (PHI)                      12/1
Ryan Howard (PHI)                   15/2
Pat Burrell (PHI)                        13/1
Cole Hammels (PHI)                  10/1
Brade Lidge (PHI)                      12/1
Brett Myers (PHI)                      13/1
Scott Kazmir (TB)                       13/1
James Shields (TB)                     12/1
Evan Longoria (TB)                     8/1
Carlos Pena (TB)                        12/1
Carl Crawford (TB)                    12/1
BJ Upton (TB)                             7/1
Akinori Iwamura (TB)               15/1
Any Other Player                       5/1

Correct Series Result
What are the odds of THAT happening?

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Basketball picksOctober 19, 2008

NBA Previews 2008: Atlantic Division

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH 

1. BOSTON
2. PHILADELPHIA
3. TORONTO
4. NEW JERSEY
5. NEW YORK
 
BOSTON
COACH: DOC RIVERS
LAST YEAR: 66-16
TOP DRAFT PICK: J.R. GIDDONS
 
OUTLOOK:
The Celtics won their Championship on defense, as they held opponents to 41.9% shooting. That number hasn’t been seen in the NBA in four years. Amazingly, it has  been 40 years since the C’s won back-to-back Championships, will that streak end in ’08-09? Garnett, Pierce and Allen showed no signs of aging last year, and I would expect them all to  play at a high level once again. Rajon Rondo seemed to play his best down the stretch. One player that will be missed is James Posey who has gone to New Orleans. The Celts certainly have a chance to cut down the nets when the final whistle blows.

PHILADELPHIA
COACH: MAURICE CHEEKS
LAST YEAR: 40-42
TOP DRAFT PICK: MARREESE SPEIGHTS
 
OUTLOOK:
Despite a losing record last season, the Sixers used a late-season surge to make the playoffs. They had a lot of flaws including the worst free-throw shooting team in the league at 70.6%, and the worst 3-pt. shooting team in the league at 31.7%, so the need for a shooter is obvious. They made a huge move by signing free agent Elton Brand. Brand is the power scorer inside the Sixers desperately needed – it still doesn’t address the shooting problems. With the Sixers kicking inside to Brand, he will be immediately double teamed, as there is no consistent threat to kick it back out to. The Sixers are heading in the right direction, but no team leader and no shooter, equals no Championship.

TORONTO
COACH: SAM MITCHELL
LAST YEAR: 41-41
TOP DRAFT PICK: ROKO UKIC
 
OUTLOOK:
The Raptors traded for Jermaine O’Neal, and he comes with a big question mark. O’Neal has battled injuries for the last two seasons, but when healthy gives the Raptors a toughness inside to pair up with Chris Bosh. The Raptors are a good shooting team, as they connected on 39.2% from three-point range, and if defenses try to double up on O’Neal, they will pay the price. The Raptors saw how adding a veteran star player can change the mix in Boston, and were willing to take a gamble. If O’Neal stays healthy the Raptors could rise in the East, but without him this team went from 47 wins to 41 wins, and disappointed with their second consecutive first round playoff exit. Things could be different this year.

NEW JERSEY
COACH: LAWRENCE FRANK
LAST YEAR: 34-48
TOP DRAFT PICK: BROOK LOPEZ
 
OUTLOOK:
The Nets were disappointing last season and are going to look a lot different this year. They will be much younger and much more athletic, but also trying to become a cohesive team. The Nets have just Carter, Boone and Williams left from last year’s opening day roster. The Nets had just four wins over teams in their own Atlantic Division last year, so there is nowhere to go but up.  Devin Harris and Vince Carter will be the scorers, Eduardo Najera gives them some toughness and Jarvis Hayes could flourish here as well. This will be an interesting season as the Nets will probably be a more up-tempo team, but just don’t have the talent to be in the picture.
 
NEW YORK
COACH: MIKE D’ANTONI
LAST YEAR: 23-59
TOP DRAFT PICK: DANILO GALLINARI
 
OUTLOOK:
The Knicks have been a yo-yo team, but not in a good sense. They have gone from 33 wins back to 23 wins, back up to 33 wins, and down again to 23 last year. The Knicks had issues taking care of the ball last season, leading the league with 16.4 turnovers a game, and that has to change. The Knicks have been strangled by the salary cap, and it is likely they will shed many from the opening day roster before the season closes to get this franchise heading back in the right direction. Mike D’Antoni has a good pedigree, and if given time and patience should be good for NY. Still the Knicks have a long way to go, another year and no playoffs.

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Basketball picksOctober 19, 2008

NBA Previews 2008: Central Division

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
1. DETROIT
2. CLEVELAND
3. CHICAGO
4. MILWAUKEE
5. INDIANA

DETROIT
COACH: MICHAEL CURRY
LAST YEAR:  59-23
TOP DRAFT PICK:  WALTER SHARPE
 
OUTLOOK:
The Pistons got a player last year in Rodney Stuckey, and this little-known player is headed for stardom. The Pistons success begins with taking care of the ball, as they logged their third straight season averaging the least turnovers per game. Chauncey Billups does a lot of things – 17 points per game, six assists per game,  90% FTs,  40% from the arc, not another player in the league can top those four numbers. Detroit has been a fixture making it to the Eastern Finals the past six seasons and averaging 55 wins a year over the last seven. No one will be surprised to see them there again.
 
CLEVELAND
COACH: MIKE BROWN
LAST YEAR:  45-37
TOP DRAFT PICK: J.J. HICKSON
 
OUTLOOK:
After producing two consecutive 50-win teams, the Cavs slipped a bit last year as the win count dropped to 45. The Cavs have gotten a lot of garbage as they have now led the NBA in second-chance points in back-to-back seasons. The teams’ obvious strength was that they again led the league in offensive rebounding at 13 a contest. The Cavs have been missing a second player that can create his own shot, and without him getting over the next hurdle seems unlikely. James can lift this team only so high, and his presence almost assures the Cavs are a playoff contender, but the next step has yet to emerge. I don’t see it this year eaither, unless they trade for one during the season.
 
CHICAGO
COACH: VINNY DEL NEGRO
LAST YEAR:  33-49
TOP DRAFT PICK: DERRICK ROSE
 
OUTLOOK:
The Bulls took a header last year, as many thought they were ready to contend in the Central after a 49 win campaign, but landed on the outside looking in with just 33 wins. It’s all about a defensive commitment, as the Bulls dropped 10 slots in defensive ranking last season. The Bulls allowed over 100 points per game vs. the 93 from the prior season. The parts are good, but it has been nine years since the Bulls placed a player on the All-Star team and one has to emerge this season. Probably the best move they made was getting rid of Scott Stiles who lost this team last year, and Vinny DelNegro should get them back. The talent was there for nearly 50 wins two years ago and a revived commitment should get them back.
 
MILWAUKEE
COACH:  SCOTT SKILES
LAST YEAR:  26-56
TOP DRAFT PICK:  JOE ALEXANDER
 
OUTLOOK:
The Bucks’ win column saw declines the last two years in a row, so it was time to make more than just cosmetic changes. The core of players in Bogut, Redd and newly acquired Richard Jefferson gives the Bucks a chance. Scott Skiles wore out his welcome in Chicago, but should get the Bucks at least for one year to buy into his demands. If the trio stays healthy, which has been an issue for the Buck’s the last two seasons, this team could surprise. The Bucks will likely will be better, but not good enough.
 
INDIANA
COACH: JIM O’BRIEN
LAST YEAR: 36-46
TOP DRAFT PICK: BRANDON RUSH
 
OUTLOOK:
The Pacers have been getting worse since the 2004 team won 61 games. The wins have gone from 61 to 44 to 41 to 35 to 36. I guess it comes down to this. Danny Granger and Mike Dunleavy – two good players, but on the Pacers they are the go-to options. When you look around the league, they aren’t nearly the caliber of other top options, so the rebuilding continues in Indiana. This is going to be a long year for the Pacers, and they may finish at the bottom of the entire Eastern Conference.

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Basketball picksOctober 19, 2008

NBA Previews 2008: Southeast Division

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH:

1. ORLANDO
2. WASHINGTON
3. ATLANTA
4. MIAMI
5. CHARLOTTE
 
ORLANDO
COACH: STAN VAN GUNDY
LAST YEAR:  52-30
TOP DRAFT PICK:  COURTNEY LEE
 
OUTLOOK:
Orlando was the only team in the NBA that had a better road mark than home at 27-15. They need to develop more of a homecourt advantage this season. They have the dominant player in Howard, as he has recorded 189 double-doubles in three years – the most in the NBA. The Magic have been the best shooting team in the NBA over the past five seasons with a 46% mark. Howard may be this season’s most valuable player. His presence has allowed the Magic to play with two small forwards and cause severe matchup problems. Unbelieveably, the Magic hit at least five three pointers in every single game, and their 9.77 a game was the leagues best.  All the parts are in place to go deep into the playoffs, especially if they take on the homecourt mentality that was missing last year.
 
WASHINGTON
COACH: EDDIE JORDAN
LAST YEAR: 43-39
TOP DRAFT PICK: JAVALE MCGEE
 
OUTLOOK:
The Wizards remain commited to their trio of stars Arenas, Butler, and Jamison. The problem is that they have been knocked out of the playoffs in the first round two straight years – both by the Cavs. The winning seasons have been marginal, as over the past four years the Wizards have won between 41-45 games each year. Gilbert Arenas managed just 13 games last season, but should be healthy this year. He has averaged 28.2 ppg over the past three years for the top spot in the NBA. Jamison is one of just four NBA players to average a double-double last year. Butler had a career year, so the nucleus is in place if they can stay healthy to get past the first round. If not, you might see this team break up the trio next season and try something new.
 
ATLANTA
COACH: MIKE WOODSON
LAST YEAR: 37-45
TOP DRAFT PICK: TRADED TOP 2 PICKS
 
OUTLOOK:
This team is growing and heading in the right direction. Four years ago they won 13 games then jumped to 26, then 30, and last year reached 37 wins and into the playoffs. They will miss Josh Childress, who went to Greece for a 30 million dollar payday. Joe Johnson became a player that could take over down the stretch, and gaining in All-Star caliber play is Josh Smith. Smith could be a 20-10 guy that also blocks shots this season. The Hawks have another double-double potential player in Al Horford, who made his presence known against the Celtics in game one with a 20-point, 10-rebound effort. This team is still a bit short and it is hard to see them getting much further than a year ago, but the playoffs are likely, but so is one and done.
 
MIAMI
COACH: ERIK SPOELSTRA
LAST YEAR:  15-67
TOP DRAFT PICK: MICHAEL BEASLEY
 
OUTLOOK:
The Heat did a freefall last season from 44 wins to 15. The Wade injury sure had an impact, but the Heat were just not a competitive team at all. The 200 games missed by several players certainly was a big contributing factor. Wade is a trememndous player, but is he durable enough for the NBA? He has missed significant time now for two consecutive years. With a healthy Wade and Marion the Heat have two solid players, but question marks everywhere else. Chalmers as a rookie point guard? Will Beasley make an immediate impact? The bench? This team still has a long way to go, but after 15 wins, should be much better this year.
 
CHARLOTTE
COACH:  LARRY BROWN
LAST YEAR:  32-50
TOP DRAFT PICK: D.J. AUGUSTIN
 
OUTLOOK:
The Bobcats were an up-and-coming team, but seemed to have reached the peak of growth, and actually lost one more game last year, than the previous season’s 33. Larry Brown will be worth a few games to this team – money well spent by the Bobcats. The Bobcats weren’t a playoff caliber team last year and certainly aren’t this season. Top players Richardson and Wallace just are a far cry from other teams’ top players, and the Bobcats are destined to again be in the low to mid 30s for wins.

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