November 16, 2018

NFL Week 11 picks

by Dan Bilicki In: Football, Picks

The lines are from Betway.com and the home teams in CAPs.

SEATTLE -2.5 over Green Bay

Could that have been the loss that seals the fate of Packers coach Mike McCarthy? Green Bay would be stupid to stick with him if they miss the playoffs and that’s looking even more likely now.

ATLANTA -3 over Dallas

This is a massive test for the Cowboys defence, one we’re not sure it can pass. Dallas picked up its first road win of the season last week, but we can’t see them doing it again, this time against at Falcons team needing to bounce back after a rough road loss.

BALTIMORE (nl) over Cincinnati

How can you pick this when you legitimately don’t know who will be the Ravens QB? And, if it were up to us, it would be Lamar Jackson starting, even if Joe Flacco were healthy.

Carolina -4 over DETROIT

The Lions offence, without Golden Tate hasn’t looked good for the past two weeks. Carolina has had the extra time to prepare and can’t afford to blow another game.

INDIANAPOLIS -2 over Tennessee

After years of seeing Andrew Luck on the run, the Colts have finally put together a good line in front of him, one of the league’s five best via PFF.

JACKSONVILLE +5.5 over Pittsburgh

The Jags offence looked much better with Leonard Fournette back last week. The Steelers have been hot, but they’re on the road and the Jaguars have a good history against them – at least enough to take the points.

NEW YORK GIANTS -1.5 over Tampa Bay

We’re not going all-in on the Giants after beating the 49ers on Monday night, but we are going in on them to beat the Bucs, who aren’t much better than San Fran at this point.

Houston -3 over WASHINGTON

Washington got by last week with its ailing offensive line because the Bucs kept faltering on offence and turning the ball over. This week, it should be a much different story.

ARIZONA -5 over Oakland

The Cards pulled off a cover in K.C. last week and seem to finally have figured out that David Johnson is a top-10 running back. The Raiders are about as dysfunctional as they come.

L.A. CHARGERS -7 over Denver

Even giving a touchdown, it’s hard to bet against the red-hot Chargers. Broncos are coming off a bye, but had lost six of seven going in.

NEW ORLEANS -9 over Philadelphia

The Eagles secondary is in shambles and this is not the team you want to face when that’s the situation. Philly is not the same Super Bowl-calibre team as it was last year.

CHICAGO -2.5 over Minnesota

With Khalil Mack back Vikings QB Kirk Cousins should be under pressure most of the game – something that does not bode well for him. Cousins’ career numbers while under pressure are particularly poor.

L.A. RAMS -3.5 over Kansas City

Moving this game back to Los Angeles certainly gives the Rams a boost here. As the monumental over/under of 64 might suggest, we’re in for a barn-burner. We’ll take the home team, even if we do see quite a few Chiefs fans at the Coliseum.

Last week: 8-5-1

This season: 73-66-7

November 9, 2018

BILICKI: NFL Week 10 picks

by Dan Bilicki In: Football, Picks

The lines are from Betway.com and the home teams in CAPs.

PITTSBURGH -4 over Carolina

That was the most points that the Panthers have allowed in franchise history. And the Panthers have had some pretty bad teams before.

New Orleans -5 over CINCINNATI

The Saints could be in for a letdown game after that big win over the undefeated Rams, but the Bengals could be in trouble without A.J. Green.

Atlanta -4.5 over CLEVELAND

Julio Jones actually scored a TD last week, so there’s that. The Browns may have changed the coach, but they’re still not winning.

Detroit +6.5 over CHICAGO

These two played a close one earlier this season and the Lions seem to do that often against division rivals. Simply, this is just a couple too many points to be giving.

INDIANAPOLIS -3 over Jacksonville

Both teams are coming off a bye so there’s no advantage there. With the usual three points for the home team going to Indy, we’ll take the side that, somewhat surprisingly, is actually better.

Arizona +16.5 over KANSAS CITY

The Chiefs could certainly run away with this one, but will they roll out everything here? There’s no need to open up the playbook with the Rams up next.

Buffalo +7.5 over NEW YORK JETS

Sam Darnold’s injury probably helps the Jets, considering how much he has tailed off since the opener. The big question is if the Jets can even score eight points against the Bills defence.

Washington +3 over TAMPA BAY

Washington losing two starting linemen is a concern, but do you know what’s more concerning? The Bucs’ incredibly awful pass defence.

TENNESSEE +6.5 over New England

The Pats are obviously the better team, but the Titans are coming off an OK win and coach Mike Vrabel has obvious knowledge of his former team.

OAKLAND +10 over L.A. Chargers

The Chargers are one of the best teams in the AFC, but can you give 10 points to a division rival on their home field? The Raiders are due to show some sort of life and have a few extra days to prepare since that big loss to the Niners.

GREEN BAY -9.5 over Miami

After two losses to the league’s best teams, the Packers should be thrilled to face some much easier competition. Of course, nothing’s a given in the NFL, but we’ll certainly spot the points to Brock Osweiler at Lambeau.

L.A. RAMS -10 over Seattle

The Seahawks made it a close one in Seattle earlier this season, but to do it again on the road is another story. The Rams should be itching to bounce back in a big way with the Chiefs looming.

PHILADELPHIA -6.5 over Dallas

The Eagles are coming off a bye and the Cowboys are on a short week. The Cowboys look about as average on offensive is it gets, despite trading for Amari Cooper. It’s time for coach Jason Garrett to go, and another embarrassing loss could finally set that in motion.

New York Giants +3 over SAN FRANCISCO

The Giants may not be good, but I’m sorry, I’m not believing in Nick Mullins now that there’s some real tape on him. I can totally see a huge game from Saquon Barkley, too.

Last week: 9-4

This season: 65-61-6

November 7, 2018

EPL FREE KICKS: FFP allegations could put Man City in world of hurt

by Dan Bilicki In: Soccer

Even with some fantastic football on the pitch this week, the biggest story was off it.

German news magazine Der Spiegel has published more leaked information from Football Leaks regarding Abu Dhabi’s involvement with Manchester City and how the club is allegedly skirting FIFA’s Financial Fair Play rules.

It’s no secret that City has been flush with cash since Sheikh Mansour bought the team in 2008 and turned it into a powerhouse — pumping a reported $1.44 billion US into the club.

The new documents allege that City has been using direct funds from Abu Dhabi, where Mansour is a member of the royal family, in order to make up for any shortfalls in the budget. To keep suspicions of FFP abuse away, the money would technically come from a sponsorship company.

Some of the e-mails published could be damning.

Regarding a $19.65-million sponsorship from UAE-based firm Aabar, a board member wrote: “As we discussed, the annual direct obligation for Aabar is ($3.93 million). The remaining ($15.72 million) requirement will come from alternative sources provided by his highness.”

Another allegation: Etihad is paying just $10.48 million of its $88.41-million annual deal with the club for sponsorship rights. The rest is being paid by Abu Dhabi, of course.

While there is more to come about this, the Premier League and UEFA for sure need to open an investigation into exactly where City’s money is coming from. Financial Fair Play exists to keep teams on an even playing field. If one club can circumvent it with seemingly this much ease, it derails the entire sport.

But here’s the next problem: A member of City’s board once reportedly told a UEFA official that the team “would rather spend 30 million on the 50 best lawyers in the world to sue them for the next 10 years” than accept any sanctions from the European body.

Yikes.

This is just the tip of the iceberg and I’m sure we’re going to see a lot more about this and a lot more teams being involved with similar schemes as well.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Raheem Sterling gave us our biggest fantasy haul of the season, racking up a brilliant 21 points this week.

Two goals and two assists against Southampton gives him six and five, respectively, on the season. In games that the English winger has started he has only failed twice out of nine times to either score or pick up a helper.

It’s getting harder and harder for manager Pep Guardiola to rotate him while he’s playing with so much fire.

AROUND THE LEAGUE

What an emotional win for Leicester City. Picking up the three points in the match after their owner, Vvichai Srivaddhanaprabha, was killed in a helicopter crash. The team flew to Thailand for the funeral after Saturday’s game and you can expect emotions to be high once again this coming weekend, when they play at home for the first time since the tragedy … In all competitions this season, Danny Welbeck has more goals than Romelu Lukaku. This is despite the Belgian playing over 800 more minutes than the Gunner … Has any team had to deal with more scheduling shenanigans than Spurs? After playing on that terrible pitch last week, a day after an NFL game, this week they had an 8:45 p.m. kickoff. And as much as it’s being put out there that Tottenham is in a bit of a crisis, it still sits fourth in the table and is getting key players back from injury … Burnley just can’t stop getting burned. Another fourth goals allowed this week makes it 13 conceded in the past three games. Something has to change … Alvaro Morata should have had a hat trick against Palace. Not sure why he tried to chip the ball over Eagles goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey. It always seemed like the better option was to go around him … According to Football France, former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has reached a deal with AC Milan to replace Gennaro Gatuso. We guess that Wenger was getting sick of his vacation from the world’s game.

THE LAST WORD

It’s kind of amazing that we’ve made it this far into the season — nearly a third of the way — without seeing a manager get dismissed. But, if we were to bet, it will be happening sooner rather than later.

With the final international break of the year following this coming weekend’s games, some club should be looking at making a change.

First and foremost, Fulham.

After splashing some big cash in the summer, the Cottagers have looked miserable this season. Fulham’s defence has been a sieve, allowing 29 goals this season, four more than second-worst unit Burnley. Heck, the defence is so bad that it’s even scoring on itself, as Timothy Fosu-Mensah did in Monday’s loss to the previously winless Terriers.

While new arrivals Aleksandar Mitrovic and Andre Schurrle have been fine up front, combining for nine goals, the rest of the team seems lost.

The easiest person to blame is manager Slavisa Jokanovic. When the board shells out in excess of $100 million in one transfer window, it’s safe to expect more than five points from 11 games and a spot at the bottom of the table.

Newcastle and Huddersfield both picked up their first wins of the season this weekend, but that shouldn’t excuse either of their managers from fearing for their jobs. Both sides are having tremendous scoring goals with seven and five, respectively.

Neil Warnock at Cardiff City and Mark Hughes at Southampton are two other names to watch, but the biggest is — of course — Jose Mourinho.

The Special One may have stopped the bleeding, but things are still amiss at Old Trafford.

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