NFC North Rivals Clash While Arizona and Oregon Highlight the College Schedule

Peterson
Peterson
With no Adrian Peterson, the Vikings will have make do with a rookie QB and an unknown running game.

Thursday night once again offers us some great games in both college and professional football.

Minnesota (+9) at Green Bay (O/U 48) – The good news for both teams is that they each won games last week. The bad news is that Rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater has a gimpy ankle for the Vikes and the Packers gave up three sacks and nearly 400 yards offense. It looks like Bridgewater is a ‘go’ for tonight at Lambeau.

Green Bay is 28th in defense so with all due respect to Aaron Rodgers and his “relax” comment, there are issues on this team. The Vikings have problems too and that’s why I would expect a sloppy game. I fully expect Packers’ defensive coordinator Dom Capers to ring up all kinds of different looks and blitzes in an effort to confuse the rookie Bridgewater.

Trends: The Packers are 7-2-1 in their last ten games against the Vikings… Minnesota is 1-4 against the spread in their last five games at Green Bay… The Packers are 0-3-2 ATS in their last five home games… The total has gone OVER in five of Minnesota’s last seven game at Green Bay.

The Pick: The Packers are too explosive on offense to lose but I like the Vikes and the points and I like the OVER.

Rich Rod
Rich Rodriguez brings his Wildcats to Oregon as 23-point underdogs.

Arizona (+23) at Oregon (O/U 77) – It’s pretty unusual to see two 4-0 teams go at it and one of them is a 23-point underdog but that’s exactly what we have tonight in Eugene, Oregon.

Neither team has what I’d call a dominant defense which I have to believe means you’re going to see some serious scoring in this game. The Ducks will go as QB Marcus Mariota goes and last week he rallied Oregon to defeat a very game Washington State on the road in Pullman.

Arizona Head Coach Rich Rodriguez has seen these unbeaten starts before only to see his teams falter once conference play got rolling. Freshman QB Anu Solomon has been pretty good so far throwing for 13 touchdowns and just three interceptions. Playing in Autzen Stadium however will be a new experience for the youngster.

Trends: Arizona is 1-7 straight up in their last eight games on the road at Oregon… The Ducks are 3-6 against the spread in their last nine games against Arizona… The total has gone OVER in four of Arizona’s last six games when playing the Ducks… Last season, Arizona beat Oregon 42-16 in Tucson. That was their first win at home over the Ducks since 2007.

The Pick: The Ducks will remember what happened in Tuscon last year and I think they take advantage of an average defense and they’ll cover. I also like the OVER.

Central Florida (+3) at Houston (O/U 53) – Central Florida is 4-1 against Houston with the Cougars only win coming back in 2006. Both teams have had their share of good opponents and bad already in 2014. The Cougars best game may have been a loss at BYU while the Knights lost to Penn State on a field goal at the gun.

Trends: UCF is 2-4 against the spread in their last six games on the road… The total has gone UNDER in eight of Houston’s last nine games… The Knights are 7-1 straight up in their last eight games on the road… The Cougars are 2-4 ATS in their last six home games.

The Pick: The UCF roster has big game experience so I like them getting the points and I like the UNDER.

 

My Thoughts on the Major League Baseball Playoffs

Harper

Harper
Bryce Harper is a key cog in the Nationals' machine.

I remember a time when the Fall Classic actually meant that it would be played in October. Actually, it’s now played in November because hey, the baseball season isn’t long enough already is it?

In fact I think a week after Thanksgiving don’t pitchers and catchers report?

OK, I won’t go there right now because this is a time to be celebrating baseball rather than ripping on it so let’s get to my thoughts on who will do what in the 2014 MLB Playoffs.

American League

Detroit vs. Baltimore.

The Tigers won five of six from the East Division champs but they haven’t seen each other since May. A lot has changed since then for both teams while some things have stayed the same. Postseason baseball is about pitching and timely hitting.

Detroit can handle both of those things with one exception; their bullpen. Brad Ausmus has his hands full in trying to juggle the bullpen because closer Joe Nathan has been a train wreck all season. The good news is that Justin Verlander is heating up and the rest of the playoff rotation is good.

Have to give the managerial advantage to Baltimore’s Buck Showalter who will not make knee-jerk decisions while Ausmus is a bit new at this playoff stuff.

Prediction: Tigers in 4

Royals vs. LA Angels

What a second half for the Halos who seemed destined for a wild-card spot. Their run coupled with Oakland’s misery have them back atop the West Division. The offense begins and ends with Trout, Hamilton and Puljos while the starting pitching will need to hold up despite injuries.

The Royals made a spectacular comeback last night to defeat the A’s in 12 innings despite the best efforts of Manager Ned Yost to screw things up in the 6th inning. KC will not be an easy out for the Angels especially because of the home crowd but I think talent will eventually be too much for the Royals.

Prediction: Angels in 7

Kershaw
Can Clayton Kershaw carry his outstanding season into the playoffs?

National League

St. Louis vs. LA Dodgers

The Dodgers won the season series 4-3 but they haven’t seen each other since the month of July. Both teams have some playoff experience but in terms of an edge that would have to go to the Cardinals.

If ever there was a series about starting pitching this would be it. There’s no reason to expect Clayton Kershaw to be anything other than brilliant in game one but the Cards will make him work I guarantee that.

If St. Louis can put together some hitting they have a shot.

Prediction: Dodgers in four

Giants/Pirates vs. Washington

A lot of people just want to hand the Nationals the World Series trophy and I can understand why but there’s a reason they actually play the games. Washington is third in hitting and first in pitching and they will also have a fan base as fired up as any in recent memory.

It’s been 90 years since a Washington baseball team has a won a title.

The Pirates will host the Giants tonight and while either team can give the Nats problems, I think the Buccos would offer more of a challenge but that’s not by a long shot by any stretch.

Either way, I like Washington to get by either team with great depth in both pitching and hitting.

Prediction: Nats in Four

If you’re dying to know my League Championship Series predictions I’ll abide by your wishes but just in case I’m not right about the divisional round I’ll “re-predict” later.

ALCS – Angels over Tigers in 5

NCLS – Nationals over Dodgers in 6.