Top BCS Teams Keep Winning

Although the nightmare of the BCS is almost over, college football fans and bettors still have to put up with it for the rest of this season and all of next season. There has been some shifting in the computers in recent weeks even though none of the remaining four unbeaten teams has dropped a game. This week all four won again, but the Oregon Ducks were able to leapfrog Notre Dame into third position, but of course to clear everything up, we all would hope that only two undefeated teams were left standing at the end. Otherwise, the decision on who goes to the title game is left up to the computers. Ugh. Nobody wants that.

Notre Dame is 9-0, but just barely

The Fighting Irish pulled off another thrilling comeback, but the 29-26 OT win against an unranked Pittsburgh ultimately cost them their number three slot as they fell in the computer rankings. The amount of close games Notre Dame has won does show they have plenty of resilience and clutch players, but it also shows that they don’t have the firepower to really put teams away and if they play enough of these close games, eventually they will get burned. The Irish have two very winnable games coming up against Boston College and Wake Forest, but then they finish on the road at USC against a high-powered offense. For Notre Dame to get to the promised land, it has to win out and hope some others fall.

The Oregon Ducks jumped up one spot this week after they took care of USC 62-51. Although the Ducks’ defense got gashed, the computers and the pollsters were overly impressed by the Ducks’ offense, which torched a 17th ranked USC team with over 700 yards of total offense. It was the first game in which the Oregon starters played all 60 minutes, so we can only imagine the type of numbers they would have if they played all game each week. Since Oregon finished the season with two ranked opponents (Stanford, Oregon State) and the fact that they get an extra game in the Pac-12 title game, the Ducks are a favorite to reach the National Championship if they win all their games, which by the look of things, is fairly probable.

Without Klien, K State can kiss their title hopes goodbye

The Kansas State Wildcats were more than thrilled to pick up their ninth straight win of the season on Saturday, 44-30 over Oklahoma State, but they were not thrilled to see Heisman-hopeful quarterback Collin Klien leave the game with an injury. The team did not address the extent of that injury, but needless to say, if he missed even one game, K State’s perfect season will be in jeopardy. Kansas State faces off against TCU this weekend and finishes with Texas, so it won’t be easy, but if K State keeps playing like they have all year and if Klien is healthy, they very well could run the table.

The Tide rolled on this week, but just barely as they needed a last minute touchdown to beat LSU on the road 21-17. The close win didn’t phase voters or the computers like ND’s did because LSU was #5 coming into the contest. Now with their toughest test out of the way, it appears that the Crimson Tide will have little resistance on their way to another National Championship berth. They do have Texas A & M this week, but it’s a home game for the Tide, who have played even better in Tuscaloosa this season. The other teams can only hope that Bama loses its SEC title game or else the national title will once again go through the state of Alabama.

 

 

Monday Night Football (and Basketball) Tips

Michael Vick and Andy Reid are both in the firing line as Philadelphia visits New Orleans on Monday Night Football.

For the first time this season sports fan will have the choice of football or basketball on a Monday night when they get home and switch on their television sets tonight.

Of course, die hard football fans won’t want to miss a minute of Monday Night Football while fans of the round ball have an eight game slate to choose from, meaning there’s betting a plenty for everybody tonight.

 

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles @ New Orleans Saints

(8:30 PM ET)

When a Monday Night Football game features teams with a combined 5-9 record you might first ask what the schedule makers were thinking before deserting football in favor of something altogether different.

This week’s match-up between Philadelphia (3-4, 1-2 road) and New Orleans (2-5, 1-2 home) however is must-see TV, despite those hideous records.

Three early wins for the Eagles have been followed by four losses, and questions as to whether Andy Reid should still be in a job. The Saints meanwhile stunk the joint out to start the season, before coupling together a pair of wins. Last week’s primetime loss to Denver suggested that the Saints hadn’t yet turned the corner.

Both teams need a win tonight. Desperately need a win. New Orleans to have any hope of remaining in the postseason picture – those fingertips are slipping away quicker and quicker – and Philadelphia to avoid any more questions about Reid and Michael Vick’s suitability.

Odds: The Saints opened as 1½-point favorites and have seen that stock rise to three-points. The over/under is 52.

Take: New Orleans – Despite a setback last week, the Saints have had more to be pleased with over recent weeks than the Eagles, who look intently focused on having a disastrous season. The Saints are at home which could play a huge factor here, while Philadelphia has only won one of the last three meetings. Take the Saints to cover the short spread, with the total going over.

 

NBA: New York Knicks @ Philadelphia 76ers

(7 PM ET)

New York (2-0, 0-0 road) travels to Philadelphia (1-1, 1-0 home) for the second part of a home-and-home series with the Sixers. The Knicks took Sunday night’s game 100-84.

Both teams will be looking to assert themselves in the Atlantic Division, which looks as though it could be one of the toughest divisions in basketball this season. Only Toronto appears to be a flop.

Odds: New York’s victory over the Sixers last night hasn’t transferred to tonight’s odds. The Knicks are underdogs (+4) on the road. The over/under is 189½.

Take: Philadelphia – Away from the emotions of the Big Apple, it’ll be interesting how the Knicks fare. The chances are they’ll be a letdown of sorts. The Sixers will take advantage and narrowly cover the spread in a close game. Take the under on the total.

 

NBA: Indiana Pacers @ San Antonio Spurs

(8:30 PM ET)

Indiana (2-1, 1-1 road) travels to San Antonio (3-0, 2-0 home) with the tough task of beating the undefeated Spurs. The Pacers have yet to find true form and will hope a big game against Tim Duncan and the Spurs will be the catalyst to take charge of the Central Division.

San Antonio will look to improve to 4-0, putting the Lakers and Thunder further behind in the rearview mirror, something few experts predicted preseason.

Odds: Indiana enters the AT&T Center as underdogs (+6½) against the undefeated Spurs. The over/under is 194½.

Take: San Antonio – The Spurs have never started a season 4-0, an  unbelievable trend considering the team has won 50-plus games 13 years running. It’s time for history to be made. Take the Spurs to cover the spread and the under to go under.

 

NBA: Golden State Warriors @ Sacramento Kings

(10 PM ET)

Let’s be honest, a match-up between Golden State (2-1, 2-0 road) and Sacramento (0-3, 0-0 home) rarely makes your radar, unless you live in Northern California of course. But this game has a number of advantages going for it.

Firstly, if the Saints-Eagles game is a blowout, you can switch channels and catch the game, indulging in some in-game betting if you so desire. Secondly, there will be precisely zero defense played in this one which should at least be interesting. Thirdly, the Warriors might not suck this season, and an early encounter with perennial doormat Sacramento should give us some idea of what to expect from Mark Jackson’s side this year.

Odds: The Kings are favorites (-3) in the home opener at renamed Sleep Train Arena. The over/under is 202½.

Take: Golden State – The Kings (along with the Wizards) look set to be this season’s long losing streak side. It’ll probably be 10 games in before the team gets a ‘W’. Take the over as these two sides should light-up the scoreboard.

 

Remaining NBA Fixtures (Favorites highlighted)

Minnesota @ Brooklyn | Phoenix @ Miami | Utah @ Memphis | Portland @ Dallas | Cleveland @ LA Clippers

Top B-Ball Games

NBA bettors are getting excited as the regular season begins to get into the full swing of things. There are plenty of good games to bet today in the league and here are a few that you should be sure to watch and wager on today.

Minnesota Timberwolves 1-0 at Toronto Raptors 0-2

The Timberwolves notched their first win without the services of Ricky Rubio or Kevin Love, but they will go on the road today to the Great North to take on the Raptors where they have not won since 2004. Minnesota will need the type of team effort that they had in their opener, with every player in their starting five scoring at least eight points.

Minnesota’s depth will serve them well again today against the 0-2 Raptors with veterans Andrei Kirilenko and Brandon Roy. Look for the T-Wolves to pull out a road win against the struggling Raptors and cover the +3 point spread.

Phoenix Suns 1-1 at Orlando Magic 1-0

The Magic will be undermanned today as Hedo Turkoglu broke his hand in the season opener and is expected to miss at least a month. They will need another big performance out of “Big Baby” Glen Davis today, who scored 29 points in their win against Denver.

Phoenix is still getting used to playing without its leader, Steve Nash and is 1-1 on the season. The Suns have lost five of their last six against the Magic, but those games involved Dwight Howard, so expect them to have more success today even on the road. I like Phoenix with its new roster included Luis Scola to not only cover +1.5, but win outright today.

With no Smith, expect little success from the Hawks offense

Atlanta Hawks 0-1 at Oklahoma City Thunder 1-1

The Atlanta Hawks lost in more ways than one in their season opener as Josh Smith injured his right ankle and will not play today against the Thunder. Of course, this will make an already tough road game tougher without their best player for the Hawks.

Meanwhile the Thunder are still getting used to life without James Harden, but should still have plenty of firepower to deal with the short-staffed Hawks. Look for OKC to take care of business at home at cover the -9.5 point spread today.

 

The Pistons shouldn't be able to compete with the Lakers

Detroit Pistons 0-2 at Los Angeles Lakers 0-3

Everyone in LA has been in panic mode since they lost their first game, so at 0-3 it’s a borderline crisis for the team that loaded up with All-Star talent during the offseason. To make matters worse, Steve Nash suffered a small fracture in his left leg and will be out for at least up to one week, including the game against Detroit today. Steve Blake will start in his place.

Despite the setbacks though, the Lakers should still have plenty of talent to beat the Pistons and there’s no good reason why they should start the season 0-4, which would be their worst start since 1957 when they were the Minneapolis Lakers. Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard are playing well and that’s about all they will need today. Take the Lakers to cover -8 points at home and get their first win.

 

Atlanta Hosts Dallas on Sunday Night Football

Tony Romo's 13 interceptions have been a huge problem for the Cowboys this season, but his 19-2 record in November will give the unbeaten Atlanta Falcons something to think about on Sunday Night Football.

As Sunday Night Football rolls around again this week, viewers will get their chance to see the unbeaten Atlanta Falcons host the reeling Dallas Cowboys.

This marquee match-up between the team with the only perfect record in the league and America’s favorite team will have bettors on the edge of their seats. It’s highly likely that they’ll remain on the edge of their seats until the very end as well.

If you’re unsure who to pick in this one and need a few pointers, read on to find a few nuggets of truth that may sway you one way or another.

 

Unbeaten Falcons Looking for More

There’s still an air of criticism surrounding the Atlanta Falcons (7-0, 3-0 home), and rightfully so.

The Georgia side may well be perfect but that is a record achieved against a very soft schedule. Atlanta has faced just one team (Denver) that currently has a winning record. The team’s opponents have gone a combined 19-33 (.365), hardly a record that is going to be imposing to any semi-decent side. But, as the old adage goes, you are what your record says.

Atlanta will look to ride this unbeaten streak further towards the playoffs. And ride the Falcons can. At this point in time, the schedule going forward is almost as soft as that which has passed. Future opponents have a record of 27-38 (.415), and only one team with a winning record (NY Giants) lies in wait.

Of course there’s a big difference between what happens on paper and what happens on the gridiron. With five games remaining against divisional rivals, Atlanta can expect the run to the postseason to be tougher than it appears. And it might not take until next week’s showdown with New Orleans for the Falcons to chalk one up in the loss column.

 

Dire Times in Big D

Anyway you slice it up, Dallas (3-4, 2-2 road) has had a bizarre season so far. It’s not that the Cowboys’ 3-4 record is that strange. The team has certainly played like a 3-4 team for much of the year. It’s not even that there is a huge imbalance between the almost non-existent running game and the passing game. It’s the fact that this is a team with obvious talent, but nothing to show for it.

Dallas has the number three passing offense in the league in terms of yards per game (297.3). It also has the number three pass defense in the league (187.7 YPG). Those two statistics should translate to a high-scoring offense akin to New England or New Orleans. It doesn’t.

Dallas scores just 19.6 PPG (25th). Part of this is down to a weak rushing game that has seen neither DeMarco Murray nor Felix Jones put in any kind of consistent play. Murray (foot) will be missing for the third straight game Sunday. Part of it is down to Tony Romo.

Romo has thrown a completion rate of 65 percent this season with nine touchdowns. He’s even ran one in, putting him one behind Murray for the team lead in rushing touchdowns. But he’s thrown 13 interceptions! Far too many drives have finished with Romo giving the ball to the other side.

If the Cowboys are to achieve anything against the Falcons on Sunday night it starts with looking after the football. In an ideal world, Romo would hand the ball off and let the Cowboys’ running game punish a weak Atlanta rush defense. That perfect world wouldn’t include Murray out and Jones trying to cope with a niggling injury. Come kickoff time, the Cowboys may have no option but to put all of their eggs in the basket that is Romo’s inaccurate arm.

But then again, Tony Romo is 19-2 in the month of November!

 

Looking for an Edge

Dallas leads the all-time head-to-head 16-8 and has been dominant in recent years. The Cowboys have won seven of the last 10 meetings, including the last time the two sides met, a 37-21 victory in October 2009. Dallas is 7-5 all-time when playing the Falcons in Atlanta.

Atlanta is favorite heading into this one. A three-point advantage has risen to four points as kickoff approaches.

Dallas has gone 3-4 ATS this season while Atlanta is 5-2 ATS. The two games dropped by Atlanta came in close wins over Oakland and Carolina, and go some way to suggesting that the Falcons are not as dominant as their record might suggest.

The over/under is 47½. The last two times the sides met, the total exceeded that number, but neither has rewarded bettors taking the over this season. Both sides have seen the total go under four times in seven games. Dallas has also seen the total go under in seven of its last 10 games and six of seven on the road. All signs point to taking the under this Sunday in Georgia.

Bama and K State Get Tested in Week 10

Teams ranked #1 and #2 in the BCS will have their work cut out for them today as they each will face tough tests in week 10 and will need to pass in order to not only stay unbeaten, but also to stay alive in the chase for the elusive NCAA Championship. Here is a breakdown of each game, what to look for and who to pick on the spreads. Good luck!

#1 Alabama vs. #5 LSU

LSU may be the only team that can defeat Alabama this year

The rematch of last year’s National Championship once again figures to be a huge game in deciding who plays for the title this season. Alabama has looked absolutely flawless on both sides of the ball, but tangling with the Tigers always proves to be tricky and dangerous, even for the best team in the land. A loss for Alabama would not only mean they might miss a chance at repeating as champions, but it may take them out of the SEC title game as well. There is certainly a lot riding on one game, but these teams wouldn’t have it any other way.

LSU beat Alabama once last year (regular season), so there’s no reason to think they can’t do it again, but I don’t think they will do it this time. This Bama team is the best we’ve ever seen. This is a squad that scores 40 points a game and gives up eight. Even home field advantage won’t be enough for the Tigers to pull this one out. However, I do think LSU can cover the +7.5 spread in the loss. Alabama will be tested, but it will win today.

#2 Kansas State vs. #24 Oklahoma State

K State has also looked pretty unbeatable so far in 2012. The Wildcats have rolled through their schedule will no signs of slowing down, but if you remember Oklahoma State was on the same path last season and then slipped up on the road against Iowa State. Needless to say, the Wildcats should not take the Cowboys lightly, especially considering many players from that great squad last year will be playing today.

Even without last year’s QB Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State is the best ranked offense in the country this season, putting up 586.1 yards of offense per game. Both teams score more than 44 points per game, so it will come down to whose defense will be able to stop the opposing offense. Oklahoma State has struggled on the defensive side at times, but is better than many might think, allowing just 23.1 points per game. K State, meanwhile, is allowing only 17.1 points per game and has already beaten the high-scoring offenses of Oklahoma and West Virginia.

I think this will be another near upset, but that K State will pull this one out at home. I do like OK State to cover the +8 point spread though and make this a one-score contest.

 

 

 

Week 9 NFL Betting Tips

Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers - sans Killer Bees uniforms - will travel on the day to take on the New York Giants.

It’s the midpoint of the NFL season and Week 9 promises a lot of close matchups as teams look to improve their records heading into the second half.

As ever, there is no shortage of talking points heading into play on Sunday. Can the Ravens hold off the Browns? Will Jacksonville win another game this season? Can Atlanta remain unbeaten?

To get you started with your picks this week, we’ve skimmed some of the more intriguing games from the schedule and given you our thoughts.

Be sure to come back tomorrow also for an in depth look at the Sunday Night Football clash between Dallas and  Atlanta.

 

Carolina Panthers @ Washington Redskins

A much-maligned Carolina (1-6, 0-3 road) hits the road this weekend, heading for Landover, Md., and a showdown with the Washington Redskins (3-5, 1-2 home). Make no mistakes; this one’s on the radar thanks to its pitting Robert Griffin III against Cam Newton.

Newton has had a tough season, something he’s struggling mentally to cope with, while Griffin is having the sort of season Newton enjoyed last season. Whilst the issue of whether or not these two quarterbacks are similar has been on the agenda this week, there’s one these two certainly have in common: both will be looking for a win this weekend.

Carolina has posted a dismal record, particularly after hopes were so high ahead of the season. Washington, meanwhile, has had what can be considered a successful year, mainly because expectations were low coming into the season.

The Skins have been free-scoring this season, ranking fourth in the league in points, at 26.6 per game. The team’s running game is tallying 166.3 YPG, second only to San Francisco, and will be the focus in this one.

Carolina should take solace in the fact that Washington isn’t exactly a defensive juggernaut. The Redskins are last in the league at stopping the pass, conceding 314.3 YPG through the air, whilst giving up 28.4 total points per game (29th). That should give Newton and the Panthers some time to work out an offensive scheme.

Odds: Washington is 3½-point favorite, with the over/under at 47½.

Take: Carolina – The Panthers have been woeful this season but this is the sort of game the side from Charlotte can take an upset win from. Defensive will be at a premium, so Carolina should make this a shootout. Running the football would be a good idea for both sides. Take the over for those same reasons.

 

Miami Dolphins @ Indianapolis Colts

It’s being billed as the battle of two rookie quarterbacks, but this game has more going for it than just the clash between Andrew Luck and Ryan Tannehill.

Both Indianapolis (4-3, 3-1 home) and Miami (4-3, 2-2 road) have surprised a lot of people this season. Neither has been the automatic out some would have expected, and at the end of this game, one of these sides is going to have a 5-3 record!

Miami will focus on trying to run the football, a decision that is as much to do with the Colts’ inability to stop the run (27th) as the Fins’ abilities to run (11th). On the flipside, Luck and Indianapolis will look to throw the football to take advantage of a top ten passing offense, and to exploit Miami’s poor pass defense (27th). Besides, Miami is second in the league at stopping the run and the Colts’ running game is less than stellar.

Odds: Miami opened as three-point favorites but that number has fallen to one. With 24-hours left until kickoff, we could see some more movement there. The over/under is 43.

Take: Miami – This one will be decided by Miami’s defense, which currently gives up just 18 points per game. Only Chicago and San Francisco concede fewer points. The Dolphins have played tough all season, while the Colts have had a mixed-bag of performances. The Dolphins will cover the low spread, snapping the Colts’ three-game winning streak in the series. Take the under on 43.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers @ New York Giants

Much of the East Coast is still reeling in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, but regardless of whether you think the game should go ahead or not, the New York Giants (6-2, 3-1 home) will host Pittsburgh (4-3, 1-3 road) late Sunday afternoon.

With the team hotel flooded, the Steelers will fly in on the morning of the game, a factor that many believe gives the Giants an advantage. In reality, it’s a short flight and a later game so it probably won’t be that big a deal.

The Giants have the second best passing offense in the league, behind New England, but it’ll be up against Pittsburgh’s number one ranked pass defense. If the two cancel each other out, as they could well do, it’ll be up to the running game to put points on the board. Neither side has been particularly prolific running the football this season, but the advantage may come down to Pittsburgh’s superior rush defense, which ranks in the league’s top ten.

Historically, New York has dominated the head-to-head (44-28-3) but recently, neither team has been able to string two wins together in a row. The Giants won last time out (2008) so unless they buck a trend that dates back to 1991, it could be bad news for the blue side of New York this weekend.

Odds: The Giants opened as 4½-point favorites but have seen that figure drop to 3½ recently. The over/under is 47.

Take: Pittsburgh – The Steelers are a tough team, despite a mediocre record. Last week the side won its second straight game for the first time this year. The Giants may have won four in a row, but they’ll face a very tough defense. With the distraction of Hurricane Sandy, it’ll be tough to get past the Steelers. Take the total to go under; this is going to be a defensive battle.

 

Week 9 Schedule

Thursday: Kansas City 13-31 San Diego

Sunday: (1 PM ET) Arizona @ Green Bay | Detroit @ Jacksonville | Chicago @ Tennessee | Denver @ Cincinnati | Carolina @ Washington | Baltimore @ Cleveland | Miami @ Indianapolis | Buffalo @ Houston; (4:05 PM ET) Minnesota @ Seattle | Tampa Bay @ Oakland; (4:25 PM ET) Pittsburgh @ NY Giants; (8:20 PM ET) Dallas @ Atlanta

Monday: (8:30 PM ET) Philadelphia @ New Orleans

Bye: New England, NY Jets, San Francisco, St. Louis

6 NBA Team Debuts

Six more NBA teams will tip-off for the first time this season today as action on the NBA schedule continues to heat up. Here is a glimpse at each game and the all-important point-spread picks.

Indiana Pacers 1-0 at Charlotte Bobcats 0-0

Charlotte is coming off its worst season in franchise history and that’s really saying something for the Bobcats. However, they enter 2012-2013 with a clean slate and open the season at home against the Pacers, who are coming off a 90-88 win over the Raptors.

The Bobcats made some changes in the offseason that should help them, including signing a new coach, Mike Dunplap, and some new players like Ben Gordon and second overall pick, Micheal Kidd-Gilchrist. The Bobcats will be improved this season under Dunlap, but they are still very young and inexperienced, so I wouldn’t expect too much from them out of the gate. The Pacers should win, but they will be without their leading scorer Danny Granger, who is out with a knee injury. That’s why I think the Cats can at least cover +7 points today.

Take Denver to beat the Howardless Magic today

Denver Nuggets 0-1 at Orlando Magic 0-0

The new-look Nuggets opened the season with a 84-75 loss against the 76ers and now travel to Orlando to face the Magic, who are making their season debut. It will mark the first game in the post-Dwight-Howard era with a team that barely resembles last year’s squad.

The Magic are obviously in rebuild mode after losing their best player and although we’re not sure what to expect from the Nuggets this season, I think they should take this one on the road. Look for Denver to cover -6 points today.

Milwaukee Bucks 0-0 at Boston Celtics 0-1

After beginning the season with a loss to the defending champion Heat, the Celtics will look to rebound today against the Bucks at home.

The bad news for the Bucks is that despite losing Ray Allen, the Celtics may be a deeper team than they have been in years past after the acquisitions of Jason Terry and Leandro Barbosa. The Celtics also match-up well with Rajon Rondo against the Bucks’ best players, which are guards Monte Ellis and Brandon Jennings. Look for the Celtics to cover -7.5 points today to get their first win.

Houston Rockets 1-0 at Atlanta Hawks 0-0

The revamped Rockets launched to a 1-0 start with a 105-96 win against Detroit thanks to a 37-point performance from newcomer James Harden. The Hawks will look for the same type of success in their home opener today.

Al Horford returns this year after being injured much of last season and Josh Smith should be just as good as always, so don’t expect the Hawks to be intimidated by the new Rockets squad. Atlanta also brought in some new pieces, like Kyle Korver and Lou Williams to add depth. However, I actually do like Houston in this one. It’s only been one game, but they look like a team that is gelling quickly and Harden may start off the year hot. Take Houston to cover +6 on the road here.

LeBron and Co. have the advantage here

Miami Heat 1-0 at New York Knicks 0-0

The rivalry between these two squads was revitalized last season, as the Knicks had one of their better seasons in recent years. However, the Heat got the better of them last year and based on Miami’s opening night 120-107 win over Boston, they may get the better of them again.

Actually, let’s not play around. They will get the better of them. The Heat will be the outright favorite to defend their title, so expect them to cover -5.5 against the Knicks.

Sacramento Kings 0-1 at Minnesota Timberwolves 0-0

There was a damper put on Minnesota’s promising young squad and young season as star Kevin Love went down with a broken hand. He now joins Ricky Rubio on the injured list and they will have to watch and hope that their T-Wolves can hang on until they return.

The Kings are also still a young team looking to build something great, but that is far from happening as of now. With the T-Wolves at home and with new veteran leadership from the likes of Brandon Roy, look for Minnesota to start the season with a win by covering -3 points against the Kings.

 

 

Knicks Look To Lift NYC

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Carmelo Anthony, Mike Woodson and the New York Knicks will look to give the Big Apple something to cheer for Friday night as they welcome the Miami Heat.

The New York Knicks open the 2012-13 regular season, and the revamped Madison Square Garden, Friday night (8 PM ET) with a visit from the defending NBA champion Miami Heat.

Never a match-up that needs any additional storylines, Friday night’s contest – which will be broadcast on ESPN – is accompanied by a multitude of talking points, not least the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

The super storm, which has decimated large regions of Jamaica, Cuba, Haiti and the East Coast, has left the city of New York in a state of emergency. The public transport system was brought to a halt this past weekend, and remains non-operational in many areas of the city. Subsequently, much of the Big Apple has been brought to a standstill.

That standstill was felt Thursday night as the Knicks’ visit to the Brooklyn Nets and their brand new Barclays Center – which should have been both sides’ season opener – was postponed at the request of New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg. The NBA has rescheduled the game to November 26.

In a bid to lift the city, the Knicks’ home-opener at MSG will be the first of a number of sporting events to take place in the city this weekend, including the Nets’ season opener against Toronto on Saturday and the New York Marathon on Sunday. The Pittsburgh Steelers will visit MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., for a showdown with the New York Giants on Sunday also.

While nobody can be certain what the atmosphere will be like in Madison Square Garden, the marquee matchup with the Heat is as good a game as any to entice a few in from the cold and carnage.

Bitter rivals for the better part of two decades now, the Knicks-Heat encounter has some new blood to it this season. Miami has added a number of names to its roster, most notably sharpshooter Ray Allen, as it bids to defend its title. The Knicks meanwhile have added half a roster of new names.

Friday will see the New York debuts of Jason Kidd, Raymond Felton, Ronnie Brewer and Rasheed Wallace. Although listed as day-to-day, it’s likely we’ll also see the return of Marcus Camby.

Camby is the first player to return to New York after a spell of 10 years away from the side. Arriving at the Knicks in 1998 in a trade that sent Charles Oakley to Toronto, the center played four seasons with the team before being traded to Denver for Antonio McDyess. He was also present for the infamous brawl at the Garden in December 2006 that saw Carmelo Anthony sucker-punch Mardy Collins. Following spells with the Clippers, Blazers and Rockets, Camby once again is wearing the blue and orange of New York.

At 38, Camby is adding years to an aging Knicks side. Likewise Kidd (39), who is entering his 19th year in the league, and Wallace (38), who has opted to come out of retirement this year. New York will hope that age brings both experience and success, particularly as the Nets look to steal some of that NYC thunder.

New York will start the season without Amare Stoudemire. The oft-injured forward underwent knee surgery last week and is expected to be absent for between six and eight weeks. Second-year guard Iman Shumpert (ACL) will also be missing from Friday night’s game. Like Camby, Tyson Chandler is listed as day-to-day but expected to play against Miami.

The early season contest against Miami will be a good chance for the Knicks to get some practice in as a team. Miami (1-0) looked like a well-oiled machine against Boston on Tuesday, and few expect the Knicks to come away with this one. The New York side is underdog (+4½) against the defending champs. The over/under is 192.

The Knicks will get a few passes early in the season. A loss to the Heat on Friday and some early losses are not likely to have a huge impact on the season, despite what people in Los Angeles might be thinking right now. The task early on is getting the team to work as a cohesive unit, and getting Anthony the basketball. More than ever, Anthony needs to have a big season this year if the Knicks are to have any kind of success.

Oddsmakers are wary of this Knicks side when it comes to the NBA Futures. New York opened the season at 40/1 to take the NBA trophy and 18/1 to win the Eastern Conference. Those numbers put the Knicks below the Nets in the bookies’ estimation, something New York will be less than happy with. Beating the Nets this season will be paramount. Beating Miami wouldn’t be frowned upon either.

 

Game Notes

  • Miami and New York will clash four times this season. After Friday night’s game, the sides will meet again on Dec. 6 (MIA), Mar. 3 (NY) and Apr. 2 (MIA).
  • Miami swept (3-0) the season series with New York last season.
  • New York has not lost its first game of the season when playing at home since 2003, an 85-83 OT loss to Orlando.
  • New York beat Miami (120-115) the last time the two sides met in New York for a Knicks season opener.
  • Miami beat New York (115-93) in the Knicks’ 2009 season opener, played in Miami.

AFC West Rivals Kansas City and San Diego Do Battle on Thursday Night

Two AFC West teams facing nasty skids take the field at Qualcomm Stadium tonight and one of them will look to get the 2012 season back on track with a much-needed win.

If things don't turn around soon, the Chiefs can kiss their playoff hopes goodbye

After starting 3-1, the San Diego Chargers have dropped their last three games, including a second half meltdown against Peyton Manning and the Broncos and an embarrassing 7-6 loss last week against the Cleveland Browns of all teams. The Chargers are at home this week, hosting the lowly bottom-feeder Chiefs, but the Bolts can’t feel too comfortable. They did just lose to the Browns after all and they have dropped their last two contests at Qualcomm, so home field advantage hasn’t been such an advantage, at least so far.

Things have been even worse for the 1-6 Chiefs, who have lost four straight, including one to these very Chargers. In fact, San Diego’s last win came these two teams met, which was week four at Arrowhead. The Chiefs have still yet to hold a lead in regulation in any game this season, as their only lead and win came in overtime against the New Orleans Saints on Sept. 23. Kansas City is now in danger of losing five straight for the first time since 2009.

San Diego hopes to exploit KC’s defense, which is allowing 29.9 points per game. The Chargers should look to run Ryan Matthews plenty against the 22nd ranked rush defense. Matthews has been the steady Eddie for the Chargers so far this season, averaging 4.3 yards per carry.

Will the Chiefs be able to stop San Diego's rushing attack?

The Chiefs meanwhile will hope to find any kind of consistency on either side of the ball. Quarterbacking has been one of several issues this season and Matt Cassel will be back under center this week after seeing Brady Quinn take a blow to the head versus the Raiders a week ago. Cassel has had his share of struggles, throwing six touchdowns and 10 interceptions already this year. For the Chiefs to be successful, they may also have to stick to the run game with Jamaal Charles, who is averaging 5.0 yards per carry and has nearly 600 yards rushing this season.

You don’t have to look at this game from many different angles to determine who the favorite is here. The Chiefs are the biggest mess and possibly the worst team in the NFL and is a team that San Diego has already beaten this season. Add in the fact that the Chargers are at home and I think you have to give the solid edge to San Diego. The Bolts are currently nine-point favorites and although I like them to win today, I do also realize that they are playing poorly as well. The Chargers are one of those teams that could suddenly wake up and start scoring points, but considering they were held to six points by the Browns, I have to say the Chiefs will cover +9 today. Take San Diego to improve to 4-4, but in a closer game than many might think.

 

 

Week 10 College Football Tips

Marcus Mariota and the Oregon Ducks travel to USC, a precursor to the big BCS Championship rematch between Alabama and LSU this weekend.

After a killer slate of college football last weekend, the activity and excitement at the top of the BCS standings does anything but let up this weekend.

There may not be as many high-profile games this week, but there just happens to be two that are about as high-profile as you can get.

First, #4 Oregon travels to Los Angeles to take on #17 USC in what many predicted in the preseason to be a dress rehearsal for this year’s Pac-12 Championship Game. Whilst that remains to be seen, there’s still a huge importance placed on this clash.

Then, #1 Alabama hits the road to take on #5 LSU in a rematch of January’s BCS National Championship Game. Simply put, this one needs no introduction.

 

#1 Alabama @ #5 LSU

If you were passing on through CasinoReview yesterday, you might have read our preview of this weekend’s massive Alabama-LSU showdown. If not, be sure to read it now. There’s a bunch of stuff in there that might change your mind (back and forth) before you click your picks this weekend.

Of course, there was one thing our preview didn’t tell you: who’s going to win. How about we do that now?

It might not be another ‘Game of the Century’ but this weekend’s fixture is big news in the SEC West. A loss for No. 1 Alabama (8-0, 5-0 SEC) would put the side on level pegging with No. 5 LSU (7-1, 3-1 SEC). With just three weeks left to play after this weekend, that would a serious question mark next to who will be the SEC West champ.

We know what to expect of the game: lots of running the football and plenty of defensive stops. But who will win out?

Odds: Alabama is currently 10-point favorites to take the victory in Death Valley, despite the Tigers’ 22-game home winning streak. The over/under is 42.

Take: Alabama – There are a lot of factors that point to LSU taking this one (that home-field advantage, the Tigers’ record after a bye week, LSU’s recent regular season dominance) but ultimately Alabama has done nothing this season to suggest that it will do anything other than win another game. Granted, this is the toughest test the Crimson Tide has faced this season, but LSU’s weaknesses, particularly the lack of an aerial game, don’t stack up well against this Alabama side. It will be close though so take LSU to cover the spread. Take the total to go under: if you want a shootout, you’ll do better to wager on our next fixture.

 

#4 Oregon @ #17 USC

This weekend’s other big encounter will go a long way to demonstrating how good Oregon (8-0, 5-0 Pac-12) is or isn’t.

The Ducks have been heavily criticized for a soft schedule and for sending out second tier players when the game gets out of hand – which it does on a weekly basis. This week’s clash should start answering such criticisms. With Stanford and Oregon State still on the schedule, we’ll know for sure come the end of the season.

USC (6-2, 4-2 Pac-12) has lost twice this season, to Stanford in Week 3 and last week in Arizona. Both losses were considered upsets. It has been over a year since the Trojans lost to Stanford at the Los Angeles Coliseum, the last time the side lost a home game.

The last time Oregon lost a game was last November when the Trojans traveled to Eugene. That loss broke the Ducks’ two-game winning streak over USC. Oregon has won three of the last five against its Pac-12 rival.

Odds: Betting opened with Oregon favored by six points. That number has increased to 8½ as we’ve closed in on kickoff. The over/under is 70.

Take: Oregon – In many ways it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see USC topple Oregon, but those performances against Stanford and Arizona are fresh in the memory, and if the Trojans can’t beat those teams, they can’t beat the Ducks. That being said, this is unlikely to be the bulldozer job we’ve seen from Oregon all season. Still, take the Ducks to cover the spread. Going over 70 points might be a tall ask, but the last two times these teams have played, they’ve done just that. Oregon leads the nation in points and USC doesn’t exactly have a defense to write home about. Take the over then if you’re looking for a few extra bucks.

 

BCS Top 25 Schedule (Week 10)

#1 Alabama at #5 LSU

#24 Oklahoma State @ #2 Kansas State

Pittsburgh @ #3 Notre Dame

#4 Oregon @ #17 USC

Ole Miss @ #6 Georgia

Missouri @ #7 Florida

Temple @ #10 Louisville

Arizona State #11 Oregon State

#12 Oklahoma @ Iowa State

#13 Clemson @ Duke

#14 Stanford @ Colorado

#16 Texas A&M @ #15 Mississippi State

San Diego State @ #19 Boise State

#20 Nebraska @ Michigan State

TCU @ #21 West Virginia

#22 Arizona @ UCLA

#23 Texas @ #18 Texas Tech

UTSA @ #25 Louisiana Tech

#8 South Carolina (Bye)

#9 Florida State (Bye)