November 2, 2018

NFL Week 9 picks

by Dan Bilicki In: Football, Picks

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

SAN FRANCISCO -3 over Oakland

The Raiders should be relegated to the CFL after that loss.

Pittsburgh +3 over BALTIMORE

The Ravens won this matchup in Pittsburgh, so we’re expecting some payback. The Ravens have slumped to a .500 record while the Steelers are riding a three-game winning streak.

BUFFALO +10 over Chicago

We could regret betting on Nathan Peterman, but the Bills can play solid defence, especially at home. We’re not buying Mitchell Trubisky covering 10 points on the road, either.

CAROLINA -6.5 over Tampa Bay

Fitzmagic is back, but the Bucs are a sinking ship. The Panthers defence is for real and Cam Newton is capable of covering this line.

CLEVELAND +9 over Kansas City

The Browns return home, where they’ve lost just once this season. We’re not expecting the firing of Hue Jackson to help get this team’s head on straight. We’re not saying that they’ll knock off the Chiefs, but Baker Mayfield could cover this line.

MIAMI -3 over New York Jets

Sam Darnold can’t seem to win on the road after his Week 1 success in Detroit. The Dolphins have had some extra time to prepare and finally have Davante Parker going, even if it’s Brock Osweiler tossing the ball.

MINNESOTA -4.5 over Detroit

Trading away Golden Tate hurts the Lions in the short-term, especially heading to Minnesota. The Vikings are at their worst when Kirk Cousins is under pressure and we’re not sure if Detroit can provide that.

Washington’s Adrian Peterson has been excellent of late. (GETTY IMAGES)

WASHINGTON -1.5 over Atlanta

Can the Falcons put on their offensive show in the outdoors against one of the league’s stronger defences? And can Atlanta’s defence stop the rejuvenated Adrian Peterson? We’re not sure of either.

Houston +1 over DENVER

Deshaun Watson is finally looking like the brilliant player he was last year before blowing out his knee. The biggest issue we’re worrying about is if he’ll be able to escape the Broncos fearsome pass rush.

L.A. Chargers +1.5 over SEATTLE

The Seahawks may have a great home-field advantage, but they also suffer against AFC teams. The Chargers could be one of the five best teams in the NFL while the Seahawks have plenty of holes in their squad.

NEW ORLEANS -1.5 over Los Angeles Rams

We don’t think the Rams will be underdogs again this season, but the Saints are one of the few teams built to compete with them. L.A.’s defence can be passed on and you have to think they were a little fortunate against the Packers last week.

Green Bay +5.5 over NEW ENGLAND

Getting points with Aaron Rodgers seems like a great opportunity. We know that Mike McCarthy is greatly outmatched by Bill Belichick, but the Pats running backs are banged up and their defence remains a step slow – which Rodgers can exploit.

Tennessee +6.5 over DALLAS

Both teams are coming off a bye and aren’t exactly prime-time material. The Titans play games close and we’re not sure how well Amari Cooper is going to slot in to Dallas’ offence right off the bat – if at all.

October 31, 2018

EPL FREE KICKS: Loss of Leicester City chairman shakes more than just football

by Dan Bilicki In: Soccer

Sometimes there are things that take precedence over football and this week we saw just that, with the tragic helicopter crash and death of Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.

Srivaddhanaprabha was a true man of the people, giving away free beer and hot dogs to fans on his birthday. He bought the club when it was at its lowest and brought it up to the top of England.

The Foxes’ 2016 title was one of the most unlikely in sports history, winning the biggest soccer league in the world as 5,000-1 underdogs. It was far better odds that Leicester would be relegated that year than even think about contending.

But that’s exactly what Srivaddhanaprabha wanted, and that’s what he got.

He was laughed at for saying that Leicester could be a top-five club within three years of being promoted. That kind of success is unheard of in any of Europe’s top leagues.

Instead of splashing big money, he had a team of underdogs, brought together under manager Claudio Ranieri. Players like Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez rose from anonymity to become international stars after toiling in lower leagues.

But Srivaddhanaprabha’s was not just felt in the sporting world, donating millions to local hospitals and charities.

He was truly a great man and not just the stereotypical sports owner that’s just in it for the money, placing the bottom line over people. It wasn’t just Leicester and the Foxes that lost a legend on Saturday, the whole world did.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK

It figures that after pointing out that we’ve had no team feature two players of the week, we would get one the next time around.

And when you think about Chelsea’s top players, you’d probably list quite a few before getting to this week’s best: Ross Barkley.

After providing the game-tying goal in the last minute of stoppage time against Manchester United last week, Barkley continued his run of great form by scoring and picking up two assists in this weekend’s 4-0 win over Burnley.

The English midfielder has had a rough go of it over the past few seasons, playing just 129 minutes last season while dealing with a long-term hamstring injury. Barkley had always been tipped for greatness at Everton, but could never quite get there, always suffering a setback when he was seemingly at the brink.

With three goals and three assists in the past three games, we might be seeing Barkley finally reach his potential.

AROUND THE LEAGUE

Mohamed Salah seems to be getting back to his amazing form from last year, this week picking up a goal and two assists against Cardiff … Interesting to see Romelu Lukaku start the game against Everton on the bench. Is Jose Mourinho playing mindtricks to motivate his striker? … Arsenal’s winning streak is over, but it is still unbeaten in eight games … If Wolves really want to be serious about contending for a spot in Europe, they really need to beat teams like the Seagulls. Or at least pull out a draw … Bournemouth sure can score. With three more this weekend, that brings the Cherries to 19 this season, fifth-best in the Premier League … Burnley’s defending continues to be shockingly bad. The 21 goals it has allowed are the third-most in the league, a far cry from the 39 it allowed last season, which was fifth best … Fulham’s high-priced team simply isn’t coming together, but it needs to, and quickly … A 0-0 draw was always in the offing for a Southampton-Newcastle clash. Both sides have just six goals in 10 games this season and both lack in attack. With the Magpies still winless, you have to wonder how much longer that Rafa Benitez stays in charge at St. James Park.

THE LAST WORD

It’s not very often we get into other European leagues, but the latest from Real Madrid has some wide-spread implications.

After losing El Clasico to Barcelona by a 5-1 margin, Madrid sacked manager Julen Lopetegui. Real has struggled greatly this season, sitting in ninth place with a 4-2-4 record. One of the most expensive teams in the world, Real has greatly missed Cristiano Ronaldo, failing to score in six straight matches earlier this month.

But what does this have to do with the Premier League? The man that’s slated to replace Lopetegui is former Chelsea boss, Antonio Conte.

This is excellent news for Blues supporters. Why? Because it basically rules out a move to Madrid for Eden Hazard. The Belgian has spoke of his desire to play for Madrid, but his relationship with Conte was strained, to say the least. We’re pretty sure that he won’t have much desire to sign up for another stewardship under him.

Of course, Hazard may still leave after his contract is up, but we wouldn’t be shocked if he re-ups at Stamford Bridge after this Conte development.

You also have to feel bad for Thibaut Courtois, who left Chelsea in part to get away from Conte. That should be an awkward meeting.

October 25, 2018

NFL Week 8 picks

by Dan Bilicki In: Football, Picks

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

Miami +7.5 over HOUSTON

Brock Osweiler. I picked Brock Osweiler on the road. I deserve this loss.

Jacksonville +3 over Philadelphia at London

The Jags are struggling big time right now, but it’s not like the defending champs are doing much better. Blake Bortles is undefeated in London and this could be a trip to get him back to average, instead downright awful.

CAROLINA +2 over Baltimore

We think the Panthers are closer to the team that came back in the second half last week than the one that dug the hole it was in. The Ravens are good team, but we’re not sure about spotting points with them on the road.

New York Jets +7.5 over CHICAGO

This is a tough call. Sam Darnold is looking more and more like a rookie, but it’s not like Mitchell Trubisky is standing out in a good, other than winding runs. Spotting more than a TD is a bit much for our liking, though it could be a regret.

CINCINNATI -4.5 over Tampa Bay

This line smells fishy, but we’ll take the bait. The Bucs have put up huge numbers passing the ball, but have done little else well. The Bengals need to bounce back after two straight losses and are more than capable of trouncing lesser foes.

DETROIT -3 over Seattle

The Seahawks have a good record coming off a bye, but the Lions are on a bit of a roll. Matt Stafford has gotten over his Week 1 stinker and Kerryon Johnson has ignited the running game. The addition of Snack Harrison helps Detroit’s poor running game, too.

KANSAS CITY -10 over Denver

Just because the Broncos kept it close in Denver, doesn’t mean this one will be similar. There will be no surprises this time and the Chiefs are just too talented.

Washington -1 over NEW YORK GIANTS

It’s all falling apart of the Giants, again. With the fire sale underway, it’s hard to back a faltering Eli Manning. New York’s weak O-line will also have a tough time contending with a strong Washington front.

PITTSBURGH -8 over Cleveland

Is this too many points to spot against a Browns team that only plays close games? We don’t think so. The Steelers are a better team at home and could easily run away with this one. Don’t expect five turnovers from Big Ben again, either.

OAKLAND +3 over Indianapolis

It’s hard to back a team that’s selling off its pieces like Oakland is, but it’s also hard to back the Colts as a road favourite.

ARIZONA +1 over San Francisco

Two terrible teams here, so we’ll just go with the home team in a pick ‘em situation. There’s some real hope that new Cards OC Byron Leftwich will finally unleash David Johnson and that’s enough for us.

Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers will be in tough against the Rams on Sunday. (AP PHOTO)

L.A. RAMS -9.5 over Green Bay

This is as big of an underdog that Aaron Rodgers has ever been, but here’s the thing: It’s not just him. The Packers defence is ill-equipped to even slow down the Rams and their offensive line will have trouble with Aaron Donald up front. The Rams could turn it on and run away from the visitors.

New Orleans +1 over MINNESOTA

With Saints having trouble stopping WRs and the Vikings linebacking corps having a problem against RBs, this game could be a barn-burner. The Saints seem a bit better equipped to win a shootout, even if they’re on the road.

BUFFALO +14 over New England

This is remarkably tough. The Bills QBs are absolute trash while Tom Brady has the most wins in Orchard Park this century.

Last week: 8-5-1

This season: 51-48-6

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