NFC Championship -Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers Preview (Jan. 24)

The NFL’s two highest scoring teams will face each other in the NFC Championship. The 16-1 Carolina Panthers come in a perfect 9-0 at home this season, the Arizona Cardinals have a 7-1 road record, with the lone road defeat coming week 6 at Pittsburgh.

Looking at both teams, its hard to find a clear advantage on either side. Led by Carson Palmer, Arizona has the 2nd ranked passing offense in the NFL and also the 8th ranked rushing offense.  Carolina comes in as the leagues highest scoring team, ranking second in rushing yards per game, and first in turnover differential. The Panthers had a league high 39 take-aways during the regular season and added two interceptions against Russell Wilson and Seattle in a 31-24 divisional playoff win.

Arizona ranked 2nd behind Carolina with 33 take-aways during the regular season and 4th in turnover differential. Both teams gave up slightly over 19 points per game during the regular season.

I see this game as a toss up. The Cardinals were my Super Bowl pick well before the regular season ended, so I almost feel obligated to pick them. However, I am picking the PANTHERS -3.  For betting purposes however, smarter money is on the OVER 48.

(Carolina 34 Arizona 30)

***Bet Sports Strong Rating D****

A-Bet with confidence

B-Strong lean, but bet with caution

C-Slight lean, enjoy the game but be careful with your money

D-Prediction but not a good feel either way

 

Twitter @BetSportsstrong

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AFC Championship -New England Patriots at Denver Broncos Preview (Jan. 24)

If the Patriots trip to Denver on Sunday turns out to be the final AFC Championship appearance of Peyton Manning’s Hall of Fame career, then no other match-up could be more fitting with history on the line. Brady versus Manning; one more time, likely for the last time.

Tom Brady leads the all-time series of Manning versus Brady 11-5, but the series is tied at five wins a piece since the 2005 regular season.

Tom Brady, who already ranks number one all-time for Super Bowl starts as a quarterback, will be looking to win his seventh AFC Championship. A victory over the Broncos, would also move the Patriots franchise ahead of the Cowboys and Steelers for first place all-time with nine Super Bowl appearances. 

The Denver Broncos, who have made seven Super Bowl appearances in franchise history, can force four way tie for the top spot with a win over New England.

The Broncos defeated the Patriots in Denver 30-24 in overtime during week 12.  In that match-up the Broncos rushed for 179 yards on 5.6 yard per carry, while holding the Patriots to only 39 yards on the ground.

The Broncos defense ranked number one in the NFL for yards allowed per game, the Patriots come in with the 3rd ranked scoring offense in the NFL.

For the Patriots to win, Tom Brady will have to come up big for the Patriots offense, just as he has done so many times in his career. The Patriots running game has struggled since losing LeGarrette Blount in a Dec. 13 win at Houston, and New England only managed to rush for 38 yards against Kansas City in the divisional round.

The Broncos will rely heavy on their running game and try to allow Manning to manage the game. Defensively, the Broncos must be able to put pressure and some good clean hits on Tom Brady. The Broncos also must finish drives with touchdowns instead of field goals; kicker Brandon McManus made five field goals last week against Pittsburgh.

While I think the Broncos will be able to run the ball against the Patriots, I expect the Patriots defense to hold up against the Broncos passing attack, and force at least one turnover. Statistically Peyton Manning has been one of the NFL’s worst quarterbacks this season with a 9:17 touchdown to interception ratio.

Despite the Broncos strong defense and Patriots lack of a running game, with a healthy Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman, I see Tom Brady and the Patriots  generating more  offense than the Broncos will be able to match.

Tom Brady is only 2-6 in his career at Mile High Stadium, but he is also 3-0 in his career when facing the NFL’s number one defense in the playoffs.

I believe Peyton Manning’s hall of fame career as a player will end Sunday in Denver.

New England 27 Denver 20

Patriots -3

 

***Bet Sports Strong Rating B****

A-Bet with confidence

B-Strong lean, but bet with caution

C-Slight lean, enjoy the game but be careful with your money

D-Prediction but not a good feel either way

Twitter @BetSportsstrong

E-MAIL: BETSPORTSSTRONG@GMAIL.COM

 

 

 

NFL Playoffs Jan. 17 – Seahawks at Panthers/ Steelers at Broncos- Quick Predictions

Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers

The defending NFC Champion Seattle Seahawks will look to hand the 15-1 Panthers their first home loss of the season Sunday.

This game matches the NFL’s number one scoring offense, Carolina, against the leagues best scoring defense, Seattle.  Week 6, Carolina pulled out a 27-23 victory at Seattle.  This is also a rematch from last seasons divisional playoffs where Seattle ended Carolina’s season 31-17.

Both teams have great players defensively. With the big game experience and return of Marshawn Lynch, I’m leaning towards Seattle pulling this one out.  With a game that I expect to be this close, I’m taking the underdog, because being able to get the spread over a touchdown is an excellent play for a two team teaser.

Seattle 27 Carolina 24 (Seattle +9)

Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos

 

At 39 years young, Peyton Manning will look to win his first career playoff game in sub 40 degree weather. Manning and his teams have failed in the previous five attempts.

I’ve liked the Steelers all week in this game, but there are so many question marks about the team. Even without Deangleo Williams and Antonio Brown, I think the +9 the Steelers are receiving, is a gift. The fan in me would love to see Peyton Manning pull this out, however, as a gambler I can not trust him to cover that many points, in what I expect will be a low scoring game.  Do not be surprised if Gary Kubiak goes to Brock Osweiler if needed. The -9, is way too many points for me to recommend anyone betting on Denver. Even without Williams, Brown and a bang up Ben Roethlisberger, I see the Steelers competing and covering.  A Pittsburgh victory would not surprise me, but in the end, the Denver defense will lead them to victory. I’m taking an easier approach and teasing +6.

Denver 21 Steelers 17 (Steelers +15)

Two Team Teaser +6 Play of the Week

Seattle Seahawks +9

Pittsburgh Steelers +15

**Bet Sports Strong Rating  for two team teaser A****

A-Bet with confidence

B-Strong lean, but bet with caution

C-Slight lean, enjoy the game but be careful with your money

D-Prediction but not a good feel either way

Twitter @BetSportsstrong

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NFL Playoffs Jan. 16 – Chiefs at Patriots/ Packers at Cardinals- Quick Predictions

Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots

This match-up features the AFC’s hottest team against the dynasty of the New England Patriots.

Tom Brady has four super bowl rings and 21 career playoff wins, Alex Smith has two playoff wins.  The Patriots seem to be getting healthier but there are still real issues on the offensive line.

The Patriots, finished the regular season 2-4 after a 10-0 start. The Chiefs have now won 11 straight games after an 1-5 start.

I maybe a fool for beating against Brady and Bill Belichick, but I believe the Chiefs will be able to stop the Patriots running game and get pressure on Tom Brady.  I’m calling the upset. Even if Pats prevail straight up, I like Chiefs +6.

Kansas City 28 Patriots 24

**Bet Sports Strong Rating C **** It’s the NFL Playoffs, anything goes

 

Green Bay Packers at Arizona Cardinals

Green Bay will be looking for revenge from a 38-8 throttling that took place week 16 in Arizona.

The Packers were very impressive in last weeks 35-18  playoff win at Washington.  The Cardinals have now had two weeks to think about a 36-6 home loss to Seattle which cost them the number one seed in the NFC.  Ironically, that defeat to Seattle has helped the Cardinals avoid Seattle and instead re-match the Packers.

Not going to overthink this. Cardinals are my Vegas bet to win the Super Bowl since week 6. Cardinals -7

Arizona 34 Green Bay 24

OVER 50

 

***Bet Sports Strong Rating A****

 

A-Bet with confidence

B-Strong lean, but bet with caution

C-Slight lean, enjoy the game but be careful with your money

D-Prediction but not a good feel either way

Twitter @BetSportsstrong

E-MAIL: BETSPORTSSTRONG@GMAIL.COM

 

CFP National Championship-Clemson vs Alabama Preview (Jan. 11, 2016)

The 14-0 Clemson Tigers find themselves as underdogs once again. Heading into the national championship, the number one ranked Tigers find themselves a seven point underdog against the Nick Saban led Alabama Crimson Tide. Alabama has the opportunity to win its fourth national championship under Saban.

images-1
Which man do you prefer to bet against?

Clemson has won its last four bowl games;  25-24 win over LSU in 2012, 40-35 over Ohio State in 2013,  40-6 over the Oklahoma Sooners in 2014, and 37-17 over Oklahoma again in the Orange Bowl on New Years Eve, all under coach Dabo Sweeney.

Alabama, is coming off of a 38-0 thrashing of Michigan State and 70% of the betting public currently has picked Alabama to cover the spread against Clemson.

Clemson QB Deshaun Watson, will pose threats to the Alabama defense, and Clemson is very physical on both sides of the ball.  With the offensive line coming together, Clemson has the offensive weapons to potentially pick Alabama apart. However, Alabama’s defensive front will present the biggest challenge that Clemson’s young offensive line faced.
Alabama ranks third in the nation for scoring defense, allowing only 14.4 points per game.  Alabama also has the number one defense against the run.  Clemson allows 20.2 points per game  which is good for 13th best in the nation and 23rd against the run.
As a disclaimer, I locked in CLEMSON +550 before the College Football Playoff began, so personally I will be going with the Tigers. However, I do not have another individual wager on this game (-105 odds is not worth the risk that +550 was).
My advice to anyone wagering on this game? Bet against Nick Saban or Dabo Sweeney at your own risk, especially when you need Dabo to lose by more than a touchdown.  Dabo has continued to defy the odds when his Tiger’s are doubted. On the other side, Nick Saban is a living legend.
In the end, the safer money line pick is with the Crimson Tide, but I see this match-up as much closer than the -245 odds that Alabama straight up is worth.  Alabama appears to have the better defense and the more physical running game, but I think Clemson can definitely keep this game with-in a touchdown. It will be interesting to see how the Alabama offense responds if this game turns into a shootout, but quarterback Jake Cooker was exceptional against a tough Michigan State defense. I’m predicting that Saban and his talent come out on top, but not enough to jump on the -7.
(Alabama 30 Clemson 24)
 Clemson +7

Bet Sports Strong Rating C

***Bet Sports Strong Ratings***

A-Bet with confidence

B-Strong lean, but bet with caution

C-Slight lean, enjoy the game but be careful with your money

D-Prediction but not a good feel either way

Twitter @BetSportsstrong

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AFC Wildcard Playoff-Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals (Prediction Jan.9,2016)

The Steelers and Bengals are both very familiar with each other. These AFC North rivals split the regular season series, with the road team winning in both meetings.  Cincinnati won at Pittsburgh 16-10, on Nov.1 and Pittsburgh won at Cincinnati 33-20, on Dec. 13. In the Pittsburgh victory, Cincinnati QB Andy Dalton was knocked out of the game with a broken thumb, an injury that caused him to miss the final three regular season games.

Without Dalton as a starter, the Bengals still won two of their last three games.

images-1Cincinnati vs Pittsburgh Recent Match-ups

2015
Pittsburgh 33 (A) Cincinnati (H) 20
Cincinnati 16 (A) Pittsburgh (H) 10
2014
Pittsburgh 42 (A)  Cincinnati (H) 21
Pittsburgh 27 (H) Cincinnati (A) 17
2013
Cincinnati (H) 20 Pittsburgh (A) 10
Pittsburgh (H) 30 Cincinnati (A) 20

For Bengals fans, hopefully the seventh time will be a charm for head coach Marvin Lewis who is 0-6 all-time in the playoffs. The Bengals franchise has not won a playoff game since 1990.

Cincinnati back-up quarterback, AJ McCarron had some good moments while filling in for Andy Dalton, however winning the first playoff game for the Bengals in 26 years will be tough mountain for the young quarterback to climb if Andy Dalton can’t go on Saturday.

We all know Pittsburgh’s success. Head coach Mike Tomlin is 5-4 in the playoffs, with one super bowl ring and two appearances in the big game. However, Pittsburgh is now down to starting its third string running back, Fitzgerald Toussaint. Toussaint comes into the game with only 24 career carries. With the running game handicapped, the Pittsburgh offense will have to rely heavily on Ben Roethlisberger, but Ben is one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL and capable of putting the Steelers on his back.

Cincinnati is 12-3-1 against the spread this season, but only 4-3-1 at home.

Currently 68% of the public is betting on the Steelers. I can’t blame anyone for going with the Steelers in this match-up. One day the Bengals will win a playoff game again, unfortunately for them, I see this season ending in disappointment once again. Right now it sounds like Andy Dalton will not play, but keep an eye on his status.  Bet on Big Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, Mike Tomlin and the STEELERS -3.

Pittsburgh 27 Cincinnati 17

****Bet Sports Strong Rating A ****

A-Bet with confidence

B-Strong lean, but bet with caution

C-Slight lean, enjoy the game but be careful with your money

D-Prediction but not a good feel either way

Twitter @BetSportsstrong

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AFC Wildcard Playoff-Kansas City Chiefs at Houston Texans (Prediction Jan.9, 2016)

In the first NFL playoff game of the season, Kansas City will return to the where its regular season began, Houston, Texas.  Kansas City won at Houston 27-20, during the opening week of the regular season. Houston was an one point favorite going into that game.Texans Chiefs FootballSix weeks into the season, this playoff match-up seemed very unlikely.  The Chiefs began the season 1-5, but currently ride a ten game winning streak into the playoffs.

Houston, comes in at 9-7, champions of the AFC south after a 2-5 start.

Houston Texas Playoff Historyth-6

2012 season

Wild Card playoffs- Houston Texans (H) 19 Cincinnati Bengals (A) 13 – Jan. 5, 2013
Divisional playoffs- New England Patriots (H) 41 Houston Texans (A) 28-Jan. 13, 2013

2011 season

Wild Card playoffs- Houston Texans (H) 31 Cincinnati Bengals (A) 10 – Jan. 7, 2012
Divisional playoffs- Baltimore Ravens (H) 20 Houston Texans (A) 13 – Jan. 15, 2012

Kansas City Chiefs Recent Playoff History th_011

2013 season

Wild Card playoffs- Indianapolis Colts (H) 45 Kansas City Chiefs (A) 44- Jan. 4, 2014.

2010 season

Wild Card playoffs-Baltimore Ravens (A) 31 Kansas City Chiefs (H) 10- Jan. 9, 2011

 

Expect a defensive struggle, the over/under is currently only 40. The Texans are holding opponents to less than 13 points per game during their last nine games.

The Chiefs defense has also been on fire, allowing less than 13 points per game during their current 10 game winning streak. The Chiefs have won their last four road games during this stretch by at least 14 points.

When looking at two very good defenses like this, and offenses led by Brian Hoyer and Alex Smith, I expect the turnover battle and special teams to make the difference in this game.

The Chiefs rank 2nd in the NFL in turnover margin and have forced 29 turnovers on the season, the Texans rank tied for 10th and have forced 25 turnovers.

Texans are 9-7 against the spread, but only 4-6 as underdogs. Texans are also 7-9 on the over/under. Chiefs are 8-8 against the spread and 7-5 ATS a favorites. Chiefs are 8-7-1 on the over/under. Right now 78% of the public is betting on the Chiefs.

I don’t expect this game to be pretty, but in the end I think the Houston defense will limit big plays by Alex Smith, who must be the best quarterback on the field Saturday for the Chiefs to win. The Kansas City offense has struggled lately, and the past two weeks the Chiefs have also struggled to bury the Raiders and Browns despite getting off to early double digit leads.

Betting on Brian Hoyer isn’t something I’d advise you to do with your mortgage, but Houston has managed to win with four different quarterbacks this season. Behind a creative offensive game plan, I think the stars, J.J Watt and Deandre Hopkins help the TEXANS+4 pull off the first round upset. I am going against the majority on this one, even if Kansas City does pull out the win, I like Houston to cover.

Houston 20 Kansas City 16

**** Bet Sports Strong Rating C ****

A-Bet with confidence

B-Strong lean, but bet with caution

C-Slight lean, enjoy the game but be careful with your money

D-Prediction but not a good feel either way

Twitter @BetSportsstrong

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