August 2011


Football picksAugust 24, 2011


Boston College opens the year at home as a three-point home favorite over the Wildcats from Northwestern. This is an interesting matchup and one that should draw the attention of bettors in the early going. When it comes to college football picks, many people like to assess who has the better quarterback. Northwestern’s Dan Persa wins the award for best QB in this game and ranks as one of the best returning players in the Big Ten. Boston College, though, has some strengths of its own to bring to the table.

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The Eagles boast a defense with multiple All-ACC candidates. Likewise, BC should be strong on the lines like they usually are. The Eagles will look to grind the game out, while Northwestern will want to spread the field and keep things moving. An interesting matchup to be sure, look for BC to control the tempo at home in an early success for the ACC.

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Posted By Wunderdog’s trusty sidekick ” Wundercat ”

 

Football picks & Sports picksAugust 23, 2011

I conclude this year’s college football preseason previews with my Top 10 below.

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10. FLORIDA STATE
Jimbo Fisher has a lot of talent at Florida State to go with a lot of pressure to deliver a National Championship-caliber team. He certainly has all the pieces in place, so if everything breaks right he could be close. They are overall the most talented team in the ACC. It all may come down to their game in Tallahassee in mid-September vs. the Sooners. If the Noles shock the Sooners, and get to a conference championship game with what could be a Top 6 Virginia Tech, anything can happen.

9. STANFORD
When you have a QB that is getting Heisman Trophy ballots, the anticipation soars and perhaps exceeds the sum of all the parts. There are a pair of question marks here that are holding me back from vaulting this team into the top 5. The first is that they will be playing with a new coach with a new system, and how will they adapt? The second is that although Luck is extremely talented, how good is the protection going to be, as the Cardinal rebuilds their offensive line? If those two question marks are answered favorably, then Stanford will be in title contention.

8. NEBRASKA
The Cornhuskers begin play in the Big-10, and are the odds-on favorite to be in the first ever Big-10 title game and win it as well. The thing to watch here is QB Martinez who just couldn’t stay on the field a year ago, which basically held them below what they could of been. The depth at the position is better, but Martinez is the key ingredient on that side of the ball. They will have to go to Wisconsin, Penn State, and Michigan in their first Big-10 campaign, and it is hard to see them surviving all three, but a top 10 finish is likely with the potential there for bigger things.

7. VIRGINIA TECH
Tyrod Taylor was a brilliant and talented QB for the Hokies, but watch out for Logan Thomas, a Cam Newton sized 6’6″ 250 lbs. He was a top 100 prospect, and his time is now. All reports say that he has a big and accurate arm. If that turns out to be the case, the Hokies like Auburn a year ago, get all their tough games at home. Add that to a coach like Beamor who usually gets more out of his team than the talent on the field, this team is potentially a title game candidate.

6. TEXAS A & M
Who would have believed the Aggies would have knocked off Oklahoma, Nebraska and Texas all in the same season? That is exactly what A&M did last year. QB Tanneyhill changed the offense from a liability and turnover plagued, to efficient and strong. They have a ton of offensive weapons on the air and ground and are deeply experienced. The defense will be better as well. This team has the potential to make it all the way.

5. BOISE STATE
The Broncos are now a top 15 fixture, and nothing will change this season. While the Mountain West will provide more challenges for the Broncos, a pair of quality teams have moved on in Utah and BYU. The stiffest challenge now comes from TCU, and this year the Broncos get them at home, so all systems go for another top 10 finish. QB Kellan Moore is a big time college QB, and last year this team went coast-to-coast and shocked Virginia Tech. They will be challenged again as they head to Atlanta to face Georgia. A win there and this team could be off to running the table, once again seeing if it is good enough for a national title appearance.

4. LSU
The Bayou Cats are a bona fide national title contender. Their Achilles heel a year ago was spotty double-headed QB play. The schedule is laden with obstacles with road games at Miss State and West Virginia, and a neutral-site battle vs. Oregon all in the first four weeks. If they survive those three games, this team is certainly going to have a resume befitting of a national title look.

3. OREGON
The Oregon offense was almost impossible to stop last year, and guess what? All the key weapons that led that unit are back. They have an outstanding secondary, and their special teams have become a second offense. They have a pair of obstacles that could stand in their way of returning to the title game, and neither of those are at home. They play LSU in Texas, and have to go to Stanford. A pair of wins in those battles would make the Ducks quacking their way to a repeat in the national title game.

2. OKLAHOMA
The Sooners are back and back in force. A few stalled drives inside the 10-yard line sealed their fate a year ago in a pair of games, but things should be different this year. Unlike previous seasons, if the Sooners win the Big-12 they don’t have to square-off with a Big-12 power for the conference title as there isn’t one. All things considered, their season likely hinges on improved road play, and this year it will be at Oklahoma State and at Florida State. A pair of wins there and this team is in the Championship picture.

1. ALABAMA
Many picked Alabama to be No. 1 a year ago, but with a stacked schedule against them and just two starters returning on defense, the deck was clearly stacked this talented team. The casualties on offense are reminiscent of what was lost prior to the 2009 Championship. The QB is gone. A 1,000+ yard running back is gone. All in all, seven starters are gone from the offense. This go-round they seven returning starters and an inexperienced starting QB – just as in 2009. The other similarity is the Tide will boast arguably the nation’s No. 1 defense. The schedule also helps them this year. They get Western king-pins LSU and Arkansas at home, and avoid the top teams in the East all together in Georgia and South Carolina. The old adage that applied in 2009, “defense wins championships,” should come to pass once again. Alabama will be your 2011-12 BCS NCAAF Champions!

 

Football picksAugust 18, 2011

The San Francisco 49ers have been one of the most disappointing NFL franchises in the league over the past ten years or so. With the franchise having such a successful past, there has been a lot of pressure on this team to be successful consistently and needless to say the team has failed to get back to prominence in the NFL.

With that being said, the San Francisco 49ers are always looking for ways to mix things up and bring in the right players to get back on top and favored in NFL picks from week to week. A key to success for this team in the past has been at the quarterback position with players like Joe Montana, Steve Young and Jeff Garcia.

Needless to say, since Jeff Garcia left town, the quarterback position has suffered as the 49ers have been unable to replace him. Alex Smith was thought to be the future face of the franchise, but that hasn’t turned out to be the case and forced the team to draft another quarterback Colin Kaepernick out of Nevada.

Now new head coach Jim Harbaugh seems ready to test his two best quarterbacks by making the starting position up for grabs.

 

 

 

 

Football picksAugust 18, 2011

In the 2010 NFL draft, the Carolina Panthers took a chance on a promising young quarterback in Jimmy Clausen out of Notre Dame. With the exception of Sam Bradford (St. Louis Rams), Jimmy Clausen was considered to be the most NFL-ready quarterback in the NFL draft that year, but that didn’t turn out to be the case as Clausen struggled when on the field for the Panthers.

With Jimmy Clausen having a rough first season in the NFL, the Carolina Panthers decided to go in another direction with the first overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft. As a result, the Panthers drafted arguably the most talented quarterback in the most recent draft in Heisman trophy winner Cam Newton out of Auburn.

Now that the Carolina Panthers have drafted the future face of the franchise and the one player that might be able to single handedly change the NFL picks in favor of the team, the Panthers might explore trading Jimmy Clausen and the Washington Redskin might be the most interested team moving forward.

 

Posted By Wunderdog’s Trusty sidekick ” Wundercat ”

 

 

Football picks & Sports picksAugust 14, 2011

Below I begin my College Football 2011 predictions for the Top 25 with No. 25 through No. 11.  Be sure to get my college football picks and my free sports picks via our newsletter.

25. HOUSTON
Conference USA doesn’t usually boast Top 25 teams, but it is hard to overlook this Houston team. Although they went through four QBs last year, they were still was able to keep the offense rolling. Case Keenum is back under center, and barring injury will become the college football career passing leader. The offense will be as explosive as ever, with the wildcard for this team being the influx of some very strong JUCO talent to help stop the defensive bleeding. If that talent along with what is leftover on defense, turns out to be an upgrade, this ranking will ultimately turn out too low.

24. PENN STATE
Joe Pa has again worked some magic. He convinced QB Joe Bolden that Penn State was the place to be. Bolden became the first ever QB to start for Joe Pa’s Nittany Lions as a true freshman, and he had his challenges including sitting out the game vs. Florida. The Nittanys have a lot more experience than last year’s team, but do have some tough games with Nebraska, Ohio State and Alabama at home, and they also face Wisconsin on the road. The aaturation of Bolden will be the key to any rise above this level, while rest of the club is solid.

23. SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI
Whoa – here I am with a pair of C-USA teams cracking the Top 25! Coach Larry Fedora has done a remarkable job continuing the tradition of this perennial Bowl school. Fedora has coached his teams to improve down the stretch, and we arguably have the most talented overall team in the conference. When you take that into account and add to it one of the softest schedules in the country, this team is going to be in the Top 25. The best part is that Houston is not on their schedule, but is a likely matchup in the C-USA Championship game. We have an excellent coach with his best talent, so Southern Mississippi comes in at No. 23.

22. USC
The sanctions on this program have limited their scholarships, and prevent them from playing in the postseason. That won’t stop a talented Trojans team under Lane Kiffin to be held down for long. The offense is going to be lethal and is full of playmakers. If QB Barkley takes it up a notch with his experience, the Trojans will be a player in the Pac-12. The defense, which took a step back a year ago, should be a much-improved unit this go round. With enough talent to win the Pac-12 South, I expect that when the dust settles this team is back in the Top 25.

21. WEST VIRGINIA
The wildcard here will lie in the hands of one of the best offensive coordinators in football in Dana Holgorsen. There will be a huge statement game for them and could perhaps decide just how good this team is when they host LSU in late September. A win could vault this team into a big season. The defense has lost a lot from a year ago, returning just four starters, which could become an Achilles heel. The offense should be able to compensate in a Big East Conference that just isn’t up to BCS levels.

20. TEXAS
Many have diminished this team because there is no Colt McCoy running the offense. They now have an unsteady Garrett Gilbert who threw 17 INTs last year, and at times looked over-matched. What many forget is that as a sophomore, Colt McCoy threw 18 INTs and came back to lead the Horns to a National Title game. I don’t expect Gilbert to make the same strides, but I do expect he will be vastly improved, and the Horns could be hookin’ a few surprises early on.

19. WISCONSIN
I like this Badgers team, especially with the coaching change at Ohio State. Wisconsin made it to the Rose Bowl last year and have a lot of talent returning for 2011. They lost a lot of experience and beef on their offensive line, but there is plenty of talent left to shore it up as still one of the Big-10’s best offensive lines. I would project them higher, but the schedule is not conducive to a ranking much higher, but a few big wins could elevate this team to a much loftier rating. There are plenty of places to trip-up however, keeping me from projecting them higher. They have home games vs. Nebraska and Penn State, and three tough roadies with Ohio State, Michigan State, and Illinois.

18. OHIO STATE
First sanctions against players, then the coach resigns. What went from chaos has become bedlam for the Buckeyes. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of talent on this team, but I think this team went from National Title consideration to just a very good team. When all is said and done, this may be either a reputation ranking, or an understatement. This squad could go far away from the Top 25, or find themselves in the Top 10. I chose middle ground to start the season.

17. OKLAHOMA STATE
This was by far the biggest surprise of the 2010 season. Oklahoma State did not make anyone’s preseason Top 25, but made it all the way into the Top 10 at one point last year. They won’t sneak up on anyone this year, but they remain a very strong team. Their biggest loss may not be on the field, but on the sidelines as OC Dana Hologorsen is off to West Virginia. They also have a very difficult schedule with A&M, Missouri and Texas all on the road, and powerful Oklahoma at home. That will be tough to survive that stretch of games.

16. TCU
The Andy Dalton era is over at TCU, and a lot of experience and talented players have moved on with him. The Horned Frogs have just eight starters returning, but don’t feel sorry for them yet. Patterson is a master recruiter who and develops players fast, and Ballard started before Dalton at QB and won a lot of games. We will find out a lot about this club in the first two weeks as they take to the road to face both Air Force and Baylor. They also have to play on the smurf-turf at Boise State which is never an easy task.

15. SOUTH CAROLINA
There is no question that the Gamecocks have some game. The offensive duo of WR Alshon Jeffrey who caught 88 balls last year for over 1500 yards and 9 TDs, and RB Marcus Lattimore and his 17 TDs and just shy of 1200 yards are arguably is the best run/pass combo in the country. Clowney Spurrier is a defensive force, and a team that got to the SEC Championship game a year ago certainly has a shot to get back again. They have some very tough road games, which could keep them ranked in the lower half of the Top 25, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see this team higher when all is said and done.

14. ARIZONA STATE
Coach Erickson admitted that last season was a rebuilding year for the Sun Devils. That said, he got this team breathing down the neck of Oregon, and went to Wisconsin and almost pulled off a major upset. This team has one of the top defenses in the country, and the offense should be better this season as well. There is no reason this team won’t be contending for a Pac-12 Title game appearance – barring major injuries of course.

13. GEORGIA
The Bulldogs’ Bowl game loss to Central Florida left them a disappointing 6-7 on the season. The start to their season this year couldn’t get much more difficult as they take on Boise State in Atlanta. While this team may not be Top 15 material, consider this. All four of their road games are vs. teams with losing records from a year ago. They also get a free pass by not having to face any of the powers in the West at all, as they avoid Arkansas, Alabama and LSU. I look for this team to surprise based on better talent and a very soft SEC schedule. If they surprise Boise, watch out!

12. ARKANSAS
Ryan Mallett will be missed for sure, but don’t count out the Hogs so fast. The offense is always successful, but will miss the precision, talent and leadership of Mallett. Tyler Wilson proved plenty capable of moving the team last year when needed. I think that overall the rest of this Arkansas team rates out higher than last year’s, sans Mallett. The schedule will make it tough, facing LSU and Bama on the road, but they are an upset away from being a Top 10 team.

11. NOTRE DAME
The Irish are long removed from their hay-day, when National Championships were always in sight. If they are ever going to be a viable title contender it will be under the watch of Brian Kelly. There are some numbers befitting of the Irish deserving of this lofty status. Kelly has a penchant for getting his teams to overachieve, and the last 12 years have seen the National Championship team coming off a five-loss season. The schedule is manageable for the Irish to find themselves in the Top 10.

 

Football picksAugust 10, 2011

Top 3 NFL Defensive Free Agents

#1 Nnamdi Asomugha, Oakland Raiders

The Oakland Raiders have been arguably one of the worst teams in the league over the past decade or so, but the team came back to life last season and may be on the verge of turning things around. Ironically enough, the Raiders will almost certainly let their best players Nnamdi Asomugha test free agency despite their resurgence. Philly picking him up will make them a much better team & could be the difference when they meet up with the Packers.

#2 Ray Edwards, Minnesota Vikings

As arguably one of the best defensive ends in the league today, Ray Edwards will get a lot of interest around the league once the NFL lockout is over and a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) goes into effect.

#3 Jonathan Joseph, Cincinnati Bengals

The Cincinnati Bengals are a team falling down the ranks in the AFC Conference and every talented player on their roster seems to be jumping ship while they still can. With that being said and the fact that they won’t be favored in NFL picks anytime soon, I believe Jonathan Joseph will be headed elsewhere next season.

 

Posted By Wunderdog’s Trusty sidekicks ” Wundercat ”

 

 

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